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      13.03.2010 15:42
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      Feel like a new woman, or at least a woman with a new ear

      Gentle Giant ear syringe

      Up to a couple of days ago, if anyone had told me that I'd be self-syringing my ears I wouldn't have believed it. But a desperate situation called for desperate measures...

      I've had deafness in my left ear for months now. I really didn't want to go to my GP for various reasons. I had tried Otex ear drops, Audiclean ear wash, olive oil, Hopi ear candle ... and general (unadvised) poking around in my ear. Nothing worked. I was half convinced that I was just going deaf. I've had slight tinnitus for maybe 10 years and it had got really bad recently. Plus, I'd had my ear syringed a couple of years ago and didn't think it would have got blocked again so quickly...

      But it occurred to me that the tinnitus was much worse in my left ear, whereas previously it was balanced between the two. I thought maybe it was appearing to be worse because I had so little hearing, ie there were no other sounds getting in that could help distract me from the tinnitus. That, and a couple of other things, made me think it could be wax blockage.

      So, I've been doing a fair amount of searching on the internet in recent weeks. I came across a recent newspaper article (sorry, I can't find the link now) about some GPs telling patients to do their own ear syringing (partly as a cost-cutting exercise as it takes up a big proportion of GP/nurse consultations/appointments, partly to avoid patients' claims against them for damage caused); other GPs saying this was an absolute No-No, can't have people messing around with their ears as once the damage is done, it can't be undone. Opinion is very divided on the subject: people in non-UK countries say they do self-syringing as a matter of course; what a nanny-state the UK is!; why use up valuable NHS resources when people could "DIY" it? Etc etc.

      There doesn't appear to be much of a choice of syringes available to buy in this country. The one I plumped for is from the US. Not absolutely sure why I chose it, rather than others, I suppose I went on instinct. I quite liked the website - http://www.earclear.com/ - it was endearingly simple and human!, without bells or whistles, just sticking to the facts. For purchases in the UK, you have to contact Roland. I contacted Roland by email. He sounded a nice bloke. I organised payment via Paypal and the syringe arrived the next morning - so, very prompt service.

      I was very nervous about using it. Partly, I was scared I'd cause damage to my ear; partly I was scared it wouldn't work and there was no other remedy left for me to try - I'd have to go the bl**dy GP!

      I waited til the GP's "out of hours" service kicked in, just in case I had a mishap, then took my courage in my hands and got in the shower, armed with syringe. You basically fill it up with warm water from the shower, hold the nozzle in position in your ear with one hand and push the plunger with the other. I was advised to start slowly and increase pressure until you get a "vigorous but comfortable" irrigation. Obviously, you don't do it if it's causing pain - and you are in control of it so you can stop if it is causing pain, so in that way it's better than someone else doing it.

      I was in the shower, using the syringe for about 20 minutes, maybe about 12 refills. I was probably too gentle at first, nothing was happening. I persevered, increased the pressure and gradually bits of wax started coming out. The sensation of the water in the ear is a little strange, but not unpleasant and definitely not painful. My hearing didn't come back straight away; there was still water sloshing around in my ear and the shower was running. I had a slight feeling of dizziness and then realised the running water sounded louder. After getting out and drying my ear, I realised that EVERYTHING sounded louder. It was absolutely wonderful. The partial deafness had gone from being irritating to socially isolating. But I guess I had got used to it over the weeks and months - so now the sensation of being able to hear properly is a source of wonder.

      The cost of the syringe is around £40. For what it is, that's probably a tad expensive but then again, it's been imported from the US, the customer service is excellent, the product works and "what price your hearing?" I'm assuming the syringe can be used again and again, so it's possible that it could save some people money over time, if it saved them several trips to their GP surgery. There's also the convenience of being able to do it in your own time, in the comfort of your own home as well as the satisfaction which comes from "self healing"!

      Obviously, self-syringing may not be either necessary or suitable for everyone. The other remedies which I'd previously tried I'm sure will do the trick for most people. There are warnings which come with the device, advising you not to use it if you have certain medical conditions. As mentioned, I was a little fearful and, if it hadn't been for my aversion to my local health centre, I would no doubt have consulted a medical professional. I suppose I took a calculated risk - I really didn't have any reason to think there was any medical problem with my ear, I mean, there was no symptom apart from the deafness - and I also knew that I could stop immediately if I felt things were going awry.

      Well, that's about it. In summary, I'd say I would recommend the device to anyone who has a recurring problem with wax in the ears which requires syringing, if you're getting fed up with repeated visits to your GP!

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        05.04.2009 01:03
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        not as bad as he thought it would be

        I have never personally suffered with my ears and for that i am very grateful as i know how much pain my hubbys ears cause him.

