HOW TO KEEP YOUR EARS CLEAN AND DRY
One the most common areas that I get asked about as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist concerns our outer ear region. Specifically, I am going to talk about that part of your ear where you could put your finger or a variety of other objects such as pencils, Bobby pins and of course Q-tips.
The main problem that bothers my patients with the outer ear is usually accumulation of ear wax. Several times a week somewhat and will be in my office for removal of excessive ear wax. All of us know what the stuff looks like and there are a variety of ways to get rid of it. In the ear care aisle of our pharmacy or grocery store are multiple drops, solutions or kits that can be used to help get rid of the excessive wax. Most of them are fairly effective. Most of the good ones are a combination of a wax softening agent (usually a form of hydrogen peroxide) as well as some irrigating type solution to remove the wax.
For years I have recommended a recipe that I learned in my training from an ear specialist who was old and experienced way back then. It is effective and relatively inexpensive requiring the purchase of 1 or 2 eye droppers and a squeeze bulb syringe like the kind used for cleaning out baby’s noses, as well as hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.
First, put 8-10 drops of hydrogen peroxide in the affected ear and let it sit for approximately 3-5 minutes. This will not remove the wax but will make it softer. Next mix in a small bowl one-cup warm water and add one cup white vinegar. The solution should be warm-like body temperature but not hot. Use the bulb syringe to flush out the ear. Aim the syringe up towards the ceiling with the ear pointed down towards the floor. Use about 1 cup per ear. Hopefully the gentle pressure will then wash out the wax. Next because there is water in your ear add 8-10 drops of rubbing alcohol. This should evaporate the moisture and allow your ear to dry. After you finish 1 ear, do the other side. Usually doing this once a month is effective.
Many of us get water trapped in our ears after bathing, showering or swimming. Using either plain alcohol or alcohol mixed with vinegar 50/50 in the ears will generally evaporate the moisture. Also a hairdryer can be used on warm not too hot setting to help dry out ears.
Of course I need to say a few words about the use of Q-tips. Many of us are warned to never put Q-tips in your ear. Personally, as an ear specialist of nearly 40 years experience I do not think Q-tips are terribly bad, if they are ONLY used to soak up the water in the outer part of your ear after showering or swimming. Using a Q-tip to try to get wax out will generally only push the wax and farther.
Here’s to clean and dry ears, our key to hearing wonderful sounds in this world.