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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Are olive oil drops still safe to be used when diagnosed with a perforated eardrum?

Answered by
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Dr. Prof. Kunal Saha

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1954

Answered : 4240 Questions

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Posted on Fri, 17 Aug 2018 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: Hi there,
I am contacting you for some advice with regards to a possible "small perforation" in my left ear, from a doctor, specialist from the UK only please as I live in the UK.

Four weeks ago I visited the nurse in the treatment room at my local doctors surgery because I was sometimes experiencing popping sensations in my left ear, which I had thought might've been down to a build up of ear wax. Something I know about, as these past 5/6 years I have very much tended to have a accumulation of too much ear wax. I wear hearing aids too which I am told doesn't help this. I usually use olive oil spray, and I have often still had to have the wax removed by water irrigation which has sometimes been as often as every 4, 5 or 6 months! So following the last time I had my ears irrigated (which is 11 months ago now!) I started thinking that I will have to try something different and that I can't keep having my ears irrigated every couple of months! So I started spraying a drop of olive oil in both ears 3 times a week once a day instead of just when my ears started to fill up (as I previously did) And this seems to be working better. During this past (it's almost a year now) I have popped in to the treatment room to ask the nurse just to check my ears, and apart from a bit of wax, all has been okay.
So I was upset when last month she told me that she thinks I have a perforation in my left ear. She made an appointment for me to see the doctor (today) 4 weeks later, to get it checked. She suggested that as it's only a small perforation it should heal on it's own. She also advised against using olive oil during this period and said she would just leave it. Which is what I have done these past 4 weeks.

Four weeks later, and upon seeing the doctor this morning, the doctor tells me that he don't have a clear view of my ear drum because of ear wax and therefore don't know, can't see, whether or not I have a perforation. So he is referring me to the hospital to see a nose, throat and ear specialist. BUT, it will be 3 months before I will get an appointment! Because "that's the way it is". Naturally I am concerned about my ear getting blocked during this time and so I asked if he thinks it would be okay to use olive oil again, and he seems to think it will be okay.
I have also noticed that different people, nurses, doctors seem to have a slightly different view as to what is too much ear wax or not ? And in this particular case the nurse said she wouldn't use olive oil whilst the doctor says it's okay ? Obviously I want the perforation to heal without any problems. I haven't/don't have any pain, and my hearing seems to be more or less as it was.

My question to you is, if I do have, or still have, a perforation, do you think it would be safe okay to continue using olive oil in this ear ? If I just had to wait a week or two for this hospital appointment then I wouldn't, but 3 months is a considerable amount of time under the circumstances.

I await your response
Thank you XXXXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Prof. Kunal Saha 5 hours later
Brief Answer:
Do not put anything in the ears.

Detailed Answer:
Hello and Welcome to ‘Ask A Doctor’ service.

I have gone carefully through your query and understand your concerns. Please refrain from putting olive oil or anything else in your ears. I would not consider putting anything in the ear safe, unless there is a specific indication for the same. You need not bother about the ear wax, especially when you have a perforation in place. It possibly occurred due to a bout of infection. You need not worry and it will recover/heal on its own. Steam inhalation should help.

Let me know if I could help further.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
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