September is World Alzheimer’s Month

September is World Alzheimer’s Month

With 50 million people worldwide experiencing Alzheimer’s, you might wonder why we have not yet come up with a cure. The answer lies in the mysterious and complicated web of conditions that can afflict a person with dementia, compounded with the vast and uncharted inner workings of the human brain.

Though we do not yet have a cure for Alzheimer’s, we are learning more about some of the preventative tactics that seem to have an effect in some individuals. Controlling high blood pressure, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but there is one more surprising behavior that might work as Alzheimer’s prevention: using hearing aids.

This September, an international effort honors World Alzheimer’s Month by supporting and raising awareness about the condition, including the necessity to fund more research into causes, treatments, prevention, and a cure. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and it affects the cognition of not only elderly people.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Early onset Alzheimer’s can occur in people under 65 years of age, making it imperative to seek out solutions. Some of the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s include struggling to find the words for things that are otherwise common knowledge, getting lost in familiar places, having trouble dealing with finances, bills, or money, losing objects or placing them in odd locations, personality or mood changes, demonstrating uncharacteristically poor judgment, repeating the same question over and over, and taking longer to complete basic activities of daily life. Although these behaviors can be warning signs of Alzheimer’s, they are commonplace mistakes that anyone can make. Don’t be alarmed if you have found yourself performing one of these cognitive errors now and again. Those who are experiencing the warning signs of dementia will have a frequent combination of these symptoms when the condition is close at hand.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

One of the surprising links with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia comes from a seemingly distinct mental function: hearing. Researchers such as Dr. Frank Lin and his team have discovered a significant connection between hearing loss and dementia, demonstrating that those who have hearing loss are not only more likely to develop dementia in the future, but that that are also more likely to have a fast cognitive decline after the onset of the condition. With such strong evidence of a connection, we wonder what mechanism links the two in a given individual. More recent research by Hèléne Amieva, an epidemiologist and biostatistician in Boudeaux, France, found that those who use hearing aids can actually wipe out this negative effect of hearing loss on the likelihood of development dementia. Though people with untreated hearing loss are at greater risk of developing dementia, those who wear hearing aids are no more likely than their counterparts with full hearing ability.

With this evidence in mind, we have to ask ourselves precisely how dementia and hearing loss are linked. Is there a part of the brain where the two conditions are occurring at once? On the contrary, the finding about the use of hearing aids suggests that the actual act of listening is the culprit in leading to cognitive decline. Those who struggle to carry on conversations are posed with a puzzle in what they hear. Rather than full sentences or words, they only pick up random fragments of sound and syllables. You can think of this cacophony of sound as a jigsaw puzzle this is missing some of the pieces. When the brain scrambles to make sense of this mixed bag of sounds, it can lead to a serious cognitive load in the individual. Researchers are wondering now if this struggle to communicate can carry over into other aspects of thought, confusing the process of cognition and even leading to dementia.

Hearing Consultants

With World Alzheimer’s Month upon us, why not take the opportunity to investigate this connection with hearing loss for yourself and the people you love? If you have untreated hearing loss, the task is simple to schedule a hearing exam and to consult with our team at Hearing Consultants. Once you have better information about your hearing ability, you will be able to seek out assistance in the form of hearing aids, which will bring significant benefits to your overall health and well-being.

Why are People Ashamed of Hearing Loss?

Why are People Ashamed of Hearing Loss?

Are you living with untreated hearing loss? It can be hard to admit to yourself and to others that your hearing isn’t as sharp as it once was. You’re worried that your loved ones might think of you as old, or that your friends will treat you differently. Wearing glasses is nothing to be ashamed about, so why are changes in hearing seen with such negative stigma that people choose to live with untreated hearing loss rather than finding a solution for their hearing needs?

Social Stigma

Why are people ashamed of hearing loss? The answer is that people are worried about facing the social stigma of hearing loss. Hearing loss is an invisible disability, and many people are afraid of being singled out if they talk about their hearing loss. Unlike a vision impairment, where everyone can see that you wear glasses, hearing loss doesn’t have any clear markers. We don’t realize that, just like vision problems, hearing problems can affect people of all ages, including children, teens, and adults.

The social stigma around hearing loss is centered in the false belief that only seniors struggle to hear, and you may be worried that admitting to hearing loss will make you seem old. You still feel young, and don’t want others to think of your as old.

Living with Untreated Hearing Loss

If you feel ashamed about your hearing loss, living with untreated hearing loss will exaggerate the problem. You’ll feel embarrassed to ask people to repeat themselves, and worried you might draw attention to your hearing loss by mishearing a question or answering inappropriately. You may choose to stay home rather than meet your friends, for fear that they will discover that you can’t hear, and view you differently. Living with untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, and feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and even depression.

