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Ear Wax Removal - Guidance


Earwax is a build-up of dead cells, hair, foreign material such as dust, and cerumen. Cerumen is the natural wax produced by glands in the ear. Cerumen is made in small amounts all the time and protects the skin of the ear canal.

Everyone produces different amounts of earwax and sometimes it can form a plug in the ear. This can cause reduced hearing. Sometimes it can also cause ringing of the ears (tinnitus) and vertigo. A plug of earwax is not a serious problem and only needs to be removed if it is causing problems like those listed above. If you wear hearing aids, the audiology department might ask you to have your ears cleared of wax.

The ear is self-cleaning. Please do not try to clean your ears with cotton wool buds etc. This can often make things worse.

If you have plugs of wax blocking one or both ears, the best way to treat this is with drops. We recommend that you use ear drops for 14 days. The drops we would recommend are:


  • Almond oil or olive oil 3-4 times per day
  • Sodium bicarbonate 5% twice a day These drops are available from pharmacies or on prescription.It is better to apply the ear drops while lying on your side.

Do not put cotton wool in your ears after applying the drops. You may find your symptoms temporarily worsen when you start using the drops.

If your symptoms don’t settle after using drops for 2 weeks please see the practice nurse. Sometimes ear irrigation (syringing) may be required. The nurse will check your ears and if there is still a plug of wax, she may offer to irrigate your ear. She cannot irrigate your ears unless you have been using drops for at least 2 weeks.

It is unsafe to do this if the wax in your ears is hard.If you have pain in your ears, please see a GP.Microsuction is another method of removing ear wax. This is not something we can offer at Tam’s Brig Surgery, however Specsavers offer this service for a fee.  




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