Monday, March 11, 2019

Good hearing essential to physical and emotional well-being

To gluten or not to gluten? That is the question that millions of Americans are now asking themselves. You can’t walk into a grocery store or restaurant these days without having to choose between one or the other. The signs are everywhere. “Certified gluten-free” this and “100% gluten free” that. “Hold the gluten” here and “gluten warning” there. Dizzying displays of gluten-free products on store shelves and café counters. What is going on?
Products, products, everywhere but not a drop of gluten

There is no doubt that the recent explosion of available gluten-free foods has been a godsend for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks a protein called gluten. Gluten is found in many grains like wheat, barley, and rye, and if consumed it can lead to widespread inflammation in the gut and debilitating pain. Patients can also develop joint pain, fatigue, and anemia, and if left untreated the condition can be life-threatening. The treatment is to avoid all foods with gluten, which can be incredibly difficult given how much grain is in the typical American diet.

But why the recent obsession with going gluten-free in America? Is it because there has been a sudden rise in the number of people with celiac disease? Or is it just the latest diet craze that has turned into a multi-billion-dollar business?

Scientists at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School wanted to find out, so they looked at data on 22,278 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2009 to 2014. They found that while the prevalence of celiac disease remained fairly stable over those five years, the number of people who followed a gluten-free diet without having celiac disease more than tripled.
Is going gluten free (if you don’t have to) good for you?

That means that there are lots of people who don’t carry the diagnosis of celiac disease who are buying gluten-free products. But why? The researchers suggest that some gluten-free consumers may not have celiac disease but may have gluten sensitivity, and notice that when they eliminate gluten they feel better. That’s certainly understandable.

But there also appears to be a significant number of people who think gluten-free foods are healthier. Truth is, they’re not. I have interviewed experts in the field who say for the average person who doesn’t have gluten issues, gluten-free foods may actually be less healthy than the real thing. They may contain more sugar and fat to make them taste better and you miss out on some nutrients by avoiding whole grains in your diet.

And while gluten-free foods are more palatable than they were 10 years ago, they often don’t taste that good. Plus, gluten-free products tend to be more expensive.

So if gluten doesn’t make you sick and gluten-free foods can be less healthy, taste bad, and cost more, next time you’re faced with the question of whether to gluten or not to gluten, you might be wiser to reach for the whole grain bread.
There are a lot of old wives’ tales when it comes to pregnancy. If you have heartburn, it means the baby will have a lot of hair. If the baby’s heartbeat is under 140, you are having a boy. If you have nausea and vomiting, you won’t have a miscarriage.
The first two are myths. A recent study suggests that last one may be true.
Over three-quarters of women report nausea with or without vomiting in early pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy can wreak havoc on a woman’s well-being and quality of life. Many have speculated that nausea is a good sign that indicates a healthy pregnancy, but until now, solid evidence supporting this notion was lacking.
A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine sheds new light on this issue. This study was powerful because patients were enrolled before conception, and they recorded symptoms of nausea and vomiting even before they knew they were pregnant. This study design is known as a prospective, preconception cohort. Women who participated in the study had either one or two prior pregnancy losses. Nearly two-thirds of women reported nausea by the eighth week of pregnancy, and over a quarter had both nausea and vomiting. Nausea alone or nausea with vomiting was associated with a 50% to 75% reduction in the risk of pregnancy loss.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is often called “morning sickness,” but is better termed “all day sickness” since it can occur at any time, including at night. Typically it starts by eight weeks of pregnancy and goes away by the second trimester. For a few unlucky women, it lasts for several weeks or months.
Diet and lifestyle changes can help alleviate it. Most women find eating toast or crackers first thing in the morning, even before getting out of bed, is a good trick, since an empty stomach makes nausea worse. Similarly, nibbling crackers periodically, so called “grazing,” drinking fluids, and eating small, frequent meals instead of three large meals can also help. Ginger (ginger ale or tea made from real ginger, or ginger candy chews) has been shown to ease nausea. Vitamin B6 supplements and doxylamine, a medication found in over-the-counter sleep aids, can help. A prescription drug that combines vitamin B6 and doxylamine is available. These have been found to be safe to take during pregnancy. Your health care provider can also recommend prescription anti-nausea drugs if these measures don’t help.
The news that nausea and vomiting is a positive sign may provide reassurance and help women experiencing tFor many years, it was clear that my father was becoming hard of hearing. Normally gregarious and the life of the party, he became increasingly withdrawn because he couldn’t hear well enough to partake in conversations around the table. He began to walk with a shuffling gait. He was declining in front of my eyes. And yet, when we communicated by email, his intellectual curiosity and warm storytelling skills were intact. But in person, he seemed to be fading away.

