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.
Is your earwax trying to tell you something about your health? Earwax is more than just the icky stuff that comes out of your ears. Cerumen, the medical name for it, has a purpose in your body. It protects the skin inside the ear canal from damage that can lead to infection. It is also a source of lubrication and helps waterproof the inside of your ear.
That’s all good stuff, but earwax also provides information about you. How it looks, the texture and smell all supply key details about what is going on inside your body. What is your earwax saying to you?
Earwax and Your Heritage
It is hard to believe but, all earwax falls into one of two categories. It is either dry, or wet and kind of sticky. How your earwax feel is a genetic trait you can use to trace your roots. According to a study in the journal Nature Genetics, it is a gene mutation that determines whether your earwax is wet or dry. Researchers investigated 33 different populations around the world and found:
- Ninety-five percent of East Asians have the dry kind.
- Ninety-seven percent of people from Europe or Africa have the wet, sticky kind.
The difference between these two groups boils down to one gene called ABCC11. It is the gene that manages the flow of earwax-altering molecules. At some point centuries ago, the gene changed in people in Europe and Africa as they adapted to a new surrounding. The researchers from this study hypothesized that insects lead to the mutation. The thick, wet earwax can trap insects and protect the deeper areas inside the ear canal and possibly even the brain. It is an example of the body’s natural ability to change based environmental stressors. It is a change designed to improve a species odds of survival.
Green, Wet Earwax
Green, wet earwax means one of two things:
- You’ve been sweating.
- You have an ear infection.
When you sweat, perspiration mixes with the earwax and changes the color and texture. With an ear infection, the change is due to the body’s inflammatory response to invading organisms. Pus mixes with the earwax, and that may explain the difference in color.
Earwax That Smells Bad
When your earwax smells terrible, pay attention because it most likely indicates a severe infection. Anaerobic bacteria, that means the organism doesn’t require oxygen to thrive, tend to emit a foul odor that can make earwax smell bad.
That bad smell can also mean there is an infection causing middle ear damage. You might feel like your balance is off and hear a ringing or other phantom noise in the affected ear. You need to make an appointment with your doctor.
In 2009, a group of Japanese scientists also linked stinky earwax to a gene that might cause breast cancer. It will take more studies to prove this theory but, it’s worth talking to your doctor about if breast cancer runs in the family.
When It Feels Like Your Ear is Wet All the Time
To be honest, this isn’t really earwax, but it is understandable that you might think it is cerumen. Wet ears typically mean disease, most likely infection. Ear infections create pus, so that might be why your ear feels wet. That is not the only possible cause, though.
It is also possible that you have a type of skin growth inside your ear canal called a cholesteatoma. A cholesteatoma is a lot like a cyst, but one that appears inside the ear blocking the canal. When that happens, stuff like earwax and dirt build up. This blockage can cause debris to overflow and come out the ear. Any drainage from your ear means you need to see a doctor and find out why that is happening.
Your Earwax is Very Flaky
Do not worry, flaky earwax isn’t a sign of infection. It is, however, something that happens as you grow older. When someone ages, their body gets a little dryer — including the glands that produce earwax. As a result, their ears get a little itchy. Adding a few drops of mineral oil to the ear canal can ease that discomfort and soften the earwax at the same time.
What if your ears have no earwax at all? It’s rare, but it does happen. It is a condition called keratosis obturans, and it means there is a hard plug where the earwax comes out. It’s unclear why this happens, but researchers do know that the plug is made of keratin, a protein that exists in skin cells. You might feel pain in that ear and have trouble hearing. The treatment is simple, let a doctor pull the plug out. In some, the condition is chronic, and the patient requires regular medical care.
Earwax, who knew it was so interesting. Why not take a look at yours to see it’s trying to say..
Are you amazed to learn that hearing loss is more than just your ears? Ears are the means of hearing, so the damage done to them because of aging, trauma or illness is why someone can’t hear, but did you know there is more to it than the loss of a person’s hearing bleeds into many other facets of their life. It is a dramatic change for somebody who has always been able to hear. Take some ways that hearing loss has a extensive effect on more than just the ears.
A 2006 report released by the Australian company Access Economics states there’s a connection between earning potential and hearing. They discovered that an individual with hearing loss will potentially make about 25 percent less than the ones that do hear, but why?
