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Doc: An audiologist first source on hearing loss advice

Keith Roach
To Your Health

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’s had a significant hearing loss. He spoke to his doctor, met with an audiologist and had a hearing test, which proved he does have a loss of hearing. He now wears hearing aids. We both wondered why this 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.

Dear L.L.: 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: Which bottled water we should drink — spring water or purified water?

E.S.

Dear E.S.: I recommend tap water, which in the United States and Canada is almost always of excellent quality, very inexpensive and 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, both 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.

Email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.