Growing up, we were always told by our mothers: “don’t forget to clean your ears”. But contrary to what our mothers believed, ear wax is actually very important in maintaining a healthy ear. Here are 5 great reason we should never use Q-tips to clean our ears:
- Ear wax protects the inner ear from bacteria and other unwanted entities: ear wax coats the outer ear with a thin, sticky, and protective layer. This layer makes it difficult for bacteria and other unwanted organisms to move further into our hearing system.
- Ear wax is a part of the body’s natural cleansing system: bacteria and other entities get caught in the sticky layer of ear wax in our ears. Our bodies naturally push this wax to the outside of our ears. This process excretes all unwanted bacteria and dead skin.
- Ear wax provides moisture to prevent itchiness: ear wax coats our ears and provides moisture to the skin in our ear canals. This prevents dry skin (and resulting itchiness) from occurring, so a thin coating of wax is actually desirable.
- Q-tips push wax farther into the ear: using Q-tips pushes earwax closer to your ear drum. When we push ear wax closer to our ear drum, we make it more difficult for the wax to work its way out of our ear. This also creates wax build up close to our ear drum which prevents sound from traveling further through our hearing system.
- Q-tips may cause damage to the eardrum: it is very easy to push a Q-tip too far into your ear. If you accidentally hit your ear drum or push wax against the ear drum, you risk perforating the ear drum, which could severely affect your hearing.
3 ways to safely manage excess ear wax:
Ear wax is important in maintaining a healthy ear, however some people may produce excessive amounts of wax which can lead to a build up in the ear canal. Unfortunately, this build up can cause a “plugged-up” feeling, pain in the ear, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or diminished hearing. Here are some safe and easy ways to help remedy excessive ear wax:
- Use mineral oil: For those who produce excess amounts of ear wax, using mineral oil to soften the wax will allow for the wax to migrate naturally to the opening of the ear canal. Once the wax is in the opening, use a tissue to wipe it away. For hearing aid users, it is always best to do an oil treatment at the end of the day, after removing the hearing aids.
- Use Miracel: this product moisturizes the ear canal to prevent itchiness but also acts as a great wax softener. Softening the ear wax allows for it to migrate naturally to the opening of the ear canal, where it can safely be removed.
- Have a professional remove it: family physicians are an excellent resource for wax removal. Our professionals at Davidson Hearing Aid Centres also offer this service to all hearing aid customers.