How To Remove Ear Wax Safely

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Enda Dooley

Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist at Hidden Hearing
Mr. Enda Dooley, Senior Hearing Aid Audiologist DipHE HAA Q.M.U. has been with Hidden Hearing since 2010 and is based in our Merrion Road, Ballsbridge branch.

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60680638 - otolaryngologist, selection of hearing aid.Ear wax may not be the most attractive bodily feature, but it certainly plays an important role in protecting your ears and keeping them clean. The ears are designed to be self-cleaning, and will usually do the job of ear wax removal without any external interference. However, on occasion, ear wax can build up and may need to be removed.

What Is Earwax And Why Do We Have It?

Did you know that earwax plays an important role in your body? We all have it, and some people experience hearing loss as a result of an excess of it, but most people still don’t know what earwax actually is, and what function it performs.

Earwax is a thick fluid known as cerumen, which carries waste debris, skin cells and sweat out of the ear canal. It may be yellow or brown, or even orange or grey on occasion, and some people produce much more than others.

Earwax is a natural cleaner, removing dirt and dust and maintaining a clean environment to lower the risk of infections inside your ears. Earwax also serves to moisturise the skin of the ear canal, protecting against dry, itchy ears.

Earwax can tell us about our heritage, with people of Asian descent having drier earwax than those with African or European ancestors.

Earwax moves through the outer ear canal to the outer ear and can be removed when you wash. You should never try to remove earwax from your ears in case it becomes impacted and causes a blockage. Cotton-buds, or q-tips, are likely to increase the risk of impaction, and this is also higher if you wear earplugs or hearing aids regularly.

At Hidden Hearing, we offer free earwax removal procedures to anyone over the age of 50, which may resolve temporary hearing loss caused by a blockage. Some tinnitus is also related to earwax blockages, and untreated blockages can lead to infection or damage to the eardrum so it is well worth visiting your audiologist as soon as you suspect there may be a problem.

An audiologist or medical professional will usually clean your ears with an irrigation procedure that gently and effectively removes wax. A bulb syringe may be used in some cases, and you may be advised to use ear drops in the future to prevent reoccurrence of the problem.

When is Ear wax a Problem?

If the ear wax produced is very hard or dry, it can cause blockages in the ears, and an excess of wax can also be produced after an infection or over a long period of time. A build up of ear wax can cause earache, hearing loss including tinnitus, itchiness, vertigo and recurring ear infections.

If Ear Wax Is A Persistent Problem It May Need To Be Removed

If you have a problem with the build up of ear wax, you are likely to experience it on a regular basis since some people are more prone to this than others. If this is the case, you may need frequent treatment for ear wax removal when it becomes a problem.

Some professionals recommend the use of ear drops on a regular basis if you are prone to earwax build up, as this can keep the wax softer and less likely to cause a blockage.

What You Need To Know About Ear Wax Removal

Cotton buds/Q-tips: These little sticks with soft ends are frequently used to clean out the ears at home, but the experts say that they can do more harm than good and should only be used to remove visible wax from the opening of the ear or the outer ear. Pushing them into the ear canal can cause wax to become impacted, and could even rupture the eardrum.

Softening drops: Specialist oil, or mineral oil, may be used to loosen the impacted ear wax inside the ear. It is very important not to use oil that is too hot, or to use any kind of oil or liquid in the ear if you have an ear infection or perforated eardrum.

Irrigation: Expert audiologists and medical professionals often use irrigation with water to soak and wash out earwax that is impacted. This technique can be very helpful in loosening stubborn earwax, but people with damaged eardrums should not use irrigation.

Suction: This is another technique that may be used by healthcare professionals to clear a blockage of earwax. This must be carried out by trained specialists, and should not be attempted at home. Suction devices that are available over the counter are usually too weak to be effective, and could cause damage if used incorrectly.

Ear candling: Specialist holistic therapists often offer ear candling as a means of restoring balance and clearing the ears. Many medical professionals believe this to be a dangerous and ineffective procedure, but many people swear by the technique, so be sure to do your research before parting with your money.

Safe Ear wax Removal:

You shouldn’t attempt to remove a build up of ear wax yourself, either with your fingers or with a cotton bud, as this can damage your ear and push the wax further into the ear canal. Remove ear wax safely, as follows:

•    When ear wax is only causing minor problems, you can try using eardrops, which are available from pharmacies. These are designed to soften the earwax to enable it to fall out by itself. Be aware, though, that eardrops can irritate the skin in some cases, and should never be used if you have a perforated eardrum.
•    Visit your GP if eardrops have not helped, or if the pain you are experiencing is severe. Your ears will be checked and you may be offered ear irrigation to clean out your ear canal.
•    If the problems are persistent, you may be referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of your nearest hospital for ear wax cleaning. Treatment is usually carried out using microsuction, where a small device is used to suck the earwax out of your ear, or aural toilet, where a narrow instrument with a small hoop on the end is used to clean the ear and remove the earwax.

