My Stupid Ears

Somewhere on the order of a decade ago, I began to feel some discomfort in my ears. It was a progressive condition that became painful and I woke up one morning feeling like I had a foam ear plug in one of my ears and a nasty earache. So, I made an appointment with the family doctor. He asked me a few questions and then used his ear scope thingy to peer into the recesses of my head.

“Yup,” he commented, “I’m surprised this only just now started to bother you. Let’s see the other one.”

“Well, I’m only experiencing it on the one side,” I protested, as I am wont to do with the doctor.

He smiled at me, “just humor me.”

When he looked into the other ear he commented again, “this one is almost as bad. I’m surprised you can hear from it.”

He then pulled out this frightening device that I have since learned is not so nearly exotic as it seemed at the time. What can I say? I’d never seen an ear syringe before. He placed a towel over my shoulder and handed me a bed pan, instructing me to hold it on my shoulder under my ear. He then placed a tube from one end of the syringe in a cup of water and placed the nozzle in my ear canal. He then furiously pumped the plunger until I heard a POP and a WHOOSH! The world was suddenly so loud! On this page, scroll down to the picture entitled “Ear Syringing”. The look on that little girl’s face says it all.

“There we go,” he said. In the catch pan, was a clump of blackish material that was approximately 1.5-inch long and at least 3/4-inch in diameter.

“Holy cow!” I exclaimed, “that came out of my ear? No wonder it hurt so badly!”

“Yup,” he said, “now, let’s do the other side.”

To my surprise, that much buildup flushed out of my other ear as well. I asked whether there was something that I should be doing different hygienically to avoid such a situation again. He explained that some people have physiology such that they will get earwax buildup no matter what they do, and I’d likely need to have my ears flushed out every few years.

Every time I get my ears blown out, they feel sensitive. As one would imagine, I can hear a lot of sounds that I don’t otherwise. breezes feel uncomfortable, as if they are blowing straight into my head and brushing my bare eardrums. The definition of the sound I hear is a lot more crisp right after this procedure. After a few weeks, they stop feeling so vulnerable, and after a few years, I have to have it done again.

True to his advice, I went to see him on two subsequent occasions to have my ears blown out. Then, he retired. I don’t know why I doubted that every GP had his very own ear syringe, but the last time my ears felt plugged up, I sought an at-home remedy. At one of the local stores, I purchased a Debrox Earwax Removal Kit.

At home, Jennifer helped me administer the solution and the rubber bulb syringe handily emptied my ears of their offending wax buildup with a little warm water. So, I didn’t have to make an appointment, sit in a waiting room, reading an expired magazine, and get probed in a cold office. The kit is a much gentler treatment than an industrial ear syringe, so it’s a more comfortable experience. All this, and the removal kit is about half of my insurance copay!

Over the last few days, my ears have been feeling a little yucky. Many times, they’ll clear themselves up. But this morning, I woke up with my left ear completely plugged. So, I dragged out the kit and attempted to blow out both ears. Lots of material came out of my right ear, and it feels quite clean now. Much material came out of my left ear, but it still felt plugged. The kit says that it can be used twice a day for four days, so I tried it again around lunch time. Again, lots of junk came out, but my ear still feels plugged. Granted, the little rubber bulb syringe doesn’t have the oomph of the pro version, and it may take a few attempts to get it right. Which sucks now, but there are people in the world with bigger problems, so you won’t catch me whining too loudly about it.

UPDATE – Last night, I was able to clear out my left ear and now I can tell how limited my hearing is in my right ear. I thought that I was working with only one ear when it turns out that I was working with half an ear!

17 thoughts on “My Stupid Ears

  1. I used to have that done regularly back in my childhood days my ear infections were awful. I feel for ya!

  2. Ever consider just using a shop-vac? Hehehehehe

    I probably need to have this done, but don’t want to spend the time in the doc’s office or have to worry about copay bills. I’ve tried the home-remedy of some hydrogen peroxide in the ear (tilt head, lean up against something, because the bubbling will DEFINITELY screw with your equilibrium). Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.

    • Not quite to that extreme, but I have brainstormed a few less conventional methods. The only problem is that there are some pretty fragile structures in there.

      The “Removal Aid” solution that is in the kit is labeled as “carbamide peroxide 6.5%”, so I imagine that hydrogen peroxide works at least as well. The rubber bulb syringe really works the magic. Well, usually that is.

  3. The Debrox uses carbamyl peroxide to dissolve the ear wax so you can flush it. I imagine that the peroxide solution you have on hand has lost its potency. Just run down to the drug store and pick up a fresh bottle; you can get it with or without the syringe. Also this type of peroxide is gentler than the hydrogen peroxide. It’s been a while since I was a retail Pharmacist but as I recall the store brand is usually pretty cheap.

    • Good point! The solution in my kit feels like it still has a little fizz in it, but any cold liquid dumped down an ear canal is going to tickle a bit, so what the heck do I know about it! šŸ˜› I may pick up some fresher stuff and see if that does the trick. Thanks for the advice.

    • Sorry it is carbamide peroxide, like I said I’ve been out of retail for a while so I don’t deal with a lot of OTC products. I do know the debrox website has a coupon you can print off though.

  4. Glad you found a solution.

    A few months back my ear was itching like crazy, so I doing the whole finger in the ear wiggle and a huge piece of wax came out…I head like a pop and was freaked at how much I could hear. I didn’t even know I wasn’t hearing to full ability…wild.

    • It mostly happens so gradually that you don’t notice. It’s pretty noticeable when the hole finally closes up though!

  5. I have the same problem. Never tried the kit, but will now. Just had mine flushed a month or so ago. I still have the crispness of sound. Nurse suggested a drop of mineral oil in there daily. I do a bit more and have to drain off the overflow. Seems to be lasting longer than previously. But, I can tell there’s a bit in there. This will sound gross, but last time I got some out on my own, I dropped it in peroxide, and a couple of other things to see what happened. Nothing. Didn’t disolve, but it might work to break the tension holding the wad in place. The nurse uses just warm water and the super blaster syringe. Does seem to take two people to do it well.

    • It works pretty well most of the time. I may have to try the mineral oil trick and see if I can even stand it. It sounds uncomfortable. That does sound like a kind of nasty experiment, but your outcome is fascinating. The rubber bulb syringe takes more patience, but it’s a whole lot more comfortable.

    • You may be onto something there. I’ll have to remember to thoroughly clean my ears next time I’m planning to board a plane.

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