Removal of earwax
All ears produce wax, and usually this does not cause a problem. However, if you need to have it removed, then we can do it gently and safely for you using the latest micro-suction techniques.
What is Earwax?
It is not really wax at all, but a combination of oil from your skin and dead skin cells.
Why does it build up?
In most people it doesn’t. The skin in your ear canal is always renewing itself from the eardrum outwards, and this skin renewal usually carries the wax out naturally. However, if your ear canal is particularly narrow or has been damaged in the past wax may build up and need to be removed. Wearing hearing aids or ear plugs regularly can also cause wax to build up.
What are the signs of ear wax build up?
You may feel that your ears feel blocked, or your hearing is muffled. Sometimes people become aware of tinnitus (ringing or hissing in the ears). If you wear hearing aids, you may find that they are not working as well, or that they are whistling when in your ears.
How is ear wax removed?
At Mills and McKinney practice we only use micro-suction as we feel that this is the safest and most comfortable method. A sterile suction probe connected to a gentle suction machine is used to suck out the wax leaving your ear canal clear. Sometimes small specialist tools are used, and you may be asked to use ear drops prior to removal if your ear wax is particularly hard and dry.
Are there any other methods of having ear wax removed?
There are two main methods – micro-suction and irrigation with water (ear syringing).
There are also home removal methods which include ear drops and a variety of tools marketed for the purpose.
Which is the best method to remove ear wax?
Irrigation with water has significantly greater risk and more side effects than micro-suction. It is not suitable if you have had previous surgery on your eardrum or ear canal, or if either has been previously damaged.
Ear Drops can help to soften ear wax, but do not dissolve or remove it. Sometimes you might be asked to use ear drops if your ear wax is particularly hard and dry.
Tools sold online – avoid! We recommend that you don’t stick anything larger than your elbow into your ear, and this most definitely includes ear buds.
Are there any side effects or risks?
Micro-suction can occasionally be noisy due to the suction machine. Sometimes flaps of dry skin vibrate causing ‘clareneting’. There is a very small risk, as with all other wax removal treatments, that some people may report temporary tinnitus or temporarily increased tinnitus if they already experienced it pre- ear wax removal. There is also a slight chance of bleeding due to grazing or scratching the ear canal with the suction probe. Secondary trauma of the eardrum caused by the suction probe and other ENT instruments is also possible but very rare. Occasionally people feel a little dizzy but this passes in a few minutes.