How Hearing Loss Can Be Cured
But when was the last time you gave your ears a second thought — or even a first thought, for that matter? Maybe it's time you did.
Ear problems are hardly a rarity. More people suffer from hearing disorders than from heart disease, cancer, blindness, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and kidney disease combined. It's true that ear diseases are rarely fatal, but do you want to take the chance of losing the sense that allows easy communication? Are you ready to give up music, a baby's laughter, a friend's amusing story or words of love?
Fortunately, many ear problems are preventable, curable or treatable, if you know what to do. In fact, there are very few people who suffer from total deafness. Instead, hearing losses can cover the entire spectrum, from slight to severe.
The problem is, loss in hearing most often comes on so gradually that you may be unaware that it's happening — a major reason why ear care is given so little emphasis. On the other hand, the usually slow deterioration of hearing can actually work in your favor by giving you more time to act before the situation gets out of hand.
Of course, we're not implying that everyone has, or will ultimately have problems with their ears, but it's difficult to ignore the fact that, right now, about 30 percent of adults over 65 have a hearing handicap. Our job is to help keep you out of the statistics.
First, it's important for you to understand a little bit about how your ears work. If you could peer deep enough into a human ear, you'd be amazed at how tiny the whole hearing mechanism is. Tiny and delicate. Within the space of a cubic inch, your ear is capable of changing the physical pressure of sound waves into distinct electrical impulses. In other words, your ears actually feel the sound waves in the air (which are like ripples on a lake), then amplify and transmit those sensations to your brain. Your brain translates the impulses and tells you what you're hearing.
Sounds simple? It's not. Vibrations are passed along from the eardrum to the three tiny bones (called ossicles) in the middle ear, to the inner-ear fluid, to the cochlea (a snail-shaped bone containing up to 16,000 microscopic hair cells) and finally to the auditory nerve, which carries the vibrations (now electrical impulses) to the brain where they are perceived as sound.
Damage to any of these tiny, intricate parts — whether from injury or infection — is what triggers the beginning of hearing loss. It's the amount of damage and the specific part involved that determine the degree of impairment for each individual.
If you suspect that you may have a hearing loss, ask yourself these questions: Do you frequently have to turn up the TV? Do people seem to be mumbling more than they used to? Do people often have to repeat what they say to you? Do you miss parts of sentences or words?
If you answered 'yes' to any of the above, you may indeed have a hearing disorder. Your family doctor will probably be able to tell you for sure by performing a quick, simple and painless test, or you may be referred to an otologist (ear specialist).
Excessive noiseWhat's causing the loss of hearing is not as simple to determine, however, but excessive noise should be the first cause doctors consider, says Aram Glorig, an otologist at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles: 'Noise creates more hearing losses than all other causes combined.' What's worse many people, not only industrial workers, are exposed to potentially harmful noise levels without even knowing it.
Factories have been notorious for their excessive noise, much of which has now been regulated by the Health and Safety Executive. But while the industry has been forced to protect the hearing of its employees, what about the rest of us in and out of work? Music, road traffic, stereo headphones, airports, TV, video arcades, tube trains — all are capable of producing noise levels that may be damaging to the ear with prolonged exposure.
Each time your ear is assaulted by loud noises, some of the delicate hair cells in the cochlea are torn away. Since there are thousands of hair cells there is no obvious hearing loss at first. But keep up that kind of abuse for years, and the damage becomes apparent — and permanent.
'The tendency is to lose the ability to hear the higher frequencies (or pitches) first, ' says Peggy Williams, an audiologist with the American Speech — Language — Hearing Association in Rockville, Maryland. 'That means you'd have trouble hearing the consonants in human speech, but you'd still be able to hear the vowels, which normally occur at lower frequencies. For example, you would have difficulty distinguishing between the words tap, cap, and rap, or bite, kite, and flight. It's easy to see why communication begins to suffer when hearing loss does. '
Although it usually takes years of exposure for the permanent effect of noise-induced hearing loss to appear, there are some early warning signs that should be heeded. You'll know if the noise is at a hazardous level if you have to talk louder in order to converse face to face. If you hear any ringing buzzing or roaring in your ears after a particular exposure to noise, it may indicate damage to hair cells. If you experience diminished hearing sensitivity following noise exposure, that's a bad sign, too, even if it goes away after resting.
