This organ is extremely tender, and subject to a variety of disorders. If it be suffered to continue for any length of time without being cleaned, a species of wax accumulates in it; which, if not speedily removed, becomes tough and hard, diminishes the acuteness of hearing, and produces at length total deafness. An abundance of ear-wax, if thin and acrid, occasions pain, and is sometimes accompanied with a running in the ears: hence these parts should be strengthened by washing them every day with cold water ; by which the sense of hearing will be considera-bly improved and preserved.
The most common disorder to which these organs are liable, is Deafness. Having already treated of that malady, we cannot avoid animadverting on the impropriety of employing the common ear-trumpets, which, though they may afford temporary aid, ultimately destroy that useful sense. Deaf persons, however, may still be enabled to receive sounds, and in a more perfect, manner, through the teeth and other bones of the head, than by communicating such sounds to the ear by the common trumpet. A better method, therefore, may be attempted by means of an ivory tube, of a cylindrical form, from 12 to 24 inches in length, and from 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch in diameter. If it be hollow throughout, the lower extremity should be made much wider than the part placed between the front teeth, through which the necessary vibrations may thus be communicated to the internal ear.
To this may be added the distressing complaint, denominated the ear-ach, which usually proceeds from an inflammation, though it is sometimes occasioned by a sharp .serous humour, stimulating the membrane that lines the canal of the ear : this painful affection also sometimes originates from insects that have penetrated the cavity of the ear; in which case, some sweet-oil should be introduced into the orifice, and the person ought to lie on that side of the body, the ear of which is the seat of complaint. By such mean, the worm or insect, may be extracted, and the pain consequently removed.
Loss of one ear is a punishment, inflicted by the 5th and 6th Edw. VI. c. 4, for fighting in a churchyard. By the 2 and 3 of the same king, c. 15, all persons who are convicted of combining and confederating together for raising the price of provisions, labour, etc. (if it be the third offence) are to lose one ear; beside being put into the pillory, and branded with perpetual infamy, or a fine of 40l.
Ear. - Beside the causes assigned for the painful affection, known under the name of Ear-ach, it may be occasioned by taking cold from exposure to a current of air, or from wet feet, and likewise from blows, falls, or similar accidents.
For persons peculiarly liable to take cold, the best preventive will be, to keep both the head and feet warm and dry. In ordinary cases, Dr. Dancer is of opinion, that the patient will be relieved, by holding the painful side over the steam of warm water, and afterwards putting into the ear a piece of camphor wrapped in cotton, which has been previously moistened with a few drops of laudanum, or vitriolic aether. - Electricity may also be employed, in some instances, with great success.
Should the pain, however, be extremely acute, and accompanied with throbbing, and other inflammatory symptoms, it will be advisable to resort to blood-letting, and to apply blisters behind the ear, or to the neck. If an abscess be apprehended, warm poultices should be frequently laid on the part affected, before they become cold ; and when such abscess breaks, milk. and water, or chamomile tea with the tincture of myrrh, must be repeatedly injected by means of a syringe.