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

Over half of sufferers (57%) self-medicate, according to the shocking results of the study carried out by the leading audiology group, Hidden Hearing. Of these, 48% attempt to remove earwax by sticking earbuds into their ear canal, 7% use a hair clip while 60% opt for ear drops and one in ten (11%) try all these dangerous approaches.

The study was conducted ahead of the World Health Organization’s World Hearing Day 2020 (March 3). Hidden Hearing hopes to educate people about proper ear care with the disturbing statistics revealed in this study.

Earwax build-up is a widespread problem in Ireland, affecting 60% of people with one in five (18%) “regularly” experiencing it. It can cause a multitude of unpleasant symptoms; the new survey confirms.

  • Half of sufferers say earwax problems leave them with hearing loss (49%) and earache (49%)
  • 45% have tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing sensation in the ear)
  • Almost two thirds (64%) report a feeling of itchiness within their ear

“Earwax is another name for a protective waxy oil produced in the ear canal called cerumen,” explains Hidden Hearing expert audiologist and Audiologist of The Year winner, Yvonne Doyle.

“Normally, this emerges naturally from your ear and eliminates itself but sometimes it can harden and block your ear. You should never, ever try to remove an earwax blockage on your own. “Using objects such as cotton swabs or hair clips can worsen the problem and even cause permanent damage to the ear canal and eardrum.” Yvonne adds: “This is why Hidden Hearing offers free earwax removal in selected clinics nationwide”.

The study also found a huge lack of awareness among the Irish population about the link between hearing loss and various health conditions.  96% of people have no knowledge that untreated hearing loss can impact on heart health and there was a similar lack of awareness regarding stroke (95%), diabetes (92%), dementia (87%), depression (68%) and social isolation (60%).

“Medical research indicates that untreated hearing loss can mean a higher risk of heart problems, stroke, diabetes, depression and dementia,” says Yvonne Doyle from Hidden Hearing.

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