Sunday, January 7, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 7, 2001

Health Q&A
What you could do to protect your hearing

Advertiser News Services

Q. What are some easy ways to preserve your hearing?

A. Here are some suggestions from Lisa Spiegel, a Florida Hospital audiologist, and the Better Hearing Institute:

Use ear protection judiciously. If you have ever left a rock concert with your ears ringing or stopped up, you’ve done irreversible damage to your ears. Consider using earplugs when attending your next concert. It not only reduces the decibel level, but also often filters out extraneous noise to improve the clarity of the singing. Also trot out the earplugs when mowing the lawn, operating power tools or shooting guns.

Swap "earbud" headphones for traditional styles. Earbud headphones fit in the ear canal and focus sound - often played at levels that can cause permanent damage - at the delicate hearing apparatus. With traditional headphones, the sound is diffused, thus safer. Still, consider turning the volume down.

Monitor your medications. Some medications can affect your hearing and should be avoided if possible. If you take medications, be sure to ask your physician about possible effects on your hearing. Any time you are taking medications and you get a ringing in your ears, call your physician and report it.

Q. Now that the American Heart Association has changed its recommendations on how laypeople should perform CPR, do I need to get retrained? And what are the major changes?

A. People already trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation don’t have to rush out to get new training or worry that the past guidelines are unsafe or ineffective, say officials at the American Heart Association. But they can expect to be retrained when they go in for a refresher course.

The changes in CPR procedures are the first since 1992. The biggest change is that lay rescuers no longer will be taught to check for a pulse before administering chest compressions to someone who is unconscious. The reason: Research shows that at least 35 percent of lay rescuers are wrong or unsure about whether a victim has a pulse, and every minute that a rescuer hesitates, a victim’s chances of survival decrease. Instead, people will be trained to look for signs of circulation, such as normal breathing, movement or response to stimulation.

The new guidelines also recommend against attempting the Heimlich maneuver on an unconscious choking victim or attempting to clear the airway with finger sweeps. Lay rescuers should instead begin CPR, including chest compressions. Again, the message is that every minute counts. And evidence shows that chest compressions in an unconscious person eject food or other lodged items from an airway.

In addition, the new recommendations standardize the ratio of chest compressions to breaths during adult CPR. Lay rescuers will be taught to provide 15 chest compressions for every two rescue breaths, regardless of whether one or two rescuers are present. The ratio has been five compressions to one breath when two rescuers are present.

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