Auditory System Deprivation and Its Long-Term Effects

April 11, 2018  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

Hearing only starts with your ears. It is the auditory system, which is composed of the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear and the auditory neurological pathway, that allows the process of hearing to occur. That process begins when sound waves enter the outer ear and are channeled through the other complex parts of the ear, the nervous system and into the brain. The physical characteristics of the original sound are preserved as various types of energy that the brain recognizes and identifies as a particular sound. So, in actuality, you hear with your brain!

However, when it comes to maintaining your auditory system, you lose it if you don’t use it. Just as the muscles in your body become sore when you exercise after a period of doing nothing, your auditory system will have a hard time getting back into shape should you suddenly decide to wear hearing devices, especially if you have gone a long time without treating your hearing loss. Your brain will lose some of its ability to process information due to lack of stimulation and as a result, it will be more difficult to recognize sounds… even with hearing devices.

To minimize the impact of auditory deprivation, you should address the hearing loss sooner once diagnosed, rather than when the condition gets worse. Providing solutions and positive outcomes for patients with advanced/longstanding hearing loss can be done but with greater challenges as the condition of the neurological system is weak. Early intervention results in better outcomes.
We recommend you receive a baseline hearing test beginning at the age of 40. During this test we can determine the lowest volume level you can hear at various frequencies or pitches. We can then reference this at subsequent testing and monitor changes.
Once your hearing threshold is identified, we encourage you to have periodic hearing tests (every two or three years) to help prevent and/or identify hearing loss earlier than you otherwise might. If you are a hunter, musician or woodworker, or are frequently and consistently exposed to loud noise, an annual hearing test is recommended. It is only through preventative care that we can help you prevent further damage to your hearing system.

New Study Supports Brain Training for Seniors with Hearing Loss

March 2, 2018  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately one in three people between ages 65 and 75 experiences hearing loss. For those over 75, the statistic is closer to one in two. The term for age-related is presbycusis, which is caused by natural wear and tear of the auditory system.

The process of hearing occurs not just in the ears, but in the brain as well. The ears channel soundwaves and convert them to vibrations, which are transmitted to the brain via the auditory nerve for interpretation.

According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, senior patients were able to improve speech recognition by exercising their brains with computerized games.

Throughout the study, elderly patients with hearing loss used a closed-loop (CL) computer audio game that had them listen for subtle changes in sound to solve puzzles. At the end of the eight weeks, those in the CL group correctly identified 25 percent more words in background noise than those in the control group, whose video game did not include sound cues for the puzzles.

This is significant in the hearing industry as it may change the way audiologists work with their patients. There are a number of brain training programs already on the market that some specialists have implemented in their patient care, including Listening and Communication Enhancement (LACE), clEARWorks4EARs and Angel Sound.

Happiness From Hearing Devices

February 1, 2018  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

Dramatic lifestyle improvement found in patients who start using hearing devices

Many scientific studies in the past have confirmed the negative impacts associated with hearing loss: depression, anxiety and social isolation. There are positive impacts associated with hearing solutions, as well. A study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing devices can make.

The study surveyed more than 2,000 hearing loss patients who use devices to enhance the sense of sound. Of the sample group, 82 percent of patients indicated they would recommend hearing devices to their friends, and 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate. The data also shows more than four out of five people who use a device to hear better are satisfied with their solution.

“This survey clearly reveals how dramatically people’s lives can improve with the use of hearing devices,” BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, PhD said. “In this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing device users we looked at 14 specific quality-of-life issues and found today’s hearing devices are a tremendous asset to people with even mild hearing loss who want to remain active and socially engaged throughout their lives.”

The study also concluded up to a third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. Further, roughly 40 percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence and work relationships.

These results are the most significant of their kind because they show a clear potential solution to many of the draining feelings patients with hearing loss suffer. Many of the positive responses are attributed to changing technology that has led to smaller and less visible hearing devices, resulting in a decrease in the societal stigma associated with wearing devices in day-to-day life. New devices are more intelligent and offer many improvements over older generation models. BHI’s Kochkin believes the first step to preserving your future enjoyment in life is to make an appointment with a hearing health professional and get your hearing checked.

Diabetes Diagnosis Connected to Hearing Loss

January 2, 2018  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

Diabetes can cause blurry vision, hunger, thirst and fatigue; a lesser known associated condition is hearing loss. In fact, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found hearing loss to be about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those without the disease.

