The impact hearing loss has on overall health has been studied for years. A new study approaches it from a different angle by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical profession, are looking for ways to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as straightforward as taking care of your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers found that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Somebody with a severe hearing impairment has five times the chance of developing dementia
- The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss
- The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss
The study showed that when a person suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.
Poor hearing has an impact on quality of life, also. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to depression. All these factors add up to higher medical expenses.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that not dealing with hearing loss is a budget buster, also. This study was also run by researchers from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Individuals with normal hearing generated 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to grow. Over a decade, healthcare expenses go up by 46 percent. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.
The study lists factors involved in the increase such as:
- Decline of cognitive ability
- Lower quality of life
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is indicated by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. They also found that people with untreated hearing loss had:
- 3.6 more falls
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
The study by Johns Hopkins correlates with this one.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
- The basic act of hearing is challenging for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Currently, 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children has hearing loss
- There’s considerable deafness in people between the ages of 45 to 54
The number goes up to 25 percent for those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise in the future. As many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.
Using hearing aids can alter these numbers, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What is known is that some health issues associated with hearing loss can be reduced by using hearing aids. To determine whether using hearing aids reduces the cost of healthcare, further research is necessary. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. To find out if hearing aids would help you, make an appointment with a hearing care professional right now.
You don’t suddenly lose your hearing one morning when you wake up. Hearing loss comes in degrees for most people, particularly when it comes to aging. Age-related hearing loss affects about one in three people in this country. Many of them are over the age of 75 before they recognize a change. Some signs show up sooner, though, and you don’t realize there is an issue immediately.
Early hearing loss has progressive and subtle signs. Recognizing them as soon as possible is essential to slow down the progression of hearing loss or other health problems related to hearing loss. You can’t recognize the signs if you don’t know what they are, though. You could have hearing loss if you have any of these eight barely noticeable indicators.
1. Ears Ringing
This is one that people tend to neglect if it doesn’t get too disruptive and it’s actually not very subtle. Tinnitus, the medical name for the ringing, is a typical indication of hearing loss.
The ringing can be sporadic and only act up when triggered. Perhaps the ringing only occurs when your tired or in the morning for example.
It’s important that you don’t neglect tinnitus because it is an indication that something is going on with your body. Besides hearing loss, tinnitus can be caused by high blood pressure, trauma, or a circulatory problem. If you want to know for certain, you will need to consult your doctor.
2. Talking on The Phone is Stressful
Here are some common excuses for phone issues:
- It’s a new phone, and I’m just not used to it yet.
- I dropped my phone in water or on the ground.
- My phone is old.
If you dislike using the phone think about the reasons why. Get someone you know to test the phone for you if the volume is up and you still can’t hear it. If they can hear the conversation and you can’t, your ears are the problem.
3. These Days it Seems Like Everyone Mumbles
It used to be only the kids, but recently, the lady on the TV news, your neighbor, and your spouse all have taken to mumbling when they speak to you. Could it actually be true that suddenly everyone in your life has poor enunciation.
It’s more likely that you might not be hearing words in the same way. Mumbling or dropped off consonants such as “S” or “T” is one of the first signs that your hearing is changing.
4. What Did You Say?
You may not even recognize that you can’t hear conversations any more until somebody points out that you say “What? a lot. Usually, the people you see every day like coworkers or family are the first to notice you are having difficulties hearing. If someone comments on it, pay attention.
5. Some People You Hear Fine But Others Not so Much
Maybe when you are having a chat with your neighbor everything sounds fine but when his wife starts to talk you can’t understand a word. You can have sensorineural hearing loss, or injury to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain, and this is a common symptom.
Her voice isn’t as clear because it’s a higher pitch. Your daughter or grandchild may present the same issue. Even when you are in common situations, something as simple as trying to hear the sound of an alarm clock ar a microwave can make things difficult. Those sounds are also high pitched.
6. Going Out Used to be a Lot More Fun
Even worse are the people who actually mumble. Also, it’s much harder to comprehend what people are saying when it’s noisy. Something as routine as the AC coming on during dinner or the sound of people chatting around you makes it impossible to hear anything.
7. You Never Used to Feel This Tired
It’s can be draining struggling to understand what people are saying. Your brain has to work extra hard to process what it does hear, so you are more tired than usual. Your other senses may also experience changes. What’s left for your other senses when your brain is working at 110 percent of its energy to understand words? It’s time to have your ears tested if your eye examination came back okay.
