Ear wax build-up

Author thumbnail Laura James  |  Published 30 January 2018  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 3 mins read

A patient having ear wax removal appointment.

Earwax plays an essential role in ear health and can help protect the ear canal and ear drum from debris and foreign bodies as well as harmful bacteria that could lead to infection. Usually, our ears produce the exact right amount of wax to keep our ears clean but sometimes there can be an earwax buildup which can become compacted and can lead to a blockage, causing discomfort or hearing issues. 

If you’ve been concerned about earwax issues or are just curious and want to learn more, read on to learn more about ear wax build up and ear wax blockages. 


As we mentioned, earwax plays an essential role in keeping your ears clean and free from dust, dirt, and bacteria that can cause infection. It’s usually a yellow, orange, or brown colour and can either be “wet” or “dry” depending on a number of factors. Read our guide on What Is Earwax to learn more. 

Woodworker creating wooden furniture.

Some people are more prone to earwax buildup than others. It can sometimes be down to genetics but can also be impacted by your lifestyle or work environment.

Common causes include:

  • Age
  • Narrow or bendy ear canals
  • Dry skin conditions such as eczema
  • Hair in the ears
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle – for example, swimmer’s ear, or if you work in dusty environments. 


A buildup of earwax can cause multiple different problems although not everyone will experience them all. It could just be one or a combination of a few symptoms. 

Symptoms of wax buildup can include:

  • Earache
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss
  • Vertigo
  • Experiencing a blocked or full feeling in your ear
  • Itchy ears
  • A cough
  • Discharge from your ears. 

If you are concerned about your ear health or hearing in any way, make sure you contact your GP or local hearing care professional. 

What to do if you think your ear is blocked

If you suspect that your ear is blocked or you have some kind of wax buildup, it’s important to not try to remove it yourself. Cotton buds and other wax removal tools used when removing ear wax at home can push the blockage deeper, compact the wax further, or even cause trauma to your ear canal.

Olive oil and olive tree leaves.

Olive oil is often used to help soften earwax to help it be removed or work its way out easier. However, this shouldn’t be used with perforated eardrums so if you’re experiencing any issues with your ears, it’s best to have them checked before you try any home remedies. Additionally, ear drops and sprays can cause irritation and potentially make it more difficult for the wax to work its way out of your ear.

Ear wax removal is the safest and most convenient way to remove earwax build up.

Book your ear wax removal today

If you think you have any issues with your ears or need to book an earwax removal appointment, get in touch with The Hearing Care Partnership. Our friendly, fully-trained team members can help with anything, from comprehensive hearing tests to earwax removal.