Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

Hearing loss is a widespread health problem that affects millions of people daily. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, affecting roughly 30 million children and adults in the United States.

 

Hearing loss can be caused by various factors, including genetics and exposure to high sounds in the environment. Existing medical issues are another factor that can contribute to the development of hearing loss. Hearing loss has been linked to several chronic illnesses, including heart disease, hypertension, dementia, and diabetes.

 

Hearing loss is twice as common in those with diabetes, according to growing research and data. Let’s take a closer look at the links between the two conditions as we mark American Diabetes Month.

 

The Basics of Diabetes

 

Diabetes is a condition in which your body’s capacity to generate and use insulin is impaired. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and insulin is released when your body converts food into energy to help deliver that energy to your cells. Essentially, insulin acts as a “key” in the body, telling cells to open and receive the glucose through a chemical signal. Too much sugar remains in your blood if you generate little or no insulin or if you are insulin resistant, and this is where the problem begins.

 

The impact of diabetes on small blood arteries throughout the body is one of the most damaging consequences. A healthy blood flow is essential for each cell, tissue, muscle, neuron, and organ in our bodies to function effectively. The most vital ingredients for life are oxygen and glucose, carried via blood to all of our organs. Diabetes symptoms are caused by an excess of glucose in the blood.

 

The effects of high blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels, leading to organ damage such as the heart, eyes, and hearing. Blood vessels are damaged and destroyed when blood glucose levels are high for long periods.

 

The exact mechanism of the harm is unknown, but its influence on people is well understood and very real.

 

Recent Studies

For a long time, the link between hearing loss and diabetes has been debated and explored. Multiple studies have looked at this link, all of which have come to the same conclusion: hearing loss and diabetes are linked. 

 

Consider the following two examples:

 

In a 2019 study, researchers gathered data from 139,909 women who completed questionnaires with and without type 2 diabetes. Participants were surveyed twice between 2009 and 2013 and reported moderate or severe hearing loss, and type 2 diabetes was found to increase the risk of moderate or severe hearing loss in women.

 

In another study published by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, researchers reviewed data from hearing exams conducted by the CDC from 1999 to 2004. Adults between the ages of 20 and 69 took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The hearing test assessed people’s ability to hear low, middle, and high-frequency noises in both ears. According to the study, adults with diabetes were twice as likely to experience hearing loss as adults without diabetes.

 

Diabetes’ Effect on Hearing

 

Even though extensive research shows a close link between these two health issues, it is still unclear how diabetes affects hearing.

 

According to researchers, the nerves and blood arteries in the inner ear may be damaged by high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes. The inner ear’s neurons, hair cells, and blood vessels play a crucial role in how humans process sound. They aid in converting soundwaves into electrical signals, which are ultimately transmitted to the brain via nerve networks. The brain is then able to interpret and analyze the sound we hear. Because the hair cells in the inner ear do not renew, any injury is irreversible and leads to hearing loss.

 

Time to take charge of your hearing

 

It is critical to have your hearing checked if you have diabetes. Hearing tests are a simple and painless way to identify the severity of your hearing loss and the hearing loss you have. Hearing loss can be treated in a variety of methods, which is fortunate. Hearing aids, which are small electronic devices that help absorb, enhance, and process sound to improve one’s ability to hear, are the most prevalent treatment. Detecting any degree of hearing loss as soon as possible and seeking treatment will dramatically benefit your hearing health. Make an appointment with us today to learn more about how to hear at your best!

A Guide to Buying Hearing Aids

A Guide to Buying Hearing Aids

If you have been suspecting that you are having more trouble than ever before hearing the people in your life, it’s a good idea to address the issue as soon as possible. Many of us have heard the dangers to our cognitive, emotional, and physical health connected to unaddressed hearing loss. The good news is that most of these risks can be lowered or eliminated with the use of hearing aids. Of course, there are a lot of hearing aids on the market. So how do you know what the best ones for you are? Here are a few tips to make the process of finding the right hearing aids for you, a total breeze.

