Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

 

When it comes to hearing loss, there is very little argument for not treating it. Untreated hearing loss brings a number of challenges to your interpersonal relationships, your physical well-being, and your overall quality of life. Treating hearing loss is simple – it requires a hearing test. If a hearing loss is detected, then our team at The Hearing Consultants will work with you to find the best course of treatment – most commonly the prescription of new hearing aids.

Here, we take a look at the benefits of treating hearing loss.

Improved Interpersonal Relationships

As many of us know, communication is the foundation of strong relationships. In healthy relationships, we are able to communicate what we need, and we trust that our friends and loved ones hear us and respect us. Untreated hearing loss could lead to a number of negative emotional and psychological effects. People with untreated hearing loss experience a higher risk for developing depression, anxiety, social isolation, and a drop in levels of self-confidence. With difficulties in communication, people tend to withdraw from activities and social events. This isolation actually has been linked to an increased risk for dementia as well.

When it comes to our romantic relationships with our spouses or partners, untreated hearing loss could cause bigger issues. What begins as confusion or frustration could turn into rifts in the relationship.  According to a May 2015 survey, conducted for Better Hearing and Speech Month, “27 million US adults with hearing loss [cited that] the number one relationship that suffered was the one with their romantic partner (35%), followed by friends, family members, and coworkers.”

Similarly, an article from Social Work Today reports that people with untreated hearing loss “develop ways to cope with and manage hearing loss in their daily lives.” Often times, this means that people may begin to incorporate the negative aspects of hearing loss into their personalities, such as being anxious, irritable, avoidant, nonresponsive or emotionally distant. Undoubtedly, this could create significant problems with your significant other – not to mention your friends and colleagues.

If you or a loved one experiences the signs of hearing loss, the first step is to open a clear channel of communication. Though it may be a difficult conversation, it is also a crucial one to have. By treating hearing loss, you ensure that you’re able to communicate clearly with your spouse or partner, your colleagues, and your friends. More importantly, treating hearing loss ensures that your most important interpersonal relationships do not suffer.

Improved Cognitive Abilities

Over the past decade, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have issued a number of studies that link untreated hearing loss and dementia, amongst other more immediate affects. Hearing loss actually affects the brain more than any other part of your body, as auditory processing happens in the brain. With untreated hearing loss, more common effects include impaired memory, difficulty with concentration, and the inability to complete short-term tasks.

Over the long term, untreated hearing loss could take a greater toll on your cognitive abilities. One study from Johns Hopkins suggests that untreated hearing loss creates a heavier “cognitive load” on your brain. When you struggle to make sense of sound, the resources in your brain allocated to other functions are drained. Over time, this heavy cognitive load could increase your risk for developing dementia.

The good news? Treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids actually brings significant benefits to your cognitive abilities. A 2011 study from Japan found that people who treated their hearing loss with hearing aids performed at the same level in cognitive tests as people with normal hearing. Keep your brain sharp by treating your hearing loss.

Improved Quality of Life

A series of studies from Finland reveal that people with untreated hearing loss have a limited “life space,” which could lead to a sense of social isolation. The University of Jyvaskyla and University of Tampere observed 848 men and women (ages 75-90), measuring their hearing abilities and monitoring their movements for a period of two years. Researchers found that the “people who experienced hearing problems in different everyday situations moved less within their local area than those who considered their hearing to be good,” and that “the people who were hard of hearing were more than twice as likely as others to limit their movement to nearby areas.” According to researcher Hannele Polku, “We observed that older people with hearing problems have more limited life space, and that these problems lower their quality of life.”

When we consider the events of a day and the number of interactions we have, we may take for granted how often we use our hearing. Just the simple act of crossing the street requires hearing abilities to maintain our safety, and interactions at a grocery store require clear communication with the checkout clerk. Treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids improves our abilities in all aspects of our life.

