When Should I Have My Ears Professionally Cleaned?
Considering the bad habits, advice and warnings surrounding ear cleaning practices, it’s no wonder many people choose to go to the opposite extreme of neglecting this part of their ear health. While your ears are efficient at cleaning themselves and warding off debris and infection, sometimes their cleaning mechanism (earwax) can go overboard. Sometimes your ears will compensate and push out excess wax on their own; other times, earwax can cause serious problems. How do you know when it’s time to have your ears cleaned by a hearing care professional?
1. You Experience These Minor Symptoms
Without being able to see what’s happening inside your ear canal, you’ll have to rely on detecting the symptoms. Here are some common signs you may have earwax buildup:
- Itchy, “damp” or draining ears
- Popping, crackling or static sounds, especially while chewing
- A “full” or “clogged” feeling in the ears
- Mild hearing loss
These are by no means severe symptoms, but recognizing and reacting to them right away can help you avoid more serious problems from impacted earwax. Schedule a checkup with a hearing healthcare professional so they can examine your ears and assess if you need earwax removal.
2. You Experience These Major Symptoms
If you don’t catch it right away, impacted earwax can place your hearing and health at risk through infections, dizziness and loss of balance, severe tinnitus, serious hearing loss and damage to inner ear structures. Be aware of these signs of an ear infection:
- Ear achiness and pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite or nausea
3. You Experienced Impacted Earwax on a Regular Basis
Some people just produce more earwax than others. This is especially the case with men and older adults. As we age, the glands that produce the ‘lubricant’ ingredient of earwax shrink and slow production, resulting in dryer earwax that’s harder to push out of the ear canal and more easily impacted. If you fall into this category, it’s a good idea to schedule preventative cleanings with a hearing health professional instead of waiting for earwax to build up and compromise your ear health. A rule of thumb for preventative cleanings is once every six months to a year.
In summary, if you ever suspect you need to have your ears cleaned, schedule a visit with a hearing care provider.