Important note: The information in this article is for patients who have been checked by a medical doctor and told that it is all right for them to clean their ears. If you have any ear pain, drainage from your ear, a hole (perforation) in your eardrum, or any other type of ear problem, do not attempt to clean your ears yourself. Go see your ear doctor (ENT) first before you consider cleaning your ears.
Earwax, more technically known as Cerumen, comes in many consistencies (thicknesses) from thick and hard to runny. It is often seen as a dark-brown thick paste that has the consistency of Vaseline. Earwax is notorious for plugging up hearing aids. When the sound tube is plugged, the hearing aid goes “dead.”
The only medicine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cleaning ears is Carbamide Peroxide. This chemical is sold under the trade names of Debrox, X-Wax, Murine EarWax Kits, and many other names.
If you do not have any earwax cleaning liquid at home, I suggest that you go to the drugstore and purchase an earwax cleaning kit.
Carbamide Peroxide works like Hydrogen Peroxide. It has a “bubbling” action that dissolves and softens wax and other debris in the ear canal.
Unfortunately, the instructions on the bottle are not very clear. People often think they should tilt their head and pour some of this heavy liquid into their ears. Unfortunately, most of the time, the liquid does not run into the ear, and so it doesn’t help soften the wax and remove it from the ear.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR EARS
To be effective, the liquid has to run deep into the ear. It helps if you lie down on a couch and hold your head so that your ear canal is facing straight up. The ear canal has to be vertical so the liquid runs into the canal. Have your spouse or other partner pull your ear open, and put about 6 drops of the liquid into the canal. Make sure you feel the liquid run deep down your ear canal. Stay in this position for 10-15 minutes.
The liquid will break down the thick heavy wax into a runny liquid. To remove this dissolved wax from your ear, start by filling your bathroom sink with water. It should be the temperature of your body—not too hot, not too cold. Then tilt your head so the ear being cleaned is facing down over the bathroom basin. Fill an ear syringe with water and carefully wash out the ear. Do not use high pressure; squeeze the water gently into the ear canal.
How often should you clean your ears? That depends. It may be as often as every 3 months or only once a year. Or it may be somewhere in between. You need to determine a “cleaning cycle” that is appropriate for you and that prevents excessive earwax from clogging up your ears and your hearing aids.