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  • What is earwax?

    What is earwax? And how not to clean your ears

    What is earwax? We all have it, but nobody really wants to talk about it. Ear wax.

    Ear wax is the everyday name for the waxy yellow substance in your ear canals. It’s medical term is cerumen, and believe it or not, it does actually have a function. Produced by the sebum glands under the hair follicles at the entrance of the ear canal, cerumen not only protects the sensitive skin lining your ear canals, but it also helps to keep your ear canals clean, lubricated, free from bacteria and fungus, and most importantly, keeps foreign objects and substances like excess water from entering the canal.

    Never put anything in your ears

    Never put cotton buds in your ears

    This seems simple enough, but this is the number one mistake people make when cleaning their ears or trying to clean an obstruction. If you think your ears are obstructed, contact a specialist and do not try to remove it yourself!

    How NOT to clean your ears

    The ears are an amazing part of our anatomy and are fairly self-sufficient. Your ears do a great job of keeping themselves clean and functioning properly, so there should rarely be a need for human intervention.

    However, things happen and sometimes we must step in. Just remember – as tempting as it may be – don’t stick anything in your ear canals! This includes cotton buds. These are great for applying make-up or small cleaning projects around the house, but NEVER PUT THEM IN YOUR EARS.

    1. Don’t go in after the wax yourself

    The best way to clean excess earwax is to gently wipe the visible earwax from the entrance of the ear canal using a moist flannel or tissue. Do not put anything into the ear canal!

    2. Don’t use ear candles

    Ear candle

    The theory behind the ear candle treatment is that the heat creates a vacuum that pulls out ear wax (think sucking oxygen out of a bottle). The only problem with this treatment is that there is little evidence that a strong enough vacuum (if any) is created and also, there is a big risk for injury from the flame or hot wax.

    When to clean the ears and consult a specialist

    Some symptoms may seem more obvious than others, however these are all signs that your earwax should be removed or you should go to see a specialist audiologist.

    • Trouble hearing or sudden loss of hearing
    • Pain
    • Itching
    • Feeling that your ear canals are blocked
    • Dizziness
    • Ringing
    • Problem with balance *seek medical attention immediately

    Excess ear wax

    Excessive ear wax can be caused by a number of factors, and normally happens when the ear canal narrows. This narrowing of the canal can be the result of infection, certain skin disorders, or the body’s response to blockage. Indicators that your earwax production may be high include a ringing in the ears (tinnitus), trouble hearing, itching or pain in the ear canal.

    The best way to clean excess earwax is to gently wipe the visible earwax from the outer ear. Do not put anything in your ear!

    Ear blockage

    The most common reason to have your ears checked and earwax removed is blockage. Some of the main reasons for blockage are caused by bad habits, such as:

    • Pushing ear wax in with cotton buds
    • Frequent use of ear bud headphones, noise blockers or ear plugs
    • Hearing aid devices
    • Or one could just naturally be prone to earwax over-production

    If you have any problems with your ears, you should consult a specialist.

    Earwax – how we can help

    Here at Help in Hearing we offer an earwax microsuction service. Earwax microsuction is a procedure which uses gentle suction to remove excessive or troublesome ear wax. It is performed with the aid of a surgical microscope and a calibrated suction device, without the introduction of any materials or liquids. Ear wax microsuction is one of the safest, most effective, quickest and most comfortable methods of removing ear wax.

    We are now able to offer ear wax microsuction in the Bucks and Berks area. Find out more on our Ear Wax Microsuction page.

    If you have concerns about ear wax, please call 0845 222 0579 to book an appointment at the Farnham Common or Marlow practice.

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