I admit I am so intense with ears, to the point were I can have a conversation and lose my friend from talking too much “medicine”. I thought it might be nice to go back to basics to help the understanding for the community.”
Kelvin hails from the Worimi people of Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Being surrounded by health, he has always championed for the improvement of health and education.
Complementing his practice as a surgeon, he is kept grounded by his family, who are the strength and inspiration to him, remaining involved in numerous projects and committees to help give back to the community.
“Hearing is all about connection,’ Kristen said.‘Hearing enables us to connect and communicate – whether you’re in school, a family or a workplace.This Hearing Awareness Week please cherish your hearing and take steps to protect it.”
Apunipima audiologist Kristen Tregenza, works across eleven remote Cape York communities identifying hearing issues, has a message for all ages this Hearing Awareness Week (21-27 August 2016).
Cherish Hearing this Hearing Awareness Week
Littlies: Kids need to hear to learn how to talk, behave, learn and communicate. Kids are most susceptible to ear infections (which, if left untreated can cause permanent hearing loss) between the ages of nought – four.
Kristen’s advice for parents of littlies:
- Never smoke around children as smoke damages the lining of little ears
- Teach your children to wash their hands and blow their nose to minimise risk of infections
- Whenever you take your child to the health centre, no matter what for, ask the them to check your child’s ears
- Fill your child’s ears with stories, words, poetry and songs
Teenagers: Kristen is seeing many teenagers with first stage hearing loss due to playing music too loudly through headphones.
Kristen’s advice for teenagers:
- If your ears ring after the music has stopped, your music was too loud.
- Either turn the sound down a bit, or listen for a shorter period.
- Experiment to see how loud you can have it without causing ringing in your ears
Adults: Adults can experience hearing issues for a range of reasons – from industrial noise to undiagnosed issues earlier in life.
Kristen’s advice for adults:
- Take it seriously – we need to cherish the hearing. Look after the hearing you have and manage what you don’t
- Head to your local health centre and ask for a hearing check
Dr Kelvin Kong, an ear, nose and throat specialist gives us the score on Otitis Media and the importance on ear health for Hearing Awareness Week.
Hearing awareness week is a good time to reflect on the impact of poor hearing. Unfortunately we get so involved in social outcomes; we are often bombarded with information and misinformation. I admit I am so intense with ears, to the point were I can have a conversation and lose my friend from talking too much “medicine”. I thought it might be nice to go back to basics to help the understanding for the community.
One of the things I did not want to do is create a non-readable document that we tend to do in medicine. So this is a straightforward guide to otitis media (ear infection), as I would explain to my patients.
The name itself is confusing. In medicine we forget that we have assumed another language, based on Greek and Latin words. Otitis comes from late 18th century: modern Latin, from Greek ous, ōt- ‘ear’ and itits, meaning inflammation. So Otitis, just means inflammation of the ear. Media, again Latin in origin, means middle layer. So, Otitis media is simply inflammation of the middle layer of the ear.
The ear is divided into 3 parts. An outer, middle and inner part.
Outer ear: The outer ear consists of the auricle or pinna, that is, the bit we can see. Yes some people have various names for them, some not so kind (wing nut, dumbo, Billy Big Muku’s etc), in my language, Gathang, it is known as the “Muku”. This is often decorated with piercings or multiple piercings in some cases.
The outer ear also has a tunnel that leads to the Ear Drum. This tunnel is known as the external auditory canal. This is where we find wax (which is normal) and may be traumatized with cotton buds (yes, stop using them in your ears).
Inner ear: The inner ear houses the important nervous structure of the ear. The wiring, if you like, that transmits a mechanical sound wave into an electrical one. I am continually amazed that we have the ability to change a mechanical energy into an impulse that our brain may translate for us. The intricate nature of this is not the scope of otitis media, but just to know it is important.
Middle Ear: So the ‘middle of the ear’ contains the vibratory component. A sound wave is channelled from the air via the pinna, to a special structure known as the external auditory canal (ear tunnel) to reach the tympanic membrane (ear drum). These make the ear drum ‘dance’ or wobble. The vibrations are then transmitted via 3 delicate ear bones to ensure the energy is not lost and converts the mechanical energy to and electrical impulse when it meets the inner ear.
So if the middle ear is full of fluid, or even worse infected fluid, then the eardrum and ear bones (ossicles) cannot function! I like to compare it to a real music drum (eg bongos) that you can tap (or bang). Imagine if you jumped into the ocean with the drum (bongos), and try to play them underwater, it wouldn’t work. That is, you cannot hear. We haven’t even started talking about the infections and complications.
So this beautifully designed apparatus and organ has the ability to help us communicate. Our rich culture has such a strong aural history and it is imperative for us to be able to pass on our culture. We need to be able to hear to pass on our stories, laughter and wisdom.