DRF Centurions - At the Forefront of Our Cause






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Publication: Hearing Health Foundation (U.S.). Hearing Health
Date published: January 1, 2010

In 1963, the nation's leading ear, nose and throat specialists came together with a simple but important goal: to advance the research crucial to their fi elds, knowing that their practices and patients would directly benefi t from this work. This innovative group became The Centurions - champions and supporters of Deafness Research Foundation (DRF).

The Centurions now enjoy the support of more than 1,800 physicians, researchers and other professionals in fi elds related to hearing and balance sciences. Under the leadership of President David S. Haynes, M.D., and Secretary/Treasurer John L. Dornhoffer, M.D., The Centurions play an essential role in promoting DRF.

To learn more about The Centurions, how to become a member or identify Centurions members in your area, please contact DRF at 866.454.3924, 888.435.6104 (TTY), visit our Web site at www.drf.org or e-mail centurions@drf.org.

In each issue, a member of The Centurions fi elds questions about hearing health and related issues. In this issue, questions were addressed by Centurion Alan G. Micco, M.D., FACS, who is chief, Section of Otology and Neurotology and associate professor, Departments of Otolaryngology and Neurological Surgery, at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Ill.

A couple of years ago I was experiencing tinnitus and dizziness. Results of an MRI suggested that a small vestibular schwannoma (VS) may have formed. A year later I had another MRI which revealed that the VS is not growing. Oddly, my tinnitus has gone, but I am still prone to some dizziness if I move my head abruptly. This dizziness has increased recently and I have been experiencing strong nausea. Is it possible that the nausea is related to VS?

James MacGillivray

via www.drf.org

One of the inner ear's main functions is to detect head motions so that the brain can appropriately coordinate eye muscle movements so that the eyes see as the head moves. Vertigo is caused when an unbalanced signal from the inner ears reaches the brain, and eye movements are not in sync with head motions. This will give a perception that the world is spinning.

This pathway from the inner ear to the brain goes through a center in the brainstem called the reticular formation where nausea is triggered, as when one becomes ill on an amusement park ride.

It is also possible that a person can have multiple types of vertigo at once. Vertigo triggered by head motion or position change is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and is caused when the crystals from the inner ear organs move into the balance canals. This is the most common form of vertigo and is frequently associated with other types of ear problems, from ear infections to hearing loss. This type of vertigo can cause nausea as well and is usually treatable.

Nausea can be associated with any inner ear problem, even a VS. Sometimes it can be the only sign of an inner ear problem. It is always recommended, however, that a patient have a check-up with a gastroenterologist to make sure there is no gastrointestinal problem causing the nausea.

Has there been any research on whether the sound of a food affects our opinion of it? We hear how the taste, texture, appearance and smell of food are appealing in various ways, so I was wondering if foods such as chips or Rice Krispies are more appealing because of their crunchy sounds and if they might not appeal equally to people who can't hear those sounds.

Eric Brady

via www.drf.org

There has been no specifi c research on this topic. However, it is well known that sounds do affect emotions and stimulate memories. It is these types of memories that one can create and associate with experiences. For instance, one can hear a song and remember the situation when he or she fi rst heard it.

If one lacks a sense such as hearing, other types of memory are associated with the experience, such as color or smell. While a hearing individual may associate the sound of certain foods with their taste quality, another person can do it with color, smell or feel. Therefore, a hearing loss should not affect one's appetite or desire for certain types of food.

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