10 Ways Good Hearing Can Help Keep Seniors Young

You may not realize it, but you really can stay young by protecting your hearing. From the ability to avert disaster to better interactions with others on a daily basis, you can hold onto your youth with optimal hearing health. This works in much the same way as your physical health, which is important to maintain in order to stave off illness, diseases and  those dreaded extra pounds. Take a look at 10 ways you can grasp onto your youth a little longer.

 

  1. Engage in productive interactions in daily life. Hearing loss can unfortunately alienate people from getting the information they need to go about their daily lives. It’s tough to effectively communicate with anyone from friends and co-workers to check-out clerks and butchers when you suffer from hearing loss.

  2. Keep up with a sharp mind. No one wants to think about it, but dementia is a very real possibility for older seniors. The National Institute on Aging has linked hearing loss with dementia, thanks to the brain shrinkage we experience as we get on in years.

  3. Your risk of falling will lower. Individuals who can’t hear well don’t have as much of a stable awareness of their surroundings, and can trip and fall easier. People with a 25-decibel hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than others with no hearing impairments, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

  4. Hear better at work. Improve your job performance with better hearing. If you can’t hear well, you obviously can’t pick up on important instructions or safety precautions. You certainly can’t readily participate productively in coworker discussions or meetings. The result? An impact on your job performance.

  5. Have a quicker reaction times to outside stimuli. When you have a healthy hearing level, you can better react to fire alarms and sirens so you can get out of the way and not get hurt.

  6. Increase blood flow to your ear canals. Exercise is great for the ears. Via aerobic activity, you send oxygen-rich blood flow to the ears which protects them from additional hearing loss.

  7. Interact better in school. Do you find yourself back in school after many decades away? You won’t learn as well if you constantly have to sit up front and ask the teacher to repeat herself. Maintaining a healthy level of hearing means you can understand the teacher’s instructions more clearly. In addition, you can interact with your classmates and participate in projects much more easily.

  8. Boost your self confidence in everyday situations. Those who have trouble hearing can have a lack of self confidence or self-esteem because they are afraid to engage in conversation with others. They fear they won’t be able to engage in a healthy back and forth discussion, so they tend to stay away from social situations.

  9. Better mental health. Falls and other events are big problems for seniors. Hearing loss can compound these risks. When you end up in the hospital, you have long periods where you’re relatively inactive as your recuperate. This can easily lead to feelings of depression.

  10. Get more friends and have better sex. It’s true! Studies have shown that hearing impaired seniors who wear hearing aids, along with seniors who have no hearing loss, tend to have an improved social life and sex life. They also experience better mental health and independence.

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    Hearing Loss and Diabetes

    The question of the day is why diabetes and hearing loss are linked. This is what researchers wanted to find out, faced with the fact that 30 million people have diabetes in the United States, while 34.5 million people suffer from hearing loss. Those researchers directed studies involving 20,000 people from the United States, Asia, Brazil and Australia to learn whether diabetes and hearing loss are closely intertwined, and they found that, yes, they are. It’s not known why yet at this time. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to have some degree of hearing loss than someone who does not have the disease, which is an alarming fact. This puts diabetes and hearing loss at the top in terms of two health problems in this country, points out the American Diabetes Association.

    Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

    It’s no secret that old age and a noisy working environment can incur hearing loss. However, these factors do not apparently play into the scenario of diabetes and hearing problems. Although you could, as a diabetic, control your blood sugar levels better so hearing impairment doesn’t happen, it’s not known if this would indeed work. The hearing loss could actually be attributed to the medications and diuretics that diabetics take to reduce their high blood pressure. The link between diabetes and hearing loss is not in question; however, the exact cause is still unknown. Many researchers are testing the theory that high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can harm your inner ear’s sensitive blood vessels, leading to hearing impairment. It’s no secret that diabetics have problems with their eyes, kidneys and feet. Could their hearing also be affected? More research needs to be done in order to reach a more definitive conclusion.

    Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

    Take a look at these signs of hearing loss. If you’re a diabetic, these two conditions are likely related. This embarrassing and potentially dangerous combination can affect where you go and whom you see. Getting in a car, too, can prove unsafe if you can’t hear correctly.

        • Do you only hear muffled sounds instead of clear words when in a conversation?
        • Do you have trouble picking up on background noise when there’s a crowd of people near you?
        • Do you suffer from the failure to adequately keep track of conversations involving multiple participants?
        • Do you have problems distinguishing the voices of small children or women?
        • Do you crank the TV up just to hear it?

