EAR­WAX

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

Ear can­dles are made of cot­ton or linen, wound into a cone shape and soaked in wax. To use them, you place the can­dle into the ear canal and light it. This is said to cre­ate a vac­uum that draws ear­wax out of the ear. How­ever, there’s no ev­i­dence to sup­port this and crit­ics such as Aus­tralian Hear­ing’s prin­ci­pal au­di­ol­o­gist Janette Thor­burn say the de­bris that’s left af­ter candling is waxy can­dle re­mains,

not ear­wax. the wax to im­pact in­side the ear. In ad­di­tion, some of us are more prone to block­ages for a range of rea­sons in­clud­ing: • Nar­row or hairy ear canals. • A ten­dency to pro­duce a lot

of ear­wax or hard ear­wax. • Skin con­di­tions of the scalp. • Re­peated ear in­fec­tions. • Be­nign bony growths in the

outer part of the ear. • Age, be­cause ear­wax be­comes

drier as we get older. • Hear­ing aids. • Wear­ing ear buds or ear plugs for long pe­ri­ods can also in­ter­fere with ear­wax ex­it­ing but this won’t push it too far back into the canal.

HOW DO I UN­BLOCK IT?

Ear­wax comes in var­i­ous shades from yel­low to dark browny-red,

and all are nor­mal. The only con­cern is if it starts to itch, run or smell. Your ear canal is like a warm cave, so if you get a fun­gus or bac­te­ria in there it can start mul­ti­ply­ing and you may

need an­tibi­otics.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE AN EAR­WAX BLOCK­AGE?

You may ex­pe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing symp­toms: • Mild deaf­ness. • Ear­ache. • Tin­ni­tus, or ring­ing in the ears. • Dizzi­ness. • You may have a sen­sa­tion of full­ness in the ear but this isn’t al­ways due to wax; if you have a cold, it could be mu­cous that’s caus­ing the symp­toms. The safest way is to buy ear drops from the phar­ma­cist. Drip a few into the ear, lie on your side with the treated ear up­side for a few min­utes, then tilt your head the other way to let the fluid and wax drain out. You may need to re­peat this a few times.

You can also soften im­pacted ear­wax with a few drops of olive oil, baby oil or hy­dro­gen per­ox­ide.

If your ears are re­ally blocked, see a GP, who will sy­ringe the wax out or re­fer you to a clin­i­cian who can re­move block­ages us­ing a spe­cial curette or spoon.

It’s some­thing ev­ery­one has to deal with but no-one likes to talk about – un­til now... So lis­ten up, writes Bev­erly Had­graft

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