The experts at Specsavers are urging people to be cautious of DIY health remedies as the nation adapts to staying at home.
Specsavers’ chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison, says that this is particularly important when it comes to our ears, which can be permanently damaged if they are not cared for properly. Being stuck at home and unable to keep up with usual routines, could see many people treat common ailments themselves, particularly when it comes to things like earwax.
Cotton buds, match sticks, hair grips, pencils and paper clips are just some of the common items that people reach for in a desperate bid to tackle their blocked or itchy ears. But they should all be avoided. They will only make matters worse and can lead to serious and possibly permanent damage to your hearing.
‘The golden rule is never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear,’ he warns. ‘At Specsavers we carry out an estimated 40,000 ear wax removals a year, so there is not much we haven’t seen. Our experience and training make our audiology teams the go-to experts in this field.’
Here Mr Harrison provides his top tips and advice to help manage ear wax, and explains what you should never do:
The best thing to do is to avoid putting anything in your ears that could push earwax further into your ear canal and lead to impacted wax, infection or even a perforated ear drum. It is extremely important not to put things such as cotton buds, ear candles, match sticks, hair grips and pencils (yes really) in your ears to rid them of any build up.
It’s also important to keep your ears clean. You should regularly wipe around the outside of your ear, particularly after showering or washing your face.
Earwax does usually fall out on its own. If it doesn’t and causes a persistent blockage, it’s best to seek professional advice.
Eardrops or olive oil can help to soften the wax. This is generally carried out for three to five days before a wax removal appointment. However, these drops can cause the earwax to expand, making the blockage worse and potentially causing further irritation. If you develop a foul taste in your mouth, you should cease using the drops immediately.
If you have any concerns about using these products you should always consult your pharmacist or GP. If ear wax is a persistent problem and the blockage remains, it is best to speak to an audiologist who will be able to give you the best advice for your situation.
At this present time, in line with the latest guidance from the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiolo-gists (BSHAA), Specsavers has temporarily suspended its ear wax removal service. However, they are still here to help and can signpost you to the appropriate health professional in your area. You can also find a wealth of information, expert advice, and a free online hearing test, by visiting www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing