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Can Music Help You Hear Better?

When we as hearing care providers think about music, generally the detrimental effects come to mind. But Frank Russo, professor of psychology and director of the Science of Music, Auditory Research, and Technology Lab (SMART Lab) is bringing to light possible positive effects. Russo is conducting a study that explores a new way to cope with hearing loss in noisy environments: studying music.

In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Russo says understanding speech in noise is a top complaint among older adults with hearing loss.

“The complaint often is, ‘I hear just fine when I’m speaking to someone one-on-one, but when I’m in a crowded situation — if I’m at a party, if I’m at bus station, if I’m in a mall — speech in noise becomes very problematic,’” he relays.

Why Music

Another article cited by NPR tells us research has found that “aging musicians fare better than non-musicians when it comes to distinguishing speech from noise, even when their overall hearing is no better than that of non-musicians.”

There are three different groups of elderly adults with no musical experience in Russo’s study that either:

  • Join a choir and learn to sing;
  • Listen to music in an appreciation course;
  • Or have no musical intervention

Everyone in the study takes before and after lab evaluations that include speech-in-noise tests. You can read more about Russo’s work here.

A participant in the study equated the activities they do — over 10 weeks, with one two-hour rehearsal per week — to “brain boot camp.” We do something similar when you are fit with hearing technology.

Retraining Your Brain

Although hearing loss is most commonly considered an inner-ear problem, it’s actually the brain that performs several functions simultaneously to process sound. It uses your ears to help orient body position, focuses attention on sounds you want to hear, recognizes sounds, and separates relevant information from competing noise. Advances in hearing aid technology support your brain by supplementing these natural processes for clearer, more accurate, and overall better hearing.

Because we hear with our brains, something called aural rehabilitation is essential to your hearing success. Aural rehabilitation is the process of helping someone effectively adjust to and manage their hearing loss. Methods of rehabilitation are focused on helping overcome the challenges caused by hearing loss, therefore improving quality of day-to-day life.

Aural rehabilitation may be offered in individual or group settings, and it generally encompasses these main points:

  • Adjusting to and learning about your specific type of hearing loss
  • Improving communication skills
  • How to use, care for, and make the most of your hearing aids
  • Exploring accessories for your hearing aids

Finding the Right Fit

Research shows that two-thirds of hearing aids are improperly fit. Why? Because hearing technology by itself is not an effective solution. Some providers or hearing aid sellers only offer you value via cheaply priced technology, instead of focusing on your lifestyle, results, and satisfaction like we do. We will be there with you every step of the way to help retrain your brain to work effectively with your technology.

When we fit you with hearing aids, we take into account multiple factors:

  • Your specific lifestyle
  • Your specific hearing loss
  • Your hearing goals

We use these factors to create the treatment plan that is best for you.

Posted in Hearing, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss | Comments closed

Self-Treating for Hearing Loss: More Harm Than Good

Have you heard about the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, recently passed by Congress and signed by the president over the summer?

The new law, once fleshed out with Food and Drug Administration regulations, will allow the retail sale of hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss — without the critical involvement of an audiologist or medical doctor.

On its face, the legislation may sound like a good idea. An estimated 48 million Americans or one in five people has some form of hearing loss, according to a Johns Hopkins Study, making access to today’s advanced hearing technology an important part of tackling a growing public-health challenge.

Self-treating for hearing loss, however, can do more harm than good. And with so much at stake — untreated hearing impairment is linked to physical, mental, social, and even financial consequences — you can’t afford to take chances with one of your most crucial senses.

Nonprescriptive hearing devices are already available over the counter as personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), which the FDA defines as “wearable electronic products for use by non-hearing impaired individuals to amplify sounds in certain environments.” They typically comprise three main parts: a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver.

Though potentially helpful in normal hearing to amplify sounds in situations such as watching TV, listening for animals during outdoor recreation, or hearing a presenter who’s speaking some distance away, PSAPs are neither FDA-approved nor recommended to treat actual hearing loss.

In addition, PSAPs:

  • Are often uncomfortable in the ear and — for many patients — difficult to manage
  • Could cause hearing damage or aggravate existing damage with misuse or overuse
  • Have contraindications — for example, ear pain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease that could lead to serious harm
  • Can amplify sounds but typically can’t adjust to the user’s specific hearing loss or help the brain process sound
  • Sidestep the vital process of professional testing, programming, fitting, and follow-up, which doesn’t allow a hearing care professional to rule out hearing problems and ensure the device is appropriate for a patient’s ears

The newly enacted law, part of a larger Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act, will allow selected devices classified as actual hearing aids to be sold over the counter so long as they meet certain regulatory standards of safety, labeling, and manufacturing.

