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The Pharmacist Answers Podcast

Your health is probably one of the most important things to you.  Yet it can be one of the most complicated things to understand.  Our bodies are meant to work a certain way, but when they don't, we may never be 100% sure why or what to do about it - even after seeing a healthcare professional.

The Pharmacist Answers Podcast is hosted by Cynthia Hendrix, PharmD.  On the Podcast, you can learn the basics of body parts and organ groups, get a glimpse of how disease processes work, and learn some practical steps to take in your own flesh and blood relationships with healthcare providers.

Everyone's health story is different.  No one is truly a "textbook case".  You need someone who sees your uniqueness and help you gain the knowledge and confidence to have conversations, ask questions, and make decisions that are right for YOU!

*The Podcast started out as live conversations on Periscope.

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May 8, 2017

PSA:  Please don't stick things in your ear any larger than your elbow...and that includes your finger.


Outer ear = the part that you can touch
Middle ear = the area being the ear drum
Inner ear = the cochlea and area responsible for your balance

3 common ear problems

  • Ear infections (otitis media)
  • Vertigo (and motion sickness)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ear)


*Ear wax

Ear Infections

The area behind your ear drum has air in it and that pressure is equalized through the eustachian tube.  If that area gets fluid in it, that fluid can grow bacteria and that leads to infection.  The natural motion of opening and closing your jaw helps massage the eustachian tubes and moves air in and out (like when you fly or drive in the mountains and you chew gum or yawn).

Cold and allergies can be the source of the fluid build up that leads to ear infection.  You may have decreased hearing, pain, decreased balance - infection can require antibiotics.


This is the sensation of spinning, dizziness, being off balance
The semi-circular canals are responsible for your balance.  If it get sloshed too much, or doesn't level out exactly right, then the signals sent to the brain may translate to being off balance even though your body is upright.  The signal confusion is what can lead to nausea (it's not actually happening in your stomach - at least not until you vomit!)
The fluid moving around in these canals are why kids can induce dizziness when they spin around in circles (think about the clothes in your washer during the spin cycle - they get pushed to the outside).
Medications  for vertigo are the same as some medications for nausea - plus they have drowsy side effects, so maybe you just sleep it off.
There are many suspected causes, but nothing definite or proven.


Defined as ringing, buzzing, roaring, whooshing sound when nothing is actually making that noise.
Causes: hearing loss (either due to aging or exposure to loud noises); high blood pressure (pulsating); medications
One theory: the hairs in the cochlea are damaged so those frequencies of sound (usually high pitched sounds) can't be picked up anymore; the brain fills in the gaps with "made up sound".  This is NOT PROVEN!
High blood pressure can cause you to hear the blood pulsing through the blood vessels in your ears.

Medications that causing ringing in the ears

  • Aspirin (acute over-use)
  • Aminoglycosides (i.e. Gentamicin = antibiotic) - it has a small therapeutic window, too much can lead to ear damage, it stopped in time, permanent ear damage can be avoided
  • Quinine = usually asked for to help leg cramps, also medically prescribed to prevent malaria.  Can only be readily consumed by drinking tonic water.

Flavonoids are put in vitamins and advertised to help tinnitus.  Flavonoids are phytonutrients (nutrients you get from plants).  These nutrients can't grow the hairs back in the cochlea.  Most of the vitamins and nutrients in the flavonoid vitamins have anti-oxidative properties, but I doubt that tinnitus is a major oxidation problem.

Audience Question

Can being slapped over time cause ringing in the ears?

  • Being bopped in the face and head can probably cause permanent damage to the structures on the inside and outside of your head.  Being hit in the side of the head can cause pressure build-up in the ear where the air causes the ear drum to rupture (like "boxing" the ears).
  • Slaps to the face (like "you jerk!" kind of slaps) don't usually cause ear problems, but punches or slaps to the side of the head near or on the ears can possibly cause damage.

Prevent ear problems: be nice to your ears!

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Music Credits:  “Radio Martini” Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0