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Hearing Loss Could Put You at Risk for Accidental Injury

Hearing loss isn’t as benign or straightforward as we once thought it was. Not just a minor annoyance that you could choose to manage if you wanted to with a hearing aid.
No, hearing loss is a complex condition that can affect every aspect of our life from the way we communicate and our relationships to our total health and well-being. Study after study is finding that treating our hearing loss is no longer an option because untreated hearing loss can have devastating consequences.
New research is finding that it’s not just the cognitive decline and anxiety we should be aware of now, either. It’s something as simple as an increased risk of accidental injury.
Hearing loss and accidental injury
As experts realize the more significant impact of untreated hearing loss, they are digging into existing data as well as compiling new data through various studies to identify patterns related to hearing health. One of the most recent findings is linking hearing loss to an increased risk of accidental injury.
Analyzing data from the National Health Interview Survey gathered between 2007 and 2015, researchers determined that individuals who reported having “a lot of trouble” hearing were twice as likely to have an accidental injury as those who reported no trouble hearing. This fact was true both in work and leisure settings.
While more research is needed into exactly why this is the case, experts believe that the simple effects of sensory impairment may be behind it. This is concerning because accidental injuries are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in America, according to the CDC’s National Health Report.
Reducing your risk for accidental injury could be as easy as scheduling an annual hearing evaluation to determine whether or not you have a hearing loss. This simple step could even help protect you from more than just accidental injury.
The importance of treating hearing loss
Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions, affecting an estimated one out of every five Americans and well over 450 million people around the world, yet it often goes untreated. As we learn more about the cost of untreated hearing loss, experts hope that the tide will change and the crucial role that hearing health plays in our lives will be taken more seriously.
While this study found that untreated hearing loss may increase the risk of accidental injury, this isn’t the only often unseen effect of untreated hearing loss. Others include:

Don’t let untreated hearing loss put you, your health and your well-being at risk. Whether it’s an accidental injury, falls, mental health or other concerns, you can take action now to reduce your risk.
Contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation and discuss options to treat hearing loss, such as hearing aids. This could be the most powerful choice you make for your health.

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Feel Good Foods for Your Hearing

