Medication-Free Allergy Treatment?

If you are like most Portlanders, you have been suffering from allergies most of your life. This means you have also been taking over-the-counter as well as prescription medications to control your symptoms. What if I could tell you that there is a way to treat your symptoms without any medication? It is called avoidance

Allergen Avoidance

Avoidance is just what is sounds like: it involves making sure you no longer come into contact with the allergens that cause your symptoms. For those of you suffering from hay fever (allergies to pollen, pet dander and mold), the below tips can help you reduce or eliminate allergens from your home.

Protect Your Home from Allergens

Removing Allergens in Portland
  • Encase your mattress and pillows in dust mite-proof cases. Wash all your bedding in hot water at least once a week.
  • Remove carpeting from your home and replace with easy to clean material such as hardwood or linoleum. If the wall-to-wall carpeting cannot be removed, vacuum and shampoo the carpet regularly.
  • Use only washable window coverings, such as cotton or synthetic curtains.
  • During pollen season, keep your windows closed.
  • Get rid of clutter; this means removing any knickknacks that sit on tables collecting dust.
  • Invest in a HEPA air filtration system to remove small allergen particles from the air.
  • Keep potted plants out of the house—either plant them outside or give them away.
  • Avoid using a wood-burning fireplace or stove; the smoke will worsen respiratory allergies.
  • Wash the sink regularly and don’t let dishes pile up; this can create a breeding ground for mold.
  • Wash or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.
  • Keep your house at 68 F to 72 F. Dust mites and mold breed best in hot, humid conditions.
  • Don’t allow smoking inside your home
  • Find a new home for your pet. If you can’t do that, make sure to bathe them once a week and keep them out of your bedroom and off the furniture. 
Simpler than you thought, right? For more tips and tricks to live a better life free from allergies, contact your Portland physician today.
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Halloween and Food Allergies

When there is only rain in the seven-day forecast and pumpkin spiced everything in the grocery store you know fall is really here. For those who have children with food allergies, the start of fall means one thing – Halloween is around the corner. What kid does not love getting hordes of free candy from strangers? The kids who cannot eat it.

Food Allergies

Food allergies are quite common. Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children. While any food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, there are eight foods that account for almost 90 percent of all food allergies:
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
While fish and shellfish are less likely to be snuck into a Halloween treat, at least one allergen from the list can be found in most popular candy.

Allergen-Free Halloween

Halloween in Portland So, what do you do about it? Your Portland allergist has a few suggestions.
  1. Let your child go out trick-or-treating with their friends with strict instructions not to eat any of the candy they get. Once home, simply trade their bag full of candy (you can either eat it yourself or donate it a charity of your choice with safe candy you already purchased. Candy can also be traded for a non-food item like a book or toy.
  1. Before your child goes out trick-or-treating, stop by the neighbors’ houses and give them some allergen-safe candy. Then, when you arrive with your child the friendly and understanding neighbor can give them candy they can actually eat!

The Teal Pumpkin Project

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all kids. Last year, almost 18,000 households from all 50 states participated.  The project is simple – participants purchase non-food treats and let everyone know their house is safe for those with food allergies by putting out a teal pumpkin on their doorstep. This helps promote inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions. The website has signs you can print out which explain the meaning of the teal pumpkin as well as guides on how to get started. There are plenty of options to make this the safest Halloween yet. For more information, contact your Portland allergist today.  
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The Importance of Hearing Aids

Are you one of the nearly 48 million people in Portland, Oregon or throughout the country with hearing loss? If so, are you one of the nearly 80 percent who choose not to use their hearing aid? I thought so. Do you mind if I ask why? (You can say the answer out loud. I swear, I can hear it.) Is it because you don’t want to admit you have a problem, or are you trying to prevent the inevitable: looking old? Have you ever wondering how old you look having to ask people to repeat themselves or answering questions incorrectly because you did not hear them right the first time? Still skeptical? What if I were to tell you that using a hearing aid does way more than simply improve your ability to hear? Below are some facts that may help you change your mind.

Improved Health in Portland, ORImproved General Health

Those who treat their hearing loss see an improvement in their balance and experience a decrease in:
  • Feelings of Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
On the other hand, those who decide not to treat their hearing loss are three times more likely to suffer physical injuries, especially falls. They are also at an increased risk of cognitive decline.

Improved Emotional Well-Being

Those who treat their hearing loss are able to overcome their reliance on others because they can once again navigate the world on their own. This helps them regain their sense of control. Treating your hearing loss leads to reduced periods of social isolation as well as healthier and longer-lasting relationships. These patients have also been shown to have higher self-esteem and quality of life than those who don’t.

