Website Of The Week

Ear health

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 06 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:50
  1. Claire McKenna, BMJ Clegg scholar (cmckenna{at}

    It's one of life's great mysteries—what exactly are cotton buds for if, as the disclaimer says, they're not for cleaning ears? This week's 10-minute consultation (p 27) looks at ear wax removal, but an internet search on the subject will give you hours of fun. A plethora of weird and wacky instruments, with names such as “Master Blaster” and “The Real McCoy,” has been designed for this purpose ( However, for more reliable information on ear wax removal, direct parents of young children to

    The website of the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders ( has excellent sections on childhood hearing disorders and otitis media, which is the subject of a paper in this week's BMJ (p 22). The site, which is available in English and Spanish, is colourful and user friendly. Its layout is wonderfully clear, with a list of common questions worried parents might ask, and the site covers hearing problems from childhood first diagnosis. There is even a special interactive section for kids and teachers with games for children to play and classroom activities that aim to demystify hearing problems. This is a great site to recommend to parents who want that extra information that doctors don't have time to give.

    For parents who want comprehensive and clear information specifically about otitis media, is a valuable resource. The BMJ paper describes how prescription of antibiotics for otitis media is a difficult area for doctors and thus one which parents may find hard to understand. Medinfo is a useful tool for parents: it outlines the treatment options for otitis media ( and considers arguments for and against antibiotic use ( Doctors who want more information should visit, which summarises the Cochrane Review on antibiotics for acute otitis media in children.

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