    Testing for Diabetes

    Be sure to inquire about a screening for your hearing next time you’re at the doctor. When you next see your doctor, ask for a hearing exam so you can get treated by a specialist right away. This should always be a part of doctor’s visits for diabetics, yet it’s not – although doctors check many other components of a diabetic’s health at such checkups. As a result, you need to advocate for your overall health.

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      Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

      For anyone who has ever wondered why hearing loss is such a devastating disorder, yet another example has been presented by recent research. According to workers at the Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders, depression has now been tied to people who suffer from hearing loss. The alarm that has resulted from this is being felt across the nation. That is why we are going to explore the different ways that you can prevent hearing loss, what can be done in terms of treatments, and the results of the study.

      Preventing Depression From Hearing Loss

      There are many things that you can do to save your hearing for the future. However, when people are young they may take more risks than they know are necessary. You can prevent hearing loss by not spending as much time in very loud settings like sports venues or even concerts. This does not mean that you cannot have a good time, but it is advised that you always keep ear protection on you at these events, especially if you work in a loud environment.

      Treating Hearing Loss-Depression

      Depression that has been caused by hearing loss is a very difficult thing to treat because it is the combination of two different types of ailments. That is why you should choose to treat the hearing loss in order to treat the depression. You can treat the hearing impairment by consulting with an hearing instrument specialist to see if you can have surgery to correct your hearing or if a hearing aid would work for you. Either way, you will have the ability to gain more hearing back and reintegrate into daily life; an action that can alleviate depression. Otherwise, it is a good idea to seek a medical professional for medication and even therapy to help work on your depression.

      The Latest On The Study

      The study that was done by the institute used 18,000 different people from all around the United States. These people were volunteers and were asked to self-report their hearing loss if they were under the age of 70, and asked to go to a clinic for testing if they were over 70. After their hearing data was collected, they were given a very short question session that was used to see if they had symptoms of depression.

      The results of the study were absolutely stunning because they showed that eleven percent of people who had hearing loss under the age of seventy also had depression. That was an incredible find that was confounded by the fact that the older people did not suffer from the same rates of hearing loss. Right now, this information is going to be integrated into studies to look into this data even more to determine why there is such a disparity. The fact remains that hearing loss is positively correlated with depression.

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        The Loss of Spatial Hearing- General Overview

        Spatial hearing loss is characterized by the inability to distinguish spatial cues. For example, if a person suffers from spatial loss of hearing, they would likely be unable to tell where a sound came from. They would also have a difficult time picking one person’s voice out of a crowd. This makes it difficult for a person to cut out background noise and hold a conversation in a crowded place, such as a restaurant, bar, airport, or movie theater. Perhaps surprisingly, the ear is not the source of spatial hearing loss. Instead, it is thought to occur within the brain pathways that interpret noise.

        This condition can affect anyone, but it is found most often in adults over 60 and young children. This can be especially frustrating for children in school – they find it hard to differentiate the teacher’s voice from other noises in class.

        Audiologists are able to diagnose spatial hearing disorder with a test called the Listen in Spatialized Noise-Sentences, or LiSN-S, test. The LisN-S test determines how a person uses pitch and spatial cues in order to pick out certain sounds from background noise. The results tell the hearing instrument specialist the extent of the condition.

        Spatial loss of hearing is often accompanied by other conditions. These conditions include loss of high-frequency and/or low-frequency hearing. Because these other forms of hearing loss are easily treatable with hearing aids, it is easier to reduce the effects of spatial hearing loss in people who suffer other forms of hearing loss as well. Hearing aids aren’t a magic bullet for everyone. In fact, for some sufferers of spatial hearing loss, hearing aids can actually make the problem worse.

        Spatial hearing loss happens often in older people, due to the natural aging process and subsequent damage to the audio nerve. Medications, injury, vascular insufficiencies, or underlying medical conditions and diseases are also factors in the loss of spatial hearing. Sudden hearing loss that is noticed within a twenty-four to seventy-two hour span needs to be evaluated immediately. Some forms of sudden hearing loss can be helped if its treated right away. Causes can be blockage, illness, or infection–all of which respond well to early treatment. If sudden hearing loss is not quickly diagnosed and is caused by an infection or other underlying illness, it could progress to inner ear involvement permanently damaging auditory nerve pathways and resulting in permanent deafness or spatial hearing loss.

