Author Archives: Audiological Consultants of Atlanta

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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New Award Given to ACA Employees – “YOU ROCK”!

ACA created a new award this year for an ACA staff member(s) that is presented during each of our monthly office meetings.  The recipient of this special award is chosen as a living example of our ACA mission statement of exemplifying our leadership role through commitment, dedication, innovation and excellence of the highest quality. Let’s congratulate all recipients on our “YOU ROCK” award!

March recipient: Lori McCorry, Au.D., Audiologist

April recipient: Maureen Connon, Support staff

May recipient: Katherine Pollard, Au.D., Audiologist

June recipient: The Griffin office staff: Sheila Pack, Au.D., Audiologist, Tammi St. Claire, Support staff and Miya Wright, Audiology Assistant

 

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NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF PRACTICE INDUCTS HELENA STERN SOLODAR, AU.D.

2016-helena-stern-solodar-240Founded in 1981, NAP is an interdisciplinary, nonprofit organization, with membership representing 14 health care professions willing to serve as distinguished advisors to health care policy makers in Congress and elsewhere. The 14 academies of practice within the NAP include: Audiology, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Podiatric Medicine, Psychology, Social Work, Speech-Language Pathology and Veterinary Medicine.

Membership in the NAP is an honor extended to those who have excelled in their profession and are dedicated to furthering practice, scholarship and policy in support of inter-professional care. The central purpose of NAP is to advise public policy makers on health care issues using NAP’s unique perspective — that of expert practitioners and scholars joined in interdisciplinary dialogue.

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HOW CAN TREATING HEARING LOSS KEEP YOU YOUTHFUL AND ACTIVE? by Better Hearing Institute

Addressing hearing loss is one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of life and keep up a youthful pace.
In fact, new technologies have made it easier to manage hearing loss and stay engaged in life.
Today’s hearing aids help people with hearing loss better hear sounds and people from all directions, and they filter out noise. Many sit discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal and out of sight; and many are wireless, so they can interface easily with other high-tech devices like smartphones, home entertainment systems, conference-room speakerphones, and hearing loops. Some are even waterproof; and others are rechargeable.
Addressing hearing loss really can help you better maintain your vitality. Here’s how:
1. By getting out and enjoying life: People with hearing difficulty who use hearing aids get more pleasure in doing things and are even more likely to exercise and meet up with friends to socialize.
2. By nurturing relationships and social connections: Most people who currently wear hearing aids say it not only helps their overall ability to communicate effectively in most situations, but it also has a positive effect on their relationships and ability to participate in group activities. And they’re more likely to have a strong social network.
3. By keeping a positive outlook: Research shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged in life. Many even say they feel more confident and better about themselves as a result of using hearing aids.
4. By being a go-getter: People with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to tackle problems actively, research shows. And most hearing aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job. In fact, research found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, the study found.
5. By doing what you can to protect your cognitive function, stay on your feet, and keep the blues away: A study from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University found that hearing aids may slow cognitive decline tied to hearing loss. The study found that estimated 20-year rates of decline in memory and global function were greatest in participants who did not use a hearing aid. Earlier studies have linked hearing loss to dementia and cognitive issues. Another Johns Hopkins study showed that people in middle age (40-69) with even just mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. The intensive listening effort demanded by unaddressed hearing loss may take cognitive resources away from what is needed for balance and gait, researchers have suggested. And a 2014 study found that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of depression adults of all ages, but is most pronounced in 18 to 69 year olds.

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Audiological Consultants on Atlanta & Co. – What Makes Us Different?

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Audiological Consultants was recently featured on 11Alive’s Atlanta & Co! We brought along one of our patients, Carolyn, to discuss the Lyric hearing device. You’ve probably heard stories about people having trouble manipulating their hearing aid batteries, adjusting them, putting them in, taking them out, or even losing them. Read Full Article

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December 2015 Newsletter – Enjoy the Holiday Season

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Happy Holidays! In the December 2015 ACA newsletter we share some tips on communicating effectively this holiday season. You can view the December 2015 ACA newsletter here.

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