Most of us are not so comfortable with the fact that we have quite a bit of earwax naturally. For many, removing it is a matter of hygiene. But by attempting to do this, you might actually be harming your ear and letting it go unprotected.
Earwax is a natural part of your body, a protective layer produced in the ear canal to protect the ears from infections and dirt. It is a lubricating and usually sticky secretion that consists of dead skin cells, cholesterol, squalene, fatty acids, lysozyme, and antibacterial enzymes.
Why Do We Need Earwax?
- It lubricates your ears and prevents them from itching. This is needed as much as you need tears to keep your eyes from drying up.
- It cleans itself and the ears. Throughout the day, even the slightest facial movement throws out the earwax.
- It is a good indication of sweat and odor. If your earwax is sticky and dark, it indicates excess sweat and a stinky odor in your body. Dry and flaky earwax means that you probably don’t smell as much.
- It can be due to stressful situations. Just like how you sweat more when you’re stressed or afraid, your body produces more earwax in such situations.
What Can Cause Excessive Earwax Buildup?
1. External Factors
Earwax can develop due to many reasons, one of them being external objects inserted into the ear. This can be anything from headphones, hair pins, Q-tips, hearing aids, and even a finger! Doing so pushes the earwax further inside the ear canal and makes it difficult to remove.
2. Health Issues
- Skin, bone, or tissue infections make the canal narrower, leading to earwax buildup.
- Aging might result in the production of thicker and less fluid earwax, which isn’t excreted easily.
- Any injury or blockage of the ear canal can lead to the production of a lot more earwax than necessary.
- A deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids can increase earwax production.
How To Recognize Earwax Buildup
The symptoms of earwax buildup indicating a need for removal might include one or all of the following:
- Irritation and an itchy sensation
- Slight pain that can gradually increase
- Feeling like your ear is full or blocked
- Impaired hearing
- Ringing in the ears
- A cough due to irritation
How To Safely Remove Earwax
1. Wait And Watch
Most of the times, your ears are capable of treating infections or removing dirt on their own. Although the increased earwax might be a little uncomfortable, give it some time and wait for it to go down on its own. If it doesn’t workout, take further steps.
2. Soften The Earwax
The best way to do this would be to use softening agents. These drops, known as cerumenolytics, will soften the wall of earwax, which makes it easy to remove.
Alternatively, you can use natural remedies for this.
- Mix vinegar and alcohol (or dilute the vinegar with water) in equal quantities and pour a few drops to the affected ear. Hold it in position for about 5 minutes, drain the solution from the ear, and wipe your ear clean.
- Squeeze a few drops of a mixture of ¼ tsp of baking soda and 2 tsp water. Hold it in position for about 10 minutes, clean your ear with warm water, and then wipe it clean.
- Pour a few drops of warm salt water into the ear and let it be for about 5 minutes. Drain the liquid and wipe the ear clean with a cloth.
- Squeeze a few drops of a mixture of 2 tsp hydrogen peroxide and 2 tsp water and retain for a maximum of 8 minutes. Drain the liquid and wipe the ear clean with a cloth.
- Pour a few drops of virgin coconut, olive, or almond oil and retain for about 10 minutes. Drain the liquid, wash the ear clean with warm water, and dry it with a cloth.
3. Use A Syringe
Earwax can be removed quite easily with a little bit of warm water.
- Prepare lukewarm water that isn’t too harsh on your ear.
- Fill a rubber syringe with the water and squirt it gently into your ear canal.
- Wait for a few minutes, drain the water by tilting your ear, and wipe it clean.
Note that this should preferably be done by a doctor. Also, this method is not advisable if you have a perforated eardrum, inserted ear tubes, or if you’re prone to ear infections.
4. Remove Through Suction
This can be performed only by doctors as it requires a suction device. Your doctor can use the device to suction the earwax out.
A Word Of Caution
Basically, earwax is not as harmful or disgusting as you imagine it to be. So, don’t get paranoid and try to remove it forcefully. Do not use a cotton swab as it just pushes the earwax further in and blocks the ear canal. Do no go for ear candling as it has more risks than benefits. While there are over-the-counter ear irrigation kits, preferably visit your doctor if you cannot handle the discomfort.