Identifying your hearing issues

The first step to treating your hearing is accepting that you may have a hearing issue. Once you know your hearing ability this can help eliminate a lot of options. The problem is that many people don’t know they have a hearing loss for years before it becomes severe enough to even think about treatment. We recommend that you schedule annual hearing tests to track hearing ability and catch an impairment early. A hearing test will allow us to know you’re the nature of your hearing loss. It will help us understand what kind of hearing aids will amplify your hearing the best, based on your lifestyle and hearing needs.

Understanding Your Options

When you have your hearing tested, we can identify the softest noises and pitches you can hear. We will also interview you about your lifestyle, preexisting conditions, and family history to understand more about your hearing needs. If you are an active person who enjoys rigorous exercises, it will be in your nature to pick a pair of hearing aids that are sweat-resistant and suppress background noise, such as wind. If you struggle with arthritis in your hands, then a larger pair of hearing aids will help minimize dexterity issues. 

Types of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are not all the same. Some types fit behind your ear, while others fit within the ear canal. Many people don’t want their hearing loss to be public knowledge to everyone they meet. This is why many enjoy discrete hearing aids which fit in the ear canal nearly out of sight. However, for many these tiny hearing aids can’t always produce enough power if their hearing loss is more pronounced. Ultimately, we are here to help you find a pair of hearing aids that addresses your specific type of hearing loss, which is comfortable while fitting your lifestyle and your budget.

The most common types of hearing aids are:

  • behind-the-ear (BTE)
  • in-the-canal (ITC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC)
  • in-the-ear (ITE)
  • receiver-in-canal (RIC)

We can help you find the best ones for you.

Special Features

Today’s hearing aids are more advanced and nuanced than the hearing aids of the past. Depending on your lifestyle and needs around hearing, you may enjoy the many options and features available in hearing aids today. For instance, background filtering can help people who work or play in crowded environments prioritize the sounds they want to be amplified. Other popular features include:

  • Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to wirelessly connect to your phone’s audio for media, GPS, and phone calls, as well as stereos and televisions. 
  • Battery rechargeability. Part of wearing hearing aids in the past is that you have to change the battery every couple of days. Now many offer the ability to recharge overnight, eliminating this menial task.

The Price of Healthy Hearing

Hearing aids are an investment in your mental, emotional, and physical health. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the best price possible for your hearing health. Let us know what you hope to spend on your hearing aids, and we can keep this in mind when navigating your choices. It’s important to remember that those in the workforce who struggle with unaddressed hearing loss earn significantly less than those with normal or treated health. The Better Hearing Institute found that on average those with untreated hearing loss earned 30,000 less annually. While hearing aids can range from $1,200- $6000 depending on features and quality, it’s important that ultimately this investment will save you more money than the initial cost of hearing aids. Consider this an investment in your total quality of life. Schedule an appointment today to find out more about how we can help you.

 

October is Protect Your Hearing Month

October is Protect Your Hearing Month

While you may be seeing Halloween costumes in the drugstores and candy in supermarkets, October is also a month where we celebrate an important month. 

 

October is “Protect Your Hearing” Month, an annual campaign held by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to raise awareness around the importance of detecting and protecting yourself from noise.

 

Who does Hearing loss affect?

Commonly associated with the elderly, hearing loss can affect anyone of any age. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is caused by changes to the ears as we age and is the most common type of hearing loss. It affects 1 in 3 people over 65 and half of those over 75. However, hearing loss has been found to affect 10% of millennials and 17% of Generation Z. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of generation Z. What are the biggest causes of hearing loss in these younger generations, and what does it mean for the future of hearing health?

 

Noise-induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

When sound reaches a certain threshold, it becomes loud enough to damage our hearing. It causes the inside of our ear to vibrate violently enough to cause damage to tiny cells responsible for sending sound from our ears to our brain. This can start slowly, so many of us are not aware we even have hearing issues, but slowly they can affect our relationships, our performance at work and even cause us to score lower on cognitive tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 40 million people ages 20 to 69 have hearing damage from everyday noise, which means it’s a big enough problem for a younger generation that must be addressed.

 

What are the Sources of NIHL?

