The impact hearing loss has on general health has been examined for years. A new study takes a different approach by examining what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare spending. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to reduce the escalating costs of healthcare. You can reduce it significantly by something as simple as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on november 8 2018.
How Hearing Loss Affects Health
There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of studying it, researchers found that there was a significant effect on brain health in adults with minor to severe hearing loss. For example:
- Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their risk of dementia
- The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
- Dementia is five times more likely in someone suffering from severe hearing loss
The study shows that the brain atrophies at a faster rate when a person has hearing loss. The brain needs to work harder to do things like maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to injury.
Also, quality of life is affected. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to feel anxiety and stress. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these factors.
The Newest Study
The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it starts to be a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.
77,000 to 150,000 patients with untreated hearing loss were analyzed. People with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care costs than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.
Over time, this amount continues to increase. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after 10 years. When you break those numbers down, they average $22,434 per person.
Some factors that are associated with the increase are:
- Lower quality of life
- Cognitive decline
A connection between untreated hearing loss and a higher rate of mortality is suggested by a second study done by the Bloomberg School. Some other findings from this study are:
- In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia
- 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
- 3.6 more falls
Those stats correlate with the research by Johns Hopkins.
Hearing Loss is on the Rise
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
- The simple act of hearing is difficult for about 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
- Loss of hearing currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
- Up to 8.5 percent of 55-to-64-year-olds have hearing loss
For those aged 64 to 74 the number goes up to 25 percent and for individuals over 74 it goes up to 50 percent. Over time, those figures are anticipated to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country might have hearing loss by the year 2060.
The research doesn’t mention how wearing hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do understand is that wearing hearing aids can get rid of some of the health problems associated with hearing loss. To determine whether using hearing aids lessens the cost of healthcare, more research is needed. It seems obvious there are more reasons to use them than not. Make an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.
It’s not as if you just wake up one day, and your hearing is gone. For most people, loss of hearing gradually over time, especially when it comes to aging. Age-related hearing loss affects about one in three people in this country. Usually, the change isn’t even noticed until after the age of 75. Some signs show up earlier, though, and you may not realize there is an issue immediately.
Early hearing loss has gradual and subtle symptoms. Recognizing them as soon as possible is essential to slow down the progression of hearing loss or other health problems related to hearing loss. However, if you’re not sure what the signs are, you can’t recognize them. You may be suffering from hearing loss if you have any of these eight barely noticeable signs.
1. Ringing in The Ears
Okay, this isn’t exactly a subtle sign, but it is something people tend to ignore unless it’s disruptive. Tinnitus, the medical name for the ringing, is a typical symptom of hearing loss.
Triggers are a considerable factor in tinnitus so it can be intermittent, too. Maybe the ringing only occurs when your tired or when you first get up for instance.
Tinnitus is a sign that something else is happening with your body so it should never be neglected. It could be hearing loss, but it could also be a sign of high blood pressure, circulatory problems or trauma. If you want to know for sure, you will need to consult your doctor.
2. Talking on The Phone is Stressful
Here are some common excuses for phone issues:
- It’s a new phone, and I’m just not used to it yet.
- I dropped my phone in water or on the ground.
- My phone is old.
If you dislike talking on the phone think about the reasons why. Get someone else to test the phone for you if the volume is all the way up and you still don’t hear it. If you can’t hear the conversation but they can then you have a hearing issue.
3. It Seems As if Everyone Mumbles These Days
Recently, it’s not only the kids, but also your neighbor, the news anchor, and even your spouse that have started to mumble to you. It’s hard to believe that everyone you deal with suddenly has poor enunciation.
It’s much more probable that you may not be hearing words in the same way. One of the first indications that your hearing is changing is when talking sounds like mumbling and consonants like “S” and “T” drop off.
Only when someone calls you out for saying “what?” a lot do you begin to recognize that you can’t hear conversations as well anymore. Usually, the people you see every day like coworkers or family are the first to recognize you are having difficulties hearing. If someone comments on it, pay attention.
