How Do Loud Sounds Damage Hearing?

The ear consists of the outer, the middle and the inner ear. Each part of the ear plays an important role in catching, directing and transmitting sound. The ear is also important for our balance and maintaining our body position. Sounds that exceed 85 decibels might damage hearing and sometimes even cause irreparable hearing loss. In order to understand why and how this happens, it’s important to be familiar with the structure and the function of the ear.

hearingThe outer ear is the part most people refer to when they talk about ears. It’s made of the pinna, the muscles of the outer ear and the ear canal. The length of the ear canal is about 2 and a half centimetres but its size and shape varies. The ear canal amplifies sound waves before they are transmitted to the middle ear.

The middle ear consists of the tympanic cavity, the ossicles and the muscles of the middle ear. The tympanic cavity is the hollow space in the middle ear. The ossicles are the small bones of the middle ear – they are known as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup (because of their distinct shapes). Their role is to transfer sound vibrations into waves in the fluid and membranes of the inner ear. As the sound enters the ear, it vibrates the tympanic membrane (commonly known as the eardrum). The hammer is attached to the eardrum and it moves when the eardrum starts to vibrate. The hammer transmits the vibrations to the anvil and finally to the stirrup, which transfers them to the inner ear.

The inner ear is the part that is responsible for balance and sound detection. It consists of the cochlea and the vestibular system. The cochlea enables hearing – when the stirrup presses against the oval window (the beginning of the inner ear), it transfers the signals into waves in the fluid and the membrane of the middle ear and these waves stimulate hair cells in the inner ear. Each of these hair cells responds to a specific frequency. The signals are then transformed into nerve impulses that travel to the brain, which interprets them.

The vestibular system is important for our balance – it uses the same type of fluid and cells as the cochlea, but they have a different function. They send information about the linear motion, rotation and attitude of the head to the brain.

What happens when the sounds are too loud?

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) (also referred as industrial deafness or occupational deafness) can be caused by one time intense “impulse” sound (explosion) or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over extended periods of time (workplace noise). Some recreational activities can also damage hearing – listening to loud music through earphones, loud concerts or playing in a band can potentially damage your hearing as well.

Long/repeated exposure to loud sounds (sounds above 85 decibels) can cause hearing loss. For instance – heavy city traffic has an average decibel rating of 85. Normal conversation usually doesn’t have more than 60 decibels. MP3 players at their loudest can produce sounds as loud as 105 decibels, while sirens produce 120 decibels and firearms and pyrotechnic devices go as high as 150 decibels. Prolonged exposure to high decibel levels in the workplace have given rise to a claims for occupational deafness compensation.

The hair cells in the inner ear that detect certain frequencies can be irreparably damaged by loud sounds and they lose their ability to detect frequencies, which means they can’t detect sounds anymore. Human hair cells don’t grow back – once they are gone, they are gone for good.

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The Benefits of Yoga

yogaYoga is a mental, physical, and spiritual discipline that aims to transform the body and mind that over 20 million people in the United States practice today. It is a very old practice, dating back to pre-vedic India, and speculated to have developed around the sixth or fifth centuries, B.C.E. The earliest recording of practicing yoga is found in the Buddhist Nikayas. Yoga was also recorded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali around the time of 400 C.E. The word yoga comes from the meaning of “yoking together” horses or oxen, being applied to the concept of yoking the mind and body together. The Sanskrit meaning of the word yoga is also meaning ‘to add, join, unite, or attach’. It can also take on the meaning of “combined” and other meanings such as addition, method, application, performance, and contact. Yoga can be derived from yujir yoga, meaning to yoke, or yuj amādhau, to concentrate.

The goal of yoga is to achieve moksha, or liberation. Yoga is said to have five basic meanings. These are to attain a goal using yoga as a disciplined method, controlling the body and mind, being a school or system of philosophy, yoga as connected to particular yoga techniques such as hatha or mantra, and yoga as yoga practice’s goal. Yoga is also viewed as a path to omniscience, the rising and expansion of consciousness, an analysis of perception as well as cognition, and as a technique for entering bodies, generating multiple bodies, and other supernatural goals.

