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'wellness' posts

Protect your ears during summer fun and work

Summertime means that we residents of the beautiful Northwest will be outside as much as we possibly can.  There are two potential sources of damage to our ears which are of greater concern during the summer.

First, our ears are subject to sunburn.  Many of the hats we wear do not protect the ears from damaging exposure to sunlight.  Consider wearing a hat with a brim that extends completely around the head, rather than the baseball type hat which many of us wear.  Also, remember to apply sunscreen to the ears.  It is easy to forget them. 

Secondly, summertime means increased exposure to noise from yard maintenance tools or other power tools.  Injurious levels of noise are produced by almost every power saw, power sander, nail gun, weed eater, leaf blower, roto-tiller, power washer, and shop vac.  Ear plugs....

Three summer safety tips

Summer is a wonderful time of year to be active outdoors. Sunny days provide so many fun activities for children to get exercise and stay healthy. While enjoying the warm weather, it’s important to be aware of potential injuries and take the necessary precautions to keep kids safe. Here are three summer safety tips to keep in mind:

Helmets

Kids should always wear a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard, scooter or in-line skates. Helmets can prevent traumatic brain injury and save lives!  A child should wear a helmet on short or long rides (no one can ever predict when an injury may occur).

Make sure the helmet meets safety standards and fits appropriately.  The helmet should be worn level on the head, covering the forehead.  The strap should be tightened enough to allow only two fingers between the chin and strap.  As a parent, make sure to be a good role model for your child and wear a helmet.

Open Windows

It is common to open windows during hot days to allow for cool fresh air.  For kids, the screen is a misleading barrier between the indoors and outdoors.  Screens are meant to pop off easily in the case of an emergency.  A child leaning against a screen ...

4 tips to prevent injuries in sports

How do you prevent sports related injuries? Here are four tips:

Manage diabetes to help prevent stroke

Did you know that 6.2 million people in the U.S. are unaware that they have diabetes?

Stroke risk is two-and-a-half times higher in people with diabetes compared to those without diabetes and, in combination with heart disease, is the #1 cause of death and disability.

Here are some tips to help optimize your health:

  • Does anyone in your family have diabetes?  Talk to your healthcare provider, it may be necessary for you to be tested regularly. They will also have information about lifestyle changes that may help you stay healthy.
  • Do you have diabetes yourself?  Work with your healthcare provider to ....

The Real Deal with Omega 3s

It’s that season again! The time when Seattleites will shell out upwards of $30-40 per pound of the magnificent creature we know as the Copper River salmon. What’s so amazing about this humble little fish that keeps us coming back for more?

Fat.

Omega-3 fatty acids, to be precise. Copper River salmon is prized for its high body fat content, which is used to fuel their 300 mile trek to their spawning destinations. Omega-3 fatty acids not only provide delicious, rich flavor but are also essential for human health. These include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found almost exclusively in fish. EPA and DHA are labeled “essential” as the human body cannot manufacture them itself therefore they must be derived from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for vital functions of the human body to promote a longer and healthier life.

EPA fatty acids provide great heart health benefits:

  • Stabilizes abnormal heart rhythms to regular rates
  • Decreases ....

What is Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD)?

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is one of the more confounding and misunderstood conditions of the voice.  With this condition the vocal cords and supporting structures may be healthy but they are working too hard.  MTD is caused by the throat muscles being too tight and out of balance with the rest of the voice production system.  The person with MTD may feel that it takes more effort to talk and their voice gets worse the more they talk.  Many patients may feel a soreness of their neck, throat and often their shoulders. Sometimes MTD may develop in trying to compensate for a weak vocal fold or a vocal fold lesion.

MTD is characterized by the following:

  • Voice that sounds rough, hoarse, gravely, or raspy
  • Voice that sounds weak, breathy, airy, or is only a whisper
  • Voice that sounds strained, pressed, squeezed, tight, or tense
  • Voice that suddenly cuts out, breaks off, changes pitch, or fades away
  • Voice that “gives out” or becomes weaker the longer the voice is used
  • Pitch that is too high or too low
  • Difficulty singing notes that used to be easy
  • Pain or tension in the throat when speaking or singing
  • Feeling like the throat is tired when speaking or singing
  • Voice that may sound normal sometimes, such as during laughing or coughing

Once an otolaryngologist has examined you and diagnosed you with MTD, you will typically be referred to a speech pathologist for voice therapy.  In some cases there may be some underlying physical or emotional stress contributing to the dysphonia.  Our voices are very emotional instruments and help to convey a spectrum of emotions including happiness, sadness and anger.  “I’m all choked up” is more than just a figure of speech.  As such, you may ...

Hearing loss in the workplace

Hearing loss is a term that many associate with an aging population. For some it may trigger memories of large, obvious and obtrusive hearing aids or devices that squealed!  This is not the reality in 2013.  A look at the individuals I see every day as an audiologist reveals a large number of employed professionals who are encountering difficulty in work environments.  From telephone work to conference and lunch meetings, hearing loss is impacting our workforce.

The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that nearly 1 in 5 Americans between the ages of 45-64 years of age experience hearing loss.  The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age and with an aging workforce that includes many working well into their 70s, it should be noted that the incidence of hearing loss increases to 1 in 3 for Americans between the ages of 65-74 years of age.  We now have a culture of employment that includes unique viewpoints from four generations working side by side.   Many of us are aware that intergenerational communication styles may vary.  It would behoove us to also consider hearing loss as we think about intergenerational communication in the workplace. 

Individuals who work in a quiet or solitary environment may “get by” with their hearing loss. However, most individuals will encounter much more complex listening environments at work. Imagine if you had hearing loss and were required to listen in the following environments:

  • Working in a cubicle environment where colleagues speak from behind or speak over/through walls.
  • Participating in conference calls and telephone calls in which there are no visual cues to supplement the speaker’s voice.
  • Participating in conference room meetings where distance can create a barrier in the ability to hear individuals around the table.
  • Listening to individuals with ...
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