Are there Surgeries for Hearing Loss?

According to Healthy Hearing’s article What Surgeries can Correct Hearing Loss?, “Currently, surgeries for hearing loss can only correct very specific losses while people with the most common types still benefit the most from simply wearing hearing aids.”

The article looks at a few surgeries that are available for different types of hearing loss, and explains how they work and who they may benefit:

Cochlear Implants

Type of hearing loss: Sensorineural hearing loss

Ideal candidates: Adults and children with severe sensorineural hearing loss who have tried hearing aids without success. It is a highly invasive and costly surgery and therefore reserved for the few with the most severe hearing loss.

How it works: “A cochlear implant bypasses the damaged part of the auditory system to directly stimulate the auditory nerve.”

Pressure Equalization (PE) Tubes

Type of hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss

Ideal candidates: Toddlers, children, and adults who suffer from chronic ear infections. It “may also be recommended to correct hearing problems associated with malformed eardrums or Eustachian tube, Down Syndrome or cleft palate”. This is an outpatient procedure and frequently performed.

How it works: “Tiny cylinders are placed through the eardrum by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon in order to allow air into the middle ear.”

Stapedectomy

Type of hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss

Ideal candidates: People with Stapedial otosclerosis, which causes conductive hearing loss. Note that this surgery is not for those with Cochlear otosclerosis, as it causes sensorineural hearing loss.

How it works: “A surgical procedure which implants a prosthetic device designed to bypass abnormal hardening of the bone tissue in the middle ear.”

So yes, there are surgeries for hearing loss. However, the surgeries available only help a small percentage of people. If you aren’t among that small percentage, don’t worry- there are all kinds of hearing aids available that can help you hear better and live better.

We can help find the best treatment option for you at Center for Hearing. Contact us to make an appointment today!

Study Finds Subtle Hearing Loss While Young Changes Brain Function

New research from the Ohio State University gives further evidence as to why it is important for young people to protect their hearing now.

As explained in the OSU news article, lead researcher Yune Lee and his team recruited a group of men and women ages 18 to 41. The research team monitored the participants’ brain function while they listened to sentences that varied in difficulty, so some sentences would be harder to comprehend.

Researchers were surprised to find that participants who had subtle hearing loss showed activity in the right frontal cortex of the brain, which “shouldn’t be happening until people are at least older than 50,” Lee said.

“Lee said he is concerned that tapping into the right brain so early in life could mean worse hearing comprehension with age,” and “he’s especially worried about the link between hearing loss and dementia.”

Subtle Hearing Loss in Young People

Listening to loud noises for long periods of time is a common risk factor for hearing loss in young people.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events.”

What You Can Do

The WHO encourages young people to protect their hearing by:

  • Turning down the volume
  • Wearing earplugs at noisy venues
  • Use carefully fitted, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones
  • “Limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour.”
  • Use smartphone apps to monitor safe listening levels
  • Get regular hearing check-ups

Most young people with subtle hearing loss probably aren’t even aware of it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real threat to both their hearing and brain function, so start protecting your hearing now. If you have any questions about how you can better protect your hearing, or if it’s time for a hearing check-up, contact Center for Hearing.

Hearing Aids: The Basics

Three Basic Parts of a Hearing Aid

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) explains how the basic parts of a hearing aid work: “A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.”

Visit NIDCD’s page on hearing aids for more information.

Types and Styles of Hearing Aids

An article by Healthy Hearing goes over the different Hearing Aid Types and Styles that are available. There are two main styles of hearing aids: In-the-Ear (ITE) and Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and there are multiple sizes available in each style.

In-the-ear (ITE) Styles: “Worn in the ear and are usually custom-fit, based on an impression that is taken by the hearing care professional at the time of the hearing aid consultation.”

  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids
  • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
  • Low profile hearing aids

Behind-the-ear (BTE) Styles: “Sit behind or on top of the outer ear with tubing that routes the sound down into the ear canal via a custom-fit earmold or an ear tip that doesn’t block the entire ear canal opening.”

  • Mini BTE hearing aids with slim tubes and tips
  • Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids
  • BTE hearing aids with earmolds

Read Healthy Hearing’s article for more information about each style and the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as a flowchart to help you decide which style might fit you best.

Selecting a Hearing Aid: Things to Consider

Your hearing care professional will help you find the perfect fit by assessing your hearing needs as well as talking with you about a variety of things.

