The role of the pharmacist lies in identifying and assisting patients with ear disorders
which can be managed in the pharmacy setting and those who require referral to the
Disorders of the outer ear include infections such as otitis externa, injuries to the ear
and blockages caused by earwax. Middle ear disorders include perforation of the
eardrum, barotrauma caused by unequal air pressure on the two sides of the
eardrum, and infections such as otitis media. Inner ear disorders may present with
symptoms such as hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus, and congestion. Ear infections are
the most common ear problems seen in infants and children, while blockages
caused by accumulated earwax are more likely to happen in older people.
Although some common ear problems may be treated in the pharmacy with
medicines available over-the-counter (OTC), it is not always possible to determine
the underlying cause of the ear disorder without examining the inside of the ear.
Unless the pharmacist is trained in clinical examination of the ear, diagnosis of an
ear disorder should be made by a doctor, who can examine the ear.
The pharmacist is in the key position to educate patients about the more common
ear disorders, their risk and protective factors and how they are usually treated.
The pharmacist is pivotal in ensuring that patients using medications for their ear
problems use these medications safely and effectively.