Ear wax build up can cause health problems in adults and children such as earache, ear infections and hearing loss so where do we go for help and what can we to prevent or treat ear wax issues.
I have vivid memories of sitting in my front room with my father hovering over me with a spoon, a lighter and a bottle of olive oil. As a child I suffered with severe earaches due to ear wax so my Dad would be the person to melt the wax with warm olive oil, it always did the trick, but this is not an advisable solution today.
Ear wax is nature’s way of protecting the ear by forming a protective outer layer of wax and would normally not pose a health problem, but in some cases it will need to be manually removed.
My daughter has been suffering the same fate, so I have been researching information for other parents.
Common Ear Wax Removal questions
How do I prevent ear wax build up?
Ear wax is a substance that is secreted inside the ear canal with cleansing, lubricating and antibacterial properties. In some cases ear wax can get lodged in the ear canal and if left untreated become a health hazard. If you suffer from excessive ear wax, you can use an eye drop instrument to squirt warm water into the ear to soften the wax, so it falls out itself.
However, the ear wax could loosen and instead of falling out, could fall deeper into the ear canal or closer to the ear drum.
How do I know if my ears are blocked by ear wax?
Here are the common symptoms of ear wax build up:
- Severe earache (this is what I suffered from in my childhood)
- Ear infections
- Difficulty hearing from that ear
- Feeling dizzy and itchy ears
- Ear wax can cause tinnitus in some cases which is a ringing or buzzing in the ear
If you are suffering from any of the above then the ear wax will probably need removing manually.
Should I go and see my GP?
In some instances, a GP maybe able to assist with the removal of ear wax but in most cases they will not. They can check the ear for a diagnosis and prescribe an ointment to use to soften the ear wax, but it is probably an ear specialist that is the best route to take.
The task of ear syringing can get delegated to a nurse and often results in further complications – see article that says only 19% of GP’s carried out the practice. The complications included: failure of wax removal (29%), otitis media (17%), perforation of the ear drum (15%), and trauma to the external auditory meatus (11%)
If the GP needs to refer you to a specialist you maybe on a waiting list on the NHS, or you could get treatment done on the same day privately.
Is ear wax removal available on the NHS?
Ear wax removal is not on the list of core services provided by GP’s unless the ear wax has caused hearing loss, in which case you can be referred to audiology services. Ear wax removal is not always addressed locally, but referred to secondary care or privately, something that some Health Care Professionals are not happy about – see article below in Nursing Times.
Never stick anything in your ears
Cotton wool buds can be used if the ear wax is just on the outer surface area of the ear, but never use buds or anything to clear wax that is deeper in the ear. Using any object to try to remove ear wax often makes the situation worse and risks permanent damage to the ear.
Should I clean my ears regularly?
Ears are self-cleaning and earwax build up should drop out of the ear naturally, so you don’t need to clean your inner ears, they are taken care of by the body.
What are ear candles, and should I use them?
Ear candles are designed to soften the ear wax so it drops out but putting a flame near the ear is a recipe for disaster. Face and ear burns are likely but it is also known to make the problem worse.
How much does it cost for ear wax removal?
The cost varies from £55.00 upwards so do some research before deciding on a private practice.
Ear wax is made up of sebum, skin cells, sweat and dirt mostly and it is nature’s way of protecting the ear drum and cleaning the inner ear naturally. Excessive ear wax build up can cause a variety of health complications in adults and children and currently ear wax removal is not widely carried out by GP’s because it was removed from the ‘core service list’ so it is up to the GP whether they treat it or not and even if they do, it could be a nurse and it could lead to further complications.
There are specialists across the country that offer an ear wax removal service such as Auris Ear Care who will carry out the procedure in your own home quickly and safely.