Ear Care and Treatment
Before any consideration is given to ear irrigation or microsuction, the following treatment must be adhered to.
The use of an olive oil spray (such as Earol) should be sprayed into the affected ear. The recommended dosage is 2 sprays per affected ear, twice a day for 4 weeks. These sprays mist a coating of olive oil over the wax. It is easier to administer than olive oil drops.
Experience of patients using the spray versus olive oil drops suggest it is also less messy to use. Olive oil sprays are available over the counter from most pharmacies. Where olive oil spray is not available, olive oil drops are a suitable alternative. 3 drops should be put in to the affected ear(s) twice a day for 4 weeks.
Side effects of ear softeners
You are advised to persevere with this regime of treatment – you may even feel that your ear is worse in the first few days of treatment. If the ear feels more occluded or your hearing is reduced, this is because the ear wax softener has expanded the ear wax before it can break it down, this is to be expected. Some wax softeners may cause a fluctuation in hearing and mild discomfort or irritation. For patients who wear hearing aids, wax softener may adversely affect the function of the hearing aid if it enters the hearing aid, therefore it is advisable to avoid wearing the hearing aid for at least 2 hours when the softener has recently been administered.
If you have ear wax you should keep your ears dry, especially when swimming, bathing, and showering. This is especially important when washing hair as the detergents in soap, shampoos, and conditioners can irritate the ear and increase the amount of wax produced. This can be achieved using silicone swim plugs (available from pharmacies); a ball of cotton wool with a thin layer of petroleum jelly applied to it that is then positioned with the lubricated side against the ear canal entrance. It should be placed in the outer bowl of the ear and not pushed into the canal.
Do not use cotton buds or any other implement to try and take the wax out. This causes the wax to be pushed deeper down the ear canal, often against the ear drum, and can cause trauma to the ear. The broken down ear wax will fall out of the ear naturally.
For most people following this regime will satisfactorily resolve their symptoms within 4 weeks. However if this has been persistently adhered to and wax persists, the following treatment should be tried for a further 2 weeks:
- Sodium bicarbonate drops 3 drops in the affected ear(s), 3 times a day
Sodium bicarbonate is contraindicated if you have had a previous perforation to your eardrum. If this is the case, continuation of the olive oil spray or drops must be continued for a further 2 weeks.