Causes of impacted earwax
Our ears are very efficient at cleaning themselves. Ironically, it’s usually when people try to clean their ears that impacted earwax is caused. Using things like cotton buds, your finger, or other objects to try and remove earwax can actually push it further into the ear – where it can build up and become impacted.
It can also be caused by excessive earwax, which can simply happen when your body naturally produces more earwax than it needs, or if it becomes drier or stickier than normal. It’s when this excessive earwax builds up that it can become impacted.
Other causes of impacted include:
Wearing earplugs, earbud headphones and hearing aids
Narrow or hairy ear canals
Age – earwax becomes drier as we age
Exposure to moisture causing the earwax to expand
Diagnosing impacted earwax
A hearcare assistant, audiologist or GP will be able to determine whether you have an earwax blockage by looking in your ears with an instrument called an otoscope, which magnifies and lights up the inner ear. Where available in our stores, we will use a video otoscope, so you can see the wax for yourself.
Once they have diagnosed the excessive or impacted earwax, they will advise you on how to prepare the earwax for removal.
Professional earwax removal treatments
If you have impacted earwax, there’s a greater risk of you developing an ear infection caused by irritation to the sensitive skin inside your ear canal. This can be uncomfortable and may require further treatment – so it’s important that you get your impacted earwax removed safely.
Did you know we offer an earwax removal service?
Depending on the extent of your earwax build-up, our audiologists will either remove it manually, with a specialist tool, or use a method called microsuction, which essentially sucks out the earwax build-up without any contact with the eardrum or sensitive skin of the ear canal.
Earwax removal from home
You probably will have heard the saying ‘never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear’. Cotton buds, matchsticks, hair pins, pencils and many other items may damage your ear canal, push the wax deeper causing impacted earwax, cause an ear infection, or you might perforate your eardrum.
If you’re considering buying an over-the-counter solution, we’d recommend you speak to a chemist or pharmacist to make sure you buy the most appropriate product for your needs.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises earwax candling has no benefit in earwax management, can result in serious injury and should never be used.
When you should see your GP
If you experience any of the following, you should see your GP for advice or further treatment:
Your ear is still blocked after 5 days
You’re having trouble hearing because of the blockage
There are a few things you can try at home to remove your impacted earwax.
But we’d recommend speaking to your GP or pharmacist to determine the right treatment for you.
The safest way to unblock your ears is to seek professional advice from your GP or an audiologist who will be able to advise you on the most
appropriate method and how to prepare for removal.
Symptoms of an earwax build up includes: a feeling of fullness in the ear, difficulty hearing, itchiness, a ringing sound, ear discharge, dizziness, earache or pain.
There are a number of methods you can try depending on the extent of the earwax buildup. At Specsavers, we offer either manual removal with a
specialist tool or microsuction. Speak to your GP or audiologist for advice on the best treatment for you.