5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Ears At Home
Ear cleaning is not as simple as it seems and has several risks associated with it. Even when you see an audiologist for your ear cleaning, you are subjecting yourself to certain side effects and possible complications. Keeping this in mind, it is easy to understand why amateur ear cleaning at home can be highly dangerous. Here are some mistakes to avoid if you end up cleaning your ears at home.
1. Cleaning too often
Many audiologists believe your ears don’t need cleaning at all. Our ears have a natural self-cleaning mechanism that lets debris and excess earwax effortlessly slip out of the ear canal. This usually happens during sleep or a bath and is encouraged by our mouth’s chewing action. However, if you still feel the need to clean your ears, make sure you do it sparingly. Our ears need earwax to protect them from disease-causing microbes and nosy insects that try to make their way into our ears.
2. Inserting sharp objects
Why inserting sharp objects into your ear canal is dangerous is a no-brainer. Apart from the obvious reason that sharp objects, such as fingernails, car keys, bobby pins or matchsticks, can damage the delicate inner parts of the ear, there is also the possibility that they may perforate the eardrum and lead to deafness. People that use cotton swabs in their wars also do more harm than good. Cotton swabs tend to push the mass of hardened earwax further into the ear canal, increasing the possibility of damage to the eardrum and causing earaches.
3. Using too many chemicals
Many at-home ear cleaners make use of hydrogen peroxide to clean their ears. Hydrogen peroxide, although a common household substance, is highly oxidizing in nature. People may insert it into their ears to soften earwax so that it can drain out. However, excessive use of hydrogen peroxide can lead to irritation of the skin inside the ear, which may cause inflammation and earaches.
4. Using hot oil
An age-old method of getting rid of excessive earwax at home, inserting a few drops of warm baby or mineral oil in your ears is generally safe. However, care must be taken of the temperature of the oil before you drop it in your ears. If you warm the oil too much, it may cause burns in the skin of your ears and may even cause irreversible damage to the inner parts of your ears. Make sure the oil you use is only lukewarm and will not burn you. You might want to test it on the inner part of your wrist first.
5. Using ear candling
Perhaps the most dangerous method of ear cleaning at home is using ear candling, which is strikingly similar to medieval torture techniques. This method involves the use of the smoke from a burning candle to soften earwax. However, things can easily go wrong. Audiologists have reported cases of severe burns and perforated eardrums that have occurred due to accidents during ear candling.
As a medical clinic we DO NOT recommend the use of ear candling. We have seen it cause more damage than good. Ear wax is normal and should be left alone. In most cases, there is no reason to worry about ear wax.
what does a loud popping sound mean when using hydrogen peroxide in your ear?
I had a very severe ear infection which required penicillin. Discharge came out of my ear for about one week. I have been deaf in my left ear for nearly three weeks now. Someone suggested I use 3% hydrogen peroxide in my ear to try and unblock it. Is this safe as I also have tinnitus which I have had for several years. I do tend to get an ear infection in my left ear every year. Thank you for any advice.
If you have a one sided hearing loss, do not assume that it is just fluid or wax. I would recommend that you see and ENT and Audiologist very soon. There are other causes of hearing loss that need to be identified and treated.
If you use hydrogen peroxide the noise that you hear are the air bubbles being released. As a general rule we recommend that you leave you ears alone. If you place liquids in your ear regularly, it can change the pH of your ear which will result in MORE external problems.
If you have itching ears it could just be dried wax. We recommend a few drops of mineral oil applied to the canal 1-2 times per month. Mineral oil has no additives or perfumes ( as opposed to baby oil). If you have severe itching or scaling, we would recommend a visit with an ENT physician.
Most people can just leave their ears alone and do not have to worry about wax buildup. For some people who have narrow or elliptical shaped ear canals, they may retain wax in their ear canals. We typically recommend using 7-10 drops of mineral oil. Place the drops in your ear canal and lay on your side for about 5 minutes. Then turn over and let the mineral oil drain into a tissue. If you want to rinse your ears out when taking a shower that is also fine. For people who have wax issues, you can do this every couple of weeks.