Cleaning ear wax

Cleaning ear wax out can be a messy and unpleasant task. If you have excessive ear wax or trapped water in your ears, it must be removed correctly, if not then you may end up with more problems than before. So how should you clean your ear wax?

In this article, we will discuss what ear wax is as well as how to properly clean your ears. We’ll also discuss some of the things not to do when cleaning your ears.

What is ear wax?

Your body makes ear wax to clean and protect your ears. It coats the inside of the outer part of your ear canal trapping dust or water in specialised hairs.

What should you do when cleaning your ears?

Cleaning the ear wax - image of q-tip being used

When it comes to ear wax, there are things that you should avoid doing and others that you want to make sure you do. The old saying “don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ears” is our favourite!

Here is a list of what we recommend:

  • Avoid using cotton swabs or anything similar as they can cause damage in the ear. They can also push the wax deeper into your ear canal potentially risking perforating your ear drum.
  • Avoid using ear candles, also known as Hopi Ear Candles. They simply don’t work and can cause damage to your ears
  • Avoid any harsh chemicals that could irritate your ear or even cause inflammation. This is especially important if you have an infection in the outer part of your ear.
  • Don’t put anything into your ear canal that is too big. This could damage the eardrum and cause serious injury. This includes things like pens, toothpicks, paperclips, the arm of your glasses, matchsticks, hair grips… yes we have seen and heard it all!

To keep your ears cleaned

  • Do use water, or a saline solution to gently clean the outside of your ear canal.
  • Use a little olive oil spray to help keep any wax build up soft and flowing.
  • Don’t wear in the ear headphones or earbuds all day unless they are designed for listening protection. This is especially important if you’re at risk for hearing loss.
  • Keep a well-fitting set of hearing aids in good condition by following manufacturer’s instructions on how to care for and clean them.
  • You can use swim plugs to keep your ear dry when swimming so that bacteria doesn’t accumulate.

It’s extremely important if you have any sort of infection around the outer part of the ear or ear canal that you seek treatment right away.

Cleaning the ear wax

If you think you have a build-up of ear wax already. Or if you are finding it harder to hear. You should really come and see us so we can examine your ear for wax build-up.

An audiologist uses the following techniques to remove ear wax:

  • Cleaning the outer ear with a sterile cotton ball or swab dipped in water
  • Softening ear wax using a drop of olive oil or olive oil spray.
  • Micro suction, irrigation and manual removal are all techniques that can be used to remove ear wax.
  • Microsuction where we insert a thin tube into the canal and gently vacuum out the ear wax under microscope or endoscope
  • Irrigation is where we place a controlled jet of warm water into the ear canal to flush out the ear wax.
  • Manual removal is where we insert a probe into the canal, guided by a camera, and manually remove the ear wax.

If your hearing is not as good as it used to be, or your ears are feeling full or are painful due to a build-up of earwax and debris. Come see us so we can clean the ear wax from inside your ears with one of these methods.

Only a hearing and ear care professional should be cleaning the ear wax. We train specifically to do these procedures safely for patients. Audiologists also have the equipment to see and test deeper down into the canal of the ear. With these tools, and our experience, we can tell if there is excessive build up of wax inside the ear and also assess your hearing abilities.