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Ear Infection? Think Twice Before Inserting a Tube
NYTimes' Terrorist Tip Sheet ^ | August 15, 2006 | JANE E. BRODY

Posted on 08/19/2006 12:01:52 AM PDT by neverdem

When my sons were preschoolers in the early 70’s, ear tubes were all the rage for children with recurring ear infections. Parents were bombarded by warnings that if fluid in the middle ear lingered long after treatment of an ear infection it could impair hearing and cause lasting developmental abnormalities, including problems with speech and language, learning and behavior.

Two decades later, ear tubes were still very much in fashion. A newsletter published in November 1993 for parents of young children proclaimed that hearing loss resulting from otitis media with effusion, or O.M.E., as the problem is known medically, “can cause serious retardation of a child’s language skills, teasing and tormenting by playmates and siblings, anger and punishment from parents or teachers who may think the child is deliberately ‘ignoring’ them and even permanent hearing damage.”

What conscientious parent would not want to prevent such disastrous consequences? And so a million or more children each year underwent surgery to have “ventilation” tubes inserted in one or both ears to clear the eustachian tube and allow the eardrum to move properly in response to incoming sounds.

Acting With the Best Intentions

The tubes were intended to remain in the ear for up to 14 months. By then, many children outgrow the problem. After age 3 or 4, Dr. Robert Stenstrom of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver explained, the eustachian tube lengthens and changes position, reducing the risk of middle ear infections and fluid buildup.

Still, after the tubes are removed or fall out on their own, many children need to have them replaced at least once. Each operation involves general anesthesia and the risks it entails.

According to a new long-term study by Dr. Stenstrom and colleagues, when young children were randomly assigned to receive ear tubes or to be treated...

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: children; ears; eartubes; health; hearing; medicine; surgery; youth
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Otitis Media in Early Childhood in Relation to Children’s School-Age Language and Academic Skills

Question and Answers on Acute Otitis Media

1 posted on 08/19/2006 12:01:54 AM PDT by neverdem
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
FDA Says Viruses Safe for Treating Meat

Stem cells may help Bergen boy fight diabetes

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

2 posted on 08/19/2006 12:24:33 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: neverdem
One of my most terrify epxerinces as a toddler was getting a ear infection suctioned out of my ears. I still can remember it.

Later there was a period from 1997 to 2000 that I got in the habit of using q-tips to clean out my ears.

My ears of course produced more and more wax. In my experience you only feel the q-tip on the side of the canal but not when it touches the ear drum.

Eventually I had several ear infections requiring vacuuming out the infection and subsequent wide spectrum anti-biotic to counter.

There were also several other various symptoms which the doctors could not quite identify, of those I attacked with on my own several dietary approaches (heavy duty vinegar diets, cayenne-garlic diets etc)

W.
3 posted on 08/19/2006 12:35:36 AM PDT by RunningWolf (2-1 Cav 1975)
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To: RunningWolf

As I kid I was told "never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear."

Cotton swabs are risky as you found out, prolly spread the infections from scratching the skin inside the ear. Still it is difficult to believe you could not tell when contact with the eardrum occurred, because even if you can't feel it you can sure hear it.


4 posted on 08/19/2006 12:52:21 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: RunningWolf
heavy duty vinegar diets, cayenne-garlic diets etc....

If you have any hearing issues, it's likely due to the fact people are standing so far away from you.

5 posted on 08/19/2006 12:53:00 AM PDT by spall
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Well I went to the doctor for a regualr checkup and in his infinite wisdom decided to clean out my ears. Instead of using warm water and peroxide he used a plastic hook and managed to cut my ear canal. About 3 days later I got my very first ear infection, (I was 15) which was one of the most painful things I have been through. (including a broken femur and kindey stone) Of course another doctor at the same clinic said there was no proof the two incidents were related.

But I have no idea how a 2 or 3 year old can put up with such pain.

6 posted on 08/19/2006 12:57:14 AM PDT by LukeL
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To: LukeL

What an idiot doctor! And the other doctor sounds more like a lawyer, covering for his colleague. Good grief, a veterinarian wouldn't clean an animal's ear like that!


7 posted on 08/19/2006 1:13:00 AM PDT by skr (We cannot play innocents abroad in a world that is not innocent.-- Ronald Reagan)
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To: skr

Animal would bite his hand off.


