Earwax is produced naturally by our bodies to help protect our ears. It helps prevent germs, dirt, bacteria and other foreign bodies from entering our ears, therefore reducing the chance of ear infections, blockages and other ear conditions. Earwax acts as a natural moisturiser for our ears, keeping the sensitive and delicate skin in the ears lubricated and stopping it becoming dry and irritable.
Normally our bodies produce the right amount of earwax for our ears and if excess wax is produced it clears naturally. But sometimes our ears produce too much wax, or earwax may get stuck in the ear canal and become impacted. This build-up of unwanted earwax can not only be painful but can also cause hearing loss and in some instances can cause tinnitus.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus can perhaps best be described as sound or noise that you hear in your ears or in your head, that is not caused by an external sound. It is usually a sound that other people can’t hear and is called ‘subjective’ tinnitus. There are many different types of sound that people experience with Tinnitus. Some people describe their tinnitus as a ringing, buzzing, hissing or whooshing noise. Others say that it is a humming, clicking or roaring noise. It may be present in one or both ears and vary in frequency and volume. It may be a permanent sound or only be present at certain times. Each person’s tinnitus is different. There also are some types of tinnitus that other people can hear. This is known as ‘objective’ tinnitus. More information on tinnitus can be found here (link to https://kenthearing.com/tinnitus-services/).
Earwax and how it can affect our hearing
The most common symptoms of a blocked ear to due to a build-up of earwax include itchiness or irritation around the ear, earache or pain inside the ear, ear infections, vertigo, hearing loss and tinnitus. A blocked ear may also increase the severity and loudness of someone’s tinnitus. Tinnitus can affect our concentration and our sleep, as well as our hearing, and can cause headaches, anxiety and even depression, so it is always advisable to have your ears professionally checked and have earwax removed if you think you may have a build-up of excess earwax.
What is the best way to treat ears that are blocked with wax?
Earwax can often be treated by simply using eardrops bought over the counter at your local pharmacy. Eardrops loosen and breakdown the earwax, allowing it to clear naturally. If you can’t get hold of eardrops, then try putting one or two drops of olive oil in your ears before you go to sleep. This may also soften and help clear your earwax naturally. If this doesn’t work, then you should have your ears professionally cleared by a doctor, nurse or qualified audiologist. Some, but not all, GP surgery’s offer this service.
The most effective, safest and quickest way to have your ears cleared is using micro-suction. This is the gold standard treatment for earwax removal and our treatment at Kent Hearing. You can find out more about our microsuction service here. A microsuction appointment will usually take between 15 and 30 minutes. At the start of your appointment, we will look in your ears to check for blockages and to check their overall state of health, before commencing treatment. Microsuction is a pain-free treatment and suitable for both adults and children from the age of 3 years and above.
What can I do if I am suffering tinnitus?
While there is no definitive cure for tinnitus, there are a variety of treatment options available to help reduce or alleviate your tinnitus symptoms. Because tinnitus is often caused by an underlying problem, for example a blocked ear or age-related hearing loss, identifying the problem and then treating it effectively will often relieve the tinnitus symptoms. Where there appears to be no easily identifiable underlying condition, a range of other treatment options may be suggested and discussed. These might include specific life-style changes, sound or talking therapies and relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation and yoga).
The first step to addressing and treating tinnitus is to book a diagnostic consultation with an experienced, qualified doctor, hearing therapist or audiologist. You can do this at Kent Hearing by calling us on 01732 525912. Your appointment with Dr Priya Carling AuD, RHAD or Ruth Bannister BSc, will last for about 60 minutes and we will examine your ears and perform a series of tests to help establish the type, cause and severity of your tinnitus before discussing recommendations for a personalised treatment plan to manage and improve your tinnitus in the future. To find out more about tinnitus and how we can help, please visit our tinnitus services.