Hearing Blog

3 Answers About Age-Related Hearing Loss

  • By Pacific Hearing Care
  • 13 Mar, 2017
Age-Related Hearing Loss - Pacific Hearing Care

Many people watch their grandparents and parents experience hearing loss as they age. When they start to notice symptoms of hearing loss in themselves, they begin to wonder about what the future holds.

Experiencing hearing loss can be unsettling and even frightening. Learning more about age-related hearing loss can help patients understand this health condition and how to manage it. Let's examine the answers to three of patients' most common questions.

1. What Causes Age-Related Hearing Loss?

We can hear thanks to hair cells in our ears that capture sound waves. Unfortunately, these hair cells are among the many parts of the body that can decline as we age. As they get older, many people's hair cells become damaged or even die, causing permanent hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can become increasingly worse over time.

Some people are more likely to lose their hearing than others. Genetics are one of the most common reasons to lose hearing, so if your parents lost their hearing, you likely will, too.

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is very common. It's the second most common medical condition in older adults. In fact, about one in three Americans between ages 65 and 74 experience hearing loss.

2. Can It Be Prevented?

Genetic-related hearing loss can't be prevented. However, there are other factors that may contribute to hearing loss. These factors include frequent exposure to loud noise, smoking, and certain diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. Certain medications, including some chemotherapy drugs and excessive amounts of aspirin, can also cause hearing loss.

If you work in a loud environment around noisy machinery, take precautions to protect your hearing. You can wear ear plugs or other devices that dampen sound. You should also avoid loud rock concerts if possible.

Quitting smoking and living a healthy lifestyle may also help you prevent age-related hearing loss. If you take medications that cause hearing loss, talk to your doctor about a possible adjustment to your treatment plan.

Be aware that some types of hearing loss aren't necessarily related to age. Otosclerosis is a disease that affects the middle ear. Meniere's disease and autoimmune inner ear disease also affect the inner ear. If you notice symptoms like sudden hearing loss, dizziness, or ringing in the ear, see an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment.

3. Can It Be Cured?

Unfortunately, age-related hearing loss cannot be reversed. But it can be treated.

The most common solution is a hearing aid, an amplifying device that fits in or behind your ear. Some people feel embarrassed to wear hearing aids because they believe it calls attention to their hearing loss. However, modern hearing aids are much less noticeable than hearing aids in the past. Some hearing aids fit directly in your ear canal, so other people won't even know it's there.

If you would like to try hearing aids, see a hearing care specialist. He or she can test your hearing and fit you with your preferred hearing aids.

A variety of assistive listening devices can also improve your quality of life. For example, there are devices that amplify the sound of your phone or your television.

More aggressive medical solutions include cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing systems. These devices improve your ability to register sound, but they are only prescribed for people with severe hearing loss.

Age-related hearing loss can occur gradually, so you might not notice it's happening at first. If you struggle to hear during conversations or find yourself turning up the TV or radio volume more than usual, see a hearing specialist.  He or she can help you find the right hearing solutions for you.

What You Need to Know About Wireless Technology and Digital Hearing Aids

By Pacific Hearing Care 21 Sep, 2017
Hearing aids have come a long way over the years, and technology is always advancing. Learn more about some noteworthy hearing aid advances for 2017.
By Pacific Hearing Care 11 Sep, 2017

Are you at risk for hearing loss? Most people don't know whether they're at risk or not. If you've begun to notice signs of hearing loss already, you may not know why, but understanding the causes of hearing loss can help you take action to prevent further deterioration.

Sometimes, hearing loss can be caused or exacerbated by other, seemingly unrelated medical conditions. Take a look at some of the conditions that you likely didn't previously know could cause hearing loss.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that can have a profound effect on your whole body, so it shouldn't be surprising that diabetes can affect your ears. You probably already know that diabetes damages your blood vessels, causing them to harden and narrow-that's why patients with diabetes often suffer from circulation problems.

Diabetes also damages the blood vessels in your ears. And unlike other parts of your body, your ears don't have a backup supply of blood. Once those blood vessels are damaged, you will get less blood flow to the ear, and the lack of blood will damage your hearing.

Studies of the connection between diabetes and hearing loss have found that there are links at all sound registers. That means that there is the potential for profound hearing loss when you have diabetes. If you have diabetes, take steps to protect your hearing.