Unfortunately, the legislation will also allow patients to bypass a certified audiologist when getting a hearing aid, creating a significant gap in their hearing care.

Just as professional dental care is more than selling toothpaste, proper hearing care is more than selling hearing aids. Licensed audiologists are specially trained to:

  • Evaluate and Diagnose Hearing Problems — Your local audiologist can perform diverse tests to determine the state of your hearing and identify the type, severity, and cause of any hearing difficulties.
  • Treat Hearing Loss — With professional expertise, advanced hearing technology, and knowledge of your lifestyle and listening needs, audiologists provide hearing aid solutions tailored for you.
  • Handle Fittings and Follow-Up — Audiologists custom program your hearing aids, ensure an appropriate physical fit, counsel you on adjusting to the devices, and follow up to make sure they’re working.
  • Maintain Your Technology — Hearing care professionals help you keep your devices working their best by cleaning, checking, and repairing them.
  • Provide Continuing Care — Audiologists care about your hearing for life, and they can adjust treatments as your lifestyle and listening needs change.

When it comes to hearing care, nothing replaces seeing an actual professional. As noted by a leading consumer-advocacy group, different hearing aids and PSAPs may vary in effectiveness, “so it’s best to have a professional hearing test first, and consider asking an audiologist or hearing aid specialist for guidance in determining which device is right for you.”


Do you have questions about over-the-counter hearing technology or the dangers of self-treating for hearing loss? Contact us today. We’re happy to answer your questions and address any concerns.
Posted in Hearing Aids, Hearing Health, News | Comments closed

Can Prescription Drugs Cause Ringing In the Ears?

Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears (this can also be a whooshing or pulsing), is generally the first symptom of ototoxicity and is generally short lived, but it can have more permanent symptoms.

About Tinnitus

Simply defined, tinnitus is a phantom ringing, whooshing, or buzzing noise in your ear that only you can hear. People experience tinnitus in a variety of ways: In some, a headshake will make the annoyance vanish; others, however, describe the condition as debilitating. Though research is ongoing, there is currently no cure. But relief can come from a variety of treatments.

About Ototoxicity

Ototoxicity is a poisoning of the inner ear due to exposure to or ingestion of medications or chemicals that can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, and/or balance disorders. High doses or long-term use of certain antibiotics, antidepressants, loop diuretics, pain relievers, and prescription or over-the-counter medications can cause ototoxicity.

Drugs that can cause tinnitus:
  • Antibiotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antimalarials
  • Vapors, solvents
  • Cardiac medications
  • Glucocorticosteroids
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Psychopharmacologic agents
  • Miscellaneous toxic substances
  • Anti-neoplastics
  • Diuretics
Drugs that can cause more permanent tinnitus symptoms:
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Certain cancer medications
  • Water pills and diuretics
  • Quinine-based medications

The effects caused by ototoxic drugs can sometimes be reversed when the drug is stopped. Sometimes, however, the damage is permanent.

Tinnitus can be managed through strategies that make it less bothersome. No single approach works for everyone, and there is no FDA-approved drug treatment, supplement, or herbal remedy proven to be any more effective than a placebo. Behavioral strategies and sound-generating devices often offer the best treatment results — this is partially why distracting the individual’s attention from these sounds can prevent a chronic manifestation.

Some of the most effective methods are:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Tinnitus-retraining therapy
  • Masking
  • Biofeedback

Managing Tinnitus While Taking Ototoxic Medication

We can work with your prescribing physician to monitor your hearing and balance systems before and during your treatment. This will help you and your treatment team determine whether to stop or the change your prescription before your hearing is damaged.

Finding with Relief With Hearing Aids

If the drugs cannot be stopped or changed, we will work with your physician to help you manage the effects of the hearing loss that results. Relief from tinnitus is possible with our help. Due to the personal and unique nature of your tinnitus, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, we are experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis.

According to a study featured in The Hearing Review, roughly 60% of tinnitus patients experienced at least some relief when wearing hearing aids; roughly 22% of patients found significant relief.

Hearing aids help by masking the sounds of tinnitus and increasing the volume of outside noise, stimulating soft background sounds and improving communication, so you feel more connected to friends, family, and your world.


