Safely Dealing with Excess Earwax

A recent bizarre story of a man who ends up with a brain infection from part of a cotton swab being left behind in his ear canal made me want to review the best way to deal with excess ear wax.

Cotton swabs are still being manufactured and sold and from an official survey of my friends and acquaintances are still being used to clean out ears.  But it is interesting that this practice of sticking anything at all in the ear canal to clean it is frowned upon by the medical community.  Sticking any foreign object in your ear can push the earwax further into the ear, damage the ear canal or even damage the ear drum.

Earwax is a good thing.

There is a purpose to the wax in your ears.  Your ears produce wax in order to protect the ear canal from water and infection.  The wax is a safety device to help you.  Earwax has antibacterial properties and helps keep dirt and dust from getting inside.  Your ears clean themselves, when you chew you move old earwax out of the ear canal to your ear opening.  Earwax that makes it to your ear opening dries up and falls out.

The problem happens when you have an overabundance of wax.  Excess ear wax can cause difficulty in hearing or cause pain.  If you experience a full feeling in your ears (plugged), are having trouble hearing,  experience a ringing in your ears, or a discharge is coming from your ear, see a doctor.  These are signs of a problem.

There are ways to safely clean your ears.

Options for Safely Cleaning Your Ears:

Water Method:

Distilled water works effectively at breaking down ear wax.  It may take multiple days, but a few drops of distilled water in your ear can help you naturally break down the wax and move it out of the ear canal.

Mineral Oil Method:

Place a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil in the ear.  Wait a few days for the earwax to soften.  Fill a bulb syringe with warm water.  Squirt the water into the ear canal.  Tilt your head to the side and let the water drain out.  Dry your outer ear.

Buy a Kit at the Store:

Your local pharmacy will have some ear canal washing options that are safe and come with the supplies you will need.  Often included is a bulb syringe.

Key Points

  • 1Earwax is a safety net to help your ears stay healthy.
  • 2Never stick an object into your ear in order to clean it.
  • 3Excess ear wax can safely be removed with water and an ear syringe.


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