There are many different products and treatments on the market that claim to be safe earwax removal options. However, most of these products will do more harm than good when it comes to your ear canal.
Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a self-cleaning agent for the ear canal. It has antibacterial, lubricating, and protective qualities that are vital for the ear. It is usually not necessary to clean or remove earwax out of the ear canal. Earwax usually falls out of the ear on its own, due to constant motion of the jaw. This is the safest earwax removal option.
Sometimes earwax does not fall out on its own, and instead begins to build up in the ear canal. This can also occur when a person is using various objects to probe the ear. Using these objects, such a cotton-tipped swabs, in the ear can push the wax deeper within the ear canal. This causes the earwax to become compacted and stuck in the ear. This can lead to various symptoms including:
- Feeling of plugged hearing or fullness in ear
- Partial hearing loss
- Itching, odor, or discharge
- Tinnitus, ringing, or noises in the ear
It is important to note that the ear canal should be cleaned only if earwax blockage occurs. Cleaning the ear canal consistently will more likely do more harm than good, pushing and compacting wax further inward. If earwax blockage occurs, there are safe methods of earwax removal. Ear drops, or a few drops of baby oil or mineral oil, can be used to soften the wax. This will allow the earwax to safely dry out and fall out of the ear. It is also possible to use an ear syringe at home, or a physician can perform this task.
The most effective safe ear wax removal is manual removal. Performed by an ENT, like Dr. Joseph Russell at National Allergy & ENT, this procedure is does using a suction or special instrument and a microscope. This is also the best option if the ear canal is narrow, has a tube or perforation, and other issues. It is best to discuss with an ENT to decide what for of earwax removal is the best for you.