Earwax (cerumen) is a normal substance produced by the body to clean, lubricate and protect the ears. However, many of us like to clean our ears and try to remove earwax using objects or methods that are not entirely safe.
Expert guidelines released by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation provides recommendations as to how people should approach the issue of earwax and healthy ear care1.
Earwax is a normal substance produced by the body to clean, lubricate and protect the ears.
"This update … is a strong reminder to patients that ear health starts with them, and there are many things they should do as well as many things that they should stop doing immediately to prevent damage to their ears," said Dr Seth R. Schwartz, chair of the guideline update group. "There is an inclination for people to want to clean their ears because they believe earwax is an indication of uncleanliness. This misinformation leads to unsafe ear health habits," Dr Schwartz added.
The guideline provides a list of dos and don'ts when it comes to caring for your ears. Here are some of the important ones:
- DON'T over-clean your ears. Too much excessive cleaning can irritate the ear canal, causing infection and earwax impaction.
- DON'T put anything in your ear that is smaller than your elbow. Cotton swabs and hair pins may injure your ear as they can cause cuts inside the ear canal, holes in the eardrum or can push earwax further into your canal, causing blockages that lead to hearing loss, ringing and other symptoms.
- DON'T go for ear candling. There is no evidence this process removes earwax and having an open flame near your face is never a good idea.
- DO seek the help of a qualified health professional if you experience any symptoms of hearing loss, ear fullness or pain.
- DO ask your doctor about how you can treat your earwax impaction when at home. If you have a particular health or ear condition, some methods may be unsafe.
- DO seek further medical attention for symptoms that are not related to earwax impaction such as ear pain, drainage, or bleeding.
If you'd like to find out more about the best way to clean adult ears, or to discuss any concerns or symptoms you are having, click here or call 1800 340 631 to book an appointment with your local Audika clinic.
1American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Experts Update Best Practices for Diagnosis and Treatment of Earwax (Cerumen Impaction): Important Patient Education on Healthy Ear Care. Accessed January 2017.