Our ear canals are self-cleaning. As we move our jaw to eat and talk, the wax and skin cells move slowly from the eardrum to the outer ear where it naturally falls out.
The waxy material is produced by glands inside the ear and its purpose is to protect our ears by trapping dirt and repelling water. It keeps the skin in our ear canal healthy, preventing it from drying and cracking. It also helps to prevent infections.
Ear Wax Build-Up
Some people naturally have more earwax in their ears than others. However, you could also have excess earwax build-up because you have hairy or narrow canals, you’re older (wax gets harder and more difficult to fall out as you age) or because you wear hearing aids, earplugs, helmets and other devices which potentially push the wax further in.
A blockage can often cause several symptoms such as; earache, difficulty hearing, itchiness, dizziness, ear infections and tinnitus.
Caring For Your Ears
You can’t prevent earwax, it’s a normal bodily secretion which provides protection for your ears, preventing dust, dirt and foreign bodies from entering the ear canal and causing damage to the eardrum or delicate lining of the canal itself.
Your ears are self-cleaning and to help prevent complications you shouldn’t insert small objects such as cotton buds into the ear canal. This will only push the wax further down the ear canal and block the ear.
If you have repeated problems with wax, using ear drops or olive oil drops warmed to body temperature could help soften the wax and help it fall out on its own.
Instilling Ear Drops
If you have a persistent problem with wax, two drops of olive oil instilled at room temperature into the affected ear may be beneficial in aiding its removal. Here is our step-by-step guide to instilling ear drops:
- Lie down with the affected ear facing upwards.
- Gently pull the outer ear backwards and upwards.
- Instil 1-2 drops of room temperature olive oil drops into the ear canal and gently massage the area in front of the ear.
- If possible, remain lying down for 10 minutes and have a tissue to hand to wipe away excess oil when you sit up.
- Putting cotton wool in your ear canal will absorb the oil so it is preferable to avoid this.
- Repeat the procedure with the opposite ear if required.
- If you are unable to lie down or on your side, an olive oil spray is available and may be preferable
You can buy olive oil in a dropper bottle from your pharmacist. The olive oil used in cooking can also be used provided you have a clean bottle with a dropper.