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Frequently Asked Questions | Hear Clear NI

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need my ears waxing?

The production of ear wax by glands around the ear is a natural process designed to protect the ear from foreign material such as dust or insects. Normally the wax harmlessly passes out of the ear on its own. However, on occasion it can build up around the ear causing a blockage. It's important you do not attempt to clear your ears of wax with a cotton wool bud or finger as this will only push the wax further into the ear canal. 

If you feel any of the following symptoms ear wax removal may be necessary.

  • Muted or Muffled hearin

  • Discharge from your ear or wax on your pillow

  • Pain or a feeling of fullness in the ear

  • Itchiness in the ear

  • Hearing loss

  • Ringing or buzzing in your ears (tinnitus)

  • Vertigo (feeling dizzy and sick)

How often should I get my ears professionally cleaned?

If you experience any symptoms such as those described above, muffled hearing, discharge, pain, itchiness or a feeling of fullness in the ear your ears may need to be professionally cleaned. A good rule of thumb is to have them cleaned once every six months.

Is ear wax removal painful?

The answer is no. Using microsuction ear wax removal is a safe and effective treatment that takes approximately 30 minutes. It's painless, safe and doesn’t require any pre-treatment, medication or post-procedure pain relief.

Does ear cleaning feel good?

There are a number of reasons why cleaning your ears feels good. Firstly, if you have
wax accumulating in your ear can become painful and itchy. Therefore, the professional cleaning of your ear and ear canal will give you remission from these symptoms.

 The second reason involves the large number of sensory nerves that connect the ear to the brain. Stimulation of these nerve endings, which are found in the ear and ear canal, sends pleasure messages to the brain.

 However, you need to resist the urge to ‘go digging’ around in your ear as introducing a foreign object will just push the wax deeper into the ear canal. The best answer is a professional ear clean.

Is it OK to clean ears with cotton buds?

No, it's never sensible to attempt to clean your ear with a cotton wool bud or Q tip. The ear has a complex system for moving ear wax out of the ear canal. 

However, if you attempt to clear the wax by poking a cotton wool bud it's likely you will push the wax further into the ear canal and make the problem worse. It's likely the wax will also contain dead skin cells, dust and bacteria. So by pushing the wax further in you will increase the risk of an ear infection.

Is professional ear wax removal worth it?

The simple answer to this is yes. If you are feeling discomfort, itchiness or have muffled hearing, professional earwax removal can resolve these symptoms.

But perhaps the most significant advantage of having professional ear cleaning is you won't cause damage to your ears by ‘digging’ around with cotton wool buds. Trying to clear the wax yourself runs the risk of pushing the wax further back into your ear and increases the risk of an ear infection.

It's far more sensible to let the professionals help you.

Do you hear better after ear wax removal?

The answer to this is yes.

When ear wax accumulates in the ear you may experience symptoms such as muffled hearing, discharge, pain, itchiness or a feeling of fullness in the ear. Clearing the wax will give you remission from these symptoms.

How do you know if you have earwax build-up?

An accumulation of earwax is easy to spot. You may experience muted or muffled hearing, you may wake up in the morning and notice a waxy discharge around your ear or on your pillow.

Other symptoms include pain or a feeling of fullness in the ear, itchiness in the ear, hearing loss, ringing or buzzing in your ears (tinnitus) or vertigo (feeling dizzy and sick). If you experience any of these symptoms it's sensible to seek professional help.

What happens if you don't clean your ears for a long time?

In normal circumstances, ear wax and the accumulated dead skin, bacteria and dust harmlessly exits your ear. However, in some individuals where the wax doesn’t clear naturally it can accumulate causing a range of symptoms, itchiness, muffled hearing and pain.

In the worst-case scenario not cleaning your ears can lead to temporary hearing loss. Don’t be too concerned if you have this condition but do consider professional ear wax removal as if its left unresolved ear infections can occur that can damage your hearing.

What is the safest way to get earwax out?

The safest way to get earwax out is to use a professional.

However, prior to this, the NHS recommended a number of techniques that you can try at home. These include putting 2 to 3 drops of medical grade olive or almond oil in your ear 3 to 4 times a day for 3 to 5 days.

It is recommended you use a dropper while lying your head on one side for a few minutes to let the oil work its way through your ear canals. If this doesn’t work it is sensible to see a professional who can remove the wax safely and quickly.

There is no evidence that ear candles get rid of earwax and do not attempt to clear the wax with a cotton wool bud as this may make the situation worse.

Is Microsuction Better Than Ear Syringing?

Ear syringing is the traditional method of ear wax removal and involves injecting water at high pressure in the ear. Unfortunately, this procedure is associated with a range of complications, including perforated eardrums and ear infections.

Microsuction is the modern equivalent and involves the use of a specialist microscope, allowing a health professional to see into your ear, attached to a sterile suction device that will remove wax from the ear canal.

Because microsuction doesn’t involve the use of high-pressure jets of water it is safer, faster, better tolerated by patients and is more effective at ear wax removal than ear syringing.

Can Microsuction remove impacted ear wax?

Yes. Microsuction can remove impacted ear wax. 

Unfortunately, impacted earwax will not go away on its own and it’s important to have this wax removed. Failure to do so will increase the risk of an ear infection and may result in temporary hearing loss.

Microsuction is the safest and fastest way to manage impacted wax. 

What are the possible side effects of microsuction?

Despite the safety of microsuction, as with any procedure, it carries a small amount of risk and potential side effects. Most of these potential side effects are very rare so there is no need to worry about having the procedure.

Some of the side effects that can occur are:

  • Dizziness
  • Infection
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Noise damage

  • Dizziness

    Some people experience a little dizziness, faintness or a feeling of vertigo during the procedure or shortly afterwards. This is due to microsuction ear wax removal actually causing the temperature of the ear canal to cool down during the procedure, which can cause this feeling.

    This side effect is only temporary and shouldn’t last very long following the removal of ear wax.


    This is rare, but as with any procedure you undergo, there is a small risk of infection following microsuction ear wax removal. All tools used with microsuction are single use and discarded after each procedure making infection extremely remote and virtually unheard of.

    However, if you do experience this, there are treatments that are very effective at clearing up any infections.

    Trauma to the ear

    As the microsuction ear wax removal procedure involves a tube being inserted into the ear canal, there is a small risk that some damage or trauma could occur in the ear canal or ear drum. This can occur from sudden movements by the recipient. In extremely rare cases, the eardrum can become perforated.

    Noise damage

    The equipment used during ear wax removal does generate some noise, which some find to be very loud. In minimal cases, this can cause temporary short lived hearing loss, known as a temporary threshold shift. This occasionally happens when tiny muscles contract to protect the ear against noise. There is also an extremely rare chance of tinnitus being caused, or existing tinnitus worsened.

If you have any other questions or want to know more about microsuction, please don't hesitate to get in touch!.

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