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Self-Treatment of Ear Wax

Please see our guide for Self-Treatment of Ear Wax.

Any further concerns please contact the surgery and book a routine telephone appointment.

Self-Treatment of Ear Wax

Ear drops

Olive oil drops, twice daily for 2 weeks, followed by sodium bicarbonate drops for 2 weeks, then return to using olive oil drops twice daily for a further 2 weeks.

This may seem a long time, but using drops is the safest way to treat ear wax. There is a risk of perforating the ear drum if you have your ears syringed. It also increases the need for it to be done more frequently as damages the fine hairs in the ear that help remove wax.

What is a bulb syringe and where do I get it?

It is a small bulb shaped rubber object that will fill with water and allow the user to squirt the water gently into the ear to remove earwax. You can buy it from most pharmacies or on-line. It costs about £3 to £4.

When should a bulb syringe be used?

An ear bulb syringe should be used when one or both ears are blocked with wax.

The ears are usually self-cleaning and most people do not need to interfere with their ears at all.

In some cases wax can build up inside the ear sometimes causing a blockage sensation and reduced


You can treat earwax impaction with eardrops in the first instance.  These drops can be brought over

thecounter in the pharmacy. If this is unsuccessful then the bulb syringe can be used.


Should I use cotton buds in my ears?

Never use cotton buds in your ears! – This pushes wax further into the ear making it worse

What are the benefits of the bulb syringe?

The main benefit of the bulb syringe is that you can use it yourself. It is cheap to buy and can be re-used.

Is it safe and what are the risks of using a bulb syringe?

Studies have shown the bulb syringe to be a safe treatment.

When should a bulb syringe not be used?

Do not use a bulb syringe in the following circumstances:

  • A history of ear drum perforation in the affected ear.
  • A recent history of an ear infection in the affected ear.
  • Symptoms of infection in the ear – usually pain or smelly discharge.
  • If you only have one hearing ear which is the affected ear.
  • Previous ear surgery on the affected ear.

In the above circumstances make an appointment to see your practice nurse or GP to have your ears


You can have a procedure called micro-suction, this is a private procedure. Both ears can be done for approx. £50-60

What if my ears are still blocked with wax after using the bulb syringe?

The procedure can be repeated but if it fails you may be need micro suction of the ears.

Do I have to treat wax impaction (blocked ears from wax)?

No. If your ears being blocked with wax do not particularly trouble you do not have to treat it. You

can use olive oil or sodium bicarbonate drops daily and this will help the ears to clear themselves.

You can get these drops over the counter in any pharmacy.

How do I use the bulb syringe?

The bulb syringe will most likely come with instructions but below is some advice on how to use the

bulb syringe.

  1. Firstly, use olive oil or sodium bicarbonate ear drops in the ear twice daily for 2/3 weeks. Apply a

generous amount twice daily into the ear leaving the ear uppermost for 5 to 10 minutes after

applying. If this does not clear the wax then the bulb syringe can be used.

  1. Put some clean warm (not hot) water in a bowel. Squirt the bulb syringe in the water a few times

to fill it up with the warm water.

  1. Hold your head to one side so the affected ear is facing upwards. You can do this in the shower

or bath or lie on the bed with a towel underneath your head.

  1. If you experience any pain during or before this procedure stop immediately and see your

practice nurse or GP for a review.

  1. Gently pull your ear in an upward and outwards direction so that the water gets better access to

the ear canal. Hold the nozzle inside the ear canal (not too deeply) and GENTLY squirt the water

from the bulb syringe into the ear. You can gently quirt more bulb syringes into the ear if

required. Leave the water in your ear for 1-3 minutes to soften the wax.

  1. Now tilt your head over the sink so the water can fall out. Wiggle the outer part of the ear to help

the water and wax come out. You can repeat the procedure if required.

  1. Repeat for the other ear if both ears are affected.
  2. If you get any pain or if the procedure is unsuccessful, see your practice nurse or doctor.

Ear Wax Self Help

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