Sodium bicarbonate ear drops can be used to treat a build-up of hard ear wax. You may be experiencing a build-up of ear wax if you are experiencing muffled hearing in one ear or a feeling of fullness. However, usually, ear drops are not required for the routine removal of ear wax.
It naturally falls out on its own.
The use of cotton buds is not recommended in the routine removal of ear wax because it can push ear wax further into the ear causing impaction, or cause injury.
Sodium bicarbonate ear drops are indicated for the treatment of hard ear wax. Olive oil ear drops are also routinely used to soften hard ear wax, but this can take up to 2 weeks before the wax will fall out. Sodium bicarbonate ear drops can get to work quicker than olive oil ear drops because it dissolves the ear wax rather than softening it. The earwax will usually clear after 5 days after regular use of the ear drops. Sodium bicarbonate ear drops may be recommended to you, if olive oil ear drops have previously failed to relieve symptoms.
Earwax naturally moves out of the ear by itself without the need for treatment. Some people may experience a build-up of earwax more often than others, this may be because of genetic factors such as size of your ear canal, having more hair in your ear canal or if you are prone to dry skin conditions like eczema.
Older age can also cause the hardening of earwax. If you regularly experience ear wax buildup, you may find it useful to use olive oil eardrops once a week to soften and encourage the natural expulsion of ear wax. Cotton buds should not be inserted into the ear, and the regular use of earbuds should be avoided as these can cause earwax build up. Ear syringing (removal of ear wax with water) or micro suction (removal of ear wax by suction) is no longer routinely offered by your GP practice unless in severe circumstances. Otherwise, these services may be offered privately.
You should avoid the use of sodium bicarbonate ear drops if: you have a perforated eardrum, you have any discharge (sign of an ear infection) from the ear, or experiencing pain or dizziness. These can be signs of an ear infection which should be treated differently. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor who will be able to advise you. If you suffer from eczema in the ears, then avoid it as it may cause your eczema to flare up.
You may notice a fizzing sound or tingling sensation in the ear after using the ear drops. This is because the earwax is dissolving, and there is nothing to worry about. However, stop using if this is causing pain.
Sodium bicarbonate ear drops may also slightly dry out the ear canal, which can lead to minor irritation. As the earwax dissolves, you may experience earwax or product running out of the ears.
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