Hearing Health

Health App Designed to Manage Tinnitus (Ringing in Ears)

If you suffer from ringing or buzzing in the ears or are seeking relief from bothersome noises around you, a phone app - Widex ZEN - might be your answer. Widex ZEN is a holistic approach that incorporates sound therapy, counseling and relaxation techniques to help manage Tinnitus or symptoms similar to those of Tinnitus. It can be used with earbuds or headphones, or with your Widex hearing aids (either with streaming capability or via a COM-DEX or UNI-DEX). It has shown to be effective in 80% of cases of Tinnitus.

Tinnitus (ti-NIGHT-us or TINN-a-tus) is also known as "ringing in the ears;" however, it can manifest as whistling, buzzing, hissing, roaring, swooshing, clicking, and many other sounds. Regardless of the sound, it can be extremely bothersome. It's also common. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately one in five people experience Tinnitus at some point in their lives. More than 90% of those experiencing Tinnitus also have hearing loss.

The Widex ZEN app consists of four components that can be tailored to your needs:

  1. Counseling - Provides you with relevant information to help you change the negative interpretation of Tinnitus

  2. Amplification - Used to stimulate the ears and brain to reduce the contrast between the surrounding sounds and the Tinnitus

  3. Fractal Tones - Designed to provide relaxation and reduce stress

  4. Relaxation - Exercises designed for relaxation and sleep management

Tinnitus management is one of the many services we offer. If you have Tinnitus or are experiencing ringing, buzzing or humming in your ears, call us for a complimentary consultation. We're happy to discuss Tinnitus management options with you.

NPR: Take Care of Your Eyes and Ears to Keep Your Brain Sharp

seniors-playing-games.jpg

We’ve published several blog posts discussing the relationship between the brain and ears. A recent story on NPR (National Public Radio) shared research findings that further link hearing (and sight) to cognitive functioning. Researchers tracked approximately 2,000 older adults in the U.S. both before and after they started using hearing aids. A series of tests were performed with participants every two years from 1996 to 2014. They found the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 75 percent following the adoption of hearing aids. The same study found that the rate of cognitive decline was slowed by 50 percent following cataract surgery. You can read the full article here. Our takeaway? We understand no one wants hearing aids, but it’s proven that hearing better improves your quality of life, both physically and mentally.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, read our July 2018 blog post, How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Your Mental Health. It provides more details about the relationship between the ears and the brain and how untreated hearing loss affects the brain’s ability to remember common everyday sounds.

National Audiology Awareness Month

How is your hearing? That’s the question the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) wants you to focus on this month.

The AAA established October as National Audiology Awareness Month to encourage people to remember how important your hearing is to your daily life, along with encouraging hearing screenings and hearing protection.

The statistics on hearing loss are shocking, with 36 million Americans suffering from some degree of hearing loss. Even more staggering is the average amount of time a person with hearing loss waits to seek treatment after noticing a problem - between seven to 10 years. In that time, hearing can not only worsen significantly, but can cause a variety of health and psychological problems, such as depression, social isolation and balance disorders.

Take this month to focus on your hearing. Schedule an appointment with an audiologist to get a hearing screening. If you notice signs of hearing loss in someone close to you, our most recent blog post focused on how to start that conversation.

How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Your Mental Health

SeniorsPlayingCards.jpg

It is widely known that hearing loss affects your quality of life. We've blogged in the past about how hearing loss is connected with depression, social isolation, balance disorders, and fatigue. What isn't as well known is that untreated hearing loss affects the brain's ability to remember common everyday sounds. When the hearing nerves lose their function and no longer send sounds to the brain, the brain "forgets" the sounds and is unable to understand them over time. The longer people wait to seek treatment, the more sounds will be unrecognizable once treatment is sought. 

Contrary to popular belief, we hear mostly with our brains, not our ears. There is a specific area of the brain (Wernicke's area) whose sole purpose is to decipher and make sense of the sound it receives from your ears. The brain stores sounds and noises for up to three years. On average, it takes people with hearing loss 10 years to seek treatment. Waiting this long means that even hearing aids may not be able to make the brain understand the noises it's hearing. The brain will have to learn these common everyday noises - like birds chirping and refrigerators humming - all over again. This is why we ask patients to be patient with their new hearing aids. Chances are, their brains are relearning how to hear. 

Not only will your brain have to learn the sounds again, but when your hearing diminishes, your brain stops getting the stimulation it needs to process information. A lack of stimulation causes deterioration. A Johns Hopkins study showed that people with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to suffer from dementia. Those with moderate hearing loss tripled their risk, and those with severe loss were five times more likely to suffer from dementia. Not only that, but 83% of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's have untreated hearing loss. 

These statistics are daunting, but the good news is that seeking treatment as early as possible can have a significant impact on your mental health. If you believe you're experiencing hearing loss or know someone who might be, please have them see an audiologist to get tested sooner rather than later. Although hearing loss is painless, it's still just as important as other health symptoms people experience and get checked out right away. 

