Why You Should NEVER Use Q-Tips (or Any Other Objects) in Your EarWhy You Should NEVER Use Q-Tips (or Any Other Objects) in Your Ear
Reason 1: Risk of Injury
Most ear cleaning attempts merely push ear wax deeper into the ear canal, causing further blockage at the very least. At the worst, a Q-tip can puncture the ear drum. Other injuries that are caused by Q-tips include injuries to the ear canal. Over-aggressive cleaning can scratch and bruise the very thin and sensitive canal walls this can lead to swelling and infection, which can be very painful.
Reason 2: You NEED Ear Wax
The skin of the ear canal has special glands that produce ear wax to trap dust, dirt, loose hairs and insects and keep these things away from your eardrum. The ears are almost always SELF-CLEANING and should not require cleaning at all.
What should I do if I think my ears are blocked with wax?
If your ears feel full, they itch, or you have decreased hearing, your ears may be impacted with cerumen or ear wax. If you tend to have dry wax, you can try mineral oil, baby oil, or olive oil at bedtime into the ear canals to emulsify the substance. If you tend to have wet wax, we recommend you try a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol to try to dissolve the wax so that it will come out on its own. If trying these fails you, we would recommend seeing an ENT who can clean your ears under a microscope using special tools so that they can see the small structures of the ear and safely remove any impaction. We DO NOT recommend irrigating the ears (see Reason 1). If you or someone you know suffers from ear wax impactions, please do not hesitate to contact us for an appointment! While this is certainly not considered emergent, we do try our best to get patients in a soon as possible!
Identifying the Risks of Head & Neck Cancer.
90% of Head & Neck Cancers occur from prolonged exposure to specific risk factors. Oftentimes, these factors are 100% preventable. The most severe offender is the use of tobacco. Tobacco in the form of cigarettes, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco are the worst offenders and are associated with a majority of these types of cancer. This is especially true when coupled with heavy alcohol use. In adults that do not smoke or drink, cancer of the throat can occur as a result of HPV (human papilloma virus). Prolonged exposure to sunlight is linked with cancer of lip and skin cancers of the head and neck region.
Symptoms of Head & Neck Cancer.
1. Lump or lumps in the neck that do not go away, last more than 2 weeks, or continue to enlarge should be checked by your doctor. Not all lumps are cancer.
2. Change in voice that persists longer than two weeks should be evaluated with a laryngoscopy. While most voice changes are not cancer, you shouldn't take the chance.
3. A growth in the mouth, ESPECIALLY IF IT IS PAINLESS! If the area of concern is present more than a week, it may need to be biopsied.
4. Bringing up blood. Some tumors do bleed, but not always. However, bleeding of any kind is not normal and should be checked out irregardless.
5. Swallowing problems. If you have trouble almost every time you swallow something, you should be examined by a physician to rule out cancer or another reason for the issue. Throat cancers and esophageal cancers often make themselves known with a symptom of difficulty swallowing foods and sometimes liquids.
6. Persistent ear pain. Many areas of the face, head and neck refer to the ear. If ear pain is also associated with hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or a lump in the neck, it is even more concerning for a tumor. All ear pain should be evaluated by an ENT to rule out throat or neck cancer.
7. Changes to the skin. Skin cancers of the face/neck region are common because this is the areas most exposed to the sun. Any patchy skin, raised areas, or concerning moles should be evaluated.
What Should I Do If I Think I Might Have Head & Neck Cancer.
SEE YOUR DOCTOR! Many of the above listed symptoms and signs can occur with no cancer present, and most often this is the case, but you cannot be certain without an examination! When found early, most cancers of the head and neck can be cured with few side effects! Also, we encourage you to practice healthy lifestyle habits and choices which will help prevent these diseases.
If you are interested in seeing one of our providers to be evaluated for one of the symptoms described above, please feel free to call us at 402-778-5250 or Appointment Request online.
10 Facts about Oral, Head & Neck Cancer...
- HPV (human papilloma virus) is responsible for the rise in cancers of the tonsils and base of tongue in non-smokers and is related to oral sex.
- Tobacco and alcohol use are the leading cause of mouth/voice box cancers.
- Cancers of the head and neck account for 6% of all cancers in the U.S.
- Cigarette smoking increases your risk of cancer by 15 times.
- Thyroid cancers account for over 55,000 new cancers each year in the U.S.
- 66% of the time, oral cancers will be found as late stage three or four disease
- Most head and neck cancers can be prevented.
- Because of the location of head and neck cancers, it often affects breathing, eating, drinking, voice, speaking, and appearance.
- Thyroid cancer is more common in women, but thyroid cancer is one the LEAST deadly cancers of the head and neck.
- People who work in environments with dust, glues, formaldehyde, mustard gas, certain heavy metals, and radium are at a higher risk for developing nasal and paranasal cancers.
If you or someone you is concerned that they may have signs or symptoms of an oral, head or neck cancer, we encourage you to see a doctor, whether it be your family physician, a provider at ENT Consultants, or a doctor at any other local ENT office. Early detection is key in treatment of these types of cancers.
Hot summer months and cooling off in cool water means Swimmer’s Ear to many doctors including Emergency Departments, Primary Care offices, to Ear, Nose & Throat offices.
Anyone can get this annoying problem. Known causes of swimmer’s ear include: swimming in contaminated water from improperly chlorinated pools, hot tubs, or natural bodies of water; excessive cleaning of the ear canals; contact with chemicals such as hair care products or swimming pool chemicals; or other skin conditions affecting the ear canal such as eczema.
