Tips for Managing Tinnitus

Are you experiencing an uncomfortable or annoying buzzing in your ears? That’s called tinnitus, and it can make you stressed. Tinnitus also affects your concentration and your sleep. There are a few things you can do to reduce your experience of tinnitus, so here are some of the best tips for managing tinnitus.

What Exactly Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing sound you hear in your ears. It’s not a sound in the environment around you, so none of your friends can hear it. You’ll experience tinnitus when the cells in your ear send signals to your brain even though there isn’t anything making that sound around you.

Each person will experience tinnitus differently, and tinnitus can be experienced as:

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Whooshing
  • Hissing
  • Squealing
  • Humming
  • Whistling
  • Pulsing
  • Clicking

Tinnitus can be in one or both of your ears. Tinnitus sometimes comes and goes at random, or it can be a constant sound that appears the moment other sounds around you stop. You’ll probably notice tinnitus the most when you’re in a quiet place, such as in bed at night.

Tinnitus is usually caused by damage to the cells in your inner ear. These cells take sound waves and convert them to electrical impulses that are sent to the brain. When the cells are damaged you can’t hear all the sounds around you. Not only that, but the damaged cells can sometimes send erratic signals to the brain. Your brain interprets this as sound, causing tinnitus.

Visit Your Doctor

If you’ve been noticing tinnitus, visit your doctor. They’ll check for any signs of an ear infection or a buildup of earwax that could be causing your tinnitus. Antibiotics can treat an infection and stop the tinnitus, or removing the ear wax can put an end to the ringing or buzzing noise.

Ask your doctor to review your medications and look for any that can trigger tinnitus. A number of medications can cause tinnitus, so make sure your medications aren’t hurting your ears.

Sound Therapy

One of the best ways to manage your tinnitus is with sound therapy. If you’ve turned on the TV to mask your tinnitus, or you sleep with a noisy fan in the corner, you have a good idea of how sound therapy works. 

Many of our top hearing aids offer tinnitus management programs based on sound therapy. These programs are set to perfectly mask your experience of tinnitus. You can choose to play white noise, pink noise, or nature sounds. Some programs will even allow you to play your own music. When your tinnitus is very noticeable, all you have to do is turn on the program to have your tinnitus fade into the background. Your brain will pay attention to the sounds, and you won’t notice your tinnitus. 

Reducing Stress

Tinnitus can lead to sleep problems, frustration, irritability, and stress. When you can’t get away from the sound of tinnitus your stress levels will rise. As you feel more and more stressed, you’ll start to notice your tinnitus even more! That’s why reducing stress is a great way to manage tinnitus. 

You can try a meditation or mindfulness practice to reduce stress, or work with a counselor. You can also practice self-care by doing things that make you feel more relaxed. This could be enjoying a bath while listening to music, making time to go for a walk, or reading a good book.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you have tinnitus there’s a good chance you also have some hearing loss since both tinnitus and hearing loss are caused by damage to the cells in the inner ear. Treating hearing loss is another way to manage tinnitus. When you treat your hearing loss by wearing hearing aids, your ears will hear more of the sounds around you. 

When you hear all the subtle sounds in your environment, this can help mitigate your tinnitus. Hearing aids also make it easier to follow conversations. You’ll be able to hear clearly without straining to hear over the sound of your tinnitus.

As you shop for the perfect hearing aids, be sure to ask about hearing aids with tinnitus therapy programs. These programs can help you manage tinnitus, reduce stress, and provide great sound therapy. Contact us today to learn more!

Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline

Do you think that hearing loss isn’t really affecting your life? While many Americans think their hearing loss isn’t a big deal, even mild hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia. Studies show that if you have a moderate or severe hearing loss, you’re far more likely to experience rapid cognitive decline.

