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Ear problems

Ear wax build up

Ear wax is a normal, oily substance that is antiseptic and helps to protect and clean your ears. It usually comes out of your ears by itself, helped by the movement of your jaw.

But you might need to have ear wax removed if:

  • you have hearing loss, earache, tinnitus, itchiness or vertigo (a spinning sensation) thought to be caused by a wax blockage
  • the wax is blocking your ear canal, preventing a specialist from examining your ear fully, carrying out hearing tests or taking impressions of your ear for hearing aid ear moulds
  • you use hearing aids and the wax is affecting how they work.

What to do if you need ear wax removing during the coronavirus outbreak

If you think you have a build-up of ear wax, you can contact your GP to see if they are able to help you.

However, not all GP practices remove ear wax. And as doctors and nurses are very busy with the coronavirus outbreak, it’s unlikely you’ll get an appointment.

Using olive oil to soften ear wax

You can use olive oil to soften your ear wax, which will help it fall out of your ear. The NHS recommends using 2 to 3 drops of olive oil in your ear twice a day for a few days. 

You should lie on your side with the ear with wax facing up, and stay there for five to ten minutes after putting in the olive oil. You can wipe away any oil that drips out of your ear when you sit up.

The ear wax should fall out of your ear over the next two weeks. This will usually happen when you’re lying down.

Don’t try to remove ear wax from your ears

You should never try to remove ear wax from your own ears.

Don’t push cotton buds, fingers or anything else into your ears. This could push wax deep into your ear, or damage your ear drum.