Himani Negi: Ma'am, my last question pertains to hearing loss. In my work, I find myself conducting interviews for several hours each day while using headphones. Additionally, I engage in discussions with colleagues and interns, making it unavoidable to use earbuds. As this has become a necessary part of my routine, is there an ideal time limit or any precautions I should take to prevent potential damage from continuous use over extended hours?
Dr. Aditi Sinha: Certainly, it's crucial to address the growing concern of early hearing loss, which is affecting people in their 20s and 30s due to prolonged exposure to loud sounds, especially through headphones and earbuds.
To help prevent hearing damage in your line of work, where you conduct interviews and engage in discussions regularly using headphones, consider the following precautions:
First and foremost, it's important to recognize that early hearing loss is becoming an epidemic among younger individuals. Many patients experiencing hearing loss today are not in their 50s or 60s but rather in the age group of 21 to 35. This trend is alarming.
A significant issue is that people often don't realize they are at risk because they aren't in professions that demand high-frequency hearing. For instance, professions like music direction or piloting might lead individuals to recognize hearing loss earlier. An illustrative example is a patient who didn't notice the difference in hearing between her ears because she primarily used earphones in one ear. Only when she started using them in both ears did she realize the disparity.
This denial and lack of awareness are common. Many young individuals attribute their hearing issues to factors like earwax, but in reality, it's often due to prolonged exposure to continuous sounds, exacerbated by the demands of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To mitigate these risks, here are some recommendations for individuals in jobs that require extended headphone use:
Take Regular Breaks: Avoid continuous headphone use. Schedule breaks between calls or listening sessions to give your ears some rest.
Keep Volume Low: Maintain a low incoming volume on your device to minimize the risk of damage.
Use Speaker Mode: Whenever possible, switch to speaker mode during calls or discussions to create distance between your ears and the device.
Choose Lightweight Headphones: If you use headphones, opt for lightweight ones that create more distance between your eardrum and the sound source.
Avoid Noise-Cancellation Devices: Noise-cancellation headphones can create a vacuum effect and increase pressure in your ears. Avoid using them.
Embrace Bluetooth Technology: Consider using Bluetooth devices, even for personal calls, to maintain some distance between your ears and the device.
Avoid Sharing Headphones: Sharing headphones can lead to ear infections, so it's best to use your personal set.
Flying with a Cold: If you have a cold, avoid flying, as it can lead to barotrauma and pressure changes that may affect your ears.
Protect Your Ears: If you attend loud events like concerts or parties, use earplugs or earmuffs to shield your ears from excessive noise.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle: Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these habits can accelerate hearing loss. Consume a diet rich in antioxidants found in raw fruits and vegetables to support ear health.
By following these precautions, you can help protect your hearing and the risk of early hearing loss, which has become a concerning issue, especially among younger individuals.
Himani Negi: Ma'am, another concern I have is about seeking an ENT specialist. Currently, I feel fine and don't experience any issues like wax buildup or hearing problems. However, I want to be proactive about my ear health and get a check-up. I'm not sure when I should approach a doctor or what specific tests I should request. How should I go about approaching an ENT specialist? I'm aware of online health check-up options, but for ENT concerns, I know I need to visit a doctor in person. The process of approaching a specialist can be challenging for me, and I'd appreciate guidance on how to navigate this, especially if I plan to do it once a year.
Dr. Aditi Sinha: “What I often advise my patients is that they should consider a combination approach. Many of us, including myself, undergo routine blood tests at home once a year or every six months. These tests usually cover parameters like liver function, kidney function, and complete blood count (CBC), and we tend to glance at the results. If everything appears within normal ranges with some minor fluctuations, we often shrug it off unless there's a glaring issue.
However, we need to recognize that our health today is different from what it was for our parents. Unlike our parents, who might have started wearing glasses around the age of 40, younger generations, even kids, are wearing glasses due to excessive screen time. Therefore, my suggestion, especially for those who are tech-savvy, is to consider more comprehensive health check-ups every six months, depending on your age.
If you are below 40, an annual checkup may suffice. But if you are over 40, regardless of gender, I recommend considering bi-annual checkups. These check-ups should not be limited to just blood tests. They should encompass a broader range of tests, including X-rays, electrocardiograms (ECG), and basic sonography of the abdomen. These are fundamental examinations that should not be overlooked.
When you plan your checkup, it's essential to consult with a physician. If you have a family doctor, that's a good starting point. Share your blood test reports with them and express your interest in a more comprehensive checkup. They may refer you to specialists, including an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, depending on your needs.
In cases where your physician doesn't provide a referral, consider visiting a reputable hospital in your city that offers comprehensive health packages. These packages often include various tests such as blood work, sonography, X-rays, ECG, treadmill tests, and consultations with specialists like an ENT specialist, radiologist, and physician. All the reports are consolidated, and you receive consultations from specialists on the same day.
This approach ensures that your ENT health, as well as other aspects of your well-being, are thoroughly examined. If any concerns are identified, further referrals can be made. For individuals above 40, these packages also provide an opportunity for essential screenings such as pap smears for women.
In summary, while it's tempting to rely solely on a battery of blood tests, remember that physical examinations by specialists like ENT doctors are equally vital. They can detect issues that blood tests alone cannot. So, take a proactive stance towards your health, whether you feel symptoms or not, and consider regular comprehensive check-ups to ensure your overall well-being."
