While it's a bit disgusting to talk about ear wax at times, this topic is no joke when it comes to the health of your ears. Everyone needs a little wax to keep their ears healthy and working perfectly. However, too much can lead to blockages, pain and even infection. Luckily, it's easy to get rid of wax at home, using a common ingredient in the kitchen: olive oil!
Method 1 of 2: Removing Ear Wax with Olive Oil
Step 1. Do not use olive oil if you have another ear injury
It is almost always perfectly safe for healthy people, but some injuries and conditions can sensitize the ears, preventing the ingredient from being used. If you have any of the following problems, talk to your doctor before taking any action.
- Perforated eardrums.
- Frequent ear infections.
- Hearing loss in either ear.
- Problems in the mastoid cavity.
- Any illness that requires keeping the ears dry.
Step 2. Heat the olive oil
It helps to soften the wax in the ears, making it easier for them to drain on their own. However, before putting the oil in your ears, it is necessary to warm it up to more or less body temperature, which is 37 ºC. This is your inner ear temperature and it is most comfortable to apply the oil at the same temperature. Heat two or three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
- Do not overheat the oil as it can damage the eardrum.
- Know that olive oil is a common option, but it's not the only one. You can also use hydrogen peroxide, glycerin or mineral oil, which are equally safe.
Step 3. Add essential oils if desired
Blockages can also cause bacterial growth, which can cause an ear infection. Some people choose to add essential oils with antibacterial properties to help control excess bacteria that may be in place because of clogging. Don't forget to test your skin with a drop or two of your chosen oil for irritation and allergy before adding it to your ears. Put about four drops into the warmed olive oil. Some essential oil options include:
- Garlic oil.
- Eucalyptus oil.
- Lavender oil which is safe for children.
- Oil of Oregano.
- St. John's Wort Oil.
Step 4. Grab some of the solution with an eyedropper
After mixing the olive oil with the essential oil of your choice, pick up some of the contents with an eyedropper. The dropper helps to use the correct amount and is much easier to apply.
Step 5. Put two drops of the solution in your ear
Instead of filling the ear with oil, simply apply a few drops, which will be absorbed by the wax. Tilt your head slightly to the side so the oil doesn't run out of the ear, and stay that way for five to ten minutes.
You can hold a handkerchief to your ear to wipe off any oil residue that runs off when you straighten your head, if any
Step 6. Repeat the procedure two to three times a day
Olive oil will likely not work in a single application. You need to repeat the procedure two to three times a day for approximately three or five days. This amount should be enough to help dissolve and soften the clog.
Step 7. Consider the idea of doing a wash
Although the olive oil may have softened the clogging, some cases require something extra to resolve the problem once and for all. You can wash the affected ear as an additional step if necessary. Use a nasal aspirator (the kind used to unclog babies' noses), tilt your head and gently squeeze the heated water into the affected ear canal.
- Be very delicate, as you can damage the eardrum if you squeeze a very strong jet of water with a lot of pressure.
- You can squeeze the ear slightly, pressing the lobe up and back, to help straighten the ear canal for better results.
- The doctor can also do a wash. He will have a safer method with instruments that employ the exact pressure of water to prevent damage to the ear.
Step 8. Go to the doctor
If the technique of softening the wax and washing does not work, then you need to see your doctor. It can use several available methods to safely remove the clog. In addition, the professional is also able to examine the ear and provide an adequate diagnosis. The problem may not be a clogging caused by wax to begin with. Other reasons for a feeling of congestion in the ear include:
- Sinusitis – inflammation in the paranasal sinuses.
- Cochlear hydrops (Mènière's Disease) – a disorder of the inner ear that causes problems with hearing and balance.
- Cholesteatoma - a cyst in the middle ear.
- Acoustic neuroma - a tumor on the auditory nerve.
- Fungal infections.
- Serous otitis media - an infection in the middle ear.
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Method 2 of 2: Taking Additional Action
Step 1. Balance the pressure in your ears
Most of the time, the feeling of pressure in the ear is not due to a blockage but to a rapid dysfunction of the Eustachian tube (austachian tube) in the middle ear. You can force open this tube to balance the pressure with a few easy steps, including:
- To yawn.
- To chew.
- To swallow.
- Try to exhale through your nose while closing your nostrils with your fingers.
- The most common causes of Eustachian tube dysfunction include a common cold, flu, changes in altitude, and exposure to air pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
Step 2. Stay hydrated
In the case of sinus congestion that causes pressure in the ear, it is also possible to reduce the symptom by drinking water. Liquids help to thin the mucus that causes this pressure. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Step 3. Raise your head to sleep
By adding another pillow and keeping your head elevated, you facilitate proper drainage of the sinuses. This helps to relieve pressure in the ear.
Step 4. Make a warm compress on the ear
Try warming a towel and placing it over your ear for a few minutes. It is also possible to place a cup over the portion of the towel that covers your ear to retain the heat inside.
Step 5. Take a hot shower
If the pressure is caused by sinus congestion, you also have the option of taking a hot bath and steaming up a lot. Thus, the mucus that is congesting the sinuses can be thinned and drained, relieving the pressure.
Step 6. Take over-the-counter medications
There are a number of drugs available at the pharmacy that will help alleviate this symptom according to its specific cause. Some common options are:
- Antihistamines - If the pressure in the ear is due to congestion from seasonal or environmental allergies, you can take an antihistamine to control the symptoms.
- Decongestants - If the pressure is caused by congestion from the flu or cold, decongestant medications for these illnesses will help relieve the symptoms.
- Ceruminolytics - these act in much the same way as olive oil, helping to soften the clog if the wax is the cause of the pressure.
Step 7. See a doctor
If pressure in the ear is causing pain and none of these options alleviate your symptoms, see your doctor. Only the professional can diagnose the exact cause and find an appropriate treatment specifically for your case.
- If the wax problem doesn't improve, see your doctor. It has instruments suitable for removing severe wax build-up, including micro-suction devices that work like a vacuum cleaner.
- Be sure to treat a severe blockage. If the wax blocks the duct to the eardrum completely, air pressure differences in the head can cause a painful rupture.
- Do not use a cotton swab – or anything like that – to remove the wax. It can push the wax further into the ear, and it can cause a possible rupture of the eardrum.
- Do not use this method if you already have a ruptured or perforated eardrum.
- Don't forget to heat the olive oil to the right temperature. Test it with a drop or two on your forearm to make sure your forearm is neither too hot nor too cold.