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  • 2Bdecided
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Just had my ears cleaned
I find this quite funny, given the life-long interest I've had in audio.

(warning: it's a bit gross)

I had an ear infection in June/July. When it finally cleared (two lots of antibiotic later) and it seemed all the wax and puss and mess had fallen out of my ear, I went back to my GP for a check up. He told me that my "good" ear was 90% blocked by hard wax, and my "bad" ear was not only full of wax, but that a slither of skin had now grown in front of the wax, so he'd have to refer me to a specialist to get it removed.

That's where I've been this morning. My ears are now clean, possibly for the first time in my life(!), and it's immediately obvious that I can hear better. High frequency sounds are clearer - the "s"'s and "t"'s in speech sound overly loud.

I've just tried a simple tone sweep, and found I can hear up to about 19kHz. Previously (and for a very long time - probably about a decade!) on the same equipment my limit was about 17.5kHz. The weird thing is, I never thought there was anything wrong with my hearing - but it must have been wrong for most of my adult life!


I've never really had wax coming out of my ears, and I used to think that this was a good thing! However, it seems it's been building up. The specialist suggested putting some drop of olive oil in every two weeks to help my ears stay healthy, and avoid the build up of wax in future. Oh, and never use cotton buds (which I don't).


I dread going home and listening to my stereo - it's either going to sound very good or very bad!

Cheers,
David.

  • Jens Rex
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #1
We demand ABX results per TOS#8, before your claim can be considered valid!

  • JacksonGrey
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #2
If this catches on, I can really envisage audiofools demanding to know someone's audio hardware and ear-wax levels before taking their subjective opinion seriously.
  • Last Edit: 18 November, 2009, 07:44:48 AM by JacksonGrey

  • pdq
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #3
Someone is bound to market audio-grade olive oil too (at some enormously inflated price).

  • andy o
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #4
Oh, and never use cotton buds (which I don't).

One of my friends had a very similar experience (though without the pus and extra skin) and the doctor told him the very same thing about cotton buds ("Q-tips"). He was kind of surprised cause he always used them, and I know many people do. I'm curious because from an informal testing my hearing goes up to about 16 kHz, which I thought was normal but now I wonder. When I was a kid my mom used to clean our ears with a mimikaki which is a Japanese ear pick. In my adult life I've kept using it to clean my own ears. I think my ears are always clean, but you've made me second guess.

  • JunkieXL
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #5
Yeah, if not Q-Tips then what are we supposed to use?  I'm not really in the mood to stick oil in my ears...

  • ojdo
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #6
Yeah, if not Q-Tips then what are we supposed to use?

According to this article from a German medical association it is recommended to just use clear water from time to time during taking a shower or washing one's hairs. In the rare case of massive wax production they recommend to have the wax removed professionally every 2-3 months.

  • dios-mt
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #7
Yeah, if not Q-Tips then what are we supposed to use?  I'm not really in the mood to stick oil in my ears...


I am not only interested in Audio, love Music, work as engineer with audio devices, but are also diver. As a diver you are also adviced to not use Q-Tips. If you do you "push" the dirt deeper into your ear and damage the natural protection of your inner ears skin. Instead just use simple water and oil. So when I finished a dive or take a shower, I just let water drop in my ear. The oil I use approximatly every two weeks and before/after a dive. It is simple baby oil (not made of babys, but made for them  ). Just one drop per ear. It is like using creme or body lotion for other parts of your body. For a diver you have the additional protection, because the dirty water of a lake or the sea drops of the oily skin of your ear. It dries faster and is better protected against infections.
  • Last Edit: 18 November, 2009, 12:31:02 PM by dios-mt

  • andy o
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #8
The way the doctor cleaned up my friend's ear canals was with a syringe and pressured hot water. He said he got a good chunk of goo out that way, and the doctor also told him exactly the same others have said here, Q-tips will only make it worse by pushing the stuff farther in.

  • JunkieXL
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #9
Good to know.  I'll give it a shot and not comment back on the results.  Enough mention of gross stuff in this thread already...

  • andy o
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #10
Good to know.  I'll give it a shot and not comment back on the results.  Enough mention of gross stuff in this thread already...

You'll give the syringe a shot? I wouldn't use high-pressured water on my ear canal unless I really knew what I was doing! If you have a Japanese convenience store nearby, you can buy an ear pick, they're typically made of wood (see my link above) and aren't that hard to use, but as always, you need to be very careful. The wood is usually semi-cylindrical with one flat side so you can tell where the little pick is pointing.

  • danbee
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #11
I've been using one of these for a few years now (the site doesn't look all that nice). It does a cracking job of cleaning my ears and there's a noticeable increase in treble afterwards.