Once damage has occurred, it's irreversible, so your best bet is clearly through prevention. That means protecting your ears with some kind of device when exposed to hazardous levels of noise. 'However, ' according to Darrell E. Rose, head of audiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, 'it is important to remember that if the protective unit is uncomfortable, most people will not wear it.' Earmuff-type protectors, for example, work very well, but they are uncomfortable. Cotton plugs are comfortable and commonly used, but in actuality, they offer very little protection from noise. 'We have had the best results with soft foam plugs, ' Dr. Rose wrote. 'The foam is rolled between the fingers and thumb until it is small enough to insert in the ear; it conforms comfortably to the shape of the ear canal. ' What's more, he added, the plugs are inexpensive, can be worn repeatedly and are very effective in reducing noise. (Postgraduate Medicine, August 1981).
Hearing loss and agingNoise isn't the only thing that causes hearing loss. 'Sometimes as we grow older, we lose a bit of our hearing capacity,' says Harry Rosenwasser, an otologist, and director of medical affairs with the Deafness Research Foundation in New York City. 'That's known as presbycusis. It's similar to the deterioration that many people experience with their eyesight as they age. '
'Presbycusis is a normal consequence of aging, ' adds Robert J. Keim former associate professor of to-rhino-laryngology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. It does not lead to total deafness, but it can cause a hearing handicap that's severe enough to isolate the afflicted person from society.
In most cases, this type of hearing loss responds well to the use of hearing aids, which can easily put the person back in touch with life. Better yet, there may be a way to prevent presbycusis, or at least to delay its onset. And it may be as simple as changing your diet,
That's what doctors set out to prove in a nine-year study conducted in Finland. The researchers had good reason to believe that a low-fat diet might prevent hearing loss. Earlier they had studied the hearing ability of the primitive Mabaan tribe, who live in a noise-free environment in the Sudan and consume a diet consistently low in saturated fats. After testing, the researchers found that the tribespeople had low cholesterol levels, virtually no coronary artery disease, no high blood pressure and no atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). What's more, compared with other people from quiet or industrial areas, they showed superior hearing with aging particularly in the higher frequencies — just where you'd expect deterioration.
The scientists reasoned that the same diet that keeps coronary arteries open may also be responsible for keeping the tiny vessels in the ear open, too. And since the inner ear depends on upon a constant fresh flow of blood for the nutrients that keep it functioning, it's easy to see why clogged arteries can affect your hearing.
With that in mind, the researchers decided to test their theory using patients in two separate mental hospitals in Finland. In one hospital (called Hospital K by the doctors), the usually high-saturated-fat diet was continued while in the other (called Hospital N) unsaturated fats were substituted for the saturated ones.
After five years, the two groups were compared. Not surprisingly, patients from Hospital N (the low-saturated-fat group) had much lower cholesterol levels and significantly less coronary heart disease. But on top of that patients aged 50 to 59 had much better hearing than those ten years younger in Hospital K (the high-saturated-fat group).
To further prove their point, the researchers decided to reverse the diets of the two experimental groups. Within four years of the diet reversal, the hearing in the now low-saturated-fat group was improved, while the hearing in the now high-saturated-fat group was worse. 'Our audiological studies lead us to conclude,' said the researchers, 'that diet is an important factor in the prevention [and reversal] of hearing loss' (Acta Otolaryng).
Watch for waxOn the other hand, a hearing loss may be due to something as normal and correctable as earwax. 'But forget cotton-tipped swabs,' advises Dr. Williams. 'If anything, those devices push the wax in even farther, causing impaction.
'Normally, the waxy buildup in your ears works itself out in several ways. The action of your jawbone while chewing is one way. But there are also little hairs in your ear which are normally bent towards the outside. A cotton swab inserted in your ear pushes those hairs backward so they are facing the wrong direction. Then the normal cleansing action in your ears can't occur.
'What's worse, of course, is the danger of going in too far,' Dr. Williams told us. 'And this happens more frequently than you'd imagine. One little slip and you may puncture the eardrum and possibly dislodge the ossicles. The result may be permanent deafness. '
If wax does build up in your ear, it can diminish your hearing, but restoring it is really simple in this case. Just let the doctor do the job. He or she uses a special syringe and warm water to flush the wax out and knows how far he or she can safely go.
'There are several over-the-counter earwax softeners that you may have seen,' adds Dr. Williams, 'but I don't recommend them. They do work to soften the wax, but their acidity can also eat away at the skin if used too often. What's worse is that if there is any opening at all in the eardrum, the product can gain entry to the middle ear and cause infection. '
How to Cure Deafness Naturally Reviewed by Healthy Kite on 8/09/2016 Rating: