What is ear wax?
The skin of the outer ear canal has glands that secrete two different substances that combine with dead skin to form wax (also known as Cerumen). Wax has a natural tendency to come out of the ear, and this is aided by jaw movement. Accumulation of wax occurs if this natural tendency is disturbed.
What leads to its accumulation?
Skin conditions such as eczema can cause this disturbance. Use of cotton buds inside the ear canal, or other foreign objects can also cause the same. Hearing aid users can experience a periodic build up of wax.
What symptoms does its build up cause?
Build up of wax leads to a feeling of ear blockage, irritation, and hearing loss. Water can accumulate beyond the wax after showering or swimming, increasing the blocked feeling. If wax is impacted against the ear drum it can cause discomfort, and pain.
What can be done if it causes problems?
Wax build up can be removed by syringing. This method is used in GP surgeries. However, removal can be aided by the use of a microscope and suction. This method is called microsuction. It is safer and more comfortable if the skin of the ear canal is inflamed or the wax accumulation is close to the ear drum. All our practice rooms have the necessary equipment to perform microsuction.
Ear Irritation or Itchy ears
What causes this problem?
Dryness of the ear canal skin or eczema can cause irritation/itching. Frequent showering or swimming can remove the natural secretions from the ear canal and predispose to inflammation, a condition called Otitis Externa.
What is the treatment?
Otitis externa needs frequent microsuction of the ear canal, and topical application of medication to calm the inflamed skin. Underlying conditions such as eczema need treatment, and an opinion from a skin specialist is often required.
How is Otitis externa managed?
There are several causes of Otitis externa. The role of an ENT specialist is to treat the acute condition, thus reducing discomfort and hearing loss. In addition, our aim is to diagnose any predisposing factors that may have caused the problem. This will prevent the condition from becoming chronic. In patients with chronic otitis externa our aim is minimise discomfort and prolong intervals between acute episodes.