There are a lot of things that could affect earnings. Somebody who works with no hearing assistance device like a hearing aid may miss out on weighty information. They might appear for a company meeting at 4 when it was actually at 2 pm, for example. Employers tend to appreciate those with astute attention to detail, which is a challenge when you can not hear the details.
Working environments can be noisy and crazy, too. A individual with hearing loss can become confused with all that noise around them. They will struggle to talk on the telephone, to listen to customers and to understand what colleagues are saying because in a noisy environment the background sounds like clicking keyboards or an air conditioner vent become pronounced.
Some of the same problems at work become an issue at home. Hearing loss has the potential to cause conflict, especially when the person with the problem continues to deny it. Little things like saying “what” a lot during conversations and turning the TV up too loud irritate friends, family members, and spouses.
They may try to intervene and encourage this individual to recognize their hearing loss, which leads to friction, also. It is extremely common for people with hearing loss to detach themselves and refuse to go out and spend some time with other people. They struggle to keep up with conversations, so they so what the can to prevent them.
Mental Health Concerns
The problems at work and home take a toll on mental health over time. A 2014 study conducted by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders discovered a cause and effect relationship between hearing loss and depression. Their research suggests an increased risk of depression, especially among girls and individuals under the age of 70. Their risk of depression goes from 5 percent to about 11 percent with hearing loss.
A second study by the Senior Research Group suggests that the chance of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and paranoia goes up when a person with hearing loss does not use hearing aids. The study participants who did not wear hearing aids reported everything from feelings of despair to sudden fits of anger more frequently than those that did wear them.
Security is always a concern for the hearing impaired. Most security systems, while it’s a smoke or carbon monoxide detector or a perimeter alert, work based on noise. They exude a high-frequency noise if there is a danger. Even people with minor hearing loss can have difficulty hearing high pitched tones.
Personal security becomes a problem when a person with hearing loss crosses the road or drives a car, too. Sound serves to indicate problems like a car coming down the street or a horn honking.
Medical science has made a link between cognitive decline and hearing loss. It’s not clear why people with hearing loss have a higher risk of dementia. The current theory is that the brain struggles to listen and to compensate, it robs other vital functions like memory.
A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that a person with minor hearing loss is twice as likely to develop dementia. Moderate hearing loss increases the risk by three times and an individual with severe hearing impairment is five times more likely to have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Hearing health is just 1 factor in memory loss conditions, but it is an important one.
When someone has hearing loss, it’s true there is probably something wrong with their ears, but that’s just where it starts. The good news is that getting help in the form of hearing aids and other treatment choices lowers the risk of mental health issues, dementia and the different issues related to hearing decline.
When a person goes out to purchase hearing aids, they are looking for a product to buy. With that in mind, it is typical for them to only think only about the cost of what they are getting. It’s true that a quality hearing device is costly, but you need to shift your thinking. If you consider the service you get from a hearing aid and put aside the cost factor, it starts to make more sense. You spend your life buying stuff because it provides a valuable service like a new car or a house. Both of these things will set you back, too, but you buy them anyway because otherwise, you have no transportation or roof over your head.
Buying a hearing aid introduces you to another critical service because without it, you can’t hear and that affects your ability to do important things like talk to your boss or listen to a customer. Losing that sense means you won’t hear the traffic as you drive to work or when you walk across the street. It also gets in the way of you from creating, strengthening, and maintaining the essential aspect of life, relationships.
Hearing aids are not a luxury when your hearing changes. It’s a device that provides a critical service to you. Consider some facts about hearing aids you might not know and why they are more service than a product.
What Does a Hearing Aid Do?
Let’s start with the basics. What is a hearing aid and why do you need it? A hearing aid is a device that provides amplification, but it does more than just that one thing. Modern digital hearing aids:
- Filter out background noise
- They increase and decrease the volume automatically through gain processing
- They analyze the sound environment
- They pick up conversation even in a noisy room
- They help you determine where a sound came from
They are also self-learning, in other words, they begin to know how you hear and learn what sounds matter to you. They can use that information to improve their service. There is no more annoying feedback, either, like you used to hear coming from your grandpa’s hearing aid. Modern hearing aids include digital feedback reduction. Today’s hearing aids offer Bluetooth-compatibility, as well, so they work with computers, tablets, and smartphones. No need to take the hearing aid out to answer the phone.
Why do Hearing Aids Cost So Much?
