Early in life, you most likely started to connect hearing loss with getting old. You may have had older adults around you trying to hear conversations or using hearing aids.
As you begin to get older, you begin to learn that there is another factor regarding hearing loss besides aging.
This is the one thing you should know: accepting that you have hearing loss will not make you old.
Hearing Loss Is an “Any Age Dilemma”
Even before we turn 13, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, someone who is 12 is not “old”. Within 3 decades we have seen a 33% rise in teenage hearing loss.
What’s at work here?
Out of all 45 – 55-year olds, 2% presently suffer from disabling hearing loss, and with 55 – 65-year-olds it’s 8%.
It’s not an aging issue. It’s absolutely possible to prevent, even though many people may consider it an aging problem. Significantly lessening your hearing loss is within reach.
Age-related hearing loss, identified medically as sensorineural hearing loss, is most frequently caused by loud noise.
For decades hearing loss was thought to be inescapable when you age. However thanks to modern-day science we know a lot more about hearing loss prevention and even hearing regeneration.
The Reason why Loud Noise Causes Hearing loss
The initial step to taking care of your ears is learning how something as “innocent” as noise can cause hearing loss.
Waves of pressure are what makeup sound. These waves go into your ear canal. They travel all the way down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little tiny hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. A neurological code is made up from how fast and how regularly these tiny hairs vibrate. This code will be translated by your brain into the sound of traffic, someone yelling for assistance, a jet plane, or any other sound which might be around.
The trouble is that when noises become too loud these little hairs are injured beyond repair. They die because the vibrations become too strong for them to deal with.
Without them, you can not hear.
Hearing Loss Caused by Loud Sound is Permanent
Countless types of damage can be healed by your body. But when you harm these tiny hair cells, they won’t heal, and they will not ever come back. The more often you’re subjected to loud sounds, the more tiny cells die.
Hearing loss advances as they die.
There are Sounds That are Common Which can Cause Hearing Loss
This is a unexpected fact for most people to learn. It’s easy to discount:
- Going to a concert/play/movie
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Turning the car stereo up too loud
- Mowing the lawn
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Playing music in a band
These activities don’t need to be given up. It is possible to reduce noise associated hearing loss by employing pro-active strategies.
You Don’t Need to Feel old Simply Because you Have Hearing Loss
You can admit that you suffer from hearing problems without having to feel old. The longer you disregard it, the worse it will get, and you will wind up feeling older much earlier because of:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more prevalent in people with neglected hearing loss.
Prevent Continued Hearing Problems
The first step is to learn to protect against hearing loss.
- Discover how noisy everyday sounds really are by using a sound meter app on your smart-phone.
- Learn about dangerous volumes. More than 85 dB (decibels) will cause irreversible hearing damage in just 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. 120 dB and above will cause instant hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- You should know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily immediately after a concert, you already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become a lot more pronounced over time.
- Put on earplugs or maybe sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- Respect work hearing protection policies.
- Limit your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Refrain from standing near to loudspeakers or turning speakers up when at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones which come with built-in volume control. These don’t go over 90 decibels. You would have to listen practically non-stop all the time to cause irreversible damage.
- High blood pressure, not enough blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. To be certain, don’t ever listen to headphones at over 50%. Car speakers differ.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not using a hearing aid if you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s comparable to your leg muscles. If you stop walking, it gets much more difficult to walk.
Make a Hearing Appointment
Are you procrastinating or are in denial? Make the right decision now rather than later. You need to be aware so you can be proactive to reduce further damage.
Get in touch with Your Hearing Professional Concerning Hearing Solutions
There are not any “normal cures” for hearing damage. If you have serious hearing loss, it’s time for a hearing aid.
You Should way the Cost Compared to the Benefits of Getting Hearing Aids
Lots of sufferers are either in denial about hearing loss, or alternatively, they make the decision to “tough it out.” They think hearing aids make them appear old. Or they believe that they are too expensive.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will become worse faster and can cause numerous health and relationship complications, it’s simple to see that the pros greatly outweigh the cons.
Call a hearing care professional now about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are needed, don’t be afraid of “feeling old.” Hearing aids today are much more streamlined and more advanced than you probably think!
Hearing aids are a worthy financial investment. Hearing aids may seem a bit un-affordable at first. Even so, at the time you buy a house you never determine the cost and say, “well being homeless is cheaper!” The true value of hearing aids goes beyond the price.
Ask yourself, when shopping for costly items, “what’s the price of deciding against hearing aids and what will I truly get out of them?” As it turns out, there is a monetary cost for choosing not to get hearing aids. These costs must factor into your decision as well. Ultimately hearing aids will save you money. Here’s why.
