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October 17, 1977

Swabber's Ear

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1977;238(16):1723. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280170017011

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To the Editor.—  During the past year in a clinical practice of allergy, I have seen a number of patients with characteristic findings on physical examination of the ear that I have called "swabber's ear."The patients are asymptomatic. Typically, the external ear canal is spotlessly free of cerumen. There may be inflammation in the canal. The tympanic membrane reveals injected blood vessels along the handle of the malleus. There may be radiating injected blood vessels diffusely on the membrane, but not usually. It is important, however, that the tympanic membrane is otherwise normal. There is no retraction, no fluid behind the membrane. All patients with these findings admit to the recent use of cotton-tipped swabs to clean their ears.I do not know if the use of cottontipped swabs is a meticulous trait peculiar to allergic patients who know that their ears will be examined when they come to