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Utah: 435-688-8991 Nevada: 702-896-0031

How Should I Clean My Ears, and How Often?

Unfortunately, many of us take our ears for granted until there’s a problem. This could mean we either neglect to take care of our ears, or we are too careless when we do. For example, most of us don’t put much thought into cleaning our ears. Far too many people use a common — but dangerous — method like cotton swabs to clear our ear canal of wax. But should we even worry about keeping our ear canal squeaky clean, and if so, often should we do it?

Ear Wax is Your Friend

Okay, maybe that goes a little too far. But what many people think of as an undesirable part of being human — something to get rid of — is actually the sign of a properly-functioning ear. Ear wax occurs naturally, and really does belong in there. It lubricates and even acts as a repellent for things that don’t belong in the ear canal, such as water or dust. In fact, without ear wax you would likely have dry, itchy, irritated ears. Nobody wants that.

Shouldn’t I Clean My Ears?

Actually, your ear canal is largely self-cleaning. There is a continuous and gradual renewal going on, where older ear wax is transported from the ear canal to the outer portion of the opening, where it dries up and usually falls out on its own.

About the only time ear wax presents a problem is when it becomes compacted or built up against the eardrum, and that’s almost always caused by dangerous and unnecessary probing with swabs or other objects that have no business being in your ear.

While the occasional light cleaning likely won’t hurt (as long as it’s done properly), it shouldn’t be a frequent affair. In fact, most people should rarely, if ever need to clean their ear canals. In very rare circumstances where wax has built up to an unhealthy level or is causing hearing loss, consult an ear professional about safe irrigation methods at home or with a quick office visit.

No Cotton Swabs, Really?

As mentioned before, ear wax never typically presents a problem unless it’s been forced up against the eardrum, usually by improper cleaning. Cotton swabs, paper clips, car keys…you name it, people have tried to clean their ears with it and often paid a price.

These objects are dangerous because of the fragility of the eardrum. It’s a very thin skin, easily damaged by even soft instruments. Cleaning or probing your ear with a foreign body could easily result in a broken, painful eardrum — which could lead to infection or hearing problems.

If you do feel the need for a cleaning, the only method you should ever require is an external washing with a damp cloth over your finger. That’s it. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

A Low-Maintenance Miracle

Nature has blessed us all with a remarkable hearing instrument that needs very little maintenance for a lifetime of service. Any questions about ear wax, ear cleaning, or hearing loss should be directed to a qualified professional. With very little interference from you and a little sound advice, your ears can serve you well for your entire life.

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