While there are many problems which present in the pharmacy concerning the ear, accurate diagnosis is essential and so most are referred to the pharmacist. Wax in the ear occurs commonly in adults and is one of the main causes of temporary deafness. It may cause discomfort and a sensation that the ear is blocked.


The need for earplugs due to noise or contact with water can also bring people to the pharmacy, there are different types of earplug available and so it is important to ask for advice if you are unsure as to which type is most appropriate.




If an ear is blocked for more than 3 days do not treat this, go to your GP.


There are many eardrop preparations available for the quick and easy removal of earwax. These should be warmed before use to about body temperature (e.g. in the palm of the hand) and then with the head inclined, the required number of drops should be placed in the ear. This may cause a harmless tingling sensation. A cotton wool plug should then be applied to retain the fluid; this is best kept in overnight, or for at least an hour. This is repeated three times daily for three days, and the earwax will run out of its own accord. The drops may worsen temporary deafness initially.


NOTE: Cotton wool buds should never be used on a waxy ear as they can push hard wax into the eardrum.


If the eardrops do not work, the doctor may have to syringe out the wax. The prior use of eardrops will in any case make this process a lot easier and so should still be attempted.


If there is pain in the ear, this should be investigated by a doctor. Wax does not cause pain and ear drops may worsen the problem by irritating an already sore ear canal.


Decongestants such as Sudafed may be useful for the treatment or prevention of pain caused by pressure changes in the ear, for example when flying. Check with the pharmacist to see if this medication is suitable for you.
We recommend two types of ear plugs – QUIES for sound (for students, light sleepers, and those working or living in environments of high sound) – these are a waxy plug which are easy to use and most effective for shutting out of sound.
The other plug is reusable and more suitable for swimmers – this the EAREX plug –may often be recommended for children who swim with grommets in place.