Posted on Leave a comment

Is There A Connection Between Hearing Health And Heart Health? Yes!

You may have heard the phrase, “Nothing happens in a vacuum,” before. But have you heard the entire quote? In full, the quote from Khaled Hosseini says, “Nothing happens in a vacuum in life: every action has a series of consequences, and sometimes it takes a long time to fully understand the consequences of our actions.” This thought applies to just about every action and choice in life—where you decide to go to school, who you choose as your friends, who you choose as your partner, and what you do at work every day.

However, have you ever applied this idea to your health? It remains true even there. Every part of your body and its health affects the rest of your body and your overall health. For example, if you injure your knee, you might not be able to run or cycle for a period of time. Without regular cardio exercise, you might gain weight. If it goes on long enough, this may even cause a decline in your cardiovascular health. In addition, if you favor one leg due to the injury, the other may develop additional strength to compensate for the weakness. A knee injury affects much more than only your knee.

All of that seems pretty easy to understand. What about when the link seems a little more complicated? At first glance, that may be the case when you hear that heart health and hearing health are connected. How could your heart affect how well you hear?

According to the latest research, it may all come down to blood flow. If your arteries are stiffened or narrowed (a condition called arteriosclerosis) due to high cholesterol, your blood flow will be constricted. High blood pressure (hypertension) can also damage blood vessels. Your hearing health also depends on blood flow. The delicate hair cells in the cochlea play an essential role in translating the noises your ears collect into electrical impulses that your brain can interpret as recognizable sounds. These hair cells depend on good circulation. Poor circulation can deprive these hair cells of the necessary oxygen, which leads to damage or destruction. Since these hair cells do not regenerate, the hearing damage is permanent.

Studies have confirmed that cardiovascular health is connected to hearing health. A study published in 2010 followed participants for 60 years. The findings showed that impaired cardiovascular health negatively impacts both the central and peripheral auditory systems, especially in older adults. Another analysis, published in 2017, found that cardiovascular disease and its risk factors (like high blood pressure) are associated with an increased risk of hearing loss.

Fortunately, studies have found some good news, too. Although sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, you may be able to preserve your remaining hearing through exercise, which can improve your cardiovascular health. A 2009 study conducted at Miami University discovered that participants with higher cardiovascular fitness levels (assessed by riding a stationary bicycle) had better hearing, particularly among those 50 and older. In 2017, a larger study found that people who were more physically active showed lower triglyceride levels. Since high triglyceride levels are associated with hearing loss, this is good news for those participants’ hearing health.

So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your hearing health is only affected by noise levels or other factors that may seem obvious. The truth is that your heart health impacts your hearing health, too. Adopting an exercise routine could improve both! To learn more about how you can protect your hearing health as well as your cardiovascular health, and for more information about how the two are connected, we invite you to contact our hearing practice today.2021-03-18 16:20:51

Posted on Leave a comment

Face Coverings Highlight Hearing Loss

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all a new accessory to wear out in public: the face mask. Some people see the face mask as simply a tool to help prevent the spread of the virus. Others see it as a fashionable accessory that can be personalized to their tastes. And for some people, wearing a face covering has made hearing problems more obvious.

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. However, people with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before seeking professional help. Many of these people use lip and speech reading to help them understand any words or phrases they could not hear well. They could also use facial expressions and cues to pick up on the overall message of the speaker. In short, these people with hearing loss would adapt as best they could until the problem became severe enough that they had no other option than to seek help.

In the age of COVID, however, people living with hearing loss can no longer rely on lip and speech reading or visual cues; these are all hidden by face coverings. Even transparent face masks can pose some degree of difficulty for those who read lips. In addition, wearing a face mask tends to muffle the volume of sound and affect the pitch range of speech, making it even more difficult for someone with hearing loss to understand what is being said.

While those with mild to moderate hearing loss could have hidden or ignored their condition for a period of time prior to COVID, in today’s environment, they can no longer “get by” with adaptations. Audiologists around the world have seen an increase in patient visits as people with hearing loss come to the realization that they must seek help in order to function in a world where everyone wears a face mask.

Even people who have previously sought professional help and now use hearing aids have found that they need additional help at this time. Hearing aid professionals have noted that many people who use hearing aids have come in for adjustments so they can better hear and understand people who speak while wearing a face mask. While they may have previously thought that their hearing aids worked well enough, the challenges posed by face masks have highlighted areas for improvement.

If you suspect that you may have hearing loss, or if you have noticed increasing difficulty in understanding speech when people are wearing face masks, we encourage you to visit your hearing healthcare professional. A simple hearing evaluation can determine whether you have hearing loss, and your hearing professional can recommend the treatment that is best for your specific needs and preferences.

If you already use hearing aids and still experience difficulty hearing while using a face mask, you can also benefit from speaking with a hearing aid professional. To learn more about how we can help you hear better, we invite you to contact our office today.2021-03-08 15:10:41

Posted on Leave a comment

Are Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Worth the Cost Savings?

In an effort to make hearing aids more accessible and cost-effective for people with self-perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, the FDA has created a new category for hearing devices called over-the-counter hearing aids (OTC HAs). This new class of products, also known as personal sound amplification devices (PSAPs), are available without a prescription or a visit to any medical professional.

