Congestion of the outer ear canal due to an accumulation of ear wax is among the most typical causes of short-term hearing loss. If you are rather confident that ear wax is the source of your short-term hearing loss, you probably want to clean out your ears. The question is how to do this safely, and without causing damage to the delicate tissues of your ear canal or your ability to hear.

To emphasize health and safety when cleaning your ears, we will start with what not to do. You shouldn’t stick any foreign objects in your ear. Whether it’s a cotton swab or other tool, you’re much more likely to make the condition worse by further compressing the ear wax if you start poking around in your ear. Also, don’t use any instrument that injects a stream of pressurized water into your ears because this can rupture the eardrum. Also, if you know that you have a ruptured eardrum or believe that you have an ear infection, don’t attempt to clean your ears at home, and see a hearing specialist instead. Signs and symptoms of ear infections include fever, ear pain, fluid draining from the ears and vomiting or diarrhea.

To clean your own ears safely and gently in your own home, all you need is a bulb or syringe, obtainable at any local drugstore, and a rinse solution. Get the rinse solution (usually carbamide peroxide) at a local drugstore or prepare your own solution by combining equal amounts glycerin, 3-4% and mineral oil.

To use the carbamide peroxide solution, slowly squeeze the solution into the ear with the syringe or bulb. It generally works best to lay on your side and have a towel available to catch drips. Avoid touching the ear with the syringe or bulb if you can. Allow the solution to stay in your ear for a couple minutes (or, if using hydrogen peroxide, until you no longer hear the sound of the bubbling), and then repeat the process with the other ear.

Once the rinse solution has softened and loosened the ear wax, flush your ears with lukewarm water, and then dry your ears thoroughly with a towel, taking care not to stick the towel into the ears themselves. If your ears still seem obstructed, do this again a couple of times per day for 2 or 3 days. If the situation persists, seek advice from an hearing instrument specialist or hearing specialist for help.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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