Ear wax removal guide

Choose the right path for your individual needs.
At Practice Plus Group we offer fast access to high-quality ear wax removal and treatment via self-pay, insured and NHS routes.

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What is ear wax?

Ear wax is a natural bodily secretion which, if it builds up, can cause problems with hearing, ear ache, tinnitus and dizziness. In most cases it removes itself, but in others, it may have to be removed by a trained ENT health professional.

What causes ear wax build-up?

There are a number of causes for ear wax build-up:

  • Some people naturally create a lot of ear wax
  • Producing hard or dry ear wax
  • Narrow or hairy ear canals which link the opening of the ear to the ear drum
  • Age, because ear wax becomes drier as we get older
  • Bony growths in the ear canal
  • Frequent use of cotton buds, ear plugs and wearing hearing aids

What are the symptoms of ear wax build-up?

There are a range of symptoms which might improve when the excess wax is removed. These include ear ache, hearing loss, tinnitus, itchiness, dizziness and/or ear infections.

How to know if you need ear wax removal

If you think you have a build-up of ear wax, do not try to remove it with your finger, cotton bud or anything else you could put in your ear – this can cause damage and push the wax further into your ear. As a general rule, never try to put anything into your ear which is smaller than your elbow!

Where ear wax is causing you minor symptoms, speak to your pharmacist about ear drops which soften the wax and help it to drop out naturally. Do not use drops if you have a perforated ear drum, and stop using them if they cause irritation.
Here is when to seek treatment:

  • Visit your GP if your symptoms are troubling you or if ear drops have not worked after three to five days
  • Your GP or practice nurse may recommend using the drops for longer, or they may use ear irrigation to clean out your ear canal
  • If these steps do not work your GP may refer you to an ENT specialist for further treatment

Ear wax removal treatment options

If ear drops or ear irrigation do not work, other options include.

Microsuction ear wax removal

Ear microsuction, which is a quick and comparatively painless treatment involving a small device which sucks out the wax from your ear using gentle suction. This is usually a safe option even if you have a damaged ear drum.

Ear cleaning

An aural toilet uses a thin instrument with a hoop at one end to clean your ear and remove the wax.

Ear syringing

Due to hygiene complications deriving from the COVID pandemic, ear syringing is no longer widely practised. Microsuction is now the preferred course of treatment to remove ear wax.

What happens during an ear wax removal appointment?

Initially, the consultant will ask you a few questions. These will be about your general health and the current condition of your ears. Once this has been completed to their satisfaction, the consultant will examine your ear canal. Most ear wax removal services will now use a suction tool to remove any blockages. In the run-up to your appointment, you may have been asked to apply olive oil or special ear drops aimed at loosening the wax.

How long does ear wax removal take?

Depending on the severity of the ear wax build up, a matter of minutes.

How long will I be in hospital?

Ear wax removal is carried out as a day case procedure, so there is no need to stay in hospital overnight.

What are the results of ear wax removal?

With the ear wax removed, any symptoms caused by the wax disappear quickly. If you are prone to ear wax build-up your doctor may recommend using ear drops to keep the wax soft and help it remove itself, but this advice will only be given if drops are right for you.

Preparing for an ear wax removal appointment

In the run-up to your appointment, you may be asked to apply olive oil or special ear drops aimed at loosening the wax. This will make it much easier for the consultant to remove any blockages.

What are the risks and complications of ear wax removal?

A pre-treatment assessment should reveal any perforation or tears to the ear drum, which would rule out some treatments. If the assessment does not show up a perforation or tear and you know you have had one, you should let the nurse or doctor know – carrying out some treatments where there is a damaged ear drum can cause problems.

Some treatments may cause discomfort or symptom recurrence in people who have conditions of the inner ear such as Menières disease. Again, it is important to let the nurse or doctor know if you have such a condition before treatment begins.

Pre-operative assessment:

A pre-operative assessment is our opportunity to ensure that the procedure for which you have been referred is right for you. We’ll explain your treatment to you and makes sure that you are well enough to go ahead with it. It is also your opportunity to meet the team who will care for you and to ask any questions.

How much does ear wax removal cost?

Ear wax removal is available at Specsavers for £55. This covers either one or both ears. At Practice Plus Group ear wax removal is available through our ear, nose and throat ENT surgery departments. The service costs £200.

Where can I get ear wax removed?

Private ear wax removal services are quite common around the UK. You should be able to find an outlet near you that offers the service. For example, you can get ear wax removed at your nearest Specsavers outlet. The service is also available at Practice Plus Group for £200 at the following locations:

  • Shepton Mallet
  • Emersons Green
  • Southampton
  • St Mary’s Portsmouth
  • Devizes

Private ear wax removal centres near me

With the service no longer available on the NHS, patients must now either choose to remove the wax themselves or pay for treatment. Consequently, private ear wax removal services are common and are available in most towns and cities around the UK.

Ways to pay

There are 3 ways to access ear wax removal at Practice Plus Group:

  1. Self-pay private healthcare
  2. Private health insurance
  3. NHS referral

Why choose Practice Plus Group?

At Practice Plus Group Hospitals we’re passionate about giving patients a positive experience and excellent clinical outcomes, with personalised care every step of the way. Whether you’re paying for yourself or using private medical insurance, with our short waiting times, unrivalled Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings and high levels of cleanliness and infection control, we’ll make sure you’re looked after. In fact, we were the first provider to have all services rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC.

Professional ear wax removal services FAQs

Not quite found what you’re looking for? Our FAQs can help! Take a look at the questions and answer below for more information about ear wax removal.

Yes. Although ear wax usually falls out of the ear on its own, there are two methods you can use to remove the wax yourself:

  • Ear drops – Using these on your ears a few times a day should loosen the wax and remove blockages after about a week
  • Ear wax removal kit – Available online, these do-it-yourself kits receive fairly mixed reviews. Using these, you also don’t have the benefit of expert guidance from a professional.

If ear wax build-ups are left untreated, the results can be unpleasant. Hearing loss, ear pain, irritation, dizziness and lack of balance, ringing in the ears are among the issues people can experience.

Generally, unless you’re experiencing the symptoms of a blocked ear, you should leave your ears alone. Excessive cleaning and wax removal can lead to your ears becoming irritated and can damage the inner ear.

No. Due to hygiene complications from the COVID pandemic and a backlog of patients suffering from other conditions, ear wax removal is no longer available on the NHS. Instead, people should seek alternative means of treatment.

While the symptoms of ear wax build-up can cause discomfort, the removal process itself should be painless.

If done properly and with sufficient preparation, the removal process should be successful. Occasionally, patients may be prescribed a course of special ear drops before the removal process can be completed.

There are side effects but they aren’t severe. During or shortly after the procedure, some patients can experience dizziness or a feeling of vertigo. This happens when the microsuction tool decreases the temperature of the ear canal.

There are plenty of products available online to remove ear wax yourself. However, while these methods may prove successful, there is still an element of risk. Without guidance from a professional, you may cause irreparable damage to your eardrum. If you don’t want to see a consultant, the safest course is to use specialised ear drops to soften the wax.


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