2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Our Deaf Ears

For me it was a summer night in the 1960s, at the Aragon Ballroom on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago, the club during those years temporarily renamed The Cheetah. Seemed like a cool name to me, with my shoulder-length hair, bellbottoms, and paisley everything else. The band for the evening was Blue Cheer, billing itself as the loudest band in rock and roll. I was in the first row.

You could actually feel a warm breeze created by the vibrations from the wall of speakers onstage.

Spilling out onto the street after one terrific show, I heard a high-pitched whistling. “Anybody hear that whistling? Driving me nuts.” No one else did. That night, it kept me awake. And it’s been with me, a fellow traveler in my head 24/7, since that night so long ago, although for quite a while my brain suppressed it. (Generally, I hear it again when a patient comes into the office worrying about the whistling she’s been hearing in her own ears—talk about the power of suggestion.)

I was a resident at Northwestern then, and scheduled an appointment with the Ear-Nose-Throat Department.

“You’ve lost your upper range of hearing, probably a combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to loud noise.” Since I didn’t consider Blue Cheer “noise” in the same way the elevated train (“The L,” if you’re from Chicago) is noise, I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant.

Parenthetically, this is similar to the way teenagers answered questions for a recently published report on the dramatic rise of hearing loss among them over the past decade, mainly attributable to near-constant in-the-ear amplification from their iPods. “Noise? What noise? Hey, that’s my music, man. That’s not noise!”

Here’s what happens when noise destroys your hearing at a certain pitch: Your brain steps in and tries to replace that very pitch for you. The name for chronic ear noise, most commonly a high-pitched whistle, is tinnitus. And although there are medical conditions that can lead to tinnitus (the most famous being aspirin overdose), hearing loss leads the pack.

Bette Davis once remarked “Old age is not for sissies,” and indeed one of life’s many annoyances on the path to the grave is hearing loss. But with this new study about teenagers, we can expect hearing loss to start a lot earlier in life. There are definite concerns among educators over how this collective loss among young people will affect learning skills. Chronic hearing loss has already been linked to depression and social isolation.

With high-frequency loss (speaking as a sufferer myself), you have trouble distinguishing S from F, the sibilant consonants. In crowded restaurants, you have difficulty tracking cross-talk conversations, called the “cocktail party effect.” You also turn up your TV too loud for your mate.

Hearing experts tell us we’re astonishingly vain when it comes to using amplification– their euphemism for hearing aids—with most of us preferring to walk around deaf as posts rather than be seen with a chunk of plastic sticking out of our ears. Generally, these plastic globs were your grandfather’s hearing aids, the newer models tucked invisibly behind your ear and hidden by hair. It’s ironic that we’ll spend a fortune on designer eyeglasses, which undeniably broadcast to the world that we’re blind as bats, but prefer to shout “Whatja say?” for decades rather than get hearing aids.

Newer hearing aids are computer-adjusted to increase only the pitch you can’t hear, so every sound around you doesn’t come blasting into your brain. What happens when they’re inserted is nothing short of amazing, like having the blurred world suddenly come into focus when you first put on glasses. If you have the common high-frequency hearing loss, you can differentiate the S and Fs again, other consonants like K and T are crisp, you don’t miss dialogue during movies and plays. And for what it’s worth, you also hear birds tweet and the 88th key of a piano, and you remember why kids call going to the bathroom “tinkling.”

For many people, tinnitus vanishes when high-pitch loss is corrected.

This health tip is partly to alert you to a newly launched website, Hearing-aid.com , where you can learn more about hearing loss and take on online hearing test. If you find you’re in worse shape than you thought, for more than 30 years I’ve referred patients to Hearinghealthcenter.com, with offices all around Chicago, and have received only positive reviews.

And if you happen to be hard of hearing because you’re clogged with wax, at the very least you’ll leave their offices with freshly cleaned ears.

Leave a Comment


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops

**Winter Solstice Celebration: Drumming Circle and Shamanic Healing
Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 5:45-7:30pm
Katie OberlinHTCP/I
Healing Touch Certified Practitioner/Instructor
Fee: $55.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2018, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Please register online.
Call the Center for additional information at (773) 296-6700
More>>

Recent Health Tips

  • Making Sense of “Controversial” Diagnoses

    I’m warning you in advance. You’re entering a minefield here, with explosive views among seemingly conservative health care professionals. At least wear a helmet. Protective eyewear wouldn’t hurt either. You wouldn’t think a slew of conditions you’ve heard about (including chronic Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic Epstein-Barr, toxic mold syndrome, food sensitivities, intestinal dysbiosis, chronic inflammatory response syndrome, and mast cell activation syndrome) Read More

  • Getting Tough With Your Immune System

    No reasonable physician (I modestly include myself here) can refrain from crowing delightedly when a clinical study confirms the value of a treatment he or she had been using for years, even if that treatment had contradicted prevailing standards. Ever since I learned something about natural medicine, I’ve been reluctant to prescribe antibiotics for respiratory tract infections, such as colds, sore throats, and bronchitis. Many physicians had Read More

  • For A Longer Life…Stand Up Now!

    By far the most common answer to my question, “Exercising these days?” is “Not enough.” This is usually accompanied by the briefest flicker of melancholy regret, as if by such a confession my patient has permanently abandoned the hopes and dreams of both a svelte body and enviable longevity. “Don’t worry,” I say, “It’s just a temporary glitch. You’ll start up again.” (Nod, nod). I Read More

December Sale: 20% Off the UltraLux IV Light Box

Full Spectrum Solutions has been an industry leader for the past 20 years, offering therapeutic lighting that is made right here in the Midwest (Michigan). The UltraLux IV is the first and only LED light therapy unit on the market that is both fully adjustable. Unlike many of their competitors, they boast a high CRI rating (90+) and a lifetime warranty so you never have to purchase replacement bulbs again. Full spectrum light therapy is often recommended in cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to help make up for the sunlight that is missing from these shorter, winter days.

To learn more about and purchase the UltraLux IV, click here.

To see past Health Tips on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Dr. Edelberg’s recommendations, including a full spectrum light box like the UltraLux IV, click here.