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Chemical and Noise Exposure Together Increase Risk of Hearing Loss

Came across this article in the ASHA Leader this weekend. Thought it was a good, quick read. Interesting to note that research is showing that “ototoxic chemicals might exacerbate noise-induced hearing loss even though the noise level is acceptable.”

Chemical and Noise Exposure Together Increase Risk of Hearing Loss

Workers exposed to acceptable levels of both noise and ototoxicants face an increased risk of hearing loss, indicates new federal guidance on hearing loss prevention in the workplace.

The effects of the combination of exposures are “greater than additive,” according to the document released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Many ototoxic substances have a synergistic effect with noise exposure on hearing loss, and some ototoxic chemicals might exacerbate noise-induced hearing loss even though the noise level is acceptable.
“Millions of workers are exposed to noise in the workplace every day and when uncontrolled, noise exposure may cause permanent hearing loss,” the document says. “Research demonstrates exposure to certain chemicals, called ototoxicants, may cause hearing loss or balance problems, regardless of noise exposure. The risk of hearing loss is increased when workers are exposed to these chemicals while working around elevated noise levels.”
The combination can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, depending on the level of noise, the dose of the chemical, and the duration of the exposure.
Exposure to ototoxicants may occur through inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption. Ototoxicant-induced hearing loss may go unrecognized, however, because audiometric tests do not indicate causes of hearing impairment.
Occupations that may have high noise and ototoxicant exposure include printing, painting, construction, firefighting, weapon firing, pesticide spraying and many manufacturing industries (fabricated metal, machinery, petroleum, paper, chemical and paint, furniture, transportation equipment, electrical equipment, and others).
The guidance document, which is not a standard or regulation, suggests employers take steps to prevent hearing loss:
  • Identify ototoxicants in the workplace. Review Safety Data Sheets for ototoxic substances and chemicals, and for ototoxic health hazards associated with ingredients in the products. These required documents—prepared by manufacturers, distributors or importers—accompany hazardous chemicals and substances and outline their dangers, composition, safe handling and disposal.

  • Provide, in plain language, health information, safety information, and training to workers exposed to ototoxic chemicals.

  • Investigate Safety Data Sheets if workers report hearing loss.

  • Replace a hazardous chemical with one that is less toxic. If that is not possible, use engineering and administrative controls to limit exposure to ototoxicants and noise.

  • Determine the required personal protective equipment (general, respiratory and hand). To reduce skin absorption, consider chemical-protective gloves, arm sleeves and aprons.

  • Test for noise exposure.

  • Encourage the use of hearing protection and audiometric testing, even when noise and ototoxicant exposure levels are acceptable, to prevent hearing loss from synergistic effects.

 

The ASHA Leader, June 2018, Vol. 23, 10-11. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.23062018.102018-06-04 13:43:02

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Check with us before you upgrade your phone!

Will my hearing aid still work with my new cell phone?

I love new gadgets and electronic toys as much as the next guy… well, maybe even more.  So, it’s great so see so many of my patients taking advantage of the newest technologies that allow you to ‘pair’ your cell  phone to your hearing aids.  This technology allows you to adjust the volume, bass and treble, change memories based on your particular situation, find your hearing aids if you lose them, and even stream phone calls or music directly into your ears on some devices.  Needless to say, this kind of power becomes extremely addictive!

If you’re one of our patients that is realizing the full potential of this connection, don’t switch cell phone models before checking with us!!!  It is possible that your hearing aid app will no longer function with a newer phone. Particularly if you’re an Android user.

This has been a particular problem with the ReSound LiNX / TruHearing Flyte apps being used on an Android phone.

The folks in manufacturing have confirmed that the ReSound Smart, GN Hearing Tuner and TruHearing apps are not currently compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S8. My recommendation is that Smart Hearing aid wearers using these apps do not upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S8 at this time.  I have yet to test a Galaxy S9, but would assume that we would have the same issues.  We apologize to any users who have already upgraded their phone and no longer have access to the app. The engineers at ReSound are working diligently to resolve this issue.

 

The following Samsung products work just fine:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 5

We have yet to find any problems with any of the newer versions of the Apple iPhone.

 

The takeaway message:  If you’re using a smart phone app with your hearing aids, call Dr. Adam before you upgrade your phone.   If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, try to download your new app at the store. If you can’t find it in the App Store or Play Store, be wary.

 

Here are some links to the manufacturers that may provide additional information with regard to your current situation.

ReSound:

ReSound LiNX 3D aids/apps:
https://www.resoundpro.com/en-US/compatibility/smart3dapp

ReSound LiNX and LiNX2 aids/apps (including TruHearing Flyte)
https://www.resoundpro.com/en-US/compatibility/smartapp

 

Oticon:

https://www.oticon.com/support/how-to/opn-wireless-connections/faq#which_android_phones_works

 

Signia:

Bluetooth helpline: (800) 350-6093

Phonak:

https://www.phonakpro.com/us/en/products/wireless-accessories/remotecontrol-app/overview-remotecontrol-app.html

 

 2018-03-22 19:50:25

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What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a loss of language caused by a neurological event, usually a stroke. It is devastating for the patient and family. Since Aphasia can present itself in a variety of ways, the disorder can be confusing to understand as well. Most individuals who suffer from Aphasia can benefit from speech-language therapy. I just came across a great TED talk that explains Aphasia. Feel free to call or email me questions! -Diane

https://www.facebook.com/TEDEducation/videos/1939534312726432/?hc_location=ufi2018-03-19 15:26:53

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3 Ways Untreated Hearing Loss Can Hurt Your Health

It is estimated that approximately 37 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.  Many of those 37 million are untreated.  It may be for financial reasons, a reluctance to receive treatment, a fear of doctors or other personal reasons, but the truth is it can be a bigger problem than it may appear to be.  Living with more limited hearing may seem like a simple choice between the normal volume on the TV and turning it up a few notches, but left untreated, hearing loss can have much more serious consequences than missing some of the conversation. 

