May 28, 2024

Ear cleaning – Are treatments like Earigator necessary? – Healthy Hearing

If there’s an audiologist nearby when you approach your ear with a cotton swab, they’ll advise that you drop it. Q-tips shouldn’t be used to clean your ears (in fact, it even says so on the box). And yet: You’re far from alone if you dive in with a cotton swab after every shower. 

About 90 percent of people believe their ears should be cleaned, and according to one survey in England, around 68 percent of people regularly use cotton buds to do so. But for most peopl…….

If there’s an audiologist nearby when you approach your ear with a cotton swab, they’ll advise that you drop it. Q-tips shouldn’t be used to clean your ears (in fact, it even says so on the box). And yet: You’re far from alone if you dive in with a cotton swab after every shower. 

About 90 percent of people believe their ears should be cleaned, and according to one survey in England, around 68 percent of people regularly use cotton buds to do so. But for most people, ear cleanings—whether at home with a Q-tip, or in a clinic setting—simply aren’t necessary. 

“Generally speaking, the ear is self-cleaning and able to naturally free itself of cerumen [aka earwax] and debris,” says audiologist Amy Sarow. 

That said, there are some circumstances where cleaning may be merited—here’s what you need to know about when to visit a pro for an ear cleaning, and what to expect during the process. 

Why some ears need professional cleaning 

Paradoxically, one of the reasons you may need your ears cleaned out is if you have a habit of digging around with a Q-tip. Pushing that bud into your ear drives earwax into the canal. 

Earwax is only produced in the outer third of your ear canal (that’s about the length of the first joint in your pinky), explains Audiologist Elly Pourasef, of Houston’s Memorial Hearing. “If wax starts to get impacted, it’s very, very rare that it magically crawled toward your eardrum on its own,” she says. More likely: Using a cotton swab pushed that wax deeper in your ear, from the canal to the eardrum. 

Other things you put in your ears—such as hearing protection, earbuds from headphones, or hearing aids—can also drive the wax further into your ear canal, Pourasef says. 

Other factors can also lead to certain people having earwax buildup:

  • The shape of the ear canal—you’re more likely to need a professional cleaning if your ear canal is narrow, curvy, downward-sloping, or surgically altered, Sarow says. 
  • Skin conditions—if you have certain skin conditions (think: eczema) it can make wax management more complicated, Sarow notes. Having a lot of ear hair can cause buildup.  
  • Hearing aids—wearing them can “interfere with the ear’s self-cleaning mechanism,” Sarow says. 

Plus, both older people and people with developmental delays are also more likely to have earwax buildup.

Signs you need your ears cleaned 

Some of the signals that you should consider going into a clinic and getting your ears cleaned out include the following, according to the Mayo Clinic: 

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Source: https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/53377-Should-you-get-your-ears-cleaned-by-doctor-or-audiologist