Head Injuries and Hearing Loss

Head Injuries and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most common health conditions that people navigate on a daily basis. Impacting over 40 million people in the U.S., hearing loss reduces a person’s ability to hear which impacts all aspects of life. There are several causes that contribute to its development including: aging, existing medical conditions, environmental exposure to loud noise, and genetic history. Another factor that you may not readily think of that can impair hearing is head injuries. Falls, car/bike accidents, and contact sports are common causes of head injuries which can lead to long lasting effects on overall health. 

Prevalence of Head Injuries 

Head injuries are a major source of disability and death. Head injuries refer to trauma – blow, jolt, force – to the head. The abrupt and violent movement of the head area produces varying effects that can cause temporary or permanent damage. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are up to 3 million head injuries every year. Nearly one third are traumatic brain injuries which cause profound damage. The most common causes of head injuries are falls, car accidents, and being struck by an object. In assessing the prevalence of head injuries in the U.S. in 2014, the CDC found: 

  • Emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths increased by 53% from 2006 to 2014
  • Falls caused 48% of head injuries 
    • Car accidents: 20%
    • Struck by object: 17% 

Head injuries can range from mild (concussions) to severe (traumatic brain injury) and can result in swelling, hemorrhaging, bruising etc. In addition to causing chronic vertigo, migraines, tinnitus (buzzing or ringing noise in the ears), head injuries can also lead to permanent hearing loss. 

Head Injuries & Hearing Loss 

The auditory system (the way we hear) involves numerous parts of the ear and brain which work to absorb and process sound. This includes: 

  • Outer Ear: the most visible part of the ear, ear canal, and ear drum
  • Middle Ear: ossicles which are three, tiny bones that are connected
  • Inner Ear: cochlea – filled with thousands of hair cells and fluid, auditory pathways leading to the brain

The outer ear collects sound from the environment which travels down the ear canal and strikes the eardrum. This triggers the ossicles which propel the soundwaves further into the inner ear. Activating the cochlea, the movement of hair cells and fluid help translate the soundwaves into electrical signals that then travel through auditory pathways and reach the brain. The brain is then able to process and make meaning of the sound, enabling us to understand what we hear. 

Head injuries can damage any of these critical parts – brute force can rupture the eardrum, impact the ossicles, damage the hair cells, restrict blood flow etc. which disrupts the processing of sound. Depending on where the damage occurs, it can obstruct the absorption of sound, prevent soundwaves from flowing to the inner ear, reduce the ability for hair cells to translate soundwaves which makes it challenging for the brain to then process the incoming information. Hearing loss is a permanent medical condition which cannot be cured but effectively managed. If you have experienced a head injury, it is critical to have your hearing assessed. 

Treating Hearing Loss 

Seeking treatment for hearing loss is relatively simple. The first step is to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. We provide hearing tests which measure your hearing ability in both ears. This identifies any impairment and the degree of hearing loss you may be experiencing. There are several ways that hearing loss can be treated including hearing aids. The most common treatment, hearing aids are devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound which can substantially enhance hearing. Like most electronic devices, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation. They are smaller and more advanced than ever, featuring various technologies that are designed to maximize usability and hearing in all environments. They can also be easily integrated into daily life.

In addition to treating hearing loss be sure to always wear protective gear while playing contact sports, driving, and riding a bike which can reduce the impact of any injuries! 

How Smoking & Drinking May Affect Hearing

How Smoking & Drinking May Affect Hearing

The health risks associated with smoking and drinking are widely known: heart disease, kidney disease, lung cancer etc. But did you know that in addition to these medical conditions, smoking and drinking can contribute to the development of hearing loss? More and more studies show that smoking and drinking also has an adverse impact on hearing health. To further understand the link, we’ll highlight a few recent studies as well as explore ways you can protect your hearing health!