        Working in a dusty enviroment and the build up of natural wax in my hubbys ears slowly over the course of a few years made his hearing reduce quite significantly to a point where he mumbled rather than talking to you as he no longer had any control over volume and would constantly need you to repeat things when you spoke to him, as most of you will know getting a man to a doctors is a mission but he reluctantly went to see his gp who gave him ear drops that he had to put into his ears twice a day for 7 days to soften the built up ear wax ready to go back and have his ears syringed.

        I got dragged along with him as moral support not that i know why i was there or what i was supposed to be doing to help him as he was the one that had to have his ears syringed.

        Syringing your ears sounds a lot worse than it actually is, you sit with your head tilted to the side whilst a small tube is used to push water into your ear at a high pressure and a bowl is held under the ear to catch the water and wax that comes out. My hubby said this didnt actually hurt but made his throat tickle and him cough a bit.

        After his hearing was very sensative for a few days and he found noisy enviroments quite daunting but soon got used to being able to hear clearly again.

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          03.04.2009 17:01
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          The Doctor can syringe .your ears - quick and painless. Don't waste your time on other remodies

          I have suffered from Ear Wax since my late teens. It isn't that I don't clean my ears or anything, it is just that I actually produce more ear wax than the average person. 'Wax protects against maceration and cracking of the skin that lines the ear canal. Without wax, the skin may become dry, cracked and infected, or waterlogged and sore' (netdoctor). The real problem is that when this builds up it can actually block your ear canal and can affect your hearing quite significantly. I have known it in the past when I've had the TV volume on high or when the family are about, with subtitles.

          When I first went to the doctors he actually said that it would be ongoing. He said he'd never known anybody just to go once. Once you suffer he said I'd probably need to go back once a year. Before I go I had to use some over the counter ear drops to loosen the wax.

          Once at the doctors the nurse syringes the ear. It isn't actually as bad as it sounds. It doesn't involve using a syringe with a needle. It is more like a high jet hose, which is nice and warm and you lean your head to one side as the wax falls out. When I say it is like a high jet hose, it must do more, because I tried it in the shower once, and it had no affect at all. So please do not try it by yourself as you could damage your ear drum. In fact on another occasion when I tried it myself, I caused an ear infection.

          Go to the doctors. Have your ears syringed (this tickles biut doesn't hurt) and you'll be out in 10 minutes. Good Luck.

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            05.02.2009 19:48
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            Happy suctioning

            OK so I know ear wax is not a pleasant subject but for a great number of people it can be a regular and often painful problem. I thought I would share my experiences in the hope that it helps others.
            Approximately 5 years ago I started to get ear infections about every 2 months and each time I went to the doctor they would recommend I let it settle and then visit the GP nurse to get my ears syringed. I had visions of a giant syringe being stuck in my ear so was relieved to see that technology had moved on and that it was now a water based jet. The sensation is bizarrely quite pleasant and as long as the wax is loose then it should all be over within minutes.
            The problem however is that wax isn't the same in everyone's ears and I found that I was wasting so many trips as it would not shift and I would get a telling off by the nurse for not using oil. Olive oil is mother natures Otex ear drops and is far better. Sadly for me it doesn't have much of an effect.
            I was referred to the ENT clinic at my local hospital and was sent for 'Ear suctioning'. This procedure is completely harmless and is essentially 'hoovering' out the wax. The ENT sister explained to me that the 'jet wash' that they use in surgeries should be banned as it is water based and water can carry infections. It is also quite harsh on the ear canal and drum and if you have a hint of an infection then it will simply make matters worse.
            The sister told me that anytime I need my ears suctioning to simply ring her and then turn up to the clinic. I have been doing this for 5 years now and the length of time between visits has dropped to only twice a year. GPs are historically loathed to refer to specialists but you are entitled as a patient to demand to see a specialist. If you are uncomfortable about the damage that the 'jet wash' may cause then I strongly advise you to go to your ENT clinic. Surgery nurses are fantastic but they are not skilled enough in my opinion to be sticking things in peoples ears, at one point I had a nurse stick a hook in my ear to try and dislodge some wax, one slip and god knows what damage she could have caused. This is not an attack on GPs or nurses I just think the specialists are better skilled.
            I was also informed that Otex ear drops will burn the lining of your ear canal and will kill skin cells.
            I hope this has helped some of my fellow sufferers

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              07.02.2007 21:17

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              Great to read this.. I was told I have to go and get mine done tommorrow after going almost completely deaf in my right ear last week.. although after using the drops my hearing has almost completely returned.. do you think its worth still going and having it done =SVicki

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              15.01.2004 05:41
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              • "It could affect my hearing in time"

