What is ear wax?

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 that is produced by glands within the ear canal, designed 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 a build up of ear wax or believe that you may be experiencing an ear wax 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 particularly hard wax or too much compacted in your ear, it can cause some pain and discomfort. If you suffer from frequent ear infections, flaky skin near the ear or hair in the ear canal, you may find that you have a heightened risk of developing an ear wax blockage or other problems.

If ear wax comes into contact with the eardrum, it can cause discomfort and vertigo, a sensation that makes you feel as if you are moving even when standing still. If your ear wax is thought to be excessive, you might need to have it removed. Your GP can investigate the following issues and then may recommend that you book a hearing test to determine any changes. An ENT specialist would then be able to 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

To reduce your chances of developing problems relating to ear wax, we highly recommend that you 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 eardrum, lodging wax further inside your ear. Instead, 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.

If your problems persist, visit your local GP, where an examination of your ears may be recommended. You can also contact you local National Hearing Care clinic for additional support.

Concerned you may have an ear wax blockage? Book An Appointment Today

Get support and advice

Request an appointment

Book now

Take an online hearing test

Take the test

Find a clinic near you

Find a clinic