Beware of Do-it-yourself Healthcare

It seems social media is awash with gadgets offering do-it-yourself remedies and caution is advised.

One device doing the rounds looks like a sort of corkscrew on the end of a toothbrush handle which the sellers say “the twisting action of the ear wax removal wand acts like a screw removing the wax from deep inside your ear.”

KCNews asked respected Kāpiti audiologist Jeanie Morrison-Low for her views on the product.

“This device looks smaller than an elbow, so it may not be a good idea to screw it into your ear. Besides this, ear canals come in all shapes and sizes- some are very narrow and certainly not straight. They have two parts, the outer half, where the wax glands are, with cartilage, and skin that migrates towards the outside (rather slowly), usually bringing wax with it. The inner half, closest to the ear drum, is made of bone, with a thin covering of skin. If you scratch the ear canal, you run the risk of a fungal or bacterial infection taking up residence. Wax is the medicated stuff that we produce to kill bacteria and fungusand which usually stops our ears from itching. “

Ms Morrison-Low says your ear canal will push wax out by itself, usually; and when you shower, it just dissolves away from your outer ear. If you are using an Archimedian screw to get it out, you run the risk of pushing it in further, to the bony part, where it will remain. Or even further, up against your ear drum, where it will hurt. It should also be noted that some people’s wax is hard like concrete. This screw assumes soft wax.

“While it is true that the commonest cause of hearing loss is wax blockage, current advice is go and see an ear nurse to have excess amounts gently suctioned out. Gentle syringing (by a trained nurse) with warm water is also fine, so long as you don’t have a perforated ear drum. Leaving a little bit of this miraculous stuff in your ear is absolutely fine,” says Ms Morrison-Low.

An ear nurse does wax microsuction at Kāpiti Hearing, Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the Waikanae clinic.

So there is the advice. Treat such gadgets with caution. Anyone who grew up in the 60s will remember the ‘miracle home haircut comb’ and the carnage wrought by enthusiastic parents on the heads of their children. Leave it to the experts.