Hearing Aids

September is Healthy Aging Month

people-3818490_1920.jpg

The month of September is Healthy Aging Month. This is a great time to be thinking about some practices and habits you can implement in your life to help your health in the long run. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Pick up a new exercise or physical activity. Exercises like yoga and swimming are relaxing, low-impact, and fun. Plus you’ll relieve stress and release endorphins, both of which are great for your mental health.

  • Get regular checkups for your hearing and more. Wearing hearing aids, should you need them, can help reduce the risk of falls, reduce the risk of depression, ward off mental decline and conditions like dementia, and keep you socially active. Sign up for your complimentary hearing screening with Hearing Health here. Don’t forget about regular dental, physical, and eyesight checkups as well.

  • Meet more people, more often. An attributing factor to living a longer, happier life is your social life. Volunteer, join clubs, take a class on a subject you’re interested in, or take someone you already know out for lunch/dinner.

  • Be positive. This is the most important tip on this list! Always strive to think positive and take positive actions and steps in your life. In the long run, you will live happier, healthier, and longer because of it.

Have any other tips? Share them with us on Facebook.

Hearing Aids Could Improve Long-Term Brain Function

couple-daylight-elderly-1589865.jpg

We’ve discussed before how hearing loss can negatively affect your health as you age. A recently released study suggests there is a way to combat this. The study revealed that wearing a hearing aid to combat age-related hearing loss could help people improve their brain function long term. 

Researcher Dr. Anne Corbett said, “previous research has shown that hearing loss is linked to a loss of brain function, memory, and an increased risk of dementia. Our work is one of the largest studies to look at the impact of wearing a hearing aid, and suggests that wearing a hearing aid could actually protect the brain.” 

Other recent studies have explored how dangerous hearing loss can be to people’s overall health and wellbeing, as well as how prevalent age-related hearing loss is.

“Old age greatly increases the risk for hearing loss,” said Dr. Vegard Skirbekk, Columbia Aging Center faculty member and professor of population and family health at the Mailman University School of Public Health. “As the population ages, we are seeing increasing numbers of people with hearing loss.”

Come see us for a complimentary consultation. We can help determine the best treatment and course of action for your hearing needs.

Read more here: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/hearing-aids-could-help-improve-brain-function-in-later-life-071619.html

Your Back-to-School Hearing Health Checklist

back-to-school-conceptual-cube-207658.jpg

With back-to-school season heading your direction, we’re sure you have gathered many lists of supplies, like notebooks, pencils, and crayons that your child needs for school. While those are important for your child to learn their best, it’s also important that you consider what your child may need to either prevent hearing loss or help if they are already experiencing it.

Here is a quick list of some hearing health supplies for your child’s return to school:

  1. Written instructions/notebook with important information. If your child is already experiencing some hearing loss, wears a cochlear implant, or has a hearing aid, it can be vital to provide teachers and faculty/administrators with instructions on how your child’s device works and what to do in case it stops working. You can also provide instructions for ways to communicate with your child in case of emergencies – especially if you aren’t able to reach the school in time – or request specific seating for your child in the classroom.

  2. Hearing aid/cochlear implant accessories. Provide your child’s teacher with extra batteries, a dry kit, and cord clips for your child’s device, as well as instructions on how these items work. This will ensure there is already a backup plan in case anything happens to your child’s device during the school day.

  3. Noise cancelling headphones. To prevent hearing loss, you should discuss noise and music level with your child before they use their music devices. However, you can also make sure they wear noise cancelling headphones, instead of earbuds, in order to protect their hearing from elevated conversations and road noise while riding the bus. Your child can also wear these in other scenarios, like recess or music class if the environment is too loud.

  4. Hearing protection for sports. If your child is at the age to participate in contact sports or recess outside, you may want to get them ear protection for those times. A strong blow to the ear from a ball, hand, or other object can cause permanent damage to their ear drum and, ultimately, hearing loss. Wearing the proper protection can help prevent this from happening. If your child also participates in swimming during school hours, consider swimming ear plugs.

Be sure to speak with your child’s teachers often to ensure their devices have been working properly in the classroom and to make sure they’re in the best learning environment with respect to their hearing health.

Click here for more information on protecting your child’s hearing and here for signs of childhood hearing loss. If you believe your child may be experiencing hearing loss, sign your child up for a free hearing screening.

Top Five Hearing Health Blog Posts of 2018

Each month, our blog focuses on the latest research, technologies, and other important industry findings that we capture and share. With 2019 just around the corner, here are our top five most popular blog posts of 2018 for a quick year-at-a-glance. 


BoseSleepbuds.jpg

#1. Bose’s New Sleepbuds Touted for Tinnitus

Bose markets the new sound-masking sleepbuds to everyone who has trouble falling or staying asleep due to unwanted noises like snoring and traffic. But, these sleep aids have also gained attention for another reason: providing help for those with Tinnitus.


#2: Rock Stars and Hearing Loss

Our second most popular post was featured in April 2018 and discusses the importance of wearing ear protection to help prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

Sting.jpg

InnerEarHairCells.jpg

#3: First In-Human Safety Study for Hearing Restoration

The loss of inner ear hair cells is the most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. One company successfully completed the first-in-human study of FX-322, a Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA™) regenerative medicine aimed at creating new inner ear hair cells in the cochlea.


#4: How Untreated hearing loss affects Mental Health

This July 2018 post discusses how untreated hearing loss affects your brain’s ability to remember common everyday sounds.

SeniorsPlayingCards.jpg

hearing-aids.jpg

#5: Six Facts About Hearing Aids

Our fifth most popular blog post of 2018 focuses on the myths and misperceptions of hearing aids.


