Have you ever felt a blocked or full sensation in your ear? If yes, then you’re not alone. Many people experience earwax build-up at some point in their lives. It’s a common problem that can lead to discomfort, hearing problems, and even infections. Luckily, there are ways to deal with it. In this article, we’ll explore the best practices for ear wax removal based on expert advice and medical research.
Understanding Ear Wax
Cerumen, also known as earwax, is a naturally occurring substance generated by the glands located in the ear canal. Its main function is to act as a safeguarding layer, aiding in the maintenance of ear hygiene and lubrication. Ordinarily, earwax steadily migrates towards the outer ear, desiccates, and eventually sheds off. However, sometimes earwax can build up and become impacted, causing symptoms such as earache, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and hearing loss.
Types of Ear Wax
There are two types of earwax: wet and dry. Wet earwax is yellowish-brown and sticky, while dry earwax is lighter in colour and flakier. The type of earwax you have depends on genetics and ethnicity. Research has shown that people of African and European descent are more likely to have wet earwax, while those of East Asian and Native American descent are more likely to have dry earwax.
How to Safely Remove Ear Wax
If you’re experiencing symptoms of earwax build-up, it’s essential to seek professional advice before attempting any removal methods. Your GP or audiologist can examine your ears and advise you on the best course of action. They may recommend the following options:
Over-the-counter ear drops are one of the most common treatments for earwax build-up. They work by softening the wax, making it easier to remove. Ear drops should only be used as directed and are not suitable for everyone. People with perforated eardrums or a history of ear infections should avoid using ear drops.
Ear syringing, or irrigation, involves flushing the ear canal with warm water to remove the earwax. It’s a safe and effective procedure when performed by a trained professional. However, it’s not recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as a history of ear surgery or an ongoing ear infection.
Microsuction is a delicate and meticulous approach to removing earwax, employing a miniature suction tool to eliminate the buildup from the ear canal. The procedure is swift and pain-free, and can be carried out by an audiologist or an ENT specialist. Microsuction is especially appropriate for individuals with narrow ear canals or sensitive ears.
Preventing Earwax Build-Up
Prevention is always better than cure, and there are several ways to reduce the risk of earwax build-up:
- Avoid inserting anything into your ears, such as cotton buds, as this can push the wax further into the ear canal.
- Use earplugs or ear defenders when exposed to loud noise, such as music concerts or machinery, as this can cause earwax to harden.
- Maintain good ear hygiene by washing the outer ear with a damp cloth and avoiding excessive ear cleaning.
- Seek professional advice if you experience any ear-related symptoms, such as pain, discharge, or hearing loss.
The Benefits of Early Hearing Treatment
If you’re experiencing symptoms of earwax build-up or any other hearing problems, it’s important to seek early treatment. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, and cognitive decline. By seeking professional advice, you can identify the underlying cause of your hearing problems and receive appropriate treatment, which may include hearing aids or other assistive devices.
In the UK, hearing loss is a growing concern, with over 12 million people affected to some degree. According to a study by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), only 40% of people with hearing loss seek treatment within the first year of experiencing symptoms. This delay can have a significant impact on their quality of life and overall health.
At our audiology practice, we offer a range of hearing solutions to help people with hearing loss. Our team of experienced audiologists can conduct comprehensive hearing assessments, recommend suitable hearing aids, and provide ongoing support and aftercare. We understand that hearing loss can be a sensitive issue, and we strive to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment for our patients.
Don’t let earwax build up or hearing loss hold you back. If you’re experiencing any ear-related symptoms or if you’re concerned about your hearing, contact us to book an appointment with one of our audiologists. We’re committed to helping you hear better and live life to the fullest.