Cheaper Hearing Aids Become More Expensive Than You Might Think
If you have shopped around for hearing assistance devices, you realize that there are bargain, apparently less expensive devices available. You could possibly even pick up a hearing aid from the web costing even less than a dinner.
You get what you pay for in quality with over-the-counter hearing devices. When you get these devices, you are really buying an amplification device much like earbuds, not an actual hearing aid. They only crank up the sound around you, that includes unwanted noise.
With cheap hearing devices you don’t get the most important features, such as customized programming. Getting your hearing aid keyed to correct your distinct hearing issue can prevent it from becoming more serious and provide you with excellent hearing quality.
There are also bargain batteries which low grade devices employ for power. What this implies is you can be expecting to spend cash for batteries on a regular basis. You could even need to change the batteries more than once every day. Plan on carrying a lot of replacement batteries because the inexpensive ones usually quit when you need them the most. When you add up the amount of money you spend for the new batteries, are you really saving anything?
Higher quality hearing aids, on the other hand, have superior technology and use less power. Rechargeable batteries in the high-quality hearing aids means no more purchasing new batteries.
Issues at Work
Opting to go without hearing aids, or purchasing cheap ones will be costly at work. A 2013 study published in The Hearing Journal says that adults with hearing loss usually earn less money – as much as 25 percent less, and are more likely to be without a job.
What accounts for this? There are several factors involved, but the dominant factor is that communicating is necessary in pretty much every profession. You must be able to listen to what your supervisor is saying to deliver results. You should be capable of listening to customers to assist them. When you spend the discussion attempting to figure out exactly what words people are saying, you’re probably going to miss out on the general content. To put it simply, if you can’t interact in conversations, it is very hard to succeed at work.
The effort to hear what people are saying at the workplace exacts a toll on you physically, as well. Even if you do manage to get through a workday with sub-par hearing, the stress associated with worrying about if you heard something correctly plus the energy needed to hear just enough will leave you fatigued and stressed out. Stress impacts:
- Your immune system
- Your ability to sleep
- Your relationships
- Your quality of life
These all have the potential to have an affect on your work efficiency and decrease your earnings as a consequence.
Regular Trips to The ER
There are safety issues which come with hearing loss. Without correct hearing aids, it is hazardous for you to go across the street or drive a car or truck. How can you avoid something if you can’t hear it? How about environmental warning systems like a tornado warning or smoke alarm?
For a lot of jobs, hearing is a must have for workplace safety practices like construction sites or processing plants. That means that not wearing hearing aids is not only a safety hazard but something that can restrict your career options.
Financial safety is a factor here, also. Did the cashier say that you owe 25 dollars or 85? What did the salesperson say about the features of the microwave oven you are looking at and do you need them? Maybe the lower cost model is the better choice for you, but it’s hard to tell if you can’t hear the clerk discuss the difference.
The Health of Your Brain
One of the most crucial problems which come with hearing loss is the increased possibility of getting dementia. The New England Journal of Medicine has found that Alzheimer’s disease costs sufferers above 56,000 dollars per year. Dementia makes up about 11 billion dollars in Medicare expense annually.
Hearing loss is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia. It has been calculated that a person with serious, untreated hearing loss increases their chances of brain impairment by five fold. A moderate hearing loss carries three times the possibility of getting dementia, and even a minor hearing issue doubles your risk. Hearing aids will bring the chances back to a regular amount.
Without a doubt a hearing aid will probably cost a little more money. If you examine all the concerns that come with not having one or buying a cheaper device, it’s clearly a prudent monetary investment. Make an appointment with a hearing specialist to learn more.
Summertime means playing in the water, holidays, and plenty of good stuff to eat. When summertime comes, specific foods go to the top of everyone’s must-have list. Some of these tasty snacks might provide relief from tinnitus. How well you hear, and not what you consume is really the issue. A contributing factor may be the food that you eat though. Consider seven summer treats that you might want to consider that may assist with tinnitus.
Tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your body, and, for most, that implies hearing loss. When your hearing declines, you can begin to experience phantom noises like ringing, buzzing, or clicking. Despite the fact that it’s not well understood, it may be your brains response to hearing loss.
The phantom noises can’t be entirely cured or gotten rid of. Your best chance is finding means to manage it. This can be done with:
- Amplification devices like hearing aids
- Masking devices such as white noise machines
- Relaxation techniques
- Diet and lifestyle changes
If you Have Tinnitus, There Are Some Foods You Should Stay Away From Consuming
It’s not just about what you do eat, but also what you don’t, if you want to manage your tinnitus this summer. Here are some foods to stay away from:
- Salty meals
- Processed sugar
- Flavor enhancers like MSG
- Fatty foods
The results of your dietary lifestyle on your health as well as your tinnitus this summer is something to take into consideration.
