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One of the most typical reasons for short-term hearing loss is an accumulation of ear wax, which clogs the ear canal and disturbs hearing. If you are reasonably confident that ear wax is the resource for your temporary hearing loss, you most likely want to clean your ears. Having said that, you need to clean them safely and correctly, or else you may cause permanent damage to your hearing.

Therefore, when presenting this list of tips, it’s wise to start with a list of things not to do. Never stick any solid objects into your ear. Whether it’s a cotton swap, Q-tip or other tool, you are more likely to make the condition worse by further compacting the ear wax if you start poking around in your ear. Never, use any device that sprays water under pressure. The pressurized water stream can damage your ear drum. Furthermore, if you know that you have a ruptured eardrum or believe that you have an ear infection, do not try to clean your ears on your own, and see a hearing specialist instead. If you suspect an infection, common symptoms to watch for include ear pain, vomiting or diarrhea, fluid draining from the ears and fever.

Cleaning your ears safely at home can be done with a rinse solution and a syringe or bulb from your local drugstore. You can buy a carbamide peroxide solution at the pharmacy, or mix your own solution using equal measures of 3%-4%, glycerin and mineral oil.

To use it, lay down on your side with a towel underneath you or lean to one side over a basin or sink and gently squeeze the carbamide peroxide solution into one ear, trying not to touch the inside of the ear with the syringe or bulb. Allow the carbamide peroxide solution to linger in your ear for a couple of minutes (or, if you use hydrogen peroxide, until you stop hearing the sound of the bubbling), and then repeat with the other side.

Once the solution has loosened and softened the ear wax, rinse your ears with lukewarm (body temperature, not hot) water, and then dry your ears thoroughly with a soft towel, being careful not to stick the towel deeply into the ears themselves. You can repeat this process twice daily for 2 to 3 days if your ears still feel obstructed. If the issue continues, check with an audiologist or hearing specialist for help.