Dear Dr. Roach: I am 68. For the past couple of months, my ear canals have been very itchy. For some reason I no longer produce earwax, but my ears itch a lot. Do you have any idea what may be causing this? How do I stop the itching?
A: Itching in the ear canals is common, but usually an exam is able to lead the examiner to at least suspect a diagnosis. An incipient ear infection is one common reason, but your issue has been going on for months. Skin conditions that itch, such as eczema, is another common one. The doctor might have seen this, but sometimes the findings are subtle. Just having dry skin is a common cause, especially in winter.
I would get the ear looked at again, and if there still is nothing to see, one treatment is a mild prescription steroid drop for a period of time.
Dear Dr. Roach: A recent visit to the doctor included some blood tests. I was concerned that the eGFR reading decreased by 23 points (from 93 to 69) in a year's time. Both my cardiologist and my preferred care provider advised that since the reading of 69 was still in the safe zone, there is no reason to be concerned. I have had protein in my urine for years.
My concern is not that it is still acceptable, but that the rate of decrease indicates to me that something is going on with my kidneys. My creatinine level has risen steadily from 0.8 in January 2018 to 0.9 in March; 0.95 in August, and 1.1 in January 2019. Is my concern warranted?
A: That's a steady increase in creatinine, meaning a steady decrease in kidney function. Combined with the protein, I certainly would recommend you ask your doctor again about seeing a kidney specialist, a nephrologist. Your primary care doctor is right that the creatinine is still in the normal range, but the trend shows a 30 percent loss of kidney function in a year. That deserves an evaluation before the kidney function becomes worse.