Myths about Hearing Aids

Myths about Hearing Aids

 

Hearing loss is often referred to as an “invisible disability,” because it is not always obvious when people have hearing loss, and often it is not talked about.  Studies show that only 1 in 5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses them, and on average, people with hearing loss wait almost 10 years before they do something about it. Using a hearing aid presents a number of advantages to a hearing-impaired person. First and foremost, you will hear a lot better. Hearing aids do not restore your hearing to normal, but they improve it significantly. Hearing aids usually improve the user’s social, psychological and physical sense of well-being.

Sometimes it’s related to cost, but other times it has to do with the stigma that hearing loss carries. People might associate hearing loss with becoming old or obsolete or don’t want to wear hearing aids because they find them aesthetically displeasing.

There are a lot of misconceptions that people have about hearing loss that if dispelled could help allot of people seek the treatment that could benefit them greatly.

Myth: Only the Elderly are Affected

Truth: An estimated 48 million people live with hearing loss in the U.S., and about two-thirds are under 65 years old. A 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association study found that 1 in 5 children ages 12 to 19 showed some sign of hearing loss in one or both ears. The World Health Organization has warned that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss “due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars, and sporting events.”

Myth: Your hearing loss was caused by clubs and concerts years ago.

Truth: While attending too many loud shows without the proper ear protection can be a major contributor to hearing loss, there are many other contributors, including the normal aging process, genetics, medications, smoking, a poor diet and diabetes. All of these destroy the hair cells in the inner ear — and it’s the hair cells that send auditory signals to your brain. Once hair cells are damaged, they’re damaged and they will not grow back.  It’s important to understand the contributors to hearing damage so you can take the appropriate steps to protect your hearing.

Myth: If other people would just talk louder, you would hear just fine.

Truth: Hearing is the body’s biological microphone. If you’ve ever heard anyone speak into a microphone that’s damaged, it might be loud, but there’s a  distortion that makes sounds hard to comprehend. The goal of today’s digital hearing aids is both to make sounds louder, clearer, reduce background noise and extract the most important aspects of sound to clarify speech.

Myth: Hearing loss does not affect the other aspects of my health.

Truth:  An untreated hearing loss increases one’s risk of experiencing cognitive decline, falls, social isolation, and depression. There is even a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. It’s theorized that the “cognitive load” on the brain may take away resources the brain uses for other function, such as short-term memory. Researchers have observed that treating the hearing loss, such as with hearing aids, can reverse or even prevent some of these conditions. New research from Johns Hopkins University shows that hearing loss may increase your risk of developing dementia. The upside is that research also shows you can improve memory and mood by correcting the hearing loss.

Myth: As long as you can hear some sound, it’s OK to wait to get hearing aids.

Truth: The longer you wait, the worse your hearing will become, making it harder to treat than ever. When the auditory system in your brain isn’t stimulated, the brain stops recognizing sound. If people wait too long to start using hearing aids, they can find that they don’t help as much as they hoped. Fortunately, our brains can “relearn” to hear, thanks to neuroplasticity — the fairly recent finding that the brain can reprogram itself into very old age with the proper stimulation. Practically speaking, that means you have to teach your brain to hear again, by wearing the hearing aids regularly.

Live Your Truth

All the research points to treating your hearing as soon as possible.  If you have suspected that you’ve had a hearing loss for a while, don’t delay any longer. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to schedule a hearing test and join those hearing and living life again!

 

A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

 

Today’s world is fast paced full of constant challenges. The pace of these days can be challenging and ultimately stressful if we don’t make sure to put time aside in our busy days to deal with stress. No one wants to live with stress as it can cause so many unplanned complications, including lost sleep interfering our work, and damaging relationships at home.

Negative Consequences linked to Stress

Your body deals with challenging situations by releasing chemicals into your bloodstream that give you a burst of energy or strength. While this is a natural response in our bodies that has helps us through difficult moments an excess of stress can be extremely damaging. Stress can wear us down and exhaust our bodies. Not only is stress emotionally exhausting but it is a health risk as well, weakening our immune systems, causing headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety attacks, and more.

