Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Hearing is the process by which human beings are able to receive and perceive sound. The human ear serves several functions in the human anatomy and controls the flow of sound waves through our ear canal. The ear primarily conducts three basic tasks in order to perceive and understand sound. Firstly, the sound waves are directed to that portion of the ear that recognizes these wave patterns, so that it can decipher it by identifying the fluctuations caused in the air pressure by the sound waves and eventually transform the fluctuations into an electric communicative indicator that the brain can interpret.

Human Ear

The human ear essentially consists of three parts – the exterior, the middle and the inner portions. The exterior or outer part of the ear consists of, in medical terms, the auricle or the pinna and the ear canal. The pinna resembles a shell in terms of its structure and is responsible to direct the flow of sound waves from the external environment into the ear canal, which in turn directs it towards the ear drums which cause the fluctuations in air pressure. The outer ear is comprised of cartilage and skin. The middle and inner portions of the ear are embedded deep into hollow spaces situated in the skull on each side of the head. The middle and outer ear is separated by a thin, semi-transparent membrane known as the tympanic membrane.

The ear canal is responsible for producing a certain amount of oil with a waxy texture known as cerumen, which is predominantly known as ear wax, in order to ensure protection to the ear from dust and other harmful particles in the air. The ear wax which is produced in the ear canal serves the purpose of protecting the ear canal skin from any distress caused due to water. In the general, the ear manufactures enough ear wax to shield the ear canal from water, water borne diseases and other harmful infections. Cerumen serves as a protective lubricant which possesses anti-bacterial properties and performs the role of a cleaning agent. The depravity of cerumen results in the ears to become dry and causes an irritating itchy sensation. On occasions the ear tends to produce more ear wax than required, which results in the ear wax naturally finding its path to the opening of the ear. Old ear wax that has been accumulated over time is constantly being transported and its movement is completed by chewing and jaw motions. Ear wax is not produced in deep inside the ear but in fact in the exterior portion of the ear. Although it isn’t a medical necessity to remove the wax, it is advisable to do so primarily on the grounds of hygiene and maintaining a certain degree of cleanliness.

Ear Wax Leading to Hearing Loss

When the glands present inside the ear produce excessive amounts of ear wax, it may lead to accumulation result in the ear wax to become solid and cause blockage. When we attempt to clean our ears manually, we tend to push the ear wax further down increasing the chances of blockage. Blockage caused due to accumulation of ear wax is one of the leading causes of hearing loss and impairment. A study reveals that roughly 54 percent of average adults experience hearing loss to the extent that it jeopardizes and affects their daily activities and life in general. Hearing loss occurs basically when the ear is unable to translate the sound to an electric signal from the brain to comprehend. It is a known fact that noise pollution and ageing directly contributes to hearing loss, it is also noticeable in adults who are considerably young as well due to the blockage caused by ear wax which leads to a range of consequences. However, the implications are relative from person to person.

The ear is considered to be an intricate and fragile part of the human anatomy and must be tended to with care and kept clean. Firstly, it is essential to avoid using cotton tipped ear cleaners, Q-tips and bobby pins since it results in the ear wax to be pushed further down the ear canal and it results in it sticking to the ear drums. These cleaning objects do not serve its purpose but only thrusts the ear wax deeper into the ear canal. As common as wax blockage is the primary cause of hearing loss and the root to the problem is the use of cotton swabs. Ear candles are also not a suitable option to clean your ear wax because it is hazardous to one’s safety and may end up causing serious injuries. It is not safe since the instructions dictate the user to shove down hollow cone shaped candles, approximately ten to fifteen inches long, down your ear canal and set fire to the exposed end. It has been established that it is necessary to clean your ear canal once enough wax accumulates because if it is left unattended it delivers to several complications to your health such as ear ache, coughing, partial hearing loss which may proceed to become worse, itching and tinnitus.

How to Remove Ear Wax At Home Safely?

How to Remove Ear Wax At Home Safely?

There are several other safe and practicable ways to prevent cerumen impaction, which is wax blockage, they are as follows:

  1. Salt Water – Salt water is considered to be one of the most effective remedies to remove ear wax efficiently. The first step is to add half a tablespoon of salt into warm water, not piping hot, and soak a cotton ball inside it. Secondly, you are required to tilt your head and drop a couple of drops of the saline mixture into the ear that is experiencing discomfort and maintain that posture for period of 5 minutes. After 5 minutes has elapsed, tilt your head to the other side and clean the softened wax with the cotton.
  2. Ear Drops- There are several wax removing ear drops available in the market. A couple of drops in the affected ear helps in reducing ear ache and gives a sense of relief to the user. Ultimately, the ear wax softens due to the solution and falls out of the ear opening. Hydrogen Peroxide is one of the primary ingredients in ear wax solutions and drops and possesses the capacity to remove ear wax effectively. Researchers suggest that opting for ear drops is the most pocket friendly approach to cure wax blockage. Even though ear wax irrigation is one of the more popular methods of cleaning ear wax, it leads to several complications if opted for. In case of ear drops, the margin of error is slim and the results speak for volumes of its performance. There are a plethora of options available in every pharmacy in recent times. However, in case of prior ear injuries, the use of ear drops should be avoided. Hydrogen Peroxide is used in almost every medicinal drop as its primary ingredient; it is not as effective as distilled water.
  3. Baby Oil – Baby oil also serves as an effective solution when it comes to the removal of ear wax. Firstly, we need to our a small amount of baby oil into an ear dropper and follow the same procedure by tilting your head and dropping three to four drops in order to soften the ear wax and assist in its removal.
  4. Olive Oil- The process remains the same in case of olive oil. You can either use some cotton or an ear dropper to facilitate the removal of the ear wax. Dampen the cotton in olive oil or fill the ear dropper with a small amount of olive oil, tilt your head and place three to four drops into your ear. Hold the position for a period of five minutes and clean the soften wax with a clean cotton.
  5. Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol – This remedy has stood the test of time and has been used for several years to remove ear wax. Firstly, we need to create a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol and then the process remains identical. This remedy is commonly practiced among swimmers.
  6. Mustard Oil – Mustard oil is considered to an effective cleaning agent in case of ear wax. A couple of drops of mustard oil can promote the softening of the ear wax and eventually result in its removal from the opening of the ear. The process of cleaning remains identical as compared to when using olive oil, baby oil or distilled water.
  7. Suction – Usually conducted under the supervision of a doctor, where the ear waxes are removed using a suction process and sucks out the ear wax stuck to the ear drum efficiently.

It is necessary to keep things under supervision and control and not let it affect your health in the long scheme of things. It is essential to visit your doctor frequently and listen to his instructions rigorously to avoid any sort of abnormalities.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 23, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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