5. You Hear Some People Perfectly Fine But Not Others
Maybe you can hear the neighbor perfectly, but when his wife joins the conversation, everything gets messed up. It’s a common symptom of sensorineural hearing loss or damage to the nerves that send electrical messages to the brain.
Her voice is higher pitched, and that’s why it isn’t as clear. Your daughter or grandchild might present the same problem. Even things like the microwave or an alarm can throw a loop into things. Those sounds are high pitched, as well.
6. Going Out Used to be Much More Fun
Again, there are those mumbling people, and that’s not fun. Also, it’s much more difficult to understand what people are saying when it’s noisy. Something as routine as the AC coming on during dinner or the sound of people chatting around you makes it impossible to hear anything.
7. You Never Used to Feel so Tired
It’s can be exhausting struggling to comprehend what people are saying. You are more fatigued than usual because your brain is working harder to manage what it hears. Your other senses might also undergo changes. What’s left for your other senses when your brain is working at 110 percent of its energy to understand words? It’s time to have your ears checked if your eye examination came back okay.
8. You Can’t Hear The TV
Rather than accusing the service provider when you have to keep turning the TV up, consider getting a hearing exam. When you have hearing loss it can be difficult to follow dialog. For example, when the background music is playing, it makes everything sound unclear. And don’t forget about the AC, ceiling fan or other noises in the room. If the volume keeps going up, then your hearing could be faltering.
A professional hearing exam will tell you for certain and that’s the good news. Hearing aids should get things back to normal if it turns out that your hearing has declined.
Over 45 million people in this country are affected by tinnitus according to the National Tinnitus Association. If you have it, rest assured you are not alone. There is no cure, and it’s not necessarily clear why certain people get tinnitus. For many, the trick to living with it is to find ways to manage it. The ultimate checklist to tackle tinnitus is a good place to begin.
Learning About Tinnitus
About one in five people have tinnitus and can hear noises that no one else can hear. The perception of a phantom sound due to an underlying medical problem is the medical definition of tinnitus. It’s not an illness of itself, but a symptom, in other words.
The most common reason people develop tinnitus is hearing loss. Think of it as the brain’s method of filling in some gaps. Most of the time, your mind works to translate the sound you hear and then decides if you need to know about it. All the sound around you is transformed by the ear into electrical signals but before that, it’s only pressure waves. The electrical impulses are translated into words you can comprehend by the brain.
You don’t actually “hear” all the sound that is around you. If the brain doesn’t think a sound is important to you, it filters it out. You might not hear the wind blowing, as an example. You can feel it, but the brain masks the sound of it passing by your ears because it’s not crucial that you hear it. It would be confusing and distracting if you heard every sound.
There are less electrical signals for the brain to interpret when someone has hearing loss. The brain expects them, but due to injury in the inner ear, they never arrive. The brain may attempt to create a sound of its own to fill the space when that happens.
Some Sounds tinnitus sufferers hear are:
The phantom noise might be high pitched, low pitched, loud or soft.
There are other reasons besides loss of hearing you might have tinnitus. Other possible factors include:
- TMJ disorder
- Ear bone changes
- Meniere’s disease
- Tumor in the head or neck
- Acoustic neuroma
- High blood pressure
- Head injury
- Neck injury
- Loud noises around you
- Earwax accumulation
- Poor blood flow in the neck
- Malformed capillaries
Although physically harmless, Anxiety and depression have been linked to tinnitus and can cause complications like difficulty sleeping and high blood pressure.
Your Ear’s Best Friend is Prevention
Like with most things, prevention is how you avoid a problem. Protecting your ears reduces your chance of hearing loss later in life. Check out these tips to protect your ears:
- Reducing the amount of time you spend wearing headphones or earbuds.
- Consulting a doctor if you have an ear infection.
- Avoiding long-term exposure to loud noises at work or home.