Stress can Cause Hearing Loss

When your body responds to stress, the overproduction of adrenaline reduces blood flow to the ears, affecting hearing. The fragile hair cells in the inner ear rely on a constant flow of blood to receive the right amount of oxygen and other nutrients. When daily stress builds up day after day it can disturb blood circulation throughout the body and without a constant blood flow, the hair cells can become damaged sometimes permanently. This can lead to immediate hearing loss if you become so stressed that blood flow to the ears is stopped completely.

Stress and Hypertension

Hypertension and hearing loss also share a link. Hypertension is high blood pressure that often accompanies stress, and has severe hearing repercussions. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels are damaged. This damage isn’t centered in one area of the body – your entire body is affected, including your ears. And when the blood vessels in your ears are damaged your hearing could be impaired. Chronic stress in the form of hypertension often leads to hearing loss and tinnitus. The symptoms of hearing loss due to stress include a blocked feeling in the ears, pressure or pain in the ear, or a complete loss of hearing in one or both ears.

Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many studies have linked stress to tinnitus, both as a cause and as a symptom. Tinnitus is described as a ringing, hissing or roaring sound in the ears frequently caused by exposure to loud noise or certain medicines. It can come and go but tends to be more acute when a person is dealing with stress. A study by S. Herbert found that 53% of patients with tinnitus said their symptoms started during stressful period of their lives, or became significantly acute during a stressful time. It’s a vicious cycle, as stress causes tinnitus, which inevitably causes more stress, which in turn causes even more tinnitus.

Ways to De-Stress

If you have hearing loss due to stress, the first step is to reduce your stress levels and prevent further damage.

    • Take a moment. When you are feeling overwhelmed take a moment to decompress. Even 20 minutes away from the source of a stressor can give you perspective to help you feel less overwhelmed.

 

    • Exercise. When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Just 20 minutes daily increases blood flow to your body each day provides health benefits for both your body and mind.

 

    • Talk about it. Talk to someone who can understand what you’re going through and provide positive feedback. This could be a close friend or a professional.

 

    • Meditate. Like exercise, meditation helps the mind and body relax and focus.

 

  • Do the things you love. It’s important to make time every day to do things you love. Listen to music, go for a swim, making yourself a cup of tea, start a new hobby, read a book or watch TV – make sure you take the time to unwind.

Seek Help for Hearing Loss

If you are suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus, we can help. Visit us at Hearing Consultants to schedule a hearing test. With comprehensive hearing tests and personalized advice, we’ll work with you to find the best treatment to de-stress your life.

 

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

 

At least 20 percent of U.S. adults, at some point in their lives experience a significant difficulty in hearing. These challenges can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational, and recreational aspects of life. Ever since 1927, The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) has designated May as Better Speech and Hearing Month. It is a time to raise public awareness of the hearing and speech-language disorders that affect over 14 million Americans. Every May ASHA helps spread a hopeful, positive message about communication disorders—and the important role of the professionals who treat them. This year is no different, with the theme of “Communication Across the Lifespan. ”

Hearing Loss Across the Life Span

According to the Center for Hearing Loss and Communication, 48 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, which can begin at birth or develop at any age. For example, hearing loss can be present at birth or develop over time and effect adults who use their voices a lot in their jobs, such as teachers and performers. ASHA supports a wide range of research to help develop effective diagnostic and treatment strategies relevant to communication throughout the lifespan.

One of the most common communication disorders in older adults is hearing loss, affecting approximately one in three adults ages 65 to 74, and nearly half of those older than 75. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of isolation and loss of connection from family, friends, and the community. Although hearing aids and other assistive devices can improve quality of life, only about one in four adults (age 20 and over) who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them.

