In 1861 Adam Politzer of Vienna spent much time studying the air movement in the Eustachian tubes and the ear canal. He would measure the air movement by attaching a manometer, a very large gauge, to the ear canal and the pharynx. He developed an apparatus known as the Politzer bag in 1863 which is a less invasive way to clear the Eustachian tubes.
Politzerization, also known as the Politzer maneuver, is a medical procedure which inserts air in the middle ear while the patient swallows to equalize the pressure that is shared between the ear, Eustachian tubes, and the sinuses. The basic design is a pear-shaped rubber bag with a hose attached to it. The bag would fill with air, the hose would be placed in one of the patient’s nostril while pinching the nose closed around the hose and then as the patient swallowed air, the bag would be deflated by squeezing. The air would enter and clear the Eustachian tubes and equalize the pressure in the sinuses.
The most common use for politerization is to clear the Eustachian tubes on a patient that is experiencing otitis media, or middle ear infection. A middle ear infection on a chronic basis can be very painful. Moving the blockages from the Eustachian tubes can relieve some of that pain. Some experts have thought that chronic middle ear infections can affect speech, language, cognition, and academic performance. Use of this method on a regular basis could counteract these issues on a long-term basis.
Modernization of Method
Shlomo Silman, PhD is a professor of hearing sciences and audiology at Brooklyn College. He developed the EarPopper with otolaryngologist Daniel Arick, M.D. It is a hand-held version of the concept of the politzer bag. It delivers controlled air through the nostrils and is operated by batteries. This device can be used at home and is ideal for those with chronic middle ear infections or those with Eustachian tube dysfunction.
Image Caption: Illustration of politzerization a procedure invented by Dr. Adam Politzer. Original drawing in his book of 1863. Credit: Wikipedia