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Thread: Melting Earwax with a Laser

  1. #1 Melting Earwax with a Laser 
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    Hi! Sorry in advance about the grossness of this post! I was wondering if it would be possible to unblock or clean a person's ears by beaming a laser into them? Blocked ears are very common and at the moment the standard treatment is to syringe them with water which is a bit uncomfortable and probably not very appropriate for repeated use. I believe the melting point of earwax should be around 45 degrees Celsius and the burning point of human skin is around 55 degrees Celsius so this should mean that it would be reasonably safe to do using a hot laser. If the patient lay on their side gravity would pull the loose, melted wax out.
    Also, is there a frequency of laser that could perhaps break up the wax without relying on heat?


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  3. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericroe51 View Post
    Hi! Sorry in advance about the grossness of this post! I was wondering if it would be possible to unblock or clean a person's ears by beaming a laser into them? Blocked ears are very common and at the moment the standard treatment is to syringe them with water which is a bit uncomfortable and probably not very appropriate for repeated use. I believe the melting point of earwax should be around 45 degrees Celsius and the burning point of human skin is around 55 degrees Celsius so this should mean that it would be reasonably safe to do using a hot laser. If the patient lay on their side gravity would pull the loose, melted wax out.
    Also, is there a frequency of laser that could perhaps break up the wax without relying on heat?
    Well, it would certainly put you in line for the Gerry Anderson Prize for completely gratuitous use of technology. This is very prestigious and normally won by the US Military.


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    People clean their teeth with lasers, why not their ears? Honestly, I would find it less invasive to shine a laser into my ears than stick a syringe into them; that is all.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericroe51 View Post
    People clean their teeth with lasers, why not their ears? Honestly, I would find it less invasive to shine a laser into my ears than stick a syringe into them; that is all.
    Fair enough, I was being a bit facetious. But it's hard to be really serious about earwax. Suppose you might be onto something. But surely you need to get the wax out, don't you? Syringing does this. If you just melt it, won't it set solid again in an even film at the lowest point (the eardrum), thus rendering you severely (perhaps permanently) deaf?
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    Good point, but if you lay on your side and the laser was beneath you gravity would draw the wax out naturally, I guess it would have to be pretty melted though.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericroe51 View Post
    Good point, but if you lay on your side and the laser was beneath you gravity would draw the wax out naturally, I guess it would have to be pretty melted though.
    I also think I read that ear wax oxidises and forms lumps of stuff that perhaps do not melt cleanly anymore. I continue to suspect you need some solvent or carrier to physically transport the material out. With a toothbrush you have this, of course. But really I think it's about time an ENT doctor took over in this conversation.......
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    My ENT cleans my ears with a suction device that draws out everything and once even my brain!!
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    Hmmm.....are we talking about Asian Haplogroup ear wax that's dry and flaky...or the moist semi-hard earwax of European and African Haplogroups?

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    I use Q-tips which for some reason some people think is a bad idea and my truck keys on long trips :-)
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericroe51 View Post
    the standard treatment is to syringe them with water which is a bit uncomfortable and probably not very appropriate for repeated use.
    But lasers are?

    45C water cannot heat anything warmer than 45C. Lasers can easily warm things to hundreds of degrees C - it all depends on the mass. Just a little earwax? The same power that would barely melt a lot of earwax would burn a hole in your eardrum.

    You'd probably be better off using a high speed drillbit. (Even safer than a laser if you don't touch anything but the wax.)
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Hmmm.....are we talking about Asian Haplogroup ear wax that's dry and flaky...or the moist semi-hard earwax of European and African Haplogroups?
    Aha! So that could explain why Asians use a tiny spoon/scraper tool (an earpick) while Europeans prefer to mop their wax with Q-tips.

    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist
    I also think I read that ear wax oxidises and forms lumps of stuff that perhaps do not melt cleanly anymore. I continue to suspect you need some solvent or carrier to physically transport the material out.
    When I worked in a print shop the wax would mix with paper dust to form pea-sized balls - one in each ear. My doctor suggested softening them up with olive oil, but that may have worsened the condition (more sticky for the dust). After a few squirt-gun treatments (at hospital!), I developed the disgusting habit of blowing water through a bit of rubber tubing into my own ears.

