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Can some medications cause hearing loss?

We often take our senses for granted and don’t realize how important they are to every aspect of our lives until they’re at risk. Having keen hearing allows us to connect fully with our family and friends, practice our hobbies, and stay safe in any environment. There’s been a lot of buzz about hearing loss, so you probably already know some of the common risks to hearing health. Loud noises at work, pounding concerts, busy city streets, and excessive headphone use at the gym or on your commute to work all can damage your hearing. Hearing even slowly wears down with normal aging.

New research shows that there’s another risk factor to consider. Certain medications have been linked to hearing loss, and those innocent looking pills you use to manage pain might actually have some serious side effects. Each year, 500,000 people are at risk of damaging their hearing from prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Do all drugs affect hearing?

Only some drugs have been linked to hearing loss, but the list is longer than you’d think. Antibiotics like neomycin and kanamycin, often used to treat bacterial infections, can contribute to hearing loss. Some anti-inflammatory drugs can cause serious damage. Even anticonvulsant medications like valproic acid have ties to hearing loss, and have been linked to tinnitus, that buzzing or ringing in your ears that affects your ability to sleep or concentrate during the day. Drugs used to treat cancer, as well as some high blood pressure medications also increase your risk of hearing loss.

The biggest surprise though is from drugs you’d think would be harmless, common over-the-counter painkillers. Taking aspirin in large quantities increases your chances of developing hearing loss. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, has been linked to permanent hearing damage, and even ibuprofen, like Motrin or Advil, can contribute to hearing loss. This is cause for great concern since painkillers don’t require a prescription, and can be taken by anyone. With no doctor monitoring drug consumption, risk of side effects such as hearing loss increases with every pill you take. Those who take over-the-counter painkillers should beware! Even taking painkillers two or three times per week for a year will greatly increase your risk of hearing loss.

Do these drugs cause hearing loss?

Hearing loss has a lot of causes, from loud workplaces, noisy leisure activities, too many hours listening to your favorite music with headphones, and the normal process of aging at work in your ears. We can’t say that these medications are the exclusive cause of hearing loss, but it is true that taking certain medications increase your chances of developing hearing loss, and hearing specialists and doctors are looking more carefully at the side-effects of the medications they are prescribing.

Using medications to treat pain, infections, high blood pressure, and other illnesses is important, but there can be some serious side-effects. Medications affect hearing by restricting blood flow to the ears, damaging the hair cells that translate sound waves into electric waves that can be understood by the brain. Other medications can inhibit the neural pathway between the ears and the brain, so even if your ears are hearing normally, the electric waves will never reach your brain, and you’ll experience hearing loss.

Preventing Hearing Loss

If you want to protect your hearing, know the risks to hearing health. Loud noises are the most common cause of hearing loss, so always wear hearing protection if you’re in a noisy environment where your hearing is at risk. Take a close look at what medicines are in your home, are carefully monitor what medicines you and your family are using. Ask your doctor about possible side-effects, and see if any could jeopardize your hearing.

Additionally, if you schedule a hearing test, we can identify your baseline hearing abilities before you start any medications. That way, if your hearing abilities change, we can help you gauge if your medications play a role in it.

Are you suffering from hearing loss? If you’re taking a drug that will affect your hearing, talk to your primary care physician. Ask your doctor about possible side effects for any new medications you’re taking, including the risk to hearing health. Only take medication as recommended by your doctor, and don’t over-use pain killers.

If you think you might have hearing loss, call us to book a hearing test. One in five people struggle with hearing loss, and many don’t seek treatment right away. Don’t let hearing loss stand in the way of a happy life, visit us at Advanced Hearing to discuss treatment options, and find the hearing aid that will best suit your needs.

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Did you know that plants can respond to sound?

A growing body of research suggests that sound waves prompt certain plant species to actively respond. Humans enjoy listening to music amidst elements of nature, but can elements of nature enjoy listening to human music as well?


Sound has always been considered a fundamental part of life on Earth. Although most known species of animals are known to communicate with each other via sounds, the association of plants with sound production or recognition has hardly been talked about.

However, mounting scientific evidence does appear to suggest that plants could be capable of recognizing and responding to sounds in nature and to sounds produced by human beings.

If this is true, we might have to think twice before cutting down a tree in the presence of another one and also be able to grow healthier plants with the aid of soulful music.

Ancient folklore tales originating from various parts of the world have always mentioned how plants listen to humans when they talk. Several observations have also been made my the common man over the years regarding plants and their listening capabilities. Many people believe that their plants listen to the music played by them, exhibiting faster growth when music is played for a sustained period of time. Plants have also been observed to thrive better when soft, classical music is played to them that when loud rock music is played.