 

As research findings on hearing problems and their link to quality of life continue to grow, many common themes are coming to light showing just how problematic untreated hearing loss can be.  Here are three ways untreated hearing loss can hurt your health: 

 

Less Social Interaction 

It’s no secret these days that social interaction can play a positive role in health.  Studies have shown that quality relationships can help reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being, and even reduce your risk of death.  Relationships are often cited as the most important thing for happiness.  Unfortunately, hearing loss can have a negative impact on these relationships, especially when that loss goes untreated.  Sometimes it’s a breakdown in communication within relationships, sometimes an avoidance of social situations for fear of confusion or appearing rude, but withdrawing from those quality relationships can damage health now and down the road. 

 

Increased Risk of Depression 

With less social interaction and increased isolation due to hearing loss, there is believed to be a higher risk of mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.  According to one report on the Consequences of Uncorrected Hearing Loss, “Several studies have shown that uncorrected hearing loss gives rise to poorer quality of life, related to isolation, reduced social activity, and a feeling of being excluded, leading to an increased prevalence of symptoms of depression.”  As hearing problems continue to go untreated, these feelings can compound increasing the risk of physical health problems too. 

 

Cognitive Decline 

Some of the most interesting research into untreated hearing loss in recent years has been its impact on the brain.  It is believed that the negative effects are two-fold: 

  • When there is hearing loss, the brain must work harder to listen.  According to research findings, this increased effort requires extra resources from the brain, leaving less for other cognitive functions. 
  • While the cause is not yet fully understood and may be related to the harder working brain, some research is pointing to a link between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of dementia.   

It’s hard to deny that hearing loss, when left untreated, can pose serious consequences to overall health beyond less clarity of sound. 

 

If you believe you or someone you know is affected by hearing loss, seek treatment to help prevent physical and mental concerns in the future.  Work with an audiologist to find the best solutions for your needs.  Discuss the best hearing aids to help improve your quality of life. Don’t let hearing loss impair your health! 2018-02-03 06:48:31

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There’s an App For Hearing That

The last ten years have brought about significant improvements in hearing aids, thank goodness.  Gone are the tan, clunky analog models incapable of the finesse needed to separate speech signals from useless background noise.  Today’s hearing aids rely on digital platforms with programming flexibility for better personalization and the added benefit of being lighter, smaller and sleeker. 

The digital age opened the door for the current round of amazing features of the modern hearing aid including signal amplification for clearer calls and advanced speech recognition bolstered by directional microphones and high-speed processing. 

Like all things in our digital age, modern hearing aids can, of course, be linked to a smartphone.  Similar to using a Bluetooth, the smartphone can send audio directly to a hearing aid.  There’s also an app to allow the phone to act as a specialized remote to eliminate the traditional around-the-neck remote.  Subtle volume adjustments can be made right from the phone. 

Another benefit to the smartphone-aided hearing aid is that the phone can become a microphone to mitigate the challenges presented by multiple conversations in a busy setting, like a crowded restaurant.  The phone can be placed in front of the person speaking and the conversation can flow easily over pasta and wine.   

A smartphone’s tracking and analytics capabilities can also be leveraged by a hearing aid wearer to maximize the wireless hearing aid experience.  A lost hearing aid can be located if it’s within a reasonable distance.  If it’s not close, or if the battery has died, the phone can tell you the GPS coordinates of the hearing aid’s last location.  On the analytics side, the phone keeps records of hearing aid usage and adjustments that can then be shared with a hearing healthcare provider to help craft custom treatment plans. 

How much technology to use is a personal decision made across several buying platforms like TVs, computers, and household appliances to name just a few.  More high-tech usually means higher pricing and faster battery drain and that is true with hearing aids, too.  Another consideration is the relationship you have with your smartphone.  If you are an active smartphone user and have your phone with you constantly, smartphone-enabled hearing aids may seamlessly fit in with your lifestyle.  However, if you use your smartphone occasionally, or only for emergencies, there are better choices for you. 

When researching options, make sure to ask about these features: 

  1. Telecoil Technology – Telecoils are wireless antenna available in most hearing aids.  They can link into sound systems for more amplified sound. 
  2. Background Noise Suppression – Since background noise is a lower frequency sound it can be separated and suppressed. 
  3. Directional Microphones – More focused than a traditional omnidirectional microphone, a directional microphone is sensitive to sound coming from the area directly in front of it. 

It’s a hyper-connected world and you can enhance your connection to the things that matter to you with proper hearing healthcare.  Schedule a hearing evaluation today to get started. 2018-02-03 06:47:36