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You don’t have to live with untreated hearing loss. Experience the benefits of treating hearing loss today by scheduling a hearing test and consultation with our team at the Hearing Consultants.

 

Talking to a Loved One About Treating Hearing Loss

Talking to a Loved One About Treating a Hearing Loss

As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” Because untreated hearing loss often leads to breakdowns in communication and difficulties with speech recognition, there may be a strain in our most important relationships.

Hearing loss may be a difficult subject to broach with a loved one. Even though it is the third most common medical condition in the United States – affecting people of all ages – there is still some taboo surrounding it, especially when it comes to the aging process. On the other side, people who experience hearing loss may not be aware of it, because it happens gradually. Many people learn to adjust their behavior or avoid situations, or even blame others for “mumbling” rather than recognizing that they might have experienced changes in their hearing abilities.

With our loved ones, it may fall on us to talk to them about seeking treatment for a hearing loss. Here, we provide some tips for discussing this sensitive topic.

Research on Hearing Loss

With the internet at your fingertips, there are many resources available to learn more about the intricacies of hearing loss. National organizations such as the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Language Hearing Association provide copious amounts of information on the signs of hearing loss, the benefits of treating hearing loss, and the treatment options available.

Before sitting down with a loved one to discuss hearing loss, get in the know about the ins and outs of hearing loss. Having this research on hand could help encourage your loved one to take action.

Find a Quiet, Private Space

It’s important to keep in mind that hearing loss makes communication difficult. For many with untreated hearing loss, speech recognition is a great challenge, especially when conversations happen in noisy environments.

When sitting down with a loved one to discuss hearing loss, find a quiet place free of music or background noise. Even more, because it may be a sensitive subject, you may want to find a private space to have the discussion.

Focus on Your Experience with Your Loved One

It’s easy for people to get defensive or offended when it comes to a topic like hearing loss. For this reason, focus on your experiences with your loved one – rather than pointing out the changes in their behavior.

You may have grown frustrated from having to repeat yourself over and over again. You may feel that the loud volumes on the TV or the radio are harming your own hearing and that causes you some concern. In intimate relationships, a breakdown in communication could also cause an emotional rift. Talk about your own feelings about the state of your relationship and what can be done to improve the situation. Illustrating to your loved one how hearing loss affects you could be an impetus for them to take action.

Listen & Ask Questions

After you’ve said your part, give your loved one the opportunity to respond and share their own experiences. Chances are, they may have noticed the changes in their hearing and they may have frustrations of their own to vent. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, people wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing abilities before seeking treatment.

Untreated hearing loss comes with a number of issues, such as an increased risk for anxiety, stress, depression, and fatigue. When the brain works overtime to struggle to hear and make sense of sound and communication, it does take a physical toll. Ask your loved one open-ended questions that could provide you with more information on their own experiences.

Encourage Your Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

When it comes to addressing hearing loss, the most important first step is to take a hearing test. Hearing tests may seem daunting, but they are a painless and quick procedure that requires very little on their part. At the Hearing Consultants, we offer comprehensive hearing tests to gauge the abilities of your loved one’s hearing.

Hearing test results are recorded in an audiogram, which gives a visual representation of hearing abilities by ear. If a hearing loss is detected, we’ll work with you to formulate the next steps. Offer your loved one support through this process and assure them that they do not have to go through it alone.

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At the Hearing Consultants, we believe in reconnecting people to their loved ones and the sounds they love. To schedule a comprehensive hearing test and consultation, get in touch with our team today.

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

As an invisible condition that tends to occur gradually, hearing loss is often overlooked by those who experience it. The Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that it takes a person an average of seven years from the time they first begin to experience changes in their hearing before addressing the issue. Over time, untreated hearing loss could lead to a number of negative consequences that extend beyond one’s physical well-being into other areas of their life.

The signs of hearing loss may not be obvious at first, but there are factors and behavioral changes that may surface to indicate its presence. Here, we take a look at the prevalence of hearing loss and ways to identify it.