Contact us today with any questions regarding your tinnitus, or to schedule a consultation with our professionals. We are here to help!
Posted in Disorders, Hearing Health, Tinnitus | Comments closed

Are You Wasting Cash on Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids?

Learn why self-treating hearing problems with personal sound amplification products might not be a better value after all.

Big-box stores, warehouse clubs, and online retailers have made it easier than ever to buy over-the-counter hearing devices or personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), but… not so fast! For hearing loss, the help of a trained hearing care professional stands head and shoulders above self-treatment, which can cause more harm than good.

What Are Personal Sound Amplification Products?

PSAPs, defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as “wearable electronic products for use by non-hearing impaired individuals to amplify sounds in certain environments,” typically comprise a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver.

Though potentially helpful in normal hearing to amplify sounds in situations such as watching TV, listening for animals during outdoor recreation, or hearing a presenter who’s speaking some distance away, PSAPs can’t take the place of properly fit hearing aids.

 

What Are the Pros and Cons of PSAPs?

Some benefits:
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Can amplify soft sounds that might otherwise be harder to hear
  • Made with recreational activities in mind, thus supporting active lifestyles
  • Designed to wear immediately after purchase, making them convenient
  • Might serve as a short-term alternative while considering more comprehensive solutions
Some limitations:
  • Neither FDA-approved or recommended to treat actual hearing loss
  • Can amplify sound but cannot help your brain process sound
  • Often uncomfortable in the ear, and for many patients they’re difficult to manage
  • Could cause hearing damage or aggravate existing damage with misuse or overuse
  • Bypasses the crucial step of professional testing, programming, fitting, and follow-up to rule out hearing problems and ensure the device is appropriate for your ears

What Should You Do?

In a report released by the National Academy of Sciences, panelists noted the need for “qualified providers and clinics with the knowledge, skill, and expertise to properly evaluate, prescribe, and train people in the use of hearing devices” and also concluded that “consumers who work with providers trained in the use of properly prescribed and fitted hearing devices can expect better results than those who use off-the-shelf products.”

Don’t leave your hearing health to chance. Work with a licensed hearing care professional trained to test your hearing, diagnose potential problems, and tailor a solution to your individual needs. Hearing loss not only involves one of your most important senses but can affect your physical, social, mental, and even financial health, making effective evaluation and treatment critical.


Do you have questions about over-the-counter hearing products, including whether they’re right for you? Our caring team can answer your questions and work with you to find the best solution for your listening needs. Contact us today for an appointment!
Posted in Hearing Aids, Hearing Health | Comments closed

Is It “TIN-uh-tis” or “tin-EYE-tis”?

Americans love to debate how to say certain words: Is “tomato” pronounced “tuh-MAY-toe” or “tuh-MAH-toe”? Does the “ee” in “creek” sound like “sneak” or “pick”? By the 1930s, this kind of debate had become so common that it was immortalized in the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” Now we can safely add another word to the list of popular debates: tinnitus.

If you search the web for ways to say “tinnitus,” you’ll find that dictionaries disagree, language experts disagree, and medical experts disagree, with passionate, well-reasoned defenses on all sides. How is anyone supposed to know the right answer?

At our practice, you can pronounce “tinnitus” however you’d like. Our concern is helping you get relief from your tinnitus — that persistent ringing, buzzing, or pulsing in your ears.
 

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus affects more than 50 million Americans, but not everyone experiences it in the same way. Different people hear different sounds — ringing, pulsing, screeching, hissing, static, whooshing, roaring, even ocean waves. It often accompanies hearing loss, but there are many other things than can generate tinnitus. It’s not a disease; it’s a symptom of damage to the auditory system. It can be temporary or chronic, and it is often debilitating.
 

Temporary Tinnitus

With temporary tinnitus, your auditory system has experienced some irritation, and tinnitus has resulted. Removing the irritation allows your auditory system to recover within a couple of days.

Temporary tinnitus is usually caused by:

  • Exposure to loud noise, like you’d experience at a concert
  • Taking too much ototoxic medication (medication that is toxic to the inner ear at high doses), such as aspirin
  • Obstruction of the inner ear; for example, by earwax or a foreign object

 

Chronic Tinnitus

Chronic tinnitus is just what it sounds like: The ringing, buzzing, or pulsing is permanent, and it’s present 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In many cases, it’s simply a distraction, but in others it’s debilitating.
 
