During a routine, well-patient vaccination visit we discovered that Clare had moderate inflammation of both ear canals, along with some ceruminous discharge.
No diagnostic information could be obtained with the otoscope alone, so we performed a test called Cytology. I was surprised that no infectious organisms were found, as infection is the most common cause of ear inflammation, which leads to ceruminous gland inflammation and stimulation, then to excessive ceruminous gland production and “dirty” ears.
As the office visit went on our client mentioned that he and his wife had to move into a one-bedroom apartment with two large dogs and a cat.
Trying to be concerned but not nosy I asked, “Why?”
“Our house was renovated after Hurricane Katrina, not too long before we bought it”, he said. “Ours, and several other houses on our block were redone by the same contractor, and he used some of that defective Chinese drywall. Not only did we have to move out, but all of the wallboard, appliances, furniture and carpet had to be thrown away. Everything in the house was contaminated.”
That got me to thinking. There has to be a source of inflammation in Clare’s ears, something to stimulate those wax glands of the ears. Could it be that fumes from the Chinese drywall were causing this syndrome? While the owners were having respiratory tract signs, could it be that Clare was suffering from ear problems because of the
There is no way to know for sure, but Clare won’t be re-entering the affected house, and we instituted no treatment, only weekly ear cleanings with DermaPet brand ear/skin cleanser.
We won’t be seeing Clare again for six months, but I would bet my socks that her ear problems are, indeed, Chinese drywall-fume-related.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.