Cleaning our ears is something most of us do habitually when we are done showering – most of us don’t even think twice about how we’re doing it. Unfortunately, the most of us clean our ears wrong and risk damaging our hearing.
Earwax, or cerumen, is your body’s natural way to protect your ears from dust, dirt, and other substances so it is actually healthy to have some earwax. In fact, your ears will usually clean themselves of excess earwax by slowly moving it out of ear canal. That being said, there are still many people who have trouble with a lot of wax build-up. This is more likely with adults, especially men. Hearing aid users also find that they begin to build excess wax due to the aids acting as a dam and blocking the body’s natural attempts at removing the wax.
So why is this important? Excess earwax can block sound, resulting in a sudden hearing loss. We want to avoid this, but we also want to keep our ears healthy. Cleaning too often can be detrimental to that. Our ear canals are lined with protective oils that help defend against infections. By cleaning your ears all the time, you’re essentially stripping those necessary oils. Your ears don’t need a good clean more than once every two weeks to a month.
When you clean your ears, you probably use cotton buds, right? Audiologists are absolutely against cotton buds. Instead of cleaning out earwax, they just shove the wax back into the ear. This can lead to impacted earwax that has to be removed by an audiologist. You should only use your cotton buds to clean the outside of your ear and clear loose earwax. We also suggest staying away from ear candling, which supposedly creates a vacuum to suck out earwax. All you will end up with is burns on your face or ear!
If at any time you have ear pain or a sudden drop or loss of hearing, please see your audiologist! Most problems are easy to fix, but if neglected can have long-term effects. A sudden loss of hearing can be sign of many more serious issues, so seeing an audiologist to diagnose the problem is very important! If you are having trouble cleaning your ears or want more information about it, call your audiologist and they will do everything they can to take care of you.