Review Category : Health

Turn it down: the effects of loud noise on hearing

By Monica Wiser

I’ve had a hearing loss since childhood, so I don’t really know what it’s like to have normal hearing. While hearing aids have greatly improved my hearing, they still won’t give me perfectly normal hearing. By the same token, people with normal hearing don’t really know what it’s like to have a hearing loss. If you’re curious to know what it’s like, try using hearing protection all day. That will give you a sense of what it’s like to experience a mild hearing loss. Just don’t do it if you have children in your care, because you might miss their cries for help. And don’t do it if you are driving, because you might not hear emergency vehicles coming up from behind. And don’t do it if your job depends on good communication skills, because you just might get fired. Sounds pretty limiting, doesn’t it? Still, it’s a good exercise to try it in a controlled environment while watching your favorite program at the level where you normally set the TV or while conversing with a group of friends indoors. See how long you can tolerate it and then ask yourself, “Is it really worth it to risk damaging my hearing?”

We are bombarded with noise —at nightclubs, at sporting events, at concerts, and even at the gym. Once in a while, there are unavoidable situations, but those are rare. In most situations, you have the ability to control the situation. If it’s your car radio, home stereo, or iPod, just turn it down. If it’s at a concert or sporting event, wear hearing protection. If it is at a restaurant or at the gym, ask them to turn it down. If they don’t take you seriously, leave. There’s no sense in paying someone to damage your hearing.

Here’s what you may not know. Excessive noise exposure doesn’t just cause permanent hearing loss. It can also cause tinnitus. I’ve worked with enough tinnitus patients to know that it can be very disruptive in their lives and very stressful. Noise exposure can also cause elevated blood pressure, loss of sleep, increased heart rate, cardiovascular constriction, labored breathing, and changes in brain chemistry. According to the WHO Guidelines for Community Noise, “these health effects, in turn, can lead to social handicap, reduced productivity, decreased performance in learning, absenteeism in the workplace and school, increased drug use, and accidents. Noise has also been shown to affect learning ability and reading ability in children (Boncraft 1975).

Pregnant women should be particularly cautious. In the October 1997 issue of Pediatrics, the Committee on Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement based on a review of research on the potential health effects of noise on the fetus and the newborn. The committee concluded that excessive noise exposure in utero may result in high-frequency hearing loss in newborns and further that excessive sound levels in neonatal intensive care units may disrupt the natural growth and development of premature infants.

Here’s what you need to know. Keep it below 85 dB SPL. That’s where damage begins to occur and the louder it is, the less time it takes to permanently damage your hearing. You can monitor noise levels easily with apps on smartphones. A good one for iPhones is: Decibel 10th and for Androids is: Sound Meter, by Smart Tools. Both are free.

May is Better Hearing Month. Protect your hearing, because once the damage is done, there is no turning back.

Monica Wiser received the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology and is currently the Audiologist at Beaufort Audiology & Hearing Care. Contact Monica by phone at (843) 521-3007 or by email at

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‘Bionic eye’ is an incredible breakthrough…but not right for everyone

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

News stories about a ‘bionic eye transplant’ have gotten a lot of attention, but what is the reality of new technology for restoring sight to some blind patients? The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has sometimes been called a ‘bionic eye transplant.’ Right now it is not possible to transplant an entire human eye – only corneas and some other specific eye tissues can be transplanted. And there is no electronic replacement for the whole eye.

The Argus II is a three-part device that allows some perception of light and motion in patients who have lost their vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. Surgery is done to place a small electronic device on the patient’s retina. Later, the patient wears a camera mounted on a pair of glasses, and a portable video-processing unit. Images are taken in through the camera, processed, and then sent wirelessly to the implant in the patient’s retina. The implant stimulates the living cells in the retina, and the brain interprets these patterns as light. Over time, the patient learns to interpret the signals from the Argus II to see objects, their surroundings, and — in some cases — even read large-print text.