Maintaining control over your blood sugar can help prevent hearing loss; uncontrolled diabetes is more likely to lead to blood vessel damage in your ears. You should also avoid smoking, which can increase the risk of hearing loss. Steering clear of loud noises or using noise-canceling headphones and other devices to protect your ears when loud noises are unavoidable can also help you save your hearing.

Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs when there aren't enough red blood cells in your blood to adequately carry oxygen to your body. A lack of iron, which the body uses to create red blood cells, is the cause of this type of anemia.

Iron-deficiency anemia is a fairly common condition that can usually be managed with dietary changes or iron supplements, but what you may not know is that the condition could put you at risk for hearing loss.

A study that was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery found that patients with iron-deficiency anemia were at increased risk for both sensorineural hearing loss and combined sensorineural and conductive hearing loss than patients who did not suffer from anemia.

Anemia damages the ears because the condition prevents oxygen from getting to the sensory hair cells that translate sound into electrical impulses. The red blood cells that are missing in anemic individuals are used to carry oxygen throughout the body. Without enough red blood cells, not enough oxygen makes it to these sensory hair cells, and they are damaged or die.

It's not yet known whether iron supplementation can be used as a treatment plan for hearing loss caused by iron-deficiency anemia. However, you should follow your doctor's recommendations about including iron in your diet and using any supplements that are called for.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure causes hearing loss in much the same way that diabetes does: it damages the blood vessels in your ears. When you have high blood pressure, your blood is pushed through the body too quickly, which damages artery walls and causes a buildup of fatty plaque. As you likely know, this process leads to heart disease, but the same process also affects your ears, causing blood vessel damage.

Studies have found that the higher one's blood pressure is, the more pronounced the resulting hearing loss is. However, bringing the high blood pressure under control could restore some or all of the patient's hearing. Patients who suffer from high blood pressure should visit an audiologist to find out whether their hearing is at risk.

These conditions are common and can affect anyone at any age. If you suffer from one of these conditions, or if you have reason to think that your hearing has changed, you should get a hearing screening  done as soon as you can.

By Pacific Hearing Care 05 Sep, 2017

Before hearing aids are fitted or any other treatment for hearing loss is implemented, it is necessary to determine the patient's degree of hearing loss. A hearing assessment is critical for making a precise determination of the needs of persons with hearing difficulties.

Audiologists, physicians, speech-language pathologists, and other medical professionals have a number of hearing tests at their disposal. Each type of test possesses its own unique characteristics and attributes, and the professional in charge of the patient's care determines which tests should be conducted. Below are some of the most common hearing assessments in use today.

Pure-Tone Test

One of the most common hearing tests used with individuals of all ages is the pure-tone test. In this test, the participant wears a pair of soundproof headphones, and the examiner administers a series of tones. The tones are emitted with varying frequencies and volume and are played in only one ear at a time.

The individual being tested is instructed to listen for the tones and signal when they hear the sound by raising a hand or making another visual cue. The raised hand, whether left or right, corresponds to the ear in which the tone is heard.

Auditory Evoked Potential Test

With the auditory evoked potential test, also known as the auditory brainstem response test, the assessment is conducted using an electroencephalogram (EEG) and audio tone generator. The test participant is instructed to rest or may even be asleep as the test is conducted, depending on the testing environment.

The test session begins by a test administrator fitting the individual's head with EEG leads and then playing specific tones. No conscious response is requested from the patient, as the audiologist or technician will evaluate the EEG output to determine whether the brain is "hearing" the sound.

Otoacoustic Emissions Test

The otoacoustic emissions test measures hearing capability by monitoring sound feedback produced by the cochlea, a structure in the inner ear. As outside sounds enter the ear, they cause the tiny cilia on the exterior of the cochlea to vibrate; this vibration is measurable with the use of a specialized monitoring probe inserted into the ear.

For individuals with compromised hearing, there will be a decidedly decreased response in the otoacoustic emissions test. As with the auditory evoked potential test, the participant does not need to consciously respond. This feature makes the otoacoustic emissions test particularly useful for infants and other patients who can't show what they can and can't hear.

Speech Reception Threshold Test

Often given as a follow-up test to pure-tone testing, a speech reception threshold test measures the ability of a participant to understand spoken words. One of the main objectives of the speech threshold test is to verify the results of the pure-tone test.

