Self-irrigation of ear wax
Ears blocked by wax are often irritating and uncomfortable. Traditionally, doctors recommend softening the wax followed by coming in the surgery to have irrigation. A new study has shown that many people can safely and successfully irrigate their own ears at home.
Your ears should always be checked by a doctor or nurse before irrigating them.
This document explains how to irrigate your ears at home. If you would prefer to come to the surgery for irrigation please inform the doctor or nurse who can arrange an appointment for you.
How to perform self irrigation
The most important thing about self irrigation is that the wax in the ear must be softened before the ear is irrigated.
We recommend that you apply 2-3 drops of olive oil into the affected ear(s) for 3 days morning and night before attempting to irrigate the ear.
After softening the wax the ear is ready to be irrigated. It may be easiest to do this in a bath or shower, or standing over a sink as the water will run out of the ear after irrigating.
Run some warm water into a bowl or sink. Ensure it is not too hot by placing a hand in the water. Draw up the water into the syringe by placing the nozzle of the syringe in the water and squeezing the bulb of the syringe.
Next place the nozzle of the syringe at the entrance to the ear. Do not push the nozzle deep into the ear or allow the nozzle to block the flow of water leaving the ear.
Squeeze the plunger squirting warm water into the ear. As the water is squirted into the ear some water will run out of the ear. You may see small amounts of wax come out with the water.If the ear still feels blocked, you can try the same technique again. If this does not work for a second time, please return to your doctor for further advice.
After using the syringe, we recommend that you clean it in warm soapy water and allow to dry in air.
These syringes are available to purchase at Lloyds Pharmacy costing £3.93 and are reusable.
What happens if it doesn’t work or if I have any problems? If this is still not successful or if you have any other symptoms when or after using this technique (worsening pain, swelling, tinnitus or hearing changes) we suggest you return to the surgery immediately for a doctor to re-check your ears.
If you have any other concerns, please return to your doctor for further advice.