Healthy Hearing’s article on Hearing Aids lists some things to consider when you and your doctor are selecting and fitting a device, including:

  • Budget
  • Cosmetic preferences
  • Social preferences
  • Career demands
  • Hobbies
  • Other physical challenges and dexterity issues
  • Attitudes about technology
  • Any needed accessories

If you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, or perhaps you need to update your current device, contact us at Center for Hearing. We will work with you to help you find a hearing aid that fits your unique needs.

Link Between Hearing Loss and Other Health Issues

Research shows that there is a link between hearing loss and many other health issues and diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension

Healthy Hearing’s article Reasons for Hearing Loss names some of the medical conditions that have a strong link with hearing loss. One of these is cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“Wisconsin researchers found that people with a history of heart disease were on average 54 percent more likely to have impaired cochlear function than adults without CVD.” Studies show that the link between the two is “all about blood flow” which is explained further in Healthy Hearing’s article Hearing Loss and Heart Disease.

Research also shows that there is a link between hearing loss and some of the factors that cause CVD including high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. As explained in a post by Starkey Hearing, hypertension (high blood pressure) can accelerate hearing loss. This is based on a study which “confirmed that hypertension does effect hearing by accelerating the degeneration of the ‘hearing apparatus’ due to aging.”

Diabetes

Healthy Hearing’s article Hearing Care is Health Care talks about the strong link between diabetes and hearing loss: “According to the American Diabetes Association, individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss as those who do not have the disease.”

Why? “Researchers suspect the high glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the blood vessels in the inner ear.”

Chronic Kidney Disease

The same article explains the findings of a study done on the link between chronic kidney disease and hearing loss: “An Australian research team discovered older adults with moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a higher prevalence of hearing loss than those without CKD. Of the 2,900 participants in the study age 50 and older, more than 54 percent of the participants with CKD reported some level of hearing loss, compared to 28 percent of participants without the disease.”

Why? “Researchers believe this is because of structural similarities between tissue of the inner ear and that of the kidney.”

Other Medical Conditions and Diseases

There are several other medical conditions that are related to hearing loss as well, such as osteoporosis. Common chemotherapy medications and other ototoxic drugs have also been linked with hearing loss, and smokers are nearly two times as likely as nonsmokers to have hearing loss.

What Can You Do?

Healthy Hearing’s answer to that question is “Get Pro-active!”

First, be aware. Be aware of the link that exists between hearing loss and other health conditions. If you suffer from any of the issues mentioned, have your hearing checked regularly, and get treated if necessary.

Second, maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can prevent or reduce the risk of developing some of these medical conditions by: eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and cutting out bad habits such as smoking.

Having your hearing checked is always a good idea, but even more so if you suffer from other medical conditions. Contact Center for Hearing today!

 

How Loud is too Loud?

We live in a noisy world. But did you know that many noises you hear on a regular basis could potentially damage your hearing?

Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and according to the CDC, “Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.”

Common Noises Over 85 dB

The CDC lists some of the common noises with decibel levels that exceed 85 dB. Familiarize yourself with these noises and pay attention to the amount of time you would need to be exposed to that sound before it could potentially cause hearing damage. (For a more complete list, visit the CDC’s website.)

Safety depends on both the noise level and exposure time. To learn more about the relationship between noise level and exposure time, and how to determine what’s safe, visit NIOSH’s website.

What can you do?

There are easy ways to protect your hearing whenever you are exposed to dangerously loud noises for an extended period of time:

  • Wear earmuffs or earplugs: Disposable earplugs are effective and cheap. Another option is custom fit musician plugs, which “provide protection while preserving music fidelity”.
  • Keep the volume at a safe level
  • Be aware of how long you are being exposed to loud noises and adjust accordingly to protect your hearing. Consider downloading a smartphone app that measures noise levels and schedule regular appointments with a hearing professional.

Loud noises are a part of everyday life, so it may not seem like a harmful thing. But the reality is, being around loud noises for too long can cause damage.

The audiologists at Center for Hearing can help you protect your hearing and would be happy to answer any questions you may have about noise-induced hearing loss, earplugs and protective devices. Contact us today!

Three Types of Hearing Loss

There are three types of hearing loss, each with its own causes, symptoms and treatment options. Healthy Hearing’s article Types of Hearing Loss and Starkey Hearing’s post on the types, causes and treatment of hearing loss discuss the qualities of each.

Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Conductive
Status Most common (more than 90%) Permanent Less common

May be permanent or temporary

Healthy Hearing Definition; Types “Occurs when there is damage to either the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear or the auditory nerve itself, which prevents or weakens the transfer of nerve signals to the brain.”
Two types: Congenital (happens during pregnancy) and
Acquired (occurs after birth)
“Occurs when there is an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear.”

– Causes differ, depending on whether the outer or middle ear is affected.

Causes – Genetic syndrome

– Infection passed from mother to fetus in the womb (toxoplasmosis, rubella, herpes)

– Aging

– Diseases and viral infections

– Traumatic injuries

– Exposure to loud noises

– Medications

– Tumors, growths and malformations of the inner ear

– Meniere’s Disease

– Fluid in the middle ear

– Ear infections

– Allergies

– Perforated eardrum

– Ear wax impaction

– Swimmer’s ear

– Obstructions caused by foreign bodies

– Blockages in the Eustachian tube

– Tumors, growths and malformations of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear

– Traumatic injury

Symptoms Loudness AND clarity of sounds is affected Loudness of sounds is affected
Treatment Hearing aids, cochlear implants Medication, surgery, hearing aids

 

Mixed Hearing Loss

The third type of hearing loss is mixed- a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Therefore, the causes, symptoms and treatment for mixed hearing loss is a combination of those true of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, and depend on your unique condition.

For more information about the causes, symptoms and treatment of each kind of hearing loss, visit healthyhearing.com.

If you’ve been struggling with your hearing, make an appointment with one of our audiologists today. We can determine which type of hearing loss you suffer from, and then find the best treatment option for you.

 

Listening Training Programs

Healthy Hearing recently posted a report about how Brain Training may Help Seniors Understand Better in Noisy Places. This is based on the findings from a new study conducted by Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary researchers.

In the study, elderly subjects trained on a closed-loop computerized audio game for eight weeks. For these subjects, “speech-in-noise intelligibility in challenging listening conditions improved by 25%,” whereas speech intelligibility was unchanged in the subjects in the placebo group who did not train on the audio game.

Fortunately, there are several programs and games designed to improve your speech-in-noise intelligibility. Healthy Hearing lists three great programs in their report:

Listening Training Programs

  1. LACE (Listening and Communication Enhancement): These programs are designed to “retrain the brain to comprehend speech up to 40 percent better in difficult listening situations”.
  2. clEARWorks4EARs: “This customized program trains your ability to recognize speech in noisy and quiet environments while exercising cognitive skills necessary for speech, word memory and attention.”
  3. Angel Sound: “People with auditory processing disorders, cochlear implants or hearing aids can practice identifying and discriminating sounds and speech components through a series of PC-based, interactive, self-paced modules which cover different aspects of the listening process.”

In addition to these programs, there are several apps and games designed for adults and children with hearing loss. Healthy Hearing lists some of these in their article Exercise your Ears: Apps and Games to Keep Hearing Sharp:

Apps and Games

  1. Advanced Bionics: AB, a developer of cutting-edge cochlear implant technology, offers a variety of hearing rehabilitation apps for adults and children.
  2. Forbrain: Speaking out loud while wearing specialized Forbrain headphones help adults and children improve in many areas.
  3. HAPPYneuron: This customized brain training program uses games that are designed to improve cognitive functions.
  4. Luminosity: This brain training program has daily workouts and games adapted to your cognitive level.

Healthy Hearing also suggests doing exercises at home such as having conversations with the TV or radio on and trying to focus on the conversation while tuning out other noises. Another good exercise is to close your eyes and practice identifying and then isolating individual sounds. Meditation and yoga can also be beneficial.

Of course, listening training programs, apps and games won’t cure hearing loss, and they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for hearing aids. However, studies show that these programs and games can be beneficial for those with hearing loss. Not only are many of these programs fun, but when it comes to exercising your brain, there are no downsides. So why not try it?

ReSound LiNX 3D Hearing Aid

Introducing ReSound LiNX 3D – ReSound’s latest and most advanced digital hearing aid. It uses advanced technology for better hearing, it’s smartphone compatible, and has a convenient and comfortable design.

