March 30, 2015: 7:27 am: Ototoxic Drugs

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A lady wrote,

I have your book, “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed” and know you address many herbal remedies. Is there a book that addresses all herbal remedies that can be used in place of prescription medication and ailments that you recommend? I like to stay away from medications if I can.

There are many excellent herbal reference books available. I don’t have time to read/use them all. However, here are four of the main books I commonly use. In no particular order they are:

1. The Green Pharmacy by James Duke

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World’s Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs
by James A. Duke and Peggy Kessler Duke
1st Edition Jul 15, 1998
617 pages
New hardcover $2.20 and used $0.01
Get it on Amazon here.

2. Prescription Alternatives by Earl Mindell

Prescription Alternatives: Hundreds of Safe, Natural, Prescription-free Remedies to Restore and Maintain Your Health
by Earl L. Mindell, RPh, PhD and Virginia Hopkins, MA
1st Edition 2003
488 pages
Hardcover New $2.99 and used $0.01
Get in on Amazon here.

3. The Herbal Drugstore by Linda White

The Herbal Drugstore: The Best Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medicines!
by Linda B. White, Steven Foster and Herbs for Health Staff
1st Edition Jul 12, 2000
610 pages
Hardcover New $0.84 and used $0.01
Get it on Amazon here.

4. Blended Medicine by Michael Castleman

Blended Medicine: The Best Choices in Healing
by Michael Castleman
1st Edition Feb 12, 2000
512 pages
Hardcover New $1.87 and used $0.01
Get it on Amazon here.

Note that all these books are available in several editions. The above links are to the cheapest (1st) editions. You can get the latest edition and pay the current price. However, if you don’t have the “big bucks” for a current edition, you have two options. Either purchase a new copy of an earlier edition for a few bucks, or get a used copy of an earlier edition for just pennies. In fact, you can get the first editions of all the above books for just 1 cent each (plus postage of $3.99 per book). So choose the edition that fits your pocketbook. They all contain excellent information—no matter what the edition, although the latest edition will be more up to date than an earlier edition.

Even so, 4 books for just 4 cents (plus postage) is a great deal, especially where you health is concerned.

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March 24, 2015: 7:23 am: Recruitment & Hyperacusis

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A lady wrote,

How can I tell when I’m just over-reacting to sound, or when I have actually been subjected to an acoustic trauma (which requires immediate treatment)?

I never know, and as a result, I am never quite sure whether I should just wait it out or run to the nearest ENT specialist, have my hearing tested and accept treatments such as steroids or HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) to try and ward off further damage?

From what I have gathered using a tinnitus support forum, it is generally advised that sounds which do not hurt other peoples’ ears cannot hurt mine, but my doubts arise from personal experience. You see, my ears cannot stand sounds that other people bear quite comfortably.

I have had tinnitus since I was 11 but it only became a problem 4 years ago when my ears suffered acoustic trauma as a result of taking an Acoustic Reflex Threshold Test (whereby loud sounds are produced several times in the ear canal). This test, which I assume other people have had done without any problems, changed my tinnitus from a white noise type of tinnitus to a medley of irritating sounds (from Morse code to mosquitoes and crickets). The sounds are different in each ear and keep changing all the time. They also react to loud and sudden sounds, and make it impossible for me to work in quiet places and to sleep.

This very same test also resulted in my developing hyperacusis. Since that day, I’ve become oversensitive to sounds, unable to bear (without pain and negative consequences) normal (loud) noises like a dog barking, a child screaming, music, traffic, etc.

Sometimes I think I am doing well—sleeping at night without having to mask my tinnitus—then a series of “acoustic traumas” makes things worse again. These acoustic traumas would probably not be classified as acoustic traumas by people with “normal” ears. Here are two examples of such sound traumas.

1. My car broke down on a very busy highway. I had to get out of the car and spent 5-10 minutes exposed to the thunderous sounds of cars and trucks rushing by on a 6-lane highway. I wore earplugs which reduced the sound by 15-20 dB at the most.

2. A few days later, I started having a treatment whereby for 5 minutes at a time I had to withstand the piercing, loud whistling-sound of a faulty compressor. I wore ear plugs the first 3 times, then I started wearing ear plugs and ear muffs for another 3 days. Mind you, these sounds, which were horrendously loud for me, did not bother anyone else. The people around me did not bother to protect their ears at all!

As a result of these and other “traumas”, my tinnitus has flared up and has stayed bad for the last month. I had my hearing tested and my hearing is fine.

My question is, “What should I do? (or what should I have done?) Should I wait some more and pray that it will pass, or should I urge my ENT to treat me for acoustic trauma”. Please let me know your thoughts. I have always valued your
opinions.

What started off as an unwanted side effect from a simple acoustic reflex test has now escalated to consume your life. This is not good. You need to get things under control as quickly as possible so it doesn’t continue to get worse.

Unfortunately, your experience with this test is not unique. I’ve heard from other people who also have experienced much the same things as you have from taking this test. Obviously, the acoustic reflex test either needs to be modified or dumped so it doesn’t continue to damage people in this way.

Now lets get to the heart of the matter—how to know whether a loud sound is really “ear-damaging” or only seems that way because you have hyperacusis (where normal sounds now seem too loud).

You are missing one vital piece of information and that is understanding the difference between real sound loudness and perceived sound loudness.

Real sounds are what your ears actually pick up. They may be soft or loud or extremely loud based on the amplitude of the sound waves that strike your ear drums.

In contrast, perceived sound levels are the loudness at which you “hear” these sounds after your brain processes them. Perceived sound levels may or may not bear any resemblance to real sound levels.

This is because all sounds are filtered through your limbic (emotional) system. Your limbic system adjusts the volume of what you hear based on any emotional “flags” associated with that sound.

Let me give you two examples to show how this works out in real life. First, think about the noise your fridge makes. Your ears hear it all the time, but I’ll bet if I asked you right now, “Is your fridge on?” you’d have to stop and specifically listen to see if you can hear your fridge running. This is because the sounds your fridge makes are totally unimportant to you.

Your ears hear the real sounds your fridge produces, but before you hear the sound, your limbic system checks its database of “flags” to see how emotionally important that sound is to you. Since you don’t care at all about the sounds your fridge makes, your limbic system has flagged its sounds as being totally unimportant to you. All sounds with this flag set have their volume turned way down. Thus, you typically aren’t even aware your fridge is on. Your ears hear the real sound level (at its normal volume) while you hear the perceived sound level (at a greatly reduced volume). That’s the way God designed your ears to work for sounds that are totally unimportant to you.

Now let’s consider another (opposite) example. Let’s pretend you are a “sweet young thing” and live alone in a ground floor apartment. It is summer and you have your bedroom window half opened and you are sound asleep.

At 2:00 AM your ears hear a very faint, furtive footstep right outside your bedroom window. (Note: your ears never sleep.) What happens? Your ears pass this very faint sound on to your brain. There, your limbic system checks its database to see how this sound is flagged. It finds this sound is not flagged as “totally unimportant< but that it is flagged as “extremely important” to you emotionally. Essentially, it is flagged with a big red (bogeyman) flag.

To your limbic system, a red flag means “emergency” and so it immediately cranks up your internal (perceived) volume to “full volume” and blasts you with perceived sound. You spring from your bed from a dead sleep ready to fight or run.

Now get this. It wasn’t the volume of the real sound that bolted you awake (remember, it was a very faint sound). Rather it was the enormous volume of the perceived sound that blasted you out of your bed. Again, your ears hear the real sound level (at its real almost inaudible level) while you hear the perceived sound level (in this case as very loud). That’s the way God designed your ears to work for sounds that are emotionally very important to you.

As you can now see, you never hear the real sound levels. You only hear the perceived sound levels. In any case, if you have normal hearing, for most sounds the real and perceived levels are about the same.

However, if you have hyperacusis things go all screwy. Your ears still hear sounds at their normal loudness levels. That isn’t the problem. The problem is that your limbic system has your internal volume control set much too high.

This often happens when you are a “high-strung” type of person and worry about everything. When you are anxious about something, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode until it can determine if there is a threat to your well-being. In “fight or flight” mode, among other things, your limbic system cranks your internal volume up so you can hear faint (possibly threatening) sounds better.

Normally, this just happens for a few seconds at a time, but when you are anxious all the time, your limbic system is stuck in the “flight or fight” mode and the internal volume remains at a higher level than it should be. The result is now you notice many normal, everyday sounds are just to loud.

In reality they are the same volume they always were, but you now perceive them as being much louder than they really are. This is one cause of hyperacusis.

Another cause of hyperacusis is sound trauma. Sudden, very loud noises can also result in your internal volume becoming stuck on “high”.

As you can appreciate, if you have both—you are high-strung to begin with, and you experience a sudden loud sound (like the acoustic reflex test you took), you can experience a “double-whammy” that results in what you are now experiencing.

When you hear everyday sounds, you jump and/or wince because you perceive these sounds as being so loud that you actually experience pain in your ears. Thus you (logically) conclude that they MUST be damaging your ears.

This pain is real, make no mistake about that, but it comes, not as a response to extremely loud sounds, but because you perceive these sounds at an extremely loud level.

That is why you question, “Is that loud sound you hear really too loud (and you need to protect your ears now), or it is just a normal sound that you are perceiving as too loud?”

At this point you need to consider the source of the sound to see whether logically it could be ear-damaging or not.

One way is to observe those around you. Are they wincing, jumping or otherwise reacting to the sound? If not, then it probably isn’t an ear-damaging sound.

Another way to know how loud sounds really are is to use a sound level meter and “take a reading”. If the sounds are less than 80 dB, you know they are not ear-damaging, no matter how loud they seem to you. (If you have a smart phone, there are sound level APPs you can use for free that turn your phone into a reasonably-accurate sound level meter.)

Therefore, if someone is setting the table and the clattering cutlery is so loud it hurts your ears, you know it has to be your perceived loudness causing you problems, because these ordinary, everyday sounds are not bothering anyone else.

Since you have hyperacusis, you do not want to expose your ears to sounds louder than you can handle, and you definitely don’t want to expose your ears to ear-damaging sounds.

The current sound level standards say that you can expose your ears all day to sounds that are under 80 dB. However, once the sound level reaches 85 dB, it is only safe to listen to for 8 hours.

Above that, as the sound level increases by 3 dB, the safe time exposure reduces by half. Thus at 88 dB your safe time exposure limit drops to 4 hours. At 91 dB it drops to 2 hours. At 94 dB it drops to 1 hour. At 97 dB it drops to 30 minutes, and so on.

