Ears can be very ouchy things…

I have a friend at Church who has been proclaiming for some time that he has “a manky ear”.  Although I am not over clear on what “manky” describes, I have been motivated to try and find some sensible things for my friend to try.  I know he has already gone to his doctor, and he has had his ear syringed, but it is still bothering him.  I wondered if a Country Doctor might be able to help.

ears

It really comes down to whether “manky” = earwax or pain.  I am not sure that my friend is in that much pain, and I know he has had his ear treated with warm olive oil as well as having it syringed, to no avail.  I also know that there are few things more miserable than painful ears, so I wanted to check out what to do to help people.  Lets deal with pain first.

According to my book, earache tends to stem from infections of the middle ear, or outer ear canal.  When the sufferer is a little person, it often goes with a stinking cold and lots of congestion.  Apparently, there are only two parts of the baby that are fully grown at birth – eyes and the ear canal. Everything else is up for growing and changing as time goes on  Of course, as the rest of the ear is still babysized, it causes all kinds of bottle necks with in the ear for, let us call it technically, gunk to amass and cause problems.  Sometimes it can be caused by a virus causing swelling and mucus to fill up your eustachian tubes – which are the tiny channels which equalise pressure in your nasal passages and inner ears.  And we can also have all sorts of thing in the ear as well.  Bugs.  Pieces of Lego.  Tiny cutlasses from small plastic toys.  All kinds of stuff.   You can also get an inflamed outer ear canal.  You can tell if it is that, because if you pull on your ear lobe, it makes the pain worse.  Seriously, what a useful diagnostic tool that is!!  I might just have to text my friend and ask him if that works!

ear ache

If your ear is inflamed, then I am going to suggest anti-inflammatories to help with the soreness.  It will not deal with the reason for the pain in the first place, but it will bring down the swelling, and that can only be a good thing.  One of the best home remedies for an earache is warming up olive oil or mineral oil and using just a few drops into the ear.  It is best to do this while lying down and with the affected ear facing up.  Once the oil is administered, putting a warm compress against the ear can also help.

Another thing that can nix the ache is taking a decongestant.  You need to make sure it is a decongestant without an antihistamine, as the antihistamine could thicken up the mucus and make the problem worse rather than better.

ear cleaning

And now we come onto the other side of potentially manky ear; the earwax.  Although it is a perfectly natural human body byproduct, it is not a pleasant think to contemplate.  It is in fact a natural protection secreted by a special gland in the ear and the idea of it is to trap germs and dirt.  The skin in your ears starts to grow just outside the eardrum apparently and migrates forward, taking the wax with it.  It is, in some ways, Nature’s form of cleaning house.  Often this cleaning system goes a little awry though.  It could be from a cotton bud pushing the wax back into place, or it could be overly productive was making glands.  The good news is that wax build up is curable.

ear bubbles

One of the best things to use is hydrogen peroxide from your pharmacist.  A few drops in the ear two times a day for several days should clear up any build up problems.  It is certainly better than historical solutions of ox gall, child’s urine or she goat urine.  If those are my options, I think I will stick to the ear wax build up.  When you put the peroxide into your ear it will bubble.  Wait until the bubbling stops and the drain the liquid away.  Wax should come to.  If the wax is hard, then mixing glycerin with the hydrogen peroxide (half and half) will helps to soften the wax for removal.

However, the best bit of advice?  Do not stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.  Now that seems to be eminently sensible advice.

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