A Ringing Epidemic Growing with the Use of Electronics

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As consumers spend more time using hand-held electronics, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is becoming more widespread.

Ear picture

Therefore, the less fluids retained in the body, the less opportunity there is for them to mix in the inner ear.

An estimated 50 million people suffer from some degree of tinnitus that ranges from mild to severe -- so severe that it can have a huge impact on one's life. While the cause of tinnitus is not fully understood, experts say that it may be the result of an injury to the hearing mechanism caused by a sudden loud noise/explosion or repeated and prolonged exposure to loud noises (loud music, occupational exposure, etc.) Until recently, tinnitus was experienced mostly by those over 50.

However, "With the increased use of the newest devices that stream loud sounds directly into the ear, such as iPods, hands-free phones, etc., the growing epidemic of ear ringing is becoming a more widespread problem among younger people -- one that isn't going away anytime soon," explains Andrew Cheng, M.D., an otolaryngologist and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at New York Medical College.

Here are Dr. Cheng's tips to help protect your ears from developing tinnitus:

  • Turn It Down!: If your iPod ear buds seem permanently attached to your head, do yourself a favor and have a friend stand next to you while you're plugged in. "If your friend can hear the sound through your earphones, you've got the volume turned up way too loud," says Dr. Cheng. And remember to keep the volume on your car radio at a moderate level, too. Being exposed to too loud music or noise will eventually take its toll on your hearing, so he advises everyone to "turn it down."
  • Plug It Up: If your work or hobbies expose you to loud noises, get into the habit of wearing ear plugs. "Constant exposure to very loud noises may eventually cause permanent damage to your hearing," explains Dr. Cheng. "Even if you're exposed to really loud noise for a short time, such as a rock concert, your hearing may be muffled or you might experience ringing in your ears. Usually, this is temporary, and your ears will go back to normal, but every instance causes damage and, if done frequently, you increase your odds of hearing issues, including tinnitus," adds Dr. Cheng. "While ear plugs might not be a fashion statement, it's best to protect your ears when you know there will be loud noises because once hearing damage occurs, what you've lost can never be recovered."

What to do if you have tinnitus? Dr. Cheng offers this advice:

  • Control Blood Pressure - If you suffer from high blood pressure and you have tinnitus, now you have another reason why you should control your pressure. "If you are taking medicine for high blood pressure, you should be diligent about it," advises Dr. Cheng.
  • Decrease salt intake - When trying to minimize or lessen the intensity of tinnitus, most physicians will suggest eliminating sodium as the first step in the management of tinnitus (since sodium retains fluids). "In some cases, tinnitus results when the fluids of the inner ear mix," explains Dr. Cheng. "Therefore, the less fluids retained in the body, the less opportunity there is for them to mix in the inner ear." Reduce or eliminate salt in the diet, paying close attention to the sodium content on the labels of the foods you eat and beverages you drink.
  • Dietary Supplements - Dr. Cheng has been recommending lipoflavonoid a nutritional supplement that contains the B complex group of vitamins in a base of lipotropic agents, such as choline, inositol and pantothenic acid, plus vitamin C and bioflavonoids. "Many of my patients with tinnitus have had success with Lipo-Flavonoid, which provides nutritional support to improve circulation in the inner ear for overall ear health." "The exact formulation of ingredients in Lipo-Flavonoid has been tested numerous times in clinical studies on humans and the results have demonstrated relief and improvement in the tinnitus," says Dr. Cheng.
  • Avoid nerve stimulants (caffeine & nicotine) - "Nicotine and caffeine constrict your blood vessels, increasing the speed of blood flow through your veins and arteries," explains Dr. Cheng. "Caffeine is one of the most common tinnitus aggravators and should be very limited or completely eliminated." Coffee, teas, caffeinated colas, and chocolate all contain significant amounts of caffeine capable of constricting blood flow in the ear.
  • Cover up the noise - Tinnitus is usually more bothersome when the surroundings are quiet, especially when going to sleep. "A competing sound, such as a ticking clock, a radio, a fan or a white noise machine may help mask tinnitus by creating a special environment," advises Dr. Cheng. For some people, tinnitus maskers -- devices similar in appearance to hearing aids that produce a pleasant noise -- may help, too, since the quiet of silence can actually seem loud to tinnitus sufferers.
  • Acupuncture - Some tinnitus sufferers have found relief in alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.
  • Avoid Stress - Stress can make tinnitus worse. "Stress management, whether through relaxation therapy, biofeedback or exercise, may provide some relief, not to mention be beneficial to your overall health," advises Dr. Cheng.

Visit http://www.stopearringing.com for additional information about tinnitus and Lipo-Flavonoid®.


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Laura Giardina
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