18 Oct Protect Your Ears
The importance of protecting your ears almost sounds – no pun intended – like an afterthought. We give our clear and unfailing attention to our eyes, considered our No. 1 most important sensory system. Meanwhile, as we age and hearing becomes difficult for many, it becomes very clear that protecting our ears is also critical.
Yes, there are a few conversations you will be happy to miss when you get older – you’ve heard it all before. But then, everyone at the dinner table laughs at once, and you didn’t hear the joke. Or you sit next to someone in a movie theater and repeatedly ask, “What did they just say?”
Being deaf or partly deaf diminishes our ability to enjoy our lives. And while aging is certainly to blame – our eyes and our ears lose capabilities over the years – we still don’t think of protecting our ears as much as our eyes. So, let’s give the ears some attention here and call 619-333-8114 for medical attention.
How Ears Work
There are three parts to the ear: The outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. What you see is the outer ear, called the pinna. This captures the sound, which is made up of vibrations in the air, and channels that to your middle ear, which is known as the ear canal. The canal ends with the eardrum, made of a thin layer of tissue and three small bones, all of which vibrate as the sound gets to them. Further inside is the inner ear, which is an incredible mechanism that turns sound into electrical impulses, which your brain perceives as sound.
The inner ear’s mechanisms are made up of a space shaped like a snail’s shell, which is called the cochlea. This chamber, which is filled with fluid, includes four rows of small hair cells that vibrate, as well. Once the vibration becomes strong enough, those hair cells produce electrical pulses in the nerve that takes the electric pulses to your brain.
Knowing how the ear works can give you insight into what injuries can occur. These include physical damage to the outer, middle, and inner ear, damage brought on by illness, including ear infections, and damage caused by exposure to loud noises.
Symptoms Beyond Hearing Loss
The most obvious sign of trouble with your ears is, of course, hearing loss. However, there are many symptoms – some of which tend to get ignored – that should prompt a visit to your general practitioner’s office to have your ears checked.
These seemingly unconnected symptoms include:
- Loss of part of the frequency spectrum, including high or low pitches
- The overall loss of hearing
- Unexplained sounds – often a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound, but others as well
- A feeling that your ears haven’t adjusted to the air pressure or “popped” when you want them to
- Frequently asking “what did someone say?” or frequently turning up the volume of a television or radio
- Asking others in the room to hush so you can hear the one person you want to hear
- Not understanding what others are saying
- Frequently losing balance – falling over frequently
- Difficulty walking in a straight line
- Difficulty walking in dark spaces
- Frequent nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Talking in a loud voice – with others telling you not to shout so much
Protect Your Ears
What can you do to protect your ears? There are several standard practices that can help you keep your ears healthy. These include:
- Don’t stick anything in your ears – even soft items – especially if you are a child and could accidentally damage your ears.
- Avoid standing close to loud noises – anything from fireworks to speakers at a concert
- Wear protective headphones if your work includes long exposure to loud noises
- Wear a properly sized helmet when engaged in hockey, bicycling, skateboarding, and other sports with similar potential for a head injury.
If these symptoms are felt, the best thing to do is to contact Pacific Medical Care for professional medical help.