We know that many people refuse to seek help for their hearing loss, causing major detrimental effects to their quality of life. Making hearing aids an OTC product may seem like a good solution: more availability, more marketing about hearing loss, and potential for cost savings. While those features can have a positive effect on getting more people to address their hearing loss, the non-prescription hearing aids themselves may have the opposite effect.

If used incorrectly, which is a high risk with OTC hearing aids, the potential to fail at improving hearing loss or improving it enough to satisfy the consumer exists. Consequently, this failure may leave individuals with a bad impression of hearing aids and prevent buyers from seeking hearing loss help from a professional. Consumers may now be empowered, but is that power to choose really beneficial to their hearing health and quality of life?

OTC hearings aids are not a catch all solution

Hearing loss is most often progressive

Although your hearing loss may begin as mild, it is not likely to stay that way. And remember that idea of self-perception of mild-to-moderate hearing loss? There is very little scientific evidence showing people are able to accurately calculate their degree of hearing loss. Therefore, individuals are at risk for choosing the improper PSAP device and not gaining the appropriate benefit.

OTC hearing aids are not for everyone

Although OTC hearing aids may be an appropriate solution for people with mild hearing loss, visiting with an audiologist will still be the best option for most people. Hearing does not work like eyesight. Eyeglasses have a unique prescription and help you see clearly immediately upon wearing them.

Hearing loss is not that straightforward. People sometimes wait years to seek help for hearing loss simply because we don’t know what we can’t hear. During this time hearing slowly declines. Multiple trips to the audiologist are needed for reassessment and fine tuning of your hearing aids as you acclimate to amplification and your hearing needs change over time.

Hearing loss needs to be treated

Many people look at hearing aids as a product they buy and put in their ear. This line of thinking switches people’s brains into consumer mode instead of patients with hearing loss. This consumer-vision leads to shopping around and being highly influenced by cost. This is great when purchasing your next refrigerator or television or stereo. But what if your future hearing is at stake?

Simply, you need an audiologist. When selecting and fitting their own OTC devices, consumers have not had a hearing exam by a professional. Audiologists are doctoral-level professionals who provide expertise to patients in a number of areas, such as:

  • Providing a baseline of hearing to help track future hearing loss
  • Diagnosing the type of hearing loss
  • Diagnosing the degree of hearing loss
  • Determining a person’s candidacy for hearing aids
  • Identifying medically correctable hearing loss
  • Identifying indicators of medical disorders that may require physician follow-up
  • Identifying the right hearing aid device
  • Optimizing the hearing aid fit
  • Programming the hearing aids correctly
  • Offering counsel on expectations and answering questions
  • Discussing other assistive listening devices
  • Providing follow-up visits to maintain optimal device performance
  • Tracking hearing loss and adjusting treatment plans accordingly

Though hearing aid companies offer options that could be equally appropriate for many people, it’s these professional areas of expertise that make all the difference when it comes to your hearing. If you are not a dentist and have tooth decay, do you perform your own dental work? Can you perform your own eye exams and order lenses when you need vision correction? Why would your sense of hearing be treated differently?

Quality of life versus cost: keep it stress-free

OTC hearing aids are being portrayed as equivalent to prescription hearing aids, but at a cheaper cost. This only addresses the money aspect of hearing assistive devices. Today’s state of the art hearing aid technology accounts for so much more than just sound amplification. Prescription hearing aids account for your entire lifestyle. Just some of the emerging and already available technology includes:

These advanced devices are made with technology improve your day-to-day quality of life, not just your hearing, meaning you don’t have to worry about them. Your hearing aids also come with a hearing aid professional that can answer questions, adjust fit, programming, monitoring and more.

You don’t have to tailor your life to your hearing aids. They are tailored for you, made to fade into the background of your life while bringing the best of your life forward. It’s a matter of quality of life over cost. Playing with your hearing health isn’t a bargain.

What if the cost is the only bar to getting hearing aids?

In a recent study by Indiana University, OTC hearing aids were found to help older adults with hearing loss. However, the participants who received professional help with fit and instruction had a better outcome. The study compared outcomes among three groups of patients:

  • A group that received a hearing aid that included the services of an audiologist
  • A group that followed an over-the-counter process, choosing a preprogrammed hearing aid (unknowingly to them, they received the same high-end digital pair as the first group, but without a fitting)
  • A control group that received a professional fitting for a placebo hearing aid that had no amplification

The results showed the OTC group to be less satisfied with their devices and less likely to purchase them after the study concluded. A little over half the OTC participants were likely to purchase the hearing aids after the trial versus 81 percent in the audiologist group. However, satisfaction increased greatly for participants in the OTC group who opted to see an audiologist for a four-week follow-up period after the main trial. More of them also chose to purchase their hearing aids after the four weeks even though they initially said they would not purchase them.

The health community would rather see people with mild hearing loss using OTC devices than nothing at all. However, this study helps prove that they are not a replacement for the expertise of an audiologist.

