Ear wax – medical term ‘cerumen’ – is a waxy substance secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. It can be brown, orange, yellowish or grey. It protects the skin of the ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication and provides protection against bacteria, fungus and water. Ear wax usually migrates slowly out from the ears, aided by the action of chewing and other jaw movements, carrying with it dirt, dust and other small particles from the ear canal. The discharge of wax usually happens unnoticed by the person.
Sometimes, however, there is a build-up of wax – due to its excess production or impaction and this can cause a blockage in the ear canal. In this situation the wax can press against the eardrum or block the ear canal. Blockage or impaction can result in hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness, itchiness or a feeling of the ear being blocked or a sense of fullness, if not discomfort and pain. People who wear hearing aids may feel they are difficult to fit or uncomfortable to wear.
Ear Syringing, also known as Ear Irrigation, uses a gently pulsating stream of water to dislodge wax blockages from the ears. A basin is held under the ear to catch the expelled wax and water. We use a smart visual endoscope ear wax viewer so that you are able to see inside your ear canal and we can send you your ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures if you wish. We do not currently offer Ear Microsuction at the Practice.
Ear Syringing/Irrigation is a quick, effective, gentle and safe way of removing ear wax. If the wax is hard and impacted, it is essential it is softened with application of softening ear drops for 5-7 days before the Ear Syringing procedure can be performed. Where ear wax is very soft, for example if softening drops have been overused, syringing is the treatment of choice. Also it is less noisy than microsuction.
However, ear irrigation cannot be carried out if there are any current symptoms of infection, perforated ear drum, cleft palate or ear discharge. Ear irrigation in our setting is not suitable for children (under 14). Please get in touch to enquire about the suitability for any minors 14-16 years of age.
For all the reasons above, all patients should attend a quick Ear Check appointment before booking an Ear Syringing/Irrigation procedure. The ears can be checked, the suitability of the procedure assessed and any issues discussed with the patient. In most cases patients are supplied with softening ear drops to administer for 5-7 days prior to treatment.
If a patient books and attends a syringing appointment without previously having attended for an ear check appointment, and it is judged that performing the procedure is unsuitable or inappropriate, the booked appointment will be charged in full.
Ear check and ear syringing appointments can be booked online. All patients need to attend for an ear check appointment before their first syringing treatment, to make sure that the procedure is appropriate. Returning patients may be able to book straight into a syringing session - check with Anita on 07711 298880. Most patients will be required to apply wax softener for 4-7 days before their syringing appointment..