Ear flushing, also known as ear irrigation, is a simple and fast medical procedure involving using a liquid solution to clean your ear canal.
The procedure is typically performed by a hearing care expert, such as me at Provincial Hearing. Ear flushing may be recommended for patients exhibiting excess earwax buildup, infections, or other ear-related conditions.
During the procedure, your hearing care professional will use an ear irrigator to flush warm water or a saline solution into your ear canal. This helps soften and dislodge earwax or other debris blocking your ear canal. The liquid is then drained, along with any loosened debris.
While irrigation can be a safe and effective way to clean out the ear canal, it should only be performed by a trained medical professional. And, please don’t attempt to flush your ear at home with a syringe or other tool. This can be dangerous and may lead to injury or infection.
For more information on the hazards of home remedies, please check out our related blog post, Five Great and Terrible Ways to Unclog Your Blocked Ears.
Difference Between Water Irrigation and Ear Syringing
Ear syringing performed at home by untrained people can cause painful complications, including:
- eardrum perforation
- external ear canal inflammation
- external auditory canal damage
- failure to remove the wax
- infection if the procedure is performed in a non-sterile environment with unclean equipment
Any of these problems can lead to vertigo or temporary hearing loss. So instead of solving a problem, you could create a new one with an unsafe procedure.
That’s why it’s much better to carry out ear flushing with a specialized tool known as an Earigator. An Earigator does what it sounds like: it controls and maintains precise water flow and temperature.
The soft water jet flushes your ear canal safely. That’s because the device directs the controlled water flow against the ear canal wall and avoids the eardrum as much as possible.
How to Prepare for Earwax Removal
It’s simple and easy to prepare for your earwax removal appointment.
- Let your hearing healthcare professional know if you have a history of ear infections, ear surgery, or a perforated eardrum. Such issues may require special precautions or procedures.
- In a similar vein, inform our audiologist if you have a history of dizziness or vertigo. This too can affect the procedure.
- Don’t put any physical objects in your ear for several days before the procedure. This includes cotton swabs or other foreign objects that could interfere with the flushing process.
- If possible, apply olive oil drops for three days prior to your earwax removal appointment. This should help soften the wax.
Softening the wax increases the chance of total earwax removal the first time. But if that’s not possible, the remaining blockage can be removed with a second appointment we’re happy to book at no extra charge.
If you don’t have olive oil available, you can also use the following:
- Over-the-counter drops, such as Audiologist’s Choice earwax removal oil
- Sodium bicarbonate, which can also offer some relief
However, the skin inside your ear canal is sensitive and can react negatively to anything other than olive oil. Use caution.
What Happens During an Earwax Removal Appointment?
Your appointment is nothing to be stressed about. And the whole thing usually takes no more than 30 minutes. Here’s what happens:
- We discuss your relevant medical history and ask you to sign a consent form.
- We examine your ears using an otoscope to determine if irrigation is necessary. (An otoscope is a handheld medical device with a light source and a magnifying lens used to inspect your ear canal.)
- If earwax removal is recommended, we’ll ask you to sit upright and tilt your head to the side.
- Your hearing healthcare professional will use the ear irrigator to gently flush water or saline solution into your ear canal. The water or saline will loosen and flush out any excess earwax or debris.
- The flushing procedure may be repeated several times until all the wax and debris are removed.
- We may use a small suction device or a curette to remove any remaining wax or debris.
- After the procedure, we’ll often apply a warm, damp cloth to wipe away any excess water or solution from your ear.
And that’s it!
Earwax removal is simple and painless, and you’ll be quickly on your way after we’re done.
How to Care for Your Ears After Your Appointment
Here are some tips for caring for your ears after earwax removal:
- Keep your ears dry: Avoid getting water or other fluids in your ears for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
- Avoid placing earplugs, earbuds, or other objects in your ears.
- Monitor your ears for any signs of infection, such as pain, redness, swelling, or discharge. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact us right away.
If you’ve had very large amounts of hard wax removed, you may experience a sore ear afterward. This should resolve quickly.
Can Your Ears Still Feel Blocked After Flushing?
There are a few reasons that your ears could still feel blocked after our treatment.
Long-term blockage: If you’ve experienced blocked ears for weeks or months, the built-up pressure can take time to ease off and normalize.
Internal congestion: A prolonged feeling of fullness may mean you have congestion behind your eardrum. This requires a different treatment to resolve.
Pre-existing hearing loss: Even though some of your hearing has been restored after ear flushing, an underlying hearing loss condition may exist, which would require further diagnosis and treatment.
Contact us to determine the next steps, which often include booking a hearing assessment to pinpoint the problem.
Have Your Earwax Professionally Removed in Nova Scotia
Provincial Hearing has been trusted by thousands of local patients, including multiple generations of local families.
Request a callback if you want more general information about our services. We hope the uncomfortable feeling in your ears is resolved soon.