Ground floor, Ilam Health Building, 110 Memorial Avenue, Burnside, Christchurch : Ph 03 351 6198 :

Ear Suctioning


Ear wax removal

Ear wax is a naturally occurring substance in healthy ears, but it’s quite common for wax to build up in the ear canal and can impair hearing. Sometimes you may not even know you have a wax build up, or you may have a feeling of fullness in your ears, or you may have difficulty hearing. Some people build up wax very quickly and require regular wax removal. If you have a build up of wax that you would like to be removed our nurses are able to perform Ear suctioning. It is important to have your ears checked by the Doctor first to rule out other issues. Your doctor may diagnose excess earwax by inserting an instrument called an otoscope into the opening of your ear. The otoscope shines a light into your ear and magnifies the image.



Microsuctioning is the process of removing ear wax from the ear canal using a small suction tube. Fine hand held instruments can also aid the removal of wax. These are inserted carefully into the ear canal. Wax will be removed from your ears using the most appropriate method according to the quantity and consistency of the wax.


Pre procedure

Please use ear wax softening drops prior to your appointment. This helps to remove hard and stubborn wax from the ear canal. If you wear hearing aids it is advisable not to wear these whilst the drops have been administered. Overnight application of the drops is recommended in this instance. If no hearing aids are worn it is recommended to insert 3 drops of ear wax softening drops/olive oil 3 times per day for the 5 days leading up to your appointment.



Your clinician has undertaken training and is certified as competent in ear care and wax removal and will use best-practice procedures to minimise any risk. However, even when performed with the utmost care, there are some risks involved in wax removal. These risks include:



  • Discomfort / pain (minimised by application of olive oil prior to appointment) Damage to skin of the ear canal (minimised by application of olive oil prior to appointment)
  • Bleeding from ear canal
  • Ear infection (minimised by water precautions post procedure)
  • Temporary reduction in hearing
  • Temporary hearing sensitivity
  • Temporary aggravation of existing tinnitus
  • Temporary irritation to the throat or stimulation of cough


  • Feeling sick or light-headed
  • Temporary dizziness

Extremely rare:

  • Permanent hearing loss (minimised by limiting time of exposure to noise of suction machine and avoiding contact with or trauma to the ear drum)
  • Triggering of new tinnitus (minimised by limiting time exposure to noise of suction machine) Damage to the ear drum during the procedure (minimised by restricting the depth of insertion of the suction tube)



 If the wax cannot be removed depending on the amount and consistency of the wax and your own comfort, it may not be possible to remove all of the wax in a single appointment. A second or third appointment may be required with further softening of the wax for a few days between visits using alternative softeners as advised.


Onward referral

In some situations, wax removal may be deemed unsuitable or need to be abandoned during the procedure. Most commonly this is because abnormalities of the ear are identified which require further assessment by your GP or an ENT specialist, making it inappropriate to proceed.

Most commonly this is because:

  • Evidence of current or recent infection has been discovered
  • Evidence of current or previous damage to the ear has been discovered
  • The wax removal procedure has made you feel unwell
  • The wax has proven to be too difficult to remove safely or without causing discomfort
  • A foreign body has been discovered in the ear which cannot be removed safely



You will be asked to sign a consent form prior to to commencing the procedure.

Please let the clinician know if you have experienced any of the following:

  • sudden hearing loss
  • recent ear infection or discharge
  • recent ear injury or surgery
  • any ringing/whistling/buzzing in your ears


Personal care

We strongly recommend that you do not use cotton tips to clean your ears. Cotton tips can push wax further into the ear canal where it can get stuck. They can also scratch the delicate lining of the ear canal. The best way to clean your ears is to wash the outside of the ear with a flannel. For most people, leaving your ears alone is the best way to keep them clean. The skin inside your ear canals is like a conveyor belt moving from the inside of your ear to the outside, with the wax sweeping up the dust and debris.