Author Archives: Audiological Consultants of Atlanta

SUDDEN HEARING LOSS!

Sudden hearing loss can be frightening and damaging if not treated immediately. Some people suffer from this type of hearing loss and wait a few days or even weeks, hoping that it will recover on its own. In some cases, this may occur but in many cases this does not happen; therefore, it should be given immediate attention for the best possible outcome. 

According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, sudden hearing loss (SHL) is defined as greater than 30 dB hearing reduction, over at least three contiguous frequencies, occurring over a period of 72 hours or less. Most patients report the hearing loss in the morning or as a rapid decline over a period of hours or days. It can occur in one or both ears and may also be associated with symptoms of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and vertigo (dizziness).

Evaluation consists of a thorough case history and physical examination to rule out infectious causes such as otitis media, systemic diseases and exposure to known ototoxic medications. An audiogram (hearing test) is required to document the decline in hearing and blood tests may be performed by your physician to determine any causes like Lyme disease, metabolic, autoimmune, and circulatory disorders. An MRI may be recommended to rule out an acoustic neuroma. As you can see, there are many potential causes of SHL; however, it can remain unknown for many patients.  

Due to the various causes of SHL, there are different treatments available. Some of these treatments used by physicians may include systemic steroids, antiviral medications, vasodilators, carbogen therapy either (alone or in combination) or no treatment at all. Whichever treatment is chosen, the crucial step is getting to the physician and audiologist as soon as possible to figure out the proper course of action. The earlier the treatment is started, the better the prognosis.

Finally, if a SHL remains permanent, amplification is usually the best solution. If this is the outcome, it is best to seek treatment from your audiologist.   

 

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WHAT IS AGE-RELATED HEARING LOSS?

Gray hair. Wrinkles. Poor eyesight. Age certainly affects how our bodies function – and your ears are no exception.

As we get older, the tiny hair cells in our ears that help us hear start to break. As the number of functioning hair cells decrease, so does our ability to hear. Unfortunately you cannot grow any more hair cells, so the damage is permanent. This type of age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis. Read Full Article

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HEARING AT THE THANKSGIVING TABLE

It’s no secret that hearing conversation at a crowded family dinner can be difficult – especially if you have a hearing loss. While Thanksgiving can be a great way to catch up with family and friends, it can prove challenging and tiring for people with hearing loss. Luckily, hearing aid technology allows you to be more in the moment at family gatherings. If you have hearing aids, it’s important that you wear them to your Thanksgiving dinner. You may think that with so much noise at a party or family dinner, hearing aids would just make things louder. But modern digital hearing aids aren’t simple sound amplifiers. They are designed to filter out the unwanted background noise and help you focus on speech.

Two hearing aid features in particular are put to work in crowds:

  • The Speech Enhancer- Widex hearing aids reduce noise by using a speech enhancer. This technology works to reduce background noise and helps you focus on what you need to hear.
  • Directional Microphones- directional microphones work to reduce the amount of noise allowed to enter your hearing aids. In noisy environments, like at a large family dinner table, the system will work to pick up the least amount of noise. If the noise is located behind you, your directional microphones will adapt to pick up sound from in front of you and dampen noise from behind you.

Here are some tips on helping your guests with hearing loss enjoy your party:

  • Background music- most everyone loves music. But with conversations of 20+ people, usually no one can hear it anyways. Consider turning down the background music – or turning it off completely when several guests are socializing at once. People tend to speak louder to be heard over the music, so your music may in fact make the party louder.
  • Dish Duty- hold off on cleaning the dishes until after your guests have left. For people with hearing loss, the clatter of kitchen dishes can distract from dinnertime conversation. Take time to enjoy your guests rather than worrying about the clean-up!
  • Seating-if you know that one of your guests has a hearing loss, seat that person at the center of the table closest to those with the quietest voices. It may also help if you sit next to that person, so you can help him or her to better understand the conversation.

Have the “hearing loss” conversation

 

Holiday gatherings are a good time to have “the conversation” with friends and loved ones. We’re talking about the conversation about hearing loss and getting hearing aids. If you think your loved one is unable to hear correctly, encourage them to get a professional evaluation. This is a great first step in helping someone realize they are missing the wonderful family conversations at holiday time.