Note, these figures are for the average person. Some people are more sensitive so their ears may be damaged by shorter exposure times at those levels.

In contrast to the above sustained sound levels, a sudden, sharp, sound, if loud enough, can cause instantaneous damage. The result can be as you have found—noxious tinnitus and hyperacusis. Fortunately, most, people do not get hyperacusis from such episodes.

As you have found, living with hyperacusis is often even worse than living with tinnitus. Once you have hyperacusis, it can feed on itself, just like tinnitus can. What happens, as we have seen, is that your emotional (limbic) system gets involved. The more you focus on, and worry, about your tinnitus and hyperacusis (and this is what you have been doing), the more your limbic system increases the emotional flag level for those sounds. Thus, they became ever louder and more intrusive.

You need to work on not allowing this to happen if you want to get your tinnitus and hyperacusis under control. The way you do this is to learn to be emotionally neutral towards your tinnitus and hyperacusis (difficult to do, to be sure). The result is that your limbic system will then “unflag” this sounds and consequently turn down the internal volume.

However, each time you expose your ears to loud enough sounds, your tinnitus will spike and your hyperacusis will get worse again as you have found.

Thus, when you had several acoustic trauma events in short order, each one builds on the previous one and the result is raging tinnitus and unbearable hyperacusis.

It takes time to recover from such events. I liken each acoustic trauma event to getting “whacked” resulting in a bruise. It takes time for a bruise to heal. If you get “whacked” on the bruise before it has fully healed, it hurts even more than it did originally and takes even longer to heal.

What your ears need more than anything at this point is several months of relative quiet in which to heal. During this time you want to be careful not to expose them to louder sounds. Thus you need to wear ear protectors when around louder sounds. but, and this is very important, you must not overdo this. If you forget and don’t take the ear plugs out when the sound level drops to normal, you will make your condition even worse.

Here’s why. If you don’t take the ear plugs out as soon as sounds return to normal, your brain turns up its internal volume trying to hear normal sounds again. Then, when you take the ear plugs out, everything is now too loud. So the trick is to always protect your ears when sounds around you would cause you more ear trauma, but the second that is not true, take the plugs out.

I know it is virtually impossible to protect your ears from everything because unexpected loud sounds occur from time to time. In these situations, quickly cover your ears with your hands. The best way is to push on the fleshy prominence (tragus) at the entrance to your ear canal to seal your ear canal. I’ve found this gives the best and quickest protection.

Your tinnitus and hyperacusis may get worse for a time. You’ve suffered a set back in your progress. Do not be discouraged but continue on. You are on the road to recovery. It will just take longer.

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March 10, 2015: 7:17 am: Tinnitus

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A lady wrote,

I was recently chatting with a man about his tinnitus. He has suffered with severe ringing in his ears for over 15 years. About three months ago, he was in the hospital for surgery. They noticed his potassium and magnesium levels were very low and started him on both liquid forms of each. He mentioned after about four days, all the ringing in his ears has stopped and has not returned. Interesting after 15 years of having it. Any thoughts?

Too much Potassium can cause tinnitus as I pointed out in my article “Potassium Gluconate and Hearing Loss”, (1) but maybe too little can also do the same.

On the other hand, many/most Americans are low on magnesium according to what I have read in various places. We need magnesium. It helps protect our ears from noise damage and other ear problems.

As Barry Keate (2) explains, “Magnesium also protects the nerves in the inner ear and is a powerful glutamate inhibitor. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter, produced by the action of sound waves on the hair cells of the inner ear. The unregulated production of glutamate at sound frequencies for which there is no external stimulation is the cause of tinnitus.”

“The protective effect of magnesium in preventing noise-induced hearing loss has been studied since it was found that magnesium in inner ear fluid decreases significantly after intense noise exposure. The results of one placebo controlled study showed that subjects who took oral magnesium supplements displayed a significantly lower incidence of noise-induced hearing loss compared to the control group. In 1998 a highly motivated patient elected to undergo a catheter-delivered infusion of magnesium sulfate to the round window (of the inner ear). Within 60 seconds of the infusion she experienced complete resolution of her tinnitus. This effect lasted until the flow of medication was discontinued 48 hours later.” (2)

Thus I can readily see that if he was low on magnesium, it could have certainly been linked to his tinnitus.

It’s a good idea to make sure you have adequate magnesium intake. But don’t overdose on it. And remember to keep this mineral in proper balance. For example, if you take extra magnesium, you also should be taking calcium at the same rate (the correct ratio is 1:1 calcium to magnesium). Note that almost all supplement formulations have a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium (this is not good for your health). At the same time, you also need to take Vitamin D3 so your body will properly utilize the calcium and magnesium. Furthermore, if you take higher doses of Vitamin D3, you should take Vitamin K2 so you don’t end up with harmful side effects from taking high doses of Vitamin D3.

Dr. Mercola recently wrote, “Magnesium is also important, both for the proper function of calcium, and for the activity of vitamin D, as it converts vitamin D into its active form. Magnesium also activates enzyme activity that helps your body use the vitamin D. In fact, all enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium to work. As with vitamin D and K2, magnesium deficiency is very common, and if you’re lacking in magnesium and take supplemental calcium, you may exacerbate the situation. Dietary sources of magnesium include sea vegetables, such as kelp, dulse, and nori. Vegetables can also be a good source. As for supplements, magnesium citrate and magnesium threonate are among the best.” (3) So is magnesium glycinate.

As you can see, the trick is to take all vitamins and minerals in the proper ratio so you keep your body’s chemistry in balance, thus giving you optimal health.

If you want to learn more about tinnitus, the many things that can trigger tinnitus, or more about a number of things you can do to help bring your tinnitus under control, check out my book, When Your Ears Ring—Cope with Your Tinnitus—Here’s How.

________

(1) Bauman, Neil. 2009. Potassium Gluconate and Hearing Loss.

(2) Keate, Barry. 2013? Magnesium, Your Health and Tinnitus.

(3) Mercola, Dr. Joseph. 2015. Foods and Other Lifestyle Factors That Will Shorten Your Lifespan.

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March 5, 2015: 6:56 am: Assistive Devices

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A man asked,

Any comments about these over the counter devices like the Sound Hawk?

In case you don’t know, the Sound Hawk is an ear-level personal amplifier. I think the concept is good, but there are limitations that you need to know before you rush out and purchase one.

First, there is no indication how much amplification it has, so if you have a significant hearing loss, it may not have enough amplification for you.

Second, this is not a hearing aid (they have to say that to keep the government agencies off their backs), but I think it will help people with mild hearing losses and maybe those with moderate losses.

Third, you can’t use this device with hearing aids.

Fourth, you only hear in one ear. Note, you hear and understand much better when you hear with both ears at once. I don’t think there is a way to program/use this device in both ears at the same time.

Fifth, the remote microphone is a cool idea and could really help you hear a person talking in noisy places if placed close enough to the speaker’s lips.

Sixth, it looks like a Bluetooth device so won’t draw attention to itself as a hearing aid. People will just assume you are using a Bluetooth headset (and indeed, it does double as a Bluetooth headset). For people that are trying to hide their hearing loss, it is much more visible than today’s unobtrusive hearing aids.

Seventh, I like how easy it is to set the frequency response (tone) via a smart phone—but you have to have a smart phone in the first place in order to set it up.

All in all, it could be a help to those with milder hearing losses—especially in noisier situations.

The price is not too bad at $279.00.

You can learn more about the Sound Hawk here.

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February 26, 2015: 6:34 am: Ototoxic Drugs

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

The Benzodiazepine class of drugs have a number of ototoxic side effects. Those of you that are concerned about your ears and want to minimize the risk of having hearing loss, tinnitus or balance problems from taking any drugs in this class need to do your own “due diligence”. Check the list of ototoxic side effects to be sure the prescribed drug won’t hurt your ears, or at least, reduce the risk of potential damage to as low as possible. You can easily do this by looking up the drugs in my book “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed”.

However, at the same time, you need to check out all the other side effects the Benzodiazepines (or any other drugs for that matter) may have on your body as I only report ototoxic side effects in the above book. (There is little benefit in saving your ears while destroying other parts of your body from drug side effects!) These other side effects can be pretty severe—much worse than any ototoxic side effects.

For example, if I asked you which side effect was most commonly reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA for many of the Benzodiazepine class of drugs, what would you answer? I’ll give you a clue—it’s not related to ears, yet it makes your ears totally stop working. Sounds serious doesn’t it?

Well, it is! You see, the shocking truth is that the most commonly-reported side effect to the FDA of 7 of the Benzodiazepines is death (completed suicide)!

Another 6 Benzodiazepines list attempted suicide as the 1st, 2nd or 3rd most commonly reported side effect. In addition, another 3 Benzodiazepines list drug overdose (which is another way of saying “attempted suicide” as the 1st or 2nd most common side effect reported to the FDA. That leaves only three drugs that do not rank suicide or attempted suicide as one of their top 3 side effects. However, these three drugs do not get off scot-free. They have the drug overdose side effect ranked as 12th, 32nd and 96th respectively.

You don’t find this kind of information in all the “sanitized” drug books published including the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR). However, if you go to the website that reports what real people report to the FDA as side effects they’ve experienced (or that of a loved one in the case of suicide/death), you’ll see a much different story. I used the DrugCite website to get the above figures.

What you can take away from all this is that the drugs you are taking for one problem or other can mess up your head so much that they can cause you to take, or attempt to take, your own life (and the tragedy is that multitudes do as confirmed by this website).

This is why you always need to do your own “due diligence” and satisfy yourself that the potential good a given drug can do is not far outweighed by the bad it actually does.

One more thing. When you look at the figures reported to the FDA, don’t for a moment think that those are the true figures indicating the magnitude of the problem. Yes, they are true in that those figures were actually reported, but they are not true in that they represent all the incidences of those side effects.

For example, one FDA commissioner reported that the FDA only receives reports of less than 1% of all serious side effects. So as a minimum, you’d have to multiply those figures 100 times to get closer to the real number.

And that estimate is just for serious side effects. For “minor” side effects, and most ear side effects have been considered to be “minor” side effects, the true reported percentage is much less than 1%.

If the “serious” side effects are less than 1%, probably the percent of “minor” side effects is only 1/100 of that. This would mean that if the FDA data base shows that 100 people committed suicide after taking a given drug, the true figures could be about 100 times higher—namely 10,000 people.

And by the same token, if 100 people reported a “minor” side effect such as tinnitus, the true figures could be as much as 10,000 times higher—namely 1,000,000 people.

