Home remedy for ear wax found effective
By Amy Norton
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The so-called bulb syringes commonly sold over the counter for ear wax removal may work as advertised -- at least for some people, a new study finds.
In most cases, ear wax buildup can be managed with home treatments that soften the wax -- like placing a few drops of mineral oil or glycerin in the ear, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
Another at-home option is ear "syringing," which involves placing drops of a wax-softening solution into the ear, then using a rubber-bulb syringe to flush the ear with water and clear the wax.
Home bulb-syringe kits are widely available in the U.S. and many other countries. But there has been little research into whether they actually work -- and no studies on whether they allow people to avoid visits to the doctor for ear wax removal.
For the new study, UK researchers followed 237 patients who visited a clinic for ear wax removal. They were randomly assigned to either use a bulb syringe at home, or have their ears "irrigated" by a nurse at the clinic.
Over the next 2 years, 73 percent of the professionally treated patients returned to the clinic for a repeat treatment. That compared with 60 percent of those in the bulb-syringe group.
And on average, patients in the syringe group had almost half the number of clinic visits versus those given a professional treatment the first time.
Presumably, some patients in the syringe group had kept the device and were using it to self-treat at home, according to study leader Dr. Richard Coppin, of The Surgery in Hampshire. Continued...