Everyone produces earwax. Though we rarely think about it unless we want to clean it, it actually performs a very important function in the ear. However, in some cases, it can start to build up, to become a nuisance, and can even affect our hearing. When that happens, cleaning it may be your first thought, but the truth is that a lot of the most commonly used methods be not only ineffective but dangerous.

Here, we’re going to look at how to properly and safely clean your ears, and why visiting your hearing instrument specialist could be the most effective first step.

Is cleaning your ears really necessary?

As mentioned, earwax not only has a role to play in your ear’s health, it’s essential. Earwax catches the tiny dust, debris, and bacteria that makes its way into the ear. Without it, you would be much more prone to irritation and infection. What’s more, your ears are self-cleaning. They’re designed to dislodge and slowly get rid of earwax whenever you talk, eat, or otherwise move your jaw and head.

In most cases, there’s no real reason to clean your ears. Of course, that’s not always the case. Some people produce more earwax than others. It can sometimes lead to blockages that can muffle your hearing as well as increase your risk of infection and permanent hearing loss. If you wear a hearing aid, your ear is likely to produce more earwax, and it’s more likely to get stuck due to the obstruction. When that happens, you might need to think about cleaning it.

How do I know when I need to clean my ears?

Unless you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may not necessarily need to clean your ears:

  • The sound from that ear is muffled or distorted
  • You have a full feeling in the ear
  • Tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing sound only audible to you)
  • The ear feels itchy or irritated
  • Dizziness or a spinning sensation

Is there a safe way to clean your own ears?

Unfortunately, the most frequently used methods of cleaning your ears are not only likely to make the problem worse, but they could also run the risk of doing serious damage to your ears. The only safe way to clean your own ears without professional help is to take a warm shower. This softens up the wax in your ear, so you can wipe it away from the outer ear using a soft, clean towel.

Cotton buds are often used but they can actually end up pushing the earwax deeper inside. This can make the blockage worse, increasing your risk of infection and hearing loss. Furthermore, you can end up irritating your ear canal, which can also increase the risk of infection.

Other methods, like candling are even more dangerous. No ear health professional will recommend this as there is no evidence that it works. The only real impact it might have is potentially burning your ears, so it should be avoided at all costs.

Cleaning your ears with professional help

If you’re experiencing an earwax blockage and toweling it away after a hot shower isn’t working, then rather than trying to handle it yourself, you should consider asking your hearing instrument specialist how they can help.

A professional cleaning involves using a long, thin scoop-like instrument that is carefully inserted into the ear and scooping out the earwax that’s causing the problem. This is much safer than trying it yourself for a few reasons. For one, the professional can see clearly inside your ear, often with the help of magnifying and lighting instruments, so they can make sure they’re being gentle and not doing anything that could end up causing you hard. Furthermore, since they’re scooping the earwax out, they’re not going to be pushing any of it further inside.

Another method of cleaning your ears is by using ear irrigation kits. Safe cleaning fluids are inserted into the ear and out again, breaking down the wax and flushing it out. Not only can a professional use it to clean your ears out initially, but they can help you learn how to use it safely at home, as well.

Make sure you clean your ears the right way

If you’re experiencing an earwax blockage and you want to make sure you’re not doing more harm than good, then seeking professional help when cleaning is essential. Get in touch with your hearing instrument specialist at AA Hearing Aid Center Inc. at (203) 883-9393, and we can ensure your ears are cleaned the right way.