8. You Can’t Hear The TV
Rather than accusing the service provider when you have to keep cranking the TV up, think about getting a hearing test. When you have hearing loss it can be difficult to hear dialog. There is the background music confusing things, for example. And don’t forget about the AC, ceiling fan or other things in the room. If the volume keeps going up, then your hearing may be faltering.
The good news is all you need to do to know for certain is a professional hearing exam. Hearing aids should get things back to normal if it turns out that your hearing has declined.
Tinnitus is a condition that impacts over 45 million people in this country, according to the National Tinnitus Association. Rest assured, if you have it, you’re not alone. It’s often not clear why people experience tinnitus and there is no cure. Discovering ways to manage it is the secret to living with it, for most. The ultimate checklist to tackle tinnitus is an excellent place to start.
Learning About Tinnitus
About one in five people are walking around hearing sounds that no one else can hear because they suffer from tinnitus. Medically, tinnitus is described as the perception of a phantom sound caused by an inherent medical problem. It’s not an illness of itself, but a symptom, in other words.
Hearing loss is the most common reason people develop tinnitus. The brain is trying to fill in some gaps and that’s one way of thinking of it. A lot of the time, your brain works to translate the sound you hear and then decides if you need to know about it. All the sound around is converted by the ear into electrical signals but before that, it’s just pressure waves. The electrical impulses are translated into words you can comprehend by the brain.
Sound is all around you, but you don’t “hear” it all. If the brain doesn’t think a sound is important to you, it filters it out. You may not hear the wind blowing, for instance. Because it’s not essential, the brain masks the sound of it as it passes by your ears even though you can feel it. If you were able to listen to every sound, it would be both distracting and confusing.
There are less electrical signals for the brain to interpret when someone has hearing loss. The brain waits for them, but due to injury in the inner ear, they never come. The brain might attempt to create a sound of its own to fill the space when that happens.
Some Sounds tinnitus sufferers hear are:
It may be a soft, loud, low pitched, or high pitched phantom noise.
Hearing loss is not the only reason you might have tinnitus. Here are some other possible causes:
- Head injury
- TMJ disorder
- High blood pressure
- Meniere’s disease
- Malformed capillaries
- Tumor in the head or neck
- Loud noises around you
- Ear bone changes
- Poor blood flow in the neck
- Earwax build up
- Neck injury
- Acoustic neuroma
Although physically harmless, tinnitus is linked to anxiety and depression and high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping and other complications can occur.
Prevention is Your Ear’s Best Friend
Prevention is how you prevent an issue like with most things. Reducing your risk of hearing loss later in life begins with protecting your ears now. Tricks to protect your ear health include:
- When you’re at work or at home avoid long term exposure to loud noises.
- Spending less time using headphones or earbuds.
- If you have an ear infection, see a doctor.
Get your hearing tested every few years, also. The test not only alerts you to a hearing loss problem, but it allows you to get treatment or make lifestyle adjustments to prevent further damage.
If You Notice Tinnitus Symptoms
Ringing doesn’t tell you how or why you got tinnitus, but it does tell you that you have it. You can understand more with a little trial and error.
Abstain from wearing headphones or earbuds altogether and see if the sound stops after a while.
Take a close look at your noise exposure. The night before the ringing began were you around loud noise? Did you, for instance:
- Work or sit near an unusually loud noise
- Go to a concert
- Attend a party
- Listen to the music of TV with headphones or earbuds
If the answer is yes to any of those situations, it’s likely the tinnitus is temporary.
If The Tinnitus Doesn’t Get Better
Having an ear exam would be the next step. Some potential causes your physician will look for are:
- Ear damage
- Ear wax
- Stress levels
Here are some particular medications which may cause this problem too:
- Cancer Meds
- Water pills
- Quinine medications
Making a change may get rid of the tinnitus.
You can schedule a hearing exam if you can’t find any other apparent cause. Hearing aids can improve your situation and minimize the ringing, if you do have loss of hearing, by using hearing aids.
How is Tinnitus Treated?
Since tinnitus is a side effect and not an illness, treating the cause is the first step. If you have high blood pressure, medication will bring it down, and the tinnitus should fade away.
Looking for a way to control tinnitus is, for some, the only way to deal with it. White noise machines can be helpful. They generate the noise the brain is waiting for and the ringing stops. You can also try a fan, humidifier or dehumidifier to get the result.