When you first see those OTC hearing aids and wonder if they’re worth it, don’t let your wallet, or self-perception, determine your hearing needs.2020-05-16 14:53:42

Posted on Leave a comment

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hearing Aid Batteries

Today’s advanced hearing aids are miniature miracles, offering a host of features designed to not only enhance your hearing experience, but also enhance your lifestyle. Modern hearing aids can be personalized just for you.

Tiny batteries keep these small wonders working, and the choice of battery may be just as important to lifestyle as your choice of hearing aid. There are a number of hearing aid batteries to choose from, but just two main types – rechargeable and disposable. We’ll compare the pros and cons of both, how long hearing aid batteries last, how to extend battery life and how to care for your batteries.

Rechargeable batteries

Currently, rechargeable batteries are only available for behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aids. These batteries are best recharged at night when you take out your hearing aids to sleep.

Advantages include a long shelf life and long charge time. Lithium-ion batteries last up to 5 years and can hold a charge up to 30 hours. Rechargeable batteries pose less risk to small children and pets, who have a habit of putting all manner of objects in their mouths, including small disposable button batteries.

If dexterity is an issue, rechargeable batteries may be for you. Disposable button batteries are smaller than a dime and easy to fumble even with the finest of motor skills, much less actually place in the hearing aid properly.

Rechargeable batteries do have a few disadvantages, such as slightly increased cost, a required charging unit, and no control over the battery life, requiring a trip to your audiologist for replacement or any other issues.

Disposable batteries

There are various disposable batteries available, which are all zinc-air button batteries. These “button batteries” are activated by interaction with oxygen, so they remain inactive until you peel off a sticker to allow it to activate. Once the sticker is removed, it cannot be replaced and the power will continue to drain regardless of whether you use the battery.

Disposable batteries also come in different sizes and styles depending on your hearing aid’s power needs. The larger the hearing aid or the more gadgets and hearing aid wizardry involved, the larger the battery required.

The four sizes are assigned numbers that don’t give any indication of the actual size – 10, 312, 13 and 675, from smallest to largest. A more helpful feature for sizing is their color-coded packaging, making finding the right battery much easier.

Disadvantages include primarily that tiny size. The small nature of disposable batteries poses a myriad of problems. In the danger category, according to the National Capital Poison Control Center, over 3,500 Americans, and not just children, swallow disposable button batteries every year – not to mention pets.

Then there’s the aforementioned dexterity issue. You have to open that tiny door, extract a tinier battery from its packaging, and correctly insert the tiny battery properly in its tiny compartment and hope you’ll hear those blessed chimes indicating you’ve done it correctly. Some manufacturers include a magnetic tool to help. It’s tiny, of course, and you’d have to keep it with you at all times and find it in a pinch.

Battery life can also be a disadvantage, as you’ll likely always require spare batteries on hand no matter where you are.

Disposable hearing aid battery life

Assuming a 14-hour day of wearing your hearing aid, you can expect your disposable battery to last from two days to two weeks or longer, depending on the power needed and the size of the battery. If your battery isn’t living its life to the fullest, you should check the manual or contact your audiologist to be sure there isn’t an issue with the hearing aid.

Comparing the four most common disposable hearing aid batteries

Size code – smallest to largest Average battery lifespan in days Used in hearing aid type(s) Color Dimensions (actual size)
10 3 to 7 Mini RITE, CIC Yellow 5.8 mm x 3.6 mm
312 3 to 10 Mini BTE, RITE, ITC Brown 7.9 mm x 3.6 mm
13 6 to 14 BTE, ITE Orange 7.9 mm x 5.4 mm
675 9 to 20 Power BTE Blue 11.6 mm x 5.4 mm

Key: RITE, receiver in the ear; CIC, completely in the canal; BTE, behind the ear; ITC, in the canal; ITE, in the ear.

Tips for extending hearing aid battery life

The following tips may help you get all the juice you can squeeze out of those little batteries:

  • Let the battery rest for five minutes after you peel off the sticker before inserting it into your hearing aid.
  • Store batteries at room temperature – never in the refrigerator (a pervasive social media myth)!
  • Store batteries in a dry room—not a bathroom, which is often humid and warm. Humidity is the archenemy of your hearing aid batteries.
  • Turn your hearing aids off when you are not using them.
  • Keep the battery compartment door open at night to ward off humidity buildup.
  • If you carry extra batteries with you, you may wish to purchase a case to keep them in. If they are left loose, they may come into contact with other metal objects, like your keys. Metal contact can short-circuit your batteries.

Where to buy disposable hearing aid batteries

Batteries are available just about anywhere: the pharmacy, the grocery store, your hearing care professional, your recliner where you peruse the wares on Amazon. Whether you’re purchasing name-brand batteries, getting privately labeled batteries from your audiologist’s office or scoring a wholesale lot of size 312 hearing aid batteries on Amazon, most batteries are made by reputable companies that manufacture other kinds of batteries and electronics.

