Earwax 101 Discover the Best Practices for Keeping Your Ears Clean

Earwax 101: Discover the Best Practices for Keeping Your Ears Clean

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Earwax, Patient Resources

Earwax—a substance we all produce, but rarely discuss. But did you know that earwax is crucial for the health of our ears?

Let’s delve into the wonderful world of earwax, or cerumen, and understand how best to manage it.

Why Earwax Is Essential

Earwax serves several protective functions. For starters, it acts as a barrier against foreign bodies like dust and small insects. Additionally, its antibacterial and antifungal properties make it an unsung hero in preventing ear infections.

However, not all earwax tales have happy endings. Excessive earwax can cause discomfort, a sensation of blockage, tinnitus, balance disturbances, or even temporary hearing loss.

What Triggers Excessive Earwax?

The production of earwax is a natural process. However, some individuals produce more than others. Over-cleaning the ears can ironically stimulate more wax production.

On the other hand, impacted earwax—that is, wax tightly packed in the ear canal—often occurs due to:

  • Using cotton swabs, which pushes the wax deeper
  • DIY ear irrigations with high water pressure
  • Inserting foreign objects into the ear

Remember, our ears are delicate, and it’s good advice to avoid inserting anything smaller than your elbow!

To Remove or Not to Remove

Earwax usually exits the ear canal naturally. But if you’re experiencing discomfort, pain, hearing issues, or tinnitus due to earwax, it’s time to take action.

Softening agents can assist in the initial stages of wax buildup, but if complications arise, it’s best to see a professional.

Safe Earwax Removal at Home

While there are various at-home remedies for earwax removal, always consult with a hearing professional before trying them. Some of the generally safer methods are:

  • Over-the-counter ear drops designed to soften earwax
  • Ear irrigation kits that provide gentle rinsing
  • Homemade ear drops using olive or mineral oil
  • Homemade irrigating solutions, preferably saline

However, avoid these remedies if you have a history of ear surgery, damaged eardrums, or infections, as they can harm your hearing further.

Practices to Avoid

Certain methods, while popular, can be harmful:

  • Ear candling: This controversial method has little evidence supporting its efficacy and poses risks such as burns.
  • Cotton swabs or Q-Tips: These products can push wax farther in.
  • Battery-operated swabbing tools: These can compact the wax, leading to impaction.

When Home Remedies Aren’t Enough

When earwax is so compacted that home solutions fail, it’s time to seek professional help. At Hearing & Balance Clinic, our experts are equipped with modern tools that can safely and efficiently remove earwax. Through suction, irrigation, or the use of a curette, we ensure a thorough cleanup.

If upon examination we find minimal earwax, we offer a complimentary hearing test to ascertain any underlying issues that might be making your ears feel clogged or uncomfortable.

Hearing & Balance Clinic

Earwax is a natural part of our bodies’ defense mechanism. While it plays a crucial role in ear health, it’s vital to ensure it doesn’t lead to complications.

Whether you’re looking for advice on managing earwax or need professional removal services, Hearing & Balance Clinic is here to assist.

Our friendly team can help you with any queries you might have, from earwax removal and balance testing to tinnitus, hearing aids, and aural rehabilitation.

If you’d like to get in touch or request a callback you can visit our contact page here, or you can call us at your local clinic at the numbers below:

Watkinsville: (706) 549-3111

Loganville: (678) 580-3313

Lavonia: (706) 356-0377


Schedule an earwax removal appointment today

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G’Anne Thomas Au. D.

Au.D. - Owner, Doctor of Audiology Dr. Thomas, a 30-year veteran in the field of Audiology, and has been serving the Northeast Georgia communities since 1988. She received her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and her graduate degree in Audiology from University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama near her hometown of Birmingham. She received her doctorate in audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2000. She worked closely with Ear Nose and Throat physicians in private settings and hospitals prior to opening her own practice in 2003. Dr. Thomas is licensed in the state of Georgia and was a founding member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). She holds memberships in the Georgia Academy of Audiology (GAA) and Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA). She is certified by the Tinnitus Practitioners Association (TPA) and is certified as a Center of Specialty Care with American Institute of Balance (AIB). Dr. Thomas lives in Watkinsville, GA with her husband. She has two grown children; the youngest serves in the United States Air Force. Outside of audiology, Dr. Thomas loves to travel and spend time with her grandchildren. She is also an accomplished fused glass artist.