Ear Care Buying Guide

Ear Care Buying Guide
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From the earlobe to the inner eardrum, each part of the ear has an important function, so protect your ear with the right products. Keep the following in mind when selecting ear-care products:

  • If you or a family member has an earache or diminished hearing for more than a day, talk to your doctor, as this can signal a serious health issue, such as an ear infection, which requires medical treatment.
  • Internal ear parts are delicate and easily damaged; do not stick small objects into your ear canal, even if the product appears to be designed for this purpose.
  • Earwax is produced by healthy ears and serves to protect against infection and damage.
  • Ideally, ear canals never require cleaning, but certain conditions may make cleaning necessary. If one of these conditions, such as infections that cause earwax build up or connective tissue disease, affects you, talk to your doctor about how to safely clean your ear canals.
  • Mineral oil or other drops for loosening earwax should only be used if you have an intact eardrum and no other known ear problems.
  • Earplugs

    What they are: Different types of earplugs are designed to serve different purposes. Examples of earplugs include:

    • Pressure: These earplugs slow the rate of air pressure change in the ear during airplane travel; this helps alleviate ear pain during take off and landing.
    • Swimming and water: Earplugs designed for this purpose seal the ear to prevent water from entering the ear canal.
    • Sound: These earplugs protect the ears from loud, potentially damaging sounds.

    Why to buy: Earplugs are an inexpensive way to increase comfort during flying or water activities and to protect hearing in loud environments, such as during a concert or when working with power tools.

    Things to consider: Earplugs come in varying sizes, shapes, and materials, so you may need to experiment to find a product that works well for you. Seek out child-specific earplugs for children, but ask your doctor first if it’s safe before you use these products in toddlers or infants.

  • Eardrops

    What they are: Eardrops are designed to be dripped into the ear canal to address a specific issue. Examples of eardrop types include:

    • Wax removal, designed to loosen earwax to facilitate removal from the ear canal
    • Earache, developed to lessen the pain associated with an earache
    • Drying aids, drops developed to help speed up the evaporation of water in the ear canal
    • Homeopathic, designed to address conditions such as allergies or ear pain not associated with an infection

    Why to buy: These products are relatively inexpensive and may help you manage minor ear issues at home. Homeopathic drops tend to be the most expensive type of eardrops.

    Things to consider: If you have severe earaches or ear pain that lasts longer than a day, do not self-treat with eardrops. Follow all instructions carefully, consult your doctor before using eardrops in children, and if you get the OK from the doctor, use only child-specific eardrops for your kids.

  • Ear Cleaners

    What they are: Ear cleaners are designed to clean the outer portion of the ears or to remove dirt, debris, and wax from the ear canal.

    Why to buy: The delicate skin on the outer ears may be irritated by regular soap, and a gentle ear cleaner may be a better option for some people. Regular use of an internal ear cleaner can help people with certain conditions keep their ear canals clear.

    Things to consider: Use an internal ear cleaner regularly only if instructed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.