food and hearing health

Forefront in the media is the battle of the bulge, foods that may or may not cause disease, and what’s on the menu at the local fast food joint. We hear about the latest diet fad, the latest YouTube recipes and what the stars are eating. What we don’t often hear about foods that can affect our hearing health.
Sticking to a healthy diet is good for more than just your waistline. By increasing your intake of certain foods, you can increase your chances of healthy hearing well into your golden years. A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is sure to be better for you all around than sugary junk food. Eating a rainbow variety of foods increases the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help your body to heal and stay healthy, including your hearing.
We get much needed naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and nutrients by eating plants that take in these fuel molecules from within the soil as they grow. We either eat the plants directly or eat meat from animals that consumed the plants. This allows us the ability to meet the daily requirements needed for optimal health. The following list is key in maintaining good auditory health.
Folate
Foods such as asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, and liver are great sources of folate which provides vitamin B9. Folate, or folic acid, help to minimize the possibility of hearing loss related to the aging process. Other foods such as fortified cereals, baker’s yeast, leafy vegetables, and sunflower seeds are also good sources of folic acid. If those don’t appeal or the food prep is to time consuming, you can take a vitamin supplement such as B9 or B complex.
Magnesium 
For those who live or work in noisy environments, there is help. Magnesium has been proven to protect the sensitive hairs within our inner ears from free radical molecules that are produced by the hazardous effects of long-term loud noise. Without these tiny hairs, our ears are unable to transmit the electrical currents to the brain, which are then identified as sound. This means that we develop hearing loss.
To combat the effects of loud noise, be sure to keep up your magnesium level by eating plenty of artichokes, avocados, beans, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and even whole grains. These foods are easily added to stir fry dishes or grilled. They’ll have a protective effect on the sensitive hairs within the ear and will help to ensure you can hear for many years to come.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
For those over 50, decreased hearing becomes an increasing possibility, but it doesn’t have to. By consuming omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, you can delay or even prevent hearing loss related to aging.
Fresh fish are among the food’s rich in these beneficial fatty acids. Anchovies, herring, mackerel, oysters, salmon and sardines top this list. If you prefer more of a supplement than actually eating fish, cod liver oil might get you where you need to go. One tablespoon provides your daily recommended dosage of omega 3’s as well as vitamins A and D.
Potassium
For some people, a low potassium level plays a part in decreased hearing. By upping your intake of foods like apricots, bananas, beet greens, lima beans, milk, oranges, potatoes, and raisins, you can help maintain your ability to hear normally.
The electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain that we comprehend as sounds are affected by the amount of fluid within the inner ear. When supplied with enough potassium, we effectively give ourselves the ability to regulate the fluid within our body which ensures the proper flow of fluids to the ears. These fluid levels tend to drop as we age, and by keeping your potassium levels up, you can help to balance these levels.
Zinc
With a rise in the population for tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, it’s a good idea to keep your zinc levels up. The areas of the inner ear contain the largest amount of zinc in the entire body, and without the proper levels, there’s the likelihood of tinnitus developing over time.
To combat this detrimental decrease, be sure eat plenty of needs, legumes, seeds, and vegetables. Meats like beef, pork, and chicken with dark meat are good options, as well as dark chocolate, split peas, and oysters. With all these options, there should be plenty of opportunities to keep your zinc intake where it needs to be.
The key to meeting your body’s needs is to eat the foods you know you enjoy, then try new things to see if they’re a good fit. Prepare them in different ways to find what your preferences are, and don’t give up just because it’s not something you’d normally eat. With the boom of the internet, recipes abound, and your likely to find a dish to make just about anything palatable.
Hiding spinach in a green smoothie with bananas and peanut butter, or chickpeas and rice in a soup or stew are great ways to help you and your kids to get the variety needed to fulfill your body’s needs. Stir fry or steam some asparagus, artichokes, and black beans to top a dish of rice with slivered almonds.
Making food fun while sharing it, and the skills to prepare it, with friends and family can be the best part of the day. Knowing it’s good for them and helping them learn how and why will ensure that others become aware of the benefits to their auditory system.

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This AI-Powered Hearing Aid Technology Is Changing How You Hear In Crowds

hearing in a noisy environment

Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic. – Arthur C. Clarke (Author)
Our brains are the ultimate computer. They are always working and processing, anticipating and solving problems, running systems in the background while operating on the fly as we move through our lives. When it comes to hearing, the brain is just as crucial as the various parts of the ear.
What the brain can do, with the help of the ear, is to pick one voice out of a crowd and tune in to listen. So, what happens when hearing loss limits this advanced ability? Technology takes over.
The problem
While you may not often think about it, the way we can focus in on and listen to one voice in a larger, noisier crowd is pretty remarkable. Our brain quickly and seamlessly filters out others so we can hear the one. With hearing loss, this isn’t always possible. In fact, the difficulty so many with hearing loss face hearing in crowds or noisy settings is a problem so many hearing healthcare professionals and researchers have been trying to solve for years. With the newest technology, this problem could become a thing of the past.
AI Advancements
While hearing aids have steadily become more powerful with numerous advanced features over the years, isolating voices in crowds has still proved an elusive problem to solve. That’s why recent research of an exciting new piece of hearing aid technology has those in the world of hearing health cautiously optimistic.
Still, in the early stages of development, the new AI-powered hearing aid is powered by the brain. By monitoring brain waves, the device can automatically boost the voice the wearer would like to hear.
“By creating a device that harnesses the power of the brain itself, we hope our work will lead to technological improvements that enable the hundreds of millions of hearing-impaired people worldwide to communicate just as easily as their friends and family do,” said Nima Mesgarani, PhD, a principal investigator at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and the paper’s senior author.
Using a speech-separation algorithm, the hearing aid can identify the voice on which the user wants to tune in. While previous versions were limited to just those voices that it recognized, this latest version, tested on volunteers epilepsy patients, can focus in on any voice in a crowd based on the brain waves and refined algorithm.
Hearing aids and hearing loss
Advances like this in hearing aid technology can mean more natural hearing for the millions of people diagnosed with hearing loss. This, in turn, could prevent millions more cases of associated conditions including depression, anxiety, social isolation and even cognitive decline. The possibilities are endless.
If you believe you or someone you care about have hearing loss, don’t wait for advanced hearing aid technology like this to take action. Contact our office to schedule an evaluation today. It’s vital that hearing loss is treated early to preserve your quality of life.