Impact of Chronic Tinnitus
Chronic tinnitus can greatly affect quality of life. Those with moderate or severe tinnitus often experience:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain
  • Economic hardship

It also affects the friends and family of those with tinnitus. The constant ringing or pulsing can make hearing difficult, so conversations can lead to frustration and irritability. If the tinnitus is accompanied — as it so often is — by sound sensitivity, then socializing at restaurants and family dinners is all the more troublesome.
 
Causes of Chronic Tinnitus
Chronic tinnitus has more foundational causes:

  • Noise-induced or age-related hearing loss
  • Head or neck trauma
  • Vestibular disorders, such as Ménière’s disease
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)
  • TBI (traumatic brain injury)

 

Is There a Cure?

There is no cure for chronic tinnitus, but our patients have had success in minimizing its effects through a variety of methods, which include:

  • Sound therapy. Traditional tinnitus therapy uses a tone or a pleasant sound, like ocean waves, to mask your tinnitus.
  • Habituation. Sounds matched to your unique tinnitus are played back to you — often at levels you can’t hear — to partially inhibit your tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids. Because most cases of tinnitus are connected in some way to hearing loss, hearing aids often provide relief.
  • Combination. Many hearing aids now have built-in masking or habituation functionality, so they can address both your hearing loss and your tinnitus.

If you’d like to learn more about tinnitus, head to the Tinnitus page on our website!


Sources:
American Tinnitus Association
American Hearing Research Foundation

Posted in Tinnitus, Tips & Tricks | Comments closed

On the Menu: Deaf-Friendly Restaurants

Road-tripping? Keep these 7 spots in mind!

The landmark Americans with Disabilities Act improved equity and access in employment, public accommodations, services, and so much more for people living with disabilities, including hearing impairment.

Some businesses, however, go above and beyond to ensure a better experience for patrons with hearing or speech challenges.

For your summer travels, we’ve put together a quick list of restaurants that go the extra mile to ensure your hearing and communication experience is just as good as your dining experience. Keep them in mind as you plan your next road trip!

  • Molly Moon’s — Seattle, WA

    This popular ice cream stop — rhubarb cardamom sorbet, anyone? — with several Seattle-area locations includes employees trained in American Sign Language, according to a recent KOMO News story, creating a more inclusive, welcoming experience.

  • Crêpe Crazy — Austin, TX

    The deaf owners of this growing business not only rock sweet and savory crepes — caprese, Mediterranean medley, lemon zest dust, and more — but also offer easy ordering with sign language or pointing, and they make it a point to hire hearing-impaired community members.

  • Pizzabar — Newport Beach, CA

    This casual eatery close to the Newport pier offers pizza, pasta, fried calamari, and other choices galore. It also sports a sign-language-interpretation kiosk for ease of ordering, making it the first restaurant certified as deaf-friendly by the kiosk installer, Language People.

  • Starbucks Drive-Thru — St. Augustine, FL

    Customers using the drive-thru at this particular Starbucks near the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind can use the ordering screen’s two-way video, letting them communicate with a barista in sign language.

  • Mozzeria — San Francisco, CA

    Whether you’re ASL-fluent or not, you’re welcome at this pizza-and-more spot owned by a deaf couple and staffed with deaf or hard-of-hearing employees. Options for easy ordering include pen and paper, pointing, and sign language.

  • &pizza — Washington, D.C.

    The H Street location of this bustling chain sits near Gallaudet University, the renowned school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Staff, who serve a diverse population of hearing and nonhearing patrons, typically know ASL or some basics of signing.

  • Culver’s — Buffalo Grove, IL

    This local outlet of a national burgers-and-frozen-custards franchise installed a bell system at its drive-thru, letting deaf or hard-of-hearing customers alert staff if they need to pull forward and order using a menu form instead.

We applaud these businesses for going over and above to accommodate their customers’ communication needs, and we hope to see others across North America follow suit. Interested companies should connect with local resources such as audiology clinics, chambers of commerce, schools for deaf students, or sign-language-interpreting agencies for helpful tips.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A 2003 Inclusion Solutions survey of over 6,400 people regarding drive-thru dining access and assistance found that “access is a major concern to the deaf community and others.”
  • In the same survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents with a preference would welcome call buttons to alert for help and “pull ahead to place the order in an alternative way.”

Know a deaf-friendly restaurant or two that should be on this list? Send us your recommendations!




