There is a lot of mixed messaging out there about how to remove the earwax from our ears. The way you were told to clean out earwax as a child is most likely different than how you do it now. Additionally, the ear and ear canal is more delicate than you might think. If you aren’t extremely careful, your attempts to remove earwax can lead to some unpleasant side effects. However, there are ways to naturally remove earwax safely and I’m going to show you how.
The Facts About Earwax
The medical name for earwax is cerumen. Interestingly, this word is derived from Latin, as “cera” is the Latin word for wax. The production of earwax is completely natural. In fact, there is actually a purpose to earwax. Here we’ll look at what that purpose is, how earwax is created, and why traditional ways to remove earwax can be dangerous. (1)
What Is Earwax?
Harvard Health Publishing says earwax “starts as a mixture of fatty secretions from the sebaceous glands and sweat glands in the walls of the outer ear canal.” Over time, the movement of our jaws from chewing, talking, etc, will naturally drive the earwax out through the ear canal. Finally, when it reaches the outer parts of your ear where it will dry out and flake away. (1)
Why Is Earwax Important?
So far, earwax doesn’t seem that great. Really, what is it doing besides falling out of your ear? In actuality, earwax is naturally acting as a cleaner. As it travels through the ear, it collects dirt, dead skin cells, and bits of hair that have gotten trapped inside the ear canal. So when your earwax is making its way out of your ear canal, it’s actually removing all these potentially damaging things. Not only that, but earwax also has antibacterial and antifungal properties to it, acting as a natural way to remove germs and fungi – the sort of things that could make you sick. Finally, without earwax, you just wouldn’t be comfortable. Without earwax, your inner ear would start to feel extremely itchy. So, don’t rush to remove every last bit of earwax you can find! (1)
When You Need To Remove Earwax
As we’ve learned, a natural amount of earwax is no problem. Not only is it not bad for you, it may be quite beneficial to leave it alone. However, the problem arises when you have too much earwax. When there is earwax build-up, it can impact the earwax in your ear canal. In other words, rather than your earwax being pushed out of your ear to remove debris, it gets backed up. Unfortunately, this can result in earaches, hearing loss, and infections, among other things. Harvard Health Publishing says “If it gets lodged in a certain way, earwax can cause a cough by stimulating the branch of the vagus nerve that supplies the outer ear.” If that earwax can’t remove itself, it will keep impacting your nerve. (1)
What Causes Earwax To Build Up
Naturally, the body has no perfect systems. In fact, there are a few different ways that your earwax becomes impacted enough that you need to remove it.
Firstly, earwax that hardens or dries out most likely needs a little help to remove it. Generally, earwax that has collected a lot of the assorted junk it is supposed to remove will harden faster. Therefore, if your ears are not cleaned regularly, you will be more likely to need to remove your earwax. Additionally, medical conditions that cause dry or flaking skin can cause this excess debris – and be more likely to dry out the earwax. For example, eczema sufferers are at greater risk for hard earwax which needs to be removed regularly. Naturally, if your earwax has sat in the ear canal for too long, it will also harden.
Harvard Health Publishing also explains that “with age, the glandular secretions change consistency, so they don’t travel as easily through the ear canal.”
Furthermore, hearing aids can cause additional earwax build-up. The usual path your earwax would take out of the ear canal is blocked by the insertion of the hearing aid. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “by some counts, between 60% and 70% of the hearing aids sent in for repair are damaged by earwax. It gets into vents and receivers, and the acidity degrades components.”
Finally, genetics and heritage play a role. For instance, people of East Asian descent have a higher likelihood of producing dry earwax naturally. (1)
How To Remove Earwax Naturally
“The thing that many people do — but shouldn’t — is try to remove the wax with a cotton swab,” says Harvard Health Publishing. It “tends to push the earwax back into the ear.”
In fact, using a cotton swab, a finger, or whatever else you may have tried to stick in your ear could make things even worse. “Earwax forms in the outer third or so of the ear canal, not near the eardrum,” according to Harvard Health Publishing. “So, when there’s a buildup right up against the eardrum, it’s often the result of failed removal attempts.”
Luckily, there’s a simple way to naturally remove earwax – hydrogen peroxide. (1)
The Right Technique To Remove Earwax Naturally
Room temperature is the most comfortable for removing earwax with hydrogen peroxide. Additionally, the provincial health department of Alberta, Canada stresses the importance of using room temperature liquid for naturally removing earwax. They remind us that “cool or hot fluids in the ear can cause dizziness” so just stick with room temperature.
These are the steps you need to take to remove earwax naturally:
- Put five drops of room temperature hydrogen peroxide in your ear
- Wait five minutes to allow the solution to work
It’s that simple! It’s best to do this right before a shower, so you can easily remove the freshly-loosened earwax from your ears.
In the shower, Alberta Health recommends following these directions. First, have a “gentle, warm shower. Direct the water into the ear, then tip your head to let the earwax drain.” Next, “dry your ear thoroughly with a hair dryer set on low. Hold the dryer 8 to 10 centimetres from your ear.” Taking the time to dry your ears after is very important: Harvard Health Publishing says, that “if water gets into the middle ear, a serious infection is possible.”
Harvard Health publishing says that a “clinician tackles an earwax blockage in pretty much the same way as a do-it-yourself-er,” so you don’t need to run to a doctor’s office. However, you SHOULD seek medical treatment if:
- Pus or blood leaks from the ear.
- A week after your home cleanings, you still have reduced hearing.
- You develop any new symptoms associated with ear disturbance, such as nausea or dizziness. (1, 2)
Still Have Questions?
As we’ve seen, earwax removal is a delicate business. Although hydrogen peroxide is a relatively safe way to naturally remove earwax, it’s still important to be careful.
To help, I have compiled a step-by-step guide for you to safely remove your earwax. To order this comprehensive guide, just click here.
You can also check out my YouTube video on clogged ears here.