‘We need to talk about wax…’

‘WHAT WAS THAT?’

‘I said we need to talk about WAX…’

Maybe not the same subject, and certainly not on many peoples lists of dinner time conversations but the situation should seem familiar to thousands of you out there, repeating yourself time and time again, struggling to be heard over an overly loud television or radio. Hearing loss doesn’t always mean the need for a hearing aid, sometimes it’s not a problem with the ear itself at all, but a build-up of wax inside the ear causing the problem.

So what exactly is earwax and why do we get it?

Also known as cerumen, earwax is a brown, grey, or yellowish waxy substance secreted in the ear canal. It protects the skin of the ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection against bacteria, fungi, insects, and water. The skin in the outer ear canal has special glands that produce earwax. After the wax is produced, it slowly makes its way through the outer ear canal to the opening of the ear. Then it would normally either falls out or is removed when you wash but sometimes, too much wax is produced and can build up, blocking the ear canal.

Some people regularly get blocked ears because they naturally produce a lot of earwax.

Other factors that can increase the risk of too much earwax include:

*producing naturally hard or dry earwax

*having narrow or hairy ear canals

*being elderly, as earwax becomes drier with age

*bony growths in the outer part of the ear canal

Earwax can also block your ear if you frequently insert objects into your ear canal, such as cotton buds, ear plugs or hearing aids.

So how would you know if you have a build-up of ear wax (other than the constant badgering by friends and family to get your hearing checked!) There are a few signs and symptoms that may point to a waxy build up in the ear, these can include:

*earache

*hearing loss

*tinnitus (hearing sounds from inside your body)

*itchiness in or around the ear

*vertigo (a spinning sensation)

*ear infections

So what to do if you do notice any of these symptoms? Well, firstly and most importantly, don’t try to remove a build-up of earwax yourself with your fingers, a cotton bud or any other object. We’ve all done it at some point, had an irritated ear and dug a finger inside only to make it worse! This can damage your ear and push the wax further down.

If the earwax is only causing minor problems, you can try buying some Olive Oil eardrops from ourselves. These can help soften the earwax so that it falls out naturally.

There are several different types of eardrops you can use, including drops containing sodium bicarbonate, olive oil or almond oil.

However, eardrops aren’t suitable for everyone and some can irritate the skin. For example, eardrops shouldn’t be used if you have a perforated eardrum (a hole or tear in your eardrum).

So far you’ve tried turning the T.V up and eardrops, but STILL everyone around you seems to be whispering or mumbling, your next option would be to seek a consultation with our audiologist, Kelly, in view of having ear wax microsuction.

Microsuction ear wax removal is a safe, clean and simple way to remove a build-up of ear wax. It is undertaken by using a microscope and medical suction device making it the safest way for the audiologist to gently remove the wax from the ear canal. No liquids are used during the treatment also meaning its mess and fuss free, long gone are the days of syringing where you would have a stream of water down your nice clean top after leaving your consultation!  The process is usually over in a few minutes and the majority of people find it easy and comfortable.  The process is the safest way to remove earwax as the audiologist can see everything they are doing during the removal. Unlike ear syringing or ear irrigation, where ear wax is flushed out without a view of the canal, during microsuction, the canal and the ear wax is being directly viewed with the microscope whilst it is being removed. This makes the procedure much quicker, safer and comfortable for yourself.

A blocked ear, or ears, are very quick and easy to treat and costing just £50 for both ears, there’s never been a better excuse to turn that T.V down and pop in to see if we can solve your hearing problem, and allow your friends and neighbours a little peace and quiet!

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