EAR MICROSUCTION OR IRRIGATION 

If ear wax is not causing you a problem it is best left alone. Ear wax is a normal substance the body produces to clean, lubricate and protect the lining of the ear canal by trapping dirt and repelling water. It is slightly acidic and has antibacterial properties. It is only when a build up of old dead skin cells and hardening of wax becomes a nuisance that you may need help with clearing your ear canals. Having blocked ears is an unpleasant experience. It can cause hearing problems, lead to infections and sometimes make you feel dizzy. Build up of debris in the ear canals can also be the cause of impaired function of your hearing aids. Your hearing aid audiologist may recommend that you have your ear canals cleared prior to your appointment. 
 
Most people want to have the problem treated as quickly and as safely as possible. However, many GP surgeries are no longer able to offer ear syringing. 
 
Microsuction is the ‘gold standard’ technique as a safe and effective way to unblock the plug of debris in your ears. The clinician can look down the ear canal under high magnification and clear the blockage using a small medical suction device. Some patients prefer the familiar ear irrigation method of clearing impacted ear wax and skin cells, occasionally this is the more clinically appropriate procedure. Ear irrigation continues to be taught at the NHS Primary Ear Care Centre in Rotherham as the UK centre of excellence which has won several national awards in innovation, nursing and training. 
 

EAR MICROSUCTION OR IRRIGATION 

If ear wax is not causing you a problem it is best left alone. Ear wax is a normal substance the body produces to clean, lubricate and protect the lining of the ear canal by trapping dirt and repelling water. It is slightly acidic and has antibacterial properties. It is only when a build up of old dead skin cells and hardening of wax becomes a nuisance that you may need help with clearing your ear canals. Having blocked ears is an unpleasant experience. It can cause hearing problems, lead to infections and sometimes make you feel dizzy. Build up of debris in the ear canals can also be the cause of impaired function of your hearing aids. Your hearing aid audiologist may recommend that you have your ear canals cleared prior to your appointment. 
 
Most people want to have the problem treated as quickly and as safely as possible. However, many GP surgeries are no longer able to offer ear syringing. 
 
Microsuction is the ‘gold standard’ technique as a safe and effective way to unblock the plug of debris in your ears. The clinician can look down the ear canal under high magnification and clear the blockage using a small medical suction device. Some patients prefer the familiar ear irrigation method of clearing impacted ear wax and skin cells, occasionally this is the more clinically appropriate procedure. Ear irrigation continues to be taught at the NHS Primary Ear Care Centre in Rotherham as the UK centre of excellence which has won several national awards in innovation, nursing and training. 
 
You will normally be shown on a laptop screen that the impacted debris covering your ear drum has been removed but be prepared to see a slight film of wax remaining in the ear canal which is necessary for the healthy functioning of the ear. However, this is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic to avoid unnecessary sharing of equipment between patients. 
Please book an appointment at my Treatment Room in Yateley.  
 
 

FAQs 

Is microsuction suitable for everyone? 
 
 
It can safely be used by most patients. There are very few patients for whom microsuction is not suitable: 
patients who have experienced difficulties with the procedure in the past 
patients with a history of severe dizziness 
patients who have a (major) sensitivity to loud noise (known as hyperacusis) 
patients who are unable to hold their heads still, or are prone to unpredictable head movement 
I have a perforated ear drum. Can I still have microsuction? 
 
 
Microsuction is the recommended gold standard for such patients as putting water in a perforated ear is inherently dangerous. 
Does microsuction hurt? 
 
 
No, the process should not cause any pain at all as the structures within the ear canal are not touched. Using high magnification to visualise your ear ensures that only the wax and dead skin cells are targeted. Some patients say it is a bit noisy but as the procedure doesn't take that long it is well tolerated. 
Is microsuction suitable for children? 
 
 
There is no lower age limit for microsuction but I do not see children under the age of 16 years. If you feel your child has any hearing difficulties you should make an appointment with your GP for examination and advice. 
What if no wax is found? 
 
 
If on examination there is NO DEBRIS blocking your ears, there is NO FEE. I will be able to give you advice or recommend that you make an appointment with your GP to discuss your hearing problem further. 
 
I had my ears cleared, but I'm still having trouble with them, what should I do? 
I am very sorry to hear that. Please make an appointment to see me as soon as possible and I will see if there is anything I can do. There will be no charge for a follow up appointment within 2 weeks. 
I've had ear problems including a perforation and surgery in the past, is microsuction safe for me? 
 
 
Definitely, microsuction is the safest way to clean your ear because it is performed under direct vision through the microscope, which gives a magnified view of what is going on. The impacted debris is removed from the outside via suction, no pressure is placed on the ear drum and sensitive canal walls. Ear irrigation should be avoided if you have had previous surgery on your ears or had a perforated ear drum which has not healed within the last 18 months. I would be happy to advise you of the best treatment for you. 
Do I have to use ear drops before I come to see you? 
 
 
It helps if you instil some olive oil drops like Earol in your ears for about two or three days before your appointment. This will soften the impacted build up and makes the treatment more comfortable for you. It is not strictly necessary if you need to see me urgently or there is a reason you are unable to use ear drops in your ears. I generally do not recommend sodium bicarbonate or hydrogen peroxide drops, olive oil drops or spray are usually the most helpful. 
How long does the suction or irrigation procedure take? 
 
 
It usually only takes around 30 - 40 minutes or so depending on what I find on examination. Often it takes longer to have a chat and explain the procedure than to actually get you hearing again. Please allow a little longer for your first appointment as I will need to ask you some relevant questions about your health prior to your treatment. This will, of course, be subject to complete confidentiality. 
How often should I have it done? 
 
 
Debris in the ear often re-accumulates and many people like to have their ears cleaned on a regular basis. Some severely affected patients may need their ears cleared as often as every 3 to 4 months. However, once or twice a year is more common while some patients go for several years before requiring another appointment. There is no upper limit to how often the procedure can be performed. 
Why do I make so much wax? 
 
 
People who have narrow ear canals find the debris doesn't work its way out naturally. 
 
Patients with certain scalp and skin conditions like psoriasis or a lot of hair in your ear canals. 
 
A build up of debris is more likely to occur in older adults as wax becomes drier as we age, we generally produce more dry skin and men tend to produce more hairs around the opening to their ear canals. 
 
Hearing aids, ear bud headphones and the use of cotton buds stimulate the glands within the ear to produce more wax and excess wax becomes compacted. All of those also, of course, push the build up further down the canal. 
 
There are two genetically determined types of ear wax – either wet (dominant) or dry. 
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