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About the Author
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Maze Hearing & Balance, LLC
Heather Smith, AuD, CCC-A
Doctor of Audiology
FDA Warns That Online Hearing Test Violates Federal LawVancouver, Wash.—April 19, 2012—
The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) have confirmed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a letter to hi HealthInnovations’ CEO Dr. Lisa Tseng advising her that the company’s Online Hearing Test does not comply with FDA regulations. The company’s online hearing test is, according to the regulatory agency, a diagnostic device. To ensure safety and efficacy, such devices require clearance from the FDA before they are offered to the public, which the company has failed to obtain.
Audigy Group supports the Academies and other national and state organizations that have raised concerns about online hearing tests with the FDA. As an organization focused on delivering superior hearing care services, Audigy Group applauds the FDA in its decision. “Online tests fail to recognize the unique hearing needs of individual patients, and confiscate the responsibility of Audiologists to diagnose potentially serious underlying medical conditions,” says Audigy Group CEO Brandon Dawson. “Patients deserve a higher standard,” he explains, “and an opportunity to achieve success in their pursuit of better hearing that online tests simply cannot provide.”About Audigy Group
Tags: Hearing Test
"Dr. Smith has long known the benefits of Tai-chi for balance. Though the attached article discusses the benefits for Parkinsons patients specifically, Tai-chi is beneficial for most individuals with balance problems."
Researchers and aficionados of the ancient Chinese art of tai chi are already aware of how this moving meditation can help reduce stress and improve balance. Now a new study finds that the gentle flowing motions of this so-called "soft martial art" can help improve balance problems commonly suffered by Parkinson's patients. The study finds that bi-weekly tai chi training improved balance and reduced falls among a group of patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease.
“While medication can relieve some, but not all Parkinson's symptoms such as tremors, rigidity and slowness,” explained lead author Fuzhong Li of the Oregon Research Institute, “Tai chi helped patients improve their posture and balance.” The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday.
Every day, up to a million Americans are coping with Parkinson’s disease, one of the most common nervous system disorders among the elderly. Parkinson's patients lose muscle function because nerve cells in a certain part of the brain that produce dopamine are slowly destroyed and the brain can no longer properly send messages. As a results, patients develop characteristic tremors of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face, as well as poor posture and difficulty maintaining balance, among many other possible symptoms.
Li explained that exercise is an important part of treatment for Parkinson’s patients, helping them to increase and retain their mobility. The authors conducted a clinical trial that included 195 patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s. They were randomly assigned to one of three exercise groups that performed one hour of exercise, twice a week for 24 weeks. The exercises were tai chi, resistance training, or stretching.
The patients in the tai chi group learned six movements that were combined into a routine. Tai chi requires participants to use conscientious controlled use of muscles, combined with balance shifts and trunk movements. “Imagine standing on a moving bus,” Li explained, “And when the bus turns a corner and changes speed, you need to shift your balance and move your feet to remain stable. That’s similar to how the tai chi training works.”
Participants were evaluated when the study began, at three months, six months and again three months after the trial ended. Patients in the tai chi group improved posture stability and balance, compared to people in the resistance training and stretching groups. Tai chi also reduced falls, and the study notes: “Falls are a common and sometimes life-threatening event in patients with Parkinson’s disease. However, to our knowledge, no clinical trial has shown the efficacy of exercise in reducing falls in this population.”
The tai chi movements involved controlled swaying using ankles and hips, which helped patients to increase their stability, Li explained, adding “Exercise can be an integral part of the treatment for Parkinson’s disease, and tai chi can be used as a self-care activity that patients can do at home, requiring no special equipment.”
The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation also echoes the importance of using exercise as part of a multifaceted treatment program, which may also include prescription drug therapy, and deep brain stimulation therapy to control Parkinson’s symptoms. “Regular exercise or physical therapy is crucial for maintaining and improving mobility, flexibility, balance, and range of motion,” their website notes, adding that researchers believe exercise may play a part in preventing the progression of the disease.