That’s a reasonable question because if you are going to think of your hearing aid a service, you have a right to know why it costs so much. Some critical elements that go into creating your hearing aid include:
- Advanced technology
- Durability and long battery life
- Personal design and fitting
- Free trials
You can buy cheap hearing aids online, but they don’t have the same technology as a quality product nor do they have all the perks of a personal fitting, trial period, or in-person assistance. You might as well just hold a glass up to your ear and hope for the best.
Things to Consider When Buying a Hearing Aid
When you buy a car or house, you do research first, right? Take that same approach when purchasing a hearing aid but keep in mind that it is a service. Start by figuring out how you will pay for this service. Does your health insurance cover hearing aids? Many don’t, but it can’t hurt to check. You can do this by directly calling your insurance provider or audiologist.
How about some kind of special funding plan? Are you a veteran, for example? The VA might pay for the hearing aid. You might also qualify for federal or state assistance, and you can look into civil organizations, too.
Next, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and hearing test. If you don’t already know why you suffer hearing loss, find out before you spend money on a hearing aid. It might be a side effect of a medical problem like diabetes. If you treat the condition, you might not need a hearing aid.
It is also important to get a professional hearing test, so you buy the right hearing aid. A practice like ours can use your hearing test to customize the settings on any device you choose, so it best serves your needs.
Finally, meet with a specialist in person. The Internet doesn’t know what kind of hearing aid you need – that requires a personal touch. Sit down with an expert and write out what you hope to get from your hearing aid beyond just amplification. Do you want one that connects to your mobile device? Do you want the volume to adjust automatically? You are paying for this service, so get what you want from it.
Once you pick out the right hearing aid, look at the various service options. Does it come with a warranty? How about a free trial, so you know it’s the right one for you?
By seeing your hearing aid as a service – a necessary one – you’ll be able to look past the price tag towards what it can do for your life.
One in every 10 Americans lose their ability to hear due to noise pollution. Often, the damage done by noise is gradual. It is not just explosions that are the problem, but more the stuff you experience on a day-to-day basis in your home or at work. With each new day, you hear noises that you don’t realize is a problem such as the headphones you wear to listen to music or sounds at work like equipment running. Safeguarding your hearing from noise-related loss is one of the best health decisions you can make, but how do you know what products offer this protection?
Assess Your Noise Exposure Needs
It is tricky to consider different options offered for hearing protection and find the type that works for you. There are a few of things to consider such as:
- Why you want hearing protection? Is it for your job or perhaps you need them for a sport like hunting?
- How much does it cost? The pricing goes from really cheap to very expensive, so budget is worth thinking about.
- How comfortable is it? If you are buying something that you will wear most of the day, then comfort is an issue.
There are also some safety concerns to keep in mind. Avoid hearing protection that gets in the way of movement or introduces blind spots. If you are looking to save your ears from work-related sounds, then have a conversation with your employer before paying for anything out of pocket. Many companies offer hearing protection as part of your benefits or at least can guide you on what right type to buy and the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) you need.
What is the NRR?
The NRR rating listed on hearing protection devices offers a critical piece of information to you. The Noise Reduction Rating determines how well the device blocks out a sound. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires manufacturers to do tests and provide rating information based on their findings. The NRR measurement is in decibels and states the maximum amount of sound that device is able to block. A hearing protection product with an NRR of 26 will block a maximum of 26 decibels.
For most occupational hearing protection devices, you look for something to block double the amount you experience on the job. You might buy a device with an NRR of 200 if your exposure is around 100 decibels. By the way, 100 dB is about the amount of noise created by tractors and other kinds of equipment.
What Types of Hearing Protection Devices are Available?
When it comes to hearing protection devices, you are typically talking about:
- Canal caps
There may be variations within each category and even some hybrid products out there.
Earplugs come in moldable foam that is disposable or pre-molded one-size-fits-all reusable plugs. There are pros and cons for both styles of earplugs. It comes down to personal choice for most wearers. The disposable foam plugs tend to have higher NRR ratings and will fit better in your ear canals. The downside to these plugs is cost. They are like disposable contact lenses; you have to keep buying fresh ones.
The pre-molded plugs are more economical but can breed infection if not cleaned regularly. The form doesn’t fit as well as the moldable ones, either, making them difficult to keep in place.
Canal caps are like earplugs with a flexible band. They also come with moldable tips or pre-molded ends. The benefits of this hearing protection device are that you can take them out quickly and let the band hang around your neck. They work better than earplugs if you anticipate wearing them on and off throughout the day.
