I get this question all of the time. And it doesn’t help that there are lots of over-the-counter ear cleaning remedies for sale at every drug store and grocery store.
The first problem with this question is the word “clean.” Ears are not dirty. And, normally, you do not need to clean them. There are little hair cells in the first part of the ear canal that gently push the ear wax (cerumen) out of the ear.
Why do we have wax in our ears? Wax is a good thing and is there for a specific purpose. Wax is bacteriostatic. This means that it stops bacteria from growing in the ear canal. Everything in the body has a purpose, including ear wax.
Now, if you use a Q tip, or bobby pin, or anything else to try and get the ear wax out, you risk pushing the ear wax further into the ear canal, past the hair cells. After the ear wax goes past the hair cells, the ear wax will not be removed on its own.
The other benefit to having some ear wax in the ears is that the ears feel “normal.” When you remove too much wax, the ears sometimes feel stopped up or full.
If you feel you have decreased hearing or your ears feel full, please make an appointment so we can look in your ears, see what is going on, and possibly get a hearing test if needed.
We use a very powerful microscope to visualize the ears, and we have very specialized instruments to remove the wax safely.
Remember…NO Q tips
Or, as your mother may have told you, nothing smaller than your elbow goes in your ear!