(Chelsea Update would like to thank Bob Milbrodt for the information in this story.)

Last Monday, the Chelsea Kiwanis Club heard from our own club member Dr. Michelle Rankin, and her associate, Dr. Rebecca Glover from Adrian Hearing Center.

They made a presentation about health wellness and hearing loss. Hearing occurs in the brain via the ears. One part is clarity, the ability to understand speech, the other is loudness, the ability to hear sound.

Some people that suffer from hearing loss think that turning up the volume will help when actually clarity is the problem, which volume won’t help. When the sound is too loud (above 70 decibels) for too long, it can cause permanent damage. At 100 decibels, damage can occur quickly.

Even at lower volumes, damage can occur over prolonged listening to loud music through headphones, for example. Tiny sensitive inner ear hair cells are damaged by loud sound causing hearing loss.

Over 37.5 million adults in the U.S. report trouble hearing, including 1 in 5 teenagers. Examples are chainsaw – 100 decibels, rock concert, jet takeoff, firecrackers – 120+ decibels. Free sound meter apps are available for your phone to monitor your environment.

Hearing loss may manifest itself as muffled/distorted speech sounds, (especially similar sounding words) or tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, clicking in the ears). Scientists and researchers are working on ways to repair damage. Ways to protect your hearing include wearing earplugs or headphones, keeping 500 feet or more from loud noise, taking listening breaks every half hour to avoid prolonged exposure, and heeding warning signs of pain or ringing.

Since our sense of balance is located in our ears, exposure to certain chemicals and medicines can cause problems, for example:

  • benzene – found in plastics, paint, cleaning agents, and cigarette smoke.
  • carbon monoxide – in cigarette smoke, gas powered tools and stoves
  • toluene – in paints and adhesives
  • xylene – in paints, varnishes, and thinners
  • certain antibiotics – gentamicin, tobramycin, amikacin, and streptomycin
  • chemotherapy drugs – cisplatin and carboplatin

Even large doses of aspirin or Motrin (800mg) can cause some temporary damage, especially when combined with other toxic medicines to the ear, family history of sensitivity, or exposure to loud noise while taking those medicines.

People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, or arthritis are at greater risk of hearing loss. Consequences of hearing loss include depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, falls, and unintentional injuries.

Free hearing tests are available at Adrian Hearing Center, 1103 W. Beecher Street, Adrian, MI 49221, (517) 263-1100, https://adrianhearingcenter.com

Delicious and healthy gourmet mixed nuts are available from any Kiwanian, on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/kiwanisclubofchelsea, or at our table at Chelsea Expo on April 15 at WSEC.