    Ericroe51, why do you think squirting from a syringe is "not very appropriate for repeated use"? Also, I personally don't find blasting out my ears with far more turbulence than a syringe delivers, to be uncomfortable. If the buildup is uncomfortable (itchy), and doing this relieves that, then it feels pleasant.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    But really I think it's about time an ENT doctor took over in this conversation.......
    Well, that gives us Phlox, McCoy and Crusher. I guess you could take your pick.
    Crusher would use a tiny transporter to transport the wax out.
    Phlox would put his Osmotic Eel in there to eat the wax.
    McCoy would convince you that you're better off with the wax in and send you on your way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ericroe51 View Post
    Hi! Sorry in advance about the grossness of this post! I was wondering if it would be possible to unblock or clean a person's ears by beaming a laser into them? Blocked ears are very common and at the moment the standard treatment is to syringe them with water which is a bit uncomfortable and probably not very appropriate for repeated use. I believe the melting point of earwax should be around 45 degrees Celsius and the burning point of human skin is around 55 degrees Celsius so this should mean that it would be reasonably safe to do using a hot laser. If the patient lay on their side gravity would pull the loose, melted wax out.
    Also, is there a frequency of laser that could perhaps break up the wax without relying on heat?
    Well, it would certainly put you in line for the Gerry Anderson Prize for completely gratuitous use of technology. This is very prestigious and normally won by the US Military.
    It would certainly help people who's hearing is affected by severe ear wax issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Hmmm.....are we talking about Asian Haplogroup ear wax that's dry and flaky...or the moist semi-hard earwax of European and African Haplogroups?

    --
    I use Q-tips which for some reason some people think is a bad idea and my truck keys on long trips :-)
    When I lived in Israel I used to buy the generic cheap version of Qtips because good (ie European or USA ) cosmetic/grooming goods were very expensive. They weren't packed as tightly as good quality ones and were a bit candy floss wispy. Anyway, I had a couple of days of sensitivity round my back tooth and one morning I woke up and it was raging and my face down one side was hot and hard and bright shiny red. I was in so much pain and sick from dizziness that I went to a hospital dentist.

    When I got there though I couldn't open my mouth for him to have a look. He was telling me the options when a nurse came in and she took one look at me and asked if she could look in my ear.....and she got a pair of tweezers and pulled out a horrible plug of all the little fibres that had been coming off the Qtips. Each time I "cleaned" my ear I added a bit more and pushed it a bit further into the canal until it got all infected.

    I went off to A&E after that to get it all cleaned properly and sorted so I for one would say....if you have to use em use the good ones. Its not good when Qtips go bad
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  15. #14  
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    Well according to wikipedia Earwax - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    "Claims arising from ear syringing mishaps account for about 25% of the total claims received by New Zealand's Accident Compensation CorporationENT Medical Misadventure Committee."
    So there are some risks associated with irrigation. Really what I was wondering was if there is some type of laser that could melt or in some other way break up the ear wax without damaging the ear drum?
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  16. #15  
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    Hmmm, that's interesting. I'm a little surprised because there exist already relatively delicate operations such as laser hair removal or eye surgery which I believe don't damage the skin.
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    Here is a few links for you to read about a suction device that does the job fine.

    http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=C...googleshopping

    Ear Wax Removal-By Suction in a Child.wmv - YouTube
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  18. #17  
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    I dunno on amazon that thing is getting terrible reviews, everyone says it doesn't work:Amazon.com: Ear Wax Cleaner: Health & Personal Care
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    The way I solve the problem is during my morning shower I make sure to get some warm soppy water in my ears. A little daily warm detergent keeps the ear wax to a minimum. Anyway I haven't had a wax problem for at least the last 50+ years, so it has worked well for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    The way I solve the problem is during my morning shower I make sure to get some warm soppy water in my ears. A little daily warm detergent keeps the ear wax to a minimum. Anyway I haven't had a wax problem for at least the last 50+ years, so it has worked well for me.
    you have warm soppy water with detergent leaking out though!
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