You Could Try to Reduce Your Tinnitus With These Seven Delicious Treats
What kind of diet will help with your tinnitus this summer? These are seven ideas for you to try.
1. Barbecued Chicken
A smart low fat and delicious summer choice is grilled chicken. It is flavorful enough that you don’t have to over season it with salt, too. Being high in vitamin B12 means that grilled chicken can help lessen tinnitus.
When barbecuing chicken remember these couple of ideas:
Take off the skin before cooking. The fat hides in the skin.
After dealing with raw chicken be sure to wash your hands and the countertops.
A hot barbecue is very important while cooking chicken. That better keeps in the flavor and makes certain the meat gets to a safe temperature of 170 degrees.
2. Frozen Bananas
If you place a banana in the freezer it’s not only a sweet snack but it’s also a refreshing one. Just peel your bananas, push a popsicle stick in the bottom and freeze.
Go ahead and play around with these frozen goodies by covering them in peanut butter or chocolate prior to putting them in the freezer. Bananas are high in potassium, which helps the various fluids in the body to flow better to decrease tinnitus.
Pineapple is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it could possibly be beneficial for people who have tinnitus. It’s also a versatile fruit. Uncooked it makes a yummy snack and is great in desserts. For a fruity popsicle you can chill it with juice or flavor a cup of water or tea using it. Pineapple is even delicious on the barbecue by itself, used to garnish meat or as part of a shish kabob.
With watermelon, you don’t only cool off but additionally boost your fluid intake. It lowers your danger of getting sick simply because of the antioxidants it contains. Watermelon is high in:
- Vitamin C
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B1
Having no fat and almost no calories, it is a great summertime treat.
5. Iced Tea With Ginger
There is some research which shows that ginger can assist in relieving pressure in the ear which might induce tinnitus. It becomes a yummy and refreshing summertime drink when you incorporate it with a couple different other spices. Beginning by boiling one teaspoon of:
Use four cups of water for 15 minutes to steep three pieces of ginger. Pour the tea over ice once it has cooled down. you should add to it for more flavor like a lemon slice, or play with the recipe to suit your flavor palette.
Kiwi fruit is a natural choice to help reduce your blood pressure. It has more vitamin C than an equal sized orange and also has magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Barbecued meats, desserts and salads are all complemented by this fuzzy brown fruit. You may even put a slice in your favorite summertime beverage to give it a unique flavor.
The avocado is a super-food that is great for your heart, as well as helping to control your tinnitus. Just one-half avocado gives you:
- 1 percent of your daily recommended intake of calcium
- 5 percent of your daily recommended intake of magnesium
- 10 percent of your daily recommended intake of potassium
Additionally it has healthy fats and carotenoids to combat infection. The downside to the avocado is calories, so a small amount is all you should eat. Add it to your favorite summertime salad recipe.
This summer, go out and appreciate some smart, nutritious goodies. Your hearing may just thank you by ringing less.
It’s not always simple to make healthy choices. Usually, we’re able to overcome our reluctance by merely reminding ourselves, “this is good for me.” But is it possible that our health procedures may actually damage our ears? It occurs more often than you would believe.
Day To Day Health Habits
When you go out, you want everyone to notice how good you appear, and how well you take care of yourself. Combing your hair, brushing your teeth, and usually cleaning your ears is, for most, a typical practice.
It can be bothersome when a small trickle of earwax collects with time. Earwax does have several vital functions, in spite of that, it does need to be eliminated now and then. There are some methods of taking out earwax which can be damaging.
If you are using cotton swabs you should quit as these are not the proper tool for the job. Permanent injury can be done by using cotton swabs to get rid of your earwax. The better choice would be to seek advice from a hearing expert for help. Cleaning out Earwax is a typical procedure for them.
Your Workout Program
Staying physically fit is the best way to look and feel your best. Relaxing your muscles, getting the blood flowing, losing weight, and clearing your mind, are all benefits of exercising. The concern is people don’t always do their workouts perfectly.
It’s becoming more prevalent to do endurance testing, high impact workouts. Engaging in these kinds of workouts, while building muscle, may also be damaging your ears. You might not even notice it at first, but that stress can cause pressure to build up in your ears. Resulting in balance and hearing concerns.