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Protecting Children From Hearing Loss

Protect Your Child's Hearing

Although we often think of hearing loss as a plight of the elderly, children are also susceptible to the condition. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 32 million children around the globe suffer from some form of hearing loss – a staggering number.
That being said, the WHO also estimates that about 60% of these children have hearing loss that could have been prevented. While some children are born without the ability to hear and others have unavoidable conditions that lead to hearing loss, for that 60% of children who can avoid hearing loss, preventative interventions by parents and caregivers are critical.
Parents and caregivers want the best for their children, so the thought that your child could develop preventable hearing loss is a scary one, indeed. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help your child maintain good hearing health throughout their life. Here’s what you can do:

  • Stress the importance of hearing health. Many children – and adults for that matter – don’t realize how important their hearing actually is nor do they recognize the dangerous situations we often put our hearing in when we expose ourselves to loud noises. It’s easy to overlook the importance of something that we take for granted, so teaching children to respect the value of their own hearing can help them start to take personal responsibility for their own hearing health.
  • Set a maximum volume on electronic devices. Many modern smartphones and computers have parental control settings that can limit the maximum volume of music or videos that children can listen to. This can be a good way to protect a child’s hearing, especially if they’re not old enough or mature enough to understand the importance of their own hearing abilities. For older children and teenagers who are more likely to see this action as a sign of parental interference in their independence, a conversation about the importance of these volume limits could be helpful.
  • Choose quality headphones. There are so many different headphones on sale today that it can be really difficult to choose a pair that is less likely to cause hearing damage. Although playing music too loudly on any set of headphones can hurt your ears, there are some headphone choices that are better than others in this regard. For the most part, earbuds are best avoided because they allow too much background noise to get to your ears, encouraging people to turn up the volume too much higher levels than they actually should. Over the ear and noise-canceling headphones can help alleviate some of that problem.
  • Use hearing protection. Especially if you take children to sporting events, concerts, or other noisy venues, you might want to consider investing in some hearing protection. Ear protection can include anything from custom molded earplugs to protective ear muffs, so it’s important to find a pair that works well for your children. It’s also worth considering the use of ear protection when a child practices playing an instrument indoors and at home as repeated exposure to loud instruments, including percussion and brass instruments, can have a negative impact on one’s hearing health.

At the end of the day, there’s a lot we can do to help protect a child from preventable hearing loss. Many of these steps are simple and don’t require a huge time or financial commitment but they could protect your child’s hearing, so they’re well worth the investment.

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Exploring Behavioral Disorders In Children With Hearing Loss

Children Behavioral Disorders

The loss of the ability to hear has a profound impact on a child’s language and behavioral development. Estimates suggest that children with a hearing problem are more prone to behavioral problems than their normal-hearing peers. The challenges of early childhood communication lead to maladaptive interaction with others resulting in behavioral disorders. Why are children with hearing problems more prone to behavioral issues and what are the solutions to the challenge?

High Rates Of Aggression

Hearing loss treatment for children is better than it has ever been before. Technological improvements along with institutional changes are giving these kids more options for their hearing loss. Despite these advancements, children with hearing loss exhibit more aggression than their peers with normal hearing. Deaf children, in general, have higher rates of aggression, noncompliance, and inattention. Depression and other mental health problems are also high in children with a hearing loss.

