EIC Social Media Team
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Which Ear Do You Use When Taking a Call?
Really, it is your brain that makes the decision rather than which ear you favor or which hand you prefer to hold your phone with. The reason is because of the way that your ears connect to your brain.
Believe it or not, the speech center of the brain can be on either side. The fact is, however, for nearly 19 out of 20 of us, this is on the left side. Brain hemispheres coordinate with the opposite side of the body. This accounts for why the majority of people are both right handed and talk with the phone held up to their right ear.
Researchers intend to use this information in a number of ways. For example, for many years, there have been concerns over the connection between cell phone use and brain tumors. Since the majority of people hold cell phones to their right ear, you would expect more brain tumors to be focused on that side. So far, researchers are seeing that the only factor that really connects cell phone use and brain tumors is the sheer amount of phone use. Neck cancer does not seem to be related to cell phone use.
Another phenomenon that researchers are looking into is the fact that people use their right hand as well as their right ear. For a right handed person, this seems to make little sense, since they are tying up their dominant hand, which could be used for note-taking or other activities.
5,000 individuals were a part of a study that involved cell phone use and which side of the brain a person’s speech center was on. The individuals were already undergoing tests to determine the location of their speech center for one reason or another. The results were then compared to a survey in which individuals revealed which ear they usually hold their phone to. In the study, 68% percent of people who favored their right hand also favored their right ear for phone calls. For lefties, 72% stuck to their dominant side. The study didn’t just show that a person wanted to use their dominant hand, but that they wanted to use the ear the correlated with the dominant side of their brain.
The Difficulty in Diagnosing Voice Problems
There are many people who rely on a consistent voice to make a living. Performers need to sound the same on stage, night after night; just as they do in the recording studio, take after take. Voice actors need to sound the same in every episode they record. Television stars have to sound the same from week to week. But the arts aren’t the only jobs that require a consistent voice. Lawyers need to be able to speak convincingly and at an audible volume day after day in court. Teachers need to be heard by their classes. Public speakers also rely on their voice, and the list goes on and on. So what happens when voice issues start to occur? Diagnosing the issue quickly can be very difficult.
The fact is that there are a large number of conditions that can cause voice changes, and not all of those underlying causes are physical. True, diseases, cysts, muscle tension, or nodules may be to blame. It is also possible, however, for the voice issues to be psychological. In fact, anxiety is a frequent cause of vocal changes. So what are the keys to diagnosis?
Often, the combination of an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) and a therapist will be used to make a faster diagnosis. The ear, nose, and throat doctor will look for physical damage and obstructions to the vocal chords using a stroboscopy, or other tests that measure the acoustics of the vocal chords. The therapist will probe for signs of a psychological cause of the vocal issues.
Individuals who suffer from voice problems generally need a personalized solution due to the sheer variety of potential causes of the problem. A combination of medications, surgery, or therapy may be the solution to your problem, and the key to getting your voice back to where your job needs it to be.
Men With Attractive Body Types Also Have Less Nasal Bacteria
Adding insult to injury, men with body types that are considered more traditionally attractive also seem to have less nasal bacteria than more heavyset men. A recent study seems to have proved that body mass index (BMI) is somehow linked to nasal pathogens in the male gender.
The study included 90 men and over 100 women. All were in good health at the time of the study. While weights were taken from the patient on the honor system, the researchers actually measured the hip and waist circumferences of participants to get a fairly accurate BMI.
Researchers actually performed the test from an evolutionary stand point. The idea of survival of the fittest would presuppose that the more attractive members of a species should also be the healthiest, thus producing the best offspring. The results of the test were mixed. While traditionally attractive men had fewer bacteria in their nasal passages, BMI seemed to have no connection with nasal health in the women.
A study of this nature may never have been conducted before that specifically tried to link physical attractiveness with health. Of course, the hypothesis cannot be confirmed by this test since the results were only as expected in the male gender.
Throat and nose swabs were used on the participants to check their passageways for six particular pathogens. When it came to the men, it seemed that the higher a person’s BMI was, the more these bacteria had colonized the area. The actual reasons for the link are still unknown, since in this particular case, the researchers really were just trying to link good looks and good health.
So what does all this mean? Well guys, it looks like if want better nasal health, one of the keys may be hitting the gym and following up on your New Year’s resolution to get in shape.
Little-Known Symptoms of Reflux
For many, reflux disease means bouts of uncomfortable heartburn. While this is a very common symptom closely associated with acid reflux, it is by no means the only one. Patients may not even realize they have issues with reflux because they may be unaware of the other indicators. Physicians may suggest that reflux is the cause, but the idea may be quickly rejected. The good news is that for those with acid reflux, once a diagnosis is made, there are steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate symptoms.
