ENT problems

Music Habits Can Affect Hearing

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that acquired hearing loss may be due to excessive noise, including occupational noise such as that from machinery and explosions and recreational exposure to loud sounds such as that from use of personal audio devices at high volumes and for prolonged periods of time and regular attendance at concerts, nightclubs, bars and sporting events . In 2015, WHO warned that 1.1 billion young people (or about 50%) were at risk of hearing loss due to personal listening devices and music venues in which sounds may reach dangerously loud levels for hours on end . Initial studies among children show that the use of portable music player was associated with high-frequency hearing loss.


What affects hearing have something to do with the inner ear. In it is a complicated structure called cochlea which converts sound into electrical signals that are picked up by neurotransmitters mainly to the brain which also converts this into images or information. There are also fine hairs called cilia that are sensitive to different sounds and it is incredibly sensitive to the amplitude of sound waves. Noise can damage hair cells, membranes, nerves, or other parts of the inner ear, all of which may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss but loss of even about 30% of the cilia may produce damage resulting to inner ear baldness that cannot be repaired .


In physics, sound is nothing but a vibration that travels as waves through a medium (air, for example), measurable in terms of amplitude, wavelength, and frequency. This frequency is also called pitch. The amplitude measures the intensity of the sound. Sounds with high amplitude is loud. Other qualities of sound are volume and tone. Very loud noise and frequent exposure to it is responsible for noise-induced hearing loss. Whatever the sound heard, however, is nothing but a perception of it by the one listening to it. What is noise to one, may be music to another. Then there is noise music.


Damage to the cochlea may only be one problem associated with people’s music habits. Since noise and music are differentiated at the perception level of the brain, how people may appreciate and tolerate noise and music may also be affected. Musical Ear Syndrome (MES), a term first coined in 2004 by Neil G. Bauman, Ph.D. refers to a condition in which those with hearing loss experience musical auditory hallucinations .


Hence, it is vital to protect your hearing. For those with hearing loss, it may need a hearing aid to cope with it. Make sure to get a hearing aid prescription before purchasing a hearing aid. For more details of our hearing test & assessment, and hearing aid services, please contact HK Hearing & Speech Centre.




HK Hearing & Speech Centre

Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,

and Hearing Aid Prescription


When Hearing Loss Is Caused by Drugs

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are formulated to provide relief from symptoms and treat illnesses, among others. But these drugs also have side effects including hearing loss, usually when the drugs damage the inner ear’s delicate hair cells.  These hair cells are crucial in hearing as well as coordination and balance.


Hearing loss caused by drug use is known as ototoxicity and its risk increases as the drug builds up in the body. Furthermore, there are more than 200 known medications and chemicals with hearing loss as a side effect. The hearing loss itself can be temporary or permanent so it’s crucial to ask your doctor about it before agreeing to the medication.



Not all antibiotics will cause temporary hearing loss and not all antibiotics that cause temporary hearing loss will affect every person who takes them. Aminoglycosides are the common antibiotics that cause it as a side effect.


If you’re prescribed aminoglycosides, such as gentamicin, you should express your concern about possible hearing loss with your doctor. This is especially true for newborns who are prescribed gentamicin for the treatment of meningitis, usually when other antibiotics didn’t work.


Pain Relievers

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and acetaminophen, are commonly used as pain relievers. These are over-the-counter medications and, thus, the potential for misuse and abuse is present.


Be careful about using NSAIDs too much as studies have pointed out the possible side effects of doing so. In a study published in The American Journal of Medicine (March 2010), the regular use of NSAIDs can result in hearing loss. The increased risk is particularly pronounced in men younger than 60 years old who use these medications on a regular basis.


Take NSAIDs only when you have to. Otherwise, ask your doctor about hearing loss if you feel it after taking one of these drugs.



These are medications used in increasing urine production in the body. These are used in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions, such as glaucoma, edema and hypertension. In some cases, these can cause tinnitus and hearing loss.


Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy is usually used in the treatment of cancers. While there are several side effects, hearing loss can be the most concerning for patients because it means losing another sense.


Aside from hearing loss, chemotherapy drugs can also cause vertigo and tinnitus. In some cases, the hearing loss is permanent.


Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University are searching for ways of delivering chemotherapy drugs while preserving the sense of hearing.


But don’t assume that just because you’re taking one of these drugs that you’re automatically getting your sense of hearing compromised. You can talk to your doctor about alternative medications or for ways to manage the hearing loss, such as with hearing aids.


If you think you need a hearing aid, make sure that you get a hearing aid prescription. For more details of our hearing test & assessment, and hearing aid services, please contact HK Hearing & Speech Centre.




HK Hearing & Speech Centre

Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,

and Hearing Aid Prescription


ABCs of Conductive Hearing Loss

Hearing aids can be used in correcting conductive hearing loss so it’s important to discuss your options with your doctor. This is particularly true in cases when the Corti organ in the cochlea still normally functions. The hearing aids amplify the sound coming from the outside into the outer or middle ear.


But what’s conductive hearing loss in the first place? Here are the basics that you should know in case your doctor gave a diagnosis of conductive hearing loss.


A – About Conductive Hearing Loss

There are a few types of hearing loss and conductive hearing loss is common. This is the result of issues in the delivery of sound waves to the cochlea, the part of the inner ear responsible for the sense of hearing.


But don’t worry prematurely about it. The good news is that most cases of conductive hearing loss have good prognosis.  Like most types of hearing loss, early diagnosis and intervention will make a significant difference in preventing more hearing loss or improving hearing capability.


B – Being Aware of the Signs

The signs and symptoms of conductive hearing loss can be confused with the signs of other illnesses or injuries. Their duration and severity can also widely vary depending on the exact cause.


If you have two or more of these symptoms, either simultaneously or in succession, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

  • Muffled hearing, such as when the voices of others seem far away
  • Steady or sudden loss of hearing in one or two ears
  • The feeling of fullness or stuffiness in one of both ears
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance (The ear plays a major role in balance and coordination)
  • Drainage from the ears
  • Feelings of tenderness, discomfort and/or pain in the ears


Your doctor will conduct medical history and physical exams, as well as order laboratory exams to determine the exact cause behind these symptoms.


Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

When the natural movement of external sound waves through the external or middle ear becomes blocked, the result is conductive hearing loss. In this case, some but not all of the sound waves enter the inner ear, thus, the decreased hearing capacity.


There are several causes of conductive hearing loss, particularly to the damage on the ear’s external structures.

  • Earwax buildup, which can completely block the ear canal
  • Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, isn’t just related to swimming in pools and other bodies of water. Instead, it’s an infection in the ear canal that can also be the result of use of cotton buds or Q-tips as well as water exposure.
  • Foreign bodies, such as small objects like beans and beads, can get stuck in the ear, as is the case for children. In adults, it can be small insects being lodged in the ear.


Other causes include non-cancerous lesions in the bones in the ear canal; aural atresia or physical defects in the external ear canal; and infections in the middle ear.



HK Hearing & Speech Centre

Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,

and Hearing Aid Prescription


Tips for Hearing-abled Persons When Talking to Hearing-impaired People

Even with hearing aids, people with hearing impairments cannot perceive sound the way people with normal hearing can. This emphasizes the importance of knowing what to do and what not to do when conversing with hearing-impaired people, with or without their hearing aids.


With that said, here are a few effective tips in making your conversations with hearing-impaired persons more productive and enjoyable.


Face the Person

Facing away from whoever you’re talking to isn’t a good idea when you’re talking to a hearing-impaired person. While it works with people with normal hearing, perhaps in movies and television sitcoms, it doesn’t work in people with hearing loss for many reasons.


You have to face him so that he can actually see your lips for lip-reading purposes, as well as see your facial expressions, hand gestures and body language. This way, you’re giving him ample opportunity to actively engage in the conversation and make the appropriate responses.