When you have untreated hearing loss, people may think you’re being rude. When you’re in the store, for example, someone may come up behind you and say hello, or ask to pass you in the isle. When you don’t hear them or respond, you’ll appear to be ignoring them, and those around you could get annoyed at your behavior. This leads to more discomfort, and you’ll stress even more about your hearing loss.

Treating Hearing Loss

Do you want to appear rude, withdraw from your social life, or live in fear that someone may discover your hearing loss? The best thing you can do for your physical, mental, and hearing health is to treat your hearing loss early, and shake off the social stigma of hearing loss. Educate your family and friends about hearing loss, and remind them that 40 million Americans of all ages have hearing loss. The benefits of treating hearing loss include strong relationships and a healthy social life. You won’t need to ask people to repeat themselves, but can easily follow conversations, even in challenging listening environments. With hearing aids you’ll be more active, and feel confident in every situation.

Hearing Consultants

Do you struggle to hear in places with a lot of background noise, or feel stressed about your hearing when you’re doing errands, or walking your dog in the park? Call us today at Hearing Consultants to book an appointment for an initial hearing test. A comprehensive hearing test will give us a clear picture of your unique hearing needs, and help you identify the listening environments where you have the most trouble hearing. Work with our team of expert hearing health specialists, and find the hearing aids with the programs and settings that will help you hear when you need it the most.

Hearing Consultants

At Hearing Consultants, we have a wide selection of the world’s best hearing aids, including sleek behind the ear devices and nearly invisible hearing aids that sit within your ear canal. Whatever your level of hearing loss, power requirements, or hearing needs, we have a range of devices to choose from, and will calibrate the programs to match your exact needs. No one will notice your hearing loss, or think that you seem old. The only thing people will be noticing is how well you can hear.  Don’t wait any longer, or allow your hearing loss to get worse, but visit us today to start your journey to clear hearing.

When to Get New Hearing Aids

When to Get New Hearing Aids

If you’ve had the same hearing aids for a few years, it may be time to consider getting new devices. On average, hearing health specialists suggest that you get new hearing aids every 3 to 5 years, but this varies as your hearing needs change, and while your devices could last several more years, you may also need to replace them sooner than you were expecting.

Changing Hearing Needs

If you’ve been wearing hearing aids for a while, you have enjoyed several years of clear hearing. Have you noticed any recent changes, or found yourself struggling to hear from time to time over the past month? Your devices helped you in every listening environment when you first got them, but now you’ve started to struggle with hearing loss again. Just like the first time you experienced hearing loss, you may not notice right away that something has changed, and it will be several months before you realize that you’re straining to hear. That’s why regular visits to your hearing specialist, and annual hearing tests, will help you monitor your hearing health.

Changing Lifestyle

Think about the listening environments you encounter over the course of a normal week, such as meeting friends in a restaurant, having dinner with the family, chatting with coworkers, or talking on the phone. Do your devices help you hear in all these situations? Are you satisfied with their performance? If you’ve had any lifestyle changes in the last year, you may need to get new hearing aids. Starting a new job, retiring, welcoming a new member into the family, or taking up a new hobby could create listening environments that your hearing aids can’t adjust to. It’s common that your hearing needs will change over time, and the device that was perfect for you 5 years ago may not be doing the trick anymore. Changing hearing needs and lifestyle can indicate that you need to get new hearing aids.

Hearing Aids Experience Wear and Tear

Have your hearing aids needed a lot of repairs in the last few months? Hearing aids can last for years, but after a while they do start to malfunction more often due to normal wear and tear. The life of hearing devices is shortened depending on your lifestyle and maintenance habits. For example, during humid months, or when you’re very physically active and your hearing aids encounter a lot more moisture your hearing aids will be under a lot more strain, and could get clogged by sweat, dirt, dust, or earwax. A thorough cleaning and drying every day will prolong the life of your devices. Without this extra care, hearing aids will start to show damage, and after a few years the sensitive electronic components of your devices will wear out.

Latest Hearing Technology

Wondering when to get new hearing aids? If you’re on the fence, take a look at some of the latest hearing technology, and discover what modern devices can do for you. In the last 5 years hearing technology has improved dramatically, and you may find some features that could change the way you hear the world. Connectivity features will allow you to seamlessly stream audio from your phone or TV right to your ears, and rechargeable batteries can save you from fiddling with tiny batteries every few days. Music listening programs give music a rich, full sound, and the latest in background noise reduction and speech enhancement technology will reduce your listening effort and let you use your energy for the things you love.

