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Excessive earwax, blocked ears, and nothing is working to fix it!

(19 Posts)
bearfrills Wed 27-Aug-14 23:48:33

DS (5yo) has always has really waxy ears that don't seem to drain or clear the wax out themselves, for example my other children will often have wax in the opening of their ear which I wipe away in the bath, but not DS. I've asked HV/GP/nurse about it several times and was always told it's not a problem.

Back at the beginning of the summer holidays he got really upset one evening, crying and saying his ears hurt. There was no settling him so I took him to OOH. They said his ears were totally blocked with hard, impacted earwax and to follow up with my GP when they reopened. GP gave us olive oil drops and reviewed two weeks later. No change. So we did another two weeks of drops. No change. We've just finished another two weeks of olive oil drops (so six weeks of them in total) and there's still no change despite me doing it 2-3 times a day, every day.

The nurse said we'd be referred to ENT to get them cleared out and to check there's not an underlying cause. Then today she rang to say that the GP won't do the referral because DS passed his school hearing test in January. I tried explaining that the test was in January i.e., nearly nine months ago and that I do actually have concerns about his hearing. He is very early distracted and tends to tune things out, I know that in small children there is often some element of willfully not listening but quite often with DS it's like he cannot hear unless he is actually concentrating on listening. Does that make sense? If I ask him.something and, for example, he's playing or otherwise distracted he either doesn't hear me or he half - hears me. If I touch his arm or face and get him to look at me before I speak then he seems to hear me much better. He shouts too, he makes general five year old noise but this is shouting like he can't hear himself and when I point out that he's shouting he gets upsets and says (shouts) that he isn't. He is also quite nasal in his speech and struggles with certain sounds, he says num-per instead of number, bye-der instead of spider and others I can't think of off the top of my head. I've also explained this to the GP but she said that SALT think it's immaturity rather than a speech or hearing problem.

I explained all this and they still won't refer him. They want me to use the drops for another four weeks. Four more weeks of his complaining his ears are sore and telling me not to touch them and then I get the feeling at the end of it they'll want to carry it on for another few weeks and another few.

Does anyone know of anything that could help remove plugged up earwax?

You have my sympathies as my 5yo DD suffers blocked ears too, but luckily the drops work for us. All I can suggest is getting a second opinion. Or is there any other way you can get a referral? Can the school nurse help in any way?

BoffinMum Wed 27-Aug-14 23:57:20

Can you pay for him to see an ENT consultant privately?

bearfrills Thu 28-Aug-14 05:31:20

Can't afford private at the moment, I'm on maternity leave and we're about to move house. Good suggestion about the school nurse, I'll ask the school when he goes back next week.

joanofarchitrave Thu 28-Aug-14 05:48:02

Have you seen a speech therapy report? From the description you give here, the salt might have said that your son has a speech delay, not a speech disorder. This is usually thought to be less serious, but it doesnt mean there is no speech issue. I would think the salt would want his hearinf reviewed before seeinf him again as its an obvious possible cause, but ill eat my hat if the salt said 'and if there is no change in 9 months, no biggie.' Its possible that in your area salt resources are so stretched that delays arent treated sad
If i were you i would gi to your gp and ask what the plan is - whats the evidence that if drops havent worked for x weeks they will work now? I woukd also ring a private audiologist and ask whether they would treat without ent input.

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Thu 28-Aug-14 05:58:42

Has your son been in pain for 6 weeks? If so, the doctor is being an arse. I'd keep ringing and making appointments.

My dad used to get this and would go and get his ears syringed. (Not sure they do this now as it can cause damage, as the wax can be stuck to things in the ear.) Then he was given olive oil drops which didnt really work. He found (after the next syringe) he needed to use a lot more olive oil and warm it up so that it would be hot enough to melt the wax. Someone would pour that into his ear, with him lying on a towel on his side, cover ear with folded kitchen roll. Then he'd massage his ear gently to try to ease the oil around the wax. Repeat on other sides (sometimes on both sides as necessary). Then drain it out.