Linking Smoking, Drinking, & Hearing Health

Various studies have investigated the relationship between smoking, drinking, and increased risk of hearing loss. Two critical studies that illuminate this relationship are: 

  1. 2018 Study published in Science Daily, conducted by researchers at Japan’s National Center for Global Health and Medicine
  • Study: researchers analyzed the data from annual health screenings, yearly hearing tests, and questionnaires on smoking behavior over an 8-year period. This study consisted of 50,000 Japanese workers who were ages 20 to 64. They included smokers, nonsmokers, and former smokers who did not have hearing loss at the beginning of the study. 
  • Findings: During the study, 5,100 participants developed hearing loss and after examining data, researchers found that compared to the nonsmokers, smokers were:  
    • 60% more likely to develop high frequency hearing loss 
    • 20% more likely to develop low frequency hearing loss 

In studying the amount of smoking, researchers found that the quantity of cigarettes smoked per day increased the risk of hearing loss. 

  1. 2019 Study published in the Journal of Audiology & Otology, conducted by researchers at the Disease Control Headquarters in South Korea 
  • Study: to investigate the relationship between hearing loss and alcohol consumption, researchers examined data collected by the Korean National Health and Nutrition Survey. The survey included the responses from 3,860 participants (ages 20 and older) to a drinking questionnaire that identified drinking habits as appropriate, risky, and hazardous. Data also consisted of results from hearing tests. 
  • Findings: Researchers found that people who self-reported their drinking habits as hazardous, were 2.5 times more likely to have hearing loss compared to those who reported their drinking as appropriate. 

In addition to establishing the link between smoking, drinking, and hearing impairment; it is important to understand how exactly these habits impact hearing health. 

Impact of Smoking & Drinking on Hearing

Our auditory system, or the way we hear, requires: healthy blood flow and circulation, healthy blood vessels, cells and bones. These are integral parts of how we are able to absorb and process sound. They can also be damaged by the ingredients contained in cigarettes and alcohol. 

  • Smoking: among the ingredients in cigarettes are nicotine and carbon monoxide. These dangerous chemicals can contribute to hearing loss by: 
    • decreasing oxygen levels and restricting blood vessels throughout the body, including in the inner ear. These blood vessels help maintain the health of hair cells which help the brain convert and process soundwaves.
    • obstruct the neurotransmitters in the nerve pathways that are in the inner ear. This disruption prevents electrical signals from being carried to the brain, making it more challenging (or preventing) for the brain to process incoming sound. 
  • Alcohol: 
    • Alcohol can have adverse effects on the auditory cortex. This area of the brain is where sound is processed and assigned meaning (allowing us to understand what we hear). Significant consumption of alcohol can shrink the auditory cortex, reducing its capacity to be effective in processing sound.
    • Excessive amounts of alcohol can damage the hair cells in the inner ear. There are thousands of hair cells in each ear which help translate soundwaves into electrical signals that are then sent to the brain to process. These hair cells do not regenerate so any damage results in permanent hearing loss. 

Protecting Hearing Health

There are various ways that you can protect your hearing health including: 

  • Reduce your intake of alcohol and nicotine which reduces your risk
  • Take listening breaks which allows your ears to rest from constantly absorbing sound
  • Have your hearing tested so that you are aware of your hearing ability in both ears. Hearing tests identify any impairment and inform effective treatment options.  

An annual hearing test is a great addition to an annual health care regimen. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test to ensure that you’re hearing at your best. 

A Link Between Hearing Loss & Diabetes

A Link Between Hearing Loss & Diabetes

Hearing loss is nearly twice as likely in adults with diabetes compared to adults without diabetes.  According to the American Diabetes Association, over 30 million people have diabetes in the U.S., amounting to nearly 11% of the population. Additionally, 1.5 Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. A chronic health condition, diabetes is a disease that causes increased levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Blood glucose comes from the food we consume and is our main source of energy. Insulin, a hormone made and released by the pancreas, helps convert glucose from food to energy for the cells. Sometimes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t effectively use it which results in excess glucose in the blood. This can contribute to various medical conditions including hearing loss. 

Understanding Hearing Loss 

Impaired hearing is much more of a common medical condition than you may expect. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 1 in 8 people (ages 12 and older) have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears. Affecting over 40 million people in the U.S., hearing loss is the third most common health condition that older adults experience. Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including: environmental exposure to loud noise, aging, genetic history, and existing medical conditions (hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc.). 

