Is Microsuction loud?
Microsuction is a fairly noisy procedure and the noise within the ear canal can get very loud . … In the study “Noise levels generated within the external auditory canal during microsuction aural toilet and the effect on hearing: a prospective controlled series” 14 patients volunteered to take part in a study. Hearing tests were performed before and after the microsuction ear wax removal procedure. Noise levels were measured using a probe microphone during the procedure, and peaked at over 120 dB(A) for a few seconds in two patients. However, there was no evidence of a reduction in hearing following microsuction for any of the patients.
It should be noted that this was a fairly small group of patients, and if you find that ordinary noise such as a vacuum cleaner or hand dryer causes you physical pain, or if you have tinnitus that is made worse by ordinary noise like traffic, then we can use a fine end to reduce the noise to a more comfortable level and/or manual instruments (which aren’t noisy but may cause some physical discomfort).
In another study, “Suction-generated noise levels during aural toilet“, noise levels were measured in the ear of an artificial model head using various suction tubes on different substances. It was noted that the suctioning of water generated very high levels of noise (over 130 dB(A)). For this reason we do not generally recommend the use of aggressive ear drops that contain sodium bicarbonate or urea hydrogen peroxide as it can make ear wax very watery, greatly increasing the noise level during the procedure. In addition, prolonged use of sodium bicarbonate ear drops can lead to an opportunistic infection of the ear canal (because sodium bicarbonate reduces the protective acidity level within the canal); and prolonged use of urea hydrogen peroxide drops can cause severe irritation to the skin surface in the ear canal in some people (hydrogen peroxide is bleach, after all).
While we are on the subject of which ear drops to use, in “Aural microsuction for wax impaction: survey of efficacy and patient perception“, a significant finding was “Patients who had used cerumenolytics [ear drops or sprays] reported significantly less pain and vertigo [dizziness]”. Combining this important information with the previous study, we can conclude that patients should use 2 to 3 squirts of Earol spray (optionally with the addition of 3 glycerine drops 2 – 3 times a day) for at least 3 days prior to a microsuction procedure. Very hard impacted ear wax can also be softened with Waxsol used for two days prior to a microsuction procedure.
It is worth noting that there has been a recent review of various studies comparing the effectiveness of different types of ear drops. The conclusion is that no one brand of ear drop has been comprehensively shown to be better than any other. Nevertheless, we still recommend the use of Earol spray with the optional addition of glycerine drops as this has been shown to increase the comfort as well as reduce the chances of vertigo during a microsuction procedure .