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Dos and Don’ts for Taking Little Ones to See Fireworks

If you have a newborn in the family, here’s what you need to know about Little One’s ears and fireworks.

Every detail of your family’s Fourth has been planned to a “T,” from the neighborhood barbecue to staking out the perfect spot to watch fireworks. But there’s one more thing to do: Grab Baby’s hearing protection.

While the iconic booms and pops of fireworks come with a thrill, they also put hearing at risk — especially for little ones. From what’s too loud to where to sit and what to do, here’s what you need to know to help keep your family’s hearing healthy this Independence Day and those to come.

Most adults think that because it doesn’t bother their hearing, it won’t bother Baby’s. This isn’t necessarily true — babies hear differently than adults. Loud sounds could potentially damage infants’ hearing and hinder auditory development.

“Babies have a different way of listening to the world,” says Lynne Werner, professor of speech and hearing science at the University of Washington, in the May edition of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. “In real life, we are confronted with a variety of sounds. Somehow the adult brain takes all sounds we hear and separates them into where they are coming from, then focuses on the one we want to hear. Adults usually hear in a narrow band of sound, while babies seem to use a different approach. They don’t have the selective attention of adults, and they don’t pay attention all of the time. Instead they always seem to be listening broadband or to all frequencies simultaneously.”

What You Can Do

  • Shelter Your Ears

    Hearing protection — such as earplugs, headphones, or earmuffs — helps soften loud sounds, reducing harmful noise exposure. A good pair of earmuffs will be lightweight, durable, and adjustable. You know Little One’s habits better than we do, but we’re guessing they’ll want to take them off at first until they hear the benefits themselves. We love these because not only can they be worn to other loud events, they can also be worn on planes, and they can help children conk out during festivities if needed.

  • Keep Your Distance

    When it comes to live events, most everyone wants to be right where the action is, but staying a good distance from the show’s speakers or fireworks can go a long way toward protecting your and your loved ones’ hearing.

  • Limit Your Exposure

    Permanent hearing loss can occur even from a single exposure to loud noise, one of the most preventable causes of impairment. Take a short break from the festivities, or consider leaving a little early to give ears a helpful rest.

  • Have a Happy Fourth

    Hearing plays a critical role in a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development; a child with a hearing loss can face serious delays in speech and language processing and understanding. Early detection and intervention can minimize the negative impacts that hearing loss can have on a child and prevent developmental difficulties that stretch into adulthood. To identify children with hearing loss, and to provide intervention before the age of 6 months, each state has established an Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program.


Have more questions? Contact us. We’ll be happy to help. Happy Fourth of July to you and your family!
Posted in Hearing Protection, Tips & Tricks | Comments closed

Tips to Help You Live Longer With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is linked to health conditions that can affect not only your well-being but also your life span. If you have a hearing loss, here is what you should know so you can be the happiest, healthiest you.


Your Balance

In a study published in JAMA, individuals with at least a mild hearing loss (25 decibels) lost their balance and fell more often than those with healthy hearing. There was an additional increase in the odds of a fall as hearing loss worsened; falls were about 1.4 times as likely for each 10-decibel increase in hearing loss.

The effects of hearing loss may mean that more brainpower is devoted to hearing than to balance. Posture and body control require brain activity that may be impaired due to hearing loss, throwing off a person’s balance. These distractions may increase the risk of falling.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA):

  • Falling is the No. 1 cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans.
  • Falls threaten safety and independence, and they generate enormous economic and personal costs.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
What You Can Do
Talk to Your Audiologist About Hearing Aids

In The Laryngoscope journal, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., found that they had better balance when using hearing aids compared to when they didn’t.

Senior author Timothy E. Hullar, a professor of otolaryngology, explains, “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance.”

Ask Your Audiologist About Your Inner-Ear Health

Responsible for our body’s balance, the vestibular system in the inner ear could be causing hearing problems as well as stability issues.

Try These Easy Practices:
  1. Stand on one leg; hold for 30 seconds each side. If that becomes easy, try doing it on a less stable surface. As you improve, challenge yourself to do it with your eyes closed!
  2. Walk heel to toe. Take 20 steps forward, heel to toe. Then walk backward, with toe to heel, in a straight line.
  3. Do yoga. Yoga helps with balance, focus, movement, and coordination by helping you to master transitions and develop your strength.

