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What Is an Ear Syringe?

An ear syringe might be used after swimming can reduce the risk of infection.
An ear syringe.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
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An ear syringe is a medical device that is used to introduce or remove fluids from the ear. The design is also known as a bulb syringe and it can also be used in the nose. Ear syringes are available at many drug stores and they can also be obtained through a doctor's office. If a doctor prescribes a treatment that requires this device, one may be provided or packaged with the treatment for the convenience of the patient.

These devices consist of a rubber bulb attached to a short tube. They can be disposable or designed for multiple uses. By compressing the bulb to squeeze the air out, people create a pressure differential inside the syringe. When the tube is inserted into the ear or nose and the pressure is released, the syringe will suck up fluids, such as water and mucus. The same technique can be used when dipping the syringe into a fluid being used for treatment to fill it up.

A common reason to use an ear syringe is to clean out the ear. Syringing the ears after swimming, surfing, and engaging in other activities in the water can reduce the risks of inflammation and infection by keeping the ear as dry as possible. In addition, the syringe can be filled with a fluid solution to break up ear wax for the purpose of removing wax from the ears.

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Care must be taken when squirting fluids into the ear with an ear syringe. Although the pressure is not very high, it can potentially damage the ear drum and cause hearing loss. It is also important to thoroughly syringe all of the fluid out afterward. The process can also be messy. People are usually advised to hold their heads over a towel to catch drips and overflow.

If an ear syringe is going to be reused, it needs to be cleaned after each use. It may also be advisable to limit use to a single person to reduce the risk of spreading infections. Cleaning is accomplished by filling the syringe with an antibacterial solution, such as a blend of alcohol and water or hydrogen peroxide and water and then squeezing the fluid out to flush the ear syringe.

Ears should not be flushed if there is a foreign body inside, if someone cannot hear from the affected ear, or if the ear is painful. Instead, a doctor should be consulted to clean and examine the ear.

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