This study is alarming to many otolaryngologists and audiologists because there is no recommendation for hearing loss screenings in a diabetes care regimen. Awareness is critical in increasing screening and discovering diabetes patients who suffer from hearing loss. Many doctors fail to recommend a hearing test at the annual checkup of diabetes patients. It’s important for those with diabetes to take an active role in their health care and seek treatment for any associated conditions they may be at risk for.

“Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes,” senior author Catherine Cowie, Ph.D. said. “As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss. Our study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes using a number of different outcomes.”

The reason for this connection is not definitive, but some evidence is suggestive. The NIDCD study reports diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear.

Afflicting nearly 21 million people in the United States, diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke and the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputations in adults. Pre-diabetes, which causes no symptoms, affects about 54 million adults in the United States. This high incidence of pre-diabetes and the connection between dangerous associated conditions are encouraging many to evaluate their risk of developing diabetes. See your doctor if you think you might be pre-diabetic or if you suffer from diabetes and believe you may have the beginning stages of hearing loss.

Source: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/hearing-loss-common-people-diabetes

Eat Well for Healthy Hearing

December 1, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

You’ve probably heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” While that may not be entirely true, the foods you consume can have a positive effect on your hearing. Studies indicate foods rich in certain nutrients can help boost your hearing. In some cases, they may even help prevent or delay hearing loss.

Omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, contain anti-inflammatory properties that help strengthen the blood vessels in the inner ear, helping protect against hearing loss. Research shows that individuals who eat two or more servings of fish a week are 42% less likely to develop presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) compared with those who do not eat fish regularly.

Antioxidants are another excellent source of protection from hearing loss, particularly folic acid. They help reduce the number of damage-causing free radicals in your body, and ultimately help prevent hearing loss. Good sources of folic acid include leafy greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce, black-eyed peas, kidney beans and black beans, and nuts. Persons over the age of 50 with a folate deficiency have a 35% higher risk of hearing loss.

Vitamin B12 works similarly; like folic acid, it creates new red blood cells and improves the flow of blood to the ears. Foods high in B12 include lean meats, dairy and eggs. Clams, liver and fish are especially high in this nutrient. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and is plentiful in citrus fruits and vegetables. Excellent choices include oranges, grapefruit and bell peppers. Vitamin E helps improve circulation and can be found in almonds, peanut butter and sunflower oil. Vitamin D keeps the bones and tissue in the inner ear healthy, preventing bone loss and otosclerosis; good sources are fish and milk.

Zinc is another nutrient that can help protect against age-related hearing loss. It can be found in dark chocolate and oysters, among other foods. Magnesium may prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Look for it in bananas, potatoes, artichokes and broccoli.

While there’s no guarantee that consuming these foods will keep you from developing hearing loss, incuding them as part of your diet will help improve your overall health regardless.

Dramatic lifestyle improvement found in patients who start using hearing devices

October 31, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

Many scientific studies in the past have confirmed the negative impacts associated with hearing loss: depression, anxiety and social isolation. There are positive impacts associated with hearing solutions, as well. A study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing devices can make.

The study surveyed more than 2,000 hearing loss patients who use devices to enhance the sense of sound. Of the sample group, 82 percent of patients indicated they would recommend hearing devices to their friends, and 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate. The data also shows more than four out of five people who use a device to hear better are satisfied with their solution.

“This survey clearly reveals how dramatically people’s lives can improve with the use of hearing devices,” BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, PhD said. “In this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing device users we looked at 14 specific quality-of-life issues and found today’s hearing devices are a tremendous asset to people with even mild hearing loss who want to remain active and socially engaged throughout their lives.”

The study also concluded up to a third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. Further, roughly 40 percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence and work relationships.

Additional studies yield similar results. Overall, two thirds of hearing device users report their quality of life is either “better” or “a lot better.” While effectiveness of communication ranks as the biggest benefit to wearing hearing devices, a significant portion of respondents cite improvements unrelated to hearing, such as enhanced mental/cognitive skills and the ability to join groups.

These results are the most significant of their kind because they show a clear potential solution to many of the draining feelings patients with hearing loss suffer. Many of the positive responses are attributed to changing technology that has led to smaller and less visible hearing devices, resulting in a decrease in the societal stigma associated with wearing devices in day-to-day life. Those who are hesitant to wear them for fear of looking older should keep in mind hearing loss can occur at any age, and half of all American adults with hearing loss are between 45 and 74 years old.

New devices are more intelligent and offer many improvements over older generation models. Many offer wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, and several manufacturers have introduced iPhone-compatible devices. BHI’s Kochkin believes the first step to preserving your future enjoyment in life is to make an appointment with a hearing health professional and get your hearing checked.

