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How do I get the water out of my ears after swimming?

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I am an avid swimmer, but have recently found that every time I come back from the pool, I have water in my ear and it takes days to get out, making everything sound fuzzy. A friend suggested using an ear candle. What do you think?

Swimmers can suffer from ear problems due to water and germs getting into the ear. Many patients complain of blockages and blurred sensations in the ear. It is difficult for them to determine if the problem is wax, an infection, water or something else, and so an examination is essential, and a doctor or nurse practitioner in a GP practice can do this.

It might be quicker to visit one of the well-known audiology chains that offer checkups and wax removal for a modest fee. Some Boots locations also offer these services.

Water can be difficult to get out of the ear canal. One way is to tilt your head down and pull your ear in different directions. This stretches the ear canal, allowing it to open to drain the water. (Asked by model)

There is no need to remove excess wax unless it is considered part of the problem. Wax is protective and has a useful function to prevent infection. And ear candling is not something doctors recommend. Ear candling is based on the idea that a hot candle placed in the ear will somehow pull out or soften earwax. In fact, this can easily make the problem worse by causing infection or irritation.

Keeping the ears dry would be a good way to prevent the problem from happening in the first place, either with a cap, earplugs or custom swim shapes (generally available from £40).

Water can be difficult to get out of the ear canal. One way is to tilt your head down and pull your ear in different directions. This stretches the ear canal, allowing it to open to drain the water.

You can also use a hair dryer on a low setting and low power to dry out excess water.

I used to take ibuprofen regularly for painful osteoarthritis in my hands and wrists. But two years ago I had a heart attack and now have to take blood thinners, so I’ve been told I can only get acetaminophen, or topical treatments like Voltarol. These do very little and the pain now regularly keeps me up at night. Are there alternative medicines?

Osteoarthritis is difficult to treat because there are not so many options when it comes to pain management. If someone can’t take anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, we have to think creatively. It is worth talking to a pharmacist who can explain which drugs work well together and what should be avoided with heart medication.

First, to use pain relievers effectively, make sure you take them regularly rather than waiting for the pain to start.

A regimen of regular acetaminophen with topical anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen gel can be very effective.

Small amounts of codeine can also be used on top of this regimen to control pain. Again, this is not anti-inflammatory, but may allow you to move and exercise more normally, which is important.

There is also a rubbing drug called capsaicin, a pain reliever based on chemicals that make peppers hot.

As always, the trick to good pain management is to try combinations for a few days to find one that works.

The Versus Arthritis website (versusarthritis.org) is worth checking out for exercises and self-help strategies. If nights are a particular problem, consider a stronger bedtime pain reliever that also aids sleep.

This can be, for example, a stronger dose of codeine or a codeine-type painkiller.

I am an 89 year old female and about ten years ago I had successful surgery for my prolapse. Unfortunately it came back two years ago and I was booked for another surgery but Covid put it on hold. I decided to pay to go private in April but the surgery was unsuccessful and I have been referred back to the NHS. I’m still waiting to be seen and can’t stand the pain. Do you have any advice?

This just isn’t good enough. Within the NHS, if a patient was unable to stand due to pain after surgery, he would be seen by the surgeon who performed the surgery.

It should never happen that you have to look elsewhere for a solution.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR DR ELLIE?

Email DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.

dr. Ellie can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal answers.

In case of health problems, always consult your own GP.

The doctor who performed the surgery should explain exactly what went wrong and come up with a plan of action.

In any case, this should be covered at no extra cost, even if revision surgery isn’t.

Speaking with the insurer or, if you’re paying yourself, directly with the hospital would be the first step.

If they don’t help, it’s worth making a complaint while emphasizing the urgency of the situation.

If the complaint is not handled properly, the Independent Sector Complaints Committee can help.

A prolapse is when the organs in the pelvis slide down the vagina, due to age or weakening of the muscles and supporting structures.

The uterus, bladder and even bowel can prolapse. It is very uncomfortable and distressing, and often accompanied by incontinence.

For some patients, a ring pessary is helpful.

This is a silicone ring that is placed in the top of the vagina to act as a physical support for the sliding organs.

They should be fitted by a trained healthcare professional as it may take some fine tuning to get the right size.

Surgical options include a hysterectomy, but there are other more minor options, such as closing the vagina, which could be a safe and appropriate choice.

It’s time for the government to get a grip on gambling

I’m tired of seeing gambling ads everywhere – on billboards, on TV and online – often featuring celebrities who are bound to earn a hefty fee.

This is blood money. I see first hand the misery that gambling addiction causes people, such as the heartbreaking story of NHS employee Josh Hall, who stepped in front of a train after losing £12,500 to bookies Paddy Power.

I'm pleased that the government plans to ban gambling ads from October featuring athletes and social media influencers likely to appeal to children, but I fear that gambling giants will find new ways to suck people in.  (Above, football manager Jose Mourinho in an ad)

I’m pleased that the government plans to ban gambling ads from October featuring athletes and social media influencers likely to appeal to children, but I fear that gambling giants will find new ways to suck people in. (Above, football manager Jose Mourinho in an ad)

Such companies make extensive use of security checkpoints and backstops, but an investigation last month revealed that this simply meant an email asking the 28-year-old if he was happy with his losses.

I’m pleased that the government plans to ban gambling ads from October featuring athletes and social media influencers likely to appeal to children, but I fear that gambling giants will find new ways to suck people in.

I would also like to know: have you, or anyone close to you, encountered any online gambling problems? Please write to me and tell me.

Diabetic crisis is no shock to me

I was alarmed last week by reports suggesting that more than 3,000 diabetics in England may have died as a result of a lack of health checks during the first year of Covid. But I can’t say I was surprised.

In October 2020, I wrote to then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock to warn of the damage that lockdowns were doing: people didn’t seek help or couldn’t be seen, routine appointments were canceled and things were missed. Nearly 100 other GPs signed my letter. Hancock didn’t answer.

But there’s a broader problem: health chiefs just don’t see the value of GPs. We think holistically about patient health and are not limited to one set of symptoms or conditions. We look at their mental health and wider life, and how they also affect well-being.

I’ve long said that if there had been a few more GPs advising the government during the pandemic, we might not have had two years of relentless focus on Covid at the expense of almost everything else.

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