In the speech reception threshold test, the participant is often fitted with headphones and asked to repeat a series of words read to them by an examiner or recorded on a medium. Words are read at a variety of volumes, and testing may be conducted in a quiet or noisy environment, depending on the specific diagnostic information needed by the audiologist.

Rinne Test

The Rinne test is useful for determining whether conductive hearing loss is present. The test begins by the test administrator striking a tuning fork tuned to a frequency of 256 hertz or 512 hertz. Next, the examiner holds the end of the fork to the mastoid process, the bony protrusion located beneath the ear and asks the participant to indicate when they are still able to hear the sound.

When the participant indicates the sound fades away, the examiner then moves the fork from the bone to immediately in front of the ear and asks whether the participant can hear the sound. If the sound is still audible, normal conductive hearing is usually confirmed. However, if there is no sound heard once the fork is removed from the mastoid process, then a deficiency exists with conductive hearing.

If you are struggling with hearing, then you should immediately contact a hearing professional  for an assessment. They will likely use one of the above assessments or other tests to help determine whether you need treatment, such as hearing aids or other therapeutic interventions.

By Pacific Hearing Care 25 Jul, 2017

In addition to symptoms that include tremors, muscle rigidity, slowed movement, and changes in speech, hearing loss often occurs in elderly individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD)-a progressive brain disorder that leads to decreased production of dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter the brain releases in the body to regulate movement. The neurotransmitter also plays a role in sleep, memory cognition, and the ability to process sounds.

Cause of PD Hearing Loss

The reason isn't known for certain, but some people with PD don't only have trouble producing speech; they have difficulty understanding it. Although aging is a factor that frequently causes hearing loss, low levels of dopamine may be a contributing factor in older adults with PD.

Age-related hearing loss is due to damage to sensory nerve cells in the inner ear, making it more difficult to hear. However, research suggests  that the neurotransmitter dopamine helps to regulate the auditory pathways and may have an effect on auditory neurons that are responsible for processing auditory information.

The loss of dopamine can lead to damage to the cochlea. The cochlea is the spiral-shaped cavity of the inner ear that converts sound waves into auditory nerve impulses that the brain translates into sounds.

Dopamine helps protect the cochlea against noise exposure, which can cause permanent hearing loss over time. Sounds that are too loud or continuous exposure to noise over a prolonged period can damage structures in the inner ear. Like age-related hearing loss that usually occurs in both ears, noise-induced hearing loss can occur in both ears.

Effects on Communication

A key side effect of hearing loss is how it interferes with communication. For a person with Parkinson's disease who may already have speech problems, hearing loss can make the ability to communicate with others even harder.

Since PD is a chronic disease that affects the nervous system, weakened muscle control of muscles in the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat can occur, causing slurred speech and hoarseness. When hearing loss occurs in combination with speech problems, communication becomes extremely difficult.

The loss of hearing doesn't simply involve a reduction in the loudness of sound. It also affects the clarity of the sounds a person hears. Words seem to blend together, making them sound jumbled. The bad news is hearing impairments that distort sounds make it hard to understand what other people are saying during normal conversation.

Frequency of Occurrence

Although the loss of hearing isn't always due to aging alone, reports show that some level of hearing loss occurs in about one-third of older adults between the ages of 61 and 70. The frequency of hearing loss rises to more than 80 percent among adults after the age of 85. Since the average age for the onset of Parkinson's disease is 60, it isn't surprising that the two conditions may be related.

A study published in the European Journal of Neurology  examined a potential link between hearing loss and an increased risk of Parkinson's disease in Taiwanese individuals age 65 and older. Results of the study showed that Parkinson's disease occurred more often in individuals with hearing loss than in subjects without hearing loss. Although additional research is needed, researchers speculate that hearing loss may be a non-motor symptom of Parkinson's disease.

Hearing Aids as Treatment

Treatment of hearing loss related to PD involves being fitted for a hearing aid to amplify and improve the quality of sound. A hearing aid helps you hear sounds more clearly, which makes speech more understandable.

It's also important to schedule regular hearing evaluations with an audiologist to ensure that your hearing isn't deteriorating more. Early detection that your hearing is getting worse allows the audiologist to make any necessary hearing aid adjustments to provide for your changing needs.

Don't let hearing problems diminish your enjoyment of life. Contact the hearing specialists at Pacific Hearing Care  for a full hearing evaluation and more information about the treatment options available to you.

