Rx for Readers: Humming can't hurt

One of the best ways to keep air moving through the sinuses and nasal cavity is to hum a tune.

painful sinuses eyebrow 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
painful sinuses eyebrow 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I am a 60-year-old man who has had periodic sinusitis attacks for 30 years. It makes it difficult to breathe through my nose, and I get painful headaches and congestion. My family doctor gives me antibiotics for the infections. I have read in a daily newspaper recently that humming can reduce the risk of sinusitis returning. Is this true?
A.P., Tel Aviv
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich replies:
Researchers recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine that humming can indeed help. In sinusitis, the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed, trapping air and pus and other secretions and lead to the symptoms you refer to. Because the inflammation is often caused by upper-respiratory infections, people with asthma and allergies are more vulnerable than others to chronic sinusitis.
The researchers wrote that keeping the sinuses healthy and infection-free requires ventilation – keeping air flowing smoothly between the sinus and nasal cavities. One of the best ways to keep air moving through the sinuses and nasal cavity is to hum a tune. The researchers compared airflow when people hummed and when they quietly exhaled. Specifically, they looked to see if humming led to greater levels of exhaled nitric oxide, a gas produced in the sinuses. Ultimately, nitric oxide during humming rose 15-fold. Thus, since reduced airflow plays a significant role in sinus infections, they recommended daily periods of humming to help lower the risk of chronic problems. While it needs additional study, it certainly can’t hurt.

A few months ago, I began taking Aromasin for breast cancer, and since then I’ve found that my hair is thinning. It’s not falling out in tufts, but it is definitely thinning. I had been on Tamoxifen for almost three years before and never had any hair issues, but since starting Aromasin I’ve noticed strands of hair in the basin after washing my hair. Also, I’m pulling far more loose hair out of my hairbrush than previously. But what really horrifies me is that there is very much more scalp visible in the partings of my hair.

My oncologist told me that I might experience hair loss, but I didn’t think it would happen to me – then again, I never thought I’d get cancer. I’d like to know if this sort of hair loss stops after a while. Does it reach a plateau and then should I just try to wing it until I finish the Aromasin course? Does the hair grow back after I finish taking Aromasin? If I go back to taking Tamoxifen, will my hair grow back? And if I stay on Aromasin and the hair loss continues, is there any lotion, oil, cream, herb, medication, magic incantation I can take to arrest the process?
P.C., Binyamina
Prof. Tamar Peretz, head of the Sharett Institute of Oncology at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, comments:
Hair loss is a known side effect of Aromasin. Usually there is a plateau, and it is reversible. I don’t know of any lotions/medications that can be helpful.
I’m 75 years old and take Lanton (lanzoprazole 30 mg.) every morning to prevent reflux. I have been reading and hearing lately about aspirin’s being good against a variety of ailments from heart disease to lowering incidence of colo-rectal cancer. If I take a small amount (75 or 80 mg.) of aspirin with my food later in the day, will the two drugs cancel each other out?
J.F., Emek Hefer
Veteran pharmacist Howard Rice replies:
While Lanton (belonging to the family of protein pump inhibitors) is intended to prevent the production of acid in the stomach – and thus acid reflux into the esophagus – it will also reduce the unwanted effect of possible damage to the stomach lining that could be caused by aspirin. This does not reduce the desired effects of the aspirin, be it as a blood thinner or as mentioned, possible anti-cancer effects. The majority of low-dose aspirin preparations today are enteric coated and, as such, dissolve not in the stomach but in the duodenum. Thus even if you had stopped the effect of the acid in the stomach, the aspirin would be unlikely to dissolve until it entered the alkaline medium of the duodenum.
I sometimes drop food on the floor and wonder whether it can safely be eaten if only a few seconds have elapsed. Are there any rules about this?
P.F., Holon
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich says:
Food scientist Paul Dawson and colleagues at Clemson University in the US have written that it depends where the food falls. Salmonella and other dangerous bacteria can remain alive up to four weeks on dry surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom floors and can be instantly transferred to dropped food. Thus it is not the matter of exposure time on the floor but how likely the floor is of being infected. A clean sidewalk (without pet droppings), he suggests, is probably a safer place to pick up a hard-crusted, dusted-off bagel than your own kitchen floor, which could be a major potential source of viruses and bacteria because raw meat or poultry made have fallen or their juices scattered on it. Or, of course, your bathroom.
Thus it is advisable not to eat food that has fallen on the floor in these areas.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538- 9527, or e-mail it to jsiegel@jpost.com, giving your initials, age and place of residence.