Build up of ear wax is common. It can be uncomfortable for the patient and can cause hearing problems. Ear drops have been studied as a potential tool to soften the wax, preventing the need for further treatment such as syringing. This review looks at which treatment (oil- and water-based drops or sprays) can help resolve wax build up.
Bringing together the best available evidence which includes 10 studies, with 624 participants (835 ears), the authors of the study found that using ear drops when you have a partially or completely blocked ear canal may help to remove the ear wax in your ear. It is not clear whether one type of drop is any better than another, or whether drops containing active ingredients are any better than plain or salty water.
Professor Martin Burton, joint Co-ordinating Editor of Cochrane ENT and Director of Cochrane UK, said, “Many people use ear drops when they want to soften or remove wax from their ears. There’s not much high quality, scientific evidence out there to help people decide which to use. But what there is, suggests that using any sort of drops is better than nothing. When it comes to the choice of drops, there are various chemical-containing preparations sold over-the-counter for this purpose. This study shows that they aren’t necessarily any better than plain or salty water.”
Read the Evidently Cochrane blogpost: 'Ear drops to remove earwax: what works and is it worth the bother?'
Read the featured review on the Cochrane website