People are often surprised to hear that it is not recommended to use cotton swabs to clean out your ears. Cotton swabs can actually damage your ears if they are inserted into your ear canal, which is why it is important to be aware of the proper cleaning techniques to take care of your hearing. You might be surprised to learn that you actually have to spend very little effort cleaning out your ears since your ears practically clean themselves through their natural cleaning process.
Your ears consist of the outer, middle, and inner ear. The middle ear converts sound waves into sound vibrations that are directed towards your inner ear. After reaching your inner ear, the brain interprets sound signals sent to it from the inner ear. The middle and inner ear need to remain untouched when it comes to cleaning, to prevent damage to the delicate hair follicles and other fragile areas. The only part that needs possible cleaning is your outer ear, which consists of the ear canal and the auricle, which is the external part of the ear that you can see from the outside.
It is an interesting irony that people wish to clean out their earwax when the ear actually generated earwax so that it can keep your ears clean in the first place! Earwax is also known as cerumen and is created inside the ear canal. It is made up of dead skin cells and is used to prevent infections while providing adequate moisture to your ear canal. Cerumen protects the eardrum from dirt, bacteria, as well as dust and physical objects that may fly into your ear. Earwax has a natural process of cleaning the ear canal and then slowly moving outwards and falling out of your outer ear naturally as you chew or tilt your head. Contrary to popular belief, cotton swabs do not clean out your earwax; in fact they ironically push the earwax further into your ear canal, which can block your hearing and also damage your ears.
Your ears are basically experts at keeping themselves clean, so all you have to do is help them do their job a little better by simply wiping your outer wear with a towel after a shower. This can help eradicate any excess earwax, moisture or dead skin. If you find that simply wiping is not enough, you can allow the water to flow gently into your ear canal once a week as you bathe and then tilt your head to the other side to let the water flow out of your ear. This way any excess build-up of earwax can be removed.
Every person is different and some people generate more earwax than others. This may block your ear canal. People wearing hearing aids also tend to have an increased cerumen production within their ears. In this case, a few drops of baby oil or some type of mineral oil can help the cerumen to soften up and become easier to remove. You can also use eardrops but since this can be an ear irritant, limit the use to a few times each month. Ear cleaning kits or irrigation kits can also be recommended by your hearing health practitioner, so ask your Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for recommendations about the same. The best way to clean out your ears is to get them professionally cleaned by your hearing practitioner.
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