8 posted on 08/19/2006 1:13:31 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: neverdem

I still have speech difficulties as a result of long term ear infections and fluid retention. I wish I had been able to have the tubes.


9 posted on 08/19/2006 1:16:55 AM PDT by Straight Vermonter
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Well I had/have a very high threshold of pain, but maybe I did not hit it then, who knows. I may have heard it but not recognized it as that event. But as you say, most likely the infections came from scratching the inner skin.

W.
10 posted on 08/19/2006 1:32:19 AM PDT by RunningWolf (2-1 Cav 1975)
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To: spall
Hey!

U gotta do what U gotta do ;)
11 posted on 08/19/2006 1:33:34 AM PDT by RunningWolf (2-1 Cav 1975)
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To: LukeL

Sounds like grounds for malpractice!!


12 posted on 08/19/2006 1:42:14 AM PDT by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: RunningWolf
I guess....

:-D

13 posted on 08/19/2006 2:59:57 AM PDT by spall
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To: skr
...the other doctor sounds more like a lawyer, covering for his colleague...

The thin med line. Hard to find a doctor to say another doctor is wrong, especially in the same clinic.

14 posted on 08/19/2006 3:10:32 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: Smokin' Joe

I put a couple of drops of listerine in my children's ears when they have an infection. It works every time, and is practically non-recurring.


15 posted on 08/19/2006 3:21:23 AM PDT by mgist
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To: neverdem

Actually, things have changed.

Twenty years ago, the only treatment was antihistamines, which made a lot of kids sleepy and some very hyperactive/screaming reaction (and rarely seizures).
We had to give antibiotics for ten to fourteen days, and most moms missed doses or stopped them early...

Moms and dads smoked indoors, so more stuffy noses.
And a lot of the infections were caused by "H FLU" or pneumococcus, both of which can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain which can be fatal)

Now, we have clariten, which doesn't make the kids hyper/sleepy.
Antibiotics cost more, but usually you can give a couple days of zithromax and that's it.
Most moms and dads know not to smoke indoors.
And with the pneumonia and hFlu vaccines, we see less severe infections of the ears.\

So we probably don't need as many tubes, and we probably don't need to treat all cases with antibiotics to prevent meningitis and mastoiditis complications


16 posted on 08/19/2006 3:57:03 AM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
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To: LukeL
Well I went to the doctor for a regualr checkup and in his infinite wisdom decided to clean out my ears. Instead of using warm water and peroxide he used a plastic hook and managed to cut my ear canal. About 3 days later I got my very first ear infection, (I was 15) which was one of the most painful things I have been through. (including a broken femur and kindey stone) Of course another doctor at the same clinic said there was no proof the two incidents were related. But I have no idea how a 2 or 3 year old can put up with such pain.

I, too had that done as a 21 year old. My younger sister and I both had horrible ear infections. I had it in one ear, my sister in two. I volunteered to go first so she could see that it wouldn't be too painful and it would go easier on her. I have NEVER had anything pain-wise to compare with it. Like you, I have had many broken bones and serious surgeries, but absolutely nothing can describe the pain that this procedure was. He actually scrapped the ear drum.

However, I don't think that anything could have gotten a grip on the infection like that old doctor did. He was very, very compassionate and ripped his nurses for not letting us in to see him sooner. If I had to have a child (or adult)go through this, I would have them put under. It's a horrible thing. I had to sit and watch my little sister go through it two times knowing the pain she was enduring was excruciating to me.

My mother tells of her uncle, the dentist, taking hold of a nerve in her tooth with a pair of pliers and pulling it out. Her father and three older brothers had to hold her down. Today there would be mal-practice for such a procedure. I can't even imagine the pain that it must have caused. We should all be thankful for modern drugs.

17 posted on 08/19/2006 4:16:03 AM PDT by Pure Country
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To: neverdem

My mother told me that as a baby/young child I was constantly getting ear infections. After I got the tubes I never had another one. Seems they worked great for me.


18 posted on 08/19/2006 4:16:41 AM PDT by Dosa26 (p-q4)
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To: neverdem; All

Very interesting. Thanks to all contributors.


19 posted on 08/19/2006 4:20:54 AM PDT by PGalt
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To: neverdem

Interesting tidbit, though a little late to benefit most here. Well, for those of you that are going to have children it is good info.

