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Noise levels louder than a shouting match can damage parts of our inner ears called hair cells.
A­When you hear exceptionally loud noises, your stereocilia become damaged and mistakenly keep sending sound information to the auditory nerve cells. Read on to find out exactly how something invisible like sound can harm our ears, how you can protect those precious hair cells and what happens when the ringing never stops.
Earwax, known as cerumen, is part of the ear’s natural process to keep dust and dirt from reaching the eardrum. Symptoms of earwax blockage include decreased or muffled hearing, dizziness, ear pain or ringing in the ears.
April 22, 2016 By Kelly Leave a Comment With the push of a button, a perfectly healthy 34-year-old museum-goer named Ugo Dumont was transformed into a confused 85-year-old man with cataracts, glaucoma and a ringing in his ears known as tinnitus. Dumont had volunteered at Liberty Science Center on Tuesday to don a computer-controlled exoskeleton that can be remotely manipulated to debilitate joints, vision and hearing and shared with the crowd what aging feels like decades before his time.
Headphones muffled his hearing while goggles left him with only peripheral vision due to macular degeneration while the suit’s joints were adjusted to simulate the stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis.
The Genworth Aging Experience is a traveling show created by Genworth Financial Inc., an insurance company, in partnership with Applied Minds, a design and engineering company, that allows museum visitors to feel first-hand the effects of aging. Genworth “brand ambassador” Candace Hammer, who narrated one demonstration of the aging suit, said the show’s aim is to build empathy and awareness of the challenges elderly people face in everyday situations. Ultimately that understanding may spark families to start conversations with 75 million baby boomers in the United States approaching retirement, nearly one-quarter of the population, about long-term care and how to pay for it, said a statement from Genworth, which sells long-term care insurance. There are limits to how deeply the suit immerses the wearer in the aging experience since it cannot simulate the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, the difficulty of urinating or not urinating, the trauma of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and so many other of the other miseries that can be hallmarks of aging. Still, even feeling just part of aging’s toll on the body had a dramatic effect not just on the volunteers who wore the suit but on audience members as well.


Robert Richards, 74, a retired publishing executive from Madison, New Jersey, said he now understood why his older golfing partners moved slowly. With him was his granddaughter, 8-year-old Maggie Richards of Mahwah, New Jersey, who said the “really cool” exhibit would change her behavior, too. Sign up to receive important alerts, updates and information from Senior Americans Association in your inbox.
In the case of rock concerts and fireworks displays, the ringing happens because the tips of some of your stereocilia actually have broken off. Normally, dust and dirt are trapped in the earwax, which then dries up and falls out of the ear. Mark Brown and Lindsay Young are otolaryngologists specializing in diseases and disorders of the head and neck, most commonly the ears, nose and throat. The 40-pound (18 kg) suit also gave Dumont a taste of the weight gain people typically experience as they age.
You just want to be in bed!” said Dumont, a photo agent who lives in the nearby New York City borough of Brooklyn. That includes everything from joints so stiff you cannot get the breakfast cereal off the shelf to trying to talk to someone in a noisy restaurant when a neurological condition known as aphasia sends words bouncing around in your head.
Sometimes you think, ‘Can’t you just get up there and do it?!'” said Richards, who has had one hip replaced, suffers partial hearing loss and wears contact lenses. The noises around you were muffled briefly, replaced with a buzzing inside your head, almost as if your ears were screaming.
When sound waves hit them, they convert those vibrations into electrical currents that our auditory nerves carry to the brain. When sound waves travel through the ears and reach the hair cells, the vibrations deflect off the stereocilia, causing them to move according to the force and pitch of the vibration.


But some people experience a build up of earwax, which causes a blockage that reduces hearing.
For more difficult cases, please contact our office and schedule an appointment to have one of our otolaryngologists remove your earwax build-up. Without hair cells, there is nothing for the sound to bounce off, like trying to make your voice echo in the desert. For instance, a melodic piano tune would produce gentle movement in the stereocilia, while heavy metal would generate faster, sharper motion. However, since you can grow these small tips back in about 24 hours, the ringing is often temporary [source: Preuss]. This motion triggers an electrochemical current that sends the information from the sound waves through the auditory nerves to the brain. Young, MD diagnose and treat head and throat problems such as sinusitis, sleep apnea, allergies, outer ear infections, dizziness, and laryngitis. For patients with hearing loss, state-of-the-art hearing aids and tinnitus treatment solutions are available.
Great Hills Ear, Nose and Throat is proud to provide patient-centered healthcare to the communities of Central Texas including Austin,the Arboretum, Georgetown, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Lakeway, Steiner Ranch, Westlake Hills, Bee Caves, Lago Vista and Point Venture.



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