Use of in-ear headphones should be limited

Cases of impacted earwax have risen
  • Deborah Condon

People should try to limit their use of in-ear headphones and other in-ear devices, audiologists have said.

According to Specsavers Ireland, since resuming services recently, their audiologists have seen a big increase in the number of people with impacted earwax.

Many of these have experienced pain and hearing difficulties as a result.

"While it is natural to have wax in our ears, regularly putting objects such as earphones in them, particularly for prolonged periods of time during video calls for example, can cause wax to become impacted. This can lead to hearing loss and discomfort, as well as infection or even a perforated ear drum," explained Specsavers audiologist, Orla Walsh.

People are advised to avoid putting anything in their ears that could push earwax further into their ear canal. They are also advised not to try to remove wax themselves.

A survey of over 1,600 people carried out in April and May of this year by Specsavers found that 65% of people risk damaging their hearing permanently by using household items, such as cotton buds, paperclips, pencils and hairclips, to remove wax.

Ms Walsh noted that while earwax does usually fall out on its own, if it fails to and is causing a persistent blockage, it is best to seek professional advice.

"Ear drops or olive oil can help to soften the wax, but this is generally carried out for three to five days before a wax removal appointment, as these drops can cause the earwax to expand, making the blockage worse and potentially causing further irritation," she said.


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