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.

Hearing Protection for Hunters

Hunting season is a much-anticipated time for some. Now that it’s here, hunters are eager to start the season with a bang. But gunshots can result in hearing damage without the proper protection.

Dr. Linton, who is a hunter herself, and all the doctors at Center for Hearing recommend that hunters use SoundGear protection products.

“Hearing damage can occur with exposure to sounds 90dB and up — yet a typical gunshot generates 140dB of sound. SoundGear electronic hearing protection provides proven, effective noise reduction during each gun blast and superior environmental monitoring between every shot.”

Benefits of SoundGear:

  • Effective protection: Depending on the model, devices deliver a Noise Reduction Rating of 24-26dB
  • Hear your surroundings: Devices provide 100% digital sound enhancement designed to deliver superior environmental monitoring between gun shots
  • Better than earmuffs: Unlike most earmuffs that are bulky and reduce all sounds, SoundGear devices are small enough to fit in your pocket and are designed to protect your hearing from gun blasts while simultaneously enhancing environmental awareness

SoundGear Products:

  • Instant Fit Electronic: The smallest and lightest on the market, and rests discreetly inside the wearer’s ear to deliver natural wind reduction and superior 100% digital sound quality.
  • Custom Fit Electronic: Custom molded to each wearer’s ear, and features the most advanced 100% digital electronic hearing protection and enhancement technology on the market.
  • Behind-the-Ear Electronic: For the customer looking for the classic look and feel of a Behind-The-Ear product, a great solution for just about any recreational hunter or shooter.

Both the Custom Fit Electronic and Behind-the-Ear Electronic devices are available in two technology levels- platinum and silver. Platinum is for the more avid hunter or professional shooter and comes with four distinct memory modes, while Silver, although just as effective, is for those who may not shoot as often, and comes with one memory mode.

SoundGear also offers custom earplug solutions and accessories.

Before your next hunting trip, make an appointment with us. We would be happy to talk with you about the SoundGear products we offer, and help you find and order the right product for you.

Center for Hearing Promotes Better Hearing and Breast Cancer Awareness with “Hear in Pink” Campaign

Celebrating 10 Years of Support for Breast Cancer Research

Everyone knows someone – a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother or friend – who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer in American women. That’s why, during October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Kelley Linton of Center for Hearing in Fort Smith, Arkansas joins with leading hearing care manufacturer Oticon, Inc. to promote the national “Hear in Pink” campaign. Celebrating its tenth year in 2017, the annual campaign combines Dr. Kelley Linton’s commitment to hearing health with support for life-saving breast cancer research.

Throughout September and October, Oticon will donate a portion of the sales of a special edition pink Oticon Opn™ and all Opn hearing aids to the National Breast Cancer Coalition to fund critical research. In 10 years of “hearing in pink,” Oticon has donated more than $100,000 to non-profit breast cancer organizations.

“The ‘Hear in Pink’ campaign allows me to continue my focus on improving the hearing health of people in Fort Smith and at the same time, support research to end breast cancer,” said Dr. Kelley Linton. “For everyone, ‘Hear in Pink’ is an opportunity to show support for individuals, families and friends who are touched by a disease that represents one of every three cancers diagnosed in women.”

At the heart of this year’s “Hear in Pink” campaign is Oticon Opn. The small, discreet hearing aid offers advantages that even the most sophisticated hearing solutions of today can’t deliver – the ability to manage listening to multiple speakers in noisy environments, like restaurants or social gatherings.

Opn not only opens a world of sound for more people with hearing loss, it brings additional benefits, like the convenience of rechargeable batteries, built-in tinnitus relief sounds and the ability to connect to the Internet. Opn also connects directly to iPhone® and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The optional TV Adapter turns Opn hearing aids into a pair of wireless headphones for TV listening.

For more information on the special edition pink Oticon Opn, contact Dr. Kelley Linton at (479) 785-3277 or visit centerforhearing.net.

