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June 1959

Acute Menthol Otitis Media

Author Affiliations

U. S. Army

AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1959;69(6):723. doi:10.1001/archotol.1959.00730030737011

Petrolatum, mentholated or otherwise, is often used intranasally, as a household remedy for the common cold. Mentholated petrolatum is used in an attempt to relieve congestion. Nonmentholated petrolatum soothes the minor vestibular and septal lesions. Because this practice is prevalent and seemingly innocuous, the following case warrants presentation.

Report of Case  A 32-year-old sergeant was first seen by me on March 10, 1958. He complained of decreased hearing, autophony, and a crackling sensation, all in the right ear. One week before, he had an upper respiratory infection. For treatment, he used acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) and a mentholated petrolatum applied to his chest and in his nose. Two days later he had intermittent pain and a "stopped up" sensation in the right ear. The next day these symptoms were persistent.His past medical history was not contributory. He had had no previous aural complaints. On physical examination there was slight pharyngeal

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