The sources of NIHL could come from many unexpected places. The level of sound is measured in decibels and any decibel level over 85dB can start to damage sound. For many, NIHL occurs in the workplace. Worldwide, occupational noise exposure is responsible for 16% of cases of disabling hearing loss in adults. It is not just the level of exposure, but the length. When we are exposed to 85dB for 8 hours or more, hearing damage starts to occur. Over years, this can turn into a significant hearing loss which can not be reversed. However, the CDC reports that “The decibel scale is logarithmic, which means that loudness is not directly proportional to sound intensity. The intensity of a sound grows quickly. This means that a sound at 20 dB is 10 times more intense than a sound at 10dB.”

Where are Younger Generations Being Exposed?

Of those exposed to NIHL, only half report working in noisy jobs. This means that much of the damage to the ears of a younger generation occurs at home and during recreation. Many believe younger adults are sustaining damage to hearing from attending concerts and shows and participating in dances where music and sounds are loud. Sporting events are also suspected to contribute to NIHL.

Personal Listening Devices

Many suspect that millennials and Generation Z employees have hearing loss caused by using headphones. Personal listening devices can reach levels of 100 – 110 dB, which can cause damage quickly. 100dB can cause damage in about 15 minutes while at levels of 110dB, the same amount of damage can occur in just one minute! This is why it is important to stress safe listening habits with personal listening devices. Always turn the level of your player to no more than 60% of its potential volume and take listening breaks. This can give your ears a chance to rest and recover.

 

Protect Your Hearing

Practice safe listening habits now to protect your hearing for the future. Know the levels of sound you are exposed to daily. Using a free app on your smartphone will allow you to detect the level of sound in the places you frequent most. If the sound is too loud in your environment, wear hearing protection.  Earplugs and protective headphones can lower the level of sound by 15-33dB. Take listening breaks when you can and if a sound is too loud, step away. Hearing loss is permanent, so if you do suspect that you have a hearing loss, it’s important to have it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Use this October as a call to action and schedule a hearing test with us today.

Addressing Early Hearing Loss Could Help Prevent Dementia

Addressing Early Hearing Loss Could Help Prevent Dementia

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease which affects thinking, behavior, memory, and the ability to perform everyday activities. According to The World Health Organization (WHO) someone is diagnosed with dementia every 3-4 seconds! This equals 7-9 million new dementia diagnoses worldwide each year! These statistics are staggering but it is important to remember that while there is no cure for dementia it is not inevitable. 

There are several factors which increase your likelihood of dementia such as age (over 65) and genetics, but there are several modifiable factors. Some of these include prioritizing a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, exercising for at least 30 minutes daily and maintaining an active social life. A rich social life helps keep us engaged, connected, and keeps our mind fresh. This is where hearing loss starts to be an issue. Hearing loss makes it more difficult to listen, respond to conversation and affects relationships. Overtime, untreated hearing loss becomes a major risk factor, leading to hearing loss. 

Managing Hearing Loss to Prevent Dementia

A study led by Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University sought to better understand the connection to untreated hearing loss and dementia. He led a study in which 639 adults were tracked over about 12 years. The study showed how dementia was much more present in patients who had untreated hearing loss. A mild case of hearing loss doubled the risk, while a moderate case tripled the risk. For those in the study with severe hearing loss, not treating hearing loss created a five-fold risk in the development of dementia.

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s accounting for 60% -80% of all dementia cases each year. The Alzheimer’s Action Plan began in 2012, presenting five ambitious goals to both prevent future cases of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  The co-author of the Alzheimer’s Action Plan, P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D. explains “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market. It should be the first thing we focus on.”

 Why Does Hearing Loss Contribute to Dementia?

Researchers are not in concurrence about the connection between the two connections, just that hearing loss when untreated increases the risk. There are some theories as to why this is an issue. 

Cognitive overload

When someone struggles with hearing loss parts of words or sentences start to be difficult to detect. While hearing loss starts in the ears, the ultimate effect is put on the brain. The brain must struggle to understand what is being said with limited information. Over time this constant strain takes away from other cognitive functions, causing fatigue and a greater likeliness to self-isolate.

Social isolation

When a person struggles to understand conversation, withdrawal from social activities commonly occurs. Social isolation, reduced physical activity, and depression have all been recognized as risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia.

Brain shrinkage

Another theory is that when living with untreated hearing loss over the years, the brain becomes under-stimulated as it is deprived of certain auditory stimulation. Some structures of brain cells can potentially shrink when they don’t get enough stimulation.