        Unilateral hearing loss puts you at an increased risk of spatial hearing loss as well – so it is again essential to immediately get help if you notice any sudden changes in hearing. If you’re not sure if your hearing is changing, you should go get it tested right away.

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          A Primer on Swimmer’s Ear, Its Origins, Signs and Symptoms and Treatment Options

          Acute external otitis is an infection of the outer ear canal – the portion outside the eardrum. More people know it by its common name – swimmer’s ear. The infection is termed swimmer’s ear because it commonly comes about as the result of water remaining in the ears after swimming; this creates a damp environment that encourages the growth of microbes. This condition is also caused by scraping or damaging the delicate ear canal lining by using your fingertips, Q-tips, or other foreign objects to clean them. You should be familiar with the symptoms of swimmer’s ear, because although it is easily treated, not treating it can lead to serious complications.

          Swimmer’s ear arises because the ear’s natural defenses (glands that secrete a water-repellant, waxy coating called cerumen) have become overloaded. A buildup of moisture in the ear, damage to the ear canal’s lining, and sensitivity reactions can all create an advantageous environment for the growth of bacteria, and result in infection. Specific activities will increase your risk of contracting swimmer’s ear. Swimming, use of inside-the-ear devices (including hearing aids or ear buds), aggressive cleaning of the ear canal and allergies all increase your likelihood of infection.

          The most frequent signs and symptoms of swimmer’s ear are itching in the ear canal, mild discomfort that is made worse by tugging on your ear, a mild redness inside the ear, and mild drainage of a clear, odorless fluid. In more moderate cases, these symptoms may develop into more intense itching, pain, and discharge of pus. Extreme symptoms include intense pain (sometimes radiating to other parts of the face, neck and head), fever, swelling or redness of the outer ear or lymph nodes, and actual blockage of the ear canal. If left untreated, complications from swimmer’s ear can be very serious. Complications might include temporary hearing loss

          , long-term ear infections, deep tissue infections which may spread to other parts of the body, and cartilage or bone loss. Therefore, if you have any of these symptoms, even if minor, see your health care provider.

          Swimmer’s ear can be diagnosed in an office visit after a visual exam

          performed with a lighted viewing instrument called an otoscope. Doctors will also make sure that your eardrum has not been ruptured or damaged. If you definitely have swimmer’s ear, the conventional treatment includes cautiously cleaning the ears and using prescription eardrops to combat the bacteria. If the infection is widespread or serious, the physician may also prescribe oral antibiotics.

          Remember these three tips to avoid getting swimmer’s ear.

          1. Dry your ears completely after bathing or swimming.
          2. Don’t swim in open, untreated bodies of water.
          3. Don’t place any foreign objects in your ears in an attempt to clean them.

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            Cutting-Edge Hearing Loss Research: Inner Ear Hair Cell Regeneration

            One of the sometimes frustrating things about being a hearing care specialist

            is that many of the conditions we encounter which have caused our patients to lose their hearing can’t be reversed. Damage to the tiny, very sensitive hair cells of the inner ear is among the more prevalent reasons for hearing loss. The job of these hair cells is to vibrate in response to sounds. These vibrations are then interpreted by the brain into what we call hearing.

            The sensitivity of these tiny hair cells allows them to vibrate in such a manner, and thus makes it possible for us to hear, but their very sensitivity makes them extremely fragile, and at risk of damage. This damage may occur due to aging, infections, medications, and by extended exposure to high-volume sounds, leading to noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL. The hair cells in human ears can’t be regenerated or “fixed” once they have become damaged or destroyed. Instead, hearing specialists and hearing instrument specialists must use technological innovations such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to compensate for hearing loss that is in essence irreversible.

            Things would be a lot less complicated if we humans were more like chickens and fish. That may sound like an odd statement, but it’s true, because – unlike humans – some birds and fish can regenerate inner ear hair cells, and thus regain their hearing after it is lost. For reasons that aren’t fully understood, chickens and zebra fish(to name just two such species) have the ability to spontaneously duplicate and replace damaged hair cells, and thus attain full functional recovery from hearing loss.

            Keeping in mind that this research is preliminary and has as yet produced no proven benefits for humans, some hope for the treatment of hearing loss comes from research called the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP). This research, funded by the nonprofit Hearing Health Foundation, is presently taking place at 14 laboratories in the United States and Canada. Researchers involved in the HRP are working to isolate the compounds that allow the hair cells in some animals to replicate themselves, with the future goal of finding some way to enable human hair cells to do the same.

