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.

 

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.

Hearing Impairment May Affect Visual Learning

Hearing Impairment May Affect Visual Learning

 

If you’re a parent, we know you want the best for your children. You work hard to provide them with everything they need, and give them all the love and attention they deserve. It can be heartbreaking to learn that your child has hearing loss, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. Not only will hearing loss affect your child’s ability to learn and grow, it could also affect visual learning, so it’s important to treat their hearing loss as soon as possible.

Studying Hearing Loss in Children

Many studies have looked at hearing loss in children, discovering how hearing loss affects children’s ability to grow and learn. Cognitive development in children with hearing loss is far slower than in children with clear hearing, and these differences start in early infancy. A new study by the Ohio State University College of Medicine looked at when these differences in cognitive abilities emerge.

To determine how children with hearing loss learn, and to find out how they fall so far behind their hearing peers, Clair Monroy and Derek Houston studied visual processing skills, and discovered that it takes hard of hearing babies far longer to become familiar with new objects, and learn about their surroundings. Not only is auditory processing affected, but a hearing impairment also affects the visual learning process!

Monroy and Houston tested 23 hearing infants and 23 deaf infants, and tested their visual processing skills. They showed the babies a colorful object on a screen, and when the baby encoded the object, they’d lose interest and look away. Infants who couldn’t hear looked at the object 30 seconds longer than hearing infants, or 40% slower than the hearing infants!

Learning at a Slower Pace

Children who struggle to hear often learn at a slower pace than their hearing peers. They are unable to focus on tasks, concentrate, or complete simple tasks. The fact that those with hearing loss are also slower at learning things visually comes as a surprise to many people. “This is somewhat counterintuitive because a lot of people assume that deaf children compensate for their lack of hearing by being better at processing visual things, but the findings of the study show the opposite.” Monroy explains.

For infants with hearing loss, learning about the world around them is a challenge. They’re not getting the input they need to make sense of the world, and may feel more lost and alone than their hearing peers. When they reach school age, they’ll have a hard time interacting with peers, paying attention to the teacher, and keeping up with the kids in the class.

Treating Hearing Loss

If your child has hearing loss, it’s of utmost importance that you treat their hearing loss as soon as possible. “Understanding the source of these differences can really help us tailor interventions specifically for these children,” Monroy said. “And the earlier that happens, the better.” You child needs clear hearing in order to learn about the world around them, engage with objects in their environment, and bond with family members. To give your child the life they deserve, invest in their hearing health.

Hearing loss is a growing issue among teens as well. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion young people are at risk for hearing loss. With advancements in technology and the ubiquitous use of electronic devices to stream audio, it is important to make sure that your teens are taking precautions. Preventative measures, such as adhering to the 60-60 rule (60% volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time), are important when it comes to protecting your little one’s hearing.

Hearing Consultants

When it comes to your hearing health, Hearing Consultants has you covered. Whether you need hearing devices or a loved one is struggling to hear, we’re here to help. Your journey to clear hearing for you and your entire family will start with a comprehensive hearing test, so we’ll get a clear picture of your hearing health and hearing needs. We’ll then recommend the perfect hearing devices that will match your lifestyle and hearing loss, and allow you to get back to hearing all the amazing sounds around you. Visit us at Hearing Consultants today.

 

How Do We Hear Voices in a Crowd?

How Do We Hear Voices in a Crowd?

Anyone who has hearing aids will have experienced the many benefits they offer to our lives. Where once it might have been challenging to have a conversation, it is now possible and enjoyable. Relationships can be strengthened, and our metal wellness may improve, as well.  Depression, anxiety, and anger problems can all be associated to hearing loss, but those issues may evaporate or at least improve greatly with the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids improve our physical safety, as well. Hearing is a crucial sense to alert us to danger as we move through the world, and those with unassisted hearing loss even demonstrate a higher likelihood of serious falls. Furthermore, there is a surprising link between hearing loss and memory problems, even dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. As you can see, the benefits of hearing aids are remarkable.

Yet, one problem has remained unsolved for many who wear hearing aids: distinguishing voices in a crowd. Although hearing assistance innovations have made giant leaps toward eliminating the experience of hearing loss, they have yet to uncover the solution to sound differentiation within a noisy context. Many people who have worn hearing aids at a restaurant or party will recall the problem hearing the person standing directly in front of them. Although you can hear the voice rather well, it might tend to jumble with others in the room.

New Research Sheds Light on Differentiating Voices

Some groundbreaking research has shed some light on the process of differentiating voices in a crowd, and these findings might have implications for hearing assistive technology, as well. We have known for some time that the basilar membrane is a lining around the cochlea of the ear that makes hearing different tones possible. The cochlea are very fine spiraling features of the inner ear. They have tiny hairs that are sensitive to the pressure waves of sound, vibrating at different speeds when they fell that pressure. In addition to these tiny hairs, the basilar membrane is a thin lining of the cochlea that is sensitive to different frequencies, or pitches, of sound. As sound travels through the inner ear, it actually breaks like a wave over these ridges of the cochlea and basilar membrane.

However, the basilar membrane is not responsible for differentiating different sounds of the same pitch. Recent research out of MIT has found that the tectorial membrane is responsible for this function. The tectorial membrane is also a lining of the spiraling cochlea, but it is a gel-like substance not found elsewhere in the body with tiny pores that let sound waves come through. These pores need to be a specific size to accurately detect differences in sound, including different voices in a crowd. If the pores are too big, they cannot adequately differentiate sound. Yet, if they are too small, they are very sensitive to sonic differences. Although that might seem like a good thing, the brain then takes too long trying to differentiate one sound from another. That slow speed can mean that sound differentiation is impossible, as well. The perfect sized pores of the tectorial membrane are necessary to tell one voice from another in a crowd.

This discovery has remarkable possibilities for hearing aid technology and development. If it were possible to apply this type of finding to the hearing aids, then they might be able to better distinguish one voice from another in a crowd. Although the innovations have not yet taken place, there is a very promising field for research and development when it comes to the new knowledge about the pores of the tectorial membrane. Such tiny gel-like substances will be difficult to devise in a hearing aid, but researchers are optimistic that the technology may be able to resolve existing problems with hearing.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

With these and other innovations on the way, why not investigate the possibility of hearing aids for yourself? Although some people are reluctant to use hearing aids due to their limitations, those limitations are quickly disappearing. As they become more accurate and helpful, you can experience even greater benefits from hearing assistance.

If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, consider taking a hearing test. Visit us at Hearing Consultants for a comprehensive hearing test and consultation.