Lately I have been bombarded with hearing and ear related news items. Weird. While hearing issues make the news occasionally, it is rare to hear so many things to surface in such quick succession. I feel overloaded and have to pass these items along to my patients and other readers. These items are all from reputable sources, and remember, there is a lot of information circulating on the internet related to a whole host of issues. Please be careful when evaluating the source of any internet information that you encounter.
CDC Vital Signs – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is an organization that looks out for the health of our nation. They produce regular online features that highlight medical issues that require more public attention. For February 2017, their online article was entitled “Too Loud! For Too Long.” The article reviews noise exposure hearing loss among US adults.
Facts included are that about 40 million, (yes, million) US adults have some degree of noise induced hearing loss, and half of them do not work in a noisy environment. They can be as young as 20 years old, and 1 out of 4 are not aware of the loss and report excellent to good hearing when asked. This hearing loss is linked to a myriad of medical problems including stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Please visit the link below to the CDC for the complete article. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/hearingloss/
Bottom line – We need to be aware of the noise that is all around us. Our world is noisy, and we need to wear proper noise protection; especially when participating in noisy activities such as yard work, running power tools, and going to music concerts. Remember, when the inner ear is damaged due to loud noise, the hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing) most often become permanent and irreversible.
New York Times Health – February 3, 2017 – The NYT health section featured a short article on the topic of misophonia. This is an uncommon disorder, and the rate of misophonia remains unknown, as it was just recently recognized. Basically it refers to the anger, anxiety, or panic that can be triggered in some people when exposed to normal everyday sounds: for instance, chewing, soup slurping, or nose sniffling. These sounds become unbearable for those who suffer from this disorder.
Researchers in Britain used MRI studies to evaluate the brains of those suffering from misophonia and compared them to MRIs of normal brains. The brains of misophonia sufferers showed a much greater level of activity in the areas that process both emotions and memories. This had lead investigators to believe that these patients are experiencing emotional distress triggered by a distant and previously hidden association or memory. Interestingly, many misophonia sufferers begin noting symptoms in early adolescence.
With this new information in hand, researchers are beginning to investigate treatment options based upon well described techniques of bio-feedback. If this sounds like you or someone you know, it sounds like there is treatment coming. Stay hopeful, and visit the link for the full article. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/health/sounds-people-hate.html?_r=0
Thank you for continuing to read our blog. I hope that you found the above information useful and interesting! Check back with us periodically, and we will continue to post information that you will enjoy.
Jon Isaacson, MD