Improved Professional Success

Choosing to not treat your hearing loss can make it harder for you to concentrate, especially when communicating with others. It can also lead to reduced job performance and less monetary compensation. The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) conducted a study that provides even more data about how much of a difference hearing aids can make. A total of 2,000 individuals with hearing loss were surveyed for this study. Of those:
  • 82 percent indicated they would recommend hearing aids to their friends
  • 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate
  • Four out of five people who use an aid to hear better are satisfied with their solution.
The study also concluded patients who used a hearing aid saw improvement in their:
  • Romance
  • Sense of Humor
  • Mental Health
  • Emotional Health
  • Physical Health
  • Sense of Safety
  • Self-Confidence
  • Feelings about Self
  • Sense of Independence
  • Work Relationships
Have we changed your mind yet? If you could have a better quality of life all by wearing a small hearing aid, wouldn’t you? Contact our office to learn more.  

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

Hearing loss is extremely common; in fact, there are 48 million people in Oregon and throughout the country suffering from it right now. What’s even more surprising than this large number is the amount of these individuals that are not seeking help.

hearing-aid-benefits

For most individuals with hearing loss, the use of a hearing aid can provide an enormous amount of benefits, more than simply improving your hearing. Below are the benefits of hearing aids many of our Portland area patients see when they decide to finally seek treatment for their hearing loss.

Improved General Health

Individuals who do not seek treatment for their hearing loss are at a higher risk of cognitive decline; they are also three times more likely to suffer physical injuries, such as falls.

Individuals who treat their hearing loss see an improvement in their balance and a decrease in their feelings of:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
 

Improved Professional Success

Suffering from untreated hearing loss can make It harder to concentrate, especially when communicating with others. This can lead to reduced job performance and less monetary compensation.

Individuals with hearing loss also find it hard to learn a new thing. A new study has confirmed that his may be caused by problems storing new information.

Improved Emotional Well-Being

Individuals who choose to treat their hearing loss are able to reenter the world on their own by overcoming their reliance of other and regaining their sense of control. This typically leads to reduced periods of social isolation as well are longer-lasting and healthier relationships.

Patients who treat their hearing loss have also been shown to have higher quality of life and self-esteem than those who do not seek treatment.

A study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) helps illuminate the importance of hearing aids.

The study surveyed 2,000 patients with hearing loss. Of those individuals, 82 percent indicated they would recommend hearing aids to their friends and 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate.

The study also concluded up to a third of patients saw improvements in their:

  • Romance
  • Sense of humor
  • Mental health
  • Emotional health
  • Physical health
  • Sense of safety
  • Self-confidence
  • Feelings about self
  • Sense of independence
  • Work relationships

Getting a hearing aid is a big step. It says that you are accepting that you have a problem and have taken the appropriate steps to find a solution. With this, you will be rewarded with a better quality of life and increased emotional and physical health. Contact your local Portland audiologist to start down the path toward better hearing today.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo and dizziness treatment in Portland OR Vertigo is a form of dizziness characterized by the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning, despite the lack of any actual movement. This sensation is brought on by disturbances in the inner ear or the brain.

Types of Vertigo

Peripheral Vertigo


Peripheral vertigo is associated with problems in the inner ear.

The vestibular system sends signals to the brain about the position of the head in relation to movement, enabling us to keep our balance and maintain equilibrium.

When these signals are disrupted, vertigo results. This is often caused by inflammation related to a viral infection.

Other causes of peripheral vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which occurs when tiny pieces of calcium break off and float in the tube of the inner ear, sending confusing messages to the brain, and Meniere’s disease, which involves excess pressure of the fluid in the inner ear.

Central Vertigo


Central vertigo occurs when there is a problem in the brain, usually affecting the brainstem or the cerebellum.

These parts of the brain are responsible for interactions between the visual and balance systems; any disturbance can lead to vertigo.

The most common cause of central vertigo is a migraine headache. Other less common conditions that can trigger central vertigo include stroke, tumors, acoustic neuroma, multiple sclerosis, alcohol and certain drugs.

Symptoms of Vertigo

Technically speaking, vertigo is a symptom itself. It’s characterized by the sensation that you or the room is moving or spinning. This may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Difficulty focusing or moving the eyes
  • Double vision
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear

Treatments for Vertigo

If you’re suffering from vertigo, your Portland doctor will give you a thorough physical examination and may order a CT scan or MRI.

Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of vertigo. Some forms disappear without treatment. BPPV, the most common type of vertigo, responds well to head maneuvers, while other types are successfully treated with medication. When the condition persists, physical therapy can help.