Knowing the Signs Of Hearing Loss

Before you can seek treatment for hearing loss, you must first accept that you have a condition hindering your communication. Most cases of hearing loss develop gradually so the symptoms are often difficult to recognize. Some clear signs of hearing loss include;

  • – You believe people are mumbling
  • – People often complain that your television or radio is turned up too loud
  • – Difficulty in hearing someone calling from behind you
  • – Difficulty communicating in small groups of people
  • – Communication difficulties in noisy environments
  • – A frequent need to ask people to repeat themselves
  • – Difficulties in hearing the doorbell or the telephone ringing
  • – Family, colleagues and friends suggest you might be suffering from hearing loss
  • – You have to lip read the people who talk to you
  • – You feel that you must really concentrate to hear someone talk or whisper

The Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss

If you experience these signs of hearing loss, you may feel that your social life is suffering too because of hearing and communication difficulties. You may even be tempted to avoid social gatherings and other social situations where misunderstandings become common. This can put a real strain on your relationships with friends, family and even your spouse.  Hearing loss often leads to poor performance at work, causing your earning power to plummet and employers to values you less. Ultimately these communication difficulties can lead to isolation and depression, and there is even a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia.

The Benefits of Treatment

Fortunately, hearing loss is treatable. According to the Better Hearing Institute, 95 percent of Americans with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids and individuals who treat their hearing loss early have shown significant benefit. Hearing aids help process incoming sound making it easier for your brain to understand them.  With the modern innovations of hearing aids today they are more user friendly than ever before and designed to work with your lifestyle.  There has never been a better time than now to need hearing aids, and, in the future, the innovative features of hearing aids will only be more affordable.

Hearing Consultants

If you suspect you have hearing loss use this May’s Better Speech and Hearing Month as a call to action.  At Hearing Consultants, we can help.  Contact us to set up a hearing test.  Hearing tests are quick and painless and can confirm whether or not you have a hearing loss.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

 

Falls & Accidents Are More Likely with Hearing Loss

Falls & Accidents Are More Likely with Hearing Loss

Did you know that living with untreated hearing loss increases your risk of having a fall or accident? A recent study lists yet one more reason why treating hearing loss early is important. Not only will you improve communication, stay mobile, and have a higher overall quality of life, you’ll also lower your risk of accidental injury.

Studying Hearing Loss and Accidents

A recent study looked at the link between hearing loss and accidents, and Hossein Mahboubi from the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of California, Irvine, examined data from the National Health Interview Survey for the years 2007 to 2015. What he found was that those with hearing loss were twice as likely to have an accidental injury than their hearing peers! For anyone with clear hearing, the rate of accidental injury is about 2% at both work and leisure activities. For those with hearing loss, that number soared to 4%.

This study clearly demonstrates the link between hearing health and injuries. “One can assume that if someone’s hearing is not great,” explains Mahboubi, “if something comes their way like a baseball, or if they’re cycling out there and there’s a car horn getting close to them, they may not be able to hear that, and that theoretically can increase the possibility of getting injured.”

Accident Prone

If you have hearing loss, you’re risking your health and safety, as well as the safety of those around you. The study found that those with hearing loss were more likely to be in a car accident, and get injured while playing sports. Interestingly, those struggling to hear were more likely to get injured during leisure activities, but those with clear hearing faced more workplace accidents. The researchers think this could be explained because those with hearing loss are aware of the dangers of their hearing, and could be extra cautious at work, but let their guard down when away from the jobsite.

Finally, people with mild hearing loss were more likely to have an accident or fall than those with moderate or severe hearing loss! Mahboubi explained that this was an “eye-opening” experience, and that after those with mild hearing loss had an accident, they were far more careful, so that even when their hearing loss became more severe, they were less likely to have accidents.

Reducing the Risk of Accidents

To reduce your risk of accidents, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, and watch for any warning signs. This could be an emergency siren, a warning honk, or someone yelling to you from across the street. At work and during leisure activities, always stay alert, and make sure you’re noticing everything around you.

Treating Hearing Loss

If those with hearing loss are far more likely to be hurt, why aren’t more people treating their hearing loss? Mahboubi says it could be part of a much bigger issue. “There’s a lot being said about hearing loss, probably everybody knows about it, but it may not be enough, because still, there are people who are out there who have hearing difficulty, and they’re not being evaluated properly… And considering everything, I think there’s more room for improvement with respect to increasing awareness among the public and also among the doctors that hearing loss needs to be taken more seriously.”

