A normal, healthy ear requires very little, if any, cleaning. Nature takes care of the cleaning duties itself with various secretions. However, it is possible for wax to collect in the ear canal which makes hearing difficult.
If you have an excessive wax build up in your ears then you may need to clean them. You may need to clean your ears when:
- You have pain in your ear or you have reduced hearing
- You have a ringing noise in your ear
- Your ear is itching or discharging a foul smelling substance
Cleaning your ears at home
Luckily, there are several methods for cleaning excess secretions from your ears that you can use at home. Some of these are listed below:
Loosening wax with massage
This can be done by gently massaging the area behind the ear and pulling the ear in several different directions whilst opening and closing the mouth at the same time. This will help to unblock any collections of matter in the tiny canals around the ear.
Using oxygenated water
This method has been useful for getting rid of excess wax a well as for easing ear aches. Half a cup of oxygenated water is added to half a cup of warm water. Put a small amount of the mixture into a clean dropper. Lie down on your side and drip some of the liquid into the affected ear. It may be better if you get someone to do this for you. Stay in this position for three minutes whilst the liquid does its job. Then turn over and allow the liquid to run out of the ear. Repeat for the other ear if it is also affected. It is possible to use mineral water or baby oil for this procedure as well.
The above procedure can be carried out using warm olive oil. It should be left in the ear for fifteen minutes and this can be repeated three times a day.
Hot water bottle
Simply fill your hot water bottle with warm water and hold it against the affected ear for half an hour. You could lie with your ear on the hot water bottle if that is more comfortable. The heat will soften the wax and make it easier for it to drain out of the ear.
It is possible to buy specially designed irrigation tubes which you can use with water heated to body temperature. Always follow the operating instructions supplied with the irrigation tubes.
Using a chamomile infusion wash
Prepare a chamomile infusion using two tablespoons of chamomile flowers and one cup of water. Allow the infusion to stew and cool before you use it. Strain very well before use.
Prior to using the infusion you should place three drops of olive oil in the affected ear and leave it for 5 minutes. This will pre-soften any wax. Then you simply rinse the ear with the infusion – you can use a dropper or a tube to insert it.
Remember, if you continue to have hearing loss or discharge from your ear you should consult your doctor.
Ear cleaning precautions
- Do not attempt to clear out an ear blockage by inserting anything into your ear. It has been shown that Q-tips or cotton buds can make things worse rather than better. They are likely to push wax back into the ear where it could become compacted.
- Ear washing should never be carried out if you have a perforated eardrum. You could allow substances to enter the inner ear where they can cause huge damage.
- Pressurized irrigation systems are completely unsuitable for use in your ears as they could perforate your eardrum. It is also important to remember that washing your ears repeatedly could put you more at risk from infections.
- The home remedies listed here should never be used on children younger than 12 years of age. If your child has ear problems then you should take them to the doctor.
Ear wax is produced by your body for a reason! It traps dust, microorganisms and other foreign matter so that they cannot enter the delicate structures of the ear. Washing is only recommended when the ear is very blocked with wax.
If you get frequent wax plugs you should consult your doctor or practice nurse.