Q. I flushed my ears with hydrogen peroxide and tap water. Will it cause brain-eating amebic infection?

Answered by
Dr. B. Vageesh Padiyar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 21, 2020

Hello doctor,

I am 19 years old. I am taking Zoloft and Risperidone for my anxiety. I recently flushed my ear out with hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and kitchen tap water because it hurt. But I forgot to boil the tap water. Could I possibly become infected with the brain-eating ameba?



Welcome to

Please understand that it is never safe for anyone to use peroxide, alcohol, and tap water to flush the ear canal for any reason. In fact using clean distilled water can irritate the inner ear and cause transient vertigo. Method to clear the ear canal by flushing the ear is an obsolete technique and is not a preferred technique even in a hospital setting.

Regarding your query, brain-eating ameba or naegleria fowleri cannot gain access to your brain as there are multiple barriers from the ear canal to your brain.

To name in the sequence,

1. Intact eardrum does not allow anything to enter into the middle ear system.

2. Middle ear system is also guarded by two channels namely the round and oval window. Oval window has the stapes guarding it while the round window has a bony niche that covers this membrane.

3. There is something called the blood brain barrier which does not allow harmful drugs and substances to enter into the intracranium and thereby the brain.

Do not worry too much about brain-eating ameba entering and causing its deleterious effects on you as the chance is below 1 percent.

I hope this helps.

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