Therefore, never let the small figures lull you into thinking that a given side effect rarely happens, and thus it won’t happen to you. I hear from people all the time who are shocked that they now have hearing loss or tinnitus or whatever after taking a given drug that they thought wouldn’t affect them.

And lest you think I’m scaremongering and blowing things out of proportion, here is a quote out of my book, “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed” giving you some documented facts and figures.

“Doctors are supposed to report side effects to the FDA. Do you know whether your doctor reports to the FDA any the side effects you tell him about? I’ll bet he doesn’t! According to former FDA Commissioner, David Kessler, only about 1% ever get reported. (1)

Notice that! Doctors report to the FDA less than 1% of the serious side effects they come across. What happens to less serious side effects? Are they ever reported?

In one study of Rhode Island doctors, researchers found that the doctors in the study had recorded 26,000 adverse reactions in their patient’s files. According to FDA guidelines, these doctors should have reported all these side effects to the FDA. Now, here’s the question. How many of these 26,000 side effects do you think these doctors actually reported to the FDA? You are going to be shocked by the answer. Did these doctors report all these 26,000 adverse reactions to the FDA, or even most of them? No sir, they did not! They only reported 11! (1) Shocking isn’t it?

If this study is representative of the whole country (and there is no compelling reason to believe otherwise), only 1 out of every 2,364 reports of serious adverse reactions ever reaches the FDA. Add to this total, the number of serious side effects that people do not report to their doctors in the first place. The result is that only a miniscule fraction of 1% of adverse side effects ever reach the FDA. Obviously, less serious and “minor” side effects such as hearing loss and tinnitus are rarely, if ever, reported.” (2)

Again, I urge you to do your own “due diligence” and be sure the supposed good of any drug you are considering taking far outweighs the many negative side effects that do occur.

An easy way to find the ototoxic side effects of the Benzodiazepines is in  Ototoxic Drugs Exposed 3rd edition. This book contains information on the ototoxicity of 877 drugs, 35 herbs and 148 chemicals.
_____________
(1) When the Cure May Make You Sicker. 1998.
(2) Bauman, Neil G. 2010. “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed“.

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February 11, 2015: 11:51 am: Meniere's Disease

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Introduction

To most people in the medical community, Meniere’s disease is a mysterious condition—I say mysterious because although it has been known for more than 150 years, doctors still don’t know what Meniere’s disease really is.

You see, unlike a typical disease where doctors can define it and test to see if you have it or not, Meniere’s disease is not a disease as such. Rather, it is a collection of symptoms. Thus, it should more correctly be called Meniere’s syndrome.

Since doctors can’t “find” Meniere’s disease—they can’t put their finger on it and say, “here’s your problem”—they diagnose Meniere’s disease by the process of elimination. In other words, they rule out everything else that “looks” somewhat like Meniere’s disease. After they have done this, they diagnose whatever remains as Meniere’s disease. Thus, Meniere’s disease is what doctors call an idiopathic disease from idiopathic causes.

“Idiopathic” is just a fancy medical term that means “unknown”. In short, doctors are saying they don’t know what Meniere’s disease is, don’t know what causes it, and consequently, don’t know how to effectively treat it.

That’s a pretty bleak picture isn’t it. It’s even bleaker if you suffer from Meniere’s disease. Then you know just how horrible an experience these attacks can be.

If you don’t know what Meniere’s disease is like, here’s the 30-second “elevator” version. Meniere’s disease typically comes as a series of “attacks”. A classic Meniere’s attack includes a fluctuating hearing loss, vertigo (often accompanied by nausea and vomiting), tinnitus and a feeling of fullness in your affected ear. An attack can last from a few minutes to a few hours to a few days.

For many people with Meniere’s disease, vertigo is the worst symptom. Here’s three real-life examples to help you understand the severe trauma such people can suffer through.

Mark remembers,

I used to have terrible vertigo attacks. The room would spin in one direction constantly for a week or two, then in the opposite direction for ‘daze’ on end. Then it would stop for a week, or for several months, and then start again.

To Muriel, Meniere’s disease is a dreaded, disabling affliction. Depending on the severity of her attacks, she experiences mild to violent dizziness/vertigo. During light attacks she may be able to manage on unsteady legs—bumping into door jambs or furniture—trying to carry out necessary chores around the house. Severe attacks are another story. At such times she has no sense of balance whatsoever. She can’t walk or otherwise move around. Her overwhelming sensation is the horrendous spinning of the world around her and the attending nausea.

Leigh has even more severe attacks called drop attacks. As she explains,

A drop attack is when you are literally thrown to the ground quite violently with a severe case of spinning vertigo. I’ve blacked out from the force of hitting my head either on the way down or when  I hit the ground. You cannot get your hands out in time and that’s the scariest part of it. I’ve hit my head many times and opened it up a  few times.

That’s the bad news.

Dr. Burcon’s Discovery

Now for some good news. Although medical doctors and medical science may not know much about Meniere’s disease, and apparently have mostly been “barking up the wrong tree” all these years, that’s not to say that no one knows anything about the basic causes of, and effective treatment for, Meniere’s disease.

Surprisingly, one of the most common factors that results in Meniere’s disease is quite simple to ascertain. Even better, the treatment can be fast, simple and painless. What’s amazing is that it has taken all these years for someone to figure this out. Furthermore, the  solution was serendipitous. It did not come about through a lot of scientific research. Here’s the story.

In the year 1999, upper cervical chiropractor Dr. Michael Burcon (affectionately called “Dr. Mike” by his patients) made an intriguing finding. (Note: upper cervical chiropractors specialize in adjusting the top two vertebrae in your neck.) Three of his patients, who just happened to have Meniere’s disease, quickly recovered from their vertigo after receiving upper-cervical-specific chiropractic treatment. Imagine the unmitigated joy these three patients experienced when they realized that the vertigo that had plagued them for years had miraculously vanished. This is a far cry from how people with Meniere’s sometimes come to him. As Dr. Burcon ruefully admits, “I’ve had people crawl down my office floor to the wastebasket and throw up from the nausea of Meniere’s”. (1)

One early patient explained,

I suffered from Meniere’s syndrome, or loss of balance, spinning and dizziness for forty-five years! I had all the things that went along with it: nausea, ringing in my ears, falling with the resulting broken bones and pain. It’s a force that could really throw me to the floor at times. I could not look up or down, or lie flat, without the spinning starting immediately. So, to avoid falling, I learned to walk around by walls, and to keep my head steady or level and to hang onto everything. Michigan University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Wesley Memorial Hospital in Chicago and many neurosurgeons in Michigan, Illinois and Florida could do nothing to help me—only medication, which would make me sleep.

Three months ago, Dr Michael Burcon gave me an [upper cervical chiropractic] treatment. I couldn’t believe it. I was no longer dizzy! The next day, I realized all the ringing in my ears and other noises in my head were gone! I am still free from the dizzy spinning today.” Mrs. G. H (1999). (2)

This and similar success stories from other patients got Dr. Burcon thinking. He began carefully documenting any cases of people with Meniere’s disease that came to him. He soon realized that there was one thing in common that all the people with Meniere’s disease that came to him had—and that was evidence of neck trauma—specifically, whiplash. Once he understood the cause, his chiropractic training suggested the treatment needed to correct this horrible condition. To date he has successfully treated more than 530 consecutive cases of people with Meniere’s disease. That is not just an impressive success rate, it’s a phenomenal success story, and one you need to know about if you have Meniere’s disease and nothing else is working for you!

The Physiology Underlying Meniere’s Disease

There are a number of physical factors that seem to underlie Meniere’s disease. Here are some prominent ones.

The Atlas-Axis Connection

You have 7 vertebrae in your neck numbered from C1 through C7. Your head sits directly on the C1 vertebra, often called the “atlas” because it has a difficult job. (It got its name from Greek mythology where Atlas had the weight of the “celestial spheres” on his shoulders, just like your atlas vertebra has the weight of your head on it.)

Specifically, your head, which typically weighs around 10 or 11 pounds, rests on top of the two-ounce, doughnut-shaped atlas vertebra. The atlas is also called the “yes” bone because your head rocks back and forth on its two articulations when you nod your head to indicate “yes”. That is why, when your skull slips partially off one of these atlas joints in one direction or another, pressure is applied to the brain stem, causing you to be “off your rocker”! (3) As Dr. Burcon explains, “Meniere’s is a nasty disease, but we can usually help people get their heads on straight.” (1)

Your second vertebra (C2) is called the “axis”. This is the vertebra that allows you to turn your head left and right. You could call it the “no” bone because it allows your head to rotate left and right as you shake your head “no”.

Incidentally, your atlas and axis are the only two vertebrae which do not have inter-vertebral discs between them like the rest of the vertebrae in your spine have. Furthermore; they are the two most freely moveable vertebrae; and as a result, are the ones most commonly misaligned and the easiest to be misaligned. (4)

You might not realize this, but your brainstem actually extends down into the atlas and axis cavity so your spinal cord basically begins with the C3 vertebra. Thus, if your top two vertebrae are out of alignment (what chiropractors call a subluxation), they put pressure on the base of your brainstem. This, in turn, interferes with the free flow of signals up and down your nervous system—sometimes with serious consequences. As Dr. Burcon explains, “Five of the twelve cranial nerves originate in the brainstem. The base of the brain controls many important bodily functions, such as breathing, blood pressure, the sleep center, and balance.”

When a C1 or C2 subluxation occurs, the weight of your head is no longer balanced evenly on your atlas. Rather, it is moved off center because of head tilt. When this happens, the rest of your body will begin to compensate for that shift of weight. One shoulder will drop down, one hip will come up bringing a leg up with it creating imbalance in your body. Now you have a problem with your back. One leg appears relatively shorter than the other and you are not walking with a normal gait. (5)

As we have just seen, this head-neck misalignment results in pressure on the brainstem. This can cause interference at the point where your head and neck join (the atlas). “If the atlas is out of its proper position, it can irritate, constrict or disrupt vital nerve signals to any portion of your body. This can cause muscle or joint pain, organ dysfunction, lowered immune system and countless other conditions that you would not ordinarily relate to a problem originating in your neck” (6) including the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Therefore, it is important for your health to keep your head “screwed on straight”.

From the side, you want your spine to have a nice curve to it. If the atlas is subluxated, it takes the curve out of your spine. However, as seen from the front or back you want your spine to be straight, not curved sideways in any place. (5)

This is where upper cervical chiropractic treatment comes in. Adjusting the atlas (and axis) can take this pressure off your brainstem, thus alleviating many problems by allowing your brain to send its healing messages throughout your body and allowing your spine to revert to its proper alignment.