Hearing Loss and the Brain

Hearing loss is caused by damage to the cells in your inner ear, but hearing loss isn’t just in your ears. It also has a profound impact on your brain. When the cells in your ear are damaged, they can’t send signals to the brain, and your brain doesn’t receive information about all the sounds around you. There are several ways hearing loss affects your brain:

– When you’re living with untreated hearing loss, your brain is straining to hear, and it works overtime trying to fill in the blanks in your hearing. You struggle to follow conversations, hear on the phone, or understand the speaker at an event. Hearing loss can tire the brain, making it hard for you to focus on tasks or maintain your cognitive abilities.

– Hearing loss can also lead to social isolation. It can be embarrassing to mishear what’s been said, and you may avoid meeting friends rather than spend the evening asking people to repeat themselves. Social isolation is also linked to cognitive decline, since without a lot of social interaction, your brain isn’t getting enough simulation to stay healthy.

– Finally, hearing loss can lead to brain atrophy. When your ears aren’t sending signals to the brain, the auditory regions of the brain aren’t stimulated. These areas can be damaged, leading to changes in learning, memory, and cognition.

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Living with untreated hearing loss isn’t just about straining to hear, it’s closely linked to cognitive decline. A recent study by Dr. Frank Lin and colleagues shows that adults with hearing loss have a 24% higher risk of cognitive decline than adults who can hear. Even those with mild hearing loss risk more rapid cognitive decline.

Dr. Lin tested hearing and cognitive abilities in nearly 2,000 older adults, and his study revealed that adults with untreated hearing loss experienced more rapid cognitive decline. Adults with hearing loss have a harder time completing thinking and memory tasks, and show an earlier onset of cognitive decline. The rate of cognitive decline for adults with hearing loss was 40% faster than for adults without hearing loss!

How Treating Hearing Loss Can Help

Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can improve your quality of life in a number of ways. You’ll be able to follow conversations with loved ones and enjoy meeting friends in places with background noise. Hearing aids minimize distracting sounds to help you focus on what you want to hear. Hearing aids can even wirelessly connect to your phone so you can stream audio directly to your ears.

When you treat hearing loss, you can slow cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia. Hearing aids help your ears and your brain hear all the sounds around without putting a strain on the brain. You can feel confident meeting friends and being social, knowing that you’ll be able to hear each and every word. Finally, when you treat your hearing loss with hearing aids, you’ll keep your brain active and healthy.

Getting a Hearing Test

Have you been avoiding getting a hearing test? Maybe you don’t want to find out that your hearing isn’t as good as it once was. However, putting off your hearing test doesn’t change your hearing abilities, and avoiding treating hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline.

Schedule a hearing test with our team and find out more about your hearing loss. During the hearing test we’ll play a number of tones at both high and low pitches. All you have to do is let us know when you’ve heard a sound. Your results are displayed on an audiogram that shows you exactly which sounds you can hear, and which sounds you’re missing. With this hearing test, you’ll be able to find the perfect hearing aids to treat your hearing loss, and slow cognitive decline.

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Do you have hearing loss, and struggle to communicate with your family and friends? You can share these tips with your loved ones, and make it easier to communicate with hearing loss.

Getting Your Attention

Ask your family and friends to get your attention before they start a conversation. If you miss the first sentence, you will have a harder time understanding what they’ve said. Your family can say your name, touch your arm or even wave. Once they have your attention, you’ll have an easier time following the conversation.

Turn Off Any Background Noise

When you have hearing loss, it’s much harder to hear speech sounds in places with a lot of background noise. Even at home, the sound of the radio or TV can be very distracting, and make it even harder for you to hear what’s being said. Ask your friends and family to turn down the music or turn off the TV. You can also move to a quieter room in the house if there are several conversations happening in the living room.

When you’re at a restaurant, ask for a table along a wall, and away from the kitchen or the main door. This will help reduce background noise, and make it easier for you to follow conversations. You can also ask your waiter to turn down the volume of the music. Chances are you aren’t the only one having a hard time hearing, and others will appreciate it being a bit quieter during dinner.

Ask Your Conversation Partner to Face You

It’s hard to hear what someone is saying if they speak with their back to you. Ask your family and friends to face you when speaking. Even when you can’t quite hear all the words, their facial expression and their body language will help you understand what they’re saying.