Following Your Hearing Health Specialist’s Advice

Still wondering when to get new hearing aids? At Hearing Consultants, our team of hearing health specialists have been in the business for a long time, and we’ll help you make that decision. We perform hearing tests, and can examine your current devices to determine if your hearing aids are right for your hearing needs. A thorough cleaning and a few repairs could have your current devices working in tip top shape, and depending on the device, we can recalibrate it to match your current needs.

If you need new hearing aids, we have a wide selection of modern hearing technology to choose from, and we’ll work with you to find the perfect hearing aids to get you back to clear hearing.

Hearing Aids Keep You Happy, Healthy, and Wealthy

Hearing Aids Keep You Happy, Healthy, and Wealthy

If you’ve been considering getting your first pair of hearing aids, it’s time to turn that thought into a reality and take charge of your hearing health. A recent study found that hearing aids keep you happy, healthy, and wealthy, and hearing devices will increase your quality of life more than you could ever imagine. Living with untreated hearing loss, on the other hand, is associated with a lot of negative physical, social, and mental outcomes that you need to take immediate steps to avoid.

Hearing Aids Keep You Happy

Think about the last time you had a conversation with a loved one. Were you able to easily understand everything that they said, or did you struggle to follow the conversation? Did you ask them to repeat themselves, or just smile and nod along, and hope they wouldn’t notice that you weren’t able to understand them? Living with untreated hearing loss leads to a breakdown in your closest friendships and relationships, and has a huge impact on your social life. You may choose to stay home rather than join friends for dinner in a noisy restaurant where the background noise makes it difficult to hear, and find yourself becoming more isolated and lonelier. Those with hearing loss face higher rates of stress, anxiety, social isolation, and depression.

When you get hearing aids, you’ll reduce your listening fatigue, and you will be able to hear clearly without straining to understand what’s been said. You’ll enjoy the relationships in your life, make new connections, and remain actively involved in your community. Hearing aids improve relationships and increase your quality of life.

Hearing Aids Keep You Healthy

Hearing aids also play a role in your overall health and wellbeing. Hearing aid wearers report being less physically and mentally exhausted, and have energy for the things they love, even after a long day of work. When you use hearing aids, you won’t use all your energy struggling to hear, and can enjoy spending time out with friends, attending a concert, or pursuing a hobby you haven’t had time for recently. With hearing aids you’ll be more active, and spend more time outside. Those with hearing aids sleep better, get out of the house more, and have better mental health. They also have healthier brains, better memory, and good cognitive function, and can easily focus on tasks and accomplish goals. You’ll also reduce your risk of chronic conditions like insomnia, fatigue, and even dementia.

Hearing aids also save you quite a few trips to the hospital. Studies have found that those with untreated hearing loss spend thousands of dollars more in health care costs, experience more trips, slips, falls, and accidents, and visit their physicians far more often than those with clear hearing.

Hearing Aids Keep You Wealthy

Did you know that those who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids earn significantly higher salaries than those who don’t seek treatment for their hearing loss? Not only that, but more severe levels of hearing loss are associated with even lower salaries. This is because those with hearing loss struggle to communicate effectively at work, and have a hard time understanding in meetings or contributing to discussions. They’re more likely to feel confused, struggle to focus on tasks, and make more mistakes. Those with hearing loss are less likely to be promoted to a new position, and could even be fired. In fact, the rates of unemployment among those with untreated hearing loss is 83% higher than for those with normal hearing. Early retirement is also more common among those with hearing loss, and all these things together account for the lower average income among those with hearing loss.

Hearing aids keep you wealthy by allowing you to communicate easily with everyone, contribute expertise in your place of work, and maintain high quality standards. You’ll be able to work a few more years at the job you enjoy, and be valued for your accomplishments.

Hearing Consultants

Are you ready to make the right decision for your brain, body, and bank account? Visit us today at Hearing Consultants and learn just how hearing aids can keep you happy, healthy, and wealthy. We have a wide selection of some of the world’s top hearing aids, and we’re excited to help you find the perfect device that will help you hear in every listening environment.

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.

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help

Why Pretending to Hear Doesn't Help

Like most hidden disabilities, hearing loss comes with a lot of stigmas that contributes to people’s reluctance to be open about their condition. Hearing loss is often conflated as a sign of old age, impairment and declining mental capacities though this is not always the case.  Because hearing loss is an unseen disability people who suffer can often live in denial rather than dealing with it. This secrecy can have a deleterious effect on professional and personal relationships, affecting job performance and mental and physical health. Hearing loss is ultimately not as easy to hide as one might believe and manifests itself in many ways. Pretending to hear is one of the worst things you can do for your hearing health and your relationships.