Earmuffs look like headphones, and some even have mics in them so you can talk to other people through a wireless connection. They are easy to wear and use, too, but tend to be heavy and can make your ears sweat. Although you may pay more for quality earmuffs initially, they last longer and will probably save you money over time.
Choosing the Right Ear Protection
Once you determine what NRR rating you need for your ear protection device, the next thing to consider is your comfort and ease of use. If you want something that is less confining, then earplugs or canal caps are probably the best choices. You might even want to get different types of ear protection for the seasons. For example, canal caps will be less cumbersome in warm weather, but earmuff will keep you more comfortable in the cold.
The key is to try the various types of ear protection and see what works best for your situation. A person who needs something for work has different criteria then a person who wants to protect their ears while they hunt or on the shooting range.
Sound is what tethers you safely to the world even though you may not realize it. For instance, it is the sound of an alarm that tells you there is smoke in the house and a potential fire. This type of security is critical for those who do have hearing loss, especially when there is a gradual decline. How do people who can’t hear well anymore know the alarm is going off in time to get out of the house?
With about 20 percent of the people in the U.S. diagnosed with some form off hearing loss, clearly, this question has come up before. Consider some of the security issues those with hearing loss face daily and how they are handled.
About Those Smoke Alarms
So, what do they do about smoke alarms? The key is to make use of the other senses. The common high-frequency smoke alarm won’t work effectively for someone with hearing loss, especially during the night when their hearing aids are put away somewhere.
A 2009 study published in Ear and Hearing states that alarms to detect smoke and heat in a home that comes with low-frequency tones work better for those who are struggling to hear like the elderly, even more so than flashing lights which were effective only about 27 percent of the time. Bed or pillow shakers were a practical choice, as well. The study found between 80 to 84 percent of participants awoke when shaken during the night.
Access to 911
The 911 system is a lifeline to communicate with the police and EMS but how does that work if you can’t hear? There are a couple of ways to solve this problem. First, make sure your mobile phone has a GPS system. This allows an EMS operator to locate you from anywhere if you do call for help even if you can’t hear them. They can send someone to you based on your phone coordinates. You can also look into hearing aids that connect to your phone through Bluetooth technology. The right hearing aid eliminates the communication problem.
Installing landlines at home makes sense, too, and make sure to put one next to the bed for emergencies in the night. With a landline, you can dial 911 and the operator will send out a patrol to check on you whether speak or not. Contact your service provider before installing a landline, though, so you know they are 911 compliant. Some VoIP systems will not automatically transmit your address to the 911 operator.
You can take advantage of the high-tech hearing assistive devices such as a video relay system or a captioned phone. If you do opt to carry just a smartphone, buddy up with friends and family to get help if you need it. Establishing an emergency contact group means you can send a text out to them and they can call 911 for you. The more people on your buddy list, in fact, the better.
Protecting Your Home
Home alarm systems offer some of the same obstacles as smoke alarms. Many emit a high-frequency sound that is difficult for someone who is hearing challenged to pick up. It is essential to have this kind of safety equipment, though, because you are also not likely to hear an intruder breaking into your home.
Look for alarms systems made just for the hearing impaired. They will have bed shakers and flashing lights that warn you of a breach in your system. Pick an alarm system with a remote panic button that you can keep close to your bed, too, for added safety. Make sure the alarm company knows you are hearing impaired when you sign up for your service. They can work with you to figure out the best way to communicate.
Take Advantage of Hearing Technology
For many, the best option is hearing aids. Talk to your doctor to determine if hearing aids are a workable choice for you. If so, go to a certified retailer so you know you purchase quality products designed to keep you safe and improve your life.
Bluetooth compatibility is just one common feature in modern hearing aids. Directional microphones cut back on interference, so you can concentrate on what is going on around you.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your friends, neighbors, and family are some of the most powerful safety assets you have, so just be honest and tell them about hearing challenges. If you are worried about your security, sit down with them and discuss ways to keep you safe, so you feel better about your security options.
You hear plenty of talk these days about the challenge of living with chronic ailments like diabetes or high blood pressure, but what about tinnitus? It’s a chronic illness which has a strong psychological element because it affects so many aspects of a person’s life. Tinnitus presents as ghost noises in one or both ears. Most folks describe the sound as buzzing, ringing, clicking, or hissing that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus technically is not an illness but a symptom of an underlying medical problem like hearing loss and something that more than 50 million individuals in the U.S. deal with on regular basis. The phantom sound will start at the worst possible times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV series, attempting to read a book or listening to a friend tell a terrific tale. Tinnitus can act up even when you attempt to get some rest.
