1. Is it still safe for me to use my Neti pot with all this talk of brain-eating amoeba?
Yes. Flushing the nose with saline is an excellent way to maintain proper nasal hygiene and shorten the length of colds and sinus infections. The key to staying safe with Neti pots (and other nasal irrigation systems) is to use distilled or bottled water. Tap water may only be used after is it brought to a rolling boil for at least 5 minutes then cooled.
2. What is the best way to keep my ears clean?
Earwax (cerumen in medical terms) is a protective substance produced by the ears. It is good to have some amount of earwax, but when it builds up and blocks sound from getting to the eardrum, it becomes a problem. Weekly use of carbamide peroxide (can be purchased OTC) followed by gentle flushing of the ears with lukewarm water is the best cleaning technique. Stay away from Q-tips, as they can push the wax in further.
3. What causes ringing in the ears?
Tinnitus (pronounced ten-it-tiss) or perception of noise in the ear(s) is typically a result of some degree of hearing loss. Certain medications, including aspirin, certain blood pressure medications, some antidepressants and a few antibiotics can also cause tinnitus. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for tinnitus, but it can often be improved by treating the hearing loss (e.g. hearing aids) or stopping the offending medication. Masking the tinnitus with background noise, such as sound machines, can be helpful as well.