Yoga was introduced to the west in the late nineteenth by yoga gurus from India and became popular in the eighties, primarily in the physical exercise form of Hatha yoga. Yoga describes energy flowing through energy channels, concentrating in chakras, human beings having three bodies, the physical, the subtle, and the causal, and also five sheets, food sheet, prana-breath, mind sheet, intellect, and bliss.

Schools of Yoga

There are many types of yoga, but the main types are Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Anusara, Restorative, Jivamukti, and prenatal. Bikram yoga is also known as “hot” yoga, Hatha yoga has gentle movements, Vinyasa is flow yoga, Kundalini does a lot of core work, Ashtanga is known as “power yoga”, Iyengar yoga uses many props and is focused on alignment, Anusara is heart opening yoga, Restorative is relaxation focused, Jiyamukti is a NYC yoga mixing vinyasa and chanting, and prenatal is good for expecting mothers.

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga can improve the musculoskeletal system, mental health, increase the brain’s GABA levels, improve mood, decrease anxiety, reduce high blood pressure, enhance cardiac rehabilitation, lower chronic back pain, neck pain, and reduce symptoms of asthma. Yoga has also been helpful in regards to cancer patients, decreasing their levels of pain, fatigue, anxiety, mood disturbance, stress, depression, and insomnia while promoting spiritual growth. Yoga has also been shown to help people who are addicted to substances increase their quality of life via Kundalini Yoga lifestyle. It can also improve cognitive functions, flexibility, muscle strength and tone, the respiration, energy, vitality, maintain the metabolism, help people lose weight, promote cardiovascular and circulatory performance, and protect from injury.

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Photo by Lisa.davis. CC-BY-SA-2.0
Photo by Lisa.davis. CC-BY-SA-2.0

Meditation is a relaxing practice that can reduce stress, enhance self understanding, build your potential, and bring inner peace. Anyone can meditate. It’s not difficult to do, doesn’t require buying any equipment, and is perfectly free. You can practice meditation anywhere, as long as it’s free of basic interruptions and allows you to concentrate. It’s considered a mind body practice that creates deep relaxation and a tranquil mind. It is one of the top holistic treatments, allowing you to improve your life, and find balance in your physical, mental and spiritual states. Meditating even for a short while can restore inner peace and leave you feeling serene and calm. It’s practiced by millions of people, all over the globe, and touted by many for its ability to calm the nerves, reduce stress, and help individuals achieve inner peace.

There are many ways to meditate. You can research how to meditate online, look up guided meditation on websites, YouTube, or purchase cds or mp3s that show you how to meditate, try it with a friend, go to a meditation class or yoga class, and find guided meditation courses in the area around you. There are many different benefits as well as types of meditation that can be practiced. Finding a type of meditation that is right for you will help you not only stick with meditating but reap the ultimate benefits of meditating. Make sure to focus on your breathing, select a non-distracting and calming music if choosing to play music, or else find a silent place where no one will bother you. Try to meditate in a place where the temperature is comfortable, and if not, have a blanket or layers for a source of warmth. Try to have something in your stomach so that you’re not too hungry but not too full while meditating. You can try using a timer to let yourself know when your meditation is ended as well.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation can benefit your emotional, physical, and mental well being in a number of ways. You can build your self-awareness while managing stress, get a new perspective on situations that are stressful, focus on the present, eliminate or reduce negative emotions, and build your skills at managing stress as well as other aspects of life while building your relationship and engagement with yourself. Meditation may also prove to have health benefits, actively helping with conditions such as anxiety disorders, asthma, cancer, pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleeping issues. It also allows you to have a peaceful mind, enter a state of deep relaxation, help you focus your mind, and achieve focus. The reduction of stress and the promotion of the relaxation response through meditation also has numerous health benefits, as stress destroys the body and promotes an unhealthy physical state.