Ask them to keep their hands away from their face. Not only will the hands muffle the words they’re saying, it also stops you from reading their facial expressions clearly. If you have hearing loss, you probably also use speechreading to help you hear. Speechreading is a way to improve your understanding of what’s being said by watching the speaker’s face closely. For example, certain consonant sounds like /s/ or /k/ are harder to hear but easy to see.

Ask your loved ones to avoid talking with food in their mouth or while chewing gum. You’ll have the easiest time understanding them if they face you while talking, and keep hands and food away from their faces.

Speaking Normally

If you have hearing loss, you’ve had your friends or family shout at you. Remind your loved ones that speaking loudly or exaggerating the words doesn’t actually help you hear. It can even distort the words, and make it harder for you to understand your loved ones.

Ask your friends and family to speak normally, not too fast or too slow. Rather than exaggerating speech, it’s better if they can get in the habit of leaving pauses between phrases, and give you a moment to catch up to what they’ve said.

Rephrase Sentences

If you have a hard time hearing a word, it doesn’t always help to have someone repeat the exact word. You may not understand it the second or third time either. Instead, ask your loved ones to rephrase sentences to help you catch the meaning of what’s been said. They can also ask you what part of the sentence or phrase you didn’t understand, and they can simply rephrase that one part of the sentence.

Communicating with Hearing Loss

If you have hearing loss, it’s important that you’re honest with your family and friends. Tell them when you’re struggling to hear, and work together to make it easier for you to understand what’s being said. Your loved ones want to communicate with you, and they’ll be happy to do what it takes to help you communicate easily.

You should wear your hearing aids when having a conversation with your loved ones. Hearing devices make it easier to hear in places with a lot of background noise, and help you focus on speech. With your hearing aids you’ll hear the softer consonant sounds, and have an easier time following conversations.

How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

It is our nature as humans to thrive in social situations. Humans evolve by sharing concepts and ideas so we can inform each other and grow together. Communication makes up our days as we converse with our family, friends and co-workers. Even casual interaction on the street or during a transaction at a store can actually energize us or turn into a lasting friendship.

When our hearing starts to fade it affects more than just our ears. When we choose to ignore hearing loss we are less likely to reach out to the people around us. The casual conversation we take for granted begins to diminish and so do opportunities, adventure, independence and our closest relationships.

Hearing loss affects the people around you

It is often certain tones and pitches that go missing first when hearing loss starts to develop. You may find yourself having to ask the people around you to repeat themselves more and more often. Having to ask for clarification in a conversation every now and then is always okay, but when this becomes commonplace it can make conversations less enjoyable for everyone.

You may find yourself conversing less with your significant other, your family, friends and co-workers than before to avoid frustration and miscommunication. You may also notice yourself needing to turn up the TV or stereo louder than is comfortable for the people around you and trouble hearing over the phone, leading to constant arguments.

A 2009 British study examined 1,500 people with hearing loss to find that 44% reported that their hearing loss had caused strain in their close relationships. Sadly 34% reported that hearing issues had severely damaged relationships, some even reporting divorce.

Communication is the cornerstone of relationships

Communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. When we practice clear communication we are able to work through misunderstandings and resentment. Not only that but we build closeness to one another. We can joke, play and relax. It is the casual comfortable conversation that builds intimacy with our significant others and develops closeness with our friends and family.

When we can’t hear, it can be more of a challenge to be casual and close. Relationships become strained and you may be tempted to isolate instead of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. It is common for people who are not dealing with their hearing loss to become anxious, depressed and suffer insomnia. Loneliness is a dangerous condition for humans, who rely on regular social interaction for mental health.

The prevalence of untreated hearing loss

As we age it is normal for hearing loss to decline. One in three people in the US over the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss and that number becomes one in two as people reach 75 years and older. While it is estimated that 48 million people in the United States have some degree of hearing loss, only one in four use hearing aids. This is even more alarming because many of these people know that they have hearing loss but avoid committing to hearing aids.

