Hearing Loss News

17 May 2021
Written by in Better Hearing Month | 804 Views | Comments Closed

Better Hearing or Better Listening?

Hearing is a critically important sense for typical development of speech and language which carries us through the formative years of learning and socializing so unique to humankind.  Loss of hearing can come from illness, heredity, noise exposure, among a variety of other causes.  As we mature and approach retirement age, Age Related Hearing Loss is a very common cause of hearing loss and can impact our ability to easily communicate and continue the social life we have enjoyed.

Better Hearing Month is a time to consider prevention of hearing loss, how to recognize when we may be affected by it, and what to do about it when it interferes with the quality of our lives.  It is also a time to think about how to actively engage our ears and brains to hear and comprehend the spoken word.  Better Listening doesn’t cost anything, is cosmetically acceptable, doesn’t need batteries, and can markedly improve our ability to communicate.

“D.A.R.E.” to Listen Better!

Follow these simple steps to be a better listener:

Direct your focus: Listening is an active process and requires purposeful direction of our attention to what is being said by our conversation partners. Keep your mind on the conversation and stay engaged.  Look directly at the speaker to provide visual feedback that you are listening. 

Ask for repetition or rephrasing (with a smile.) Give others some feedback: “I heard ‘pink banana’ what did you really say?”

Read the face: If in a situation where protective masks are required, it is “eyebrow guessing” instead of speechreading but there is still information in the full frontal visual.

Exit an impossibly unfavorable environment.  Some situations are acoustically hostile making it impossible to hear, even when following all the rules.  Learn to recognize those situations and move to a better, quieter place.

10 May 2021
Written by in Better Hearing Month | 750 Views | Comments Closed

Loneliness, Social Isolation and a Pandemic, Oh My!

The worldwide impact of implementation of unprecedented social distancing and limitations on social activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic may have helped control the spread of the disease but impacted older adults disproportionally.  In a report from May of last year Hwang and colleagues noted:  “…there is a high cost associated with the essential quarantine and social distancing interventions for COVID-19, especially in older adults, who have experienced an acute, severe sense of social isolation and loneliness with potentially serious mental and physical health consequences. The impact may be disproportionately amplified in those with pre-existing mental illness, who are often suffering from loneliness and social isolation prior to the enhanced distancing from others imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic public health measures. (Hwang et al, 2020)

Because many older adults are often dependent upon family members and community services for assistance with routine activities, social distancing should not equate to social disconnection. It is generally accepted that loneliness is the subjective feeling of being alone, and social isolation is a measurable assessment of individuals’ social contacts and interaction. Loneliness and isolation are not equal, but both can have a detrimental effect on health. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Loneliness and isolation were found to be a “behavioral epidemic” across the USA, Europe and China (Jeste and colleagues, 2020.) The impact of COVID-19 social restrictions on top of the existing behavioral epidemic is impactful on many older adults, and especially so for individuals with pre-existing potential for mental illness. Loneliness has been found to be associated with increased risk for heart disease. Loneliness and social isolation have found to be factors in increased risk for coronary artery disease-associated death, even with younger individuals without prior history of heart disease (Heffner et al., 2011; Steptoe et al., 2013). Both loneliness and social isolation have been shown as independent risk factors for higher all-cause mortality (Yu et al., 2020).

In the face of these discouraging facts what can we do to prevent the detrimental effect of loneliness and social isolation? Hearing health care providers are in a unique position to spend more time with patients than their primary care physician or other health care providers. During interviews with individuals having trouble hearing, hearing care professionals may uncover symptoms that may not otherwise be discussed with a physician. There are several positive suggestions that are offered to patients and significant others that may help avoid loneliness and social isolation (Hwang et al, 2020):

  • Keep family and friend connections.  When routine visits are limited, telephone communication or Zoom and Skype connections can help sustain family and friend connections.
  • Technology is a big help with social connections.  Hearing aids today not only have the option for telecoils but have wireless connections with more Android and Apple devices than ever.  If face-to-face communication is limited, difficulties may be solved by designing a good technological solution.
  • Ensuring that basic needs such as food, medication, and telephone or tablet/computer availability is extremely important, especially for those who are living alone. Your hearing health care professional may help with outlining the best way to communicate your needs to others.
  • Maintain a regular structured daily routine. Participation in activities that are pleasurable adds benefits for physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
  • Maintain activities that support physical and mental wellness.  Today’s hearing aids can monitor movement and social engagement.  Logging these parameters may serve as motivation for the user to seek out movement and engagement.