This doesn’t mean quitting your workouts is the right answer. The important factor is correct workout technique. Don’t hold your breath and avoid stressing when you’re at the gym. If you feel like you’ve come to your limit, stop.
Your Successful Career
Stress goes with a prospering career. While working hard to achieve career success is great, the high levels of strain can cause health troubles.
Many people don’t realize that besides causing impaired judgment, weight gain, and muscle pain, stress also can lead to hearing loss. The issue is actually the poor blood flow caused by stress. When you have poor blood flow the delicate hairs in your ears don’t get the blood flow and oxygen they need. When the hairs in your ear die, they won’t grow back. Why do they matter? Your brain uses them to hear. So without having them you might not hear.
However, you can keep your career and your hearing. Simple tactics for lowering stress can be used to keep the blood flowing. If you’re finding yourself stressed out, take a break. Reading or watching something funny is helpful. When you laugh, you naturally shake off your stress.
Enjoying the Arts
Exposing your mind to all forms of art is a healthy practice. But different forms of art have different levels of impact on hearing.
Going to the movies or attending a live music event is louder than you may think. While enjoying our favorite art form we we usually don’t worry about whether it is damaging our hearing. The sad truth is, it very well may be.
This is easily solved. Be certain to plan for ear safeguard before attending a loud event. Earmuffs may look silly at a production of Phantom of the Opera, but there are plenty of discreet in-ear noise reduction products that you can pack in your pocket.
Like with anything else, being informed and prepared will help to protect. Schedule a hearing test with a specialist if you believe you may have already experienced hearing injuries from a high volume activity. Thats the only reliable way of knowing for sure.
What do people in this country do on their days off? You can understand more about a person by looking at the things they do to relax. For instance, the American Time Use Survey produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states you are able to judge how much a person makes if you know their favorite hobby. It seems the more money you have, the more free time you spend improving your appearance at the gym, jogging or playing games on the weekend. Clearly, there is a major difference between the person who jumps out of a plane for fun and the one who hits the golf course once a week, right? The skydiver is looking for adventure, and the other person wants a life without the adrenaline surge.
These same things you do to relax relate to your hearing health, as well. You think what you enjoy on your days off is fun but what is it doing to your ears? Take some time to think about what you like to do and how it might affect your hearing.
Could a Hobby Lead to Hearing Problems?
When it comes down to it, noise is the major culprit in hearing loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noise that falls at a certain volume level will damage to the delicate mechanisms of the ear like:
- Hair cells
Sound goes into the ear in a wave. How strong that wave depends on different factors like volume and distance, which are two of the most important. The sound goes through the ear canal to be amplified by the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, as it enters the middle ear.
In your middle ear, you’ll find three small bones that work together to transmit vibrations caused by this amplified sound wave, pushing it towards a flexible membrane that sits at the base at of the inner ear. The combination of the bones and the membrane further strengthen the wave.
The vibration from the sound wave enters a fluid-filled chamber in the inner ear called the cochlea, causing the fluid to move. It’s that movement that makes the tiny, and very delicate, hair cells in the cochlea wave in a way that creates a kind of electrical message. To put it simply, the hair cells turn the sound wave into something the brain can interpret. Once it gets the message, the brain allows you to comprehend what you hear.
For instance, let’s say you turn the radio on in your car. The sound created by the music enters the ears with the help of the pinna, or outer ear. It is amplified by the tympanic membrane, moving the small bones, which, in turn, vibrate the membrane at the entrance to the cochlea. The fluid in the cochlea moves as the membrane vibrates causing the hair cells to wave sending an electrical message to the brain. The brain decodes the message and tells you there is music playing. All the happens almost instantaneous and without you even having to think about it. Not only do you hear the sound, you understand it, you know what direction it is coming from and whether you enjoy or hate it.
What If You Turn the Volume Up
Now, consider someone running in the park wearing headphones. It’s a little bit like firing a gun from point blank range. The sound wave that goes the ear is already loud, maybe enough to damage the eardrum. It’s certainly strong enough to cause the bones in the middle ear to move dangerously fast, creating a larger wave in the fluid of the inner ear; one that will eventually break the hair cells.
Maybe your favorite hobby is riding a motorcycle. The sound caused by the engine roar is will lead to similar damage. Decibel (dB) is the measurement associated with sound. Any noise above 85 dB can mean hearing loss. The average motorcycle engine generates around 100 dB of sound. The traffic you hear when driving in your car to the golf course is around 85 dB. The lawn mower comes in at about 107 dB.