The Endolymph Connection

Meniere’s disease is also called “endolymphatic hydrops”. Endolymphatic hydrops, according to the Merck Manual, is defined as, “The accumulation of the fluid of the membranous labyrinth of the ear, thought to be caused by the over production or under absorption of that fluid”.

Your inner ear consists of two fluids, endolymph and perilymph (Think of a balloon filled with endolymph inside a larger balloon filled with perilymph.) Hydrops is just the fancy medical name for excess fluid. Thus endolymphatic hydrops really is just an excess of endolymph.

When everything is working correctly, your body continually produces new endolymph, and at the same time—since your inner ear is a closed system—absorbs an equal amount of the existing endolymph, thus maintaining a constant endolymphatic pressure.

Doctors keep coming back to the idea that Meniere’s disease is somehow associated with the build-up of excessive endolymph (endolymphatic fluid) in the balance (vestibular) portion of the inner ear. This only happens if something upsets this delicate system so that your body produces too much endolymph or cannot absorb the existing endolymph fast enough. When something impairs your body’s ability to properly regulate the amount of endolymph in your inner ears, such as pressure on your vestibulo-cochlear nerve from a subluxation of the atlas, you can end up with Meniere’s disease. Thus the real problem underlying Meniere’s disease isn’t found in your inner ear, but is caused by having your atlas/axis vertebrae out of proper alignment.

The Whiplash Connection

Whiplash can knock you “off your rocker”. Dr. Burcon has positively established a link between both Meniere’s disease (and trigeminal neuralgia) with whiplash injuries that misalign the base of your skull with the top of your neck. This creates a lesion affecting your Eustachian tubes and/or the trigeminal ganglion. Whiplash injuries set the stage, and then other conditions may eventually follow.

For example, you may also get bad facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia) because of head/neck trauma or whiplash injuries when you were quite young. Your first indication may be Bell’s palsy. It may go away spontaneously and then a worse condition comes along. (5)

One thing Dr. Burcon has found in his research of 530 consecutive Meniere’s patients is that they all have one thing in common. Their X-rays show that they have significant whiplash injury from falling on their heads or from car accidents. According to Dr. Burcon, about half of these traumas were caused by vehicle accidents and the other half from injuries involving head trauma. Interestingly enough, most of his patients deny these earlier  injuries because they happened so long ago that they have forgotten about them, or they didn’t take them seriously in the first place. (5)

In addition, Greg Buchanan, who suffered for years as a result of an atlas/axis subluxation, further explains,

simple accidents such as falling from a bike and hitting your head, hitting your head on a door jam or bedside table, sustaining a head, neck or shoulder injury when playing contact sports can, and do, result in these  subluxations. (7)

In layman’s terms, basically whiplash is when the vertebrae in your neck are “out” such that your head gets stuck tipped forward and off to one side. This irritates the nerves in your autonomic nervous system so they don’t work properly. In addition, blood flow is reduced in the cervical area. So is the flow of cerebral-spinal fluid (CFS). This is important since, as we previously noted, Meniere’s disease is thought to be related to problems with excess endolymph (CSF) in your inner ear. Furthermore, since the 5th cranial nerve (trigeminal nerve) is compressed, it affects your soft palate so it quits working right, thus affecting proper Eustachian tube function. In turn, this causes the feelings of fullness in your middle ear on the side affected by Meniere’s disease. The 5th cranial nerve also controls the proper functioning of your temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) which also can affect Eustachian tube function. Finally, when the 8th cranial nerve (the vestibulo-cochlear nerve) is affected, it can result in low-frequency hearing loss, tinnitus and balance conditions such as vertigo and dizziness. (8) Who would have guessed that a single neck bone could cause all these problems and result in what we call Meniere’s disease?

The Subluxation Connection

Chiropractors talk about subluxations. I just say my back or neck is “out”. In medical terms a “luxation” is a complete dislocation of two bones. In contrast, a subluxation is an incomplete luxation (slight dislocation). Thus, a subluxation occurs when the alignment between two bones is altered, yet at the same time, the two joint surfaces remain in contact with each other (Stedman’s Medical Dictionary).

Subluxations may be quite small—only 1 or 2 mm—but this is enough to cause problems. Medical doctors typically discount these slight subluxations as not being medically significant. Typically, when they read cervical X-rays, they say everything is normal because they can’t see any broken bones, or they can’t see any tumors. Furthermore, they think any misalignments will right themselves on their own. However, the truth is that if you get a reverse curve in your neck, the only way to get that curve restored to normal is if you go to an skilled chiropractor according to Dr. Burcon. (5)

In addition, if you get a vertebra out in your neck, you will usually end up with lower back pain because, as Dr. Burcon says, “your spine starts adapting and compensating and twisting trying to take the pressure off your brainstem, and the vertebrae will move in several directions to keep you upright.” This is because “if your body has to choose between your head and your lower back, it will sacrifice your lower back in order to keep your eyes and ears level so you don’t get dizzy.” (5)

“Misalignments in other spinal vertebrae”, according to Dr. Blair, the father of the Blair method of upper cervical spine chiropractic, “require far more force to occur and are usually as a result of significant trauma. They are usually secondary to an upper cervical subluxation.” (4)

Greg Buchanan adds,

I find a high correlation between many diseases or medical conditions and one particular condition or state. In medical literature it is known as an occipitio-atlantal (C0 to C1) [head to atlas] subluxation and can be accompanied by an atlanto-axial (C1 to C2) [atlas to axis] subluxation. (7)

There are basically 4 directions an atlas subluxation can occur according to the Blair method of chiropractic treatment. It can either be:

  1.  Anterior (in front of) and Superior (above) on the Right
  2.  Anterior (in front of) and Superior (above) on the Left
  3.  Posterior (behind) and Inferior (below) on the Right
  4.  Posterior (behind) and Inferior (below) on the Left (9)

A head injury may result in the skull/atlas shifting to one of these four positions. Such movement is dependent upon the amplitude of the force, the direction it comes from and the anatomy of the person sustaining the force. A consequence of the injury can be ligaments stretching and/or tearing, resulting in the person’s head remaining in a subluxated position, and requiring intervention of some kind to restore the normal skull/atlas relationship and head and neck realignment. (4)

Note that an atlas subluxation both posterior (behind)  and inferior (below) on the right (No. 3 above) can irritate the 8th cranial nerve (the vestibulo-cochlear nerve that controls balance and hearing) on the left side and that can lead to the symptoms of Meniere’s disease. (10)

It is interesting that Meniere’s disease generally occurs in only one ear at a time. Furthermore, which ear it occurs in is determined to a large extent by the direction of the subluxation. The following table is based on the results Dr. Burcon obtained from examining 300 Meniere’s patients.

No. of occurrences Direction of Subluxation and Ear Involved
0 Anterior (in front of) and Superior (above) on the opposite side to the involved ear
18 Anterior (in front of) and Superior above) on the same side as the involved ear
12 Posterior (behind) and Inferior (below) on the same side as the involved ear
270 Posterior (behind) and Inferior (below) on the opposite side to the involved ear (9)

Notice that in 90% of the cases, the atlas subluxation is behind and below on the opposite side to the ear with Meniere’s disease. Thus this is the condition the overwhelming majority of people with Meniere’s disease have. However, if you have been in multiple accidents, or in an accident that caused more than one blow to your head, the subluxations can be in opposite (or any) directions. (5)

In an earlier study of just the first 30 Meniere’s patients Dr. Burcon treated, he discovered that prior to the onset of their symptoms, all 30 people suffered cervical traumas; most from automobile accidents, resulting in previously-undiagnosed whiplash injuries. These patients all had the same subluxation that resulted in Meniere’s disease as the 270 cases (above). At that time, Dr. Burcon noted, “It cannot be coincidental that thirty consecutive Meniere’s patients would present with a posterior and inferior atlas listing with laterality on the opposite side of the involved ear.” (10)

Note: Many more people suffer whiplash and other cervical trauma than have Meniere’s disease. One reason everyone doesn’t end up with Meniere’s disease from an atlas/axis subluxation is because they didn’t get the specific subluxation that Dr. Burcon has found to result in Meniere’s disease (bottom line in the above table). Other subluxations don’t seem to cause Meniere’s disease (or at least not very often), but they can certainly cause a number of other problems in your body. (See the next section.) Therefore, it is a good idea to have your atlas/axis checked by a upper cervical chiropractor after any occurrences of whiplash or other head/neck trauma if you desire to remain in good health.

Incidentally, the C1 and C2 vertebrae are intimately related. As a result, if one goes out, the other is also probably out too. They both usually move in the same direction. (5) However, they are not necessarily “out” by the same amount.

Dr. Burcon further explains, “When the atlas is the major subluxation, vertigo with vomiting is the major symptom. However, when the axis is the major subluxation, hearing loss, ear fullness and tinnitus are the major symptoms.” (9) This is why if only one vertebra is “off”, you may have incomplete Meniere’s disease—what doctors sometimes call vestibular hydrops (in the case of an atlas subluxation) and cochlear hydrops (in the case of an axis subluxation).

Also, it often happens that subluxations occur in pairs. The most common subluxation pair are the atlas and C5 vertebrae. The next most common pair are the axis and C6 vertebrae. The third most common pair are the atlas and axis together. People with both their atlas and axis “out” typically cannot drive or work. They rarely leave their homes. (9)

If your C5 vertebra is “out” as well as your atlas (C1), you may experience a number of problems with your body in addition to your major Meniere’s symptoms of vertigo and associated vomiting. As Dr. Burcon explains,

When the C5 vertebra is out, it messes up the vagus nerve and you could thus have digestion problems, or irritable bowel syndrome, or headaches, or pain in your arm, or tingling in your arm and hand. You could have pain in the joints in your arm. It could cause some problems with your lungs and breathing. It can contribute to panic attacks, also anxiety and depression as well. (5)

Not only do subluxations affect your nerves, they can also affect the blood supply to your inner ears (and other parts of your body). That is why right after an upper cervical treatment you may feel a rush of blood in your head. Some people’s faces turn beet red for a bit as a result. The good news is that if the lack of an adequate supply of blood (and oxygen) to your inner ears has caused much of your hearing loss, you may experience a dramatic return of much of your hearing as your inner ears start working properly again. (This cannot happen if the hair cells are dead, but it does happen if the hair cells and other inner ear structures are just “sick” from lack of oxygen.)

The Multi-Symptom Connection

Because the atlas and axis vertebrae are the gateway to the rest of your body, when either or both of these vertebrae are “off”, it prevents the nerves from working properly and transmitting healing messages to the rest of your body. The result is that a number of what seem to be unrelated problems can develop.

