Keeping the ears dirt-free and healthy is one of the best ways to maintain healthy hearing. However, there is a proper way to clean the ears. Doing it incorrectly can risk your hearing and might endanger your eardrums. Audiologists know the best way to clean the ears, using safe tools and techniques to maintain the integrity of the fragile auditory system.
The eardrum is very fragile, a sudden poke from a sharp object could perforate it which could lead to serious consequences. So, what is the best way to clean the ears?
Cotton swabs? Ear candles? Ear washing or flushing? All of these are popular ear-cleaning tools or methods but as audiologists, we don’t encourage our patients to put something inside the ears.
Cleaning the outer ear is okay, but putting something inside your ear to get rid of wax and other dirt and debris is another story.
The Logic Behind Ear Wax
The ears are self-cleaning and don’t need extra care. The only time you should clean your ears is if there is wax on the outside of your ear canals. In fact, earwax has antibacterial properties.
Earwax is commonly thought of as being dirty, but it actually helps to keep the ears clean by stopping harmful things like dust, dirt, and debris from getting inside.
The reason people feel inclined to clean their ears is because of the presence of cerumen. Cerumen is a sticky substance that helps protect and lubricate the ears. Without it, ears would be dry and itchy.
Swallowing and chewing can help move earwax out of the ear canal and to the outer ear opening. Earwax usually dries up and falls out there.
If you are experiencing an earwax blockage or impacted earwax, you may have tried cleaning your ears with a cotton swab and that pushed the wax deeper inside.
Using cotton swabs, hairpins, or other pointed objects to clean the ears will not guarantee that you can pull out all the dirt out of the ears. In fact, you may even be putting your ears at risk for problems such as hearing loss, a ruptured eardrum, or infections. Making use of these small, pointed objects is definitely not the best way to clean the ears.
Best Way to Clean The Ears: Do’s and Dont’s
If you feel like you have too much earwax buildup and would want to try addressing it at home before seeing an audiologist, you can try cleaning your outer ear with a washcloth.
To soften the wax, you can also try putting a few drops of hydrogen peroxide or baby oil in your ear. Another option is to use an over-the-counter earwax removal kit.
Again, please avoid using cotton swabs, hairpins, or other small and pointy objects that can potentially irritate your inner ear.
Ear candles are discouraged because several studies have shown that they are not effective and may put your ears at risk for burns. The FDA has already released a warning about ear candles. If you’re thinking about using ear candles to clean your ears, save yourself the trouble.
If you suspect that you may have a serious issue with earwax, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with an audiologist.
Audiologists are trained to check the ears and help you deal with any ear problems, including impacted earwax or itchy ears.
When you go to an audiologist, you are guaranteed that your ears are in good hands because they are trained and knowledgeable about the best way to clean the ears. Hearing clinics have the appropriate tools, techniques, and equipment to ensure that your ears are clean and healthy.