Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, can be used to make a solution. Drops are used to soften ear wax build-up, allowing for easier passage out of the ear, either on its own or facilitated by syringing in a medical setting. Sodium bicarbonate drops can be made and used at home with the proper recipe and storage guidelines.
Cerumen is a sticky liquid produced in the wax glands of the external ear. Ear wax is a combination of cerumen, sweat, and dead skin. Its purpose is to provide a physical barrier between the inner ear and the outside world, thus protecting the inner ear from anything that might enter it. Ear wax regularly migrates out of the ear, maintaining a proper balance. Occasionally a build-up of ear wax can form because of either excessive ear wax production or minimal elimination. When this occurs, pain, infection, and hearing loss can result.
Sodium bicarbonate drops can be either purchased or made at home; they are generally available in a 10 per cent solution, which means 10 grams of sodium bicarbonate to one hundred millilitres of water, according to Experimental Biosciences. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with two ounces or one-quarter cup of warm water and stir until the baking soda is completely dissolved. Store drops in a glass container with a dropper lid. Although warm water should be used when mixing drop solutions, always allow it to cool to room temperature before applying drops to the ear canal.
If you are using drops at home, be sure to clean your hands thoroughly before beginning so as not to introduce any foreign materials into the ear. Clean out the ear fully with warm water and allow it to dry. Once dry, tilt your head so the affected ear is facing up and allow four to five drops to fall into the ear; be careful not to touch the container to the inside of the ear. Remain in this position for several minutes to allow the drops to contact the ear wax. Repeat one to two times per day for five days. If no improvement is felt, contact your doctor's office. In a medical setting, drops will be applied by a health care professional and followed up by syringing the ear canal.
Drops should be used externally only and should not be shared between individuals. According to Patient UK, a mild stinging sensation may be present on application. If this becomes very painful or any other symptoms develop, contact your health care professional. Sodium bicarbonate drops should never be used by anyone with a perforated ear drum. Pregnant or breast-feeding women, people with a history of medication allergies, and anyone taking other medications should consult their doctors before using sodium bicarbonate ear drops.
As with all medications sodium bicarbonate drops should be kept out of the reach of children. They should be stored in a cool, dry place as heat and sunlight can affect their efficacy. Drops should be discarded four weeks after production or four weeks after opening commercially produced drops.