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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 18 years

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I've been having hearing problems after i spruce a needle

So, I ve been having hearing problems for a while. I have gotten my ears looked at by a doctor at least twice since it started but somehow nothing was discovered. You see, I obsessively clean my ears with a Q-tip, even though I m aware it s bad. Another piece of history is that I ve had ear infections since I was a child. Now, lately I ve been feeling like my head is underwater, my head was making the sounds of a ripe watermelon when I tapped it, and the hearing in my left ear has gotten worse, but I hadn t gotten around to making a doctor s appointment. I was assuming this was a result of cleaning with a Q-tip, and a buildup of wax. As an exercise in self-control I tried stopping for long periods of time, but every time after a while simply couldn t take it (it was itching) and went back to it. Just today I ended a several-week long period of not picking and cleaning... Doing so, I managed to pull out something that must have been stuck in there for a long time: A spruce needle! (Half an inch in length.) Last time I was sleeping in the woods was a year ago March, and the needle has actually gone black, but it still smells quite nice. :P At the moment I m experiencing some mild pain and I m assuming some inflammation since I m having a little trouble hearing and the gland on my neck that is directly under my ear feels like a tight little ball. I know I won t be able to go in to see the doctor for a few days at least, but in the meantime, should I be worried? After all, who knows what else might be in there? :S Frightened and amazed, M.P.
Tue, 17 May 2011
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ENT Specialist 's  Response
1. See an ENT Specialist as and when you can. A simple, routine ear examination with an otoscope will settle the issue. Your hearing can also be checked at the same time.

2. For the mild infection in your left ear, use any wax dissolving drops. Any medication has to be under the supervision and prescription of your local doctor. Wax drops usually contain mild antibacterial and anti fungal medication. See a doctor earlier if your problem or the lymph node under your left ear increases.

3. Itching in the ear is usually due to wax buildup or referred sensation due to acidity (common nerve supply). Our ear canals are usually self cleaning. Ear Wax is normally produced only in the outer two-thirds of the external ear canal. Q-tips which are inserted too deeply into the ear push the ear wax further in where it normally is not present. Our ear canals are not straight, but 's' shaped in three dimensions. Therefore dry Q-tips and other instruments tend to cause scratches. The inner lining of our ear canals is so delicate that even dry cotton causes scratches and wounds at the bends. Since the ear is in close proximity of the brain, it's blood supply is good, and hence these scratches or small wounds heal quickly, sometimes in hours. Whenever any wound heals in our body, it is accompanied by itching. The same happens in the ear and sets up a vicious cycle / habit.

4. Once you have confirmed that your ear drum is intact and there is no more debris, fungus or infection, you may use a mild emollient ear drop such as Mullein Ear Oil which is a homeopathic ear drop by dipping a Q-tip in it before cleaning the ear and also as ear drops from time to time. You may request your doctor to prescribe an anti-allergic for a few days to control the itching, if it is unbearable.

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