If your son is no longer in pain, you could see if the school nurse can repeat the hearing test, and if that has changed then it could help.

meep Thu 28-Aug-14 06:33:52

My dd was referred to ent for this. At the time she wasn't hearing properly but it difficult to tell if she was just not listening or not actually hearing. The hospital did a hearing test and her hearing was normal. But....she needed the compacted ear wax sucked out of her ears....it took 2 visits and lots of oil in the ear in advance. So, the fact that your ds passed his hearing test is good, but doesn't mean he is not suffering from compacted wax which is causing him pain. Is there another GP at the surgery you can speak too. I would keep making appointments with the surgery until you get a referral.

bearfrills Thu 28-Aug-14 06:37:15

I've checked the audio screening website for our trust and they allow self - referral so I'm going to give them a ring when they open and make an appointment for him.

I've been warming the oil and using a little plastic syringe rather than a dropper so that I can pour it in. He's not in pain all of the time, it's on and off, but he gets upset when I touch his ears because he says they're sore. He won't let me massage them at all, that makes him cry. He pulls at them himself though and says they're itchy.

His behaviour lately has gone off the scale. I know it's the holidays and he's five and I'm usually the first one to hold my hands up and say he's being a little toad but it's unusual even for him. I'm sure it's partly based in frustration, at least 4-5 times a day he'll look at me with his mouth hanging open and say "what'd you say?".

So that's my plan for today, get an audiology appointment and go from there.

BoffinMum Thu 28-Aug-14 06:42:05

I am amazed he doesn't have an war infection after people have been pouring non sterile oil in his ears for ages.

Have you tried the saline spray deaf people use to clear out their ears when using hearing aids?? Might work a bit better?

BoffinMum Thu 28-Aug-14 06:42:28

Ear

Thisisthelasttime Thu 28-Aug-14 06:49:40

I don't know if he is too young but try the candles from the health store. My friend tried them on her son and they sucked up the wax. Now I know someone who also tried them but they didn't work.

figgypuddings Thu 28-Aug-14 06:51:10

Our GP prescribed sodium bicarbonate drops for dd and whilst it took a little longer to work (about 10 days), the hardened plug of wax came out when she washed her hair. She took to wearing ear muffs for a while as 'everything was loud'.

Good luck with the audiology appointment and I hope your ds's ears/hearing are helped.

RoganJosh Thu 28-Aug-14 07:16:12

Please don't try the candles. I investigated them and it seems they don't actually work and can cause damage.

BoffinMum Thu 28-Aug-14 09:16:13

No, you mustn't use candles. Zero evidence they work and done evidence they can cause danger to the eardrum.

EssexMummy123 Thu 28-Aug-14 09:19:56

Surprised they don't syringe anymore I had mine done a couple of years ago but that was private. Try asking at chemist for the other kind of drops eg not oil

RoganJosh Thu 28-Aug-14 09:35:42

They don't syringe as such but they do a high pressure water jet which has similar results. It's often still referred to as syringing, even though it's different.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 28-Aug-14 10:53:45

Don't use candles, they don't work, it's a complete myth. They don't have magic suction to remove wax.

Can you see a different GP?

Have a look at the NICE guidelines, it recommends referral if unsuccessful with the drops. Quote them to the GP.

Sidge Thu 28-Aug-14 11:22:52

We don't syringe children. The risk of damage to the drum is too high.

We would refer your son for microsuction at ENT, I can't quite understand why your GP won't do this. Wax removal isn't purely dependent on hearing issues.

Hopefully you can self refer.

bearfrills Thu 28-Aug-14 16:39:43

I can self-refer for a hearing test but the nurse who does them is off until next week.

I can't understand why they won't refer him either. He's spent the day shouting and asking "what'd you say?" in a really loud voice. It was like shopping with my nana grin

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