What can you do if you develop an ear wax plug? Or what if you get uncomfortable dirt or grit in your ear canal? Don't reach for a cotton swab. Instead try flushing out your ear. You can flush your ears effectively with plain warm water, but if you have a stubborn ear wax plug that affects your hearing or causes dizziness, try something stronger. The American Academy of Otolaryngology suggests using oil drops and water to flush wax blockages from ears.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Baby oil or mineral oil
- Water or saline
- Plastic syringe (without the needle)
- Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
Place one or two drops of baby oil or mineral oil in the ear to help dissolve the wax blockage. The AAO suggests leaving oil in for 15 to 30 minutes before flushing.
Warm the water or saline to body temperature. You can add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Using cold liquid can cause dizziness.
Fill the plastic syringe (available at medical supply and some pet supply stores) with the warm liquid. Make sure it's not hot so you don't burn your ear.
Put a towel against your neck to absorb the liquid that will come out of your ear.
Place the syringe against the opening of the ear canal, and slowly press the plunger. You should feel a gentle stream of liquid flushing out your ear canal.
Tilt your head toward the syringe to help with drainage if you feel it's necessary.
Repeat the process as needed.
Tips and warnings
- Ask someone to help if you have a hard time managing the syringe and the towel.
- The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests using glycerine drops or an over-the-counter commercial ear wax kit if you have a wax blockage.
- Your doctor can use a suction device to clear very stubborn wax plugs.
- Do not flush out your ears if you have a history of ear infections, a tear in your ear drum or any chronic ear problems. Check with your doctor first.
- Ear irrigation can push bacteria into the inner ear and cause an infection if there's any damage to the ear drum.
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