Prevalence of Hearing Loss

In the United States, approximately 48 million people, or 20% of the population, experience hearing loss. As such, hearing loss is the third most common medical condition, after heart disease and arthritis. It is considered a medical condition in the ways that it affects one’s overall health and well-being.

While hearing loss is often relegated as a condition that affects the elderly, the reality is that it may occur to anyone, at any age. Noise-induced hearing loss, for example, has become a growing issue among younger populations with the ubiquity of portable electronics and earbuds. An estimated 60% of the American workforce experiences some degree of hearing loss. For some, congenital hearing loss occurs at birth, while acquired hearing loss develops over time (due to exposure to loud noise or through the natural process of aging).

Indeed, aging is a factor in whether one experiences hearing loss. One in three people over the age of 65 experience some degree of hearing loss. For those over the age of 75, this number rises to 50%. Because hearing loss does often take time to develop, hearing specialists recommend that people begin annual hearing tests at the age of 50. Incorporating an annual hearing test into one’s annual health checkup is an easy way to keep track of your hearing abilities.

What Happens with Hearing Loss?

There are two common types of hearing loss: noise-induced and presbycusis (age-related). Hearing loss appears in three forms: conductive hearing loss affects the outer and middle ear area, inhibiting the ear’s natural ability to pick up and conduct sound, while sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear. In particular, sensorineural hearing loss occurs when inner ear hair cells – the small cells that translate sound waves into neural signals that are processed by the brain as sound – are damaged. These cells do not regenerate and could lead to permanent hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss is the third form, combining elements of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Essentially, with all forms of hearing loss, the effects are similar. People who experience hearing loss struggle with speech recognition and the ability to accurately locate sound in their environment. This could lead to a number of issues, from breakdowns in communication to a risk to one’s personal safety and security.

Common Signs of Hearing Loss

As an invisible condition, it may be difficult to notice the signs of hearing loss – whether in yourself or in a loved one. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, these are some common signs of hearing loss.

If you answer yes to some of the following questions, you may have a hearing loss:

  • – Often ask people to repeat what they say?
  • – Have trouble hearing in groups?
  • – Think others mumble?
  • – Fail to hear someone talking from behind you?
  • – Turn up the volume on the TV or car radio?
  • – Have difficulty on the phone?
  • – Have trouble hearing your alarm clock?
  • – Have difficulty hearing at the movies
  • – Dread going to noisy parties and restaurants?

If you have experienced some of these scenarios, you may have a hearing loss:

  • – Are you embarrassed to talk openly about not being able to hear?
  • – Are you cutting out activities that you used to love but have become painful because you cannot join in fully anymore?
  • – At work are you afraid to reveal your hearing loss in case it jeopardizes your job and your supervisor and coworkers may see you as less competent?
  • – Are you bluffing when out with friends in noisy restaurants?
  • – Are you feeling cut off from your young children because you cannot hear their high-pitched voices?
  • – Are family holidays a strain because so many people are talking at once?

One of the most common complaints of people who experience hearing loss is: “I can hear, but I can’t understand.” In other words, you may still be able to technically hear sounds – but you may struggle to make sense of them. This is particularly difficult when it comes to conversations, but it could occur with watching or listening to media as well.

Visit Us at the Hearing Consultants

If you have noticed some of these signs in your own life or with a loved one, it’s important to schedule a hearing test. Hearing tests are designed to gauge one’s hearing abilities and will give us the data we need to make a proper diagnosis. If a hearing loss is detected, our team at the Hearing Consultants will work with you to find the best course of treatment.

Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood

Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood

Many people aren’t aware that the sounds they hear every day could be harming their hearing, increasing their stress levels, and impacting their general health in a negative way. We take certain sounds and noises for granted as just being part of our surroundings–a lawn mower, the sound of passing traffic–these are the normal sounds that make up daily life. But when noise reaches an unnatural level it can wear away at the hearing. Though hearing loss is treatable, it is a permanent condition, and prevention is what we must strive for. It is important to know what constitutes noise pollution, if you are being exposed to an unsafe level of noise in your neighborhood, and what steps you can take to minimize noise in your home.

Noise pollution – A subtle health risk

Unlike many other bodily injuries, hearing loss can occur without causing pain or immediate obvious symptoms, and for this reason it is a subtle but serious health risk. According to David Sykes of the Acoustic Research Council, “It’s a survival mechanism. Your body isn’t designed to turn off your hearing or to always know when its hearing mechanism is being damaged. The most dangerous thing is when you’re exposed, but you don’t feel pain because of the exposure.”

Our ears are amazingly adept at picking up sound vibrations, which have to travel through an intricate, complex system to reach our brains. An average human with healthy ears can hear from 20-20,000 HZ, though this does decrease somewhat with age. And hearing in all of these frequencies, from birds chirping to people talking on the street, adds to the fullness of each day, helps to round out our many experiences–some mundane, some monumental.

But there are also times when sound becomes bothersome, and we wish we could turn off our ears for a little while. Many people who live in cities know this feeling all too well. Traffic, sirens, construction, loud music blasting from clubs and bars–it is often man-made noises that are the hardest to endure, and the most harmful to the ears. When noise in a neighborhood is constant, inescapable, and loud enough to harm the ears, we call it noise pollution.

Why is noise pollution harmful?

Although the inhabitants of very noisy neighborhoods may be troubled by the constant intrusion of noise into their homes, they may not always realize that this type of pollution, just like air and water pollution, can impact their health in lasting ways.

High noise levels have long been known to contribute to hearing loss. Though the sound level above which damage can occur is widely recognized as 85 dB (decibels), the sound threshold for damage is actually lower. If someone is exposed for a 24-hour period, the EPA recommends a decibel limit of just 55 dB. The average dishwasher or washing machine is 70.

The constant influx of unwanted sound also disturbs sleep and acts as a daily stressor, triggering our bodies’ fight or flight response and raising blood pressure levels. Researchers have now linked noise pollution to heart conditions such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 3 percent of ischemic heart disease in Europe can be attributed to long-term exposure to traffic noise.

Then there are the negative psychological effects, with people living in noisy areas reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety, nervousness, and fatigue. Research also shows that growing up in heavy noise pollution has an extremely detrimental effect on child development, including a child’s acquisition of language.

What are the major sources of noise pollution?

As cities are getting louder and louder, there also is a growing public awareness of the hazards of noise, and a strong desire among health experts and researchers to see noise pollution defined as a major public health issue, rather than just a nuisance. So, what are the major contributors of unwanted noise in a neighborhood?

Industrial activity, construction, airport noise, and traffic sounds are the primary sources of noise pollution, though unwanted noise can come from a variety of other places as well. Here is a list of some common sources of noise in neighborhood:

  • – Traffic sounds from a major highway or freeway
  • – Music and event venues with loudspeakers
  • – Construction sites with heavy machinery
  • – Airport traffic passing overhead
  • – Living in close proximity to barking dogs
  • – Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other loud domestic machinery
  • – Frequently passing trains
  • – Living near a fire or police station

How to defend yourself against noise pollution

If you are living in an area with a bothersome level of noise, and you have exhausted your means of trying to protect your home from it, you might want to consider contacting your local government, who are responsible for handling issues of noise pollution. Most cities and states enforce quiet hours from the late evening to early morning, during which time no loud noise is allowed. Speaking to your neighborhood association is also a good idea–they may share your concerns and be able to help.

As a first step to reduce noise from your neighborhood, and if space allows, consider building an elevated fence around your home, with an abundance of vegetation to help shield your home from unwanted racket. A water feature like a fountain will add gentle white noise to help cancel out unpleasant sounds.

