Do ear wax extractions hurt?

Ear wax is a natural substance that is produced by the body to protect the ear canal from foreign objects, dirt, and bacteria. However, when it builds up, it can cause various problems like hearing loss, tinnitus, and even ear infections. Ear wax extractions are procedures that involve removing the buildup of ear wax from the ear canal to improve hearing and prevent further complications. However, many people are apprehensive about this procedure because they are uncertain as to whether it hurts.

Why do people need ear wax extractions?

There are various reasons why people may need ear wax extractions, including:

  • Excessive production of ear wax
  • Blockage of the ear canal
  • Infection of the ear canal
  • Symptoms of hearing loss, tinnitus or discomfort

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s best to consult a hearing healthcare provider as soon as possible to determine whether ear wax extraction can help your condition.

What are the benefits of ear wax extractions?

Ear wax extractions can provide a variety of benefits, including:

  • Improved hearing
  • Relief from tinnitus
  • Reduced likelihood of ear infections
  • Reduced risk of ear drum damage caused by excessive ear wax buildup

If you’re unsure whether you need ear wax extractions, consult an audiologist or healthcare professional who can evaluate your symptoms and suggest the best course of treatment.

What are the methods of ear wax extractions?

There are various methods of ear wax extractions, including:

  • Curettage, which uses a small spoon-like tool to remove ear wax from the ear canal.
  • Microsuction, which uses a specialized vacuum to remove ear wax from the ear canal.
  • Ear irrigation, which involves flushing the ear canal with warm water to remove ear wax buildup.
  • Topical treatments, which use ear drops to soften the ear wax for easier removal.

Your hearing healthcare provider can recommend the best method for your specific situation, based on your symptoms, risk factors, and other factors particular to you.

Does ear wax extraction hurt?

Many people worry that ear wax extraction is a painful procedure. However, if done correctly by a trained audiologist, ear wax extractions should not be painful. You may feel some pressure or slight discomfort during the procedure, but it should not be painful.

If you experience any discomfort during the procedure, let your hearing healthcare provider know immediately so they can adjust the procedure or suggest other pain management options.

What are the risks of ear wax extractions?

Ear wax extractions are generally safe and can provide many benefits. However, they do carry some risks, including:

  • Ear infections or damage to the eardrum from mishandling of tools or pushing ear wax further into the ear canal.
  • Increased risk of ear infections if the ear canal is exposed to moisture after the procedure.
  • Allergic reaction to the ear drops or other medication used during the procedure.

It is important to discuss potential risks with your hearing healthcare provider beforehand and to follow proper aftercare instructions, such as keeping the ear dry and avoiding exposure to water or moisture for a certain period of time after the procedure.

How do I prepare for an ear wax extraction?

Before the procedure, make sure to:

  • Inform your hearing healthcare provider about any medical conditions you have or any medications you are taking.
  • Follow any pre-procedure instructions given to you by your healthcare provider, such as stopping ear-dropping days before the procedure.
  • Discuss any concerns or questions you might have with your healthcare provider.

What can I expect during an ear wax extraction?

During the procedure, you can expect to:

  • Be seated comfortably in a chair, similar to those used during a routine hearing test.
  • Wear a protective bib to prevent water or other solution from spilling on clothing.
  • Have the ear examined with an otoscope to evaluate the amount and consistency of the ear wax buildup.
  • Have ear drops placed in the ear canal to soften the ear wax.
  • Have ear wax removed using the selected method. You may feel some pressure or slight discomfort during this step, but it should not be painful.

The procedure usually takes around 15-30 minutes.

What can I expect after an ear wax extraction?

After the procedure, you can expect to:

  • Feel some relief from symptoms like tinnitus, discomfort, or hearing loss.
  • Receive aftercare instructions from your hearing healthcare provider, such as avoiding water or moisture for a certain period.
  • Have a follow-up appointment scheduled, if necessary.

Can I perform ear wax extractions at home?

While there are products on the market that claim to facilitate ear wax removal at home, it is not recommended by most hearing healthcare professionals.

Attempting to remove ear wax buildup at home using untested methods can lead to increased risk of injury or infection, as well as damage to the eardrum, so it’s best to always seek the advice of a hearing healthcare professional.


Ear wax extractions can be an effective way to alleviate symptoms caused by ear wax buildup. While many people worry that the procedure may be painful, if done correctly by a trained audiologist, ear wax extractions should not cause severe pain. Remember to always discuss any concerns or questions with your hearing healthcare provider beforehand and to follow proper aftercare instructions to reduce the risk of any complications.


  1. Diagnosis and removal of earwax. Mayo Clinic. Available at
  2. Ear Wax Removal. NHS. Available at
  3. Earwax build-up and blockage. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Available at
  4. What You Need to Know About Earwax. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Available at


Here are some frequently asked questions about ear wax extractions:

  • Q: How often should I have ear wax extractions?
  • A: This varies from person to person and depends on factors like the rate of ear wax production, the consistency of the earwax, and any underlying medical conditions. Consult your hearing healthcare provider for a recommendation specific to your situation.

  • Q: How do I know if my ear wax doesn’t need to be removed?
  • A: In most cases, ear wax can be removed naturally by the body, and does not need any intervention. Symptoms like hearing loss or tinnitus are good indicators of excessive ear wax buildup. If you’re unsure, consult your hearing healthcare provider.

  • Q: Can ear wax extractions worsen tinnitus?
  • A: While ear wax extractions are not known to worsen tinnitus, they can affect the symptoms temporarily, such as by making it more or less noticeable. Always let your hearing healthcare provider know of any changes in your symptoms or experience with tinnitus during or after ear wax extractions.

  • Q: Can I drive home after an ear wax extraction?
  • A: Yes, in most cases, you should be able to drive yourself home after the procedure. However, if you experience any dizziness or lightheadedness, you should wait until it subsides before driving.