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Can you remove the impacted ear wax at home?

Updated: Apr 27

I received a few patients this week in our hearing clinic in Dulwich and Crystal Palace who needed ear wax microsuction. They had something in common, they all tried different methods at home to remove their impacted ear wax. Helping these patients inspired me to write this article. This article is complementary to the article previously published on HearingNow, How to resolve my ear wax fast? and another one about How to clear a blocked ear at home.

In order to fully answer this question, let's have a quick review of what ear wax is and how it becomes impacted, and then find out about impacted ear wax removal home remedies and the best wax to remove impacted ear wax.

ear wax microsuction in SE London - hearingnow

Note: Ear syringing or water irrigation has been stopped by the NHS in the UK and most developing countries because of the potential health risk to the patient. This picture is only for illustration purposes. We do not recommend or promote considering ear syringing or water irrigation.

What Is Ear Wax And Where Does It Come From?

Ear wax is actually made by your own ear. It is a mixture of a heavy, acidic oil called cerumen, which is produced in the ceruminous glands that line the outer two-thirds of the ear canal, shed skin cells and sweat. Ear wax serves to protect the delicate, thin surface of the ear canal by keeping it moisturised, as well as keeping the ear clean by catching dust, pollen, bacteria and small insects and stopping them from growing (or laying eggs) in your ear. Normally a combination of the gentle slope of the ear canal, the jaw squeezing the ear canal during eating and speaking, and the natural skin migration process carry wax out of the ear, bringing with it the aforementioned dust, pollen, bacteria and small insects.

How Does Ear Wax Become Impact?

Over time, the wax gets compressed and dries out, and can get stuck to the wall of the ear canal like hardened glue. This situation is made even worse when you use sleeping earplugs, music earbuds or hearing aids that simply block the ear canal and stop the debris from getting out naturally. Attempts to clean up the ear wax with cotton buds may clean up some of the ear wax deposition but often push the rest deeper into the ear canal. The more this is done, the more compressed and dried out the wax becomes, eventually getting stuck deep inside the ear canal. This is impacted by earwax.

otex express to soften hard ear wax buildup - hearingnow

Home Remedies For Impacted Ear Wax (see this article too)

Impacted ear wax is incredibly frustrating. It can be uncomfortable, even painful, and often causes a temporary loss of hearing. It's understandable that people want to remove impacted ear wax at home using a home remedy, so they can get rid of their impacted ear wax in the convenience and comfort of their own home.

Most home remedies for impacted ear wax involve first softening the wax using drops, and then either flushing or scooping the ear wax out of the ear. Bear in mind that the delicate skin inside the ear canal is one millimetre at its thickest and one-tenth of that at the ear drum, so whatever chemicals are used, they must be strong enough to soften or dissolve ear wax, but gentle enough not to irritate or burn through the skin of the ear canal; and whatever method is used to flush or scoop the ear wax out must not use so much force that it damages the ear canal or eardrum.

After the impacted earwax has been softened, a bulb syringe, or alternatively a syringe with a special tip can be used to squirt water into the ear in an effort to dislodge the ear wax. However, when you think about it, this poses an obvious problem - the water being squirted into your ear canal can just as easily push the wax even further into your ear, making things ten times worse! The other complexity is that the batteries in the water create infection after the cleaning (that's why the NHS in the UK stopped water irrigation techniques to clear ear wax).

The alternative is to scoop out the ear wax, and you can find all kinds of arcane instruments online that promise to hook, scoop or draw out your ear wax. You can even find soft silicone corkscrew-like devices advertised on social media (no, they don't work - and yes, they ARE too good to be true). The problem with any of these instruments is that if you can't see inside your own ear (a blind procedure), and if you don't have professional training, you can do some serious damage to your own ear. You might push the wax even further into your ear, or worse yet - damage your eardrum.

There is yet another alternative, which we don't recommend either, and that is one of the endoscopic earwax removal cameras you can get online. Endoscopic earwax removal takes highly-trained Audiologists hours of supervised teaching to learn, and then months of practice to become good at it. Most Audiologists would rather use an ENT microscope rather than an endoscope when removing earwax as the 3D view provided by an ENT microscope affords a greater degree of safety compared to the 2D view given by an endoscope.

olive oil drop for ear wax

Best Way To Remove Impacted Ear Wax

It is certainly a good idea to soften impacted ear wax at home before its removal, and research confirms this reduces the chances of dizziness or discomfort during an earwax removal procedure. Before a procedure, we recommend the following regime: 2 days of pure olive oil (Earol or Otex) ear drops - 3 drops in each ear twice a day.

Given that it takes an Audiologist, who has studied the anatomy and physiology of the human ear in-depth and whose work is solely related to ears, months of practice to become proficient at ear wax removal, we recommend that you seek out a professional Audiology service to complete the impacted ear wax removal procedure for you.

Professional Ear Wax Removal Near You

With multiple locations in SE London, we offer in-clinic and home visit hearing care services including ear wax microsuction. To learn more about our services or book an appointment call 0800 001 6638 or book your appointment online here.

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