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Consult specialist about hearing

Dear Dr. Gott: I am 88 and in good health, except for hearing loss. My primary care physician said that my problem is caused by “inhalational allergies” and prescribed antihistamines. No good.

The second doctor I saw said he would call me with his recommendations. He didn’t. That was three months ago. When I called him for advice, he was furious and berated me for “bothering” him.

The third doctor, an allergist, reassured me that I did not have allergies. Big deal. I still cannot hear.

Where do I go from here?

Dear Reader: To an ear-nose-and-throat specialist, who will examine you and obtain a hearing test (audiogram). Forget the rudeness and insensitivity of doctor No. 2. If he sends you a bill, consider delaying payment. Let the guy suffer for being inconsiderate.

The ENT specialist should be able to diagnose your hearing problem and treat it – which may involve no more than cleaning your ears. Or, you may need a hearing aid.

See what the specialist has to say.

Dear Dr. Gott: Because of my diminished memory, my practitioner, in June 2003, ordered an MRI test of my brain. The study showed “microscopic white substance disease.” I’m scared to death.

Dear Reader: As well you might be.

Judging from your brief description, I assume that – because of certain neurological symptoms, such as forgetfulness – you had a brain imaging study that showed a problem with the “white substance” in your brain.

Although you did not send me a copy of the report, I conclude that the prognosis is normal. Here’s why.

Much of the brain’s nerve tissue is composed of bundles of cells that are covered by insulating material called “white matter.” As we age, this insulating tissue tends to deteriorate, leading to poor memory, lack of strength and coordination, and disruption of cognitive processes – what is known as “shrinking brain syndrome.”

You – and I! – appear to be suffering from the normal, age-related consequences of “shrinking brain,” an unavoidable consequence of the aging process that affects everyone, sooner or later.

Where was I? Oh, yes. (Just kidding.)

You must, in my opinion, be seen by a neurologist, who will examine and further test you. Perhaps your memory loss is due to some other factor – such as a vitamin deficiency, a thyroid problem or small strokes – all of which must be documented and treated.

Although your memory loss is probably a common consequence of aging, the cause should be diagnosed. Let me know the eventual outcome.



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