The most common ear problem encountered is hardened earwax. Wax is a natural substance produced by the ears that acts as a protective barrier for the eardrum against dust and germs. Normally wax is pushed out of the eardrum by actions such as speaking and eating and eventually washed away. It some circumstances wax can build up and harden to form a solid plug that can lead to discomfort and hearing difficulties. Elderly people are more prone to wax impaction due to a decrease in the production of natural oils. It is important that patients don't try to remove any wax build-ups with cotton buds as this can push the wax further into the ear and can cause damage.

Ear infections often follow colds and flu and are most common in children. They make the ear painful and swollen inside and sometimes leak a discharge. Ear infections need to be checked by a GP as soon as possible.

Drops are available that help to soften and remove wax. Depending on the severity of the case, some patients would be advised by their doctor or pharmacist to use drops before they have their ears syringed by their doctor. Many types of drops are available, containing a wide range of ingredients , such as softening agents like arachis (peanut), olive and almond oils and glycerol. Arachis oil should be avoided by patients with peanut allergies.

Hydrogen peroxide is used to help dissolve the wax and break it down into small pieces so that it can exit the ear without being noticed. Patients may experience a fizzy sound as hydrogen peroxide liberates oxygen which breaks up the wax.

Phenazone is an anti-inflammatory agent that eases discomfort associated with earwax impaction. It also softens wax and facilitates its removal.
Visit your pharmacist or doctor:
  • If the patient is a child
  • If any pain is present
  • If there is any discharge or blood coming from the ear
  • If the patient is having problems hearing
  • If they have a foreign body in the ear
  • If they have pain when/from using ear drops
  • If they have other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting and a raised temperature
  • If they complain of noise or a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear
Helpful Tips from Mulligans Pharmacy:
When using ear drops:
  • The patient should check to see how many drops (not squirts) should be used
  • Warm the drops to body temperature before using by holding the bottle in the hands
  • Tilt the head to one side with the affected ear pointing towards the ceiling
  • Hold the dropper as close to the ear as possible without touching it and administer the required number of drops
  • The head position should be maintained for a few minutes to prevent drops leaking out. A cotton wool plug can be inserted.
  • After a few minutes, the head should be returned to the normal position and any excess liquid wiped away
  • If a product fails to work after a few days then the patient should see their GP
  • Ear drops should be discarded 28 days after opening to prevent contamination
  • Audiclean and Audispray is recommended for general ear hygiene where the build-up of wax is an on-going problem.
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The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
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