Earwax is completely natural and a buildup or blockage is easily removed, but I often see patients who are misinformed about what earwax is and how to remove it safely. Therefore, I’ve put together the below article with five common questions I get asked about earwax removal, advice on how to remove earwax in a safe way and some facts that aim to debunk the old wives’ tales and earwax myths that I hear every day.
What is earwax?
Earwax is part of your body’s natural defence system. It’s not actually “wax”, but a sticky substance that acts as a lubricant and prevents water, dust, small particles and insects from getting into the ear. Earwax also contains antimicrobial peptides that prevent bacteria and fungi from invading the ear canal and causing infection. Basically, earwax is healthy and good for you.
Contrary to what you may think, earwax is not “dirty” and does not need to be cleaned out of your ears regularly at home. The ear is self-cleaning; the glands in the ear continuously make new earwax and push the old earwax out to the ear opening, which falls out naturally when you bathe, sleep or move your jaw.
What causes earwax to build up?
All people are different and therefore all ears are different. Some people simply produce more earwax than others because of their lifestyle, work environment, hearing aid use, hearing protection, or even genetics.
A buildup of earwax or blockage can occur because you have hairy or narrow ear canals, your age (wax gets harder and more difficult to fall out as you get older), or wax that has been pushed further into the ear due to hearing aids, ear plugs or home cleaning,
Should you use cotton buds to clean your ears?
Never. Inserting objects like cotton buds into the ear can actually push the wax further in, damage the ear drum, and cause earwax impaction. Impaction occurs when an excessive buildup of earwax blocks the ear canal, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, itching, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), hearing loss, discharge and odour.
Inserting objects into the ear only irritates them and can actually lead to the production of more earwax. Remember that the smallest bones in the human body sit right behind our ears and could be broken easily by using a cotton bud.
Does ear candling really work?
There’s no evidence to suggest that ear candles get rid of earwax. This alternative therapy involves lighting a hollow candle and placing the unlit end in the ear canal. Practitioners allege that candling drains earwax and toxins from the ear, but there is no evidence that this is effective. In fact, it can burn the ear canal, cause infection and even hearing loss.
How do you safely remove ear wax?
If you are experiencing discomfort or any of the symptoms of impaction, as cited above, then consult your GP or a local private audiologist, who can remove the earwax for you in a safe and painless way. If your ear is badly blocked and you can’t hear anything, you should seek medical attention right away as you might get an infection if it isn’t cleared quickly.
There are two methods of ear wax removal:
Irrigation: This is where a soft pulse of water is passed into the ear to loosen and flush the wax away
Microsuction: A gentle suction is used to remove wax and debris from the ear canal.
Steven Hale Hearing is fully qualified to perform both irrigation and microsuction. Microsuction earwax removal is the most safe and comfortable form of earwax removal available. No fuss, no mess, no ear drops clogging your ears up further for days before, just instant relief from your earwax problem.