If you or a loved one has hearing loss, hearing loss treatment is the best thing you can do for your safety. You’ll be able to hear all the sounds around you, localize where sounds are coming from, and be more spatially aware. This will lower your risk of falls or accidents, and you’ll protect your safety.

Hearing Consultants

Do you want to reduce your risk of fall and accidents? Visit us today at the Hearing Consultants, and keep yourself, your coworkers, and your loved ones safe. A quality pair of hearing aids will give you increased awareness, and you’ll be alert to everything that’s happening around you. You’ll be able to hear all the sounds around you, and identify safety hazards before you get injured. Not only will you be safer, you’ll be able to follow conversations easily, strengthen your relationships, and enjoy spending quality time with the people that matter the most to you.

 

Why Do People Shy Away from Treating Hearing Loss?

Why Do People Shy Away from Treating Hearing Loss?

 

Do you have hearing loss? Are you avoiding talking about your hearing loss, or scared to admit to family and friends that you’re struggling to hear? Roughly 40 million Americans have hearing loss, but only around 1 in every 3 people who need hearing aids actually have them. This is because many people shy away from treating their hearing loss, and choose to ignore their hearing health.

Investing in Hearing Aids

One big reason people shy away from treating hearing loss is the cost of investing in hearing aids. Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, and when people weigh the pros and cons of treating their hearing loss, they’ll often choose their bank account over their hearing health, because the initial investment of purchasing hearing aids seems high.

While this might seem to save you money in the moment, untreated hearing loss is actually costing you thousands of dollars. Those who live with untreated hearing loss are more prone to trips, slips and falls. They have more accidents, and are hospitalized more often than their hearing peers. They also visit the doctor far more often, and have higher medical costs. Not only that, but they spend years of their lives missing out on the important sounds around them, damaging the relationships that matter the most, and struggling with social isolation or even depression.

Over the Counter Hearing Aids

When considering the cost of hearing aids, some Americans choose to purchase over the counter devices. Sadly, these devices become another reason people shy away from treating hearing loss. In theory, over the counter hearing aids seem great, providing hearing with a cheap price tag. Unfortunately, when you purchase over the counter hearing aids, you won’t have customized hearing, and the devices likely won’t fit your ears or your hearing needs. Over the counter hearing aids aren’t calibrated to match your unique hearing profile, and you won’t get the benefit of wearing devices. If the device itself fits poorly, you’ll also experience whistling, feedback, or even discomfort.

After a disappointing experience with over the counter devices, people shy away from treating hearing loss, or investing money in a quality hearing device from a hearing health specialist.

Facing the Stigma of Hearing Loss

Another reason people shy away from looking after their hearing health is the stigma that still surrounds hearing loss. Many people feel that talking about their hearing loss, or admitting that their hearing isn’t as sharp as it once was is like admitting that they’re getting old. It’s important to realize that hearing loss affects people of all ages, and has a number of causes. Hearing loss doesn’t just affect seniors, and isn’t about getting old. Treating hearing loss and being able to keep up with the kids lets you seem as young as you feel, and sleek, sophisticated devices will make you seem younger, not older.

The Price of Untreated Hearing Loss

If you think the cost of hearing devices is high, the price of living with untreated hearing loss is far higher. Not only will you be missing out on the sounds around you, but your physical, mental, and emotional health will suffer as well. Those with untreated hearing loss have higher rates of anxiety, social isolation, and depression, and when communication breaks down, relationships will suffer. Those with hearing loss also experience more rapid cognitive decline, have trouble focusing on tasks, and risk earlier onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.

Hearing Consultants

It’s time to face your hearing loss head on, and stop shying away from treating hearing loss. Many people wait between 5 and 7 years before treating their hearing loss! Don’t become part of that statistic, but do the right thing for your health and your bank account, and call us today at the Hearing Consultants to start your journey to clear hearing.

