The Importance of Safe and Effective Ear Wax Removal

Ear wax, formally known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced by the body to protect us from dust, bacteria and foreign particles reaching the eardrum. Typically, the ear is a self-cleaning system that pushes ear wax out with as we shed skin out of the ear canal. However, for some people, ear wax can build up and become impacted. When this occurs, the ear wax build up can cause pain, discomfort, dizziness, hearing problems and/or a ringing noise called tinnitus. At this stage, the impacted ear wax should be removed to alleviate these symptoms. In this blog, we’ll explain common methods for ear wax removal, and which method is the most effective for your ears.

If you have ever experienced ear wax blockage, you may have attempted some at-home remedies to unblock your ears. You may have tried to use cotton buds to remove ear wax from your ear canals. When there is only a small amount of ear wax on the side of the ear canal and you do not go deep into the ear canal, you may feel as though this method has been successful. However, if you have impacted ear wax, cotton buds will only push the ear wax down deeper into your ear canal, often making the symptoms you are experiencing even worse. Using cotton buds can also lead to you bursting your ear drum, known as a perforation.

Another common method is using ear drops that can be purchased from a chemist. Ear drops are great at softening ear wax. Although, they normally do not draw the ear wax out of the ear canal. If you soften the ear wax and then lay down on your side, this can cause the ear wax to move deeper into the ear canal, again, worsening your symptoms.

Historically, nurses or GPs would use an ear syringe to force water into the ear to remove ear wax. However, this has high rates of discomfort. If the water is too hot or too cold, it can make you extremely dizzy. Also, due to the force used to syringe water into the ear canal, this method brings with it a risk of perforation of the eardrum which can lead to a conductive hearing loss, and risk of ear infection as it leaves a moist environment.

Hearing care specialists have multiple professional methods to remove ear wax build-up, and often the type of ear wax build up will depict which method the hearing care specialist will use. One of these methods is using a curette that has a small loop on the end to gently scoop out ear wax. This manual removal method is completed by a trained professional who will use either a microscope or binocular glasses with a bright light to always have direct vision on your ear canal. Attempting this method on your own can cause further complications or injury.

Another method is suction to essentially suck the ear wax out of the ear canal. Microsuction utilises a fine tube and vacuum that gently suctions ear wax from the ear canal. Again, the hearing care professional will use a microscope or binocular glasses to have direct vision on your ear throughout the process. This is a safe and effective method to remove excess ear wax from the ear canal.

The third professional procedure for ear wax removal is irrigation. This method uses water to gently flush the earwax out of your ears. Your hearing care professional may use a handheld bottle or a small machine that pulsates water into the ear using a small nozzle. This method is different to syringing as the water temperature is controlled to not make you dizzy, the nozzle is very small so it does not block the ear canal and hearing professionals wear binocular glasses so that they can observe your eardrum throughout the process. Though, if you have a perforation/hole in your eardrum, your hearing care professional will not be able to use water and will instead choose a different method for you.

In the case of very dry and deeply impacted ear wax, individuals may need to use an earwax softener in the lead up to professional ear wax removal. It is best to consult your hearing care professional about what is required before your appointment.

When you are experiencing blocked ears due to ear wax build-up, it is essential that a qualified hearing care specialist professionally removes this blockage to alleviate your symptoms. At home remedies are often infective or can cause further complications, worsening your symptoms. For safe, quick, effective, and pain-free ear wax removal, reach out to our team at Victorian Hearing. Call (03) 9558 8842 or book online.

When you schedule an appointment with Victorian Hearing, you’re choosing a local, independent, and Australian owned hearing clinic with 10 convenient locations across Melbourne.