Hearing aids amplify the sounds around you that you may be missing and send it directly to your ear canal to use your existing hearing. When you commit to using your hearing aids regularly you can start to hear what the people in your life are saying again. You can start to rebuild your relationships that may have suffered due to broken communication. You can start to heal.

Find healing with hearing aids

If you suspect that someone close to you is dealing with untreated hearing loss and your relationship is suffering, one of the most healing things you can do is to gently encourage them to get a hearing test. Similarly, if you know your relationships are suffering due to untreated hearing loss make an appointment as soon as possible with us.

A hearing test will diagnose the extent of a hearing loss and help us to find the best hearing aids for your particular hearing loss. Surveys have found that those with relationship issues due to hearing loss noted a significant improvement when they began to use hearing aids regularly.

Make a commitment to deal with your hearing loss today and start to heal and rebuild the relationships in your life that help to make everyday worth living. Contact us today!

Hearing Aids & Artificial Intelligence

For a lot of us, while growing up we believed that artificial intelligence (AI) was something that only existed in our sci-fi stories and movies. Today we know that AI is all around us and part of our everyday experience. From our Smartphones to our GPS, AI learns our patterns and adapts to make our lives easier, often without even realizing it. In the past couple years AI has also made its way into our hearing aids, enhancing our hearing experience in all sorts of ways we may not even be aware of. 

Advanced Hearing Technology

The technology in hearing aids is rapidly advancing every year helping to make your hearing experience as easy and effortless as possible. The processing power becomes increasingly faster, helping to convert analog sound into digital quicker and quicker, making response time for hearing faster. Now with AI technology and machine learning, hearing aids can automatically adapt to the different environments, adjusting the focus on sounds depending on the presence of a crowd, traffic, music or wind. Machine learning allows your hearing aids to improve automatically through experience using computer algorithms. You won’t have to struggle with adjusting to loud environments after leaving a quiet room or manually adjust your hearing aids.

Hearing Aids and Your Smartphone

Look forward to interfacing between your Smartphone and your hearing aids effortlessly. Using Bluetooth technology, you can stream phone calls, music, GPS and more wirelessly and directly to your ears, avoiding feedback and distraction when you are on the go. The amazing thing is you can program your hearing aids to stream your favorite music, podcasts, TV programs and more right to your ears without having to even touch your hearing aids. Instead this can all be controlled via your Smartphone or wireless device.

Adjusting to Environments Using Geotagging

There are also apps that work in tandem with your hearing aids to employ geotagging. Geotagging remembers your frequent locations and allows you to save listening settings based on the hearing needs of particular environments. When your hearing aids detect that you are in this location they automatically adjust to the hearing settings that work best for you in these places, making your hearing experience seamless at home and out in the world.  

Track Your Health 

One of the most amazing new features that are AI driven on new hearing aids is the ability to track your body and your brain’s health so you and your doctor can be informed if there is a health issue as soon as it starts to develop. Modern hearing aids are now using integrated sensors to monitor your measure of your activity levels, steps, social engagement, and amount of time you listen every day. Experts have found that the ears are one of the best places to monitor our body’s signals in comparison to similar devices that measure such activity on the wrist. Hearing aids use 3D motion sensors such as an accelerometer and gyroscope, to reliably detect the movements in your day. Certain apps like the Thrive Hearing app also works in tandem with your hearing aids to combine your body and brain activity and gives you a score according to your physical and cognitive health goals.

Real Time Foreign Language Translation

If AI in your hearing aids sounds exciting to you, get ready for more moments in your hearing aids experience that will make you feel like you are in your favorite sci-fi story. Hearing aid manufacturers are now creating hearing aids, which have the ability to translate up to 27 foreign languages in real time. This could be an instance where hearing aids give you more listening and comprehending power than those with normal hearing.

Find Out What Modern Hearing Aids Can Do For You!

If your hearing aids aren’t working for you like they used to, this is a great time to explore all the options available to you. Don’t let your hearing and your social interactions suffer with an old outdated set of hearing aids. Our team can fill you in on the newest options for AI, geotagging, Bluetooth Technology and more. Contact us today and get ready to walk into the future with style and ease thanks to the newest AI technology.

