Ear Wax Removal Procedures & Safety
Believe it or not there is no regulation when it comes to ear wax removal
Technically, like most things you can do it yourself or get someone who says they can do it but may have no formal training or certainly recognised training.
The only roadblock currently for persons carrying out ear wax removal is whether or not the person can get insurance. Someone could still technically practice without insurance but of course this would leave them open to criminal prosecution.
With that in mind it comes down to ourselves in the audiology profession to ensure there is safe practice and recommended guidelines when it comes to ear wax removal.
As it stands there is no official guidelines so Lanarkshire Hearing Centre have taken great care to ensure you have an understanding of ear wax removal and a choice in where you choose to have the procedure done.
At Lanarkshire Hearing Centre all our ear wax removal specialists must qualify with the following requirements:
Clinical EnvironmentThere is no recommended environment to carry out ear wax removal. Lanarkshire Hearing Centre believes that any environment should be clean and free from clutter. Although purpose-built environments like the ear wax room in our Hamilton Branch is not essential what is essential is a roomy environment with solid seating.
We do not recommend seating a patient on a seat that moves as this will greatly increase the danger of the procedure. We also do not recommend a seat that swivels easily as again this will increase risk.
The Ear Wax Removal by Microsuction ProcessWe will begin by gathering as much information as we can about your ears. We do this by asking you to fill out a digital consent form. We recommend this form so we can understand if you have had previous issues with your ears.
An example would be perforations. Its essential we know this just in case we have to use a little water to remove some very oily ear wax.
OtoscopyWe will now move onto otoscopy which is viewing the condition of your ear canal and how much ear wax is in both of your ears.
We will always carry out otoscopy on both ears even if you only complain of one ear being blocked with ear wax.
For an in-depth understanding of otoscopy please click here to read our recommended otoscopy procedures.
Video OtoscopyWe will now carry out video otoscopy. Video otoscopy will allow you to see what we are seeing.
We will display your ear canal and ear wax or any condition we see on a screen.
This will allow you to see what we see and how full your ear is with ear wax.
Explanation of the procedureWe will now explain the procedure in great detail. We will show you the equipment and we will also discuss the anatomy of the outer part of the ear. We will explain what you have to do and how you should communicate with us should you need to.
Your ear drum is only 0.1 mm thick therefore we need to help you understand the importance of following our instructions.
The procedure itself is pain free and can take anything from 5 to 15 mins per ear.
The ProcessWe will now remove the ear wax from your ears. The micro suction earwax machine is quite noisy. We will prepare you for this but you will get used to it very quickly.
We will begin by removing any earwax that is on the edge of the canal. We tend to work around the edges as this is where the ear wax is at its softest. During the ear wax removal procedure you will hear the microsuction machine change in noise. The noise changes are when the machine is grabbing the ear wax and trying to suction it up the tubes.
As we remove the impacted ear wax we may add some oil. This will help lubricate your ear canals and help the microsuction machine grab hold of the ear wax. We may use our hand to brace against the side of your face. This is a safety measure so you don’t move your head towards us during the micro suction procedure.
As we get deeper down the ear canal we will stop from time to time and just check in with you and make sure you are ok. We will ask you about the noise of the micro suction machine and then we will ask you if you are ok and if the ear wax removal procedure is free from discomfort.
If all the ear wax cant be removed using the microstucion machineOften the ear wax may not be able to be fully removed using microsuction alone. This can be for a variety of reasons.
1 Very impacted ear wax too hard to breakdown still stuck in ear or causing discomfort.
2 Ear wax is very deep and there is no certainty of the ear wax and its proximity to the ear drum.
3 Ear Wax is very oily and you can’t remove it with microsuction machine.
If your condition falls under 1 and 2 and we can’t see your ear drum we will most likely send you away for further softening with oil.
Your safety is paramount and we don’t want to risk discomfort. It is rare that we send people away but please be aware that if we do it’s only because we are thinking of you and your safety.
If, like option 3 there is some ear wax left, it’s soft and we can see your ear drum in some capacity we will irrigate your ear to remove the remainder of the wax. Irrigation is a gentle procedure involving 3 streams of water directed at your ear canal.
The fact that the water comes into contact with your ear canal first means the energy from the water is taken out by the ear canal. The water then runs around the ear canal and pulls the remainder of the ear wax out.
The water is lukewarm and most people tell us they find this part of the procedure pleasant. We will not carry this out without prior agreement and full and proper inspection of your ear canal. We will also refer to your medical history.
Your ears are now clear!Once the ear wax removal by microsuction procedure has been completed you will probably feel the difference immediately. You will find that your voice has a little echo or you may feel your voice is tinny. This is natural and a good sign that the procedure has worked.
We will carry out the video otoscopy again and let you see your ear drum and your ear canal. Your ear drum should be a nice grey opaque colour and slightly transparent. We will explain this as we go.