June picture wax removal


Every month when it is time to write for the Senior Savvy my husband asks “what are you writing about this month? Just step outside my home and the answer is quite apparent. Just listen!

What’s happening: There are 15 surviving periodical cicada broods, each identified by Roman numerals. This year is the first time in 221 years that Brood XIX (on a 13-year cycle) and Brood XIII (on a 17-year cycle) emerged together.

There are seven species of periodical cicadas, and they are only found in eastern North America (we also have annual cicadas that are green and black and can be heard in mid-summer every year). Four species of periodical cicadas have 13-year life cycles, and three species have 17-year cycles. If you haven’t seen one, they have black bodies with red eyes and orange wing veins.

Periodical cicada nymphs live underground for 13 or 17 years. They survive by drinking the root fluids of nearby plant life. When the time is right, they emerge all at once in trillions, in a group called a brood. The brood spends 4-6 weeks above ground laying eggs on the trees before dying. When the newborns hatch, they fall to the ground and bury themselves in holes.

Have you heard the noise? The loud sounds that you hear come from the male cicadas liking for females to mate with. Cicadas have a special organ called a tymbal that produces sound. The tymbal contains a series of ribs that buckle one after the other when the cicadas flex its muscles. Every time a rib buckles, the rib produces a click. Thousands and thousands of clicks make a continuous roar.

Every good audiologist has a sound level meter (maybe several) on their smart phone. While walking last weekend I noticed how loud it was when there were trees on both sides of the road. My meter showed the peak of their noise to be at 1100Hz, two octaves above middle C (261.6Hz). First thing in the morning they are at it but quiet down late afternoon. What is interesting is that there is no noise at the office but loud at my house on High Rock, noisy at Diane’s at Badin and Jane’s in eastern Cabarrus County.

It is estimated that the most cicadas will emerge during Brood XIX and Brood X co-emergence in 2089, with over 15 trillion. Don’t think I’ll be around to marvel at the noise those two groups of males will make, hoping to attract a female partner.

On a totally different note… this has become a recent office observation: physicians are no longer performing otoscopic examinations. I finally had a physical last month; she did not look in my ears…what? Several patients came in complaining of long-standing hearing problems only to find their ear canals full of wax. If their physician had looked in their ears, the problem could have been resolved in a timely manner. Help me spread the word: “hey doc, take a look at my ears”. If they don’t want to clean out your yucky ear wax request the proper referral to us or an ENT physician to get it cleaned out properly and immediately improve your hearing ability.

If you would like more information about our methods of cerumen removal visit our website at www.hearingsolutionsofnc.com or give Diane or Jamie a call at 704-633-0023 to schedule an appointment. Jane, Cheryl, Dr. Mussler, and I look forward to seeing you soon.