Often developing gradually over time, hearing loss reduces a person’s ability to hear and process sound. Impaired hearing can range from mild to severe and significantly impacts daily life by straining communication. Having conversations and engaging with others can become difficult which impacts relationships, managing job responsibilities, and social life. Untreated hearing loss can also contribute to various health risks such as accidental injuries and cognitive decline. 

Hearing Loss & Diabetes 

The investigation of the relationship between hearing loss and diabetes dates back to the 1960s. The two conditions have long been associated but in a major 2008 study, findings revealed a significant correlation. Researchers at the NIDCD analyzed results from hearing tests and responses to a diabetes questionnaire administered from 1999-2004 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This study included 11,405 participants ages 20 – 69 and the findings showed that adults with diabetes were also more likely to have hearing loss. The research specifically found:

  • Low-Mid Frequency Hearing Loss:
    • 21% percent in adults with diabetes 
    • 9% in adults without diabetes 
  • High Frequency Hearing Loss:
    • 54% percent in adults with diabetes 
    • 32% in adults without diabetes 

Discussing these results, Catherine Cowie, senior author of the study, remarked: “”Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss.” 

These findings highlight that diabetes is a risk factor for hearing loss but how exactly it contributes to its development remains unclear. Researchers suggest that diabetes could damage the nerves and blood vessels located in the inner ear. The inner ear consists of thousands of hair cells, fluid, and blood vessels that are integral to how we hear. These critical components help translate soundwaves into electrical signals that are then sent to the brain to process, which is how we are able to understand what we hear. Damaged hair cells mean a reduced capacity to translate soundwaves which makes it difficult for the brain to then process the incoming sound and information. 

Have Your Hearing Tested

If you have diabetes or are predisposed to diabetes, it is important to have your hearing tested. Incorporating hearing tests into your health routines is a great way to reduce your risk of profound impairment. Hearing tests are noninvasive and measure your hearing ability in both ears. This establishes any impairment and the degree which informs the most effective treatment option for your hearing needs. 

Fortunately, there are effective ways hearing loss is treated that allow people to navigate their day with greater ease. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are small, electronic devices that are designed to amplify and process sound. This can significantly increase one’s ability to hear which improves communication and overall quality of life! 

When Should I Update My Hearing Aids

When Should I Update My Hearing Aids

Remember how amazing it was when you first made the leap and invested in your first pair of hearing aids? Perhaps it had been a while since you could hear the sounds of birds and the wind blowing through the trees. Perhaps you found you could participate in conversations that would have previously been a struggle. 

When hearing aids are working their best they can make your world accessible, make you feel connected to the people around you and boost your overall health exponentially. However, like anything, hearing aids grow old and often need to be updated or replaced. Let’s explore signs that may help you understand when it is time to re-invest in your hearing.

The Lifespan of A Hearing Aid

The average hearing aid has a life of five to seven years. Environmental factors like exposure to moisture and debris wear your hearing aids over time. This kind of wear can be minimized by drying your hearing aids in a dehumidifying box overnight and carrying a waterproof case for when they are not in your ears. Even so your hearing aids have a shelf life. 

Your Hearing Aids Are Constantly Being Repaired

When worn properly, your hearing aids are working from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. When you consider how much time your hearing aids are working it makes sense that your hearing aids might become worn out. 

While we can handle repairing your hearing aids, if you are finding that your hearing aids need to be repaired more and more often, it is probably a good time to update your hearing aids. When the life of your battery becomes increasingly shorter, you experience feedback even after repairs and the sound quality is inconsistent then it is a good idea to invest in a new pair of hearing aids.

A Change In Hearing Abilities 

Hearing loss is a progressive condition, starting slowly and continuing to degrade over time. Tiny hair cells called cilia in the inner ear pick up the sounds around you and send them to your brain to be processed. Often cilia become damaged by exposure to noise or old age. 

While hearing aids can help you hear, they cannot stop your ears from degenerating. If you find that you are struggling to hear sounds even with your hearing aids in then your hearing aids might need to be upgraded. Some models of hearing aids work better for people with mild to severe hearing loss while other models work more efficiently for people with severe hearing loss. Hearing loss changes constantly. Even with hearing aids it is a good idea to have your hearing checked annually to make sure your hearing aids are working best for you.