A section of scientists believe that these observations do not always mean that plants listen to music. It could be that the plant-keepers who take time out to play music for their plant might also be taking exceptionally good care of their plant, triggering its fast growth and healthy condition. However, there are also quite a few other types of experiments that hint at the fact that plans might listen to sounds. For example, audible sound has been found to alter growth hormone levels in the chrysanthemum plants and the roots of maize seedlings have been observed to bend in the direction of sounds with specific frequencies.

In a highly interesting experiment conducted by scientists in 2014, Thale cress plants exposed to the sound of chewing caterpillars, were found to release more defensive chemicals on a subsequent encounter with these insects. All these experiments manages to put some weight on the idea of plants listening to human voices or music.

Biological Mechanisms Involved

As of yet, there is no conclusive proof to describe that plants respond to sound. However, from the evidences gathered, some scientists have proposed ways by which these plants might hear and react to sound produced by other living creatures or inanimate objects.

Plants are not known to posses any sensory organs of any kind. How then could they receive sounds and react to it? Some scientists explain that plants could do this by receiving sound sensations in the form of touch sensations similar to the way our hearth thumps when we hear a stereo playing at full blast. Just like plants respond to winds, perceiving it as a sensation of touch, plants could also respond to the sound which travels in waveform.

When it comes to plants talking themselves, several mechanisms have been suggested by scientists like the use of scents or volatile compounds as a method to communicate with the neighboring plants. Plants have also been thought to produce sounds in frequencies that cannot be perceived by the human ear.

Practical Applications

If it is proved that plants do indeed listen and respond to sounds of different types, then it would definitely find huge practical applications in cultivation, forestry and other related programs. There are reports that researchers in China are already growing plants with higher yield by broadcasting sound waves of certain frequencies.

There is also some evidence that acoustic vibrations manage to modify plant metabolism. In the future, plant yields and growth rate could be significantly modified with the help of sound waves of varying frequencies. Healthier plants could also be developed with the help of music that the plants love.

Ongoing Research

There is still an immense research scope to be delved into in the field of plant communication. There is a need to understand how sound vibrations are perceived by plants, if, in fact, they are perceived at all.

Furthermore, the responses generated within plants to such vibrations, and whether such responses have meaningful effects on the plant itself, or on other plants in their vicinity, are also areas in need of continued study.

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Noteworthy women with hearing loss

Since August is Women’s Month, we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight well-known women in history who exemplify how to live beyond their hearing loss. So here, in honour of women everywhere, we present you with some extraordinary women with hearing loss:

Juliette Gordon Low

Turns lifelong hearing loss into incredible action

Juliette Gordon Low – Founder of The Girl Scouts of America

Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of America, dealt with severe hearing loss throughout her life. At age 29, a grain of rice thrown at her wedding punctured her eardrum and caused her to go deaf in one ear. However, Juliette never let her hearing loss slow her down, and founded the Girl Scouts in 1912.

As a partially deaf woman herself, Juliette also encouraged the involvement of girls with disabilities, who had always otherwise been excluded from society. Her experiences with hearing loss inspired her to create opportunities for others like her, and create more fulfilling lives for millions of young girls.

Barbra Streisand

Proves tinnitus can’t stop her

Barbra Streisand – Lifelong sufferer of Tinnitus

Barbra Streisand admitted to Barbara Walters in 1985 that she has had tinnitus since age nine. As a child who heard ringing that no one else could hear, and who would put scarves around her head to block the noise, Barbra often felt different and distant from the other children. Barbra described it as “living with a secret” for many years, until she went to a doctor. Barbra, as a lifelong sufferer of tinnitus and incredibly successful artist, serves as a positive role model who refused to allow her hearing issue to take over her life.

Whoopi Goldberg

Embraced her hearing aids and the cause

Whoopi Goldberg – Proud hearing device wearer

Whoopi Goldberg has had a long and illustrious career on both stage and screen, but over the years, her hearing has severely deteriorated. Whoopi has openly declared that she wears hearing aids beneath her trademark dreadlocks, and confesses that years of listening to loud music probably was the cause of her hearing loss.

After personally suffering from hearing loss, Whoopi became involved with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which helps provide free hearing aids to children around the world. Whoopi has used her own history with hearing loss as a platform to advocate for others and to caution those around her against overuse of devices, like mp3 players, that may cause hearing loss.