What Hobbies can Mean the Most Hearing Damage
Anything you do that involves sound over 85 dB is a trouble. Everyday conversation or music playing at a sensible volume measures at about 70 dB; just to give you an idea of what sounds are a problem. Some of the common hobbies that can damage the ear include:
- Motorcycle riding
- Home Improvement
- Sporting or music events
- Driving with the top down
Add to this list the things you do with headphones or earbuds in place including video games or listening to music.
What Should You Do To Protect Your Hearing
You don’t have to give up the fun things to keep your ears safe, just be smart about what you do. First and foremost, don’t wear headphones or earbuds for anything. If your hobby requires you to used drills or hammer, wear hearing protection such as ear plugs or muffs. If you love live music at a sports arena or local bar, consider musician earplugs that preserve sound quality but reduce the noise exposure.
You only have two ears, so do right by them. Go ahead and have some fun on your day off, just turn down the volume.
It’s just a little noise in your ear, right? When you put it that way, it sounds harmless but the reality is that tinnitus alters your view of things right from day one. Tinnitus is not a real noise but it still takes a toll and not in a good way. For some sufferers, it is a life changer that gets in the way of talking to others, a good night’s sleep and the ability to concentrate. It alters your perception of your world by interfering with many different parts of it. To understand how this happens you need to know more about this condition.
Tinnitus: What is it?
Tinnitus means you hear noises that no one else can hear. People think of it as a condition but it is actually a symptom of something else like the age-related hearing loss. If you have tinnitus, it is important to know many other people do too. According to the American Tinnitus Association, about 15 percent of the U.S. population have tinnitus at some level.
Tinnitus can be different for everyone, as well. Some people hear ringing in their ears while others describe it as:
- Wind blowing
These are all sounds indicative of tinnitus.
What Causes Tinnitus?
That tells you a lot but it doesn’t explain the cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a bit of a medical mystery, in part, because there may be more than one cause. For many, it is a symptom of profound hearing loss. The brain gets used to hearing sounds all the time because it’s always around you. It’s there when you go for a walk or read a book. There is some kind of noise even as you sit in a quiet room.
Noise is a constant. Your ears pick up even the smallest of sound waves and send them to your brain for interpretation. It’s your brain that decides whether you actually hear the noise or not.
When a person has hearing loss that all changes. Suddenly, the sound isn’t coming to the brain the way it used to, so it gets confused. Scientists believe that to compensate for the loss of normal noise; the mind creates a ringing, a buzzing or imitates the sound of wind rushing by. It would rather “hear” that made up noise then live in silence.
There are other medical problems that can cause tinnitus beside age-related hearing loss such as:
- Ear canal blockage
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Sinus conditions
- Traumatic brain injury
- Ototoxic drugs
- Metabolic disorders such as hypothyroid
- An autoimmune disorder like Lyme disease or fibromyalgia
- Circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure
- Vestibular disorders like thoracic outlet syndrome
- Tumor-related disorders such as acoustic neuroma
If you suddenly notice the phantom noises of tinnitus, it is time to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. You need to find out why you have this problem and to rule out very serious medical concerns like high blood pressure.
Why Does Tinnitus Impact How You See the World?
Tinnitus has a negative impact on most people and even faint ringing in the ears can be distracting. The irritation of not being able to turn it on and off can lead to:
- Emotional distress
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor concentration
People with severe tinnitus might experience:
- Social isolation
- Sleep deprivation
- Anxiety disorders
- Major depressive disorder
That loss of control and frustration may bleed through to everything else you do.
What Treatment is Available for Tinnitus?
First, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about the medical options. If the cause is hearing loss, using a hearing aid for that ear may be the only thing you need. Hearing aids amplify sound, so your brain starts getting the daily noise it expects. White noise machines mimic environmental sounds when you take your hearing aids out like at night. You can also try to create your own kind of noise with a fan or by running a dehumidifier.
Your view of the world defines your awareness of what’s going on around you. That improves when you eliminate the distracting noise of tinnitus.
When someone says hearing loss, you naturally think about ears, and why not? Clearly, a person with hearing loss has a problem with the elements of the ear. If you injure your leg, it doesn’t affect your hearing, right? While it is normal to connect hearing loss with your ears, it’s a little more complex issue. If you or someone you love has hearing loss, think about the other ways it changes a person’s life.
How Hearing Loss Affects the Brain
Technically, your ears are not the only organs injured if you suffer from the untreated hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is the third most common chronic problem among seniors, right after hypertension and arthritis, and that’s a concern because of how it affects the brain.
