Purging closets bursting with hideous ties reminded me of how difficult it is to “gift” a father with something of value on Father’s Day.
I had a very close relationship with my father and both grandfathers, who supported and protected me always. Fatherly and grandfatherly support is a profound gift for any daughter or granddaughter. I am eternally grateful for these mentors and wish their loving influence had persisted longer.
All my fathers had excellent longevity. But what could have helped them to live even longer, more engaged and fuller lives? Here is what I wish I had given them: Release from the need to appear to be consistently strong, self-sufficient and invincible. The ability to acknowledge and adapt to advancing age and associated infirmities and the courage to admit the inability to solve every problem alone. I wish I could have gifted them the willingness to seek and use help when indicated. To release them from a belief that seeking help means you are “less of a … ” whatever it is, that you feel you must always and consistently be, as a father and as a man.
The gift I would bestow on all fathers is the courage to address the curse that took the intellect of my father, one grandfather and my father-in-law: age-related hearing loss, also known as ARHL. Not being able to hear or properly process information made these men first defensive, then blameful, isolated and in denial.
Eventually it rendered them less companionable and less interesting to people around them, ignored and, ultimately, avoided by those who might have helped them prevent the dementia that resulted from ARHL.
More than 460 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., hearing loss affects one-third of those 65 to 74 years old and nearly half of those older than 75, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports. ARHL is the most common remediable cause of cognitive impairment, falls and depression. Johns Hopkins researchers found up to a fivefold increased risk in older adults of developing cognitive impairment, including dementia, when significant hearing impairment remains unaddressed.
Although I owe all of my education to my financially astute grandfather, his stubborn refusal to address hearing loss ultimately led to social isolation. As fresh memories faded, repetition of the same stories made him less engaging and, ultimately to some, the object of derision. The exact same denial in my once-gregarious father led to ostracism in his retirement community, contributing to his death by a stroke after multiple falls.
My even more sociable father-in-law developed a form of dementia that was completely surgically curable, but the hearing loss he refused to address made him so uninteresting to be around that no one realized what was happening until it was too late for surgery.
By contrast, my physician grandfather, who used hearing aids, practiced medicine until he died at 81.
If you have ARHL, you may be thinking, “If everyone would just come closer, put down their gadgets, look directly at me, stop mumbling and enunciate more clearly, there would be no problem.” Right?
Wrong. Incoming students in an audiology program were required to wear earplugs for their first three days. That first day, they could ask people to repeat what they had said. By the second, students noticed their interactions became shorter and terser. By the third, people actively began to avoid them. These “hearing impaired” students were essentially being isolated. This same sequence occurs even in close and long-term relationships, albeit more gradually.
If you are beginning to experience hearing loss, your loved ones are sympathetic and supportive at first. ARHL is a disability, and it’s probably not your fault. But as it becomes more difficult to make ourselves understood, we are less likely (when communication is not truly essential) to make an effort. If we’ve brought the hearing issue up many times before, and you do not respond, you begin to seem more stubborn than fragile. ARHL is easily addressed, and yet, to a loved one, your denial of it feels as if you don’t care about your own well-being, the health of our relationship or the happiness or even safety of those who love and may depend on you.
If your father is one of the 500 million worldwide with hearing loss, try this gift: Remind him that you love him dearly and want him as a trusted adviser for as long as humanly possible. Urge him to have his hearing tested and to get hearing aids if indicated. These devices are both effective and almost invisible, and effective alternatives are also available over-the-counter.
Honor your father by giving him this courage and love on Father’s Day.
Louise Andrew is a physician attorney and disability rights advocate who represents over 60,000 senior physician members of the American Medical Association.
Find out what causes allergies and how you can get them under control.
Anyone who has allergies deals with a lot of those same annoying symptoms: the constant sneezing, the red itchy eyes, and the runny nose. Of course, not everyone understands that their symptoms could be due to allergies. What are allergies, and how are they managed? Should you treat your allergies on your own or turn to an ENT doctor?
What is an allergy?
Did you know that allergies are one of the most common long-term disorders people deal with? When exposed to a certain allergen, your body tells you that this allergen is harmful and then goes to work to attack it. This means that your immune system kicks into overdrive and produces antibodies known as immunoglobulin E. An allergic reaction is your body’s natural inclination to overreact to this allergen.
There are many things to which you could be allergic, including,
- Pet dander
Allergy symptoms can range from mild to more severe and even life-threatening. If you suspect that your symptoms are due to allergies, an ENT doctor can quickly diagnose and create a treatment plan that will get you feeling better fast.
Allergy Treatment Options
The treatment you receive will depend on the type of allergy you have and the severity of your symptoms. You’ll be happy to hear that many allergy sufferers find relief through simple medications. Those with very mild symptoms may be able to get away with over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants (to fight nasal congestion).
Your ENT doctor may also prescribe more powerful antihistamines or nasal sprays if your symptoms are more moderate or severe. In some cases, a long-term allergy sufferer may finally choose to get allergy shots to significantly lessen the body’s response to a specific allergen.
Of course, there are also non-medicinal approaches to reducing your exposure to the offending allergen, and an otolaryngologist can offer great tips to reduce allergy exposure at home. Examples include bathing your trusty pet once a week and using allergy-proof bedding.
Don’t let allergies affect your daily life and the activities you love. If you find yourself staying indoors or avoiding things that make you happy for your allergies, it’s time you turn to an ENT doctor for treatment options.
If your child is suffering from conditions of the ear, nose, or throat, Dr. Silvio Marra offers pediatric ENT services in Oak Lawn, Lemont, and Orland Park serving the Orland Park, New Lenox, and Evergreen Park, IL, areas.
What Is Pediatric ENT?
Pediatric ENT is a field of practice that focuses on addressing conditions involving a child’s ears, nose, and throats. This is a specialized field as children’s biological structures are different from adults. Therefore, pediatric ENT specialists must train specifically on how to address children’s systems.
How Can Pediatric ENT Services Help My Child?
Dr. Marra treats many pediatric ENT conditions. However, some of the most common include ear and hearing problems, speech issues, language difficulties, trouble in the nasal or sinus areas, breathing problems, and chronic infections of the tonsils.
Perhaps the most common conditions treated with pediatric ENT care are allergies and ear infections. However, children who tend to snore or have sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea, also benefit from Dr. Marra’s care.
The specific ways in which Dr. Marra can help your child will depend on their condition and any concerns you set forth. Many conditions can be treated with prescription medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, and antibiotics. Some issues, such as hearing problems, might require the use of a device, like a hearing aid.
Surgery is also a possibility with some conditions. However, it will be saved as a last resort – only to be undertaken if other treatment options will not provide the desired results. Dr. Marra will discuss all potential treatment methods with you so that you can make an informed decision regarding your child’s health.
If your child is suffering from any problems in or around the ears, nose, or throat, it’s time to seek the help of pediatric ENT services. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Marra at (708) 460-0007. He is proud to provide these services to Oak Lawn, Lemont, and Orland Park serving the Orland Park, New Lenox, and Evergreen Park, IL, areas.
Dealing with a sinus infection? Dealing with them rather frequently? Feel like you’re constantly battling a sinus infection? If so, an ENT doctor can provide you with the appropriate treatment options, regardless of whether you are dealing with an acute or chronic infection. Here’s what you should know about treating your sinus infection,
You May Be Able to Treat it Yourself
If you are dealing with acute sinusitis you may be able to manage your symptoms on your own with saline nasal sprays, over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestants. If your sinus infection is due to allergies, you may be able to make simple lifestyle changes that can improve your allergies, which in turn can improve your infection. Other at-home sinusitis treatment options include,
- Drinking lots of water to flush out toxins
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom
- Applying warm compresses to the face
- Using a neti pot to flush out bacteria and germs from the sinuses
- Getting lots of rest
- Stocking up on vitamin C
- You aren’t sure if your symptoms are due to a sinus infection or something else
- Your symptoms are accompanied by a fever that lasts more than 3 days
- Your symptoms persist for more than 10 days
- Your symptoms are getting worse
- Your symptoms return
First and foremost, we need to determine what’s causing your infection and whether you’re dealing with an acute or chronic case. Acute cases may be treated with prescription-strength steroid and nasal sprays or oral allergy medications, while chronic sinusitis may require more intensive treatments. Chronic sinus infections may be caused by nasal polyps, a deviated septum or allergies, and it’s important to figure out the cause before we create a treatment plan. Chronic sinusitis is often treated with,
- Nasal, oral or injectable corticosteroids
- Medications used to shrink nasal polyps
- Immunotherapy (aka allergy shots)
- Balloon sinuplasty, a procedure that opens up blocked sinuses (an alternative to sinus surgery)
- Sinus surgery
Turn Down the Heat
Okay, so we know this isn’t going to be a popular tip for many people, but if you crank up the heat in your house this could be drying out your nose and leading to nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and other uncomfortable symptoms. If indoor heat is the culprit, we simply suggest turning down the temperature in the house and then wrapping up in more layers to compensate so you can still feel perfectly warm but without the dry, painful nose.
Apply Petroleum Jelly
This is another simple home remedy that most people have in their medicine cabinets already. Apply a very small amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of the nose to keep it moisturized. This shouldn’t be used regularly or for extended periods but can be helpful when you are dealing with a severely dry nose that needs immediate relief.
Use a Humidifier
A humidifier can certainly put moisture back into your home’s dry air, especially during the winter months when you have the heat running all day and night. Sleeping with a humidifier can improve the humidity and moisture in the room to give your poor dry nasal passages a bit of a soothing break.
Enjoy a Steam
Another way to open up nasal passages and soothe dry noses is by giving the nostrils a good old steam. You can do this by using your gym’s sauna room a few times a week or you can simply boil some water and place your face above the water to let the steam into the nostrils (cover your head with a towel to trap steam). A hot, steamy shower can also help.
Use Nasal Sprays
Over-the-counter saline nasal sprays can also be a great way to remove any dirt and germs that may be in the nasal passages while also keeping the nose wet. If you find yourself also battling congestion on top of a dry nose, saline nasal sprays can be a great option. Plus, unlike other types of nasal sprays, saline sprays can be used daily.
If you find yourself dealing with a severely dry nose that is cracking or leading to persistent nosebleeds, it may be a good time to consult with an ENT doctor who can provide you with more effective treatment options when home care just isn’t enough.
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