By Pacific Hearing Care 28 Jun, 2017

When many people start to lose their hearing, they try to ignore the hearing loss and pretend everything is normal. They might not want to admit that something is wrong and might feel embarrassed asking for help.

If this is the case for you, you should understand how much hearing aids can improve your life. While asking for help may seem daunting, consider all the benefits you'll get from wearing hearing aids.

1. You Can Improve Your Relationship With Your Grandchildren

Do you ask your grandchildren to repeat themselves over and over until they get frustrated and walk away? You likely feel just as frustrated because you want to connect with your grandchildren but just can't understand what they're telling you.

As most people get older, they have trouble hearing higher pitches, and the high-pitched voices of young children are notoriously difficult for grandparents to hear. With a hearing aid, though, you'll be able to hear your grandchildren's voices once again.

A hearing aid works by converting sound into electrical signals. The hearing aid sends these signals to an amplifier, which amplifies the sound in your ears.

2. You Can Improve Your Safety While Driving

Since you first noticed your hearing loss, you may have begun to feel nervous behind the wheel. You can't hear people honking at you, and you can't hear ambulance and police sirens.

Fortunately, hearing aids can help you hear these sounds and feel safer as a result.

3.  You Can Watch Television Without Captions

You likely love relaxing in front of your favorite movie or television show. But your hobby may no longer be pleasurable if you can't hear what's going on.

You can turn up the volume, but the loud volume may bother your family members and neighbors. You can watch with closed captioning, but closed captioning isn't available for every program. Plus, captions don't always capture exactly what the characters are saying, and they just don't provide the same experience as listening to the characters talking does.

With hearing aids, you will likely be able to hear the television at a normal volume once again. You can also invest in an assistive listening device that streams the TV's sound directly through your hearing aids.

4. You Can Feel Comfortable at Parties

A common complaint from many patients with hearing loss is that they can't hear well in a party or group setting. There are so many noises and sounds in these situations that following a conversation can be difficult. Some people with hearing loss stop going to parties and group activities because they feel embarrassed that they can't keep up with the conversation.

Fortunately, hearing aids can help you hear even in noisy environments. You can once again converse with family and friends and follow the trail of the conversation.

5. You Can Talk on the Phone

Some people with hearing loss give up talking on the phone entirely. When they can't watch a speaker's facial expressions or read their lips, they find it very difficult to understand what they're saying.

Fortunately, hearing aids can improve your hearing over the phone as well as in person. Some types of hearing aids come with a device called a telecoil. The telecoil picks up signals from the phone and converts it into sound. Telecoils allows you to hear what the other person is saying on the phone without background noise getting in the way.

You may at first be embarrassed about getting hearing aids, but you should think of all the benefits you'll get from high-quality devices. With the right hearing aids, you can navigate through your day without problems and continue to cultivate relationships with your family members.

For top-quality, affordable hearing aids, turn to Pacific Hearing Care.

 

 

By Pacific Hearing Care 28 Jun, 2017
By Pacific Hearing Care 28 Mar, 2017
By Pacific Hearing Care 13 Mar, 2017

Many people watch their grandparents and parents experience hearing loss as they age. When they start to notice symptoms of hearing loss in themselves, they begin to wonder about what the future holds.

Experiencing hearing loss can be unsettling and even frightening. Learning more about age-related hearing loss can help patients understand this health condition and how to manage it. Let's examine the answers to three of patients' most common questions.

1. What Causes Age-Related Hearing Loss?

We can hear thanks to hair cells in our ears that capture sound waves. Unfortunately, these hair cells are among the many parts of the body that can decline as we age. As they get older, many people's hair cells become damaged or even die, causing permanent hearing loss. This type of hearing loss can become increasingly worse over time.

Some people are more likely to lose their hearing than others. Genetics are one of the most common reasons to lose hearing, so if your parents lost their hearing, you likely will, too.

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is very common. It's the second most common medical condition in older adults. In fact, about one in three Americans between ages 65 and 74 experience hearing loss.

2. Can It Be Prevented?

Genetic-related hearing loss can't be prevented. However, there are other factors that may contribute to hearing loss. These factors include frequent exposure to loud noise, smoking, and certain diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. Certain medications, including some chemotherapy drugs and excessive amounts of aspirin, can also cause hearing loss.

If you work in a loud environment around noisy machinery, take precautions to protect your hearing. You can wear ear plugs or other devices that dampen sound. You should also avoid loud rock concerts if possible.

