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…

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…

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.”…

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…

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