Your Gender

A recent study done by Age and Ageing looked at hearing impairment alongside incident disability and all-cause mortality in older men. It found that when compared with unimpaired men, men who had both hearing and visual impairments had a greater risk of dying of any cause, whereas men who only had a hearing loss had a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular causes than others.

The study mentioned those with hearing impairments as having a greater difficulty being mobile (problems walking/taking stairs), difficulties with activities of daily living, and difficulties with instrumental activities of daily living.

Data from the 1999 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that hearing loss is 5.5 times more prevalent in men than in women. Male subjects who are white, older, and less educated faced significantly higher rates of hearing loss. In particular, those with high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as smokers of more than 20 years, are more likely to have a hearing loss.

What You Can Do

Being proactive about hearing loss and overall health could help decrease risks listed above.

  • If you know someone with a hearing loss, try talking to them about hearing aids.
  • If you know someone with a hearing loss, learn communication tips to help keep them engaged socially.
    • Turn down distracting music.
    • Pick a place with less background noise.
    • Talk to them in the light so they can better read lips and gestures.
    • Don’t repeat what you’re saying louder; say it in a different way and more slowly.
  • Eat right. Foods rich in folate, magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fats help hearing in different ways
Talk to Your Audiologist About Hearing Aids

A study done by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) found that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to participate in organized social activities compared to those who wear hearing aids.1


Your Diet

As mentioned above, different foods can help your hearing health. But let’s take it a step further, both literally and figuratively — getting in touch with your roots can also help establish healthy hearing and hearing habits. Regularly engaging in outdoor activities is wonderful for your social and mental well-being, and it’s great for your physical health, too. Gardening, in particular, is a wonderfully rewarding activity that takes you outside, keeps you active, and provides you with fresh, delicious food.

What You Can Do

We dug up four ways to help you get out and get growing:

  1. Visit your local gardening store to see what classes it offers.
  2. If it’s a rainy day and you still want to get outside, invite a friend along with you to explore your local nursery — and maybe even pick out a few plants!
  3. Join a community garden. This style of gardening is great if you don’t have much space in your own place. Each one is different, but many offer mentoring, specials on supplies, and other community-oriented events. If you don’t have a garden in your area, there are resources online to help get you started!
  4. Get involved at your local arboretum, or just go for a visit. Dedicated to preserving and protecting plants, it’s a great place to learn more about your local flora and, sometimes, fauna. Stay in touch online, or subscribe to its mailing list so you get all of the latest news

Not entirely sure what to grow? Try foods that are rich in folate. This B vitamin is proven to help prevent high-frequency hearing loss, which is the varying inability to perceive high-pitched sounds and consonants. Folate decreases the amount of the amino acid homocysteine in your blood by increasing the creation of red blood cells. Too much homocysteine causes hearing difficulty by reducing blood flow to the inner ear. Folate is also useful in preventing heart disease, stroke, and dementia.

Talk to Your Audiologist About Hearing Aids

If you have a hearing loss, you might miss out on hearing the neighborhood kids laughing across the fence, the buzzing of bees, or birds chirping. It’s these little moments that make the most of your experience outdoors. Hearing aids are so advanced now that they can adjust to your setting and help you hear sounds you didn’t even know you were missing.


Source:
1. Holmes, C. et al. Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression, Social Isolation in Seniors. Seniors Research Group, The National Council on the Aging. Audiology Today. May 1999

Posted in Comorbidity, Hearing Health, Tips & Tricks | Comments closed

4 Surprising Ways Better Hearing Can Help You Live Longer

In the office the other day, we were talking about segment “Today” did back in January on the benefits of working into retirement.

They cited advantages like living longer, keeping your brain fit, reducing isolation and depression, and reinforcing identity.

The more we talked about it, the more we saw parallels between working into retirement and better hearing. It’s probably no surprise to you, but healthy hearing goes hand in hand with being able to do your best at work, too!

Fun fact:

A 2007 study by the Better Hearing Institute found that workers are most affected by hearing loss during phone calls and conversations with co-workers. Conversely, nearly 7 in 10 participants reported improvements in their ability to communicate effectively when they used hearing aids. For jobs where communication is critical, treating hearing loss can pay dividends.

  1. Living Longer
  2. Researchers at Oregon State University found that healthy adults who retired one year past age 65 had an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes, even when taking into account demographic, lifestyle, and health issues. The study also found that adults who described themselves as unhealthy were likely to live longer if they kept working, which indicates that factors beyond health may affect post-retirement mortality.

