Saturday, May 8, 2010

What's the best way to get earwax out of my ears?

Earwax is not a problem for most people. If your ear doesn't hurt and you can hear fine then don't worry about earwax.

I am often asked what the purpose of earwax is. It helps protect the ear by keeping it dry and protect it from infection. However, it can build up in your ear and cause difficulty hearing. This is when it should be removed.

If you are bothered by your wax then here are a few suggestions to get it out:

Never, ever stick a Q tip in your ear. I know we have all done this at some point. But here's why:
This is a picture of an ear canal with wax (graphic from Northwestern University)

The inside of the ear is a tube. If you stick a q tip into your ear canal you run the risk of two things- pushing the wax further into the ear canal or perforating your ear drum like this:

So don't stick Q tips in your ears!

There are over the counter earwax removal drops called Debrox. These work very well. I've heard of home suction kits and irrigation systems but I don't know how well they work.

Other cheap ideas:
Hydrogen peroxide, olive oil or mineral oil. You can soak cotton balls in either of these and then place them into your ear. The idea is it will soften your earwax and allow it to come out naturally.

Or you can go see your health care provider who will take it out for you.
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