Almost from the start of my medical career, I noticed that a fairly regular number of patients complained of ear pressure, pain, or decreased hearing.
Predictably, most of these symptoms were due to a build-up of wax in the ear canal, which over time was pushed into a brick like wall by Q-tips, fingers, and other foreign objects.
The thing I didn’t expect was that most of these patients were non-Asians. Yes, in other words, almost all of the patients with ear wax issues were either, caucasian, hispanic, or African-American.
I quickly realized that there exists a cultural difference in hygiene practices that prevented ear wax issues in Asians -since most asian cultures use tiny ear picks and spoons to clean out ears from infancy and eventually teach the children how to do this as they grow up.
On the other hand, my non-Asian patients tell me they are taught NOT to “put anything smaller than their elbow in their ears…?!” Bizarre, I thought at first. It was no wonder people suffered from hearing issues and ear discomfort; they had not cleaned out their ears for years!
I have taught and have given out ear picks for years now, especially to those more prone to wax build-up and have prevented many a ear infections, saved patients from possible vertigo and eardrum ruptures from ear lavages and ear procedures since.
When done properly and practiced, cleaning out your ears is safe and a must:
1. Obtain ear picks from your doctor, or pick up some cute decorative wooden ones next time you are at a China town or Asian market near you. They always have them near the check out line/cashier. Another great source in Amazon.com
I recommend the wooden ones-cheap, naturally anti-septic, more gentle and will last a lifetime.
(see photo above for example)
2. Sit in a quiet place, without anyone else or pets around to bump you.
3. Slowly start from the outer ear opening and gently scrape out along the walls from top, sides to bottom.
4. With practice, you’ll be able to go deeper and your ear will tell you when you can’t go further.
5. Use at least once a week to keep canal clean and clear.
Quick question- how comfortable are you with cleaning out your ears? Tell me by leaving a comment.