If you are experiencing unexpected hearing loss, earache, feelings of fullness inside the ear, or itchiness in the area, you may have a buildup of ear wax (this buildup is called cerumen). Here are a few ways to bring that cerumen to surface.
- Masticate: For starters, simple everyday behaviors (like chewing food or gum) helps massage the wax out. “Chewing creates movement in your ear canal. That movement slowly pushes the ear wax towards the ear opening, where it will then just fall out or be washed away in the shower.”
- Ear Drops: Your doctor can prescribe ear drops (or s/he may administer them). The most common drop prescription is carbamide peroxide. “If you do it yourself, it’s best to have your doctor check to make sure you got the ear wax out,” says Smith. “Especially if your symptoms do not completely resolve. This treatment is safe but possible side effects include allergies to the ingredients, inflammation in the ear canal, earache, temporary hearing loss, and dizziness.”
- Irrigation: This is the most common procedure that doctors employ for cerumen removal. A stream of warm water and diluted hydrogen peroxide is flushed into the ear to wash out the canal. “This works quite well but may not work if the ear wax is too hard,” Smith says. Generally, this procedure is safe, and there are at-home kits available.
- Ear Hair Removal: “Excess ear hair is not generally a problem but could contribute to the buildup of ear wax,” says Smith. “As with ear wax, you don’t want to ever stick anything in your ear canal to get rid of the hair. Use a specific type of ear-hair trimmer (pictured above) to safely remove hair at the entrance to the ear canal. These special trimmers help prevent you from going too deep into the ear canal. Plucking is a possibility too, if you’re so inclined.”
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