By the way, poking *anything* in your ears like Q-tips (cotton buds where I come from) or those Japanese ear picks is generally a bad idea. I keep telling my wife off for doing it!
  • Last Edit: 18 November, 2009, 05:50:43 PM by danbee
Dan

  • Fandango
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #12
I've been using one of these for a few years now (the site doesn't look all that nice). It does a cracking job of cleaning my ears and there's a noticeable increase in treble afterwards.


TOS #8! Seriously now!

edit: ok, I just tried it with a plastic syringe... it wasn't uncomfortable but I felt and heard no diference after the procedure (did it at least 10 times with each ear). As I expected my ears are probably clean or it didn't manage to loosen the wax (I used very warm water). I have been using cotton buds since I can remember. Since a few years I've been pushing them into the ear canal trying not to touch the skin wall and only when I've reached the ear drum scrape along the wall in circles moving the Q-Tip slowly outwards like a reverse drill.

Another consideration: what about in-ear monitors? They push the wax a lot more into the ear than cotton buds do, I guess. IEMs really scrape along the walls of the ear canal.
  • Last Edit: 18 November, 2009, 08:15:03 PM by Fandango

  • Akkurat
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #13
If this catches on, I can really envisage audiofools demanding to know someone's audio hardware and ear-wax levels before taking their subjective opinion seriously.
Someone is bound to market audio-grade olive oil too (at some enormously inflated price).

LOL! Thanks, made my day.

I've the same wax problem myself. Not very bad but I need to go to an ear doctor sometimes. Even though Finland has a "good" public health care, this one thing they don't seem to handle well; once they almost broke my ear with their equipment (it hurt like hell) and said that there's no wax though that one ear had about 50% hearing instead of normal.. I panicked that my hearing is going and my music listening would be affected.. fortunately I got a time to a private doctor the very same day before weekend and she said, after only one quick look (which didn't hurt at all), that the ear was totally blocked with wax! Some people don't have to do this ever, some very frequently.

IME and what I've heard, any home syringe/pump cleaning system is crap. The ear doctor doesn't use water but something other (can't remember exactly but some kind of diluted alcohol) and he/she is skilled in doing that thing properly. If you have tested home cleaning and then once go to a proper ear doctor, you'll definitely will see a difference. Last time my ears were cleaned, I felt extremely nauseated right after (almost barfed, cold sweat..), it's very common that a proper cleaning procedure will make you feel ill for a bit.

Also don't use cotton buds/Q-tips, that's what everybody says. I once asked the doctor that what are they used for then, she said: good question. For general cleaning and hygiene, do not stick it inside ear... that's what my cotton bud packet says. I guess many should RTFM.

  • Cavaille
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #14
Ok... now all of you are becoming subjective audiophiles 

I use Q-Tips since my childhood. Every time after shower. And I shower every day. I always try not to go too deep and I always thought my ears were really really clean. I used a syringe a few minutes ago and the water that came out of my ear was visibly polluted (not so transparent). Can I hear it? Don´t know. And guys, I won´t do a DBT    Because I have a problem: I pushed water inside my ear behind the membrane and now I have to wait until it is dryed. I pushed most of it out by shaking my head... but there´s still some left. I can feel it moving.

But... there is something strange... my PC does have a very peculiar fan noise. I´ve never heard that before...

Oh shoot! I wanted to hear audio, not my PC fan! 
  • Last Edit: 18 November, 2009, 09:35:27 PM by Cavaille
marlene-d.blogspot.com

  • andy o
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #15
If you got water stuck in your ears just use a few drops of alcohol into your ear. That always works for me. I'm thinking that soapy water should also work, since soap breaks the water membrane that makes water stick together, but I haven't tried that.

  • jmcguckin
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #16
gah, I've been a regular user of Q-Tips since before I can remember, and after reading through all of these posts I have to wonder how much (if any) earwax may be built up in my ears as a result... as far as I can tell, I've never had any issues hearing high frequencies, but then again, I could go by what I'm used to hearing and apparently still have lots of buildup in my ears.  definitely something I'd like to get checked out the next time I go in for a check-up, if anything just for peace of mind .
Archive- FLAC (-v 8)
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  • andy o
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #17
Since a few years I've been pushing them into the ear canal trying not to touch the skin wall and only when I've reached the ear drum scrape along the wall in circles moving the Q-Tip slowly outwards like a reverse drill.

Another consideration: what about in-ear monitors? They push the wax a lot more into the ear than cotton buds do, I guess. IEMs really scrape along the walls of the ear canal.

Since I've been using IEMs I've been keeping my ears really clean, not only from wax, but also the oily stuff. After cleaning the gunk with the ear pick (I know it can be dangerous, but I've been doing all my life) I do use a Q-tip with alcohol with the same movement as you do, to clean the oily walls of my ear canals. After that my ear is clean for about a whole day, and I can use my IEM with the sponge tips. Having your ear oil (and wax!) free will also lengthen the lifespan of your tips actually.

