Is peroxide an okay option for people with ear tubes?
August 19, 2010 11:58 PM   Subscribe

ENT-filter: Question about following my doctor's too vague instructions about treating a clogged up ear tube (in an adult ear that had a myringotomy + ear tube inserted three weeks ago) with hydrogen peroxide. I would especially like to hear from doctors and/or people who have had myringotomies and/or tubes.

I am an adult (29 years old). I went to an ENT last month, and I was told that I had fluid in my middle ear. Three weeks ago, I had a myringotomy and a tube inserted in that ear. My hearing instantly improved, and I didn't think that I had any complications from the procedure. When I had my appointment yesterday, however, I was told that there was a blockage (I think mostly earwax), and that I should put 2 to 4 drops of peroxide in my tubed ear once a day, every day. Then the doctor was gone before I could ask any more questions.

I've looked online, and there are many doctors who are adamant about never putting 3% hydrogen peroxide in an ear with OPEN tubes (As an example, from this page: 'Some of the ear drops that you may have used prior to the operation may be harmful to the ear and may cause significant pain...Do not place any ear drops in the ear that contain alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, oil, etc.') (or here: 'Do not insert peroxide into the ears or irrigate the ears if you have ear tubes, if the eardrums are not intact or if discharge is draining from the ears.'). Should I follow my doctor's instructions? My doctor's meager instructions were to take an eyedropper, put 2 to 4 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide in my ear so that it gets down to the clog IN the (open) tube, jiggle the earlobe around a bit so that it really gets in there, and then put a cotton ball in the ear to keep it in. I was told to do this once a day.. every day.. BUT I was not told for how many days. I was NOT told to dilute the hydrogen peroxide, and I was told it was perfectly safe to do this with open tubes. I was told that if this doesn't clear the blockage, I will have to have my tube removed, have the blockage cleared, and have another tube put in... in three weeks. I would prefer to not have a further procedure.

When I Googled for more information about 'ear tubes' and 'hydrogen peroxide,' I got mixed opinions about whether this should be done or not. What I want to know is:
1) Should I follow my doctor's advice and use the hydrogen peroxide? Once again, I am an adult (not a child) with an open ear tube that has a blockage. If I should follow my doctor's directions, should I do it exactly as per my doctor's instructions (which are in bold above)?
2) If the answer is yes, will this hurt (not tickle.. not fizz.. I mean HURT or STING) or cause any kind of damage to the eardrum? What I've read is basically peroxide use is fine UNLESS you have open tubes. Then it will hurt like hell and possibly be damaging to the eardrum.
3) I was not told a duration for using the peroxide. Should I continue to use it once a day until my next appointment in three weeks? Or should I only do it for one week? (In the few forums where mothers say that their doctors instructed them to use peroxide in their child's ears that have open tubes, it seems that most were told to use the peroxide for one week.)

(NOTE: I was NOT told to use Debrox, Murine, or any other brand name. I was not told to use any other sort of drop (olive oil or tea tree oil, for instance). I have no intention of using any of those drops. Please don't suggest that I use another variety of drops. I'm not going to. If I didn't have the open tube, I would consider using something else. This is not the case. I am more than aware of all of those other options. I was specifically told to use peroxide, and my question is solely about peroxide usage WITH open tubes in the ear to take care of a wax blockage.)

Thank you in advance, anyone/everyone who has any input!!
posted by Mael Oui to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
You should get a second opinion if you're not sure.
posted by knz at 1:20 AM on August 20, 2010

Just call him on the phone and ask him to clarify how long you should use the peroxide and whether or not it will hurt.

If you don't trust your doctor, get another one. But please don't be one of those people who second-guesses professional medical advice by reading things on the internet.
posted by twblalock at 1:38 AM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

My guess and that is all it is:
the tube is not open.
it is blocked.
your doctor told you to use the peroxide drops to open it.
While it is blocked the peroxide is not getting anywhere it can do any damage
if it hurts, you have cleared the blockage and you can stop.
posted by Wilder at 2:24 AM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I asked one of the ENTs I work with about using hydrogen peroxide with ear tubes and he said he did not recommend it to his patients, primarily because it will burn if it gets through the tube into the middle ear. Obviously this does not apply specifically to you and your physician may practice differently (in fact obviously does since he is treating an adult and the guy I talked to specializes in pediatric ENT). So it sounds like it would be worth a call to his office for clarification. If this is a common practice of his then one of the nurses may be able to answer your questions. In general, if you are unclear on instructions regarding healthcare, any medical professional should be happy to clarify things rather than have an outcome other than the one they want.
posted by TedW at 9:18 AM on August 20, 2010

Well, as far as attempting to get a clarification, I tried. I had a bunch of questions they wanted answered and neither the doctor, the nurse, or the secretaries seemed to have any time to answer my question. They were running an hour behind.. I wouldn't mind going to a different doctor and getting another opinion, but I've pretty much used up the very last bit of money I had for this procedure. I don't even have enough money for another doctor's appointment or prescription.. I have no insurance. I'm just about down to my last dollar. I shouldn't even bother.

Okay, I think Wilder and TedW answered this question. Thanks very much.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:27 PM on August 20, 2010

I had a bunch of questions *I* wated answered.. I should have said.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:28 PM on August 20, 2010

*wanted*. Oh fuck it already. Sorry.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:28 PM on August 20, 2010

« Older Econ Filter - Housing prices vs. interest rates.   |   Hit it off with a complete stranger...should I ask... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.