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!

 

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.  

 

Hearing Aids Are Found to Improve Depressive Symptoms

Hearing Aids Are Found to Improve Depressive Symptoms

Hearing loss is a condition of our auditory system, but the effects of hearing loss aren’t just limited to our ears. Hearing loss has repercussions for many aspects of our health and quality of life. Among the risks, untreated hearing loss diminishes our cognitive functioning, increases our risk of accidental falls and decreases our earning power. One of the most damaging effects of untreated hearing loss is an increased risk of depression.

Unfortunately, most hearing loss is permanent, but new research is uncovering how effective treating hearing loss can be. Newly emerging research is tracking the benefits of hearing aids and cochlear implants, specifically on reducing symptoms of depression.

Depression and Hearing Loss

What connects hearing loss to depression? Hearing loss makes us more susceptible to depression in the way it alters our life and communication with others. When hearing loss is left untreated, it can gradually change our life and behavior and fuel depression. Living with hearing loss can diminish our passion for events and activities we once enjoyed, when hearing makes social events more challenging than fun. Trouble hearing can even sap the joy from watching our favorite movies or listening to music.

Hearing loss can also create distance between ourselves and the people closest to us. Keeping in touch with family and friends by telephone can become difficult and frustrating with hearing loss. Big family dinners or gatherings can create sound environments that are difficult to navigate with hearing loss. Challenges with hearing and comprehending speech make it both hard to understand others and feel understood.

By pushing us away from social participation, hearing loss creates conditions where depression can flourish. Depression is a serious disease that requires attention and treatment. It is linked not only to great losses in quality of life, but also to other health factors, such as substance abuse, heart disease and suicide.

Treating Hearing Loss

Hearing loss, when left unchecked can greatly increase our susceptibility to depression – but can treating hearing loss help? A recent study based at John Hopkins University recently published hopeful short-term findings. In the framework of a twelve-month study, researchers looked at over one hundred older adults, tracking indicators of depression and how they corresponded to hearing treatment. The study tracked depression levels using a metric called the Geriatric Depression Scale, administered questions that rank on a scale from 0-15. The study looked at participants with untreated hearing loss who were introduced to hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Over the course of the study, both treatment protocols alleviated depressive responses, leading the research team to be optimistic about conducting longer and more in-depth studies of the treatment response. The study also bodes well for people with hearing loss hoping to mitigate side effects like depression through treatment.

Earlier the Better

Most hearing loss happens gradually, sometimes at a slow enough rate it is hard to notice that you are experiencing a significant hearing issue. However, as hearing loss progresses, it stresses our cognitive functioning and fundamentally changes the wiring of our brain. Although occasional difficulty hearing may seem trivial, it can point to the start of a larger problem.

Stay aware of your hearing and watch for hearing concerns. If a friend or family member talks to you about your hearing, consider their concern – they may be noticing things you are missing. Similarly, if you find speech often sounds muffled or mumbling it is a sign that you are experiencing hearing loss and a hearing exam should be your first step.

When you seek treatment for hearing loss, the earlier the better. Cognitive strain can significantly change your hearing and your overall health, worsening your hearing and making it harder to adapt to treatment.  Stay on top of your health, and connected to the people most important to you – treat hearing issues when they arise.

Hearing Consultants

Have you noticed recent changes in your hearing? Have you altered your behavior in the past month because of hearing-related anxiety? When hearing concerns arise, Hearing Consultants is here to help. We specialize in all aspects of hearing treatment and care from testing and diagnosis to fitting and programming hearing aids. Our team of hearing specialists brings a personal approach to every situation. Remember, the earlier you seek help for a hearing concern, the better, so set up an appointment with Hearing Consultants today!

Hearing Loss Could Restrict Mobility & Quality of Life

Hearing Loss Could Restrict Mobility & Quality of Life

Nobody wants a disability to hold them back, yet untreated hearing loss can do just that. A new study conducted in Finland has found that hearing loss can limit a person’s movement and mobility in the world. Hearing loss, when left unchecked can make people uncomfortable in new and unfamiliar environments, including transportation. Often this can result in a person’s day-to-day life becoming limited to a local and familiar area.

Studying Hearing Loss and Mobility

In order to thoroughly study the impact of hearing loss and mobility researchers from two Finnish universities teamed up, the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Tampere, to conduct a survey of individuals over a two year period. Researchers looked at over 800 subjects, aged 75-90 and tracked their everyday movements and activities. When the research was parsed the results were striking – subjects who had some degree of hearing loss were more than twice as likely to limit their activities to nearby local areas.

While a limited radius of activity isn’t innately negative, it can be linked to other health and quality of life risks. Limited mobility can be a contributing factor to social isolation, and play a role in anxiety and depression. A reduced sphere of mobility is a limit for access to resources and social events, and it can keep a person away from activities and pastimes they once enjoyed.

Hearing Loss and Isolation

Untreated hearing loss has effects that ripple throughout a person’s life. An example of this is how hearing loss can promote social isolation through negative feedback. When our ability to hear is compromised, the world is a harder place to navigate. Detecting the source of sounds and deciphering their meanings involves added time, effort and energy which can be frustrating and uncomfortable.

The discomfort brought on by hearing challenges can manifest as anxiety, and often gradually pushes people away from activities they once loved. Events like dinner parties or sports games can become more confusing than pleasurable. Difficulty hearing can make traveling harder and more exhausting. Public places like restaurants, shops and churches can easily be too noisy to distinguish relevant speech and sound from background noise. A common response to this discomfort is avoidance, but this avoidance simultaneously shrinks a person’s mobility and contracts their social sphere.

When hearing challenges are unaddressed it also creates barriers in personal relationships. When there is trouble hearing, people seldom feel they are being understood. Hearing loss can create misunderstanding and detachment even from close family and friends. Hearing loss can wither a person’s desire to use a telephone and in turn harm long-distance relationships and friendships that are maintained through phone calls.

All this contributes to a highly increased likelihood that a person with untreated hearing loss will be affected by social isolation. Isolation is a huge health concern for people, especially as they age. It can impede a person’s quality of life and their access to care and resources.

Hearing Loss and Quality of Life

When hearing loss is allowed to go unchecked, it diminishes overall quality of life.  Not only does hearing loss place additional challenges on mobility, it affects earning power, stress levels, mental acuity and physical health. Workers with untreated hearing loss earn less than their counterparts with normal hearing, and people with hearing loss have a higher unemployment rate. Additionally, hearing loss taxes our normal cognitive functioning producing extra stress and reducing our ability to perform other mental tasks. Cognitive strain often shortchanges functions like balance and coordination and leads to an increased risk of falling and household accidents.

When hearing loss is left untreated it detracts from our physical health. In addition to a greater risk of anxiety, depression and isolation, untreated hearing loss and dementia share a link, and heart health could be at risk as well. The best way to mitigate these quality of life and physical health factors is to address hearing loss when it happens. If you notice changes in your hearing, be sure to have it examined by a hearing specialist, and establish good habits with an annual hearing exam.

Hearing Consultants

While most hearing loss is permanent, there are ways to treat hearing loss that can help maintain confidence, mobility and connection with the world. Treating hearing loss with the latest hearing aid technology makes hearing easier and reduces the mental strain and anxiety that loud and unfamiliar settings can produce.

If you are looking for hearing solutions, Hearing Consultants can help. Our team of hearing specialists works with you to find the best hearing options for your lifestyle and helps you live a life without limits. Contact us today to get started on better hearing health.