MRI indicates accelerated brain atrophy in adults with hearing loss in the areas of the brain associated with memory and speech and language function. 

Treating your Hearing Loss to Lower the Risk of Dementia

Many specialists believe that one of the greatest things you can do to prevent dementia is to detect and treat hearing loss early. The most common treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids, which amplify the specific sounds you struggle with so you don’t have to strain to hear. You can connect to others, stay active and keep your mind clear. 

A recent study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that seniors with hearing loss, under the care of an audiologist, performed significantly better on cognitive function tests when wearing hearing aids in comparison to those who did not. This was true even when the person wearing hearing aids had more severe hearing loss than the ones who were not wearing them.

Treat Your Hearing Loss Now!

If you suspect that you have even a slight hearing loss, it is important to not put off dealing with it. A slight issue now could turn into very devastating cognitive issues later on. Schedule a hearing loss, not only for you, but do it for those who love and rely on you.

Know Alzheimer’s Disease: Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer’s Month

Know Alzheimer's Disease Treat Hearing Loss in September during World Alzheimer's Month(5) (2)

If you know someone who has suffered Alzheimer’s disease, then you already know how devastating this disease is not only for you, but for the caregivers and loved ones who surround them. Therefore, each September, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) celebrates World Alzheimer’s Month.  

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect over 50 million people across the globe with nearly 10 million new cases being reported each year. This September is a great time to ask questions about this common brain condition and what you can do to delay or prevent it from happening to you or your loved ones.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease was named and discovered by Alois Alzheimer in 1906, who first identified tissue damage in the brains of his patients with similar mental health issues. This tissue damage was later identified as the formation of amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles, which caused damage or destruction to brain tissue and stopped the important communication between brain cells. The result of this often starts as mild forgetfulness and over time escalates into the inability to complete everyday tasks. This is because dementia is considered a progressive disease.

How to Recognize Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease can occur at any age but is most identified in people 65 or older. It is estimated that every five years after 65, the risk of dementia doubles. At first, it is common to not notice. Everyone forgets their keys or an appointment every now and then. However, there are a few ways to recognize Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory Loss: Pay attention to your memory. While it is normal to forget an item at the grocery store, if you have dementia, these lapse in memory will become more and more frequent. It’s common to forget the day of the week or forget your medication. Eventually you may identify gaps in your recent memories, like forgetting who you met last week, or what happened yesterday.

Completing Task: You may have driven the same route for years, enjoyed a recipe, or enjoyed a craft or hobby. However, as Alzheimer’s becomes worse, you may forget how to complete the project in the middle of it.

Mood Swings: The issue is that it can be hard to self-identify Alzheimer’s. It creeps up and while others may notice, it’s easy for the person affected to not be aware of these cognitive lapses. Alzheimer’s disease can lead to some changes in your mood or cause you to become confused in social situations. Your loved ones may point out that your personality has shifted.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Anything you can do to improve the health of your brain can also minimize the risk of developing dementia. While age is a huge and unmodifiable factor in the likeliness of the development of dementia, it doesn’t mean that it is certain. Other factors such as an active lifestyle, a healthy heart conscious diet, avoiding stress and a healthy social life all help increase cognitive health and decrease the risk of cognitive decline

The Connection Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Hearing Loss

Like dementia, the risk of hearing loss increases as we reach 65. One in three people over 65 deal with hearing loss and half of those over 75. While you may not think that hearing loss is as serious as dementia, the truth is that they are very connected. This is because, while hearing happens in the ears, comprehension occurs in the brain. As we lose more and more sound delivered to the auditory cortex of our brain, it creates cognitive strain.

If you’re living with untreated hearing loss, a study for Johns Hopkins by Dr. Frank Lin found that the risk of dementia is significantly higher. The study found that people with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia for those with moderate hearing loss the risk was tripled and found to be a five-fold risk for those with a severe loss.

Get Your Hearing Tested

The fight against Alzheimer’s starts with you. This disease starts with individuals but the devastating effects ripple through communities of those who love them. Like dementia, we are not always aware we have a hearing issue, but that does not mean that it isn’t affecting our cognitive health. One thing you can do to fight Alzheimer’s Disease this September is to schedule a hearing test. The tests are painless, easy and can identify if you are struggling with a hearing loss once and for all.