Article is from CNN Health - http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/08/study-tai-chi-improves-balance-in-parkinsons-patients/?hpt=hp_bn10
The statistics are alarming. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have a hearing loss, this includes 17% of our adult population. The incidence of hearing loss increases with age. Approximately one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over age 75 have hearing loss (NIDCD, 2010). Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults (Collins, 1997). Unfortunately, only 20% of those individuals who might benefit from treatment actually seek help. Most tend to delay treatment until they cannot communicate even in the best of listening situations. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing aids (Davis, Smith, Ferguson, Stephens, & Gianopoulos, 2007).
Our population is aging. According to the Administration on Aging (2011, para. 1), "the older population will burgeon between the years 2010 and 2030 when the 'baby boom' generation reaches age 65." In 2009, people over 65 represented 12.9% of the population; by 2030, they will represent 19.3%. The population of individuals over 65 is expected to double between 2008 and 2030 to a projected 72.1 million (Administration on Aging, 2011, para. 2).
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Hearing loss in adults has a number of contributing factors, including age, genetics, noise exposure, and chronic disease (e.g., diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and heart disease). Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis is generally a slow, progressive hearing loss that affects both ears equally. Presbycusis begins in the high frequencies and later affects the lower frequencies. One of the first signs of hearing loss is often an inability to hear and understand speech in noisy environments. Because of this slow progression, adults with presbycusis do not readily acknowledge their hearing loss, considering it a normal sign of aging. As audiologists, we are not surprised to hear that the spouse or significant other has been frustrated by the hearing loss long before the individual with the hearing loss even acknowledges it. It is this insidious nature of presbycusis that allows many adults to ignore their hearing loss for years or decades.
Impact of Hearing Loss
The impact of hearing loss is not simply measured in decibels. Hearing loss is an individual experience, and how the individual copes will depend on a great many factors, including early versus late onset, the progressive nature of the loss (gradual vs. sudden), the severity of the loss, communication demands, and personality (Kaland & Salvatore, 2002). Regardless of the combination of these presenting factors, hearing loss has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, social isolation, and fatigue.
Several studies have documented the impact of untreated hearing loss. An often cited survey was commissioned by the National Council on Aging in 1999 (Kochkin & Rogin, 2000). This nationwide survey of nearly 4,000 adults with hearing loss and their significant others showed significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other psychosocial disorders in individuals with hearing loss who were not wearing hearing aids. This survey looked at the positive benefits of amplification and showed that hearing aid use positively affected quality of life for both the hearing aid wearer and his or her significant other. These findings were consistent with the findings of a large randomized controlled study which found that hearing loss was associated with decreased social/emotional, communication, and cognitive function in addition to increased depression for subjects who were unaided as compared to those who received hearing aids. These conditions were improved after hearing aids were fit (Mulrow et al., 1990).
More recently, Dr. Frank Lin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University found a strong link between degree of hearing loss and risk of developing dementia. Individuals with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia as those with normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss were three times more likely, and those with severe hearing loss had five times the risk. While this study could not definitively conclude that early treatment with hearing aids would reduce the risk of dementia, there was a positive correlation between degree of hearing loss and risk of dementia (Lin et al., 2011).
Hearing loss is an invisible handicap. Although it is increasingly prevalent with age, hearing loss is often ignored during the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and memory disorders in elderly patients (Chartrand, 2005). The comorbidity of hearing loss and cognitive disorders makes it even more important to determine hearing status prior to any diagnostic protocol. This would undoubtedly lead to more appropriate diagnosis and treatment as well as significantly better outcomes for individuals with cognitive impairments. Vision impairment is another common comorbidity affecting between 9% and 22% of adults over 70 (Saunders & Echt, 2011). Researchers using longitudinal data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Institute on Aging analyzed the relationship between vision impairment and hearing loss on quality of life in older adults, and they concluded that both hearing loss and vision impairment have a negative impact on health, social participation, and daily activities, and those individuals with a combination of both hearing loss and vision impairment (i.e., dual sensory impairment) experience the greatest difficulty (Crews & Campbell, 2004). The implication is that when both sensory systems are impaired, the individual is less able to compensate.