              When it comes to my ears (both of them!), I have a terrible problem keeping them clean so I can hear out of them! I never used to have problems with them. It's only been in the past 10 years or so. You see, my ears build up with wax very quickly. Therefore, every now and again, I need to get them cleaned out. It usually works out me visitng the Nurse every 2 - 3 months each ear to get them syringed. But, what caused your ear to build up with wax so quickly? Well, the Nurse told me that a lot of noise could cause it. As I work at a Fun Fair (not now, but in the summer), this is probably the reason why! I'm surrounded by constant noise all day long from the rides, music and screaming kids! But, when you want your ears syringing, it's no good just booking an appointment and turning up to get them done. It simply won't work. The wax will be hard, therefore making it difficult to remove. There are certain things you need to do before visiting your Nurse. You will need to be inserting eardrops for about a week before hand. This will soften the wax, making it easier to remove. The wax will easily come out of your ear then. Olive oil can be used as well. This will obviously work out cheaper than buying eardrops! But, this is totally your choice. I did used to use Earex eardrops. But, as these drops weren't working on my ear, I decided to go back to using the oil. But then I saw Otex Eardrops being advertised on telly, so decided to give them a go. The trouble is, these eardrops don't come cheap at £4.39 for an 8ml tube. (Although I should be writing a totally seperate review for these drops!). Needless to say, I was glad I bought them! The best way to insert the drops into the deafened ear is to lay on your side and insert 2 or 3 drops into your ear tunnel. The eardrops will then flow down your ear at ease. It may be useful, to get a piece of cotton wool and apply vaseline to it. Pl
              ace the cotton wool into your ear after inserting the drops. The drops will run down your ear more effectively then. (Oil and grease don't mix, do they?!). So, a week or so has passed, and you make an appointment with your Nurse. A Doctor is not generally required. Unless, of course, you're having serious problems with your ears apart from the wax stopping you from hearing. The Nurse will look into your ear. I don't know what they are called, but it's a telescope of sorts with a light on. It's not painful, and she is just looking to see the extent of the wax. Some Nurses have asked me to take my earring out, but not normally. She will fill a small plastic container with warm water. The container is attatched to a thin pump with an equally sized nozzle on the end. This nozzle is placed just in your ear. She will give you a (probably, 'cos mine does!) metal container for you to hold under your ear lobe to catch the water. The machine she used to wash your ear is electric, but I will tell you of another form in a minute. As she places the nozzle in your ear and turn it on, you will hear a rather loud humming, shuddering noise. Well, of course it will be somewhat loud considering it's right in your earhold! The sensation is quite nice in my opinion. I do really enjoy getting my ear washed! It tickles, but this may not always be the case. Depending on how the Nurse washes your ears, it could hurt. But, then you must tell her - or him. Once she has washed your ear for a minute or two she will once again look in your ear. If it is clean, then job done. If it isn't, then she will carry on again. Another way of washing your ear out, which is incidentally my least favourite, is by the pump version. This doesn't hurt. But a pump is filled with water and the Nurse will squirt it into your ear. This works just as well as the electronic version, but it doesn't tickle! If you'v
              e never had your ears syringed before, don't be nervous as it certainly doesn't hurt. But, it can be annoying when your ears keep blocking up. I am worried in case after all this syringeing it could affect my hearing. As yet, it still okay (apart from when it's blocked!), but who knows what it will be like in time. I've had no-one from the medical profession tell me this, but it is a worry. Thanks for reading! Louise

