Posts Tagged 'cerumen impaction'

No Wax

Ahhhhhh, that’s better. My right ear is now open for business after Tuesday’s dramatic ear irrigation, which saw something the size, colour and consistency of a withered sultana shoot from the cookiebite ear canal into the nurse’s waiting metal receptacle.

Readers will be delighted to know that, unlike last time, I managed not to behave in a completely undignified manner while my ear was pummelled by the pulsed water jet. Instead, I adopted a pained grimace of stoicism, which I relaxed only once to shout a shaky “WHOA…OOA…AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” as the wax plug finally came loose.

As you can see from my before and after thresholds below from the Equal Loudness site, there has been a dramatic increase in hearing after irrigation. It more than makes up for the shock of seeing what came out of my lughole…

Mo’ Wax

Hearing Aid Avenger tests his prototype Waxbuster gun on a candle. He told me the hearing aid dome on the end would protect my ear canal, but I wasn’t convinced.


At the end of last week, I emerged from the shower to discover that my right ear was no longer picking up sounds from the outside world. Strangely, it was picking up sounds from inside my head just fine, but who wants to hear the base of their skull grinding on their spinal column first thing in the morning.

A quick hearing test on the piano, whilst still wrapped in a wet towel and with a finger in one ear, revealed that an octave in the middle of the cookie bite zone was now completely missing, and that everything else sounded very far away indeed. A Google search on the matter of clogged ears and showers indicated that waterlogged earwax was the likely culprit, and I groaned at the thought of another protracted round of oil in the lughole every night to get rid of it.

I groaned even louder when I phoned my GP practice to see if I could pre-book an appointment with the nurse in five days time, so that I could do the oil routine then get my ear syringed if necessary, on the only day I can get time off work in the next couple of weeks.

“We like you to try to clear it yourself with oil, first”, came the reply. ” Only if you haven’t managed to clear it, can you phone to ask for an appointment. We can’t pre-book.” It seemed my window of waxbusting opportunity had just closed.

To everyone I’ve inadvertently ignored over the last few days, sorry, but it ain’t over yet…


It was good news and bad news as the nurse peered into my ears in preparation for my appointment with the dreaded ear irrigation apparatus.

“The good news is you’ve done a great job with the oil,” she said, “that right ear has cleared itself almost completely. We never irrigate if the eardrum can be seen, and I can see yours quite clearly.”

“Phew, thank goodness for that!” I said, glad that the thin film of almond oil coating everything within a 2m radius of the bedside table was going to be a thing of the past. Although I was relieved that the irrigation was off, I was slightly disappointed that the wax plug had simply melted away into my pillow instead of blowing dramatically out of my ear like a champagne cork. Moreover, I had been excited by the prospect of a miraculous increase in hearing ability after reading this paper which examines the gory correlation between the size of wax plug and increase in hearing ability after removal. Now I’d never know how big my plug had been unless I could subject the pillow to a detailed forensic analysis. Hmmm. Maybe I…

The nurse cut in before I could devise a suitable pillow vaporisation protocol.

“The bad news is that the left ear is now completely blocked.”

It struck me for a second that perhaps the original plug had not dissolved after all and had just migrated across the vacant space between my ears. Either way, I was going to have to make sure I could maintain a couple of clean canals to co-incide with my appointment at the hearing aid clinic in two weeks’ time. Given the capricious cerumenous activity of the previous week, this might prove more tricky than I had previously thought.

“We’ll just turn you round the other way and get that left ear cleared”, said the nurse enthusiastically, as I was ceremonially draped in paper towels and given a metal receptacle to hold under my ear. “Ready? Okay, here we go…”

The ear irrigation machine sprang into life and the patients in the GPs waiting room on the other side of the door were treated to a series of disgracefully loud shrieks interspersed with hysterical nervous laughter, as the pulsed water jet pummelled the offending wax plug into submission. When it was all over, I eagerly awaited some speech to test out my new hearing.

“All done. You’ll be relieved to get that out of your ear!” said the nurse, putting something in the bin. Strangely, nothing sounded any different, apart from a disturbing sloshing noise in the left ear when I bent forward to pick up my handbag. I thanked the nurse, who had been genuinely lovely, and made my way home through the park, sans hearing aid and with a slightly wet t shirt. I noted that my footsteps were still well and truly absent and, for a moment, felt slightly disappointed.

But only for a moment. I just stamped my feet a bit more heavily as I walked, and enjoyed the sound of the birds tweeting loudly in the sunshine instead.

My unofficial hearing thresholds captured on the very handy Equal Loudness Contours site one week before, and immediately after wax removal. Left ear was irrigated. Right ear was confited in almond oil. 


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