New year, same old TikTok.
You would think after 2021's often perilous online health trends that the people of the internet would learn a thing or two after all this time. Just kidding, who actually thought that? Luckily, physicians on TikTok are ready to offer advice and dispel stupidity as often as TikTok users are ready to dole it out.
Here's to another year of "wow," "ugh," and "omg" moments. But let's start with great advice from a doctor using TikTok to help save lives.
The Good: Doctor Explains How to Survive Crowd Crush
J. Mack Slaughter, MD, (@drjmackslaughter_md) is an emergency physician who's built his platform by engaging and educating people on TikTok and Instagram. He recently reacted to the tragedy at the Travis Scott Astroworld music festival in Houston, Texas, where 10 people died due to a crowd surge. "This isn't the first time this has happened, and it won't be the last," Slaughter captioned his post.
He used a video to spread awareness of how to best react to a crowd surge to his audience of over 368,000 followers, laying out four tips that people can use in case this ever happens to them.
Slaughter's four tips are to (1) keep your arms up in front of you to give your chest as much room between someone in front of you as possible; (2) stay upright in order to avoid collapsing; (3) go with the flow of the crowd's movement to conserve energy; (4) stay away from hard surfaces like walls or barriers "that can't ebb and flow with the crowd."
"When you get a densely packed area of people, not only can you lose control over your own movements, but you can have your chest compressed to the point where you can't inhale," Slaughter says. Hopefully, this crowd crush phenomenon is something that no one ever has to experience, but it's better to have the knowledge on how to get through it than not.
The Bad: Papaya Seeds and Parasites
TikTok user Jacqueline Rae posted about using papaya seeds as a detox method and dewormer in a video that has more than 32.5K likes and over a thousand comments — and she is just one of many TikTok users to promote this. "Papaya seeds on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is an antiparasitic," Rae claims.
The papaya seed trend doesn't come out of thin air, though. There was a study in 2007 where 60 Nigerian children who showed evidence of having intestinal parasites received papaya seeds as a treatment. For 71% of them, the treatment worked to clear their stool of the parasites. However, this is just one study with a pretty small sample size.
Unfortunately, TikTok's algorithm can cater to hypochondriacs, and after scrolling through dewormer video after dewormer video where people tout various products and cleanses, patients may really be convinced they have something they don't.
Terry Simpson, MD, is a California-based physician and weight loss surgeon whose TikTok (@drterrysimpson) bio says: "Know your guts inside and out." Simpson made his own video responding to the papaya seed craze, assuaging any anxiety or fears about contracting parasites.
In his video, Simpson says that most first-world countries like the United States have very few parasites, so patients shouldn't be worried about them if they haven't traveled to other countries recently. Additionally, he explains that what many people are seeing expelled after papaya seed cleanses is just fiber, and parasites aren't visible to the naked eye.
"Papaya seeds are not a cure for parasites," Simpson explains. "If you think you have parasites, see a doctor. One pill will get rid of all of the parasites that you can have, but the chances are you don't have them."
Symptoms that make people point toward parasites, such as low energy, frequent diarrhea, or other gut issues, can be symptoms of other issues unrelated to parasites, like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Because of this, it's important to get a proper diagnosis amid signs of gut trouble.
The Ugly: Hydrogen Peroxide Ear Wax Cleanse
TikTok user @ayishafrita got a whopping 2.7 million likes on her video where she puts hydrogen peroxide in her ear (yes, 2.7 million likes). This home remedy, she says, dissolves earwax that is stuck together. She lays her head on one side and waits for the hydrogen peroxide to "sizzle." It bubbles like a hot spring before yellow-tinged liquid drips out. Yuck.
She isn't totally wrong ― hydrogen peroxide has been used for years to irrigate ears and help soften earwax. But there's a lot of important information that people replicating this trend on TikTok tend to leave out of their videos. Thankfully, Sina Joorabchi, MD, is here to make sure TikTokers (and the rest of us) aren't damaging their ears.
Joorabchi is a board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctor with his own TikTok account (@doctor.sina). He recommends in his video that if hydrogen peroxide is a patient's go-to ear cleaner, stick with one that's of a 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration, as anything more can damage ears. Additionally, in the original video, Isha uses too much liquid, and 5 drops a day should work just fine for helping soften earwax.
"Definitely do not attempt [this] if you have an ear infection or history of ear perforation," Joorabchi says. "And you don't want to be using peroxide for an extended period of time. That can cause a lot of ear itching."
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Cite this: Docs React: Crowd Crush Survival Guide, More Dewormer, Sizzling Earwax - Medscape - Jan 12, 2022.