After a comprehensive hearing test to determine your unique hearing needs, we’ll work with you to find the perfect hearing devices that will give you back your ability to hear in every listening environment. They’ll be programmed to match your lifestyle, and you can focus at work, enjoy time with your friends, and invest in your loved ones. Don’t shy away from treating hearing loss, and visit our hearing health specialists at Hearing Consultants.

 

How Exercise, Diet, Sleep, and Hearing Affect Brain Aging

How Exercise, Diet, Sleep, and Hearing Affect Brain Aging

Have you been wondering what factors affect your brain, and what can lead to early aging? Exercise, diet, sleep, and hearing all affect brain aging. If you look after your health today, you can look forward to a future with a healthy brain, but if you ignore the advice of your doctor, you could be facing some serious consequences as you age.

What Happens to the Brain as We Age?

According to Stephen M. Stahl, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, exercise, diet, sleep, and hearing are the 4 biggest factors that affect the brain as we age. “In normal aging, our brains slow down,” explains Stahl. “Intelligence remains stable, but we become less mentally flexible. We have longer processing time and declines in motor, sensory, and cognitive abilities.” In fact, in normal aging, the brain shrinks, and there is less white matter tissue in an older brain, as well as less myelin, the coating along neural pathways that speeds up synaptic activity in the brain.

Exercise and the Brain

It’s no secret that staying mobile is the key to staying young. Running around the park with your grandchildren will keep you young at heart, help you maintain a healthy weight, and keep your joints working smoothly. For those who are active as they age, the risk of dementia is lowered by 32%, meaning that your brain is a lot healthier! Even exercising for half an hour 3 or more times a week has great benefits for your overall health and wellbeing as well as your brain health. Recent studies show that exercising leads to improved attention and processing speed, as well as better memory recall and decision-making skills.

Diet and the Brain

They say you are what you eat, and this might hold more truth than you realize. Two diets that are great for the brain are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Mediterranean Diet (MediDiet). While you can follow any healthy diet, the reason these particular diets showed great brain health was due to the high recommended consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Both diets also recommend a low intake of red meat or any processed meats. For adults following these diets, studies show improved cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline, and better brain health.

Sleep and the Brain

This one is a real no-brainer, and we all know how tired and unfocused we are if we haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Sleep disorders are increasingly common among seniors, and many adults struggle with insomnia or sleep apnea, both of which impact your ability to fall asleep and sleep deeply through the night. A lack of sleep has some extremely negative health outcomes, including stress, anxiety, and depression. You might also experience irritability, moodiness, and the inability to concentrate on tasks.

Hearing and the Brain

Finally, hearing has been closely linked to brain health. Hearing loss affects millions of Americans of all ages, and especially among seniors, living with untreated hearing loss is hurting your brain. Hearing loss is linked to rapid cognitive decline, and a higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Those with hearing loss aren’t able to communicate easily, often withdraw from conversations, and face social isolation. The brain doesn’t get enough exercise, and in a case of use it or lose it, hearing loss can lead to poor brain health. Hearing loss has also been linked to problems with memory, attention span, and the ability to focus on difficult tasks, whether at home or at the office.

Hearing Consultants

Do the right thing for your brain, and call us today at the Hearing Consultants. According to Stahl, treating hearing loss can lead to cognitive improvements, and when you get a quality pair of hearing aids, you’ll notice the difference not just in your hearing, but in your cognitive abilities. Your friends and family will be amazed at how well you can hold your own in battles of the wit, and you’ll wish you’d treated your hearing loss sooner. Once you’ve looked after your hearing health, take a close look at your exercise, diet, and sleep patterns, and learn new ways to preserve brain health.

 

New Standards to Protect Young Peoples’ Hearing

New Standards to Protect Young Peoples' Hearing

Our world is full of noise, now more than ever before, and it just keeps getting louder. Our city streets are crowded, and traffic and neighborhood noise can invade even our homes and workplaces. Schools and universities are full of chatting students, and hallways are dangerously loud. Technology has also brought noise closer than ever before, and teens and young people are rarely without their phones or personal listening devices, blasting music right into their ears, playing games, or chatting with friends, and are damaging their hearing each and every day.

