Ear wax, known as cerumen, is a healthy bodily substance, preventing dirt and debris from entering our ear canals. It has protective, lubricating and anti-bacterial characteristics. It migrates from the ear canal to the ear opening, cleaning the ear canal, then drying and falling out. Sometimes wax builds up and becomes impacted, causing our ears to become blocked.
Ear wax, although a normal bodily substance, can differ in colour and consistency, it is unique to each person so managing preparation for removal can vary in patients.
Please note, softening advice is based on average properties of the wax. Consistency can vary due to diet, medications and overall general ear health.
Normally there is no need to soften the wax for any longer than 2 to 3 consecutive days prior to having microsuction (unless severely impacted). Unlike irrigation, where the recommendation is approximately 7 to 10 consecutive days.
If you have been using over the counter preparations to soften the wax over a long period, please stop using these at least 24 hours prior to your appointment, as this will allow very wet wax to be microsuctioned more successfully.
Please note, the above advice is recommended as an average. We are still happy to see you and assess your need for microsuction even without any softening preparations used.
Do you know the symptoms of impacted ear wax?
Signs and symptoms of a blockage may include:
- Feeling of fullness in the affected ear
- Ringing or noises in the ear (tinnitus)
- Decreased hearing in the affected ear
Please do not attempt to remove the wax yourself, always consult your GP/ Nurse or audiologist.
Early, appropriate management of ear wax is vital when treating ongoing symptoms and preventing possible complications.
Why we shouldn’t use cotton buds to “clean” our ears –
- Using cotton buds can push the wax further into your ear, and into an area where it shouldn’t be.
- Wax can get stuck and become blocked against the ear drum, which can cause significant pain.
- Fungus, bacteria and viruses from the outer ear can get pushed into the ear, which can result in infections and are extremely painful.
- If wax is jammed deep inside the ear canal, it can result in hearing loss.
- If wax is pushed even further, it can result in damage to the ear drum and cause a rupture.