Don't meddle with your ears
Dr. Chandra Jayasuriya
Have you been using cotton buds and even using it on your children?
"You shouldn't use cotton buds because by inserting them into your ears,
you make it a good environment for bacteria and fungus to grow", said
E.N.T. surgeon Dr. Chandra Jayasuriya of the Colombo General Hospital.
She said the mature wax cells in your ear naturally clean on its own
which is known as 'epithelial migration'. "By using cotton buds, you
push the mature cells back into the ear causing more problems of
bacteria and fungi," said the doctor, who completed her training in the
E.N.T. surgery in Sri Lanka in 1996 after which she underwent overseas
training in the UK at Tameside Acute Case, Ashtonunderlyne. Dr.
Jayasuriya is the current Scientific Secretary of the College of
Otolaryngologists and Head & Neck Surgeons of Sri Lanka while being the
founder president and present secretary of the Sri Lanka Larnyngectomy
Speaking to the Sunday Observer about ear ailments, Dr.Jayasuriya
said it come in two types: acute and chronic. "Acute ear problems can be
treated promptly while chronic ones need to be treated over a longer
time with frequent visits to the E.N.T." said Dr. Jayasuriya who has
pioneered the productivity improvement program in the E.N.T unit by
implementing the 5 S method which was bestowed the National Quality
"In infants, there is a 70% risk of getting ear infections and a 90%
risk for children because they are prone to infections occurring from
colds and sore throats as the ear and throat are joined at the
eustachian tube," said the doctor. Symptoms for ear problems are
diarrhoea, noisy breathing from the mouth and ear pain. At the Lady
Ridgeway Hospital, every day there are surgeries done on children for
foreign bodies penetrating the ear. "If insects penetrate the ear, make
sure you don't pull it out. It should be killed first and taken out by a
doctor," she said. In adults, insect removal from ears should be done
under the supervision of an E.N.T. doctor .
In cases of assault, those suffering from burst ear drums should be
treated promptly. "If it's a small perforation in the ear drum (burst
ear drum), then it will heal on its own provided no water penetrates but
if it is larger, surgery using the grafting technique is vital to
rectify the problem," said Dr. Jayasuriya who is the author of a book
called 'Obey Penayata Pilithurak' which is a popular question-answer
book on common ear ailments. "Sometimes we receive mature adult patients
having severe earaches for a tiny hair follicle enlargement problem.
This is because there is little space in the ear so if a hair
follicle enlargens (due to dust or bacteria), it causes massive pain,"
said the doctor.
Another aspect of ear problems is fungi growing in the ears.
Dr.Jayasuriya said there are two types of fungi: aspegilus (black
spores) and candida (white spores). "If people live in squalid
conditions or use stagnant water to wash, then fungi can grow. Of
course, using cotton buds can also increase the risk of catching fungi,"
In diabetic patients, there is a risk of ear problems because their
immune system isn't strong enough to resist infection. "Sugar in the
body also provides a good environment for infections to occur" said Dr.
Another problem in some cases is when the pressure builds up in the
middle ear and a small discharge exudes from the ear. "This condition is
a silent infection that should be treated promptly by an experienced
E.N.T. surgeon because it can lead to deafness and eventual loss of
hearing," she said.
Speaking about mobile phone usage and headphones, Dr.Jayasuriya said
it is not scientifically proven that it damages your ears but heavy
users should be careful. "Try to use the loudspeakers of your mobile to
minimise radiation" she advised. In addition to this, Dr. Jayasuriya
said safety regulations should be introduced to minimise hearing
impairments at workplaces.
We are bombarded with noise pollution every day and hence, it is
important to protect your ears. Being a vital organ in your body, you
definitely can't live without your ears.