Sunday, March 27, 2011
Can You Hear Me Now??
What's that? Are your ears filled up with wax, making it difficult to hear? Well, the good news is that a recent study has validated our long standing recommendation regarding use of a bulb syringe to remove pesky ear wax. The study, Randomized Trial of Bulb Syringes for Earwax: Impact on Health Service Utilization was published in the Annals of Family Medicine this month. The trial was performed in the United Kingdom, with 237 patients who showed up at primary care clinics. They were randomly assigned to receive supplies and education on how to flush out their own ears, or simply treated by staff in the clinic. Not surprisingly, the study found that those who learned how to clear their ears with a bulb syringe had half the number of return visits for the same problem in the next couple of years compared with those who were treated but not educated on home therapy. Obviously this saves time and money for all involved!
What is the technique? You simply fill a sink with luke-warm water; cold or very hot water will cause dizziness, so check that temperature. Then, fill up your bulb syringe with that water, and lean over the sink, pulling the earlobe out and towards the back of your head (which straightens/opens the ear canal). GENTLY insert the tip of the bulb syringe into the ear canal and squeeze the bulb so the water squirts into your ear canal and spills into the sink, carrying waxy particles with it. Repeat this process up to roughly a dozen times. You will typically see the offending wax particles floating in the water, telling you that your mission was successful.
I advise following this process with adding a few drops of half and half vinegar and rubbing alcohol, which removes any remaining moisture from the canal. If you STILL feel the sensation of a blocked ear canal the next day, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your doctor and let her take a look inside. And oh yes, please STAY AWAY from the q-tips! They either pack the wax in tighter or cause damage to the ear canal and/or ear drum.
BOTTOM LINE: Using a bulb syringe to remove earwax is a simple, proven remedy that doctors officially recommend.