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Is using olive oil in the perforated ear safe?

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Posted on Tue, 11 Sep 2018
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. Suresh Heijebu (6 hours later)
Brief Answer:
It's strongly contraindicated to instil oil into a perforated ear.

Detailed Answer:
Hello

I can certainly understand your concern.

I have worked through your attached query in detail.

First and foremost, instillation of olive oil or for that matter any oil into a ear with perforated ear drum will have ill effects. Any oil is known to cause delay in the healing/closure of perforation in the ear drum.

It's important that stop further instillation of Olive oil into the ear.

It's advisable to get your ear examined under optical microscope to check for the current status of perforation. This should always be done by an expert Otolaryngologist.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.

Regards,
Dr. Suresh Heijebu, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Kampana
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Suresh Heijebu (34 hours later)
Hi there,

Thank you for your reply. It was very helpful as I had gotten contradictory views from the nurse and doctor with regards to using olive oil in the perforated ear. I haven't used any oil in the perforated ear (suspected perforation because the nurse wasn't entirely sure if I have or not) since diagnosed by the nurse a month ago. And I will continue not to do so now that you have verified what the nurse said.
Thank you.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Suresh Heijebu (8 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Please keep me posted

Detailed Answer:
Hello,

Thanks for sharing the details.

It's good to know that you have not instilled oil into your ear.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care,
Dr. Suresh Heijebu, General & Family Physician


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
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Answered by
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Dr. Suresh Heijebu

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2010

Answered : 3659 Questions

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Is using olive oil in the perforated ear safe?

Brief Answer: It's strongly contraindicated to instil oil into a perforated ear. Detailed Answer: Hello I can certainly understand your concern. I have worked through your attached query in detail. First and foremost, instillation of olive oil or for that matter any oil into a ear with perforated ear drum will have ill effects. Any oil is known to cause delay in the healing/closure of perforation in the ear drum. It's important that stop further instillation of Olive oil into the ear. It's advisable to get your ear examined under optical microscope to check for the current status of perforation. This should always be done by an expert Otolaryngologist. Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further. Regards, Dr. Suresh Heijebu, General & Family Physician