All about EARS!

02005-07-25 | Uncategorized | 6 comments

Interesting Monday! I have learned a lot. Went to my Santa Fe audiologist to get new ear-impressions. I have had my IEMs (In Ear Monitors) since 1994 and since ears continue to grow throughout our lives these don’t seal off sound well enough anymore… therefore I have to get new ear-impressions so that new IEM molds can be made.

My audiologist tells me I have a little wax build-up in my right ear. Not enough to influence my hearing, but enough to make a good ear impression impossible. She sets me up with an appointment at Southwest Ear, Nose and Throat to remove the wax.

Here is where it gets really interesting. A very nice doctor finds wax in both ears and removes it with suction and a microsope, a little loud but not at all uncomfortable. I ask him about the kits one can buy for wax removal. He tells me that they can work in some cases, but that Santa Fe with its dry climate tends to be a little more difficult in that respect. Some of the kits use Hydrogen Peroxide‘s bubbling action to losen the wax… but Hydrogen Peroxide also drys out the skin and the wax and can make it therefore harder to remove the wax. This doctor suggests putting a drop or two of olive oil in your ear every week. It keeps the skin lubricated and also moisturizes the wax which when soft can easily be disposed off by the ear – naturally.

But wait, I learned even more. The doctor asks me whether I have Tinnitus. I tell him that I have a very small amount in my left ear, stemming from a 15% hearing loss probably due to standing to the right of the drummer during my Eighties rockband days… He explains to me that Tinnitus is actually my brain trying to fill in the blank that the ear doesn’t seem to deliver. In other words, let’s say you have hearing damage in the upper register – the brain detects that there are some high frequencies missing and apparently fills in that spectrum with noise. The doctor explains that Tinnitus is a little bit like an amputee feeling an itch in their missing toe or leg… it’s only in the mind/nervous system.

In a few minutes I have to leave to go back to my audiologist to get the ear impressions made. But first let me make these suggestions:

••• Use hearing protection! Buy noise filters, not plugs. This is what you want, especially if you are a musician! They are molded to your ear and reduce the sound across the spectrum – so you don’t lose only the highs! I have used ER 25s for about 10 years and they are great. Very useful on the plane, on the bus, at concerts etc…
••• If you live in a dry climate, lubricate your ears with a weekly drop of oil.
••• Have a doctor remove any wax build-up in your ears. They know what they are doing and with the equipment they have it is fast and painless…

But wait, there is more! OTOSCOPE is an instrument for examining the interior of the ear, consisting essentially of a magnifying lens and a light. HERE is a picture. Oto– or ot- are prefixes for things to do with the ear. Ear: otology. From the Greek ous, ōt-, ear. So, doesn’t that mean that OTO means SOUND in Japanese and EAR in Greek. Interesting, yes? Hey, OTOSCOPE would be a great name for a band or a studio, meaning EarScope OR SoundScope… Feel free to use it as I will stick with OTO-MARE. Back for more ear fun!!!

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  1. Just Me

    Ottmar, you are truly a treasure trove of knowledge!!!

  2. Eno

    This post has been removed by the author.

  3. Eno

    You’re being very ear-responsible :)

  4. Borya

    Indeed, Heather. Hmm, an audiologist. Never thought of visiting one. But maybe I should since my ability to hear is better than the others I have and yet it’s overlaid as well with a slight tinnitus.

  5. Gnome of the Garden

    Only you could make this appointment an adventure!

    Just a tip, youngest daughter had serious ear problems as a young child, which led to quite a speech impedement. All corrected of course!
    Specialist, recomended for life, alternating between , any type of oil or drops, and hydrogen peroxide and flushing the ear’s monthly. Its a ritual that works!


  6. Matthew Davidson

    Etymotic filters enabled me to enjoy live concerts. Noise plugs provide protection, but kill the frequency response so everything sounds awful. Filters simply attenuate all frequencies more or less evenly, so everything is softer.

    The nice thing about the Etymoic filters is you can quickly replace the buttons that are the filters themselves to achieve the desired level of attenuation.

    I discovered some interesting things about using filters:

    1) My ears distort at high SPLs. I though the sound reinforcement was distorting, but we have technology that can deliver very high SPLs with low distortion. I pop in the filters and – poof – the distortion is gone. Freaky. Why do concerts have to be so loud?

    2) The filters actually increased intelligibility in certain contexts. The ambient noise at trade shows really stresses me, so one time I tried using my Etymotic filters. It helped a lot, but the thing I did not expect is I could hear conversation better. I guess the filters lowered the noise floor and our ears are most sensitive to the frequency range of the human voice, so volia! Intelligibility without strain and less stress at the end of the day.



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