What is ear irrigation?

Ear irrigation is a routine procedure used to remove excess earwax, or cerumen, and foreign materials from the ear.

The ear naturally secretes wax to protect and lubricate the ear as well as to keep debris out and hinder bacterial growth. Under normal conditions, the body keeps the amount of earwax in the ears under control. Too much earwax or hardened earwax can cause a blockage in the ear, resulting in earaches, ringing in the ears, or temporary hearing loss.

Ear irrigation, replaces the old-fashioned technique of ear syringing and uses an irrigation device to introduce water into the ear, rather than squirting straight in. This allows water to flush the wax out safely.

Purpose of ear irrigation

The ear, especially the canal and eardrum, is very sensitive. Earwax build up can cause damage to these structures over time. This can affect your hearing. Removing excess earwax with ear irrigation is a safe way to minimize the risk of damage to the ear.

Sometimes foreign materials like food, insects, or small stones can get into the ear. In these cases, the goal is to safely and quickly remove the items before they move deeper into the ear or do damage to the delicate canal. Ear irrigation can be effective in removing foreign materials from the ear.

Ears need just as much looking after as any other part of the body.

What is ear wax?

Ear wax is a yellowy brown substance produced naturally in the ear. For many people, ear wax does not cause any complications. However, ear wax build-up can lead to many symptoms.

Why does earwax build up?

The amount of wax secreted can significantly vary between individuals; one ear can produce more wax than the other ear. For some people wax can build up inside the ear canal due to a number of reasons:

  • The skin lining of the ear canal no longer sheds effectively and traps wax inside the ear.
  • Due to hereditary bends or narrowness deep inside the ear canal or chronic ear infections.
  • Using cotton buds or regular wearing of hearing aids, earbuds and earplugs can push the wax deep inside the ear.
  • Tiny hairs (cilia) inside the ear canal become entangled with the wax preventing it from leaving the ear.
  • The glands in the skin lining the ear canal are hyperactive and secrete more wax than normal.
  • The presence of hard and dry wax, which is more common in older people, becomes impacted and lodged inside the ear canal.

How do I know if I have ear wax?

If left to build up, ear wax can cause many symptoms:

  • Earache and the sensation of a ‘blocked ear’.
  • Hearing loss as wax restricts sound waves from travelling efficiently to the eardrum.
  • Internal sounds such as chewing, breathing, heartbeat and even your own voice can no longer escape out of the ear and are heard much louder inside your head.
  • Tinnitus: a ringing/whistling/buzzing type of sound that can only be heard by yourself.
  • Vertigo: dizziness due to an increase in air pressure caused by wax building up.
  • Whistling hearing aid – sounds being amplified by the hearing aid is reflected back out of the ear due to wax.
  • Itchiness/irritation: impacted wax, especially dry wax, will rub against the side of the ear canal during any jaw movements.

If you can say yes to any of the above symptoms, 

then Ear Irrigation by Elaine can help.

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