Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reply on article - "who needs a doctor these days when we have the Internet?" by Gary Brown

Given my indebtedness to the Internet in helping me to find assistance for my condition of empty nose syndrome, as well as a diagnosis, I offered a reply to columnist Gary Brown, of Canton, Ohio, who wrote the following article, entitled, "Who needs a doctor these days when we have the Internet?"

You can read this article at:

Below is my reply:

Dear Mr. Brown:

Thank you for your column, "who needs a doctor these days when we have the Internet?" I sort of appreciated the humor contained in it and I am glad your hand is feeling better - I was sooo worried about your poor hand ;) However, while the Internet can certainly be a source of worry, as you might wrongly 'discover' you have this or that self-diagnosis, I find it to be an extremely valuable source of health information. Granted, I read everything with a critical mind, but I research medical articles on (and can think for myself on them), learn more about different health problems, learn treatment strategies for coping with health problems, and natural remedies (free of side effects caused by prescription drugs). The best part is I don't need to wait an hour or two to talk to a "hurried" know-it-all doctor. I can then utilize my newfound knowledge and maybe seek 'expert' advice from doctors, who are woefully ignorant on nutrition and reluctant to believe anything that can't be replicated in a double-blind study, so we can work together for the best possible outcome. Pardon the sarcasm, as I genuinely believe (and have found some) doctors who can play an important role in people's health; it's just that many overpaid, overworked, proud doctors don't or can't and ultimately, as patients, we need to be our own doctors and take control of our health.

Frankly, I would not even know I had "empty nose syndrome," which was later confirmed by a doctor 6 1/2 years after the onset of symptoms, unless I learned about it on the web because doctors are slow to diagnose it, let alone acknowledge it as a serious problem. (It's clearly a real problem with medical journal articles on it). Frankly, the Internet is a communication tool that threatens dictatorships and I think we should be thankful for it, if we have the IQ to filter the wheat from the chaff. I know my health is much better off because of it.

So I think you're right, on some level: who needs a doctor these days when we have the Internet!


Christopher Martin

I shared my reply with an ENS sufferer and friend, and he replied as follows:

Hey Chris,
Your response is very good. I think Gary Brown's point of view was one of trivial medical issues that many get all excited about for no reason. We, on the other hand, found out our major medical issue via the internet after going to countless doctors who were unwilling or unsure of a diagnosis.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mercury Dental Fillings

The use of mercury in dental fillings is a type of "killing us softly." Most of us know people who have had so-called "silver amalgams" and many appear healthy. Because people have fillings and because these people do not have clearcut signs of serious adverse health affects as a direct result of such fillings, people assume they are totally safe. Wrong. The American Dental Association, after all, makes it claim that fillings are safe because they have been placed in the mouths of so many people for so many years. They even threaten dentists who suggest removal of mercury fillings for health reasons as unethical and at risk of having their license revoked. Too many dentists, in turn, are proponents of mercury fillings because they are cheap and durable, which ultimately adds to their business. I brought the concern of mercury toxicity up with one hygienist who remarked, if these fillings are toxic, then I will be the first to have them removed. Of course, I highly doubt she was tested for heavy metal toxicity, so how would she otherwise know if she was toxic from heavy metals? In any case, I did what I believed was correct for my health. I had a dentist remove a toxic substance and replaced it with a less toxic substance. That's all.

Mercury, which comprises 50% of the metal fillings, is highly toxic. It is my opinion that the mercury in fillings should not be placed in our mouths. Period. There are better alternatives, such as resin composites and porcelain. I am willing to pay extra for these products because I care about my health. In fact, I just had all 7 fillings replaced with resin composites in the past 2 months, while also following a heavy metal detoxification protocol to decrease the toxic load of the mercury in my body caused by these fillings, which have been in my teeth for the past 20 years. I use "HMD," which stands for heavy metal detox. It is a bit expensive, but worth it in my opinion. (HMD has been tested through a 3-year double blind study to reduce the load of toxic metals. Of course, the dentists and medical professionals like to suggest that any 'natural' product that has not undergone rigorous testing can be considered quackery, while medicine put on the shelves often have side effects, needing the drugs to be recalled years later for serious adverse side affects. Don't get me wrong, companies of supplements often push their products out of greed, just like Big Pharma. But just because a product has not been shown to be highly effective in highly controlled, double-blind research studies is not a reason to dismiss it....if only the medical authorities were educated on nutrition, they would be in such a better position to help patients with chronic health ailments!)....Okay, I am going on a tangent here and HMD has been proven to be effective....

Mercury in amalgam fillings results in the release of 17 micrograms per day per filling. That's quite a bit if the average person has 8 fillings. Having just 4 fillings leads to a higher level of mercury in our bodies per day than is recommended as a safe and acceptable level by the World Health Organization. There are significant neurological problems associated with mercury, and it is highly absorbable into the bloodstream and all body tissues. In response to such concerns, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway have banned and/or significantly curtailed the use of mercury dental amalgams. Good for them. California has issued statements suggesting possibile toxicity from mercury to pregnant women and Canada, from what I recall, recommends no more than 4 mercury fillings for adults.

