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Ask Dr. Gott 1/26
Loud noises make hearing loss permanent
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DEAR DR. GOTT: I have had the big "T" noise in my ears for many years. I attribute it to not using protection against loud noises when I was young and stupid — the big guns on the ship when I was in the Navy, hunting and many hours of firearms practice. I tried ginger treatment for a number of months, and it has not helped me. The twice-a-day capsules gave me heartburn, so I quit taking them. Oh well. Can you help me?
    DEAR READER: Alas, no. Here's why.
    Our hearing mechanism contains "hair cells" that are attached to the inner ear. Each cell has a hair on one end that is submerged in fluid. When a noise is transmitted to the ear, we hear it because certain cells are activated, depending on pitch, and we can perceive music, speech and so forth. Unfortunately, if the noise is loud — on the order of a subway train or more, the ears' fluid vibrates violently. In the process, some hair cells are literally knocked off their attachment and cease to function — forever. Therefore, repeated exposure to loud sounds causes mid-range hearing loss, in the conversational range, that makes us unable to make out what someone is saying — especially if there is simultaneous background noise.
    When we were growing up, this reaction was not appreciated. That's why deafness in the elderly is now so common. The answer to this problem? Use protective earmuffs when exposed to loud sounds — machines, shooting, amplified music, lawn mowers and such. If you haven't protected your hearing and are somewhat hard-of-hearing, you may need to invest in hearing aids.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Ear Infections and Disorders." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: For as long as I can remember, every morning I awaken to find white embedded flakes under, in or around my eyelashes. Washing does only so much. I have to take tweezers and remove or scrape the flakes, or they just continue to build. I have never found anyone who knows what it is, a treatment or what it is caused by, for that matter. Even when I don't wear makeup, I still have this problem.
    DEAR READER: The mucous fluid that moistens the eyes may, in some people, become dehydrated, leaving a hard, mucinous deposit in the eyelashes. In most cases, this is just an uncomfortable nuisance. It is not a health problem.
    However, in some people, it can be the result of eye irritation that needs attention.
    I recommend that you have an examination by an eye specialist just to make sure that this doesn't need therapy other than Artificial Tears at bedtime.

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