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Hearing loss causes isolation by making you feel like you are not plugged into the world you’re your relationships. Maybe you have found you opt to stay home versus attending Grandson whispers in grandfather's earsocial engagements to avoid putting yourself in setting where you can’t hear well. During the holidays, this is particularly apparent, when family and friends get together in large groups to celebrate with each other. If you don’t want to miss out, there are some options available.

You may already begin thinking about bulky hearing aids of days past. Fear not! Today’s model of hearing aid can be so tiny, no one will even notice (except you, thanks to the clarity of sound.) More than that, fewer than one in five adults who could benefit from hearing aids actually wears them. Are you one of them?

If so, you should know that hearing loss can negatively affect:

  • Relationships,
  • Job performance,
  • Mental health and function,
  • Social activity,
  • even safety.

Basically, untreated hearing loss severely affects the quality of a person’s life. If a hearing impaired person is involved in important conversations about medical care, insurance matters, or legal concerns, it can be very upsetting – or even dangerous – for them to lose the message simply because they have a difficult time hearing the conversation.

Consider this: according to a National Council on Aging survey, hearing impaired adults age 50 and older are more likely to report:

  • Sadness,
  • Depression,
  • Worry,
  • Anxiety,
  • Paranoia and less social activity than those who wear hearing aids.

A closer analysis of the survey concluded that hearing aid use was associated with a 36% reduction in depression among this age group.

Purchasing a hearing aid sometimes requires a significant financial investment, so it’s important to choose a hearing aid dispenser with your best interests in mind. A hearing aid specialist can provide a hearing test and help select the proper device, but most importantly, she will also be available to offer ongoing support and instruction.

Lori Fish, M.S.-A always offers free hearing screenings by appointment to adults 18 and over at Fort HealthCare’s Ear, Nose & Throat Clinics in Fort Atkinson, Whitewater and Edgerton.

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Believe it or not – it’s time to talk about winter sports!

Many local high schools start practice for basketball, wrestling, cheerleading and other sports in late Fall, and that means it’s time to visit the doctor.

Basketball players watching the gameWIAA Physicals at Fort HealthCare

We prefer to do WIAA physicals in a regular, office visit and avoid the “quick clinic” approach some organizations take. While convenient, those fast-paced appointments don’t allow the practitioner ample time to get to know the athlete well enough to note changes or potential problems. For the safety of your child, we suggest making a regular appointment with one of our many available doctors or nurse practitioners.

Even for healthy individuals, the exam is important because adolescence is a time when the physician begins to meet one-on-one with the child to talk about sexuality, drug and tobacco use, bullying, weapons, sleep, eating disorders, family relationships and so much more. It gives your child an opportunity at a critical time in his/her development to share information and concerns with another caring adult who can offer help and guidance.

The physical part of the examination is also very important. We start with a thorough medical history to look for:

  • Patterns of illness in the family, a valuable indicator of potential problems
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure,
  • Eyesight,
  • Examine their heart, lungs, musculoskeletal system and much more. 
  • This is also a good time to make sure your teen has healthy habits and is up-to-date on immunizations.

The sports physical helps us to spot issues before they become problems, so that your child can enjoy all the physical, psychological and social benefits of participating fully in high school athletics.

I look forward to seeing your athlete soon!

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Girl puts sunscreen on her faceYes, it’s October, but we seem to be in the middle of a heat wave. Sunshine and 70s? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but it does serve as a good reminder that we need to be careful about sun exposure ALL YEAR. Don’t save the SPF just for the summer months.

UV Exposure Categories

  • The cause of most skin cancer is damage to the DNA of skin cells from ultra-violet (UV) radiation exposure from sunlight.
  • When the DNA inside the living layer of skin is exposed to sunlight, the UV radiation causes the cells to produce a dark brown pigment called melanin as a way to help protect from UV damage.
  • When most of us see melanin in the skin we think, “Oh hey, lookin’ good!” but it may be a sign of a developing problem.

Getting a sunburn means that enough damage has occurred that deep skin cells are dying. Over time, the UV damage causes changes in the DNA that turn healthy cells into cancer cells. The more the UV exposure (more times someone is tanned or burned,) the higher the risk for skin cancer.  Unfortunately, the damage doesn’t reset every year, but it builds up over our entire lifetime.

So what can you do?

Sunscreens can help to block some of the UV rays from the sun, but no sunscreen can block all radiation. Further, especially when you’re in the hot sun swimming or sweating, any sunscreen must be reapplied liberally every 40 minutes to maintain the level of protection listed on the label. Additionally, clothing offers sun protection. The darker and denser the fabric, the more UV rays are blocked.

Tanning beds tan skin by causing UV damage to living skin cells and increase the risk for skin cancer. They are very unsafe and should be avoided. Consider self-tanning products. The tan color from them is not due to damage to the melanin, so these products are safe to use and do not cause skin cancer or damage the skin. However, unless they contain a sun block or “SPF,” the tan they produce does not protect skin from UV radiation that causes a sunburn or even skin cancer.

So there you have it. It may seem like an odd time to get a sunscreen refresher, but as we approach the winter months, when the sun can reflect off the S-N-O-W, it is especially important to protect any exposed skin.

Enjoy these last few warm days of 2011!

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