 

Oticon Opn is compatible with iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone5c, iPhone 5, 9.7 -inch iPad Pro, 12.9- inch iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Air (4th generation), iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2, iPad mini, and iPod touch 5th and 6th generation). Devices must be running iOS 9.3 or later.  Please visit www.oticon.com for more details.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

It is important for people with hearing loss to take necessary action and get the treatment they need. Why? The list of reasons is long, and new research on dementia has made that list even longer.

According to a recent study conducted by The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care, “Dementia is the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century: around 50 million people worldwide have dementia and this number is predicted to triple by 2050”. The good news is, “dementia is not an inevitable consequence of aging”.

In the study, researchers identified nine risk factors for developing dementia: less childhood education, hypertension, obesity, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, diabetes, and, you guessed it- hearing loss.

The study found that, by eliminating some of these risk factors, the number of new dementia cases could be reduced by as much as 35%. In other words, there are things you can do to delay or prevent the development of dementia.

Several other studies have been conducted in previous years that support these findings, and the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In a 2014 study conducted by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Aging, researchers found that, “although the brain becomes smaller with age, the shrinkage seems to be fast-tracked in older adults with hearing loss”.

Johns Hopkins also conducted a 2013 study and concluded that, “older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal”. Researchers found that, “volunteers with hearing loss, undergoing repeated cognition tests over six years, had cognitive abilities that declined some 30 percent to 40 percent faster than in those whose hearing was normal. Levels of declining brain function were directly related to the amount of hearing loss, the researchers say. On average, older adults with hearing loss developed a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years sooner than those with normal hearing.”

One of the Johns Hopkins researchers who was involved in both studies is Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D.. In the 2013 study, Lin said, “Degraded hearing may also force the brain to devote too much of its energy to processing sound, and at the expense of energy spent on memory and thinking.” Luckily, hearing aids can help with that problem.

Do not ignore hearing loss, and do not delay getting the treatment you need. Take it from someone who knows what he’s talking about. “If you want to address hearing loss well,” Lin says, “you want to do it sooner rather than later. If hearing loss is potentially contributing to these differences we’re seeing on MRI, you want to treat it before these brain structural changes take place.”

Whether your hearing is healthy or not, everyone can take action to delay or prevent dementia and cognitive decline. Protect your hearing, schedule annual hearing tests, and get the treatment you need.

Don’t put it off any longer, for your brain’s sake.

How to Enjoy a Summer Party with Hearing Loss

Summer parties and outdoor get-togethers can be a lot of fun, but if you suffer from hearing loss, they can also be challenging and frustrating. Healthy Hearing’s article “How to Enjoy a Summer Party with Hearing Loss” lists seven ways you can get the most out of those fun under-the-sun gatherings with family and friends.

1.     Find the perfect spot: Sit in a well-lit, quiet place (away from fans, speakers, etc.) with your back to the sun so you can easily lipread without a glare.

*If the sun or noise invades your once-perfect spot, find a new one.

2.      Come prepared: Bring ear protection, and when there are loud outdoor noises, move far away from the noise, remove your hearing aids, or go inside.

3.     Move around: Outdoor parties give you the freedom to move around so you can hear and engage in all the conversations you want!

*If one person or group is especially hard to hear, move on to another group.

4.     Use technology: Find which hearing aid settings work best outside. Try using new technologies such as personal FM systems or other communication devices.

5.     Give yourself a break: Excuse yourself for a few minutes of alone time to give your ears and brain a rest.

6.     Stop pretending: Don’t want to ask “what?” again? Instead of doing the smile-and-nod, show you’re having trouble hearing by giving visual clues, such as cupping your ear.

7.     Don’t sweat it!: Don’t be afraid when miscommunication happens- just laugh it off!

Hearing loss does not have to keep you from having a good time at your upcoming family picnic, BBQ, or summer party. Use these tips to make your next summer get-together the best one yet!

Hearing Health Tips for the Summer

Healthy Hearing recently posted an article about summer hearing health for kids, an important topic that every parent needs to be aware of. Check out this list to learn how your family can have fun the healthy way during all your favorite summer activities!

Independence Day

Fireworks are a necessity on July 4th, but boy, are they loud. Noises above 85 decibels (dB) are considered unsafe, and that includes exploding fireworks (130 dB).

