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How to administer ear drops

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Many people are wary of using ear drops for different reasons. Cold drops enter in to the ear canal and cause pain, or too many drops releasing into the ear at once are some of the common fears. However, these unfounded problems can easily be avoided by following a few simple steps. The effectiveness of the ear drops often depends on how correctly it is administered. Moreover, administering the ear drops on oneself can be difficult. It is preferable to have someone else administer the ear drops.

Following things must be at hand before the ear drops are administered:

  • Ear drops
  • Cotton swab
  • Tissue


1. Wash the hands with soap and warm water and dry them thoroughly. 

2. Wash with warm water and dry the earlobe and outside of the ear carefully making sure that no water enters the ear canal.

3. Prepare the ear drops by warming the contents to body temperature. For this, roll the bottle back and forth between the palms. Do not warm the container of ear drops in hot water. Pain, nausea, and dizziness may be caused if hot ear drops are administered. The same symptoms may occur when very cold drops are put into the ear.

4. If the drops are a cloudy suspension, shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients. After unscrewing the cap squeeze the bulb of the dropper to draw the medicine into it. If it is a dropper-top bottle then hold the bottle with the dropper tip down. 

5. Get into the position by tilting the head to one side with the ear having the problem facing upwards. If somebody else is administering the ear drops, have the patient tilt his to the side or have the patient lie down with the affected ear up.

6. Carefully pull the earlobe away from the neck backwards or upwards with one hand in order to extend the ear canal. When administering the ear drops to children who are younger than three years old, pull the earlobe backwards and downwards. Use gentle restraint when dealing with an infant or a young child.

7. Without touching the ear, hold the tip of the dropper directly over the opening of the ear with the hand that is free. Do not lat the dropper touch the ear as it could become contaminated or injure the ear. Squeeze the dropper bulb gently to release one drop at a time till the proper dose (number of drops) is released. Try to put the drops on the side of the ear canal, and not directly down the ear canal.

8. Release the earlobe and remain in the position with the head tilted for several minutes. Smoothly rub the flat skin flap over the ear canal opening, and the side of the face in front of the ear, which helps to force out any air bubbles and lets the ear drops pass through the ear canal. If the patient is a child a clean swab of cotton may be tenderly put into the child’s ear to prevent the ear drops from draining out. 

9. Sit with your face in the normal position and wipe off any excess discharge from the ear with a tissue exercising caution to avoid getting any moisture into the ear canal.

10. Repeat the process for the other ear, if required. 

11.Tightly secure the cap of the bottle.

12. Wash with soap and warm water and dry hands to remove any residual medication.  

13. Store the ear drops in a cool place, and out of reach of children.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: July 23, 2014