Why Pretend to Hear?

Some of us don’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation or don’t want to do anything that calls attention to our hearing disability.  Often people just don’t have the right tools to know how to deal with developing hearing loss.  In group situations, pretending can be especially tempting. In our culture, it is often considered rude to stop a group conversation and ask everyone to repeat everything just so that we can be filled in over and over again.

The important thing to remember is, everyone pretends – not just those with a hearing loss. Not interrupting is a cultural habit. Pretending occasionally is probably harmless, but when you have hearing loss and you pretend, you give the false impression to others that you can hear better than you do.

The Danger of Pretending

Pretending to hear might seem like a good idea in the moment but the reality is that it has a negative impact on your hearing and your overall health. It won’t be long before you don’t go out with your friends, and start to isolate yourself. With social isolation comes cognitive decline, and further hearing loss. This is a vicious cycle that will get you into allot of trouble.

Pretending to hear can have some serious repercussions at work. Say you’re in a meeting at work and you only hear half of what’s been said. No one at work knows you have hearing loss, and you’re too embarrassed to ask for clarification. You leave the meeting confused about your assignment, and risk making some major mistakes that will hurt your career.

When it comes to communicating with your family, pretending to hear will put you in some awkward situations. If your loved one shares something important with you, and you’ve “forgotten” it a few hours later, they’ll think you weren’t paying attention when the truth is you never heard the information in the first place.  More than anything not hearing and bluffing your way through conversation creates a lack of intimacy and reliability in many of your most important relationships.

Admitting You Have Hearing Loss

If you’ve been struggling through conversations, and you feel like you’re missing a lot, it’s time to honor your relationships and admit that you have hearing loss. Family, friends, and colleagues all want to include you, and will be happy to help you hear if they know you’ve been struggling to hear. Pretending to hear is a temporary fix that will always get you into trouble later, so break the habit of pretending, and start practicing habits that help you hear.  The key to breaking a bad habit is to identify when it’s triggered. Rather than breaking a bad habit, we can simply convert it into a good one. We can change the pretending routine into something constructive. Every time you miss something because of your hearing loss, think of it as an opportunity to improve your current situation and to educate others about your hearing loss for future occasions. 

Hearing Consultants

Once you realize you don’t have to keep your hearing loss secret, you can stop pretending to hear and put your energy into the activity and relationships that make you feel happy and fulfilled in life. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test.  We can diagnose exactly what kind of hearing loss you have and help you find the best treatment to help you hear to your fullest potential and stop pretending to hear once and for all.

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss is an ailment that develops over time so you don’t realize how bad it has become. Over time, you may not be able to hear people talking around you clearly. They may seem to be speaking too quietly or you may not be able to make out certain words and phrases. Many people experience trouble working out exactly who’s speaking to you in a noisy room. The effort of trying to understand may be making you feel tired, frustrated, lonely or depressed. If you have any of these problems then there is a very good chance you are suffering from hearing loss.

The Hard Facts of Hearing Loss

In the U.S., 15 percent of adults over the age of 18, or 48 million people, report having trouble hearing. Of adults aged 65-74, a quarter have a disabling hearing loss, and 50 percent of adults over the age of 75 have a disabling hearing loss.  While hearing aids have been proven to help in most cases of hearing loss, of the adults aged 20-69 who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, only 16 percent have ever tried them. Sadly, when someone suspects they have hearing loss, on average, it takes people ten years to seek treatment.

Untreated Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is an invisible condition. Although it is increasingly prevalent with age, hearing loss is often ignored during the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and memory disorders in elderly patients. Untreated hearing loss is associated with lower quality of life, depression, social isolation, unemployment and lower earnings at work, higher medical bills for other health issues, high blood pressure and even a higher risk of dangerous trips and falls. When you have hearing loss your brain has to struggle to interpret what is being said and other parts of your brain’s functions are drawn away from other important cognitive tasks to compensate. The sooner you treat a hearing loss the faster your brain can stop compensating, relearn to hear and ultimately recover.

When You Suspect You Have Hearing Loss

The start of an age-related hearing problem can be subtle. It’s important to pay attention to those first signs so you can act before the problem can start to seriously impact your life. Common signs of hearing loss include;

Children’s voices sound muffled or unclear. When aging takes a toll on your cochlea, the inner ear organ that helps you hear, the cells that detect high-pitched sounds are usually the first to fail. This can make it harder to understand anyone with a high-pitched voice.