Age-related hearing loss damages the hair cells found in the inner ear. They move in a way that creates an electrical message that the brain interprets as sound. Noise is something people experience all day long even when they try to avoid it. Quiet rooms still have sound in the background like the buzzing of a computer hard drive, for example, or the air conditioner running so quietly you fail to notice it. Even if you were able to eliminate all sound around you, there would still be the noise caused by your breathing.
The point is the brain is used to translating the impulses created by these hair cells all the time. When that disappears due to age-related hearing loss, it gets confused and tries to figure out what’s going on. In most cases, a small amount of sound is still getting through, but the brain has to work harder to interpret it, and that stress causes a number of issues.
Studies show that people with untreated hearing loss have an increased risk of developing dementia, for example, maybe as much as fives times the risk. There is evidence when a person has hearing loss, the brain shrinks faster, and the cognitive function declines. The brain may try to use the part set aside for hearing for other things, too, decreasing that person’s ability to hear further.About Tinnitus
Tinnitus or phantom noises is a side effect of diminished hearing. No one knows why this happens but one theory is that the brain is trying to create sound because it is missing it. If your mind is used to hearing a noise all the time and it slowly fades away, tinnitus could be an attempt to compensate for that loss.
Listening to this phantom noise has a negative impact on most lives. It can interfere with your ability to sleep or concentrate. It can cause depression and other mental health issues, as well. It’s not easy living with that constant ringing or buzzing without feeling stress.
How It Affects Relationships
It is not easy having the people in your life point out your hearing loss, especially since it usually has to do with aging. You don’t like being told you are getting older. It is estimated that about 50 percent of older adult have problems with their hearing. It’s hard to accept, so when the subject comes up, there is denial and resentment.
Someone with hearing loss may begin to fade into the background, too. They stop going out with others because they can’t follow the conversations, and it makes them feel stupid. Perhaps they worry about making their friends mad by asking them to repeat things all the time. Those same friends don’t come around as much, either, because the conversation is too awkward.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures the impact of hearing loss on quality of life using a measurement labeled disability-adjusted years. This means they measure how many fewer quality years come with hearing loss. They estimate that a person loses 2.5 healthy years with each year of hearing impairment.
Hearing Loss Affects Your Ability to Earn
There are some studies that show hearing loss can lead to less money in the bank. One conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found that individuals with hearing loss make as much as 12,000 dollars less annually. Using hearing aids can mitigate the effects and lead to more money, though.
There is not much doubt that the problems created by hearing loss are significant in many areas of life including your physical and mental health. It’s not only about your ears. That is why it is so important to be aware of your hearing health and to get a professional exam and hearing test if you think there is a problem.
Like just about anything worth having, hearing aids require a certain amount of regular care, but it’s an effort that pays off both by extending the shelf life of the unit and improving its performance. Hearing aid maintenance is a combination of common sense, gentle cleaning and careful handling. Learning the right way to keep them hygienic and safe will mean you and your hearing aid can be together for many years to come.
Let’s Talk About Earwax
It is one of those subjects people like to avoid, but everyone has it. Earwax, or cerumen as doctors call it, has an essential purpose in the overall hearing process. Its job is to protect the skin inside the ear canal from bacteria, insects, and water. As a result, your body makes quite a bit of it, and sometimes it ends up on your hearing aids. In fact, if you notice a hearing aid isn’t working as well as it used to chances are earwax is to blame.
It is a good idea to get into the habit of removing this wax from the surface of the hearing aid on a regular basis. At night before you put it away is a good time. Grab a soft toothbrush or cotton swab and wipe over the surface to clean it. Make sure to get into any crevices, too, and clean any debris off of the receiver and microphone.
Some hearing aids have filters or guards designed to protect the intricate internal technology from earwax. Don’t try to clean these filters; just replace them. Look at the manual that came with the hearing aid to determine if there is an earwax filter or guard. If you are unsure if your device has this feature, give the retailer or manufacturer a call to find out.
Keeping it Dry
Pick a good place to store your hearing aid; one that is dry and secure. This helps prevent water from penetrating the casing and doing damage. Do not touch the device with wet hands and take them out before you get into the shower or pool.
If you live in an area with excess humidity, consider purchasing a dehumidifier designed for hearing aids. As you have probably figured out, this is a device that removes water from the unit. They also make storage cases that help keep hearing aids free from condensation.
If your hearing aid does get moisture in it, carefully wipe it down with a towel. Don’t look for a fancy solution to the problem like a hair dryer or any other heated device because that will likely cause damage.
Charge It Up
For most of you that will involve changing or charging the batteries when they need it. A degrading battery will damage your device as it corrodes the delicate circuitry. When you remove your hearing aid before going to bed, open the door that holds the battery to prevent moisture from building up and causing this corrosion.