Benefits of Treatment
As Gagn, Southall, and Jennings (2011) pointed out, in their study of why individuals delay in seeking hearing health services because of stigma, "In order to live well with hearing loss, one must recognize and accept hearing loss. Specifically, many people must overcome the misplaced shame and poor self-esteem that they may experience" (para. 2). The fitting of hearing aids needs to be part of a larger treatment program that includes the individual and his or her significant other(s). Research has shown improved quality of life and overall satisfaction when significant others receive support and education regarding hearing loss and communication strategies (Kramer, Allessie, Dondorp, Zekveld, & Kapteyn, 2005). Group and individual audiologic rehabilitation programs that are tailored to the individual?s communication needs have been shown to help create feelings of acceptance and confidence that lead to earlier acceptance and improved benefits from carefully fit technology (Chisolm, Abrams, & McArdle, 2004). Rehabilitation approaches that provide holistic treatment and take into consideration other age-related changes such as vision impairment, cognitive decline, and manual dexterity are needed to meet the needs of our expanding older population (Saunders & Echt, 2011).
Healthy People 2020 has outlined several goals that relate to improving hearing health outcomes for adults. Specifically, the initiative calls for an increase in the number of adults over 70 who use hearing aids and hearing assistive technology as well as the number of adults ages 20?70 who have had a hearing evaluation in the past 5 years (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). The impact of untreated hearing loss cannot be ignored. Early and careful evaluation and treatment show great promise in mitigating the consequences of hearing loss on long-term health and quality of life. With the U.S. population rapidly aging, a health care system that recognizes the importance of early identification and treatment is critical. Educating consumers regarding the importance of seeking treatment early for themselves and their loved ones will have to be part of the equation. Indeed, changing perceptions regarding hearing loss is critical to increasing the number of individuals who ultimately benefit from early management. Audiologists who fit hearing aids must implement aural rehabilitation as part of their patients? plan of care to help ensure that individuals who ultimately seek hearing services are treated in a holistic, evidence-based manner that takes their psychosocial, physical, and communication needs into consideration. Additionally, ongoing research and advocacy regarding the efficacy of early identification and management of hearing loss may help encourage better funding for hearing aids as well as important aural rehabilitation services.
Anne L. Oyler, AuD, CCC-A
Associate Director, Audiology Professional Practices, ASHA
Administration on Aging. (2011). A profile of older Americans: 2010.
Chartrand, M. S. (2005). Undiagnosed pre-existing hearing loss in Alzheimer's disease patients. Audiology Online.
Chisolm, T. H., Abrams, H. B., & McArdle, R. (2004). Short- and long-term outcomes of adult audiological rehabilitation. Ear and Hearing, 25, 464?477.
Collins, J. G. (1997). Prevalence of selected chronic conditions: United States 1990-1992. Vital and Health Statistics, 10(194). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
Crews, J. E., & Campbell, V. A. (2004).Vision impairment and hearing loss among community-dwelling older Americans: Implication for health and functioning. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 823?829.
Davis, A., Smith, P., Ferguson, M., Stephens, D., & Gianopoulos, I. (2007). Acceptability, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability: A study of potential screening tests and models. Health Technology Assessment, 11, 1?294.
Gagn, J.-P., Southall, K., & Jennings, M. B. (2011). Stigma and self-stigma associated with acquired hearing loss in adults. Hearing Review, 18(8), 16?22.
Kaland, M., & Salvatore, K. (2002, March 19). The psychology of hearing loss. The ASHA Leader, 7(5), pp. 4?5, 14?15.
Kochkin, S., & Rogin, C. M. A. (2000). Quantifying the obvious: The impact of hearing instruments on quality of life [PDF, 5.5MB]. Hearing Review, 7(1), 8?34.
