Health Complications: Here Is Why You Should Be Careful About Removing Earwax From Your Ears

A woman pressing on her ear. Image from

Following a post published by the Newsweek of a woman, Jasmine, who almost died from cleaning her ears, it is safe to say that some habits we grew accustomed to should be questioned if not discontinued.

Jasmine 37, is an Australian descent and mother of two. She had developed a habit of cleaning her ears every night using cotton buds. After a period of time, her hearing ability in the left ear started fading and an infuriating noise followed. Her ear started aching too. This prompted her to seek medical help which led to the diagnosis that she was suffering from an ear infection.

Fast forward to five years later – mind you Jasmine never stopped cleaning her years using the cotton swabs – she visited another doctor after noticing blood on the cotton bud she used to clean her ears. Taking a hearing test it led to a horrifying conclusion that she had moderate deafness.

What came next was a CT scan performed by an ENT specialist. The test revealed that cotton swabs fibres had been stacking in Jasmine’s ear, for five years, causing a bacterial infection that ate away her skull leaving it paper-thin. The infection was growing too and if she didn’t get the surgery immediately this would pose a risk on her life.

Fortunately, Jasmine underwent surgery in the nick of time. The infected tissue was cut out and her ear canal rebuilt. Her life was salvaged. Nonetheless, she lost her hearing ability.

Two things we can learn from this story;

  • It is not uncommon to have too much earwax.
  • Cotton buds are not a healthy option for ear wax removal, leave alone unclogging your ears.

But what causes too much ear wax?

Under normal conditions, the body has a way of removing earwax during activities like talking or chewing. Jaw movement helps move the wax from the eardrum to the outer ear. However, when this system breaks, too much earwax can occur.

Other factors that can cause too much earwax include severe infections in the ear canal, ageing, narrowing due to the shape of one’s ear, skin sloughing, trauma or trapped water.

Too much earwax can cause dizziness, itchiness, earache, hearing loss, vertigo or Tinnitus.

A woman pressing on her ear. Image from

How to remove wax build-up

Experts support earwax removal. However, they also advise that this practise should be done in moderation, as the ear is already a self-cleaning organ.

If you produce too much wax,  seek medical assistance. Otherwise recommended earwax removal methods include; ear irrigation, softening earwax using substances like mineral oil, carbamide peroxide, baby oil, glycerin or hydrogen peroxide

Cotton buds should only be used to remove dirt at the entrance of the ear canal, but never inside the ear canal.

  • Use Baking soda ear drops

In case you have hearing problems due to hardened earwax, use Sodium bicarbonate ear drops to clean the ears. Although medical assistance is required for effective use.

What to avoid

  • Avoid using sharp tools to clean your ears

I am sure you have experienced that itching sensation that happens deep in your ear canal, making you want to grab any fitting object and just get right on it. As satisfying as using a pen, cotton bud, bobby pin or any other object you may use might be, putting foreign objects in the ear may cause further problems. You run the risk of piercing your eardrum, scratching/cutting the skin inside your ear canal and ending up with an ear infection. Therefore, it is safe to avoid sharp objects and also warn kids against inserting foreign materials in their ears. Here are 7 things parents should teach their children.

  • Ear candling

Aside from overcleaning, avoid ear candling another risky habit of earwax removal.

  • Cotton buds 

Avoid pushing cotton swabs too far into the ear. “Pushing cotton buds into the ear can cause the wax to impact, hence irritations,” says  Dr Carl Philpott, honorary consultant ENT surgeon and Rhinologist.

Related; Taking proper care of your contact lenses

Still on personal hygiene, here are do’s and don’ts of grooming facial hair and Health: The Hazards Of Showering Every Day

Featured image via very well mind

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