This is an exciting development, but the Argus II is not for everyone. It is only for patients who have no vision or almost no vision due to advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a group of genetic disorders that affect the retina’s ability to respond to light. This inherited disease causes a slow loss of vision, beginning with decreased night vision and loss of peripheral (side) vision. Blindness ultimately results. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RP.

Patients must pass a careful medical screening to make sure there are no other physical reasons that they shouldn’t be given the implant. And patients should be aware that the Argus II does not restore complete, natural vision. The vision that is restored is black-and-white only, and does not include fine details.

Currently, only a handful of tertiary-care referral centers are performing the surgery. However, as more refinements are made to the Argus II and more progress is made, we may begin to see significant improvements in visual prognosis for RP and other debilitating eye disease.

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Or just wake me when it’s over

By Dr. Stephen W. Durham

It is so important to be comfortable and confident about getting the care you need that sedation dentistry is getting more and more attention today. Sedation is a reasonable way to relieve anxiety and make it easier to get the dental health care you need.  There are different kinds and levels of sedation to match each patient’s needs.  So our first step is an attentive conversation, where we learn what our patient wants, needs and expects for comfort during treatment.  We also identify health factors that affect what kinds of sedation the patient can have safely.

Different Degrees of Sedation 

Techniques for providing a calm, relaxed experience to the patient can work on different levels, so there is no need to overdo sedation.  Minimal, moderate or deep sedation can ensure that each patient gets what he or she needs.

With minimal techniques, the patient stays aware of what’s going on, and responsive to instructions from the dentist.  Moderate or “twilight” sedation relieves anxiety while still allowing the patient to follow directions.  With deep sedation a patient is fully “asleep,” and takes on no memory of the procedure.

Benefits Before and After 

Just knowing that these options are available, for comfort and relaxation, means more people go forward with the dental help they need, rather than avoiding or postponing it.  That may be one of the greatest results of sedation dentistry, and so the benefits start even before the dental appointment.

Since sedation dentistry enables many patients to complete their course of treatment in fewer visits, they can enjoy the results much sooner.

Excellent training and qualifications are something to look for when you consider sedation dentistry.  One of the first signs of that is the care the dentist takes in how your options are presented.

A recipient of the 2012 Mastership Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, Dr. Stephen Durham, DMD, MAGD, is a graduate of Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine. He is a past recipient of the LVI Fellowship Award for Neuromuscular and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Durham practices at Durham Dental at Town Center in Beaufort. For more information, visit his website at or call 843-379-5400.

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Do you have shoulder pain?

Dr. Leland Stoddard

Dr. Leland Stoddard

Is shoulder pain keeping you “off the green”? Whether your preferred green is the golf course, tennis court or garden, shoulder pain can keep you from the activities you enjoy.

If you’re suffering from the effects of an injury — or just general shoulder discomfort — you’ll want to join Beaufort Memorial board-certified orthopaedic surgeon Leland Stoddard, MD, and physical therapists Steve Steve Giammona and Andrea Sadler for a free seminar on Wednesday, April 29, at 5 p.m. at the Lakehouse in Sun City, where they will discuss the best ways to alleviate shoulder pain.

The seminar will also address: common causes of shoulder pain; types of shoulder injuries; surgical and nonsurgical treatment options, from basic exercises and stretching to joint replacement; adapting your activities for better results.

There will be a reception prior to the seminar at 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, both Sun City residents and non-residents, but reservations are required as space is limited. Visit for information or call 843-522-5585 to register.

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Local physicians receive state awards

From left to right: M. LaFrance Ferguson, MD and Faith Lawrence Polkey, MD. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

From left to right: M. LaFrance Ferguson, MD and Faith Lawrence Polkey, MD. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc. (BJHCHS) has two physicians that were recently recognized by the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA) for their statewide achievements.

The SCPHCA is the trade association, established in 1979, that represents the majority of the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in South Carolina, of which BJHCHS is a member.  The FQHCs in South Carolina currently employs more than 275 Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and Midwives and serves over 335,000 patients.

