Audiologist is first source of advice
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband retired from the police force three years ago at the young age of 56. At that time, he had no issues with his hearing. Throughout his career as a police officer, he always wore earmuffs when he practiced at the shooting range. He always wears earmuffs when he cuts the grass as well.
However, since his retirement, he has had a significant loss of hearing. He spoke to his doctor, met with an audiologist and had a hearing test, which proved he does indeed have a loss of hearing. He now wears hearing aids. We both wondered why this hearing loss came about so suddenly at such an early age. Coincidentally, for the past three years, my husband has called, and continues to call, his mother every night from his cellphone and talks (actually, she does all the talking) for roughly one hour. Could this have caused his hearing loss? — L.L.
ANSWER: Although a 2010 study did show that people who talk on their mobile phone for an hour a day or more are more likely to have hearing loss, it is very difficult to be sure what the exposure was that may have caused his hearing loss. In fact, it does not have to be loud noise exposure at all (although that is a very common cause).
Your husband’s audiologist has information about the type of hearing loss he has, which might help provide clues as to its cause, and would be his first source of advice. In the meantime, using a land line, the speaker on his mobile phone or a high-quality headset may be able to reduce further hearing loss.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I see lots of mention of organic produce and groceries. Is there a medically proven health advantage to this class of food? — N.M.G.
ANSWER: There have been several studies to examine this question, and there has been no convincing evidence that organic food has significant health benefits. The nutritional value is the same, or very nearly so. While pesticides were seen more frequently in the conventionally grown produce, they were present in both groups at extremely small amounts that would not be expected to cause a health concern. Both conventional and organic produce and meat can be contaminated with bacteria and should be cleaned and prepared carefully. Conventional chicken and pork have been shown to have higher rates of drug-resistant bacteria.
Personally, I buy organic foods when they appear to be of sufficiently better quality to justify the cost difference.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Can you tell me which bottled water we should drink — spring water or purified water? Your help is greatly appreciated. — E.S.
ANSWER: I recommend tap water, which in the United States and Canada is almost always of excellent quality, very inexpensive and is the best choice for the environment. It’s also fluorinated in most communities, which is important for dental health. In areas where the water is unpalatable, I recommend a filter system. If you absolutely must use bottled water, then spring water and purified water are probably fine. Spring water will have trace amounts of minerals and dissolved solids, whereas purified water has most of these removed, but can taste flat.
(Roach is a columnist for the North American Press Syndicate. Write to him at 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.)