Hearing health care professionals are responsible for helping with devices and the techniques necessary for effective communication.  As such, they are a resource for advice beyond the gadgets they provide.  Please take advantage of their expertise and step into the world of better hearing!


References:

Hwang TJ, Rabheru K, Peisah C, Reichman W, Ikeda M. Loneliness and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int Psychogeriatr. 2020;32(10):1217-1220. doi:10.1017/S1041610220000988

Jeste, D. V., Lee, E. E. and Cacioppo, S. (2020). Battling the Modern Behavioral Epidemic of Loneliness: Suggestions for Research and Interventions. JAMA Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.0027

Heffner, K. L., Waring, M. E., Roberts, M. B., Eaton, C. B. and Gramling, R. (2011). Social isolation, C-reactive protein, and coronary heart disease mortality among community-dwelling adults. Social Science & Medicine, 72, 1482–1488.

Steptoe, A., Shankar, A., Demakakos, P. and Wardle, J. (2013). Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women. Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences of the United States of America, 110, 5797–5801

16 Jul 2019
Written by in Hearing Aids | 4776 Views | Comments Closed

Announcing Starkey HearCare!

We are excited to announce Starkey HearCare is our new brand name. The tremendous service you’ve received from All American Hearing will continue under are new Starkey HearCare name.

We are setting a new standard for excellence in hearing healthcare with commitment to our Patient Journey philosophy. This philosophy is driven solely by the unique needs of our patients and our commitment to serve them. That means carefully guiding you on how to choose the best style and technology to enhance your lifestyle.

Our patient-centered approach and philosophy means your specific social, medical and economical needs are the most important considerations in determining which recommendation we make.

  • “State of the Art” Technology. As the evolution of digital sound technology continues to improve the performance of hearing instruments, we resolve to be the first to offer innovative products and services to you.
  • Team approach. Our staff functions together as a cohesive group of hearing professionals. We coordinate the individual expertise of all staff members to provide the best possible care for you.
  • Mobile testing. For those in our community who are unable to visit our office, we will provide all services at their residence at no additional charge.
  • Patient Satisfaction. We want our relationship with you to be a long lasting one. We encourage you to visit regularly, so we may continue to assist you in any way possible.
  • Community spirit. We will offer the community free hearing evaluations at our office and participate in health fairs and other community events.

Now is the time to take the first step and treat yourself to better hearing with Starkey HearCare.

23 Apr 2019
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 4994 Views | Comments Closed

Tracking Body and Brain Health with Your Hearing Aids

Can your hearing aids track how many steps you’ve taken? Can they tell you how many hours you’ve used them or how well you’ve engaged in communication?

This is now possible with the new AI hearing aids and Thrive Hearing app. Now, you can easily manage aspects of your wellness with the simple press of a button.

AI hearing aids are the first to integrate 3D motion sensors, which can track your activity, steps and overall movement (like a FitBit). Based on this information, the Thrive app provides wearers with an overall Body Score. A daily score of 100 points is possible. Because these devices are in your ear and not around your wrist, they are more accurate than any other fitness tracker on the market.

AI sensors also measure elements of your cognitive health, which it communicates to you via the Thrive app. Thrive tracks the brain health benefits of wearing hearing aids, measuring hours of use, social engagement and time spent actively listening. These elements comprise the Brain Score, which also has a maximum of 100 daily points.

When the Body Score and Brain Score are combined, users receive the Thrive Total Wellness Score (200 points possible). With this score, you can set goals and track your progress to achieving optimal cognitive and physical health — which helps ensure you live life to the fullest!

Your health is in the palm of your hand.

Interested in trying this new technology?
Schedule Your Appointment today with your Starkey HearCare provider!

18 Apr 2019
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 4101 Views | Comments Closed

A Hearing Revolution Has Begun!

