Archives

Love Your Heart, Test Your Hearing for World Heart Day, the Better Hearing Institute Urges

Your heart and hearing may have more in common than you realize says the Better Hearing Institute (BHI),(www.BetterHearing.org) which is raising awareness of the link between hearing loss and cardiovascular disease for World Heart Day, September 29. A growing body of research shows that a person’s hearing health and cardiovascular health frequently correspond. So BHI is encouraging people to take a free, confidential, online hearing check at www.BetterHearing.org to help determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional. Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system—a person’s heart, arteries, and veins—has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss. David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor…

Tame that ringing in your ears and rock on, boomers!

Bob Dylan. The Rolling Stones. Led Zeppelin. Music helped define an entire generation of baby boomers. It expressed their fresh world view and energized them as they set the world in a new direction. But if you’re like many from this music-filled, life-embracing generation, then some of that old time rock and roll may still be ringing in your ears. Literally. Tinnitus, commonly called “ringing in the ears,” is the perception of a sound in a person’s ears or head that has no external source. Many people with tinnitus experience ringing, humming, buzzing, or chirping in their ears or head. Others even perceive singing or music. Neural hyperactivity causes the perception of sound. As it turns out, tinnitus is most often the result of noise…

Celebrate the Sounds of Summer for a Lifetime: Protect Your Hearing!

As summer time kicks into full swing, Elgin Audiology is urging children, teens, and adults of all ages to protect their hearing, reminding them that permanent noise-induced hearing loss cannot be reversed. The sounds of summer are among the most cherished and offer wonderful lifetime memories. But summer time also brings loud noises that can permanently harm our hearing. Prolonged exposure to the roar of lawn mowers, power tools, motorized recreational vehicles, target shooting, concerts, loud sporting events, and fireworks all can wreak havoc on our hearing. In fact, the single bang of a firecracker at close range can permanently damage hearing in an instant, making it forever more difficult to hear the subtler sounds of summer. While many noisy recreational activities are part of…

Quit the Q­tip: Wax protects your ears’ inner workings — and there’s nothing dirty about it, doctors say

“Oh, my goodness, you could grow potatoes in those ears — wash them again!”   It’s an old saying, but one some parents are sure to admonish their children with at bath time, repeating what they heard as kids from their own parents once upon a time.   And many of those adults still adhere to the notion that the only clean ear is an ear devoid of wax.   But doctors say wax has nothing to do with poor hygiene and is merely the body’s way of shielding the delicate inner workings of the ear and protecting precious hearing.   “The first thing that everybody should recognize is it’s not dirt, it’s not something that has to be removed,” says Dr. Ronald Fenton, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.   “A lot of people think that their personal hygiene is less than perfect if they don’t remove their wax,” he says. “That’s the first thing they’ve got to be disabused of.”   Ear wax, known medically as cerumen, is comprised of sloughed­off dead skin and a sticky substance secreted from glands in the outer third of the ear canal.   “Basically, it is a protective barrier,” says Fenton, stopping dirt, microbes, insects and water from making their way into the middle or inner chambers of the ear.   The type of ear wax a person has — wet or dry — seems to be determined by genetics: Caucasians and Africans typically have wet wax, which can range in colour from golden brown to dark brown, while Asians and Aboriginals are more likely to have dry wax, which is greyish in colour and tends to be flakier.   No matter which kind a person has, it serves some important functions,” explains Dr. Charles Beatty, an otolaryngologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.   “It can be a bit of a lubricant for the skin — it keeps (the ears) from getting too dry and the skin from getting scaly and itchy — and can protect against fungus and bacterial infections in the ear canal,” he says.   Still, most people seem determined to root out wax from their ears — using a variety of implements, from cotton swabs to gadgets better left to their intended purposes, the doctors say.   “There’s sort of the old adage: Don’t put anything bigger or smaller than your elbow in your ear,” says Beatty, who lists hairpins and car keys among the devices some people employ.   Even a cotton swab, seemingly designed for the job, will often end up “just pushing a fair amount of the wax deeper and deeper into the ear canal,” he says.   “We see far more problems from over­aggressive or overzealous attempts to clean wax by individuals or even occasionally by health­care providers than we see from having an accumulation of wax.”   While many people have likely managed to clean the wax out of their ears without incident for years, there are those who haven’t been so fortunate, says Fenton.   “In trying to remove it, people often get into trouble … they’ve got a Q­tip in their ear and somebody nudges their elbow and all of a sudden they’ve done serious damage to their middle ear.”   The Toronto physician gets about two or three cases referred to him each year in which the patient has inadvertently punctured an ear drum or pushed the three tiny vibrating bones of hearing, called ossicles, out of position.   These injuries cannot always be resolved, even with surgery, and can lead to permanent hearing loss.   “That’s the most severe injury that you can self­inflict,” Fenton says.   Beatty also sees his share of patients who have damaged the inner workings of an ear, all in the pursuit of wax removal.   “We’ve seen tiny bones in the middle ear fractured because of excessive pressure or inadvertent injury with a Q­tip or another rigid instrument in the ear,” he says.   While people are generally encouraged to do no more than clean their outer ears with a warm, damp facecloth, there are cases when excessive wax will form a plug in the ear canal, potentially causing ear ache, a feeling of fullness, ear noise called tinnitus, and diminished hearing.   “For most patients, a healthy amount of wax is a good thing,” says Beatty. “Too much or impacted wax, anything blocking the ear canal, can be a problem.”   “Sometimes, when it’s really dried and hard, it’s almost like a little pebble in the ear. It can be uncomfortable or painful. So that’s when we have to remove the wax and get it out of there.”   Using an otoscope, an instrument that lights and magnifies the inner ear, the doctor can remove a wax plug using a small, curved instrument called a curette, a suctioning device or a rubber­bulb syringe filled with warm water.   Before visiting the physician, the patient is usually advised to soften the wax for three or four days by applying a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerine or hydrogen peroxide into the blocked ear canal.   Fenton suggests putting the drops in before going to bed and stuffing some cotton batten in the ear to stop the liquid running out.   Both he and Beatty advise against “ear candling,” an alternative medicine practice believed to treat a number of conditions, including the removal of excessive wax.   An ear candle is a narrow, hollow cone that has been soaked in beeswax or paraffin and allowed to harden. The cone is inserted into a person’s ear, lit at the top and allowed to burn for a few minutes. The heated cone is said to soften and draw up the wax.   But research suggests ear candling has no medical benefits and is potentially hazardous, and both Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warn consumers to avoid the practice.   “There’s no scientific data to support this as an effective mechanism of removing wax from one’s ear,” says Beatty.   “There have been ear­drum and ear­canal injuries from trying to insert this into the ear. There have been hair fires and facial burns from someone trying to light (the cone) and get it angulated properly and tipped — and they end up catching their hair on fire.”   And after all, it’s only ear wax — something most people really shouldn’t be concerned about, says Fenton.   “There’s probably no great magic. But when in doubt, leave your ears alone.”…

