Whenever someone mentions the word ear wax it is often followed by an unfavourable reaction, however, ear wax is pretty interesting. Really it is! We will discuss 7 things today that you properly didn’t know about ear wax.

Ear Wax Isn’t Actually Wax

So then why is it called ear wax? The name comes from the waxy texture but ear wax is in fact made up of sebum (a body secretion made up mostly of fat), skin cells, sweat and dirt. Beautiful!

Ear Wax Protects Our Ears

The main job of ear wax is to be the first line of defence for the ears. Not only does ear wax lubricate the skin in the ear canal it has natural antimicrobial properties, stopping infections before they start. The sticky substance also helps to trap any dirt or foreign objects i.e. small insects that may enter the ear, preventing them from reaching the inner ear.

Ear Wax Is Self Cleaning

For most people, ear wax will regulate itself and exit the ears naturally. Cotton swabs are a favourite way for people to clean their ears, however, this process can actually do more harm than good and push back the ear wax further down the ear canal resulting in a blockage. Usually, the motion of taking and chewing food will naturally guide the wax towards the outer ear where it will fall out. Any remaining wax in the outer ears can be cleaned in the shower or with a damp cloth.

Ear Wax Comes In 2 Forms

Many people think that all ear wax is the same but it actually comes in 2 variations, wet and dry. The type of ear wax that you have depends on genetics just like your hair and eye colour. Wet ear wax is the dominant gene which means that it is the most common type however people of East Asian descent, from China or Korea, commonly have the recessive dry gene.

Ear Wax Comes In Different Colours

When you think of ear wax you will mostly think of the yellowly, orange colour that is usually seen however ear wax can come in different colours. Each colour generally has a different meaning including:

  • Yellow / Orange – Fresh, normal ear wax
  • Pale Orange – Dry, old ear wax
  • Black – Impacted ear wax
  • Gray – Build up of dust or other particles in the ear
  • Streaks Of Red – Sctrach, injury or bug bite in the ear canal. Could also be a sign of a ruptured ear drum.
  • Green – Ear infection
Stress Can Increase Ear Wax Production

As weirdly as it sounds, stress can lead to the increase in ear wax. Apocrine glands that help to secrete ear wax and are responsible for your smelly sweat are more active when you are stressed. When we are stressed we tend to sweat more which in turn can lead to the production of more ear wax.

Ear Wax Is A Common Cause Of Hearing Problems

Too much ear wax can cause problems to our hearing. One of the most common reasons for hearing loss is a build-up of ear wax in the ear canal. Symptoms of impacted ear wax include hearing loss, ear pain, sense of ear fullness, itchiness in the ear, dizziness and also tinnitus i.e. ringing in the ear.

If you are affected by any of the above symptoms you should book an ear examination at your local audiologist. London Hearing Specialist are hearing experts who can help with impacted ear wax with our micorsuction ear wax removal service.

What Is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), or sudden deafness as it is also referred to, is an unexplained, sudden loss of hearing. This can happen all at once or the deteriaition can take place over a few days. it is very common for people affected by SSHL to discover their hearing loss when they wake up in the morning or when they try and use the affected ear i.e. when trying to use earphones. While in the majority of cases the hearing seemingly disappears with no sort of alert, some people have reported hearing a loud popping noise just before their hearing disappeared. Other symptoms can include dizziness, ringing of the ears and also a feeling of ear fullness.

If you think you have been affected by SSHL you should treat this very seriously and get it checked out immediately. Although around 50% of people with sudden sensorineural hearing loss regain some or all of their hearing within a week or two from the problem arising, delaying getting a diagnosis and treatment can put your hearing at risk.

It is thought that SSHL affects around 1-6 people in every 5,000 annually although this number could be larger due to the condition going undiagnosed.  Although SSHL can happen to anyone at any age the majority of cases are recorded from adults in their 40s and 50s.

What Are The Causes Of SSHL?