Tinnitus retraining is another strategy. You wear a device that produces a tone to cover up the frequencies of the tinnitus. It can teach you not to focus on it.
Also, avoiding tinnitus triggers is important. They are not the same for each person, so start keeping a diary. Write down everything before the ringing started.
- What sound did you hear?
- What did you eat or drink?
- What were you doing?
The diary will help you to find patterns. You would know to order something different if you had a double espresso each time because caffeine is a known trigger.
Your quality of life is affected by tinnitus so your best chance is finding a way to eliminate it or at least lessen its impact. To find out more about your tinnitus, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist today.
There is one component that is the key to making hearing aids cost effective and that is the batteries. The cost of exchanging them adds up quickly and that makes it one of the largest financial issues when buying hearing aids.
Usually the batteries die at the worst time which is even more troubling. This is a huge problem even for rechargeable brands.
There are a few things you can do to increase the life of the batteries in hearing aids, so you don’t need to stop and replace them a few times every week. Make the batteries last just a little bit longer by thinking about these 6 simple ideas.
1. Be a Smart Hearing Aid Consumer
It starts when you are beginning to shop for your hearing aids. Battery life depends on many factors including features on the hearing aids or brand quality. Not every battery is made the same, either. Some cheaper hearing products have low quality components that work with cheaper cell batteries. Be sure to discuss this with your hearing care specialist because you will be switching out the batteries a lot.
Think about what features you need, and make some comparisons as you look around. You’ll discover that non-wireless hearing aids come with batteries that can last two times as long as the wireless devices. The bigger the hearing aid, the longer the battery will last, too. The smaller devices will need new batteries every couple of days, but larger units can go for up to two weeks on one battery. Understand how all of the features of a hearing aid affect the power consumption and then choose the ones you require.
2. The Hearing Aids Need to be Stored Properly
To lessen drainage of power you will normally need to open the battery door at night. Also, you will want to:
Store your batteries in a cool, dry place. Humidity and high temperatures will impact battery cells. The most important thing is to keep them away from heat sources like light bulbs. Room temperature is okay.
Also, a dehumidifier is a smart consideration. Both the batteries and the hearing aid itself are protected by doing this. Humidity in the air is hard on their fragile components.
3. Be Careful When You Change The Batteries
Start with clean, dry hands. The life of the battery is adversely impacted by humidity, grease, and germs. Until it’s time to use the batteries, be certain to leave the plastic tabs on. Modern hearing aid batteries mix zinc with the air to power on. You don’t need that to happen before you are ready.
It is worth letting them sit out for five minutes after you remove the tab but before you install them. The battery could be prolonged by days if you do this.
4. Play Around With Different Batteries and Battery Sources
Quality batteries have a longer life than cheap ones, obviously. Don’t only think of the brand, though, but what types of hearing aid batteries you’re using and also where you purchase them. Big box stores commonly sell quality batteries for less per unit if you buy in quantity.
If you buy them online, especially from auction sites such as eBay, use caution. Batteries have an expiration date that they need to be sold by. You shouldn’t use them after they expire.
The best way to get batteries at an affordable cost is to ask your hearing care specialist.
5. Accept The Inevitable And be Ready For it
Eventually, the batteries are going to quit. If you don’t want to find yourself in a difficult situation, it’s helpful to get an idea when this will occur. To keep track of when the batteries fizzle and need to be replaced, make a schedule. Over time, you’ll get an idea for when you need replacements.
A diary will also help you figure out which brands are right for your hearing devices and what features have the biggest effect on the battery life.
6. What Are the Alternatives to Batteries
Some modern day hearing aids are rechargeable and that is one of the best features. If you can save money on batteries, it will be worth paying a little more initially. Rechargeable batteries are likely the best choice if you need a lot of features like Bluetooth or wireless.
The batteries that make hearing aids run can be as significant an investment as the hearing aids are. A little due diligence goes a long way to extending the life of those batteries and saving you cash. Contact a hearing aid retailer for some information on what option is best for you.
When you think about Thanksgiving, what do you think about other than turkey? Does the cooking and preparing with your family start days before? Will you reminisce with each other while following grandma’s famous homemade pecan pie recipe? Is it warm and cozy not just because of the aroma coming out of the oven, but because you’re together? Will you be laughing while the family enjoys hearing about your son’s grades or listening to the grandkids laugh and play. Or are you fighting to hear what everyone is talking about?