Top Tips For Easy Ear Wax Removal

Ear wax is a vital bodily fluid that lubricates the ear canal and protects the tiny hairs that enable us to hear. However, an excess of earwax can cause problems, including hearing loss. Excess ear wax can usually be removed with ease, but you should not ignore this problem as untreated hearing loss can lead to many more serious problems.

We advise booking a free ear wax removal procedure with a professional at one of our clinics, and we recommend the following to ensure that you do not make the problem worse.

Soften the wax. Ear wax becomes cold and hard inside the ear canal and can lead to blockages that can restrict hearing, so it is necessary to soften the wax before it can be removed. We advise using specialist ear drops or olive oil in the ear each night for a week, to gently and painlessly soften the wax before your removal procedure.

Don’t try it at home. Many people try to remove ear wax at home with cotton buds or q tips, but this is not advised as it can cause the wax to become impacted and make the blockage worse. There is also a risk of damage to the eardrum, or even a potential rupture, if the wax becomes impacted against the eardrum.

See an expert. A doctor, or one of our trained clinicians, can quickly and easily remove your ear wax without causing pain or risking impaction. Most professionals prefer a method of water syringing or irrigation, which gently washes the wax from the ear canal. This is a good way to relieve the problem without the risks attached to ear wax removal at home.

When Should You Seek Help With Excess Ear Wax Removal?

1. Is it causing you pain? Are you experiencing pain or being told that you cannot be treated effectively for an existing condition because of excess earwax?

2. Do you have tinnitus? Excess earwax can be a cause of tinnitus, or constant ringing in the ears, and the medical removal of the build up can greatly alleviate the discomfort caused by this condition.

3. Is it affecting your hearing? Hearing problems are common and you should see an audiologist if you have concerns about hearing loss, but sometimes a sudden loss of hearing can be simply remedied by the removal of an earwax build up.

4. Have you had a recent check up? It is a good idea to have regular hearing screenings, especially if you wear hearing aids or have experienced excess ear wax in the past. Hearing aids can be damaged or their function impaired by an ear wax build up.

Problems such as earwax build up, that can cause hearing difficulties, can be quickly diagnosed and treated by your audiologist, leaving you free to enjoy crystal clear hearing once more!

You should not try to remove excess ear wax yourself, since you would risk pushing the wax deeper into the ear canal, damaging the ear canal or even perforating the ear drum.

Book your ear wax removal at hidden hearing

At Hidden Hearing we offer a safe ear wax removal service, you can book your ear wax removal service at our clinics nationwide

How To Prepare For Your Earwax Removal With Hidden Hearing

To prepare for your earwax appointment, please use ear drops and follow our guide below.

Step 1 – Ear Drop Application

Ear drops alone will often clear a plug of earwax. You can buy drops from pharmacies. For example, olive oil, almond oil, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium chloride ear drops are commonly used for this purpose. Dependent on the type of oil you use, be sure to
read the instructions. Pour a few drops into the affected ear. Lie with the affected ear uppermost when putting in drops. Stay like this for 2-3 minutes to allow the drops to soak into the earwax.

Top tip from our Senior Audiologist Noel Cullen

Before bed, apply the ear drops or olive oil to the ear and then put some cotton wool with a smear of vaseline on the inside of it into the ear & sleep like that. The vaseline stops the oil soaking into the cotton wool & forces it down into the ear helping it soften the wax.

The earwax is softened and it often breaks up if you put in drops at least once a day for 3-5 days. Flakes or crusts of earwax often fall out bit by bit. You may not notice the wax as it comes out of your ear. You should not apply oil to your ears if you currently have an infection, perforation, grommets or if you have had any operation on your ears over the last 18 months.

Step 2 – Your Appointment, with the Flush Irrigation Method

Here at Hidden Hearing we use the latest ear irrigation method, a controlled liquid flushing process which is less invasive than other methods and is virtually pain free. Ear irrigation may be needed if ear drops do not work. The ear canal is washed out with warm water. Irrigating the ear with water will usually clear plugs of earwax and it is only safe if the plug of earwax has been softened. Use ear drops (such as olive oil ear drops) to soften wax 2-3 times a day for 3-5 days before you have ear irrigation with your Hidden Hearing Earwax Removal Specialist.

If you haven’t booked your earwax removal already, then click the button below to make an appointment

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How To Remove Ear Wax Safely
Article Name
How To Remove Ear Wax Safely
If you have a problem with the build up of ear wax you may need frequent treatment for ear wax removal when it becomes a problem.
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Hidden Hearing
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