How to dispose of button hearing aids

There are a variety of locations in Western New York that will collect and recycle batteries, such as Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

Call or head to your nearest Signia store to help with all your hearing loss prevention, hearing aid, accessory and battery needs: https://www.signiausa.com/store-locator/ .2020-04-02 14:52:07

Posted on Leave a comment

Emerging Technology in Hearing Aids

Do you think of hearing aids as the new “cool” thing? Do you wish you had new hearing aids like you wish you had a new stylish spring handbag or a new set of golf clubs? No? With the amazing features in new hearing aid technology, hearing aids are on the precipice of being desired instead of dreaded for anyone with hearing loss. Current innovations are bringing a wealth of features to hearing aids that surpass helping you hear better and venture into creating an easier, fuller lifestyle.

Free yourself with Bluetooth

Wireless connectivity is integrated into our daily lives. We barely think about it. What if you could use all those amazing wireless applications though your hearing aids? With the newest tech, you’ll be surprised at just how much that tiny earpiece can do for you.

Think of all the smart devices you have in your home: appliances, lighting, doorbells, security systems. These can all send a signal to your hearing aids. Better yet is the entertainment application. You can stream music, television and movie sound, smartphones, computers, tablets and more directly into your hearing aids.

One example is the StreamLine Mic from Signia, which allows you to stream phone calls and music using Bluetooth on your smartphone. You may also use it as a remote microphone. Apple has also developed wireless technology that connects certain hearing aids directly with its iOS platform that operates its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. Your hearing aids just became AirPods! Google is also in the process of developing hearing aid compatibility for Android devices.

Benefits of Bluetooth technology

  • Hands-free! Bluetooth enables hearing aids to connect to mobile phones, car systems, and other devices that use Bluetooth wireless technology.
  • Bluetooth is the industry standard and not unique to any hearing aid or manufacturer, meaning it has uniformity no matter your brand. It works across all devices.
  • A personalized listening experience is provided by setting the audio signal to stream to one or both hearing aids. The signal can then be amplified and fit to match the hearing aids’ personalized settings. A practical example: you want to use your hearing aids to listen to music. You can set one hearing aid to stream music and leave the other open to listen to the sounds around you.
  • Bluetooth improves the signal to noise ratio to eliminate feedback – the signal bypasses the microphone and directly enters the hearing aid’s processor.
  • Bluetooth is secure and does not experience the interference that an FM system does.
  • Multiple devices can be paired, meaning you can switch between devices without disconnecting. For example, you can listen to a movie and pause it to take a phone call through your hearing aid.
  • Remote control capability for your hearing aids is available, which is very useful if your hearing aids are too small to allow for external controls. You can change the volume or program from the streamer.

Find your voice

Many hearing aid wearers find the sound of their own voice loud and unnatural when heard through their hearing aids. Signia’s Own Voice Processing (OVP technology) provides the solution, allowing you to hear your natural sounding voice while retaining the best hearing of all other sounds. OVPTM lets you enjoy the most natural listening experience.

Signia’s new hearing aids have speech quality, enabling you to hear speech clearly in any situation. Advanced noise suppression technologies make it easier to understand and participate in conversations, whether in the quiet of your living room or the noisy chatter and clatter of a busy restaurant.

Think small – no, smaller

Whether worn inside or behind the ear, hearing aids keep getting smaller. There are now models so small they are extremely difficult to detect. Signia’s Silk Nx is one of the smallest hearing aids available and does not require a custom fitting. At 20 percent smaller than its predecessor, it is nearly invisible.

Many of these new tiny marvels are offered in a variety of sizes to avoid the need for impressions or molds of your ears. You can choose a pre-set size with the most comfortable fit.

And smaller size doesn’t mean that you give up any of the other latest hearing aid technology features. You can still change settings remotely via an app or accessory remote, experience better speech quality, and even use over-the-ear headphones.

Enjoy an active lifestyle

Running, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, golfing, boating, fishing, outdoor concerts… Wind noise reduction technology makes a huge difference for avid outdoor enthusiasts. This advanced technology detects the impact of the wind blowing across the hearing aid microphones and blocks or diminishes its amplification. If you happen to live in a windy environment, wind noise reduction tech may be a necessity.

Synchronize – the right ear finally knows what the left is doing

Older hearing aids worked independently from each other. This resulted in a snowball fight of different sounds coming into each ear at the same time. With hearing aid synchrony, the hearing aids work together via a wireless signal to create an overall sound experience like your natural hearing works. Also, if you adjust one hearing aid, the other side is adjusted automatically. The more naturally you hear, the easier it is to forget you’re even wearing hearing aids.

Recharge and relax – your work is done here

No more batteries! Rechargeable hearing aids like Signia’s Pure Charge &Go X are available – no more need for those annoying batteries. You pop the hearing aids in a charging pod each night to start charging automatically. Wake up and you’re ready to go. Some chargers dry your hearing aids as well.

The hearing aids are powered by a lithium-ion cell that allows for a full day of wear. One type even lasts up to 30 hours, even while streaming.

This option offers great ease of use, as you no longer have to replace batteries every few days or worry your batteries will run out and you don’t have replacements with you. You don’t have to fiddle with impossibly small packaging, open that miniature battery compartment or install an even more miniscule battery. As a bonus, rechargeable hearing aids are also a green option, as you won’t be throwing away hundreds of disposable batteries over the years.

