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If your feet are cold, as the saying goes, put on your hat. To that counterintuitive health tip you can now add another: If you're coughing a lot, check your ears.
Doctors in France have reported the case of a young boy who had a chronic dry cough that bothered him day and night for years. No array of tests could find any cause. Then specialists at the University of Nantes Hospital Center found a large amount of ear wax deep in one ear canal that was putting pressure on a nearby nerve. When they removed the wax, the cough disappeared.
"We very frequently see cases of built-up ear wax," says Dr. Claude Beauvillain de Montreuil, one of the doctors reporting the case. "But it's very rare that a buildup causes a persistent cough." Still, he says, in cases of lasting cough, a simple ear examination by the family doctor may get to the root of the problem.