Ear wax (cerumen) is naturally-occurring, generally harmless and usually easy to remove. Its purpose is to help keep our ears free of germs, and most of the time it passes from the ears without a problem. Occasionally though it can build up and require some kind of treatment.
Why do we get ear wax?
Our bodies produce ear wax to keep the ears as clean as possible, and to reduce the risk of germs. The process works well on the whole, but build-up issues can result for a number of reasons, including:
- The production of particularly hard or dry wax
- Ear canals which are narrow or hairy
- The formation of bony growths in the ear canal
- Old age, as wax tends to be drier as we get older
The do’s and don’ts of controlling ear wax
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is never to insert items into the ears. Cotton buds, finger tips and other items can cause serious damage, so make sure you pursue a safe way to remove ear wax.
In general, wax will remove itself without a problem, but if you have a build-up that won’t disappear be sure to visit a pharmacy for advice. Almond oil or olive oil can soften the wax build-up and encourage it to disappear.
Still no joy?
Failing that, a visit to a GP or an independent hearing care centre is recommended. An ear wax check will identify the problem and you’ll receive expert advise on the best path to take.
If all else fails, don’t lose hope. There are two options which are very successful and should remedy your problem. Micro suction and ear irrigation are tried and tested solutions, and they are available at an independent hearing care centre near you.
Micro suction is our preferred method to extract ear wax build up. It involves a gentle and effective vacuum procedure which is designed to leave the ear dry and clean. Our audiologists regard this as a safe way to remove ear wax because it doesn’t put undue pressure on the ear drum and it can be performed even if the person has a perforation or ear infection.
Warm water is directed into the ear via an electronic irrigation device to clear the build-up of wax. A small amount of pressure is involved, but the procedure is comfortable throughout for the patient. If necessary, a tiny camera is used by the audiologist to ensure the best results are achieved.