Comorbidities of Hearing Loss

Comorbidities of Hearing Loss

In only the last dozen years, many important studies have surfaced linking hearing loss to disabling conditions, such as cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, clinical depression, diabetes, falls among the elderly, heart disease, and many more. These linkages are often referred to as comorbidities, which can be defined as the simultaneous presence of two or more chronic conditions or diseases in a patient.

Comorbities Associated with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is in fact a comorbity, which can be connected to several other comorbities. The six major comorbid conditions associated with hearing loss are social isolation and loneliness, depression, balance problems and falls, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Additionally, beyond the conditions noted above, there are other comorbidities linked to hearing loss, including but not limited to fibromyalgia, anemia, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, and sleep apnea.

Social isolation and loneliness

Social isolation as we age increases the risk of numerous mental and physical health challenges. Social isolation is also a growing epidemic, which, according to the former Surgeon General of the United States, is associated with a “reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” One big reason people become socially isolated is because of hearing loss. Often, as hearing becomes challenging, people avoid social, business or transactional situations where hearing interactions is key and instead choose to withdraw and isolate themselves. 

Depression

Losing the ability to enjoy the sounds you used to take for granted, such as music, nature, and your loved ones’ voices, can leave you experiencing grief, loneliness, deprivation – all variations of sadness. As for anxiety and stress, they can become disorders in their own right. Straining to hear all day at work, at home, or in social situations is also stressful. Living in a constant state of sadness, anxiety, and/or stress is unhealthy for many reasons, including raising your risk of depression.

Falls

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among the elderly leading to significant health, social, economic, and emotional consequences. Falls often lead to fatal outcomes within the first 12 months of a fall with injury in the senior population. Hearing loss is one of several factors causing falls. Even a mild degree of hearing loss triples the risk of an accidental fall.

Cardiovascular disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, killing nearly 610,000 people every year in the United States. Those with cardiovascular disease can have a variety of medical issues affecting the structure and vessels of the heart. The most common types include those, which narrow or block vessels leading to chest pain, or a heart attack or stroke. Studies have shown that good circulation plays a role in maintaining good hearing health. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.

Diabetes

It’s known that high blood sugar can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including your ears. If you’ve had diabetes for a long time and it isn’t well controlled, there could be damage to the vast network of small blood vessels in your ears.

Another complication of diabetes is nerve damage. It’s possible that damage to the auditory nerves could lead to hearing loss

Cognitive impairment and dementia

Individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss are up to 5 times as likely to develop cognitive impairment and ultimately dementia. According to several major studies, older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, compared to those with normal hearing. The risk escalates as a person’s hearing loss worsens. Those with mild hearing impairment are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia compared to those with normal hearing. The risk increases three-fold for those with moderate hearing loss, and five-fold for those with severe impairment.

Hearing Consultants

Contrary to what many in the healthcare community assume, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is not a benign consequence of aging. Presbycusis is associated with a number of psychosocial and physiological conditions.

If you suspect you are suffering from a hearing loss it can become harmful to your overall health to ignore your condition. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test. Treating hearing loss can help you stay healthy for years to come.

Advantages of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

Advantages of Rechargeable Hearing Aids

For many people, buying and replacing batteries is a part of using hearing aids. However, rechargeable batteries are changing the way we interact with hearing aids. Rechargeable hearing aids are a fairly recent and welcome addition to the hearing healthcare landscape. In the past, rechargeable batteries didn’t provide enough power in a small enough battery to be feasible for use in hearing aids but the days of regularly changing your battery are coming to an end.

Depending on your hearing aid model and level of usage, your old standard zinc air replaceable batteries will need to be changed every three to ten days. Most hearing aids give you a signal when the battery is about to die. Recently, though, thanks to lithium-ion technology, rechargeable batteries are not only available, they are also long lasting and reliable for use in hearing aids!

You’ll Never Want to Go Back

The days of changing your battery every 3-10 days are over. Rechargeable batteries provide confidence and certainty to the wearer that their battery will be ready to use each morning after a night’s charge and hold a charge throughout the day. Just like you would charge your mobile devices overnight, the same practice takes place with a rechargeable hearing aid. You will never miss or pause an important or special moment due to having to change a battery when using rechargeable hearing aids.

The personal benefits of rechargeable hearing aids depend on your preferences and lifestyle. However, the use of lithium-ion batteries is creating a world of possibility for hearing aid manufacturers and wearers alike. So, while you might find some of these benefits rewarding, others might not yet see value in going rechargeable. If you’re curious about what it means that rechargeable hearing aids have finally arrived, here are some serious benefits to using lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

No Extra Costs

When hearing aids use replaceable batteries people often spend up to $100 per year on disposable batteries.  You will never have to worry about not being able to get more hearing aid batteries or deal with shipping and handling costs. With rechargeable batteries the battery is built into the unit, and they can be recharged as many times as you need.