Get your hearing tested every few years, also. The test allows you to make lifestyle changes and get treatment as well as alerting you to an existing hearing loss problem.
If You do Hear The Ringing
Ringing doesn’t tell you how or why you got tinnitus, but it does tell you that you have it. A little trial and error can help you understand more.
Find out if the sound goes away after a while if you refrain from wearing headphones or earbuds.
Take a close look at your noise exposure. The night before the ringing began were you around loud noise? For instance, did you:
- Attend a party
- Listen to the music of TV with headphones or earbuds
- Work or sit next to an unusually loud noise
- Go to a concert
If the answer is yes to any of those scenarios, chances are the tinnitus is temporary.
If The Tinnitus Doesn’t go Away
Getting an ear exam would be the next step. Your physician will look for possible causes of the tinnitus such as:
- Stress levels
- Ear wax
- Ear damage
Here are some particular medications that might cause this problem too:
- Cancer Meds
- Quinine medications
- Water pills
The tinnitus might go away if you make a change.
You can schedule a hearing exam if you can’t find any other apparent cause. If you do have hearing loss, hearing aids can minimize the ringing and improve your situation.
Since tinnitus is a side effect and not a disease, treating the cause is the first step. If you have high blood pressure, medication will bring it down, and the tinnitus should disappear.
Discovering a way to control tinnitus is, for some, the only way to live with it. White noise machines are useful. They generate the noise the brain is waiting for and the ringing stops. You can also get the same result from a fan or dehumidifier.
Another approach is tinnitus retraining. You wear a device that creates a tone to mask the frequencies of the tinnitus. It can teach you not to focus on it.
Also, avoiding tinnitus triggers is important. Start keeping a diary because tinnitus triggers are not the same for everyone. Write down everything before the ringing started.
- What sound did you hear?
- What did you eat or drink?
- What were you doing?
Tracking patterns is possible in this way. You would know to order something else if you had a double espresso each time because caffeine is a well known trigger.
Your quality of life is affected by tinnitus so your best chance is finding a way to eliminate it or at least lessen its impact. To learn more about your tinnitus, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist today.
There is one component that is the key to keeping hearing aids cost effective and that’s the batteries. The cost of replacing them adds up fast and that makes it one of the largest financial considerations when shopping for hearing aids.
Usually the batteries die at the worst time which is even more troubling. This is a huge problem even for rechargeable brands.
There are things you can do to extend the life of the batteries in hearing aids, so you don’t have to stop and replace them a few times a week. Consider these six simple ways you can make those batteries last just a little bit longer.
1. Be a Smart Hearing Aid Consumer
It starts when you are beginning to shop for your hearing aids. Battery life depends on multiple factors such as features on the hearing aids or quality of the brand. And certain batteries are better than others. Cheap components and even cheaper batteries are what defines low quality hearing aids. You’ll be changing those batteries out all the time, so make sure to talk it over with your hearing specialist.
Compare the different models as you shop and, also, consider what features are crucial for you. Wireless models have batteries that need replacing 2 times as fast as devices with wires. The larger the hearing aid, the longer the battery will last, too. These larger devices can potentially go for a couple of weeks without needing new batteries as opposed to the smaller ones which will require battery replacement every two days. Get the features you need but understand how each one impacts the power drainage of the hearing aids.
2. Take the Time to Store the Hearing Aids Properly
To lessen drainage of power you will usually have to open the battery door at night. Also, you will want to:
A dry, cool place is where you should keep the batteries. Humidity and high temperatures will affect battery cells. Room temperature is fine just keep them out of the sun and away from heat sources include light bulbs.
Also, a dehumidifier is a smart idea. It’s one of the best ways to preserve both the hearing aids and their batteries. Humidity in the air is brutal on their delicate components.
3. Be Careful When You Change The Batteries
Make sure your hands are dry and clean. The life of the battery is adversely affected by dampness, dirt, and grease. Don’t forget to leave the plastic tab in place until you are ready to use the new batteries, too. The latest hearing aid batteries mix zinc with the air to power up. But you want to be ready before that occurs.
