Saturday, June 6, 2009

Protect Your Hearing & BALANCE

I'm as serious as a heart attack here, people.

Those of us who like to listen to loud music have got to protect our ears. At home or in the car, you can simply turn to the volume down so it doesn't hurt anymore. We have control over that. But when you are at a concert, you really ought to have a pair of ear plugs in your pocket. Depending on who is playing or the size and acoustic quality of the performance venue, you really ought to give yourself the option of reducing the decibel level in your own ears. Pictured here are my favorite brand of ear plugs, which I see in Walgreens drug stores wherever I go. 35 decibels is about the highest reduction level you'll likely find on ear plug packaging. These help.
About five years ago, I simply gave up using headphones. I simply never use them for listening to music anymore. I think having a sound source that close to my eardrums is not safe at any volume level. Recent stories in the news express similar concerns in regard to iPods.

All my life everyone told me to protect my ears so as to not loose my hearing. Well, guess what, that's not all you can loose. You can also loose your sense of balance if you abuse your ears, too. No one ever told me that. I wish they had. Your sense of balance is regulated in your inner ears.

As a child, I had virtually year-round ear infections. Our local pediatricians and ear, nose, throat specialists were in agreement that I had the worse case of ear infections they had ever seen. I'll spare you the details. I really outgrew ear infections by my 30s, but by then I had developed scar tissue on my left ear drum that caused me to loose about one third of my ability to hear in my left ear. Not only that but during the 1980s, my left ear started hearing everything with some distortion which leaves me now without the ability to hear sound (and music) as pure as before. Growing old is a bitch ain't it?

In the last two years I have been diagnosed as having Menieres Disease in my left hear which makes me dizzy and lightheaded about 75% of the time, but on the left side of my body only. I have never felt localized dizziness like this before. Certain body or head movement will trigger a momentary dizziness. I have learned to ignore it and go about my merry way. It has not caused me to loose any sense of balance, just cause me to exert greater strength to maintain my balance which leaves me more tired at the end of the day. I repeat, growing old is a bitch, ain't it?

The best thing I can do is to preserve my remaining hearing. So I do all of the things mentioned above and I do them willingly. My advice to you is to protect your ears from unnecessarily loud sound, music and machinery particularly, and also to take extra precautions against getting head colds that can settle in your ears and cause infection. Washing your hands with soap a water often is the best prevention for catching colds. Do these things now so you can enjoy music your whole life.

2009 UPDATE: In the Fall of 2006, I made the difficult decision to simply stop going to concerts because I just don't think my left ear can tolerate amplified music even with ear plugs. Anyone experiencing constant vertigo as I have since 2004 will do ANYTHING to make it stop or at least get a little better. I can not take any chances on the vertigo getting worse. Some days, weeks, or months are better than others. I'd love for it to completely go away.