Ears constitute an important part of our auditory system; they are an important sense organ that help in balance and body positioning. Ears can get clogged up because of too much earwax (cerumen). Earwax may cause complications when it gets accumulated in excess as it can block the external auditory canal or hearing aids and hinders hearing. Basically, earwax is a yellowish waxy substance that helps in protecting the skin of the ear canal and also assists in lubrication. Moreover, earwax is helpful in fighting against bacteria, fungi, insects and water.
Types of ear wax induced ear infections:
Basically, ear infection develops if earwax firmly lodged in your ear canal is in excess. If the earwax touches your eardrum, then it may cause discomfort and pain. Below are some complications that have been reported from patients after having ear irrigation or earwax:
- Otitis externa (Swimmer’s ear) – This condition is the infection of the ear and/or outer ear canal. Otitis externa causes itching to the ear or becomes red and swollen. Swimmer’s ear is very painful and may also lead to the formation of liquid pus.
- Acute otitis media – This type of ear infection is very painful. Redness of the eardrum and pus in the ear along with fever are some of the symptoms of acute otitis media.
- Otitis media with effusion – This type of ear infection develops, when fluid builds up in the middle of the ear without any signs and symptoms. Basically, otitis media is more common than acute otitis media, and is commonly caused by allergies, viral upper respiratory infections, or exposure to irritants (such as cigarette smoke).
It has been reported that about 1 in 1,000 people get serious complications due to earwax. They may have to suffer:
- Severe infection – Severe conditions occur rarely, if the infection progresses to the base of the skull and causes meningitis (infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain), cranial paralysis, then it leads to death. Severe infection hits elderly people having weak immune system and people with diabetes.
- Chronic tinnitus – This condition is a long-term, which sometimes requires earwax removal or ear irrigation. However, this is also very rare.
Ways to clean your ears:
Earwax is regarded as a natural substance that helps in protecting the ear canal from external properties like dirt, bacteria, and other things. But, when earwax clogs and causes hearing difficulties or discomfort, an ideal cleaning procedure should be followed. Below mentioned tips or techniques may help in removing earwax from your ears:
Cleaning ears at home:
There are various safe techniques that you may apply while cleaning your ear at home, these are described below:
- Make sure that you don’t have an ear infection – Do not ever try to clear excess earwax if you have already developed a ear infection because it may lead to a perforated eardrum. Cleaning your ears under circumstances of infection can be extremely dangerous. If you have an infection, then schedule a medical appointment immediately. Basically, symptoms of an ear infection include fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, persistent and severe ear pain, or green or yellow drainage from the ears.
- Make wax-softening solution – For softening the earwax, you can purchase carbamide peroxide cleaning solution from your local pharmacy or you can make your own. You can prepare it by mixing the warm water with one of these a teaspoon or two of 3-4% hydrogen peroxide solution, mineral oil, or glycerine.
- Prepare an applicator – You can simply pour the solution into your ear if you don’t have an applicator on-hand. If you do have one around, then you can use a plastic syringe with a plastic tip or an eyedropper by filling the applicator with the solution.
- Tilt your head to the side – Cleaning process will work best if your ear canal is vertical. If you are not comfortable by tilting your head sideways, then you can also lie down on your side for at least 5 to 10 minutes. If you have used hydrogen peroxide, allow the solution to work until you no longer hear fizzing or popping sounds.
- Drain the fluid – Hold an empty bowl under your ear, or put cotton up to the outside of your ear. Don’t try to push the cotton into your ear, just simply hold the cotton lightly against the outside of the ear to catch the fluid.
- Flush your ears – If the earwax has softened, use a rubber bulb syringe to flush out loose earwax. You should gently squirt lukewarm water into your ear canal.
If you do not find any relief from the above process or if you’re finding any difficulty in performing the above tips, then rush to your ENT specialist. He/she will perform proper procedure to flush out the earwax from your ears.
- Visit your doctor – You have to visit your doctor or a specialist, if you can’t clear the blockage on your own. After examining your ear, the doctor can tell you in a couple seconds if you have a blockage or not.
- Relax – Finally, this is the relaxing time for you. The doctor may flush your ears with a water pick or bulb type syringe to clean out smaller blockages. He may also use an instrument called curette to remove larger blockages in part. Moreover, if these instruments do not work, then he may perform suction therapy to remove blockage. This procedure will not hurt you a bit, and in just a few minutes, your ears will be safely and thoroughly cleaned.
How to prevent excess earwax blockage?
You can prevent excess earwax blockage by performing the below mentioned techniques:
- To prevent earwax blockage, try to keep it moist by frequently running water into your ear during bath. This process will help you in preventing the earwax from getting dried. Always make sure to drain the water from your ears after running it for some time.
- Try to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet because these are good for mitigating the problem of ear wax. To fulfil your need of omega-3 acids, include walnuts, salmon, avocados, and ground flax seed in your diet.