Earwax blockage

Ear wax: a friend for your health and wellbeing

As one of the body's many naturally-occurring protective substances, ear wax is incredibly useful to our health and wellbeing. But what exactly is ear wax?

Ear wax is an oily material produced by glands within the ear canal. It's role in the body is to trap dust, protect the ear canal lining and reduce the likelihood of bacterial infection. Maintaining a healthy level of ear wax is key. If you feel the symptoms of ear wax build up or believe you may be experiencing an ear wax infection or blockage, please visit your GP or contact your local National Hearing Care clinic for further information.

Ear blockage and other ear wax issues

Ear wax is usually harmless, but if you have hard wax or too much compacted in your ear, it can cause pain and discomfort. If you suffer from frequent ear infections, flaky skin near the ear or hair in the ear canal, you may find you have a heightened risk of developing an ear wax blockage or other problems, including hearing loss from ear wax.

An ENT specialist can assist you with these conditions:

  • Middle ear infection (otitis media)
  • External ear infection (otitis externa)
  • Perforated eardrums
  • Vertigo
  • Ear pain
  • Worsening of pre-existing tinnitus
  • Damage to the external auditory meatus (the tube that connects the outer and middle ear)

Ear wax prevention and treatment

It's best to leave any wax build up to the medical professionals who know how to remove ear wax. Avoid putting objects, such as cotton buds or hair pins, directly into your ears. Even if you are using these to remove excess wax, you can easily damage your ear canal or ear drum, lodging wax further inside your ear. 

If you do want to try to prevent ear wax build up or treat issues at home, you can use ear drops or spray as recommended by our expert audiologists and audiometrists. This will liquify and loosen stubborn wax, allowing it to work its way out naturally. You can also carefully clean the outer ear area to help stop debris from getting inside.

What does ear wax colour say about your health?

You might notice you have different ear wax types and ear wax colours in your ears at any given time. That's completely normal. Here are some common types:

  • Darker ear wax has generally been in the ear for longer, with the colour coming from microscopic particles of dirt, debris and bacteria that have attached to the wax.
  • Redness in your ear wax could mean minor internal bleeding or inner ear injury.
  • Whiter, flakier ear wax is generally older and located on the outside of the ear.
  • Lighter yellow ear wax tends to be fresher.
  • Darker yellow and green ear wax might be a sign of infection.

If you have any questions about your ear wax or how to best manage it, don't hesitate to contact a National Hearing Care clinic for a FREE hearing check.

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