Kramer, S. E., Allessie, G. H., Dondorp, A. W., Zekveld, A. A., & Kapteyn, T. S. (2005). A home education program for older adults with hearing impairment and their significant others: A randomized trial evaluating short- and long-term effects. International Journal of Audiology, 44, 255-264.
Lin, F. R., Metter, E. J., O'rien, R. J., Resnick, S. M., Zonderman, A. B., & Ferrucci, L. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68, 214?220.
Mulrow, C. D., Aguilar, C., Endicott, J. E., Tuley, M. R., Velez, R., Charlip, W. S., ...DeNino, L. A. (1990). Quality-of-life changes and hearing impairment. A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 113, 188-194.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2010). Quick statistics.
Saunders, G. H., & Echt, K. (2011, March 15). Dual sensory impairment in an aging population. The ASHA Leader, 16(3), pp. 5, 7.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2011). Topics & objectives index-Healthy People.
Tags: Hearing Loss
Hearing Aids Help
Quiet Chronic Ringing in the Ears
(Tinnitus), New Study Finds
Washington, DC, November 29, 2011 Nearly thirty million Americans almost twice as many as previously believed suffer from persistent, chronic tinnitus, according to a new study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). That’s about ten percent of the U.S. population. And for people ages 65 to 84, that number jumps to almost 27 percent. Notably, the study also found that many tinnitus sufferers reported that their hearing aids significantly helped them with their tinnitus.
For many who suffer from it, tinnitus can be a source of endless torment and a continual drain on quality-of-life. Often referred to as ringing in the ears, tinnitus is the perception of a sound that has no external source. Tinnitus sufferers commonly describe the noise as a ringing, humming, buzzing, and/or cricket-like. Tinnitus can be constant or intermittent. And it can be heard in one ear, both ears, or in the head.
According to the BHI study, four in ten people experience their tinnitus more than 80 percent of the time; slightly more than one in four describe their tinnitus as loud; and about one in five describe their tinnitus as disabling or nearly disabling. Tinnitus is now the number one service-connected disability of returning military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan. There currently is no known cure for tinnitus.
“The good news is there are effective therapies available to help people cope,” said Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director and co-author of the study. “In particular, we found that a variety of sound therapies and/or hearing aids in conjunction with counseling can help. In fact, 43.5 percent of survey respondents with tinnitus were helped at least mildly with hearing aids. And 3 out of 10 were helped moderately-to-substantially. For those whose audiologists used best practices in fitting hearing aids, that figure jumped to 50 percent.”
According to the study, people with tinnitus report that it most often affects their ability to hear (39%), concentrate (26%), and sleep (20%). Yet for many, tinnitus is even more pervasive. Twelve percent of respondents or 3.6 million people when extrapolated to the general population say their tinnitus affects leisure activities, social life, personal relationships, and emotional or mental health. Seven percent of respondents or an estimated 2.1 million people nationwide indicate that tinnitus affects their ability to work.
“Persistent, chronic tinnitus is a highly intrusive, increasingly common condition that can interfere with a person’s cognition, ability to interact with family and friends, and basic life functions,” said Jennifer Born, study co-author and Director of Public Affairs at the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). “Much progress is still needed in understanding tinnitus and finding a cure. But the results of this study are highly encouraging and prove that many tinnitus sufferers can experience relief and improved quality of life by using hearing aids in conjunction with counseling.”
Exposure to extreme noise is the leading cause of tinnitus, and people with tinnitus almost always have accompanying hearing loss, according to the study authors. In fact, the study found that respondents with more severe hearing loss were more likely to have tinnitus. Yet, more than a third (39%) of people with hearing loss do not seek help specifically because they have tinnitus.
“What surprised us was the large number of people 13 million who reported tinnitus but no hearing loss,” said Kochkin. “It’s very likely that these individuals were aware of their tinnitus but not their hearing loss which would indicate that the population with hearing loss is much larger than previously believed.”
As baby boomers age, people listen to portable music players at high volumes, and more soldiers return from combat, the incidence of both hearing loss and tinnitus is expected to grow.
