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.

Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline

Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline (1)

Hearing loss affects an estimated 48 million people in the US alone and has far reaching side effects past obvious issues with hearing. Ultimately, hearing loss is a communication issue making it more difficult to connect to the people in your life. It can affect your personal life as well as your career, reverberating into your sense of self-worth, self-esteem and sense of independence. In addition to emotional impacts of hearing loss, struggling to hear can cause exhaustion. While we hear with our ears, we listen with our brain. When we cannot receive ample audio signals to our brain, cognitive decline can occur.

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Numerous studies have found a strong connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Age related hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, affecting one in three people over 65, and half of those over 75. While cognitive decline occurs as a natural part of aging, age related hearing loss, seems to escalate cognitive decline. Similarly, rates of cognitive decline, leading to dementia increase as you reach 65 years. The Alzheimer’s society reports that “Above the age of 65, a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia doubles roughly every 5 years. It is estimated that dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80.”

What is Dementia?

Dementia is actually a grouping of many conditions related to the loss of cognitive functioning. This condition is estimated to affect half of all people over 85 years, while the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects 62 million people in the US alone. Dementia affects thinking, remembering, reasoning and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it makes it hard to complete normal daily tasks and activities. Often people affected by dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may seem to change. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells which interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with one another. However, several studies have found that untreated hearing loss, depending on the severity, can increase the risk of dementia significantly.

Hearing Loss Can Mimic Cognitive Decline 

Often people suspect that they are developing dementia when the symptoms of hearing loss can mimic this devastating brain disease. If you struggle to understand speech, or feel exhausted by regular conversation, you may be dealing with undiagnosed hearing loss. It’s important to check your hearing regularly to detect a hearing loss before it can develop further. Hearing loss has been linked to cognitive decline which can increase the likelihood of dementia.

What Research on Dementia and Hearing Loss Reveals

A Johns Hopkins study led by Dr. Frank R. Lin  examined cognitive impairment scores in over 2000 seniors, over a six year period. The study found that patients with hearing loss had a much faster and significant decline.

Can Hearing Aids Reverse Cognitive Decline?

The answer to this is still up for debate, however, several studies suggest that there is a chance that they can. Hearing aids can amplify the sounds you struggle with, making it much easier to follow conversation in noisy and quiet environments. This can increase connections, self-esteem and slowly lift chronic depression. Hearing aids also will allow your brain to take a well-deserved break from constant straining. Some studies suggest that hearing aid can delay the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Seeking Treatment

If you find that you are struggling to hear the people in your life, this is a serious issue. The sooner you address even slight signs of hearing loss, the greater chance you can delay or prevent the development of cognitive decline and dementia. Dementia destroys lives, takes away memories from its victims and currently there is no cure for this disease. It’s important to take every precaution possible to prevent it from progressing. Prompt treatment can help you or your loved one stay connected to the activities and the people they love, avoiding social isolation and loneliness, commonly associated with hearing loss and dementia. Call today to set up an appointment for a hearing test. You have too much to lose to put this off another day! 

How Untreated Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

How Untreated Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

Hearing loss is an issue that begins in the ears but affects much more. What can begin as simple misunderstandings and having to ask the people in your life to repeat themselves, can build up over time into resentment, loneliness, anxiety and estranged relationships. While hearing loss is often irreversible it is treatable with hearing aids. These amazing devices amplify the sounds you struggle to hear so you can participate in your relationships again. It takes people five to seven years on average, after they suspect they have a problem to address the issue. In addition, of those 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, only one in three people, or 30 percent have ever tried them. The dangers of ignoring or choosing not to treat your hearing loss can not only impact you, but the people you care about.

Communication is Key to a Healthy Relationship

Healthy relationships are built on communication. When hearing starts to decline it often becomes difficult to stay connected to people in your life. In the instance of your partner or significant other, you may have shared years and life experience together, but even so, healthy communication is still essential. Tension builds and miscommunications become standard. Often the significant other with more hearing ability will take on the responsibility of an interpreter for the other, which can cause unhealthy codependency and resentment on both sides. However, It’s not only important conversations and logistical issues that cause stress. It’s the casual banter and inside jokes which build intimacy and help both people in a relationship feel understood. As hearing loss minimizes these interactions, feelings of closeness fade.

Communication and Professional Relationships

In the workplace hearing loss can affect your relationships as well. It is all too common to seem distracted or disinterested during conversation when it is actually that you cannot hear. It’s tempting to pretend to understand but this can add to miscommunications and failures in the workplace. However, the effects of losing your hearing in the workplace extend beyond communicating with others. Ultimately our auditory system involves the brain. When sound doesn’t reach the brain, it is forced to work overtime. This can cause cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. These emotional impacts of hearing loss can affect your value at work, causing a huge portion of the workforce who have hearing loss a significant decline in wages when compared to people with healthy hearing or those using hearing aids. 

