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Can earache be treated with sweet oil?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1991
Answered : 2837 Questions
I have been recommended to use sweet oil in my ears. My ears ache a lot. My Internal medicine doctor recommended an appliances to wear in my mouth at night to stop my gritting of my teeth. I wear that every night. My doctor said all she saw was wax in my ear. I thought I would try sweet oil. What is your opinion on how to use the sweet oil? Many years ago I put peroxide and alcohol in my ears and it wasn’t pleasant as it seemed to boil clear into my head. My ear doctor said I had a hole in my ear and to never do that again so I haven’t. How to I get wax out of my ears and can I put some warm sweet oil in it. My ears hurt occasionally for several months now.
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 47 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

I do have a few thoughts based on what you wrote here.

Sweet oil is a purified olive oil. It softens the ear wax. It does not dissolve ear wax. What I often recommended was for people with hard ear wax to use the sweet oil for several days and then come in to the office for the nurse to irrigate the ear. Or a person can then irrigate their own ear with a bulb syringe and warm water. Sweet oi is safe even for babies.

However, if you still have a persistent opening in your eardrum, you must not put anything in there, even sweet oil, unless an ENT doctor gives you the go ahead after direct examination of your ear.

Alcohol and peroxide would be pretty rough - alcohol can excessively dry and burn delicate tissues, and peroxide also is drying, and chemically interacts with ear wax causing bubbling. Forms of peroxide are used in many over the counter ear wax removal drops, but a safer version. Again, don't use anything like this without being cleared first by an ENT doctor.

Which brings up the final thought I have on this: If your ears continue to hurt, and the internist and dentist haven't been able to fix the problem, it's time to see an ear nose throat doctor (ENT). If the pain does not resolve once your wax situation resolves, then you may need to have imaging studies such as a CT or MRI of the head to see what might be going on with your ear, the nerves that are nearby, and your jaw.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can clarify anything or provide further information.

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