Registered Nurse (RN)
Fundamentals of Nursing
Routes of Administration
Ear Drops Medication Administration

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Ear Drops Medication Administration

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Routes of Administration Part One

Ear Drops Medication Administration

Ear Drops Medication
Administering ear medication is a fundamental skill that requires the nurse to either irrigate the ear canal or carefully place drops into the ear canal. Be sure to administer the medication as ordered and in the correct ear. While performing the procedure, educate the patient on proper techniques for home care.
Earwax Buildup

Some individuals produce an excess of earwax. In some cases, a blockage or impaction of cerumen can occur, and the ear may need to be irrigated to clean the canal out.

Ear Infections
Ear Bacteria

Ear infections (acute otitis media) occur when fluid becomes trapped in the middle ear. Pressure can build up, causing pain and diminished hearing on the affected side. Antibiotic drops can be used to treat the infection. Educate the patient to administer medication as prescribed and to finish antibiotic therapy.

Child - Back and Downward
Child pulled Back and Down

To straighten out the ear canal in children less than 3 years of age, pull the Pinna/Auricle (outer part of the ear) back and downwards. This method administers a drop more accurately into the ear by permitting gravity to pull it down. “Child” has the letter “D” for Downward.

Adult - Back and Upward
Adult pulled Back and Up

To straighten the ear canal for adult patients, you need to pull the Pinna/Auricle (outer part of the ear) back and upwards. This method administers a drop more accurately into the ear canal by allowing gravity to pull it down. “Adult” has a “U” for Upward.

Side-Lying with Ear Up
Side-Lying with Ear Up

To allow gravity to assist the medication into the middle ear, place the patient on the side with the ear facing up.

Instill Medication
Instilling Medication

When administering a drop, hold the dropper about 1 cm (1/2 inch) above the ear canal while holding the Pinna in the proper position. Do not allow the tip of the dropper to make contact with your hands or the patient. The solution is sterile, and the tip needs to be kept clean.

Stay for 2-3 Minutes
Staying for the (2) Tutu (3) Tree Timer

To allow the medication time to travel to the middle ear and not drain out, keep the patient in the side-lying position or keep the ear facing upward for 2-3 minutes.

Room Temperature
Room Thermostat

The inner ear is sensitive to temperature changes. To prevent vertigo, dizziness, or nausea, make sure the solution is kept at room temperature.

May Massage Tragus
Massaging Tragus-triangle

To help disperse the medicine in the ear, you can gently massage the tragus unless contraindicated because of pain.

Perforated Eardrum
Broken Ear-drum

If drainage is present, confirm that the patient’s eardrum is not perforated. If so, this would be a contraindication for administering the ear drops. If irrigating the ear canal, never put a syringe directly into the canal or forcefully put medication in the ear canal, the pressure could perforate the eardrums.


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