Nowadays it,s common for everyone to be using headphones, even commuters, to listen to music, watch tiktok videos, but we don’t realise the hazards of them
Headphones, especially noise cancellation headphones make us unaware of our surroundings. They’re appropriate for sitting comfortably and safe in flights and on buses, trains,etc, but if you’re walking on the road you’re totally cut off. You don’t realize what is happening around you, especially while crossing the road. In the past few years, the incidence of road traffic accidents has tripled due to the use of headphones.
Headphones can cause sensorineural hearing loss. Don’t listen to loud volumes for long periods of time. Heed the permitted levels set by mobile phones
Our ears are very important to us. We Listen with them. They help us in communicating with others, various sounds in the surroundings around us. Ears help us to hear when danger is approaching , so we can get to safety quickly, especially while crossing a busy road.
Nowadays ears are important to us with the onset of smartphones and music. We use our ears for relaxation and entertainment.
However, As much as people take care of their eyes, we do not bother about our ears. We listen to loud sounds in public or with headphones, we attempt to clean our ears on our own, put oil and various substances in the ears.
Common problems of the ears:
Wax: Wax is formed naturally in the ear by glands similar to oil glands in the skin. It is a mechanism of protection from dirt, foreign bodies and pollutants.
Wax naturally comes out. It is not required to clean it on your own.
Sometimes wax accumulates in the ear canal and causes deafness, pain and sometimes dizziness. This is normal for some people who have a narrow or twisted ear canal. Sometimes the wax itself is hard. It’s just a tendency for wax to collect for some people. They should not attempt to clean it on their own as this could lead to complications but to consult their local ENT doctor
Fungus: In case of damp weather, or moisture or instillation of oil or ear drops or self medication, fungus grows in the ear. This fungus is similar to the mold found on stale bread and food.
It can cause pain, blocking of ear and discharge.
Fungus can be removed by your doctor by syringing or under the microscope. Sometimes you may need 2 or more visits to the doctor to clean up your ear as fungus tends to grow again.
Insects: The ear canal is small. Sometimes small insects like ants, cockroaches, spiders, flies, etc can make their way into your ear . The humming of their wings and wriggling can be quite distressing
Cockroach and beetle legs have sharp spines which can scratch.
In that case don’t panic. Don’t pour oil or water or anything in your ear or attempt to pull them out. That can worsen the problem or cause injury.
If they are alive shine a torch light in the ear. Most insects are attracted by light and will come out easily
Maggots: In people with poor hygiene, terminally ill patients, sometimes flies enter the ear and lay eggs.
The maggots which hatch can cause pain and irritation. They can be removed by proper treatment
Consult your doctor immediately
Pus from the ear: This happens for people with colds, when the cold reaches the space behind the ears. With proper medicines it should clear up. Always consult your doctor, especially for small children
Foreign bodies; This is common in small children, mentally retarded people, etc Common things are:
Seeds of fruits, like dry peas, peanut, tamarind seeds, wheat, riceetc
rubbers, pen, pencil, stones
small toys, thermacol, etc
Beads and decorative jewellery
The deadliest are small button cells of battery operated toys. The alkali in them can eat away tissue and bone and create a nasty situation.
Adults commonly have cotton, sticks, etc in their ears.
Sometimes inert non living foreign bodies can sit in the ear for years together without harm and are discovered incidentally
Deafness: There are a lot of reasons for deafness. wax, colds, etc
Consult your doctor immediately if you have sudden loss of hearing. Medication helps in cases of nerve deafness.
Dizziness and Tinnitus: There are various reasons for this which your doctor will help you.
Here are some Do’s and don’ts about the ears:
Pour oil inside your ears. It’s a common traditional custom to put oil in your ears, one of grandma’s remedies. However, the oil will sit in a nook or corner in the ear canal and get infected with fungus, which takes a long time to treat.
Insert ear buds inside your ears. People use keys, matchsticks, hairpins which are equally bad. You can damage your ear drum, hearing mechanism and go deaf. You can get a nasty boil in the ear canal which is extremely painful. In diabetic patients with uncontrolled sugar this can spread to the skull bones and can be fatal. This condition is known as Skull Base Osteomyelitis, formerly Malignant Otitis Externa
Listen to loud noises for prolonged periods of time. Sounds around 120 decibels are known to damage the delicate structures in the inner ear and the nerves for hearing.
Be aware of your surroundings. While walking in public, on the road don’t keep your headphones on
Consult your doctor for earache, pus coming from the ear, hearing loss, foreign bodies, giddiness etc.
protect your ear from water especially in the rains
follow the instructions on use of medicines and follow up regularly
Allergies have not been given much importance in the past few years. The incidence of allergic disorders have gone up since then.
Till now medication used to be prescribed for allergies, and the patient used to be better as long as the course of medication was on, only to return when symptoms of allergies recurred after the course was over. The patients were explained that there was no solution for allergies but to continue with the medication and avoid dust, etc. Of late the importance of identifying and controlling allergens has been emphasized.