How Hearing Aids Improve Relationships

Treating your hearing loss with hearing aids or cochlear implants allows you to hear what you may have been missing for years. The longer you have lived with undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss, the greater the potential for a strain on your most precious relationships. The good news is you can start to rebuild them when you invest in your hearing.

Improved Communication

Everyone’s hearing loss is just a little different. This is why it’s important to have your hearing tested. We can diagnose your particular type of hearing loss and find the best hearing aids to amplify the sounds you struggle with. With hearing aids, you will be able to follow conversations and begin to reconnect to old friends as well as build new relationships. This can ultimately cause a rise in your self-esteem and sense of independence. With hearing aids you’ll feel comfortable going out more, pursuing your interests and improving your quality of life.

Increased Earning Power

Not only do hearing aids improve your relationships, but they can actually increase earning power at work! A report from The Better Hearing Institute found that not treating hearing loss can lower annual earnings by as much as $30,000. However, the study found that hearing aids minimized this risk by more than 90 percent for those with mild hearing loss! For those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, a loss of earnings was decreased by 77%. This is just one example of how important it is to be able to communicate as clearly as possible.

Don’t Put This Off!

Maybe you suspect you have hearing loss, but you are reluctant to find out. Hearing loss is often associated with old age, causing many to put off treatment. The irony of this is, that nothing can make you seem more out of touch than struggling to hear without hearing aids. If you have put off dealing with your hearing loss for years, it will take time to heal some of the damage that has been done. The sooner you get started, the better. The first step is simple. Call and book an appointment to have your hearing tested today!

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.

 

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.

 

Treating Hearing Loss is an Important Part of Caring for Your Health as You Age

Treating Hearing Loss is an Important Part of Caring for Your Health as You Age

 

As you age your hearing will inevitably become more strained. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Are you worried about your hearing loss worsening over time? Not sure if you’re experiencing hearing loss? Here are five types of exercises you can do to help boost your hearing abilities!

Solving Puzzles to Combat Hearing Loss

The brain plays major role in processing sound information our ear receives.  It’s important not to ignore it. Research shows that there are links between hearing loss and mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. This may be a result of brain atrophy, which occurs when brain cells and connections shrink. Like muscles, your brain needs a workout to stay in shape and continue pumping.

Solving a variety of puzzles such as crossword puzzles, word searches, and Sudoku throughout the week are fun exercises that get your brain working to prevent atrophy. Playing bingo with your friends, and card games such as hearts and poker, are more great ways to work out your brain and combat hearing loss.

Do Yoga to Improve Your Hearing

Yoga is widely practiced for its many health benefits. There are even yoga exercises that help with your hearing as well! The goal of these exercises is to increase circulation in your ears and your brain, since increased circulation helps improve nerve functions and forces out harmful toxins.

Yoga poses that help with circulation include the tree pose, lotus pose, cobra pose, and triangle pose. Yoga can also help with tinnitus and an overall sense of peace and calm.  There are many videos online if there are no yoga classes in your area, so take advantage of this great way to protect your hearing.

Exercise Daily to Maintain your Hearing

Keeping your body in shape is important for keeping your ears and brain healthy. Exercise every day by going out for a walk, taking a jog, or even just gardening.  You could even turn your housework into an exercise routine. Anything to get your blood pumping and circulation going strong is good for your hearing health.

Try not to exercise with headphones, earphones, or any source of loud music, because repeated exposure to loud noise can damage ear cells, which are irreplaceable. If you decide to exercise with music, keep the volume relatively quiet and comfortable. As a rule, if other people around you can ear the music playing in your headphones or earbuds, your music is too loud.

Meditate to Improve Your Hearing

Meditate in your backyard or a park, or anywhere you will be surrounded by gentle sounds. As you meditate, take deep breaths to help blood circulation and increase oxygen in your body. Focus on each sound around you and try to locate where each sound is coming from. This exercise will relax you, and also help you concentrate on deciphering sounds in noisy environments by determining the location of each sound.

Practice Focusing on and Locating Sounds to Sharpen your Hearing

Hearing exercises can help you hone in on where sounds are coming from and who or what is making the sounds. There are exercises you can do with a friend or loved one to improve your hearing health.  Place a Bluetooth speaker or radio in one area of the room, and play music at a comfortable volume. Place another sound source in a different area of the room, and turn up the volume until the combination of the two sounds creates a noisy environment.

Have someone move around the room while reading sentences from a book or newspaper. Close your eyes, repeat the sentence back to them, and try to locate where the person is standing in the room.

Hearing Consultants

It is normal for hearing to decline with age, but with some of these daily exercises you can practice harm reduction to slow this process.  These are only a few of the  exercises that can keep your hearing and brain in shape. If you’ve noticed any recent changes to your hearing health, visit us today at Hearing Consultants for a hearing test.