“Unfortunately, relatively few people seek help for their tinnitus,” said Richard Tyler, PhD, study co-author, professor in both the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and editor of three books on tinnitus, including The Consumer Handbook on Tinnitus. “We need to raise awareness that effective therapies to help tinnitus sufferers are available. Many audiologists have attended a tinnitus management seminar I organize each September, and I know there are many experienced tinnitus health professionals ready to help and offer a full evaluation. They can help identify treatment strategies most likely to offer relief. In particular, they will be able to determine if hearing aids can help.”
The study findings, were published in the November issue of Hearing Review. The findings were derived from a nationwide survey of 46,000 households. It is the largest study of its kind.
How Hearing Aids Help
In addition to improving hearing and communication, hearing aids amplify background sound, so the loudness or prominence of the tinnitus is reduced. Simply taking the focus off the tinnitus means relief for many people. Hearing aids also reduce the stress associated with intensive listening by improving communication, which in turn help relieve tinnitus symptoms.
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Maze Hearing and Dr. Heather Smith Promote American Heart Month and National Wear Red Day
Heather Smith, Doctor of Audiology, is joining the Better Hearing Institute (BHI); the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); and the American Heart Association (AHA) in promoting American Heart Month in February and National Wear Red Day on February 3, 2012. Dr. Smith and Maze Hearing want to raise awareness of the threat that heart disease poses and of the connection between cardiovascular health and hearing health.
Dr. Smith is urging people with heart disease to get their hearing checked. In order to facilitate this, she is offering free hearing screenings and can be scheduled by calling 937-592-1001.
“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States,” says Dr. Smith “At Maze Hearing & Balance, we want to help raise awareness of the serious threat it poses to each of us personally and to inform people of the connection between heart health and hearing health. We urge women and men alike to know their risks and to take action today to protect their heart and hearing health.”
The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system a person’s heart, arteries, and veins has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
On National Wear Red Day, the first Friday of each February, Americans nationwide wear red to show their support for women's heart disease awareness. Maze Hearing’s activities are in partnership with The Heart Truth, a national awareness campaign warning women about their risk of heart disease. The campaign is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with The Office on Women's Health (OWH) and other organizations committed to the health and well-being of women.
“Our participation in American Heart Month and National Wear Read Day enables the hearing health community to make an important contribution to saving millions of lives,” says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute. “This is an opportunity to highlight the connection that heart health has on hearing health and to empower people with that knowledge. People with heart disease should not have to contend with the additional toll that unaddressed hearing loss takes on their quality of life.”
Some Things to Know About Heart Disease
According to the AHA, heart disease is our nation’s #1 killer. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one. But there is good news: There are things people can do to protect the health of their heart and reduce their risks; including adopting new habits, such as not smoking, following a heart healthy eating plan, maintaining a healthy weight, and becoming more physically active.
According to the NHLBI, family history of early heart disease and age are two key risk factors for heart disease. Controllable risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and diabetes.
The NHLBI says that the main warning signs for women and men are:
Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes. It may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. The discomfort may be mild or severe, and it may come and go.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
Shortness of breath. This may occur with or without chest discomfort.
Other signs include nausea, light-headedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health. But nine out of ten hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life.
National Wear Red Day is a registered trademarks of HHS and AHA.
This article is an opinion editorial by Jackie Clark, PhD, Douglas L. Beck AuD, and Walter Kutz, MD.
Ear candles are hollow tapered cones made of cloth and soaked in beeswax or paraffin; the narrow funnel is placed into the ear and the opposite side of the cone is ignited in flame. Upon reading the previous sentence, many people will immediately say, “you’re kidding?” Clearly, ear candling is not reasonable, rational, safe, or effective, and indeed, it should simply never be done.
When one “googles” the term “ear candling,” 673,000 Web sites and links appear. Many present reasonable and rational information warning those contemplating this activity of nonexistent benefits in tandem with significant potential for serious injury. The medical literature has clearly demonstrated ear candling has often caused serious injury without evidence of benefit (Zackaria and Aymat, 2009).
