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Earwax is designed to come out naturally. After it traps foreign substances-it's main duty-earwax is pushed to the outer area of the canal, where it dries up and is supposed to tumble out of your ear.
Of course, this auto-eject system doesn't always work perfectly. However, don't be tempted to use a Q-Tip, fingernail, or fishhook to pull wax out of your ear. Bad idea! Anything you put in your ear acts as a ramrod and shoves the wax in deeper (not to mention that it risks puncturing your ear drum), which can hinder sound waves from making it to your main auditory processing center.
Instead, here's a much safer trick you can use to remove excess ear wax: Put a drop of mineral oil in your ear, then lie down on the side of your opposite ear to let the oil seep in. Lie there for about an hour, and the wax will get dissolved in the mineral oil. Just let the oil-wax mixture slide out onto a napkin or two as you turn the other side up.
The body regularly produces and removes earwax, but sometimes earwax accumulates faster than the body can get rid of it. The result can be hearing loss, a sensation of something plugging up the ear, or an earache. If you have a hole in your eardrum or if you've had ear surgery, see your doctor for assistance. Otherwise, you can unblock the wax yourself as follows.
You'll need a medicine dropper and one of the following substances: liquid docusate sodium, baby oil, mineral oil, a nonprescription earwax remover, or hydrogen peroxide. You can find these supplies at a local drug or grocery store. First, tilt your head with the ear you'll be working on pointing toward the ceiling. Then, use the dropper to fill your ear with one of the substances listed. Remain still, so that the liquid is in your ear for about five minutes. Once that time is up, drain your ear by tipping your head against a towel. You may find that you need to repeat this process once or twice a day for a few days to completely unblock your ear.
Never try to remove earwax by placing a device into your ear canal. This could make the problem worse. If the medicine dropper method isn't successful, see your doctor for assistance.
You may remove wax from your ears by flushing out your ear with water. Use a bulb syringe and lukewarm water. (If you make the water too hot or too cold, you will get very dizzy.) Lean over the sink, gently pulling your outer ear back and out, insert the tip of the bulb syringe in your ear canal, and squeeze the water. Repeat this up to a dozen times if necessary. You will see the wax pieces flush out into the sink. Do not persist beyond roughly a dozen, though, or you can cause more irritation and feel off-balance.
When you are done, put a few drops of homemade ear solution -- half alcohol/half vinegar -- in your ear. This will dry out any remaining water and help reduce any fungal elements.
Do not use Q-tips. Cotton swabs will pack the wax down harder against your eardrum. Additionally, while people do not intentionally shove the Q-tip in too far, often they are startled by a kid, dog, or other distraction and accidentally jab the Q-tip in deep, often damaging their ear drum or canal.
There is a right way and a wrong way to remove earwax. Learn more about this topic in this video from Dr. Oz.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.