Author Archives: Audiological Consultants of Atlanta

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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Link to memory, cognitive function elevates urgency of treating hearing loss

A growing body of research links untreated hearing loss to impaired memory and diminished cognitive function, raising the significance of hearing health to overall cognitive health

According to Brandeis University Professor of Neuroscience, Dr. Arthur Wingfield, who has been studying cognitive aging and the relationship between memory and hearing acuity for many years, effortful listening due to unaddressed hearing loss is associated with increased stress and poorer performance on memory tests.

His research shows that even when people with unaddressed hearing loss perceive the words that are being spoken, their ability to remember the information suffers—likely because of the draw on their cognitive resources that might otherwise be used to store what has been heard in memory. This is especially true for the comprehension of quick, informationally complex speech that is part of everyday life.

“Even if you have just a mild hearing loss that is not being treated, cognitive load increases significantly,” Wingfield said. “You have to put in so much effort just to perceive and understand what is being said that you divert resources away from storing what you have heard into your memory.”

Wingfield—along with Jonathan Peelle from the Department of Otolaryngology at Washington University in St. Louis—recently published a paper in the July 2016 issue of Trends in Neurosciences exploring the neural consequences of untreated age-related hearing loss. In the paper, they explain that although compensation of hearing loss by other areas of the brain “can frequently result in successful comprehension, it is not without consequence for further operations, such as remembering what we have heard.”

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ACA loved this article: Why Internet is Essential for the Hard of Hearing by Katherine Bouton

This past week, we moved to a new apartment and I found myself without high-speed internet — no DSL or Wi-Fi connection at home — for 10 (long) days.

It was an uncomfortable reminder of how vitally important the internet is for people with hearing loss. I did have a smartphone, so I was not completely cut off from communication, but it was very limited. Here’s what no home internet meant for me:

No captioned telephone. I hear on the phone, but not well. Even using the telecoil setting on my hearing aid does not make the speaker’s voice completely clear. Captioned telephones depend on DSL or Wi-Fi for the captioning part of the call, which appears on the screen of your special phone. Two of the major manufacturers of these captioned phones are CapTel and CaptionCall. They are available free of charge to people who can provide proof of their hearing loss, and oftentimes their representative will come to your home to set it up. But you do need a high-speed internet connection.

For captions on cellphones, a company called Innocaption has been developing a system to provide simultaneous voice and captioning. It’s still got some kinks to work out, but when it works, it’s terrific. Unfortunately, at least on my phone (an iPhone 5S) and with my carrier (Verizon), I cannot get voice and captions at the same time unless I have DSL or Wi-Fi. (Innocaption, which has very responsive consumer support, confirmed this in an email: “Unfortunately, Verizon supports voice and data at the same time from iPhone 6, not iPhone 5/5s.”) I need that connection to Wi-Fi.

This is a problem anywhere outdoors, but I live in a big city, and without captions my cellphone is close to useless on the street. This is because electromagnetic interference produces a buzz in telecoil mode that drowns out talk. I guess I need to spring for a new iPhone.

I did have Ava. Ava is a voice recognition system used for in-person conversations. Two or more people sign on to the app on their smartphones. Their voices are simultaneously captioned on each user’s phone, color-coded by speaker. Ava is still in the testing stage, but you can download it here. The version I was using required Wi-Fi, but the newest version, which I downloaded (free) today, no longer requires Wi-Fi. I had a nice conversation with someone in the dog park. I could understand him over the yapping dogs because he was talking into my Ava-equipped phone.

Email was difficult. I’m a voluminous emailer, not only because I’m hard of hearing, but also because of the work I do both professionally and as a volunteer. The volume of mail I receive gets lost on the small screen of a smartphone. For those of us with hearing loss, email tends to be a lifeline for communicating with others. I did email on my smartphone (using satellite technology rather than Wi-Fi). But once I had Wi-Fi again and went back through the emails on my computer, I saw I’d missed quite a few. Also, no matter what size phone screen you have, it’s still pretty small.

Sherry Turkle‘s 2011 book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, prompted consternation about the “death of conversation” due to an over-dependence on technology.

But for those of us with hearing loss, technology is sometimes the only way we can communicate. In a restaurant we may be looking at our smartphones, but that’s because we’re getting captioning from a program like Ava telling us what the speaker across the table is saying. At the theater we may be looking at a smartphone, but that’s because we’re lucky enough to be at a performance with I-Captions or Globetitles.

Texting and emailing are conversation for people with hearing loss. I was surprised by how handicapped I felt without high-speed internet. I lived two-thirds of my life before the internet came along, so you’d think I’d know how to manage for a week or so. I wasn’t as hard of hearing then, it’s true. But also, once you’ve enjoyed the advantages that Wi-Fi and DSL offer those with hearing loss, it’s really hard to give them up.

This post first appeared on AARP Health on 10/18/2016.

 

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