People across Devon are being warned about six subtle signs that show their ears and eyes are telling them something serious about their health.
Just as simple headaches and sudden weight fluctuations can reveal deeper health concerns, eyes and ears can also give some clues that a potential health concern is happening in the body.
To help Devon people look out for the tell-tale signs, Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, and chief audiologist, Gordon Harrison, are sharing the top six ‘watch-outs’ that could denote a problem.
Eye floaters – potential retinal detachment
‘Floaters appear as black or translucent spots or strands, which give the impression of seeing something ‘float’ across your field of vision,’ says Mr Edmonds. ‘Most are very small and move out of your vision very quickly, and it’s likely that you will see more floaters in your vision as you get older and if you are short-sighted.
‘In rare occasions, new floaters can sometimes be an indication of retinal detachment, a potentially serious condition. This can be treated with early detection, so it is important to contact your optometrist immediately if you notice new floaters, flashing lights, or both.’
Twitching – a sign of stress
Mr Edmonds says: ‘If you’ve found that your eye or eyes have begun to twitch, the cause may be down to a number of factors, including stress, dehydration and too much caffeine or alcohol. While only a minor side effect that doesn’t require treatment, it’s a useful warning sign to remind you to take stock of your current lifestyle choices.’
Ringing – high blood pressure to head injury
‘While an irritating ringing noise in the ear is usually down to being around loud noises, it can also be a sign of excessive build-up of wax, head or neck injuries or high blood pressure,’ adds Mr Harrison. ‘This is known as tinnitus and while for most the ringing, buzzing, humming or whizzing sound is temporary, for others it can be permanent. For those suffering from persistent tinnitus, it is advised they visit the Specsavers website for more details.
Earache – teeth problems
Mr Harrison advises: ‘While having an earache could potentially be a sign of an ear infection, it could also be the result of another health condition such as teeth-grinding or an abscess on a tooth. Earache should usually go after a couple of days, but if it doesn’t and the pain persists, make sure you see your GP or audiologist to take a better look at the problem.’
Unusual ear shape – kidney health conditions
‘If your ears are an unusual shape – or even if you spot a simple skin tag – it could be a sign that there is a problem with your kidneys and the way they’re functioning,’ says Mr Harrison. ‘This is because your ears and kidneys develop at the same time in the womb and so carry a connection. For those who have a newborn with unusual-shaped ears, ask your doctor to carry out a kidney test or an ultrasound to get a closer look to make sure they are working properly.’
Earlobe crease – heart disease
Mr Harrison says: ‘Having a crease in your earlobe (also known as Frank’s Sign) could be an indicator of heart disease. It is not known what causes this feature and not everyone who has a crease has heart disease. However, it is advisable that those with an earlobe crease visit their GP to get it checked out.’
While these tell-tale signs can reveal further health issues, it’s important to maintain regular eye and ear testing to diagnose and treat conditions as early as possible.
Specsavers recommends that people have an eye test as least every two years, and those over the age of 55 should have their hearing checked every other year. If you are concerned about your hearing or sight in between these bi-annual appointments, make an appointment to see your Specsavers audiologist or optician.
For more information or to book an appointment visit www.specsavers.co.uk