You can reduce noise pollution in your own home by placing foam or vibration mounts under major appliances, using drapes and curtains for your windows (rather than blinds), installing carpet or linoleum, and sealing any cracks or holes in your doors with foam sealant or caulk.

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Do you live in a particularly loud area? Are you worried about how noise pollution may affect your hearing abilities? Contact our team at Hearing Consultants for a hearing test.

 

The Benefits of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

The Benefits of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?”

We can apply Joni Mitchell’s timeless lyric to most experiences in life, including the experience of hearing aids. You may be in the middle of a conversation when sound begins to fade – and then you remember that you did not bring an extra set of batteries for your hearing aids.

Hearing aids are remarkable, life-changing devices that restore our access to the world, and they instill in us a sense of confidence. This confidence should not disappear just because you’ve forgotten to bring replacement batteries with you! With rechargeable hearing aids, you won’t have to.

Traditional Hearing Aid Batteries

Batteries of various sizes have long been the trusted power supply for hearing aids, but as technology continues to advance, consumers have called for a rechargeable option for hearing aids. For one, the more advanced and powerful your hearing aids are, the more energy the require, and as such, batteries must be replaced more often. In the past, with analog hearing aids, batteries were changed once or twice a month. These days, with sophisticated digital hearing aids that offer wireless streaming capabilities, batteries don’t last quite as long.

Some wearers find they are spending up to $150 a year on hearing aid batteries alone. At the same time, there is less confidence in the lasting power of batteries. Instead of feeling confident that your hearing aids will work for you anywhere you go, you must remember to bring an extra set of batteries with you, just in case. If you lead an active lifestyle, or find yourself often in louder settings, your hearing aids work harder to process more auditory information, which drains your batteries faster.

Consider the math: if you wear two hearing aids, you are replacing two batteries every few days or once a week. Annually, 150 billion zinc air batteries make their way to landfills. As these batteries are not recyclable, they become waste product, which run the risk of seeping lead and acid into underground water supplies and become an environmental hazard.

A Rechargeable Solution

Over the past few years, as hearing aids become more advanced technologically, hearing aid brands have heeded the call for a rechargeable hearing aid. To be clear, rechargeable hearing aids are different than hearing aids that use rechargeable batteries (which still require annual replacement).

Rechargeable hearing aids use lithium-ion batteries – the same long-life, rechargeable batteries that power your smartphone and laptop – which means you do not have to replace the batteries for the life span of the hearing aid. Hearing aids tend to last an average of five to seven years, which means you don’t have to worry about replacing your batteries – nor do you have to worry about unexpectedly running out of juice when you need it most!

Beyond the lifespan of the battery and the financial and environmental benefits of rechargeable hearing aids, there’s another silver lining. For people with limited dexterity, rechargeable hearing aids are a great option. People who suffer from arthritis or people with difficulties with fine motor skills no longer need to struggle with the small mechanisms of the hearing aid battery door. With rechargeable hearing aids, wearers simply remove their hearing aids and place them into a recharging station, which will begin to charge their devices immediately.

An Overnight Charge Guarantees Confident Listening All Day

Before bed, hearing aids are simply removed from your ears and placed into the charging docket overnight. Wake up from a good night’s sleep eight hours later – and your hearing aids are charged and ready to go in the morning! Charging times vary slightly between different manufacturers, but on average, a six to eight-hour charge provides, on average, 16 to 20 hours of unlimited listening. (If you use wireless streaming more frequently, the battery life may be reduced a few hours.)

With wireless connectivity, you don’t have to be in the dark anymore about the battery life of your hearing aids. You can simply check your battery life on a smartphone app connected to your hearing aids. And, if your rechargeable hearing aids should run out of batteries, most hearing aid brands provide a travel recharging station that provides a quick re-up of energy – usually a 30-minute charge for about six hours of listening.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

At Hearing Consultants, we offer a number of rechargeable hearing aid options, from leading manufacturers such as Phonak, Signia, ReSound, Widex, Unitron, and Starkey. Ready to solve the energy crisis of hearing aid batteries? Contact us today to learn more about cost-effective and environmentally-friendly rechargeable hearing aids.

