- Ear wax is normal it provides protection for your ears
- Your ears are self-cleaning
- The movement of your jaw while eating and talking moves the wax along the canal
- Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes deafness, pain or if a health professional needs a clear view of the ear drum
What makes ear wax?
- The amount of wax produced varies from person to person
- Some people produce excessive amounts of wax and this can block the ear canal
- Wearing a hearing aid, ear plugs and or head phones can interfere with wax expulsion
- Narrow and or hairy ear canals
- If you are elderly – the wax produced may be harder and drier
- Dry skin in people who suffer with eczema or psoriasis
- Do not use cotton buds to clean the ear. This forces the wax deeper into the canal and can cause damage, trauma and possible infection
- Do not use objects such as matches, hair grips, crochet hooks, knitting needles, keys etc. this can cause trauma and possible infection
- If your ears are itchy do not scratch or rub them with your finger nails or any other objects
- Do not use anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.
- Try and keep your ears dry. When washing your hair, showering or swimming putting some Vaseline around the inner part of your ear can help
- Don’t put your head under the water when bathing
- If you regularly get blocked ears, use olive oil drops weekly
When to see the GP or Advanced Practitioner
If you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Discharge or bleeding from the ear
- Sudden deafness
- Foreign bodies (you may be advised to attend A&E)
50% of people will not require ear syringing when following this advice
What you can do to manage the problem?
- If you are not experiencing any of the symptoms above, the following is recommended:
- Olive Oil Drops/Spray – It is recommended that this is done 2-3 times daily for at least 14 days.
- Lie on your side with the affected ear uppermost
- Pull the outer ear gently backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal
- Put olive oil into the affected ear(s) and gently massage just in front of the ear
- Stay lying on your side for 10 minutes to allow the wax to soak up the oil
- Afterwards, wipe away any excess oil and plug with Vaseline soaked cotton wool.
- Your hearing problem may initially worsen after first starting to use the olive oil drops; this is why you are advised to concentrate on treating one ear at a time if both ears are blocked with wax.
- In most cases, 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 with the practice nurse for further advice and management.