Are Two Hearing Aids Better Than One?

The best treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids, which help to amplify the sounds you may be missing. Often hearing loss will develop in one ear more than the other. If this is the case you may be wondering do I actually need two hearing aids?

Hearing Loss in Both Ears

Even if one ear seems to be stronger than the other it is very rare for one ear to have no hearing loss at all. Hearing loss most often is caused by age related or noise induced hearing loss, which is caused when the tiny cells in the inner ear, responsible for transmitting sound to the brain to be processed, are damaged or destroyed. The damage may not be even but it is still present. Even if one ear seems much worse than the other it is most often relative. A hearing test will detect hearing ability in both ears and over 90% of the time, hearing loss is active in both ears. Treating just one ear can cause unexpected problems. 

Binaural Hearing

To understand the importance of two hearing aids it is key to understand how the brain processes sound. The brain relies on both ears to hear binaurally. Binaural hearing helps the brain comprehend the location, distance and direction of sounds around you. By relying on both ears you can tell the localization, and speed that sounds are moving around you. Infants are quick to localize the sounds around them when they have healthy hearing as this ability helps you navigate the world. It is easier for you to hear a fast approaching jogger, biker or car from behind and from which direction, when you can hear from both ears. Binaural hearing keeps you safe by helping to keep you aware of your surroundings. Accidents and collisions can be avoided much more often adding to your overall safety and the safety of those around you. 

Cognitive Health

If you choose to wear only one hearing aid you may be greatly under stimulating your “good” ear. As it is rare that one ear has no hearing loss at all, if only one ear is aided, the other ear may become under active. Just like your muscles need regular stimulation to stay strong your brain operates similarly. We hear with our brains just as much as with our ears. Our brains process the sound picked up by our ears and if one ear isn’t getting the stimulation it needs then its function can begin to atrophy. Ensuring that both ears are equally amplified will mean that your left and right auditory centers of the brain are receiving stimulation to stay healthy.  

Improved Sound Quality

Not only does binaural hearing help to keep you safe but also helps you understand conversation. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology found that word recognition and speech understanding was improved when hearing aid users employed both devices when conversing. Two hearing aids allow you to hear the quiet and subtle tones in speech you could miss with just one amplified ear. To get the best quality of sound from your hearing aids, whether it is when speaking to the people in your life or listening to the music you love it’s a good idea to wear both hearing aids. Two hearing aids will allow you to hear the nuance in tones and be more aware of the richness of sounds around you. 

Turn Down the Amplification

When people choose to wear only one hearing aid it is all too common to crank up the volume on the hearing aid. Not only does this continue to enforce under stimulation of your other ear, but can actually cause noise induced damage to your amplified ear. With both ears hearing in a balanced manner you won’t be inclined to turn your hearing aids up so loud. You will prolong the battery life of your hearing aids but more importantly, you wont over stimulate your ears with excessive hearing aid volume.

Stay Balanced

If you are struggling with hearing in one or both ears, contact us to set up a hearing test. We can identify your degree of hearing loss in both ears and help to get you the best hearing aids to amplify both ears in perfect balance.

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected 

Hearing loss is the third most common health condition older adults experience. This public health epidemic impacts over 30 million people who have impaired hearing in one or both ears. Because hearing loss often happens gradually over time, it is often overlooked and undertreated. This means that there are millions of people who are currently dealing with untreated impaired hearing. Hearing loss can make communication challenging which impacts relationships, job performance, and overall health. Strained communication can especially affect engaging with others causing people to withdraw from social activity. However, by effectively treating hearing loss, communication can considerably improve, allowing people to navigate social environments with greater ease!