How Hearing Loss May Affect Your Job

How Hearing Loss May Affect Your Job

Have you been having trouble hearing at work? Do you find you have to ask people to repeat themselves or even mishear and respond inappropriately sometimes? This can happen to anyone, but it may also signify a hearing loss. It’s important to understand that you are not alone. In the United States, hearing loss is the third-most common chronic physical condition. About 12% of the U.S. working population has hearing difficulty. About 24% of the hearing difficulty among U.S. workers is caused by hazardous noise exposure in the workplace. 

While there are protections in place in most work environments, millions of workers are still exposed to dangerously high levels of sound putting their hearing at risk for developing permanent hearing loss. This is serious because more than just the ears, hearing loss can potentially affect relationships at work, job performance and earning power.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

One of the most common forms of hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud sound. Sound is measured in decibels and a decibel level over 85bB can slowly cause damage to your hearing. As the level rises it can damage or even destroy tiny hair-like cells of your inner ear called stereocilia. Stereocilia collect sound from your ears and send it to your brain in the form of electrical impulses which it is then comprehended into speech and sounds are identified. It’s important to understand that it is not just the level of the decibel which puts stereocilia at risk but the length of exposure. For instance, during an average work shift of eight hours 85 decibels can cause some damage, especially if the exposure occurs five times a week for a decade or more. However, at 88dB, the same amount of damage can occur after just four hours.  

Protecting Your Hearing

This is why hearing protection is so important. Hearing protection has the potential to lower the decibel level by 15 to 33 decibels. However, for those who work around unexpected noise such as air traffic control, law enforcement or the military, it’s common to struggle with severe hearing damage as it’s hard to predict when an extreme exposure will occur.

Hearing Loss and Job Performance

While hearing loss is an ear issue it affects your ability to stay alert and communicate with the people around you. Co-workers and employees who are not aware of your condition may assume that you are distracted or uninterested by what they are saying, when it is actually a hearing issue. You may mishear directions or miss them all together, leading the others in your workplace to rely on you less. This quickly turns into a safety issue as delayed reaction times to warning signs can put you and co-workers at risk. 

Hearing Loss and Unemployment

If you are on the job market and have been having trouble finding work, it could be connected to your hearing. If you have a hearing loss, the chances of getting hired are lessened. Even though The American Disability Act protects people hearing loss from discrimination in the workplace, you must know and be open about the disability to receive the protection. Most people with hearing loss are not even aware they have an issue. A 2016 study called, The Socioeconomic Impact of Hearing Loss in US Adults, found that individuals with hearing loss had nearly two times higher odds of unemployment or underemployment.

Hearing Loss and Salary

Not only is it more difficult to find a job when living with untreated hearing loss but the salary is often notably lower. A study out of the Better Hearing Institute found that those with hearing loss had a notably disparity in earnings in comparison with peers with normal hearing. Even a mild hearing loss affected earning by an average $14,000 disparity in comparison to those with no hearing loss. If your hearing loss is severe, the study found the disparity on average comes to approximately $31,000 less per year than those without a hearing loss.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you are putting off dealing with your hearing loss, consider the impact on your earnings. The good news is that while hearing loss is permanent, the use of hearing aids can help you to avoid the impact on your job performance and earnings. In the long run it will cost you more by avoiding dealing with your hearing loss. Treat your hearing loss now and start by scheduling a hearing exam.

Tips for Better Hearing in Noise

Tips for Better Hearing in Noise

If you have hearing loss, it is likely that you could have first realized it while trying to communicate amongst noise. It may have been in a crowded restaurant, party, or even busy grocery store. Sometimes even the hum of loud appliances like the fridge or air conditioner can create so much racket that it is a challenge to hear. Isolating and prioritizing sounds in a crowded environment is a common challenge as hearing declines. Even if you have taken the leap to invest in hearing aids you may still have issues differentiating sounds amongst noise. While hearing aids can help significantly, there are certain strategies you can employ to make it easier to hear in a sea of competing noises. 

Challenges with Background Noise

When you suffer from hearing loss, complex sound environments can make it difficult to create hierarchies of important sounds. If someone is having a conversation while you are attempting to have a completely different conversation nearby, it is a common struggle to separate the two. Even if you find that you are able to hear, it may still be hard to comprehend what is being said.

