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Safe Earwax Removal Tips ‒ Why, When and How

Sep 10, 2020 Safe Earwax Removal Tips ‒ Why, When and How

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a naturally produced waxy substance that’s found in the outer ear. For the most part, earwax is a good thing. However, too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

When there’s an overproduction of earwax, steps must be taken to remove the excess while not causing any damage to the eardrum. 

  • Why should you not wait too long to remove the extra wax? 
  • When would be the appropriate time to remove the wax?
  • How would you go about removing earwax? 

 Here is some information on how to deal with excessive amounts of earwax that you can put to good use.

Understanding the Purpose of Earwax

Why does the body produce earwax in the first place? The purpose is to help keep the outer ears clean and trap dust and other particles that could otherwise enter the outer ear and move to the middle ear.


When a healthy amount of ear canal wax is produced, everything is fine. Other than practicing good hygiene, there’s nothing else that you need to do. It’s only when your body begins to produce too much earwax that you need to take action.


Why Should Earwax Be Removed?


If there’s too much earwax present, it will need to be removed. Failing to do so does increase the potential of certain health threats. Knowing what damage could be done by excessive wax will help you understand why you shouldn’t wait too long.


  • Reduced Hearing Quality. One of the first problems that too much earwax will trigger is a reduction in the quality of your hearing. Depending on how much wax is present, softer sounds will be more difficult to hear, and louder sounds may be more muffled.

  • Irritation and Earaches are also common. There may be a sensation of itching that won’t seem to go away. You may also notice that the ear seems to throb, punctuated by short but sharp pains.

  • Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus) is another common symptom of excessive earwax. If you don’t already have tinnitus, the ringing may be noticeable immediately. Even if you do have this condition, the ringing may become more pronounced.

Your best solution is to remove the excess wax when you notice that the ear feels a little full. If you’re not sure how to clean wax out of your ears, you definitely want help from your doctor.


When Do You Know it’s Time to Remove Excess Earwax?

Earwax removal is very common. In fact, some people notice that their bodies produce too much wax at certain times of the year. You’ll know it’s time to do something about the situation when one or more of the above symptoms appear.

Why now and not later? If you wait, more of the symptoms associated with a clogged ear will develop, or existing symptoms will get worse.

Is It Safe to Remove Earwax at Home?

Learning how to clean earwax at home is not difficult, especially if you get instructions from a doctor or audiologist. Along with some ideas of what to do, expect to get some guidance about approaches that you should avoid at all cost.


  • Never Put Small Objects in the Ear. There’s an old saying about removing earwax: never stick anything in the ear smaller than your elbow. The point is that attempting to insert something to remove the wax could push it deeper into the ear canal. That in turn could make the situation worse and increase the chance of damage to the eardrum.

  • Earwax Softening Drops. A better solution is to invest in some type of earwax cleaner. There are over the counter earwax softening drops that work well in many instances. By placing a few drops into the ear and allowing them to remain there for the time noted in the instructions, the wax will soften and begin to break up. That will make it easier for the wax to drain out of the ear.

  • Ear Canal Irrigation. It’s also possible to use a syringe to irrigate the ear canal using an equal combination of lukewarm water and hydrogen peroxide. Position the syringe so that you can gently flood the outer ear with the solution. The hydrogen peroxide will permeate the wax and break it down. You’ll see tiny bits of wax in the water that drains out of the ear. You may need to irrigate the ear several times before your hearing is back to normal.

  • Apply Heat. Some people report receiving relief by using heat to soften and dislodge the excess wax. This might involve applying a heating pad to the affected ear and leaving it there for a half-hour or so. While using heat may produce some benefits during the early stages of a blockage, it generally is ineffective if the wax is already impacted.

 With any of these home remedies, pay attention to how you feel as you administer the treatments. If you begin to feel dizzy or your balance is adversely affected, stop immediately. If you feel any sharp pains, stop and seek help from a medical professional.

How Does Seeing a Doctor Differ From Wax Removal at Home?

Safe earwax removal under your doctor’s care may involve some of the same methods that you use at home, with some key differences.

  • Medical Equipment. The doctor has the equipment to look directly into the ear canal and determine how much wax is present, and take appropriate actions. A medical professional can also look for any signs of irritation or infection.

  • Check Ears After Each Application. Depending on what the doctor sees in the ear canal, they may irrigate your ear several times. You can expect the doctor to look into the ear after each irrigation to determine the next procedure. Do tell the doctor if you begin to feel dizzy or disoriented.

  • Earwax Suction is another method that the doctor may employ. This essentially works like a vacuum cleaner that lifts the excess wax out of the ear. When there are reasons why irrigating would not be the best course of treatment, the doctor is likely to try this method. As with the irrigation, expect the medical professional to periodically stop and see how much wax remains in the ear.

  • Examine Drainage. There could be drainage during any treatment option. This is especially true if there’s fluid trapped behind the impacted wax. Your medical professional will know how to capture the drainage and examine it to determine if there are signs of any complications or infections.

 The bottom line is that earwax removal by your doctor reduces the risk of accidentally damaging the eardrum. It also ensures that if there is an infection present, you receive prompt treatment for that as well.

Signs That You Should See a Doctor

In many instances, removing excess earwax is a simple process that you can do at home without any complications. This is especially true for those who have encountered this issue before and know how to deal with it safely. By avoiding methods like using cotton swabs to dig out the wax, and knowing to stop if you begin to feel dizzy, it’s easy to prevent any permanent damage. But there are signs that you should be aware that it’s time to contact a doctor.

  • Symptoms Remain. If you’ve tried a home remedy and things don’t get better, that’s a sign that a professional needs to take a look.

  • Pain in the Ears. If you experience any pain while attempting to remove the wax, definitely stop what you’re doing and call for an appointment.

  • Blood in the Fluid. Should you notice any blood in the fluid that emerges from the ear, you need to seek medical help as quickly as possible.

If one or both ears feel full and there’s some degree of loss in your hearing ability, consider calling a doctor or audiologist to ask for help.

You can start by contacting Hearing Doctors for a free hearing screening and consultation

Depending on the severity of the excess wax in the outer ear or the presence of infection, you can receive treatment on the spot, instructions on how to remove the wax at home, or a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT). The result is that you’ll be relieved of the excess earwax, hear better, and avoid further complications.

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