FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

To learn about what ear wax click here.

To learn about why we have ear wax click here.

To learn about the cause of impacted ear wax click here.

To learn about some of the signs and symptoms of impacted ear wax click here.

To learn about how you treat ear wax click here.

No treatment of ear wax is completely ‘risk-free’ and some side-effects of the different treatments are:

Ear drops

  • can cause the ear wax to expand and further increase ear blockage.
  • occasionally they can cause discomfort and trigger an infection.
  • if not used at room temperature they can cause short-term dizziness.
  • can cause an allergic reaction if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients.

Ear syringing / Ear irrigation

  • Ear wax being further impacted into the ear canal by the water being pumped into the ear.
  • Damage and trauma to the ear canal and eardrum (including perforation).
  • Hearing loss (temporary or permanent) and tinnitus (ringing type noise inside the ear) or worsening of it if already experienced. This is rare.
  • Faintness, dizziness or vertigo if the water is not at body temperature. This is due to the ‘caloric’ effect and is normally only short lasting.
  • An external ear canal infection or irritation. This may be more likely in people who have a predisposition to eczema or have a history of ear infections (e.g. otitis externa).
  • Infection of the bone around the external ear canal. This is rare but can be very serious. Its hallmark is persistent pain which is worse at night. It is more likely to occur in the elderly.
  • If self-administered, there is no clinical inspection of the outer ear and ear canal before or after the procedure to check for any contraindications and complications.

Microscopic ear wax removal

  • Damage and trauma to the ear canal and ear drum (including perforation).
  • If microsuction is being performed a loud noise can be generated in the ear canal due to the suction. In some people this can cause hearing loss (temporary or permanent) and tinnitus (ringing type noise inside the ear) or worsening of it if already experienced. This is rare.
  • Microsuction ‘cools’ the temperature inside the ear canal which can lead to faintness, dizziness or vertigo. This is due to the ‘caloric’ effect and is normally short lasting.

Endoscopic ear wax removal

  • Damage and trauma to the ear canal and ear drum (including perforation).
  • If E-suction™ is being performed a loud noise can be generated in the ear canal due to the suction. In some people this can cause hearing loss (temporary or permanent) and tinnitus (ringing type noise inside the ear) or worsening of it if already experienced. This is rare.
  • E-suction™ ‘cools’ the temperature inside the ear canal which can lead to faintness, dizziness or vertigo. This is due to the ‘caloric’ effect and is normally short lasting.

E-suction™ is when ear wax is removed with gentle suction using a low pressure suction machine and fine sterile probe under the direct view provided from an endoscope. To learn more click here.

Ear wax can quite often be removed without any prior treatment or preparation at all. Occasionally, however, ear wax can be difficult to remove if there is a large quantity of hard ear wax.

Hard ear wax can be softened with sodium bicarbonate eardrops. This can be obtained from most pharmacists and 3 to 4 drops applied 3 times a day for 2 to 3 day prior to the ear wax removal appointment.

Sometimes eardrops can cause the ear wax to expand blocking the ear canal further. Once the ear canal has been cleared this sensation of blockage will resolve. Some people can have sensitive ear canals, which may be irritated in particular by sodium bicarbonate eardrops. If so an alternative such as olive oil drops can be used.

Some people may have another reason besides ear wax causing the sensation of blockage in their ear. This can be due to problems behind the eardrum in the middle ear such as fluid or glue ear. Sometimes the inner ear or hearing nerve is not working properly. This will require further assessment. You will need to see your GP to have this assessed further.

Most people’s ears clean themselves and it is not necessary to have them cleaned professionally.

For people who experience a build-up of ear wax there is not fixed time period to have it removed. As a general rule ear wax should only be cleaned if you are experiencing problems and difficulties with it. Otherwise it should be left alone.

Annual ear examination appointments with your local Audiologist or Hearing Aid Dispenser are recommended to ensure your ears are in good health. This is similar to visiting an optician to have your eyes checked or a dentist to have your teeth inspected every year.