Video transcription

Hi I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to be talking about how to flush out ear wax. Now let's talk for a second about ear wax. Ear wax which we call cerumen, that's right in medicine I can spell on the fly, is actually protective for the ear. It keeps bacteria out of the external ear even bugs and things that might try and crawl in there so it is really important to have ear wax in the ear and it is actually more of a problem not to have enough usually than to have too much. Ear wax is formed in the outer part of the external auditory canal here. It is not formed down by the ear drum. Sometimes occasionally ear wax can block up the external auditory canal and cause pain, discomfort or hearing loss. You can use fluid to get it out but I would urge you not to flush it out at home because if you drive fluid into the ear and there is a hole in the ear drum you can cause a very bad infection here in the middle ear. It is, however, safe to instill a little bit of fluid against the ear wax to try and get it out. There are over the counter medications like Debrox or Docusate that you can put in there. You can make up a home mixture of white vinegar which is acetic acid and alcohol at a one to one combination or you could use clean mineral oil or baby oil. You don't want to use vegetable oil because it can sit in there and go rancid. Now when you bring a child to the doctor to get ear or bring you yourself for that matter to get ear wax out the doctor is going to do a couple of things. First of all the doctor is going to have an otoscope which allows him or her to really assess the status of the inside of the ear. Sometimes the problem isn't wax at all or sometimes you can really see how bad a wax impaction there is. Additionally we may be able to see that the ear drum is intact which might make it safe to flush. Now we might use a syringe or a special machine to flush out the ear and when we do we want to make sure that the water we are using or whatever solution we are using is the same temperature as the human body. Cold or warm water in the ear can actually cause dizziness through its effect on the nerves here where you actually do your hearing and have your balance function at the inner ear. So bottom line if you are worried about ear wax you can instill some over the counter home made solution to soften the wax but don't flush it out forcefully. Let a doctor get a look in the ear and see what's really going on and make sure that it's safe. Talking about flushing out ear wax I'm Dr. David Hill.