Category Archives: General Info

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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?

Overview

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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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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Auditory Deprivation. What is it and how to protect yourself from its effects.

Use it or lose it! In short, Auditory Deprivation is a condition that occurs in individuals suffering from hearing loss where their brain loses the ability to interpret words due to a lack of stimulation over an extended period of time.

This condition can affect hearing loss patients who do not wear hearing aids, wear old hearing aids or only wear one hearing aid when two may be necessary. Even those suffering from a mild hearing loss can be affected by this condition. If hearing loss is not treated, auditory deprivation can cause an irreversible loss of functionality. How does this happen?

You must first understand the difference between hearing and understanding.

Your ears function as instruments to collect sounds and deliver these sounds to your brain. The speech interpretation center of your brain processes these sounds into words. If your ears cannot hear the sounds, then your brain does not have anything to process. The lack of stimulation in this area of the brain causes you to lose the functionality of understanding speech. So, basically if you aren’t hearing the words, you eventually lose the ability to understand them.

When our vision starts to fade, we usually wait to seek professional help until we absolutely need it. Any delay in seeking help is not usually a problem because glasses are able to correct the problem immediately. Treatment for hearing loss is quite different. The longer you delay seeking treatment for your hearing loss, the harder it will be to treat it.

Those with profound hearing loss who have suffered for a number of years may not be able to regenerate some of their speech perception. However, most hearing losses can be sufficiently amplified with the use of hearing aids to allow for near normal to normal hearing. Hearing aids will help your ability to hear and thus, stimulate your brain to protect you from auditory deprivation.

Auditory deprivation is not a guarantee if you suffer from hearing loss as long as you are proactive with your hearing health. Have your hearing tested, and if necessary find the appropriate treatment sooner rather than later. Hearing aids can be a tremendous help by providing the necessary stimulation your brain requires to continue to understand everyday speech.

Auditory Deprivation is a “use it or lose it” issue, so it is imperative that you are take action today to ensure your ability to perceive speech does not continue to deteriorate over time.


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Noise Pollution: Just as dangerous as second hand smoke?

Do you ever think about the places you go to that are so noisy they could damage your hearing?

You may be thinking of rock concerts, sporting events or firework shows. While these places can definitely have a negative impact on hearing health, there are other, less obvious places that can be damaging to hearing as well. You could even be at risk for hearing damage when going to a restaurant, a movie theatre, work – or even when you’re at home!

Noise-induced hearing loss is a pervasive issue that many people are unaware of. According to a recent article by the Huffington Post, some experts say excessive noise should be defined as a public health issue just like second-hand smoke, and demand public places take action to change this. Noise-induced hearing loss can occur after continuous exposure to loud noise like a restaurant, or a one-time impulse sound like gunfire. Loud noise has the capability to damage the hair cells in the ear, sometimes leading to hearing loss. In many cases, this damage is irreparable.

Do you ever notice a ringing in your ears after you leave a noisy place? That ringing is known as tinnitus, and it doesn’t always go away, especially after repeated exposure.

So how loud is too loud?

Well, sound is measured in decibels and damage can occur after exposure to noise 85 decibels or louder. It doesn’t take much to reach this limit. In fact, the average restaurant has noise that reaches around 80 decibels, and sometimes this can be much higher.

Unless you have a decibel meter handy, it can be difficult to determine if your environment is too noisy. It is important to remember to always protect your ears while doing activities around your home, such as mowing the lawn or using power tools. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to yell to be understood, you probably need to turn the volume down on any noise-making devices, move to a quieter space or wear hearing protection.

If you are working in a noisy environment, it is even more crucial to wear hearing protection as the risk for hearing loss increases as the length of exposure to noise increases. This issue is typically addressed in noisy workplaces, though not always. The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations require that employers implement a hearing conservation program for their employees if they are exposed to noise 85 decibels or louder for a shift longer than eight hours.

Just like being exposed to second-hand smoke, it is not always easy to control noise pollution, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family members. To make sure you are all safe, it is important to get regular hearing screenings. Schedule yours with us today!


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