A Hearing Revolution Has Begun!

Introducing the New

Livio AI Hearing Aid Logo.

The world’s first hearing aid to feature integrated sensors and artificial intelligence.

Product Image
Imagine a hearing aid that can: Livio AI

• Measure body and brain health
• Translate languages
• Receive adjustments from your provider remotely
• Stream music, TV and phone calls
• Reduce background noise
• Optimize programmable memories for frequented environments
• Adjust settings via easy-to-use tap control
• Produce a signal to find lost hearing aids
• Provide the clearest, most natural sounds

If this sounds like the hearing aid of the future, it is. It is also available right now.

For the first time ever, there’s a hearing aid that not only sounds crisp, clear and unlike any other, it also helps the wearer track and monitor how physically and mentally active they are.

Livio AI isn’t just the world’s best hearing aid — it’s a multi-purpose device that completely redefines what a hearing aid can do.

Just like the smartphone revolutionized the definition of a phone, Livio AI has pioneered a trail for hearing aids that has never been traveled before.

Hear like you have never heard before: Schedule An Appointment with your hearing provider today and demo this amazing new technology!

27 Apr 2018
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 2997 Views | Comments Closed

High Blood Pressure and Hearing Loss

High blood pressure and hearing loss

Data shows some link between high blood pressure and hearing loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure, or hypertension. That amounts to nearly one in three adults; furthermore, another one in three adults are living with elevated blood pressure results that are below the level considered to be high blood pressure but above the norm. This is called prehypertension, and roughly only half of Americans with high blood pressure have their condition under control. This leads to a multitude of health problems and risks, many of which are well-known. However, most people are not aware of another effect of high blood pressure that has been discovered: hearing loss.

While hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors, it has come to light that high blood pressure may also be a contributing illness to hearing loss. A recent 2013 study evaluated the potential association between high blood pressure and hearing loss. In that research, a total of 274 individuals between the ages of 45 and 64 were evaluated. Dr. Mohan Jagade, a physician in the Department of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery, Grant Medical College and J.J. Hospital, and his team discovered that in subjects presenting elevated blood pressure, there was a significant increase in the presence of hearing loss. The researchers in the study surmised that hypertension is an accelerating factor in the degeneration of the auditory system and hearing as people age.

Also, there is a high correlation between high blood pressure and the incidence of a first stroke. The CDC reports that approximately eight out of 10 people having a first stroke also have high blood pressure. In 2008, The American Heart Association published a recap of a large group study on the association between sudden sensorineural hearing loss and stroke. Researchers found that the there is a definitive and clear correlation between the two. While the exact specifics tying the two together are still being studied, the warning flags are already present. The group within the study who had severe hearing loss were more than 150 percent more likely to experience a stroke within two years of the occurrence of a sudden hearing loss. Any potential disturbance in the blood flow to the tiny capillaries in the inner ear can cause permanent and devastating hearing loss, and it is theorized that the presence of high blood pressure impacts the blood flow to the delicate structures in the inner ear.

It is well-documented that with increases in hearing loss, individuals often experience more feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression while suffering from auditory deprivation, a condition that can lead to lower speech understanding ability and even greater chance of dementia if left untreated. Therefore, it is strongly advised that if you have any risk factors for hearing loss, such as high blood pressure, you should have your hearing thoroughly evaluated on an annual basis to detect early hearing loss before it is too late.

25 Apr 2018
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 3274 Views | Comments Closed

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), commonly known as sudden hearing loss, should be considered a medical emergency. As professionals, we train our patients to see their family doctor at the onset of a sudden hearing loss, and if the doctor can’t immediately see the patient, to go to their nearest emergency room.

Why is treatment so important?

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss should be considered a medical emergency.

Only about 50 percent of those with sudden hearing loss will recover some of their hearing if not treated. About 80 – 85 percent of those who are treated properly will recover most or some of their hearing loss. Some erroneously think it is due to a cold, a sinus infection or allergies, so they put off or ignore treatment. Know that delaying proper treatment always decreases the effectiveness and recovery.

What causes sudden hearing loss?

