Category Archives: In the News

WHAT ARE PSAPs?

Many of our patients ask about hearing aid-type devices they see at drug stores for less than a hundred dollars.  Most of those items are called Personal Sound Amplification Products, PSAPs, and are not to be confused with Hearing Aids.  Sometimes they look like a Bluetooth headset, an earphone or even look like a hearing aid but they function much differently.  Read Full Article

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The Many Benefits of Lip Reading

It is not unusual for people who benefit from hearing aids to experience some degree of difficulty communicating in social situations. It is quite easy for anyone to miss a word, a phrase, or even an entire exchange when surrounded by the challenges and daily distractions that we are faced with in our environment. Read Full Article

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Imagine That!

Imagine that your arm was placed in a plaster cast and remained in that cast immobilized, for eight to ten years.

After the passage of so much time, you would undoubtedly experience significant muscle atrophy, and possibly suffer nerve damage. To regain strength and recover the use of your arm, you would require extensive hours of physical therapy. Slowly, over time, you would hopefully regain the function of your arm, but it would likely never become as effective as it originally was.

Now, take a moment to extend this scenario to your ability to hear. Did you know that the average person waits for a period of eight to ten years between their initial awareness of a hearing change until the first visit to seek evaluation or treatment? In the hypothetical case involving the plaster cast on an arm, no one would reasonably expect their arm to function normally when the cast was finally removed.  The same holds true for our ability to hear and understand spoken language.

The ability to hear and understand takes place not just with the ears, but with the processing of sound that occurs in our brains. Yes, your ears collect sounds in quite specific and sophisticated ways, however those sounds must make their way to the auditory processing centers of the brain for meaningful interpretation and understanding.   

When a person lives with an untreated hearing loss, in a manner similar to the arm in a cast, portions of the auditory center of the brain become passive, and are effectively “immobilized.” If the brain receives less than appropriate sound information for any amount of time, it is unrealistic to assume that even with the use of hearing aids, all hearing and understanding can be restored to levels prior to the change. This will just not be the case!

When a person tries to “make do” with an untreated hearing loss, the brain receives less auditory information than it needs.  Not only does this condition affect the way a person hears and understands, but new research tells us that it also changes the way the brain functions. Results of Dr. Anu Sharma’s research, performed at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, demonstrate that the brain changes in response to even a mild to moderate hearing loss.  Her research uses brain imaging to study how the brain reacts to speech. She has compared brain images of a person with normal hearing versus a person with hearing loss. 

In cases where a person has normal hearing, the auditory parts of the brain are repeatedly stimulated in response to speech.  When an individual’s hearing is impaired, not only are the auditory parts of the brain not stimulated, but effects are also seen in the vision centers as well as the portion of the brain responsible for decision making and problem solving.  This means that the brain requires additional help to successfully understand speech, and therefore uses greater cognitive energy when a hearing loss is present.  This extra effort results in creating greater fatigue and stress on both the individual’s brain and their body. 

Let’s be honest here, most people just do not need more stress on their brain and body.   

Why is this important?  Because, THE AVERAGE PERSON WAITS EIGHT-TO-TEN YEARS TO GET THEIR HEARING CHECKED AFTER THEY INITIALLY NOTICE A PROBLEM!  Would you wait eight to ten years if you couldn’t see, or started to lose feeling in your hands?  ABSOLUTELY NOT            !  As an audiologist, it is quite unsettling to think of the millions of people that choose to wait to address changes in their hearing.  Why do so many people wait?  Embarrassment? Cost? Appearance? Hassle? 

At Audiological Consultants our audiologists know and appreciate these concerns.  Not only do we offer invisible, hassle-free hearing solutions as well as solutions for all lifestyles and budgets, but we also have professionals who will be your partner and support system for navigating the process of understanding and improving your hearing.  Come hear how you could be hearing better, … and living better! 

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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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Lyric Hearing Aids Provide Constant, Consistent Sound Stimulation

Many of our patients tend to be curious about new hearing technologies and want to learn all they can. There is one hearing device that is relatively a new concept in hearing and is capable of offering many users a superior hearing experience. This device is known as the Lyric, and produced by the manufacturer Phonak. Read Full Article

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Why it is Better to Address Hearing Loss Sooner Rather than Later?

Addressing hearing loss early has its advantages. These include establishing a “baseline” to compare future tests for change, immediate enhancement of your quality of life, and helping protect against several health problems frequently linked to untreated hearing loss. The reason not to put off having a hearing test and seeking treatment is because we all actually “hear” with our brains, not with our ears. When we have hearing loss, the connections in the brain that respond to sound are likely to “reorganize” themselves. For many people, hearing aids are able to provide the sound stimulation needed for the brain to restore its connections for processing sound. As a result, the individual is able to better react to the sounds that they had been missing and cognitively process them into meaningful language. Read Full Article

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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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