Ask The GP: 'What can I do about wax build-up in my ear?'

One listener sought advice after they got a viral ear infection back in 2021
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.20 20 Nov 2023

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Ask The GP: 'What can I do abo...

Ask The GP: 'What can I do about wax build-up in my ear?'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.20 20 Nov 2023

Share this article

Warm olive oil is like a moisturiser for your ears and can help with breaking down wax.

That’s according to Dr Siobhan Chidley in this week's 'Ask the GP' on Lunchtime Live.

One listener sought her advice after they got a viral ear infection back in 2021.


The listener said since then they have seen a wax build-up in their ears causing some dizziness.

"Has he or she been to see an audiologist? They're always very useful to give ideas on wax build-up [and] how to get rid of it," Dr Chidley said.

"Olive oil is a fantastic way to get rid of wax build-up, it's a keratolytic in itself.

"So, if you get a little bit of warmed olive oil once a week it helps with wax build-up.

"It's difficult to link the wax build-up with a viral illness.

"Possibly because of the viral illness in the ear there was a little bit of fiddling around with the ear... so something smaller than the elbow going into the ear - possibly an ear bud making a bit of wax impaction.

"The more you try and fiddle with the ear canal the more it causes a problem in itself.

"Sometimes leaving things well [enough] alone helps, a little bit of olive oil helps.

"If it's severe and it's really causing her a problem, the first port of call is to have your GP have a look at it".

'Two or three drops'

Dr Chidley explained how best to apply the olive oil.

"You know the bottle that does hair dye? If you got that type of bottle that's got the little nozzle on top and you put a bit of olive oil in it," she said.

"Then you get a cup of boiling water and put that little container into the boiling water, just to warm it up slightly - obviously check it on the back of your hand before you put it into your ear.

"Just put two or three drops into your ears every Sunday night.

"It's keratolytic, so it breaks down wax and the wax drops out of the ear on its own.

"The more you put things into the ear the more irritated the ear canal becomes because there's hair cells in the canal which are designed to get rid of wax."


Another listener asked if snoring can be cured through surgery.

"It depends what's the cause of the snoring," Dr Chidley said.

"It he's got polyps, for example, it most definitely would be helped with surgery.

"It's important to get it assessed, see what the reason for the snoring is.

"If it's something like sleep apnea, it may or may not be made better by surgery.

"So it's important to know what the cause is; if the cause is surgical, of course it will be made better by surgery.

"It's always the GP initially, but generally you tend to go to a respiratory physician and you have a sleep study and then they assess you while you're sleeping to see what the cause of it is.

"Sometimes it's an EMT consultant if the cause of the blockage is up in the nose, so it's between one or the other," she added.

Main image: Dr Siobhan Chidley talking to Lunchtime Live in Newstalk studios. Image: Newstalk

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Ask The Gp Dizziness Ear Canal Ear Wax GP Lunchtime Live Olive Oil Snoring Viral Ear Infection Wax Build Up

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