Types of Meditations

There are many types of meditating you can try. All are different paths to the same place.

Guided Meditation

This type of meditation lets you visualize images or places while guided by a person or a program. There are plenty of audio-based guided meditations that you can listen to. This is a good way to start meditating for beginners because instruction is provided and it’s not intimidating.

Transcendental Meditation

This type of meditation has you repeat a mantra or a phrase and lets your body settle, resting and relaxing, letting your mind attain inner peace.

Yoga Meditation

Many people don’t think of yoga as a type of meditation, but yoga is actually a method of meditation. It utilizes postures, exercise, and controlled breathing in order to help practicers achieve physical flexibility and a calmer mind.

Mantra Meditation

In mantra meditation, you meditate and repeat a thought, word, or phrase. The goal is to focus on that word and create relaxation while being in the moment, not letting your thinking mind run active and out of control.

Qi Gong

Qi gong combines breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation, physical movement, and breathing exercises. Part of traditional Chinese medicine, the goal is to restore and/or maintain balance.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a self-paced practice of movements or postures done in a slow and deliberate manner while performing deep breathing. It is a type of Chinese martial arts.

Mindfulness Meditation

This type of meditation focused on having increased awareness, accepting living in the present moment, and being mindful. You broaden your consciousness, focus on your experience, and observe and let your thoughts pass.

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Acupuncture1-1Acupuncture is a treatment that is part of traditional Chinese medicine and has been in increasing use in the west. It involves the insertion of clean, sterilized, very thin needles into specific points of the body. The practice originated in China over 5,000 years ago and is based on the workings of vital life energy in the body, called qi. The qi circulates through meridians in the body, twelve invisible energy lines that are each associated with a different organ system. When the flow of qi is imbalanced, disease can start to begin. Acupuncture works by having needles inserted by acupuncturists along the meridian lines in order to restore the qi’s flow.

Acupuncture was classified as a medical device by the U.S. FDA in 1997 from its previous classification as ‘experimental’. Acupuncture is gaining traction as well as popularity in its mainstream use and is now one of the top alternative therapies, with people in the United States spending over $500 million a year receiving acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is believed to help relieve and solve sinusitis, anxiety, migraines, tension headaches, colds, addictions, smoking, stroke, trigeminal neuralgia, chronic pain, Meniere’s disease, sciatica, tennis elbow, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, allergies, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, weight loss, pregnancy issues, lower back pain, symptoms of menopause, asthma, infertility, cancer, and provide anti-aging benefits.

Patients complete a questionnaire about their health history prior to receiving acupuncture treatments and interview with the acupuncturists about their health concerns and other such personal habits such as stress, appetite, sleep, emotions, diet, and more. The acupuncturist may also assess three pulse points in the wrist of the hand to determine the twelve meridians’ health. The acupuncturist will then diagnose the issue and begin the treatment session, using commonly six or twelve needles placed in specific sites. Treatments can last from seconds to more than an hour. There may be a sensation of stinging or a slight prick, even a heaviness or electricity. There should never be excessive pain or discomfort and in this event do not continue but let an acupuncturist know.

Techniques used during acupuncture may include moxibustion, cupping, herbal medicine, laser acupuncture, and electrostimulation. Moxibustion is the heating of acupuncture needles using dried herb sticks, activating and warming the acupuncture point. Cupping uses glass cups to create suction on the skin and relieve qi stagnation and blood. Herbal medicine can come in myriad forms and is used as a complementary treatment to the acupuncture. Laser acupuncture is acupuncture without needles. Finally, electrostimulation is used for muscle and pain relief, providing electrical stimulation to some of the needles.

Getting treatment through acupuncture can be very effective and provide relief and comfort for a myriad of conditions and afflictions that may not have been able to have been solved. Consult your doctor or primary care physician before attending acupuncture or substituting it for treatment for a condition.

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