Ear Care and Managing Ear Wax

If there is a build up of wax in your ear(s) please read the following self-help guide as you may not need an appointment.

What is ear wax?

Ear wax is normal and is produced to form a protective coating over the skin in the ear canal.  Ears are normally self-cleaning – the movement of your jaw whilst eating and talking helps to move the wax along the canal where it will usually fall out naturally without you noticing.

Why is my ear blocked with wax?

The amount of ear wax produced varies from person to person.  Some people produce excessive amounts which can lead to a blockage in the ear canal.

You are more likely to develop a blockage of wax in the canal if you:

  • Use cotton ear buds to clean the ear as this pushes the wax deeper into the canal
  • Wear a hearing aid, ear plugs or use in-ear speakers/headphones – as these can all interfere with the natural process of wax expulsion
  • Have narrow ear canals
  • Have hairy ear canals
  • Are elderly – because the ear wax you produce is drier and harder
  • Have a dry skin problem such as eczema or psoriasis

Advice to help you manage and prevent ear wax blockage

Ear wax only becomes a problem if it causes deafness, discomfort or if a health professional   requires a clear view or your ear drum.

If you experience any of the following, you should seek advice from your GP or Practice Nurse

  • Pain
  • Discharge or bleeding from the ear
  • Sudden deafness or buzzing
  • Foreign bodies in the ear
  • Dizziness

If you are not experiencing any of the above, we recommend that you manage the blockage as outlined below.

Olive Oil Drops

The following needs to be done 2-3 times daily for 14 days.

  • Lie on your side with the affected ear uppermost
  • Pull the outer ear gently backwards and upwards which straightens the ear canal
  • Put 2-3 drops of olive oil into the affected ear(s) and gently massage just in front of the ear
  • Stay lying on your side to allow the wax to soak in for around 10 mins
  • Afterwards, wipe away any excess oil but do not plug your ear with cotton wool as this simply absorbs the oil

Your hearing problem may initially worsen after first starting to use the olive oil drops.  We therefore advise you to treat one ear at a time if both ears are blocked with wax.

In most cases, after 14 days, the wax will have softened sufficiently to encourage the wax to come out without further intervention.  However, if you feel your hearing is still impaired, please move to the next step, which is to try bulb syringing.

Bulb Syringing

There are now available kits over-the-counter from pharmacies and supermarkets.  If you have already softened the wax with olive oil for 14 days, you should find that you can use the bulb syringe to successfully remove any wax that has not already come out.  If you have attempted this and still have a problem, please contact the practice to discuss ear syringing.

Ear Syringing

This is now only carried out by the surgery if the above recommendations have proved to be unsuccessful.  You will need an appointment with a GP to examine your ears to determine why the above measures have not worked.  Depending on the outcome of the examination, your GP can arrange an appointment for ear syringing.

Ear wax needs to be softened for a minimum of 7 days before attempting to syringe.  Although the risks are low and our nursing staff are specially trained to perform this procedure, there is still a small chance (thought to be around 1 in 1000) of complications occurring – such as a perforated ear drum, middle ear infection, external canal infection or causing ringing in the ear (tinnitus).

If your ears are regularly becoming blocked with wax, after clearing the blockage we will usually suggest you use olive oil drops as above around once per week to keep the wax soft and encourage the natural process of wax expulsion.

Useful Link:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/earwax-build-up/

New Patients – 21 June 2021

We are happy to register new NHS patients within our practice boundary area: https://www.cowleyroadmedicalpractice.org.uk/the-practice/new-patients/

 

Patient Journey – 21 June 2021

Due to the ongoing issues surrounding Coronavirus we have had to adapt the way in which we operate. To help patients understand how we now operate, we have created a guide to the processes that take place in the practice: Patient Journey

 

Ordering repeat prescriptions – 21 June 2021

If you would like to order a repeat prescription, please do so by emailing your request to the practice on [email protected]. Alternatively, please speak to your pharmacist who will be able to make the request for you. If you are not sure about your list of medications, please look at the paper that comes with your medication – the list will be there. Your pharmacist will also be able to give you a list. Patients are no longer able to order repeat prescriptions directly through the website. This is a patient safety measure, to make sure that all requests are properly checked before the medication is authorised. We do not accept requests by telephone, again, for reasons of patient safety

 

Think COVID! – 21 June 2021

Every day we receive a significant number of calls from patients experiencing cough symptoms or fever who are not thinking that they have COVID because their symptoms are not severe. Unlike what may come across in the news and media, most people with COVID will have mild or moderate symptoms. So please, if you have a new cough or fever, no matter how mild, or a loss in your sense of taste or smell, think COVID, isolate at home and arrange a COVID test. You may have only one of those symptoms – for example, just a fever, and still have COVID.

 

Further advice about managing your symptoms can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or by calling 111.

 

Coronavirus vaccination – 21 June 2021

We are receiving many telephone queries about coronavirus vaccinations. These are being offered for residents of Oxford city in a number of sites across the city, rather than at individual practices. We do not have vaccines at the surgery. Our patients will be invited to receive a vaccine in line with a priority list set out by the national body responsible for vaccination. We cannot change the order. Please be patient – you will receive your invitation in due course when it is your turn.

 

Coronavirus vaccination for health care staff and social care workers – 21 June 2021

If you are a health care worker and your employer has not already made arrangements for you to receive a COVID vaccine, please email your details to [email protected] with details of your role, and your employer. This information will be coded and passed to the relevant bodies who are organising vaccines for staff.

 

COVID self-isolation rules – 21 June 2021

If you have symptoms of COVID, you should start to self-isolate and arrange for a test. You should remain in self-isolation from the day your symptoms started and the next 10 full days. Your household members must also self-isolate for 10 days from the start of your symptoms. They should not get a test unless they have symptoms. A negative test during their period of isolation does not mean that your contacts can return to work or normal activities. If you still feel unwell at the end of 10 days, you should seek medical advice, and not return to work. You may return to work if your only symptoms are cough or loss of sense of smell. The full guidance can be found here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

 

Do you need practical help? – 21 June 2021

Are you worried about receiving your medication or about getting food during the coronavirus lockdown? Are you worried about a neighbour or a relative?

Voluntary support may be obtained through https://oxfordtogether.org/. You can register yourself or a relative or someone you are concerned about for support. The council has a coronavirus helpline which can be found at https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20301/coronavirus_information_and_guidance or by calling 01865 249 811