The holiday doesn’t need to be defined for you by hearing loss. From talking over drinks at the company party to hearing the salesperson over the loud holiday shoppers, you can take control of how you enjoy the holidays this year. You don’t need to be held hostage by hearing loss. Consider some tricks that will allow you to enjoy the holidays despite your hearing loss.
Those Holiday Parties
For anyone who has loss of hearing, get-togethers could be the biggest challenge. Here are some suggestions that could make the experience less stressful:
- Provide some visual hints of your own. Something as simple as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re having difficulty hearing without you needing to tell someone.
- Stand with your back to the wall. It can help block some of the background noise.
- In order to feel less alone, request a seat close to the center of the table.
- Visual clues should be carefully noted. If someone is looking right at you, they are probably speaking to you. Let them know you didn’t hear what they said.
- If you are sitting through a speech, ask friends to pass you notes rather than attempting to whisper in your ear.
- Your expectations have to be managed. It’s pointless walking into a party and expecting everything to go perfectly. Your loss of hearing will definitely make things more challenging. Just approach it with a sense of humor and don’t allow the difficulties to stress you out.
- Go out of the room every now and then. Some time for the brain to rest and recover can be very helpful.
- Find places in the room that have better acoustics–perhaps a quiet corner.
- To get things you might have missed, enlist a hearing buddy to sit with you.
- Stand away from any speakers that might interfere with your hearing aids. Don’t be shy about asking the host to turn the music down so you can hear better.
Hearing loss can make traveling more difficult but don’t allow that to get in your way. To make your holiday trip go smoother, try these suggestions.
Flying or Taking the Train
If you prefer to fly or take a train, it can be hard to hear announcements over the intercom. There are some things you can do to make the trip smoother. Start off by checking with the airport to see if they provide any special services for the hearing impaired. There might be an app you can download on your phone that shows vital info or visual signs that show oral announcements. They may even offer a sign language interpreter or priority boarding. You can ask for priority seating if being close enough to ask questions or read lips. They might also offer to take you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is possible unless you ask, but do it a few weeks before you go.
When you board, be certain the attendants are aware you have hearing loss. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you don’t answer when they ask you about a drink.
When you reserve your hotel room, inform them you are hearing impaired. Vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing are devices that are available for those who suffer from hearing loss at many resorts. In order to improve your safety, some places also have alarms that flash lights.
What Hearing Aid Essentials to Pack
You may not be sure what to take with you if this is your first time traveling with your hearing aids. Pack these essentials:
- Additional accessories
- Replacement batteries or a second charger
- A cleaning kit
Wear your hearing aids as you pass security. Removing them is not necessary. Also, during a flight, you can leave them in.
And if you don’t already own hearing aids, maybe it’s time. There are features in modern hearing aids that will amplify sound while enhancing conversations and eliminating background noise. The holidays are a once a year celebration. Whether you have had hearing loss most of your life or just got them, there is no reason the holidays can’t be all that you remember. Make an appointment with your hearing care expert to find out what your hearing solutions are.
You have good days, and you have bad days, that’s normal for people who have tinnitus but why? Tinnitus is the medical name for ringing in the ears, a condition more than 45 million Americans endure, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and that’s accompanied by hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.
But that doesn’t make clear why the ringing is invasive some days and nearly non-existent on others. It is not completely clear why this occurs, but some typical triggers might clarify it.
What Is Tinnitus?
The following phantom noises are heard by people who suffer from tinnitus:
One of the things that makes tinnitus so disturbing is that you hear it but no one else does. The noise can vary in pitch and volume, too. It might be gone one day and the next it’s a roar.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Changes in a person’s hearing are the most common cause. These changes may be due to:
- Earwax build up
- Noise trauma
- Ear bone changes
Some other potential causes include:
- A problem with the carotid artery or jugular vein
- Meniere’s disease
- Acoustic neuroma
- Head injury
- Tumor in the neck or head
- TMJ problems
- High blood pressure
Sometimes there is no obvious explanation for tinnitus.
See your doctor to have your ears checked if you suddenly observe the symptoms of tinnitus. The issue could be something treatable or even a symptom of a life-threatening condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease. It may also be a side effect of a new medication.
For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.