Medical science has not quite pinpointed the reason so many folks suffer from tinnitus or how it occurs. The current theory is that the brain creates this noise to balance the silence that accompanies hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-changing condition. Consider five ways that tinnitus is such a problem.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent information indicates that individuals who experience tinnitus have increased activity in their limbic system of their mind. This system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Until now, most specialists believed that people with tinnitus were stressed and that is the reason why they were always so sensitive. This new theory indicates there is much more to it than simple stress. There is an organic component that makes those with tinnitus snappy and emotionally sensitive.
2. Tinnitus is Not Easy to Discuss
How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises coming from inside your head and not feel crazy when you say it. The inability to talk about tinnitus causes a divide. Even if you are able to tell someone else, it is not something they truly can relate to unless they experience it for themselves. Even then, they may not have exactly the same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but it means talking to a bunch of people you aren’t comfortable with about something very personal, so it’s not an attractive option to most.
3. Tinnitus is Distracting
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with sound in the background that you can not get away from or stop. It’s a distraction that many find debilitating whether they are at home or just doing things around work. The ringing shifts your attention which makes it tough to remain on track. The inability to focus that comes with tinnitus is a real motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and unworthy.
4. Tinnitus Blocks Sleep
This might be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The ringing tends to get worse when a person is attempting to fall asleep. It’s not certain why it worsens during the night, but the most logical reason is that the lack of sounds around you makes it more noticeable. Throughout the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus such as the TV, but you turn off everything when it’s time to go to sleep.
Many men and women use a noise machine or a fan at night to help alleviate their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background noise is enough to get your brain to lower the volume on the tinnitus and permit you to fall asleep.
5. There is No Permanent Solution For Tinnitus
Just the concept that tinnitus is something you must live with is hard to accept. Although no cure will stop that noise for good, there are things can be done to help you find relief. It starts at the physician’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s vital to get a correct diagnosis. For example, if you hear clicking, perhaps the sound isn’t tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem such as TMJ. For many, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like high blood pressure.
Many people will find their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and dealing with that issue relieves the noise they hear. Obtaining a hearing aid means an increase in the level of sound, so the brain can stop trying to make it to fill up the silence. Hearing loss may also be quick to treat, such as earwax build up. Once the doctor treats the underlying issue, the tinnitus disappears.
In extreme cases, your specialist may attempt to reduce the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help reduce the ringing you hear, for instance. The doctor may suggest lifestyle changes which should ease the symptoms and make life with tinnitus easier, such as using a noise machine and finding ways to manage anxiety.
Tinnitus presents many challenges, but there is hope. Science is learning more each year about how the brain functions and strategies to improve life for those suffering from tinnitus.
Is your motto have hearing aid will travel? If so, you probably already have a game plan in mind each time you take a vacation. If this is your first time hitting the road with a hearing aid, though, try to remember that planning ahead is the best way to protect and maintain the device while you travel. Consider some travel tips that will ensure you and your hearing aid stay safe and have a great time on your next vacation.
Travel is Chaotic
No matter how well you organize your trip or even how you get from place to place, travel is chaotic. That is true whether you are on a road trip, take a plane with your family or are riding the rails. Chaos breeds stress, and, when you are stressed, it’s easy to miss important details like how to care for your hearing aid.
Before you leave, develop a list of all the stuff you need to take with you and make sure extra batteries for your hearing aid is on the top of it. If your hearing aid comes with rechargeable batteries then bring along an extra charging station in case yours gets lost along the way. If you are traveling and are required to check your luggage carry batteries or that extra charger on you in case your bags get lost.
While you are making your list, think about what else you will need to maintain your hearing aids. How about:
- The cleaning kit
- A hairdryer to use in case they get wet
- Additional domes and wax guards
Pack a few of Bluetooth accessories in your luggage, too. They are a big help if you should lose or damage your hearing aid on the road. The mic on a Bluetooth device can help you talk to people in a pinch.
Heading for the Airport
If flying is your chosen mode of transportation, plan to wear your hearing aids on the plane. Make sure to carry the case for them, batteries and cleaning supplies in your carry on, so they are handy. When going through security, don’t put your hearing aids on the belt for scanning. When it comes time to go through the body scanner, let them know you have a hearing aid in, so they don’t think you are hiding anything. They may ask you to take it out for examination or let you go through with it in place.