Use Binaural Hearing Aids

No matter how advanced a hearing aid technology is, or how long the person has used their hearing device, it can still be difficult to hear. However, the use of two hearing aids can make a significant difference in making sure this is less of an issue. This is because we use both ears, known as binaural hearing, to decipher where sounds are coming from, how fast and how close. It is common for one ear to not hear as well as the other. This is often referred to as the “bad ear”. However, it is very rare that hearing loss is unilateral. Amplifying both ears, even if the loss is slight in one, can improve your brain’s ability to distinguish front and background noises and improve localization of sound. This can also help you stay more alert in listening environments and prevent accidents that can potentially occur. 

Style Matters

If you have been enjoying hearing aids for years this is wonderful news. Using hearing aids improves your ability to communicate amongst friends, family, and co-workers. It helps you stay independent, socially active and protects your brain from cognitive decline due to a lack of audio and social stimulation. However, hearing aid technology is rapidly changing and there are more and more features available to make hearing easier than before. This is particularly true of hearing amongst background noise, which has been a complaint of many hearing aid users for years. The latest technology in hearing aids has background suppression which prioritizes conversation in front of you, by pointing a microphone towards the speaker you are facing. This is called directional microphone systems (DPS): single or dual microphones, which capture and process sounds coming from the front of the device differently than those from the back. 

DPS also provides wind and background suppression to minimize ambient noise which could interfere with your hearing experience. This is achieved by preserving signals that can fluctuate, such as speech, in which the patterns of high and low frequency as well as loud and soft sounds can quickly shift. In addition, many hearing aids are now compatible with Bluetooth and Telecoil technology, which can send sound wirelessly to your hearing aids so you can hear media more clearly in a noisy auditorium or another crowded space. 

Training Yourself to Improve Your Listening

While hearing aids can make a world of difference, there are several ways that you can train your brain to hear sharper and clearer. This is especially essential for those who may have gone without hearing aids for years. There is a real need to train yourself how to hear again after potential decades of not hearing these sounds. There are several programs designed to help people hear sound amongst other competing noises. Some of these are complementary while others require a paid subscription or one time purchase. These programs employ games and memory strengthening activities to help people to prioritize sounds. The Listening and Communication Enhancement (LACE) program has been found to enhance ability to hear speech in noise significantly based on a 2011 study. 

Dealing with Your Hearing Loss

If you notice that you are having issues with hearing in noisy places, it’s time to have your hearing tested. Even if you are already using hearing aids, it may be worth your while to explore what options there are for you to hear even better. Schedule a hearing test today and find out what the world of hearing enhancements can do for you, to hear through all the noise.

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

Tips for Communicating with Hearing Loss

With nearly one in eight people affected by hearing loss in both ears in the US, it is likely that someone you know is struggling with the condition. This could be a co-worker, a friend, a relative, or even your significant other. When people live with hearing loss, it can be a challenge to follow even a simple conversation. 

Hearing loss is considered an invisible disability, meaning that it’s not always apparent when someone is struggling to hear. You may perceive that they seem disinterested or not paying attention instead. As a result, many important relationships become strained due to unclear communication. You may stop putting as much energy into the relationship and feel distant from this individual when in actuality, they need more intentional communication strategies. Here are just a few tips to make it easier to communicate with the people in your life, so you can continue to build your relationships into the future.

 

Gaining attention

When someone is living with hearing loss, it can be helpful for them to be prepared to listen. This gives the listener a chance to prepare to focus on what is about to be said. Try saying the person’s name before you start talking. If appropriate, it can be helpful to touch them on the shoulder and gain eye contact before you begin.

Visual cues

Many times, people with hearing loss rely on visual cues to compensate for what they can’t hear. It can be helpful to have a few views of your face and body so they can rely on lip reading, as well as body language. This gives added context and clue towards your tone and intent to what you are saying. Make sure you are well lit and that there is nothing obscuring the listener’s view, such as hands over the mouth. Maintaining eye contact will let you know if the person is following or not. If you sense that the listener has lost focus, you can reiterate or pause and gently check-in. In addition, it’s important to avoid speaking to people with hearing loss from another room. So much can get lost when you are not sure if the person is prepared to listen and doesn’t have the visual cues that many of us with normal hearing take for granted.

