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Ear Wax

Ear wax helps protect your ears against dust, dirt, and bacteria. Sometimes, it can build up to a high level and cause pain and hearing difficulties.

If you are regularly prone to blocked ears, you can use olive oil or almond oil drops (avoid almond oil if you are allergic to almonds) or spray 2-3 times daily for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. The best way to do this is:

  1. Warm the drops to room temperature.
  2. Lie on your side with the affected ear uppermost. Concentrate on treating one ear at a time if both ears are blocked with wax.
  3. Pull the outer ear gently backwards and upwards to straighten the ear canal.
  4. Put 2-3 drops into the affected ear(s) and gently massage just in front of the ear. If needed, ask someone to help you put the drops into your ear.
  5. Stay lying on your side for 10 minutes to allow the wax to soak up the drops.
  6. Wipe away any excess oil but do not plug your ear with cotton wool, as this simply absorbs the oil.
  7. If you have lots of wax build-up you can use oil drops twice a week, long term to prevent recurrence.

Your hearing problem may initially worsen after first starting to use the drops, but in most cases, the wax will soften sufficiently to encourage the wax to come out on its own and your symptoms should improve.

Microsuction (the process of removing ear wax from your ear with a syringe) is not generally offered on the NHS and by the practice, except for when:
  • you have an episode of acute otitis externa (infection of the outer ear) you will be given up to a maximum of three microsuction procedures per year
  • your ear drum is obscured by wax but needs to be viewed, to establish a diagnosis; and this is the only appropriate procedure
  • you have a history of one-sided hearing loss and there is a need for wax removal from that or the less affected ear
  • you have significant symptomsof hearing loss/pain and ear drops have not improved your condition AND you have a history of pain or problems with you ear (see qualifying information below)

Alternatively, you can pay to have microsuction performed at a pharmacy or an ear care provider.