Advanced Technology for Better Hearing

  • Surround Sound: Hear everything around you without having to adjust your position
  • Spatial Sense Technology: Get a clear and natural sense of the sounds around you
  • Binaural Directionality III: Focus on certain sounds without being cut off from your surroundings
  • Sound Processing: This technology emulates the performance of the natural ear to make speech seem clearer and deliver a richer, more vibrant sound

Smartphone Compatible

The ReSound Smart 3D App is compatible with a number of Apple devices and Android devices. *For a complete list of compatible devices and more information on compatibility click here*

The ReSound Smart 3D App makes it easy to:

  • Adjust your hearing aid settings
  • Personalize your hearing by creating and saving your favorite settings
  • Pick and save settings designed for your location
  • Find lost hearing aids
  • Manage tinnitus
  • Request assistance from your hearing health professional through ReSound Assist and receive the updates you need
  • Stream calls, music and movie/tv dialogue from your device to your hearing aid

Convenient Design

ReSound LiNX 3D is one of many hearing aids we have available at Center for Hearing. If you think ReSound LiNX 3D could be the right hearing aid for you, make an appointment with one of our audiologists. We want to help you find the perfect hearing aid that best fits your lifestyle and your unique needs. So call us today! (479) 785-3277

Tinnitus

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) describes tinnitus as “the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present.”

This condition is extremely common and, according to the ATA, more than 50 million people suffer from some form of tinnitus.

More than 99% of those people suffer from Subjective Tinnitus, which the ATA defines as “head or ear noises that are perceivable only to the specific patient”. The other type, objective tinnitus, is “head or ear noises that are audible to other people, as well as the patient,” and is experienced by less than 1% of total tinnitus cases.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

While most people who have experienced tinnitus describe it as a “ringing in the ears”, there are a variety of sounds that can be perceived, which the ATA categorizes into three groups:

  • Tonal Tinnitus: near-continuous sound
  • Pulsatile Tinnitus: pulsing sounds, often in-beat with heartbeat
  • Musical Tinnitus: music or singing (very rare)

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused by a number of conditions or illnesses. The ATA explains, “While tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, there are roughly 200 different health disorders that can generate tinnitus as a symptom.”

Some of the more common causes associated with tinnitus include:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss and age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Hearing conditions (otosclerosis and Ménière’s disease), blockages in the ear (excessive ear wax, head congestion) sinus pressure and barometric trauma
  • Head and neck trauma, TBI, and TMJ disorder
  • A variety of diseases and health conditions

Can tinnitus be treated?

Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for tinnitus.

However, there are ways to manage tinnitus. Some patients experience relief after improving their general wellness. There are also hearing aids and a variety of treatments and therapies that may give a patient relief.

Keep in mind, every patient is unique, and every case of tinnitus is unique. That means every treatment plan is unique.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Center for Hearing, so we can find the right treatment for you.

The Dos & Don’ts of Ear Cleaning

If you have a habit of using cotton swabs or other small items to clean your ears, it’s time to stop.

Why? Because inserting things in your ear does more bad than good. In a blog post about ear cleaning, audiologist Stephanie Loccisano said, “Cotton swabs can push the earwax deeper into the ear, causing an impaction and preventing the eardrum from vibrating properly”.

Healthy Hearing’s article Why you Shouldn’t Clean Your Ears with a Cotton Swab said medical experts have seen punctured eardrums, badly impacted wax, and many other issues caused by cotton swab ear cleaning. Inserting things into your ear could damage your ear canal or eardrum, and could lead to hearing loss.

Earwax is not a bad thing to have. In fact, it’s there for a reason, and it does a lot of good. According to Loccisano, earwax prevents unwanted foreign bodies from entering the ear, keeps the ears from getting dry and itchy, and acts as an antifungal and antibacterial.

Earwax is a natural thing, and it usually exits the ear naturally too.

Loccisano said earwax can work its way out through jaw motions like talking and chewing. Healthy Hearing explains that the skin in the ear canal grows in such a way that earwax will usually loosen and fall out on its own.

So, for most people, a shower is all the cleaning your ears ever need. Wash your outer ear, but leave your inner ear to clean itself.

However, some people do experience more wax buildup than others, and it is more common among older adults and people who wear hearing aids.

Still, it is important to avoid self-cleaning using cotton swabs.

The symptoms of earwax buildup, which are listed in Loccisano’s blog post, include difficulty hearing, fullness or ringing in the ears, ear pain, an odor coming from the ear, and dizziness.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit your audiologist. If earwax removal is needed, Loccisano said your doctor can use water irrigation, suction or a curette to scoop out the earwax. They can also talk to you about safe ways to clean your ears at home if needed.
Keep your hearing healthy by leaving the cleaning to your ears, or your audiologist.