Sometimes our ears become clogged and feel uncomfortable. It's tempting to poke around to see what's causing the problem, but this can cause more pain and be dangerous, leading to serious long-term damage to the ear canal and eardrum.
In fact, most doctors say stubborn ear blockages are usually the result of our poking around. And what lots of people don't realise is that, by nature's design, our ears actually clean themselves.
A slight loss of hearing, discomfort in or around the ear, ringing (tinnitus), and earwax discharge are all clear signs that your ear's health is out of balance. This could be caused by an excessive build-up of earwax following a cold which resulted in sinus problems or infection, or there could be an underlying medical condition.
To find out the exact cause, you need to consult with your doctor. If it is simply a case of earwax build-up, then a good clean to remove the stubborn earwax should do the trick. But you need to take care, especially if it's your first time. You also need to use the right techniques and avoid using things like cotton tips - despite people using them for decades.
How to safely clean your ears: safe home remedies
You probably wonder what is the best way to remove ear wax? If you're looking for the best way to clean your ears at home, start by using a warm damp cloth to gently wipe around them and dab away any excess wax. This also helps soften the stubborn, hardened earwax. You can also buy specific ear wax softeners.
• Earwax softeners
Available at most chemists and some supermarkets, earwax softeners can be effective in removing blockages. Ingredients vary from mineral oil, saline and glycerine to hydrogen peroxide, and are often used with an irrigation syringe.
• Irrigation syringes
As your ear self-cleans, once the wax has softened, it should start to drain and then you can simply clean it away with a damp cloth. If you want to speed things up or it hasn't unblocked, you can use a syringe.
They sound awful, but irrigation syringes can be effective tools for earwax removal. Combined with a softener, these syringes are designed specifically for the task. Wait for about 15 minutes after applying the softener and the loose wax can be suctioned out.
What NOT to do
Before embarking on the sensitive task of cleaning your ears, first be sure it is absolutely necessary. They do clean themselves, and it may be your prodding and probing which has delayed the process.
House keys, pens, and just about anything which fits have all been poked into people's ears in a bid to unblock them. We know these are probably not the right tools for the job, but the ones we think we should use can also be detrimental, too.
• No ear candles
Studies show that ear candles do not work. The candle wax also joins the stubborn earwax and makes it worse.
• No cotton tips
Almost every household had or has a tub of cotton tips in the bathroom cabinet. Their purpose: for cleaning ears. Unfortunately, this is bad advice and is now considered detrimental to your ear's health, causing perforated eardrums and upsetting the natural balance.
• About ear irrigation
If you think you have a perforated eardrum, have a low immune system or suffer from diabetes, using wax softeners for irrigation should also be avoided.
Earwax removal is best carried out by a healthcare professional.
Wax removal is most safely done by a specialist. Your ear canal and eardrum are delicate. It’s best to not try to remove ear wax yourself, especially when you are already suffering from ear pain, drainage or other ear problems. The best thing to do is to go and talk to your doctor or an ear wax removal specialist. If needed, they can remove excess ear wax from your ears during an office visit.