The symptoms that a person may experience from reflux disease can vary according to severity of the illness and the time that has passed without treatment. Doctors would like to see an increased awareness of some of the other results patients may experience from reflux. Often, the symptoms other than heartburn are not as obvious. Here are a few of those common yet little-known symptoms of acid reflux.
Some of the most common symptoms involve the throat. Constant clearing of the throat, a feeling that something is trapped in the throat, a sore throat, and a hoarse voice can all be signs pointing to reflux. If a patient wakes up during the night with a cough, or if regurgitation happens from time to time, these could also be symptoms of reflux. Sometimes a difficulty with swallowing and an excess of phlegm are other indicators.
Many of the other results that manifest from acid reflux may not usually be associated with the illness. However, if these are experienced, even if it is in the absence of heartburn, it could be a case of untreated reflux. With drug therapy, diet changes, and weight loss, it is possible to manage or even be rid of these symptoms completely.
New Treatment For Obstructive Sleep Apnea May Be a Viable Alternative to Uncomfortable CPAP Devices
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is affecting more and more people. Treatments such as CPAP are not always tolerated well. For some, it may not even be a viable option. In order to add variety and efficiency to the short list of therapies, researchers tested a new device that uses mild electronic stimulation. Thorough testing on a number of participants yielded good feedback. The results showed promise. Here is what they found.
The device is an upper airway mild electronic stimulator. Its purpose is to deliver a pulse to the hypoglossal nerve. This small stimulation keeps pattern with a person’s breathing while they sleep and ensures that the tongue does not block the airway. This device is the first of its kind and offers a solution to the more difficult-to-use CPAP machine.
In the trial, there were 126 participants. Each had OSA and had a body index lower than 32. Most of the participants were men. Sleep apnea ranged from moderate to moderately severe. Another important factor that each was tested for was that their obstruction was at tongue level. After surgery, patients were monitored and had their devices adjusted according to individual needs.
After a year, testing for both ODI and AHI was done. The results showed a dramatic improvement of nearly 70% in both areas. Nearly all participants reported better sleep and overall improvement in well-being. The benefits to this new device are clear, but there’s more. While surgical options to improve obstructive sleep apnea can be major and alter certain facial features, this implant is simple. With millions suffering from sleep apnea, and many unable to tolerate CPAP therapy, this is a great alternative. Further testing will follow, but it looks as if upper-level electric stimulation will be available soon.
Digital Technology Allows for “Smart” Hearing Aids
Hearing loss affects more and more people every year. Fortunately, hearing aids have come a long way, even in just a few short years. This is a good thing as, for a while, there was plenty to complain about with some earlier hearing aid models. Taking into consideration patients’ needs, complaints, and likes, researchers have been able to use digital technology to create even better hearing aids. New technology has made it possible for major improvements and changes to take place and enhance what’s already on the market. Here is a look at some of the new features the latest models of hearing aids are boasting.
Minicomputer systems have been installed in some newer designs. These systems are capable of handling multiple applications. Some of the most cutting-edge models are powered by such systems. Some of its most outstanding features will make the user’s life much easier. For example, there is a telephone response application; when the user answers a phone, the device automatically minimizes feedback and adjusts volume controls to be more sensitive to voices on the other end.
Another feature is the directional speech detector. Some models even allow you to choose whether your alerts are given in a male or female voice. Alerts that let you know when the battery is low, or inform you when it needs a follow-up, can help users properly maintain and use their devices.
With the problem of hearing loss on the rise, the need is greater than ever before for more effective devices that are user-friendly. New technology has pushed the humble hearing aid into the digital present. Finally, models are available that will help those with hearing issues be able to hear and do so comfortably.
Sleep Apnea and Anesthesia
Sleep apnea is a dangerously growing trend. It’s often accompanied by other complications involving—but not limited to—cardiac disease, obesity, stroke, and high blood pressure. Potential issues during surgery are also likelier when a patient suffers from sleep apnea. Studies, however, have found that the risks associated with sleep apnea and surgery can be reduced by using different types of anesthesia. Nearly 25% of surgical patients suffer from sleep apnea, so this news may have a huge impact on the state of surgical medicine.
A patient with sleep apnea can have their breathing stop up to 30 times in an hour, which can pose a serious problem for those undergoing surgeries like joint replacement. Where local anesthesia numbs a localized portion of the body, general anesthesia puts a person into a sleep-like state. This is where the danger lies for sleep apnea sufferers, whose breathing can suddenly stop during surgery.
In an effort to see what could be done about this, a team of medical researchers decided to try a different approach when performing a joint replacement on someone with sleep apnea. Instead of using general anesthesia, they applied local anesthesia instead.