Impact of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including environmental exposure to loud noise, existing medical conditions, and genetic history; effecting the auditory system and the way we hear. This results in a reduced ability to hear and process sound which can have a profound impact on one’s life. Hearing loss can lead to:

 

  • Strained Communication: having conversations with others can become difficult when hearing is restricted (especially in environments with background noise). Sounds can seem muffled so hearing distinct words can be tough. People with hearing loss may rely on others to speak loudly, repeat themselves, moving to quieter areas to have conversations, needing others to speak slowly, reading mouths etc. Because conversations can be difficult to follow entirely, there can be greater miscommunication and gaps of information. This impacts the quality of a conversation and requires people to expend more energy which can be tasking and create an unpleasant interaction. 
  • Social Withdrawal: The work of having a conversation can outweigh the pleasure of spending time with others. It is common to feel stress and anxiety which can lead to an avoidance of social settings, gatherings, activities etc. This kind of isolation results in spending less time with family and friends which creates distance and tension. Withdrawing from your community and support system strains relationships.

 

Strained communication and social withdrawal can significantly impact one’s overall health. Being less connected to others can take a toll on emotional and mental health. Withdrawing from social environments and quality time with others contributes to stress, loneliness, depression etc. If untreated, hearing loss can worsen and these symptoms will persist which makes moving through daily life more difficult than it needs to be. If you have noticed any changes to your hearing, it is critical to have your hearing tested. Early detection of hearing loss is incredibly beneficial and can help you transition to better hearing more easily.

Benefits of Treatment 

Addressing hearing loss can alleviate symptoms and drastically improve the quality of your life. Treatment begins with assessing your hearing by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing tests are an easy and noninvasive way to determine any impairment, degree, and type of hearing loss. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids which feature various technologies that increases one’s ability to hear and supports social connection by:

 

  • Enhancing Communication: hearing aids are innovative electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound; allowing a person to hear much better in various environments. This alleviates the pressure, anxiety, and stress of constantly trying to hear. With hearing aids people can hear and respond without consistently asking others to speak loudly and/or quietly. This allows people to engage in conversation smoothly which significantly improves communication. 
  • Boost Confidence: hearing aids support people acclimating seamlessly in the environment they are in without having to rely on others. This device alleviates the often-exhausting burden of constantly compensating for hearing loss. Being able to easily hear can provide more energy in addition to boosting one’s confidence and sense of independence. This supports people participating fully (in conversations, social activities, meetings etc.) and with greater presence.

 

Treating hearing loss and being able to communicate effectively allows people to stay socially connected. Social connection is critical to living balanced, healthy, and joyous lives. Our relationships with family and friends, hobbies, and spending time with others sustains happiness. This contributes greatly to overall well-being and the longevity, abundance, and quality of one’s life!

Communication at Work – May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Hearing loss is a common condition that millions of people experience. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly one in eight people have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears; making hearing loss a public health epidemic. This can drastically impact how a person navigates their personal and professional life on a daily basis. Impaired hearing reduces one’s ability to hear which makes communication, essential to how we live our lives, difficult. Strained communication can be eased by addressing hearing loss and practicing a few helpful tips!

Impact on Hearing

Hearing loss restricts the speech and sound a person can absorb, hear, and process. This results in various challenges to communication and engaging in conversations. People with hearing loss often experience:

– Difficulty hearing distinct words and following entire conversation as sounds seem muffled

– Frequently asking others to speak loudly and/or slowly

– Moving to quieter areas to have conversation

– Reading mouths to make out individual words

– Needing others to repeat what they have said

These symptoms of hearing loss require extra effort and energy to hear and participate in conversations. In addition to miscommunication or misinformation, this can cause stress and exhaustion. Conversations can feel like too much work and be an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.

To alleviate these symptoms and to improve communication, it is critical to address hearing loss! Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat impaired hearing which begins by having your hearing assessed. This involves a simple, non-invasive process with a hearing healthcare professional that determines the degree and type of impairment. Hearing loss is most commonly treated with hearing aids which are small electronic devices that help collect, amplify, and process sound. Hearing aids increase one’s ability to hear which can be life changing!