Prevent Painful Falls by Preserving Your Sense of Balance

October 2, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

Aging naturally causes the onset of maladies most never expects; hearing loss being one of the most common. However, balance is another area of our health which can be taken for granted. Problems with equilibrium and sense of balance can contribute to injury related falls and can also negatively impact emotions related to feelings of independence and confidence. Chronic balance disorders affect nearly eight million people in the United States.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV is the most common condition that causes dizziness. BPPV occurs when small calcium crystals in the inner ear break loose and fall into the ear canal. The presence of these crystals causes an abnormal fluid displacement in the canal resulting in the sensation of vertigo. This occurs most often in those older than 60 and when the position of the head quickly changes. This affects simple, everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, looking for something on a low shelf or reaching up in a tall cupboard.

While many people who experience the symptoms of BPPV choose to live with the condition, it is important to know there is an easy, affordable and effective solution. Canalith Repositioning is a non-surgical procedure in which the physician repositions the patient’s loose calcium crystals to a part of the ear where they are either absorbed or no longer cause balance problems. The canalith repositioning is completed through several head maneuvers resulting in an 80 percent cure rate. The repositioning needs to be repeated if dizziness returns. While performing the procedure the patient may encounter
nausea, dizziness and lightheadedness as minor and temporary side effects.

The benefits from a simple procedure like canalith repositioning are immeasurable. Regaining sense of balance and shedding the fears of vertigo will enable patients to live without restriction and worry less about a painful fall. Good balance is important to maintain independence and daily routines, especially with aging. Ensure you get the healthiest years you can by talking to your doctor if you experience dizziness or vertigo.

Hearing Protection Tips For Fall

September 22, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

As the leaves begin to change, we encourage you to consider changing your hearing healthcare habits, too. Several autumn activities can cause noise-induced hearing loss without proper hearing protection, but you may not even be aware of the risks. People of all ages should take extra precautions to protect their ears from damage during fun fall activities.

Prolonged exposure to the sounds of leaf blowers, power tools, motorized vehicles, sporting events and concerts can all lead to irreversible hearing damage. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your ears safe and prevent permanent hearing loss.

The following tips are recommended by the Better Hearing Institute, an organization devoted to educating the public about proper hearing health and helping those with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment.

Use earplugs.

When you are going to be exposed to loud sounds, wear earplugs to prevent damage to your hearing. Disposable earplugs made of foam or silicone are readily available and will allow you to hear music and conversations while blocking dangerously loud sounds. Custom ear protection crafted from earmolds will perfectly fit the unique contours of your ears, guaranteeing a snug, proper fit and dependable protection.

Limit your time in noisy environments.

Take steps to limit the length of time you spend in noisy environments. When participating in noisy activities, make sure to give yourself periodic quiet breaks.

Keep the volume down.

When listening to music—especially through headphones or earbuds—keep the volume turned down. If others around you can hear your music, it’s too loud.

Talk to your audiologist about hearing protection.

Your audiologist can help you find a solution for protecting your hearing that fits your lifestyle. Options for protecting your hearing without compromising your performance are available for a wide range of activities. From specialty musician’s plugs that let you hear the notes risk-free to hunter’s plugs that enhance ambient noise while protecting your hearing from gunshots and explosions, a solution exists for all activities and lifestyles.

Leave the leaf blowing to the professionals.

Leaf blowers become a necessity once fall is in full swing, but they represent an extreme noise hazard and are better left to the professionals. The sound produced by some leaf blowers at close range can cause permanent hearing damage in fewer than 15 minutes. If you aren’t willing to hire a professional landscaper to do the work, consider replacing older models of leaf blowers with newer models that offer reduced decibel output. Even the quietest leaf blowers available will gradually damage your ears, so always wear quality or custom earplugs during yard work.

Realize the risks of football season.

In stadiums across America, football fans are gearing up for another fun season of competition. There’s no better way to support your team than cheering wildly with fellow fans at a live event, but there’s also no better way to permanently damage your hearing. Any sound over 85 dB should be considered potentially dangerous, and noise over 120 dB is known to cause instant hearing loss. Last year, Kansas City Chiefs fans set a new record for loudest stadium at 142.2 dB—that’s louder than a gunshot, jet engine or fireworks. Whether you’re attending a high school, college or professional game, earplugs are essential to your hearing safety.

