Is ear wax making me deaf?

I have been experiencing slight hearing loss recently and my husband thinks it could be wax build up.

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How can I clear this?

Some people produce more earwax, which provides a protective coating of the skin to prevent it from drying and cracking, than others. It usually makes its way out of the ear canal gradually and a build up of earwax is not a serious problem but it can cause discomfort and slight hearing loss.

Cleaning the ear with cotton buds or any other object only pushes wax further into the ear and can damage the ear drum.

Sometimes ear drops can be used to clear a plug of earwax and your pharmacist should be able to recommend what to use.

If ear drops do not clear the wax, syringing may be needed. This may not be suitable for everyone and it should not be attempted at home. Instead, visit your GP or practice nurse who will be able to advise whether to go ahead with this method.

WHAT IS... MÉNIÈRE'S DISEASE

Ménière's disease is a rare disorder of the hearing and balancing mechanisms in the inner ear.

Ménière's can be stressful because attacks are recurrent and can last between several hours and a day. The length and severity of attacks cannot be predicted. It is a progressive disease, which means that it gradually gets worse.

The symptoms vary from person to person. The main symptoms are vertigo (the sensation of spinning when you are standing still), tinnitus (hearing noises or ringing in the ears) and deafness.

Other symptoms are depression, anxiety, headaches and migraines.

Treatment for Ménière's disease involves trying to control the associated symptoms. Drugs are available to control the symptoms of acute vertigo and nausea.

In some cases an operation to reduce the pressure of the fluid in the ear may be necessary. This is called saccus decompression. Grommet surgery (to drain some of the fluid in the ear using small tubes) may be an option.

My husband seems to get the hiccups quite a lot. Could something be causing this and should I be worried?

Men and women are equally affected by hiccups. However, persistent hiccups (lasting for more than 48 hours) are more common in men. Persistent hiccups can be very tiring and upsetting, and can make eating and drinking difficult.

They are rare, however, and are sometimes caused by an underlying disease such as an overactive thyroid gland, pneumonia or kidney failure.

If your husband has persistent hiccups, he should see his GP and tell them how long and how frequently they have occurred.

The GP may take blood and urine samples to work out the cause. If there is no underlying cause found, your GP may prescribe medication to control the hiccups.

Health

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