The Top 7 Myths and Misconceptions in ENT Practice

Updated on October 1, 2020

Despite the availability of medical facts and information on the web, certain medical myths and misconceptions die hard. Assumptions, traditions and cultural presumptions have led to the general population towards holding such misconceptions. 

Like all other fields of medicine, otolaryngology too has many hidden misconceptions where the public should have access to the right information. It is always wise to clear your doubts regarding ENT maladies through a qualified ENT specialist who could share the relevant information. The ENT Clinic is a popular go-to choice for any form of ENT ailment if you are in Singapore. The practice ensures qualified ENT doctors, a caring supportive staff and modern facilities to both adult and paediatric ENT patients.

The top 7 myths and misconceptions of ENT practice are listed below:

Myth # 1: Prescription Drugs have more side effects than over-the-counter drugs

All drugs before they are released into the market goes through clinical trials, where safety and efficacy of the drugs are tested. The prescription drugs are given by doctors according to the patient’s disease condition, age, gender while considering many other factors. Individuals feel that over the counter medications are safe because a prescription is not needed to purchase them. It will always be good to have a discussion with the pharmacist to have an idea of the possible risks and side effects or to follow the recommendation of a physician on the relevant dosing and when it is best to proceed with over the counter medications.

Myth # 2: If you have a nodule or tumour, a biopsy is always needed to check if it is cancerous

It is not always essential to perform a biopsy. ENT doctors have various guidelines as to when a biopsy is essential. For instance if you have a thyroid nodule which is less than 1 cm and you are an individual with a low risk for such cancers, then your otolaryngologist will not order a biopsy immediately. Instead the nodule will be monitored to see if there are any changes with time. The diagnosis will be done through an ultrasound scan. A biopsy doesn’t carry risk, but sometimes the results could be inconclusive with atypical cells. In such cases the ENT surgeon will suggest surgery even when there is no cancer to remove the doubt. A second opinion too is may be a preferred option if you have been offered surgery for a thyroid nodule.

Myth # 3: Q-tips are a great way to clear the earwax which has built up in your ears

People generally tend to look at earwax as ‘dirt’ and as something which should not be present, but earwax is a natural build-up due to the accumulation of dead skin cells. The amount of wax accumulation can vary based on the environment, age and diet. It acts as a natural lubricator, preventing the skin inside the ear from drying. Q-tips are not a good recommendation for removing earwax as it may further push the earwax into the ear canal. This could cause further problems and may even result in trauma to the ears resulting in ear infections and damage to the eardrum. If you feel you have earwax accumulation, it will be best to consult your ENT doctor to remove it.

Myth # 4: Sinus issues cannot be cured

Sinus problems can be well managed by an experienced sinus specialist. A good doctor will be able to find out the reason behind your chronic sinusitis condition. Generally, allergies are a cause and controlling this condition can help keep your sinuses clear. One reason why sinus issues tend to recur is because the root cause is not treated. Based on the severity of the patient, a few cases may require sinus surgery. An endoscopic sinus surgery may be performed. However, it is important that you adhere to the treatment protocol given by your ENT doctor where he would recommend nasal irrigation, steroid medications and nasal sprays to control the condition even following surgery. By adhering to these recommendations, surgery will be effective. This way the quality of life of the patient can be improved.

Myth # 5: Vertigo occurs due to cervical problems

A general myth in society is that vertigo goes hand in hand with cervical problems, but this is not always the case. Most of the cases of vertigo can be attributed to loss of balance in the ears and is in fact the most common origin of vertigo. A main function of the ears is to maintain balance as well as help with hearing. Thus, when you have a vertigo, it should be best to have your first opinion from an ENT specialist to rule out any ear problems.

Myth # 6: When your eardrum is perforated you always need surgery

Following middle ear infections, one may develop an ear drum perforation. Generally, it is a natural outcome where pus collects in the auditory canal following infection. There may be natural recovery post infection. Perforation by foreign objects like cotton buds and objects which children insert inside their ears can cause the eardrum to tear too. Even these perforations can heal with time. Some may take weeks but the eardrum tends to heal on its own. However, it is important to have yourself monitored by an ENT surgeon to ensure the status of your ears.

Myth # 7: You can delay hearing aids even after experiencing hearing difficulty

This is not true! With the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss, your ENT doctor will try to find the cause behind your hearing loss and if your ear specialist feels that you would benefit through auditory rehabilitation he would suggest that you use hearing aids. Hearing aids improve the quality of life, prevents dementia and helps you to stay away from isolation. With advancements in hearing aids, there are many modern features which can help you choose one to suit your needs and fit. Not using hearing aids can accelerate your loss of hearing. Through frequent use of hearing aids, your sense of hearing can be preserved for longer.

When faced with an ENT dilemma, your best option is to visit a reputed, qualified ENT physician who could guide you in taking the right medical decision. The ENT Clinic Singapore is conveniently situated at Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital offers personalised care and decades of experience by its specialists. With foreign trained ENT doctors from the UK, Australia and Canada, Dr Jeeve, Dr Annabelle and Dr Hobbs practice evidence based medicine using advanced technology to treat a broad range of ENT disorders.


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