Ear wax and syringing

Have you ever had the feeling you couldn’t hear out of one ear all of a sudden?

Or the ear was really itchy and lots of flakey stuff is coming out?

Sometimes does scratching your ear make you cough?

It could be too much ear wax.

But before we get excited and try get it out, remember that ear wax is not only normal, but essential to protecting the middle ear.

Is it earwax or something else?

Not all causes of deafness are due to earwax. Sometimes it can be following a cold or sinus congestion where the middle ear is blocked with fluid. Other Times there are different medical causes.

However if you think the ear is full of wax and it is impacting your hearing, then the only way to tell is by examining with an otoscope. This can be performed by the doctors and nurses at GS Health.

How do I get rid of the earwax?

If it’s bothersome then using a cerumenolytic (wax dissolving medicine) can be helpful.

Popular treatments at pharmacies are Waxsol, however using olive oil is equally safe and effective.

To do this you place 5 drops in the ear while laying on your side, remain there for 2-3 minutes, then drain it onto a tissue. Repeat on the other side, and do this twice a day for about 5 days. Often this is enough to get rid of the wax.

Using cotton buds here is a big nono. Cotton buds have a limited role in cleaning the ear outside the canal, but using them when you’re blocked up will just jam the wax in deeper and can cause a rupture of the eardrum or damage to the canal.

If this isn’t working then you can see the doctors and nurses at GS Health for gentle syringing, or removal using special tools.

Risks of ear syringing

We can’t place anything in the ear if there’s an external ear infection (otitis externa), past or present eardrum rupture (tympanic membrane perforation), or one sided deafness.

In people with deafness or poor hearing, the good ear should not be syringed.

There is a very small risk of rupturing the tympanic membrane, however your doctor will take a thorough history and examination before commencing the syringing procedure.

Sometimes when the water touches the eardrum you can get a reflex cough, dizziness or vertigo. We ask that you remain in the waiting room for 15 minutes after your procedure.

Alternatives to ear syringing

In the event syringing isn’t suitable, then micro suction under direct vision is the best alternative. Unfortunately the equipment for this is quite expensive and only ENT surgeons generally have access to this. If you require this we will refer you to the appropriate person.

If you are worried about earwax, please let us know at the time of booking your appointment. We generally don’t syringe unless the wax has been softened up with drops for a few days first, and a doctor does need to examine your ear before our nurse can remove the wax.

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