Your Hearing: Use it or Lose it

DrHeatherSchwartzbauerWe have all heard the phrase “use it or lose it” as it pertains to muscle strength and even mental agility.  This had led to a society that values exercise at the gym as much as exercising our brains with crossword puzzles and various mental challenges, in order to slow the aging process.  But how does this relate to hearing?  Over time, and through the normal course of aging, many of us experience a decline in hearing.  This is most often a gradual process that we adapt to, until a loved one begins to complain that the TV is too loud or that they are tired of repeating themselves over and over.

At this point  we are not hearing everything that we should.  This is a situation referred to as auditory deprivation.  Our hearing relies on nerve endings in our inner ear and complex neural pathways to our brain to interpret the auditory input.  When the sound signals are not coming in “loud and clear,” these pathways begin to atrophy and weaken.  A number of studies have shown that earlier intervention with hearing aids allows more recovery of these hearing pathways, when compared to those who wait longer and are then never able to fully recover from the period of deprivation.

It is clear that early intervention helps to maintain healthy hearing; and this, in turn, allows us to continue to enjoy the people and activities we love.  Seek help as soon as you notice a problem.  Encourage you loved ones not to wait.  Today’s hearing aids are comfortable, lightweight, very discrete and full of programmable options to customize to your lifestyle.  Hearing is one of the joys of life.Don’t neglect it!

by Dr. Heather Schwartzbauer

Heather and her group Montgomery County ENT offer hearing evaluation screening.  Call 301-774-0074 to schedule an appointment.  Take Our Hearing Health Quiz – Click Here

Is It Time To Put Statins In The Drinking Water – Part 2

lipitorA few months back, with the release of the new cholesterol guidelines, we asked the question “Is It Time To Put Statins In the Drinking Water?”  Well, now Pfizer, the maker of Lipitor, is trying to move us in that direction by petitioning the FDA to allow an over- the- counter low dose version of Lipitor to be available in pharmacies without a prescription.  They have begun a preliminary trial of 1200 consumers who will take a low dose (10mg) of the drug for six months without needing to see a doctor.  The study will track whether patients can appropriately comply with instructions to get their cholesterol levels checked in six weeks (they will be able to check using an in- store blood test if needed) and to appropriately consult with a physician if the desired response is not obtained.  Proponents suggest that this will give greater access to statins to help reduce heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease.  Others worry that the low dose will end up being used by many consumers who really do not need the medication; and for those who could benefit the most from statins, the 10mg dose will not be nearly high enough.  For instance the newer guidelines developed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend dosing from 40 to 80 mg for those deemed to be at higher risk.  It will be interesting to see how all these conflicting points of view are ultimately reconciled by the FDA.