Dealing with earwax

@SViswan (12071)
India
September 3, 2008 4:47am CST
Most of us manually remove earwax regularly. But healthcare professionals say that the earwax is a water soluble mixture of secretions produced outside the ear canal. And this mixture serves an important protective function for the ear and shouldn't be removed unless it is causing symptoms or interfering with assessments of the ear. I remember my father telling me the same thing years ago (after being told by a doctor) but I didn't believe him (till I read this article a few days ago). Apparently, the removal of the wax can cause problems with the wax being pushed in and causing infection and can lead to hearing loss. Do you regularly clean out the wax from your ears or let it build up to protect the insides of your ear?
9 people like this
29 responses
@drannhh (15240)
• United States
3 Sep 08
If it isn't noticeable I leave it alone. However, the ear that my husband snores into gets irritated and that builds up the wax, so sometimes I have to do something. It is ok to clean the wax out, but not by pushing! We can just put a few drops of homeopathic liquid in and it will drain out nicely. If that is not available, I have used 3% Hydrogen peroxide instead. There is also a little instrument available at most sundries stores that has a rounded end to prevent it from going to far into the ear that can be used to break up the build-up if there is a lot, although one must use it carefully and according to directions. I worked for a hearing aid manufacturer for a brief time and the head ear doctor told me that most of problems his customers had with their hearing aids was the result of their failure to wash their ears properly. One time a customer brought in a hearing aid that was completely filled up with orange colored ear wax. Somehow we were able to be polite to the customer and no we didn't tell him, but ewwwww, a bug had crawled into it as it lay on his dresser stand overnight. No wonder it didn't work.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
4 Sep 08
I didn't know there were homeopathic liquids for ear cleaning though I have seen an allopathic one. I should ask my husband if hydrogen peroxide can be used. I think I've seen the instrument you are talking about.
2 people like this
@drannhh (15240)
• United States
4 Sep 08
One must use common sense, of course, and it is good for ordinary people to study the anatomy of the ear before attempting to care for it. I propably should also point out whenever I mention home remedies that I am not a medical doctor :-) (Neither allopathic ror homeopathic nor doe I subscribe to the tenets of western medicine) That said, this is pretty much what I think about the peroxide method: http://www.wikihow.com/Unclog-a-Clogged-Ear It needs to be diluted food grade peroxide and one must take care not to force the liquid into the ear. I read one comment online where a person asked if it was ok to pour a "capful" in the ear and I was rather shocked as a few drops at a time does the trick. I should think one could damage the eardrum if a lot of that bubbling liquid worked its way behind a solid plug of wax and got trapped in there. The homeopathic remedy I was thinking of is Similasan which is not an ear cleaner per se, but rather a remedy against pain and irritation, which would in my view be the only reason why anyone would want to remove ear wax.
@SViswan (12071)
• India
28 Oct 08
okay...these are all new information to me. And most of it flies above my head. I need to get down and read aboutthis now. My husband's the medico around here...I just follow instructions...lol But this is interesting and I will surely discuss it with my husband.
@reinydawn (11649)
• United States
3 Sep 08
I actually have a lot of earwax all the time. There have been times when it's drained down my face - yeah, gross I know... I do know that it's not good to use q-tips to remove it, you aren't supposed to put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear canal. They do have air-cans that will do the trick though.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
3 Sep 08
wow! I haven't seen anyone whose ear wax drains down their face. Are you kidding? I thought it tends to harden inside the ear when it accumulates (I personally wouldn't know because I clean my ears out every week).
2 people like this
@reinydawn (11649)
• United States
4 Sep 08
Yeah, it's only happened a couple times. Both times when I was traveling by car long distances. I keep mine clean most of the time too, but I do have a lot of buildup.
1 person likes this
@p1kef1sh (45640)
3 Sep 08
I stick a piece of sterilised cloth onto a wire and push it straight through from one ear to the other, pulling the dirty end out of the opposite ear. No problems and no infections!! In reality I only collect what hits the end of my finger. I am fortunate in that my ears are not very waxy anyway. I am quite sure that your information is good though. Poking your fingers in simply pushes the wax deeper into your ears where it can compound and infect the ear canal.
2 people like this
@p1kef1sh (45640)
3 Sep 08
Saves a lot of problems for me Goodie!!
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
3 Sep 08
lol...nothing dirty between the ears! I just read an article on that in the newspaper. My dad is partially deaf in one ear with all the 'cleaning' he did through the ears and the doctor told him this little piece of information long back...which he passed on to me...but I thought it was silly and continued to clean my ears. Now, I'm wondering whether I should stop. The article said the wax was there for a reason and we needn't clean it at all unless it was causing a problem.