Rock Stars and Hearing Loss: Why Hearing Protection is Important

We thought this would be a good follow up to our post last week about the increased rates of hearing loss among teens (now 1 in 5 teens reporting hearing loss), which most health experts attribute to wearing earbuds and headphones while listening to digital entertainment at loud volumes.

The hearing of many rock stars has been affected by years of live performances and time spent in recording studios. (In the teen blog post, we referenced how noise-induced hearing loss is very similar to sun damage; that is, you may not notice the results until it's too late.) These stars are now living with hearing loss, Tinnitus, Meniere's Disease, and more. We're sharing their stories in the hopes that parents and kids will pay close attention and realize the importance of hearing protection. 

 Photo Credit: The Sun

Photo Credit: The Sun

1. Chris Martin

The Coldplay lead singer suffers from Tinnitus, which he says, gives him excruciating headaches. He now wears ear plugs to help prevent it from worsening. 

2. Brian johnson

The lead singer of the rock group AC/DC was told in 2016 by his doctors that he risked total hearing loss if he continued to tour and perform with the band.

Brian Johnson.jpg
neil-young.jpg

3. Neil Young

The legendary songwriter and musician claims that his album, "Weld," really damaged his hearing in the early 90s. He also states that he recorded "Harvest Moon" because he wanted to avoid loud music at the time. He suffers from Tinnitus.

4. Sting

Music legend Sting suffers from hearing loss and openly discusses living with it. In an interview with SiriusXM, he stated, "I'm fairly deaf. 'What?' is my favorite word." He has also previously advocated for conscious hearing and safe listening practices as an ambassador for the Hear the World Foundation.

Sting.jpg
 Photo Credit: Rolling Stone

Photo Credit: Rolling Stone

5. Ryan Adams

Rocker Ryan Adams (and ex-husband of "This Is Us" star Mandy Moore) has suffered for years from Tinnitus and Meniere's Disease. He often shares his experiences online and acts as an advocate for those with Meniere's. He took time off from playing music around 2009 to deal with the disorders. 

6. Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis accounted on April 19 that he is canceling his upcoming 2018 tour due to hearing loss, saying hearing himself sing during performances is difficult. 

Huey Lewis.jpg

7. Eric Clapton

The legendary guitar player announced this year that he's losing his hearing and struggles with Tinnitus, but promises to keep playing as long as he can.

8. Pete Townshend

The Who has been called one of the world's loudest bands. Its guitarist, Pete Townshend, has a severe case of hearing loss. He stated, “I have severe hearing damage. It’s manifested itself as tinnitus, ringing in the ears at frequencies that I play guitar. It hurts, it’s painful, and it’s frustrating. My right ear, which encounters my own edgy guitar and the machine gun strokes of the drums, has suffered badly. Luckily for me, I still have my left ear, which seems to be less messed up. When I’ve worked solo in the past five years, I’ve not used drums. This has meant I could play more quietly I think. With The Who, there is, of course, no way to play the old songs without drums. I’ve no idea what I can do about this. I am unable to perform with in-ear monitors. In fact, they increase the often unbearable tinnitus I suffer after shows.”

9. Ozzy Osbourne

The Black Sabbath front man and reality show star has suffered significant hearing loss due to his heavy metal and 'alternative' lifestyles. 

10. Grimes

The 30-year-old indie pop rocker canceled her entire European tour in 2012 due to a case of Tinnitus. Regarding this cancellation, she tweeted, “It’s depressing to cancel more shows, but we have to cancel all Grimes dates in Europe due to health issues  im having hearing problems and im supposed to limit my exposure to loud noise for as long as possible.”


We encourage the younger generation to take preventative measures to preserve hearing, as hearing damage is irreversible. Here are some tips to help reduce noise-induced hearing loss

Please contact us for hearing evaluations or to find out more about hearing protection devices. 

For musicians, we offer offer custom-molded in-ear monitors fitted into medical-grade silicone ear molds, as well as universal fit monitors. You can find out more about these here

What Can Our Hearing Tell About Our Hearts?

HeartHealth.jpg

February is American Heart Month, and we'd like to take a moment to discuss the link between cardiovascular health and hearing health. As it turns out, our ears may actually be listening to our hearts.

Research suggests hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease, especially in seemingly healthy middle-aged people. An analysis of 84 years of work from scientists worldwide confirmed a direct link between cardiovascular health and the ability to hear. This occurs because our auditory system is dependent on an oxygen-rich blood flow, which can be restricted if cardiovascular health issues are present.

David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, suggests that patients with low-frequency hearing loss, particularly those who are middle-aged, should seek appropriate cardiology referrals. He states, “The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”

The link between hearing health and cardiovascular health is strong. As we know, hearing loss is often accompanied by other health conditions, so this particular link is no surprise. Are ears the windows to our overall health? What do you think?

The full article referenced above can be found on the Better Hearing Institute's website by clicking here

For more information about American Heart Month and cardiovascular health, visit the American Heart Association's website

If you or someone you know are concerned about your hearing, feel free to contact us or take our hearing questionnaire