Bottom line: Go to an environmental or biological dentist who practices mercury-free dentistry. If you have such fillings, get them removed in a safe manner following a careful protocol. I personally used activated charcoal before and after the restorations, as well as a vitamin C flush, after they were done, in accordance with the recommendations of one dentist. I cannot state that the removal of such fillings have had a profound impact on my health, although I have noticed some improvement with respect to nasal inflammation, and I am only less than one week post-restorations. But I am well aware of concerns with mercury amalgams. It is just good sense to put only biocompatible materials in one's mouth. Doing anything else, despite the financial feasibility (or financial benefit to a dentist through increased business), can be potentially harmful.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New ENS website

An empty nose syndrome sufferer is writing a website devoted to raising awareness about empty nose syndrome: I encourage all who browse this blog to visit it. It has useful treatment tips and quite a fascinating story. Like many of us who suffer from ENS, the sufferer has been through terrible experiences in striving to treat her health as well as in dealing with the mainstream medical community that has failed her. I hope she is able to find some real relief for her issues, and I wish her the best in working with me to promote awareness for empty nose syndrome. Her efforts, I am sure, will not only raise awareness, but also make an impact among ear, nose and throat specialists. The more stories out there, the more we will be taken seriously.

Question from ENS-Type Sufferer

Question: I have ens-Type. I had coblation of the inferior turbinates. The coblator was passed 3 timed and my turbinates were outfractured.
I am outraged my surgeon has crippled me so. My question to you concerns my reading that turbinate tissue can regrow. When will this regrowth begin? Can I go back to normal? What percentage of sufferers of ens-type through turbinate coblation experience total regrowth?

Its been a year since my surgery. Please help. Thanks

Answer: If your turbinates have not regrown after a year post-surgery, then I am doubtful they will regrow. You definitely can enjoy some improvement to your health, however, but this will take some serious dedication to your nasal health as well as learning from others with identical issues. I don't know the answer to what percentage of ENS-Type sufferers experience total regrowth - it likely depends on the amount of mucosal damage and amount of resected tissue, with more tissue removed or more mucosal damage, then less promising is the prognosis. Some patients with ENS-Type have reported much improvement from implanted Alloderm tissue. Get opinion from Dr. Houser and go from there.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Acidic Saliva, Dry Mouth & Throat Infections

In a perfect world, I would be able to go to a doctor, the doctor would spend much time with me, do a careful examination, offer useful suggestions, and make an appropriate diagnosis. The doctor would be either able to effectively treat my condition or refer me to a specialist who could. I wish. The current healthcare system offers the exact opposite solution for patients with chronic health ailments, such as myself. Modern health care consists of a hurried environment where the doctor gets paid more to see more patients, the patient's questions or concerns are not valued, and the doctor is trained to think in accordance with the major medical societies and not outside the box (e.g., not see the value or have training in nutrition or supplements, not question the medical journals, which are at the mercy of Big Pharma).

Is it any wonder, then, that it took me 6 years post-surgery and an Internet search (when only 2 or 3 sites mentioned empty nose syndrome) to discover I had a little-known condition called empty nose syndrome? Or that it took 12 years of intense suffering, pressure around my ears, to discover that I had a tempromandibular joint disorder, even after I asked doctors repeatedly to examine my ears? In my case, and I am sure with many patients who may be reading this blog, you have to be your own doctor. Do your homework and don't rely on doctors for good health. You are your best advocate when it comes to your health- no one else is looking out for you.

Now my big question I am presently grappling with is "how do I get to the root of my throat infections?" I get about 6-7 per year, and the infections just linger in my throat until I go on an antibiotic. I would actually say I am free of sinusitis now and am just trying to eradicate infections that linger in my throat - well after a cold is done. There are so many avenues I could pursue to treat infections and build immune health, so my ultimate goal is to get to the root of the problem and attempt surgery (such as a tonsillectomy) only if the preventative treatments fail. Recently, my primary care provider noted I always have a dry mouth and I think he hit the nail on the head. He was not the first doctor to note I had an "extremely dry oral mucosa." A third doctor also noted I had mildly erythmatous throat - mildly inflamed - with thick, sticky mucus, which is the way my throat is all the time. So I think the line of attack is, in my situation, good oral hygiene. These issues are closely linked to increase in cavities, so that should be a second benefit, with (I am hoping) the primary benefit being a decrease in throat infections.