            This work is slow and challenging. Researchers need to sort through the many compounds involved in the regeneration process – some of which support replication while others inhibit it. But their hope is that if they can identify the compounds that stimulate this regeneration process to happen in fish and avian cochlea, they can find a way to stimulate it to happen in human cochlea. A few of the HRP scientists are working on gene therapies as a way to promote such regrowth, while others are working on using stem cells to accomplish the same goal.

            Although this research is still in the preliminary stages, our staff wishes them quick success so that their findings can be extended to humans. Nothing would be more enjoyable than to be able to provide our hearing loss patients a true cure.

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              Uncovering the Relationships Between Hearing Loss, Dementia and Decline in Cognitive Function

              For those of you who have suffered some type of hearing loss, do you ever find yourself having to work really hard to understand what is being said to you or around you? You aren’t alone. The sense that listening and understanding is tiring work is common among people with hearing loss – even the ones that wear hearing aids.

              Unfortunately, the fallout of this phenomenon may not be restricted to hearing loss; it may also be related to loss of cognitive abilities. Hearing loss substantially raises your risk of contracting Alzheimer’s or dementia according to recent research studies.

              A 16-year research study of this connection from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine included 639 participants between the ages of 36 and 90. The data indicated that 58 study volunteers – 9 percent of the total – had developed dementia and 37 – 6 percent – had developed Alzheimer’s. Researchers found that for every ten decibels of hearing loss, the participants’ odds of developing dementia went up by 20%; the more significant the hearing loss, the higher their risk of dementia.

              In a similar research study, evaluating 1,984 participants, scientists observed a similar connection between hearing loss and dementia, but they also noted that the hearing-impaired suffered noticeable declines in their cognitive functions. The hearing-impaired participants developed reduced thinking capacity and memory loss 40 percent faster than individuals with normal hearing. In each of the two studies, an even more dismaying finding was that this relationship was not lessened by using hearing aids.

              Investigators have suggested several hypotheses to explain the association between loss of hearing and loss of cognitive capabilities. Researchers have coined the term cognitive overload in association with one particular theory. The theory is that among the hearing-impaired, the brain exhausts itself so much working to hear that it can’t concentrate on the meaning of the sounds that it is hearing. The ensuing lack of understanding can cause social isolation, a factor that has been shown in other studies to cause dementia. Another theory is that neither dementia nor hearing loss cause the other, but that they’re both linked to an as-yet-undiscovered pathological mechanism – possibly vascular, possibly genetic, possibly environmental – that causes both.

              However dismal these study results may sound, there are things to be learned from them. If you use hearing aids, visit your hearing instrument specialist on a regular basis to keep them fitted, adjusted, and programmed correctly, so that you are not constantly straining to hear. If you don’t have to work so hard to hear, you have greater cognitive capacity to comprehend what is being said, and remember it. Also, if the two conditions are connected, early detection of hearing impairment might eventually lead to interventions that could prevent dementia.

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                An Introduction to Hearing in Crowded Situations

                A common question from patients relates to the ability to hear in crowded rooms. They report that they don’t seem to have any problem hearing people and understanding what they say when they are speaking to them one-on-one, or even in small groups. But in a crowd, such as a noisy party or in large public gatherings, suddenly it becomes difficult to understand what the person speaking to them is saying, or to distinguish the speaker’s voice from the background sounds. The same people that have difficulty with crowds, will often also express that they find it challenging to hear and distinguish certain consonants especially F, S, and H.

                If you are experiencing these symptoms, there is a possibility that you may have suffered some form or high-frequency hearing loss. Human speech, especially the consonants “H,” “F,” and “S,” fall into the range of sounds between 3000 and 8000 Hertz, which scientists define as “high-frequency.” In a crowded situation there are many sounds across the frequency spectrum competing with one another. Much of the background noise – such as people dancing or walking – occurs at lower frequencies. Speech is layered on top of this in the higher frequency ranges. People with high-frequency hearing loss tend to perceive the lower frequencies – in this case, the noise – as sounding louder than the higher frequencies, which they are now having more trouble hearing.