It is worth letting them sit out for five minutes after you pull the tab but before you put them in. The battery could be extended by days if you do this.
4. Play Around With Different Batteries and Battery Sources
High quality batteries have a longer life than bargain ones, obviously. Don’t just think about the brand, though, but what types of hearing aid batteries you’re using and also where you purchase them. If you buy in bulk, you can get good batteries for less at some big box stores.
If you buy them online, especially from auction sites like eBay, use caution. Batteries have an expiration date that they have to be sold by. You shouldn’t use them after they expire.
The easiest way to get batteries at an affordable cost is to ask your hearing care specialist.
5. Accept The Inevitable And be Ready For it
Eventually, the batteries are going to quit. If you don’t want to find yourself in a pinch, it’s helpful to get an idea when this will occur. To keep track of when the batteries fizzle and need to be changed, make a schedule. You’ll get an idea of when you need to change them over time.
A diary will also assist you in figuring out which brands are best for your hearing devices and what features have the biggest effect on the battery life.
6. Consider the Alternatives to Batteries
Some current day hearing aids are rechargeable and that is one of the best features. If you can save money on batteries, it will be worth paying a little more up front. If you need a bunch of features such as wireless or Bluetooth, then rechargeable batteries are probably the better choice.
Hearing aids are a significant investment but so are the batteries that you need to make them work. Extending the life of your batteries and saving money starts with a little due diligence. To find out what your best option for you is, schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist.
Besides turkey, what do you think about when a person mentions Thanksgiving? Does the cooking and preparing with the family start days before? Will you reminisce with each other as you follow grandma’s famous homemade pecan pie recipe? It’s warm and relaxing because you are together, and a delicious aroma is wafting from the oven. Will you be laughing while the family enjoys hearing about your son’s grades or listening to the grandkids laugh and play. Or are you struggling to catch the punchline of every joke?
The holiday doesn’t need to be defined for you by hearing loss. You can take charge of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to talking over drinks at the company party. You don’t have to be held hostage by hearing loss. Consider how to get the most out of your holiday despite your hearing loss. Here are some tips.
Those Holiday Parties
Parties may be the most difficult for those with hearing loss. Here are some tricks that will make the experience less stressful:
- Get a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat key things you might have missed.
- Some of the background noise can be blocked if you stand with your back to a wall.
- If you are listening to a speech, encourage friends to pass you notes instead of attempting to whisper in your ear.
- Stay away from any speakers that might interfere with your hearing aids. Don’t be shy about asking the host to turn down the music so you can hear better.
- Your expectations have to be managed. It’s an unrealistic expectation to think that you will go into a party and find everything to be ideal. Things will be more challenging because of your hearing loss. Don’t allow the difficulties to stress you out, just have a sense of humor about it.
- Give some visual hints of your own. You don’t need to point it out. Something as basic as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re struggling.
- Be aware of the visual clues. Someone is most likely talking to you if they are looking right at you. Inform them that you didn’t hear what they said.
- So you can feel less isolated, request a seat near the middle of the table.
- Perhaps try stepping out of the room, even if just for a while. It will give your brain a chance to a rest.
- Maybe there is a quiet area in the room with better acoustics where you can go.
Don’t permit the obstacles of hearing loss to stop you from traveling. Here are some tips to help make your holiday travels go smoothly.
Flying or Taking the Train
If you prefer to fly or ride the rails, it can be difficult to hear announcements over the speaker. There are a few things you can do to make the trip better. To begin with, call the airport to see if they provide any special services for the hearing impaired. They might have special signs that visually show oral announcements or apps you can get on your phone to see track changes or other vital information. They could even provide a sign language interpreter or priority boarding. If being close enough to lip read or ask questions is essential, you can request priority seating. They might also offer to take you through a select line in security, too. Be certain to inquire a few weeks before you go if you want to know what is provided.
