Earwax (or cerumen) is normally secreted by glands in the ear and important in lubricating the ear canal, removing excess dirt, and protecting the inner portions of the ear from insects, fungus and water. Everyone generally produces different amounts of wax and for most people, the ears are “self-cleaning” – as skin in the ear grows outwards, it drags the wax out too. There are some people who can develop excessive wax build up and it is best removed by someone who has had proper training (ie your GP, ENT or audiologist). Typically, before the wax is removed, wax softener (bought from a chemist/pharmacist) should be used to ensure the wax is extracted easily. There are three main techniques to remove wax:
Cotton buds should NEVER be used to clean the ear canal. They typically push the wax further into the canal, compacting it and causing more problems. Buds can also result in scratches along the canal walls, hearing loss, ear infections and even eardrum perforations. Ear candling should also NEVER be attempted. While it is claimed to help remove wax, ear candles have been found to have no scientific impact on earwax, often resulting in burnt ears, infections, and candle wax dripping into the ear (1).
Should you feel your ears are blocked with wax, contact your doctor for further investigation. If the wax be too deep or impacted, a referral to an ENT is advisable. Following wax removal, if your hearing still appears impaired, a full investigation by our audiologists can be arranged. Contact the clinic for more details.
1. Seely, D.R., Quigley, S.M. & Langman, A.W. (1996). Ear candles – efficacy and safety. Laryngoscope, 106, 1226-1229.