After considerable prodding, I convinced him to get a pair of custom hearing aids. The transformation was amazing. At a family reunion a month later, there was my father sitting at the breakfast table, regaling everybody with stories of his mischievous childhood. He was, once again, the center of attention. Gone was the shuffling walk, replaced by a strong, confident stride. From the withdrawn, quiet man who would sit by himself emerged my funny, animated father who told stories, laughed, and played jokes. He could hear his children and grandchildren. The dad I remembered as a child came back to us.

This story, and so many just like it, are about changing the public conversation on hearing to show how people who experience hearing loss can move from fear and denial to aging gracefully, with resilience, joy, and health.
The health benefits of hearing well

We should be talking about what I saw: the profound impact that hearing well can have on the living. We should be talking about what is gained by hearing well — social interaction, family connection, and workplace productivity — not about what is lost. Hearing loss is not a stand-alone disability. It is linked to everything we do every single day.

Surprisingly, many of us wait seven to 10 years before even acknowledging we are having trouble hearing and get a hearing aid. Why? For some of us it’s denial, or fear of looking old; for others the hearing loss is so gradual we might not be aware of the insidious progression of it. In fact, more Americans report getting a colonoscopy than a hearing test!

Yet, failing to get hearing tested and corrected early may actually contribute to aging faster. Hearing loss is associated with earlier onset of dementia, earlier mortality, and six times the rate of falls compared to those with normal hearing. Contributing to these negative health consequences is the isolation, the loss of interactive communication with others due to inability to hear clearly. This results in loneliness, which is known to have a negative health impact equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Moreover, when the input is diminished, the brain loses the ability to distinguish sounds, which means having to “re-learn” to hear when she or he finally gets a hearing aid.
Having a conversation about hearing loss

Instead of hearing loss, think about what you gain when you hear, allowing you to live life to the fullest. Life is about keeping the critical ability to stay connected to family and friends. A recent study found that for Americans 65 and older, hearing loss had a greater impact on life than cardiac disease, stroke, osteoporosis, sciatica, cancer, and many other common conditions.

My dad’s transformation was an “aha” moment for me — as a daughter and a doctor. I’ve since learned that hearing loss, which can be alleviated fairly easily, is a largely hidden problem, even as it affects many. One in three people 60-plus and two-thirds of people 70-plus have hearing loss. Among baby boomers, 15% are already affected. And a few years ago it was reported that 12% to 15% of school-age children have some degree of hearing loss, with the highest incidence among teens.

These numbers are hardly surprising given our routine exposure to rock concerts, sports stadiums, car stereos, earbuds, traffic jams, jet engines, and the like. Hearing loss is no longer a marker of age. It’s here now and it’s something many of us will experience sooner than we expect. As a result, we can’t stress enough the importance of protecting our hearing and preventing hearing loss from the loud noises in our environment — and getting one’s hearing tested early.
What matters to people when they talk about hearing loss?

Sixty-one percent of AARP members indicated that hearing loss made it hard to follow conversations in noisy settings, while 44% noted the impact hearing difficulties can have on relationships with friends and family. Roughly two-thirds said they would get a hearing test if hearing loss hurt their relationships with family, and 59% said they would be tested if it became a burden on the family.

Think about my dad’s story. What’s more powerful and positive — talking about what hearing loss sounds like or talking about how better hearing helps people regain that edge and enjoy life?