It’s a bit of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those who have tinnitus. The reason may be different for each person, too. There are common triggers that might explain it, though.
Your tinnitus can be aggravated by loud events such as concerts, club music, and fireworks. If you expect to be subjected to loud noise, your best option is to wear hearing protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for instance, without injuring your ears by putting in earplugs.
Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the loud sound. When you go to a fireworks display don’t go up front and stay away from the front row at a live performance. Combined with hearing protection, this will lessen the impact.
Loud Noises at Home
Stuff at home can be just as aggravating as a loud concert. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for instance. Think about other things you do at home that could be a problem:
- Wearing headphones – It might be time to get rid of the earbuds or headphones. Their function is to increase the volume, and that might be irritating your ears.
- Woodworking – The tools you use can cause a hearing problem
- Laundry – If you fold clothes while the washer is running, for instance.
If there are activities you can’t or aren’t willing to avoid like woodworking, wear hearing protection.
Loud noises at work are just as harmful as any other. If you work near machinery or in construction it’s particularly important to wear hearing protection. Your employer will probably supply hearing protection if you let them know your concerns. Spend your personal time giving your ears a rest.
Air Pressure Changes
Most people have experienced ear popping when they fly. An increase in tinnitus can happen from the noise of the plane engine and the shift in pressure. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and consider ear protection.
Changes in air pressure occur everywhere not only on a plane. Taking the correct medication to alleviate sinus pressure is also helpful.
Speaking of medication, that could also be the problem. Some drugs are ototoxic, meaning they affect the ears. Some prevalent drugs on the list include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Have a talk with your doctor if you experience an intensifying of tinnitus after you start taking a new prescription. Changing to something else could be feasible.
Tinnitus is an irritation for some people, but for others, it can be disabling. The first step is to find out why you have it and then look at ways to keep it under control from day to day.
Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is unexpected for people who view hearing loss as a problem associated with getting old or noise damage. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and nearly 500,000 of them were under the age of 44. Some form of hearing loss probably impacts at least 250,000 of the younger people with this disease.
A person’s hearing can be impaired by quite a few diseases besides diabetes. Aging is a considerable aspect both in illness and loss of hearing but what is the relationship between these conditions and ear health? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.
What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical research appears to suggest there is one. A condition that suggests a person could develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.
Even though there are some theories, researchers still don’t know why this takes place. It is possible that damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could be triggered by high glucose levels. Diabetes is known to influence circulation, so that is a reasonable assumption.
This infectious disease causes loss of hearing. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain swell up and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing partially or completely if they develop this condition. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.
Meningitis has the potential to injure the delicate nerves that allow the inner ear to send signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.
Conditions that impact the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these common diseases:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
Typically, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be linked to age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is susceptible to harm. When there is an alteration of the blood flow, it may not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and injury to the inner ear then leads to loss of hearing.
Chronic Kidney Disease
A 2012 study published in The Laryngoscope found that people with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. A separate study found that chance to be as high as 43 percent. It is feasible that this connection is a coincidence, though. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure.
Another possibility is that the toxins that collect in the blood due to kidney failure might be the cause. These toxins may damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.
Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. A person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Trouble hearing can accelerate that process.
It also works the other way around. Somebody who has dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as injury to the brain increases.
Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. Hearing loss may impact both ears or only one side. The reason why this occurs is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. Messages are sent to the brain by this part of the ear. The good news is mumps is pretty scarce these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone will suffer from loss of hearing if they get the mumps.
Chronic Ear Infections
For the majority of people, the random ear infection is not very risky since treatment gets rid of it. However, the little bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force to deliver signals to the brain it’s called conductive hearing loss. Infections can also cause a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.
Many of the diseases that can lead to hearing loss can be avoided by prevention. Throughout your life protecting your hearing will be achievable if you exercise regularly, get the right amount of sleep, and have a healthy diet. You should also get regular hearing exams to make sure your ears stay healthy.
If you discover someone you love has hearing loss what should be done. It’s not an easy subject to bring up because often those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. It’s a frustrating issue for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the way to go. The things you do now will enhance the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it starts with discovering a way to talk about it. To help get you there, think about these guidelines.
Learn More so You Can Explain it Better
Discussing the issue is much less difficult if you first understand it. When you get older your chance of suffering from hearing loss increases. About one person out of every three suffer from some level of hearing reduction by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after the age of 75.
