Tips for Working with Hearing Loss

Hearing Consultants - Tips for Working with Hearing Loss

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 60% of workers in the US workforce experience some degree of hearing loss, and the number is growing. Even more, hearing loss has been a growing concern for the past 25 years in the workplace. Here, we take a look at hearing loss, occupational hearing hazards, and accommodations to help your employment experience be more fruitful with hearing loss. 

Occupational Hearing Hazards

Hearing loss may occur due to unsafe conditions in the workplace, there is no denying that untreated hearing loss makes your job – or searching for a job – challenging. With untreated hearing loss, you may find it difficult to communicate with colleagues, while the strain placed on your cognitive abilities may interfere with your concentration and productivity.

In terms of workplace hearing loss, OSHA estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to damaging noise each year. Furthermore, it is estimated that US businesses pay more than $1.5 million in penalties annually for not protecting workers from noise. Indeed, there are issues around unregulated workplace noise and lack of proper protection for employees. Fortunately, raised awareness around occupational hearing hazards have led to better noise regulation and safety measures in the workplace.

Hearing Loss and the Americans with Disabilities Act

As a prevalent medical condition in the US, people with hearing loss are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even more, the Americans with Disabilities Act has outlined best practices for employers and employees alike to accommodate hearing loss. Here are a few accommodations from the first interview for a job to being in the workplace.

Job Interviews

Equal opportunity laws for employment ensure that potential employees cannot be discriminated against for a job due to a disability – including hearing loss. If you experience a hearing loss, you are not required to disclose your condition. Additionally, employers may be limited to what they can ask in regard to your hearing loss treatment, but they may ask about “essential functions” with hearing loss.

Interview questions that are fair include:

  1. Can you respond quickly to instructions in a noise, fast-paced environment?
  2. Do you have good communication skills?
  3. Are you able to meet legally required safety standards to perform these duties?

While you should answer honestly about your abilities, the law also allows you to respond: “Yes, with reasonable accommodation.” These accommodations are outlined for employers in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with hearing loss.

Another thing to keep in mind: if you have been hired without disclosing your hearing loss, your employer is not legally permitted to withdraw their job offer – unless your hearing loss directly affects the safety of yourself or others.

Accommodations in the Workplace

You are not required to disclose your hearing loss, but if you require accommodations that will help improve your performance or employment experience, your employer is required to provide them. According to OSHA, “Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury).”

Additionally, according to the ADA, employers are required to provide accommodations for those with hearing loss so that they may match the same performance levels as colleagues in equal positions and enjoy the same benefits of employment available to all other employees.

This includes using assistive listening technology, moving your desk to a quieter corner of the office so you can hear better, or having written documents in addition to verbal correspondence. In other words, if you need accommodations, don’t be afraid to ask!

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Studies have shown that people with untreated hearing loss have lower earning power than colleagues with normal hearing, as well as colleagues who treat their hearing loss with the use of hearing aids.

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. The steps are painless and simple: take a hearing test with us at Hearing Consultants. If a hearing loss is detected, we will work with you to find the best solution to meet your hearing needs. Contact us at Hearing Consultants today.

 

A Possible Link Between Exercise and Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

Hearing Consultants - A Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

By now you likely know that exercise has great benefits for a variety of physical and mental health issues. Regular exercise—even low to moderate levels of exercise, such as taking a walk every evening—can reduce the risk of heart disease, can stave off some forms of depression, and is very important to maintaining a weight that is healthy for you. Ultimately, exercise boosts your mood and improves your energy, and also helps you get better sleep. Recent research suggests that exercise can also have a positive impact on your hearing health, as well.

The Link Between Exercise & Hearing Loss

A 2016 study in the Journal of Neuroscience conducted safe experiments on mice to determine the different hearing capabilities of mice who were primarily sedentary and those that exercised. The results showed that the hearing structures of mice who were sedentary were negatively affected. They lost important hair cells and strial capillaries in their cochlea, which are responsible for sensing sound waves and delivering oxygen to the larger hearing system. When the cochlear system is unable to circulate the oxygen required to keep your larger auditory system functioning in a healthy way, there can be long-term damage (and thus, hearing loss). The mice who did not exercise also had fewer spiral ganglion, which are the nerve cells responsible for sending the sound signals from the ear to the brain. Compared to mice who exercised, these sedentary mice experienced an average of 20% hearing loss over their lifetime.

The mice who exercised, on the other hand, experienced just 5% hearing loss. This means that 95% of the mice had active hearing. All told, the mice who exercised lost working hair cells at a much slower rate than mice who did not exercise. This exercise appeared to diminish the effects of inflammation that accompanies aging mice, and the mice simply heard more clearly for longer periods of time. Following these results, the lead researchers of this study suggest that human exercising may also help to reduce potential damage to hearing structures.

The study complements a different study done by researchers at The Johns Hopkins University. There, they found that seniors who exercised regularly also maintained healthy hearing habits. The seniors who completed low to moderate exercise activities for just three hours a week fared far better on hearing tests than those seniors who did not exercise at all. Taking just 30 minutes a day to exercise can have great effects on your hearing health. This is because exercising promotes blood circulation throughout your body and invigorates oxygen circulation at the same time. This results in reduced inflammation—inflammation that can damage those sensitive and fragile hair cells and capillaries that are key to maintaining healthy hearing.

