Do you have difficulty catching words in a conversation or on TV? Do you have to ask people to repeat themselves? Perhaps you’ve even started avoiding certain social gatherings. If so, you’re probably suffering from hearing loss. This common problem affects a third of people who are 65 and older, and half of people over age 75.
Hearing loss can result from exposure to loud noise over time—a jackhammer if you’re in construction, rock concerts if you’re an ardent fan. Prolonged exposure to loud noise damages the sensitive nerves in your inner ear. It can also be a side effect of some medications, or the result of infections such as meningitis or measles. Even simple things, such as using a Q-tip to clean your ear, can rupture your eardrum and damage your hearing. Your age, of course, and your family history also put you at risk.
What’s that ringing sound? Is it all in your head?
At some point in their lives, many people experience a ringing, buzzing, hissing or other similar sound in their ears that isn’t audible to anyone else. This is called tinnitus, and it’s one of the most common clinical conditions in the United States.
“I became an ear, nose and throat specialist because I wanted to take care of people of all ages, from infants to people a century old,” says Dr. Gersten.
As an ENT specialist, Dr. Gersten treats a variety of conditions, from sleep disorders to sinusitis. He values all the medical and surgical options he can use to treat his patients, depending on their desires and what is most appropriate for their condition. “One of the most rewarding things for me about being a doctor is the friendships that I develop,” says Dr. Gersten, “and having the opportunity to meet my patients’ kids, and their kids’ kids.”
Dr. Gersten practices out of PAMF’s Fremont and Dublin Centers. Learn more about him in this video, which is part of a series highlighting the diverse voices of PAMF physicians.
“I leave the waves to my patients,” said Douglas Hetzler, M.D., FACS, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz. But while surfing holds no allure for him personally, Dr. Hetzler, whose peers have dubbed him “Michelangelo of the Ear Canal,” has spent years perfecting a surgical technique to treat “surfer’s ear”-a serious auditory condition that robs surfers and kayakers of their hearing and, eventually, their sport.
Read More about PAMF Doctor Pioneers, Perfects World Famous Fix for “Surfer’s Ear”