When you get on board, be certain the attendants know you have hearing loss. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you don’t answer when they ask you if you want a drink.
If you are staying at a hotel, make them aware you are hearing impaired when you make your reservation. Many resorts have rooms or devices available for those with hearing loss like vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing. Some spots are set up with fire alarms that flash the lights, too, to improve your safety while you stay with them.
If You Are Traveling With Hearing Aids, Take These Essentials
You might not be sure what to take with you if this is your first time traveling with your hearing aids. Some fundamentals to pack include:
- A cleaning kit
- Additional accessories
- Extra batteries or a second charger
Keep your hearing aids in as you pass security. Removing them is not necessary. You can leave them in during an air flight, also.
And if you don’t already have hearing aids, maybe it’s time. In the newer hearing aids, there are features that will get rid of background noise, enhance conversation while amplifying sound. The holidays are a once a year celebration. There is no reason the holidays can’t be all that you remember whether you’ve always had hearing loss or if you are new to it. Make an appointment with your hearing care professional to learn what your hearing solutions are.
With tinnitus, it’s normal to have good and bad days but why? Over 45 million Americans suffer from ringing in their ears from a condition called tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and that’s accompanied by hearing loss by about 90 percent of them.
None of that clarifies why the ringing is invasive some days and almost non-existent on others. Some common triggers could explain it but it’s still unclear as to why this occurs.
What Is Tinnitus?
The following phantom noises are heard by people who suffer from tinnitus:
You hear it, the person beside you doesn’t, which is one thing that makes tinnitus so disturbing. Also, the pitch and volume can vary. One day it may be a roar and the next day be gone completely.
What is The Cause of Tinnitus?
The most common cause is a change in a person’s hearing. The cause of these changes could be:
- Earwax build up
- Ear bone changes
- Noise trauma
Some other possible causes include:
- Head injury
- Acoustic neuroma
- TMJ problems
- Meniere’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Tumor in the head or neck
- An issue with the carotid artery or jugular vein
For a small percentage of people, there is no obvious explanation for them to have tinnitus.
If your tinnitus is new, consult your doctor and learn what is happening with your ears. The problem might be a symptom of a life threatening condition like heart disease or it might be something treatable. A side effect of a new medication may also be the cause.
For some reason the ringing gets worse on some days.
It’s somewhat of a medical mystery as to why certain days are worse than others for those who have tinnitus. And there might be more than one reason depending on the person. There are common triggers that could explain it, though.
Loud events like concerts, club music, and fireworks are enough to irritate your tinnitus. If you expect to be exposed to loud noise, your best option is to wear ear protection. You can enjoy the music at a concert, for example, without injuring your ears by using earplugs.
Another thing you can do is to put some distance between you and the source of the loud sound. When you go to a fireworks display don’t go up front and avoid the front row when you’re at a concert. Combined with hearing protection, this could lessen the effect.
Loud Noises at Home
Loud noises in your house can also be a problem. Tinnitus can be triggered by a lawn mower for example. Consider other things you do at home that may be an issue:
- Wearing headphones – The function of headphones is to boost the volume of your audio which could be irritating your tinnitus so it could be time to lose those earbuds.
- Woodworking – Power tools are loud enough to be a problem.
- Laundry – If you fold clothing while the washer is running, for example.
If there are things you can’t or aren’t willing to avoid such as woodworking, wear hearing protection.
Loud noises at work have the same impact as a concert or the lawnmower. It’s especially crucial to wear ear protection if you work in construction or are around machinery. Talk to your manager about your ear health; they might provide the ear protection you need. Let your ears rest during your off time.
Air Pressure Changes
When most people go on a plane they experience ear popping. An increase in tinnitus can happen because of the noise of the plane engine and the change in pressure. If you are traveling, bring some gum with you to help neutralize the air pressure and think about ear protection.
Changes in air pressure occur everywhere not just on a plane. Taking the right medication to alleviate sinus pressure is also helpful.
