Ear Hygiene: Learn Why It's Important
Have you ever felt discomfort due to an issue related to ear hygiene, like a blockage? Although it might not seem like it, these painful events in our auditory organs happen to most people.
For this reason, we’ll offer a few ear hygiene tips to help you avoid these and other similar situations.
Why is ear hygiene important?
The inner ear refers to the internal sensory canal, while the auricle is the outer part, covered by hair follicles and glands. They produce a waxy oil called cerumen, which extends to the opening of the ear. The amount of wax produced varies depending on an individual’s physiology.
The cerumen traps dust particles that float in through the air. In this way, it prevents them from reaching the eardrum, thus protecting it. In other words, the earwax serves a preventative function.
However, when it accumulates at the entrance to the inner ear, it tends to block the external auditory canal. This is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. For this reason, ear hygiene is of vital importance. You shouldn’t allow an excessive amount of cerumen to accumulate.
Keeping your ears clean allows this organ to perform its functions related to hearing and balance. With proper precautions, you’ll be able to avoid infections and severe problems, such as permanent deafness.
How to clean your ears correctly
The evolution of auditory pathologies is cause for concern. However, you can avoid them by cleaning your ears correctly, and only as much as is necessary.
Primarily, you should use a syringe filled with salt water to dilute the accumulated earwax and make it easier to remove. You can also use glycerin. This will have a greater effect if you do it one hour before bathing, since showers are the best time to tend to ear hygiene.
After a few minutes, lean your head over a towel in order to drain the water and the diluted earwax. Then, dry the outer part of the ear with the towel. This way, you’ll avoid the appearance of fungus.
You should repeat the process every other day. Remember: the ears shouldn’t be totally free of wax.
What to avoid when cleaning your ears
Often, hearing problems are the result of cleaning your ears improperly. For example, some recommend using oxygenated water for ear hygiene purposes.
However, this isn’t the best option. In fact, doctors don’t recommend it, especially for patients with a perforated eardrum. Try not to use it when cleaning your ears.
Similarly, avoid using cotton swabs to remove the wax from your ears. Instead of removing it, this pushes the wax inward. If earwax penetrates the inner ear, it can cause severe damage to the eardrum.
Also, don’t introduce any other objects, such as chopsticks, pins or hooks, into the inner ear to clean it or remove a blockage. Doing so risks damaging the structures of your inner ear.
“Keeping your ears clean allows this organ to perform its functions related to hearing and balance.”
How to know when your ears are dirty
You can determine whether or not you need to clean your ears by looking for some characteristic symptoms. These include hearing loss, irritation and itching.
Occasionally, the earwax blockage will move and and cause you pain. If you feel discomfort even after cleaning your ears properly at home, you should visit a doctor.
Necessary care for healthy ears
Proper ear health depends not only on cleanliness, but making sure to avoid suffering damage or injuries. This is especially relevant for children, especially if they swim. They should always swim with ear plugs to protect the ear canal.
Also, avoid exposing your ears to very loud noises. If you experience discomfort or pain, don’t self-medicate or insert anything into your ear.
Similarly, try to keep your TV and stereo at a reasonable volume. Avoid using headphones frequently, and keep your ears free from moisture. After bathing, make sure you dry them well.
In conclusion, proper ear hygiene depends on adopting a few good habits. Try to keep them clean and dry in order to avoid complications that can significantly affect your daily life.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Organización Mundial de la Salud. (2002). Prevención de las infecciones nosocomiales. Guia Practica, 2, 70. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0036-36341999000700012.
- Larach F, et al. Otitis externa: diagnóstico y manejo práctico. Revista Médica de Clínica Las Condes 2016;27(6):898-904. Disponible en: https://www.elsevier.es/es-revista-revista-medica-clinica-las-condes-202-articulo-otitis-externa-diagnostico-y-manejo-S0716864016301250.