Lifestyle Changes

Perhaps last time you had your hearing checked and was fitted with new hearing aids you worked at an office and mostly commuted back and forth from work to home. However, imagine that since then you have a new job and have become obsessed with jogging. In this case you are also exposing yourself to different environments and lifestyle changes. 

When you go into get fitted for hearing aids we will ask you questions about your lifestyle and different environments you encounter to find out how best to calibrate your hearing aids. Perhaps you now need to rely on longer battery life or suppression of the sound of wind, or higher protection from moisture while jogging. If your lifestyle has changed and your hearing aids have not adapted with you, then it is time to upgrade.

Discover The Latest In Hearing Aid Technology

As with all technology, hearing aids continue to offer new features and abilities, which enhance our listening experience and make our lives easier. If you haven’t investigated what hearing aids have to offer in over five to seven years, then you will most likely be surprised. Hearing aids of today offer enhanced sound quality, Bluetooth wireless technology to interface with your smartphone, background noise suppression, rechargeable batteries, artificial intelligence and more. 

Don’t miss out on the possibilities in hearing. Our team is here to help you keep your hearing aids working for as long as possible, but even the best hearing aids have a lifespan. We can help you explore your options and find the best hearing aids for you!

A Brief History of Hearing Loss

A Brief History of Hearing Loss

Over 5% of the world’s population, or 466 million people, deal with disabling hearing loss, making it hard to maintain jobs and relationships.  While there is still no cure for hearing loss it can be treated rather effectively using hearing aids. 

Hearing aids amplify the specific tones, pitches and sounds in which the listener struggles with and sends them directly to the inner ear to be processed by the brain. Today’s hearing aids continue to advance with technology and those who rely on them may not be able to even imagine life without them!  

What did we do before this amazing technology existed? Hearing loss has always been a part of human history. Lets review instances of hearing loss throughout history, to understand how far we’ve actually come.

Earliest Known Instances of Hearing Loss 

The farthest back that archeologists have been able to uncover proof of hearing loss dates back more that 10,000 years ago. They uncovered a mass gravesite on Mount Bradost in Iraqi Kurdistan in Shanidar Cave. Some of the skeletons uncovered had bony growth in their ear canal, which audiologists call exostoses. Exostoses impact hearing ability significantly.

First Mention of Hearing loss in Writing

In script, mention of hearing loss first appeared scrawled on papyrus, the ancient paper of early Egypt circa 1550 BC. The document appears to be of medical content and refers to a remedy for the “ear that hears badly”. 

The document recommends an injection of olive oil, red lead, ant eggs, bat wings and goat urine into the ears to relieve hearing loss. It is not clear if this was a remedy to clear a blockage in the ear causing hearing loss or perhaps a long-term cure. 

While a home remedy to prevent a buildup of earwax is to use a small drop of olive oil, this ancient concoction is not a method that is still used today. Also uncovered on the papyrus was evidence that the disabled, including those with hearing loss were treated with respect.

First Mentions of Sign language 

Monks in Burgundy employed the first mention of sign language used to communicate, in the 10th century. Because these monks were often sworn to silence, they used hand signals in which to communicate with each other. This was called Cluniac sign language. It is believed that Cluniac sign language was the inspiration for Ponce de Leon’s manual alphabet in which he developed for the school of the deaf nearly 600 years later. 

Early Hearing Aids

The earliest mention of hearing aids was the horns of herd animals like goats and rams. In 1588 the Neapolitan scholar, Giambattista della Port described horns shaped like animal ears to enhance hearing. While the intent is unclear it is suspected that these horns were used to amplify sound similar to the ear horns invented in the 16th century by Paolo Apronino, a student of Galileo’s.

The Evolution of Electronic Hearing Aids 

It was not till the late 1800’s that electricity began to be employed to aid in our hearing. The telephone was invented near the end of the 19th century, which provided the technology necessary for the first electronic hearing aids. 

In 1898, these early electronic devices used a carbon transmitter and were so heavy that they were designed to sit upon a desk. More portable hearing aids were developed by 1920, using telephone transmitters to convert speech into electric signals, which were amplified in the inner ear. 

