Ear Wax Self Care
If there is a build up of wax in your ear(s) please read the following self-help guide as you may not need an appointment.
What is ear wax?
Why is my ear blocked with wax?
The amount of ear wax produced varies from person to person; some people produce excessive amounts which can lead to a blockage in the ear canal. You are more likely to develop a blockage of wax in the canal if you:
· use cotton ear buds to clean the ear as this pushes the wax deeper into the canal
· wear a hearing aid, ear plugs or use in-ear speakers for i-pods or similar - as these can all interfere with the natural process of wax expulsion
· have abnormally narrow ear canals
· have a particularly hairy ear canal
· are elderly – because the ear wax you produce is drier and harder
· have a dry skin problem such as eczema or psoriasis
Advice to help you manage and prevent ear wax blockage
Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes deafness, discomfort or if your Health professional requires a clear view or your ear drum.
If you experience any of the following, you should seek advice from your GP
· discharge or bleeding from the ear
· sudden deafness or buzzing
· foreign bodies in the ear
· If you are not experiencing any of the above, we recommend that you manage the blockage as following:
Alternatively, there are now over-the-counter kits available from pharmacies. These contain a wax softener ( preferably oil based )which you use for 3-4 days and a small bulb syringe to enable you to remove the wax from your ear canals yourself. Please ask at Pharmacy for available products
Ear Syringing – is only usually considered if the above recommendations have proved to be unsuccessful. Ear wax needs to be softened as above for 5-7 days before attempting to syringe. Although the risks are low and our nurses are specially trained to perform this procedure, there is still a small chance (thought to be around 1 in 1000) of complications occurring - such as a perforated ear drum, middle ear infection, external canal infection or causing ringing in the ear (tinnitus).
If your ears are regularly becoming blocked with wax, after clearing the blockage we will usually suggest you use olive oil drops as above around once per week to keep the wax soft and encourage the natural process of wax expulsion.