Don’t Be Caught Off-guard

Once you establish a routine, you’re less likely to get caught off-guard with a dead battery on the go. All you have to do is plug in your hearing aid in every night the way many people already plug in their smart phone when they go to sleep at the end of the day. Disposable zinc-air batteries don’t offer the same protection. They can run out anytime, with little warning beforehand. You will no longer have to carry backup batteries everywhere you go or worry about them running out.

Better Performance in Cold Weather

Zinc-air disposable batteries struggle to function properly in cold weather. The lack of moisture and low temperature zaps the batteries power quickly, draining your hearing aids and causing issues with the sound quality. Rechargeable hearing aids are becoming extremely popular in areas that experience extreme winters since they’re more cost effective and easier to use. Lithium-ion batteries suffer little to no loss in cold weather.

Environmentally Safer

While it’s important to state that lithium-ion batteries must be properly disposed of when you get rid of your hearing aids, they can also be recharged thousands of times. Compared to zinc-air batteries, which can only be used once and tossed out and end up ultimately in landfills.

More Accessible for Older Users

Many older wearers complain that the process of buying and replacing batteries is taxing on them. They might not have the means necessary to run to the pharmacy and buy batteries, and those with motor-control issues might struggle to open the battery compartment. With rechargeable hearing aids, this troublesome process is completely cut out.

Energy Efficient

A fully charged Lithium-ion battery can last the entire day, which is 19 hours of battery life. Instead of buying more disposable batteries, you can simply put your hearing aids in their charger at the end of the day.

Find out more at Hearing Consultants

With so many benefits of rechargeable batteries there are few reasons to still use zinc-air batteries. If by now you’re interested in rechargeable hearing aids and think you might benefit from them, you might be curious about how to make the switch, and what type of hearing aid to choose. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to find out all about which hearing aids could best for you and your lifestyle.

Coming to Terms with Your Hearing Loss

Coming to Terms with Your Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the United States, affecting more than nine million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans age 45 to 64. But about three out of five older Americans with hearing loss and six out of seven middle-aged Americans with hearing loss do not use hearing aids. What keeps so many people from treating their hearing loss for so long? Perhaps if they knew the dangerous consequences of untreated hearing loss, they would seek treatment.

Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

A recent study found that seniors with untreated hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids reported feelings of sadness or depression that lasted two or more weeks during the previous years. Among respondents with more severe hearing loss, 30 percent of non-users of hearing aids reported sad feelings, com-pared to 22 percent of hearing aid users. Because social isolation is a serious problem for some older people, people who don’t use hearing aids are often less likely to participate in social activities than hearing aid users.

The Stages of Coming to Terms

Grief and depression are intrusive emotions that can take control of your life before you realize it. It’s often hard to see outside of depression’s dark cloud once it settles in to know where it begins and if it will ever end. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swedish-American psychologist, wrote about the five psychological stages terminally ill patients experience in her book On Death and Dying in 1969. These stages can also be applied to any difficult life altering experience in your lifetime including hearing loss.  In many people’s minds hearing loss can mark the end of your youth, your mortality and your independence. It’s important to understand that if you treat your hearing with hearing aids this does not need to be the case. Below are the stages of coming to terms with loss. Understanding what you may be going through can help you get to the other side of depression and grief.

Stage 1: Denial

Hearing loss often occurs gradually. You may not realize you haven’t heard the birds sing outside your bedroom window for a while now. You may believe your hearing is just fine until a friend or family member points it out to you. Often people’s first response is to deny the obvious. You may rationalize their observations with excuses like “My hearing isn’t that bad” or “I’ve had allergies lately.” Even those who seek an audiologist for a hearing test and are diagnosed with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before purchasing their first set of hearing aids.

Stage 2: Anger

Once you can no longer deny you’re not hearing well, you may move into the second stage of grief, which is anger. You may resent the expense of hearing aids or that you need a device at all to do something you previously could do on your own. Regardless, it’s important to work through your anger and take steps to treat your hearing loss as soon as possible.

Stage 3: Bargaining

After the anger has passed, it’s common to enter the bargaining stage and search for ways to restore normal hearing. Maybe it’s a promise you make to yourself to eat healthier or wear hearing protection from now on. Depending on the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, the reality is you may never hear normally again. If your hearing loss is associated with presbycusis (old age) or another sensorineural condition, you are most likely a perfect candidate for hearing aids.

Stage 4: Depression

Untreated hearing loss can lead to anxiety, depression, paranoia and social isolation. It’s one of the reasons they stress the importance of maintaining contact with friends and family as we age.

Stage 5: Acceptance

The final stage of grief is acceptance. In the case of those with a hearing impairment, that means you’ve accepted your physical limitations. The good news is that if you are a candidate for hearing aids the success rate for helping people participate fully in their life again is very high.

Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test and start dealing with your hearing loss today.