As World War II pushed the need for communication technology further hearing aids were able to be designed even smaller and more portable, making them easier to use and increasingly popular.

The Arrival of Digital Technology

Today’s hearing aids use digital technology, which is small, light and transmits sound clearly, eliminating feedback. The first commercially available digital hearing aid was introduced in 1987 using high-speed digital array processors. 

The use of digital technology allowed sound to be separated into bands of frequencies, which makes it easier to customize amplification for an individual’s particular hearing loss needs. Hearing aid technology continues to make leaps and bounds. The latest in hearing aid technology offers Bluetooth wireless capacity, noise cancelling ability and artificial intelligence. Contact us to discover how far we’ve come and to learn more about the latest hearing aid technology available!

Celebrate World Alzheimer’s Month with a Hearing Test!

Celebrate World Alzheimer's Month with a Hearing Test!

Everyone has problems remembering details every now and then, but as we age, this can progress into more than forgetfulness. If ignored this can easily progress into dementia, which is a category of brain diseases affecting at least two cognitive functions, like memory and judgment. 

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, affecting 3 million people in the US annually and accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases. Each September is World Alzheimer’s Month, in which awareness is raised to address and raise awareness around Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer In 1906 after identifying changes in the brain tissue of diseased patients with similar mental health issues. He was able to identify a progressive disease, which occurs as brain cell connections degenerate and die, destroying memory and other important memory functions. 

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include forgetfulness, impaired social skills, compromised reasoning and interference with daily functioning There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, specialists continue to uncover more information each year on different health conditions and actions, which contribute to the likeliness of developing this devastating condition. When we understand what we can do to prevent and treat this condition it can help us be aware of what we can do to combat dementia in all forms.

A New Study on Alzheimer’s Prevention

While the majority of Alzheimer’s patients are 65 or older it is not exclusively a disease that affects the elderly. Currently there are approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 who suffer from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health & Sustainable Development released a study this year building on previous research identifying 12 risk factors leading to dementia that could be avoided by changing behavior. The commission found these factors could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases globally. The 12 modifiable factors include:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption: Because excessive alcohol consumption can damage your brain over time this can put you at a higher risk for dementia.
  • Head injury: Research has linked traumatic brain injury with a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia even after years from the original injury. 
  • Air pollution: While more studies are required there is significant evidence suggesting that tiny polluted particles of air can enter the brain contributing to the development of dementia
  • Less Education: Researchers find that education in the first 20 years of life are essential for brain health but become less of a factor after this, illuminating the importance of attending grade school.
  • Hypertension: Many studies highlight the connection between high blood pressure in mid-life, its negative effect on brain tissue and a higher risk of developing dementia in later life.
  • Smoking: Smoking Tobacco increases the risk of vascular problems, raising the risk of strokes or smaller bleeds in the brain, which are associated risks for dementia.
  • Obesity: A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that obesity in late adulthood, (40-60) had a 31% increased risk of dementia, than those who were technically not considered obese.
  • Depression: People who suffer from depression have been found to suffer more rapid decline in thinking and memory skills associated with dementia.
  • Infrequent social contact: Depression and less social interaction create instances of less brain stimulation, which can aid in the onset of dementia.
  • Physical inactivity: Studies have found that when people exercise regularly they are less likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes can cause brain damage when blood flow is reduced or blocked in your brain raising the risk of dementia.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

Hearing loss is a major factor in the risk of dementia as many of the risk factors for dementia are similar for hearing loss as well. For instance diabetes, hypertension, smoking and head trauma can also be risk factors for hearing loss. 

Consequences of untreated hearing loss often include depression, lack of social interaction and less physical mobility, raising the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. If you suspect you have an issue with your hearing, contact us to make an appointment to have your hearing checked and treated today. You may not only be protecting your hearing but the memories of your lifetime!

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn't Help

Do you ever find yourself in conversation and you are having trouble hearing the other person? Perhaps the person’s voice seems too high or low or perhaps it seems they mumble.  While this is always a possibility that the person is hard to understand, have you considered the possibility that it could be you have a developing case of hearing loss? 

