One of the most common ways to clean the ears is to grab the nearest cotton swab (such as a Q-tip), and this method is effective when used with care. However, some people try to remove unwanted ear canal debris with less gentler objects, such as paper clips. You can prevent unnecessary damage by embracing safer ear wax removal home remedies.
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What is Ear Wax?
Earwax is produced in the outer ear canal – in the space where the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of your head and the middle ear meet. There are special glands found in the skin of the outer ear canal that are responsible for generating the wax, which slowly exits through the outer ear canal to the opening of the ear. The wax either falls out or is wiped away when you clean your ears.
Earwax plays a significant role for maintaining healthy ears. It protects and moisturizes the skin in the ear canal, which helps prevent dryness and itchiness. Ear wax also contains unique chemicals that ward off infection, which can damage the skin inside of the ear canal. Lastly, the wax shields your eardrum from dust, dirt and other debris that can enter your ear.
Causes of Earwax Buildup
Ironically, one of the most common ways to clean your ears is usually the reason earwax becomes impacted and causes blockage. A Q-tip (and other objects such as bobby pins and paper clips) can push wax deeper into the ear canal. If you wear a hearing aid or frequently use earplugs, you are also more susceptible to earwax blockage .
Sufferers of earwax buildup and blockage may experience:
• Decreased hearing
• Pain or discomfort in the ear
• Ears that feel plugged or ‘full’
• Ringing in the ear
Home Remedies for Removing Ear Wax
Earwax is helpful because it filters out dust and other harmful particles from the ear. Normally, the chewing motions of your mouth push out old wax – along with dead skin cells and bacteria. But sometimes, old wax starts to accumulate, causing blockage and pain. When you’d like relief from symptoms, you may want to consider the following ear wax removal home remedies:
a) Baby Oil:
A couple of drops of baby oil dripped into the ear can help remove ear wax. Leave the oil in for up to one hour so that it has a chance to work its way through the ear. To flush out the oil, squirt a bit of warm water into the affected ear.
b) Mineral Oil:
To remove excess earwax, warm a small amount of mineral oil, and then lie down so that you can apply a few drops into the ear canal. The warmth of the oil will help soften the wax. Tilt your head to one side to release the mineral oil. You can then use warm water to flush out the oil and softened wax. For stubborn cases, you may have to repeat the process more than once in a week.
c) Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
People with an omega-3 deficiency can suffer earwax that is stickier than normal. This makes it more difficult for the wax to drain from the ear, which can lead to a buildup. You can take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or eat foods that offer a rich source, such as tofu, flax seeds, walnuts, tuna and salmon.
d) Water and Vinegar:
Some people have gained success in removing their ear wax by using a warm mixture consisting of water and vinegar. You will need a bulb syringe so that you can administer a 10-to-1 solution of apple cider vinegar and warm water into your ears. Heat the solution to above body temperature. The thermometer should read 38 degrees Celsius. When tilting your head over a sink, pull your affected ear up and back so that you can straighten out the ear canal. Aim the nozzle of the syringe slightly up and back, so the solution can cascade along the top of your ear canal. Allow the solution to flush out your ear until the wax has dissolved. Use a hair dryer on the lowest setting to gently dry out the ear.
e) Homemade Drops for Ear Wax:
When ear wax has hardened in the ear canal, the pressure and blockage can eventually lead to hearing loss. Sometimes, you need a home remedy that takes advantage of an assortment of healing agents. Try mixing a solution consisting of one part vinegar, one part water, and two parts hydrogen peroxide. Warm the ingredients to body temperature, and then apply to the ear canal as a way to soften and clear wax blockages. It is recommended to use this remedy two times a day for up to five days.
f) Apple Cider Vinegar:
To restore the natural pH of your ear canal, consider using apple cider vinegar as a rinse that can help control ear wax buildup.
g) Hydrogen Peroxide :
To remove old earwax, fill an eyedropper with hydrogen peroxide (body temperature or a bit warmer). Lie down or tilt your head so that the blocked ear is facing upwards. Drip the peroxide into the affected ear until you experience a feeling of fullness. Wait three minutes before tilting your head the other way over a towel or sink, so that the peroxide can drain out. Tilt your head once more so that you can gently squirt warm water into the ear. Let it settle, and then drain. Use a washcloth or cotton balls to wipe away the softened wax from your outer ear.
h) Sea-Salt Water:
A spray or mixture of sea salt and water can assist in daily ear cleaning and removal of excess ear wax.
i) Hair Dryer:
Applying a hair dryer on the lowest setting to a freshly irrigated or cleaned out ear will help prevent bacteria growth from the moisture left behind by some of the home remedy treatments.
j) Rubbing Alcohol:
It is important to dry an ear that has been thoroughly cleaned for the removal of ear wax. Applying a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol into the ear can help prevent bacteria growth.
 Five Minute Fixes by Reader’s Digest; pg. 347.