• Ear wax management during the Coronavirus lockdown

    Ear wax management during Covid-19

    Ear wax management: During the current lock-down period we are unable to remove wax from your ears by any method, so here are some suggestions of how to manage your blocked ears temporarily.

    Blocked ear caused by wax and discomfort

    This is probably due to a hard plug of wax deep inside the ear canal putting pressure against the sensitive bony portion of the canal.

    Advice: Use olive oil to soften the plug. Use the drop sparingly until the pain or discomfort has subsided.

    Stop using the oil thereafter.

    Please note: Olive oil DOES NOT reduce the amount of wax in the ear, it only softens it, making it heavier and greasier and will block the ear further. It is mainly used for softening and lubrication to make the eventual removal with irrigation or micro-suction easier.

     

    Greasy ear wax blocking ear canal, causing reduced hearing

    Ear wax build up is related to the central nervous system and in these difficult times we are all prone to have increased levels of stress and anxiety, which causes glands to produce more sweat and grease, including the sebum glands at the canal entrance. For some people this will cause a build-up of soft greasy wax debris, resulting in a temporary blockage with reduced hearing.

    Advice: DO NOT attempt to clean your ears with a cotton bud or put anything else into the ear canal.

    A saline ear spray such as AudiClean or Audispray may be the best option in this case, as they are designed to help to dissolve some of the greasy debris within the canal.

     

    Why we are not able to perform wax removal

    Any form of wax removal is an aerosol generating procedure, meaning that tiny particles of moisture are airborne. Because the Coronavirus is transmitted through the air and is highly contagious, we would have to wear the full PPE, including gown, gloves, filtered mask and visor to protect ourselves and our clients. 

    What is an aerosol generating procedure (AGP)? Aerosols are produced when an air current moves across the surface of a film of liquid; the greater the force of the air, the smaller the particles that are produced. Aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) are defined as any medical and patient care procedure that results in the production of airborne particles (aerosols).

    PPE requirement guide for aerosol generating procedures

    This illustration from Public Health England explains the requirements if performing AGP procedures. 

    PPE for aerosol generating procedures

    Ear wax management during the Coronavirus lockdown

    If you have any questions about ear wax management during the Coronavirus lockdown, please get in touch with us by email, fill in our online contact form, or call us on 0345 222 0579, we’d be happy to help. 

    During the Coronavirus lockdown, although we are unable to see patients face to face, we are available by phone and video call and are also operating a drop-off and collect as well as a postal service for any servicing you require for your hearing aids. Please read our Covid-19 update page for more details of how this operates.

     

     

  • Getting rid of ear wax safely

    Getting rid of ear wax safely

    Ear wax (also known as cerumen), a bodily secretion that many of us could live without, is actually very useful for our health – in small amounts. As a natural cleanser that moves from the inside of the ear canal to the outside, ear wax traps and gathers dirt, debris, dead skin cells, dust and hair. Moreover, ear wax has antibacterial properties, keeping the ears lubricated and protecting them from various infections. In this article we look at getting rid of ear wax safely and the reasons why excess or impacted ear wax can become a problem.

    Why do some people have problems with ear wax?

    Our ENT ear wax microsuction equipment
    Our ENT ear wax microsuction equipment

    Everyone makes ear wax, but some people produce more than others. This is due to many reasons. The amount and quality of ear wax each person produces depends on their genetics. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that a high percentage of East Asians produce dry ear wax, whereas people of African or European ancestry tend to produce wet ear wax.

    On the other hand, people with small or narrow ear canals can also experience ear wax build-up, since these anatomical characteristics make it more difficult for ear wax to exit the ear canal naturally.

    People with hearing aids are also prone to ear wax build-up, since they have a foreign body in their ear every day which can lead to a blockage and impacted ear wax over time. For the same reason, it’s not recommended to use cotton swabs to remove excess ear wax.

    How do I know if I need to see a specialist?

    If you feel that your ears are full or you are in pain, then chances are that your ears are impacted. Other symptoms that suggest you are in need of ear wax removal include loss of hearing, ringing ears (tinnitus), itchy ear canals, discharges and/or smelly ears.

    If you have any of the above symptoms, you should book an ear wax removal appointment. It’s really important to see whether ear wax is causing pain or discomfort, since ear problems can also be caused by other conditions. The audiologist will look into your ears carefully and determine whether they are blocked by excessive ear wax.

    Ear wax microsuction

    Before and after ear wax microsuction
    Before and after ear wax removal with microsuction

    If ear wax removal is necessary, then there are many options. In some cases, irrigation (removal by water) works well. However, irrigation does not always dislodge the entirety of the ear wax blockage, particularly if the ear canal is narrow. Microsuction is an alternative, innovative method of cleaning the ear canal, using a suction device guided by a microscopic camera. Microsuction is quick, safe and does not need pre-treatment. The audiologist will use a camera to navigate around the ear canal, safely removing the excess ear wax. In most cases, the blockage is removed in a few minutes.

    Cleaning your ears properly

    To prevent future problems with your ears, don’t stick anything inside them. Only use cotton swabs on the outside of your ear canal and if you feel uncomfortable, see an audiologist. More importantly, stay away from ear candles or any DIY remedies which are advertised as natural ear wax removal methods, since they can harm your ears.

    Getting rid of ear wax safely – where to find out more

    At Help in Hearing we generally offer microsuction but occasionally we carry out irrigation (water) or “dry removal” using a small probe. The method will depend on your specific history and condition of the ear. No GP referral is required. 

    Managed by qualified audiologists

    Only our carefully selected, fully qualified and experienced audiologists with additional training in aural microsuction ear wax removal will carry out ear wax microsuction.

    Please fill in our online form to request an ear wax removal appointment.

    Or read more about ear wax on our Ear Wax Management page.

  • What you need to know about ear wax removal

    What you need to know about ear wax removal

    Ear wax is a natural part of ear health. We all have ear wax, it’s just that some people produce more wax than others. Below we explore what you need to know about ear wax removal – what ear wax is comprised of, its protective role, and ear wax removal methods.

    What is ear wax?

    Ear wax is a combination of dead skin cells, secretions and dust. This gradually builds up over time in the ear canal. The consistency and amount will vary between individuals and there is no way of stopping it from producing.

    The role of ear wax

    Although often viewed as a nuisance, ear wax does have an important role to play. It helps to lubricate the ear canal and protects foreign objects from entering the ear canal such as dirt, bacteria and dust.

    Signs that your ears are blocked with wax

    There are a number of signs that can indicate your ears are blocked with wax. These include difficulty hearing, tinnitus, earache, dizziness and recurring ear infections.

    Self-wax removal warning

    It’s important that you don’t insert cotton buds into your ear canal, as this can push the wax further into the ear and cause damage to the ear canal.  

    Ear wax microsuction

    Ear wax 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. 

    What you need to know about ear wax removal – where to find out more

    Help in Hearing offers hearing health advice via our independent audiologists. Visit our ear wax removal services and microsuction page to learn more.

    Or please do get in touch with us today to book an appointment for ear wax removal.