M. LaFrance Ferguson, MD, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), BJHCHS, was named “Health Care Provider of the Year” (2014), for exemplary performance by a physician in the community based health care setting.  Dr. Ferguson, a native of Beaufort County, who specializes in Family Medicine, has been the CMO at BJHCHS for over twenty (25) years.

Faith Lawrence Polkey, MD, Chief of Pediatrics, BJHCHS, Regional Director of Medical Education and Assistant Professor, A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine for the South Carolina Campus, was recognized by the SCPHCA for her outstanding leadership and tireless commitment to advocacy on behalf of medically underserved patients and was named “Community Health Center Advocate” (2014).  Dr. Polkey is a native of Charleston, SC and has been affiliated with BJHCHS since 2002.

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Return of the Reiki Clinic

By Chris Suddeth

April 26 is fast approaching and that means the second Lady’s Island Reiki Clinic of 2015. This lovely holistic offering is a form of energy work that hales from Japan and is translated as Spirit-Guided Life-Force Energy.

I am honored and excited to be part of the Reiki Community sharing this offering. I first heard about the clinics during my Reiki infancy back in 2009. Those blessed clinics molded the intuitive healer that I am today. We cannot heal until first healing ourselves. Those clinics formed the bonds of friendship and basis for healing that I am the beneficiary of today. The Reiki clinics gave many their first taste of energy healing and quite possibly the first transpersonal experiences of their lives. Then the clinics faded away a few years ago as we ceded to the natural ebb and flow of life.

Now, thanks to the insight of Reiki Master Ashana Jones, the Reiki community is bringing back this lovely offering of healing and fellowship.

Reiki’s roots found fertile ground in Japan in the late 19th century. Reiki’s intelligent energy is now rooted in the sandy soil of Beaufort and growing along with the live oaks that bless our vistas at every turn.

Reiki’s benefits can include deep relaxation, accelerating the body’s natural healing ability, increasing mental focus, emotional releases, and even spiritual revelations. Reiki is the path to whole self-care that attracts many due to its relative simplicity to employ into everyday life once attuned. In its simplicity lies its beauty to empower individuals to cope with the curve balls, fast balls, and flop shots of life. It can be a life changer that produces results even after just one short session with a practitioner.

Reiki is unique in the energy work world in that, it can be shared (as is the intention of the Lady’s Island Quarterly Reiki Clinic), but it can also be passed on by a Reiki Master to a recipient. Once this intelligent energy is “passed on” or attuned into the recipient, it’s theirs to do as little or as much with as they see fit.

Come experience this soothing energy in the locally available tool chest of holistic living. This Lady’s Island Reiki Clinic will be held at 9B Rue Du Bois April 26 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Additional dates are July 26, and Oct. 25. Contact Ashana Jones 843-263-3148 or Chris (Sutty) Suddeth 843-263-2397 for more information. Donations are accepted and appreciated but not expected.

When Chris Suddeth (Sutty) isn’t being Mr. Mom to 5 year old, Emma Belle, he balances his time between writing, real estate and supporting other’s healing through his personal blend of Reiki, Theta Healing®, Intuitive Healing, as well as teaching all three levels of Reiki attunement classes. You can contact him at 843-263-2397 or

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Learn how to look your best at any age

Dr. Audrey Klenke

Dr. Audrey Klenke

You’ve probably heard that 70 is the new 50 – or perhaps 60 is the new 40.  Whatever your age join Dr. Audrey Klenke, owner of Pinnacle Plastic Surgery,  for a spirited seminar, chock-full of cosmetic strategies to keep people guessing your age for years to come. The free event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16 at 5 p.m. at The Quality Inn at Town Center.

“Many patients tell me they want to look as good as they feel,” said Dr. Klenke, a member of the medical staff at both Beaufort Memorial and Hilton Head Hospital. She plans to discuss age-enhancing procedures like facelift, eyelid surgery, arm lift and breast reduction, as well as non-surgical options like Erbium laser resurfacing, dermaplaning and HydraFacial. Registration is required so call today to reserve your seat at 843-815-6699.