Medication could also be the problem. Some drugs affect the ears and are known as ototoxic. Some common medications on the list include:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Have a talk with your doctor if you experience a worsening of tinnitus after you begin taking a new prescription. Changing to something else may be possible.
Tinnitus is an irritation for some people, but for others, it can be debilitating. The first step is to find out what’s causing it and then look at ways to keep it under control from day to day.
Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This fact is surprising for people who think of hearing loss as a condition associated with aging or noise trauma. Close to 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease likely suffer from some form on hearing loss.
A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases besides diabetes. Besides the obvious aspect of the aging process, what is the connection between these diseases and hearing loss? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.
What the connection is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical evidence appears to suggest there is one. A condition that indicates a person may develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.
Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t understand why this takes place. It is feasible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear might be caused by high glucose levels. Diabetes is known to impact circulation, so that is a reasonable assumption.
Hearing loss is a symptom of this infectious disease. Meningitis by definition is swelling of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, normally due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people who develop this condition will also lose their hearing, either partially or completely. Among the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.
Meningitis has the potential to harm the delicate nerves which permit the inner ear to send signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound without these signals.
Ailments that affect the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these well-known diseases:
- Heart failure
- Peripheral artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
Age related hearing loss is commonly linked to cardiovascular diseases. The inner ear is susceptible to harm. Damage to the inner ear leads to hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t receive the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to thrive.
Chronic Kidney Disease
A 2012 study published in The Laryngoscope found that people with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. A separate study found that chance to be as high as 43 percent. However, this connection may be a coincidence. Kidney disease and other conditions involving high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.
Toxins that build up in the blood due to kidney failure might also be the culprit, theoretically. These toxins could damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.
Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. There is some evidence that cognitive impairment increases a person’s chances of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia comes about due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.
The flip side of the coin is true, as well. A person who has dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as damage to the brain increases.
Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. The decrease in hearing may be only in one ear or it could affect both ears. The reason that this happens is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. Messages are sent to the brain by this part of the ear. The good thing is mumps is pretty scarce these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone will experience hearing loss if they get the mumps.
Chronic Ear Infections
Treatment clears up the random ear infection so it’s not very risky for most people. However, the little bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough strength to deliver signals to the brain it’s known as conductive hearing loss. Infections can also cause a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.
Prevention is the key to steering clear of many of the illnesses that can cause you to lose hearing. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and regular sleep habits will go a long way to protecting your ear health throughout your life. You should also get regular hearing exams to make sure your ears stay healthy.
Someone you love has hearing loss, now what should you do? Hearing loss commonly goes undetected by those who suffer from it and that makes it much more difficult to talk about. It’s a frustrating problem for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the way to go. Your family member’s life will be bettered by the things you do now so don’t wait to find a way to talk about it. To help get you there, consider these suggestions.
Learn More so You Can Explain it Better
You need to recognize the problem first before you are able to clarify it. The chances of hearing loss become greater as people get older. About one in every three people have some level of hearing loss by the time they are 74 and greater than half have it after they reach the age of 75.
Presbycusis is the technical name for this form of ear damage. The effect is gradual and generally affects both ears similarly. This hearing loss probably began years before it was detected.
Persbyscusis occurs for many reasons. The most basic reason for age-related hearing loss is that decades of sound takes its toll on the delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the little hair cells. The brain gets electrical signals that are produced by these little hair cells. The brain gets the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Those hairs are an essential element of hearing.
The following chronic health problems can also play a role:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
All of these can harm the ear and reduce hearing.
Make a Date
It’s not only important what you say but also where you choose to say it. The best way to go is to schedule something so you both can get together and talk. To guarantee you won’t be disturbed, find a quiet spot. Bringing literature on the subject is also quite helpful. For example, the doctor may have a brochure that describes presbycusis.