Tips 

In addition to wearing hearing aids, there are several useful tips that can help enhance communication at work including the following:

Learn About Your Hearing Loss 

Using the vast resources and information that are widely available to educate yourself about your hearing loss can help guide you through the process of acclimating to life with impaired hearing. It is important to learn the specifics of your hearing loss, this includes knowing what your hearing needs are, what types of sounds are more difficult to hear, the types of environments that overwork your hearing etc. This information allows you to know what is both helpful and harmful for your hearing health.

Communicate Hearing Loss

Sharing your hearing loss with the people you work with can really help with facilitating more effective communication. Being upfront and letting others know how they can best support you by discussing specific communication strategies (facing you while speaking, being at a comfortable distance, rephrasing rather than rewording when you are struggling etc.) can make communication smoother and prevent miscommunication and frustration.

Identify Workplace Accommodations  

In addition to sharing your hearing loss with coworkers, notifying your employer(s) (supervisor, human resources) can be useful as well. Having a discussion about the accommodations your employer can provide is extremely important. Take some time beforehand to research and learn about the types of accommodations that are possible in the workplace so you know what to advocate for! This includes physical adjustments (moving your work area, creating barriers between you and sources of loud noise etc.), phones that are compatible with your hearing aid, assistive listening devices etc.

Plan for Hearing Needs

Being mindful and planning for your hearing needs in the various work contexts you find yourself in can help you navigate the workplace effectively. This could mean asking for the agenda prior to meetings, keeping extra batteries for hearing aids at work, asking for any accommodations for training in advance etc.

There are countless ways people experience hearing loss and the impact it has on one’s life is unique to that individual. Taking the time to learn all that you can about your hearing loss and advocating for your needs is so beneficial. It can lead to effective communication, your overall success in the workplace, in addition to maintaining your hearing health!

Acupuncture for Hearing Loss & Tinnitus: Does it Really Work?

Have you ever had acupuncture treatment? If you have, you might vividly recall your first treatment. Acupuncture is a treatment that is commonly used as a part of the larger medical system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. Walking into a calm and comfortable room with low lighting and often the smell of herbs or aromatherapy, the patient is asked to lie on a table that looks like a massage table. In this comfortable position, the practitioner inserts very tiny needles into the body in precise locations. With these needles in place, the person is asked to relax for a duration of time, allowing the treatment to take effect. After time has elapsed, the practitioner removes the needles one by one, and the person is asked to slowly sit up. The treatment can cause a feeling of slight dizziness or head rush, so the process of returning to regular life needs to be slow and careful. This remarkable treatment has been used for a wide range of conditions ranging from mental maladies to serious physical diseases or recovery from injuries. Some of the many conditions subjected to acupuncture therapy have to do with hearing, as well. Hearing loss, tinnitus, and Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (or SSHL) have all been treated by acupuncture with varying results. First, let’s take a look at how acupuncture is said to work, in general. Then, let’s consider the effects of acupuncture on these hearing-related conditions, including the research that is available to test its effectiveness.

 

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is part of a holistic approach to medical intervention, and it is seldom practiced in isolation of other therapies. Crucial to the expertise behind acupuncture is that the mind does not exist in isolation of the body, nor vice versa, so any medical intervention should consider the connections between them. When the tiny needles are inserted into the body at precise points, they are thought to stimulate a nervous system response. When the nervous system is stimulated by a prick, it can cause a chain reaction of releasing chemicals into the muscles, brain, and spinal cord. The effect is not localized, either. Putting these tiny needles into the body in one location can have an effect elsewhere in the body, because the nervous system is the pathway through which information is passed. These chemicals and hormones can cause healing in ways that are only starting to be understood by Western medicine.

 

What about Acupuncture and Hearing-related Conditions?

Although acupuncture has been remarkably effective as a treatment for a wide range of physical and mental maladies, the jury is still out when it comes to hearing-related conditions. Each type of hearing loss has a different relation with acupuncture. Some reports of effectiveness date back to 1940 when a report claimed that acupuncture was able to cure total deafness! Since that time the reports regarding hearing loss have been inconclusive. Anecdotal reports abound, but controlled scientific studies have been limited. In addition, many of the cases used acupuncture in conjunction with herbal treatments and other drug therapy, so it is difficult to understand if the results are due to acupuncture or other features of treatment.