As you do switch out the battery, take the time to wipe down the contact points before putting in the new one. Just rub a dry cotton swab over them to remove any debris like earwax.
Handling Your Hearing Aid
One of the essential things to learn is how to handle your hearing aid. Start by making sure your hands are clean before you touch it. They should be free from lotion and hand sanitizer, too.
Be careful not to drop the device down onto a hard surface like the kitchen counter. If you do place it there, do it gently and be sure that counter is clean first. You can damage the unit if you put it down right where you spilled your coffee earlier! Avoid placing your hearing aid near heat or in direct sunlight. They are sensitive to high temperatures, too.
Take care not to leave a hearing aid where the dog can get to it. Some hearing aids continue to make a sound even when they are out of your ear in a tonal range that the dog can hear. Your best friend might eat the hearing aid to shut it up, and that’s bad for both you and the dog.
See a Professional When You Need One
If there comes a time when your hearing aid needs repair, look for a certified retailer to get it the job done. These dealers have the training to manage unique digital hearing aid technology. They also have tools that let them test each component to determine the problem and all the right replacement parts. Frankensteining your hearing aid with parts from other units rarely turns out well.
Plan to schedule a professional cleaning for your hearing aid regularly if you want it to last. A repair technician is able to clean the inside and make adjustments when necessary so you know you are getting the most from it. This is a good time to ask any questions that you might have about caring for your hearing aid, as well.
You put a lot of time and money into getting a hearing aid, why not do what is necessary to keep it working at it’s best for as long as possible. A little careful consideration and care are all it takes to extend the life of your hearing aid.
There are many myths circling around about the use of hearing aids, for example, wearing one can make you feel old. Of course, that might be true since one in three individuals over the age of 65 have a type of hearing loss called presbycusis. So many elderly do wear a hearing aid. That’s not the end of the story, though. These days, medical researchers have proven that wearing a hearing aid will actually keep you from feeling your age. To figure out why this happens, you must know more about how the brain works.
Neuroplasticity: What is That?
Neuroplasticity is a complex word that describes how the brain adapts based on the changes around you. Consider this scenario; you spend your morning walking for exercise. Each day, you follow the same path, but one day, you notice a hole blocking your route. Do you stop walking — no, you find a way to change your route, so you can avoid the hole.
The human brain works the same way. There are nerve channels in the brain that allow you do everyday things like take a walk or read a book. When something happens to you like a stroke, for example, the brain needs to find a way to reroute those pathways through neuroplasticity. Your adaptable brain is also how you learn new skills. If you take a tap dance class, for instance, the brain develops new channels called neural pathways to accommodate what you have learned.
Most the time neuroplasticity works perfectly. When someone has a stroke, the original pathways that allow them to speak might be blocked or damaged. The brain reroutes neural routes so that they can relearn language and speech.
When Neuroplasticity Fails
Hearing loss is one area where neuroplasticity causes problems. The process of hearing requires sound waves to enter through the ear canal and travel to the inner ear. Tiny hair cells there send electrical signals that the brain translates into what you hear.
When a person does lose their hearing, whether it is due to aging, noise exposure or disease, their brain stops getting those critical electrical signals from the inner ear or gets fewer of them, at least. When that happens, the brain can decide that the part it has dedicated to hearing is free real estate. It will create new pathways in that section that have nothing to do with hearing. This is an attempt to use that space efficiently, but it backfires.
A 2015 study done by researchers at the University of Colorado supports this idea. The scientists did EEG recordings, that’s a tool that measures electrical activity in the brain, on people of all ages that have varying degrees of hearing loss. They found that functions like vision and touch can actually invade the part of the brain responsible for hearing.
Hearing Loss and Dementia
Scientists have already made a connection between an increased risk of dementia and hearing loss. Studies show that an older individual with hearing loss may suffer mental decline up to 40 percent faster than someone with healthy hearing. The brain is no longer getting signals from the ears, and it starts to decline.
It’s not clear why this happens, but it is possible that neuroplasticity is to blame there, too. The brain struggles to pick up sounds that are faint and may actually pull in resources from other critical functions like short-term memories to compensate.
Why Hearing Aids are the Hero of the Story
These problems all have one thing in common, the brain is no longer receiving the electrical signals from the inner ear that allow it to translate sound. For many individuals, merely filtering sound and amplifying it with hearing aids makes that possible again.
A hearing aid will stimulate the brain, so it tries to hear again. When that happens, it can regenerate the necessary cells and develop new neural pathways. That effect can slow the cognitive decline that leads to memory issues and protects short-term memory.
