By Shelley Adams
Prior to having your Esteem, you likely had more problems keeping your ears clean. Most typical external hearing aids block the ear canal and prevent the ear from expelling the wax naturally. Now that you have the Esteem, there is nothing blocking your ear canal, so it can function normally.
Many people never have to clean their ears. For most, the wax works itself out of the ear canal naturally through chewing and other jaw motions. However, if you do feel the need to clean your ears, the safest cleaning method is to visit your doctor. Doctors have the proper instruments and equipment, as well as the training to get the job done safely and effectively. Doctors can also properly address impaction, when excess wax builds up and affects hearing, or infections and perforation in the ear drum. If you suspect you have excess wax, impaction or are experiencing persistent and severe ear pain, contact your doctor before attempting any cleaning yourself.
If you choose to try to remove wax at home, there are three safe methods recommended by The American Academy of Otolaryngology.
1. The easiest way to clean your ears is to use a warm, damp cloth to wipe the ears front and back.
2. Earwax softeners can also be very effective at loosening and breaking up wax. Most pharmacies sell some type of solution for this and the solution typically contains some or all of the following: mineral oil, glycerin, peroxide, hydrogen peroxide and saline. Follow the directions on the package that tells you how much solution to use and how long to let it soak.
3. Using a syringe to irrigate your ears is most effective after using an earwax softener, however, it can still work on its own. To clean your ears with this method, fill a syringe with warm water or a saline solution and rinse out the ear canal. It’s important that the water or saline is warmed to body temperature as cold water can cause dizziness and water too hot can burn or blister the sensitive tissues in the ear.
There are also a few things to avoid when doing a home cleaning. Keep clear of putting anything into your ear canal, especially cotton swabs and sharp objects like paperclips or bobby pins. Foreign objects will only push wax further into your ear and put you at risk of damaging your ear canal.
Ear candles should also be avoided. Traditionally, these lit candles are inserted into the ear canal and create a suction that can draw the wax out, however, the risk of burning yourself with the hot wax or flame is considerable, and unnecessary.
If the home treatments here are not sufficient, or you have doubts about doing it yourself, make an appointment with your doctor to have the wax removed. While you’re there let your doctor know the typical treatments haven’t worked and discuss the best way to maintain your ears.
If you have other questions about best practices with the Esteem hearing implant, contact an Esteem counselor today!