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Do You Need to Clean Your Ears?

Woman Talking to Each Other

Many people don’t realize that ears are actually self-cleaning. Earwax will automatically loosen and fall out of your ears – at least, that’s the way our auditory system is designed to work. However, we all know that things can go wrong and you might end up with more earwax buildup than normally expected. Although your ears can self-clean themselves, earwax can often look unsightly and if left alone, could cause impacted earwax that leads to headaches, a loss of balance and even pain.

So do you need to clean your ears? Maybe. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons to clean your ears and the signs to look out for.

Do you really need to clean your ears?

As mentioned already, your ears are self-cleaning and typically don’t need to be cleaned by you. The most common reason to clean your ears is for cosmetic purposes. Some people don’t like the sight of earwax in or around their ear, and they’re content with using something like a cotton swab. Hearing specialists will only recommend cotton swabs for cleaning the outer edge of your ear. If you insert them into the canal then you’re using them incorrectly and putting your ears at risk of impacting the wax more or perforating an eardrum. If you want to clean your ears just for appearances, then using a cloth in the shower or when you wash your face is sufficient as long as you’re not trying to force an object into your ear.

Are you experiencing pain?

If your ears are hurting then the first thing to do is speak to your hearing care provider. They’ll help you determine what the source of the pain is and also help you examine your ear. If they come to the conclusion that you have impacted earwax, then they’ll likely refer you to a professional that can help you clean your ears. Having your ears thoroughly cleaned can help reduce the chances of impacted earwax and will prevent future buildup. If it’s something else like an infection, then they can prescribe medication that will help you relieve your ear pain.

Do you use hearing aids, earphones or earplugs?

If you’re regularly putting things in your ear such as hearing aids and earplugs, then you’ll likely have an increased buildup of wax because these devices can interfere with your ears self-cleaning mechanism. Your body will likely be producing more earwax if you regularly use hearing aids and earphones, so make sure you clean your ears more regularly. All you really need to do is wipe your ears with a damp cloth in the shower–you don’t need to use cotton swabs or ear drops. You may also want to consult a hearing health professional to determine if your lifestyle is causing earwax to build up, potentially increasing your chances of having impacted earwax. This might require you to change to a different hearing aid or use different types of earphones and earplugs.