If you are tired of living with vertigo, now is the time to do something about it. Contact your local Portland ENT physician to schedule an appointment today.

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May Was Better Hearing & Speech Month

May is better hearing speech month How is it already June? With May gone in a flash, you may have missed Better Hearing & Speech Month. This month-long campaign is designed to raise awareness for hearing loss and speech problems. It was originally created in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Then, in 1986 President Reagan designated May as the official month to heighten public awareness about hearing loss and speech disorders. The goal of Better Hearing & Speech Month is to encourage people to take action if they believe there might be a problem with their hearing or speech. While last month may be over, there is no time like the present to learn about hearing loss.

Is Hearing Loss Common?

One out of three adults 65 years and older experiences some degree of hearing loss. By the age of 75, that number jumps to one out of two. Older adults are not the only ones affected by hearing loss. Children and young adults are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, especially with the increase of personal music devices and earbud-style headphones. Other factors that contribute to hearing loss include ear infections, impacted earwax and ototoxic medications.

Can You Prevent Hearing Loss?

Visiting your Portland audiologist for a hearing exam is a good start. The earlier hearing loss is discovered the more treatment options are available. Untreated hearing loss can lead to debilitating social and emotional issues including:
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive impairment
Children should also have hearing exams, as hearing is important to a child’s language and social skills development. Untreated hearing loss in children can lead to developmental delays. Early intervention is key, just like it is for adults. Heed the message of Better Hearing & Speech Month. If you or your child is showing signs of hearing loss, now is the time to act. Contact your Portland audiologist to schedule an appointment today.
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Are Cotton Swabs Dangerous?

You were taught in school about the dangers of smoking, drinking, getting in cars with strangers etcetera, etcetera. But where was the public service announcement about the dangers of sticking something soft and fluffy in your ear? That’s right, I’m talking about cotton swabs. cotton swabs eardrum perforation

Your Portland audiologist would be the first to tell you that cleaning your ears with a cotton swabs is as close as most Portlanders will come to risking life and limb. Placing a cotton swab in your ear is the most common causes of a perforated eardrum.

The Role of the Eardrum

Your eardrum is the thin membrane that separates your outer ear from your middle ear. The primary role of your eardrum is to convert the sound waves that enter the ear into vibrations, making it a vital part of the hearing process. In addition to aiding in the hearing process, your eardrum is responsible for preventing pieces of debris, bacteria and water from entering the middle ear, which can lead to infections.

The Dangers of Cotton Swabs

The pressure from placing a cotton swab inside your ear can cause eardrum to rupture. Yes, even if you place the swab in gently. A perforated eardrum can cause pain in the ear, drainage from the ear (either clear or bloody), a buzzing sound and even hearing loss.

Damage to your Eardrum

If you think you may have ripped a hole in your eardrum you should schedule an appointment with your audiologist as soon as possible. Once there, your audiologist will look in your ear with an otoscope, a lighted instrument, for visible signs of damage. Your audiologist may also perform a hearing test to determine if your perforated eardrum has caused hearing loss. While this may seem like a lot of damage caused by a simple cotton swab, most of these symptoms are temporary.

Perforated Eardrums

A perforated eardrum typically heals on its own and does not require treatment. To prevent an infection your audiologist will prescribe you antibiotics; over-the-counter medication may be suggested to manage the pain. If the hole is too large or the eardrum does not heal on its own surgery may be required. This simple outpatient surgery repairs the hole with a piece of your own tissue.

I hope this public service announce has explained the real danger cotton swabs pose. Next time you get out of the shower, resist the urge to reach for one. For most, a simple shower is able to wash out any debris or earwax that was trapped in your ear; no extra work needed.

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Understanding Hearing Aid Batteries

AAA or 675? Understanding Hearing Aid Batteries

The batteries used by your hearing aids are much different than the ones you are used to putting in your smoke detectors and remote controls. Understanding what makes these batteries different is essential for proper hearing aid care. Below are some common questions many Portlanders ask their audiologist when they first get their hearing aids.

What kinds of batteries do hearing aids use?

Hearing aid batteries Most hearing aids use disposable zinc-air batteries that are color- and number-coded for easy replacement. The type of battery needed depends on the style and size of your hearing aids and includes: 5 (red), 10 (yellow), 13 (orange), 312 (brown) and 675 (blue). Most pharmacies carry replacement batteries. You can also purchase them from your Portland audiologist’s office.

How do zinc-air batteries differ from other battery types?

