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Ear Irrigation (Syringe) – Learn Procedure, Side Effects & Ear Wax Removal

Our ears naturally withdraw ear wax to protect and lubricate the ear to keep the junk out and stop bacterial growth.

Usually, our body keeps the amount of ear wax under control in the ear. So earwax produced for a good reason but as with everything, too much of a good thing can also cause a problem.

Ear wax
Source:- crystalhearinguk.co.uk

If there gets excess hard earwax or Cerumen, it can be a reason of blockage in the ear which can be resulting in Earache, Tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or Temporary hearing loss. One of the processes of cleaning this earwax is Ear irrigation.

What is ear irrigation?

Ear irrigation
Source:-thehearingroom.ca

In medical terms, ear irrigation is defined as the process of flushing the external ear canal with sterile water or sterile saline solution. This process is usually carried out to treat patients who often complain of having a foreign body or cerumen (also called ear wax) impaction. 

Earwax buildup can cause damage to your ear structure, especially to your ear canal or eardrum. This can result in an effect on your hearing. Removing bulky earwax with this process is the safest way to minimize the risk of damage to the ear.

Sometimes this might also happen that foreign material can get into your ear like food, insects, or small stones. In this type of case, the aim is to safely and quickly remove the items before they move deeper into the ear and cause damage to the fragile canal.

Earwax irrigation should be done by your doctor if you want a safe and satisfying result.

What is the purpose of ear irrigation?

Irrigation is the safest and comfortable method of earwax removal. The use of saline water ensures that the ear is washed completely clean. And there are hardly any side effects of this method. Most people consider it a comfortable and easy process and it is often undertaken in about 30 minutes.

Things to know before you irrigate your ear

Do not choose this method if you have a damaged eardrum/tubes or a condition in which your immune system get weakens. It is crucial to note that ear syringe is not suitable for individuals who have or had any or all of the following:

Ear Infection

Ear infection or in the medical term “Otitis Externa” is a common type of infection that occurs in the external part of the ear (Ear Canal). This is an inflammation of the ear canal caused by infection. This inflammation can be very painful.

Another type of infection is “Otitis Media” which is inflammation in the middle ear. Ear infections are the most common complications of this ear wax removal method.

Perforated Eardrum

In some rare cases, ear irrigation presses the wax and make it more compacted. This wax becomes harder to remove and can put more pressure on the eardrum, increasing the risk of perforation. This effect of perforation on eardrum is called as Perforated Eardrum.

In some cases, fluid got trapped in the ear canal causing an increase in pressure that can rupture the eardrum.

Contra-indications for Irrigation

Ear syringe may not be advised if you have certain ear problems. It is very important to inform your nurse/doctor before irrigation if you have any :

  • Kind of problem or complication following this procedure in the past.
  • Kind of ear surgery in the past.
  • Cleft palate.
  • Kind of ear infection in the last six weeks.
  • Periodic infections of the ear canal.

Thus, if you have or had any of these conditions or past history, then it is strongly advised to seek a doctor for other alternatives, instead of going for ear flush.

Ear irrigation procedure

Before performing ear syringe method, the doctor will look inside your ear. This will be done by inserting an instrument that is called an Otoscope, into the opening of your ear. This instrument shines a light into your ear and magnifies the picture.

Otoscope
Source:-myhealth.alberta.ca

This activity is done to ensure that your symptoms are the results of excess wax buildup/foreign material and not something more serious than this.

If the wax buildup is the cause of your symptoms than your doctor will perform the irrigation using a syringe-like tool. This tool is used for inserting water and saline mixture into the ear.

This way, under the gentle force of the water, the ear wax is softened, broken up and then washed out of the ear. There is no painful pressure involved in this method.

While your ear is irrigated, the doctor gently pulls your ear at different angles in order to make sure the water is in the ear canal. Also, the doctor may pause several times just to have a quick look inside your ear and check whether the wax is softened and moving.

Watch out the video below:

For at-home ear irrigation, you need to purchase the related items for cleaning ear wax. One method is to use a dropper to insert mineral oil, baby oil, or any other specialized medication into the ear to soften the wax. Here is the process:

  • Put some drops into your ear for 2 to 3 times a day over a period of a few days.
  • Once the wax becomes soft, use the syringe filled with slightly warm water or with a water and saline mixture to flush out the wax.

Major Benefits of Ear Irrigation

This method does have a few major benefits, which are given below:

It is safer than ear syringing

Ear irrigation is a much safer procedure than ear syringing for the removal of ear wax from the inner ear. The process is comfortable and safe because in that, the water is at a controlled low pressure and there is no use of any syringe involved in the procedure, thus making it very safe for individuals who want to get the ear wax cleaned.

It is the quickest removal method

This is basically the quickest methods of ear wax removal procedure till date. A normal ear wax removal takes only about thirty minutes, provided that the individual does not have any prior conditions with the ear, such as recent surgery, infection or a perforated eardrum.

It is very effective

This is a very effective method of completely removing ear wax build-up in the ear canal. This process involves washing the ear thoroughly and ensuring that the ear wax is cleaned.

Why irrigation is an ideal way to remove ear wax?

Ear irrigation is an ideal method for the removal and cleaning of ear wax and people also find comfort with it. The solution is carefully warmed to that of the patient’s body temperature for better comfort.

This comfortable and quick method can remove ear wax blockage in minutes. Using the controlled pressurized flow of water, the ear wax build-up is gently removed from the patient’s ear.

This is a straight-forward process that ensures both comfort and safety in individuals because of the controlled pressure of the water.

Ear syringe really is a painless procedure, however, during this procedure, you may feel a strange sensation because of the presence of water in the ear canal. 

Although some individuals may find having water in their ear somewhat uncomfortable, there is never any sort of pain involved. It is just that the feeling is a little strange in the individual.

For this type of ear wax removal method, it is quite important that you use oil either in drops or spray form for a couple of days before actually going for the procedure. The process normally takes about thirty minutes.

Conclusion

The main purpose of the ear irrigation process is to remove ear wax that is obstructing the ear canal or to remove a foreign object lodged in the ear canal.

This method is most commonly performed on those who experience a wax build-up that has impaired hearing and caused irritation in the outer ear canal.

The primary objective of the method is to clean the canal of wax discharge, to soften and remove impacted cerumen, or to completely dislodge a foreign object.

Ear wax removal by the method of irrigation is a safer and more effective method of cleaning the ears. An ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist uses an electronic ear irrigation machine or device to remove ear wax from the inner ear.

The electronic device contains a storage reservoir unit for water and a hand-held nozzle which gently pumps water into the ear canal at a controlled and steady rate.

In this process, the water breaks down and dislodges the ear wax build-up, it then flushes the ear wax out of the ear canal and it is captured in a flask.

However, not everyone is required to go for an ear flush method in order to remove ear wax build-up from the ear canal.

Ear Irrigation (Syringe) – Learn Procedure, Side Effects & Ear Wax Removal
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