Don’t just face the person either. You have to be on the same level as he is as well as ensure that you’re in a good light for him to see you well.


Get His Attention

Don’t speak without getting the other person’s attention, such as by tapping him on the arm or shoulder. You have to give him sufficient time to shift his attention to you and then to engage in the conversation. Other ways to get his attention are saying his name and using a hand gesture.


Maintain Eye Contact

Of course, eye contact is a must in effective face-to-face communication. But it’s even more so when talking with a hearing-impaired person. You can both determine the feelings of the other person by looking into each other eyes and taking into account each other’s words, facial expressions and body language.


Speak Normally

There’s no need to shout in front of a hearing-impaired person to be heard! Besides, that’s just rude and you won’t have a good conversation when you’re being rude from the start.


Instead, you should speak in your normal speaking volume. But don’t slur or hurry with your words. You should speak clearly, distinctly and slowly without exaggerated mouth movements, which will allow the other person to read your lips.


You may, of course, speak at a slightly higher volume of voice but don’t shout. Otherwise, the other person won’t be able to read your lips well, not to mention that it’s being rude.


Aside from avoiding exaggerated mouth movements, you should also avoid putting your hands in your face while you’re talking. Again, it has something to do with lip reading.  You may also make it a point to position yourself in the other person’s good ear (i.e., the one with better hearing capabilities).


In the end, you and your hearing-impaired friend will enjoy good conversations if you make the effort first. Keep in mind that he may be hesitant about initiating the conversation so you may want to start it.



HK Hearing & Speech Centre

Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,

and Hearing Aid Prescription


Will Hearing Loss Cause Alzheimer’s Disease and Vice Versa?

This is a question that people with hearing loss or with families experiencing hearing loss often ask. We understand because there seems to be a connection between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease, such as when an older person with Alzheimer’s disease also diagnosed with hearing loss.


Studies Suggest a Link

Researchers have looked into the possible connections between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease, a disease characterized by the decline in cognitive function and memory capability. Johns Hopkins University researchers, for example, have conducted several long-term tracking studies abut it


In one study, they monitored senior people over several years to determine which of them developed Alzheimer’s including their rate of progression. Their studies show that seniors with hearing loss have higher rates of dementia, a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that the greater the hearing loss, the higher the risk for dementia.


The bottom line: Yes, indeed, there seems to be a strong link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease.


Theories Behind the Connection

But before you jump to conclusions, perhaps think of the worst scenarios, keep in mind that these studies only show the connection. But these studies don’t suggest that progressive hearing loss can result in dementia, far from it!


Researchers propose a few theories in explaining the link between these two conditions.


  • Changes in brain function

The brain has an area that controls the processing of auditory information and, thus, of the sense of hearing. But when its function is compromised or strained, such as in hearing loss, it causes a restructuring in the brain. In turn, it can affect cognitive function.


  • Cognitive overload

With hearing loss, your brain works harder to make sense of the words being said by other people. You spend more mental energy and work on conversations so much so that your brain goes into cognitive overload. As such, your brain doesn’t have enough energy for other cognitive functions including memory.


  • Social isolation

Unfortunately, social isolation has serious impact on physical and mental health. When you have untreated hearing loss, you’re more likely to feel isolated from everyday conversations. You can feel alienated and alone, which can adversely affect your cognitive function.


These are, of course, just theories at present. But these provide reasonable explanations for the link between hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease.


What do these studies mean for people with hearing loss and with Alzheimer’s disease? We suggest being rational about it, first and foremost! Just because you have hearing loss doesn’t automatically mean that you will develop Alzheimer’s disease.


You may want instead to seek medical intervention for your hearing loss. You may or may not need hearing aids but it pays to know the reasons for your hearing loss and what can be done about it.


If you think your family needs a hearing aid, make sure to get a hearing aid prescription. For more details of our hearing test & assessment, and hearing aid services, please contact HK Hearing & Speech Centre.



HK Hearing & Speech Centre

Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,

and Hearing Aid Prescription


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