What Are the Dangers of Ear Drops?

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Ear drops are commonly used to treat ear infections and earwax buildup. If used properly, ear drops can help you avoid further medical intervention for common ear conditions. If used improperly, ear drops can damage your ear or make an existing ear condition worse.


Antibiotic ear drops are prescribed to treat and prevent ear infections. Over the counter ear drops are used mainly to soften earwax buildup. Earwax drops are oil based or contain chemical agents for dissolving earwax.


Using expired ear drops is dangerous; antibiotic ear drops lose potency over time. An ear infection should be treated with fresh antibiotics.

Over the counter drops are effective, but thoroughly read the label. Some may contain peanut oil, which can cause severe reactions for individuals allergic to peanuts.


Over the counter ear drops moisten your ear in an attempt to soften earwax and shouldn't be used for more than two weeks. Excess moisture in your ear canal can cause an ear infection. If earwax buildup isn't responding to ear drops after one to two weeks, contact your physician.


Ear drops shouldn't be used if your ear drum is compromised. An opening in your ear drum allows ear drops to enter your middle ear. Foreign fluid in the middle ear can cause infection and permanent ear damage.

Expert Insight

Try to be sanitary when handling ear drops. Wash your hands and avoid touching your ear with the applicator. Bacteria can be introduced to the applicator causing reinfection every time the drops are used. Dropper tips should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol between uses.


Always finish an antibiotic prescription and don't share ear drops with others. Follow all dosage and timing instructions on the ear drop bottle. According to Earhelp.co.uk, ear drops can be safe and effective when used as directed.