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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Suggest treatment to remove ear wax

Answered by
Dr. Enrique Molina

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 364 Questions

Posted on Thu, 24 Apr 2014 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: 64yo white female in good health visits Aruba and has sea water enter her ear canal stifling her hearing. Upon return from she experiences this stifling continued. An otoscope revealed wax build up that appeared to be several years old. Treatment with isopropyl alcohol (93%) and hydrogen peroxide (3%) and docusate sodium in varying concentrations and with warm water did have some result but ear sounds are still muffled. After treatment she was able to retrieve a goodly amount of old wax using Q-tips but symptoms are still present but at a lesser degree. Question: how often can treatment be applied? Also, how long is appropriate between treatments?
Answered by Dr. Enrique Molina 52 minutes later
Brief Answer: don't use Q tips! Detailed Answer: She probably has a very big piece of wax stuck inside the ear canal. Using Q-tips will just make it worse, as it will push further in the wax, even though you may be able to remove tiny pieces out. Ear sounds are muffled because of the wax. Sea water as you know has salt, sand and other particles which usually can accumulate in the ear, therefore this is why it is common to have an impaction in the ear after going on vacation to the beach. I would suggest stopping the isopropyl alcohol and hdrogen peroxide completely, this can irritate significantly the ear canal and damage it further at this point. I would recommend using over the counter Carbamide peroxide (Debrox), using 5 drops in the affected ear twice a day for 2 - 3 days maximum, and then irrigate gently with warm water. If still no complete resolution, then she should definitely go to an ENT (ear nose and throat) physician. The ENT would proceed with ear cannal irrigation with special syringes and instruments to break the wax and remove it. Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the higher the chances of infection (otitis), and the more you manipulate the ear canal, then higher the chances of perforating the ear drum. If possible go to an ENT as soon as possible Hope that helped
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Enrique Molina 25 minutes later
Should she tip head or lie on her side while instilling the drops? And if so, how long should she lay on her side?
Answered by Dr. Enrique Molina 7 hours later
Brief Answer: yes Detailed Answer: lay on her side for 7 to 10 minutes
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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