Nonetheless, many Web sites, retailers, and “practitioners” continue to offer a variety of candling products with claims of homeopathic and/or natural healing through the practice of ear candling. The widespread hype supporting ear candling (also known as ear coning) refers to ancient Egyptians, Mayans, and Tibetans as having practiced candling. Practitioners of ear candling often make unsubstantiated claims of the effectiveness of ear candling in treating a multitude of problems. Some typical claims include removal of cerumen (ear wax), reduction of sinus pressure, treatment of allergies, treatment of hearing loss, sharpening the senses of smell, taste and color perception, relief of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, and the treatment of vertigo, etc. Proponents of ear candling claim oxygen is drawn from the flame, thus producing a vacuum that literally pulls residue out of the ear. Many proponents further claim the vacuum affects and drains all passages of the head via the tympanic membrane (ear drum).
Therefore, we offer this discussion in a simple question and answer (Q&A) format. Further, we recommend before anyone undertake ear candling, they should discuss the matter with a licensed physician, audiologist, or hearing aid dispenser. The bottom line is ear candling is ineffective and potentially dangerous and we do not recommend it at any time for any reason.
Claim 1: Interconnections in the head allows the candles to drain the entire system through the ear.
FALSE: Liquids and gases cannot pass through a normal healthy ear drum. For example, most people have experienced pressure in their ears when changing altitude while driving in mountains, or ascending or descending during flight. This pressure sensation results from atmospheric pressure changes acting on the middle ear space. If liquids and gases could readily pass through the ear drum, changes in atmospheric pressure would not create a “change in pressure” sensation. And, by the way, there are no empty interconnecting passages. Yes, there are arteries, veins, lymph systems, and neural networks, but they have very specific ongoing functions that cannot be impinged upon while mysterious things are allegedly drained through solid barriers!
Claim 2: Oxygen drawn through the candle will create a vacuum.
FALSE: A basic scientific evaluation measured the amount of vacuum force created by ear candles when placed in a simulated human ear canal. Despite numerous trials, this presumed phenomena (creation of a vacuum) simply did not occur at any point during the trials (Seely, Quigley, Langman, 1996; Kaushall and Kaushall, 2000).
Claim 3. When a vacuum is created, it will pull residue out from the ear canal.
FALSE: A scientific study compared individuals’ ear canals before and after candling. Some subjects had impacted earwax and others had completely clear ear canals prior to candling. In all instances, after candling, there was no reduction in the amount of ear wax found in individual’s ear canals. In fact, after candling, some participants had candle wax deposited in their ear canals. Indeed, meticulous analysis of the contents in the ear candle after use (using gas chromatography) showed multiple alkanes of candle wax, with no constituents of cerumen (Seely, Quigley, Langman, 1996). If anything, individuals subjected to ear candling have complained about significant pain from the heat funneled into the ear and very loud “bubbling” noises created from the candle.
Claim 4. The method is safe, noninvasive, and effective.
FALSE: Candling is dangerous. Survey responses from medical specialists (otolaryngologists) in the United Kingdom reported ear injuries from ear candling including; burns, ear canal occlusions and ear drum perforations and secondary ear canal infections with temporary hearing loss (Seely, Quigley, Langman, 1996). In some patients, multiple complications were found. There have been reports within the United States demonstrating ash remnants and residue from ear candling coating the eardrum (Kutz and Fayad, 2008). Additionally, significant fires associated with ear candling have been reported, one of which led to the user’s death (Powell, 2005). In recent years Health Canada’s Medical Device Regulatory Agency declared that selling ear candles requires a license from Health Canada before anyone can sell them for therapeutic purposes. Yet, Health Canada has not issued any licenses for ear candles, consequently selling ear candles for “therapeutic purposes” in Canada is illegal. The U.S. FDA and Health Canada have acted against manufacturers of ear candles by providing alerts to consumers not to use ear candles, seizing products, and issuing bans for importing ear candles. Despite the proactive stance of these government agencies, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of “practitioners” around the United States ready to perform the procedure (see multiple FDA references, below).
