Summer potpourri - By Dr. THOMAS KAISER MD.jpg

Summer potpourri – By Dr. THOMAS KAISER MD

Dear Reader,

I WOULD like to give you an update about various things, a summer potpourri if you like.

Cotton buds

Many of you may have been told that you must not use them because you could cause damage to your ear. This is, of course, nonsense advice, which keeps being passed on, and nobody dares to ask the question how one is then supposed to clean the ears. I can reassure you that, during the course of my career, I have not seen more than three patients who have injured themselves in a harmless way with these soft instruments, while I must have treated thousands of patients who suffered the effects of totally wax-blocked ears.

Here comes some sound advice that you can follow confidently ….

Before you use anything to clean your ears, have them checked by your doctor. If they are waxy, they should be cleaned by him after softening the wax. The softening is done with aromatic oils or simple olive oil – 10 drops over 24 hours, and not with drops at night for five days, as you may have been told before.

Once you know that you have no wax in your ears, you can start a maintenance policy that will, for sure, keep your ears clean. Apply 10 drops of olive oil into both your ears, overnight, once a week. Close the canals with a cotton wool ball sealed with Vaseline.

In the morning, gently clean the oil from your ears with a cotton bud. Do not go deeper than one centimetre with the bud and stop immediately if you feel discomfort. Done sensitively, you need not worry that you could damage your eardrum. The eardrum is very sensitive and you will know when you go too far.

Ears are a part of our body that is often neglected because we cannot look into them. The skin in the ear canal is extremely sensitive and, particularly in the summer, needs a lot of care, especially moisturising.

I feel very sorry for all the children I see in my practice with swimmers’ ear, which could easily be avoided with preventative measures. I would rather see them at the beginning of their holiday for prevention of otitis externa, not when the damage has already been done.

Alcohol and accidents

It is an unfortunate mistake to trivialise the effect of alcohol as a drug. Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to be a spoilsport. We should all have a glass of wine with our meal or a beer after that hard tennis match if we want to. However, more than that, particularly in adolescents and young adults, is not advisable as it causes much more damage than the much, and rightly so, blamed illegal drugs.

In my experience as a family doctor, I have found that a lot of injuries, accidents, arguments, unwanted pregnancies and also the beginning of drug habits are to be blamed on the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol. Also to be blamed are the marketing departments of the big companies and us adults, who are not sending the right message in our own behaviour.

So, please teach and show your teenage children that it is not cool to get “pissed” in the pub or at beach bars. Show them that it is much better to have fun without the negative effects of alcohol.

The arms in the art of running

Much to the amusement of my friends, at my tender age, I have started running classes with Peter Roberts, an ex-sprinter and fitness coach with many years of experience.

While I could run a half-marathon relatively comfortably (in around one hour and 45 minutes), I found that I just could not get below that time.

Speaking to other runners, it became clear that I had to get out of my comfort zone and needed interval and sprint training, which I have now started with Peter.

The first thing I had to learn was that I did not use my arms other than as luggage to carry around. Instead, the arms must be used as pacemakers of that relaxed dynamic stride. When you see me running next time in the Ria Formosa, you will notice an eccentric new arm technique, which may remind you of Carl Lewis.

Healthy eating

Healthy eating must become more enjoyable this year in the Algarve. Please try the excellent vegetarian lunch at Quinta da Calma near Almancil. It is both delicious and healthy. The new Spa Restaurant in Vale do Lobo serves excellent health food created by Austrian nutritionist Kicksi Rosker and prepared by Michelin-star chef Maurice Belhaj. For the lower budget, I can strongly recommend the “butties” at Pastelaria Doce in Almancil.

Wishing you a wonderful summer.


Dr. Thomas Kaiser

• Dr Thomas Kaiser is a specialist in general and family medicine. He is partner of Dr Robin Thomson at the Family Medical Centre in Vilar do Golf, Almancil, 289 398 411. He is also director of the Vale do Lobo Medical Centre and can be contacted there on 289 398 009