The Changing Face of the Hearing Health Landscape Mr Neel Raithatha Consultant Audiologist BSc (Hons), RHAD, MSHA
The number of people suffering from excess earwax, or cerumenosis, is increasing, but earwax removal is no longer one of the core services GPs are obliged to provide. In England for example people suffering from a build-up of ear wax are no longer entitled to have their ears syringed (irrigated) on the NHS. This imbalance has created a gap for Audiologists and Pharmacists to step into, offering both in-clinic ear wax removal procedures and over the counter products both of which are an essential part of the earwax removal process.
With the advent of social media, especially YouTube, earwax is no longer a taboo topic of conversation and there is a lot more awareness amongst the general public. I also see lots of people in my clinic for whom menopause is the trigger due to hormonal changes causing skin dehydration, and dead skin collecting in the ear. In addition, I am starting to see an ever growing number of patients for whom the current trend for earbuds is also causing issues, blocking the natural migration of earwax and causing infection. In fact ear bud cleaners to remove earwax are now available to buy, so we know this is potentially an even larger problem.
Olive Oil and Microsuction Working Together
My clinic’s primary role is earwax removal and I use the Cl-ear Olive Oil Ear Spray as part of the treatment process. I always advise newly trained and qualified ear wax removal specialists to ask their patients to use olive oil ear spray for a few days to a week prior to microsuction; it softens the earwax and makes it so much easier to remove. I quite often use the spray during treatment on very hardened earwax and it can also be recommended post microsuction, to be used on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis to help prevent another earwax build-up and to also help moisture the delicate skin lining the ear canal. It’s a matter of personal preference but my patients tend to much prefer spray to drops for easier application.
Similarly, when a patient presents in pharmacy with suspected earwax, the pharmacist can safely recommend Cl-ear Olive Oil Ear Spray or Drops, on the understanding that further treatment, ie microsuction might also be necessary. I am training increasing numbers of pharmacists who are now offering microsuction in their pharmacy.
The Future for Hearing Health
I believe that the hearing health landscape will continue to evolve, as general awareness of earwax removal methods brings more patients into clinics and pharmacies, and healthcare practitioners will play an increasingly important role in the treatment process. Olive oil also plays its part. Our ears secrete their own natural oils to moisturise the ear and prevent bacteria and infection occurring, and olive oil ear spray or drops are literally more of the same. In the same way that people regularly use eye drops, I would like to see everyone (unless you have a perforated eardrum) using olive oil drops or spray once a week to keep their ears in good working order.