Protecting Your Ear Canal: 5 Things to Watch out for When Removing Earwax

audiologist examining ears

If your ears are blocked with wax, you might be tempted to remove it on your own. Earwax is a natural substance that the body produces to remove bacteria and other foreign bodies from the ear canal. Usually, earwax leaves the ear canal naturally, but sometimes it builds up. When this happens, you need to remove it.

When ear wax builds up and affects your hearing, it is called impaction. You can take Miracle-Ear’s quick online hearing test to determine if you have hearing loss. Impaction can cause aches and pains in the ear. It can also cause dizziness as well as ringing in the affected ear. If you decide to remove ear wax from your own ears, there are several things to watch out for.

1. Don’t stick anything small in your ears.

Doctors have jokingly, yet seriously, given the advice of not sticking anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. This is good advice. Sticking small items in your ear – like cotton swabs – can cause damage to the ear canal and the eardrum.

2. Use an ear wax softener

Instead of sticking a cotton swab or something else in your ear to remove ear wax, try using an ear wax softener. These will help drain your ear wax without having to stick anything into your ear other than a liquid. You put a few drops into your ear, wait for a set time, then let the wax drain.

Ear wax can build up and harden because of dead skin and other debris that gets into the ear. With an ear wax softener, that unwanted debris breaks down and drains easier. If you tilt your head toward the clogged ear, the debris will empty.

3. Try irrigation

If ear wax softener moves too slowly, irrigating the ear might be quicker. Irrigation works hand-in-hand with softeners, but instead of waiting for the wax to drain, you encourage draining with a saline solution and a syringe. The saline solution helps remove the wax and it moves it out faster if you use an oily ear wax softener to loosen up any hardened pieces.

4. Avoid using ear candles

Some people use ear candles to get wax out of their ears. The idea is that by sticking a cone-shaped candle into the ear and set fire to it, ear wax will be sucked out of the ear. But, some people have trouble with getting candle wax in their ears. Some people are injured by the fire from the candle, too. They are simply too risky.

5. See a physician

Instead of doing something risky that could injure your ear and cause permanent damage, see a physician for ear wax removal. A physician can see in your ear and can safely remove wax build-up without any trouble. Some people, who have frequent ear wax buildup, see a physician once per year to remove the wax before it becomes too problematic.