Can Blackhawks games hurt your ears?

The more (noise) exposure, the more outer hair cells get killed, the greater the loss.

Credit to: Julie’s Health Club Blog | Julie Deardorff | May 29, 2010

United Center hockey fans, listen up: That “Star Spangled Banner” before Stanley Cup Finals games will be a deafening experience. Literally.

When the jacked-up crowd claps and screams over the national anthem — a Blackhawks tradition since 1985 — the sound level will reach at least 110 decibels, high enough to create hearing loss in less than a minute, said Wheaton audiologist Sheri Billing.

A typical conversation occurs at 60 dB. That’s harmless. But listening to music on headphones at the standard volume — 100 dB — can cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes per day. Hannah Montana concerts, which feature shrieking teenagers, are on par with Blackhawks games and reach 110 dB, Billing said.

Everyone is born with 35,000 to 40,000 outer hair cells in the ear, Billing said. When the microscopic, hair-shaped cells are damaged by loud noise, age, over the counter or prescription medications, it hampers our ability to hear.

“The more (noise) exposure, the more outer hair cells get killed, the greater the loss,” said Billing.

Billing is a big fan of ear plugs — she once passed them out at an ear-splitting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus — but realizes hockey players aren’t likely to wear them. For fans, however, the small protectors might be a wise move. Once the cacophonous din peaks, it’s impossible to hear the person next to you anyway.

Giving Uganda supplies, hope

Rotaries receive $18K grant to help Ugandan village

The Rotary Clubs of Wheaton and Carol Stream Illinois were recently awarded a $18,000 matching grant from Rotary International for the benefit of an estimated 78,500 rural population within the Kabale District, located in Southwestern Uganda. A delegation of Rotarians from the Chicago western suburbs recently visited a number of Ugandan rural schools and medical facilities, conducted a needs assessment and met with community leaders. They observed the many humanitarian needs and the successful completion of two previous projects that had provided eco-san toilet facilities and created libraries at secondary schools.

Dr Sheri BillingUgandan and Wheaton Rotarians jointly determined that the most cost effective and beneficial third joint project would be the provision of additional sanitation facilities and to ship a container of medical supplies and equipment and secondary school books and reference materials.

Billing said, “While we were there we held town hall meetings with local health centers, hospitals, the schools. People came out and gave us ideas on what they could use and what they needed. The hospital gave us an 11-page document of equipment that they wanted. We call it the Uganda Project. We are collecting high school classic literature books, clothes and linens for the people there and to line the inside of the container. I want to send rubber gloves, slides for microscopes, Braille machines, old microscopes. It would be great if we could get an Isolette (incubator) or a centrifuge, any sort of lab equipment.”

How she got involved: “I’ve always wanted to do a mission trip,” she said. “But when the team from our chapter came back and did a presentation, I was just enamored. … I thought it would be an amazing opportunity and experience. Doing all the town hall meetings and seeing they were 100 years behind us was more fuel to the fire and I wanted to do more. Out of that came ‘Let’s do a medical container.'”

It was observed that the concept of a Ugandan student reading a novel, be it an American, British, Russian, etc classic was unheard of and unavailable to thousands of rural school children. The Wheaton Rotary Uganda Project Committee would like to send several hundred boxes of classic literature to the Ugandan school children. If your class or school would be willing to provide such a box of classic literature, please contact Cathy Hetrick at

The Wheaton Rotary delegation also observed medical facilities of the poorest quality and a lack of supplies and equipment that explains the high14% infant mortality rate whereby 140 children out of 1,000 die prior to 5th birthday. High on the requested list of medical equipment and supplies were a neonatal incubator and a hematology lab machine. Dr. Sheri Billing is coordinating medical equipment and can be reached at

The Wheaton Rotary Club provides local and international humanitarian service activities; a Fall 2010 Uganda trip is being planned and if you would like to see firsthand the benefits of International Rotary service or otherwise provide of assistance, please contact Robert Lyon at 630 653-1914.

Portions and quotes from this entry credited to The Chicago Tribune October 14, 2009 By Helene Van Sickle

Allergies and Hearing Loss

Experts: The Allergy Season is Getting Longer. People don’t usually associate hearing loss with allergies, but it happens often.

Credit to: Kate Sullivan of CBS 2 Chicago News | August 12, 2013

(CBS) — If you’re suffering from awful allergies this year, you’re not alone. New research shows why this is happening and predicts things will only get worse, CBS 2’s Kate Sullivan reports in Healthwatch.

Allergist, Dr. Joseph Leija has taken the Chicago pollen count every spring, summer and fall morning for 20 years and has seen allergy seasons getting longer.

“There are many different factors that play a role,” said Dr. Leija.

Research has shown that in the Midwest ragweed season lasts an extra 12 days now compared to 1995, partly due to warmer temperatures.

Dr. Christine Rogers has studied ragweed and discovered that climate change and increased pollution may explain why the weeds are becoming a bigger problem.

“We’re finding with double the amount of CO2, we’re seeing a 50 percent increase in the amount of pollen that’s produced,” said Dr. Rogers.

George Rief loves to spend time outdoors gardening and fishing, but at certain times of the year that’s a problem when his allergies flare up.

“Trees, bushes, anything that gives off pollen. I try to stay away from that stuff,” said Rief.

And, for George the result is more than just a runny nose and watery eyes.

“My ears plug up in the morning. I can stand right in front of our keypad for our alarm system and I can’t hear those little beeps and I’m only a foot away from them,” said Rief.

Hearing loss is one side effect people don’t usually associate with allergies, but it happens often according to George’s doctor.

“Any sort of post nasal drip, sinus drainage, anything like that can back up into our middle ear space,” said audiologist Sheri Billing. “It’s like hearing underwater.”

And with more pollen out there, patients can expect more intense reactions.

“The carbon dioxide makes the greens grow bigger and, the same thing with the weeds,” said Dr. Leija.

“We can reasonably anticipate that in the future there is going to be a lot more exposure to pollen and that will precipitate more symptoms,” said Dr. Rogers.

Dr. Leija says ragweed started showing up in his pollen counts at the end of last week a week earlier than normal. Expect it to last through the beginning of September.

To treat the hearing loss associated with the allergy, George says his ears usually clear up on their own. But some people may need antihistamines, antibiotics or allergy shots.

Health & Nutrition Fair Held at Villa St. Benedict

For the second time this year, Villa St. Benedict in Lisle promoted a Health & Nutrition Fair

Credit to: Trib Local | By Judi Strong Nov. 7, 2011 at 3:47 p.m.

Health Nutrition Fair Sheri Billing The Hearing DoctorsFor the second time this year, Villa St. Benedict in Lisle promoted a Health & Nutrition Fair to its residents and the general public. The event was sponsored by Benedictine University’s Nutrition Department and Clinical Exercise Physiology Program. Regina Schurman, the event coordinator for the physiology students, is a Certified Fallproof Instructor and heads up the Performance Enhancement Center at VSB. Kara Walsh, a student from BU studying nutrition with Professor Jane Maxwell, handled the nutrition portion of the fair.
Students set up their interactive booths highlighting a variety of topics such as atherosclerosis, healthy eating for diabetes, sugar substitutes, stress management and hypertension. Samples were provided, especially food-related items and raffle gifts. There were additional opportunities to receive a blood pressure check, cholesterol screening and a BMI (Body Mass Index) test. Dr. Sheri Billing, audiologist and owner of The Hearing Doctors, was on hand to do hearing aid cleaning. The Doctors of Physical Therapy who provide onsite therapy services to VSB residents were represented by Tracy Camaj, PT, CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Once again, the fair was a huge success.