@owlwings (39593)
• Cambridge, England
6 Sep 08
I was always taught that the only thing you should ever put in your ear is your elbow (try it!) I totally agree that ear wax is natural secretions that should be left alone unless they are causing a problem (because, perhaps, the body is producing too much). If there is too much ear wax, though, it is likely to be a sign of infection which, of course, should be dealt with. The best way to remove earwax is to have it syringed out by a competent medical person but if you choose to clean your ears yourself, then use a dropper with warm olive oil to soften the wax and cotton wool loosely pushed just into the opening of the ear to soak up the softened wax. Cotton buds are a bad thing because they can damage the ear drum and, in themselves, introduce infection.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
28 Oct 08
This is the first I'm hearing about olive oil! lol...I tried the elbow and it went right in!!
@shana123 (2096)
• India
4 Sep 08
I had one girl who comes to my home she was not that much close to me, i dont know her well personally she had this problem actually when i asked her she said that she dint clean her ear wax and thats why she had that ear ache and some cyst has formed in her ear and it is very painful and now she is taking some medication for it now.. why does this happened only to her? well i dint know that i should clean my earwax till then,whenever i get ear ache my mom takes me to ear doctor and cleans the wax thats all i know by seeing this girl i learned that i shoudl clean it sometimes i poke it with my nails then since im a biology student i started learning hygenic things now i use a clean ear bud .. i cant fully agree or disagree your discussion it would be more helpful for me if you please post the link of the article.thanks...
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
4 Sep 08
I read it in the newspaper. But my dad's doctor had also told him the same thing years back. So, I guess there is some truth in the matter. The article is too long for me to type it out here.
1 person likes this
@williamjisir (22903)
• China
4 Sep 08
Hello Sviswan. I have to say that I really love to clean out the wax from the ears. Each time I have a shower, I would use a cotton swab to clean my ears. I have been used to this for a long time. I feel more comfortable with the wax gone. But I think that so long as we are careful, it won't hurt our ears. Yes? Thank you.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
4 Sep 08
I hope that is right. I'm a cleaner and clean every week (mine and the kids'). But my little one did have a very bad ear infection for 3 weeks....I'm not sure but I'm thinking this might be the reason.
1 person likes this
@aureliaz (1179)
• Singapore
3 Sep 08
I've read about this as well and it is worrying to me because I personally am one of those people who can't go 2-3 days without cleaning my ears out with a cotton swab..it gets too darn itchy and drives me crazy if I don't. Hopefully, there will be an alternative solution soon.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
4 Sep 08
If you go to the doctor (I think the solution is available over the counter too), a solution is poured into your ear and it bubbles and cleans the wax out. You just have to then clean it out with cotton.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
3 Sep 08
well that is definitely true. I always clean my ear that cause of it to have a mild infection. Just last week I went to a doctor and it seems that some ear wax got clog up to my inner ear and I was scheduled for another check up after I treated the wax with some baby oil to make it soften and for the doctor to clean it up. To much cleaning can also cause a loss of your natural protection which also happens to. I got my ear so clean that an ant came in to my ear and bite me. luckily there are only bite marks but still due to excessive cleanliness my right ear got some mild infection.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
4 Sep 08
My little one had a ear infection for 3 weeks and I am now worried if it is because of all the cleaning I do (I do it religiously every week)
1 person likes this
• India
3 Sep 08
Hi Sandhya, I usually don’t interfere with nature and have never had an ear infection (touch wood). But long time back, my left ear was badly damaged during a phone conversation…you know I was talking intently and then suddenly from somewhere on the other side, this high pitched metallic sound was like a shaft of pain thru my ear and I literally fell down. My friend was of course oblivious to it and it did not want to get her worried so I said nothing but since then this left ear has been troubling me. Its not a regular ache, but I cant take loud noises or high-pitched tones and I use the earwax cleaner about once a month otherwise the ear tends to feel heavy from inside and starts throbbing.
2 people like this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
3 Sep 08
You haven't had a ear infection BECAUSE you didn't mess with nature! My! That must be bad...haven't you got that ear checked?
@mayka123 (10756)
• India
4 Sep 08
I have the habit of cleaning my ear with a ear bud everyday after a bath. But I make sure it is just the outer surface and not deep inside the ear as I had always been told that it is dangerous.
2 people like this
• Philippines
4 Sep 08
I don't clean my ear by my own. I go to my E.E.N.T. doctor once a month. and he told me about that thing too. We should not remove earwax from our ears using cotton buds 'coz it is being pushed in and it may cause infection. Take care of your ears guys...
