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How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Treating Ear Infections

Using hydrogen peroxide to treat an ear infection can be quite helpful, if the infection is located in the external ear. However, one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that it needs to be used with utmost care.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Have You Heard?
In 1928, Richard Simmons, M.D., theorized that the flu and common cold virus enter the body through the ear canal and not via the nose or mouth, as most of us believe. This is where hydrogen peroxide comes into play, as it is not only used to clear an ear infection, but is also a remedy to fight one rhinovirus, which is known to cause cold.

Hydrogen peroxide is a pale blue-colored liquid, which is known for its strong oxidizing and bleaching properties. It is a highly reactive chemical, with the chemical formula H2O2. This chemical has found a wide range of applications in the medical and industrial sector. Medically, it is mainly used to disinfect wounds, while in the industrial sector, it is one of the most commonly used bleaching agents. H2O2 is also prized for its antibacterial properties, for which it is used as a disinfectant and an antiseptic. Many a time, it is used to treat ear infections, and is considered as an effective home remedy for this condition.
For the Ear Infection
Infection can occur basically in three regions of the ear, viz. external ear - otitis externa, middle ear - otitis media, and internal ear - otitis interna. Of the three types, otitis media is the more frequent and common one that occurs. Usually, people get an ear infection after a cold, as this condition can cause swelling of the small tube, called the Eustachian tube, that connects the middle ear to the pharynx. The swollen tube easily gets blocked, and traps fluid inside the ear, which provides a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria and germs, and this ultimately results in an infection.
Ear infections are more prevalent among young children, due to the fact that they have smaller Eustachian tubes which tend to get blocked easily. Another common cause is impacted earwax, for which hydrogen peroxide can be used as a treatment. However, only 3% hydrogen peroxide is generally used to treat wounds and infections. A higher strength solution is basically used in the industrial sector and not for medicinal purposes. Its benefits can be attributed to the fact that it causes an effervescence reaction, which helps to remove tissue debris even from an inaccessible area.
How it Works
As far as hydrogen peroxide is concerned, it is basically used to treat infections of the external ear, as well as to remove foreign bodies trapped in the ear. The effervescence reaction caused by this chemical can help to bring out the trapped foreign particles, so that they can be removed easily in order to prevent any kind of infection. Again, it is one of the effective home remedies for softening and removing earwax.
Note.- Removal of earwax should always be done under proper medical supervision, and ear buds should strictly not be used for this purpose, as they push the earwax further into the canal which eventually results in a blocked ear.
Procedure
  • Put 2-3 drops of hydrogen peroxide solution into the ear canal.
  • You would feel a bubbly/effervescing sensation, and it will appear like a foam. Let the effervescing stop on its own. This might take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Now slowly tilt your head to the other side and let the solution flow out.
  • After a day or two, pour some warm water in the ear to extract the wax and dirt that gets accumulated.
  • And lastly, damp a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and squeeze a little into the ear. Once again, drain this out. This is done to keep the ear canal dry.
Note.- Individuals with a sensitive ear canal should not opt for this particular procedure. Besides, before using H2O2, make sure that your eardrums are not perforated.

Safety Issues of H2O2
It is generally considered safe when it is used occasionally to treat external ear infections. However, it should never be used if the eardrum is punctured. Otherwise, it can cause ear pain, as well as mastoiditis, if it reaches the mastoid cavity and the middle ear. Likewise, it should not be used in the case of an inner ear infection, especially if the infection is too close to the eardrum. In such a case, it can cause deafness.
In general, the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide depends on the severity of the infection. However, it needs to be used sparingly, and also with adequate care and precaution. For a severe ear infection, as well as for middle or internal ear infection, it is better to take the help of a physician, rather than trying to cure it on your own. Excessive use of this chemical, especially when the eardrum is perforated, should be strictly avoided. In conclusion, you should talk to your physician even before using this chemical for external ear infection.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.