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Ear Wax Removal
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Ear Wax Removal

Yesterday I took my 90 year old Mom to an ear specialist.  She had been told by an audiologist that her ears were totally blocked with ear wax.
The ear specialist attempted to remove the ear wax with a water jet of some kind.  He said he was unable to remove it, and said he was prescribing "some drops to loosen it".
Well when I picked up the prescription at the pharmacy I saw that these drops were in fact Neosporin / Cortisone drops.  I asked the pharmacist why he would prescribe these for ear wax, and the pharmacist said there was nothing in these drops that would soften the ear wax.  I called the doctors office today and told them what the pharmacist said.  Their only reply was " that's what the doctor prescribed, it's for ear wax".  Now I am wondering if they are just rescheduling for the sake of making money off of us.  If these drops will not loosen the wax, what is the purpose of coming back in another week?  Does this prescription make sense?
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If the drops have an oil base, the doctor might be using them the way a person might use olive oil at home.  There are medications created for one thing that have other uses that doctors make of them, and it certainly won't hurt your mom to have an antibiotic and a cortisone put into her ears, especially if he saw some inflammation there.  Possibly he had had good results in the past with this particular medication also having a softening effect, if it is in an oil base.  It could be an off-label use but still work, in other words.  

On the other hand, it would not hurt to telephone and ask the doctor himself, not just his staff.

Here is some info from a different web site.  I wouldn't be trying home remedies until you're sure your mom does not have any inflammation or infection going on.

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If you have recurrent problems with ear wax building up that blocks your hearing, there are several things to do to help soften and remove the wax. You can try applying 4 or 5 drops of olive oil, baby oil, mineral oil or glycerin with an eyedropper nightly for three or four days to soften the wax. Place a piece of cotton soaked with the drops in the ear to keep the liquid in place overnight. After three or four nights of applying drops, use an ear syringe (available at the pharmacy) to flush the ear with warm water until the wax comes out. Make sure not to use cold or hot water which can cause severe dizziness. Add a few drops of vinegar to the warm water which will suppress bacteria in the ear canal and prevent a swimmer's ear infection. Avoid peroxide which can irritate the ear canal.

If this does not work, follow up with your health care provider who can either flush the ear or use a special instrument to scoop out the wax or suction it out.

For people with real hard wax plugs that are difficult to remove, I recommend Colace - liquid drops which act as a pediatric stool softener. Do not use the syrup formulation. Colace liquid is over-the-counter, but your pharmacist may have to order the one ounce bottles which cost around $10. Apply Colace drops for several nights and then flush the ear with warm water.

Over-the-counter Debrox and Murine Ear contain peroxide which can be irritating. The prescription wax softener, Cerumenex, also can irritate the ear canals. Ear candles, which attempt to melt and soften the wax, do not work.

Some people have recurrent wax plugs that require regular prevention with once-weekly applications of olive or mineral oil ear drops to keep the ear wax soft.

Your ear canal and ear drum are very delicate and can be damaged easily. Follow up with your health care provider if these measures do not help or if you experience pain or your hearing gets worse.

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After reading this, it sounds smarter rather than more sinister that the doctor prescribed something with an antibiotic in it, to do the softening, since it sounds like messing around in one's own ears can cause inflammation or infection.  The only thing that I don't know is why he would not have also prescribed something that has an overt softening-of-the-wax purpose, such as mineral oil, at the same time.
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