The scientific name for this form of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and normally affects both ears equally. Chances are this person began losing some hearing years before anyone noticed.
Persbyscusis happens for several reasons. The simplest reason for age-related hearing loss is that years of sound eventually breaks down delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the tiny hair cells. Electrical signals are generated which go to the brain. What you know as sound is actually a signal that is received and then translated by the brain. Those hairs are an essential factor of hearing.
The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
All of these can injure the ear and impair the hearing.
Make a Date
It’s not only important what you say but also where you choose to say it. Setting something up so you can have a talk is your best bet. You don’t want to be interrupted so select a quiet venue. If you have any literature on the topic, you should also bring that. For example, the doctor may have a brochure that clarifies presbycusis.
Let’s Discuss the Whys
Expect this person will be a little defensive. Loss of hearing is a sensitive subject because it is related to aging. Getting older is a difficult thing to acknowledge. Poor hearing may challenge the elderly’s idea that they are in control of their daily lives.
You will have to tell them how you know they have hearing loss and you will need to be specific.
They will have to be reminded how often they say “what did you say?” when people talk to them. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you understand and put everything into perspective, be patient.
Sit Back and Listen
Be prepared to sit back and listen once you have said what needs to be said. Your family member might express concerns or say they have recognized some changes but were unsure what to do. In order to help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions which motivate them to keep talking.
Let Them Know They Have a Support System
Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the biggest challenge. Many people don’t realize that they have family and friends on their side and feel isolated with their condition. Talk about others in the family that have had similar experiences and how they found ways to live with hearing loss.
Be Prepared to Offer Solutions
The most significant part of this discussion is going to be what should be done next. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are a lot of available tools including hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are now available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in many shapes and sizes. Show them some literature on a computer or brochure detailing the different devices that are available.
Seeing a doctor is step one. Not all hearing loss lasts forever. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that may be causing your problem by getting an ear exam. After that the doctor can set up a hearing test, and you can go from there.
Investigating the side effects of a medication when you first begin taking it is a natural thing to do. Can you expect to feel Nauseous or to have a dry mouth? What might not occur to you is that certain medications have a more extreme side effect – they can potentially cause hearing loss. Medical specialists call this condition ototoxicity. Ear poisoning is what ototoxicity breaks down to.
The number of drugs that can cause this problem is unclear, but there are at least 130 that are known to be ototoxic. What are some of the most common ones you should look out for and why?
A Little About Ototoxicity
How can a pill reap havoc on your ears after you swallow it? There are three places certain drugs can damage your hearing:
- The vestibule of the ear – This is the area that sits in the center of the labyrinth that makes up the cochlea. It helps regulate balance. Vestibulotoxicity medications can make you dizzy or feel like the room is spinning.
- The stria vascularis – Located in the cochlea, the stria vascularis generates endolymph, the fluid in the inner ear. Too much or too little endolymph has a significant impact on both hearing and balance.
- The cochlea – That’s the seashell-shaped element of the inner ear that takes sound and converts it into an electrical signal the brain can comprehend. Damage to the cochlea affects the range of sound you can hear, commonly starting with high frequencies then expanding to include lower ones.
Tinnitus is caused by some drugs while others lead to hearing loss. Tinnitus is a phantom noise people hear that usually presents as:
- A windy sound
Usually if you quit using the medication the tinnitus will stop. Unfortunately, permanent hearing loss can be caused by some of these drugs.
What Drugs Put You at Risk?
Permanent hearing loss can be caused by a list of drugs that will probably surprise you. Many of them you probably have in your medicine cabinet even now, and there’s a chance you take them before bed or when you are in pain.
Over the counter pain relievers are at the top of the list of ototoxic drugs:
You can add to this list salicylates that you may better know as aspirin. While all these can cause some hearing problems, they are reversible when you discontinue taking the meds.