It is often certain sounds, tones and pitches that diminish first as hearing loss presents itself. It may seem exhausting or embarrassing to interrupt the speaker and ask for them to repeat themselves or rephrase, but it is very important to do. Pretending to understand can only add further complications down the line.

Pretending to hear can make things worse

Whether you have hearing loss or not it is common to pretend to hear when you don’t. People don’t want to feel rude by asking them to repeat themselves or don’t want to stop the flow of conversation. It is important to understand that it is the opposite of polite not to ask for clarification when you can’t understand what the other person is saying. 

Pretending to understand can make you miss important information, creating social tension and misunderstandings. People may feel like you aren’t listening to them, don’t care or not paying attention. This can create huge rifts in relationships with friends and family. The longer your hearing loss goes untreated the wider the gaps in your relationships grow.

Impact on communication

When you can’t hear your loved ones it can build up into major resentment. In many cases untreated hearing loss can even progress to a point of driving couples who have been together for years towards divorce. 

A British study found that marriages in which one partner had severe hearing loss were four times more likely to end their marriage with divorce. While this is alarming there are other areas of life that are affected by pretending to hear. 

Impact on Income

Imagine the impact on your professional life when you pretend to hear information from your co-workers and employers without really understanding what they are trying to convey. You most likely will start to miss important details, which will seriously hinder your performance at work. Your co-worker will start to rely on you less and less. 

In fact, a study out of the Better Hearing Institute found that hearing loss drastically affected people’s salaries when they lived with untreated hearing loss. Employees with even mild hearing loss earned $14,000 less per year than those with no hearing loss, while those with severe hearing loss, lost about $31,000 less per year than those with healthy hearing. People with untreated hearing loss are also more likely to be skipped over from promotions or more likely to be unemployed completely. 

Being open about your condition

There are a lot of stigmas from the past about hearing loss. People fear that being open to themselves and others about their hearing loss will make them seem old and weak. However, this is the opposite of what it actually does. 

Being open about your hearing loss empowers you to seek treatment, and ask for accommodations from your friends and family. There are currently 48 million people in the US alone dealing with hearing loss, making it the 3rd most chronic health condition.  This is to say that you are not alone! When you choose to speak up about your hearing issues it empowers others to feel comfortable to be open about them as well. 

Ask for accommodations for your hearing loss

Take time to explore what exactly helps you hear more clearly. Many times you can ask people to write things out when you are having trouble hearing. Sometimes it is easier to hear in less noisy environments. Sometimes all it takes is asking someone to lower the television or stereo so you can hear. 

While most hearing loss is permanent it is very treatable with hearing aids. Hearing aids amplify the sounds around you, making it easier for you to hear the tones that might be making it hard for you to follow conversation in the first place. 

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss

If you are finding that you have to pretend more and more to hear everyday conversation, don’t wait for it to get worse. Make an appointment with us to have your hearing checked. We can diagnose your hearing issues and find the best solution to get you hearing your best again.

Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss

With 48 million people in the US suffering with debilitating hearing loss, there is a good chance that someone close to you is dealing with this condition. 

Hearing loss most commonly affects people as they age but can develop at any age due to head trauma, exposure to excess noise, use of certain medications and more. It is important to understand the symptoms of hearing loss so you can recognize and treat it before it is able to progress. 

While there is no way to reverse this manner of hearing loss it is very treatable using hearing aids. Once you’ve established that someone you love is dealing with hearing loss there are certain things you can do to make communication go smoother with or without hearing aids.

Strategies for communicating with people with hearing loss

One of the most important things to understand is that it is much easier for people to hear you if they can see you. As hearing loss progresses over time certain tones and pitches are lost leaving huge gaps in conversation that are harder to interpret from a distance. 

It can also be particularly challenging to locate the direction and proximity of a sound when dealing with hearing loss. Make sure you have the listener’s attention before you start speaking. Don’t try to communicate from another room.  Not only does this diminish the quality of sound but visual cues like facial expression and body language are invaluable to filling in missing audio information for those who have adapted their listening skills to live with hearing loss. Many also rely on lip reading in order to help them understand. 

