At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 101
G E N E R A L H E A LT H ▲
My ears are blocked,
but I clean them
regularly. Could excess
wax still be the cause?
I am having trouble
swallowing and, on
a few occasions, I've
coughed up a small amount
of blood. What's going on?
'Earwax is a natural secretion
of the ear canal that helps to
protect and lubricate it,' says
Mr Darius Rejali, consultant ear surgeon
at University Hospital Coventry.
'Sometimes it can block the canal,
causing hearing loss and a blocked
sensation. This can occur if people
use cotton buds to clean their ears.
'The old adage "Don't put anything
smaller than your elbow in your ear" is
good advice to prevent problems.
'If earwax is causing the blockage,
ear drops, syringing or microsuction
can be used to remove it.
'A new technique of E-suction,
offered at Clearwax clinics across the
UK, uses an endoscope to carefully
remove the wax (clearwax.co.uk).'
I can't hear my TV,
even though my
wife says it's too
loud. Does that mean I
might be going deaf?
WORDS: JADE HARDING, IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK
'Inability to hear the TV
or having to turn up the
volume where it disturbs
others is a sign of hearing loss,' says
Mr Abhi Parikh, consultant ear,
nose and throat (ENT) surgeon at
St Mary's Hospital, London.
'This hearing loss is usually in
both ears and the most common
cause is age-related hearing loss.
A hearing test (audiogram) will
show the severity. Treatment in
most cases is amplification of
sound via hearing aids but if
complicated it may need sugery.'
I get plenty of nutrients
and class myself as
healthy, so why have
I got a sore throat? Am
I doing something wrong?
No! Most sore throats are
caused by common illnesses,
such as colds and flu, which
do the rounds every so often. They can
be treated with ibuprofen, cool fluids
and gargling with salt water.
Other causes could be laryngitis
(inflammation of the voice box),
tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils),
swollen glands, glandular fever
or strep throat (bacterial infection).
'Difficulty swallowing and
coughing up blood are
possible symptoms of a
serious underlying problem,' says
Stuart Winter, consultant ENT and
surgeon at the John Radcliff Hospital,
Oxford. 'The causes may be benign
but symptoms need to be investigated.
'In the first instance you should
see an ENT doctor, who can inspect
your voice box and upper throat. They
may need to organise more tests and
this may involve chest specialists
and oesophagus and stomach (upper
gastrointestinal) doctors to treat you.'
in either or
My ability to taste food
properly seems to have
gone and I can't smell
much either - what is wrong?
Losing your sense of smell
and taste, along with
deteriorating sight and
hearing, is very common as you age.
This explains why older people tend
to like extra strong mints and lots of
salt on their food.
Ben Hunter, ENT consultant at St
George's Hospital Medical School in
London, says: 'Many things can affect
your smell, the most common being a
cold. The lining in the nose swells and
blocks smells. This should last just a
few days, but if it persists, you could
see an ENT specialist.
'Viruses can reduce your ability to
smell and, unfortunately, it may not
return. Allergies, sinus infections and
nasal polyps can also affect your smell,
but these can be treated.'
During the winter, I
tend to get swollen
glands a lot. Does
it mean I have tonsillitis?
Possibly. 'Tonsillitis is
a form of sore throat
and occurs when the
tonsils get infected,' says ENT
specialist Stuart Winter.
'Usually the tonsils become
enlarged and for about a week
it can be painful to swallow.
'These symptoms are usually
caused by viruses and, as such,
antibiotics won't help.
'Tonsillectomy will be discussed
with you if these episodes are
severe and occurring frequently,
as yours seem to be.
'We consider this if either the
problem occurs more than seven
times in a year, or is less frequent
but comes and goes over time.'
Cigarette smoke, dry air, reflux
problems (where acid rises up from
the stomach) and allergies can
also irritate your throat, causing
inflammation and persistent soreness.
More unusual causes, as explained
by the NHS, are:
Quinsy - a painful collection of pus
at the back of your throat
Epiglottitis - inflammation of the
flap of tissue in the throat.
Both mean you will have difficulty
swallowing or opening your mouth, and
you should see your GP urgently. Also,
seek advice if the sore throat doesn't
improve after a week or if you have a
weakened immune system.
www.athomemagazine.co.uk FEBRUARY 2018 | 101