The gateway to the heart!

How come you feel sad or cry when a sad song is played? Think about it…that’s right. It’s because you heard the lyrics and perhaps it tugged at a memory. What about the pain you feel when that person you care about hurls some really nasty words at you? It’s almost like your heart is going to break, right?

All these emotions can be xperienced through one gateway only…the ears!

Have you ever wondered whether you’re taking good care of your ears? Weird question, right? Like, what can go wrong with your ears? They generally mind their business on the sides of our heads and more often than not, we don’t even notice them. That’s kind of why when you take the pains to look behind them, especially for children, you find ‘amazing’ stuff behind them…disgustingly smelly stuff, that much I can tell you!

Well, I never used to pay much mind to these hearing organs until I had children. First, my first daughter gingerly walked into my room one weekend and complained about a funny sensation in her ears. I probed about whether this was water in the ear, an itch, a buzzing sound…what? I decided to look in. What did I see…a pencil tip!!! No! How on earth does something on a writing instrument end up in an ear? How did this happen? How…? The questions were popping out faster than I could ask them? The story came out…pretty basic and simple story, really. She felt an itch in her ear, she had a pencil in her hand and generally scratched the itch with it. Pretty simple really…you feel an itch, you scratch it. Yes? Well yes, just not with a pencil or sharp object…especially when it’s your ear or even eye. So, we ended up in the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) doctor’s office where the ‘foreign object’ was removed. Thankfully no lasting damage had been done to ear drum or any other part of the ear.

Next episode came via my second daughter who anytime she swam kept us awake the whole night screaming about her ears! I almost considered banning swimming as her case of swimmer’s ears was always more than I could bear. What is swimmer’s ears, I hear you ask? This usually occurs when the outer ear becomes moist and warm from frequent swimming. The natural oily, waxy protection of the ear canal is also washed away. Thus, bacteria have the ideal environment (warm and moist) to thrive in and can do so without any fear of being trapped by the wax that has been washed away.  This condition would usually start off with tingling or itching in the ear…you know the type, you can’t resist scratching 😀 But try…to resist it, as this just worsens a bad situation by breaking the delicate skin of your ear, letting in even more bacteria! Other times, this condition would show up as pain in the ear with some discharge too.

The final ear episode I can remember, also started with ear pain/itch. We ended up in the ENT doctor’s office again this time for removal of impacted wax.

Now, what’s the moral in these stories? There’s something to be said for caring for our ears. For instance, our common practice of cleaning our ears with cotton tips or cotton buds should be discouraged. These actually push wax deeper into the ears. They can also harm the delicate lining of your ear and in extreme cases, bore a hole in your ear drum! In fact conventional wisdom states that we should not clean our ears with anything bigger than our elbows….uhuh! You heard me…your elbows! So, just wash your outer ears with a wash cloth while taking a bath…this is more than sufficient cleaning!

Other tips to take care of your ears:
When swimming:

  • Choose clean pools or waters to swim in.
  • Use a swimming cap and use it to shield your ears.
  • It’s probably inevitable that some water will get into your ears, but don’t just let it sit there. Shake it out.

The wax actually serves a purpose…to trap foreign objects that may want to go deeper down into your ears and cause damage. So, leave it well alone to get on with this job.

Constantly using earphones may also lead to problems in your ear…recall how it appears your ear is kind of inflamed after a while?

Remember that pencils, pens or their covers are not meant to be used to scratch your ear or remove wax.

If you do find a foreign body in your ear, don’t try to get anyone to fish it out, see your doctor!

Here’s to a healthier you!

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4 Responses to The gateway to the heart!

  1. Sunny says:

    Very insightful. It was good you particularly stressed seeing the family physician and/or the ENT specialist for ear complaints. Good job, Dr Ketch!


  2. Pingback: #HLWDK 3 reasons to leave earwax alone – Harvard Health | chatwithketch

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