Georgia Horsley

Shows hearing loss can be beautiful

Georgia Horsley – Miss England 2007

Georgia Horsley was crowned Miss England in 2007 and was always vocal about her struggles with hearing loss. Due to a meningitis infection as a baby, Georgia lost hearing in her right ear. As a child, she was very self-conscious about her hearing loss until the age of 10 when she declared, “I simply decided that I didn’t care

Georgia’s positive attitude has carried her through life and she refuses to dwell on her physical hardships. She has even pointed out the positives of hearing loss – like outstanding hearing in her good ear, and never having trouble sleeping due to noise!

Halle Berry

Uses hearing loss for change

Halle Berry – Domestic violence survivor

As one of today’s most famous actresses, Halle Berry is often in the news for her work or her personal life. Fans may be surprised to learn that she is partially deaf, having lost 80% of her hearing in one ear due to domestic violence.

Halle has since dedicated herself to speaking out against domestic violence and advocating for abuse victims. Halle is not only living with hearing loss, but she is using it as a powerful force for positive change.

These extraordinary women have provided powerful examples of living with and beyond hearing loss. In history and today, women with hearing loss are making incredible strides to use their hearing loss as a positive force for change, and to prove that hearing loss never has to get in the way of living life.

This Women’s Month, love yourself enough to get your hearing checked because prevention is the only option when there really is no cure.

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Can hearing aids cause headaches?

When you have hearing loss, your auditory system and your brain don’t get as much stimulation as they once had when you had normal hearing. Essentially, with a hearing loss, your hearing nerve and your brain are not getting enough exercise. So, when you first get hearing aids, you are basically suddenly asking your brain to work much harder, because you a hearing more signals coming from your daily environments.

If you think about it, if I were to ask you to run a marathon, could you instantly do it? Probably not, unless you were already training for it. It is the same for your brain. When you first get hearing aids, some patients can get a little tired because their body is receiving more stimuli from the environment. Occasionally, patients can also get a headache because their brain is a bit on overdrive, hearing all these sounds again.

If you do feel quite tired and feel like your hearing aid are giving you a headache, try to limit the amount of time you are wearing them, and slowly increasing it. If you need to give yourself a break, by all means, this is okay. Just try to wear your hearing aids little by little, until you can wear them all day. If these symptoms don’t stop though, consult with your Audiologist as typically, these symptoms disappear within about one week.

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How can hearing better make you feel better

Imagine that one day, you wake up, make yourself a hearty breakfast of pancakes with syrup and fruit, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and sit down to partake in this feast. You take your first bite of food and can’t taste the sweetness of the syrup. You sip your coffee or tea and can’t taste the pleasantness of it. Panicked, you rifle through your cupboards and try to taste everything you can find: honey, tuna, sugar, baking chocolate, anchovies (hey, you never know), and salt. Nothing. No sour, salty, sweet, bitter, or savory tastes. You call your doctor and request an appointment that day. There’s no way you can get through the day without one of your five basic senses. The kicker is that you’ve known for a while that you were losing your sense of taste, but you thought it would resolve itself, and ignoring it was easier.

At the appointment, your doctor tells you that your loss of taste is due to aging, and it’s a permanent issue that you’ll have to learn to cope with. You’re devastated. You feel like you’ve lost a friend. You spend the next few weeks eating less and less, feeling angry over little things, and sleeping more each night to forget it.

We all know that the longer an issue goes without being fixed, the worse it becomes. The person (or people) involved with the issue also experience a myriad of feelings that can get worse as the issue goes on without attention. Millions of people all over the world experience depressive symptoms resulting from a progressive loss of one of their five senses, and hearing loss, whether sudden or gradual, has a far-reaching emotional impact on those affected by it. Multiple studies have been conducted in the past several years that have found a distinct link between hearing loss and depression.

An individual with untreated hearing loss may feel excluded from social activities, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loss, further exacerbating depressive symptoms. How long has your friend or loved one been experiencing depression due to hearing loss? Have you been experiencing depression due to hearing loss? Recognizing the signs early will help you better approach the issue with a positive and confident attitude.

The following are some of the signs of depression that you should look out for:

  • unsocial
  • sleeping too much
  • unable to sleep (insomnia)
  • little desire to be active
  • generally apathetic
  • angry outbursts over small matters
  • not eating much food
  • distractions, such as television and the computer, become a consuming part of everyday life
  • less energy
  • unable to remember things

If you’re approaching a friend or loved one, provide the most support you can; explain your concern in a positive way and offer to come with him/her for a hearing test. The hearing healthcare professional can discuss the results of the test and recommend solutions specifically for the individual. In the long run, seeking a solution will not only help someone hear better, but make him/her feel happier and more confident in social situations and life in general.

Find a hearing healthcare professional in your area – Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Sedgefield, Somerset West.

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