Breast fed babies have significantly fewer ear infections than formula feed babies. That was one (of many) reasons my wife nursed our daughter. Not only did she never have an ear infection, she only needed antibiotics once or twice in her entire life.

Dairy products are a factor in ear and sinus problems in babies and children. My daughter was very sensitive to dairy so she had very little as a kid. That helped too I believe.


20 posted on 08/19/2006 4:43:45 AM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s...you weren't really there.)
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To: mgist
I've read of using peroxide in ears to fight flus, etc. I do it during flu season.

I have a friend who swears by ear candling.

21 posted on 08/19/2006 4:46:07 AM PDT by Conservativegreatgrandma
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To: neverdem
It appears that many of you are confusing middle ear infections with outer canal infections.

The outer chamber is reachable by Q-tips.

The middle ear infection occurs behind the ear drum in the middle chamber where the three bones (stamen, stapes, and anvil) ( sorry sp.) lay that conduct the sound to the inner chamber (the choclea). The Eustachian tube enters the middle ear and connects the middle chamber to the throat. When we swallow we automatically adjust the pressure in the middle ear to match the pressure of the atmosphere. If an infection occurs here, the ear drums can rupture.

I have had many, many outer ear infections. They are incredibly painful, more than anything I have ever suffered. I learn that by washing the ear with a mild solution of vinegar that I can prevent outer ear infections and have only one since my 20s. ( The Listerine ideas sounds good to me and would likely work)

I have had one bout of middle ear infection. Both ears ruptured and it too was very unpleasant.
22 posted on 08/19/2006 4:46:14 AM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid.)
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To: ChildOfThe60s

I had terrible recurrent middle ear infections as a child that were finally cured by tubes. I was an adopted child and so not breast fed. I breast fed both my babies, and to date neither has had a middle ear infection, and the oldest is almost a teenager. My daughter has never taken an antibiotic and my son has only taken an antibiotic once.


23 posted on 08/19/2006 4:58:37 AM PDT by LadyNavyVet
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To: LadyDoc

Curious, what causes itchy, flaky ears? I was told that fluid tingling in the middle ear caused the ears to itch. And that once one began scratching (like a dog), it would cause the outer ears to become irritated.


24 posted on 08/19/2006 4:58:42 AM PDT by Alia
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To: neverdem

Stuff, acts, substances and events with no side effects likely have no effects at all.


25 posted on 08/19/2006 5:02:13 AM PDT by dhuffman@awod.com (The conspiracy of ignorance masquerades as common sense.)
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To: ChildOfThe60s
Breast fed babies have significantly fewer ear infections than formula feed babies. Ti>

I've also heard that but it didn't hold true in our family. I breast fed our daughter and she had several ear infections as a toddler, and can still manage to get one occasionally (usually associated with a cold) even though she's now a college student.

I was bottle fed and have never had an ear infection in my life. Go figure..

26 posted on 08/19/2006 5:03:21 AM PDT by prairiebreeze (Brought to you by the American Democrat Party, aka alQaeda, Western Division.)
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To: prairiebreeze

oops, should've previewed


27 posted on 08/19/2006 5:03:55 AM PDT by prairiebreeze (Brought to you by the American Democrat Party, aka alQaeda, Western Division.)
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To: prairiebreeze

Like everything, there are exceptions. Still, it had to improve your daughter's odds. She just fell in the wrong spot of the statistical curve. Also, consider the possibility that had she been raised on a dairy based formula her problems may have been considerably worse? Could be that she was predisposed to ear problems already. Shape of the ear, genetics, just poor luck.

There is hard evidence supporting this particular benefit of nursing. So personally, I subscribe to the notion that she was still better off in that regard thanks to nursing.


28 posted on 08/19/2006 5:19:48 AM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s...you weren't really there.)
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To: mgist; wintertime; neverdem
I put a couple of drops of listerine in my children's ears when they have an infection.

My son had an outer ear infection that caused his ear canal to swell and close up. When it was clearing the ENT specialist told him to use a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% rubbing alcohol. I have suggested this to other people who get outer ear infections and it seems to be very helpful.

BTW the doctor also told my son not to sleep with a fan blowing on his ear.

29 posted on 08/19/2006 5:34:55 AM PDT by wideminded
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To: neverdem
My daughter went through at least five years of constant ear infections. Her doctor refused the tubes and said she'd grow out of it. She did.

A few years later her younger brother started having bad ear infections and another doctor recommended tubes. We put the tubes in and it was the last ear infection he ever had.

Both kids are ear infection free, however, my son didn't have to go through 5 years of pain to get there.

I recommend tubes.
30 posted on 08/19/2006 5:39:21 AM PDT by Republican Red (Everyone is super stoked on Gore, even if they don't know it)
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To: neverdem

I once had a neighbor, an old Polish lady, who used to swear by her traditional method of treating ear infections. I don't recall the exact process but it involved a lit match. Yes, as in fire. Something about warming up the wax by inserting a string or something and setting fire to it.
Hey she lived to be 99.
Me, I've had a ringing in one ear for nearly 20 years. I just ignore it.


31 posted on 08/19/2006 5:47:07 AM PDT by Graymatter (Don't like the PC, the lies, of the MSM? Don't watch TV.)
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To: Conservativegreatgrandma

Candling! Thank you. That's what it's called. Bizarre.


32 posted on 08/19/2006 5:50:10 AM PDT by Graymatter (Don't like the PC, the lies, of the MSM? Don't watch TV.)
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To: neverdem; Jeff Head
While this may be slightly OT, it's along the line of similar infections.

I used to get frequent sore throat and sinus infections. As a natural extension this could lead to ear distress.

Last year I had a surgery that involved a Septoplasty and turbinate reduction. The results of the combined surgery was supposed to alleviate symptoms of Sleep Apnea. It has helped, but another benefit is that I no longer suffer from nasal or throat infections, nor ear aches as an extension of them.

I catch colds, I can feel them like I used to, but they dissapate within 6-8 hours as if they can never quite catch hold. The last one I felt was yesterday afternoon about 1:00PM, but by 6:00PM I was good enough to go to watch the Marlins get the snot beat out of them by the Braves. No further symptoms or anything...

So for anyone who suffers from these problems, perhaps they might check to see if they have a deviated septum or if they would benefit from turbinate reduction.

My surgery has resulted in a dramatic improvement in the quality of my life.

Jeff, didn't you have a similar surgery about a year ago? I've had wonderful results from mine, hope your experience is the same.

33 posted on 08/19/2006 6:02:24 AM PDT by Caipirabob (Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: neverdem

I had tubes put in my son's ears and it was a very bad experience. When the doctor suggested tubes for my daughter I said no way. She had maybe two more ear infections and then the problem went away on it's own

What bothers me the most is that there is no need to put the child under and insert tubes. They can accomplish the same thing by using a laser to put a hole in the ear drum. It is less trauma all the way around, heals better, and requires few if any follow up visits (like replacing the tubes that fall out). Of course, good luck finding a hospital that has this tool. As hard as they push tubes, it has to be a big revenue source for the doctors and hospitals.


34 posted on 08/19/2006 6:05:22 AM PDT by shempy (EABOF)
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To: ChildOfThe60s

>>Breast fed babies have significantly fewer ear infections than formula feed babies.<<

Then why were there ear infections at all before bottles?
I find the "breastfeeding" cure all to goes a little far.

My sisters had five children, all bottle fed.
There are now eight grandchildren from those kids, all bottle fed.
None of them had chronic ear infections and neither did my two bottle fed babies.

Breastfeeding is great but not the cure to the world.


35 posted on 08/19/2006 6:28:49 AM PDT by netmilsmom (To attack one section of Christianity in this day and age, is to waste time.)
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To: mgist

Is this listerine like in mouth wash? I have had bad ears all my life....have to have my ears vacumned out every 6 months, but mine are different...

I have 'dry' ear...the skin inside my ears peel and go down the ear canal causing the ear infection....ear drops don't help, quite interested in this listerine...


36 posted on 08/19/2006 6:48:38 AM PDT by HarleyLady27 (My ? to libs: "Do they ever shut up on your planet?" "Grow your own DOPE: Plant a LIB!")
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To: neverdem

My adopted son Vanya had chronic otitis media when he was in an orphanage in Kamchatka. They gave him antibiotics over and over, but never drained his ears. As a result, he spent his crucial language-formation years never hearing clear, articulate speech.

Now he's 14, and, in spite of years of systematic, targeted one-on-one aural training at home (from me, his homeschooling mom) plus intervention from the local University Speech and Communication Clinic, he still struggles with the legacy of CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder.)

I wish to goodness they had drained the fluid from his ears when he was 1, 2, 3, and 4 years old. It is so difficult for a kid when he can HEAR auditory signals but they just don't make a lot of sense.


37 posted on 08/19/2006 8:17:11 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Hear me?)
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To: netmilsmom
Breastfeeding is great but not the cure to the world. Well, I'd say the conveyed immunity IS a "cure to the world," especially the third world where the infants live in very unsanitary conditions.

Additionally, that you know someone who bottlefed all her children and they didn't have ear infections is just anecdotal. It's also a bit like saying, "We never had carseats and we were fine" -- just because you were fine doesn't mean you weren't lucky. Breastfeeding won't prevent every child from getting sick, but like a carseat, it adds an extra layer of protection.

Breastfeeding is what God intended, and it's far and away the best thing for babies. Formula can't even come close to replicating human milk.
38 posted on 08/19/2006 8:17:52 AM PDT by Zechariah_8_13 (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.)
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To: Caipirabob

I had four of my sinuses opened up and cleaned out due to chronic sinusitis, had my septon straightened to improve breathing, and had a polyp removed from underneath one of my sinuses near my orbital bone left over froma tweny year old injury. Was a heck of an experience for 2-3 weeks after the surgery, but has turned out well.


39 posted on 08/19/2006 8:19:34 AM PDT by Jeff Head (www.dragonsfuryseries.com)
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To: Republican Red

Same happened with my children. Two daughters got it on recommendation of dr. Son did not, also on dr.'s recommendation. My son suffered years of infections and speech difficulties (which he still has). I'd go for the tubes.


40 posted on 08/19/2006 8:21:33 AM PDT by half-cajun
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Comment #41 Removed by Moderator

To: netmilsmom; ChildOfThe60s
Then why were there ear infections at all before bottles?

The poster did not say that breastfeeding eradicates all ear infections. The poster said, "Breast fed babies have significantly fewer ear infections than formula feed babies.
42 posted on 08/19/2006 8:31:12 AM PDT by Zechariah_8_13 (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.)
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To: spall
If you have any hearing issues, it's likely due to the fact people are standing so far away from you.

I'm SO glad you posted this! I am constantly standing too far away from everyone, consequently my kids keep yelling, "Put your hearing aids in!" I shall now just tell them to come closer. ;)

43 posted on 08/19/2006 8:32:13 AM PDT by greyfoxx39 (Will someone PLEASE put a sock in Bill Richardson's flappin' pie hole???)
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To: neverdem

I had one of these when I was about 12 or so. I thought it was really cool how every so often I could get my ear to leak. One day it fell out on its own and that was that. No problems since that aren't attributable to loud concerts in crowded bars.


44 posted on 08/19/2006 8:34:33 AM PDT by thoughtomator (Islam delenda est)
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To: thoughtomator

could you blow smoke out your ears too?

once had a neighbor kid who could do that....makes sense now he must have had tubes in his eardrums


45 posted on 08/19/2006 9:12:17 AM PDT by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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To: dynoman

well not "had" in *that* sense of the word....the kid was a neighbor...


46 posted on 08/19/2006 9:13:38 AM PDT by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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To: dynoman

Nope, never been able to do that, though I have seen others who could.


47 posted on 08/19/2006 9:14:42 AM PDT by thoughtomator (Islam delenda est)
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To: HiTech RedNeck
...because even if you can't feel it you can sure hear it.

Huh?

48 posted on 08/19/2006 9:17:13 AM PDT by TankerKC (Step Back! Doors Closing.)
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To: neverdem

I never had ear problems until I was 42 years old. I think its all sinus related which has gotten worse the past two years. Had sinus surgery six years ago which helped reduce the sinus headaches but I still get infections which I think is effecting my ears. I got a bad ear infection last year and my ears have never gotten back to normal, constantly congested and intermittent pain. I'm on antibiotics now but nothing has changed.


49 posted on 08/19/2006 9:41:14 AM PDT by muslims=borg (You don't own property in New Jersey; you rent it from your local school board.)
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To: mgist
I put a couple of drops of listerine in my children's ears when they have an infection.

I squeezed the liquid from vitamin A pills into my kid's ears. Very successful. Vitamin B-2 works wonders for kids with constant nose bleeds.

50 posted on 08/19/2006 9:56:41 AM PDT by aimhigh
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