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A very common question is how often should you clean your ears, and what are the best methods? It’s important to clean your ears enough while making sure that you keep the right amount of earwax.
If you don’t clean your ears, earwax can and will become impacted, resulting in ear aches, hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing, or the sensation of sound in the ear). The frequency of ear cleaning varies by individual, as some people simply produce more earwax than others.
Although it is important to keep your ears clean for both the reasons outline above and of course for general hygiene, it’s important to clean them the right way. Avoid using Q-tips or anything solid that requires insertion into the ear canal.
Dr. Ronald Fenton of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto claims to, “see far more problems from over-aggressive or overzealous attempts to clean wax by individuals or even occasionally by health-care providers than we see from having an accumulation of wax.”
“In trying to remove it, people often get into trouble … they’ve got a Q-tip in their ear and somebody nudges their elbow and all of a sudden they’ve done serious damage to their middle ear.”
Generally speaking, the ears can take care of themselves in terms of cleaning. However, an over-production of earwax can happen due to infection or trauma, which could easily cause blockages and affect your hearing. In this case, there are safer methods than using a Q-tip to clear it away.
You can purchase over the counter drops to help break up an excess of earwax, or you could make your own by following the advice of the American Hearing Research Foundation by putting a couple tiny drops of clean olive oil or baby oil in your ear every other week or so.
If this doesn’t work, you should talk to your doctor about ear irrigation. This is a fairly simple process where the doctor uses “a pressurised flow of water to remove the build-up of earwax… a controlled flow of water will be squirted into your ear canal to clean out the earwax.” If ear irrigation is ineffective, you might need to try microsuction, a quick, safe and painless procedure where “a special suction device is used to remove the earwax under a microscope.”
Ultimately, you will rarely need to clean your ears, but if you do, it should be under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
If your ear if filled with wax, medical care is recommended to make sure that there is no infection. If your ear is infected, Dr. Nguyen can help. With over ten years experience in treating ear infections, he can provide the professional and personal attention you need.