PEOPLE are being forced to use dangerous methods to remove ear wax as many GPs have stopped providing free treatment, a report has found.
Many of those who cannot afford to pay privately for the service have tried using at-home cupboard items which experts fear could leave people deaf.
Hair clips, paper clips, toothpicks, cotton buds, and ear candles, are among some of the make-do methods people have turned to as the cost-of-living continues to rise.
Crystal Rolfe, of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) said she was "concerned that many people with ear wax build up are at serious risk of permanently damaging their hearing and their ears now that they are unable to access ear wax removal services on the NHS."
Historically, most people could access ear wax removal services on the NHS, often through a practice nurse.
But now two-thirds of sufferers had been told ear wax removal was no longer available at their GP surgery, a survey of 1,400 people conducted by the RNID found,
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And sadly, more than a quarter of those who have suffered from ear wax build up said they could not afford to get it removed privately, which can cost between £50 and £100 per visit.
Of those who tried to remove the ear wax themselves, only 20 per cent said the problem went away while 10 per cent said their symptoms got worse, or they caused themselves injury which required medical attention.
Most people do not need to remove their ear wax.
But 2.3 million people a year in the UK, with certain conditions,require their ear wax to be removed by a professional.
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And left untreated, ear wax build-up can lead to temporary hearing loss, earache, a greater risk of infections, social isolation, and depression.
Those who've not managed to get ear wax removed have been left unable to leave the house or communicate properly, the report found.
How you can treat earwax build-up yourself
Most of the time, ear wax will fall out on it’s own
If it does not and blocks your ear, put two to three drops of medical grade olive or almond oil in your ear three to four times a day. Do this for 3 to 5 days.
It is recommended you use a dropper while lying your head on one side for a few minutes to let the oil work its way through your ear canal(s).
You may find it easier to do this first thing in the morning and then just before you go to sleep.
Over about 2 weeks, lumps of earwax should fall out of your ear, especially at night when you're lying down.
Crystal is now calling for ear wax removal services to be provided on the NHS for free.
“We’ve heard of people in agony with pain, and depressed at the lack of support they’ve received from health professionals," she said.
"Someone with ear wax build-up used to be treated in a week at their GP, but now the service has been withdrawn people who can’t afford private treatment are left with no options," she added.
"This isn’t good enough, ear wax removal services must be available on the NHS for everyone who needs them.”
The 2 dangerous things to avoid when cleaning ears
Earwax normally just falls out on its own.
But if you need to remove wax the NHS advises you avoid the following methods:
- Any small pointy object – this will push it in and make it worse
- Ear candles – there's no evidence that ear candles or ear vacuums get rid of earwax
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