Improving Family Communication with Hearing Loss

Improving Family Communication with Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss can be an isolating condition, especially if it is not addressed. As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things, but deafness separates people from people.” The same might be said of hearing loss, which interferes with our ability to communicate with the people in our lives.

With hearing loss, speech recognition might become challenging. Some of the early signs of hearing loss include asking people to repeat themselves or believing that everyone around you is “mumbling.” For some forms of hearing loss, higher-frequency sounds are difficult to register, and thus, some people struggle with hearing higher-pitched voices.

It’s been said that hearing loss affects not just the person who has it – but the entire family. If you – or a loved one – experiences hearing loss, read on for ways to improve communication in the family.

Treat Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids

Here’s the most important thing to keep in mind about hearing loss: it is 100% treatable. Though there is no cure for hearing loss, it is treatable with the use of hearing aids. In treating hearing loss, you are already taking steps toward significantly improving hearing loss with your family members.

There are a number of negative consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated. For one, communication with your loved ones will suffer. Hearing loss interferes with how we recognize and process speech, and when this process is hindered, it could lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. When communication is the foundation of all healthy relationships, hearing loss could seriously undermine that.

If you or a family member exhibits signs of hearing loss, it is important to seek treatment. At Hearing Consultants, we will provide you with a comprehensive hearing test and fully customized hearing aid fitting.

Two Simple Rules for Family Communication

From Hearing Health, a leading organization on hearing loss, writer Suzanne Jones offers two simple rules for family communication: “If you are the speaker, it is your job to be sure what you’re saying is being heard and understood. If it isn’t, you need to fix it. If you are the listener, it’s your job to let the speaker know whether you’ve heard and understood.”

And – Jones adds – “Be nice to each other!” Hearing loss can be a frustrating condition, especially when we don’t feel heard. Keep in mind that no one is setting out to hurt anyone’s feelings – it’s just a matter of making sure that conversations and intentions are clear.

General Tips for Communication

For most of us with normal hearing, communication is woven so seamlessly into our daily activities that we may not stop to think twice or analyze about what happens in social interactions. Think for a moment about non-verbal ways we acknowledge that other people are listening to us and understanding what we’re saying. There’s nods, or sustained eye contact, or even verbal cues like, “Mm-hm” or “yeah.”

Pay attention when you’re communicating with a family member with hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss, especially, have learned ways to “fake it” in conversations and social interactions. Just to make sure you’re on the same page, do a little check in: “So – just to recap – you’re going to pick up the dog at the vet, and I’ll grab the dog food on my way home.”

Another important thing is to make sure you’ve got their attention first before you start speaking. It’s easy to shout from across the house or just start talking while you’re in the same room, but the person with hearing loss might not be listening at that moment. You could gently touch their arm or shoulder to get their attention and make eye contact before you begin speaking.

When it comes to speaking, there are several different scenarios. People who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids have a much easier time with conversation, thanks to advanced technological features that analyze and process speech sounds. If you’re communicating with a loved one using hearing aids, it’s just important to remember to speak clearly at your normal volume of voice. There’s no need to speak more loudly than usual. If you’re a fast speaker, take a few pauses so they can catch up.

For family members who may have untreated hearing loss, communication becomes more difficult. Again, the most important thing to do in this instance is to sit down with your loved one and have a frank discussion about seeking treatment for hearing loss. “Faking it” in conversations only goes so far – and hearing loss is a degenerative condition, meaning it worsens over time.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Our team at Hearing Consultants is committed to reconnecting you to the sounds of your life and the voices of your loved ones. If you or a loved one has been experiencing changes in hearing, schedule a consultation with us today.