Do your biometrics

Biometrics sound like a kind of aerobic exercise, but it’s actually a much shorter way to indicate the measurement and analysis of your personal physical or behavioral characteristics. Hearing aids are now being outfitted with biometric sensors that track your health data, such as heart rate, energy expenditure and a host of endless future possibilities. If you have heart disease or diabetes, your hearing aids will eventually be able to help monitor these conditions, all while hearing better. This information helps your audiologist and your doctor provide better, more individualized care.

All about those apps

There is a dizzying array of apps available for both iPhone and Android platforms. Here are just some app features:

  • Hearing test app to test your hearing
  • See the status of your hearing aids on your smartphones screen
  • Stream sound from audio sources
  • Change hearing aid settings and personalize your hearing aids
  • Listening exercises
  • Connect to a hearing care professional
  • Tinnitus management
  • Decibel sensors
  • Control of your television

Keep checking with your audiologist

Hearing aid tech advances are rapidly becoming widespread. As this advancement continues to occur, costs of high-tech hearing aids will decrease. Talk with your hearing care professional about what is available and fits your lifestyle, and keep checking back. The features you only dreamed about may be right around the corner. Better yet, they may be available today.

Signia provides the latest in advanced hearing aid technology. Signia is the leader in rechargeable hearing aids and has been providing them longer than any other company. Find a Signia store near you today to discuss your options or schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist. Visit us at www.signiausa.com.2020-03-29 14:12:50

Posted on Leave a comment

COVID-19 UPDATE (4/07/2020)

Sound Answers Hearing & Speech is open, however, we are encouraging everyone to stay home and be safe as we all work together to reduce the impact of this pandemic.

We are doing everything in our control to respect the social distancing required by state law and suggested by CDC guidelines. We are not permitting patients to sit in the waiting room. We will be wearing masks. We all need to proceed like we already have this virus even if we are not exhibiting symptoms. However, our code of ethics does not allow us to abandon our patients that are exhibiting a loss of hearing that could impact their safety or ability communicate with family or other medical providers during this difficult time.

We will be conducting ‘drive through’ service for the following hearing aid services:
* Repairs
* Maintenance or Deep Cleaning
* Loss and Damage Claims

Additionally, virtual and phone appointments are being substituted when possible.

We will see healthy and asymptomatic patients in our office only if deemed to be medically necessary and on a very limited basis. We will be pre-screening new & existing patients by phone prior to their visit to determine medical necessity prior to these emergency appointments. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience, but ONLY THE PATIENT will be admitted to the office. If necessary, clarification of the appointment results will be communicated with family after the appointment by phone or teleconference as necessary. As always, all touch surfaces will be thoroughly disinfected between patients. If you would prefer to reschedule your appointment to a later date, we would be happy to do so. We’re looking forward to fully re-opening soon in order to serve you more efficiently.

Thank you so much for your understanding during this very challenging time.
Dr. Adam Wojnowski
Sound Answers Hearing & Speech2020-03-24 12:17:25

Posted on Leave a comment

Sound Answers Hearing & Speech is Proud to Support the Hearing Health Foundation

As the holiday season ends, we’re reminded of all the things we’re thankful for. Not only are we grateful to support our patients with their hearing concerns, but we appreciate the opportunity to help others in need. It’s not just the immediate people around us that can benefit from generosity; you can make a difference in the world no matter where you are.

At Sound Answers Hearing & Speech, we are a proud supporter of a variety of charities and noteworthy causes. This winter, we’ve extended our reach to support the Hearing Health Foundation. We’re committed to the welfare of others and are grateful that we can encourage this fantastic organization and the important work they’re doing.

Our staff thanks you for the gift you give us daily – being able to help you with your hearing needs. It’s what makes our job truly special.

Season’s greetings!2019-12-27 02:06:33

Posted on Leave a comment

11 Surprising Conditions Linked with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is routinely linked with noise exposure. While noise exposure is one of the leading causes of permanent hearing loss, there are a number of health conditions that are also linked with hearing loss. Hearing loss may be a direct result of the condition or have an unknown association with it. Know your risk factors and talk with your physician about a hearing test if you have any of these conditions.

Acoustic neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a type of noncancerous, slow-growing tumor. The tumor develops on the main nerve from the inner ear to the brain, which influences hearing and balance.

An acoustic neuroma can cause gradual hearing loss in one ear, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), loss of balance, facial numbness and a feeling of “fullness” in the ears. Medical treatment is required and includes monitoring, radiation and surgery.

The cause of acoustic neuroma appears to be a faulty gene, but what causes the malfunction is not known. Tumors of the acoustic nerve can also be caused by a rare genetic disorder—neurofibromatosis type 2—that is the only known risk factor and accounts for only five percent of tumor cases.

Dementia

Two thirds of people in the U.S. over 70 experience hearing loss. Recent findings have linked hearing loss to cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing loss seems to speed up age-related cognitive decline.

There are a few theories as to the link, and even possibly multiple causes, but no definitive evidence as of yet. However, treating hearing loss more aggressively may help in warding off dementia and cognitive decline. Treatment includes hearing aids or cochlear implants, and prevention measure against further hearing loss. Hearing loss can also cause social isolation, which is a known factor in the development of dementia.

Diabetes

There is a large overlap of people with diabetes and people with hearing loss. Among the 84 million adults in the U.S. who are prediabetic have a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss than those with normal blood glucose levels.

