There are several types of ear drops to treat symptoms of excess earwax and ear infections. Ear drops to remove excess wax in the ear canal do not require prescriptions, while drops to relieve pain caused by ear infections and swimmer’s ear may require a prescription from your physician.
Ear Wax Removal
One type of ear drops helps to remove excess wax buildup in the ears. Excess earwax hardens when trapped in the ear canal. This not only gradually impairs your hearing, it can also cause pain in your ear canal. The active ingredient in ear wax removal drops is carbamide peroxide, which helps break up your wax buildup into smaller pieces to allow for easier removal. Earwax removal drops are sold at pharmacies and are available without a prescription.
Most ear wax removal kits–such as ones sold at Walgreens–includes a bottle of drops and a bulb syringe. To begin application, lay down on your side with one ear touching your pillow. For example, if you want to apply drops to your right ear, lay with your left ear touching your pillow. Squeeze 5 to 10 drops into your right ear, making sure that the tip of the dropper bottle does NOT enter into your ear canal. Continue laying on your side for 4 to 5 minutes. Place a cotton ball over your ear during this time to prevent drops from dribbling down your ear. Flush out your ear with warm water using the bulb syringe, then repeat the process on your left ear. Apply drops two times per day for no more than 7 to 10 days at a time. It is not recommended that you leave the drops in your ear overnight.
Infections and Swimmer’s Ear
Antipyrine and benzocaine are types of ear drops that help to alleviate pain associated with ear infections and swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear is named for the condition caused by excess water that remains trapped in the ear canal, often after swimming. Both are available by prescription and significantly reduce the pain caused by infections. However, each will not completely heal ear infection. In addition to prescription drops, your physician will likely prescribe a separate antibiotic that will combat and eventually heal your ear infection.
Earaches are a common side effect of colds or flus. Drops offered by such companies as Hyland’s Homeopathic Products claim to offer temporary and natural relief for pain caused by earaches. If your earache persists 48 hours after you have applied drops, this may be a sign for a more serious (chronic) condition. Visit your physician for a detailed diagnosis.
Warnings and Disclaimer
Ear drops are designed to provide temporary relief, not long-term cures. If you continue to experience pain either from excess wax or infection after applying ear drops for more than 7 days, stop applying the drops and consult your physician for an alternative remedy. In addition, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended that you consult your physician for other recommendations before using any types of ear drops.
Ear Drops for Children
Ear drops are safe to use in children’s ears. However, if you do not feel comfortable administering ear drops to your child’s ears or are unsure of the reason your child is experiencing earaches, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician for suggestions.