Most people brush their teeth twice a day and exercise regularly, but how many of us schedule in ear cleaning and care? Because the ears and their internal structures are precious and delicate, it’s good to understand a little about them and how to take care of them on a regular basis.
What you need to know about ear wax
Ear wax may not be a topic that is regularly discussed. But it’s important to know what it is, how it protects our ears and how to remove ear wax if necessary.
Ear wax is a waxy, yellow or orange-coloured substance produced in the ear canal, which is sometimes visible in the outer part of the ear.
Far from being unpleasant, ear wax actually performs a number of very important roles. It lubricates your ears and protects them by keeping out dirt and dust. It also has antibacterial properties to help prevent infections.
However, ear wax can become problematic if it builds up and blocks your ear canal. If this happens, you may notice symptoms such as:
Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
A feeling of fullness in the ear
Discharge, odour or itching
If you suspect a problem with the build-up of ear wax in your ears, it’s important to consult a doctor or hearing care professional. You should not insert anything into your ears – for example, cotton swabs – as this may push the ear wax further inside or damage your hearing.
How to clean your ears
As we’ve seen, attempting to insert anything into your ears to clean them may result in injury.
The best way to clean your ears is to gently wipe away any excess ear wax in your outer ears with a moistened tissue or cloth, taking care to limit cleaning to this area only.
What to do if you have impacted ear wax
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the bullet points above and are concerned you might have impacted ear wax, there are a number of things you can do.
To prevent ear wax impaction in the first instance, you can use ear drops once a week to keep the wax soft and allow it to come out of your ears naturally.
If you are wondering how to remove ear wax, you can also irrigate your ears at home, either with a kit purchased from a pharmacy or by allowing one ear at a time to fill with warm water when you are in the shower. Then tip your head so that the water and ear wax drain out of your ear. You should not attempt this if you have a perforated eardrum or a tube in your eardrum.
Or you can schedule an appointment with an ear care professional every six to 12 months. They will be able to look inside your ear to see if you are affected by impacted ear wax and may recommend ear wax removal using gentle, safe and effective methods.
Regular appointments with your ear care professional are especially important if you wear hearing aids. Ear wax can block sound, damage your hearing aid and even stimulate your ears into producing excess quantities.
Scheduled ear checks will keep your ears and hearing in good shape, allowing you to get on with your life enjoying great quality sound!