Questions

What can I use to soften the wax in my ears?

There are several products available on the market that you can use to help soften the wax in your ears. However most people find that olive oil is just as good - and it's cheap and easily available. The olive oil that you have at home in your kitchen cupboard is fine. You can buy a dropper bottle from your local chemist for around £1 to £2.

How long do I need to put the olive oil in for before I come to see the nurse?

There is no right or wrong answer here. As a rough guide, 2-3 drops of room temperature olive twice a day for approximately 5 days would be a good option. We advise not to use cotton wool in your ears after instilling the olive oil as it will soak up the oil. Don't worry if you have been advised longer by your health professional, it may be because the wax in your ears is very hard. Please see our leaflet on how to put oil in your ears

How often should I have my ears checked?

Ears are self-cleaning so regular check-ups are not required; however we advise patients to make an appointment with their nurse or doctor if they are having any problems with their ears.

Elderly patients may find that their ears become blocked with wax more frequently. This is because the ear's natural self-cleaning process slows down with age and the wax becomes drier. Also, patients who wear a hearing aid may find that their ears become blocked more frequently and this may be because the hearing aid mould pushes the wax down the canal. As soon as you think you are having problems with your ears, make an appointment with your nurse to have them checked.

What can I use to clean my ears?

Ears are self-cleaning, they do it all by themselves. Wax is made at the entrance to the ear canal and is there to protect your ear.

  • It is sticky and so prevents dust and dirt travelling down the ear canal and damaging the ear drum.
  • It contains oils, keeping the skin in the canal moisturised.
  • It is slightly acidic, making it more difficult for infections to develop.

If you remove the wax, you're removing all your ear's natural defences. It's ok to wipe around the outside with a clean tissue, but do not put anything in your ears.

Can I get eczema in my ears?

Yes you can. The ear canal is the only skin-lined cavity in the body; it is lined with the same skin that covers the rest you. If you have any skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis, then those conditions can affect your ears.

Can I swim or get my ears wet if I have a hole in my ear drum?

A hole in the ear drum, which is also known as a perforation, needs to be kept dry. If any water gets through the perforation, you are likely to develop an infection in the middle part of your ear.

We advise patients to keep their ears dry at all times. This can be achieved by:

  • Using good quality swim plugs (available from the Audiology Department) or cotton wool smeared with Vaseline.
  • Not laying down in the bath.
  • Taking care when washing the outer parts of your ears not to get water in them.

Will the hole in my ear drum heal up?

Perforations usually heal in about 6-8 weeks. Occasionally perforations don't heal and in those cases we advise patients to keep their ears dry at all times by using good quality swim plugs or cotton wool smeared with Vaseline. There is an operation available which some patients can have, which involves having a skin graft over the perforation.

Do I need a hearing test?

You should have a hearing test if you can answer 'Yes' to any of the following questions:

  • Do you find when listening to the television with family or friends that you struggle because the volume is adjusted to suit other people?
  • Do you struggle having a conversation with another person when there is no background noise?
  • Do other people seem to mumble rather than speaking clearly?
  • Do you struggle carrying on a conversation in a busy street or shop?
  • Do you have difficulty conversing with several people in a group?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing when on the telephone?
  • Can you hear your doorbell ring?
  • Can you hear better when you can see the person's face?
  • Do you have to ask people to sit on your good side in order to hear them?
  • Do you have ringing or buzzing noises in your ears?
  • Are you a current hearing aid wearer who has not had a hearing test for over three years?

What to do Next..

If you are over 55 and registered with a Rotherham GP ring 01709 423145 for an appointment.

If you are under 55, make an appointment with your GP and explain the problems you are experiencing. He/she may check your ears for wax and if it is necessary will either make an appointment for you via the 'Choose and Book' system or send us a referral requesting a hearing assessment.

What hearing aids are available at Rotherham Audiology Service?

We currently provide behind the ear (BTE) digital hearing aids. An ear mould or soft 'dome' sits in the ear and the hearing aid sits behind the ear

We also sell state-of-the-art hearing aids, which are very small, can be in-the-ear, are discreet and are available in different colours. This is a paid-for service which will provide you with a hearing solution individually tailored to your particular needs providing optimum clarity, comfort and performance.  Hearing aids are available through other outlets but by buying your hearing aid from us you not only have access to the latest technology, but also expert advice from NHS professionals, dedicated and caring staff and access to the expertise of ear care nurses. The unique benefit of this service is that it comes with the rigour and security of the NHS behind it. 

What are digital hearing aids?

Hearing aids have a built-in microphone which picks up sound that is then processed using a miniature computer chip, before being delivered to the ear. We only provide digital hearing aids at Rotherham Audiology Services.

What is the Loop (T) system?

The telecoil or loop system allows your hearing aids to pick up sound from listening equipment. Sound is transferred directly to your hearing aid which cuts out background noise. Hearing aids can be set to remove all background noise, or can have a combination of loop system and normal function.

How do I get new batteries?

Batteries can be collected from the Ear Care and Audiology Services reception on the 1st floor of Rotherham Community Health Centre between the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday-Friday. Batteries can also be sent by post to patients who struggle to attend clinics, if requested by telephone or email.  Action on Hearing Loss also provides batteries and tubing and produce a leaflet listing all the venues and times where the service is available.  Please go to the 'Leaflets' page to access the information.

What if I lose my hearing aid?

If your hearing aid is lost or damaged beyond repair, you will be charged £75 for a replacement aid.You will be required to complete a form which is available from reception.In certain circumstances, such as being aged 85 or over, the fee is waived.

What should I do if the tubing is hard and discoloured?

Every 4-6 months the tubing should be replaced. We produce a leaflet which shows you how to do this. Alternatively you can attend the drop-in clinic here, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on Mondays and Fridays.

Batteries and tubing replacement can also be collected from local support centre:
  • Maltby Joint Service Centre, Braithwell Road S66 8JE Wednesdays, 2.00pm-4.00pm.
  • Action on Hearing Loss also provide this service at various other centres.  Please go to the 'Leaflets' page or ask the staff for a leaflet detailing times and venues

What is the best way to clean my hearing aid?

  • The main body of the hearing aid should only be wiped with a dry tissue or towel.
  • Wipe the ear mould with a damp cloth or tissue (e.g. baby wipe, make up remover) and pick any wax out of the tip with the 'eye' end of a needle .
  • Patients with micro tubing should wipe the ear buds with a dry tissue and the cleaning wire should be pushed through the micro tube at least once a week.
  • Patients with ear moulds may also wish to enquire about tube cleaning wires which can be purchased at £6.50 for 30 wires.

I am struggling with condensation in the tubing

Visit Rotherham Community Health Centre between 9.00am and 5.00pm on Mondays and Fridays and ask for 'Stay dry' tubing for your hearing aid. You may also wish to enquire about our condensation removers at a cost of £3.00.