What is ear wax ?
If there is a build up of wax in your ear(s)please read the following as you may not need an appointment....
Ear wax is normal and is produced to form a protective coating over the skin in the ear canal Ears are normally self- cleaning.The movement of your jaw whilst eating and talking helps to move the wax along the canal where it will usually fall out naturally without you noticing.
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. Dry skin can also be a factor as skin falls off in our ears as it does on our bodies and this too may cause a blockage.
You are more likely to develop a blockage of wax in the canal if you ;
Use cotton buds to clean the ear as this pushes the wax deeper into the canal
Wear a hearing aid or ear plugs or use in - ear speakers as these can all interfere with the natural process of wax expulsion.
Have narrow ear canals
Have hairy ear canals
Elderly- because the ear wax you produce is drier and harder.
Have a dry skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis- this can contribute to the build up of skin debris in the canal.
Advice to help you manage or try to prevent ear wax blockage ;
Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes deafness, discomfort or if your health professional requires a clear view of 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 follows;
Olive oil drops- we recommend 3-5 days twice a day .Lie on your side with the effected ear uppermost and pull the outer ear gently backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal and allow the oil to get in . Gently massage just in front of the ear. Stay laying on your side for around 10 mins to allow the oil to soak into the wax.
Afterwards wipe away any excess oil but do not plug your ear with cotton wool as this simply absorbs the oil .
Your hearing problems may initially worsen after starting to use the olive oil . This is normal as the wax may swell and some oil may remain behind the wax blockage.
In most cases , after 5 days the wax will have softened sufficiently to encourage the wax to come out without further intervention. However, if you feel your hearing is still impaired please make an appointment/ message for further advice and management.
This is only considered if the above recommendations proved to be unsuccessful and the ear remains blocked and the ear drum cannot be seen. Ear wax needs to be softened as above for 3 days twice a day before attempting treatment.
Risks- although the risks are low and we are specially trained to perform this procedure , there is still a small chance ( thought to be 1 in a 1000) of complications occurring such as a perforated ear drum . Middle ear infection , external ear infection or causing ringing in the ear ( tinnitus) are also possible complications.
Advice- we advise all our patients to keep their ears dry for 2-3 days following procedure to help prevent the later potential complications mentioned above. The nurse will also dry mop your ears(s) following procedure.
We are using the most up to date machine to remove the wax with very gentle pulses of water rather than the old fashioned method of firing a large syringe of water into your ear canal. this helps to protect your ear drum and the nurse will stop regularly to check all is well in the ear canal. The procedure is painless, some really enjoy it some not so much but it is generally all done in 10 mins and can provide instant relief.
In some cases the ear can remain a little muffled for a few days as it dries out and in some cases wax build up may not be the reason for the reduction in hearing and you will be advised to seek further advice for this from your GP.
IMPORTANT - EAR INFECTION
Please do not attend if you have an ear infection or have been treated for one in the past 6 weeks . Your ear drum may be more vulnerable to perforation so we need to wait 6 weeks for it to settle before irrigation may be attempted to help with wax removal.