Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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1 Kislev 5759 - November 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
First Aid for Ear Problems
adapted from an article in Bayit Ne'eman by N. Katzin

As always, if there is any doubt, consult your health professional.

Sixty percent of visits to a pediatrician deal with ear examinations and infections. In a great deal of them, we could have spared ourselves and the doctor the effort by some elementary examination into the ear, on our own, if we only had the equipment and some basic know-how.

In the U.S., the land of unlimited opportunities, this problem has been successfully tackled. A relatively simple instrument, developed by Mila Medical, allows us a peek into the internal secrets of the ear. No wonder than that the earscope, similar to the doctor's otoscope, has enjoyed great demand in the U.S. This instrument does not replace a visit to the doctor when it is warranted, that is, when the ear trouble is accompanied by great pain, fever and a bad discharge, but it may be able to nip incipient infections in the bud. It can help a mother examine her family's ears and decide if a doctor's visit is necessary.

A healthy eardrum has the appearance of a thin pinkish-grayish membrane, shiny and translucent. It is generally concave, that is, turned inward. If it appears red, with a discharge or bulging outward, this is a sign that one should visit the doctor.

The earscope comes with illustrated instructions which introduce us to the structure of the normal ear, from the inside, and teaches us to differentiate between a healthy and a sick ear. The instrument is imported and marketed by the Dr. Green Laboratories from Ein Yahav via Tel Aviv offices.

The earscope enables us to see accumulation of wax, one of the prevalent annoyances, which, while normal, can interfere with hearing, but can also cause pain and infection. There are some home remedies to rid the ear of wax, but it is wise to ascertain that there are no other problems, like infection, first, before applying them.

Outer ear infections, caused by water accumulated in the ear canal after bathing or swimming, can result in inflammation and infection of the ear canal. In the case of a middle ear infection, more common, the infection can cause pain and fever, hearing problems, redness of the eardrum and even perforation. In these cases, it is necessary to consult a doctor for treatment.

[Some common home remedies for ears: Hydrogen peroxide can be purchased at the pharmacy without prescription, and is a good thing to have around. It is a disinfectant, since it decomposes rapidly (as its brown bottle indicates -- it is light sensitive) and `flushes' germs away. Thus, it is a good first-aid for scrapes and cuts. It is excellent for cleaning out wax from ears: recline head on a towel and pour some drops into the ear. Wait a few minutes until there is a foaming action, then clear away with some twirled cotton inserted in the ear. Be very careful using Q-tips. Some doctors would like to see them outlawed! Procedure can be repeated for stubborn wax. Loosened wax can also be removed carefully after this bath with a syringe.

The most common remedy for earache is to pour some olive oil unto a teaspoon holding a peeled clove of garlic. Heat over a flame until it sizzles, cool off (make sure it is cooled) and then pour some oil into ear and plug up with cotton. This can be applied to sleeping children.

Prevention Magazine offers an excellent tip for children sensitive to water-in-the-ear. In a small bottle, prepare equal amounts of white vinegar and alcohol. Apply a few drops in the ears after exposure to water. This helps evaporate the residue water that gets stuck in the ear and which is an excellent growing place for bacteria and fungi.]


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