Our ears are an often ignored part of our body. Interestingly, it contributes a lot to our overall well-being. It is crucial for maintaining communication, balance, and overall well-being. Good ear health prevents hearing loss, reduces the risk of infections that can impact hearing and comfort. Therefore, when it comes to maintaining ear health and hygiene, it’s best to start with the basics: cleaning earwax blockage. Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Suchir Mitra, Consultant ENT, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata, shares some insightful tips.
Role Of Earwax
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is formed in the ear canal several secretions from the ceruminous glands combined with dead skin cells. These help protect the ear canal by trapping dust and potentially harmful microorganisms. However, over time, the wax gradually moves from the deeper parts of the ear canal to the outer ear, where it can naturally be expelled or removed.
Dr Mitra says, “Earwax is a helpful and natural part of your body's defences. It aids in cleansing, lubrication, and safeguarding the ear canal by capturing dirt and preventing bacterial growth. However, earwax build-up can lead to discomfort and potentially temporary hearing issues.”
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal Clinical Evidence, ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes a hearing impairment or other ear-related symptoms. This is why it is important to recognise the signs of earwax blockage and how to remove it safely.
Signs Of Earwax Blockage
Some of the common signs and symptoms of earwax blockage include:
- An earache
- Feeling of fullness in the affected ear
- Ringing or noises in the ear (tinnitus)
- Decreased hearing in the affected ear
However, according to the doctor, having signs and symptoms, such as earache or decreased hearing, doesn't always indicate the presence of earwax buildup. There's a chance that another medical condition could be the cause, requiring expert medical attention, he adds.
Also Read: 6 Lifestyle Habits That Cause Ear Problems
How To Safely Remove Earwax At Home
In case there is an earwax buildup and problems associated with it, here are some ways to remove it safely at home:
- Gently soften earwax blockages using ear drops or oils like baby oil, glycerine, coconut oil or olive oil
- Alternatively, use a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to soften the blockage
- Warm water can also be effective in softening earwax
- Don’t use the following to remove earwax:
- Pen caps or bobby pins; it’s said that nothing smaller than your elbow should go in your ear
- Cotton swabs as they're too small for safe ear cleaning
- Ear candles as they may result in injuries like burns and damaged eardrums
It is important to care for your ear health and maintain ear hygiene, however, doctors are the safest option for its earwax removal. According to Dr Mitra, they have the expertise and tools to avoid harming the ear's delicate structures.