Earwax protects the inner ear by trapping bacteria, dust and other foreign particles before they can reach the eardrum and cause harm. Even without treatment, earwax generally finds its way out of the ear, where it falls out on its own. In some people, the ears may produce excessive wax, causing a build up and hardening that may block the ear canal and interfere with hearing. In these cases, it is possible to loosen wax and clean the ears with mineral oil.
Watch for symptoms of a blocked ear canal, and only remove wax that is causing discomfort or hearing difficulties. Symptoms of a wax blockage include earache, ringing or other noises in the ear, a feeling of pressure or a sensation that the ear is plugged, and partial hearing loss.
Warm a teaspoon of mineral oil to body temperature. Placing mineral oil or any other liquid into your ear that is cooler or warmer than your body can cause severe dizziness and vertigo.
Tilt your head to one side, with the blocked ear facing up. Gently pull down and out on the outer part of your ear to open up the ear canal.
Use an eyedropper to place three drops of mineral oil into your ear, one at a time. Place the ear dropper at the very edge of the ear canal when administering the drops. Continue to hold your head in this position for several minutes.
Hold a paper towel over the treated ear after returning your head to a normal position. The paper towel will catch any mineral oil or wax that may leak out. This is important to protect your clothing.
Place mineral oil drops into your ear in the morning and again before bed. This should continue for four days to one week.
Use a bulb syringe filled with lukewarm water to flush your ear canal following several days of treatment with mineral oil. Avoid forcing the water into your ear to prevent damaging your eardrum.
Dry your ears thoroughly after cleaning them. You can place a few drops of rubbing alcohol into the treated ear to dry out the canal and prevent the growth of bacteria. If you experience severe pain after using the alcohol, it likely indicates a perforated or punctured eardrum. Seek medical assistance.
Visit your doctor for an ear and hearing exam if you experience pain, discharge, or moderate to complete hearing loss. You may have a problem that requires medical attention.
Never place any object into the ear canal to clean the ears. Q-tips and other items may puncture the ear canal, resulting in permanent damage, infection, or severe pain.