Ear Wax Removal
Ear wax can easily become impacted in the ear canal causing pain, loss of hearing, balance upset, and hearing aid feedback (whistling).
At Ear & Hearing Australia we provide professional, safe, and effective ear wax removal using a gentle micro-suction technology, without the discomfort sometimes associated with syringing the ears with water. Our Audiologists are trained to perform ear cleaning procedures using micro-suction and curettage techniques in accordance with all relevant Australian clinical standards. No referral is required.
Earwax: Gross But Healthy
Ear wax, or cerumen, is the waxy oil-like substance produced by your ears to help trap dust, debris, microorganisms, and other foreign particles, preventing them from irritating or infecting the skin of your ear canal. Ear wax also helps to coat your ear canal with a waterproof lining that reduces the risk of infection from water.
In normal circumstances, excess wax finds its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally, and then falls out and is washed away along with any confined dust or debris; a kind of self-cleaning mechanism.
Ear wax is something we all produce, but the volume and kind of wax are hereditarily determined just like hair colour or height. Ear wax varies in appearance from light yellow to dark brown. Darker colours do not necessarily mean there is a build up or blockage, however it’s usually an indication that the wax is full of debris and when this happens your body will often increase ear wax production, in turn increasing your risk of build up or blockage/impaction.
Causes Of Ear Wax Build Up
Ear wax build up is one of the most common ear related conditions patients seek medical care for. Medical studies suggest that 1 in 10 children, 1 in 20 adults and greater than 1 in 3 older people have excessive or impacted ear wax.
Some people are more prone to excessive ear wax than others, however this doesn’t automatically lead to impaction. In fact, the most common cause of ear wax blockage is attempted at-home removal. If you try to remove ear wax incorrectly – using cotton swabs, bobby pins, car keys, pens, or other sharp objects – you may scratch the skin and your ears will produce more ear wax to prevent irritation and infection. Even if you don’t scratch the skin, you may push the wax further into the ear canal, preventing your ears’ self-cleaning mechanism from working, thereby creating a blockage.
You’re also more likely to have wax build up if you frequently use earphones, earplugs, and hearing aids, or if your ears are small or oddly shaped, all of which can inadvertently prevent ear wax from coming out of the ear canals naturally.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ear Wax Build Up
Signs of ear wax impaction include:
- Sudden or partial hearing loss (usually temporary)
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear)
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- An annoying whistling in the ear (for hearing aid users)
- Earache or ear pain
- Itching from the ear canal
Unremoved ear wax build up can lead to infection. Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of ear infection, such as severe pain in the ear that doesn’t subside, an odour or drainage from the ear, or persistent hearing loss.
It’s important to note that hearing loss and earaches also have many other causes. You should consult your doctor or your audiologist if you notice any of these symptoms.
How Do I Safely Remove Ear Wax Build Up?
You should never attempt to dig out ear wax yourself. This can cause major damage to your ear and can lead to hearing loss or infection.
An audiologist can diagnose ear wax blockage by attending to your symptoms and then examining your ear and your hearing. They may then proceed to recommend an ear wax removal procedure.
Historically, patients have generally had excessive ear wax or impacted ear wax medically removed using syringing or candling. These days’ doctors are cautious about removing ear wax via syringing as it cannot be performed if the patient has a perforated ear drum, it can be uncomfortable and messy, and occasionally has resulted in perforated ear drums. Ear candling is not recommended as it can be dangerous and it is ineffective.
Ear & Hearing Australia now offers the safest, quickest, and most pain-free method of ear wax removal: micro-suction ear wax removal.
Micro-suction is an ear cleaning technique using a binocular microscope and a suction device. Micro-suction is accepted across the medical profession as the safest, most comfortable, and most effective method of ear wax removal, and in most cases the blockage is removed in minutes. Ear wax removal through micro-suction is performed dry, significantly reducing the risk of infection and minimising any mess.
How is the procedure performed?
An audiologist will examine your ear using a binaural microscope (either fixed or with loupes glasses) and, using a fine low-pressure suction device, safely remove the blockage. The fact that the ear canal is being observed throughout the process makes it an exceptionally safe procedure, unlike ear syringing or ear irrigation where ear wax is flushed out without a view of the canal.
Most people do well after ear wax removal and any loss of hearing due to the wax blockage is often recovered immediately. However, people who are prone to produce too much wax (such as hearing aid wearers) will likely require regular treatments.