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Why do I need clEAR Auditory Brain Training?

 Are hearing and listening the same thing?

Surprisingly, they are not. Hearing allows you to receive acoustic information (speech) while listening requires your brain to attend to and interpret speech. For example, once a speech signal enters your ear, your brain must rapidly process each word and hold that string of words in memory long enough to comprehend and make sense of its meaning. Not only must your brain distinguish each word from all other possible words, but it must invoke mental skills such as auditory memory, auditory attention, and auditory processing speech in order for you to engage successfully in conversation. Read Full Article

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5 MYTHS ABOUT NOISE-INDUCED HEARING LOSS

Have you ever felt hard of hearing after a night at a concert? Do you have hearing loss after years of working in a noisy environment? Did a sudden loud noise make you lose your ability to hear out of one or two ears? If so, you may have Noise-induced hearing loss.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.  Approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to noise at work or in leisure activities.

While the root cause of this type of hearing loss may seem simple, there are many misconceptions about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. It’s time to set the record straight.

MYTH: Noise-induced hearing loss is immediately noticeable – While many people may experience temporary hearing loss after a loud party or concert, a damaged ear may not be immediately noticeable. Often, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is the result of years of exposure to loud noise, and isn’t noticed until a family member points out common signs of hearing loss.

MYTH: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss isn’t permanent – While Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is often  one of few types of hearing loss that CAN go away over time, it is often permanent. Start by resting your ears and giving yourself about 16 hours to recover. If you still experience hearing loss after this time then it is important to see your  Audiologist. 

MYTH: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss only occurs if you are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis – A one single exposure to explosions, gun shots, loud concerts and other sudden loud noises can cause noise-induced hearing loss. It is important to wear hearing protection if you anticipate being exposed to loud noise, even if it is just for a short amount of time.

MYTH: Only loud music can cause hearing loss – Your profession may be just as risky as your hobbies when it comes to causing hearing loss. Industrial noise is a leading cause of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.  A recent study by the United States Center for Disease Control showed that miners are the most likely people to have this type of hearing loss, due to acoustic trauma from daily noise exposure underground.

MYTH: Noise-induced hearing loss is not preventable – Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is the only type of hearing loss that is somewhat preventable. Make sure to wear proper ear protection if you anticipate being exposed to loud sounds, even if it is for only a short amount of time. Both custom and non-custom ear protection can be purchased.

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clEAR™ Offers a Customized Approach to Aural Rehabilitation

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LIVING WITH MILD HEARING LOSS

When it comes to health concerns, including hearing loss, people often wonder: how bad is too bad. How serious does a condition need to be before it goes from being an annoyance to something that requires medical attention? If you have mild hearing loss, you may think it’s not serious and can be ignored, at least for now. Read Full Article

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Top 10 Myths about Tinnitus by Lisa Packer, staff writer, Healthy Hearing

If you are one of the millions of people in the world that has tinnitus, you know it can impact everything from your work to your family and social life. That constant ringing in the ears can also lead to stress and depression.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual sound is present. For many, tinnitus is characterized by ringing in the ears, but it can also manifest itself in different sounds such as whistling, buzzing or hissing. 

Knowing tinnitus facts is a great way to get on a path towards relief. 

According to the American Tinnitus Association, tinnitus sufferers in the United States number in the millions, with the CDC estimating that almost 15 percent of people have tinnitus to some degree. And with so many people suffering from tinnitus, it is more important than ever to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about tinnitus can give you the best chance to effectively approach the condition and reduce the symptoms in order to improve your quality of life. 

Myth: Tinnitus is an incurable disease 

This is not completely true. Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but is sometimes the result of any number of underlying medical conditions. Loud noise, neurological damage, vascular disease, or even traumatic brain injury are just some examples of health issues that can contribute to tinnitus. Tinnitus can also develop as a reaction to certain medications. And while it is true that there is no “cure,” there are treatments available that will lessen the symptoms and make tinnitus easier to live with. 