The injected local anesthesia seemed to have been just as effective as the general one. Complications during surgery were also less frequent with the regional anesthetic. Researchers are confident that this principle can be applied to other surgeries, as well. Using a regional anesthesia instead of a general one could potentially change how surgery is performed on sleep apnea patients.
Studies have been conducted to see how different types of anesthesia affect surgeries on sleep apnea patients. Of these, some have shown as much as a 17% reduction in intrasurgical complications. In light of these studies, it is hoped that invasive procedures can be performed with less risk to sleep apnea sufferers.
Staph and Other Competing Bacteria
Some serious infections and diseases can be traced back to the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as staph. This type of bacteria is no stranger to the human body. In fact, it is often found on the skin’s surface, especially in areas like the groin and armpits. However, it is often benign in this state. While scientists are still unsure why it is present in the body, it does not seem to have much effect most of the time. For some, though, the situation is different.
After surgery or after an illness or medical procedure, staph can sometimes enter the bloodstream and cause a serious infection, making it difficult to treat. A recent study yielded some new facts regarding staph, as well as on another bacteria that helped reduce levels of infection.
A recent study discovered the presence of staph deep within certain areas of the nose. About one-third of the population are carriers of the bacteria, another third showed no trace and the rest were only occasional carriers. This study also uncovered some new information that may prove useful in the future treatment of staph infections. Another type of bacteria was found lurking in the same regions of the nose as the staphylococcus. This type of bacteria, Corynebacterium pseudodiphtheriticum, seemed to compete with staph. This meant that when there were high levels of the former, there was less of the latter present. This inversely proportional relationship makes it of particular benefit to researchers, as this second type of bacteria excreted a molecular solution that inhibited growth in staph. Should this be certain, this new piece of information may help in the creation of better treatments for dangerous staph infections or even prevent them altogether.
This comes as good news for the medical community, as more and more infections have become harder to treat and as several types of bacteria have become more resistant to pharmaceutical drugs.
Chronic Sinus Issues Stem From Unlikely Source
For those of you who deal with constant or chronic sinus issues, you are not alone: There are millions of sufferers in the U.S., with it actually being of the most common complaints among patients. The problem, though, is that doctors have somewhat been at a loss as to how to go about treating this persistent problem. One of the reasons it has been so difficult to treat is that its source was not clearly understood. Scientists decided to set up an experiment where they could learn once and for all where this sinus condition (known as chronic rhinosinusitis) originated.
Over the years, the number of theories as to what caused this frustrating condition has grown. The reasons range from allergies to infection to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Treatments to cure the problem also vary across the board. These include things like antibiotic treatments and even surgery to open up the nasal passages. Unfortunately, these treatments are not usually successful or don’t work with all patients. Fortunately, scientists may have finally figured out the main cause of the condition.
While closely examining what made nasal passages become chronically inflamed, researchers found that the cause was something that really posed no threat to health. How so? Previously, it was thought that perhaps some virus, bacteria or fungi infected the area and caused the reaction. Instead, it was discovered that the body harbored a number of bacteria colonies that peacefully coexisted, and that these seem to cause no harm and are normally found in various areas. During their studies, researchers found that these colonies set off an immune system response in some people. Nasal passages then become inflamed. Seeing as the bacteria are usually present, the inflammation becomes a constant factor. The bottom line is that some people have an overzealous immune system that, for whatever reason, attacks even when there is no threat.
Doctors and researchers are hopeful that these findings not only offer a better understanding of the condition but, also, lead to a cure.
Decrease in Number of Ear Infections
For many children, ear infections are a part of life. They are the number-one reason children are taken to the doctor’s office. Childhood surgeries are also mostly due to ear infections and their related problems. This is not that surprising when you consider that nearly 80% of toddlers will have had at least one ear infection by age 3. That’s just for one occurrence—nearly 40% will have as many as three bouts with infection by that age.
However, in recent years, a particular vaccine seems to have helped reduce the number of incidents related to ear infections. A nearly decade-long study helped sort out the facts related to this fortunate decline.
An introduction to the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine came to the United States in the year 2000. What researchers noted while tracking this was a decline in ear infections and related illnesses, a trend particularly noticeable in 2004. The PCV13 vaccine was then introduced in 2010, and since then, toddlers aged 2 and younger saw a drastic improvement in middle ear infections. Researchers were able to determine this fact by analyzing the number of ear infection-associated medical visits.
This is significant not just for the children who have to suffer through the infection, but for parents and healthcare workers as well. Less missed days from school and work also reduced the expense of medical treatment. The number of prescribed antibiotics in children was also reduced, which is a good turn as well. While some vaccines have been around for a few years, there are newer ones, and researchers are keen on continuing to monitor the response to such preventative methods and their outcomes.