Zinc-air batteries require oxygen to produce power. They come with a protective seal on the back; once this is removed, oxygen enters through tiny holes to activate them. You should wait at least a minute before inserting your batteries to ensure they have absorbed enough oxygen in order to work properly.

How long will hearing aid batteries last?

On average, batteries last five to seven days depending on the size and style of your hearing aids, your degree of hearing loss, the amount of time your hearing aids are used and your listening environment.

How do I know when it’s time to change the batteries?

Obviously if there is no sound coming through your hearing aids, your first suspicion should be a dead battery. Other signs include sound that is distorted or unclear and unusually low volume levels. Some hearing aids are designed to produce an audible tone warning you when batteries are low.

Are there steps I can take to extend battery life?

Store your batteries at room temperature and avoid exposing them to moist or humid environments. This includes the refrigerator – despite what you may have heard, this is not a good place to keep your batteries as temperature extremes and condensation can shorten their life. Keep batteries away from keys, coins and other metal objects that can cause them to short circuit or discharge. When removing your hearing aids, turn them off and open the battery compartment door to prevent excess moisture and battery drain.

This can all be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, your Portland audiologist is only a phone call away.
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Different Types of Hearing Loss

Are there different types of hearing loss?

Did you know there are different types of hearing loss? It turns out, in order for your Portland audiologist to create a customized treatment plan, they must determine your type and degree of hearing loss. There are three kinds of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed.
    • Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem with the outer or middle ear. This could be caused by a buildup of fluid within the middle ear, an ear infection, a perforated eardrum, impacted earwax or a malformation of the outer ear. Basically, anything that prevents a sound wave from entering the ear and reaching the inner ear is categorized as conductive hearing loss. Fortunately, this type of hearing loss is usually only temporary and can be corrected through medical or surgical means by ENT physicians in Portland, Oregon.
    • Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by an issue with the inner ear or the auditory nerve that connects the ear to the brain. Exposure to loud noises, aging and a virus or disease can cause this type of hearing loss. While this type of hearing loss is usually permanent, it can often be successfully treated with the use of a hearing aid.
    • The third type is mixed hearing loss. As you can probably gather from the name, this type of hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that in one ear you have an issue with the outer or middle ear and the inner ear. Treatment for this type of hearing loss requires your Portland audiologist to address the cause of the conductive hearing loss first before moving on to treating the sensorineural loss.
    The earlier hearing loss is identified and treated, the better the outcome. If you or a loved one is showing signs of hearing loss, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your Portland audiologist.
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Hearing Loss in Your Portland Workplace

Noise-induced Hearing Loss

Some things are under our control, like deciding to order a double bacon cheeseburger instead of the salad for dinner. Unfortunately, things like extreme weather events and developing hearing loss are not. Hearing loss is caused by genetic conditions, an injury and even simply getting older.

There is one type of hearing loss, called noise-induced hearing loss, that you can do something about.

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by continuous exposure to loud noises or a one-time exposure to an extremely loud noise, like an explosion.

Sound is measured in decibels; anything measuring over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. To put this in perspective:
  • 20 decibels – ticking of a watch
  • 60 decibels – normal conversation
  • 85 decibels – heavy Portland traffic
  • 95 decibels – motorcycle
  • 120 decibels – police car siren
  • 150 decibels – jet engine taking off

Tips to Prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss

The simplest way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to wear earplugs. Sounds easy enough! If you are going to be in a loud environment, like a concert, your Portland audiologist recommends purchasing the proper ear protection beforehand. While worn during the event, your ears will be protected from the dangerously loud sounds.

Another way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to monitor how loudly you are listening to music on your personal music player. Your Portland audiologist recommends investing in over-ear headphones, instead of the in-the-ear style, which can help block out background noise so you can listen to your music at a lower volume. You should also start listening to your music with the volume at the lowest level. Simply turn it up until you can hear your music and then stop.

Common Jobs That Can Cause Hearing Loss

The workplace is one of the most common environments where people are exposed to dangerously loud noises. In fact, about 30 million workers in Portland and around the country are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Common jobs that can cause hearing loss are construction worker, ambulance driver, air traffic controller and garbage collector.

The good news is that you do not have to figure out how to protect your ears all on your own. If your workplace puts you in loud situations, they are required by law to provide you with hearing protection. If they do not adequately equip you with proper protection you should contact your supervisor or human resources representative. An unsafe work environment is not something you have to put up with.

If you are unsure if your workplace is putting your ears in harm’s way, contact your Portland audiologist. Your audiologist can help you understand which sounds are safe and which sounds require additional protection.
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