Frequently Asked Questions

Does ear wax removal hurt?

No, the wax removal process is not painful.

Does removing ear wax help hearing?

Once the wax is removed the sound will be able to travel well towards your eardrum and through your acoustic system improving your ability to hear. If this is not the case a hearing test is recommended.

When to get ear wax removal?

You may notice the following symptoms if you have a build-up of ear wax: blocked sensation or earache, feeling of fullness or pressure, hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness.

How do ear wax removal drops work?

Olive oil will soften your wax allowing wax removal to be more comfortable and successful.  No other softeners should be used.

What happens if I don't have wax?

The Otology nurse will investigate the initial reasons for your visit, whether that’s because you feel that your ears are blocked, or your hearing is down.  This may involve help with how to unblock your ears or referral to an Otolaryngologist (ENT).

Do you do syringing?

Syringing is no longer performed as a method of wax removal as it is deemed unsafe.  Microsuction is a safe method for removal of ear wax.

Can ear wax removal help tinnitus, ringing in the ears?

Ear wax can cause whistling, ringing, or a range of different sounds to be perceived in the ears.  This is known as tinnitus and is caused because the blockage reduces the amount of sound reaching your ear drum.  Normally if the wax is causing the tinnitus, it should disappear once it has been removed.

Do I need to put anything in my ears before my appointment?

We recommend using olive oil drops two days before your appointment to soften the wax and make it easier to remove.

Can ear wax cause hearing loss?

Yes, untreated build-up of ear wax can cause hearing loss.  When wax builds up it can become stuck in place and create a barrier that stops sound from travelling into the ear.

If I have an ear infection can I have ear wax removal?

Yes, we recommend that you have wax and/or the infection debris removed before you see your GP.  The medication can work better if the ear is cleared first.  There is also the chance after the infection has been cleared you will need an appointment again to remove the final debris from the infection.

Can I have an appointment today?
Please call us on 04 5551611 or 021 442419.  We have urgent appointments available each clinic day.
How should I keep my ears clean?

We recommend not putting anything in your ears other than occasional olive oil drops to loosen the wax and aid self-cleaning.  Ears naturally clean themselves.  You can wipe around the ear but do not clean inside the canal.

Can ear wax cause hearing loss?

Yes, untreated build-up of ear wax can cause hearing loss.  When wax builds up it can become stuck in place and create a barrier that stops sound from travelling into the ear.

How do I prepare for treatment?

Prior to wax removal it is recommended that, provided you do not have any ear problems other than wax (such as a perforated ear drum), to use a olive oil to soften the wax over several days. We advise you to use the oil at least once per day for a period of 2 days.
If you have a regular build-up of wax, you can help the ear self-clean through using olive oil on a regular basis to keep the wax soft. For easy application we can provide olive oil in dropper bottles if necessary.

How do you insert olive oil into your ear?

You may like to warm the oil in a luke-warm cup of water prior to placing the oil into your ear. Test the temperature on your wrist prior to placing the drops in the ears.

The easiest way is to lie on a bed with ear facing forward toward the ceiling; with one hand pull the top of the ear to straighten the ear canal. Using the dropper squeeze 3 – 4 drops into the entrance of the canal. Repeat as necessary and allow the oil to soak into your ear. You may like to put a tissue or cotton ball in the outer part of your ear to stop the oil from dripping.

Sometimes the oil can make your ear feel more blocked as it softens and soaks into the wax. This is only for a short while.

If you feel dizziness or pain STOP. Discuss this with the nurse at your next appointment. Do not use oil if you have a perforated ear drum or other significant ear problems.

Informed Consent

Every medical procedure requires informed consent from patients. You will be asked to complete a consent form which will cover information and risks and must be made without coercion.

Microsuction is a safe and pain-free procedure when undertaken by a Registered Nurse with experience as an Otology Nurse Specialist.

You may experience dizziness or coughing. This is temporary. If you experience any dizziness or coughing please tell the nurse straight away. The nurse will stop and wait for this to stop.

If the wax is hard the removal of the wax may feel uncomfortable. If you oil the ears as suggested this is unlikely to occur. If during the procedure you feel any pain please tell the nurse straight away.

As with any procedure, microsuction carries a small amount of risk and potential side effects, most of which are very rare. These are:

  • Loss of hearing
  • Perforation of ear drum
  • Tinnitus
  • Infection

Prior to the procedure you will have the process explained to you, and have the opportunity to ask questions.