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Latest Posts

Dealing With Chronic Tinnitus

At one time or another, almost everyone experiences a ringing in their ears. It’s common after sitting through a loud concert or an exuberant football game, or after taking aspirin or an antibiotic for a while. But as many as 50 million Americans have chronic tinnitus (pronounced tih-NITE-us or TIN-ih-tus)—a constant ringing, whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, roaring, or even shrieking. (If you don’t have tinnitus, you can get an idea of what people with the condition hear at the American Tinnitus Association’s Web site.)

Chronic tinnitus can be caused by a variety of things, from impacted ear wax to medications that damage nerves in the ear, middle ear infection, and even aging. Damage to hair cells in the ear’s cochlea (see the illustration below) are suspected as a common pathway for these causes. As I write in the September issue of the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, chronic tinnitus can also be a symptom of Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the balance mechanism in the inner ear. (You can read the full article here.)

Managing tinnitus

When chronic tinnitus is caused by a definable problem, like Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

When Hearing Loss Has A Simple Fix

“Hey doc,” the patients says, “I think I got wax in my ear.” I reply, “Well, that makes it hard to hear me, then, huh?” “WHAT?” – the patient yells. Oh yeah, I say to myself. “I’ve been having this ever since I was a kid. Every few months, I need my ears cleaned out.” So, I look in there, and it’s the most amount of wax I’ve seen in a long time.

“Sir, do you use q-tips to clean our your ears?” I ask the patient. “Well, yeah, I think I’ve been doing a good job at keeping things clean, don’t you think?” “Well, I wouldn’t recommend that because it looks like you’ve been pushing the wax further in there.” “WHAT?”

So, we’re able to get some of the wax out of there only to find a lot of redness and irritation in the ear canal. “Doc, I still can’t hear. Are you sure that you got all the wax out of there?” “Well, sir, there is no more wax in there now. It looks like there is an infection underneath, and that’s what causing the problem now.” “WHAT?” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Doctor Anonymous*

Latest Interviews

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It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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