Noise induced hearing loss is prevalent in our society, affecting tens of millions of Americans. Exposure to loud noises either very loud all at once, or moderately loud over a long period of time, can cause a characteristic noise related hearing loss. Over long period of time we can actually have quite severe hearing loss at numerous frequencies. However, a sudden noise induced hearing drop will often present a decline at 4000 Hz and 6000 Hz.
This study was published in JAMA Open Access last month and is one of the largest rigorous population based studies on the topic. This research comes on the heels of other mounting evidence that hearing loss can worsen or promote dementia.
A recent study of over 16,000 adults found that hearing loss was positively correlated to the development of dementia in adults. The 45-64 year age group was the most strongly impacted showing a more than DOUBLE RISK of dementia if there was significant untreated hearing decline noted. The study took great care to account for differences in gender, normal age changes, and socioeconomic level.
What does this mean? It is becoming clear that hearing screening should occur at earlier ages, that hearing complaints should be taken more seriously by healthcare gatekeepers (primary care) and that more aggressive auditory rehabilitation is indicated.
The mechanisms of cognitive decline and hearing change are not well understood. In a simplistic form, we use a hearing test called “word discrimination” that we know seems to worsen with cognitive decline and can radpily decline when the ears are not being stimulated. In other words, if we are not hearing well we are not stimulating parts of our brain, and our brain cells do poorly when not stimulated – ‘USE IT OR LOSE IT’.
Our audiologists and associated physicians are all up-to-speed on cognitive risks of early hearing loss and untreated hearing loss. Middle-aged professionals will notice loss early as their daily communication is impacted, finding increased distractibility (reduced focus) at work. This can cause secondary stress.
There’s new hope for tinnitus relief
Tinnitus (“TIN-a-tus” or “Tin-EYE-tus”) is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head when no external sound is present. In most cases, tinnitus is a subjective noise, meaning only the sufferer can hear it. Typically, sufferers describe the sound as “ringing in ears,” though others describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping.
The affects of tinnitus are real
Because tinnitus is subjective, it affects people in different ways. For some, it’s a minor annoyance that does not require help or treatment. For others, it can cause a host of serious issues, including:
- Long-term sleep disruption
- Changes in cognitive ability
- An inability to concentrate (e.g. completing tasks or reading)
- Stress in relationships
- Anxiety and depression
- Employment challenges
There is no cure for tinnitus…
Currently, there is no known tinnitus cure. No pill or surgery has been shown to eliminate tinnitus in any scientific or clinically accepted study.
…but there is relief
According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), there are ways to get tinnitus relief. One of the most effective ways is sound therapy, which uses sound to make tinnitus less noticeable and take the person’s mind off it.
Amplification from hearing aids is one component of sound therapy that has been shown to provide relief. A new Tinnitus Treatment Solution from Starkey Hearing Technologies is another well-regarded sound therapy device designed to bring personalized relief to tinnitus sufferers.
The ATA recommends that anyone with tinnitus should see an audiologist or ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) experienced in tinnitus treatment.
Are you a candidate for relief?
Advanced Hearing Centers and Advanced Ear Nose & Throat Associates has experience helping people with tinnitus, and are trained in the sound therapy treatments discussed above. If you, a friend or a family member experience tinnitus, see if you’re a candidate for relief by submitting your information on our Contact Us page today.
Hearing loss and employment success
Recently, the non-profit Better Hearing Institute took a close look at the impact untreated hearing loss has on the workplace — and its workforce. What they discovered was intriguing. Untreated hearing loss affected worker’s earnings, and even employment rates.
- People with untreated hearing loss lose up to $30,000 income annually, depending on their degree of loss.
- People with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as peers who use them.
- For people with milder hearing loss, the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent.
Make sure you’re working at the level you want to be.
Advanced Hearing Centers helps individuals with hearing loss difficulties. If you feel that you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss, we encourage you to take the first step to better hearing and make an appointment for a free consultation today. Simply go to our Contact Us page and submit your information and we will be in touch within one business day.