Your own hearing loss story may still be down the road. But remember that early screening, early testing, and early intervention mean you won’t lose your all-important relationships with friends and family. And you’ll never miss the birds chirping outside your window.hese difficult symptoms in pregnancy to endure them, knowing light is at the end of the tunnel. For many years, it was clear that my father was becoming hard of hearing. Normally gregarious and the life of the party, he became increasingly withdrawn because he couldn’t hear well enough to partake in conversations around the table. He began to walk with a shuffling gait. He was declining in front of my eyes. And yet, when we communicated by email, his intellectual curiosity and warm storytelling skills were intact. But in person, he seemed to be fading away.

After considerable prodding, I convinced him to get a pair of custom hearing aids. The transformation was amazing. At a family reunion a month later, there was my father sitting at the breakfast table, regaling everybody with stories of his mischievous childhood. He was, once again, the center of attention. Gone was the shuffling walk, replaced by a strong, confident stride. From the withdrawn, quiet man who would sit by himself emerged my funny, animated father who told stories, laughed, and played jokes. He could hear his children and grandchildren. The dad I remembered as a child came back to us.

This story, and so many just like it, are about changing the public conversation on hearing to show how people who experience hearing loss can move from fear and denial to aging gracefully, with resilience, joy, and health.
The health benefits of hearing well

We should be talking about what I saw: the profound impact that hearing well can have on the living. We should be talking about what is gained by hearing well — social interaction, family connection, and workplace productivity — not about what is lost. Hearing loss is not a stand-alone disability. It is linked to everything we do every single day.

Surprisingly, many of us wait seven to 10 years before even acknowledging we are having trouble hearing and get a hearing aid. Why? For some of us it’s denial, or fear of looking old; for others the hearing loss is so gradual we might not be aware of the insidious progression of it. In fact, more Americans report getting a colonoscopy than a hearing test!

Yet, failing to get hearing tested and corrected early may actually contribute to aging faster. Hearing loss is associated with earlier onset of dementia, earlier mortality, and six times the rate of falls compared to those with normal hearing. Contributing to these negative health consequences is the isolation, the loss of interactive communication with others due to inability to hear clearly. This results in loneliness, which is known to have a negative health impact equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Moreover, when the input is diminished, the brain loses the ability to distinguish sounds, which means having to “re-learn” to hear when she or he finally gets a hearing aid.
Having a conversation about hearing loss

Instead of hearing loss, think about what you gain when you hear, allowing you to live life to the fullest. Life is about keeping the critical ability to stay connected to family and friends. A recent study found that for Americans 65 and older, hearing loss had a greater impact on life than cardiac disease, stroke, osteoporosis, sciatica, cancer, and many other common conditions.

My dad’s transformation was an “aha” moment for me — as a daughter and a doctor. I’ve since learned that hearing loss, which can be alleviated fairly easily, is a largely hidden problem, even as it affects many. One in three people 60-plus and two-thirds of people 70-plus have hearing loss. Among baby boomers, 15% are already affected. And a few years ago it was reported that 12% to 15% of school-age children have some degree of hearing loss, with the highest incidence among teens.

These numbers are hardly surprising given our routine exposure to rock concerts, sports stadiums, car stereos, earbuds, traffic jams, jet engines, and the like. Hearing loss is no longer a marker of age. It’s here now and it’s something many of us will experience sooner than we expect. As a result, we can’t stress enough the importance of protecting our hearing and preventing hearing loss from the loud noises in our environment — and getting one’s hearing tested early.
What matters to people when they talk about hearing loss?

Sixty-one percent of AARP members indicated that hearing loss made it hard to follow conversations in noisy settings, while 44% noted the impact hearing difficulties can have on relationships with friends and family. Roughly two-thirds said they would get a hearing test if hearing loss hurt their relationships with family, and 59% said they would be tested if it became a burden on the family.

Think about my dad’s story. What’s more powerful and positive — talking about what hearing loss sounds like or talking about how better hearing helps people regain that edge and enjoy life?

Your own hearing loss story may still be down the road. But remember that early screening, early testing, and early intervention mean you won’t lose your all-important relationships with friends and family. And you’ll never miss the birds chirping outside your window.

No comments:

Leave a comment