Let’s face it, no one want’s to think about ear wax. But that doesn’t mean we don’t all have to deal with it. Ear wax isn’t just a cosmetic issue, either. It can become downright uncomfortable, and a buildup can even begin to affect your hearing.
Unfortunately many folks turn to unsafe solutions to deal with the problem. More on those in just a moment, but first let’s take a closer look at earwax.
Because while many folks dismiss it as “gross” and unwanted, it may surprise you to learn just how important the waxy yellow gunk is.
The technical name for earwax is cerumen and it serves a very important purpose. A few of them, actually.
Speaking up for earwax
Our bodies produce earwax as a way to protect our ears. Created mostly from fat, earwax traps dust and dirt particles keeping them from entering the wide open ear canal. But that’s not all the wax is blocking.
Earwax also contains antibacterial properties which helps stops pathogens in their tracks too. And finally the wax serves as a simple lubricant.
But despite have some pretty important jobs to perform, from time to time earwax builds up and needs to be cleaned out. That’s when most folks turn to the one tool they shouldn’t be using, cotton swabs.
Don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears
Surprised? You’re not alone. After all most folks think they’re designed specifically for this purpose.
But the trouble with cotton swabs is you can easily push them too far into your ear canal causing damage. But even if you’re super careful and manage to keep from inserting them too far they often do the opposite of what you intend, pushing ear wax further down into your ear canal.
Some folks who know that cotton swabs are bad news turn to another popular earwax removal method that’s, unfortunately, even worse. Ear candling is a home remedy that has really caught on, but should never be attempted.
Ear candling doesn’t work and is dangerous
When you perform ear candling you insert a tube made of beeswax into your ear. The end of the tube is lit on fire (yes, really!) and this is supposed to cause the earwax that’s built up in your ear to be pulled up into the tube.
The trouble is it simply doesn’t work. The wax you see inside the beeswax tube when you perform candling is from the candle itself dripping back into the tube.
But even worse than it being ineffective, ear candling can be downright dangerous. As you can imagine lighting something on fire close to your head is unsafe to begin with.
In addition, it can all too easily lead to painful wax burns inside your ear that require medical attention.
The RIGHT way to remove earwax
But don’t worry, you don’t have to just live with bothersome earwax build up. You can safely remove it at home. It turns out, in most cases you actually don’t anything beyond a washcloth and a warm shower.
You see, earwax naturally makes it way to the outer part of your ears through normal jaw movements. So standing under a warm shower and gently wiping around the outer ear with a washcloth will often do the trick.
But if you have a more stubborn case of earwax buildup—or if you’re simply just one of those folks who tends to produce excess earwax—there’s another effective way to tackle that wax.
A mix of hydrogen peroxide and water can work wonders.
Here’s how it works…
Mix equal parts of common hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Place a few drops into your ear and then let it drain out. (You’ll likely hear some fizzing. Don’t worry, this’s normal, it’s just the hydrogen peroxide going to work on the wax.)
If there’s a more serious wax buildup, you might want to make an appointment to see your doctor. He’ll be able to confirm that the issue really is being caused by wax. And if it is, he can safely irrigate your ears or use a syringe and hydrogen peroxide solution to remove the wax.
But remember, always resist the urge to stick anything too far into your ear. And that includes swabs and beeswax.
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Dr. Joshua Levitt is a naturopathic physician who is widely known for his expertise in treating both common and complex medical problems. In practice, Dr. Levitt draws on his broad knowledge of the science of both conventional and natural medicine and the art of combing the two into a “best of both worlds” treatment strategy. He has over 15 years of direct clinical experience using a unique blend of nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, and physical medicine to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. His patients and his readers praise him for the ability to educate, motivate, and inspire them with stories and advice that helps them help themselves. In addition to his work as an author, Dr. Levitt owns and runs a private practice in Connecticut, where he is also a clinical preceptor for the Yale School of Medicine.
Dr. Levitt’s unique perspective was informed by an education that includes a degree in physiology from UCLA, a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the prestigious Bastyr University, formal residency training in integrative medicine in Seattle, and experience with thousands of patients.
Dr. Levitt is also the author and creator of several popular books, and many articles and videos, which all demonstrate his passion and commitment to bringing information and products to you that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. You can see more from Dr. Levitt at UpWellness.com.
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