Coming in a close second for common ototoxic drugs are antibiotics. Not all antibiotics are ototoxic, however. a few that aren’t which you may have heard of include:
The problem goes away when you stop using the antibiotics just like with painkillers. The standard list of other drugs include:
Diamox, Bumex, Lasix and Edecrin are diuretics which cause tinnitus but there are bigger offenders in this category: Each and every time you drink your coffee in the morning, you are subjecting yourself to something that might cause your ears to ring. The good news is it will clear up once the drug is out of your system. Some drugs, ironically, that doctors give to treat tinnitus are in fact on the list of offenders. The prescribed amount should be less than the amount triggers ringing, though. The symptoms of tinnitus vary based on the health of your ears and what medication you get. Mildly irritating to completely incapacitating is what you can generally be expecting. Look for: If you have any of these symptoms after taking a medication even if it’s an over-the-counter herbal supplement, you should get in touch with your physician. Does ototoxicity mean you shouldn’t use the medication? You always should take what your doctor prescribes. Remember that these symptoms are not permanent. Keep yourself aware by always asking your doctor about the potential side effects of a medication and don’t be reluctant to ask about ototoxicity. You should also schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to have a hearing test.
Ototoxicity Has Specific Symptoms
Diamox, Bumex, Lasix and Edecrin are diuretics which cause tinnitus but there are bigger offenders in this category:
Each and every time you drink your coffee in the morning, you are subjecting yourself to something that might cause your ears to ring. The good news is it will clear up once the drug is out of your system. Some drugs, ironically, that doctors give to treat tinnitus are in fact on the list of offenders.
The prescribed amount should be less than the amount triggers ringing, though.
The symptoms of tinnitus vary based on the health of your ears and what medication you get. Mildly irritating to completely incapacitating is what you can generally be expecting.
If you have any of these symptoms after taking a medication even if it’s an over-the-counter herbal supplement, you should get in touch with your physician.
Does ototoxicity mean you shouldn’t use the medication? You always should take what your doctor prescribes. Remember that these symptoms are not permanent. Keep yourself aware by always asking your doctor about the potential side effects of a medication and don’t be reluctant to ask about ototoxicity. You should also schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist to have a hearing test.
Is your loss of hearing causing you to talk less frequently on the phone? Hearing loss, as time goes by, can cause you to feel isolated. Don’t just stop using your phone. There are ways to work it out so you can stay in touch with the ones you love.
Communication is The key
With any relationship, communication is an essential aspect and the same goes for your phone. What can be done improve the situation is the real question.
- Have you had a hearing test? Your hearing loss might not be permanent so it’s important to get a correct diagnosis. It may possibly be something as straightforward as earwax buildup or an ear infection.
- Bluetooth or headphones may be options if you’ve already turned the volume up. Maybe that’s all you need to make your phone sound better and it doesn’t cost very much.
- Are the voices too quiet? Check to make sure the volume is all the way up on the phone.
Once you rule out some of the more obvious issues, you can have a look at other possibilities that will get you back on the phone.
There’s an App For That
The truth is, there’s more than one app. There are many apps you can download that work to get you, and your phone back on the same page, some of which are pretty cool.
Some apps turn what the other person says to text you can read. These apps are far from perfect, but you should be able to work with them. Brands to look up include:
You can’t get all voice to text apps for free but most won’t cost very much.
There is a Phone For That
If you are looking for a landline solution, you can find phones for your home that function the same way as an app. By amplifying the voice an the other end, they make it less difficult to hear. An equalizer makes the high pitched sounds that usually get lost clearer.
You also have the possibility of getting a captioning phone. The captioning service requires a unique phone that has an LCD screen. Captioning works with a third party operator that either repeats the spoken words so speech recognition software can translate them into text or types them right into the system. From there the words are displayed on the screen of the phone. Also, the internet is needed for most captioning devices.
Text-to-Voice Teletype (TTY) is an old-school phone system that is still available and works similarly to the captioning phone. You need to get a TTY device that sits near the phone to display the text, though.
Hearing Aids Are The Best Choice
In the past, whenever a hearing aid was near a phone, you would get ear piercing feedback, but those days are over. You can get hearing aid compatible phones that eliminate background noise and other kinds of interference to improve sound quality. Current hearing aid technology is compatible with these phones. What’s more, they are wireless and work even when you’re not on the phone.
State of the art, high quality hearing aids can also have a more cutting edge program that permits them to be compatible with almost any phone whether it’s a landline or smartphone. The technology works by holding the hearing device up to the phone and streaming the sound from the one to the other.
Many digital hearing aids are also Bluetooth compatible. You pair the phone up with the hearing aids just like you would with wireless headphones or earbuds. When the phone rings, the sound is sent directly to your hearing aids.
Don’t permit hearing loss to wreck your friendships and other relationships. Do what you must to get back on your phone, and start talking again. It’s time to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to look at the newest hearing aid technology.