Effective Ways to Clean Out Earwax Buildup

Many patients present to our office with Ear, Nose, and Throat symptoms and some may not even be aware that their ears are occluded with cerumen (earwax). Earwax is produced by the glands in the ear canal.  It traps dust and other small particles and prevents them from infecting the eardrum which needs to stay clean.  Earwax should dry up and just fall out of the ear.  However, that isn’t always the case, but we can help.  Many patients have asked if ear candling should be done at home. To better understand why this treatment is not recommended, it is important to understand the symptoms of wax build and your options to have it safely removed.

Symptoms of earwax buildup

You may have earwax buildup if you experience decreased hearing, dizziness, pain or a ringing in your ear or a cough.  If you have drainage or a fever, you most likely have an ear infection and will need to seek medical help immediately.  Earwax can get built up in the ears when wax gets pushed deep into the ear canal by a cotton swab or even your finger.  Hearing aid and earplug users are also more prone to earwax blockage.

How to reduce earwax buildup

There are at-home remedies that are safe that you can do to help loosen earwax and safely remove it or help it fall out.  These techniques should only be done if your eardrum does not have a tube in it.

  • Soften earwax by using an eyedropper and apply a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin, or diluted hydrogen peroxide in your ear canal. However, this should only be done if you are sure that you do not have an ear infection which should be confirmed by an experienced doctor.
  • The oil will soften the earwax and once it is softened, you may then use a rubber-bulb syringe and gently squirt water into your ear.  It should be warm water, not too cold and not too hot. To efficiently drop the water in your ear you should tilt your head to the side and pull your outer ear up and back to straighten your ear canal. When finished irrigating, tilt your head to the other side so that the water will drain out.
  • Finish by dry your ear canal. You can do this with a towel or a hand-held dryer.  It is very important that your ear is completely dry to reduce the risk of infection.

You may need to repeat this process a couple of times until all the earwax falls out. However, the softening agents may only loosen the outer layer of the wax and cause it to lodge deeper in the ear canal or against the eardrum. If your symptoms don’t improve after a few treatments, visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor.

Is ear candling an effective method to remove earwax buildup?

The Ear Candling technique involves having a paper cone-like candle placed into the ear canal and it is then lit on fire. As you can imagine, the thought of having a live flame so close to your face and head can be terrifying and dangerous. In fact, patients have been rushed to the emergency room for ear candling injuries.  Unfortunately, ear candling will not effectively remove earwax.  There is yet to be any scientific evidence that ear candling will generate enough suction to remove the sticky or hard wax from disengaging the ear canal and move out of the ear.

In summary, if a treatment has absolutely no scientific proof of benefit and it could potentially cause harm, it’s hard to support this therapy. For those who swear by ear candling, my thoughts are that it is most likely a placebo effect, and all patients should meet with a health care professional who employs proven safe methods of ear wax removal.

Sinus and Allergy Safely Treats Earwax Buildup

At Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center, we have microscope and tools to safely look inside the ear canal and remove the earwax without harming your eardrum.  We can also prescribe ear drops that will help prevent buildup, if necessary.

Watch this short video to learn how the Providers at Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center can clean out wax buildup: https://youtu.be/_l-6hgSrwuA

If you live in Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix or Fountain Hills, Arizona, you may contact the Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center via our website or call 480-493-4941 for more information on the Open Procedure.