Posted by Natasha (UK) on 10/09/2006
[WARNING!] Anyone with major ear problems, please do not use hydrogen peroxide, particularly Deb with the broken ear drum! It is basically bleach and is a really fierce chemical. It only works to clear earwax and you must be sure this is where your problem is coming from if you want to use it. In the UK, hydrogen peroxide is NOT recommended by doctors even for this - they actually recommend pharmaceutical olive oil, which is sterilised, mixes with the wax and helps it soften and clear naturally.
Ears are delicate and can easily be sent out of balance. I used to use q-tips to clean my ears and now suffer from chronic otitis externa, which is basically eczma in the outer ear. I haven't noticed earwax for years, just a dampness and whitish discharge. This, with the "debris" which collects in the ear (dead skin), provides a perfect environment for bacteria to breed in.
The first time I ever had an infection was when I had had a cold, used q-tips and took a long-haul flight with two changeovers. I had the WORST ear infection when I landed the third time and spent the next week in bed on antibiotics and painkillers in the most horrendous pain. That was five and a half years ago and I now have to use ear plugs in any situation where my ears can get wet (swimming, showering) or I will get an infection within 24 hours. I also have to be very careful to avoid introducing germs to the ear with a hand or headphones etc - in-ear headphones are not an option! This is actually a pretty common condition, is most often caused by using q-tips and is not curable. I'm 24.
Saying this, I have heard that garlic can be a very good antibiotic and also Hopi ear candles are great for clearing blocked sinuses. I am very cautious in using anything non-prescribed myself these days as my condition is so sensitive that I'm afraid anything will set it off, but these are gentle enough not to be so bad. Regarding hydrogen peroxide, if you are more resiliant, maybe have a go, but with more serious conditions, don't risk it! And don't ever use it for an extended time. These are all things your doctors should be telling you - there are a lot of advantages to free medicine...