Rephrase rather than repeat

One of the most common signs of hearing loss is the need to constantly ask people to repeat themselves. It can be tempting to want to raise the volume of your voice to convey your message clearer but this can actually distort the sound instead. 

Speak slowly and leave lots of pauses so the listener has time to interpret the intention of your voice. As an alternative try rephrasing what you are trying to communicate rather than repeating the same thing over and over. Because certain tones can often diminish first, if these sounds are in your original content it could be giving the listener a frustrating challenge. 

Rephrasing gives the listener added context to interpret what you are saying and may avoid using the lost sound. You could also ask the listener what word in particular that they are struggling with in which case you can find a synonym for that word.

Pay attention to the listening environment

When dealing with hearing loss, certain environments are easier to hear in than others. For instance, a noisy restaurant or party can make it hard to isolate conversation amongst the commotion. 

Any extraneous noise you can remove from the listening environment will make it easier for your loved one to hear. If you can choose quieter places to meet. In your home, turn off the TV or radio if you are trying to have a conversation. If you can’t control the noise level of the environment and you really need to communicate something, try bringing your loved one to another room with less background noise. 

Today’s hearing aids often come equipped with features that allow you to hear easier amongst noise making communication less cumbersome.

Support your loved one’s emotional journey

One of the most serious effects on people with hearing loss is not actually an ear issue but emotional issues. It is exhausting and frustrating to navigate the world with compromised hearing. Many who struggle with communication often become anxious, depressed and choose to avoid social situations rather than struggling with the frustration of strained communication. Make sure to be patient, treat them with love and encourage them to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Listening with your loved ones

There is a big difference between hearing and listening. Listening is when your brain hears and effectively is able to interpret the intent of audio information. Hearing aids make the process of listening much easier for those who struggle with hearing loss, making social situations and communication much more of an ease. 

Unfortunately only 20% of those who could benefit from hearing loss actually use them. Encourage your loved one to avoid being part of this statistic. Help your loved one schedule a hearing test and get back on track to a life full of healthy communication today.

Contact us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test or to learn more about our comprehensive hearing health services.

Musicians & Hearing Loss

Musicians & Hearing Loss

Music fills our hearts and even releases endorphins in our brains that bring us joy. If you are a professional musician or just make music because it is what you love to do, there are serious occupational hazards to being a musician. Noise induced hearing loss is a serious risk for anyone who is constantly exposed to loud noises for an extended amount of time. Attending a loud music event can cause damage to the regular concertgoer if not wearing proper ear protection. With this in mind, just imagine the effects on the ears of your favorite musicians who perform for weeks on end in loud stadiums and auditoriums!

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in musicians affecting people of all ages. When sound exceeds safe listening levels the tiny hairs in your inner ear can become damaged or destroyed creating permanent hearing damage. Sound is measured in decibels and any sound over 85 can start to damage your hearing. It is not just the level of sound that you are exposed to that can damage your ears but the length of time. The average rock or pop concert is measured at 120 decibels putting musicians in this genre at extremely high risk.

Rock vs. Classical music

It would seem that musicians who play loud amplified electronic music would be at a greater risk for hearing damage vs. musicians whose work is acoustic as in classical music. However this is not always the case. 

In fact a National Public Radio story titled, “For Musicians, Hearing Loss is More Common Than One Would Think,” audiologist Marshall Chasin found that classical music can be more damaging than rock n roll and pop. Doctor Chasin attributes this to the amount of time an average classical musician must devote towards their craft. 

Dr. Chasin explains: “A rock ‘n’ roller might pick up their guitar on a Friday night gig, and may not even practice or touch their music for another week or two until the next gig. In contrast, a classical musician plays four, five hours a day practicing, they may teach one or two hours a day, and then they have four or five, or maybe seven or eight, different performances every week. So even though the spot intensity might be greater for a rock ‘n’ roll set, if you take the dose that they get — the number of hours per week you’re playing — for a classical musician, it’s much, much greater.” 

These findings are attributed to not only the dangerous level of loud music but also the frequency of the exposure and conglomeration of exposure over time.