Why is diagnosis and treatment of allergic disorders so important?
Allergies have found to be a major cause of morbidity and absence from work
They compromise the Quality of Living due to their uncomfortable symptoms
Activities are restricted due to allergic disorders, such as trekking in grasslands, etc.
Job changes are required due to severe allergies
Allergies can cause life-threatening disorders like Anaphylaxis!
The Allergic March: Allergies should be treated from early childhood.
It starts with skin rashes and atopic dermatitis at an early age.
If not treated properly it leads to sneezing which in turn leads to
Asthma and other disorders like
allergic conjunctivitis and
How to diagnose allergies?
Symptoms like sneezing, itching, runny nose, skin rashes etc. Worse after contact with things which are known to cause allergy. Even stomach upset and digestive disorders could be due to allergies.
Various tests are available for diagnosis of allergies
Total IgE test: This is done fairly commonly but is not required. In countries with infection such as worm infestation this would be high. It does not predict the intensity of allergy
RAST: It is not very reliable. various labs offering diagnostic tests on these basis should be approached with caution.
Immunocap: this is the most reliable blood test for allergies in patients where skin prick testing is not possible
Skin prick test This is the gold standard for allergy testing . It is simple, safe and very efficient in diagnosing allergies and prescribing immunotherapy.
Oral food challenge test
Provocation tests such as Asthma and nasal challenge test
How is the skin prick test done for allergies?
Drops are placed according to serial number at 3 cm distance on the skin
Pricking is done through the drops through the topmost layer of the skin. It is very light, painless and there is absolutely no bleeding and scarring
After 20 minutes the reading is done. In case of allergies there will be a bump at the site of pricking. The bigger the bump, more severe the allergies.
It is extremely safe, comfortable and can be done on an outpatient basis in routine hospital set up
There are absolutely minimal risks and complications for the procedure
Allergy tests can be done for everybody starting from 2 years of age
Allergy tests should not be done in
Patients known to have high risk of anaphylactic shock.
Severe rashes or skin disorders-there would be no place on the skin
Patients with dermographism-the interpretation of the result needs some special skills
Consult your allergy specialist in case you need to get an allergy test done.
Allergy tests are good markers for initiation of allergen immunotherapy.
In addition to other factors, our environment contributes a lot to allergies. We should be aware of what things can be controlled in our environment.
There is a huge controversy regarding pigeons in metros. Pigeons are fed for religious purposes. this creates a lot of problems
Pigeons clustering create a nuisance. The metro railway strictly instructs pigeons should not be fed near metro lines
Their droppings and feathers can cause severe allergies, especially for asthmatic patients. The droppings on window ledges, etc can cause media for harboring fungi like aspergillus which themselves cause allergies. They are harmful for asthmatic patients
Pigeons roost in skyscrapers and old buildings. They build nests on top AC units, window ledges, etc. Their nests are messy and unhygienic
Pigeons harbour organisms which can cause chronic lung diseases
Tips to avoid pigeons:
Install pigeon netting on windows and in balconies to restrict their entry
Put barbed wire or glass shards to discourage pigeons from roosting in certain areas
And first and foremost, discourage feeding of pigeons in residential and community areas.
Cockroaches are a huge menace for allergies.
Cockroaches multiply quickly. They reside in crevices, in drains, in the kitchen, etc.
Cockroaches love to hide in tight places. If a few cockroaches are visible outside, large numbers of them are hidden in your home.
Cockroach dust, urine and feces are highly allergenic. Cockroaches spread a lot of diseases.
Tips to prevent cockroaches:
Keep your kitchen and surroundings clean. Store groceries in properly closed containers.Spilled food and food particles attract cockroaches.
Do a proper pest control.However cockroach allergens will be persistent for upto 6 months in the environment after that
Get drains, etc cleaned regularly
Petrol and diesel fumes:
In the modern age it is difficult to escape from petrol and diesel fumes. They are highly irritant and aggravate existing allergies.To minimize this
Do PUC and servicing of your vehicles regularly
Car pooling and public transport reduce the incidence of petrol burning
Industrial and occupational pollutants:
These vary from industry to industry. Cotton mills, textiles, etc cause chronic lung diseases due to fibres and fungus harboured on them
This is one of the most dangerous pollutant in our environment
Smoking injures the delicate lining of the lungs and air passages
Carbon particles and toxic chemicals get lodged inside our lungs
Passive smoking is more harmful than active smoking. Your loved ones are suffering worse than you are !
Solution: Stop the habit!
Smoking is a major risk factor for early onset asthma and various lung diseases
Pollution inside your home:
Our homes are not spared from pollutants too:
Deo spray: Reduce the use of room sprays and aerosols. They can trigger allergic attacks
Insect repellant: Overnight plug ins and mosquito coils should be avoided, as the toxic fumes are released throughout the night. The insecticides are highly toxic and should be used with caution
agarbattis: The smoke from incense sticks can cause trouble