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The Safe Way to Clean your Ears

You know the importance of cleaning your ears, but how should you do this?

First, a couple of safety points. Do not use cotton swabs, because these push wax deeper into the ear where it can create a complete blockage. Also, if you have earache or experience a sudden loss of hearing, schedule an appointment with your hearing care provider immediately. It might be you have an ear infection or even a ruptured eardrum, in which case cleaning your ears is not advisable.

Regular ear cleaning once or twice a month helps prevent a buildup of excess earwax that could muffle your hearing or plug your hearing device. Don’t clean more often than this, unless advised by your doctor or hearing care professional, because this can lead to irritation of the skin lining the ear canal or excessive drying of the ear.

Your pharmacist or hearing healthcare practitioner can advise you on a good commercial ear cleaner to purchase or you can make a suitable solution at home. Here are two ‘recipes’ which have been deemed safe and effective.

The first involves mixing equal parts of:

• White vinegar

• Warm tap water

• Rubbing alcohol

Or alternatively try mixing equal parts of:

• Hydrogen peroxide

• Mineral oil

• Glycerin

Mix up the ingredients fresh each time and put few drops of solution into your ear.

While you can pour the cleaning solution direct from a bowl or cup into your ear, this can be messy. You will find it helps to use an eye dropper or a syringe in order to control where you squirt the solution and the quantity.

Drip a few drops into the ear and then tip your head to one side and wait. It helps to have the ear canal as near vertical as possible, so the drops trickle downwards. This could be a good excuse to rest the opposite ear on a cushion and watch TV for ten minutes!

Then tip your head in the opposite direction while holding a pad of cotton wool over the ear to catch the mess. Don’t be tempted to push cotton wool into the ear as this can push debris deeper, instead, let it drain out and then gently wipe around the ear flap for a final clean up.

If you use hydrogen peroxide be aware you may hear a bubbling sound. This is nothing to worry about and is the peroxide fizzing up and helping to loosen debris.

One tip to make life easier is to clean your ears after bathing or a shower. The heat and humidity helps to soften the wax and facilitates cleaning. Popping the cleaning solution in after a shower makes it more effective for no extra effort. Remember, regular ear cleaning can improve your hearing health, but if you experience pain or discomfort always consult your hearing professional first.