How Do I Safely Remove Ear Wax at Home?

Dear Dr. Manny,

I have a hard time hearing and I think I might have too much wax in my ears? How do I get rid of it? What is impacted ear wax? What causes ear wax buildup? Do foods cause ear wax?

Most of the time, you probably don’t need to get rid of earwax. In fact, ear wax is the body’s way of preventing bacteria from collecting inside the ear. 

Occasionally, people get excessive ear wax. Then, it’s time to get rid of it. 5% of people will have too much wax in their ears. If this is the case, then you need to get rid of it. But you must do so in a safe fashion, so as not to damage your ear. 

Ears are delicate organs with complex systems for hearing, balance, and prevention of infection. Its best to proceed with the advice of a doctor or a medical professional. 

Since you can’t really see in your ears, a machine is needed to help spot if you have a blockage in your ear caused by wax. Don’t use q-tips to clear out the wax, and please, don’t ever try ear candling. Both of these tactics cause damage to the ear canal. 

You need to have an intact ear drum in order to safely remove blockages. Otherwise, whatever is used might end up in your inner ear, harming your hearing and your balance. Over the counter ear wax removal kits, and solutions like Debrox, work very well to remove ear wax safely and quickly. 

A doctor can also remove the wax with irrigation or curettes. 

Ear wax build up is caused by bony blockages, swimmers’ ear or other infections, skin disease, autoimmune disorder, a narrowed ear canal, or making too much ear wax due to injury. People with hearing aids are at higher risk for impacted ear wax. 

If you have hearing loss, itchy ear, ear ache, feel like your ear is full, dizziness, ringing in your ears, or a cough, you might have impacted ear wax. 

If you use headphones or ear plugs, your ears will have excessive wax buildup. If you use cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects to try to get the wax out, then you are at greater risk for impaction. You might push it further into your ear. 

Most food does not cause ear wax buildup, but if you have Celiac’s, or an autoimmune reaction to certain foods, the inflammation caused by the reaction can build up excessive ear wax. 

If you are having problems with ear wax, consult a doctor before doing anything about it. You don’t want to damage your ear. A medical professional can help come up with a plan for treatment to remove the wax and prevent the buildups in the future.