Some of the following can bring on SSHL:

  • Infections
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Blood Circulation Issues
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Head Injuries
  • Certain Medication (i.e. cancer drugs and those used to fight infections)
  • Disorders Of The Inner Ear (i.e. Ménière’s disease)
How Your Audiologist Can Diagnose SSHL

One of the first things your audiologist will do if you have experienced SSHL is to rule out conductive hearing loss i.e. blockage or damage to either the outer or middle part of your ear. Common reasons for conductive hearing loss include blockage of the ear canal from wax or a foreign object, a hole in the eardrum, problems with 3 small bones in your ear or fluid in the space between the eardrum and cochlea.

If there is no obvious reason found then a pure tone audiometry test will most likely be performed. The pure tone audiometry test measures how loud different sounds/pitches/frequencies have to be before you can hear them. Usually, one sign of SSHL could be a loss of around 30 decibels in 3 connected frequencies within consecutive 3 days.

If your audiologist can not find a cause then you may need to book an appointment with your doctor who may take blood tests, use imaging equipment such as an MRI or perform balance tests.

Treating SSHL

As seen above, SSHL can have many different causes so treatment would depend on the cause of the condition. A common treatment for SSHL, especially if the cause is unknown, is the use of steroids. Steroids can treat many disorders and usually work by reducing inflammation, decreasing swelling, and helping the body fight illness.

If the hearing loss is severe or if you do not respond to treatment then your doctor/audiologist will recommend hearing aids. Hearing aids are a great way for someone suffering from hearing loss to regain their ability to hear clearly again.





The importance of our hearing ability is often underestimated, until we begin to experience issues with our hearing or hearing loss. Once you’ve noticed a decline in your ability to hear, it is only then that you realise just how vital hearing is in our everyday lives. From holding conversations with family and friends to hearing important sounds throughout the day, like doorbells and alarms. To protect your ears and to maintain your hearing, hearing protection is very useful for a number of situations and environments. At London Hearing Specialists, across our clinics, our specially trained Audiologists and team members can offer a wide range of advice when it comes to protecting your hearing. As well as being able to offer custom hearing protection for a number of scenarios. 

The risks of Tinnitus and Hearing loss 

In environments where the loud noises exceed certain levels regularly, hearing protection is vital in protecting your ears and hearing from damage. Where you are being exposed to excessive noise, for example at work, gradual hearing loss, Tinnitus and other hearing conditions can occur. This can severely impact your ability to hear and cause damage to your ears. 


You may have heard of Tinnitus before, the term is rather well known, but many people aren’t completely aware of what this actually is. Tinnitus is the sensation of ringing, buzzing, humming etc. coming from within the ear. Many people who have experienced Tinnitus in the past describe this as an internal sound and not one which is caused by anything outside. We tend to find this is very common amongst people who are regularly exposed to high levels of noise in their daily lives. Particularly those with careers and job roles working with loud machinery. Although Tinnitus is not a serious concern, it can become very frustrating. It usually will go away on its own. The best way to prevent this uncomfortable sensation is to wear hearing protection. 

Hearing protection for working environments 

When working in environments such as factories, building sites, large arenas etc, where there are high levels of noise. Safety precautions to protect your hearing are paramount. Hearing protection should be a priority for your employer to ensure the safety of all employees. If you are struggling, as a result of the high levels of noise within your workplace, speak with your employer. They have a duty of care to provide hearing protection to their staff. It is also really important your exposure is minimised by taking breaks away from loud machinery and environments. As mentioned above, Tinnitus is very common amongst those working within loud environments. Look out for the signs of Tinnitus and ensure you have regular hearing consultations with an Audiologist if you are concerned. 

Hearing protection from London Hearing Specialists 

Despite the use of hearing protection, the risk of gradual hearing loss should still be a concern, which is why regular hearing consultations with an Audiologist are so important. At London Hearing Specialists, we will take a closer look at your ears to assess any damage caused by excessive noise and choose the right treatment for you. Our team can also provide some great advice for protecting your hearing. Check out our custom hearing protection for a range of activities, including sleeping, swimming, shooting, and working.