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                15.01.2002 19:06
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                THE PROBLEMS Until yesterday morning, I had been deaf in my left ear for a week. This was much more debilitating than I would have expected. I could only hear one thing at once (i.e. the TV, but not someone speaking to me in the room) and as I have four children, this caused many problems (although some relief from the constant bickering between them!!). I usually have excellent hearing and count on it for so much. I am very security conscious and listen out for anyone being around the house when they shouldn’t be, as well as anyone who may be behind me while walking through the local alleyways. Without my left ear working, I found I became more frightened, as I didn’t feel I would be able to hear people approaching. This affected my confidence a lot. While waiting for the kids at school, I often couldn’t hear what my friends were saying, so I became quieter, less sociable. I thought they might think I was being rude and ignoring them. Although I told them about my ear, being deaf is not something you can see, it is not an obvious problem. My balance was also affected. I occasionally felt dizzy or had the sensation of falling backwards. I have had this before when I have been feeling stressed or nervous, as well as during ear infections. I had both this time, as my left ear was affecting everything. So, overall, you can tell it was affecting my life. Of course, there is no way I am comparing this to permanent deafness, but I think it is important to explain what was happening, as well as the treatment I received for it. BACKGROUND I first went to see my GP on New Year’s Eve as I had an ear infection. I regularly have otitis externa (a form of excema inside the ear) and had been using ear drops before this to ease the itching. This time, I was prescribed antibiotic ear drops to clear the infection. I had to use the drops morning and night and after a few days, t
                he infection was much improved. Then one night, I put the drops in my left ear and it felt just like I had water in it, which wouldn’t shift. It adversely affected my hearing too, but I went to bed and expected it to be fine by the morning. It wasn’t. After a few days just hoping the deafness would go, I went back to see the GP. She explained that the ear drops improved the infection, so the ear wax began collecting again. One lump of it had hardened and was now blocking my ear, which was causing the deafness. I was told to use ear drops from the chemist for four days, then come in on Monday morning to see the nurse and have my ear syringed. I bought Earex (£2.36 for 10ml), which are drops made from arachis oil, almond oil and rectified camphor oil. I had to put four drops in my left ear, morning and night. By Saturday, I was having brief bouts of being able to hear out of that side – literally only seconds, but it was an improvement! I would hear a pop and then a rush of loud noise, then it would go deaf again. THE SYRINGEING (it’s sometimes spelt without the ‘e’ too) So on Monday morning, I went to see the nurse for the syringeing. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but had asked around and people seemed to agree it was painless, with some disliking the procedure and others enjoying it! The nurse told me to sit down and looked in my ear. She asked me a few questions such as if I had had the syringeing done before. She explained she would hold the syringe to my ear and a pressurised jet of water would clean it, getting behind the blocked wax and pushing it out that way. She said it is noisy, but shouldn’t hurt. I was told to let her know if I did feel any pain or wanted her to stop and she would. Then, rather worryingly, she said it was possible, though unlikely, that there was a hole in the inside of the ear – in which case I would feel the water
                going down my throat and must signal her to stop! Well, that made me rather anxious, as you can imagine, but I knew I had to have it done, so let her get on with it. She put a protective cover over my shoulders and asked me to hold the receptacle under my ear, to catch the water in. I did this, then she turned the machine on and placed it in my ear. The noise was annoying, loud and unpleasant. It wasn’t painful, but it’s not very nice either. I can’t understand anyone enjoying it! It felt like being underwater (which I don’t like anyway) and although it went on longer than I would have liked, I think it was all done pretty quickly. My ear was dried with a tissue and I was free to go. I had been expecting a loud pop and my hearing to return with a vengeance, but that didn’t happen. The nurse explained I would regain my hearing as the ear dried – and she was right. I walked home, took the dog out and suddenly heard this REALLY loud lorry going past! It was then that I realised my ear was working normally again. NEXT DAY Today, my hearing is fine, but my ear feels slightly sore and a little bit achy. I am pleased I had my ear syringed because I can hear again, but I hope to avoid it in future! CONCLUSION I wanted to write this opinion because when I was told I needed my ear syringeing, I immediately wanted to know all about it. There are plenty of pages of medical jargon on the internet, but no real experiences of it from a non-medical point of view. I hope this will be useful to anyone who has to have this done. It is over quickly, it’s effective and it doesn’t hurt, so don’t be too worried, just think about being able to hear properly again and it will all be worth it. MEDICAL JARGON As my opinion is very much from my point of view, I wanted to include a few medical facts about the procedure – hence the medic
                al quotes below. FROM http://icarus.med.utoronto.ca/carr/manual/cerumen.html 2. Syringing Indications for Ear Syringing 1. Totally occlusive cerumen with:  Pain  Reduced hearing  Tinnitus 2. Otitis externa if ear suctioning apparatus not available Contraindications to Ear Syringing  Non-occlusive cerumen  Previous ear surgery (including ventilation tubes)  Only hearing ear  Known tympanic membrane perforation  Age under 16 years (debatable) Method 1. If wax appears hard, use a ceruminolytic for a few days prior to syringing 2. Cover patient with waterproof sheet; patient holds basin under ear 3. Warm tap water or saline to about 37oC 4. Clean, smoothly functioning manual syringe 5. Direct water jet towards roof of canal and posteriorly (not directly onto tympanic membrane) 6. Inspect canal after syringing 7. Ideally, dry canal 8. Check for side effects Complications of Ear Syringing  Failure of cerumen removal  Otitis externa  Perforation of the tympanic membrane  Trauma to the external auditory canal  Pain  Vertigo  Tinnitus  Otitis media FROM http://www.tinnitus.org.uk/Ear%20Syringing%20leaflet.htm “… ear drops should only be used when there is good reason for removing the wax and only if there is no known tendency to skin problems. Even if the drops are used, they do not always clear the wax. The common alternative is syringing. Water, at body temperature, is injected through the nozzle of a syringe into the ear canal. Under the gentle force of the syringe, it runs into the deepest part of the canal where it forms eddies which dislodge the wax. The wax is carried out of the canal by the continuous flow of water for as long as the syringing c
                ontinues. If the wax seems hard, it is best to soften it by the use of drops for one or two days prior to the syringing. In competent hands and with a relaxed subject, the procedure is usually painless and effective. Considering the vast numbers who have their ears syringed each year (perhaps a million in the UK) the numbers of serious complications are small.”

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