the lowdown on ear wax

Let’s talk about ear wax.

You may see adverts on the internet that say microsuction earwax removal does not require the use of drops to soften the wax – this is not true; I’m not going to beat around the bush – be wary of any advert that makes such a claim…they are most likely after as much money from you as they can get. Since many GP surgeries no longer remove wax, these companies have a captive market of thousands of people in need of clear ears and hearing, who are often willing to pay quite high price tags for the relief, rather than wait for sometimes weeks or months for removal on the NHS.

  • It is in fact paramount that earwax is nice and soft for removal, otherwise, if it’s hard like cement.
  • It’s not possible for the suction tube to grab on to any wax to suck it out, or, if the wax is tapped by the suction tube as it attempts to grab on to something, it can be pretty uncomfortable, resulting in a stabbing sensation. You see, we can’t see beyond the wax that is right in front of us, and if you have hard wax and it moves as we gently approach the wax, it may push the wax slightly down the canal (a possibly very jam packed canal of wax), which then may tap the ear drum resulting in pain, or even make you cough (as a nerve which stimulates a cough reflex runs along the bottom of the canal).
  • The skin in the ear canal is very thin, and as the hard wax peels away from the canal wall, or is dragged along the canal, it can result in abrasion of the canal, which then opens you up to potential ear infections
  • It will most likely result in a return visit which will cost you more money, time, and frustration.

So, you may see in another blog (how to marinate your ear wax), how I may appear to be teaching an old dog new tricks with instruction on how to put drops in, but I cannot emphasise enough the following points after having many, many ear wax removal appointments and all manner of curious conversations and situations…

  1. Do not seal your ear with cotton wool after putting drops in your ears (be that olive oil, sodium bicarbonate, or otherwise) – whilst this stops the drops dribbling down your ear and neck, it doesn’t seal them in your ear….it sucks them back out like a sponge and so your efforts have been wasted, which results in the need for further and proper use of softening drops, longer with wax in your ears, and the frustration of any itchiness or not being able to hear. See this blog for proper instruction.
  2. If you are putting drops in your ears properly, depending on how much wax you have, it is a GOOD SIGN if you start to feel even more blocked up; it means that your hard wax is absorbing the drops, which means it will be easier for removal. Of course, if dry, hard wax absorbs moisture, it will expand in your ear (like a trifle sponge finger!) as it softens, making you feel blocked up. I know this can be frustrating and annoying for you, but please bear with it and keep up the good ear drops work as it will hopefully mean we can remove the wax the first time round.
  3. Under no circumstances be tempted, in a fit of frustration, to give your ear a good scratch with a cotton bud, as if you have an ear full of wax, it’s going to push it further down the canal and make impacted…which means it’s very hard for me to suck out. And a word to wise….I always know if you have done that as it’s really obvious when I look down your canal as wax should not be towards the back of the ear canal, it’s not where it’s made!
  4. Do, after microsuction wax removal, put olive oil drops in your ears, once a week, to keep you nice and lubricated, therefore, if prone to hard wax build up, any wax made will be soft in the first place and so should you feel blocked up, I am most likely able to remove it first time, without you having to go through the saga of days of drops prior to removal. Do not do this if I tell you there’s an infection that needs treating, or you have a perforation (if you have a historic perforation or grommets, do not put drops in your ear – discuss with me first before appointment).

I hope you don’t mind me being the Sergeant Major of Ear Wax Removal – I just want to save everyone time, money, and frustration, and get this sorted successfully first time round, as comfortably as possible.

If you need your ear wax removed, please do get in touch for an appointment with me in my clinic. Rather than different costs for 1 ear or 2; I charge a flat fee of £45, as invariably, people typically need both ears looked at and it saves any extra financial worry about whether you can have both done (even if you need it!).

Get in touch for your microsuction appointment.