*The dollars and sense of addressing hearing loss in the workplace. McClatchy Newspapers, June 2012
Hearing Loss and the Holidays
During this busy time of year families tend to get together and sometimes it is a frustrating time for the hearing impaired. Lots of people talking all at once, dishes either being prepared or eaten, small children’s voices, the football bowl games blaring at a loud level and so on.
What is this like when you have hearing loss? Unfortunately many hearing impaired individuals tend to withdraw and sit in the corner while the rest of the family enjoys all the activity. They don’t want to ask everyone to repeat everything, they miss part of the words and are frustrated that they can’t follow the topic so it’s just easier for them to sit silently.
How can we help our family members to enjoy these special family gatherings? Some strategies to try:
- When starting a new dialogue with the person make sure you say their name and make sure they look at you and realize you are about to say something to them.
- Try to always look at them, don’t turn your back during the conversation even though you are busy doing numerous activities.
- Minimize the TV volume, water running, pots being banged when trying to communicate with each other.
- Don’t try to talk to them from another room or while walking away. Our houses have changed over the years and while aesthetically we may prefer the high ceilings, the walls of windows, the open rooms, the hard flooring and lack of drapes we have made it a more difficult situation for our hearing impaired family. With the changes in our environment we have made it harder for the acoustics to be optimal.
Another consideration is that we hear with our ears but we process sound in our brain. This ability to process quickly and correctly tends to slow with age and more so when a hearing loss has been left untreated for any period of time. Sometimes our loved one needs just a second or two longer before they respond to a question. If they don’t understand what was said it is sometimes better to rephrase the sentence instead of just repeating it louder.
If your family member wears hearing aids, remember-Hearing Aids are not cures, they are aids. Your family member may still have difficulty in certain situations and with certain voices. Be patient, don’t belittle them or leave them out of the activities. Hearing Aids also are not one size/programming fits all. Make sure to follow up with your audiologist and give them specific examples of situations where you experience difficulties.
Most of all, enjoy your time together and make lots of good memories.
-Dr. Lyn Rushton
Utilize Games to Sharpen Your Hearing
When hearing loss occurs, the brain loses its ability to interpret sounds. In addition to reduced ability to detect sound, hearing loss damages your ability to process many aspects of the auditory world. You may find it more difficult to filter out background noise, locate a sound source, or remember a verbal sequence of information.
While hearing aids can restore the world of sound to those who have suffered from hearing loss they cannot restore these lost auditory perceptual skills. Fortunately, the patient can bring back those skills through practice.
Research indicates that participation in an auditory training program during the initial weeks of wearing new hearing aids significantly increases the wearers’ perception of benefit, and overall satisfaction,.
Hear Coach is a suite of listening games developed by Starkey Hearing Technologies designed to help hearing aid wearers sharpen their listening and hearing skills. Available for the iPad, iPhone and Android systems, it features games that challenge both your cognitive and auditory sharpness.
Hear Coach allows you to track your progress over time and unlock more difficult levels as your performance improves. A different background noise stimulus within each of the levels provides you with varying degrees of difficulty to help you train your auditory system in different environments. This app is designed to help people who think they might have a hearing loss, people who have new hearing aids, and even experienced hearing aid users who want to get the most out of their listening.
If you are experiencing hearing difficulties, be sure to call Lyn or Alan today at Advanced Hearing Centers (404) 924-4510 today for a complimentary hearing screen and Hear Coach demonstration.
How a Hearing Aid Works
In its simplest form, a hearing aid is an amplifier that makes sound louder. Today’s hearing aids do much more than that, but they wouldn’t help much if they didn’t amplify. Let’s take a look at basic elements that make amplification possible.
A microphone converts sound into an electrical digital signal.
An amplifier increases the strength of that signal.