Myth: I can just change my diet and my tinnitus will go away 

While some feel that certain additives and foods such as alcohol, sodium and caffeine can aggravate tinnitus, they are not usually the root cause. It is always important to overall health to eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, but tinnitus needs to be addressed separately. Tinnitus management strategies can include dietary and lifestyle changes, but these alone won’t “cure” tinnitus. 

Myth: There is nothing I can do about tinnitus 

There is something you can do! Research into tinnitus is ongoing, and treatments are constantly evolving and improving. Whether your tinnitus is mild, moderate or severe, an audiologist can offer solutions and treatments to help lessen the symptoms and make your condition more manageable. In addition, other healthcare professionals may be able to diagnose and address the health issues that might be causing the tinnitus in the first place. 

Myth: Only those with hearing loss get tinnitus 

Yes, those with hearing loss can also get tinnitus, and they are often related. But it is also possible to get tinnitus without having hearing loss. If you are exposed to very loud noise, such as a rock concert or an explosion, you might experience temporary ringing in the ears. And certain other medical conditions or use of medications can cause tinnitus as well. Even if you don’t think you have hearing loss, it is still worth getting checked out by an audiologist. 

Myth: Everyone with tinnitus eventually goes deaf 

Tinnitus and hearing loss can coexist but are separate conditions. Just because you have tinnitus doesn’t mean you have hearing loss, and even if you have hearing loss, it doesn’t mean you are going deaf. Hearing aids are a great solution hearing loss and can often manage tinnitus symptoms at the same time. 

Myth: Tinnitus is always a ringing in the ears 

The truth is that tinnitus sounds are not the same for everyone. Ringing is most common, but so is buzzing, whooshing or humming. Tinnitus sounds can even vary per individual from day to day. 

Myth: Hearing aids won’t help with tinnitus. 

The truth is that is that new developments in hearing aid technology can address both hearing loss and symptoms of tinnitus by increasing the sounds of external noise, thereby masking the internal sounds of tinnitus. 

Myth: There are pills you can take to make tinnitus go away 

Unfortunately there is no “magic pill” that you can take to cure tinnitus. But there are ways to manage tinnitus that can lessen the symptoms and make them manageable. Advances have been made in sound therapy with great success, for example. Other ways to manage the symptoms include hearing aids, meditation, stress management techniques and changes in diet and exercise. 

Myth: Tinnitus is only from listening to loud music or using earbuds 

While listening to dangerously loud music, or any excessive noise for that matter, can result in tinnitus, there can be many different causes. People of different ages, races, health statuses and socioeconomic backgrounds get tinnitus, and quite often there is no obvious reason. In other words, just because you don’t listen to loud music or use earbuds doesn’t mean you are immune. 

Myth: Tinnitus is all in your head 

Just because others can’t “see” your tinnitus, and there are no test results that will show the presence of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t all too real. Millions of people worldwide suffer from tinnitus, and it can vary from mild to debilitating. Don’t suffer in silence. There are experts that can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

KATHERINE POLLARD, AU.D., ONE OF OUR AUDIOLOGISTS AND OUR TINNITUS SPECIALISTS IS AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR TINNITUS.

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REDUCED HEARING ACUITY

Reduced hearing acuity is frustrating for people with hearing loss as well as for those around them. In fact, a 2009 study showed that relationships are failing because of unmanaged hearing loss. The survey of 1,500 hearing-impaired people over 55 revealed that almost half (44 percent of people) said that relationships with their partner, friends or family have suffered because they can’t hear properly.

Hearing loss isn’t just an ear issue; it’s a quality of life and health issue. Untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences. A decrease in hearing sensitivity is associated with diminished cognitive function, poorer mental health, and social withdrawal. Read Full Article

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Dawn Green, ACA Director of Administrative Services, wins the November 2016 “You Rock” Award

2016-dawn-rocksDawn Green receives this award for her outstanding service and commitment to ACA.  She has worked diligently and selflessly until completion, in helping ACA complete many of our projects for our November year end.

Thank You, Dawn!

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