All of these bizarre objects are health devices – but can you figure out what they’re meant to treat?
Genie lamp that makes splashes
Nosebuddy, £17.99, mad-hq.com
This spirit’s lamp-like device is the neti pot, which is used to flush sinuses and relieve congestion. Fill it with sterile, salt water and, with your head tilted, pour the water into one nostril – by tilting your head to the side, the water flows out the other nostril, bringing with it mucus that may have clogged the sinuses.
‘Neti pots can be helpful after a cold, during hay fever or to relieve sinus problems where mucus build-up in the nose can cause discomfort,’ says Professor Paul Chatrath, consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital. Essex
‘It flushes out congestion, but also cleans the tiny hair cells in the nose, helping them to start working effectively again.’
And that could reduce hospitalizations due to Covid. A study published in August by the University of Georgia, USA, looked at twice-daily nasal irrigation in 79 people with Covid and found it led to eight times fewer hospitalizations than the national average.
‘Nasal irrigation is effective, but you must use distilled or cooled boiled water to reduce the risk of contamination,’ says Professor Chatrath.
Red light laser repair
Theradome, from £699, theradomeforhairloss.co.uk
It may look like a bicycle helmet, but the Theradome is said to treat certain types of hair loss.
The helmet emits red light into the scalp which stimulates hair follicles, increasing the rate of hair growth in cases of hormone thinning. Use the helmet twice a week for 20 minutes.
‘Studies have shown that LLLT – low level laser therapy – can stimulate hair growth,’ says Dr Anastasia Therianou, consultant dermatologist and hair loss specialist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London. ‘Large randomized controlled trials have shown statistically significant regrowth by hair count [the number of hairs on the scalp] in both men and women after treatment.
‘However, more studies are needed to support the effectiveness.’
She adds: ‘It only works on some types of hair loss – especially male and female pattern baldness, and it’s important to get a specialist diagnosis before attempting LLLT.
‘These devices should not be used by patients with scalp cancer or those taking certain antibiotics and diuretics.’
Remedy for drilling
Twidler, from £29.95, twidler.com
It looks like a drill tip made of flexible silicone, but in fact, the Twidler is meant to clean earwax.
The manufacturer claims that it is safer than using a cotton swab because it does not push the wax further into the ear. Gently insert it into the ear canal in a clockwise motion.
‘I wouldn’t use it,’ says Professor Chatrath. ‘The conical design is based on a drill bit that ejects debris – and that could work on soft wax. But I’m worried that if the wax was affected, some might be pushed the wrong way, which could make it worse. Earwax exists for a reason – it protects and cleans the ear, so unless there’s a build-up affecting your hearing or causing pain, it’s best to leave it alone.
‘Even so, you should never use a cotton swab. If earwax bothers you, consult your GP. They will try wax softening drops or refer you to micro-vacuum.’
Ostrich pillow£85, ostrichpillow.co.uk
Described as a ‘plunge pillow’, this padded hood is designed to help you sleep or nap when you’re on the move. The design blocks out light and noise (there’s a hole for the mouth and nose), while the cushion makes it comfortable to rest your head on surfaces like a desk or an airplane table.
Sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley says: ‘Humans are not designed to sleep upright – we are supposed to take pressure off our bodies when we sleep, combined with the fact that during sleep you lose muscle tone causing your head to drop. , makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep on a plane – but this might help. I would definitely give it a try if I did a lot of long-haul flying.’
Heavy Hand Kit
Finger weights, from £32, fingerweights.com
These small weights (10-30g each) are worn on the toes to strengthen them or as part of rehabilitation for conditions such as stroke or arthritis.
Dr Rod Hughes, consultant rheumatologist at Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Trust in Surrey, says: ‘If you have arthritis in your fingers, it is advisable to exercise to keep them flexible and the muscles around them strong. These can simply be grip strength exercises using rubber balls.
‘This improves grip strength, and adding weight can lead to greater improvements. The downside is that they look awkward, so may not be suitable if you have impaired hand and finger shape or function. Osteoarthritis often leads to the formation of extra new bone with lumps around the knuckles. It’s unlikely to cause permanent damage, but putting pressure on an already inflamed joint could make it uncomfortable.’
The Y Brush, HRK 108.99, y-brush.com
This mouthpiece has sonic bristles (which work like an electric toothbrush) that it claims can clean all your teeth in ten seconds. A manufacturer’s test of 100 people showed it removed 15 percent more plaque than conventional brushing.
“This has an interesting design, but it lacks the hard evidence we have for conventional toothbrushes,” says Dr Praveen Sharma, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association.
‘One size fits all and any dentist will tell you that it is almost impossible to have one mold for all jaws.
‘In contrast, conventional toothbrushes allow you to tailor brushing to suit all mouths, regardless of variations such as gaps or tooth size.’
Stand up and press this device into action
This plastic device is described as ‘the most revolutionary mobile massage and muscle release tool for self-care’.
Place the device on the floor, get into a push-up-like position on it, and press down so that the points on each side dig into your hip bones on either side.
Doing this is said to massage a muscle called the psoas, which connects the lower back to the thigh bone. Some physical therapists suggest that tightness in this muscle is responsible for severe back and hip pain.
Will Bateman, physiotherapist at Surrey Physio, says: ‘The psoas is a very deep muscle. You can’t specifically stretch or work on it, just like you can’t feel it yourself. So while this product may massage the area, it will not target the psoas. On top of that, there is some debate as to whether the psoas causes all the pain it is attributed to or whether disc problems or hip osteoarthritis are the triggers.
‘I’d rather have patients spend their time doing dynamic stretches like yoga to target all the muscles in this area rather than focusing on the psoas.’
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