I love you

by Dr. Clint Keifer, FLT Columnist

February is a month for LOVE, so let’s not forget to love (and care for) ourselves — especially our health. And among health concerns, few are more overlooked than our amazing sense of hearing, despite being so very important for communication and connection to those we love.
Hearing loss often is slow and gradual enough that changes go unnoticed until much irreversible damage has already occurred (such as with noise exposure, diabetes, medication side-effects, underlying medical conditions, etc.). It is for this reason that regular checks of hearing (at least every five years) is recommended. In addition, here are three other important ways to best love your ears:
1. Avoid the Q-tip Assault! Along with self-inflicted problems, cotton-swabbing is right up there. Earwax is protective (anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-creepy-crawler) and normally is pushed out of the ear canal naturally by skin growth and jaw movement where it can be cleaned up with a washcloth. Q-tips often push wax in deeper, damage/irritate sensitive ear canal skin, or even rupture eardrums (if accidentally bumped). Do NOT put Q-tips in your ear canals — it even says so on the box!
2. Crank it DOWN, Man: Noise exposure is the No. 1 cause of hearing loss and almost always preventable. There are no excuses here. Mowing lawn, cutting wood, concerts, sporting events, shooting/firearms, motorcycles — you need to protect. If you have an unusual occupation (astronaut, racecar driver, musician, etc.) I promise there is a solution that will work to protect your ears — just ask your audiologist.
3. Go Professional, NOT Retail: A high school diploma or GED is the only educational requirement to obtain a hearing aid sales license. The focus on sales without quality health care is not in your best interest. Doctors of Audiology (Au.D.) have attained specialized education and clinical training to provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and management for ear and hearing disorders. When hearing aids are recommended, audiologists ensure proper selection and prescriptive fitting as part of the rehabilitative process to ensure you achieve maximal benefit. CHECK CREDENTIALS!
Take good care of your ears so you are sure never to miss hearing those three little words…
Dr. Clint Keifer is the owner of Great Lakes Audiology in Toledo. You can contact him at 419-327-2273; email at ckeifer@glaudiology.com; or visit http://www.glaudiology.com/.