Why are my ears ringing?
Having problems with hearing or your ears can be very uncomfortable and extremely difficult to ignore. There can be several reasons you are experiencing ringing, buzzing or other discomforts in your ears. We’re going to talk about all things ear wax (we promise it’s not gross) and give you some tips on how to protect and care for your ears. They’re very important so let’s not neglect them!
Why is ear wax essential?
You may not realise just how important earwax is. Ear wax is a crucial part of your body, especially in the ear and hearing system. Hearing is one of our key senses - and earwax helps protect it, and your ears in general.
Here are some important reasons why having ear wax is essential:
- Earwax helps prevent infection, by preventing debris, dirt and dust from entering your ear canal.
- The naturally produced chemical inside earwax also helps fight infection and germs.
- Earwax is the ear's way of ‘self-cleaning’.
- Earwax acts as a barrier between the loud noises of the world, and the key tool that is your eardrum.
What causes ear wax blockages?
An earwax blockage can be uncomfortable, annoying and sometimes painful, and there are lots of things that can cause someone to experience a blockage in their ear canal. Some people will naturally experience more blockages than others because of genetics, whereas some people will cause blockages through their hobbies or habits.
We’ve listed some of the most common causes below:
- Self-cleaning with cotton buds can often cause blockages - because people end up pushing the earwax back down into the ear canal, rather than pulling it
- Wearing in-ear headphones can also cause blockages for the same reason as above
- Old earwax, along with dead skin cells, may be stuck inside your ear canal
- Stress can cause overproduction of earwax - so sometimes people find they get blockages when they’re going through hard times or stressful times
- Swimming and getting water in your ear can cause blockages
- Hairy ear canals
- Narrow ear canals
Your doctor will determine whether or not you have an earwax blockage by looking into your ear, this doesn’t hurt and won’t take more than a few minutes. They will use a specialist medical instrument (otoscope) that magnifies your inner ear and lets them see any discrepancies or irregularities.
If you’re worried you have a blockage in your ear canal, you can talk to a GP / doctor or local pharmacist. They will all be able to recommend initial first-step options to help clear it and this may include ear drops or staying out of water for a set period.
Signs you may have an earwax blockage?
It may feel different for different people, and it’ll also depend on how blocked your ear canal is, and how long it has been like that. Most people report feeling some of the sensations below:
- Painful ears or throbbing ears
- A ‘full’ feeling in the ear, like something is stuck inside.
- A lack of hearing, or a drop in hearing.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Itchy ears (especially inside the ear canal)
- Ear discharge
- Lack of balance or struggle with balancing
- A smell coming from the ears
If you feel like you have any of these issues, especially more than one, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor and have them investigate further.
How do you remove ear wax safely?
Removing earwax yourself can sometimes cause further discomfort or damage to your eardrum or ear canals. It’s recommended to completely avoid cotton buds for your ears as this can compact the wax even more and damage your ear drum.
Remember, your ear canal and your eardrum are extremely delicate parts of the body, so should always be treated by professionals where possible.
Because of this, it’s recommended that you ask a professional to remove your earwax, it is not a long procedure, and you’ll usually be in and out within the hour.
London Doctors Clinic offer 2 methods of removing earwax, and both are relatively quick:
The first is microsuction which is recognised as the gold standard for ear wax removal and a more effective treatment than irrigation. It is a quick, safe and usually painless procedure which gently sucks the wax from the ear.
The second is ear syringing. This involves directing a low-pressure flow of water (usually a specialist tool called an ‘ear irrigator’) into the ear to gently remove the blockage. It’s quick and painless.
London Doctors Clinic can provide these earwax removal appointments at convenient locations throughout London, and appointments are easy to book. The quick process of ear syringing or microsuction is something that could easily relieve any discomfort or pain you’ve been experiencing because of your symptoms. London Doctors Clinic and our fully qualified, very experienced GPs can easily solve the issue, and you’ll leave the same feeling much better.