For example, about 50% of the people with Meniere’s disease get migraine headaches. As you can see from the list below, migraine headaches can be caused by an atlas subluxation, so this makes sense.

In addition to causing Meniere’s disease symptoms such as vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus, hearing loss and feelings of fullness in the ear, subluxations of the atlas and/or axis can cause a whole host of apparently-unrelated conditions such as, but not limited to:

  • allergies, arthritis, asthma, arm pain, athletic injuries, attention deficit disorder
  • back pain, bed wetting, Bell’s palsy
  • carpal tunnel syndrome, cerebral palsy, chronic fatigue, chronic infections, constipation
  • depression, digestive problems
  • epileptic seizures, ear infections, eye infections
  • female disorders, fever, flu symptoms, frequent colds
  • hacking cough, hay fever, headaches (all types), high (and low) blood pressure, hip pain
  • immune system deficiency, indigestion, infertility
  • knee pain
  • leg pain, loss of sleep, low back pain
  • migraine headaches, muscle spasms
  • neck pain, nervousness, neuralgia, neuritis, numbness
  • pain (chronic), poor vision
  • restlessness
  • shoulder pain, sinus problems, sore throat
  • tendonitis, tight muscles, tingling sensations, temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD), trigeminal neuralgia
  • whiplash (11)

Obviously, all the above conditions can have more than one cause, but as Dr. Burcon says, “I always keep going back and back in a person’s case history and I start to see these progressions over time—one thing after another that are seemingly unrelated,” (5) yet most of these conditions are the ultimate result of the upper cervical spine being out of alignment.

For example, one of the major causes of back pain is having your neck out of place for a long time. Since it takes a long time before you begin to have the back pain, when you finally go to your doctor about your lower back pain, he doesn’t ask you about your neck, so neck trauma from “way back” gets overlooked as the primary cause. (5)

The good news is that by adjusting the atlas and axis (and any other vertebrae) that need adjusting, upper cervical chiropractors can generally alleviate, and often eliminate, the above conditions.

The Time Connection

One of the interesting things about Meniere’s disease resulting from whiplash and other head trauma is that typically there is an average delay of 15 years between the time of the head trauma and the appearance of the Meniere’s disease symptoms. (8)

Probably this long latency period is why no one previously saw the correlation between whiplash and Meniere’s disease until Dr. Burcon came along. (This also applies to trigeminal neuralgia.)

This is also probably why few people are diagnosed with Meniere’s disease at a younger age. Remember, this 15-year delay is the average delay. Some people have their Meniere’s symptoms appear much sooner (and obviously this is what happens when children and young adults get Meniere’s disease), and some have a greater delay than 15 years.

In any event, people typically are diagnosed with Meniere’s disease in middle age—around age 40 or so—yet their injuries most often happened 15 to 25 years previously during their high school or college years. For example, they may have been in a car accident when they were learning to drive or soon after—during their reckless driving years. They may have had one or more sports injuries in high school or college. They may have done some dumb stunts in their youth or in college that resulted in “falling on their heads”.

Furthermore, few people list these old injuries on their doctor’s admission paperwork. In fact, they have often long-since forgotten about them. Thus, they fail to make any connection with these old injuries and their current Meniere’s disease symptoms.

The Genetic Connection

Some people feel that Meniere’s disease runs in families, and thus there must be a genetic connection. In truth, Meniere’s disease may have something to do with genetics. You see, Meniere’s disease can run in families because family members likely have similar bone structures, and some varieties of these bone structures may be more susceptible to misalignment. (5)

For example, you may be big-boned or small boned. That is a genetic trait you inherited from your parents. You may wonder what this has to do with Meniere’s disease. If you have big bones, you will have larger vertebrae and larger holes in the center for the spinal nerves to pass through. If you have smaller bones, your vertebrae likely will have smaller holes in their centers.

You may also have larger or smaller nerves (another genetic trait). If you have large bones and small nerves, obviously your atlas could have a subluxation to some degree and still not “pinch” your nerves. In contrast, if you have small bones and larger nerves, even just a tiny subluxation could put pressure your nerves and lower brainstem and result in things such as Meniere’s disease.

As chiropractor Dr. Robert Brooks explains,

Some people have big bones and little nerves. Thus, most of their problems are going to be structural. Some people have bigger nerves and smaller bones and they are going to have all kinds of neurological and functional complications with that structure. Furthermore, some people have a combination of both and their problems will go in both directions.

This is just one example of how genetics can play a role in whether you experience Meniere’s disease or not.

Putting It All Together

As we have seen, Meniere’s disease symptoms almost always initially stem from whiplash or similar head trauma. In addition, there may be a number of other factors that together result in an upper cervical subluxation complex.  (9)

They call it a complex for a good reason. Not only have you had an upper cervical misalignment for a long time, but there are a lot of different components. With Meniere’s disease, as Dr. Burcon explains

you have different symptoms, different intensities, different cycles. You could have an autoimmune component. There could be less blood going to the inner ear. There could be too much pressure in the cerebrospinal fluid. (There are two main fluids inside the skull which is an enclosed hydraulic system. If the blood pressure is too low, the other pressure is too high.) (5)

Furthermore, Meniere’s disease involves the 8th cranial nerve (the vestibulo-cochlear nerve that controls both the hearing and balance systems). When this nerve is compressed, it can result in an inner-ear symptom complex consisting of attacks of vertigo, low-frequency hearing loss, and tinnitus.

In addition, Meniere’s disease is not just an inner ear problem, it is also a middle ear syndrome highlighted by Eustachian tube dysfunction (e.g. feeling of fullness) compounded by dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints. (9)

This is because Meniere’s disease also has to do with the trigeminal nerve. (The trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve is responsible for sensations and motor functions in the face and jaw.) Among other things, the trigeminal nerve opens and closes the muscle in the middle ear. When the trigeminal nerve is not working correctly, it can result in Eustachian tube dysfunction. This is often why people with Meniere’s disease don’t like big pressure changes from the weather. The other end of the Eustachian tube lies right between the C1 and C2 vertebrae so swelling there can close up the opening of the Eustachian tube. That’s why sometimes when a plane is landing, the rapid pressure changes can set off a Meniere’s attack. Even getting up too quickly can cause an attack. (5)

In support of this view, note

that insertion of a middle-ear ventilation tube can temporarily alleviate Meniere’s symptoms, suggesting Eustachian tube dysfunction (ETD) as a  contributing factor. Furthermore, clinical practice also shows that treating disorders of the upper and lower cervical spine and temporomandibular joints can lessen Meniere’s disease symptoms.” (9)

Also, “stellate ganglion blocks [injecting a local anesthetic to temporarily numb the sympathetic nerves] can be beneficial in controlling Meniere’s disease symptoms, highlighting the influence of the autonomic nervous system.” (9) The stellate ganglion are a collection of sympathetic nerves located on each side of your voice box at the level of the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae (the last vertebra in your neck).

Another factor is that you can have a systemic virus like the herpes virus, so you can have an infection in your ear, and that can contribute to some of these things including Eustachian tube dysfunction. It may be any kind of viral infection, or any other type of infection for that matter. (5)

As you can see, there are many factors that can be involved in Meniere’s disease, but it always seems to come back to the underlying fact that the atlas and/or axis vertebrae are out of proper alignment.

In fact, Dr. Burcon has proved that Meniere’s disease is primarily the result of the subluxation of the atlas and/or axis vertebrae. For example, he found that 470 consecutive patients, diagnosed with Meniere’s by ENTs, and coming to his practice for care of vertigo, tested positive for upper cervical subluxations. He then took three cervical X-rays of each patient. Analysis of these X-rays confirmed the presence of such subluxations, and also showed evidence of whiplash—in spite of the fact that more than 50% of these patients denied that had had any cervical trauma. (8)

After treating these 470 consecutive people with Meniere’s disease using upper cervical techniques, the results were impressive. “Long-term neurophysiological improvements after initial adjustments have been clinically documented in 90% percent of these cases.” (10)

Reduction in vertigo for Meniere’s patients are similarly impressive. Before treatment, on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being no vertigo and 10 being the worst vertigo imaginable, these 470 patients rated their vertigo (both frequency and intensity combined) at an average of about 7.8.

Six weeks after initial treatment they again rated their vertigo, but now their frequency/intensity rating dramatically fell to just 2.8 (a 64% reduction) That alone would make most Meniere’s sufferers ecstatic! But that’s not all.

At one year post treatment, vertigo frequency/intensity ratings dropped to about 1.8, and by the end of two years post treatment, these ratings were down to 1.2.

Even more impressive, by the end of 3 years these ratings dropped to less than 0.1! In other words, by the end of 3 years, you essentially do not have problems with vertigo anymore! (9) That is wonderful news!

Upper Cervical Treatment

Now that you have learned just how valuable upper cervical chiropractic treatment can be in treating your Meniere’s disease, you might ask, “Can’t I just go to any chiropractor for upper cervical treatment? Aren’t all chiropractors trained in spinal adjustments?”

The answer is “yes, all chiropractors are trained in spinal adjustments, but their training does not prepare them to be experts in specifically adjusting the atlas and axis vertebrae!

Regular chiropractors are people who have attended a recognized chiropractic school and received their Doctor of Chiropractic degree (DC). To obtain this degree they must first earn a 4-year bachelor level degree followed by a 4-year doctoral degree in chiropractic.

All upper cervical chiropractors have earned DC degrees, but they have also gone on to take a 1-year post-doctoral specialty in upper cervical spine treatment techniques and associated clinical training. Only about 2% of chiropractors go on to take the upper cervical post-doctoral training, but even so, there are upper cervical chiropractors scattered around the country.

Another question you might be asking is, “If upper cervical chiropractic is so wonderful, and works so well for Meniere’s disease and other conditions, how come I’ve never heard of it before?”

There are two main reasons. First, the medical community typically has been, and largely still is, strongly prejudiced against chiropractic. Thus, medical doctors don’t tell their patients about upper cervical chiropractic and how it can help them. This keeps their patients in the dark about effective upper cervical treatments and thus keeps them coming back to their doctors again and again for treatment rather than letting them go elsewhere and be cured. (Can’t you hear the money talking here?)

Second,

there are laws in every state and Canada that prevent chiropractors that use any particular  procedure, whether upper cervical or otherwise, from freely advertising the procedure they have dedicated their lives to learning. One law in particular forbids any chiropractor that uses any particular procedure to infer that his method is superior or more advanced than other chiropractic methods. (6)

There are a number of different approaches to upper cervical chiropractic adjustments—about 10 or so. All of them require extra training. Furthermore, all of them require extra time with each patient. Dr. Burcon is partial to the “hands-on” Blair method, but he is quick to point out that the other methods are all good too.

