If your ears are feeling full and you’re struggling to hear as well as usual, you may be experiencing ear wax buildup.

Glands within your ear canal produce ear wax to trap any dust or debris particles from getting inside and infecting the eardrum. This normally falls out by itself, but sometimes it can be pushed deeper inside or harden due to excess wax production.

Ear wax blockage is a common problem that you can easily identify through a private consultation with a doctor who checks for wax buildup by looking into your ear. It can also be resolved by booking an ear wax removal appointment. Reach out to local private GP services to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

First things first, what is ear wax buildup?

Simply put, this is when wax builds up in your ear over time and hardens inside. A regular amount of ear wax is actually beneficial as it lubricates your ear, protects your eardrums and stops the growth of bacteria. Usually, the ear gets rid of it naturally with small amounts falling out or being washed out without us even noticing it. However, if there’s too much of it and it’s pushed deep inside, it can harden. The hardening makes it tough for the self-cleaning process to take care of it. This can lead to a feeling of blockage within the ear and trouble with hearing.

Read on to find out more about what causes ear wax buildup and the main signs that you have it.

What are the symptoms of ear wax buildup?

Not sure whether you’re suffering from ear wax blockage? Here are the key signs to look out for:

  • A dull ache in your ear

  • A ringing sound inside your ear, also called tinnitus

  • A feeling of fullness within your ear or a clogged feeling

  • A feeling of dizziness

  • Hearing trouble – you may find yourself watching television at double the volume when your ear is blocked with wax!

Experiencing one or more of these symptoms? Book a private consultation with your GP to get it checked out. Before deciding on a treatment method, a doctor (or nurse) will look in your ear to establish that it is due to built-up ear wax. Some of the symptoms above could be due to something else, so you’ll need to get checked before booking in for ear wax removal.

What are the primary causes of ear wax buildup?

Wondering why you’re experiencing a buildup of wax in your ear? Although this issue sometimes occurs naturally, knowing the main cause could help us prevent it in the future.

The most common causes of ear wax buildup include:

  • Using cotton buds to try and clean your ear. We’d strongly advise against doing this as it actually has an adverse effect. It can push wax even deeper into your ear and create a blockage. There is no need to use cotton buds for ear cleaning. As mentioned earlier, the natural process of self-cleaning is usually sufficient to keep the insides of our ears clean.

  • Inserting any object into your ear, such as rolled up tissue or anything else, is a terrible idea. You’ll simply end up pushing the wax deep inside your ear canal, which will result in blockage.

  • If you wear a hearing aid or regularly wear in-ear headphones, you’re more prone to wax buildup.

  • If your ear canals are on the small or narrow side, it may be more difficult for ear wax to naturally leave the canal. This is a rare cause of wax buildup, but it does occasionally happen.

When to get ear wax removal

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important that you don’t try to self treat before you know the cause. You could end up making the problem worse by trying DIY tactics. Ear canals are a sensitive area and you don’t want to risk damage to your eardrums. Book yourself an appointment for a private consultation to check where ear wax is even the culprit for your symptoms before seeking treatment.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, the problem may require more urgent help so seek out professional medical help immediately:

Head to the hospital if you experience:

  • Severe dizziness and loss of balance

  • A high fever

  • Severe nausea and vomiting

  • Significant hearing loss

How ear wax removal works – syringing or microsuction ear wax removal?

At the initial private consultation with your doctor, they’ll ask about your symptoms and look into your ear for diagnosis. This will be done using an otoscope or ear-scope. They’ll quickly be able to diagnose whether you’re experiencing a buildup of wax or if further checks are needed.

The primary treatment for ear wax buildup and blockage is ear wax removal. This can be done in two different ways. Your doctor can get the wax out using a syringe or, many private GP services offer microsuction ear wax removal. Discuss both options with your doctor to decide the best course for you.

For either method, you will need to lubricate the ear using olive oil or ear drops for a few days before your ear wax removal appointment. This will make the wax a little easier to remove as it will have hardened considerably within your ear. Remember to follow this step consistently before your appointment as there have been cases where patients need to rebook ear syringing appointments as the wax isn’t lubricated enough to remove.

How to prevent ear wax blockage through self-care

If you’re prone to ear wax blockage, there are some simple measures you can take to minimise the likelihood of it happening too frequently. To avoid ear wax building up in the future, invest in some over-the-counter ear drops and use these on a regular basis. There are drops available specifically for wax softening. Your doctor may have advised you to use these prior to your ear wax removal appointment. Simply put a couple of drops into your ear and tilt your head to the side for a few minutes so the liquid can work its way into the wax inside your ear canal. Olive oil drops can work equally well using the same method.

There are also some home remedies available, such as an over-the-counter syringe which you can use to flush the wax out of your ear yourself. Although this can be effective at making a difference for some, it usually doesn’t work as well as professional ear wax removal.

Some people also choose to try the procedure of ear candling. We’d strongly advise against this method, as it could result in serious injury or damage to your ear.

At Duality Health, we have a team of doctors that have years of experience providing both ear syringing and microsuction ear wax removal. To find out whether you need ear wax removal, book in for a private consultation today.