There is not one real reason for SSHL. Sudden hearing loss is not a virus or a disease that can be caught. Less than 20 percent of those with SSHL are diagnosed with an identifiable cause. Some listed causes of SSHL are trauma to the head, poor blood circulation, drugs that may affect the sensory cells, diseases or disorders like multiple sclerosis or tumors along the eighth nerve connecting the ear to the brain

How do you treat sudden hearing loss?

Probably the most common practice of treating SSHL is prescribing steroids (corticosteroids). They decrease inflammation or swelling, which helps the body fight the illness. In the past, steroids were prescribed using pills, but recently, steroids are injected into the middle ear past the eardrum. This practice allows the steroids to reach the inner ear at a faster rate.

If you are taking drugs that are toxic to the ear, you may be advised to stop or switch to another drug. Sometimes your immune system may be the cause of sudden hearing loss. If this happens, you may be prescribed medications to suppress your immune system.

Conclusion

In the hearing industry, we often see patients suffering from sudden sensorineural hearing loss. We always recommend you immediately see your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room for treatment. The sooner you get treatment, the better chance of saving your hearing.
 

22 Jan 2018
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 2991 Views | Comments Closed

Hearing Loss Studies: Life is Worth Hearing

Hearing loss is one of the most common health issues in the world. In the United States, 12 percent of the population, or 38 million people, have a significant hearing loss. Yet, only one out of every five people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wears them. Reduced hearing acuity can not only be frustrating for yourself but also for those around you. Difficulties with your hearing can have an effect not only on your relationships but also on your mental and physical health, your income and your personal safety.

hearing loss studies

Recent hearing loss studies show a connection between hearing loss and dementia, depression, risk of falls and loss of earning potential.

There have been several hearing loss studies that connect hearing impairment to mental degeneration. They show an increase in anxiety and depression, accelerated brain tissue loss and dementia. People with a hearing loss are 2-5 times more likely to experience cognitive decline than someone with normal hearing. A study performed by Johns Hopkins Medicine tested volunteers with hearing loss over a six-year period and found their cognitive abilities declined 30-40 percent faster than peers with normal hearing. The researcher, Dr. Frank Lin, states that “if you want to address hearing loss well, do it sooner rather than later, before brain structural changes take place”.

Another study performed by Johns Hopkins Medicine displays the link between hearing loss and your physical health. In this study, researchers found that people with even a mild hearing loss are three times more likely to have a history of falling. One of the possible explanations for this link is that people who cannot hear well might not have keen awareness of their overall environment, making tripping and falling much more likely.

This lack of awareness can also be frightening when you are not hearing as well as you should. The inability to hear the sirens, vehicles and alarms in your everyday life can be very important. By treating your hearing loss with hearing aids, you will be able to enhance your consciousness of your surroundings.

Income and hearing loss have also been linked. A study performed by the Better Hearing Institute states that people with an untreated hearing loss can see an income hit of up to $30,000 annually. It also states subjects were nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as peers who wore hearing aids.

Helen Keller once said “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people”. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression. The decreased hearing acuity can often cause people to withdraw from family, friends and social activities that once brought them enjoyment. Treating your hearing loss with hearing aids enables you to hear your friends and loved ones and ensure you don’t miss out on the people and activities that make you happy.

Hearing loss is not just an ear issue — it’s a quality of life and health issue. These hearing loss studies prove it is important to take a proactive and empowered approach to health during every stage of your life. Let it begin with your hearing health.
 

Sources for Hearing Loss Studies:
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss. Retrieved from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_accelerated_brain_tissue_loss_
World Health Organization. Millions of people in the world have hearing loss that can be treated or prevented. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/news/Millionslivewithhearingloss.pdf
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study. Retrieved from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_and_dementia_linked_in_study
American Academy of Audiology. Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression, Social Isolation in Seniors. Retrieved from: https://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/untreated-hearing-loss-linked-depression-social-isolation
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling. Retrieved from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling
Lin, F.R., Yaffe, K., Xia, J. Xue, Q. Harris, T.B…. Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3869227/
Better Hearing Institute. The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income. Retrieved from: http://www.betterhearing.org/sites/default/files/hearingpedia-resources/M7_Hearing_aids_and_income_2006.pdf

4 Dec 2017
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 2835 Views | Comments Closed

Verification and Validation: Are You Hearing As Well As You Should Be?

