Some people with earwax blockages are tempted to use DIY earwax removal methods to relieve symptoms but these are often ineffective, and in some cases, potentially unsafe.
All ears are different, ear canals vary in length and are curved in shape with two bends between the entrance of the ear and the eardrum; some are very angular, others slope upwards or narrow at some point. These individual characteristics pose a risk of injury when foreign objects and implements are used by untrained hands.
Research carried out by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) in 2022 found that 55% of people trying to remove their own earwax noticed no improvement and 1 in 10 made their symptoms worse or caused themselves an injury requiring medical attention.
Earwax plays an important role within the ear canal; it helps to moisturise the skin and protect against bacteria and germs. It should only be removed when medically necessary.
Symptoms of earwax blockage can include:
- a sensation of fullness in the ear
- a reduction in hearing
- tinnitus or dizziness
- interference with hearing aids, whistling (feedback) and/or a reduction in overall performance
While ear drops are considered safe when used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, they may not provide the desired effect.
Over the counter ear drops may be beneficial for loosening smaller amounts of earwax but they are less likely to remove larger or impacted blockages and can make symptoms worse as the softener mixes with the wax, further blocking the ear. Prolonged use can also cause skin irritation in some cases.
The following are not recommended methods of earwax removal:
Foreign objects like cotton buds can damage the delicate skin of the ear canal, increasing the likelihood of infection. They can also push wax deeper into the ear canal risking eardrum perforation.
Ear syringing kits
Manual removal using water in a syringe is no longer considered safe as the uncontrolled water pressure risks perforating the eardrum, inserting water into the ear at an incorrect temperature can also cause dizziness and nausea.
Ear candles do not remove earwax but can deposit soot and candle wax into the ear canal, risking burns to the face, ear and permanent damage to the eardrum. If you have a hole in your eardrum and hot candle wax drips through it to the middle ear, you will require surgery to remove it.
Online gadgets and devices
A surplus of earwax removal gadgets has recently become available to purchase online, some contain little or no guidance on safe use of the product or information regarding possible hazards or risks, nor are there any independent studies on their safety and effectiveness.
If you are experiencing symptoms of earwax blockage and would like to enquire about professional wax removal, please get in touch with us at your nearest location.
- Belfast |028 9066 7030
- Ballykelly |028 7707 6050
- Donaghadee |028 9188 4188
- Holywood |028 9085 9900
- Newtownabbey |028 9085 9900