IT can be satisfying when we clean our ears and pull out a waxy ear bud, but one expert has now warned that this could be dangerous.
Ear wax isn’t actually a sign that you’re unclean or dirty, and is completely natural.
It’s produced by the cells lining your outer ear and ear canal and is made up of a natural oily substance produced in the sebaceous glands.
This natural oil gets mixed up with dirt, sweat and dead skin cells, which is what comes out when you use a cotton bud to clean your ears.
Ear wax actually protects viruses and harmful bacteria from entering your ear canal as it creates a barricade.
For most people, your ears actually clean themselves so there isn’t much you can do.
But if you do have a build up of wax which is making your ears feel full, you have earache or you’re struggling to hear then there are methods you can use to clean them.
Ear, nose, and throat specialist at the University of Louisville, Jerry Lin said that sometimes you might have to visit the doctor, but there are things you can do at home.
He explained that picking out a little bit of wax from the front of the ear is okay but that you should never put a cotton bud in there.
He explained: “Q-Tips are a bad idea.”They take up much of the canal diameter.
“Therefore, using them packs the wax deeper into the ear canal. In the worst-case scenario, the wax could be packed against the eardrum and possibly even create an eardrum perforation.”
He said you shouldn’t try trends such as ‘Ear Candling’ which involves dropping hot wax into your ear as this can be dangerous.
Lin said that using ear drops can help with your waxy ears.
This is because they are liquid solutions that help thin and soften the ear wax, which leads to it breaking down and leaving the ear.
You can buy ear drops in pharmacies and they are usually under brand names such as Otex and Otosan.
You should always read the label when taking any medication as you need to know how many ear drops to administer.
Speaking to Insider, Lin said that usually the drops will work immediately, but that if there is stubborn wax then it might take a few tries to get rid of it.
One previous study, published in 2018 found that using ear drops for five days is more likely to completely clear the wax – rather than not using anything at all.
SEARCH YOUR KITCHEN CUPBOARDS
Another way you can clean your ears just requires something many people already have in their kitchen cupboards.
Lin said that using a baking soda solution could help, it’s simple to prepare – but Lin said you should only use this method for two weeks.
All you need to do is dissolve half a teaspoon of baking soda in water and use a dispenser or dropper bottle to tip it into.
Then tilt your head to the side and drop five to ten drops of the solution into your ear.
After around an hour the wax should have softened and you then need to rinse the ear by using a rubber syringe filled with warm water.
When should you remove ear wax?
Some people enjoy cleaning their ears but as the experts have stated – in most cases, you don’t need to clean them and nature will run its natural course.
But if the wax has built up too much then there are some symptoms you need to look out for.
The NHS states that if you are experiencing hearing loss, then you may need to clean your ears.
Other symptoms include, earache or a feeling that your ears are blocked or a ringing or buzzing in your ears (tinnitus).
Some people can also feel dizzy and sick (vertigo) if they have a build up of wax in their ears.
If you symptoms haven’t cleared after five days then you should see a professional.
When finished you need to tip your head to the side in order to let the water drain out.
Make sure you dry your ear with a clean, dry towel and you can do this once a day until it clears up.
You can also use natural remedies to clear your ears such as oil – but make sure it’s baby oil, mineral oil, coconut oil or olive oil.
These can all be used to soften and remove ear wax and you again need to use a dropper bottle to pop it into your ear.
This time wait a day or two for the wax to soften and then rinse it out again with warm water, as explained with the baking soda technique.
Once you have tipped the water out of your ear you then need to dry your ear again.
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