Ear Wax & Ear Irrigation (Formally known as Ear Syringing)

What is ear wax?

Ear wax forms a protective antiseptic coating of the skin in the ear canal. The amount of ear wax produced varies from person to person. Some individuals form plugs of ear wax in their ear canals which can interfere with hearing and cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

A doctor or nurse can look into the ear to check if an excessive amount of wax is present. A plug of wax is not a serious problem, but may be a nuisance if it dulls hearing.


Important Note

Never try to clean the ear canal with cotton buds, hair grips, pens etc. as this can only make the problem worse. The wax can be pushed further into the ear canal making it very difficult to remove. It may also cause an ear infection.


What happens if ear wax builds up and causes symptoms?

If the doctor or nurse thinks you may benefit from ear irrigation, they will ask you to put drops into your ear to soften the wax before the procedure is carried out

Use a small bottle with a dropper which can be obtained from a chemist. Fill this with pharmacy grade olive oil and warm to body temperature by standing in a bowl of warm water.

Then, either sitting or lying comfortably with the affected ear uppermost, pull the ear up and back, gradually drop all the oil from the dropper into the affected ear.

Allow the olive oil drops to soak into the earwax for at least 10 minutes. Then let the excess oil to drain out of the ear and wipe away with tissues.

Carry this procedure out twice a day for two weeks prior to ear irrigation.


Important Note

Don’t worry, it is not possible to “over oil” your ear!  Excess oil will simply drain back out of the ear canal. The more oil you use, the softer the wax will become and the easier it will be to remove with irrigation.

Occasionally, you may find effective oiling reduces the need for irrigation.                                                             


Ear Irrigation After Care

Discontinue using the olive oil following irrigation if the procedure has been successful, then keep the ear canal dry for 48hrs being especially careful when showering and also avoid swimming for the 48hours, if possible or wear swimming ear plugs.                 

If this is an ongoing problem for you then to help to keep ears clear of a build of wax, it is advisable to instill pharmacy grade olive oil as done previously once a week.                              



You need to arrive at least 30minutes before your appointment time and rest with your legs horizontal.  Please inform reception when you arrive, especially if you self-check in, so that they are able to find somewhere for you to rest with your legs up.

This test may take 30-60 minutes to complete.

Gel will be placed on your leg(s).  A transducer (Doppler) will be placed on your skin and moved around during the test. The nurse or HCA may apply pressure with the doppler throughout the test to compress the veins underneath.