Cerumen, also known as ear wax, is a natural substance produced by the glands in the ear canal. While it serves a protective role in the ear, excessive or impacted ear wax can lead to hearing difficulties, discomfort, and even infection. In such cases, cerumen management, including ear irrigation, may be necessary.
Ear irrigation is a safe and effective method for removing excess ear wax. It involves flushing the ear canal with a gentle stream of water to loosen and flush out the wax. You can schedule and appointment with your physician an ENT or other hearing healthcare professional, like myself, to assist you if needed. At Affordable Hearing, we utilize the first ever automated and FDA-cleared ear cleaning device to help get the job done quickly and painlessly.
If you are going to attempt to perform an ear irrigation at home, you can simply follow these steps.
Before irrigating, it is important to soften the wax for several days by using over-the-counter ear drops, such as mineral oil or a brand like Debrox. This will help to make the irrigation process more comfortable and effective. We ask our patients to make sure to do this 3 to 5 days prior to their appointment.
Here is a step-by-step guide to properly irrigating your ears at home:
- Fill a bulb syringe with warm water (not hot) and add a pinch of salt to help break up the ear wax.
- Lean your head to the side with the affected ear facing upwards.
- Hold the bulb syringe with the tip pointed toward the ear and gently squeeze the bulb to release the water into the ear canal.
- Keep the head tilted for several minutes to allow the water to penetrate the ear canal and loosen the wax.
- Tilt your head to the opposite side to allow the water and wax to drain out of the ear.
- Repeat the process for the other ear, if necessary.
It is important to avoid using cotton swabs, paper clips, or any other foreign objects to try to remove ear wax, as this can push the wax further into the ear canal and potentially cause damage.
Additionally, it is essential to avoid using irrigation if you have any of the following conditions:
- A perforated eardrum
- A history of eardrum surgery
- An ear infection
- A foreign object in the ear canal
If you have any of these conditions, it is best to seek professional assistance from a hearing healthcare professional. They can safely remove the wax and determine if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed.
In conclusion, ear wax build-up can be a common and frustrating problem, but it can easily be managed through proper cerumen management techniques, such as ear irrigation. By following the steps outlined above, you can help keep your ears healthy and free of excess wax. However, if you experience any discomfort, pain, or hearing difficulties, it is essential to seek professional help from a hearing healthcare professional. They can evaluate your ear health, provide safe and effective treatment options, and help you maintain good hearing health.