Many use unsafe methods to remove earwax

Can cause permanent damage
  • Deborah Condon

Many Irish people risk damaging their hearing by using unsafe methods to remove earwax, a new survey has found.

According to the findings, 48% of people try to remove earwax by sticking ear buds into their ear canal, while 7% stick hairclips into their ear canal.

Earwax (cerumen) is simply a protective waxy oil that is produced in the ear canal.

"Normally, this emerges naturally from your ear and eliminates itself, but sometimes it can harden and block your ear. You should never try to remove an earwax blockage on your own. Using objects such as cotton swabs or hairclips can worsen the problem and even cause permanent damage to the ear canal and eardrum," explained Yvonne Doyle, an audiologist with Hidden Hearing.

The survey found that the build-up of earwax affects around 60% of people in Ireland, with 18% of these experiencing it regularly. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including hearing loss.

Almost 380 people took part in the survey and it revealed that among those affected, 49% experience hearing loss, 49% experience earache, while 45% experience tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ear, rather than it coming from an outside source. Common sounds associated with the condition include ringing, hissing and buzzing.

Meanwhile, the survey also found a lack of awareness among Irish people about the link between hearing loss and different health conditions. For example, 96% of those surveyed did not know that untreated hearing loss can impact heart health, while 92% were unaware it can impact diabetes.

"Medical research indicates that untreated hearing loss can mean a higher risk of heart problems, stroke, diabetes, depression and dementia," Ms Doyle noted.

The survey of 371 people nationwide was carried out in January 2020 on behalf of Hidden Hearing.


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