HOW SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR EARS?

You may have heard from your audiologist or another professional that using cotton swabs to clean your ears can damage your ear drum. It’s true: injuries from the use of cotton swabs are common. Some of the problems that can occur include hurting delicate inner ear areas, puncturing the ear drum, and possibly even vertigo or deafness!

If you’re like most people, you may be wondering if cotton swabs are dangerous, what can be used to clean dirt, build-up, or wax from the ears?

Ear wax is normal.

Ear wax is actually a good thing. It’s a sign of healthy ear function. If you think about it, our ears are holes in our head that could potentially expose us to unwanted bacteria or dust. The ears make wax to trap these harmful elements and prevent them from going further into our heads.

Our ears produce ear wax as a defense mechanism, so ear wax is a critical way to keep us healthy and safe. Assuming your ears don’t overproduce wax, you may not need to clean them at all. Talking, chewing and other jaw movement normally helps ear wax to migrate down the ear canal and out of the ears.

Impaction

On rare occasion, someone will have an overproduction of ear wax. In this case, it is possible for the ear wax to accumulate and cause impaction. Impaction is just a buildup that can block one or more functions of the ear, one of which is a problem with hearing.

Impaction may have accompanying symptoms such as tinnitus (ringing in the ear), an earache, dizziness, odor coming from the ear, or a cough.

If you often have something in your ear, such as ear plugs, which may prevent the ear wax from escaping the ear, you may also experience impaction as a result. In other cases, an oddly-shaped ear canal could also have an effect on the migration of ear wax naturally.

What’s the best way to get rid of ear wax?

You can verify whether or not you have ear wax impaction with an examination by your doctor or audiologist. Once the condition of your ears is established, a course of action can be recommended.

Doctors can clean your ears in the office to remove impacted ear wax if necessary and can give you tips for the best ways to remove clean your ears at home.

Other ways to clean your ears that don’t use cotton swabs:

    • A Moist Wash Cloth Wipe ear with a warm washcloth to remove wax in your outer ear. This prevents pushing ear wax deep into the ear, which can happen with a cotton swab.
    • Try an Ear Wax Softener Drug stores often stock over-the-counter wax-softening ear drops. Ingredients in these drops may include peroxide, saline, mineral oil, glycerin, or baby oil.
  • Irrigation A syringe can be used irrigate ears with a saline solution. The syringe rinses the ear canal gently, and is often more effective if an ear wax softener is first used.

Some people still wish to use cotton swabs, so if this is you: use them to clean only the outer part of the ear canal. Avoid deep insertion and always use a gentle, circular motion .

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

TWO LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU BETTER

San Mateo

88 N. San Mateo Drive
San Mateo, California, 94401

San Carlos

1008 Laurel Street
San Carlos, California, 94070

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

Pool Time! Avoid Swimmer’s Ear with These Tips

It’s summer time, and for most of us, that means we will spend some hot days in the pool. Pool time is a lot of fun, but it also comes with the risk of swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is a type of ear infection, caused by bacteria that breeds in the ear canal when moisture is trapped there. Here are some ways to make sure you prevent this painful infection.

Keep it Dry

Keeping your ears dry and clean, especially after swimming, is a sure-fire way to prevent swimmer’s ear, because the bacteria need moisture to thrive. Thoroughly dry your ears out after swimming. You can use a hair dryer on the cool setting if you think tilting your head and using a towel isn’t cutting it. While some people use rubbing alcohol to help speed up the process, doing this too often can actually cause more infection in the long run.

Plug them Up

Wearing ear plugs while swimming can prevent moisture from getting trapped in your ears in the first place. You can find swimming ear plugs at some stores or at your audiologist’s office. Be sure to get well-fitting ear plugs designed for swimming.

Ear Drops to the Rescue

Ear drops can also be used after swimming to facilitate drying out the ear canal. Some favorite liquids to use are rubbing alcohol, olive oil, hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar. Rubbing alcohol can cause excessive dryness with repeated use and hydrogen peroxide can also kill beneficial bacteria in your ear, so use those two sparingly. If your ears are clogged with excessive earwax, ear drops will not be effective. Also, never use ear drops if you have a synthetic ear tubes or a ruptured ear drum.

Ear Wax basics

Too much or too little ear wax can also cause a problem because ear wax is important for maintaining ear health and preventing infections.

Read more about how to clean and maintain ear wax here:

https://www.verywell.com/all-about-ear-wax-blockage-1192040

Keep Your Skin Healthy

Healthy skin in and around your ears contributes to ear health and prevents infection. If the skin in your ears is too try or cracked, the environment can promote infection. If you have dry, flaky skin in or around your ears, try these tips:

  • Keep your ears dry
  • Don’t scratch or cut your ears in any way
  • Don’t use Q-tips or other objects inserted in the ear. These can damage the skin.
  • Don’t clean your ears forcefully. Be gentle with any cleaning, and if you have excessive ear wax, see a doctor for cleaning.

If you keep in mind all of these preventative tips, your risk of any infection, including swimmer’s ear, is reduced. As always, regular check-ups with your audiologist is key to maintaining ear health.

Drop by at 88 N San Mateo Dr. San Mateo, CA 94401  (650) 342-9449