Ear Care


The practice nurses are happy to assess you if you feel your ears need to be syringed. However, if you are experiencing pain, or discharge from your ear, or if you have a history of ear surgery or a perforated eardrum, you should make an appointment with your usual GP for assessment before you can be seen by a nurse.

Did you know…?

  • Ears are designed to clean themselves. Wax in ears is normal (although excessive wax can result in hearing problems).
  • Ears need wax for lubrication and protection. Ear wax is acidic and has bactericidal and fungicidal properties.
  • Try to keep your ears dry. Static water left in the ear canal can lead to infection.
  • Please do not use cotton buds (or any other implement) as it only pushes the wax further into the ear. This can make it more difficult to remove and can cause damage to the ear drum.

Care of your ears

  • Prior to a consultation for wax removal, instill 2-3 drops of olive oil (at room temperature) twice a day for a week prior to the consultation.
  • Do not leave cotton wool at the entrance of the ear. Apart from the risk of it getting stuck in the ear canal, it acts as a wick and soaks up the oil.
  • You may find it easier to instill the oil using a “dropper” bottle. The “dropper” bottle is inexpensive and can be bought from your local chemist.
  • If your ears have a tendency to become blocked with wax, it is sometimes helpful to instill one or two drops of olive oil into the affected ear(s) on a weekly basis. This is often enough to soften the wax sufficiently to run out naturally.

Procedure to instill ear drops

  1. Lie down on your side with the affected ear uppermost.
  2. Pull the ear backwards and upwards (see diagram). Drop 2-3 drops of the olive oil into the ear canal and massage just in front of the ear.
  3. Stay lying down for 5 minutes and then wipe away excess oil. Do not leave cotton wool at the entrance to the ear.
  4. Repeat the procedure with the opposite ear if necessary.

Don’t Ignore your Ear Problem…

Please make an appointment with your GP practice if you have any ear problems, for example:

  • You have recently found it difficult to hear the television or radio.
  • You are missing words in conversations.
  • You have recently developed a sensitivity to sudden noises.
  • You have dizziness or ringing in your ears.
  • You have a discharge coming from the ear.

This leaflet has been produced by South Central Edinburgh Local Health Care Co-operative (SCELHCC) In conjunction with Trust protocol and the Ear Irrigation working group. SCELHCC would like to acknowledge that this leaflet has been adapted from information kindly supplied by the Primary Ear Care Centre Rotherham.