A recent study found hearing loss to be twice as common in diabetic people than in those without diabetes. Hearing loss is prevalent in both type I and type II diabetes. The link between diabetes and hearing loss is not known at this time, but may be related to blood vessel damage caused by high levels of blood sugar.

Ear infections (otitis media)

Ear infections are caused by bacteria or a virus in the middle ear. These infections are usually secondary to a primary upper respiratory illness, such as influenza, a cold or allergies. Mucus and inflammation associated with these types of illnesses causes accumulation of fluids in the middle ear, leaving it vulnerable to bacterial or viral infection.

Children are more susceptible to ear infections than adults due to their narrower eustachian tubes. There are many risk factors for ear infections. Mild hearing loss is common with an ear infection, but usually resolves to pre-infection levels after the infection clears up. Persistent infections or fluids in the middle ear may cause more significant or permanent hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can occur with damage to the eardrum or other middle ear structures.

Head injuries

There are many types of physical head injuries that may cause hearing loss, including a traumatic brain injury, damage to the middle ear or a hole or rupture in the eardrum. The degree of hearing loss depends on the type and severity of damage to the head, but is frequently permanent. High-energy impact accidents (example: motorcycle accident) and sports injuries are just two examples of causes of head injuries that may result in hearing loss.

Heart disease

Heart disease affects the entire population, being the leading cause of death in the U.S. responsible for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths. About 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the U.S. There is a large amount of research dedicated to showing the effect of heart disease on hearing loss and compounding existing hearing loss, which affects both young and older adults.

Inner ear hair cells depend on oxygen supplied by blood flow to keep them alive and healthy. When the heart is damaged or not working properly, it may be unable to supply enough blood to the hair cells of the inner ear. The hair cells become damaged and die, resulting in permanent hearing loss.

Hearing loss treatment depends on the level of damage and may involve hearing aids. Heart disease has many risk factors and most are preventable. Hearing loss can occur gradually and should be routinely checked in cases of heart disease.

Mèniére’s disease

The cause of this inner ear disease is unknown. Mèniére’s presents commonly with sensorineural hearing loss, dizziness, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear and sensitivity to loud sounds. The disease often starts when people are between the ages of 30 and 50 and generally affects just one ear.

Mèniére’s disease is chronic and requires various treatments to relieve symptoms and minimize long-term impact. Hearing loss is a symptom and comes and goes, but eventually becomes permanent. Treatment depends on the degree of hearing loss and may involve hearing aids.

Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is a leading cause of acquired deafness, especially in children. Approximately eight percent of patients will experience a degree of permanent hearing loss.

In severe bacterial meningitis cases, bacteria, bacterial toxins or the immune system response fluid may get into the inner ear and damage the hair cells or nerve that leads to the brain. This type of hearing loss is sensorineural and therefore permanent. It may occur in one or both ears and may differ in each ear.

In children, excess bone growth may occur post-recovery, which may make the hearing loss worse. A hearing test is necessary after recovery. If hearing loss is indicated, follow-up monitoring will be required in order to determine proper treatment, such as hearing aids.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection most commonly seen in children. Mumps causes the salivary glands to become inflamed leading to swollen cheeks. Hearing loss is a side effect of mumps and is permanent as the virus damages the hair cells of the inner ear (sensorineural hearing loss). Hearing loss from mumps is rare. Children should be vaccinated against the mumps virus. Mumps is rare in the U.S. due to the MMR vaccine.

Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is a middle ear disease that makes it harder for the bones in the middle ear to move due to abnormal bone remodeling. When the bones cannot vibrate, sound cannot travel through the ear.

Normally, new and healthy bone tissue continually replaces old tissue throughout a person’s lifetime. However, abnormal remodeling causes conductive hearing loss by disrupting the ability of sound to travel from the middle to inner ear.

Hearing loss due to otosclerosis usually starts in one ear and the moves to the other ear. Dizziness, tinnitus and balance problems may also be present. More than three million people in the U.S. are affected, primarily white, middle-aged women. The cause of otosclerosis is suspected to be hereditary. No drug treatment exists. Hearing aids may help with mild cases, but surgery is usually required to correct the problem.

Paget’s disease of bone

Like otosclerosis, Paget’s disease interfere’s with the body’s natural bone recycling process. The disease causes faster than normal new bone generation. This rapid bone growth is characterized by weaker and softer bone than normal, resulting in bone pain, fractures, and deformities. If Paget’s disease affects the skull, hearing loss may result. The risk of Paget’s disease increases with age. There are other risk factors as well. Surgery may be necessary.2019-12-20 21:38:44

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Hearing Loss Myths—Busted

Many of us have a tendency to ignore or deny a problem exists with our health. Heath issues can be hard to admit to ourselves – and scary. Hearing loss is especially easy to deny as it often happens very gradually and we may not notice it at first.

Our odds of having some form and degree of hearing loss range are high, and being younger does not grant us immunity. Believing some of the most common myths about hearing loss is detrimental to our health in more ways than just how well we hear. Hearing loss only gets worse with time. Knowing the truth will help identify a problem and get help now, when it matters the most.