The problem is I have acidic saliva (ph of 5.75-6.25 most of the time), but very alkaline urine. A main function of saliva is to neutralize acids in the mouth after eating. Saliva also eradicates bad bacteria, mold, viruses, and fungi in the mouth, so there is an increased risk of candida and infections among people who have dry mouth. What this suggests to me is that my body has weak digestive enzymes and poor oral health, but excellent ability to excrete acids and assimilate nutrients. Based on what I have read, there can be many causes to acidic saliva, including the possibility of dry mouth as a causative factor. And dry mouth has a number of causes as well. (Of course, my mouth does have more saliva than people with xerostomia - dry mouth, so doctors are reluctant to put me on saliva stimulating medication, such as pilocarpine, but maybe that's just as well because most medications have side effects). Did you know I am on NO medications? That's right, I just take some supplements as of this writing.

So here are some thoughts on causes of acidic saliva:

1. Dry mouth. Sjogren's syndrome, which includes a dry mouth and dry eyes, can lead to acidic saliva. Insufficient saliva is produced, so the mouth is unable to dilute acids. This may apply to me on some mild level, although I have not undergone testing from a rheumatologist (e.g., salivary gland biopsy, salivary flow test, eye test).

2. Radiation. Cancer patients who have often undergone chemotherapy have damaged salivary glands (from the radiation) that leads to acidic saliva. This does not seem to apply to me personally, although I have undergone multiple CT scans of my sinuses in my life.

3. Smoking. Smoking decreases saliva production. This does not apply to me, as I don't smoke.

4. Acidic foods. Spicy, salty, sweet foods - oh, I do admit that I am a big fan of citrus fruits and hot, spicy foods, so this could definitely be a culprit in my case.

5. Sugary foods. Sugar is very difficult to eliminate entirely, but reducing the load - by primarily eating sugar in fruits, called fructose - is one way I have reduced my sugar intake. As you may be aware, sugar immediately paralyzes the immune system. In the mouth, bacteria thrive on sugar and a byproduct of that is acidic saliva. In my own experiences, diet is critical for immune health, with removal of sugar and yeast as the two major culprits to poor immune health. I was reading somewhere that acidic saliva with mercury amalgam fillings can lower the immune system. (I recently had my 7 amalgam fillings replaced with resin composites, while simultaneously undergoing a heavy metal detox - we'll see if that helps!)

As you read above, dry mouth may be one of the causes of acidic saliva. There is a good discussion on why saliva is so important for cleaning the mouth and preventing infections at: I also appreciated Dr. Mercola's discussion of dry mouth at:"

In any case, reasons for dry mouth are similar to reasons for acidic saliva, as follows:

1. Medications. More than 400 medications can cause dry mouth. I personally have been on antihistamines and decongestants long-term in the past (for about one year), which I surmise could be a contributing factor at present, even though I was on these medications about 9 years ago. I am only on supplements, and I suppose it is possible that the binding elements of these supplements cause dry mouth.

2. Stress. I definitely notice a close relationship between stress and my degree of dry mouth.

3. Nerve damage or injury to the salivary glands from surgery.

3. Sjogren's and other medical conditions.

4. Dehydration. Not drinking enough. I drink a lot each day, about 10-12 8-ounce glasses of water per day, so this is not an issue for me. If anything, I am usually thirsty. I also don't talk a lot, so this doesn't cause it either for me.

5. Smoking or chewing tobacco.

6. Mouth breathing. I am sure I do this, given my nasal anatomy, but I doubt this is the main reason I have dry mouth.

To be perfectly frank, this issue of unhealthy saliva, dry mouth, and acidic saliva sort of remind me of the type of battle I face with TMJ. Think about it: both seem to have a neuromuscular component and are related to stress, both can make life uncomfortable, and both can primarily be managed, not cured. I have done a pretty good job of controlling my TMJ symptoms, now it's onto good oral health. Keep in mind I have not had any additional cavities in the past 10 years, so I must be doing something right.

Here are some treatments for dry mouth:

-Using a dry mouth mouthwash & toothpaste, among other dry mouth products (gels, gum, moisturizing sprays, lozenges).
-Prescription medication such as pilocarpine - "salagen."
-Using an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.
-Sucking on sugar-free candy.
-Chewing sugar-free gum, with xylitol.
-Sipping water throughout the day.
-Protecting your teeth by brushing regularly.
-Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth to the extent possible.
-Using a room vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom.

Here is my personal course of action for attacking the issues of acidic saliva and dry mouth:

1. I definitely need to attempt to aggressively treat dry mouth and improve the saliva PH, which I can measure in the comfort of my home. I think the biotene mouthwash & biotene toothpaste are the two best products toward this end. I also hope to try the prescription medication eventually, if a doctor will test me for a dry mouth syndrome and agree to try it with me. Okay, perhaps I should seek medical opinion from a rheumatologist.

2. As I admitted earlier, I am a sucker for spicy, salty and sweet foods, as well as acidic fruits. I need to cut back on these. Hopefully that should help with both the PH of my saliva, as well as my dry mouth.

3. Decrease stress. This is always a challenge for me, but possible. My mouth (and perhaps throat infections would appreciate it!)