RX for Readers

On hearing, earrings and triglycerides.

doctor-patient 88 (photo credit: )
doctor-patient 88
(photo credit: )
I am an 83-year-old woman with a hearing problem. I have acquired two very expensive hearing aids that increase the volume of the sound, but my problem seems not so much the volume, but the sound frequencies. (There are certain voices or certain tone levels I do hear but cannot understand the words spoken to me personally or broadcast on television.) The hearing-aid technician said it has something to do with my brain. Is there some audiological institute where I could be examined and find out exactly what is the cause of this malfunction and how it can be fixed? - A.C., Jerusalem Dr. Jean-Yves Sichel, head of the ear, nose, throat, head and neck surgery department at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and Dr. Ronen Perez, director of its otology unit, comment: It would be best to see your hearing test before commenting. But in general, we can say that hearing loss in the elderly (presbycousis) is due at least in part to the rarefaction of the outer hair cells, which are among the most sensitive cells of the inner ear. As a result, some patients have hearing loss plus problems in discrimination. It means that they hear the word but do not understand it. Unfortunately, in these cases, hearing aids that mostly amplify sound will not help. Usually, when performing a hearing test, the audiologist will also perform a discrimination test - which may help to predict if a hearing aid will be useful (but this test is not 100 percent accurate). To date, in cases of bad discrimination, there is no good solution, except in very severe cases, in which cochlear implants may be used. I am a 52-year-old woman who loves wearing big heavy earrings. Is there any health danger from them? - R.D., Herzliya Dr. Richard Ha, a senior plastic surgeon at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas, comments: Heavy earrings are definitely in style, but they can be a dangerous fashion accessory from which more and more women are seeking surgery. At first, patients with tears in their earlobes from wearing heavy earrings are told to simply stop wearing them so the lobe can heal on its own, but often that doesn't work. Just removing the earring often does not allow the hole to close because that has become a mature tract. Fortunately, there's a relatively simple solution to the problem - surgical repair. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour under local anesthesia in a plastic surgeon's clinic. After the rip in the lobe is fixed, it will need several weeks to completely heal. If you love wearing heavy earrings - but don't want to end up needing surgery one day - you may want to consider using some of the over-the-counter earlobe support products to help prevent rips. I am a 42-year-old man. When undergoing routine medical tests, I was found to have an overly high level of triglycerides. My doctor didn't advise me what to do about this except to say that I should "eat healthy foods and exercise." Is there any more specific advice? - B.H., Arad Judy Siegel-Itzkovich comments: The Harvard Heart Letter recently offered advice about lowering triglycerides, which are the most common form of fat in food and the bloodstream but less known to the public than cholesterol. Triglycerides are in the danger zone when they slide above 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood. To lower them, cut back on saturated fat (found mostly in red meat and full-fat dairy food) and trans fat (in fried and many commercially prepared foods). Eat whole grains and cut back on sugary drinks and foods. Moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages is good for the heart, unless you are a "responder" in whom alcohol dramatically boosts triglycerides. To determine if you're a responder, avoid alcohol for three weeks and have your triglycerides tested. Take Omega-3 fats in the form of fatty fish or capsules. Aim for normal weight. If you are overweight, try to lose at least 5% to 10% of your weight to lower triglycerides. Exercise regularly. Stop smoking if you do, as tobacco isn't good for triglyceride levels (or anything else). Consult your doctor about the possibility of taking niacin, fibrates, fish oil and/or cholesterol-lowering statins, all of which have been shown to lower triglycerides. Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and residence.