Self-Treatment of Ear Wax
Wax in your ears is not a problem unless it becomes hard and causes difficulty hearing. It is often possible to successfully soften ear wax to allow your hearing to return to normal without needing ear irrigation (syringing).
There are risks associated with ear irrigation, the most common being infection and rarely, but more seriously, perforation of the ear drum, so it is best to avoid this if possible.
- Use olive oil or sodium bicarbonate drops, 2-3 drops twice a day for up to 2 weeks. You can buy these drops over the counter from a pharmacy, or you can use culinary olive oil and a dropper. You can purchase these from the pharmacy.
- Tip your head to one side and pull your ear out and upwards when putting the drops in and I t helps to lie down on your side for 10 minutes after instilling the drops to allow them to soak into the wax.
If you find your hearing returns to normal then stop the drops before the 2 weeks is up. You might find that wax will come out of your ears during this process.
If your ears are still blocked after 2 weeks
You can purchase a bulb syringe from your pharmacy which is safe to use at home. Those who have a history of ear drum perforation or ear surgery, painful ears or have fluid coming from the ears should not use this method but should ring the practice for further advice.
How do I do it?
Soften the wax in your ears as described for 2 weeks
- Use a bowl of tepid water of comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold.
- Prepare the syringe by squirting water in and out of it a few times.
- Gently pull your outer ear "up and out" to help straighten out the canal, which will allow better access for the solution.
- Tilt your head to one side and gently squirt one or more bulb syringes of water into your ear. (This might be best done in the shower so that the excess water will run into the bathtub and not on your floor!)
- Allow the solution to remain in your ear for at least 60 seconds. Gently tilt your head in the opposite direction and wiggle your outer ear. You may note the water which comes out is now discoloured or has chunks of ear wax in it. This is a good thing.
- Repeat if needed.
- Repeat on your other ear if needed. Also, you may find more than one flushing per ear may be required to rid yourself of ear wax.
Some people may prefer to ask a family member to help them with this process.
We can only syringe ears at the request of the hospital.
There is no need to clean your ears, the presence of wax in your ears is normal. Do not poke anything into your ear, including ear buds, this can cause infection or can push wax further into your ears.