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Moved to Japan, developed ear infections, any remedies?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

So I moved from California to Tokyo, which has had a heat wave of 4˚C (7˚F) higher than normal temperatures sustained for 2 months without breaking, not a single day of relief! I've lived in places previously that experienced severe heat waves, but they only lasted for 2-3 weeks, at most. A heat wave this strong and sustained, entering its 9th week without a break, feels kind of apocalyptic and I can't really believe it is still on-going. Apparently, this has been happening more frequently over the past 4 years in Japan, such that people have already become accustomed to considering it as the new normal. Mismanagement and poor oversight of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima has been accompanied by restrictions and curtailment of electricity usage, people are voluntarily expected to raise their A/C temperatures up to 28˚C or higher (83˚F+). Humidity has ranged from 60%-80% the entire time...and abnormally warm air can hold significantly more moisture than cooler air, so this amounts to a great deal more water.


In any case, high humidity means that any moisture inside the ear canal does not dry, and wearing cans exacerbates this problem. When I take off my phones there is a great deal more moisture and sweat around them than usual, and my ears are steamy. As a result, I have begun to have recurring inner and outer ear infections. My body is simply not dialed in to this climate...this heat (which produces sweat), this humidity (which prevents drying)...I can't even enjoy my headphones!


Anyways, I was wondering if there are any common remedies employed by those of you who have lived for a long period of time in humid climates, that a newbie like myself might not have discovered owing to my inexperience. I've read things like people putting drops of 99% alcohol around their outer ear canal, to help keep their skin dry, but it may be dubious advice that could make matters worse.


Any ideas? Advice?

post #2 of 6

Stop cleaning your ears. It seems counterproductive but your ears need to get acclimated to your current condition and because their pharmaceutical market is different, nobody but locals (or foreigners living over there) can help you with medicines. 


Edit the thread title: Moved to Japan. Remedies for ear infection. 

Edited by squallkiercosa - 9/16/13 at 4:59pm
post #3 of 6

He,s right. You are just making it harder for your body defenses to build up resistance to infection locally. It takes time There are many Africans who are immune to malaria without the need for drugs. This is built up over generations. The same applies to ear wax .It seems to be roundly condemned here but it is exactly the same . Its there to protect your ears not only from infection but to be a barrier to insects they dont like the smell of earwax . This is built -in over 1000s of years.of DNA learning. 

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks. I just changed the thread title.


In this humidity I feel a lot of moisture in my ears after showering, enough to be highly annoying, and have been trying to help my ears dry out by cleaning them...something I did not do previously in California. Both of you are probably correct, I've just aggravated the natural balance, and allowed the bacteria a chance to colonize.


OK, so here's the next question: is there any way one can help their ears dry in ultra-humid climates without cleaning out the wax? Hair dryer? Or will that also simply aggravate matters (besides being loud and maybe damaging my hearing)?

post #5 of 6

Just dry your outer ear with a towel gently when there is excessive moisture. 

post #6 of 6

Things you could do easily: 1) Generally speaking you shouldn't be putting cotton buds/wool or any other foreign object into your ears as wax should get rid of itself.  Unfortunately that would mean avoiding the use of IEMs.  2) Try not to get water or soap into your ears if possible (shower cap?), and your suggestion regarding using a hair dryer might actually do the trick.  3) If you swim, use disposable earplugs.  4) Avoid smoking.  5) I'm not sure of the evidence base for this, but you could use a dehumidifier at home.


Now you say you're getting recurrent inner/outer ear infections.  Have you been to see a doctor about that?  Moisture alone may be the cause, but there may be other factors which would put you at a higher risk of developing them.  Recurrent inner ear infections can precipitate outer ear problems.  If you're spiking fevers, or notice a discharge from your ears, or episodes last for more than 2-3 days, it would be well worth making a trip to your physician just to have your ears looked at.  Often there's not much there needs to be done beyond lifestyle advice (probably the most crucial) and simple analgesics, but it's good to make sure that's all that needs done.


Hope that helps.

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