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Listening to Morning Edition today, I have been struck with acute object lust for a device recently approved by the FDA: the EarPopper. Available by prescription, it relieves negative ear pressure and helps fluid in the ears drain by blowing air up your nose.

Sound bizarre? It's based on Politzerization (also called the Politzer maneuver), which works by blowing air up the nose during swallowing. As the person doing it swallows, the air blown up their nose is diverted to the Eustachian tubes, inflating them and equalizing pressure in the sinuses.

When my sinusitis flares up so badly my Eustachian tubes close, I usually fix it by exhaling with my mouth closed and nose pinched shut, known as a Vasalva maneuver. It works well, but the Politzer maneuver is safer since it's possible to rupture the eardrum by performing a Vasalva maneuver too forcefully.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC)
Vasalva maneuvers have played a large role in my life as well. We had to do them as part of our Airborne Physicals for the army (where wax buildup my bane for a while . . . longish story there), and i used it frequently to equalize during SCUBA dives in Okinawa =) I haven't heard of the Politzer before -- I imagine it is safer but potentially less effective?

i suppose a side benefit to the Politzer, however, it that it drains fluids out trapped by wax / swimmers / shower ear?
Dec. 3rd, 2005 05:46 am (UTC)
The Politzer requires having air blown up your nose, which is what I think makes it less commonly performed outside of a doctor's care. Prior to the EarPopper, it was often performed with a handheld air-bag -- figures 9 and 10 on this page show both an early air-bag and an illustration of it being used.

Swimmer's ear is typically an inflammation of the outer ear. I'm not sure that either the Politzer or the Vasalva maneuver would help since the middle ear and outer ear are separated by the eardrum.
Dec. 3rd, 2005 08:05 am (UTC)
ah. well i always thought swimmers ear was a result of water being trapped in there and that one could blow it out with something like this and prevent it. /shrug.
Dec. 5th, 2005 02:53 am (UTC)
I was under the impression it's usually water trapped behind wax in the outer ear.

The best prevention I've seen for swimmer's ear are over-the-counter earwax drops. Some people are hypersensitive to ear wax softening or removal drops, so for them I'd recommend a product like the Ototek Loop.
Dec. 5th, 2005 07:03 am (UTC)
lol. all this reminds me i should clean out my ears. i dunno about that pick thing tho. i'm leery of sticking anu========ything (abby) in my ears . . . even if it says it's safe.
Dec. 2nd, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC)
Let me know when you get what I sent.
Dec. 5th, 2005 02:34 am (UTC)
Your envelope arrived Saturday; we opened it today. Thanks!

I was afraid Laurel was going to annoy our downstairs neighbor jumping in excitement, but we read the book together at bedtime. I think it'll get many, many repeats in the next few weeks.

We only get snow here in Dallas about once a year. It's a little sad, but she'll get her fill of snow when we visit Colorado.
Dec. 3rd, 2005 05:56 am (UTC)
Wow, it's one of those really cool things that just seems so obvious you wonder why it hadn't been done before. Any idea how much they are? Or would insurance pay since they're a medical device?
Dec. 3rd, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC)
The news stories that mention the price say around $300. I haven't sent an e-mail to the manufacturer yet to ask for a specific out-of-pocket price, but I plan to since I'll be asking my doctor about prescribing one the next time I see him.

I hope the EarPopper will be covered by health insurance providers because it's much less expensive than tympanostomy (ear tube surgery), which runs in the $3000-5000 range, and doesn't require follow-up to remove the tubes later.
Dec. 12th, 2005 02:01 am (UTC)
I listened to that story too. It sounds like a good idea, but I'm personally looking forward to more tests being conducted using the device. But then again, I do not have a child that could benefit from it. If I did, I'd be inclined to find a source and buy one for the kidlet try.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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