Hearing Loss Affecting More Young People Than Ever Before

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 35 are damaging their hearing, and aren’t aware of the risks to their hearing health. Up to half of all young people don’t realize that they have unsafe listening practices, or that blasting their music today could cost them their hearing tomorrow. Young people of today risk noise induced hearing loss, and whether at school, on the commute, at the gym, or at home, they have unsafe listening practices that are harming their ears.

New Standards to Protect Young Peoples’ Hearing

The world is starting to take notice of the dangers to hearing health, especially among young people. The WHO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have released new standards to protect young peoples’ hearing, and hope that these will be implemented all around the world. Using both education and technology, they hope that young people will start looking after their hearing health, protect their hearing, and develop safe listening habits. The guidelines are available online and the toolkit for safe listening devices and systems provides more information for parents and young people.

Education for Young People

The best way to implement change is through education. Many young people simply don’t understand the risks to their hearing health, and don’t know that what they do today will affect their hearing health for the rest of their lives. Have a conversation with the young people in your life, talk about noise induced hearing loss, and make sure they know that hearing loss will affect their future in profound ways. “Given that we have the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss, it should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general. “They must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back. This new WHO-ITU standard will do much to better safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy.”

Using Technology to Prevent Hearing Loss

The WHO hopes that these new standards to protect young peoples’ hearing will have an impact on the technology we use every day. Many young people risk their hearing health using personal listening devices, so the WHO wants to change the technology that we use every day. They’re encouraging manufacturers to provide more programs and features to monitor hearing health and listening practices. A “sound allowance” feature could track how many hours a day people listen, and at what volumes, and notify the user when they’ve reached the maximum safe limit for the day. This would encourage users to be more mindful of their ears, and change their listening habits. Another suggestion is that manufactures develop personalized listening profiles which would give recommendations for safe listening, notify users when they’re not listening safely, and suggest when it’s time to turn down the volume. Parental volume controls are already available on many devices, and this allows parents to monitor their child’s listening habits, and cap the maximum volume at safe volumes to protect their child’s hearing health.

Hearing Consultants

Do you have teens or young people in your life who may not be listening safely? Take the time to have a conversation with them about safe listening practices, and help them develop habits that will protect their hearing health. Then, call us today the Hearing Consultants, where we can provide a  comprehensive hearing test for each member of your family. We’ll help you educate your young people, and protect the hearing of everyone in your family.

Call us today to start your journey to safer listening and clear hearing.

March 3 is World Hearing Day – Celebrate with a Hearing Test!

March 3 is World Hearing Day - Celebrate with a Hearing Test!

 

It may seem like March is a void of holidays. Some people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and others take caution on the Ides of March, but most people can’t find much reason to celebrate. Depending where you live, the month may have treacherous weather, and many feel like winter will never end. Although the month can feel like it is dragging on, the World Health Organization has introduced a new holiday into the mix of emotions that many of us experience each March: World Hearing Day.

March 3rd has been set aside to commemorate the need for hearing health, but many people do not understand all that can entail. Sure, most of us know that it is a good idea to wear earplugs in an extremely loud environment, but what else might be affecting our hearing health? The World Health Organization has done an excellent job providing materials regarding the need for hearing health practices, and the following are some of the highlights of the research they have promoted in honor of World Hearing Day.

Hearing Loss, Deafness, and Public Health

With 466 million people suffering from debilitating hearing loss around the world, the World Health Organization has estimated that the number may rise to 900 million by the year 2050. A devastating 34 million of those who currently have hearing loss are children, and people everywhere are seeking solutions to the experience of hearing loss and deafness. A full 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes, including diseases that could be eradicated with better health care and eliminating exposure to toxins that cause hearing loss. Birth complications are yet another cause of hearing loss, and improvements to obstetric and maternal health care could make a big difference in the number of children born with hearing loss or total deafness. With such staggering numbers, you may wonder what can be done to reduce or eliminate hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Prevention

Though it may go without saying that wearing ear plugs or noise cancelling ear muffs in very loud environments can prevent hearing loss, there is a lot more that you can do to reduce the risk. Exposure to chemicals and medications that cause hearing loss, also called ototoxic substances, are a serious risk, especially for the sensitive ears of growing children. Infections such as mumps, measles, rubella, meningitis, cytomegalovirus infections, and chronic otitis media are responsible for a large percentage of childhood hearing loss, and many of these conditions are preventable.