@cupid74 (11394)
• Pakistan
4 Sep 08
Hi SV Well i used to use cotton bud to clean my ears daily after bath, but i also read the same article and now hesitatent to do that Now dont know what to believe or not but now its habit for me Take care
2 people like this
@CJay77 (4441)
• Australia
4 Sep 08
Two months ago I've been cleaning my ears almost everyday after bath or shower! Untill one time that I think I pushed it too hard that makes my left ear hurts! But I ignore it knowing it will be fine for the next few day! Then after just one day I'm in so much pain and couldn't go to sleep at all and then the following we go to see a doctor and thankfully that I don't get bad infection! I just push it hard that make my ear canal swollen. After that never clean my ears everyday.
2 people like this
@aseretdd (13736)
• Philippines
4 Sep 08
I remove earwax from my ears every morning... because the inside of my ears tend to be very itchy when i don't... i think that is a good sign for me to remove them... or else i will have to deal with that itch the whole day... i remember my friend telling me that it is not good to clean the ears everyday... so when it doesn't itch... i don't clean it... but when it does... which is usually often... i get a cotton bud and clean away...
@Katlady2 (9920)
• United States
3 Sep 08
I usually break out the Qtips every couple of weeks. I just get to the point that my ears are too itchy from the wax build up to leave them be. I've read that we're not supposed to clean them out very often, so I try to keep from doing it too much.
2 people like this
@maddysmommy (16235)
• United States
3 Sep 08
I usually clean out my ears using ear buds and that's about it. My sons ears often block up so I was told by our family doctor to use a soluble solution which I do every few months, or depending on when he starts to not 'hear me' too well - he usually has a build up of wax when that happens.
2 people like this
@iyah10 (4116)
• Kuwait
3 Sep 08
I cannot let it stand in my ear although it have a good cause for my ear because I always clean my ear wax everyday and even when it comes for the time of itchy period then probably I would clean it direct not even waiting for my after shower time......
2 people like this
@dpk262006 (56473)
• Delhi, India
3 Sep 08
I fully endorse your views and agree whatever your have written - earwax should not removed using any pointed object such as needle or even ear-buds. My ENT specialists tells me that when it accumlates in excess, it comes out automatically, as and when we chew our food. I normally do not clean out wax from my ears. What do you do in this case?
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
3 Sep 08
lol..I am a cleaner...and I clean out mine and the kids' ears every week! I didn't believe my dad when he told me this years ago. Actually it wasn't that I didn't believe him...but I just couldn't stand not cleaning my ears out. But what you have written is exactly what my dad was told by the doctor.
@dpk262006 (56473)
• Delhi, India
6 Sep 08
LOl! You defy the information/knowledge given to you by your father.......
@SViswan (12071)
• India
28 Oct 08
lol...yes...sometimes I do...until I learn my lesson!
• United States
4 Sep 08
Since I have an overabundance of ear wax, I clean them about once every two weeks. I do let it build up some but since there is so much, I do have to clean them at least that often or else I will get hearing loss anyway. As far as my kids are concerned I don't clean theirs except to go in with my finger and a rag. Not only because of the protection factor, but because I am just scared that since I don't feel where the Q-tip is, I will push it way too far and cause some immediate, permanent damage.
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
4 Sep 08
I clean out mine and the kids' ears every week even if there is no buildup of wax. No wonder the little one got an infection....my over enthusiastic cleaning!
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Sep 08
Its funny how we know what is supposed to be right as far as health, but we do what we've been taught anyway lol. I clean my kids ears in the manner mentioned above five days a week. They don't get infections, but then again, I'm not cleaning the whole ear. I think my son has only had one earache ever, and that was because he had the chicken pox. My daughter has had a couple, but Lord only knows where that came from.
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
16 Oct 08
I do clean my ears with a cotton bud every now and then and almost have a heart attack sometimes when I pull the cotton bud back out! I too have heard that it can be dangerous when the wax ends up compacted within the ear canal; but surely we have to do this once in a while to reduce excess build-up? The one thing that friends of mine have done that I would like to get done myself one day is to have their ear canals syphoned by a Doctor. Apparently the Doctor uses a syringe to pump and then extract a solution into the ear that cleans it out very effectively. They all swore that they had supersonic hearing after having this done!
1 person likes this
@SViswan (12071)
• India
28 Oct 08
Yes, my dad has had that done and he loved the experience.....though he was little deaf as we had suspected and it wasn't just the wax as he had thought.