What is ear wax?
Ear wax is a natural substance produced by the body that helps to keep the ear canal clean and free of debris. It is made up of fatty acids, cholesterol, proteins, and other substances. The ear wax is not usually visible to the naked eye, but it is there, and it does play an important role in keeping your ears healthy.
How does it get in my ear?
Ear wax forms in the ear canal when secretions from the nose and throat enter the ear. This occurs during sleep, when the mucus glands in the nose and throat are working. If the ear canal is blocked with wax or debris, this will prevent the air from flowing freely into the ear, causing discomfort and sometimes pain.
How can I remove it?
Removing ear wax can be done with a cotton swab dipped in warm water or a small amount of olive oil. Using a cotton swab, gently wipe away the wax from the ear. Never use any form of liquid soap, petroleum jelly, or alcohol to clean the ear because these products will dry out the skin and damage the delicate lining of the ear canal.
If the ear wax is very thick and hard, you may need to use a small amount of olive oil to soften it. You should never use anything stronger than olive oil because it could cause damage to the ear canal.
How often should I do this?
It is recommended that you do this once or twice per week. If you have a cold or flu, you may need to do it more frequently. The best way to know how often you need to do it is to remember how often you did it before you developed a problem.
If you have any questions about ear wax, contact your doctor for advice.