Healthy hearing allows us to lead healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. The unfortunate reality is that we often take this vital sense that connects us to the world for granted.

Here are some facts:
1) Did you know that 65% of people who have hearing loss are under the age of 65? Hearing loss is not an “old age” thing.
2) Did you also know that noise-induced hearing loss is the number one preventable cause of hearing loss?
3) For most of us once our hearing has started to decline, there is no medicine or surgery that can fix it.
4) Aside from chronic ringing in the ears, untreated hearing loss has been linked to feelings of isolation and depression, loss of income, and even Alzheimer’s.

This February, just in time for Valentine’s Day, why not show a little love for those floppy things on the side of your head? Our practice is proud to launch the “I Love My Hearing” campaign. This is a small effort to raise some awareness about the importance of keeping our ears in top shape.

This is what we’d love for you to do to help us spread the word:
1) Visit and print out our “I Love My Hearing” sign (or you can print from the PDF link below)
2) Take a selfie holding the sign to show your support
3) Post your picture on Twitter and use the hashtag #LoveMyHearing

Just for helping out, each week during the month of February, we’ll randomly choose one person who will win some great healthy hearing prizes including hearing protection and sound-isolating earphones. If you’re in the NYC area, we’ll even customize them for you.

Thank you for your support! With your help, we’ll make a tiny dent in the universe by educating everyone about the importance of healthy hearing. Spread the Love…NYHD I Love My Hearing Campaign

Coffhaus3Noise is all around us. It can be disturbing or even lead to hearing loss as well as chronic stress-related health issues. But is it possible that certain noises can actually be beneficial to your creative process?

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research examined how ambient noise affects creativity. Researcher Ravi Mehta conducted experiments which revealed that moderate ambient noise (70 decibels) versus low levels of ambient noise (50 decibels) enhanced performance on creative tasks. Once the level of the noise reached 85 decibels, creativity was negatively affected. To put the levels of noise into perspective, 50 decibels approximates to quiet speech and 85 decibels is the level at which we start to become concerned about hearing damage from the noise.

Enter, a start up founded by Justin Kauszler, to provide the world with a “mix of calm and commotion in an environment like a coffee house”. Kauszler’s site provides the sounds of the coffee house and you provide the music from your computer. It’s suggested that the level of your music is just barely louder than Coffitivity for best results. Like Mehta’s study, Coffitivity claims that the right level of ambient noise is just what you need to get the creative juices flowing.

red-wine-glass-aIn a recent study published in the journal Otolaryngology
Head and Neck Surgery, researchers from the Henry Ford Health System in
Michigan have identified yet another potential reason you might consider
drinking a glass of red wine every night.

Michael Seidman, MD and his colleagues conducted a study to
determine the impact resveratrol (an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent
found in grapes and red wine) has on reducing the potential of noise-induced
hearing loss.

In this particular study, the researchers exposed two groups
of rats to loud noise. One group of the rats was given a resveratrol
supplement, the other was not. The study’s outcomes expressed the fact that the
resveratrol treated rats demonstrated less COX-2 protein expression following
the noise exposure. COX-2 is believed to be part of the mechanism that leads to
noise-induced hearing loss. Seidman and his colleagues report that these
findings indicate that resveratrol might have a hearing protective ability by
reducing COX-2 expression.

But before you choose a bottle of red over a pair of
earplugs, keep in mind the study was done on rodents. While resveratrol has
historically been proven effective in improving heart health, there is some
work to be done to definitively prove it is just as beneficial in preventing hearing loss in

One way to protect your hearing is through the use of custom in-ear products such as hearing protection, sound-isolating earphones or in-ear monitors. There are a few advantages of having your ear gear customized:

  1. Perfect fit every time.
  2. Comfortable for long periods of use.
  3. Enhanced sound quality (for custom sound-isolating earphones).
  4. The ability to listen to your music softer because you do not have to compete with background noise.

Most people have never experienced the process necessary to have custom in-ears made. While it can be an unusual sensation, it is not uncomfortable in any way. In this video that was shot a few years ago, you’ll see the entire ear impression process. The same technique is used for any form of custom in-ear products. I think it goes without saying you should never attempt to do this on your own ears. Making a safe ear impression is a procedure that should be performed by only those with significant experience (i.e. your audiologist).

bloombergNew York City’s residents are no strangers to the issue of noise pollution. For years we have seen the steady increase in decibels. Increased traffic, airplanes overhead, subways, buses, loud restaurants and clubs are all a part of the normal cacophony of the city. Research has shown that constant noise (even at a level that is not considered harmful to our ears) has the ability to negatively impact a child’s ability to learn, can increase blood pressure, cause stress, and can compromise a person’s long term general health and well being.

Hearing loss is truly the silent disorder. For most people it occurs very slowly over the course of a lifetime. So slow that we might not even realize it’s happening, and our brain acclimates to the new “normal” of impaired hearing. In most cases, 95% in fact, there is no medicine or surgery to help fix hearing loss. Hearing aids (now very sophisticated mini-computers) are the best option to assist the majority of the population with reduced hearing abilities.

When I talk to my patients about hearing loss, there are many contributing factors I encourage them to consider. Genetics play a significant role in how much hearing loss we will ultimately experience. Other issues that may cause hearing loss are: viruses, high fevers, certain medications, and chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Considering prevention plays a significant role in my practice, I always discuss the number one preventable cause of permanent hearing loss: loud noise and music exposure. When we are exposed to high levels of sound (occupational or recreational) for a long enough period of time we put ourselves at risk for permanent hearing loss. In the majority of noise exposure cases, we are completely in charge of our destiny. We just need the information to help us make an educated decision about what to do when we encounter those potentially dangerous sound exposures.

Mayor Bloomberg has been very active on the topic of noise in the Big Apple. In 2005, he signed a law overhauling the noise code. Today, with a $250,000 grant from the Fund for Public Health, the Mayor announced “The Hearing Loss Media Campaign” to target teens and young adults through focus groups and social media. The goal is to raise awareness about safe use of personal mp3 players.

The concern of increased hearing loss as a result of mp3 player use is not new. Health professionals and parents have been telling younger generations to turn down the volume since the introduction of amplified music. The Walkman escalated the conversation, and the mp3 player has taken the discussion to new heights. (FYI – About six years ago, I wrote a small guide hoping to share some of this information directly with those at highest risk. See The Simple Guide to Optimum Hearing Health for the mp3 Generation, 2006.)

The bottom line is that we need more accurate information funneling to those most at risk. Hopefully the Mayor’s Hearing Loss Media Campaign will truly make a dent in the universe and serve as a catalyst for increased awareness and action to prevent hearing loss in NYC and beyond.

In the meantime, here are some facts to consider:

  • We are all at risk; no one is immune.
  • 65% of those with hearing loss are under the age of 65. This is not only an “old age” phenomenon.
  • A constant sound of 85 decibels serves as the threshold for when we should be concerned and start taking action to protect our ears.
  • If you are in a dangerous sound environment, move away from the sound source. Distance from the sound source will reduce the sound level that enters your ears.
  • If you cannot remove yourself from the environment, use hearing protection.
  • The use of a sound level meter app on your smart phone will immediately tell you if you are in an environment that is too loud.
  • If you use an mp3 player, consider using sound-isolating earphones. This will allow you to listen to your music at lower levels because you do not have to compete with noise in the environment.
  • Have your hearing evaluated every year by a licensed audiologist.
  • If you experience sudden hearing loss or ringing in the ears, see your hearing healthcare provider immediately.