In addition to the Blair method for treating the upper cervical spine, some of other methods include the Atlas Orthogonal, the HIO (Hole-in-One) Toggle Recoil, the Kale Brainstem, the NUCCA, the Knee Chest, the Orthospinology/Grostic, the Quantum Spinal Mechanics and the Palmer Specific to name some of the more common ones. You can learn more about these various upper cervical treatment  methods at http://www.upcspine.com/tech.htm.

Each of these methods have their unique advantages in certain situations. As Dr. Burcon explains, “There is no one chiropractic technique that works best for every patient, every time.” (9) For any given patient, one method may be better than the others for some reason. (5) Since everyone is made slightly differently, each person may need one or another of the various treatment methods.

Upper cervical treatments are for the most part gentle. Greg Buchanan explains,

Upper cervical spine chiropractors utilize very specific, and mainly gentle approaches, techniques, methods and procedures to measure and ‘adjust’ displacements [subluxations] in the upper cervical vertebrae—in particular,  displacements of the atlas with respect to the skull. There are quite a few approaches, which differ in analysis, and adjustment technique, but overwhelmingly they are gentle, very accurate and very effective. Those people who have been ill, who have a confirmed subluxation of their atlas and who have received a professional and well-executed upper cervical adjustment to the atlas will testify to the adjustment’s effectiveness. Just like me they have seen the benefits of this wonderful alternative health  approach. (12)

The Upper-Cervical website explains it this way:

The upper cervical correction can be described as a slight predetermined direction of pressure applied to the first bone (atlas) or second bone (axis) in the neck. Depending on the technique, it can feel like a brisk thrust, a light tap, or a massage on the side of the neck just below the earlobe. That’s where the atlas is. Sometimes this is  accompanied by a loud pop or series of tiny ticks as the bone moves back into place. (6)

If you are worried about chiropractors being too rough and jerking you around and cracking you up, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. You see, upper cervical chiropractors do not “manipulate” your neck; they “adjust” it. This adjustment technique is quite tolerable, non-invasive and involves no twisting or cracking of your neck.

Buchanan explains,

Cutting through the noise about manipulation, it’s important to understand that there is a ‘huge’ difference between ‘manipulation’ and ‘adjustment’. True upper cervical spine chiropractors don’t just grab your head and twist your neck ‘hoping’ to unlock, some ‘locked’ vertebrae. Nor do they crack, crunch, rotate, or take your neck to its full range of motion and move it with high velocity in the other direction. This type of approach is what I would call manipulation.

Upper cervical spine chiropractors, on the other hand, are very deliberate and very measured in their approach. They measure displacements in upper cervical vertebrae with accuracy, utilizing precision X-rays to analyze such displacements thoroughly in order to determine the best direction of the adjusting force to achieve the best result possible. This specific before and after measurement and correction is the hallmark of the upper cervical spine chiropractor and determines the difference, in my opinion between manipulation and adjustment. (12)

When choosing an upper cervical chiropractor, you want to make sure that your chiropractor uses specific measuring techniques so he knows what is “out”, and which way it is “out”. After treatment, you want to be sure your chiropractor has ways of knowing that the atlas and axis are now in proper alignment.

One technique many chiropractors use is to have you lay on your stomach. They then compare your leg lengths. (Typically they check that the back of the heels on your shoes match exactly.) If any vertebrae are “out”, typically your spine shifts, which tilts your pelvis, resulting in one leg appearing shorter than the other. They then adjust your spine so it is in proper alignment. When they do this, your pelvis returns to level, and thus both of your legs now appear the same length.

Unfortunately regular chiropractors often treat your lower back to get your pelvis level again, but fail to properly treat the atlas and axis. As Dr. Burcon explains,

The chiropractor that is hurrying pushes on the longest leg and straightens out your lower back and your legs are now balanced. However, 15 minutes later, it pops back out because the real problem originated from your neck. Furthermore, most general chiropractors don’t let you rest for 15 minutes or so, then recheck your vertebrae to make sure the adjustments are holding. (5)

Apart from the leg-length check, Dr. Burcon feels that every chiropractor should have at least two totally different ways to check that he has adjusted things correctly—such as the X-ray and thermography methods he uses. He explains,

I think that it is most important that you’re good at a couple of different ways, otherwise you might miss something. There’s no one test that works for everyone 100% of the time. You need two different checking systems, but that doesn’t always have to be thermography. You could pick something else, practicing to learn how to do it well. (5)

He continues,

I use X-rays. I always take X-rays before, but not always after, especially if a patient doesn’t want many X-rays taken. As for post-treatment X-rays, sometimes the insurance company wants one,  sometimes the patient wants one, sometimes I need one for my research, but I don’t do a whole lot of post-treatment X-rays.

If you are doing well, I probably wouldn’t take another X-ray for a year if we were getting the results that we were looking for and I didn’t need more information or confirmation.

If you just go by feel (challenges) you will be right about 85% of the time, but that is not good enough for me. That is why I take X-rays. B. J. Palmer, who started the specific cervical treatments, said you couldn’t be specific without an X-ray. He was one of the first chiropractors to buy an X-ray machine.

The second method I use is thermography. Thermography is only measuring the heat you are giving off. Thus, there is no X-ray radiation to worry about. As a result, you can take as many thermographs as you want without any danger to the patient. Most Blair chiropractors use thermography as their second way to check their adjustments.

With thermography, I take heat pictures of your neck. I can do your back too if you complain of problems in your back. Over time I’ve learned to see certain patterns. You can see which vertebra is lighting up and is too hot, and which leg is too short and how things change when you use different methods. You have to tailor your methods of treatment to each individual person because each person is different. Too many chiropractors use the same adjustments on everybody because they are going for quantity (more patients), not quality. (5)

After you have had an upper cervical chiropractic treatment you need to be very careful not to put your neck “out” again. Thus, an important part of the treatment is to lay down and rest for 20 minutes or so right there in the chiropractors office, after which, a good chiropractor will recheck your neck to be sure it is still in proper alignment.

Some good upper cervical chiropractors tell those patients who drive to their appointments to back their cars into a parking stall so they can drive out without turning their necks too far like they would have to if they were backing out of a parking spot. Doing this helps you prevent your atlas and axis from going “out” again before you even get home. It takes time for your ligaments, tendons and muscles to shrink and hold the proper alignment again. Thus you may have to have several adjustments in short order to keep them in place while they heal.

Thus the question arises, “How often do I have to have an upper cervical chiropractic treatment?” The answer is that it depends on your own body. You see, your vertebrae may not stay in place after the initial treatment because, by the time you sought treatment, your ligaments, tendons and muscles had all been stretched out of shape for a number of years, and it takes time for them to shrink and get used to holding your vertebrae in their proper positions again. This is why initially “some people have to be corrected once or twice a week, or even more often, then one or twice a month. Other people can hold their correction for several months, even a year at a time. Everyone is different.

One rule of thumb is that it will take roughly one month for every year the subluxation existed. This means that if your vertebrae were “out” for 12 years, you could expect it could take up to 12 months for your body to completely adjust, and for your vertebrae learn to stay in their correct positions. Remember, this is just a rule of thumb. For some people their symptoms disappear soon after the first treatment. For others, it takes months. As Dr. Burcon explains, “Relief may be instantaneous but sometimes it has to run its course.”

“The upper cervical doctor’s objective is to make as precise an upper cervical correction as possible. Then, he must help you maintain the correction with as few corrections as possible so that you may live pain-free and enjoy a better quality of life.” (6)

After upper cervical treatment, your Meniere’s and other symptoms may decrease immediately, or pain may change and move to another area of your body. This is a good sign that your body is now busy healing itself.

Dr. Burcon’s typical chiropractic treatment includes a detailed case history, including a letter from the patient’s ENT and copies of all the ENT’s tests used to diagnose Meniere’s disease. He takes cervical thermographs (using a Titronics TyTron C-3000). He performs a modified Prill leg check analysis. He takes 3 modified Blair cervical X-rays. Then, after careful analysis of the above, he makes adjustments to the upper cervical spine based on his analysis. Finally, the patient lays down for a 15-minute rest after which Dr.  Burcon rechecks him to be sure everything is still in alignment. (7)

Will Upper Cervical Spine Treatment Help You?

The short answer is you won’t know for sure until you have tried this treatment. However, here are some common ear and related conditions that may indicate your atlas is “off”, and thus you could benefit from upper cervical chiropractic treatments.

  1. Do you have ear symptoms such as tinnitus, watery sounds in your ear, your ears feel blocked, or you have Meniere’s Disease, otalgia (ear pain), or recurrent ear infections?
  2. Do you often get headaches or migraines?
  3. Can you remember any trauma (even minor) to your head, neck or shoulders?
  4. Do you experience any balance problems such as dizziness, vertigo or movement sensations when nothing is moving?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it might be wise to get yourself checked out by an upper cervical chiropractor. (13)

Finding an Upper Cervical Chiropractor

By now you probably are eager to find an upper cervical chiropractor and see what they can do to help you bring your Meniere’s disease under control. Fortunately, upper cervical chiropractors are easy to find if you know where to look.

Greg Buchanan’s website gives a wealth of information on upper cervical chiropractic. Furthermore, he maintains a list of upper cervical chiropractors scattered all over the world so you (hopefully) can find one near you. Just go to the above link and click on the fifth button across the top “Practitioners”. From the drop-down menu choose your area of the world. If you live in the USA or Canada, choose North America, then click on the “View” button (on the right) for your state (or province) and you will see an alphabetic listing (by chiropractor’s last names—not business names) of the upper cervical chiropractors in that state/province. Each listing gives not only all the contact information you need, but also what method of upper cervical techniques they use, what instruments they use, whether they take X-rays or not, etc.

You can also go to the main web page for each of the various upper cervical chiropractic associations (each organization is associated with one specific method) and look at the listing of chiropractors trained in their method. These listings may be more complete and up-to-date than those on Buchanan’s website.

To find an upper cervical chiropractor that practices a specific method (such as the Blair method), go to Buchanan’s web page that lists these various methods and click on the name of the method you want to investigate (in the column on the left) or on the “Read More” link at the bottom of the paragraph describing the method on the main part of the page. Usually there is a listing of chiropractors using that method somewhere on that website.

