Ear & Balance

Ear discomfort and coughing after a haircut? You may be surprised by the reason!

February 1, 2020
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Recently, I saw a patient, Mr A who complained of a right ear discomfort after a haircut. Interestingly, the discomfort would worsen whenever he moves his jaw, especially during talking or eating. It also caused an itchy feeling in his throat, resulting in a cough.

 

On examination, there was a strand of hair in his right ear canal along with some earwax. These were removed with a forceps under microscope guidance (Figure 1 and 2). Following this, his symptoms resolved immediately.

 

 

Figure 1 – A strand of cut hair in the ear canal with one end touching the eardrum and some earwax

 

 

Figure 2 – Strand of hair and earwax removed with a pair of fine ear forceps

 

 

It is not uncommon for ENT Specialists to find cut hair/s in the ear canals. However, most of the time, the length is too short to cause any symptoms. As the ear canal is self-cleansing, I usually advise asymptomatic patients to leave the cut hair alone. The lining of the canal is like a conveyor belt, moving debris, dead skin and earwax away from the eardrum (Figure 3). This cleansing process is facilitated by the jaw which lies just below the floor of the ear canal. Jaw movements during eating or talking help to facilitate the self-cleansing process.

 

 

Figure 3 – The eardrum and lining of the ear canal is like a conveyor belt, moving dead skin, earwax, and debris away from the eardrum

 

In this case, Mr A was unfortunate that his cut hair was long enough to have one end poking against his eardrum and the other end poking his ear canal skin. Hence, any movement of his jaws during eating or talking would actually irritate both the ear canal skin and his eardrum. As the nerves supplying the skin of the ear canal and the throat are from the same origin, irritation of the ear canal and eardrum can cause symptoms in the throat too. These symptoms are called “referred” symptoms. Hence, sometimes an ENT Specialist will have to check your throat too if you have an ear symptom and vice versa.

 

Luckily for Mr A, his problem was easily solved and perhaps he should consider wearing earplugs the next time he visits his barber!

 

 

Best wishes,

 

Dr Gan Eng Cern

ENT Specialist Singapore

When Should You See An ENT Specialist In Singapore?

  • Any Ear, Nose or Throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned of
  • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

Dr Gan Eng Cern

Dr Gan Eng Cern is a fellowship trained Consultant Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) Surgeon. He completed his ENT training in Singapore and obtained his subspecialty training in Rhinology and Endoscopic Skull Base Surgery at the world renowned St Paul’s Sinus Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He was also a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. Dr Gan was an avid researcher with numerous publications in reputable international ENT journals. He was also an invited speaker and surgical dissection teacher in many ENT conferences and courses.

Awards

  • 2020 – Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best ENT Specialist
    (Expat Living Singapore)
  • 2016 – Best Educator Award (Eastern Health Alliance)
  • 2016 – “Wow” Award (Patient Compliment)
  • 2014 – Eastern Health Alliance Caring Award – Silver
  • 2014 – 19th Yahya Cohen Memorial Lectureship (awarded by the College
    of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine Singapore for best scientific surgical
    paper)
  • 2012 – Human Manpower Development Award (Ministry of Health,
    Singapore)
  • 2007 – Singhealth Best Doctor Award

Qualifications

  • MBBS - Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
  • MRCS (Edin) - Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • MMed (ORL) - Master of Medicine in ENT (National University of Singapore)
  • FAMS - Fellow of the Academy of Medicine Singapore

Why Choose Dr Gan Eng Cern

1

Reliable & Reputable ENT Expert

Experienced and patient ENT Specialist who has your best interests at heart. We aim to provide you with accessible and specialized care for any ENT condition in a comfortable setting.

2

Friendly & Helpful Clinic Staff

Our friendly staff will assist you to the best of our ability and we are happy to accept most insurance providers and assist with E-filing with relevant insurance providers or Medisave.

3

Advanced ENT Equipment & Fully Equipped Facility

Our ENT Specialist, Dr Gan Eng Cern, will be able to diagnose and offer personalised treatments for your specific ENT condition. You can expect a high level of ENT care in a spacious setting with in-house minor surgical, endoscopy, allergy testing and microscopy services.

4

Financial Options

There are various financial options available for you to ensure that you are able to receive the most optimal treatment and care. Our ENT clinic staff will be able to assist you with your medical insurance claims and work with your chosen healthcare organization to minimize the hassle and paperwork required. In some cases, you may be able to utilise the funds in your Medisave account to defray part of the costs of your treatment. As our clinic is accredited by the Medisave board, we are able to process your claims from your Medisave for certain clinic procedures.

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