Newest Review: ... of GP/nurse consultations/appointments, partly to avoid patients' claims against them for damage caused); other GPs saying this wa... more
Gentle Giant ear syringe for self use
Member Name: PatF
Advantages: Simple and convenient and effective
Disadvantages: Some would say it's best left to the professionals...
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!
Summary: Feel like a new woman, or at least a woman with a new ear
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