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This Saturday last I spent the better part of the day listening to my iPod using earbuds.  Bad idea.  Even though I didn’t think I was playing it that loud, I woke with a hissing in my ears.  As the day wore on, the hissing got worse and was accompanied by the feeling of pulsation on my eardrums.  My right ear is worse than my left.

I’ve been thinking about my hearing a lot lately because I’ve noticed that mine has diminished.  My brother told me that the damage was probably done long ago and I’m feeling the effects now.  (A couple of concerts where I didn’t have earplugs are the likely culprits.)  Even more dreadful, apparently damage to the ears is incurable.  Excessive loud sounds permanently damage the little vibrating hairs inside the ears.

Hmm.  Really? Completely incurable?  Aside from being a depressing thought, I’m curious about whether this is true.  Our knowledge of the human body is incomplete.  Just when scientists decide something with finality, new research causes them to rethink their findings.  For example, ulcers were caused by stress and that was that – until someone discovered that ulcers could be caused by a bacteria.  Brains grow only so many neurons, after which it’s all downhill in the brain development department – except that it isn’t because regardless of how many neurons we start out with, they can branch and branch into new connections, so our brains continue to develop.

Our bodies can often recover from wicked traumas if given half a chance.  Smoking paralyzes and kills the cilia in a smoker’s airways and severely injures the lungs and esophagus.  However, once a smoker quits, a great deal of the damage reverses within about a year.  Why, if the cilia can regrow within 9 months in the lungs, can’t the hairs regenerate in our ears?  Could it be that we don’t give them a chance to?

Last night, the pulsing in my ears got so bad that I searched the house for earplugs.  Sound seemed to be making it worse and I wanted to block what I could to see if it would help.  I couldn’t find earplugs, but made do with a cotton ball ripped in half.  While the cotton didn’t block all sound, I was relieved of the pulsating.  I slept with the cotton balls in and am wearing them today.

The fact that I can still hear most of what’s going on with cotton in my ears made me realize that our ears never get a rest.  They are always being assailed with sound.  Could this be why the hairs in our ears don’t regenerate?  Curiouser and curiouser . . . .