The Clear Ear Clinic, which was founded by ENT specialists Mary Kelly and Simon Gane, removes more than 104 litres of earwax a year – enough to fill a bathtub! But alongside this, they have also removed countless cotton bud tips, pieces of foam and mobile phone buttons from the ears of overenthusiastic patients. Yes, we did just say mobile phone buttons.
Here are Mary Kelly's Top 8 tips to keep your ears clean and trouble free...
1. "Never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ears", warns Mary. This includes Q-tips or cotton buds, which is why they are no longer labelled as ear buds. "Although they may relieve the irritation for a time, they will only push the wax further into your ear canals." Other objects people often use to clean their ears include hair grips, paper clips, pens and pen tips.
2. Ever jumped into the pool on the first day of your holiday and had blocked ears for the rest of your break? "Ear wax absorbs water and then expands causing a blockage and hearing problems", says Kelly. "We can comfortably manage with our ears 95% full of ear wax, but once it's more than this, it causes a problem. If you have regular ear wax build up, consider getting your ears checked and if necessary, having the earwax removed, before going on holiday."
3. If you are suffering from impacted earwax, try microsuction, which is derived from ear surgery, to have it removed. The technique uses a binocular operating microscope to see right into the ear canal and a very fine sterile suction device at low pressure to remove the wax. This enables the specialists to see what they are doing and avoid touching the skin of the sides of the ear canal.
4. If you don't have time to have the earwax removed before you go on holiday, take sodium bicarbonate or olive oil ear drops with you. If your ears do become blocked, these drops will help to soften the earwax. "But stay away from ear drops containing hydrogen peroxide - they do nothing the others don't do and can damage your ears", warns Mary.
5. When drying ears, dry the outer part of your ear with a soft towel, the inside will dry on its own. Don't use a hair dryer, this may lead to burning your ear.
6. Never use ear candling to remove earwax. "Although it may make your ears feel better, ear candles (also known as Hopi Candles) can lead to serious ear injury and don't work. They are illegal in Canada for this reason."
7. Many people think that a cold encourages the production of earwax, this is a myth - it just makes it more noticeable. Foods such as dairy, eggs and alcohol, a favourite phone ear or sleeping on certain side, also do not affect the production of earwax!
8. If you listen to music on your commute and you have to turn the volume up very loud to be able to hear anything over the noise, that's going to affect your hearing over the long term. "Wear sound cancelling headphones or earphones which will allow you to use much lower volumes and still hear the tunes, and help to protect your hearing in the long term."
Having ear trouble? Leave your comments below...
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