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Melanoma of the eye

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

Malignant “choroidal” melanomas arise from the blood-vessel layer “choroid” beneath the retina. In North America, 6 out of each million people will be diagnosed with a choroidal melanoma each year. Malignant choroidal melanomas can spread to other parts of the body.

Ophthalmologists can determine if you have a choroidal melanoma by performing a complete eye examination. This includes asking questions about your medical history, examining both of your eyes, looking into the eye through a dilated pupil at the tumor, performing an ultrasound examination, and specialized photography (to examine the circulation within the choroidal melanoma). HEALTH - melanomas

Your ophthalmologist will also request that you have a complete general medical check up and specific tests depending upon what they see inside your eye. Ophthalmologists can correctly diagnose an intraocular choroidal melanoma in over 96% of cases (without a biopsy). Though occasionally necessary, biopsies can be avoided because they require opening the eye (which risks letting choroidal melanoma cells out) and risk intraocular hemorrhage and infection.


Most patients with choroidal melanoma have no symptoms and the melanoma is found on routine eye examination. If patients have choroidal melanoma symptoms, they are usually seeing “flashes of light,” noticing “distortion” or loss of vision, and floating objects (floaters) in their vision.

1) If the choroidal melanoma is in the front of the eye (near the natural lens), it can push or tilt the natural lens causing an irregular astigmatism (blurring of vision).

2) Choroidal melanoma can leak fluid beneath the retina, making the retina detach and cause symptoms of flashing lights and floating specks.

3) If the choroidal melanoma is in the macula (center of vision), it can grow beneath the fovea making the patient far-sighted. The choroidal melanoma can also grow into and destroy the fovea causing distortion, loss of vision or changes in color perception.

It is important to note that most patients with choroidal melanoma have no symptoms at all. Their tumors are found when they visit their eye doctor for a “routine” eye examination. So everyone should have at least an annual eye examination (includingdilated ophthalmoscopy).

Other, more unusual presentations of anterior choroidal (iris) melanoma are discoloration of the iris, a brown spot on the outside of the eye, an irregularly shaped pupil and glaucoma.


Small Choroidal Melanoma:
Patients with a small choroidal melanoma can be treated after their first visit, but since growth helps to prove that the tumor is a cancer, your doctor may suggest “observation” or watching for a small amount of choroidal melanoma growth prior to treatment. Your ophthalmologist should discuss the relative risks and potential benefits of  “observation for growth” as compared to “immediate treatment” for choroidal melanoma. Once growth is documented, your ophthalmologist will recommend definitive treatment.

Medium-sized Choroidal Melanoma:
Around the world, most patients with a medium-sized choroidal melanoma are treated with either radiation therapy or removal of the eye. Though there are several forms of eye and vision-sparing radiation therapy, ophthalmic plaque radiation therapy is the most common and widely used.

Since the results of the Collaborative Ocular Melanoma Study (COMS) suggest that plaque radiation therapy and enucleation of the eye are equally effective for the prevention of metastatic choroidal melanoma, few patients with medium-sized choroidal melanoma are treated by removal of the eye.

Because both enucleation and plaque radiation therapy for choroidal melanoma are likely to harm your vision (in that eye), you should discuss the risks and benefits of these and other treatment options in consultation with your ophthalmologist.

Large-sized Choroidal Melanoma:
A patient with a very large choroidal melanoma may be treated by removal of the eye (enucleation). This is because the amount of radiation required to destroy a choroidal melanoma that fills most of the eye may be too much for the eye
to tolerate.

However, most patients with large-sized choroidal melanoma can also be treated with eye-sparing radiation therapy. After radiation for large choroidal melanoma, these eyes are at greater risk to have poor vision, to become uncomfortable and may have to be secondarily removed.