What you can do: Put a lot of distance between you and the place where the fireworks are being launched. By sitting farther away, you will be able to “ooo and ahh” as much as you want, without putting your hearing at risk.

Summer Concerts

Summer is a prime time for outdoor concerts, but they can be about 100 dB, and therefore potentially harmful.

What you can do:  Distance yourself from the loud speakers. You don’t have to be on the front row to enjoy a concert. You DO need to be away from dangerously loud speakers to ensure your hearing is protected.

Swimming

Swimming is one of the best ways to cool off in the summer, but it could cause swimmer’s ear and other ear infections.

What you can do:

  • Always dry your ears and remove excess water after swimming and bathing
  • Wear custom fit swimmer’s ear plugs
  • Naturally release trapped water by pulling down on your earlobe while tilting your ear towards the ground. Chewing gum and yawning also help.

Using Electronic Devices

Since they aren’t in school, kids may spend more time watching TV, listening to music, and using other electronic devices, which can be damaging if the volume is too high.

What you can do: Implement the 60-60 rule that Healthy Hearing suggests: no more than 60 minutes a day, at no more than 60% of the volume. You can also use parental restrictions on your child’s phone and other devices to limit volume.

Finally, take advantage of the influence you have on your child as a parent. Summer is the perfect opportunity to practice healthy hearing habits, and encourage your child to do as you do.

 

Free CaptionCall Phone

If you suffer from hearing loss, talking on the phone can be frustrating. The good news is, there’s an easy way to make telephone conversations a lot more pleasant.

The CaptionCall phone was designed for people who have a difficult time hearing on the telephone. It’s easy to use, and provides a captioning service, quality amplification and other special features that make it easy to hear and understand.

The best part? It’s FREE! If you have a medically recognized hearing disability, then the CaptionCall phone is completely free to you.

How it works: The basics are the same- you dial, answer, and talk just like you would with a regular phone. CaptionCall uses technology and a communications assistant to convert the caller’s words into text, which then appears on the phone’s display screen almost instantaneously.

  • The CaptionCall phone has a long list of great features, including:
  • The first and only captioning phone that meets the TIA’s strict amplification standards for people with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss.
  • Large, easy-to-read 7” touch screen
  • Large, adjustable text sizes
  • Secure and accurate captioning
  • Save captioned conversations and store contacts
  • Telecoil loop connection

Find the longer, more detailed list of CaptionCall features on their website.

 

So, how do you get your own CaptionCall phone?

Simply tell your audiologist you would like a CaptionCall phone. After your doctor completes the Professional Certification Form, CaptionCall will contact you to schedule the delivery of your phone. All you need is a standard home phone line and internet connection, and CaptionCall will provide you with:

  • Free phone (with professional certification)
  • Free captioning service (no monthly bills)
  • Free delivery, installation and in-home training

If you are ready to talk on the phone with confidence, come see one of Center for Hearing’s audiologists Dr. Linton, Dr. Cash, or Dr. Boyd. They would love to set you up with a CaptionCall phone, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

CaptionCall also offers a mobile app for iPad. It has all the same features as the phone, and enables you to make and receive captioned phone calls from your iPad. This is also free, but you will need a CaptionCall account, an Apple iPad 2 or later, and Wi-Fi or cellular internet connection.

Stop dreading phone calls, and start enjoying them by getting your own FREE CaptionCall phone!

Better Hearing Month: More than Speech and Hearing

There are many people with untreated hearing loss who aren’t even aware that they have a problem. So why is awareness of the problem and treatment of it so important? Well, the obvious answer is so that a person can improve their hearing. But did you know that it is also important for your overall health?

The Better Hearing Institute lists 10 Things You Should Know About Hearing Loss and Your Health:

1. Hearing loss is tied to depression

2. Hearing loss and dementia are linked

3. Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes

4. Your hearing may say something about your heart

5. Staying fit may also help your hearing

6. Hearing loss may put you at greater risk of falling

7. Hospitalization may be more likely for those with hearing loss

8. The risk of dying may be higher for older men with hearing loss

9. Hearing loss is tied to common pain relievers

10. Moderate chronic kidney disease is linked to hearing loss

This list points out things that everyone with hearing loss should be aware of. The good news is, research suggests that treatments such as hearing aids may reduce symptoms and lower risks of some of the listed health problems.