Let’s Discuss the Whys
Expect this person to be a little defensive. Because it is associated with aging, hearing loss can be a delicate subject. Growing older is a tough thing to accept. Older people struggle to stay in control of their everyday lives and they may believe poor hearing challenges that freedom.
You will have to tell them why you think they have hearing loss and you will have to be specific.
They will have to be reminded how often they say “what did you say?” when people talk to them. Don’t make it sound like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you understand and put everything into perspective, be patient.
Be Prepared to Listen
Be prepared to sit back and listen once you have said what you need to say. Your family member may express concerns or say they have noticed some changes but didn’t know what they should do. So that you can help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions which motivate them to keep talking.
Talk About the Support System
Hearing loss comes with a lot of fear and that can be tough to get past. Many people don’t understand that they have friends and family on their side and feel alone with their problem. Remind them of how other family members have found a way to cope with the same problem.
What to do next is going to be the most significant part of the talk. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are plenty of tools available to help, including hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. They come in many sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. If you can bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the different devices which are now available.
Seeing a doctor is step one. Some hearing loss is temporary. Get an ear examination and rule out things such as ear wax build up and medication that may be causing the problem. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.
Going over the side effects of a medication when you first begin using it is a normal thing to do. Will it cause you to get a dry mouth or make you feel nauseous? There is a more serious possible side effect that you might not recognize which is hearing loss. Ototoxicity is the term medical professionals give to this condition. Broken down, ototoxic means ear poisoning.
It’s still not known how many drugs cause this problem, but there are at least 130 that are known to be ototoxic. Which ones should you watch out for and why?
Some Facts About Ototoxicity
How can a pill reap havoc on your ears after you swallow it? There are three different places these drugs can damage your hearing:
- The stria vascularis – Located in the cochlea, the stria vascularis generates endolymph, the fluid in the inner ear. Too much or too little endolymph has a considerable impact on both hearing and balance.
- The vestibule of the ear – This is the part of the ear that sits in the center of the labyrinth that comprises the cochlea. It helps manage balance. Vestibulotoxicity medications can cause you to get dizzy or feel like the room is spinning.
- The cochlea – That’s the seashell-shaped element of the inner ear that takes sound and converts it into an electrical message the brain can understand. Damage to the cochlea impacts the range of sound you can hear, usually starting with high frequencies then escalating to include lower ones.
Tinnitus is caused by some drugs while others cause hearing loss. If you hear phantom sounds, that might be tinnitus and it usually shows up as:
- A windy sound
When you quit the medication, the tinnitus generally stops. Some ototoxic drugs, however, can lead to permanent loss of hearing.
What is The Risk Level For Each Drug?
Permanent hearing loss can be caused by a list of drugs that will probably surprise you. Many of them you could have in your medicine cabinet right now, and chances are you take them before you go to bed or when you have a headache.
Over the counter pain relievers are at the top of the list of ototoxic medications:
Salicylates, better recognized as aspirin, can be added to this list. The hearing problems caused by these drugs are normally correctable when you quit taking them.
Antibiotics rank a close second for well known ototoxic drugs. Some antibiotics are ototoxic but many aren’t. You might have heard of some of these that aren’t:
The issue goes away after you stop taking the antibiotics just like with painkillers. The common list of other drugs include:
Diamox, Bumex, Lasix and Edecrin are diuretics that trigger tinnitus but there are bigger culprits in this category: Every time you drink your morning coffee, you are subjecting your body to something that could make your ears ring. Once the drug is out of your system it will pass and that’s the good news. Ironically, some drugs doctors prescribe to deal with tinnitus are also on the list of possible causes such as: The doctor will prescribe much less than the amount that will trigger tinnitus. The symptoms of tinnitus differ depending on your ear health and what medication you get. Slightly irritating to absolutely incapacitating is what you can generally be expecting. Look for: If you have any of these symptoms after using a medication even if it’s an over-the-counter herbal supplement, you should get in touch with your doctor. Does ototoxicity mean you shouldn’t take the medication? You always should take what your doctor prescribes. Remember that these symptoms are not permanent. Keep yourself informed by always asking your doctor about the possible side effects of a medication and don’t be reluctant to ask about ototoxicity. You should also make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to have a hearing test.
