Some of us have no issues in using almost every other handy device to remove ear wax, ranging from tiny pieces of paper, and hair pins to even safety pins. However, a standard practice in many homes involves using a swab of cotton, usually wound around a thin rod or stick to remove ear wax. And although it may seem as a fail proof method to remove wax from the ear, the potential hazards it can cause are manifold. Which brings us to the gist of this article, how to remove ear wax safely and effectively! But before we actually jump into the process, let’s start off with a basic understanding of what ear wax actually is and its role in the body.
An Introduction To Ear Wax
Contrary to the popular notion that ear wax is a waste material produced by the ear and needs to be removed completely, ear wax actually helps to maintain lubrication in the ear in addition to successfully preventing germs from entering the inner layers of the ear. Produced by the outer ear canal, ear wax (or cerumen) acts as a water proof lining for the entire ear canal and helps keep dust, dirt and other harmful particles at bay (far from the ear drum). The excess wax produced in the process would usually just come out of the ear canal all by itself (it would either fall off or be washed off when bathing). However, in cases where in the wax refuses to fall off and gets lodged in the canal, causing discomfort, pain or loss of hearing, we would need to resort to alternate methods of removal. And although there are plenty of easy ways to do this at home, it is always recommended that you check with a doctor once before resorting to any technique. A doctor would be able to ascertain if the issue can be treated at home or needs clinical support.
Home Based Remedies for Ear Wax Removal
Remember! All of these methods would warrant a doctor’s prior approval.
In most cases, ear wax that seems to have got stuck in the outer ear canal can be removed using a washcloth or a cotton bud. Avoid using hairpins, safety pins or any other thin device with which you think you can remove the wax. These options can potentially damage the ear canal in the process. Don’t use large cotton swabs as there are chances for them to get stuck in the canal with the wax. Do not use your finger to remove ear wax as you might push it further inside the ear, making it even harder for you to remove it afterwards. Using objects to poke around in the ear can also damage the ear canal, push the wax further inside or cause infections.
There are several over the counter remedies and prescribed medicinal remedies for ear wax removal. Accordingly, you can opt for ear drops which would soften the ear wax and make it easier to remove. There are also certain ear drops that actually liquefy the ear wax and make it rise up automatically. However, the contents in these drops could potentially cause an allergic reaction in the ear and so need to be avoided unless a doctor recommends them.
This is by far the most dangerous method for removing ear wax, especially if you are dealing with a child. The method involves placing one end of a cone like device inside the ear canal and then lighting the other end. The flames thus produced would create a vacuum in the cone and pull out the ear wax. Although used in many places, this method of ear wax removal is neither effective nor safe. The fire could potentially harm the ear canal or punch a hole in the ear drum and cause permanent loss of hearing.
If you feel extreme pain and discomfort in the ear, check with a doctor for possible wounds or infections. A doctor would also be able to ascertain if you need to remove the ear wax or just let it settle down by itself. Doctors usually use a curette to remove wax from the ear. The tiny device would come with a curve at one end which would enable the doctor to scoop the wax from the ear. Alternatively, he/she may also use graspers or suction devices to remove the wax. It doesn’t take long to remove wax from the ears. However, in certain cases wherein the wax is lodged tight inside the ear canal, is too far inside to be removed or has solidified, the doctor may administer some ear drops and ask for you to come back after a few days. Again, it would not pain when the wax is being removed from your ear. However, in cases where there is a wound/infection or if you are plain uncomfortable about the whole process, the doctor may administer general anesthesia before starting.After the wax is removed, the doctor would check the ear canals for possible infections and would prescribe some antibiotic ear drops for the same. And in most if not all the cases, this would be enough to take care of your ear problems. Just make sure that you visit the doctor regularly for removing ear wax though.