Current Research Into The Problem

Research suggests that problems with language and communication skills are at the root of behavioral issues. Control of language is essential for life management. Those children without this control show an increase in difficulty with impulse control, planning, and regulating behavior. In studies with deaf children who have practical communication skills, the results show improvement in organizing behavior, attention, and impulse control. Furthermore, deaf children who have deaf parents or those with cochlear implants who have developed their language skills show improvement on par with children with normal hearing.

Possible Causes

Most children who are deaf have parents with normal hearing. These children often present with language barriers early on because the healthy hearing parents are not skilled at visual communication making it difficult for the child to benefit from an accessible form of communication. Many deaf children have parents who report much stress in their daily lives and often make poor decisions.  Deaf children develop an understanding of social interaction later than other kids. Most deaf children now receive education in mainstream schools. However, studies indicate that deaf children may experience neglect by their peers which limits the opportunity for social interaction.

Getting Help

There is positive news to report. Studies indicate that intervention with these children can be useful. Programs can teach these children impulse control and social skills to improve social interaction and behavioral control. These interventions must be a part of the regular school curriculum for these children with language and communication skills being the primary focus. Academic programs where deaf and hearing children learn together are beneficial in promoting inclusion into mainstream educational programs. Interventions that support communication in the family are also critical to the child’s development and behavior.
If your child has a hearing loss and behavioral problems do not fret. Interventions can help. Your child can learn methods for controlling their behavioral impulses as well as improve their social interaction skills. If you are not sure if your child has a hearing loss, please schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional today or check out the Hearing Loss Association of America website for more information and possible assistance.

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Don’t Let Untreated Hearing Loss Steal Your Social Life

social isolation and hearing loss

“It’s important to make your social life and your friends and family – make that a priority.” Samantha Barks
Whether you have always maintained a bustling social life with a packed calendar and lots of time with friends and family or prefer a quieter and more relaxed social life with family and a few close friends, hearing loss can make an impact on your plans. It’s hard to deny how we communicate and stay engaged changes after diagnosis, even with hearing aids. Hearing loss can become a barrier to socializing… but only if we let it.
Social side effects of hearing loss
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 15% of Americans report some difficulty with hearing. While recent research points to several potential side effects of hearing loss from an increased risk of injuries to an increased risk of dementia, one may be subtle enough to go unnoticed by many until it’s too late. That is social isolation.
Experts believe that as hearing loss changes how we communicate and interact, it can affect our desire to socialize. Many report increased levels of anxiety or stress over social interactions. For some, difficulty communicating due to hearing loss may lead to a withdrawal from activities and the people they once enjoyed. Social isolation and even depression then become concerns.
Maintaining your social life
Social connections and healthy relationships play an important role in health and longevity. If you have a hearing impairment, be proactive about maintaining your social life using strategies like these:

  • Schedule a hearing evaluation. If you haven’t already the most important step you can take to supporting a healthy social life is getting a hearing evaluation. Whether you suspect you may be missing part of what’s going on around you or others have brought up their concern that you may have hearing loss, a hearing healthcare professional can diagnose and offer treatment options.
  • Talk to your hearing healthcare provider about hearing aids. Treating hearing loss is essential to keep communication strong and help you feel more confident in social situations. In fact, a survey by the National Council on Aging found that those with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids were more likely to be socially isolated and report feelings of sadness than those who did wear hearing aids. Working closely with your hearing healthcare professional can help you find the best choice for you and your lifestyle and shorten the learning curve as you start using them. Enhanced programming capabilities and added features can make hearing in social environments easier and more natural than ever.
  • Be open and honest. Millions of Americans now have hearing loss. Chances are one or more people you know have hearing loss. If you’ve been diagnosed, be open and honest with family, friends and colleagues about your hearing loss. This can help to reduce any anxiety you feel, cue others into your need for more effective communication, and put everyone more at ease.
  • Adjust plans, but don’t cancel. While you may find yourself suggesting quieter restaurants or events that offer options for the hearing impaired, don’t cancel your plans. It can be easy to give into anxiety or fear of embarrassment, but it’s a slippery slope that can quickly lead to no plans or social interactions at all. Invest in your health and well-being by spending time with the people you care about.

