Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
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Dangerous or Not?
Posted in Acne by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Oct 25, 2008

There are some medical concerns I hear from patients over and over again. I thought I'd make a list and address some of the worries.....dangerous or not.


1) Is Q -tipping my ears good or bad? I am always surprised how many patients come in with ear wax mashed up next to the eardrum making it really hard to flush out. This is the result of Q-tipping and while it isn't "dangerous" is does result in ear wax being pushed up against the ear drum. This can, temporarily, result in decreased hearing in that ear. If you must, after the shower, Q tip only the outside of your ear not deep inside the canal.


2) At the end of the day my ankles are swollen, is this dangerous? It can be, but not usually. Here are the key questions to ask yourself: does it resolve when you have your legs elevated and has the swelling gone down in the morning? Is it the same on both sides? Do you have any other symptoms like shortness of breath, difficulty lying flat without getting short of breath OR swelling around your eyes? Usually lower extremity edema that is the same on both sides and gets worse throughout the day is "Dependant edema" which is harmless. It is worse in people who are overweight and in those with varicose veins.


3) Is Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and Aleve) bad for my kidneys? No, and not when used short term or in moderation. Very rarely Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) can result in NSAID nephropathy which is a kidney problem BUT this is more common in people with underlying kidney disease and when NSAIDS are taken in high doses.


4) Occasionally my arm is "asleep" when I wake up, am I having a stroke? If any limb (arm, leg, hand) is asleep (tingly, heavy, numb) but it RESOLVES within 30-60 seconds of you shaking it around and getting the circulation back in to it this is generally NOTHING to worry about and NORMAL. Exceptions to this, of course, are associated slurred speech, facial droop or it occurs for no reason in the middle of the day.


5) Can I drink alcohol while I'm taking medications? The answer for the most part is yes and again in moderation. The caution with this is that medications that cause sedation (benzodiazepines like xanax, ativan, etc or sleeping pills) will be amplified by alcohol which is a central nervous system depressant. Light alcohol is fine even with drugs metabolized by the liver including cholesterol lowering drugs, Tylenol, drugs for nail fungus, tricyclic antidepressants among others.


6) I've been having night sweats is this normal? Unless you are heading toward or in menopause this may NOT be normal and you should bring it up with your doctor. If you are waking up at night and changing your t-shirt because it is soaked with sweat you need to mention this to your doctor. It may be nothing but malignancies (lymphomas, etc), chronic infections (tuberculosis, HIV, etc) and thyroid disease among others will present with night sweats.


7) When I turn my head or stare at a computer screen sometimes I get dizzy, is this dangerous? Most dizziness patients experience is vertigo and is nothing to worry about. Your first job is to describe whether it is vertigo or light headedness: is it room spinning dizziness associated with nausea (which would be vertigo) or you have episodes where your vision is closing in on the sides and you feel like you are going to pass out? Write down when the episodes happen, what you are doing and how long they last and bring it up with your physician.


8) I take all of my medications at once, is this ok? Unless you take a medicine that is poorly absorbed from the gut (thyroid medicine and osteoporosis medicines like Fosamax) OR it has been noted by your pharmacist to take your medication on an empty stomach you are fine to take them all at once.


9) My joints ache when I wake up is this normal? Overuse arthritis (osteoarthritis) will give you sore stiff joints in the morning that get better throughout the day. The aching usually starts in the large joints (hips, knees, shoulders) and is less common in the small joints of the hands or feet. So, if your small joints ache OR you notice the joints are red, hot, swollen that may be something to worry about (an inflammatory arthritis like lupus, rheumatoid, infection, etc) and needs to be checked out by your doctor.


Dangerous or not?  What am I missing?


Dr O.

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31
thanks for posting this, i am scared to use qtips in my daughters ears and my doctor told me she had too much wax and acted like it was my fault but I had heard before that it was bad to use them.[url=http://www.clubpenguincheats.ca/]Club Penguin Secrets[/url]
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By dontcry  Jan 12, 2010
30
Every now and then, when I am at rest my heart beats like a machine gun for a second or 2 , a couple or 3 times...should I be concerned?
By lindahoward7  Nov 24, 2009
29
My gynecologist told me I have Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Lately I have noticed when I'm either under alot of stress or I'm lounging around resting. I sweat. I sweat so much to the point where it's unbearable. I don't know what's causing my body to be this way. I'm 37 years old and have never been pregnant. I think this is very unusual for a woman my age. I don't like feeling terrible in my own skin. What can I do to help myself feel normal?


frannyd
By FrannyD  Nov 23, 2008
28
I used to have problem number 4. Arm asleep when waking up. Then after initiating thyroid hormone replacement therapy, it went away for good.
By MedLab1  Nov 03, 2008
27
Thank you for the information on night sweats. I have been having them in conjunction with other symptoms which could indicate night terrors. I am titrating up on lamictal and wondering if night terrors could be a side effect. If so I hope it goes away. Otherwise it is intolerable because I am too sleep deprived to function well. Also, I just found a lump in my breast and am scheduled for mammography. The night sweats add to my concern. Maybe I am just losing sleep because I am worried about the diagnosis. *forcing a smile* Thanks for helping me put the pieces together.
By peacelily68  Oct 30, 2008
26
I have been having these sweat attacks now for 5 years, right after I had my last child, who is 5 now. I am 44 years old. I mean I sweat like from the neck up really bad. To where it is dripping down off of me. Know one around me is hot either. It happens after even doing the smallest things, like getting dressed, or making something to eat, playing with my grandson, after walking for about 5 min.s. I am 5 3, 198, I have buldging disk all up and down my neck and back, all the way to my bottom, I also get the shots in my back and neck, I haven't had normal poirods since I had My 5 year old, they come for one day a month, sometimea few days, sometimes months apart, my GYN ran test, and said I am not, and have not been going through mentapause. Please can anyone tell me why this could be happening to me?
By vickihook  Oct 29, 2008
25
Mammamare: No known link between Lichen Sclerosis and Graves Disease but I dont think we could say for sure there is no link it just hasnt been studied really...
By DrOrrange  Oct 29, 2008
24
There may be situations where taking all of ones medications, all at once may not be a good idea. Lol
By Anna000  Oct 28, 2008
23
Great column, Dr. O. A question: Can Lichens Sclerosis be caused by, or be tied in with, Graves Disease?

Mammamare
By mammamare  Oct 28, 2008
22
ABOUT 3 MONTHS AGO I AND MY DAUGHTERS NOTICED I WAS SLURING AND MY RIGHT THIGH COMPLETLY NUMBS TO THE EXTENT YOU CAN STAB A KNIVE INTO IT (NOT REALLY DOING THAT) BUT THATS HOW NUMB IT GETS,THEY TOOK ME TO EMERGENCY AND AFTER HEARING MY PROBLEM THEY ADMITTED ME AND DID EVERY TEST IN THE WORLD AND I WAS RELEASED STATING THERES NO PROBLEM.SINCE THEN I NOTICE WHEN I GET INTO A CONVERSATION I REALLY START TO SLUR AND IT'S HAPPENING MORE AND MORE,WHAT COULD THIS BE CAUSED BY AND WHAY SHOULD I DO,I ALREADY HAD A GAMMET OF TESTS,DO I WAIT TILL I JUST HAVE A STROKE??ALSO MY RIGHT HAND HAS BEEN NUMB FOR SOME TIME AND I HAVE BEEN TOLD IT'S CORPRALTUNNEL,ANYWAY ABOUT THE SLURING??

GRANDPA JOHN
By CANDYMAN56  Oct 28, 2008
21
Thanks. I have joint pain in my hands, but I wasn't sure if that was normal or not. I had a doctor who thought I might have lupus, but my ANA was negative and we didn't pursue it anymore. I have alopecia areata and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, so I think I'm one of the weirdos who manages to pull of a negative ANA despite having autoimmune disorders.
By GlitterGeek  Oct 27, 2008
20
good info. what about differences in shortness of breath? also, stomach/chest pains? i know a lot of people have questions about these. love your articles! i'm a resp. therapist and like the good info you provide. keep up the good work!!
By tadlem  Oct 27, 2008
19
That is so useful - many thanks for posting.
By Breathes  Oct 27, 2008
18
my ent said q-tipping is what caused my ear infections ,
my doc said not to take akk meds at once because some meds counteract eachother and some meds work best at night and some are better in am or mid day
By cowboy357  Oct 27, 2008
17
Thank you doctor. Very useful column. You answered many of the questions I forget to ask my Doctor when I am in the office
By Emilythelawyer  Oct 27, 2008
16
I too wonder about the asleep limb because I can be walking and my left foot suddenly feels like Im falling asleep especially when i walk in tennis shoes for extended period of time. The longer I walk the heavier my foot gets.Im in the process of changing doctors and will bring it up at next visit.Thanks for the information
By Wanalive  Oct 26, 2008
15
This was very helpful and informative. Thank you
By Dagny  Oct 26, 2008
14
I wondered about the "asleep" arm. For a while, depending on my sleep position, I would wake up with my arm numb and PARALYZED, sometimes both. Asleep I know (tingles, pain), numb to touch was disturbing, but paralyzed (and numb too) would make me panic. It goes away in about a minute, like you write. I've learned to live with it. Now that I've gained weight I don't get it any more anyay. But it always made me wonder... Putting pressure on a nerve would do that, and I know that's not bad. But how do I know I haven't put pressure on a blood vessel? Spending 6h asleep without blood flow to your arm can't be good. Does that ever happen? It had me worried many times.
By cb72  Oct 26, 2008
13
so is it ok to have a mixed drink with the girls if i am taking tegretol?
By momaperry  Oct 26, 2008
12
thanks for posting this, i am scared to use qtips in my daughters ears and my doctor told me she had too much wax and acted like it was my fault but I had heard before that it was bad to use them.
By StillMovingforward  Oct 26, 2008

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