Myth: Hearing loss cannot be prevented and is inevitable with age.

Facts: Though not all hearing loss can be prevented, much of it can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes.

  • Cumulative noise exposure is one of the leading causes of permanent hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss due to noise exposure at work or during leisure activities, and 24 percent of hearing loss is attributed to workplace exposure.
  • Avoiding loud noise exposure and wearing proper protection when exposure is unavoidable can prevent hearing damage.
  • Smoking, diabetes and heart disease also cause hearing loss. Lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation and diet changes, can help prevent this type of hearing loss.

Myth: Only older adults are affected by hearing loss.

Facts: Hearing loss affects people of all ages from birth through older adulthood.

  • An estimated 48 million people in the U.S. are affected by hearing loss and two-thirds of them are under 65 years of age.
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) affects 50 million people in the U.S.
  • Hearing loss exposure from noise affects people of any age and is cumulative and permanent.

Myth: Babies and young children don’t need to have their hearing tested.

Facts: All infants and children should have regular hearing check-ups and are never too young.

  • All babies should have their hearing checked, as 5 in every 1000 newborns are affected with hearing loss.
  • Approximately 3 million children in the U.S. have some form of hearing loss and 1.3 million of those children are under age 3.
  • Over 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, but with early detection and intervention, deaf children are able to develop communication skills at the same rate as hearing children.

Myth: I hear well enough. I’d know if I had hearing loss. I don’t need hearing aids.

Facts: Hearing loss is usually very gradual and easy to miss. Usually other people in our lives notice our hearing loss before we do. Are you asking family and friends to repeat themselves? Are you having trouble hearing at work? Are you frequently asked to turn down the volume on the television or your music?

  • Approximately 15 million people in the U.S. avoid seeking help for their hearing loss, even though hearing aids offer dramatic improvement.
  • Because hearing loss worsens over time, hearing aids can only help if you have hearing left to be saved. You could be damaging your treatment success by waiting.
  • Putting off treatment will make it harder to adjust to hearing aids in the future.

Myth: Hearing aids are like contacts or glasses and will correct my hearing loss.

Facts: Contacts and glasses correct vision to 20/20 instantly. Hearing aids do not work the same way. The brain requires time to adjust to sound coming through a hearing aid instead of the ear.

  • Hearing aids will not restore hearing back to 100 percent.
  • Unlike glasses that do not require training to use, hearing aids may require auditory training to help the brain process sounds.
  • Hearing aids usually require repeat trips to the audiologist in order to program them to the unique needs of the patient.

Myth: Hearing loss is harmless to my overall health.

Facts: Hearing loss is linked with cognitive decline, which has a domino effect on our health.

  • Dementia, social isolation, problems with work performance, falls, depression, dizziness and more are all results of hearing loss.
  • Treating hearing loss, such as with hearing aids, can prevent or even reverse some health conditions caused by hearing loss.
  • The earlier the hearing loss treatment, the better success rate for hearing improvement and therefore better improvement with associated conditions.

Myth: There’s only one type of hearing loss and it affects both ears equally.

Facts: There are three main types of hearing loss subtypes—sensorineural, conductive, and mixed—and a fourth rare type (auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder). Hearing loss affects each ear differently.

  • The type of hearing loss you may have depends on what part or parts of your ear are damaged.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form and is permanent due to unrepairable damage to the ear. There are many causes. Hearing aids are the usual treatment.
  • Each person’s hearing loss is unique and made up of many factors, including lifestyle, age, other diseases, genetics, type of work, noise exposure, and much more.

Sound Answers Hearing & Speech provides an hearing test and information on hearing loss, hearing aids, and much more.2019-12-20 21:30:29

Posted on Leave a comment

Common Hearing Aid Problems (and What to Do About Them)

Hearing aids are complex and expensive devices. Daily maintenance is the key to extending the life and quality of your hearing aids. The biggest cause of hearing aid failure is wax and moisture seeping into the microphone and receiver! Proper maintenance will help avoid having to troubleshoot problems.

Everyday maintenance

  • Be sure to keep your fingers clean and dry before handling your hearing aids. You much protect your hearing aids from dirt and oil. The microphone is very small and easily blocked by dirt and oil.
  • Remove your hearing aids before applying hair care products like hair sprays, makeup and spray perfumes or fragrances. These products may clog the microphone and volume control switch.
  • Moisture is the enemy of hearing aids and will completely ruin them. Be sure to remove them before showering or swimming. Never leave hearing aids in the bathroom while you are showering.
    • Put a note up in your bathroom if needed as a reminder. When you are comfortable with your hearing aids in, forgetting to take them out is easy to do because you are not thinking about them.
  • To further combat moisture, leave the battery compartment open at night and invest in a drying kit. These devices are easily available from many manufacturers. Drying devices are important for all types of hearing aids.
  • Keep your hearing aids out of reach from pets and children when you are not wearing them. If the battery door is closed when not in use, the hearing aids emit a high-frequency noise that might attract dogs who will make quick work of eating up your investment, literally.
  • You should receive a cleaning kit with your hearing aids and at least one pack of filters (wax guards) that protect receivers. The proper use of these wax filters will protect your receiver.
    • Change these wax guards as often as they need to be changed.
    • You may need to consult with your provider about how often to change them as this varies by person and how much ear wax is produced in the ear canal.
  • Cleaning your devices in the morning after drying overnight makes wax dry and easier to remove.
  • Caution! Never use alcohol, solvents or cleaning agents on your hearing aids. You should only use special hearing aid care products, such as hearing aid wipes and sprays. These products are easily available. Check with your hearing center as they may sell them or help you find the best products.

