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“General attitude towards health needs to change in our society”,says Dr Sarim H Lodhi

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Doctors in this segment shed light on their specialties to give you awareness about your common problems and misconceptions. A Nephrologist will be here next month to enlighten the readers about his forte. Write to us if you want your queries answered.

SN: How important is ENT health?
ENT health is extremely important as it involves the face. A damaged face is definitely painful and can affect an individual’s overall health and appearance. Unfortunately, peoples’ general attitude towards health and other things in our society is not much positive, so expecting people to give importance to ENT health seems out of question. Lack of awareness and ignorance are the reasons for it. Our overall attitude towards things and health needs to change.
SN: What are the common ENT problems in Pakistan?
Commonest ear problems occur when individuals try to clean their ears with cotton buds, hair pins etcetera. This is the major cause of ear infection or ear discharge. Main nose issues include crooked nose that can be a reason for various allergies. Patients usually focus more on the crooked nose but not allergies. While most throat problems occur due to eating and drinking unhealthy foods for example, carbonated drinks which badly affect the throat.
SN: How prevalent are these throat problems?
They are extremely common. I see at least 20-25 patients daily with these issues. Other major culprits include tobacco, naswar, paan, chaliya etcetera that are ruining throat health.
SN: How complicated can they get?
Starting from extremely minor issues, they can even turn to cancers.
SN: Allergy affects ear, nose and throat, why? What should be done about it?
Allergy affects the whole body as it is systemic. But it has more effects on the nose region since it is the breathing passage of the body. Dust, pollen and other infectious germs enter from the breathing area. And since nose, ears and throat have an opening, they get more affected. Proper diagnosis to get to the root cause is however, necessary to treat the problem.
SN: Any home remedies to prevent allergies?
Avoid using carpets at home. They absorb dust, no matter how clean they look apparently. Also, always consult the right doctor who. Moreover, do not facilitate your children to buy junk food by giving them pocket money. These junk foods are causing a lot of health issues.
SN: Like you mentioned, cleaning the ears can give rise to ear infections. What should be done instead?
Water and picking your ear are two main foes of the ear. Our ears have a self-cleaning-mechanism, which means they clean themselves. However, individuals who use cotton buds, tissues paper or water to clean their ears have higher chances of developing ear wax or infection. So, do not use anything to clean your ears.
SN: Why do people feel irritation in the ear (that causes them to clean it)?
Irritation causes many to scratch their ears. Doing that breaks the defense barriers of the ear exposing it to the outer environment. The right way to scratch ear is to use finger tips to rub gently, and not a cotton bud.
SN: What are other problems of the ear that can cause ear damage?
Excess noise and loud music turns into noise pollution which causes many problems. Youngsters who overuse headphones or earphones are becoming prone to hearing loss that was once associated with only the elderly. The most common cause of hearing loss in the world is old age and earphones have become the second most common cause of deafening.
SN: Why does post nasal drip occur?
Everyone has nasal secretions as the nose is wet from inside. But post nasal drip usually occurs in those who have crooked nose. It occurs when nasal secretions start to fall at the back instead of falling from the front. This continuous dripping causes allergies and consistent irritation in the throat. Production of excess secretions can also cause this condition.
SN: What causes voice to become hoarse?
Shouting or yelling or talking loudly causes hoarse throat. It can even turn into cancer if not treated properly and timely. A hoarse voice travels from voices box to other parts of the mouth and throat and can cause severe damage to these organs too. Individuals who have to tackle a huge class, or social groups or adults who work in noisy environment, usually have to keep their voice loud which makes their throat hoarse in the long run. Besides, drinking and smoking can also affect one’s voice.
SN: What can one do to keep the voice or throat intact?
Speak softly. Even a whisper can cause strain on the voice box. Also, stop smoking. Smoking is the culprit to various health problems. Many youngsters are becoming smokers in our society, though there is enough awareness about its harmful effects. Cigarettes should therefore be banned in the country.
SN: Which signs should be taken as alarming?
According to an ENT-related book, ‘Logan Turner’s Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear Head & Neck Surgery’, presentation of ENT problems in Asian countries is different from those in the Western countries. In the west, people go to the doctor even with acne eruption. But in Pakistan, patients are extremely reluctant to contact a specialist even if their throat has increased in size due to goiter. They have the attitude that it is nothing big. One should contact a doctor at the earliest before it is too late. Choose an appropriate doctor for the problem. Get yourself screened if you suspect a problem instead of waiting for the issue to deteriorate. Get a general checkup at least every six months or a year.
SN: What are some common myths related to ENT?
Pouring oil, garlic water or other things in the ear does not have any effect on the ears. It is also a widespread belief that taking milk or eating rice increases sputum production. This is also a misconception. Moreover, considering foods to be hot or cold in nature is also wrong.
SN: How to prevent flu and cold?
Flu is common among people who have compromised immune systems, either in elderly or children or due to illnesses like diabetes, heart patients, etcetera. Contact isolation for two to three days is recommended for patients with flu. Healthy eating and having a good immune system can help prevent the problem.
SN: Well, anything left that you would like to add at the end?
Be compassionate about others in the society. In fact, a good society can be formed if we all fulfill our share of responsibilities. We all should be responsible in our domains. A doctor should fulfill his responsibilities, similarly a plumber, housewife, etcetera should do their job appropriately. Media should also be more responsible. Instead of digging out sensational stories, they should look out for stories to spread awareness. This will make life easy for you and others.

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