Ear candling is dangerous (even when used as directed by the manufacturer) and serves no legitimate purpose and there is no scientific evidence showing effectiveness for use. It is of significant concern that some ear candles are advertised for use with children (including babies), potentially placing them at great risk—with no known or documented benefit.
As hearing professionals and doctors, we strongly recommend prior to undertaking ear candling, consumers and patients are urged to discuss the matter with their physician, audiologist, or hearing aid dispenser. Bottom line: Ear candling is ineffective and potentially dangerous and we do not recommend it at any time for any reason.
Jackie Clark, PhD, is a clinical associate professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, UT Dallas. She is also a research scholar at the U. Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Douglas L. Beck, AuD, is the Web content editor with the American Academy of Audiology.
Walter Kutz, MD, assistant professor, Department of Otolaryngology, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
References and Recommendations
Ear Candles: Risk of Serious Injuries February 20, 2010
Powell GL. E-mail to Dr. Stephen Barrett, April 15, 2005 as reported: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candling.html 21-Apr-10.
Kaushall P, Kaushall JN. (2000) On ear cones and candles. Skeptical Inquirer Sept/Oct:12.
Kutz W, Fayad JN. (2000) Ear candling. ENT Journal 87(9):499.
Seely DR, Quigley SM, Langman AW. (1996) Ear candles – Efficacy and safety. Laryngoscope 106: 1226–1229.
Zakaria M, Aymat A. (2009) Ear Candling: A Case Report. Eur J Gen Pract 15(3):168–169.
(ARA) - Hearing loss isn’t a harmless condition to be ignored. In fact, hearing loss often coexists with other serious health problems. And a growing body of research indicates that there may be a link. Studies show that people with heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression may all have an increased risk of hearing loss.
When left untreated, hearing loss alone can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions. Impaired memory and the impaired ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension and stress are among its more common side effects. But when untreated hearing loss coexists with a chronic illness, the likelihood is all the greater that the individual will experience exacerbated levels of stress and diminished quality of life.
Here’s the good news: Research also indicates that professionally fitted hearing aids can help improve quality of life for people with chronic diseases when hearing loss does coexist.
“In the vast majority of cases, hearing loss can be addressed with hearing aids to help people hear better and improve their quality of life,” says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). “I strongly urge anyone with heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and/or depression to talk with their doctor and make hearing screenings a routine part of their medical care.”
BHI encourages people to take a free, quick, and confidential online hearing test at www.hearingcheck.org to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org.
The link between hearing loss and certain chronic diseases
Numerous studies have long linked untreated hearing loss to diminished psychological and overall health. But an emerging body of research is now revealing a link between hearing loss and other chronic health conditions.
For example, hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found that older adults with moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a higher prevalence of hearing loss than those of the same age without CKD.
Other studies have shown that a significantly higher percentage of people with Alzheimer's disease may have hearing loss than their normally aging peers. In fact, older adults with hearing loss appear more likely to develop dementia, and their risk increases as hearing loss becomes more severe, according to a study published in the Archives of Neurology,. The researchers also found that the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease specifically increased with hearing loss.
The link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression also is compelling. An Italian study found that working adults aged 35 to 55 who were affected by mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears reported higher levels of disability and psychological distress — and lower levels of social functioning — than a well-matched normal control population.
Perhaps the link between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss is the most widely recognized. In a study published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Audiology, the authors reviewed research that had been conducted over the past 60 plus years. They found that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system, and the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these same systems, was found through a sizable body of research.
“With so much evidence emerging on the potential link between hearing loss and various chronic illnesses, it becomes all the more pressing for people to identify and address hearing loss early on,” Kochkin says. “Talk to your doctor. Get your hearing checked. And be assured that in most cases, today’s state-of-the-art hearing aids, programmed to the specific hearing requirements of the individual, can help people hear better and thereby regain quality of life.”
Here are some practical tips for you: