The safest way to remove wax build-up from your ears is to visit your nurse or doctor and prior to this, use a softener such as olive oil to prepare the wax for irrigation.
Here I have provided you with some tips on how to safely clean your ears, what not to do, and when you should seek medical advice.
Many people don’t need to clean their ears routinely and the wax should take care of itself. Sometimes, excess wax can accumulate and make hearing difficult. If you’re using small items such as bobby pins, pen tops, cotton buds, or rolled tissues, not only is this unsafe, you may push the wax deeper into the ear canal. The general rule of thumb that you will hear from most doctors and nurses is ‘never put anything smaller than your elbow inside of your ear’. In other words, placing objects inside of your ear canal could potentially injury rupture the tympanic membrane (your eardrum) and permanently damage your hearing.
You may be more likely to develop excess wax if your use hearing aids or ear plugs or the shape of your ear canal may make the natural removal of wax difficult. Do you feel blocked Up earwax (cerumen) is a self-cleaning agent produced by your body. It collects dirt, bacteria, and other debris.Usually, the wax works its way out of the ears naturally whilst we sleep, through chewing and other jaw motions.Many people never need to clean their ears. However, wax can build up and affect your hearing. When earwax reaches this level, it is known as ‘impaction’. If you are suffering with impaction, you may experience symptoms like:
Click on the link below to read more about what the NHS advises about good ear care and reducing how much wax can build up inside the ear canal;
It is recognised that the effects of impacted ear wax within the ear canal can, in addition to hearing loss, cause earache, a sensation of fullness within the ear, infection, itchiness, a reflex cough, dizziness, vertigo or tinnitus – all of which can be unpleasant. Hearing impairment can affect our daily quality of life leading to frustration, stress, social isolation, paranoia and depression.
Ear irrigation (more commonly known as Ear Syringing) is a more modern way of removing wax from the ear. It is performed using a machine which pumps water (at body temperature) gently into the ear canal in an attempt to flush out the wax. The pressure and flow of water can be adjusted and slowly increased if necessary to remove the wax. takes anything from 10-20 minutes to perform depending on the amount and type of wax visible, whether you will need one or both ears treating and how deep it is inside the canal.The procedure should never be painful.Some people can find it a little uncomfortable while others may find it therapeutic.
Please note that it is best practice to instil olive oil drops (twice daily) at home 7-10 days prior to consultation so that the wax can be safely and more easily removed reducing the risk of any trauma to the external auditory canal during irrigation. The added benefit of doing so means that your treatment will be much more successful and prevent you from having to come back for further treatments.
Please be aware that it is not appropriate to carry out ear irrigation if you are aware of any infection or pain, a weak or recently healed ear drum (due to perforation) in the last 12 months or if you have undergone any form of ENT surgery in the last 18 months and particularly if your care has not yet been discharged from your consultant.
Treatment is performed by Emma Clarke (RN, BSc), a registered nurse with experience in both a clinical and community setting. For appointments contact: 07749120950