Minimize background noise

One of the earliest signs of hearing loss is trouble hearing in noisy situations. Multiple conversations or deciphering speech amongst background noise can make communicating with hearing loss a nightmare. When you can, choose to meet in locations where you can control the noise environment. Turn off background music and wait to run noisy appliances till later.  Avoid meeting in public spaces during peak hours to minimize noise. However, you can’t always account for the noise of any space. If a place is unexpectedly loud and you can’t relocate, try writing out words and relying on visual cues.

Speak naturally

Often, people think that talking to someone with hearing loss effectively means they have to yell, so they can hear. The issue is that yelling can actually distort the words and the shape of your mouth. Instead, try annunciating words and speak slowly. Make sure to pause at the end of sentences and concepts to make sure they have time to fully absorb it, before moving on.

Rephrase rather than repeat

Many times, a person will ask you to repeat themselves when they have hearing loss. You can try to repeat yourself, but often it is a certain consonant or tone which is causing the hearing issue. To avoid this, try to rephrase the statement instead of repeating it. This could avoid the tones which are causing the issue, as well as adding more context to the previous statement. Sometimes you can ask what word is causing the issue, so you can just emphasize just that word.

Communicate needs

For hearing impaired individuals, it is important to express what your needs are. The first step is being honest with yourself. If someone in your life seems to have a hearing loss and is not actively treating it, it can be helpful to gently mention to them that you’ve noticed. When the people in your life are open about hearing loss, they can tell you what they need to communicate clearly. The next step is to seek treatment. Encourage them to schedule a hearing test and get on the road to more clear communication.

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You Stay Socially Connected

Do you have an active lifestyle and love being social? Maybe meeting with family and friends is the highlight of every week. You rely on your sense of hearing to help you interact with loved ones. Hearing is an important part of connecting with others and staying socially connected.

Your sense of hearing is what lets you hear each word and keep up with conversations. However, if you’ve noticed recent changes in your hearing health, social interactions may be getting harder. You find yourself asking people to repeat words and phrases. And try as you might, it’s difficult to hear what’s being said. This can lead to feelings of anxiety when you’re with friends and make it hard to stay socially connected.

Hearing Loss and Social Isolation

Hearing loss makes it very challenging to hear conversations. This is especially true in places with a lot of background noise. Social activities with friends tend to get loud or happen in noisy venues. So, it becomes harder to tune out background noise and pick out speech sounds. It can be difficult to follow conversations or keep up as different friends chime in.

If you have hearing loss, social situations can make you feel anxious. You may worry about what your friends think of you. You often misunderstand what’s been said, and you never laugh at the right time. And you don’t want to keep interrupting the conversation to ask someone to repeat what they said. Instead, you smile and nod, and hope no one asks you a direct question.

Hearing loss can lead to social isolation. When it’s this hard to hear, it might seem easier and less embarrassing to just stay home. Sure, you miss your friends, but you don’t need to worry so much about your hearing loss. Choosing to stay home and avoid social activities can leave you feeling isolated and alone.

Social Isolation is More Than a Feeling

Have you been disconnected from your friend group? After you stop attending social activities or skip a few family events, the communication gap widens. It’s easier to keep staying home rather than trying to catch up with everything that’s happened since the last time you joined the group.

Social isolation can be more than just a passing feeling. If you’re feeling socially isolated or cut off from loved ones, you have a higher risk of developing ongoing feelings of loneliness, sadness, and even depression.

Hearing Aids for Social Lifestyles

Hearing loss makes it hard to follow conversations. There are some sounds you just can’t hear. For example, sensorineural hearing loss often affects higher-pitched sounds. Consonant sounds in speech are often higher pitched. So even though you may hear most of the words in a conversation, there are a few key sounds you’re missing. This makes it very difficult to actually understand the words you’re hearing.

That’s where hearing aids come in! Hearing aids are designed with conversations in mind. They have sophisticated programs that amplify speech sounds so it’s easier to hear every sound you need to hear. Hearing aids for social lifestyles also have programs that decrease background noise. You’ll be able to follow conversations even at a noisy restaurant. The sounds you don’t want to hear will fade more into the background, letting your ears and brain focus on the sounds you’re straining to hear.

