Healthy ears contain wax, which is produced by a special lining in the ear canal. Wax protects the tissues, and helps prevent infection by trapping micro-organisms, dirt and other irritants.
Symptoms of wax build-up
The symptoms of wax build-up within the ear can include:
- Mild deafness
- A sensation of fullness inside the ear
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
In most cases, blockage of the ear canal with wax is a harmless event.
Treatment may include:
- Drops to soften the ear wax and help it to fall out on its own (this may take from a few days to a few weeks).
- Wax softening products that are available from your local chemist.
If this is not effective consult your GP.
The following treatment options are also available:
- The use of an ear syringe to squirt warm water into the ear canal and float out the wax plug.
- Removal of the wax using a suction device.
- Removal of the wax with forceps or a special hook.
- Large quantities of hardened wax may need to be treated by an ear specialist.
Minimising ear wax build-up
There are ways to reduce ear wax build-up, including:
- Avoiding cleaning the ear canals with cotton buds, hair clips or fingertips, as any object poked into the ear can compact the wax and cause damage to the ear canal.
- Using wax-softening drops or olive oil twice a week, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Limiting ear cleaning to the outer ear only.
- Treating any associated inflammatory skin conditions.
For further assistance
If you have any further problems with ear wax build-up please see your GP.