I’d suggest you look for upper cervical chiropractors that have/do the following:

  1. A good number of years of experience (a minimum of 15 or 20 years). This is because it takes years of practicing to become an expert upper cervical chiropractor, especially in treating a complex condition such as Meniere’s disease.
  2. A chiropractor that uses the Blair method (if you can find one reasonably near you).
  3. A chiropractor that has a proven track record in successfully treating people with Meniere’s disease.
  4. A chiropractor that uses at least two methods to tell if you are in adjustment (X-rays and  thermography, for example).
  5. A chiropractor that takes X-rays so he won’t miss tiny subluxations.

If you want to start with the most experienced upper cervical chiropractor for Meniere’s disease and other difficult neurological cases, you can’t go wrong by contacting Dr. Burcon’s clinic. He has a spectacular 97% success rate for people with Meniere’s disease and trigeminal neuralgia. (11) He treats people from all over the world (and also sometimes collaborates with an upper cervical chiropractor near you if you need extended treatment).

Dr. Burcon’s contact information is on his website. Select “Contact” (on the left). Also, check out the “Burcon Chiropractic Research Institute” website for further information about him.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to investigate each chiropractor before you commit to him/her (some chiropractors are better than others, some have more training than others, some have more experience with Meniere’s than others, some have better testing protocols than other, etc.). You alone are responsible for your own health, so do your own “due diligence”, then decide whether you want to proceed, and if you choose to proceed, to whom you want to go.

For those who choose to seek upper cervical treatment, please comment here on your experiences whether good or bad. This will help other Meniere’s sufferers decide whether, and from whom, they want to seek upper cervical chiropractic treatment.

I wish you well in getting your head “screwed on straight” and finally kissing good-bye to your Meniere’s (and other) symptoms that have plagued you for so long.
_________

More good news. If you have Meniere’s disease and and want/need support and friendship from other people who also have Meniere’s disease, join what is probably the most wonderful on-line support group for people with Meniere’s disease—the Meniere’s list in the SayWhatClub (SWC).

You can join the SayWhatClub here where you can learn a bit about the SWC and fill out a membership application. Someone from the hospitality committee will then contact you and introduce you to the Meniere’s list.  You will be welcome. I look forward to meeting you there.
_________

References

(1) Winter 2015 Newsletter.

(2) Heselsweet, Geraldine, 1999. Success Story.

(3) Burcon Chiropractic.

(4) Blair Upper Cervical—Dr. William G. Blair.

(5) Burcon, Michael. 2015. Personal communication.

(6) FAQ. Upper Cervical Chiropractic.

(7) Buchanan, Greg. My Findings.

(8) Burcon, Michael. Upper Cervical Protocol & Results for 300 Meniere’s Patients. Sixth International Symposium on Meniere’s Disease. Kyoto, Japan.

(9) Burcon, Michael. Cervical Specific Protocol & Results for 300 Meniere’s Patients. Presented at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic, Upper Cervical Conference.

(10) Burcon, Michael. Upper Cervical protocol for Thirty Meniere’s Patients.

(11) Conditions That Respond.

(12) Buchanan, Greg. Introduction to Upper Cervical Techniques.

(13) Sign/Symptom Checklist.

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December 25, 2014: 11:02 am: Cell Phones

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Years ago, about the time the dinosaurs stopped roaming the earth, I had a cell phone that worked wonderfully well for me. It’s secret was a special integrated amplifier called the “CHAAMP” that provided me with more than enough amplification in spite of my severe hearing loss. I loved that cell phone/CHAAMP combination and used it for a number of years.

Although it outlived the dinosaurs, I knew its days were numbered as advancing technology was quickly making it obsolete. Thus, I began looking around for a replacement. A Bluetooth headset was obviously the way to go—one that would work with all Bluetooth-equipped cell phones—no matter how fast technology kept changing. Unfortunately for me, there were two major problems. First, the Bluetooth headsets available did not work with hearing aids (they were not t-coil compatible), and second, they did not work without hearing aids either, as none of them had enough volume for me.

With nothing suitable available,  I approached Serene Innovations about my need for such a device—a device that would work with any Bluetooth-equipped cell phone, and that would have the volume I needed when I was not wearing my hearing aids.

Fortunately, Serene Innovations was interested and we worked together for a couple of years to design such a gizmo. I drew up the specifications—a wish list of what I, as a hard of hearing person, wanted and needed in a Bluetooth cell phone amplifier. Eventually, that all came together and the “HearAll” was born.

While it was in final testing, Verizon suddenly quit supporting my dinosaur cell phone and instantly I was left without a means of hearing on a cell phone. I purchased a new smart phone—an iPhone 5s as it happened—but as I knew, it didn’t have enough volume for me. You can imagine how eagerly I was awaiting the imminent release of the new HearAll Model SA-40 cell phone amplifier that came out a couple of months later.

Not only does the HearAll help me hear on my cell phone, it also has a number of cool features just perfect for hard of hearing people. The HearAll is just like its name says, you can hear all. It is wonderfully versatile, whether you are wearing hearing aids, or just have your “broken” ears to hear with. As a result, if you forget your hearing aids, they break, or you run out of batteries at an importune time, you can still use your cell phone if you have the HearAll with you.

The HearAll is designed, not only for hard of hearing people, but also for hearing people who have to hear under difficult listening conditions. For example, when there is a lot of background noise around, you simply crank up the volume until you can hear over the noise. At the same time, the soft flexible earphone “cup”, when pressed against your ear does a good job of helping keep all the extraneous racket out, again helping you hear better. Furthermore, if you’re like me and need more volume, you typically hold any phone tightly against your ear and the soft flexible “cup” doesn’t hurt your ear like hard plastic tends to do, especially on longer calls.

The HearAll has three different operating modes—handset mode, speakerphone mode and t-coil mode. In handset mode, you just hold it up to your ear like you’d do with any cell phone. With the convenient volume control buttons, you can quickly set the volume to whatever level you need.

Note: the HearAll should have all the volume you need. Unlike most Bluetooth devices, the HearAll provides up to 40 dB of amplification so you’ll be able to hear on your cell phone without straining.

In speakerphone mode you (and those with you) can listen to the caller with both ears—whether you have hearing aids with t-coils or not. Again, the convenient volume control lets you set the volume at the level you need (within reason).

Finally, in t-coil mode, it’s powerful t-coil couples with the t-coils in your hearing aids to let you hear beautiful, clear sound without all the extraneous racket around you affecting your hearing.

Furthermore, because your cell phone is not up by your hearing aids, you never get any interference from your cell phone like you might if your cell phone didn’t have a high enough( M4/T4) interference rating. Thus, when using the HearAll you can use it with any cell phone no matter what the M and T ratings are. How cool is that?

Another cool feature is that when in t-coil mode the speaker is turned off so no one can ever overhear your conversations. Since we hard of hearing people so often have to have a lot of volume in order to hear, any hearing people around us can easily overhear our private conversations. With the HearAll in t-coil mode, your conversations are totally private since you are hearing solely via your t-coil—no sound comes out of the speaker.

Note: in handset mode, just by pressing the earphone cup tightly against your ear, you can also prevent sound escaping so those nearby can’t overhear your conversation as much as before.

Yet another cool feature is that there is a earphone jack on the HearAll so you can plug in either standard stereo earbuds and hear with both ears (if you are not wearing hearing aids). Alternately, you can plug in devices such as the Music Links, switch your hearing aids to t-coil mode and hear with both ears. (Switch the HearAll into t-coil mode when you use the earphone jack–and again no one will be able to overhead your conversations as the speaker will be turned off.)

Note: hearing with both ears has two decided benefits. First, you can understand speech better than when just hearing with one ear. Thus you don’t have to strain as much, or ask for as many repeats. Second, you can hear better with less volume than you need when listening with one ear. For me, this makes all the difference between whether I get headaches when using a phone or not.

And talking about understanding speech better, the HearAll has a three-position tone control (located on the left side) so you can set it to where you understand speech the best. You can set it to have high-frequency emphasis, mid-range emphasis or low-frequency emphasis depending what sound frequencies you want to boost in order to understand speech better. Set it to whatever works best for you.

Another neat feature is that the HearAll has a mute button. If you want to say something to a nearby person and don’t want the person on the other end of the phone to hear you, simply press the mute button. The mute light will turn green and the person on the other end will be “locked out”. Press the mute button again to turn off the mute function and the green light will go out and you’ll be back in normal talk mode again.

The HearAll works with virtually all cell phones that have Bluetooth capabilities built in—whether they are “smart” phones or “stupid” phones. Since most phones have Bluetooth built into them, it is unlikely that you’ll have to go out and get a new phone. And when you do get a new phone in the future, as long as it has Bluetooth built in, it will also work with your HearAll.

In order to use the HearAll with your cell phone, you first need to pair your phone with the HearAll (exactly like you have to pair any other Bluetooth device before you can use it). Pairing is easy. First, turn on the Bluetooth feature on your cell phone. Next, turn on the HearAll. In a few seconds the ON/STBY and BATT lights will begin alternately flashing green and orange indicating the HearAll is searching for any Bluetooth devices in range. On the screen of your cell phone you should see under Bluetooth devices a new device listed—the model number of the HearAll, namely “SA-40″. Click on the SA-40 on your cell phone and the two devices will now pair. When completed, your phone should say “Connected” beside the SA-40. At the same time, the alternating flashing lights on the HearAll will stop. You are now paired. You don’t have to pair the HearAll again unless you deliberately delete this Bluetooth connection on your cell phone.

Now, whenever your cell phone and HearAll are in range of each other (assuming you have the Bluetooth function activated on your cell phone) your HearAll will automatically pair to your cell phone. The proof of this is that the ON/STBY light will flash green every 6 seconds.

The designed range of Bluetooth devices is 33 feet (10 meters) although many Bluetooth devices I’ve tried wouldn’t work more than 10 or 20 feet away from the paired device. I was pleased to see that the HearAll works well all the way out to the 33 foot designed range.

The HearAll is a wireless Bluetooth device. Thus, you can leave your cell phone on your desk or counter, for example, and be up to 33 feet away from it and still get a strong signal assuming you have an unobstructed line of sight. This distance may be less in buildings with metal in the walls when you do not have an unobstructed line of sight to where your cell phone is.

When you receive an incoming call, both your cell phone and the HearAll ring. If you are away from your cell phone (and still within the 33-foot range of Bluetooth) you may not hear your cell phone ring. Therefore, especially if you are hard of hearing, be sure you leave your HearAll in speakerphone mode with the volume turned up so you will hear it ringing. (In handset mode, the ring volume may be too soft to hear if you have a significant hearing loss like I do.)

