Tag Archives: voice

Avoid hearing loss: Check the decibels before entering a room

An estimated 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some form of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise at work or at play. That’s partly because our suburban and urban lifestyle has gotten louder, due to things like city traffic, a screeching subway, a football game, a loud bar or restaurant, or leaf blowers in the suburbs.  Research has also shown that the now ubiquitous practice of listening to music through earphones increases the risk of hearing loss. Aside from damaging hearing, loud noises are also associated with stress and symptoms of stress like hypertension and cardiovascular disease. As the noise level has increased, we’ve grown accustomed to the higher decibels, so it’s become difficult to know what is normal and what is too loud. According to the National Institutes of Health, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before noise-induced hearing loss can occur. Regular exposure to more than one minute of 110 decibels or more risks permanent hearing loss. Less than 75 decibels is generally considered safe. Now to put that into perspective: Normal conversation is approximately 60 decibels, heavy city traffic can reach 85 decibels, stadium noise can roar to 120 decibels, a rock concert or symphony orchestra can reach 110 decibels, a snowmobile generates 100 decibels, and a movie hovers at 85 – but can have 100 decibel peaks. A good way of gauging high decibels is if you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone sitting or standing nearby; this is not uncommon in noisy restaurants, bars or at a concert. If the noise hurts your ears, it’s also a sign that it’s too loud. To get a more accurate reading on sound, you can download an app that can quickly measure decibels. “If you think something’s loud, you can pick up the phone and see just how loud it is,” said Dr. Annette Hurley, associate professor of communications disorders at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.   Walk into a restaurant, quickly test the decibels, and go somewhere else if it registers above 75. If you feel like being an advocate for all patrons, you can bring it to the attention of the restaurant owner, who may be able to lower the decibels simply by turning down the background music. If you’re going to a concert or other noisy venue, take earplugs to dampen the sound. Here are a few apps that Dr. Hurley recommends:  - dB Volume Meter - TooLoud? - deciBel It’s also a good idea to set maximum decibels on your personal listening device. If you’re trying to hear your music in a place that’s already noisy, it’s easy to inadvertently turn up the volume to damaging levels. Make sure it’s set below 85 decibels, recommended Dr. Hurley.Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She has authored several health books, including “Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility.” Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/11/avoid-hearing-loss-check-decibels-before-entering-room/

Vocal cord paralysis: Explaining Google CEO Larry Page’s rare condition

Earlier this week, Google CEO Larry Page finally revealed the reason behind his soft, hoarse-sounding voice: he suffers from a rare condition called vocal cord paralysis Though Page was able to speak on Wednesday at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference, he recently wrote on his Google Plus profile that he has struggled with vocal cord paralysis for the past 14 years. Page said he was first diagnosed with paralysis in his left vocal cord after a bad cold. However, his condition worsened last summer when his right vocal cord also became paralyzed. Experiencing paralysis in both vocal cords is extremely uncommon, according to Dr. Nicole Maronian, director of the Voice Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, who did not treat Page for his condition. “Since I’ve been in practice, since 1998, it’s been one patient. Having it affect both vocal cords, it’s pretty rare,” Maronian told FoxNews.com. Normal vocal cords open and then close completely every time they are stimulated by the nerves. “They have to close in a tight line to get the kind of strong voice out that you and I have today,” Maronian said. But when vocal cords become paralyzed, they are not able to close completely, leaving a gap.  “If there’s a gap, air starts leaking through, and you start sounding breathy, softer,” Maronian explained.   In addition to hoarseness, patients with this paralysis can also experience shortness of breath due to air leaking through the gap between the vocal cords. “They often get a little bit high-pitched, trying to project or pitch the voice. They get short of breath because of all that air leaking out, or have trouble getting full sentences out because of the air leaking out,” Maronian said. Some patients even experience aspiration, when recently swallowed fluids leak through the space in between the vocal cords. Aspiration can lead to coughing symptoms or even “aspiration pneumonia, which has significant morbidity and mortality,” Maronian said. While the paralysis is typically thought to be caused by a viral infection, such as a cold, pneumonia or bronchitis, other factors may be to blame as well.   “Lots of things can affect the nerve: A virus, compression from a thyroid issue, other things like cancer, (or) surgeries where the nerve is ether stretched or pulled,” Maronian said. Page disclosed that he was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in 2008, an inflammation of the thyroid gland, which may or may not affect his vocal cord paralysis. “Sometimes the thyroid gets big which can compress the nerve and push on it. Usually though, the gland burns out and gets small and the nerve compression issue isn’t a piece of it anymore,” Maronian said. Recovery time for vocal cord paralysis can vary. Some patients rebound within months, while others take much longer to heal, Maronian noted. Depending on the needs of the patient, doctors can offer several treatment options for vocal cord paralysis. Patients can wait and see if the condition improves on its own, but many opt for vocal cord injections or surgical procedures to achieve faster relief and recovery. “In the office or operation room, we can (inject) a material next to the vocal cord that pushes it into a more natural position, so it can get closure. (We then) watch and hope it recovers on its own,” Maronian said. Page said in his statement that he plans to “fund a significant research program” through the Vocal Health Institute, led by Dr. Steven Zeitels from the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Voice Center.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/16/vocal-cord-paralysis-explaining-google-ceo-larry-pages-rare-condition/