It is important to note that as compared to like-sized malignant melanoma of the skin, patients are much more likely to survive a choroidal melanoma. This is because it is much more difficult for a choroidal melanoma to spread from (get out of) the eye to other parts of the body. However, large (choroidal melanoma) tumor size decreases the chance that vision-sparing treatments will be successful. In general, the larger the choroidal melanoma the worse the prognosis for both vision
and metastasis.

Patients often ask why they have a choroidal melanoma. Choroidal melanoma is more common among patients with blue vs. brown eyes, those with outdoor occupations and in Australia where there is an ozone hole. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume (though unproven) that choroidal melanoma is related to sunlight (ultraviolet exposure).

Because sunlight exposure has been linked to several eye cancers and diseases of the eye, I suggest that you think of Sunglasses as Sun Block for your Eyes and start wearing your UV blocking sunglasses. They make great gifts too!

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A cup of coffee a day may keep retinal degeneration away!

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

Here’s something coffee drinkers can get excited about. Aside from java’s energy jolt, food scientists say you may reap another health benefit from a daily cup of joe: prevention of deteriorating eyesight and possible blindness from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetes.

Raw coffee is, on average, just 1 percent caffeine, but it contains 7 to 9 percent chlorogenic acid (CLA), a strong antioxidant that prevents retinal degeneration in mice, according to a Cornell study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (December 2013).

The retina is a thin tissue layer on the inside, back wall of the eye with millions of light-sensitive cells and other nerve cells that receive and organize visual information. It is also one of the most metabolically active tissues, demanding high levels of oxygen and making it prone to oxidative stress. The lack of oxygen and production of free radicals leads to tissue damage and loss of sight.

In the study, mice eyes were treated with nitric oxide, which creates oxidative stress and free radicals, leading to retinal degeneration, but mice pretreated with CLA developed no retinal damage.

The study is “important in understanding functional foods, that is, natural foods that provide beneficial health effects,” said Chang Y. Lee, professor of food science and the study’s senior author. Lee’s lab has been working with Sang Hoon Jung, a researcher at the Functional Food Center of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. “Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, and we are understanding what benefit we can get from that,” Lee said.

Previous studies have shown that coffee also cuts the risk of such chronic diseases as Parkinson’s, prostate cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and age-related cognitive declines.

Since scientists know that CLA and its metabolites are absorbed in the human digestive system, the next step for this research is to determine whether drinking coffee facilitates CLA to cross a membrane known as the blood-retinal barrier. If drinking coffee proves to deliver CLA directly into the retina, doctors may one day recommend an appropriate brew to prevent retinal damage. Also, if future studies further prove CLA’s efficacy, then synthetic compounds could also be developed and delivered with eye drops.

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Khang Pham as new Pharmacy Director

Beaufort Memorial Hospital has named Khang H. Pham, Pharm.D. as its new Director of Pharmacy Services following a national search to fill the position left open by the passing of the former head of the department. In his new position, Pham is responsible for the operation of the hospital’s pharmacy services, including strategic planning, day-to-day operations, pharmaceutical care, clinical and distributive services, financial and personnel management and legal responsibility. BMH Pharmacy Services encompasses both inpatient and ambulatory pharmacy locations and services.

Khang H. Pham

Khang H. Pham

Pham, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1995, earned his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of South Carolina – College of Pharmacy in 2005. He began his career as an oncology clinical pharmacist at Bon Secours/St. Francis Hospital in Greenville and Gibbs Cancer Center in Spartanburg. He went on to work for two years in the pharmacy corporate office of Novant Health in Charlotte, NC. In April 2012, Pham joined Beaufort Memorial as an oncology clinical pharmacist specialist. A year later, he was promoted to Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator. Pham had been serving as interim director since the death of Frank Miriello in December.

“Frank was the best mentor I’ve ever had,” Pham said of his late boss. “I’m so proud to be able to continue his legacy.”

For more information on Beaufort Memorial Hospital pharmacy services, visit or call (877) 532-6472.

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