Quitting smoking and living a healthy lifestyle may also help you prevent age-related hearing loss. If you take medications that cause hearing loss, talk to your doctor about a possible adjustment to your treatment plan.

Be aware that some types of hearing loss aren't necessarily related to age. Otosclerosis is a disease that affects the middle ear. Meniere's disease and autoimmune inner ear disease also affect the inner ear. If you notice symptoms like sudden hearing loss, dizziness, or ringing in the ear, see an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment.

3. Can It Be Cured?

Unfortunately, age-related hearing loss cannot be reversed. But it can be treated.

The most common solution is a hearing aid, an amplifying device that fits in or behind your ear. Some people feel embarrassed to wear hearing aids because they believe it calls attention to their hearing loss. However, modern hearing aids are much less noticeable than hearing aids in the past. Some hearing aids fit directly in your ear canal, so other people won't even know it's there.

If you would like to try hearing aids, see a hearing care specialist. He or she can test your hearing and fit you with your preferred hearing aids.

A variety of assistive listening devices can also improve your quality of life. For example, there are devices that amplify the sound of your phone or your television.

More aggressive medical solutions include cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing systems. These devices improve your ability to register sound, but they are only prescribed for people with severe hearing loss.

Age-related hearing loss can occur gradually, so you might not notice it's happening at first. If you struggle to hear during conversations or find yourself turning up the TV or radio volume more than usual, see a hearing specialist.  He or she can help you find the right hearing solutions for you.

By Pacific Hearing Care 30 Jan, 2017
By Pacific Hearing Care 11 Jan, 2017
When you start to lose your hearing, suddenly a simple phone call or conversation becomes intimidating. Hearing aids are your first source of
help, but is there anywhere else you can turn?

Today, there are many apps that can support hearing aids and make your life easier. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Phonak RemoteControl App

With this app, you can control the volume, settings, and other features of your Phonak Venture and Belong hearing aids. It's compatible with both Android and iOS. It also has a demonstration mode so you can learn exactly how it works.

2. Siemens touchControl

Have you ever wanted to control your hearing at the touch of a button? With the touchControl app, you can easily control your Siemens hearing
aids. You can adjust the volume and even adjust the bass or treble of what you hear.

3. Signia easyTek

Like Siemens touchControl, Signia easyTek allows you to adjust your hearing aids through your smartphone. This makes controlling your hearing aids simple and subtle, especially during social situations. When you use your smartphone to control your hearing aids, other people will assume you're just checking your phone.

4. ReSound Smart App

Do you wish your hearing aids adjusted to fit your current surroundings? They can with the ReSound smart app. The app comes with different
settings, such as "restaurant" and "outdoor." You can set your hearing aids to fit these settings so you can tune out sounds you don't want to hear. Plus, when you listen to music or radio, you can set the media at a different volume than other sounds. You can also locate missing hearing aids through this app.

5. Oticon ON

The Oticon ON app can control more than your hearing aids themselves. It can also control other devices through your hearing aids. For
example, you can set your lights to turn off when you turn your hearing aids off. You could even set your hearing aids to let you know when
someone knocks on your door.

6. Widex Com-Dex

With the Widex Com-Dex, you can control your hearing aid settings from your smartphone or smart watch. You can also stream music through
your hearing aids. You can even answer calls through your hearing aids so you can easily hear the person on the other side of the line.

7. TruLink Hearing Control

TruLink Hearing Control learns to adjust your hearing aid settings based on where you are. It allows you to change settings when you're in a new
location, and it saves those settings for when you return to that location. It also streams music from your iPhone or iPad and reads emails and
texts to you through your hearing aids.

8. Relax by Starkey

Many people with hearing loss also deal with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. This app helps relieve tinnitus by playing soothing sounds at your
desired volume and frequency. Available sounds include rainforest, ocean waves, and babbling brook. The sounds can play through your hearing aids or through ear buds.

9. miniTek Remote App

Like other hearing aid remote apps, the miniTek allows you to control your hearing aid from your smartphone. It also allows you to connect to
audio devices like MP3 players, laptops, TVs, and even game consoles. This makes the miniTek Remote App a great choice for teens and
anyone who uses several different technological devices.

Not only do these apps improve your hearing experience, but they also help you do things you couldn't do without them, such as adjust
background noise and control other devices. Talk to a hearing aid supplier for help choosing and downloading these apps.
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