Save your money, don’t buy earwax removal products

Advertisements of earwax removal products try to persuade you that that substance in your ear is a serious problem that should be immediately, but easily and conveniently, solved with the gadget they are hawking.

But Laura Murphy, writing for Consumer Reports, says experts find these products do not work. They also do not consider earwax a health crisis, unless it affects your hearing. In which case, you go to an ear specialist.

She quotes Dr. Oliver Adunka, an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon specializing in neurotology at Wexner Medical Center of Ohio State University in Columbus: “None of the devices really work. And some of them are flat-out dangerous.”

The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation – advises against putting anything in your ear, Murphy reports. “[Don’t] put cotton swabs, hair pins, car keys, toothpicks, or other things in your ear. These can all injure your ear and may cause a cut in your ear canal, poke a hole in your ear drum, or hurt the hearing bones, leading to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing, and other symptoms of ear injury,” the foundation warns.

Most products advertised are hyped so much many viewers probably find them irresistible. 

The Axel Glade Spade is a tiny spade with a camera so users can watch on their phone via an application as they scoop the wax from the ear canal. Irrigation purportedly flushes the earwax out. A syringe  could also be used to try to flush the ear canal.

Another product looks like a drill that has to be rotated to remove the earwax. Ear candling and ear drops are also on offer, as well as a device with a tiny loop on the end, like a lasso. 

But Murphy says experts do not recommend any of these. She quotes the foundation: “The physical removal of earwax should only be performed by a healthcare provider.”

The tiny spade, for instance, can scratch the skin of the ear canal, causing infection or bleeding, according to Adunka. 

The drill-like device may look fine but experts point out that ear canals are not straight cylinders. Adunka says users may end up poking themselves 

Ear Irrigation is not for people who have had ear surgery or a hole in their eardrum, says the foundation.

Adunka brands ear candling as a “myth”, adding, “A candle over your ear cannot magically clean out your head.”

It can also be dangerous. The American Food and Drug Administration, says Murphy, has warned that ear candling can cause burns to the face, ear canal, eardrum and middle ear. 

Candling can also accidentally start a fire, plug the ears with candle wax, cause bleeding, puncture the eardrum and cause patients to delay seeking medical care. 

Adunka has no objection to eardrops if the wax is particularly hard to soften it and make extraction easier. But he stresses that extraction should only be done by a doctor.

And he adds that for most people eardrops are not necessary.

“The ears naturally clean themselves, pushing the wax to the outer ear,” he explains. “The best way to keep your ears clean is to gently wipe them with the edge of a towel after stepping out of the shower.”

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