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Do Toilets That ‘Sound Like Jet Engines’ Pose Threat to Hearing?

Dear Dr. Roach: I’m 62 years old, and I’m starting to lose my high-pitch hearing. I now try to protect myself from further damage by keeping the TV down low, wearing earplugs when I mow, weed, vacuum, ride my motorcycle, etc. My problem is that some of these new automatic-flush toilets sound like jet engines. This can’t be good for you. My ears have gotten worse, and I think it’s from these toilets. Do you have any idea what the decibels are on these new type of toilets that make you feel like they are trying to suck you down also. How can they get away with making these toilets sound like jet engines? — B.C.

Answer: The high-pressure automatic toilets are indeed quite loud. Peak loudness for one brand I found was 86 decibels (dB), compared with 71 for a standard toilet. A 15 dB difference might not sound like much, but it’s more than 30 times louder. Sustained noise over 85 dB can lead to hearing loss. I understand that the newer models are much quieter.

Dear Dr. Roach: I am a 66-year-young female, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, and 125 pounds. A year ago, I had a coughing spell, and the next thing I knew I had what I determined to be uterine prolapse. I went to the doctor, and based on her examination, I have a “moderate” prolapse. It does not interfere with urinating or sexual intercourse, or anything else. I can see it and feel it when it is down in my vagina, and I just push it back up. My significant other says he does not notice it when we are intimate. Will it eventually get worse? My doctor recommended that I do the Kegel exercises and gave me a prescription for Premarin vaginal cream. I have a hard time believing the cream can help, at this point, to strengthen the ligaments. I am doing the exercises. Do you think the cream can help, and is there anything else I can do to avoid surgery? Is it unwise to continue to have sex two or three times a week? — D.S.S.

Answer: Pelvic organ prolapse, which includes vaginal or uterine prolapse, is caused by a weakness in the support structures of the pelvis, including the ligaments you mention. They can cause several problems, including difficulty with urinating and defecating, sexual troubles and pelvic pressure or pain. Risk factors include age, number of childbirths, weight and previous surgery. If symptomatic, it can be treated with surgery, pelvic floor exercises or a pessary. If it isn’t bothering you, it does not need to be treated.

I suspect your doctor has prescribed the estrogen cream and pelvic exercises in order to prevent the prolapse from progressing, or at least to slow it down. Kegel exercises have no side effects, and the cream is also safe for most women.

Dear Dr. Roach: Does taking baths versus showers cause bacterial vaginosis? — M.E.

Answer: Bacterial vaginosis is a change in the types of bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. This can be asymptomatic, or it can cause a discharge or unpleasant odor. Baths are more likely than showers to predispose women to BV. Douching is a clear risk factor for BV. If not symptomatic, it does not need to be treated. Antibiotic creams and pills are effective for symptomatic women.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.