Earwax: how to deal with the sticky side of your hearing

Earwax is a delightful thing.  A big sticky parade of mucus-type stuff coming directly out of the bit you hear from. Mmmmm.  Today, we’re going to take a look at ear-wax (not literally), what it is, what it’s for and how  - if needed – you can get rid of it.

So, what is ear-wax?

Ear wax is an entirely natural secretion that – rather unsurprisingly – you find in your ear.  It’s manufactured by the body in order to protect the ear against dirt, dust and bacteria, and as a result can help to prevent infection.  Yes, it’s actually good for you (most of the time!).

What’s it made of?

Your body whips up this delightful stuff using epithelium (skin cells to you and me), dust and other oily secretions taken straight from both the sebaceous and ceruminous glands in the ear canal.  These secretions help to lubricate the ear canal, preventing it becoming too dry.

Cleaning earwax

If earwax is a natural substance (and it is), then surely it shouldn’t be cleaned?  This is a fair point, and yes, in most cases, earwax will usually clear on its own.  However, there are some situations in which it will need to be cleared up.   This is when the wax has built up to the extent that it causes symptoms to develop such as:

  • Earache, a sense of fullness in the ear, or the feeling that the ear is plugged up
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Tinnitus, ringing or other general noises in the ear
  • Itching, odour or discharge
  • Coughing

If any of the above symptoms occur consistently over a few days, then the chances are that the ear wax needs to be cleared.

How should you go about clearing ear wax build up?

First things first: DO NOT INSERT ANYTHING INTO YOUR EAR CANAL! Absolutely the worst thing you can do is to start poking around with q-tips, hair pins or anything else with the aim of simply scraping away the wax.  This is an extremely quick way to do quite a bit of damage to your ears, and is a definite, definite no-no.


Right, now that’s out of the way, we’ll get onto clearing the ear-wax build up.  Here are the two most effective ways:

By using ear drops and agents.  Generally speaking, the best way to clear up the wax build up is using a specific agent designed for the purpose.  Any ear drops will work (we sell a number of different models in our catalogue).

Ear irrigation.  On some case, earwax can build up to the extent that even eardrops are ineffective.  If that’s the case with your build-up, then ear irrigation may become necessary.  This is a procedure in which a pressurised flow of water is used to remove the build-up of earwax.  This is a treatment typically offered on the NHS.  It can feel slightly strange, but isn’t painful.  If you’ve tried using ear drops and are still suffering from the symptoms above, we’d definitely recommend getting in touch with your doctor.

Visit our online store

At the AllEarplugs store, we stock a number of quality ear was removal products.  Click here to be taken right to them.

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