How to get rid of ear wax?

So, I was at my internist yesterday and she tells me that I have a big amount of ear wax in each of my ears and I should go to a specialist to have it removed. I’m a little suspicious, and I can hear OK, so I didn’t rush to make the appointment. But I did stop by the drug store and bought some OTC ear wax removal thing.

Should that be enough? I think the instructions say to do it for about five days in a row. I don’t mind doing it more than that if I have to. Are there cases where this stuff just won’t work and you need the specialist with the special ear wax grabber?

Did you get the kind with the syringe? That should work but make sure to keep that ear straight up for a while when you put the drops in. Laying on your side is a good bet. Use lukewarm water because that is the most comfortable thing. I also like to use the syringe over a sink with the drain blocked so that you can see what is coming up to know if it is working.

If it’s anything to do with my health, I always go with professional advice.

In particular, I know nothing about your ears :eek: , so am unable to suggest anything.

If you’re suspicious of your doctor, ask another one, not a bunch of anonymous Internet posters!

Yes, but your internist is the best judge of what you need. I’m a little surprised an internist wouldn’t go ahead and do this for you instead of sending you to a specialist.

When I was 22 I had pain in my ears, aggravated when I used earplugs that I used for playing in a band. The doctor at the campus clinic said I had an accumulation of wax, the earplugs just jammed it in farther, and he had a nurse irrigate them. That means first using some mineral oil to soften things up then streaming in warm water to flush it out. They removed plugs of earwax about the diameter of pencil erasers (the ones attached to the pencil) and at least 1/2" long from both ears. They were difficult to get out and required tweezers at one point.

If prolonged, the process can cause irritation to the tissue in the ear canal, which is rather delicate. But I am not sure that justifies going to a specialist.

It was not clear what caused that. Since then I occasionally (once or twice a year) used an OTC kit and never had a problem again.

There are. I’ve had to go to a specialist (an otolaryngologist, or ENT) at least once. It was to a hospital, where he used a special vacuum. Quick and painless. But I only got to see this guy for this procedure on a referral from my GP. Much like your situation, I guess.

Try the stuff you bought first. If that doesn’t work (and it never did for me), go back to your doctor and take the referral to the specialist. Above all, though, do not try to dig the wax out by yourself. You risk damaging your eardrum with whatever object you use to do the digging. If your OTC stuff doesn’t work, let a practitioner who has the equipment and the knowledge of how to remove wax from your ear canals do the job. Like I said, the procedure is quick and painless.

My son has earwax issues. No matter what is done at home, every few years they are cleaned out by a professional. He hears as well as a nine year old ever does, but the problem with the ear wax is they can’t see inside his ears when it is there - and that can be important for diagnosis.

Seriously, if its bad they take it out with a softener, water out of this specialized pump thing, and a little metal scrapy thing (curette?).

If yours is bad, you’ll go through boxes of the OTC stuff and not make a dent. I have one of my son’s Shreck like earwax plugs at home that had to be removed at the doctor.

I have my ears syringed about once every two years.

This follows about 5 days of ear wax softening in order to better facilitate the syringing process. This is not the preserve of a specialist. It’s performed by a nurse at the doctor’s surgery and takes about 5 minutes. There’s no charge but bear in mind I am in the UK.

Where practical, I thoroughly recommend ear syringing to anyone with a hint of a hearing problem due to ear wax. In particular, listening to birdsong post-syringe is just amazing.

So is listening to Pink Floyd. And everything else.

Ditto what dangerosa said. I also have “earwax issues”–my ears produce copious amounts of it, and home cleaning and OTC remedies don’t help. Every couple of years my ears get plugged, and I go to the doctor and get them professionally cleaned out.

I asked the doctor the first time and he said, some people are like that, there’s not much you can do, and the safest thing is just to come in and let us clean it.

Of course, if your ears aren’t producing Vulcan-caliber wax like mine, better cleaning and OTC may work. Try it and see.

By the way, the technical term for plugged ears is “cerumen impaction”. It sounds cooler to say, “I had a cerumen impaction”, then to say, “My ears were plugged up with wax!”

I think I agree, but since my hearing is OK, I don’t think it’s a health issue.

:eek: …but…but…but these are dopers!

I have this problem too. Go to an ENT. After they took the “plugs” out, it was like someone cranked up the treble! You could be surprised by the results.


In college, I had a bad problem with wax impacted against my eardrum, so I went to the infirmary. They sent me home with the drops and instructions to use them for 7 days (maybe 5) and said after that they’d irrigate. I went back after like 2 days because it was driving me insane.

The nurse had me lie on my back, put a small emesis basin under my ear, and irrigated with a large metal syringe filled with lukewarm water. She got out of one ear a piece of wax that was (no exaggeration) the size of one of those stick-on-the-end-of-the-pencil erasers. Afterward, I’m pretty sure I could hear the sounds the planets made in their orbits.

I have nothing of import to say, but I wanted to note the awe I feel reading this thread. I almost wish I had ear wax issues just so I could have the satisfying experience that I imagine all of you having when your ears are cleaned out. Is that weird?

I am not recommending this at all, but I confess that I go in with a Qtip after a hot shower. I know its not right, but it is curiously satisfying. I know there are more of you out there.

Eargasm by proxy?

Ahhh, the joy of q-tips.

Confessions of a q-tip addict.


It’s no big deal. Just go the Ear Specialist and he/she will flush it out with a syringe under a little pressure. It is a no pain deal although you may feel a little dizzy for a little while. I did this a couple of years ago and it worked for me.

What’s the dope on using 3% hydrogen peroxide solution instead of mineral oil?

I’m glad someone else brought this up. My Dad did this religiously. It is a unique experience to have warm peroxide bubbling in your ear.


No, it shouldn’t be enough. Yes, there are cases where you need a specialist and you are one of them. Want to know how I know? Your MD sez so.

You also might have hearing loss and not notice it- quite common where it is gradual. And, this could cause other serious problems, so get it done, by a Pro. Yes, in many cases your internest or his nurse could do it right there, but the fact he really wants you to go to a specialist means your problem is especially serious and unusual.

Now keep that kit, and after treatment show it and ask how you can use it to prevent future build-ups.

Actually, generally Dopers tend not to give specific advice, keeping to the general good advice of "do what your Dr said or “ask your MD”. This isn’t really a silly question by the OP- he thinks he has no hearing loss and doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Now I hope that with some ten of us saying “do what the Dr sez” the Op will do so.

Do not go messing around in your ears with Q-tips, Plan B! Do not try mineral oil, or Hydrogen Peroxide. You really very likely have a serious issue there and do not screw around with it yourself, unless you would like to be deaf.

Yes, to others, H2O2 works ok for certain minor cleaning. Casually ask your MD next time you see him.

Personally, I avoid doctors as much as possible. If you’re an idiot, then doing whatever your doctor says is perfectly reasonable. It’s not like you’re going to be able to figure it out on your own. If you’re a non-idiot, though, learning a little something about it yourself is smart.