Though it may seem to serve no purpose other than to cause problems, ear wax actually serves to lubricate and protect your ear canal so that no foreign bodies can enter and so bacteria cannot grow. For most people, ear wax does not cause problems as it does not over-produce. However, an excess of earwax can occur in some individuals.
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If you are not consistently cleaning your ears in an effective manner, earwax can build up and eventually cause a blockage. Some may not even know they have an earwax blockage as the symptoms can mirror other ailments such as sinus infections, head colds, or water trapped in the ear. These symptoms can include dizziness, ringing in the ears, a feeling of fullness in the ear or head region, reduced hearing, or inner ear pain. If the blockage is not taken care of, it can damage the sensitive tissues located in the hearing and could eventually lead to hearing loss.
What You Should Never Do to Your Ears at Home
If you are having ear pain or feel you have a blockage in your ears, you may try to take care of it at home. This is usually a bad idea. Not only will it probably be ineffective, but you could also damage your sensitive ear tissue. Here are a few things you should never do to your ears at home:
Q-tips are great for cleaning the outer portions of your ears, but they should never be inserted into the ear canal. Doing so could remove too much ear wax and compromise your body’s ability to trap debris and keep your ears safe. You could also inadvertently push wax further back into the canal and compromise your hearing. In extreme cases, you can actually perforate your eardrum, which is extremely painful.
Use ear candles
Ear candling has gotten a lot of press lately, but it’s simply not effective. Inserting a tube (or candle) into your ear and lighting the other side of it to ‘suck out’ the wax just doesn’t work. The residue in the tube is just the remnants of the candle and not actual ear wax. Ear candles can also pose a danger of getting candle wax into the ears or ear drum perforation.
Some people ignore symptoms such as itching, pain, ringing, or compromised hearing and simply hope they will resolve. However, if you have an injury or infection, you could experience hearing loss if you don’t see a professional. Don’t ignore issues when it comes to your ears. A quick appointment with a professional is all you need to avoid lifelong hearing loss or pain.
If you do have excess earwax or are experiencing other symptoms, it’s time to book an appointment. Many times an earwax blockage will require a procedure done at a local clinic. An ear flush, also known as an ear lavage, is often the most effective method of resolving a blockage that is causing physical symptoms.
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What is an Ear Lavage?
When performed by a healthcare professional, an ear lavage is a safe method of removing excess wax. The professional will use either a squirt bottle and cannula or a rubber bulb syringe filled with warm water to flush out the ear canal. In certain cases, a water pick or a small vacuum may be used to remove the earwax. Ear lavage is also called earwax cleaning, earwax removal or just ear cleaning.
Why Do I Need to Go to a Professional for an Earwax Cleaning?
The inner portions of the ear are extremely delicate and sensitive. If you try to perform an earwax cleaning or extraction at home and do not know what you’re doing, you could damage your ear or ear canal—possibly permanently.
Most people who attempt at at-home ear lavage also do not know for sure if an excess of earwax is actually causing their symptoms. If they attempt to resolve the problem themselves and there is another cause, they could be missing something that will negatively impact their health.
Healthcare professionals who are experienced in ear lavages know what to look for to determine if earwax is the cause of symptoms. They also know how to expertly perform the procedure so that it solves the problem without damaging the ear or surrounding tissues. Finally, a healthcare professional will be able to clear out the excess earwax completely so that the problem is solved the first time. He or she will also be able to give you advice on how to prevent the blockage from happening again.
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Make sure you choose an earwax MD who is knowledgeable in ear lavage and other ear issues. Your hearing is too important to leave to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing (and that includes you!). When you visit a professional for an ear lavage, you will know your earwax situation is being handled safely and professionally so you can preserve your hearing for a lifetime.