Misconceptions about your Ears – ENT Myths!
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest. –Simon & Garfunkle, The Boxer
Myth: Ears need to be cleaned regularly by removing the wax
Dr. Jayant P. Gandhi, an ENT Specialist tells us that ‘wax is not dirt’ and does not need to be cleaned out. He warns us against putting anything inside the ear, even buds, as an infection or perforation can result. In fact while cleaning, people usually push the wax in deeper, so it’s counterproductive anyway. ‘Ears should be cleaned only when there is excessive secretion of wax, as in about 5-10% of cases,’ he says. Even in such cases, the ear should be cleaned after lubrication, and that too by a trained person. He does not advocate getting this done by a GP. ‘If any instrument touches the posterior end of the ear canal it can cause death,’ he warns.
Myth: Hoarseness of voice need not be treated
However, ‘a change in voice to hoarseness could be a sign of cancer,’ says the doctor.
Myth: Snoring needs no treatment
Snoring could be a symptom of sleep apnea, in which a person stops breathing for a few seconds several times during the night, resulting in a disturbed sleep. This causes daytime drowsiness. Worse, ‘sleep apnea can also result in a decrease in oxygen to the brain and this can give rise to medical problems,’ says Dr. Gandhi.
Myth: Oil can used inside the ear for relieving pain.
In fact, oil should never be used as a pain-reliever. It can be put inside the ear in other circumstances, and ‘only if the eardrum is intact.’ If there is pain, Dr. Gandhi advocates seeing a specialist.
Myth: Hearing loss in children after a cold need not be treated.
Hearing loss after a cold can ‘lead to serious consequences due to fluid build-up in the ear.’ It’s a condition which needs to be operated upon.
Myth: If a child’s speech is delayed it is not serious.
If a child does not start speaking in time, it could be a sign that he is hard of hearing. It is better that the child is checked by a doctor. In developed countries all newborns undergo a test for hearing.
(Published in The Times of India, Mumbai, 2006.)