Ideally, ears are a self-cleaning organ. However, at times, when it becomes difficult for ear wax or cerumen to naturally work its way out of the ear, it gets accumulated in the ears. This is called impaction.
Impaction clogs the ears, making hearing difficult. It causes a dull ache and odor in the affected ear. In extreme cases, when the buildup is more than natural, it may even cause dizziness and cough.
People who use hearing aids, headphones, ear plugs and other devices are at the risk of developing more ear wax. This happens because the passage from where the ear wax can safely eject itself is blocked by these devices. Elderly people with developmental difficulties and those whose ear canals are narrow also face the problem of impaction. However all is not lost.
Here are simple techniques can be used at home to clear the wax from the ears-
1) Earwax Softener
Earwax softeners, available over-the-counter, can be used to clean out the wax. Tilt your head slightly so that the ear is facing the ceiling and pour the indicated number of drops in the ear. Wait for five to ten minutes. Tilt the head again so that the ear is parallel to the floor to help the drops drain out. Hold a soft cloth or a piece of cotton just outside the ear to catch the solution.
2) Saline Water
Mix a teaspoon of salt in half a cup of lukewarm water. Soak a cotton ball in the solution. Tilt the head, as mentioned above, and squeeze the cotton ball to put some drops of water in the ear. Wait for five to ten minutes. Drain out as mentioned above. Clean the outer ear using a soft, clean damp cloth.
3) Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol
Soak a cotton ball in a mixture of vinegar and rubbing alcohol. Tilt the ear and squeeze some drops of the solution into the ear. Let it stand for ten minutes. Tilt the head again and drain it.
4) Baby or Mineral Oil
Soak a cotton ball in lukewarm baby or mineral oil. Squeeze a few drops in the ear with your head tilted. Wait for ten minutes. Flush the ear and drain. Clean the outer ear with a damp cloth.
5) Irrigation Kits
Irrigation kits may use either water or a saline solution. Though these kits are available online to help clean out the ears, it is best to allow a doctor to undertake this method to clean the ears.
Things to Avoid
According to doctor recommendations, there are certain things that should be positively avoided for cleaning the ears. These include:
Earbuds: These might push the wax further into the ear canal.
Pointed objects: Sharp objects like keys, bob pins, matchsticks, etc. can harm the delicate skin of the ear canal causing it to break. This invites bacteria and increases the risks of developing infections.
Ear candles: These can also harm the inner ear causing permanent loss of hearing. The flame at the end of the candle can hurt the ear. Chances of the wax remaining inside the ear are also high.
NOTE: In case impaction persists even after trying these home remedies, then one must visit an ear specialist. Before using any of the above-mentioned methods of ear cleaning, please check with your doctor.