This Belgian prospective study reported on the effect of paper patching on aural fullness of unknown aetiology. It looked at 22 patients who complained of aural fullness without any middle ear pathology. The patients were divided into a treatment group and a placebo group. The treatment group involved application of Rizla cigarette paper patches to either visibly thin areas of the tympanic membrane or to specific areas of the tympanic membrane according to its sensitivity to touch – if the tympanic membrane was very sensitive then the upper part was covered, whilst if not then the lower part or entire tympanic membrane was covered (this was based on the author’s previous experience). The placebo group involved application of the paper patches lateral to the annulus. The main outcome measure was the change in subjective symptoms after one weak of average and peak aural fullness, measured on a scale of 1 to 10. The change in average aural fullness was -2.00 compared to -0.13 in the placebo group, and -1.77 compared to +0.33 in peak aural fullness. The authors suggest that the patches usually last for one month, and sometimes require drops twice weekly to prevent drying out of the patches. Symptoms of vague aural fullness are a common presentation in the ENT clinic, and this represents a simple method to treat this in clinic that has little risk and may improve symptoms subjectively, however a study with larger numbers would be needed to determine its true value. 

The effect of paper patching on aural fullness of unknown aetiology.
Boedts M.
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Sunil Sharma

Alder Hey Children's Hospital, UK.

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