                High-frequency hearing loss is quite common. Some studies have found that as much as 18% of the population is affected. High-frequency hearing loss is normal with aging, but is increasingly being diagnosed in younger adults too. Audiologists suspect this may come from repeated exposure to loud music especially through personal headphones. There are other potential causes, including genetic factors, diabetes, exposure to toxic drugs such as chemotherapy agents, and other diseases.

                If you are having trouble hearing in crowds and the reason turns out to be high-frequency hearing loss you’ll be glad to know that this can be treated. Hearing aids can be adjusted to amplify the higher frequencies and suppress lower frequencies, with the result that you can hear voices better in crowded rooms.

                If you have trouble hearing in crowds, your first step should be to make an appointment with one of our specialists, so that we can determine whether you have suffered some form of hearing loss. Our specialists can perform tests to determine whether your problem hearing in crowds is really related to hearing loss, or whether it might arise from other causes.

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                  Hearing Loss Early Warning Signs

                  Hearing loss has many forms – it might develop gradually (for example, as the result of aging) or all of a sudden (as the result of an accident or trauma). Hearing loss may range from mild instances of not hearing conversations properly to severe periods of being unable to hear at all, and may be either permanent or temporary. Moreover, a person can experience a loss of hearing in either one ear or both ears.

                  You will find a number of symptoms linked to hearing loss, one of the most common of which is a growing inability to hear or understand conversations. You may perceive other’s voices as if they were speaking too softly or are too far away to be heard correctly, or their voices may appear to be muffled and indistinct. You might be able to hear people talking, but not be able to differentiate specific words, particularly when multiple people are speaking or the conversations are taking place in environments with lots of background noise.

                  Various other common signs of hearing loss include having to increase the volume on your TV or radio, having a harder time hearing women’s voices than men’s, and not being able to differentiate sounds such as ‘th’ and ‘s’ from one another. Other forms of hearing loss may be indicated if you experience a persistent ringing in the ears, feel pain, tenderness or itching in the ears, and if you have episodes of dizziness or vertigo.

                  One of the difficulties with hearing loss is that it can occur so gradually that people are themselves not aware of it. This can sometimes lead to actions or behaviors intended to hide their hearing loss from other people. Examples of these kinds of symptoms include asking people to repeat themselves frequently, avoiding dialogues and social situations, pretending to have heard things that you really didn’t, and emotions of depression or isolation.

                  If these signs and symptoms sound familiar to you, it is time to make an appointment with one of our hearing specialists. We can help by starting with a hearing test to see if you do have hearing loss, and if you have, we can help determine exactly what to do about it.

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                    The Incredible Truth About Kids and Hearing Loss

                    Whether you are young or old, you may experience hearing loss. Noise is responsible for hearing loss in nearly 12 percent of kids from age 6 through 19 says the American Academy of Audiology. Hearing loss is also the number one most common type of birth defect in the U.S. Nearly 12,000 children are born each year with some type of hearing loss says the American Speech and Language Association.

                    Not every type of hearing loss is permanent.
                    – Hearing loss could be a temporary problem in some children resulting from issues such as ear wax occluding the middle ear, or ear infections. Medical treatment or minor surgery could be the solution to some hearing loss issues, but early intervention is vital. Chronic (long term) ear infections could cause permanent hearing loss so be sure you seek professional help early on if ear infections are suspected.

                    Early intervention can improve language skills in children with hearing loss. – Early identification and assessment of hearing losses is vital. Children whose hearing loss was identified before 6 months of age showed dramatic gains in language skill development compared to those diagnosed after 6 months of age. This difference was due to early treatment.

                    Hearing loss could delay language development. – Children learn more about language from birth to 3 years of age than they do at any other time in life because during that time the brain is more receptive to learning language. Listening is the first experience required for normal speech development in young children. Language skills are vital in order for kids to go on to learn how to read effectively.

                    Some hearing loss can be prevented. – There are types of hearing loss that are preventable, including noise related damage to the hearing. Using protective ear plugs or ear muffs is a must for protecting kids from noise induced hearing loss. Also, parents should lower the volume on stereos and other electronics.

                    Parents are often times the first to identify early signs of hearing loss in young children.
                    – Parents are many times the first to notice symptoms of hearing loss in infants such as: no reaction to noises made by toys or not making babbling sounds like normal infants. Around 9 months of age kids should be repeating back sounds and should also understand some simple phrases and commands. Be sure to ask your hearing specialist or hearing instrument specialist for a more conclusive list of signs and symptoms to watch for, as well as his/her recommendation on when your child should have a professional hearing screening.

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