Recommendation ID

Earwax:- What is the clinical and cost effectiveness of microsuction compared with irrigation to remove earwax?

Any explanatory notes
(if applicable)

Why this is important:- A build-up of earwax in the ear canal can cause hearing loss and discomfort, contributes to infections, and can exacerbate stress, social isolation and depression. Moreover, earwax can prevent adequate clinical examination of the ear, delaying investigations and management; GPs cannot check for infection and audiologists cannot test hearing and fit hearing aids if the ear canal is blocked with wax. Excessive earwax is common, especially in older adults and those who use
hearing aids and earbud-type earphones. In the UK, it is estimated that 2.3 million people each year have problems with earwax sufficient to need intervention.
Earwax is usually treated initially with ear drops. However, if this is unsuccessful, the wax can be removed using irrigation (flushing the wax out using water) or microsuction (using a vacuum to suck the wax out under a microscope). There are few studies comparing these different techniques in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and adverse events.

Source guidance details

Comes from guidance
Hearing loss in adults: assessment and management
Date issued
June 2018

Other details

Is this a recommendation for the use of a technology only in the context of research? No  
Is it a recommendation that suggests collection of data or the establishment of a register?   No  
Last Reviewed 30/06/2018