"Saia, Mom's calling you," he says in exasperation, not even looking up from his latest comic book.
"Hunh?" she says innocently, turning to finally look at me as I stand less than four feet away from her in the kitchen.
And it's been this way for a couple of weeks now. The hearing loss more pronounced after this past bout of the flu. The tender ears, though, for quiet a while longer.
Fairly certain at this point that she wasn't just being obstinate, and also that one more episode like that might lead me to stringing her upside down from the bedroom window by her pretty painted toenails, there could be no more fiddling around with homeopathic ear drop remedies and sana-sana-colita-de-ranas. It was time to call the doc.
The pediatrician, however, could not even see inside her poor little ear canals to identify the presence or absence of an infection because of the GIAGANTIC WALL OF HARDENED EAR WAX (exclamation point!) that had accumulated and been impacted by repeated Q-tipping...evidently.
According to her doctor, and WebMD.com, of course, "earwax is a naturally produced substance that protects the ear canal. It's made of skin, sweat, hair, and debris (like shampoo and dirt) held together with a fluid secreted by glands inside the ear canal (ceruminous glands)."
Yeah, yeah, okay, that all makes sense. But here's the part I don't think I ever remember learning: the ear canals are, apparently, self-cleaning. Self-cleaning? Like an oven? Who knew?
But wait, there's more...
"Your earwax helps to filter dust, keeps your ears clean, and protects your ear canal from infection. Normally, earwax is a self-draining liquid that doesn't cause problems. As the skin of the ear canal sheds, the wax is carried to the outer part of the ear canal and drains from the ear...all...by...itself [dramatic ellipses emphasis my own].
[And just wait, it gets nastier.]
Earwax ranges in color from light to dark brown or orange. [Ewww, I know...] In children, earwax is usually softer and lighter than the earwax produced by adults. [This is about where my gag reflex became fully engaged.] Children produce a lot of earwax, which tapers off as they grow older.
Earwax is normally produced only in the outer half of the ear canal and will not become deeply impacted unless it is pushed in. The ear canal may become blocked (impacted) when attempts to clean the ear with cotton swabs, bobby pins, or a finger push wax deeply into the ear canal. [They don't really mention this part in the Q-tip commercials, do they?]
Impacted earwax may cause some hearing loss or other problems, such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus), a full feeling in the ears, or vertigo [How is it that the glue-sniffing teens haven't picked up on this one and started plugging their ears with wax, I wonder?]. Poking at the wax with cotton swabs, your fingers, or other objects usually only further compacts the wax against the eardrum."On yet another wonderfully helpful website, the only thing written in the middle of the page on Earwax in Children was:
"Nothing smaller than your elbow should be inserted into children's ears. Cotton swabs are for belly buttons, not ear canals."
- Everybody's Grandmother
And I think that about sums it up.
So, after braving the ear washing (and CLEARLY earning herself a lollipop) where they shot a steady stream of water directly into her ear to loosen the hardened wax, the pediatrician was finally able to positively identify an ear infection on her left side. So, she's on a round of antibiotics for that, and regular drops of Debrox to loosen up the remaining wax that they couldn't clean out in the office, of which we are to be expecting to see evidence all over her pillow in the morning. [Double ewww!!]
BUT...I'm all sorts of relieved to know the cause and cure of this one, and, most importantly, she's already feeling ten thousand times better. :)
Chago, on the other hand, was kinda enjoying that little hold he had over her. That he could hear what she couldn't. That he could yell at her with reason. And that her ignoring him was causal and not intentional. He's really gonna hate her getting well.
And on a side note, I visited the Q-tip website just to see if they had any instructions or disclaimers or warnings about impacting ear wax with cotton swabs, and was very disappointed to see that they didn't. In fact, they may have mentioned using a cotton swab on the outer ear only once, buried on an internal page about babies. But, from what I could tell, nowhere else. Their suggested uses are for cleaning baby's umbilical cord, between the toes, and for incorporation into your beauty regimen.
I don't know about you, but the primary use for cotton swabs in our home growing up and now with my own family has ALWAYS been for our ears. So, what am I missing? Are they concerned they'll suddenly have to start paying out for ear infections caused by ear wax build up if they put up anything on their site even remotely referring to ear swabbing?
There is a place on their website to add comments or make suggestions, and I would ask that you join me, if this has ever been an issue for you guys, and if any of this is new information, and maybe leave a comment or a question for Q-tip about maybe thinking about providing an instructional video on the proper way to swab children's ears, and some sort of information regarding the potential dangers of not doing it properly? Drug companies are required to tell us about every little side effect, up to and including death. Q-tip can't tell us that inserting the cotton swab into the ear canal is against the recommended usage because of the potential for GIGANTIC WALLS OF HARDENED EAR WAX and possible ear infections? It just seems a little negligent to me.