Healthy Hearing Habits During Exercise

Once you get going exercising, there are important things you should be doing to make sure that you are practicing healthy hearing habits. There is a link between loss of hearing and headphone styles, so be sure that you use over-the-ear headphones while working out. In-ear headphones easily cause noise-induced hearing loss. No matter the style of headphones you use, be sure to listen at maximum 60% volume and only for 60 minutes max. You can also practice healthy hearing when taking fitness classes that play loud music (or if your gym plays loud music). You can simply bring a pair of ear plugs to have on hand. You can also take short breaks from the loud music if you can.

There may be moments where you experience temporary hearing loss while exercising. The combination of noise and exercise can sometimes lead to sudden hearing issues, ranging from dizziness to ringing in the ears. Sometimes strenuous exercise can lead to a membrane rupturing in your inner ear, allowing fluid to seep into your middle ear cavity. This perilymphatic fistural can be temporary, but it sometimes requires surgery. Other moments of temporary hearing loss are far less severe and are often due to an imbalance in pressure in your inner ear. Yoga, for example, involves important breathing exercises. But, when performed incorrectly, this breathing can inadvertently cause sudden hearing loss.

There are many rewards to incorporating exercising into your healthy hearing habits. It is important to be in communication with any exercise professional you may be working with to ensure you are always performing the proper technique in order to avoid temporary and sudden hearing loss.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

In addition to incorporating an exercise regimen, make sure you schedule an annual hearing test! To schedule a test and consultation, contact us at Hearing Consultants today.

Get Your Hearing Tested for Better Speech and Hearing Month

Hearing Consultant - Get Your Hearing Tested for Better Speech and Hearing Month

Every May, the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) raises awareness around hearing loss and communication disorders with Better Speech and Hearing Month. This year, ASHA’s theme is “Communication for All.” With the understanding that hearing loss affects the way all of us communicate – whether you or a loved one experiences the condition – we hope Better Speech and Hearing Month encourages you to schedule an annual hearing test, regardless of your hearing abilities.

Understanding the Prevalence of Hearing Loss

There’s a good chance that someone you know experiences a hearing loss. In the United States, an estimated 48 million Americans (20%) experience some degree of hearing loss. Approximately one in three older Americans (ages 65 and over) experience hearing loss, while for school-aged children, the statistic is 30 out of every 1000.

Based on data from federal surveys, the number of Americans (age 3 and older) living with hearing loss has doubled in 30 years, between 1971 and 2000. Statistics show that an estimated 1 to 6 out of 1000 infants are born with congenital hearing loss, while some may congenital hearing loss may not occur until later in childhood.

As for adults, sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs within 5 to 20 cases out of 1000, while noise exposure is the most common risk factor, with 30 million Americans exposed on a daily basis to dangerously high sound levels. Approximately 60% of the American workforce experiences some degree of hearing loss.

As the third most common medical condition in the US, after arthritis and heart disease, people from all walks of life may struggle with the difficulties of hearing loss.

 

What are the Types and Causes of Hearing Loss?

As a subjective condition, hearing loss appears in different degrees and configurations for everyone affected by it. There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is localized to the outer and middle ear structures. Conductive hearing loss might occur due to congenital malformations of the ear canal and middle ear structures or head trauma, infections, tumors, impacted earwax, or other medical conditions.

Sensorineural hearing loss refers to problems with the inner ear structure, the ear cells, and the process by which sound waves are transformed into electric signals sent to the brain. Exposure to loud noise, aging, head trauma, and Meniere’s disease are all related to sensorineural hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss is the combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses, in which different elements of the auditory system (outer, middle, and inner ear) are damaged or affected by any combination of the above conditions.

Hearing loss ranges in degrees of severity, from slight to profound. People with mild hearing loss might not be able to hear a whisper or the buzz of a mosquito, while those who suffer from moderate to severe hearing loss will struggle to hear a conversation in a busy space, a TV set at high volume, or a doorbell. Profound hearing loss prevents people from hearing most musical instruments, and the shout of a human voice, to name a few.

The Importance of Annual Hearing Tests

Regardless of your age, an annual hearing test is an important part of every health care regimen. In the same way people get their eyes tested or go in for an annual physical, hearing tests are a crucial part of your overall well-being.
Untreated hearing loss has many negative consequences that may not even be obviously linked to hearing loss. People may find themselves struggling with conversations, such as mishearing sentences. Over time, people with untreated hearing loss isolate themselves from their communities because difficulties with speech recognition create a barrier to socializing. It should come as no surprise that people with untreated hearing loss are at risk for developing depression, anxiety, and stress. In the workplace, untreated hearing loss interferes with productivity and communication. Studies have found that people with untreated hearing loss have lower earning power than their colleagues with normal hearing and colleagues who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids.

The first step to treating hearing loss is taking a hearing test. It is recommended for people over the age of 50 to schedule an annual hearing test – but it doesn’t hurt to make it a practice before you turn 50! Furthermore, people who currently treat their hearing loss with hearing aids should check in once a year to make sure their devices are still current.

 

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Our team at Hearing Consultants is experienced in providing comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. In honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month, get your hearing tested with us by scheduling an appointment.