While flying, you might find hearing is more difficult even while wearing with your hearing aid. The noise can overwhelm the device, so use other tricks to understand what is going on like visual cues. Try putting a Bluetooth device in one ear if you are struggling, too. The remote mic will pick up conversation better while you are in the air than your hearing aid.
Some Common Sense Advice
Your hearing aids are critical for vacation enjoyment, but you need to think ahead just in case they go missing or break during your trip. You need to find other ways to accommodate your hearing loss when are not wearing them, too, like at night. If you are staying at a hotel, ask about adaptive equipment designed for the hearing impaired. Some offer rooms that include lights that flash when the phone rings or in case the fire alarm goes off.
Keep detailed information with you at all times like your itinerary and emergency contacts. A written itinerary makes checking in to your hotel easier because you’ll probably be tired and understanding the clerk will be a struggle even with your hearing aid.
Do your homework before you leave to learn more about the areas you visit, and, especially if there is a certified hearing aid retailer nearby. This way if something does happen and you need to get your hearing aid repaired or even replaced, you already know where to go for help.
Have hearing aid will travel? Absolutely! Don’t let your hearing issues change the way you live on the road. There is no reason you can’t go out and enjoy your vacation just like anyone. Go ahead and plan that dream adventure just think ahead, so you hear every minute of the fun.
There is a complicated link between hearing and mood that tends to go unnoticed. A 2014 study conducted by researchers at The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) suggests a strong correlation exists between loss of hearing and mood disorders with both often going untreated.
What that indicates for those with some hearing loss, whether they know it or not, is that the decrease in their hearing directly impacts their mood. Keeping that in mind means it is safe to conclude that hearing enhancement devices like hearing aids might be just what you need to fight depression.
The scientists working with The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders looked at data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to find a connection between certain mood disorders and hearing loss for those participants over the age of 18. This lead to some interesting facts:
- Moderate to severe depression rates were around 4.9 percent for those with good hearing.
- Moderate to severe depression rates were around 11.4 percent for those with some hearing loss.
- The rate of depression increased as hearing declined but did not change for those already deaf.
- Women over the age of 70 found to have reduced hearing through professional hearing exams did experience depression.
- Men over the age of 70 did not experience depression despite their hearing loss.
This study allowed researchers to conclude that a loss in hearing for those over the age of 70 didn’t really factor into depression for the male population but did seem to impact the women. The young adults who reported some level of hearing loss were also more prone to depression regardless of gender.
Why Hearing Loss Can Lead to Depression
There are a number of theories out there to answer this question but the most likely one is more common sense than science. Simply put, finding yourself with hearing loss can trigger mood swings and depression because:
- Most forms of hearing loss are permanent. Once a person loses their hearing due to trauma, disease or just aging, that damage is done. The components that let you hear are very delicate and there is no proven way to fix most of them. Hearing aids provide a workable solution, but it is not a permanent one.
- Hearing loss leads to isolation. People tend to bow out of social situations once hearing loss begins. Maybe they think they are too dumb to follow the conversations or they are just not ready to deal with their hearing problem. Studies show that social isolation is a risk factor for dementia, as well, as depression.
- Hearing loss causes stress. A person experiencing hearing loss might be unable to enjoy things the same way they used to like listening to music or playing the piano. Turning the volume up just irritates everyone around them, too. At the same time, they are struggling to interpret words. Sounds start to drop out, so some words are hard to distinguish adding to their anxiety. That stress can quickly turn to sadness and, eventually, depression.
Why Hearing Aids Help
The NIDCD suggests that most people over the age of 70 can find benefit in wearing hearing aids just to reduce the effects of age-related hearing loss. According to the institute, just 1 in 3 people that need hearing assistance have a diagnosis of hearing loss and access to hearing aids. People’s reasons for not getting the hearing aids vary but some common ones are cost and not wanting to admit there is a problem. Instead, they struggle to get through life and that leads to depression.
A study for the National Council on Aging reports those with hearing loss that do see doctor to get a professional hearing test and then wear hearing aids are 50 percent less likely to become depressed.
Getting hearing aids improve the quality of life in many ways. If you know you have hearing loss then schedule an appointment to see your doctor and get a hearing test. You’ll be surprised how much better you will feel once you start hearing again.
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