Hearing protection for musicians

If you are a professional musician or just love making music you will be at risk for exposure to loud noise that can damage your hearing permanently. However if you are aware early on of the risks to your hearing, you can start taking steps now to protect your ears for the future. Most hearing protection are earplugs which can reduce the decibel level anywhere from 15 to 30 decibels depending on the protection. Pay attention to the amount of sound around you. Most smartphones offer apps that can measure the decibel level around you. 

If you record a sound level louder than 85 decibels then it is imperative that you are vigilant about using hearing protection. Make sure that you know how to wear your hearing protection properly so you can get the best protection possible. Your future self may thank you for healthy hearing.

Ensuring Your Best Hearing health 

Whether or not you are a musician, there’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss! The effects of hearing loss may be permanent, but they are not untreatable. Hearing aids can amplify the sounds around you making it easier to hear the things you love. Speech is often perceived differently than music and many modern hearing aids offer settings specifically for picking up the nuisances of music. 

Contact us to schedule a hearing test. We can help you find the best solution for you on how to live with hearing loss and still hear and make the music that is your profession and your passion. 

Exciting New Technology with Digital Hearing Aids

Exciting New Technology with Digital Hearing Aids

Hearing aids continue to evolve along as technology advances. Hearing aids have long ago evolved past the large cumbersome machines that used to squeak and buzz. Hearing aids today are small, sleek and easy to use. While hearing aids in the past used analog technology almost all hearing aids are making the switch to digital. Get ready to explore the amazing features and options of digital hearing aids that analog hearing aids of the past just couldn’t deliver!

Analog Hearing Aids

Hearing aids no matter if they are analog or digital are made up of four components including a microphone used for picking up the sounds around you and sending them to an amplifier which increases the volume of sounds. The receiver sends the sounds to your inner ear so you can hear using your remaining hearing ability. The hearing aid is powered by a battery, which either needs to be replaced regularly, or recharged, depending on the model. When hearing aids are analog they pick up all the sounds around you. The problem with this is that analog hearing aids cannot prioritize which sounds are important. They pick up the buzz of your refrigerator the same way they pick up the sound of people speaking to you. In a quiet place analog hearing aids can help you hear but it can start to get rather confusing when you have to prioritize the sounds of the people you want to hear vs. the chatter of the total crowd. This is just one way that digital hearing aids can help to improve your listening experience.

Digital Hearing Aids

With digital hearing aids, the amplifier is where the major difference occurs. The amplifier acts as a computerized brain analyzing sound information and making quick decisions around which sounds need to be prioritized. When digital hearing aids process sound and sends it to the receiver and into your ears it has already decided what sounds are most important for you to communicate and stay safe. While analog sound is processed in a wave, digital hearing aids process those sounds into tiny incremental steps. While analog sound is a more natural form of sound, digital hearing aids are more equipped to control sound, reducing feedback and excess buzzing. When sound is compartmentalized into steps it is easier for your hearing aids to reduce background noise and enhance speech so you can hear the people you are in conversation and subdue the rest.  Digital hearing aids do this by prioritizing which sounds are amplified depending on the hearing aid setting. They can automatically adjust the volume setting and switch for settings for home, work or different crowded environments.

Digital Adaptability

The beauty of digital hearing aids is that they are adaptable. While analog hearing aids pick up audio information as a wall of sound, digital hearing aids can be programmed by your audiologist to adapt to your evolving hearing ability. As your hearing ability changes your hearing aids can be reprogrammed to accommodate your hearing needs. This technology only continues to get better with ongoing updates and advancements making your hearing experience mirror the nuisances in your original hearing ability. The newest hearing aids are even coming equipped with artificial and machine intelligence which remembers your preferred settings for different environments and switches to them automatically. Not only does artificial intelligence detect your position via GPS and adapt but also tracks your physical activity, your heart rate and amount of time spent listening. This technology can come in handy when monitoring your own health or the health of an aging loved one. 

The Future of Hearing Aids

Who knows what the future of hearing aids holds but with the amazing advancement of digital hearing aids it seems that only our imagination is the limit. If you are using older hearing aids that aren’t working for you anymore, then this is a wonderful moment to explore your options. The newest technology is designed to make your hearing you’re your life with the ones you love as easy as possible. Contact us today! We can help you find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle needs and keep you hearing crisp and clear for years to come.