Earwax and ear discharge

Earwax is a build-up of foreign particles (e.g. dust, dead cells, hair and sweat) which has collected inside of your ear. Earwax is a normal and common substance that protects the ear canal, but the amount created can differ between every person.

Earwax can be wet or dry, which is flaky and yellow.

Ear discharge, also known as otorrhea, is the drainage of substances from the ear. Ear discharge can come in different forms, such as:

  • Earwax (this is very common as the body produces this oily substance to keep ears healthy)
  • Pus (a sign of infection)
  • Blood (which could be from a perforated eardrum)
  • Water (which could have been trapped after a shower, bath or swimming)
  • Cholesteatoma (a bad-smelling discharge)

Symptoms of earwax and ear discharge

Symptoms of earwax and ear discharge

If your ear is blocked with earwax, you may have:

  • Difficulty hearing
  • Tinnitus (sounds coming from inside the ear)
  • Earache
  • Dizziness
  • An ear infection

Other symptoms of ear discharge include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the ear
  • Pressure in the ear
  • Itchiness in the ear
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Fever or a high temperature

If you have an ear infection, you may experience ear discharge. This is when fluid or pus comes out of the ear.

Causes of earwax and ear discharge

Causes of earwax and ear discharge

Causes of earwax build-up include:

  • Age (wax hardens as we get older, making it more difficult to fall out naturally)
  • A natural excess of wax
  • Hearing aids, earplugs or anything else put in the ear which pushes the wax further in
  • Narrow ear canals
  • Excess hair in the ears

You may develop ear discharge if you:

  • Swim regularly
  • Have a tendency to suffer from ear infections
  • Have diabetes
  • Have recently had a cold or the flu
  • Have suffered from an ear or head injury

Treatment options for earwax and ear discharge

Luckily, earwax tends to fall out by itself, but if it is blocking your ears you can:

  • Put two to three drops of olive oil or almond oil in your ear twice daily. Continue for a few days and lumps of earwax should fall out over the next two weeks
  • Visit a pharmacist for medical ear drops and further advice
  • Mr Lakhani can see you to remove your ear wax in his clinic using very safe and advanced techniques. You are highly likely to only need one appointment to achieve clearance of the ear wax a return to normal for your ears

The treatment for ear discharge varies, depending on the cause, but options include:

  • Antibiotics or steroids in drop or tablet form for infections.
  • Easing pain by applying a warm compress to the ear
  • Keeping the ear completely dry as the discharge settles when bathing or showering
  • Clearance of the ear using suction which can be performed during your clinic appointment with Mr Lakhani

Get in Touch

Julia Brighton

9 Harley Street
London W1G 9QY


020 7760 7561
020 7760 7222

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