health

Meet the singer who discovered a spider living in her ear

Image: Katie Melua and the spider that lived in her ear canal for a week (Instagram)

The most groundbreaking, fascinating and ‘woah’-provoking health news around today.

1. Singer discovers spider living in her ear

Considering 2014 has already brought us a woman with a leech living in her nose, and a spider that allegedly burrowed through a man’s stomach, we thought the gruesome insect stories were over. Unfortunately, not so.

The latest squirmy story comes from English pop star Katie Melua, who recently had her ears checked by a hearing specialist after experiencing a scratching, scuffling noise. Turns out the sounds had been created by a small jumping spider that had taken up residence in the 30-year-old’s ear canal. Fittingly, it had been camping in there for the week leading up to Halloween.

Katie, who amusingly released a track called ‘Spider’s Web’ back in 2006, shared a photo of her tiny tenant on Instagram (see above).

“Basically I used these old in-ear monitors to block out sound on a flight, a little spider must have been in them and crawled inside my ear and stayed there for the week,” she explained. “Though the thing looked TERRIFYING up-close on the doctor’s camera, once he took him out ( using a micro Hoover ) it was pretty small, and now its in this little test tube, alive and seemingly fine.” Katie later released the spider into her garden.

2. A shocking way to kick your bad habits

Everyone who’s ever scarfed down a whole packet of Tim Tams in one sitting knows bad habits are hard to break – but how far would you go to make it happen? Apparently, there are people willing to give themselves electric shocks to change their behaviour.

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A US firm has developed a wristband to help people kick their bad habits by administering a ‘punishment’ chosen by the user – these include vibrations, sound reminders, blocked access to a mobile phone and, yes, a 300 volt electric shock. Ooph – say hello to the 21st century version of the ol’ ‘snapping an elastic band’ trick.

The Pavlok wristband – yes, named after Pavlov and his dog – includes a Bluetooth radio that links up to a smartphone app and can track the user’s behaviour. Users can also set up rewards for when they achieve their goals.

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If you want a wristband that’ll help you develop good habits without the Pavlovian punishments, these fitness trackers might be a better option:

3. Calls for weight loss procedures to be available in public health system

In an article in the Medical Journal of Australia, two Sydney surgeons have called for weight loss surgery to be made available under the public health system to combat rising obesity levels, and to make life-saving treatments affordable for those who need it.

This weight-loss trend is dangerous. And it doesn’t even work.

Professor Michael Edye and Dr Michael Talbot argue these surgeries are the best treatments possible for some patients, and could potentially prolong their lives. “There are certain individuals who are sick with their obesity – they’re diabetic, they’re suffering from kidney ailments, from eye disease, from nerve complaints related to their diabetes, and their lives will be shortened if they don’t have something done,” Prof Edye told the ABC’s AM.

The two surgeons say the public cost of these treatments will be offset by the money saved from not having to treat obesity and its related health issues and illnesses.

4. One quarter of Australians never exercise

We've all had those weeks - or, um, months... okay, years - where we know we haven't even come close to hitting the recommended level of physical activity. However, it seems there are more people than you'd expect who don't exercise at all.

According to a study by The Happiness Institute and Fitness First Australia, one in four Aussies do no exercise at all, while more than half of us don't do enough to hit the Department of Health's recommended guidelines.

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It goes without saying that exercise has a lot of great mental and physical benefits - it's probably the cheapest way to elevate your mood and ward off stress. So why are so many people going without? Like anything, time and money can be obstacles - and it seems self-consciousness plays a role too. New research out of England suggests many women are reluctant to exercise for fear of being judged.

Does self consciousness ever stop you from working out? 

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