Treating hearing loss gives you back your ability to communicate. You won’t need to frequently ask people to repeat themselves or pretend you can hear conversations. You’ll be able to enjoy every conversation, catch the punchline of every joke, and find new reasons to get out of the house.

Treat Your Hearing Loss

Don’t let hearing loss hold you back! You can stay socially connected and love every minute you spend with friends. We have a wide selection of hearing aids from top manufacturers that are designed for every lifestyle. Some of our devices offer additional features like streaming capabilities. You can connect your hearing aids directly to your phone or TV so you can be more social at home. Enjoy phone calls and video chats without straining to hear. Sounds will stream right to your ears and you’ll get to enjoy crystal clear sound quality. 

Come find your perfect hearing aids today!

Nutrients That Boost Your Hearing Health

Nutrients That Boost Your Hearing Health

Common sense tells us that what we eat affects our health. Eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can make us feel great and give us an energy boost. But did you know that what you eat affects your ears as well? Some nutrients can boost your hearing health. Here’s what you can eat to look after your hearing health.

Vitamins A and E

Vitamins are one of the most important nutrients you can give your body. These essential nutrients are responsible for hundreds of tasks in your body, from helping you heal, boosting your immune system, and giving you more energy. 

Vitamins A and E can even help prevent damage in your ears and lower your risk of hearing loss. A 2011 study looked at how these essential nutrients work in the body. They found that people with higher vitamin A levels had a 47% reduced risk of developing hearing loss. Vitamin E also reduced the risk of hearing loss by 14%.

Adding extra sources of these vitamins to your diet can really boost your hearing health. Find vitamin A in sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, beef, and eggs. Great sources of vitamin E include seeds, nuts, avocados, and squash.

Vitamin B-9

Folate or vitamin B-9 is another essential nutrient. This vitamin is critical for healthy functioning since it’s needed to keep your red blood cells oxygenated and healthy. One study reported that people with sensorineural hearing loss were more likely to have low vitamin B-9 levels. 

You can increase vitamin B-9 in your diet with foods like green leafy veggies, broccoli, asparagus, beans, and nuts.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is also vital for your body to be healthy. This vitamin aids in the production of red blood cells, and helps maintain blood flow. In fact, low B-12 levels can make it harder for blood to travel to your ears. This may cause cell damage and can lead to hearing loss. 

You can get additional B-12 in your diet with foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, and eggs.

Vitamin C

No list of essential vitamins would be complete without vitamin C. This nutrient is incredibly important for your overall health and wellbeing. Getting enough vitamin C in your diet can boost the immune system, reduce your risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure. When it comes to your hearing health, vitamin C acts as a protector. When you’re exposed to loud noise your ears may be damaged by free radicals. Vitamin C can protect your ears and reduce your risk of noise-induced hearing loss. 

Vitamin C is in many fruits and vegetables, including apples, bananas, grapes, citrus fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, and dark greens, and dates.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats your body needs. This nutrient gives you sustained energy and reduces inflammation. It’s used in many functions throughout the body, including in the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system. A recent study examined the role of omega-3s and your ears and discovered that those with high levels of these fatty acids were 42% less likely to develop age-related hearing loss. 

You’ll find omega-3 fatty acids in sardines, other fish, beef, eggs, and nuts.

Potassium

Let’s take a moment to talk about minerals. Along with vitamins, minerals are essential nutrients your body needs for numerous functions throughout your body. Potassium is responsible for regulating fluid in the body. This includes your blood and the fluid in your inner ears. High levels of potassium will keep your ears healthy.

Potassium is in a number of fruits and veggies, including bananas, grapefruit, oranges, cucumbers, leafy greens, and potatoes.

Magnesium

Another important mineral is magnesium. One function of this mineral is working together with vitamin C to protect your ears from free radicals, and reduce your risk of hearing loss due to noise.

You can add more sources of magnesium to your diet by eating legumes, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and dairy products.

Prioritizing Your Hearing Health

Now is the perfect time to prioritize your hearing health. Along with eating a diet full of essential nutrients, we recommend booking a hearing test. Together we’ll learn more about your hearing health and we can suggest other ways you can maintain your hearing health.