Social isolation can be more harmful to our health than we realize. Don’t let hearing loss hurt your relationships and social life. Take steps like these to continue doing the things you love even with hearing loss.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a hearing evaluation, call our office today.

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Managing Expectations Of Patients With Tinnitus

managing expectations for tinnitus treatment

There is no cure for tinnitus. The typical treatment options for tinnitus address the emotional and cognitive effects associated with tinnitus but do not repair the underlying origins of tinnitus. A new research study finds that 83 percent of patients with tinnitus feel like their office visits with hearing healthcare professionals are ineffective. Patients with tinnitus have expectations for their care, and the new study looks at what healthcare professionals can do for them.

What Tinnitus Patients Expect

The research survey includes 230 patients seeking treatment to either eliminate tinnitus or decrease the loudness associated with tinnitus. 29% of the patients were expecting medication, 25% came with expectations for hearing aids, and 17% felt sound therapy would be the answer. A big surprise was that 37% went with no expectations of treatment of any type.

Hearing Healthcare Professionals Definition Of Success

Sixty-eight hearing healthcare professionals took part in the research survey and defined how they measure tinnitus treatment success. 77% believe a decrease in a person’s awareness of their tinnitus was a success. 63% saw improvement in thoughts and emotions as an accurate measurement. Finally, 63% feel that increasing public knowledge about tinnitus is the key to success.

Findings

The researchers note that only 60% of the healthcare professionals involved in the study took the time to use questionnaires or outcome assessments on their patients. Although the majority of patients receive the necessary information about tinnitus, they rarely receive any specialized counseling for the condition nor have their concerns about tinnitus addressed. Disturbingly, more than half of the patients do not feel that they receive an answer to their questions about the situation. 70% of the healthcare professionals in the survey do not think that specialized counseling for tinnitus is an essential part of treatment.
The universal agreement seems to be that most people with tinnitus want a quick fix for their problem. The difficulty is that there is no magic cure for tinnitus. There are however ways to lessen the symptoms of tinnitus and manage the disease more effectively. The researchers have faith that the time has come for healthcare providers to expand their services to include teaching patients about tinnitus management. They also encourage specialized counseling, hearing aids, and sound therapy for tinnitus patients.

Treatment For Tinnitus

If you receive a diagnosis of tinnitus, remember that treatment focuses on treating your symptoms. Possible remedies for tinnitus include:

  • Noise suppression. Relief may come by tuning out annoying Devices include hearing aids, white noise machines, and masking devices.
  • Yes, a drug can’t cure tinnitus, but a few may help to ease the symptoms. Effective drugs include anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
  • Coping and support. Coping with tinnitus is an integral part of treatment. Counseling, support groups, and patient education are useful coping tools.
  • Alternative medicine. Some alternative therapy is useful for tinnitus including acupuncture, hypnosis, ginkgo biloba, melatonin, zinc supplements, and vitamin B.

Effective management of tinnitus depends upon providing patients with tools for the effective management of their condition and encouraging healthcare providers to educate them regarding tinnitus.

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What You May Be Hearing When You Sleep

can we hear while we sleep

Have you ever wondered about what you hear at night? If so, you’re not alone. The topic of whether or not our hearing stays on even when our other senses have turned off during sleep has been one of considerable debate.
New research may now be showing that we do, in fact, process auditory information in our sleep. These findings could prove valuable in the future for those who use hearing technology for hearing loss.
Naptime hearing
Research from Vanderbilt University recently released preliminary results from an EEG study that offered surprising insight into hearing and sleep. In the study, the team worked with a group of preschool-age children at the university’s preschool. The children were placed in a quiet and isolated room for naptime, and while they were asleep, researchers played a group of three nonsense words over a short period. The preschoolers’ brainwaves were tested using an EEG machine.
Following the nap, the team showed the kids a variety of nonsense words, including those played during naptime.
According to the results, the children showed signs of recognition for the naptime nonsense words, confirming the hypothesis that they were still hearing and processing sounds while asleep.
Researchers dig into hearing during sleep
This isn’t the first study to take a closer look at whether or not we process auditory information during sleep, how it happens and how it affects us. It has been a question that has intrigued scientists for years:

  • In a 2016 study, a team from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris used EEG to monitor the brains of volunteers listening to recordings of spoken words. Participants were asked to classify these words as either objects or animals. The results showed varying degrees of information processing depending on the depth of sleep (light non-REM, non-REM or REM).
  • Earlier findings from Johns Hopkins also took a look at how the brain processes sound during sleep and why some sounds seem to wake us while others don’t. In this study, an undergraduate student uncovered where in the frontal cortex this process might take place. “We found that during waking, only areas around primary auditory cortex are activated by the tones,” Serena J. Gondek, study lead and author said. “Then, during light and deep sleep, you find not only primary auditory activation, but the frontal lobe also responds.”
  • Another study published in Current Biology in 2014 found that sleeping participants were able make decisions (“task relevant responses”) in response to spoken words. The study reiterated previous findings that the brain does not completely shut down and disconnect during sleep as we once thought.

As researchers continue to explore how and what we hear while sleeping, experts believe this valuable information not only helps us to understand better how hearing works but may also one day translate into better hearing technology and treatment options for those with hearing loss.
If you have questions about your hearing or believe you have hearing loss, contact our office to schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation.

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How To Troubleshoot Common Hearing Aid Problems

how to troubleshoot common hearing aid issues

Hearing aids are magical little devices that have the ability to change the lives of people with hearing loss. By allowing people to better hear their surroundings, hearing aids allow people with hearing loss to have meaningful conversations and engage with the world around them.
But what happens when a hearing aid malfunctions or doesn’t function as it should? Do you have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform minor repairs on your hearing aids?
Although countless people around the world rely on hearing aids to treat their hearing loss, many of these people don’t know how to identify and troubleshoot common problems with their devices. There are a number of different issues that can arise with hearing aids, some of which require professional assistance, but many of which can be dealt with quickly and easily on your own.
If you wear hearing aids, it’s a good idea for you to know how to handle some of the more common issues. Here are some problems to look out for:
Hearing Aids That Stop Producing Sound
A lack of sound is one of the most common issues that people who wear hearing aids face. Unfortunately, this problem can have a wide number of different causes, so we first need to identify the underlying issue before we can fix our hearing aid. If your hearing aid isn’t producing sound, try the following:

  • Take off the hearing aid and visually inspect it. Pay particular attention to the microphone opening and the ear mold, if you have them. There may be earwax or debris blocking the sound.
  • Turn the hearing aid on. This may seem obvious, but it’s an easy step to overlook. If the device won’t turn on, open the battery compartment and check to see if the battery is installed correctly. Try replacing the battery if it still won’t turn on.
  • Adjust the volume settings on the hearing aid. It’s possible, especially with manually-controlled devices, that the volume was accidentally turned down.
  • Test out the different settings on your device. This will help you identify if the issue is with just one setting or with the entire device.
  • Consider the possibility that your hearing aid was damaged by water or another force. Your hearing healthcare professional is a good resource if you still can’t get your hearing aid to produce sound.

Hearing Aids That Aren’t Loud Enough
If your hearing aids aren’t producing a loud enough sound, you may struggle to hear what’s going on around you. Thus it’s important that your devices can operate at a volume that you can actually hear. If your hearing aids aren’t loud enough, try the following tricks to fix them:

  • Check to see if there is earwax or other debris blocking the microphone or the earmold and tubing if you wear behind the ear hearing aids. Cracks, blockages, and moisture can all reduce overall volume.
  • Turn up the volume. If you have manual volume controls on your hearing aids, it’s possible that they were accidentally adjusted during the day.
  • Consider the possibility that your hearing changed. It might be worth scheduling an appointment with your hearing healthcare professional to see if your hearing has changed so your hearing aids can be adjusted accordingly.

