Q. Why do I have severe ear pain after getting my ears irrigated to remove wax buildup?

Answered by
Dr. B. Vageesh Padiyar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 27, 2020 and last reviewed on: Apr 30, 2021

Hi doctor,

I went to my general practitioner yesterday to get my ears irrigated as I had some wax build-up that was impairing my hearing slightly. The right ear cleared fairly easily, but with the left ear, she had more trouble. While she was irrigating the left ear, I felt extreme pain, asking her to stop. My ear felt like it blocked up, and I can only hear slightly in my left ear. The pain continued, and the doctor told me she did not see anything abnormal, so I should take pain medication. I went home, but the pain only got more severe, and my hearing did not improve. I tried to lie on my left side to drain some of the water in my ear potentially. While I was lying on my side, some fluid drained from my ear, and I kept static, hearing the sound of popping bubbles in my left ear. The pain got so bad that I had to go to the emergency room. The doctor had a look at my ear and told me I had otitis media from an ear infection and prescribed me antibiotics, pain killers, and anti-inflammatories. I am looking to get a second opinion as I do not believe that an ear infection caused this, but what happened in the morning. Can you please help me?



Welcome back to

  • You had developed pain due to the pressure of the syringing fluid, which would have temporarily traumatized your eardrum, causing it to get inflamed and cause the intense pain it is associated with.
  • Please understand that this can take a while as the eardrum takes its own time to reduce the inflammation. Please also note not to use earbuds or Q-tips to clean the ear, further pushing the wax inside the ear canal and irritating the eardrum, causing pain.
  • I would advice you to continue the antibiotics and pain killers as prescribed by the physician in the ER (emergency room) and wait for atleast a week to resolve.
  • According to me, irrigating the ear canal is an obsolete procedure and should be avoided as much as possible. I have stopped doing irrigation to remove wax ages ago.

I hope this answers your query. If there is anything more that you need to know or enquire about, please do let me know, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Warm regards.

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