What are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?
- Ear pain.
- A sensation of water in the ears or ear fullness.
- Drainage from the ear.
- Itchy ears.
- Decreased hearing or hearing loss.
- Pain around the ear, or pain to touch the ear.
What is the Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear?
The unfortunate reality of Swimmer’s Ear is that you cannot treat it at home with home remedies or over the counter medications! The nature of a swimmer’s ear infection required that the ear canal be manually cleaned by a professional who can visualize the anatomy and remove the bulk of the bacterial or fungal infection. The provider will then prescribe an antibiotic ear drop or a fungal ear drop for the infection, as this medication can then reach the infection source at a higher concentration. Oral antibiotics for ear infections are usually only used for middle ear infections (infections that occur in a different part of the ear behind the ear drum) and very severe swimmer’s ear where other tissues are affected such as cellulitis of the skin surrounding the ear. Failure to treat a swimmer’s ear appropriately can be very dangerous, leading to bone and cartilage damage also known as malignant otitis externa. This type of infection is a swimmer’s ear infection that has spread to the skull base, brain or cranial nerves. Diabetics and older adults are at a higher risk for this dangerous complication.
How Soon Can I get in to ENT Consultants if I Think I Might Have Swimmer’s Ear?
If you currently are experiencing ear pain, itchy ears, ear fullness, ear drainage, or hearing loss, we recommend being seen as soon as possible for treatment, as this could be swimmer’s ear. Throughout the summer months, we are taking same or next day appointments at our main office in Omaha, Nebraska! While you can request an appointment online for scheduled services, we do recommend that you call the office for same/next day services at 402-778-5250!
TOP 5 WAYS SWIMMING POOLS CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH – NOT JUST SWIMMER’S EAR!
Swimming is a great way to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. However, before you go jumping in to cool off during these hot summer months, it’s important to understand the risks of public pools and water parks.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) sites that an average swimmer (not just children but also adults) contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to pool water within the first 15 minutes of entering. Improperly potty-trained children and children in diapers are often blamed, but when adults and older children forgo washing with soap and water prior to entering the pool, they also introduce fecal matter into the water.
2. CRYPTOSPORIDIUM (CRYPTO).
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes cryptosporidiosis and transmitted through fecal matter. This parasite can survive up to 10 days in chlorine-treated water. Crypto has become the leading cause of diarrheal illness related to swimming pools, and according to the CDC that in recent years these infections have increased over 200%.
This is a bacteria that, due to its ability to live outside of the body for long periods of time, is also tolerant of chlorine. This bacteria is transmitted through both animal and human feces – and is a good reason not to allow pets in pools with humans!
4. URINE…PEE IN THE POOL.
According to a survey conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council some years ago, ONE in FIVE American ADULTS admit to peeing in the pool. And…nearly 100% of elite competitive swimmers are reported to pee in the pool regularly!!! Furthermore, human sweat contains urea – the same chemical that is harmful in urine, which is another reason why showering prior to swimming is important.
But why is peeing in the pool or sweat in the pool so harmful?
5. CHLORINE BY-PRODUCT.
Chlorine is intended to kill bacteria and germs in the pool; however, when the chemical combines with urine, sweat, and feces, irritants called chloramines are produced using up the chlorine intended to kill the germs. Chloramines give off a strong chlorine odor. A survey by the Water Quality and Health Council found that three-quarters of Americans incorrectly believe that the strong, chemical smell is a sign of too much chlorine in the water, and this is the cause of red eyes and sore throat. The reality of the situation is that the strong smell is a sign of a poorly chlorinated pool; a well-chlorinated pool should in fact have little odor.
Swimming pools are just one way people can contact a recreational water illness – illnesses caused by germs that are swallowed during recreational water activities. Other contaminated sources that are often worse than swimming pools include hot tubs, water parks, lakes, and oceans. While the most common infections cause diarrhea other recreational water illnesses include:
Ear infection – Swimmer’s Ear
Eye infection – Conjunctivitis
Neurologic illness – illnesses related to the brain and spinal cord
Skin infection that result is breakdown and wounds
Summer months at ENT Consultants lead to many people coming in for ear infection, ear pain, ear drainage, fungal ear infection, and swimmer’s ear. Later this month, we plan to blog a bit more about Swimmer’s Ear prevention and treatment, and don’t forget to check out Dr. Jessica Moran-Hansen’s video on Swimmer’s Ear as well under Patient Education on our site or on our YouTube Channel.
If you have symptoms of itchy ears, ear pain, or ear drainage, whether you have been swimming or not, you should be checked out by an ENT to rule out an external ear infection such as fungal external otitis or swimmer’s ear. Early detection and treatment of these conditions make them a lot easier to manage! You can call for an appointment at 402-778-5250 or request an appointment online!
LaKind J, Richarson S, Blount B. The good, the bad, and the volatile – Can we have both healthy pools and healthy people? Environmental Science & Technology. 2010.
Richardson S, DeMarini D, Kogevinas M, et al. What’s in the Pool? A Comprehensive Identification of Disinfection By-products and Assessment of Mutagenicity of Chlorinated and Brominated Swimming Pool Water. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2010.
Pond K. Water Recreation and Disease. Plausibility of Associated Infections: Acute Effects, Sequelae and Mortality. http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/bathing/recreadis.pdf. 2005.
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