Hearing Aids That Sound Distorted
If your hearing aids have started to sound funny, there may be a simple fix – or your devices may be damaged. Try the following steps to see if you can’t get your hearing aids back to normal:

  • Inspect the batteries and the battery contacts (the little metal prongs that connect to the battery). Are the corroded or damaged? This could be causing your hearing aids to create distorted sounds, so you may need to replace the battery or the contacts.
  • Check your program settings. You may have inadvertently switched to a different setting which is causing sound to be transmitted in a weird way.

Hearing Aids That Produce Feedback
Feedback is a common occurrence among hearing aid users and can be audible to people around you. Feedback can be caused by a number of different issues, but it’s important to deal with it right away so you can continue listening to the world around you. If you’re experiencing frequent feedback, try these tricks:

  • Try reinserting your hearing aids. They may not be properly placed within your ears and may need to be re-fit by a professional.
  • Turn down the volume. Sometimes there’s just too much sound leaking out of the earmold or vent in the hearing aid, so you may need to turn the volume down a bit.
  • Consider whether your ears have an earwax blockage. Ask your hearing healthcare professional to inspect your ears and remove any earwax which may be increasing the feedback from your devices.
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Higher Medical Costs For Individuals With Untreated Hearing Loss

cost of untreated hearing loss

As we age, a decline in our health condition comes as a natural consequence of our bodies living longer. But some conditions seem to go hand in hand. And, with hearing loss, it’s no different. The risk of psychological and medical conditions such as dementia and depression heighten as a result of untreated hearing loss in older populations. This fact is especially concerning given the high rate of hearing loss that goes untreated.
To investigate this issue further, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health led a 10-year longitudinal study in conjunction with AARP, University of California San Francisco and OptumLabs. Two groups were studied: individuals with untreated hearing loss, and those without hearing loss. Over a two-year period, individuals with untreated hearing loss incurred 26 percent more in health care costs compared to those without hearing loss, a gap that expanded to 46 percent by 10 years.
Growing Aging Population
This statistic is concerning given expectations for the aging population to grow to nearly 76 million in the United States by 2060. Two-thirds of adults 70 years and older have significant hearing loss, many of whom go untreated.
To investigate further, researchers data mined anonymized healthcare patient data from OptumLabs Data Warehouse to identify what specific characteristics stood out between patients with untreated hearing loss and patients who did not experience hearing loss.
They found that in a 10 year period, patients with untreated hearing loss experienced 50 percent more hospital stays, a 44 percent higher rate of hospital readmission within one month, were 17% more likely of revisiting the emergency department, and had 52 more outpatient visits on a whole than those without hearing loss. Individuals with treated hearing loss were not included in the study.
Links Between Medical Costs And Hearing Loss
Interestingly enough, only $600 of the total $22,434 of extra costs for medical care were spent solely on hearing loss related services. While the study did not determine exactly why costs are so much higher for those with untreated hearing loss, researchers offered some ideas that presented avenues for further investigation.
One idea follows the logical assumption regarding what kind of psychological fallout occurs as a result of untreated hearing loss. Higher incidences of depression and dementia occur within this population. Medical consequences of higher rates of depression, dementia, and similar conditions result in the form of more emergency room visits, hospital readmittance, and medical conditions related to falls.
Even though intuition would tell us that the high incidence of dementia, depression, hospital visits, and falls are due to untreated hearing loss, not enough scientific studies have been performed to establish this link. Another theory behind higher medical costs is the degraded communication ability between patient and provider. Those who have a difficult time hearing may misinterpret information provided to them by medical professionals.
However, recent changes in federal law have made the sale of over the counter assistive listening devices such as hearing aids permissible. This and increasing supply of assistive listening devices in doctors offices will help people with hearing loss communicate better and improve their quality of life.