Adequate funding is necessary to make sure that children receive the vaccines they need and have access to clinics and treatment centers when these conditions arise. Those who incur hearing loss before or soon after birth can benefit from a number of policy changes that would affect maternal health practices. Cytomegalovirus infections in expectant mothers can cause hearing loss in the child, and these infections can be prevented through good hygiene. Proper screening for and treatment of syphilis and other infections in pregnant women can prevent hearing loss in children, as well. In general, maternal health programs can do wonders for early childhood health, including hearing health.

Getting a Hearing Test

One of the things you can do to take part in World Hearing Day, no matter where you are, is to get a hearing test. Even if you don’t think you have hearing loss, a hearing test will set the baseline for your personal hearing profile, and a hearing healthcare provider will be able to use that knowledge in the future to identify ways that your hearing has changed or been compromised.

In addition, you may have hearing loss that you don’t even know about, and hearing tests are the only way to get precise information about your ability to hear at different volumes and frequencies of sound.

With these many reasons to get a hearing test, why not schedule one today? World Hearing Day on March 3rd is a great opportunity to take care of your hearing health with a very simple, quick, and painless examination. You won’t regret the knowledge you receive from this test, and it may point you toward early solutions for your hearing health! Contact us at Hearing Consultants today to schedule a hearing test and consultation.

 

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Memory Loss Could Actually Be Hearing Loss

 

The connection between hearing loss and cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have been clearly established in the medical literature. Researchers have shown that those who have hearing loss are statistically more likely to have dementia and the decline of cognitive ability among those who have hearing loss tends to be quicker, as well. However, the nature of that connection remains unclear. Some suspect that the two simply occur at the same time of life, and many experience both conditions at once. Yet, the statistical results of these studies demonstrate a stronger link than mere coincidence. This link may have a causal dimension. It is possible that having hearing loss actually makes it more likely to have a cognitive dysfunction, such as dementia.

A New Study on Hearing Loss & Memory

A recent study in the Canadian Journal on Aging demonstrated the possibility of this link. Dr. Susan Vandermorris is a neuropsychologist at Baycrest, and she led the study of the connection between memory loss, an early sign of dementia, and hearing loss. The majority of participants who were evaluated for memory, thinking, brain, and cognitive concerns had some form of hearing loss, ranging from mild to severe. Out of this group who had hearing loss, only about 20 percent were using assistance, such as hearing aids. This anomaly led the researchers to think more deeply about the connection between memory loss, hearing loss, and how we measure each condition.

A quarter of the participants in this study did not show any signs of memory loss due to a brain disorder, yet something led them to seek treatment. That something is often a loved one or family member. Clients who came seeking treatment tended to be urged by a close relative who has complained that they don’t seem to be paying attention that they don’t seem to be listening to what they have to say, or that they don’t remember what was said to them in conversation. As you can see, these conditions may be closely related to hearing loss. When a person seems to be checked out, unable to pay attention, or unable to remember details of conversations, each of these experiences is equally likely to be due to hearing loss as it is to memory loss.

The connection between memory loss and hearing loss is a puzzle that remains to be solved. Those who suspect that hearing loss may cause dementia point to the link between spoken language and cognition. When a person has hearing loss, the sounds that encounter the ears are a jumble of randomness. Fragments of words might break through, and sounds can be like the pieces of puzzle. The time expected for a person to understand a conversation is like putting a timer on the game, requiring the listener to quickly throw together random sounds into something meaningful, even when speech is unintelligible. You can imagine how difficult this process might be, creating a heavy cognitive load on the person with hearing loss. The mind is under constant assault during these conversations, with too much being expected of it and too few audible resources.

