Most people will be familiar with the antiseptic uses of hydrogen peroxide. It is a very handy household staple that can be applied topically to prevent infections developing from scrapes, cuts or burns.
It is also useful as a mouthwash to treat cold sores, gum conditions and remove mucus. But its uses go even further. Hydrogen peroxide is also a safe and effective treatment to unblock ear wax and to easily treat ear infections.
What causes Excess Ear Wax?
The waxy oil produced in the ear is known as cerumen and it plays an important function. Earwax protects the ears from foreign particles, dust, and other harmful organisms. It is also important in protecting the skin of the ear canal from water irritation.
As a rule, excess wax moves naturally out of the canal into the opening of the ear before being washed away. However, when more earwax than you need is produced, it can become hard and then cause a blockage.
Cleaning your ears can actually cause the wax to be pushed deeper into the ear making any blockage even worse. A buildup of wax like this can cause a temporary loss of hearing.
Excessive amounts of wax in the ears does not always lead to a blockage. If you want to clean up the wax from your ears, resist the temptation to prod and poke at it with foreign objects.
In fact, it is ironic that blockages are most commonly caused by attempts to remove wax at home. Common culprits are cotton swabs or bobby pins that people use to clean their ears but unfortunately, they tend to push any wax deeper into the canals.
Symptoms of Earwax Blockage
There are several symptoms that you are experiencing a blockage from earwax including the following:
- Temporary hearing loss.
- A buzzing or ringing sound in the ears known as tinnitus.
- A feeling that your ear is full.
Symptoms of Ear Infection
If a buildup of earwax is not removed, it can lead to an infection. Symptoms of an ear infection include the following:
- Severe ear pain
- Constant pain
- Leaking or foul odor coming from the ear
- Hearing loss
How you can use Hydrogen Peroxide to Remove Earwax
Rather than risk causing a blockage by prodding at the wax with a cotton swab, you can use hydrogen peroxide.
It is generally considered to be both a safe and effective method of eliminating wax from the ear but there are a few precautions you need to be aware of. Before we get into the precautions, let us look at the procedure.
- Make sure that you use hydrogen peroxide of no more than 3% for the purposes of ear treatment.
- In a cup, mix your hydrogen peroxide with water in equal amounts.
- Soak a cotton ball into your mixture.
- Turn your head to the side and tilt your ear skyward.
- Carefully squeeze a few drops of your hydrogen peroxide mix into the ear.
- Keep your head in the same position and let the mixture do its work. As the peroxide mixture moves through the wax, you can expect the bubbles to cause a mild tingling sensation.
- After a few minutes, tilt your head in the opposite direction to allow the peroxide solution to thoroughly drain out of the ear canal.
- Repeat the process on the other ear if it is necessary.
- Using this method too often can result in bacterial infection or cause dryness and itching in the ear.
- Make sure that your fingers are kept totally out of your ear to avoid the risk of infection.
- Don’t contaminate your hydrogen peroxide solution with cloths or any other objects that may be contaminated.
- Discard your used solution and make up a fresh solution for each treatment.
- Do not put foreign objects like cotton swabs in the ear as they may make the blockage worse.
- This method is not intended to replace medical treatment so see a doctor if you are having problems hearing or are concerned about infection.
Hydrogen Peroxide to Treat Ear Infection
Not only can you use hydrogen peroxide to clear wax from the ear but you can also use it to treat an ear infection.
Ear infections occur when viral or bacterial infections affect the middle ear located behind your eardrum. Infections of the ear can be extremely painful due to inflammation and the buildup of fluids in the ear.
Chronic infections of the ear can result in permanent damage while acute infections are temporary but very painful.
Causes of Ear infection
Ear infections happen when the Eustachian tubes running from the ear to the throat get blocked or inflamed causing a fluid buildup in the middle ear.
Children are especially prone to ear infections because they have smaller Eustachian tubes that block more easily. An ear infection can happen for a number of reasons including:
- Sinus infections
- Adenoid infections
- Excessive mucus
Hydrogen Peroxide Treatment
Hydrogen peroxide is an option for preventing and treating ear infections of the external part of the ear because it helps to loosen trapped particles. This makes removing the particles easier and can help prevent infection.
Note: It should not be used to treat infections of the inner ear or if the eardrum is perforated.
These are the steps involved….
- Again mix your hydrogen peroxide with water in equal parts.
- Dip a cotton ball into the solution, squeeze a few drops into your affected ear with your head tilted to the side.
- The solution will bubble up in your ear and you will feel a tingling sensation. This should stop after around ten minutes but allow the bubbling process to work for 5 minutes or so to be on the safe side.
- After five or so minutes, tilt your head downwards to drain the ear and any loose wax.
- After a few days pour a little clean, warm water into the ear to help remove any more wax or dirt.
- Using a cotton ball, squeeze a few drops of rubbing alcohol into the ear. After a short while, tilt your head and allow it to drain. This step ensures that your ear canal remains clean and dry.
- Make sure that you choose hydrogen peroxide that is no more than 3% in strength. Weak hydrogen peroxide is considered to be safe for dealing with earwax, ear infection and to apply to minor external wounds.Stronger peroxide is produced for industrial purposes and should never be used therapeutically.
- Most people consider that hydrogen peroxide can be safely put to use on the ears to treat occasional wax build up and external infections. However, it should never be used if you have a perforated eardrum. Doing so could result in severe pain and even a condition called mastoiditis if the peroxide gets into the mastoid cavity.
- Hydrogen peroxide should never be used to treat infections of the inner ear especially if the infection is near the eardrum. This could actually lead to loss of hearing.