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image of a man listening

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They do say that you inherit traits from your parents and I know this to be true. Most times when I laugh at something funny I can hear my late father. Other times I’ll say something exactly how he would have said it. Maybe the most difficult thing I have inherited from my father is a problem with ear wax. So much so every two years I have to have my ears syringed. I know, it’s a gross subject for many but it’s actually caused by a real medical condition.

The last time I had my ears irrigated to clear a build-up of wax I wrote about the problem, you can read it here, thinking it was mainly due to listening to rock music through head-phones. Now I’ve had the same procedure again and it turns out I have lazy ears. Lazy ears? How can ears be lazy, apart from hearing they don’t do anything else?

It seems human ears are self-cleaning. Ears secrete a wax called cerumen that is supposed to protect the ear from dust particles and irritation caused by water getting in. As the wax naturally comes to the surface the wax is eventually washed away by every day events like washing. In my case my ears apparently don’t allow for the wax to easily come to the surface, which means the wax stays put and eventually can become compacted. Once the wax is compacted it blocks the ear canal and you can suffer from hearing loss, irritation and tinnitus. So the only way to clear the problem is a visit to a doctor. Ear wax needs to be softened up first. I use warm olive oil based drops.The procedure is then pretty simple, but messy and wet. Warm water is used to flush out the ear, using a large syringe to inject the water into the ear canal. Out pops a lump of dark and sticky wax, about the size of my little fingernail, which usually results in instant improved hearing. When you have two ears blocked up, the deafness it creates is startling as you realise how much you can actually hear when the irrigation is completed.

Now here’s the thing, in Britain ear irrigation is usually done by a medical practice’s nurse. In Cyprus you have to go to a specialist and it will invariably be a doctor who does the irrigation. With the new national health system in place, called GESY, you would have expected services to become more freely available and easier to get to see a doctor. But no, our local health centre has lost a nurse and two doctors, so I still have to go privately for ear irrigation, but that’s a subject for a later blog piece.

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Copyright © Tom Kane 2020

I’ve lived in Cyprus almost twelve years and I’m still amazed at how beautiful the island is and how friendly the people are. But it was a struggle to get to this point in my life.



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