Not too long ago, the NHS stopped providing the service of earwax removal. The procedure can no longer be performed for free at GP surgeries as its expenses are not covered by Clinical Commissioning Groups. As a result, there has been an increase in the number of healthcare practitioners interested in participating in earwax removal courses in order to acquire the needed skills and certifications to perform it.
In relation to this, Meduc8ion’s course trainer and business development manager Priya Tank has brought an important issue to our attention: the significance of having strong foundational skills in Otoscopy and knowledge about the anatomy of the ear before moving on to performing audiological services. Priya has pointed out to us that healthcare practitioners are more likely to feel confident in their practice if they also feel confident about having sufficient knowledge in these areas.
Is There a Misconception Regarding the Practice of Earwax Removal?
This raises an important question: is it possible that some people are thinking about practicing earwax removal in an inherently incorrect way? It is important for potential trainees not to be under the impression that merely knowing how to perform the different methods of earwax removal is enough for a person to be deemed safe-to-practice as this could not be further away from the truth. Of course, knowledge regarding how the procedures are performed is essential, but without understanding of the ear’s anatomy, this knowledge simply cannot be applied in a safe manner.
As Priya pointed out to us, one of the most important parts of earwax removal is the ability to assess the health of the ear before performing any type of procedure. Furthermore, knowledge of the ear’s anatomy is required in order to safely use various audiological instruments involved in the health assessment of the ear and in the earwax removal procedures themselves, thus avoiding damage or injury to the ear.
Dangers of Practicing Without the Required Knowledge
Practicing earwax removal without strong foundational knowledge about the ear’s anatomy hides many dangers:
Earwax is not always the issue
One of the reasons why ability to properly assess the health of the ear is so important is that earwax is not always the origin of the problem. A client might come in with complaints regarding ear discomfort, being under the impression that they are in need of earwax removal, when a completely different condition could be the reason for their symptoms.
Failure to identify serious conditions
Some symptoms that can indicate earwax build-up include hearing loss, earache, a sensation of your ears being blocked, experiencing a ringing sound or feeling dizzy or sick. However, these same symptoms could also be a sign of an ear infection, or serious health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, brain injury or a tumour.
If a health practitioner is unable to recognize such conditions, they are also unable to provide an adequate GP referral, which leads to the necessary treatment being postponed. Since time is of the essence in most of these cases, not receiving treatment as soon as possible could be absolutely detrimental to the impacted individual’s health.
Increased risk of injury to the ear
Performing earwax removal procedures without awareness of the anatomy of the ear could result in physically injuring the patient. Side effects such as perforation of the eardrum, ear infection, damage to the ear canal, pain and hearing loss are possible even in cases where earwax removal is correctly performed. Not having strong awareness about the depth and direction in which to insert the instruments that the procedures involve (an awareness which requires a good foundation in ear anatomy) greatly increases the risk of such complications occurring.
The circumstances outlined above are the reason why we strongly recommend that individuals wishing to partake in our Earwax Removal course first attend our Ear Anatomy and Otoscopy course. The latter has been designed to function either as an introduction or a refresher for healthcare professionals who need the understanding and skillset to practice otoscopy in accordance with BSA guidelines. Furthermore, it teaches basic understanding of the ear’s anatomy and equips trainees with the knowledge needed to properly assess the health of the ear, identifying whether any issues are present and what these issues are.
The course’s comprehensive program includes both a theory and a practice section. The theory part provides candidates with information on ear anatomy and otoscopy and teaches them how to correctly examine the ear canal and eardrum. The second part consists of practical training in various parts of otoscopy. These include proper handling of the otoscope, correct bracing of the face, and examination of the ear canal. The practical training also teaches candidates the ability to identify a healthy canal and eardrum, as well as any abnormalities that might be present.
Benefits of Acquiring Strong Knowledge in Ear Anatomy and Otoscopy Prior to Performing Earwax Removal
As we already established, having a strong ear anatomy and otoscopy foundation prior to attempting earwax removal is essential. Outlined below are some of the main ways in which this can benefit your practice:
Smoother learning curve
Having foundational knowledge before partaking in an Earwax Removal course makes retaining the information provided by the course an easier, smoother process. Without such knowledge, this process could prove challenging.
Feeling confident in one’s skills
Confidence in ear anatomy and otoscopy helps raise confidence in performing earwax removal. On the other hand, its lack can result in anxiety and stress related to performing the procedures due to risk of hurting the impacted individual.
Having an earwax removal procedure performed by a healthcare practitioner that displays confidence and provides safe treatment boosts clients’ trust, promoting the mindset that they are indeed in good hands.