Earwax Blockage in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Earwax is a natural substance that protects the ear canal. Normally, earwax drains from the ears and does not cause problems. Sometimes earwax builds up and hardens. Earwax blockage (also called cerumen impaction) can cause some loss of hearing and pain. When wax is tightly packed, you will need to have the doctor remove it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Do not try to remove earwax with cotton swabs, fingers, or other objects. This can make the blockage worse and damage the eardrum.
  • If the doctor recommends that you try to remove earwax at home:
    • Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil. You also can try hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear 2 times a day for up to 5 days.
    • As soon as the wax is loose and soft, all that is usually needed to remove it from the ear canal is a gentle, warm shower. Direct the water into the ear, then tip your child's head to let the earwax drain out. Dry the ear thoroughly with a hair dryer set on low. Hold the dryer 8 to 10 centimetres from the ear.
    • If the warm mineral oil and shower do not work, use an over-the-counter wax softener followed by gentle flushing with an ear syringe each night for a week or two. Make sure the flushing solution is body temperature. Cool or hot fluids in the ear can cause dizziness.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Pus or blood drains from your child's ear.
  • Your child's ears are ringing or feel full.
  • Your child has a loss of hearing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has pain or reduced hearing after 1 week of home treatment.
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as nausea or balance problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 27, 2016