A speaker/receiver converts the amplified signal back into sound and sends it to the inner ear. The brain “hears” and understands the sounds.
Hearing aids require power to amplify sound. An inexpensive and convenient source is a battery. Hearing aid batteries come in five sizes, which are based on the style and size of the hearing aid.
Of course, hearing aids do much more than just amplify sound. They also improve hearing in difficult situations with advanced technology features like feedback elimination and the ability to hear better on the phone. Wireless hearing aids also allow you to wirelessly connect to your favorite devices like TVs, music, phones and more
To learn more about different hearing aid options, contact Kim at Advanced Hearing Centers’ front desk, (404) 943-900 today.
Title: How Untreated Hearing Loss Impacts the Workplace
Recently, the non-profit Better Hearing Institute (BHI) took a close look at the impact untreated hearing loss has on the workplace — and its workforce. What they discovered was fascinating, showing that untreated hearing loss not only cost companies money (in terms of lost productivity, accidents and more), but also affected workers’ earnings, and even employment rates.
- The majority of people with hearing loss are still in the workforce
- People with untreated hearing loss can lose up to $30,000 income annually, depending on their degree of loss
- The aggregate yearly loss in income due to underemployment for people with untreated hearing loss is an estimated $176 billion
- Fiscal cost to society in unrealized federal taxes is an estimated $26 billion
Luckily hearing loss is largely manageable if addressed properly. The BHI study found that the use of hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss dramatically—by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate loss. The study also found that people with severe hearing loss who use hearing aids are nearly twice as likely to be employed as their peers who don’t.
If you think hearing loss may be affecting your ability at work, get help today. At Advanced Hearing Centers Atlanta, our physicians and audiologists we offer quick and free hearing consultations and can help you find the hearing aid that’s right for you.
Ten Important Questions to Ask Before Buying a Hearing Aid
Selecting your first hearing aid can be a stressful experience. With so many options, brands and styles available, it can be easy for a first-time hearing aid buyer to get overwhelmed. Audiologists and certified hearing specialists can not only diagnose your degree of hearing loss, but also guide you through the process for selecting the best hearing aid to match your specific needs.
During your hearing consultation, consider asking some of the following questions about your new hearing aids:
- Will hearing instruments actually improve my ability to hear?
- If I only have hearing loss in one ear, why should I wear two hearing aids?
- Which hearing aid style will be best for my hearing loss?
- Which digital features are indicated for my lifestyle needs?
- What are the benefits of hearing aid features—such as directional microphones, number of microphones, automatic volume and others?
- Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? (Most manufacturers allow a 30- to 60-day trial period during which aids can be returned for a refund.)
- What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
- How long is the warranty? Can it be extended? Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
- Can the audiologist make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs? Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
- How many memories do the hearing aids have? How many listening situations do I encounter?
Title: Early Hearing Detection Can Prevent Serious Impact in Learning
Hearing is a critical component of language development, communication, learning and social skills. In the United States more children are born with hearing loss than any other congenital health issue. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, various studies estimate that between one to six per 1,000 newborns are born with hearing loss. 90 percent of the children are born to hearing parents who have no experience raising a child with hearing loss.
There are several ways in which hearing loss affects children’s ability to learn. Vocabulary develops more slowly in children who have hearing loss. Children with hearing loss have difficulty understanding words with multiple meanings and have difficult learning the meaning to more complex words.
Hearing loss also affects children’s ability to speak. Children with hearing loss may not hear their own voices when they speak and may speak too loudly or not loud enough.
Children with hearing loss have difficulty with all areas of academic achievement, especially reading and mathematical concepts. In fact, a recent study indicated that children with mild to moderate hearing losses, on average, rank one to four grade levels lower than their peers with normal hearing.
The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious the effects on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the problem is identified and intervention is begun, the less serious the ultimate impact. If you have any concern about your child’s ability to hear, don’t hesitate to contact Advanced Hearing Centers, (404) 943-900 for a free consultation.