The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

April 2, 2013

Speaking of Health: Everything you wanted to know about ear infections

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MANKATO —

A: Ear infections are sometimes unavoidable, especially with small children. However, there are some ways you can reduce your risk:

* Use a hair dryer to dry out your ears after swimming or bathing

* Don’t use any objects to clean out your ears

* Practice good hand hygiene

* Avoid second-hand smoke

* Avoid bottle feeding your infant in the lying position

* Protect your ears from excessive noise by using ear plugs

Q: What is ear candling and is it safe?

A: Ear candling involves placing a lit, cone-shaped candle into the ear canal. The theory is that the heat from the candle will draw earwax out and clean the ear. Research has shown that this is NOT true, and ear candling is not an effective way to clean the ears. In fact, it often pushes the earwax further into the ear canal and can be quite dangerous. There is a risk of burning your face, hair and ears. You can also puncture your ear drum. If you do have earwax blockage, do not use ear candling. Instead, see your health care provider for more effective and safe ways to remove earwax.

Earaches and ear infections are a part of growing up, but if they become a recurrent or severe problem, your health care provider can recommend the most effective treatment.

Majestic Tam, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic Health System ear, nose and throat specialist.

Dr. Tam will give a Speaking of Health presentation on ear infections that is open to the public in the lower level conference center of the hospital at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m.

For more information, please go to www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org.

Health & Fitness coverage is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, preserving the health and well-being of southern Minnesota communities.

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