December 19, 2012

Does WaxVac or EarVac Actually Remove Earwax?

The EarVac or WaxVac is a device that purportedly suctions out earwax. Shaped like a miniature hair dryer, one simply needs to hold it up to your ear canal in order to suction out the earwax. Recently, they have been marketing this device heavily, especially through TV commercials.

Now, does it actually work???

Not really... In fact, British researchers tested it out against the humble ear curette (Jobson-Home Probe). With their test population, the WaxVac worked in exactly ZERO percent of patients. The ear curette worked 100% of the time to restore eardrum visibility and 88% for subjective hearing improvement for the patient.
Why would the WaxVac work so poorly?

Think of a handheld vacuum cleaner. Even for a regular vacuum cleaner, it will only suck up debris only when it is right on top of it. One can't "vacuum" out a bedroom simply by holding the vacuum cleaner at the bedroom door entrance or hovering it around in the bedroom. The vacuum needs to be placed DIRECTLY over debris in order to suction it out.

Well, the same goes for the WaxVac. According to some other online reviews, the suction produced by the WaxVac is incredibly weak to the point of being negligible. 

Even when the ear canal is professionally vacuumed by an ENT under the microscope, it only works with some earwax types... and doesn't work at all for other earwax types.

I also wanted to point out the danger of using an WaxVac which has the potential to create high negative pressures when sealed up against the ear canal entrance which could lead to eardrum perforation as well as permanent hearing loss (similarly to kissing ear syndrome).

As such, I personally do not recommend this product. However, should you decide to purchase it, I would strongly urge people to do their homework before buying this unproven device. Even if it did work, beware that the company seems to make their money by scamming people with shipping charges [link]. 

A non-randomized comparison of earwax removal with a 'do-it-yourself' ear vacuum kit and a Jobson-Horne probe. Clin Otolaryngol. 2005 Aug;30(4):320-3.

Watch how earwax is cleaned at an ENT office video.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.


Anonymous said...

One problem that may be occuring with Wax/EarVac testers..:
I, from experience, figured out that the WaxVac works better right after you get out of the shower/pool/etc, that way when water gets in your ears, the wax will most likely get wet (as disgusting as it is) and mostly break loose. I'm assuming that most of these testers had dry ears.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for post

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