Why You Shouldn’t Clean Your Ears

A relatively common belief among many Americans is that cleaning your ears to remove ear wax is a good thing, that it improves hygiene. However, like so many health-related ideas, these Americans usually get it wrong.

Ear wax is your body’s natural defense to protect the skin of your inner ear from being irritated by water and also one of your body’s ways of protecting itself from infection. What you may not know is that, according to the American Hearing Research Foundation

“[A]t least ten antimicrobial peptides are present in ear wax preventing bacteria and fungi from growing.”

To go along with this news, most people don’t need to clean their ears. Your body automatically ejects wax as it continues to be produced, and, as you bathe, this excess wax is usually washed away.

To be clear, though, some people do have a problem with excessive wax buildup that can cause issues such as hearing loss, earaches, or tinnitus. When this occurs, unfortunately, a popular tendency is to insert a cotton swap into the ear canal to clean the way. The problem with this method is that this can lead the ear wax being pushed deeper into the ear and causing the wax to become impacted on the ear drum, which makes wax problems worse.

A simple method to remove this excess wax at home is to use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution which is available in any drug store. Simply pour a capful into your ears and let it remain until any bubbling and/or stinging subside, then drain the hydrogen peroxide by simply placing a tissue at your ear and turning your head to allow the hydrogen peroxide to drain. Then, repeat the process on the other ear. This process normally only takes five to ten minutes per ear.

If this simple solution does not improve the issue, then seeking help from an Ear, Nose, Throat specialist may be your next step. These specialists can remove excessive wax without damaging your ear drum.

Interestingly, Dr. Mercola says that excessive ear wax buildup is often caused by too little omega 3 fatty acids in a person’s diet. He writes,

“Often, the remedy is quite simple: eat more omega-3s or take a high-quality animal-based omega-3 supplement like krill oil. Good dietary sources of omega-3 include sardines, anchovies, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.”

So, before you use a cotton swap or insert some other object into your ear for cleaning purposes, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to deal with your ear wax discomfort.