Saturday, April 22, 2006

How they do it in Japan . . . Open Thread

Sorry, sorry. I know I haven't been around much. Vacation happened, and Balls and Walnuts sucks up most of my free time. Just haven't had it in me to cough up any new wax, boogers, or phlegm.

Hat tip to Falafel Sex's Mark Alread for this post on how the Japanese clean ear wax. Cute story, but really, there's nothing new here. Cleaning wax under direct vision is simply the safest way to do it. I use a binocular microscope, which gives me depth perception, excellent lighting, and as much magnification as I want. I have a variety of tools for the job, including right angle picks, curved picks, straight and angled loop curettes, and alligator forceps. The only time I'm ever defeated is when the wax is hard and impacted, and manipulation of it exceeds my patient's pain tolerance.

I still get at least one letter a week griping about my opposition to ear candling. Most recently, a physician wrote a polite letter telling me I was wrong. You know, I wish all of my wax patients would switch to ear candles, and as long as I'm wishing, I wish the candles would WORK, too. Then I could focus my efforts on more troublesome problems.

But candles don't work, so this is a pipe dream. I'll keep on de-waxing people because it's one of the few things I do which gives rapid relief . . . and I do it well.

Consider this an open thread. Come one, come all: any questions?



At 9:31 AM, Blogger Susan said...

I had radiation as a child (seven years old, I think) to remove my adenoids. Can you tell me what effect this might have had on my adult sinuses? Just curious. My nose is stuffy 80% of the time. I have a bunch of allergies, so it's possible that alone is the cause.


At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Doug Hoffman said...

"Therapeutic" radiation is potentially a huge problem, Susan. It puts you at risk of developing cancers within the field of the radiation (sinus and nasopharynx would be the two most likely hot spots). I would definitely get examined by an ENT, and make sure he knows this part of your history.

As for long term effects: radiation can't be good for ciliary function (which contributes to the overall health of your sinuses), but I'm not aware of any data on this.

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Doug. I knew about the risk of thyroid and possibly breast cancer, but not the other. Reading over my post, it sounds like my symptoms are recent. Actually, my nose has been like this for 20+ years, with only occasional periods of unstuffiness. :-)

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Doug Hoffman said...

Ack! See an ENT, for heaven's sake. One of the things we do quite well is unstuff a stuffy nose.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Mark Alread said...

Thanks for the Falafelsex link. I have to admit I am probably the worst of the worst when it comes to ear cleaning... the dreaded Q-tip!!!

At 1:29 PM, Blogger keith721 said...

I've been fortunate and never had a problem cleaning my ears with a cotton swab immediately after showering. (Only once a week for the ears. I shower daily! ;^)

Doug: regarding the excess nasal mucus (boogers) I reported weeks ago, my ENT took scans and confirmed a seriously deviated septum. It was probably the result of a sports injury during high school thirty-something years ago. Outpatient surgery will be scheduled soon.

At 3:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your post about ear candling and itchy ears, and I appreciated your words about the latter and especially your warnings about irrigation. I do, however, have to take exception to your comment that ear candles are 'the stupidest thing ever.' I admit, that as a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, I was also very skeptical about ear candles, and wondered if the material that came out was only that from the candle itself. However, due to all the problems I have with my ears, I've had numerous opportunities to test the candles. Its very clear that when I'm having trouble with one ear but not the other, that the candles will remove far more material from the problem ear. Its also very clear that the candle will significantly improve my symptoms, whether it be infected or impacted. I also know others who report that when they open the used candle, that they will find animal hairs that had found their way into their ears from their pillows that they share with their pets, and I have heard other such reports of candles removing objects--so its not just candle wax that one finds inside the candle. While it may be true that it is less effective than irrigating, which you are saying is also not a very good practice, its hard to imagine what someone like me, without insurance, is supposed to do in order to deal with constant ear issues. Along those same lines, I've never even heard of the methods you suggested as being better than irrigating and I wouldn't be surprised if there was not a single doctor within a car drive's distance from me who could perform what you suggest. So, candles are not the 'stupidest thing ever.' They're really a life-saver at times, and they really do work with a degree of effectiveness that makes their continual use worthwhile.


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At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a little two ounce jar which is almost filled up with ear wax I've been collecting for several years. Can I use it to make a candle?

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Kim said... should watch the Mythbusters episode where they make earwax candles. Gross. GROSS!!!


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