The Link Between Hearing & Your Golf Score

July 10, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

The game of golf is filled with hazards. Bodies of water, bunkers and sand traps, and dense vegetation can all wreak havoc with your game. Another important yet often ignored factor that can affect your final score is your hearing. Studies show individuals with strong binaural hearing (the ability to perceive sound with both ears) tend to play better golf than those suffering from hearing loss.

What role does hearing play in golf? An important one, it turns out. By paying close attention to the sound made when the club head comes into contact with the ball, golfers can control their shots better, in terms of distance and accuracy. This is especially true when taking chip shots or putting; in these situations, power is less a factor than finesse. Hearing the tone produced by the club striking the ball can help the golfer judge how well the ball was hit, and allow him or her to make any necessary adjustments for the next swing. Changes in tone and volume indicate a different swing of the club; by paying close attention to both the feel of the club making contact with the ball, and the sound produced, golfers will naturally improve the quality of their play over time.

Conversely, when hearing is impaired, the golfer loses the benefit of this additional sense. Swings are less accurate, and scores tend to rise. Golfers playing in pairs or groups may have trouble following conversations, especially when there is background noise (e.g. wind blowing or a bumpy golf cart ride). This can lead to misunderstandings and poor decision making skills. Inevitably, when an individual is suffering from a hearing loss, he or she tends to lose interest in otherwise enjoyable activities. Having difficulty hearing while playing prevents them from being fully engaged in the game.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer lends credence to the idea that good hearing is crucial to accuracy. Palmer was diagnosed with hearing loss in his 40s, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He credits hearing aids with improving his hearing ability and golf game. “When I walked out on the golf course the first day I had a hearing aid,” he says, “I heard things I hadn’t heard on the golf course, like the click of hitting a putt or hitting a golf ball, or the air going through the club when I was swinging it. It made a tremendous difference”.

Paul Azinger, winner of eleven PGA tournaments – including one major, the 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness – echoes Palmer’s sentiments. He is quoted as saying “Hearing is huge” when referring to golf, and describes the golfer’s ability to hear how well contact is made with the ball as a key factor in becoming a great ball driver.

Indeed, good hearing allows you to better enjoy the activities in which you compete, and will naturally make you feel more engaged with your golf game. You’ll enjoy increased confidence, and will have more control over your swing – and ultimately, your final score.

Regular hearing evaluations by a qualified audiologist or otolaryngologist are a good idea for avid golfers. Hearing loss is both progressive and cumulative, and often develops so gradually you are unaware of a problem until it has progressed to an advanced stage. The earlier hearing loss is detected, the more options you have for treatment and the better your odds for success.

Protect Your Hearing This Summer

May 31, 2017  |  No Comments  |  by dangoodwin  |  news

hearing protections from loud noise

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. But outdoor activities can lead to noise-induced hearing loss if you are not careful. People of all ages should take extra precautions to protect their hearing during the summer months.

When the weather is warm, our natural inclination is to go outside. Many popular summer activities can be hazardous to our ears due to high decibel levels. Prolonged exposure to the sounds of lawn mowers, power tools, motorized vehicles, sporting events, concerts and fireworks can all lead to irreversible hearing damage. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your ears safe and prevent long-term damage.

Hearing Protection This Summer

The following tips are recommended by the Better Hearing Institute, an organization devoted to educating the public about proper hearing health, and helping those with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment.

  • Use earplugs.

    When you are going to be exposed to loud sounds, wear earplugs to prevent damage to your hearing. Disposable earplugs made of foam or silicone are readily available and will allow you to hear music and conversations while blocking dangerously loud sounds. Custom ear protection crafted from earmolds will perfectly fit the unique contours of your ears, guaranteeing a snug, proper fit and dependable protection.

  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals.

    Fireworks are synonymous with the 4th of July, but they represent an extreme noise hazard and should be restricted to professionals. The bang from a single firecracker at close range can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage. When watching fireworks, enjoy them from a distance. Earplugs will provide an extra level of hearing protection without detracting from the festivities.

  • Take measures to protect against swimmer’s ear.

    There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool swim on a hot day, but when water enters the ear canals it can lead to a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear. To protect against this, invest in a pair of swimmer’s plugs. Dry your ears thoroughly after swimming, and make sure to tilt your head to the side to drain any residual water from your ear canals. Avoid swimming in water where bacterial counts are high (look for signs posted at the local beach).

  • Keep the volume down.

    When listening to music—especially through headphones or earbuds—keep the volume turned down. If others around you can hear your music, it’s too loud!

  • Limit your time in noisy environments.

    Take steps to limit the length of time you spend in noisy environments. When participating in noisy activities, make sure to give yourself periodic quiet breaks.