When most people experience discomfort, they think to treat it at the source. Got a stiff neck? Stretch and massage the neck muscles. Got a toothache? Head to the dentist to check for cavities. It’s unsurprising then that many people when they first experience tinnitus symptoms, reach for a treatment that reaches where the symptoms are originating. Specifically for tinnitus, it is ear drops. But do ear drops work for tinnitus? When are they appropriate to try, and when are patients just wasting their money on an ineffective remedy? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is sound you hear that doesn’t have an external source. Most people describe tinnitus as a ringing sound, but patients can experience it in many different ways including whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, roaring or even a heartbeat. It can be loud or soft, occasional or constant, a mild annoyance or an incapacitating chronic condition. Some 50 million Americans have experienced tinnitus symptoms, and of those, 2 million experience severe, debilitating symptoms.
One of the reasons that treating tinnitus can be so difficult is because it’s not an actual disease, but rather a symptoms of something else going on in your body. That “something” could be anything from hearing damage, to stress, to a side effect from medications and more. One common cause of tinnitus is earwax. While earwax is completely natural, too much earwax can lead to impaction that can irritate the middle and inner ear and lead to tinnitus symptoms. In this case, ear drops may relieve your tinnitus symptoms.
What Is Earwax?
Earwax is a natural secretion found in the ear, preventing infection and protecting the ear against dust, dirt and debris. It’s made up of skin cells, dust and oily secretions from the sebaceous and ceruminous glands that lubricate the ear and prevent your ears from becoming too dry.
Your ears are self-cleaning, so there’s usually no need to remove earwax yourself. Sometimes, though, earwax can build up, especially in dry weather or if you have a narrow ear canal. Earwax can also get pushed against the eardrum if you use cotton swabs or hearing aids, or if water gets trapped in your ear and causes the earwax to expand. All of these situations can lead to symptoms of tinnitus. If you believe your tinnitus symptoms are caused by earwax, ear drops may help remove the blockage and provide temporary or even permanent relief.
How Do I Use Ear Drops for Tinnitus?
Lay with your head on one side and use a dropper to drip the solution into your ears (never place the dropper directly into the ears). Lay still for a couple of minutes to allow the ear drops to move along the ear canal. When you sit up, place a tissue or cotton ball against the outside of your ear to soak up any excess. Some people find it easiest to use ear drops when they are in bed, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
What Are Some Top-Rated Ear Drops?
There are several drops tinnitus patients have used to find relief. These include:
- Debrox: Debrox releases oxygen when the drops are placed inside the ears. The active ingredient, carbamide peroxide generates a foam when it comes in contact with your earwax and loosens it for easy removal. To use, place five to 10 drops of Debrox in each ear. During this time, you may hear a bubbling or crackling sound. After 15 minutes, you can flush the product from your ears with warm water. The Debrox company recommends using the product two times a day for optimal results.
- Ring Relief: Ring Relief is a homeopathic treatment for temporary tinnitus relief. While no over-the-counter medications have been proven to effectively treat tinnitus, Ring Relief is sold at several popular pharmacies so it is worth our discussion. Ring Relief contains such ingredients as arnica, hypericum, lycopodium and others. The company claims they help with ringing, buzzing, roaring in the ears, sensitivity to noise, throbbing and discomfort. To use, apply 3 to 5 drops twice per day or as needed, and leave them in your ear for 20 to 40 seconds.
- Olive Oil: rather than use ear drops that can be irritating, expensive or drying, many people prefer olive oil. Olive oil is easy to find, affordable, comfortable to use with no drying effects and does not need to be warmed before use. To use, apply two or three drops twice a day for one to two weeks. Usually, the earwax will come out by itself.
What Can I Do If the Drops Don’t Work on My Earwax?
If after using ear drops you suspect there still may be wax irritating your ears, go see your personal doctor. Your doctor may use several methods to remove the wax, including ear irrigation (a process that uses warm water from a gentle, pressure-controlled irrigator to loosen and flush out the wax) or micro-suction (when a small microscope and suctioning instrument is used to remove the wax).