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What is earwax?
Naturally produced in the ear canal, earwax moisturises and protects them from dust, germs, irritation and even insects. Most people don’t need to remove it because our ears are ‘self cleaning’ - earwax moves from part way down the canal to the outside of your ear naturally.
Some people can have problems with excess earwax, or it may get stuck in their ears. In these cases, people can suffer from discomfort or reduced hearing and can benefit from having the earwax removed. Bupa’s earwax removal service is a safe, effective way of sorting these issues.
What is ear microsuction?
Microsuction is one of the best ways to remove earwax. Once our trained advisers have assessed your ear canal, they’ll use a gentle suction device to remove any earwax blockages.
This suction device acts like a vacuum cleaner, helping to loosen and remove any impacted earwax. Once the procedure is over, we’ll use a microscope to check over your ears.
Previously, using an ear syringe with water was a common way to get rid of earwax, however microsuction is a quick and much safer method.
How does the Bupa earwax removal service work?
Most people won’t need to remove wax, and some might be able to remove it themselves at home. But, there are options available from healthcare providers if your earwax is causing you trouble. Bupa currently offers earwax removal treatment at multiple locations. You can search for your nearest centre to see if it's available. In addition, employees for HSBC, GS and Citi can attend their on-site health centre.
While there are safe ways to remove earwax at home, like olive oil drops or ear canal hygiene sprays, these often aren't effective enough for people with excessive or impacted earwax. Our earwax removal service is one of the safest ways to get rid of excess wax. You’re seen by a trained professional who looks at your ears before and after the appointment, so you get the highest level of care possible.
In general, you should avoid putting anything in your ears, such as fingers or cotton buds. This can cause damage and risk infection. It also risks pushing wax further into your ear canal, making your ears feel more blocked, or even causing damage to your ear drum.
We use the safest method to remove earwax, which is microsuction. A microscopic camera helps us to look into your ear canal, so we can see and protect important structures like your ear drum while we safely remove your earwax. Then we use a gentle suction device to remove your earwax. We don’t use syringing to flush out earwax because this can cause infection and eardrum damage, and it isn't suitable for everyone.
To use Bupa’s earwax removal service, you must be over 18 and give your consent to the procedure, and you must understand the benefits and risks. The procedure isn’t suitable for anyone who won’t be able to sit still, as this poses a risk of damaging the ear.
Other things like infection, ear surgery, severe tinnitus or vertigo may mean that this service isn’t suitable. You’ll be able to see a full list of reasons which may make this service unsuitable for you when you make a booking, where you’ll have the chance to complete a questionnaire. If this shows that the treatment isn’t suitable, there’s no need to proceed with the booking.
If anything changes between the time when you booked your earwax removal appointment and the time when you’re due to attend, please let us know because it could mean that the service is no longer suitable for you.
Earwax removal is likely to be more successful, and much more comfortable for you, if you use an over-the-counter earwax softener. Without doing this first, your earwax removal treatment could fail, especially if your earwax is hard and impacted. We advise that you use earwax softening drops for two to three days prior to your earwax removal treatment, or five days before if you think you have very hard earwax. Earwax softeners include olive oil drops or spray, or ear-canal hygiene sprays, and are available from your local pharmacist (who can advise if they are right for you)
- If you use a hearing aid, only use earwax softening drops at night and avoid wearing your hearing aid straight after putting drops or spray in, as this can damage your hearing aid.
- If you get a bad taste in your mouth after using the ear drops, this could mean that you have a hole in your ear drum. You might not know it’s there, and it's usually nothing to worry about. However, it would mean we can’t offer you our earwax removal service. You should stop using the ear drops and see your GP.
Side effects from microsuction are rare, but they include:
- Feeling dizzy or faint - This can be the body's response to the ear canal cooling down after having wax removed, and usually it’s just temporary. You shouldn't attend for earwax removal treatment if you're already experiencing dizzy or faint spells, and you should see a doctor about them.
- Damage to the ear/eardrum, which can cause slight bleeding - This is an unusual side effect, and being able to sit very still during the entire earwax removal procedure will significantly minimise the risk.
- Noise-induced damage - Again this is rare, but you might experience temporary hearing loss. This is because small muscles in your ear may contract to protect your ear against the noise of the suction device. It is extremely rare for tinnitus to be caused or worsened by microsuction.
- Infection - All of our tools are 'one per patient' and we follow strict infection control procedures. However, as with any procedure, earwax removal carries a very small risk of infection, for which treatments are available.
Terms and conditions
‡Our earwax removal service isn’t covered by Bupa health insurance. It’s an extra cost.
†† If you don’t come to your appointment, or you cancel it without giving us at least 24 hours’ notice, we will have to charge you a non-attendance fee.