Results have been more promising when it comes to two other hearing-related conditions: tinnitus and Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (or SSHL). In each case, reports have been promising, and some clinical trials have taken place. Those with tinnitus found a reduction in the volume of background noise that had been plaguing them, and the overall feeling of wellbeing was improved, as well. Similarly, SSHL patients responded quite well to acupuncture. This condition itself is very mysterious, as there is no clear medical or injurious cause of the hearing loss. Those with SSHL find that they wake up with hearing loss or total deafness, or it may come after a sudden “pop” out of nowhere. The loss tends to be in one ear, and doctors are still trying to understand how it comes about. Despite the mystery surrounding SSHL, acupuncture has been remarkably effective, in some cases healing the condition altogether and in others bringing back some hearing ability. Of course, in all these cases further research is necessary to precisely measure the effects of acupuncture.

Studies on Hearing Loss & Injuries

Football players have been in the media more than ever due to their high rates of Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBI. Sometimes lasting for many years after their time as players and with much greater severity than previously believed, these players suffer the consequences of repeated impacts against their brains. Even beyond the world of sports players, head injuries can lead to concussions or worse, particularly when they are the result of repeated assaults on the head. A concussion results when the brain has a contusion, or bruise, resulting from jostling against the skull. Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit more about Traumatic Brain Injuries and how they relate to a condition that might surprise you: hearing loss.

Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries are as varied as their sources are. In some cases these effects are reversible and mild. In other cases they can lead to permanent damage with serious symptoms. The neurological effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries are the most recognizable, including motor problems, dizziness, and speech problems. Some people experience sexual dysfunction, while others find themselves with symptoms resembling epilepsy or hydrocephalus. The cognitive effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury range from mild confusion to the extreme cases of memory loss and dysphoria, sometimes linked to the inability to put together words into meaningful units of cognition. Some people with Traumatic Brain Injuries experience impaired judgment and trouble making logical decisions for themselves, as well. In addition to these neurological and cognitive problems, some people actually find that their personalities are affected, as well. Mood and energy levels can be affected, and some people experience depression or anxiety as a result of a Traumatic Brain Injury. In addition to limited coping skills, the frustration can build to a point of anger management issues, but some people with Traumatic Brain Injuries go in the other direction of malaise, apathy, and general fatigue.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Hearing Loss

In addition to the effects listed above, Traumatic Brain Injuries can lead to sensory impairments, including hearing loss. Let’s consider the ways that hearing loss can be related to a Traumatic Brain Injury. In the most obvious cases, an injury may occur not only to the brain but to one or both ears at the same time. A blow to the head can cause damage to the ear canal, reducing hearing function at the anatomical level. However, the relation with hearing loss does not stop there. Others experience hearing loss from a Traumatic Brain Injury due to an impairment of the auditory nervous pathway. If the injury occurred in such a way to damage the connection between the ears and the meaning-making mind, then the link between sound and thought can be severed. In these cases, a person may be able to “hear” just fine but may have trouble understanding or making sense of the sounds they encounter. On a more basic level, the injurious event may also cause hearing loss at the same time. A car crash or explosion may cause a very loud sound that damages the ability to hear, including not only hearing loss but also tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Other hearing effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury include aural fullness, spatial recognition problems, vertigo, or problems differentiating background noise from the sound of a speaker or point of focus.

The good news is that treatment is available for people with many of these resulting conditions from a Traumatic Brain Injury. The first step is to consult with a doctor and to seek appropriate testing for the conditions that have occurred. If you believe that a history of head trauma, a specific incident, or a possible concussion might have caused a Traumatic Brain Injury, do not delay to get treatment from a medical professional. The associated effects need to be addressed at the root cause, and a neurologist may be the right person to contact for proper assessment. However, the resulting conditions of hearing loss and sensory impairment may be treated by an audiologist or hearing health professional. Working in concert with your medical personnel, you can devise a treatment plan for hearing loss that addresses the entire network of symptoms you experience.