Sleep machines may be putting babies at risk of hearing loss: study

Putting your baby to sleep next to a white noise machine may increase the child’s risk of hearing loss, a new study suggests. The Canadian study, published in the journal Pediatrics, measured the decibel levels of a variety of infant sleep machines and found that some of them were so loud that they exceeded industry safety levels. Dr. Blake Papsin, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and one of the authors of the study, told CTV’s Canada AM Monday that all the machines tested surpassed what researchers considered a normal level of noise in a neonatal nursery. The recommended limit is 50 decibels. A new study suggests that a white noise machine aimed at helping babies sleep could affect their hearing down…

Dementia and Hearing Loss

Although we cannot yet say there is a causal link between hearing loss and dementia—or that hearing aids can do anything to forestall dementia—the evidence from scientific studies is intriguing. New York Times health columnist Jane Brody described hearing loss as “a hidden disability, often not obvious to others or even to those who have it.” In her January 16, 2012 article,1 Brody summarized the findings of several studies that persons with untreated hearing loss “are likely to become frustrated and socially isolated. That isolation has been linked to depression.” She also reported on evidence there may be a causal relationship between untreated hearing loss and dementia. In a more recent (February 11, 2013) New York Times article,2 Katherine Bouton, who has a significant hearing…

Noisy Toys This Holiday Season

Parents may think that noise is a problem they need not worry about until their child reaches the teenage years. Not so. Some toys are so loud that they can cause hearing damage in children. Some toy sirens and squeaky rubber toys can emit sounds of 90 dB, as loud as a lawn mower. Workers would have to wear ear protection for similarly noisy sounds on the job. The danger with noisy toys is greater than the 90-dB level implies. When held directly to the ear, as children often do, a noisy toy actually exposes the ear to as much as 120 dB of sound, the equivalent of a jet plane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing…

Hearing loss more frequent with age

(NewsFix) Older adults are at high risk of developing hearing loss, according to a new survey. More than 2.2 million adults over 70 in the US have some degree of hearing loss, making it one of the most common health problems. Surprisingly, perhaps, few studies have looked at the actual incidence of hearing loss in the general population. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have looked at the progression of hearing loss among a group of adults aged 48 to 92 years over a five year period. The group comprised 1,635 people with no hearing loss and 1,085 with some hearing loss. The study revealed that the risk of developing a hearing loss over five years was 21 per cent. More than half of those…

1 2 3 4