Himani Negi: Thank you so much, ma'am. Your clarification was indeed helpful, especially for someone like me. Approaching this topic, not to mention my past self, was a challenging task, but I dedicated effort to self-improvement. Ma'am, I believe we've covered all aspects, and your responses have addressed our doubts, offering valuable insights for many. Is there anything else you'd like to share in conclusion?
Dr. Aditi Sinha: We've indeed covered a wide range of topics related to ENT health, addressing common issues like ear infections, allergies, tonsils, and hearing loss. However, there are a few more important ENT-related topics that often go unnoticed. Let me summarize three additional common ENT concerns:
Acid Reflux (GERD): Acid reflux is a prevalent condition that can fall under the purview of both ENT and gastroenterology. Many individuals seek help from general physicians or ENT specialists due to symptoms like hoarseness of voice, frequent burping, hiccups, and recurrent sore throats. These symptoms are sometimes mistaken for infections, leading to unnecessary antibiotic treatments. Acid reflux should not be underestimated and warrants medical attention. An ENT specialist can assess the situation and, if necessary, perform an endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are increasingly common issues, primarily owing to sedentary lifestyles and obesity, even among teenagers. Spouses often complain about the disruptive snoring of their partners. However, it's essential to understand that snoring is not a mere inconvenience; it can indicate a lack of oxygen in the brain. This condition requires investigation, and sleep studies are available for a more accurate assessment. ENT specialists can help identify underlying factors, such as large tonsils, a deviated nasal septum, or obesity, and offer suitable treatments. Lifestyle changes, including weight loss, quitting smoking and alcohol, and adopting cardiorespiratory exercises, can also alleviate snoring.
Vertigo (Giddiness): Vertigo, characterized by a sensation of dizziness or spinning, is another common concern that many individuals bring to ENT doctors. Often, it's a benign type of vertigo caused by positional changes, easily treatable with specific maneuvers. However, it can also result from cervical spondylitis or other underlying medical conditions. Giddiness associated with vomiting, tinnitus, or hearing loss might also be connected to ENT issues. In such cases, consulting an ENT specialist can help rule out inner-ear imbalances or other ENT-related causes.
These are vital aspects of ENT health that people should be aware of. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these issues, do not hesitate to reach out to an ENT specialist. These concerns should not be taken lightly, and timely medical attention can make a significant difference in addressing and managing these conditions."
Himani Negi: Ma'am, what about those people who are not obese but still snore? So is it problematic, or what could be the possible reasons?
Dr. Aditi Sinha: You've highlighted an essential aspect of addressing snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. When someone experiences these issues and isn't obese, it becomes crucial to undergo an ENT assessment to identify potential causes. Various factors within the upper airway can contribute to these problems.
For instance, a person might have:
Large Tongue: An enlarged tongue can obstruct the airway during sleep, leading to snoring and breathing interruptions. Surgical procedures or lifestyle adjustments may be recommended based on the assessment.
Enlarged Tonsils: In some cases, swollen or oversized tonsils can block the airway, especially in children. Tonsillectomy, or the removal of tonsils, may be considered as a treatment option.
Adenoid Hypertrophy: Enlarged adenoids, typically seen in children, can obstruct airflow. An ENT specialist can assess the situation and recommend suitable interventions.
Deviated Septum: A severely deviated nasal septum can restrict airflow through the nasal passages. Corrective procedures or nasal sprays may help alleviate this issue.
Allergic Polyps: Nasal polyps resulting from allergies can obstruct the nasal airway. Treatment options include decongestant sprays, anti-allergic medications, or surgical removal, depending on the severity.
The key here is to start with an ENT evaluation to pinpoint the exact cause of the obstruction. Once identified, appropriate interventions can be proposed, which may range from lifestyle changes to medical treatments to surgical procedures. It's a step-by-step approach to address the issue effectively, as there can be multiple contributing factors.
Himani Negi: Thank you so much for dedicating your valuable time to create awareness through this article. I hope it was informative for everyone. We chose these topics because they are very common, and there is very little awareness. Everything we discuss is extremely commonplace; I can find numerous examples even in my own home. Additionally, I was personally part of the earbuds user and addiction phenomenon. That's exactly why I felt the need to address this issue
Dr.Aditi Sinha: You know it's a very good sensation. I know when I was small, my dad used to clean my ears and I used to love that feeling. But yeah, it's an addiction. Some people would want to focus on this thing, You should because of Johnson earbuds A lot of patients say, Madam, so why is it made? Why is it sold? But they don't understand that yes, Johnson did create the buds, but it was not for blind use. It was for cleaning the ears from here outside. Now people go in, you know; sometimes they keep the earbud here. Suddenly, the child who is playing comes and hits and suddenly the bud goes in Now all kinds of accidents happen. And it's very difficult to keep a box of sterilized cotton buds in your house. How we close the cap is not properly done. It's kept there, and then the cotton fibers get stuck inside sometimes, and fungus grows. So yes, I think waxing and cleaning the ear is a very important topic.
MedBound Times expresses sincere gratitude to Dr. Aditi for sharing her valuable insights on our platform.