Irrigation / Ear Syringing
Safe, gentle, and effective
Irrigation is the modern equivalent of ear syringing. Ear syringing used to be performed using a large manually driven syringe filled with water. Ear syringing is now a banned practice in the UK because the risk of harm was high. Irrigation is a much safer alternative because the water pressure is controlled by the machine and significantly reduces the risk of trauma.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs Irrigation?
Irrigation is required when the ear has occluding or troublesome wax, debris or excessive skin. Your medical history may mean ear irrigation is not suitable for you. If this is the case we will recommend that we instead proceed with microsuction, which is a dry procedure and can be performed on almost everyone.
How does irrigation work?
The irrigation machine will pump a gentle and continuous stream of water through your ear. The water is warmed to body temperature and is pressure controlled.
The pressure of the water is designed to catch the wax and drag it out of the ear. The wax and water will then fall into a specially designed bucket which you will be holding under your ear. The water is pressure controlled and this can be adjusted by the clinician.
Does irrigation hurt?
Irrigation should not hurt. There may be some mild discomfort but pain is not expected. If the ear is painful prior to the procedure being commenced it may mean more discomfort. Your clinician will discuss this with you before the treatment and ensure that you feel comfortable throughout.
Is irrigation safe?
Yes, irrigation is safe when used correctly and appropriately and by properly trained clinicians. Irrigation is a very effective method of ear wax removal and under the right circumstances is very safe.
I have had surgery on my ear / I have a perforated ear drum. Can I have irrigation?
If you have a current perforation or have had surgery in the past irrigation is not recommended. In this case we would advise microsuction as the safest method of ear wax removal. Please discuss this with the clinician prior to the treatment.
What ages can have irrigation?
At our clinics we are able to treat those who are ages 16 and above. Children are able to have microsuction, however we are unable to provide their treatment. We would recommend discussing any concerns with a GP if you feel your child has blocked ears.
Can I fly after having irrigation?
Yes you can, unless advised not to due to other medical reasons.
How long does irrigation take?
The length of treatment will depend on the blockage and the consistency of the wax. It will also be longer if you have both ears treated compared to just one. Do allow up to 45 minutes in your schedule.
How frequently can I have irrigation?
You can have irrigation as often as you need it. Generally clients return yearly, however some are more frequent and some are less frequent, it all depends on how quickly the wax builds up. Each time you come your clinician will discuss the side effects with you.
I have otitis externa (inflammation/infection of the ear canal) can I still have irrigation?
If your GP has diagnosed an ear infection then irrigation is not recommend for ear wax removal. In this case we would advise microsuction as the safest treatment method. Your clinician will discuss this with you prior to the treatment commencing.
Do I need to use drops before treatment?
With irrigation it is advisable to use about 3-5 days worth of ear drops. This will allow the wax to soften, making irrigation more effective. If you have any concerns on which drops to use then please contact us to discuss this with a clinician.
Does wax come back?
More often than not the wax will re-occur. It is common for clients to have the wax removed at regular intervals before it gets too blocked.
What if no wax is found?
If after examination the clinician finds there is no wax in the ears, then a video otoscopy is performed. This will allow the client to see into their ear canal on the screen. The clinician will discuss your symptoms and advise the next step. This may mean referring you back to your GP. If no wax is found then the consultation price is £30.
What happens if the earwax doesn’t come out?
If the wax cannot safely be removed with irrigation, other methods of wax removal will be attempted (if appropriate). This could include using manual instruments or microsuction. If the wax will still not come out then your clinician will usually advise returning in one week for a follow up, after having used more ear drops. Each client is different though so this may not be the advice you are given. If you are to come back for a follow up then the next appointment will cost £30 instead of £55.
How much does irrigation cost?
Irrigation costs £55. It is the same price for one or both ears. We schedule you in for a 45 minute appointment which allows time for you to relax and get to know your clinician. We take a medical history relating to your ears and we do a full ear examination.
After this point we will sit you back on the couch and guide you through the process. People often feel a huge sense of relief after the procedure and side effects are rare but you will be fully informed of all the risks prior to treatment by your clinician.
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