To answer an incoming call on the HearAll, just press the talk button (the one with the phone handset icon on it) and the ON/STBY light will change from flashing green every 6 seconds to steady green while the call is in progress. To hang up, press the talk button again and the ON/STBY light will resuming flashing every 6 seconds.

The HearAll is also designed for use in your car as a hands-free phone. It comes with a magnetic visor clip that you slide over the front edge of your sun visor. The HearAll magnetically attaches to the clip. Now you can use it in hands-free (speakerphone) mode if you wear hearing aids or only have a mild to moderate hearing loss and don’t wear hearing aids. I found that for my severe hearing loss, if I’m not wearing my hearing aids, I can’t quite hear/understand the person talking that way. Not an insurmountable problem. All I did was plug in a pair of earbuds and I could hear very well while driving and still be “hands-free”.

One of the good things about using the HearAll instead of holding your cell phone up to your ear is that you greatly reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation. Yes, you are still exposed to radiation as the HearAll operates in the same frequency band as cell phones, but the power is greatly reduced since it only has to transmit up to 33 feet, not several miles like your cell phone may have to. As a result, if you are concerned about cell phone radiation, using the HearAll is one way to reduce your radiation exposure. (For more on cell phone radiation hazards, see my article “Are Microwave Hearing Devices Slowly ‘Cooking’ Our Kids?“)

The HearAll uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack so you won’t have to keep replacing dead batteries. When the battery charge is getting low, the orange BATT indicator light will flash continuously to warn you. Recharging the HearAll is simple—just plug the recharging cable into  the micro USB port on the lower left side of the HearAll and plug the other end into a A/C wall receptacle. In just 3 or 4 hours it’s battery will be up to full charge, ready to go. While charging, the orange BATT indicator light will stay on. When the battery is fully charged, the BATT indicator light goes out.

Should you ever need to, you can use your HearAll while it is charging. Just plug the charger in and continue using it. If the battery dies while you are out driving (perhaps you are on a long trip), you can charge it in your car if you have a little power inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter (I always have one in my car) and you have your recharger in the car with you. However, with its high-capacity battery, its unlikely you’ll need to recharge the HearAll in the car as long as you recharge it every night or two.

Standby time for the HearAll is up to 14 days depending on the condition of the battery. (New batteries have more capacity than older batteries. Older batteries slowly lose their capacity as they age.) Talk time is up to 10 hours, again depending on the battery condition.

The HearAll works with Bluetooth cell phones, but it also works with other Bluetooth devices as well. For example, you can use it with your iPad or iPod. Experiment and see what other uses you can find for this wonderful, versatile HearAll.

If you’re now drooling at the thought of using a cell phone like everybody else, here’s how you can get one for yourself—and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either! Although the regular price of the HearAll is $99.95, you can get it for only $83.63 from the HearAll page on the Center’s website. Once you have tried it, I’ll bet you’ll love your HearAll as much as I do mine!

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September 27, 2014: 6:53 am: Hearing (General)

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

Humans are not the only creatures that use “hearing aids” in order to hear better. You may be surprised to learn that some animals do too. In Costa Rica, the Spix’s disk-winged bats (Thyroptera tricolor), named for suction-cuplike discs on their wings and feet, use leaves to funnel sound in a natural version of old-time “ear trumpets” (1)

The bat “ear trumpets” are made out of naturally-furled leaves. These furled leaves let the bats better hear other bats in their group flying above them from a greater distance than would otherwise be possible. This helps keep the group members from getting separated.

“Unlike other cave-dwelling bat species, disc-winged bats roost each day in the unfurling leaves of plants outside of caves. These leaves form a tube shape as they go from folded-up to flat, meaning the bats can roost only for a day before having to find another leaf in the proper shape.” (1)

Spix’s disc-wing bats are also cliquish. “They form groups of five or six individuals and tend to stay together for many years. They have a complex communication system involving a single-sound inquiry call that they emit when in flight to locate other bats in their roosting group. Members of their group then make response calls consisting of as many as 20 to 25 sounds. The difficulty the bats have is hearing the inquiry calls from large distances.” (2)

A previous study of the bat’s chattering calls revealed that despite the need to recognize roost-mates, roosting bats weren’t great at discerning whether they were talking to a close buddy or a stranger. (1)

This is where the furled leaves come into play. The “ear trumpet” shape of the leaves amplifies the incoming calls up to 10 dB. (1) (We would perceive this as double the volume.) This makes a big difference in how well roosting bats could hear their flying friends.

However, “the boosted cries were distorted because not all frequencies of sound amplify equally. This explains why roosting bats can hear their friends, but not necessarily recognize them. As a result, bats in the roost cry out in response to any inquiry they hear. It’s the job of the flying bat to recognize the complex response call as familiar and join the roost.” (1)

So now you know why these bats deliberately nest in these rounded leaves. It increases their chances of hearing inquiry calls, so that they can send out a recognizable message to their fellow bats at the right time. (2)

The 10 dB increase in sound volume increases the distance at which the flying bats can be heard by their roost-mates by an estimated 65 to 98 feet. (2)

You can see some fascinating pictures of these bats roosting in the bottoms of their “ear trumpet” leaves.
________

(1) Pappas, Stephanie. 2013. Speak Up! Costa Rican Bats Use Leaves as Hearing Aids.

(2) Bats in Costa Rica Using Leaves for Hearing. 2013. Audiology Worldnews.

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September 17, 2014: 6:50 am: Tinnitus

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

There is a lot of ongoing tinnitus research. Some of the findings are not new, but reinforce what we already knew about tinnitus.

For example, a study about the efficacy of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy revealed that success rates strongly correlated to two things. First, the length of the treatment—meaning longer treatment times (close to 3 years) gave better results than shorter treatment times. Second, the closer a person adhered to the TRT protocols, the better the results. This is nothing new. It just reinforces the fact that if you want to have success in tinnitus reduction when using TRT, you have to follow the “rules” day by day and persevere to the end. Too many people are impatient and try to short-circuit the process, and that just oesn’t work. (1)

Another study revealed that when treating tinnitus, you get more effective results when you address the person’s emotional and cognitive reaction to tinnitus. This means that expecting a treatment such as tinnitus masking, or drugs, or low-level laser treatment by themselves will not be near as effective (successful) as giving the same treatment, but treating the person’s emotional response at the same time. I have said for years that tinnitus is a “psychosomatic” condition and you have to address both the physical and the emotional components of tinnitus in order to be successful. This study just reinforces this view. (2)

Another study found that 43% of all elderly people have tinnitus. Of this group, 59% have tinnitus in both ears. Now you know (whether you wanted to or not). (3)

This same study found that there was a “weak” connection between hearing loss and tinnitus. (In the past studies have shown that 70+ percent of the people with hearing loss have tinnitus so I think the connection is not quite that weak.) But here’s something new. They found that there was a strong connection between tinnitus and diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Therefore, if you have diabetes or hypertension, you have a good chance of getting tinnitus as a result. Thus, it behooves one to get their diabetes and hypertension under control. This will reduce your chances of ending up with constant tinnitus. (3)

If you want to learn more about tinnitus, the many things that can trigger tinnitus, or more about a number of things you can do to help bring your tinnitus under control, check out my book, When Your Ears Ring—Cope with Your Tinnitus—Here’s How.

________

(1) Thong, J. F., et. al. Dec. 2013. Habituation Following Tinnitus Retraining Therapy in Tinnitus Sufferers. Annals, Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Summarized in Tinnitus Today, Spring, 2014, p. 19.

(2) Rabau, S., et. al. Jan. 2014. Changes Over Time of Psychoacoustic Outcome Measurements Are Not a Substitute for Subjective Outcome Measurements in Acute Tinnitus. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. Summarized in Tinnitus Today, Spring, 2014, p. 19.

(3) Gibrin, P. C., et. al. Dec. 2013. Prevalence of Tinnitus Complaints and Probable Association with Hearing Loss, Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension in Elderly. CoDAS. Summarized in Tinnitus Today, Spring, 2014, p. 19.

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September 7, 2014: 6:48 am: Ototoxic Drugs

by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

As many of you know, I am not a fan of taking prescription drugs, especially when there are safer alternatives, and almost always, there are safer alternatives. These safer alternatives will not only save your ears from the ototoxic side effects of the drugs, but they can also save your life.

“A recently published study in the United Kingdom has found a more than threefold increase in risk of death in those using tranquilizers or sleeping pills compared with people not using these drugs. The results were similar to those of a study published two years ago examining sleeping pill use in people in the United States, which found a more than threefold greater risk of dying in people using these drugs compared with a control group not using them.” (1)

In this study of approximately 35,000 people who used tranquilizers, 47% used benzodiazepines and 14% used the “Z” drugs.

Benzodiazepines include drugs such alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), oxazepam (Serax), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion) among others.

Z-drugs include zopiclone (Imovane), and its close derivative eszopiclone (Lunesta), zoleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien).

Researchers found that in the first year after the study began, “the overall risk of death for those using these drugs was 3.3 times greater than the risk for non-users. Increased doses of drugs further increased the risk of death.” (1)

The benzodiazepines increased the risk of death 3.7 times while the “Z” drugs 3.2 times. (1) Did you get that? According to this study, taking benzodiazepines increases your risk of death 370%, not to mention all the ototoxic (and other) side effects you will have to deal with.

This is a pretty serious side effect, considering that an effective alternative in dealing with your anxiety is by talking to someone about it.

I’m not the only one that says this. “British doctors who have written about nondrug alternatives for the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety (and similar problems) say that:

‘The best treatment is likely to be brief counseling provided by a general practitioner or another professional. Such counseling need not be intensive or specially skilled. It should always include careful assessment of the causes of the patient’s distress. Once these have been identified, anxiety may often be reduced to tolerable levels by means of explanation, exploration of feelings, reassurance, and encouragement.’

What else can be done? Talking to non-medical people—a friend, a spouse, a relative, a member of the clergy—may help to identify causes of anxiety and potential solutions. Gathering the courage to talk about difficult concerns would generally be a better solution than taking pills.” (1)

So there you have it. Start looking for effective, natural alternatives to drug use. Then you’ll never have to worry about the ototoxic side effects of drugs, and in the process, you may even save your life, and that is definitely worth it!

If you want to look up the ototoxic side effects of the benzodiazepines or the Z-drugs if you are considering taking them, see my book Ototoxic Drugs Exposed 3rd edition. This book contains information on the ototoxicity of 877 drugs, 35 herbs and 148 chemicals.
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(1) New Study Shows Increased Risk of Death with Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers. Worst Pills, Best Pills News. July, 2014, Vol. 20. No. 7.

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