“Are you hearing as well as you should be?” seems like a simple question. Believe it or not, that is actually one of the hardest questions for my patients to answer. Typically, patients respond with, “I don’t know” or “How can I tell?” That is the main reason why verification and validation are some of the most important steps in the hearing aid fitting process.

verification and validation

Verification is one of the most important steps in a successful hearing aid fitting. Starkey HearCare’s proprietary Verified Best Hearing™ platform can help you see, in writing, whether or not your hearing aids are performing the way they should.

Verification, in the context of a hearing aid fitting, is an objective measure of the performance of the hearing aid. This can be done with several different tests. Real ear measurements involve placing a probe microphone in the ear and measuring what is coming out of the hearing aid at the level of the eardrum. The clinician measures the hearing aid output for a set of stimuli and compares it to the prescription that she has programmed into the hearing aid. In addition to this method, an actual aided hearing test can be performed with the patient wearing the hearing aids to compare to pre-hearing aid test results. This is called aided Soundfield testing, or functional gain testing. It is also very useful to have aided word understanding testing performed, comparing to the target score from the original hearing exam. It is eye-opening to compare the aided word understanding test results to an unaided trial in a real “apples-to-apples” comparison. Utilizing the Verified Best Hearing™ worksheet, I can show the patient a picture of the hearing improvement with the devices. Using these methods, we can objectively measure if the hearing aids are doing their expected job.

Validation is more subjective. It is important to get specific information from the perspective of the patient. A variety of patient surveys, such as the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB) or the Client-Oriented Scale of Improvement (COSI) have been developed to target different aspects of hearing lifestyles. Asking a patient about his most important hearing objective, and then measuring from his perspective how closely that goal was met is an integral part of the hearing aid fitting experience.

Verification and validation definitely should be done the first time any new hearing aid is fit. However, I often utilize different combinations of these types of tests throughout the year with my patients. The patient and I know that we have started with the best possible settings in the hearing aids because of the extensive testing regimen, but things can change over time. Patients’ hearing levels can change over time. The hearing aids can malfunction. The patients can simply acclimate to the hearing aids, especially if they are a new user, and they may need changes to the programming as time goes on. Even the hearing lifestyle can change over time. It is not simply enough to ask if everything is ok and send a patient on his/her way. It is important to continually verify and validate my patients’ performance with their hearing aids, so that I can help them to answer that question: “Am I hearing as well as I should be?”

20 Nov 2017
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 2191 Views | Comments Closed

Hearing and Memory Loss

Did you know that your hearing, or lack thereof, can affect your memory?

People with poor hearing often mistakenly feel that their hearing loss only affects their ability to hear other people. They do not realize that hearing loss has a far greater impact. Over the last ten years there have been numerous studies linking hearing loss to decreased cognitive function and memory loss, when measured over time. One recent study at Johns Hopkins University found that over a ten-year time span, people with hearing loss showed signs of dementia three years sooner, on average, than those people of the same age but without hearing loss. Just think what three years can buy a person in terms of independence! (Archives of Neurology. 2011; 68[2]:214).

A recent study at Johns Hopkins University indicates a correlation between untreated hearing loss and memory loss.

A recent study at Johns Hopkins University indicates a correlation between untreated hearing loss and memory loss.


Other significant findings of this study link hearing loss to cognitive decline using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. Researchers found that untreated hearing impairment is associated with brain atrophy, specifically in the temporal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for hearing and processing of auditory information (spoken language). What this means is that people with hearing loss must work harder to hear, and over time that increased hearing effort affects our brain in more ways than we realize. When living with untreated hearing loss, the brain is not receiving enough sound to be adequately stimulated. This causes the brain to shrink, which can result in dementia. (Neuroimage.2014; 90:84-92)

Unfortunately, the costs of dementia are far greater than the costs of treating your hearing loss. If you find yourself or your loved one saying, “I hear what I want to hear” or “my hearing loss isn’t bad enough yet,” this information is very significant and worth serious consideration. Wearing hearing aids to treat your hearing loss will certainly play a role in preserving your cognitive health.