Myths exist in every culture and country and they came about during a time when science, philosophy, and technology were not very precise. In the world of health and medicine, myths originate as a result of trial and error remedies and you are likely to fall prey to them if you do not understand the facts. Believing in myths when it comes to your health can cause adverse or unforeseen reactions if there is no scientific backing to those myths.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of myths surrounding common ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) conditions that cause unnecessary anxiety amongst patients and their families. ENT is a branch of medicine that focuses on disorders of your ear, nose, throat, and head and neck. It is also called otolaryngology. 

Your ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist, is a physician trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat and he/she is the best individual to guide you correctly.

Read on to know the facts of common myths and misconceptions about various ENT disorders. 

Myth 1: Cotton buds/ Earbuds are useful and safe for cleaning your ears.

Fact: Nature has granted your ears the power of self-cleansing. Your natural jaw movements while speaking and chewing ensure ear cleansing. On the contrary, cotton buds can push earwax (a yellowish, waxy material that is produced by the sebaceous glands located inside your ear canal.) deeper inside your ear canal, putting pressure on the eardrum, resulting in an uncomfortable blockage sensation. You are more likely to suffer minor to major injuries using cotton buds and it increases the risk of rupture of the eardrum. 

Your ear canal, also known as an external auditory canal, is a part of your outer ear, which is responsible for moving sound waves from the outer ear to your eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane).

Myth 2: Nasal bleeds can be stopped by tilting your neck backward.

Fact: A nosebleed or nasal bleeding is bleeding from tissues inside your nose (nasal mucous membranes) caused by a broken blood vessel. During a nasal bleed episode, you are often advised to keep your head back to stop bleeding. This position only takes the blood to the back of your throat, causing swallowing of blood that may lead to breathing difficulty or vomiting mixed with blood. 

However, the best first aid to stop nose bleeding is to pinch your nose gently and bend your head downwards and forwards with your mouth open. Make sure to pinch the soft part of your nose against the hard bony ridge that forms the bridge of the nose. Squeezing at or above the bony part of the nose will not put pressure where it can help stop the bleeding. Keep pinching your nose continuously for at least 5 minutes before checking if the bleeding has stopped. If your nose does not stop bleeding for another 10 to 15 minutes, you should rush to your ENT doctor’s clinic.

Myth 3: Hearing aids make sounds louder and damage residual hearing.

Fact: Hearing loss is caused due to the damaged hair cells in your cochlea. The cochlea, which is a part of your inner ear is the hearing organ that is involved in hearing. Hearing aids recommended for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen well. 

Advancements in hearing aid technology have massively improved sound processing and noise reduction properties. Regular use of hearing aid will preserve your hearing power longer and not using them may lead to worsening of hearing at a quicker rate. As the name suggests, hearing aids are just aids, which means they help but do not cure. 

Myth 4: Whispering is safe when you have a sore throat. 

Fact: A sore throat is a painful, dry, or scratchy feeling in your throat, which is most often a symptom of an infection. When you have a sore throat, the membranous lining of your throat is usually inflamed or swollen. 

Understand that when you talk, your vocal folds (vocal cords)  produce sound by coming together and then vibrating as air passes through them. This vibration produces the sound wave for your voice. Whispering means to speak softly with little or no vibration of the vocal cords especially to avoid being heard. 

During a bout of sore throat, chronic cough (cough that lasts for more than 8 weeks in adults), or overuse of the voice, your vocal cords may not be entirely healthy. They may be swollen, fatigued, or even injured. People tend to speak softly and whisper during these conditions. However, whispering may worsen the condition, putting extra strain on your vocal cords. It is important to take as much voice rest as possible, stay hydrated, and have steam inhalations to treat your sore throat.  

Myth 5:Tinnitus is incurable.

Fact: Tinnitus is an abnormal sensation of noise or ringing sensation inside your ears. You may hear sounds like that of hissing, whistling, ticking, buzzing, roaring, or clicking and the sound can be temporary or persistent (continuous). It usually occurs due to neurological damage to the nerve responsible for hearing. 

While there is no medicine or a particular cure for this condition,  in most cases, it subsides on its own.  Counseling, using hearing aids, relaxation techniques, and masking are some of the methods used in treating tinnitus.

Myth 6: Sinus surgeries invariably fail. 

Fact: The most common sinus disease is sinusitis. Sinusitis is the inflammation or swelling of your sinuses. Sinuses are 4 air-filled sacs located behind your forehead, nose, cheekbones, and in between your eyes.

Sinusitis is usually caused by nasal polyps (growths in the sinuses or on the lining of nasal passages, that are usually noncancerous) or due to allergies. As a result, sinus problems or infections tend to recur in some individuals. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you might require surgery, known as endoscopic sinus surgery,  and delaying may worsen your condition. Endoscopic sinus surgery is the most commonly recommended procedure if you have chronic sinusitis. 

This surgery in itself might not be the solution; it needs to be coupled with regular follow-ups with your ENT surgeon and the use of nasal sprays and medications. If the above protocol is adhered to, the results can be very good and immensely improve your quality of life.

Myth 7: Vertigo occurs because of cervical causes.

Fact: Vertigo is a sensation of motion or spinning that is often described as dizziness. It is triggered when you move your head too quickly. The cervical spine, your neck, is a complex structure making up the first region of the spinal column starting immediately below the skull.

It’s a popular belief that vertigo occurs due to cervical issues but on the contrary, very few cases of vertigo are due to cervical problems. In fact, the most common causes of vertigo are related to your ear. Your ears are not only responsible for hearing but also to maintain a balance of your body. Only very severe cases of cervical may cause vertigo. So next time anyone around you has a vertigo problem, an ENT specialist should be your go-to doctor!

Just like the above myths, you'll find that many more myths are set in different places and times. Being aware of the right facts is the key to preventing any mishap. Consult your ENT specialist if you have any disorder pertaining to the ear, nose, and throat.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.