Having a hearing aid will open you up to new opportunities, too, and that strengthens the brain to keep you young. You can watch TV, take classes and learn new things. Remaining mentally active is really the key to feeling like someone half your age. Too often, older people with hearing loss end up isolated because they can’t take part in discussions or understand what is going on around them.
Hearing aids will change how you live and how your brain works. If you are wondering how well you hear these days, it’s time to schedule a professional hearing exam to see if hearing aids will make you feel young again.
Hearing problems are one of those things other people usually notice before you do. In part, because a person’s family and friends know them better than they know themselves. They are the ones that see the changes and connect the dots about hearing loss the person with the problem notices the gradual decline that comes with age-related hearing loss.
It’s a difficult subject to approach with a person that you love because it is personal. They might not notice this decline or realize that they are asking you to repeat things often or missing information when you talk. It probably feels like an attack instead of your attempt to help. So, when is it the proper time to talk about it? There is no clear-cut answer to this question, but there are some obvious signs that you need to have a conversation about hearing loss.
The What? Syndrome
It’s probably the first thing you will note when the hearing starts to become a factor in someone’s life. What? It’s a natural response when you don’t hear something that someone says clearly. The problem with age-related hearing loss is they still comprehend the sound of someone talking, just not the words. When that happens, their brain tells them you are mumbling. The truth is you’re speaking the same way you always did, their ability to hear is what’s different.
A person that has to say what all the time does not even know they do it, which makes it a hard thing to talk about. You can try counting the number of times you have to repeat something in a conversation. If you see a regular pattern over a week, then it’s time to say something.
When Safety Is a Problem
There is more to hearing than just comprehending speech. Individuals with gradual hearing loss lose the ability to understand specific sound frequencies, too. A traditional smoke and carbon dioxide detector uses a high pitched tone to tell you here is a problem. It’s a sound that someone with hearing loss might not hear. Those who do have this issue can compensate for it by putting in alarms that use a different frequency and that are able to flash the lights and shake the bed, as well.
Safety is a concern for the hearing challenged person that wants to drive a car, too. You need to be able to hear warning sounds like horns, for example, and the car engine running. A person trying to cross the street needs to hear warning sounds there, too. Safety is a definite issue with untreated hearing loss and one that indicates you need to take action.
When the Complaints Start Rolling In
The guy next door complains the TV is too loud, for instance, TV dialogue is as hard to understand as a face-to-face conversation, but there is no one there to answer when they say, “What?” Instead, the volume goes way up. That doesn’t make the words any clearer, though, so it goes up more. When the people around your loved one start talking about high volumes, hearing loss has become something worth talking about.
When Tongues Start Wagging
When other people start asking about this your loved one’s hearing and wondering if something is wrong. Maybe your dad’s neighbor stops to ask if he is having hearing problems or your brother brings the subject up. These people might notice something that you do not yet. This is a big indicator, especially for the parent who lives alone. Friends and neighbors are their social network. They spend time together and are in a position to see pick up on something you do not, so when they take the time to mention it, you need to listen.
When Frustration Becomes the Norm
It is frustrating when you have to struggle to hear, especially if you don’t realize it is a problem. That frustration can quickly turn to angry conversations and other shows of emotion. They may always seem on the edge of crying or yelling but not know why. It’s up to you to help them understand what is going on.
Tips for When the Time Comes
You know the time has come to say something but what? It is a tricky subject because you are saying they are getting old, and that’s something no one wants to hear. How you approach the topic will make all the difference, such as:
- Make the conversation about you – Talk about the things you’ve noticed and how you feel about them. If you make it about them, they will not want to talk. By making it about how it impacts your life, they are more likely to want to help and be less defensive.
- Make the conversation positive – Keep in mind, their anger is really just fear. You need to address those fears and reassure them that there is a quick and painless solution like getting a professional hearing test and, maybe, hearing aids. Point out other people who have hearing aids and how they changed their lives.
- Make the conversation beneficial – Focus on the benefits that will come with getting hearing aids. They will be able to enjoy their favorite shows again and listen to the birds sing. They may not even know what they have been missing, so point out the positives.
You can make a difference in the life of someone you love life by helping them come to terms with age-related hearing loss, so go ahead and reach out.
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“I have been with the Advanced Hearing & Balance for almost eight years. During this time, the staff has always responded in a timely fashion to all my hearing needs: testing, fitting, aid changes, questions and appointments. I have been so pleased with the service, I have recommended the group numerous times to friends. They too have been satisfied with the professional advice and service.”
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