The research showed that those people with good hearing were more likely to have a sensitive touch. And, on the other hand, there was an impaired sense of touch in students who had congenital deafness. It seems the genes that dull the sense of touch may also dull the sense of hearing.
Of course, whether we start life with good hearing or poor hearing, we need to take care of what we have; and this is one of the messages that has come from the National Hearing Week, an event held each year in the last week of August. It provides an opportunity to raise community awareness of hearing impairment and ways to protect to our hearing.
Some causes of hearing loss are very much self-inflicted.
A study undertaken a couple of years ago by the National Acoustic Laboratories found that up to a quarter of users of various portable music devices will suffer hearing problems. And it’s not the quality of the music but the quantity that’s causing the damage.
Industrial deafness has long been recognised as an occupational health hazard; but researchers have now shown that whether it’s a power tool or loud music, the adverse affects on the ear are just the same.
Consistent exposure to loud music is the most common cause of hearing loss; an easily preventable cause, but as the deafness may not become apparent for some years, treatment is often initiated far too late.
‘Noise destroys – turn down the volume’ is also the message to come from the Australian Tinnitus Association. Tinnitus literally means ringing or tinkling in the ears, but the constantly annoying sound that many sufferers live with 24 hours a day takes many forms. It might also be a hissing or whistling sound. It might be like living with the summer sound of cicadas all year round.
Many of us, perhaps 20% of the population, experience tinnitus from time to time; but for maybe 2% it can be severe and quite disturbing.
Apart from noise there are some other aggravating or risk factors. Some medicines – notably quinine and possibly anti-inflammatory medicines – may cause tinnitus. Caffeine (in tea, coffee, cola or chocolate) and alcohol may worsen tinnitus in some people. And smoking, which narrows the blood vessels that supply vital oxygen to the ears, can make tinnitus worse.
Tinnitus can often be managed or controlled reasonably well; even so, a cure doesn’t really seem close at hand. However, treatment for some other common ear problems is often much easier, provided the cause can be identified early on. The recently up-dated Ear Problems Fact Card will help with some hints on how to reduce the risk of ear problems and treat those problems effectively when they do occur. The Card is available from pharmacies throughout Australia providing the Pharmaceutical Society’s Self Care health information.
Ask at High Wycombe Pharmacy for more advice and when there, pick up a copy of the Ear Problems Fact Card. And for more information about making the most of limited hearing abilities check out the website www.deafnessforum.org.au