The Nurse Clinic

Bedford

What is Ear Wax?

Ear Wax is a natural lubricating substance that protects inside the ear canal.

Occasionally an over production of this substance can cause blocked ear canals and cause loss of hearing and pain.

What are the possible side effects of micro suction?

Despite the safety of micro suction, 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 micro suction 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.

    Infection
    This is rare, but as with any procedure you undergo, there is a small risk of infection following micro suction ear wax removal. All tools used with micro suction 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 micro suction 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.

    Why choose micro suction?

    There are other ways of removing ear wax, for example, ear irrigation or ear syringing.
    However, these aren’t as effective or accurate as micro suction. As micro suction is performed without liquid, there is less chance of infection inside the ear compared to ear irrigation.

    ​Micro suction is also more comfortable and more precise, This enables excess wax to be safely removed. It is also suitable for those with perforated eardrums, while ear irrigation is not.

    ​The main benefits of choosing ear wax micro suction over other forms of ear wax removal:

  • More precise due to the clinician using a microscope
  • ​Gentle, effective and safe procedure – it isn’t painful and is over in minutes
  • There is less risk of infection, unlike ear syringing and ear irrigation, as these are based on putting water into the ears, which can cause infection
  • Is ear micro suction painful?


    Many people report that they like the sensation of micro suction and find it soothing. It is very gentle and immediately restores hearing.

    ​If tinnitus is present due to the ear canal being blocked, this is often alleviated when the blockage is cleared.

    ​There is a wind-like noise when the probe is in the ear canal and modern machines have greatly reduced operating noise.

    ​If the wax is very soft a soft sucking sound can be heard as the debris is sucked up the probe and into the tube.

    How long does the procedure take?


    The procedures can vary according to the amount of wax or debris present and in most cases lasts no more than 30 minutes

    Micro suction versus syringing


    Very few GP surgeries or audiology clinics offer syringing because of the potential damage that can occur. That is why the vast majority of clinics offer micro suction.

    ​Syringing can only effectively be carried out after the ears have been oiled regularly for at least a week to soften the wax for irrigation. This is not required for micro suction and we would only advise putting oil in the ear for a few days only.

    Syringing also puts a lot of pressure on the eardrum and can force debris onto the eardrum causing discomfort or pain and in extreme cases can perforate the eardrum.

    Sometimes we use the irrigation technique if there are no contraindications to do so. This involves warm water being flushed into the ear canal. This is only used if micro suction is proving to be unsuccessful.

    When completing the consent form it will outline this and explain the risks and contraindications.

    Micro suction and Irrigation are both suggested by NICE guidance as the best technique for ear wax removal. Guidelines can be found here https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/earwax/management/management/