Ototoxicity Has Specific Symptoms
Diamox, Bumex, Lasix and Edecrin are diuretics that trigger tinnitus but there are bigger culprits in this category:
Every time you drink your morning coffee, you are subjecting your body to something that could make your ears ring. Once the drug is out of your system it will pass and that’s the good news. Ironically, some drugs doctors prescribe to deal with tinnitus are also on the list of possible causes such as:
The doctor will prescribe much less than the amount that will trigger tinnitus.
The symptoms of tinnitus differ depending on your ear health and what medication you get. Slightly irritating to absolutely incapacitating is what you can generally be expecting.
If you have any of these symptoms after using a medication even if it’s an over-the-counter herbal supplement, you should get in touch with your doctor.
Does ototoxicity mean you shouldn’t take the medication? You always should take what your doctor prescribes. Remember that these symptoms are not permanent. Keep yourself informed by always asking your doctor about the possible side effects of a medication and don’t be reluctant to ask about ototoxicity. You should also make an appointment with a hearing care specialist to have a hearing test.
Are you chatting less often on the phone because you don’t hear so well. Hearing loss, as time goes by, can cause you to feel isolated. Don’t break up with your phone. It is possible to stay in touch with friends and family.
Communication is The key
With any relationship, communication is the key and the same goes for your phone. What can be done to make things better is the important question.
- Do the voices sound too quiet? Maybe the volume needs to be turned up.
- Have you had an ear exam? Not all loss of hearing is permanent, so get a proper diagnosis. It may possibly be something as basic as too much earwax or an ear infection.
- Bluetooth or headphones could be options if you’ve already turned the volume up. It’s a comparatively inexpensive way to improve the sound quality on the phone, and that might be all you need.
If you’ve already looked at at the most obvious issues and have ruled them out, it will be time to think about more in depth solutions.
You Can Get an App For That
There are really quite a few possible apps. There are many apps you can download that work to get you, and your phone back on the same page, some of them are pretty cool.
What the other person says can be turned to text with some of these apps. These apps are far from perfect, but you should be able to work with them. Brands to look up include:
Not all voice to text apps are free, but the majority are affordably priced.
They Make a Phone For That
If you want to find a landline solution, you can find phones for your home that do the same thing as an app. They can amplify the voice on the other end, making it easier to hear. They also work to equalize the tone, so high pitched sounds that tend to get lost become clearer.
Another solution is a captioning phone. The captioning service involves a unique phone which has an LCD screen. Captioning works with an operator that either repeats the spoken words so speech recognition software can translate them into text or types them right into the system. The words are then displayed on the captioning phone’s screen. You will need to have the internet to use a captioning service.
a traditional phone system that is still around which works similarly to a captioning service is Text-to-Voice Teletype (TTY). You need to get a TTY device that sits near the phone to display the text, though.
The Best Option Are Hearing Aids
In the past, every time a hearing aid got near a phone, there would be ear piercing feedback, but new hearing aids don’t usually do that. The newer technology can work with a hearing aid compatible phone to improve the sound quality and get rid of interference like background noise. What’s more, they are wireless and work even when you’re not on the phone.
State of the art, high quality hearing aids can also have a more advanced program that allows them to be compatible with almost any phone whether it’s a landline or smartphone. The technology functions by holding the hearing device up to the phone and streaming the sound from the one to the other.
Bluetooth compatibility is also a standard feature of today’s hearing aid tech. You simply pair the phone up with the hearing aids just like you would with wireless headphones or earbuds. When the phone rings, the sound is sent directly to your hearing aids.
There’s no reason to allow hearing loss spoil a perfectly good relationship. Get back on your phone whatever it takes so you can start talking again. You can check out the newest hearing aid technology by making an appointment with a hearing care specialist.
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