By Otolaryngology Plastic Surgery Associates
October 26, 2021
Category: ENT Care
Earwax can be more than a nuisance for some. Earwax, if left to build up in the ear, can cause painful and uncomfortable symptoms of excessive earwax.
Signs and symptoms of earwax buildup can include:
- muffled hearing
- sudden or partial loss of hearing
- itchy ears
- tinnitus, which is ringing in the ear that won't go away
- feeling fullness in the ear
To help prevent the onset of these symptoms, earwax removals can be done either at a doctor's office or at home. Over-the-counter treatments for earwax removal can be done safely if no infection is present, or if a doctor has cleared you to do so.
Can You Use a Q-tip to Remove Earwax?
It's important to know how to remove earwax safely. Most people believe the only over-the-counter treatment for earwax removal is using a q-tip inside the ear canal.
However, using a q-tip within the ear is not a good way to remove earwax and can lead to injury or infection.
In fact, according to the Journal of Pediatrics and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, between 1996 and 2010, there were over 263,000 children treated in the emergency room for cotton-tip applicator-related injuries.
Safest Methods for Removing Earwax at Home
If you're planning on removing earwax at home, purchasing an earwax removal kit from your local drug store can be a safe option.
Earwax removal kits have detailed instructions on how to use them, making it easy for adults to use on their children or on themselves. These kits already come equipped with a rubber bulb ear syringe and ear drops.
These kits work by softening the earwax within the ear canal by placing drops in your ear twice daily. Then, the bulb is used to irrigate out any remaining earwax.
It's important to use these products as directed, for instance, no more than twice daily for up to four times. It's also essential to check and see if the kit you're using has not been tampered with or previously opened.
Other Natural Methods
Natural oils, such as baby oil, olive oil, and mineral oil can also be used to soften earwax and in place of earwax kit drops. These oils are typically non-irritating to the ear. After placing a couple of drops in the affected ear, you can lie the ear facedown on a towel to catch all the draining earwax.
Other possible solutions that can help remove earwax include
- saline solution
- hydrogen peroxide
- vinegar and rubbing alcohol mixture
It's important to note any foreign oils, mixtures, or solutions can cause infection, so get the OK from a doctor before using these over-the-counter earwax removal methods.