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In May 2017 we undertook a review of our ear syringing service. The provision of ear syringing also known as ear washouts and ear irrigation.

The result of this review has been we cannot continue to maintain our overall high levels and therefore, regrettably, we have decided to withdraw this service. 

For those patients who have problems with ear wax we can provide literature on how to manage ear wax. In exceptional circumstances we can provide a referral to the appropriate clinic, usually at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Serious or frequently occurring risks of ear syringing are:-

  • failure to remove ear wax.
  • damaging or perforation of the ear drum or middle ear.
  • ear infection
  • pain, discomfort, dizziness/vertigo.
  • light bleeding.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • worsening of pre-existing chronic tinnitus.
  • deafness.

How to Manage Ear Wax

Ear wax is naturally produced by a gland in the ear canal to keep them clean and free from germs and infections. It usually passes out of the ears harmlessly and without noticing, but sometimes too much builds up and can block the ears.

What causes a build- up of wax?

  • Production of naturally hard or dry wax
  • Having narrow or hairy ear canals
  • Elderly – as ear wax becomes drier with age
  • Bony growth in the outer part of the ear canal
  • Insertion of cotton buds, ear plugs or hearing aids

Symptoms of Excessive Wax

  • Earache: Hearing loss : Tinnitus : Itchiness : Vertigo : Ear Infections


  • You have any pain or discharge from the ear
  • Past history of perforation of the ear drum
  • Ear infection within the last 6 weeks (unless otherwise advised by a clinician)
  • History of cleft palate or ear surgery
  • Ever been advised to avoid ear irrigation
  • If you have a latex allergy

How to treat excessive wax or blocked ears

  • Don’t try to remove with a cotton bud or any other object as this can damage your ear and push the wax further down the ear onto the ear drum.
  • You can buy ear drops from your local pharmacy and this helps by softening the wax so it can come out by itself.
  • Several types of drops are on the market, including olive oil, almond oil or sodium bicarbonate.
  • Persist with the drops as directed on the leaflet for at least 2 weeks.

There are self-managing irrigating devices on the market for you to irrigate your own ears in a safe manner, such as Portia Ear Syringe or Otex Combi pack available from most chemists. These have been shown to be a safe alternative to ear irrigation by a health professional and gentler on your ear drum.

If you select this method please ensure that you carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Please also take note of any risks and possible side effects.

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