How to use ear drops (Updated 6 Sept 2014)

Correct position for putting in eardrops
Correct position for putting in eardrops
Tragal massage
Tragal massage

Ear drops must be inserted correctly, otherwise they may not work.

Body temperature

Eardrops should be applied at body temperature. To get the drops to body temperature, put the bottle in your pocket for 15 – 20 minutes before use.

Position affected ear upppermost

The patient should lie on his or her side with the affected ear uppermost.

Mop away discharge

Any discharge should be mopped gently away with a cotton bud. Do not be tempted to put the cotton bud deep down the ear canal, you may well cause some damage.

Pull ear gently backwards

Pull the ear gently backwards to funnel the drops into the ear canal.

Tragal massage

You then massage the tragus (the piece of skin that sticks out just in front of the ear canal like an open trapdoor) to force the ear drops deep into the ear canal, down to the ear drum. If there is a grommet or perforation, the tragal massage will push the ear drops through through the grommet or perforation into the middle ear, which is usually where the infection is.

  • Tragal massage needs to be quite firm – is rather like plunging a blocked sink, and you should hear squelching sounds.
  • Ten or twenty pushes should be enough to get the drops right down to where they are needed.
  • The patient will hear some loud squelching sounds, and may be slightly dizzy for a moment.
  • If there is a grommet or a perforation, the patient may well taste the ear drops as they come down the Eustachian tube.
  • If they can taste the drops, that means that the drops have been applied properly

After applying ear drops

Provided the correct positioning and tragal massage has been done, there is no need to stay lying on the side for a prolonged period afterwards. As soon as any dizziness has settled (normally less than a minute), the patient can turn over, allow any excess drops to run out onto a tissue, and get up.

In most cases, the infection should clear up within a few days.