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

A shocking two thirds of sufferers (66%) self-medicate, according to the study carried out by the leading audiology group, Hidden Hearing. Of these, 43% attempt to remove earwax by sticking cotton buds into their ear canal, 12% use a hair clip while 64% 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 Northern Ireland, affecting 60% of people with over one in four (27%) “regularly” experiencing it and it can cause a multitude of unpleasant symptoms, the new survey confirms.

  • Over half of sufferers say earwax problems leave them with hearing loss (52%) and earache (55%)
  • 54% have tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing sensation in the ear)
  • Two thirds (66%) 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 Tim Pringle, Head of Audiology in Hidden Hearing. “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.”

Tim adds: “This is why Hidden Hearing offers free earwax removal in selected clinics”.

The study also found a huge lack of awareness 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 Tim Pringle from Hidden Hearing.


See or or call 0800 085 95 50 for more information.

Or to book your free appointment today, click here.




Over the past 30 years, Hidden Hearing has evolved to become the premier provider of professional hearing healthcare in the private sector, with a network of over 80 clinics across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, providing free hearing tests to more than 60,000 people every year.


*Opinions Market Research 2020

* Survey was carried out by at the end of January 2020 across north and south of Ireland and is based on replies of 371 people who reported earwax build-up.

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