Troubleshooting common hearing aid problems

Problem: Power / battery life

Troubleshooting:

  1. Check that your hearing aid is on. This seems silly and too simple, but it’s very often the most common issue when you think your battery may be dead.
  2. Check the receiver tube for blockage (wax, moisture, dust) and clean if necessary.
  3. Always keep an eye on your battery life, as hearing aid batteries are tiny and drain quickly. You can expect anywhere from four days to two weeks from each battery.
  4. You might consider investing in a hearing aid battery tester to check the voltage on old batteries before replacing them with new ones. If the voltage is okay, another problem may be to blame.
  5. Check that the battery is inserted correctly. The battery may be upside down (sign: the battery door won’t close).
  6. Carry spare batteries with you. Check with your insurance to see if batteries are covered, as many do cover them or offer them at a discounted cost.
  7. Always turn off your hearing aids when not in use.
  8. Leave the battery door open when not in use to preserve battery life.
  9. Inspect batteries for corrosion, which can happen even if the battery life is fine.

Problem: No sound

Troubleshooting:

  1. Is your hearing aid manually turned off and on? Check to see if it’s on. You may have accidentally hit the switch or left it off.
  2. If your hearing aids are on, check the volume to be sure it did not slip to a lower setting.
  3. Check the battery if there is still no sound. The battery may be upside down or you may need to change the battery if the charge is gone.
  4. After battery troubleshooting, inspect the receiver tube to see if it blocked. Clean it if you find a blockage.
  5. Finally, check the microphone for wax or dirt, which can block sound. Clean it and try your hearing aid again.

Problem: Feedback (whistling sound)

Troubleshooting:

  1. Your hearing aid may not be aligned or inserted properly. Remove your hearing aid and then reinsert it. Do not turn your head before the hearing aid is securely placed in your ear.
  2. Avoid turning on your hearing aid until it is inserted and fits properly.
  3. Your earpiece may not be fitting into your ear properly. Talk to your hearing care professional about trying a different dome, closed tip or different size.
  4. If these steps do not work, try turning the volume down as too much sound may be trying to get through the hearing aid.
  5. Inspect your hearing aid for any cracks in the earhook or tubing and replace if necessary.
  6. Finally, you may have an earwax blockage in your ear canal. Do not try and clear the blockage yourself! You may easily damage your ear or even rupture your eardrum. Have a medical professional clear the earwax.
  7. Some hearing aids have a feedback elimination feature. Discuss this option with your hearing medical professional if it is a concern for you.

Problem: Sound distortion or volume issues (not loud enough)

Troubleshooting:

  1. Is your hearing aid set to the right volume and program? If not, reset to the proper program. It can accidentally be set to the wrong program.
  2. Look for any dust or debris in the controls, rotate them, reset them and then clear any debris.
  3. Check the microphone, earpiece or tube for debris like wax or dirt or lint and clean appropriately.
  4. Moisture may have gotten into the hearing aid. This step may require using a hearing aid dehumidifier overnight.
    • These dehumidifiers are small containers with an absorbent desiccant lining that removes the excess moisture. No batteries or electricity is required. Place the hearing aid in the container before you go to bed, close the lid and check the hearing aid in the morning.
    • Another option is an ultraviolet cleaning storage box, which is designed to sanitize and remove moisture and condensation with dry heart. The box uses ultraviolet light to inhibit bacterial growth.
    • Both of these items are available from various manufacturers. You may want to check with your hearing center for their preference.
  5. If none of these steps work, it might mean that your hearing needs may have changed. You should have your hearing aid checked by your hearing professional.

Problem: Inconsistent or intermittent sound

Troubleshooting:

  1. Check the microphone, earpiece and tube for debris (wax, dirt, dust), which can interrupt sound. Clean these parts.
  2. Reset the controls to release any debris that may have collected in them.
  3. Check the battery for low voltage and replace if necessary.
  4. Buzzing noises may result if you accidentally turn on the loop (telecoil) setting. Check it and switch back to the normal microphone setting if this is the case.

Problem: Fitting

Troubleshooting:

  1. In the beginning, you may experience mild headaches or a plugged ear feeling as you get used to your new hearing aids. This is normal.
  2. However, improper fitting hearing aids can cause persistent headaches. Visit your hearing medical professional if you are experiencing persistent headaches.
  3. If you’ve lost weight, your hearing aids may not fit appropriately any longer. Visit your hearing medical professional to fix the issue.
  4. If you cannot find a comfort fitting level with your hearing aids, you will need to visit your hearing medical professional.

 

Sound Answers Hearing & Speech can help you find the right hearing aid styles for you and provides information on hearing loss, hearing aids, and much more.2019-11-25 13:24:37