You can’t follow the conversation in noisy places. Age-related changes in how the brain processes sound can also make it harder to ignore background noise.

You’re exhausted after social events. When you can’t hear all the sounds of speech, your brain has to fill in the gaps to make sense of what others are saying. That takes a great deal of focus, especially when there’s more than one person speaking at a time. All this effort may leave you tired after social events.

You’re watching people’s lips instead of making eye contact.

Your TV volume keeps getting higher. If others in your house complain that the TV is too loud, it’s time to get your hearing checked.

Treatments for Hearing Loss

There are varied degrees in which a person’s hearing loss can manifest. There are those who experience hearing loss only when they hear soft and moderate sounds. In this case, medical interventions can still be made to correct the problem. Hearing aids and devices such as cochlear implants may be used. They may also be taught more complicated strategies in communication so they can easily understand the speaker. Whether you use hearing aids, a cochlear implant or you simply have mild, untreated hearing loss, learning new communication strategies is a great idea.

Hearing Consultants

If any of these symptoms sound familiar contact us at Hearing Consultants.  We can schedule you a hearing test and determine your hearing abilities. If a hearing loss is detected, we can help you find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle.  Contact us today – you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

How Treating Hearing Loss Supports Your Brain

A hand holding a head with cogs inside of it

 

Hearing loss is a common part of aging, with approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 experiencing hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 having difficulty hearing. While this is normal, avoiding hearing loss treatment can have serious effects on your brain.

Neuroplasticity’s Effect on the Brain

A study done at the University of Colorado’s Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science examined neuroplasticity, which is how the brain reorganizes itself by forming new neuron connections throughout a lifetime.  The study explored how neuroplasticity effects the adaptation of the brain after the onset of hearing loss. The study explores the questions: How does the brain adapt to hearing loss and what are the implications?

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change at any age. While it was previously believed that the brain was at unable to grow and evolve, scientists now know this is not true. In the case of hearing loss, the area of the brain devoted to hearing can actually become reorganized, or reassigned to other functions. In this study the participants were adults and children with varying degrees of hearing loss. Some had only mild hearing loss while others were severely hearing impaired or deaf. Using up to 128 sensors attached to the scalp of each subject, the team of researchers used EEG recordings to measure brain activities in response to sound stimulation. In doing this, they were able to understand how the brains of people with different degrees of hearing loss respond differently than those of people with healthy hearing.

One of the most important discoveries researchers came away with on this study was when hearing loss occurs, areas of the brain devoted to other senses such as vision or touch will actually take over the areas of the brain which normally process hearing. It’s a phenomenon called cross-modal cortical reorganization, which is reflective of the brain’s tendency to compensate for the loss of other senses. Essentially, the brain adapts to a loss by rewiring itself.  While this re-organization is an impressive testament to the adaptability of the human mind this reorganization can have a seriously detrimental effect on cognition.

Even early stages of hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline.

Why Hearing Health Matters

Compensatory brain reorganization may explain why age-related hearing loss is so strongly correlated with dementia, and why it must be taken seriously. Even in the early stages of hearing loss, the brain begins to reorganize. Knowing this, the solution could be as simple as early hearing loss screening programs for adults. Getting ahead of the decline through early intervention could prevent long term cognitive issues down the road. Aside from the realization that hearing loss can affect the very memories that make up your life hearing loss effects so many aspects of mental and brain health.

Healthy hearing and early intervention in the event of any degree hearing loss are essential to maintaining strong cognitive function. According to an April 2014 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, 11.4% of adults with self-reported hearing impairment have moderate to severe depression, significantly larger than the 5.9% prevalence of depression for those with typical hearing.

When a person cannot hear properly, engaging in conversations is a daily struggle, and can lead to social isolation and depression. In people 65 years and older, hearing impairment is among the most common chronic conditions associated with depression. In addition to depression, hearing loss has been linked to schizophrenia. which supports the social defeat hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that social exclusion and loneliness can predispose people to schizophrenia by an increase in sensitization of the dopamine system.

Prevent Cognitive Decline

While hearing aids have proven over and over again to help with hearing loss and cognitive decline, less than 25 percent of people who need hearing aids actually get them. The average time someone with hearing loss waits to seek treatment is seven years, which is a tremendous period of cognitive decline that is easily preventable.

Contact us at Hearing Consultants to set up a hearing test.  From your hearing test, we can diagnose exactly whether a hearing loss is present, and if so, the best way to treat it.  Contact us today and start the process to improving your hearing and cognitive health!