If you are interested in receiving highlights of our featured blog posts each month, please complete the form below to be added to our eNewsletter list. 

Name *
Name

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.

How To Start A Conversation About Hearing Loss

Talking To Parents About Hearing Loss.jpg

Hearing loss is frustrating on all accounts. It can be annoying to have to consistently repeat yourself; and, it’s also frustrating to be the one asking for the repeat. As a friend or family member of someone suffering from hearing loss, you probably find yourself wanting to blurt out, “you need hearing aids!” But, because this is such a sensitive topic, it’s better to take the sensitive approach.

Here are a few ways to start that conversation.

  1. Approach the person in a private setting. A group setting will most likely lead to embarrassment, which could have adverse effects on the conversation.

  2. Start by asking if they’ve noticed signs of hearing loss. Feel free to review our questionnaire with them. They may be relieved to have someone to talk to. If they deny there is an issue, (gently) provide examples of situations you’ve noticed that caused you concern.

  3. Explain that hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, balance disorders, and even dementia. Also, explain that hearing loss is often irreversible, and the longer you wait, the more damage that is done.

  4. Do your research beforehand, and present one or two options for audiologists in their area. Explain that the first step is just a hearing test.

  5. Help them understand what to expect during the first visit with the audiologist.

  6. End on a positive and encouraging note! Discuss how improved hearing will impact their life.

6 Facts About Hearing Aids

alta color group.jpg

We know you've heard of hearing aids (no pun intended). But, there are a few myths and misperceptions we'd like to address. We've narrowed down our list to six of the most common comments, questions, and concerns we receive in our office.

1. Hearing Aids Are Not Just For The Elderly

It's true: age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss. But, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), of the 466 million people worldwide who suffer from hearing loss, it is estimated that 34 million of these are children (7%). It also estimates that 1.1 billion young people (between 12–35 years old) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings. In fact, we blogged earlier this summer about how hearing loss is on the rise among teens. 

2. Hearing Aids Do Not Cure Hearing Loss

Hearing aids will improve your quality of life by helping you hear life's special moments and feel more connected to the world, but they will not cure your hearing loss. Hearing aids treat hearing loss, though; in fact, more than 95% of hearing loss cases can be treated with today's hearing technologies. 

3. You May Need Hearing Aids Even With A Mild Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss, even mild, 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. Of course, your audiologist will help you determine if hearing aids are the proper treatment.

4. Hearing Aids Won't Affect Your Lifestyle

Today's hearing technologies are suitable for all lifestyles. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, there are bluetooth-compatible hearing aids that pair with your phone, so you can hear conversations, music and other sounds from your phone directly in your ears. Do you work out and sweat frequently? There are now water resistant hearing aids. Are you often in the company of large groups of people? Hearing aids with multi-directional microphones will help you hear conversations taking place in front of, to the side of, and behind you. 

5. You Should Not Purchase Hearing Aids Online

In order to maximize the potential of your hearing aids and ensure a proper fit, there is customization required from your audiologist. You'll more than likely have questions, which your audiologist can answer, as well. Sure, you may be able to find less expensive hearing aids online, but you won't receive the care and personal attention your hearing deserves.

6. Today's Hearing Aids Are Virtually Invisible

We understand the concerns people have with wanting to keep hearing aids concealed, especially  those who are younger. Unfortunately, hearing aids aren't yet as widely accepted as glasses. But, today's hearing aid technologies are virtually invisible. They come in multiple colors to match your hair or skin type. There are even tiny hearing aids that fit in your ear canal. The different fits have pros and cons, so an audiologist will help you determine which fit works best for you. 

If you have questions or would like to learn more about hearing aid technologies, please feel free to give us a call.

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. 

New Research Uses Brainwaves To Test Understanding of Speech

UnderstandingSpeech.jpg

Researchers are aiming to change the way we measure a person's ability to understand speech. Yes, hearing aids help you hear better. But, often speech gets lost in translation. Hearing someone talk (from another room, for example) and understanding what they're saying are two different things. That's because hearing requires more than just your ears. Your brain actually plays a large part, as well. Our blog post on one manufacturer's BrainHearing™ technology discusses this more in depth.

A new technique developed by researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium, in collaboration with the University of Maryland, involves using an EEG brain cap with 64 electrodes to measure a person's brainwaves while they listen to speech. It shows not only whether a person has heard a particular sound, but whether they've understood it.

EEG caps are already used to measure hearing, especially in newborns. But, the current test just measures whether the sound was heard. Instead of just tonal sounds or individual words (such as the ones you repeat during a hearing test), the new test measures brain waves of someone listening to a sentence and how well they actually understood what they heard.

Although it's currently in a demo state, this new test has some beneficial implications as to how well we will be able to measure the hearing and understanding of speech in the future. It could lead to better diagnoses in patients with speech comprehension issues, and more accurate hearing aid fittings. Imagine not only hearing better, but being able to understand everything that is said! Because the patient does not need to be awake or alert for the test, it also could mean better understanding for people in comas or for those who cannot communicate verbally. 

Exciting things are on the horizon in the field of audiology. We'll do our best to keep you up to date with the most recent research, trends and news.

 

World Hearing Day on March 3

Did You Know...

  • 360 million people live with disabling hearing loss
  • >1 billion young people (12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational exposure to loud sounds
  • 750 billion is the overall cost of unaddressing hearing loss globally
Click the image to visit the World Health Organization's website.

Click the image to visit the World Health Organization's website.

World Hearing Day is a good time to think about YOUR hearing. Contact us if you have questions or concerns related to hearing loss, hearing aids, or hearing protection.