Medical Q&As

Earwax - syringing?

I have a problem with wax build up. I would appreciate if you could advise what I should take to soften the wax. I would prefer to use some alternative method rather than having them syringed.

There are several wax softeners on the market that are available for OTC (over the counter) sale from your pharmacist. I have no particular brand preference and suggest that you discuss this matter with your pharmacist who can advise you about the products that are available. Many people find that warm olive oil is also very effective in softening earwax. Whichever method you use the wax softener will simply soften the wax but it will not eliminate it. Sometimes softening the wax may allow some of the wax to run out of your ear while showering or bathing. However, in some cases there may still be a large residual amount of wax present that can cause a reduction in hearing. In that situation syringing will usually be necessary to eliminate the wax from the outer ear. It is recommended that a wax softener be used for a few days before attending for syringing. The process of syringing creates a sensation of pressure in the ear as the warm water from the syringe flushes the wax out. In summary it would be a reasonable first step to use a wax softener for a few days and if that doesn’t improve your situation you could visit your GP to have your ears syringed. Continue to use the drops until you get to see your GP because the drops will make the process of syringing more comfortable for you.