    • Falls: The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging confirmed that hearing loss is a significant factor in incident falls, as a mild hearing loss made patients nearly three times as likely to have reported a fall in the prior year.
      It went on to say that the effects of hearing loss require a substantial amount of your cognitive load and shared attention. Hearing loss may affect spatial awareness and where the body is in position to other objects around it. Maintaining posture and body control requires mental resources that may be impaired by hearing loss, throwing off an individual’s balance in real-world situations. Such perceptive impairment may increase the risk of falling.
    • Safety: Not being able to hear a cry for help, a warning, sirens, fire alarms, oncoming traffic, and the like puts you at a greater risk of accidents and injuries.
    • Hospitalization: Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Association of Hearing Loss with Hospitalization and Burden of Disease in Older Adults” is the first nationally representative study to demonstrate an independent association between hearing loss and increased hospitalization rates. The results were startling: Compared to individuals with normal hearing, those with at least a mild hearing loss (25 dB or more) were more likely to be hospitalized more often.

  3. Keeping Your Brain Fit
  4. Recent research has provided a wealth of new information about hearing loss and the brain, from where hearing actually happens — in the brain, not the ears — to how hearing loss can lead to issues such as dementia and depression.

    In a University of Utah longitudinal cohort study of more than 4,400 older adults, otolaryngologist and professor Dr. Richard Gurgel and his team found that subjects with hearing loss developed dementia at a higher rate than their normal-hearing counterparts. The study, published in 2014, also suggested the following:

    • People with hearing loss can experience earlier onset of cognitive decline.
    • People with hearing loss can experience greater severity of cognitive decline.
    • Hearing loss may be a marker for cognitive decline among people 65 and older.

  5. Reducing Isolation and Depression
  6. Individuals who cannot understand or hear what others are saying sometimes choose to avoid social situations entirely rather than ask others to repeat themselves — especially in situations where background noise is significant. Avoiding social outings with friends and family begins the process of social isolation that contributes to loneliness and depression — two factors that have become more common in those with hearing loss.

    Hearing aids are now able to adapt to those noisy environments, helping those who choose better hearing to have a better time.

  7. Reinforcing Identity
  8. Loss of independence is another significant reason for dissatisfaction with some aspects of life. The unwillingness to engage in social activities is one factor. People of all ages with hearing loss are also more likely to require assistance to perform regular daily activities such as preparing meals, shopping, and handling money. Individuals over the age of 70 with hearing loss are about one-third more likely to need help with shopping compared to those without hearing loss.

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5 Tips to Improve Your Hearing Now

Did you know? About 360 million children and adults — more than 5 percent of the global population — have disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization.

During Better Hearing Month, celebrated in May, we have the exciting opportunity to raise awareness of not only the prevalence of hearing loss, but what you can do about it. While most hearing loss can be treated with state-of-the-art hearing technology, there are simple steps you and your loved ones can take to help prevent some types of hearing impairment altogether. To celebrate 90 years of Better Hearing Month, here are five tips to help you and your loved ones take charge for better hearing every day.

1. Know the Signs

Frequently asking people to repeat themselves, turning up the TV, having difficulty understanding phone conversations, complaining about noise or earaches — these and other signs point to potential hearing loss. Detecting it early can reduce the risk of academic, social, physical, and other problems.

2. Curb Noise Exposure

More than 31 million Americans ages 6 to 69 have permanent hearing damage because of noise, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reducing exposure to sounds above 85 decibels, curbing use of MP3 players, and wearing earplugs even when mowing or using leaf blowers, snowblowers, and weedwackers can go a long way.

3. Partner With Your School

Teachers and administrators are critical to helping kids hear their best during the school day, with classroom seating arrangements, loop and FM systems, closed captioning, and other supportive options. They can also identify possible signs of hearing loss, such as decreased engagement and changes in grades or behaviors.

4. Keep Hearing Aids in Top Shape

If you or your loved ones are already hearing better through today’s advanced hearing technology, help keep the devices in their best shape with a professional clean and check. Also, keep extra batteries on hand at home and on the go.

5. Get a Hearing Checkup

Take the whole family for a professional hearing evaluation at least once a year, just as you would for their eyes or teeth. Timing the visits before summer camp or the new school year, for example, can help you catch any hearing difficulties before they affect your child’s learning and development.


Our experts are here to help you and your loved ones hear your best. For more tips on taking charge of your hearing health or to schedule a hearing evaluation, contact our office today.

 

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