Are you listening? Dispelling Misconceptions About Ear Health and Earwax Build-Up

When it comes to maintaining our overall well-being, we often prioritize aspects like diet, exercise, and mental health. Yet, one essential body part that tends to be overlooked are our ears. Our ears play a crucial role in our daily lives, from allowing us to hear the world around us to maintaining our balance. However, there are several misconceptions about ear health, particularly when it comes to earwax build-up. Let’s debunk these misconceptions and shed light on the importance of proper ear care.

Misconception 1: All Earwax is Bad

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced by the ear to protect and lubricate the ear canal4. It has antibacterial properties and helps prevent dust, debris, and insects from entering the ear4. Everyone has earwax, and in most cases, you do not need to do anything about it. However, there are some instances where we overproduce earwax or get a build-up of wax that cannot make its way out of the ear. In these cases, you should consult a professional about getting it removed safely1.

Misconception 2: Cotton Swabs Are the Best Way To Clean Your Ears

The image of using a cotton swab, commonly known as a Q-tip, to clean the ears is deeply ingrained in our minds. However, this method can do more harm than good.

Never try to remove your earwax at home, even if you think it sounds easy. Inserting anything into your ear is a risk and can cause serious damage, unless done by a professional. Not only do you risk pushing any earwax blockages further into the ear canal which can result in pain and make it trickier to remove, but you could also cause irreparable damage to your ear drum5. You could also risk causing infection by using unsterilised equipment1.

The best way to clean the outer part of your ear is by gently wiping it with a damp cloth. If you suspect an earwax build-up, try Earol to naturally soften the wax safely. However, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance if needed2.

Misconception 3: You Can Prevent Earwax Build-Up

Earwax occurs naturally, so we cannot stop it from forming. Some events that are out of our control, can even cause increased earwax build-up – such as viruses and infections like the common cold and flu7

All we can do to prevent earwax build-up is look after ourselves, reduce the amount of time spent wearing earphones (these sit in your ear canal and wearing them for extended periods can limit the airflow that gets to your ears, stopping the old wax from leaving)6.

A build-up of excessive earwax can be removed by a professional. Use Earol twice daily for 4-5 days prior to the appointment to soften the earwax and allow for a more efficient wax removal that should leave your ears nice and clear for a long time. However, in some cases the earwax will  return1. In these instances we recommend using Earol once a week in both ears to prevent further build up. 

Misconception 4: Olive Oil Can Remove Earwax

This statement technically is not wrong, olive oil can help to remove earwax – however, it should be pharmaceutical grade (not the stuff hanging around in your kitchen cupboard) and only ever used under the direction of a pharmacist, audiologist, or other healthcare professionals1

You can purchase Earol Olive Oil Spray from most pharmacies and some major retailers, and is something that we recommend in practice, especially if you are due to attend a wax removal appointment. This is because it can help soften the earwax so the wax can be removed effectively by a professional1.

Misconception 5: Earwax Removal is Painful

If you’re still wondering if earwax removal is painful, the answer is no. It’s a safe and effective treatment that’s done in around half an hour, and it doesn’t require any special medication or anaesthesia to manage pain or discomfort. In fact, you’ll hardly feel anything at all3

In conclusion, taking care of your ears and understanding the facts about earwax is essential for overall well-being. Dispelling the myths and misconceptions surrounding ear health allows us to better appreciate the incredible and delicate organ that enables us to hear the beautiful sounds of the world around us. So, the next time someone asks, “Are you listening?” you can confidently say, “Yes, and I’m taking good care of my ears too!”


1 Ear Wax Removal: Myths and facts (2023) The Hearing Care Partnership. Available at: (Accessed: 17 October 2023). 

2 Ear cleaning advice (no date) Ear Cleaning Advice, Tips & Information | Boots Hearingcare. Available at:,can%20burn%20your%20ear%20canal (Accessed: 17 October 2023). 

Ninja (2023) Does earwax removal hurt?Regain Hearing. Available at:,hardly%20feel%20anything%20at%20all (Accessed: 17 October 2023). 

4 professional, C.C. medical (no date) Earwax: What is it & what does it do?Cleveland Clinic. Available at:,%2DRUH%2Dmuhn” (Accessed: 17 October 2023). 

Care, L.O. & H. (2023) The dangers of DIY ear wax removal: Why you should see a professionalLeightons Opticians & Hearing Care. Available at: (Accessed: 17 October 2023). 

6 Charlotte Phelps                    PhD Student and Christian Moro                    Associate Professor of Science & Medicine (2023) Don’t wear earphones all day – your ears need to breatheThe Conversation. Available at:,extent%20the%20body%20induces%20inflammation (Accessed: 17 October 2023). 

Care, L.O. & H. (2023) The dangers of DIY ear wax removal: Why you should see a professionalLeightons Opticians & Hearing Care. Available at: (Accessed: 17 October 2023).