Many neuropsychologists suspect that this cognitive load can spill over into other areas of thought, and this relationship may even be responsible for memory loss and dementia. That being the case, this study points to two components of the relationship between hearing loss and memory loss. In the first instance, a loved one may simply mistake hearing loss for memory loss. When a person cannot hear what is said, she or he will have no opportunity to remember it! In the other case, it is possible that hearing loss may actually be a risk factor for developing memory loss and more advanced dementia.

Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss

With these two components of the relationship between hearing loss and memory loss, it is more urgent than ever to seek assistance for hearing problems. At Hearing Consultants, we provide comprehensive hearing tests. If a hearing loss is detected, treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids can make an incredible difference in your ability to understand, think, and remember, especially when it comes to face-to-face conversations. The first step is the simplest. Call us at Hearing Consultantsto make an appointment for a hearing test and consultation to embark on the path toward healthy hearing once again.  

 

A Link Between Hypertension & Hearing Loss

A Link Between Hypertension & Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss is linked to a host of negative health outcomes, such as reduced quality of life, relationship struggles, social isolation, and even depression. We now know that there is also a connection between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss, but does that also include high blood pressure? How do you know what to look for and what are the signs?

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease is simply defined as a disease of the heart or the blood vessels. Anytime your heart muscle isn’t working properly, or blood flow in your veins and arteries is impeded, that is cardiovascular disease. So what about high blood pressure? Is that cardiovascular disease? And what does that have to do with hearing loss?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure, or hypertension. That amounts to nearly one in three adults. Furthermore, another one in three adults are living with elevated blood pressure results that are below the level considered to be high blood pressure but above the norm. This is referred to as prehypertension.  Only half of Americans with high blood pressure have their condition under control. This leads to a multitude of health problems and risks.

High Blood Pressure and Hearing Loss

While hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors, it has become clear that high blood pressure may also be a contributing factor of hearing loss. A recent study evaluated the potential association between high blood pressure and hearing loss. In that research, a total of 274 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 were evaluated. Dr. Mohan Jagade, a physician in the Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, Grant Medical College and J.J. Hospital, and his team discovered that for people with elevated blood pressure, there was a significant increase in the presence of hearing loss. The researchers in the study surmised that hypertension is an accelerating factor in the degeneration of the auditory system and hearing as people age.

Hypertension and Hearing Loss

The link between high blood pressure and impaired hearing isn’t difficult to understand. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels are damaged. This damage isn’t centered in one area of the body – your entire body is affected, including your ears. And when the blood vessels in your ears are damaged – and have a fatty plaque buildup – your hearing could be impaired.

Hearing Loss and Risk of Stroke

There is also a high correlation between high blood pressure and the incidence of a first stroke. The CDC reports that approximately 8 out of 10 people having a first stroke also have high blood pressure. About ten years ago the American Heart Association published a recap of a large group study on the association between sudden sensorineural hearing loss and stroke. Researchers found that the there is a definitive and clear correlation between the two. The group within the study who had severe hearing loss was more than 150 percent more likely to experience a stroke within two years of the occurrence of a sudden hearing loss! Any potential disturbance in the blood flow to the tiny capillaries in the inner ear can cause permanent and devastating hearing loss, and it is theorized that the presence of high blood pressure impacts the blood flow to the delicate structures in the inner ear.

Healthy Hearing Protects Mental Health

With an increase in hearing loss, individuals often experience more feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. This can lead to lower speech understanding.  There is even a link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that if you have any risk factors for hearing loss, such as high blood pressure, you should have your hearing thoroughly evaluated on an annual basis to detect early hearing loss before it is too late.

Blood Pressure Checks and Hearing Tests Go Together

If you or someone you know has high blood pressure, visit us at Hearing Consultants today. Then visit your physician to have your blood pressure checked. The two conditions often go hand-in-hand, so recognizing the connection and seeking treatment could save someone’s hearing – or their life.