  • Iain
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #18
Since a few years I've been pushing them into the ear canal trying not to touch the skin wall and only when I've reached the ear drum scrape along the wall in circles moving the Q-Tip slowly outwards like a reverse drill.

Another consideration: what about in-ear monitors? They push the wax a lot more into the ear than cotton buds do, I guess. IEMs really scrape along the walls of the ear canal.

Since I've been using IEMs I've been keeping my ears really clean, not only from wax, but also the oily stuff. After cleaning the gunk with the ear pick (I know it can be dangerous, but I've been doing all my life) I do use a Q-tip with alcohol with the same movement as you do, to clean the oily walls of my ear canals. After that my ear is clean for about a whole day, and I can use my IEM with the sponge tips. Having your ear oil (and wax!) free will also lengthen the lifespan of your tips actually.


Ear wax helps keep your ear canal healthy, so it is not a good idea to clean out your ears a lot. Wikipedia says - It protects the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwax


  • 2Bdecided
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #19
Even though Finland has a "good" public health care, this one thing they don't seem to handle well
Same potential problem in the UK: a "normal" build up of wax will be handled by your GP (general practitioner) i.e. the doctor you go to for everything. I was "lucky" in that I had something extra wrong, so got to see a specialist. For free. But had to wait 4 months!

(My employer's private health care would have covered it, but I moved jobs during the ear infection - so it was a pre-existing condition on the new health insurance, and hence not covered).


I'm not doing an ABX test - it took me 20 years to make that wax! 

Audiophile grade olive oil - or at least "ear grade olive oil" - sounds like a great marketing idea to me.

Cheers,
David.
  • Last Edit: 19 November, 2009, 05:51:06 AM by 2Bdecided

  • danbee
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #20
TOS #8! Seriously now!

edit: ok, I just tried it with a plastic syringe... it wasn't uncomfortable but I felt and heard no diference after the procedure (did it at least 10 times with each ear). As I expected my ears are probably clean or it didn't manage to loosen the wax (I used very warm water).


It's probably the latter. I'm pretty sure it takes me more than 10 times to actually get the wax plug to shift. I normally do one ear one day and the other the next. In the shower seems to work best for me, and you will know when it's shifted! The size of some of the wax plugs that have come out of my ears has really surprised me.

As for TOS#8, obviously I can't prove anything but I remember the sound of the metal rings on the shower curtain at my last place really surprising me with the sound on my way out of the shower!

IME and what I've heard, any home syringe/pump cleaning system is crap. The ear doctor doesn't use water but something other (can't remember exactly but some kind of diluted alcohol) and he/she is skilled in doing that thing properly. If you have tested home cleaning and then once go to a proper ear doctor, you'll definitely will see a difference. Last time my ears were cleaned, I felt extremely nauseated right after (almost barfed, cold sweat..), it's very common that a proper cleaning procedure will make you feel ill for a bit.


It might be a case of YMMV, but the home syringe approach works very well for me. I am a drummer and use the expensive moulded earplugs which I find seem to promote wax build up. I have certainly felt the nausea when the wax plug finally comes out.
  • Last Edit: 19 November, 2009, 07:29:28 AM by danbee
Dan

  • Akkurat
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #21
It might be a case of YMMV, but the home syringe approach works very well for me.

YMMV? You Make Me Vomit.. Your Monkey May Vote.. Young Mens Macho Vehicle?? I see that you have mastered the wax-off-syringe kata well, danbee-san.

  • Cavaille
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #22
Just a little update: I cleaned my ears again in the shower today. Around 20 times for each ear. This time I was lucky and no water got stuck in my ears.

When I came out of the shower I was extremely disturbed how it sounded. Simply not what I was accustomed to.

Now that I´m listening to music I´m even more disturbed. It sounds so different and it so far away from a placebo as it can get... can´t describe it... so beautiful. You can ban me if you like for some TOS violation but this is so extreme... I made a quick test with a sweep in different volumes. Before I could hear up to 18.5 kHz - now I´m up to almost 20 kHz. This is insane... I wonder when some audiophile companies will make money out of this.

And before I forget: I won´t use Q-Tips anymore.
  • Last Edit: 19 November, 2009, 12:25:27 PM by Cavaille
marlene-d.blogspot.com

Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #23
I wonder when some audiophile companies will make money out of this.
Why not rent your miraculous shower and turn it into an audiophile Lourdes?  (be prepared for a high water bill)

  • collector
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Just had my ears cleaned
Reply #24
Audiophile grade olive oil - or at least "ear grade olive oil" - sounds like a great marketing idea to me.

When I want to get rid of the hardend old wax, my GP advices me to oil the ears for a few day and then he or his assistent uses the forementioned syringe (metal, about 150 cc.), with handwarm water.  It makes a lot of noise, I can tell you..

While half deaf at first, you can hear a pin drop after this action. But after a week everything is normal again. So tell us how things are next week or so.