Learn about at home ear irrigation kits and whether they work

What is ear irrigation?

Ear canal irrigation involves squirting liquid into the ears to flush earwax out. Irrigation is an ear cleansing method that people use to remove a buildup of earwax. A buildup of earwax can cause symptoms such as impaired hearing, dizziness, and even ear pain. Doctors do not recommend ear irrigation for people with certain medical conditions and those who have had eardrum tube surgery. They typically don’t recommend at home ear irrigation kits, but it isn’t a difficult procedure either.

How to irrigate ears

Use a 20-30ml syringe containing clean water at room temperature to irrigate your ears. If you find one, purchase an  ear irrigator, or make your own from a 20- to 30-milliliter syringe with a soft, blunt, plastic catheter at the end to minimize the risk of damage to the ear. Some people may use a needleless 16- or 18-gauge intravenous catheter instead. Regardless, follow these steps to learn how to irrigate ears.

  • Sit upright with a towel on the shoulder and possibly a catch basin to capture water that drains from the ear. 
  • Gently position the ear up and back to allow the water to enter the ear more easily.
  • Place the syringe in the ear, inserting it up and toward the back of the ear. This position will help the earwax separate from the ear and drain out of it.
  • Gently press on the syringe and squirt the water into the ear flushing away any loose wax or knocking loose any blockage. If the patient experiences any pain they process should stop immediately.
  • After flushing out ear, dry the ear using a towel and note if any earwax breaks loose and washes out of the ear..

Sometimes, it’s necessary to repeat this procedure up to five times to break the earwax  free. If this process is not successful at clearing an ear blockage then the patient should consult with a physician.

It is essential to use caution and avoid inserting the syringe too far into the ear, especially when using a needleless IV catheter on the syringe  tip

Is irrigating ears safe?

Now you know what is ear irrigation, but is the procedure safe? There does not seem to be a consensus on the technique used for irrigating ears - for instance whether or not to use a wax softener beforehand, so feel free to try a softener if you like. One important consideration is the water temperature. Water that is too cold or hot can cause acoustic nerve stimulation, which can affect your eyes. Hot water can also potentially burn the eardrum.

There is some concern among doctors that ear irrigation could cause eardrum perforation, and a hole in the eardrum would allow water into the middle portion of the ear. Using an irrigation device that manufacturers have created specifically to irrigate the ear may help minimize this risk. Although you can buy an ear flush kit, many doctors use a simple syringe with a catheter tip to perform the procedure.

Purchase a ScopeAround otoscope ear camera

Ears are difficult to see inside, especially if you are trying to self diagnose an issue. The best method is to look inside with a digital otoscope to get a clear view of any wax accumulation or other maladie. Once you see what it looks like you can make a better self diagnosis. If you have a chronic issue make an appointment with a doctor in case you need an anti-fungal to anti-bacterial treatment. ScopeAround makes a range of otoscope cameras that work with different mobile devices, computers, or all by themselves to give you a safe and clear view of your ear, nose, throat or even skin.