So why is it important to recognize and treat hearing loss? Because a lot more than your hearing is at risk when you don’t.

 

Don’t forget- Center for Hearing’s Patient Appreciation Days are coming up on Wednesday, May 17th and Thursday, May 18th! Come by the office anytime between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm for refreshments and free gifts! The Center’s audiologists and staff look forward to visiting with you!

Center for Hearing is also offering FREE hearing screenings during May in honor of “Better Speech and Hearing” month.

May is Better Hearing Month

During Better Speech and Hearing Month, organizations work to raise awareness about communication disorders, which are more common than people might think. According to a recent issue of CDC Vital Signs, “Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the US. Almost twice as many people report hearing loss as report diabetes or cancer.” However, “about 1 in 4 US adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage”.

Even though hearing loss is a common problem experienced by many, many are not aware of the problem, and its causes, solutions, and preventative measures. This year’s theme for Better Speech and Hearing Month is “Communication: The Key to Connection”. The theme itself points out why raising awareness and educating the public about hearing loss is so important; people connect with loved ones, co-workers, friends, their community, and the world around them through communication. When a person’s ability to communicate is damaged, so is their ability to connect. Hearing loss is much more than a physical problem; if left untreated, it can lead to problems in many other areas of life. It can put a strain on relationships, discourage you from doing the things you love, it can affect your work and your income, and your emotional well-being.

Much more is at stake than your hearing- your quality of life is in danger.

Better Speech and Hearing Month is for everyone. For those who already suffer from hearing loss, awareness can help encourage them to seek help from an audiologist. For those who don’t, awareness can encourage them to take action now to prevent future damage to their hearing. Take this quick quiz to see if you should see an audiologist. If you find yourself doing some of these things, it’s probably time to make an appointment with an audiologist. You may be surprised by how much better your quality of life is.

Causes
The American Academy of Audiology has some great fact sheets available to promote Better Speech and Hearing Month. Their hearing loss fact sheet lists some of the causes, which includes aging, ear infections and diseases, trauma, illness, certain medications, and damage from foreign objects (like cotton swabs). The most common cause, however, is exposure to excessive loud noise (noise-induced hearing loss fact sheet). Of the many Americans with hearing loss, one in three have developed it as a result of exposure to noise. You may encounter harmful sounds without even realizing it. Many people are exposed to loud noises at work, at home, and during recreational activities, and it’s important to know which ones can lead to permanent damage. Click here to find out which common noises are harmful and other information about noise-induced hearing loss.

Protection and Prevention
Awareness is only the first step. The next is action. Now that you are aware of the causes of hearing loss, you can protect your hearing in the following ways:
– Wear protection when exposed to harmful noises for extended periods of time- earplugs, muffs, or custom devices from your audiologist.
– Turn down the volume
– Walk away from loud noise
– Don’t put things in your ear – break the habit of swabbing your ears- ear wax is normal, and healthy!

A testimonial from one of Center for Hearing’s patients, Tricia Westbrooks, says it all; “I always thought my hearing was ok, but my family told me it wasn’t! I had my hearing checked and sure enough I was a candidate for hearing help! When I first walked out of the office with my new Oticons I cried when I heard the birds chirping in the bushes!”

You may not be aware of how much you’re actually missing out on when you neglect your hearing health. When hearing declines, so do many other areas of your life- so act now and take the necessary steps, whether that means looking into ear protection, or making an appointment with your audiologist. No matter your age, occupation, or lifestyle, there is a way to protect and/or improve your hearing and an audiologist can help find one that is perfect for you.

May is a month of awareness, and for Center for Hearing, it’s also a month of appreciation. The staff wants to make sure all of their patients know just how special they are, so on May 17th and 18th, Center for Hearing will host an open house event celebrating Patient Appreciation Days.