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How to clean your ears without a cotton swab

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

how to clean ears without cotton swab

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  • Ears are normally self-cleaning, but if you experience symptoms of excess earwax, including hearing loss, you may safely remove it using oil to soften the wax and a 3% hydrogen peroxide soak for five minutes
  • Cotton swabs are a major cause of eardrum punctures; a sample of emergency room records showed 66% of those treated for a traumatic perforation caused the injury themselves by sticking something in their ear. Nearly half of these were cotton swabs
  • While many perforations will heal without intervention, some experience neurological deficits such as facial nerve paralysis and require surgery to repair the membrane; other mistakes made when cleaning ears include cleaning them regularly, inserting any object, ear candling and using syringes that may increase your risk for swimmer's ear
  • When earwax buildup goes unrecognized in the elderly it may pose significant problems; symptoms of earwax impaction include hearing loss and tinnitus, which may increase the risk of cognitive decline, reduced social engagement and an association with pain disorders, headaches and difficulty sleeping

Cerumen, also known as earwax, is necessary for the health of your ear. In fact, it's not really wax at all, but made partially of dead skin cells from the ear canal. The area inside the auditory canal consistently revitalizes itself, and as the dead cells are removed, they're pulled into a process producing earwax.

The ear canal is also lined with hairs, which help move the earwax along the canal and out of your body. Earwax is created by secretions from the ceruminous and sebaceous glands, located in the outer ear canal. The ceruminous is a sweat gland, while the sebaceous glands excrete oil to help soften the skin.

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