Blocked Ear Remedy: How to Remove Earwax
I woke up one day with deafness in my right ear. I confirmed this by plugging my left ear with my finger. No sounds came through the right. Ordinarily, this information would send me into a panic—but this had happened to me a few times before. When it happened the first time, I did rush to my doctor. He ruled out any injury or pathology. Instead, what he diagnosed was something far more insidious, since it commented on my lack of aural hygiene. Too much hard earwax was blocking my ear canal.
If you suspect ear blockage, consult your doctor to ensure that nothing more serious is going on.
Earwax, more scientifically called “cerumen” and sometimes spelled in two words as “ear wax,” is a substance secreted in the ear canal. It cleans and lubricates the area, and helps fight against bacteria, insects, and fungi. The wax forms in the outer third of the ear canal, and it usually leaves the ear naturally due to jaw motion from chewing and talking. However, cleaning ears with Q-tips, bobby pins, paper clips, wet napkin corners, or a pinky finger, can push this wax further into the ear, plugging the canal.
Other symptoms of too much earwax: tinnitus (ringing in the ear), ear aches, itching, and leaking of wax.
Using Removal Kits
An effective remedy for cleaning your ears of cerumen is through a kit that combines a softening liquid solution and a flushing tool, also called an irrigator. Such kits also have additional accessories such as basin or earplugs that are nice to have, but not required. You can also buy the liquid and tools separately, which is useful if you prefer the solution from one manufacturer and the tool from another. This will naturally be more expensive than buying a kit.
Under no circumstances should you use ear candles to remove ear wax. No studies prove the effectiveness of ear candles and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers them dangerous.
Tip: To save money, buy a kit that combines all the necessary tools.
Earwax Removal Solution
Earwax cleaning solution is typically made with carbamide peroxide, and comes in a small squeeze bottle. Find the smallest size that you can, because even 0.5 ounces will last over several cleaning sessions. The bottle typically features a neck that tapers into either a bulb, or cone that fits just inside the ear canal. The neck may also have a barrier to prevent the tip from being pushed too far into the ear.
You lay on the side of the unaffected ear, and then squeeze a few drops of liquid into the opening of the other ear. You then wait about three to five minutes as the solution softens the earwax. If you have to treat both ears, you can block the first treated ear with a cotton swab or tissue paper to prevent the solution from running out. You can then apply the drops to the second ear.
I’ve personally used Murine Ear Drops for my problem and can attest to its effectiveness. You repeat the application twice a day for four days. You most likely won’t get the wax soft enough for removal until about the fourth or fifth application.
Tip: Look for the smallest bottle you can. Once exposed to air, carbamide peroxide, the main ingredient for earwax removal solution, can lose its effectiveness after several days.
Earwax Remoal Irrigator
You need to flush the earwax from your ear using warm water, which can be messy and inconvenient unless you using a flushing tool. Many earwax removal kits have plastic bulbs, which I’ve found to be nearly useless, since they don’t hold a lot of water, and don’t flush the water hard enough. Avoid these bulbs.
Look instead for a syringe, such as the one produced by Health Enterprises, which is made of hard plastic. (Metal syringes probably work just as well but are pricier.) The conical tip sprays water down three sides, so it does not block or otherwise interfere with discharge from the ear. This tip also prevents the syringe from being inserted too far into the ear. However, the use of cc gradation as labels on the syringe body is a bit puzzling, since you fill the entire syringe with warm water anyway for maximum effect.
To prevent from spraying the entire bathroom, I performed the flushing by first standing naked in the shower. Secondly, I filled a glass with warm water and put it in the shower stall with me. Then I filled the syringe with liquid, while trying to minimize air bubbles. I then inserted the tip into my ear and pressed the plunger. The water produced the sound of a tsunami as it irrigated my canal. I repeated the process until the glass was emptied of water.
I examined the drops of water on the shower floor, but did not find any earwax residue until the second application on the third day of treatment. By the last day of treatment, large chunks of wax exited my ear and plopped on the shower floor. My hearing then returned to normal.
Tip: Continue the treatment as specified on the instructions because you probably won’t remove the earwax until the final day. Do not exceed the recommended time period. If your earwax remains a problem after you’ve completed all days of treatment, consult a doctor.
Having a doctor remove your earwax is the safest and most effective way of dealing with the problem. But this can prove to be expensive, particularly if this is an issue that comes up more than a few times. A more inexpensive, though lengthier, alternative is to use an earwax removal system, like I did.