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How your health and hearing go hand in hand

active-seniorsBy Diane Krieger Spivak

It’s easy to believe that hearing has nothing to do with overall health.

But hearing, or the lack thereof, has a tremendous effect on more than just your ability to hear what’s going on around you.

Hearing loss is a hidden disability that can cause psychological, emotional and even physical illness, according to Hearing Health. Because most people wait years to seek help for hearing impairment, often the damage to health is already done.

Hearing loss affects mental health. Social isolation is common because many seek to avoid embarrassing situations. Unfortunately, a lack of socialization often leads to depression. Impaired hearing also leads to anger, frustration and stress, all immunity killers.

Heart disease is linked to hearing loss, too. When the cardiovascular system doesn’t work properly, blood flow to the ears is compromised, affecting hearing, health experts have determined. Conversely, the stress caused by impaired hearing can increase the risk of heart disease. Studies additionally show a link to high blood pressure.

Hearing loss also causes cognitive decline, resulting in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, research shows. With the brain’s reduced ability to process sound, its cognitive areas take over for those weaker areas, leaving less to devote to higher level thinking, says Hearing Health.

Physical safety is also adversely affected by hearing loss. Walking, driving, riding a bicycle all become dangerous, not only for the person with impaired hearing, but for others, as well. Safety also extends to inability to hear a smoke alarm, television and radio weather warnings, or even a cry for help, adds Hearing Health.

Impaired hearing affects balance. A study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine revealed that hearing loss, even a mild case, triples the risk of falling among the elderly, the leading cause of death for people over age 65.

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Drugs that cause hearing loss

Certain medications can cause hearing loss.

Called ototoxins, there are more than 200 on the market today, available by prescription and over-the-counter, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Many are used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease.

Ototoxins damage the sensory cells in the inner ear, which causes the hearing loss. In some cases the damage to hearing can be reversed when the medication is discontinued. In others, however, the hearing loss is permanent.

In some cases physicians have no alternative choices in prescribing ototoxins if they are the best available treatment for a serious disease or infection, says ASHA.

Symptoms of drug-induced hearing loss is typically a ringing in the ears, followed by a loss of hearing and loss of balance. The damage can be gradual so that you don’t notice it at first.

ASHA notes that the resulting hearing loss can affect quality of life, effectively cutting them off from activities they formerly participated in.

Medications causing permanent hearing damage include some aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as gentamicin and cancer chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and carboplatin, according to ASHA. Drugs that cause temporary damage include salicylate pain relievers like aspirin, used for pain relief and to treat heart conditions, quinine to treat malaria and loop diuretics for heart and kidney conditions.

Exposure to loud noise while taking some drugs can damage hearing even further.

While there is no way to prevent hearing loss from ototoxic medications, patients should consult their physician in order to monitor such drugs before and during treatment, and their effect on hearing so your doctor can stop or change the drug therapy, if possible, before your hearing is damaged, says ASHA.

If medication can’t be stopped or changed, consult a hearing health professional for ways to treat hearing loss.

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How We Hear

By Diane Krieger Spivak

Joy of Hearing

Hearing, one of the five senses, helps us to be aware of the world around us and to communicate with others.

According to the American Hearing Research Foundation we hear sound when a series of sound waves, or vibrations, pass through the ear and reach our brain for interpretation.

Babies’ hearing is fully developed at birth, and science shows that they can hear even in the womb. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the process of hearing involves the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear leading to the brain, enabling us to hear sounds ranging from extremely soft to extremely loud.

The outer ear includes the part that we see, on the outside of the head, as well as the ear canal and eardrum. Sound travels down the ear canal, striking the eardrum, causing it to vibrate.

The middle ear, behind the eardrum, contains the three smallest bones in the body, called ossicles. Formally called the malleus, incus, and stapes, they are commonly referred to by their shapes – the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. They are connected to the eardrum at one end and to an opening to the inner ear at the other end. When sound causes the eardrum to move, the ossicles also vibrate, causing the fluid in the snail-shaped inner ear, called the cochlea, to move, explains ASHA.

The inner ear is important in the transformation of the vibrations into electrical impulses, or signals, which are recognized by the brain. The movement of the fluid creates a back-and- forth motion of thousands of tiny hairs, called sensory receptors, lining the cochlea, says AHRF. The hair cells then send a signal along the auditory nerve, also called the hearing nerve, to the brain.

The brain then interprets these electrical signals as sound, says ASHA.

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My Favorite Cubs Fan

Mavis

At 106 years young, my long time client and friend Mavis is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. Here she is earlier today wearing her Cubbie blue and testing her new hearing aids. Better hearing is crucial for Mavis. She is legally blind. She can’t see the Cubs playing on TV — but she can listen to the action and root for her team.

As Mavis explains, “My hearing is really important to me. Since I can’t see well, I depend on my hearing aids for almost everything I do. They are such a blessing.” “GO CUBS GO!”

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Risk-Free, no-cost, hearing aid trial

Whether you are thinking about trying hearing aids for the first time, or want to sample the newest technology, Flex:Trial is for you!

Other hearing aid trial programs require you to pay for the hearing aids in advance and then go through the process of obtaining a refund if you’re not satisfied.  With Flex:trial there is no upfront cost – and no fear of getting stuck with hearing aids you don’t like.

In fact, the risk is all ours!  Learn more — watch our video:

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Improve Your Hearing Aid Performance

Inevitably it happens to all hearing aid users — your hearing aids just don’t work as well as when they were new.  This happens for different reasons.  Sometimes it is because your hearing has changed.  Sometimes it is because skin particles, earwax or moisture interfere with your hearing aid’s microphone or speaker.  Sometimes it is because your hearing aids no longer fit your ear snugly and comfortably.

When this happens and your hearing hearing aids are no longer performing properly for your hearing needs — it is common to think about purchasing new hearing aids.  Of course, sometimes it is a great idea to upgrade to the newest hearing technology.   However, what many hearing aid users don’t realize is that poor performing hearing aids can often be significantly improved by professional cleaning, repair and reprogramming.

At Hearing Help Express we are experts with all brands and models of hearing aids aids.  If your hearing aids are no longer performing to your satisfaction, we can usually make significant improvements in performance via cleaning, repairs, programming changes and software updates.  We can do this for most hearing aids — even if you didn’t purchase them from us!

Before you decide to purchase new hearing aids, first let us try and improve the performance of your existing hearing aids.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results!

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Hearing aids give a great return on the investment

Research shows that the rewards can be substantial. In fact, identifying and addressing hearing loss has been shown to positively influence virtually every aspect of an individual’s life, helping people personally, professionally and even financially.

Investing in professionally fitted hearing aids could bring a greater return on your investment than you ever imagined.

Using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss, according to a Better Hearing Institute (BHI) study. People with untreated hearing loss lost as much as $30,000 in income annually, the study showed.

Ongoing research shows a link between hearing loss and dementia, leading experts to believe that interventions, like hearing aids, could potentially delay or prevent dementia.

A Johns Hopkins study showed that people ages 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, experts have suggested.

When people with hearing loss use hearing aids, many feel more in control of their lives and less self-critical, BHI research shows.

Hearing aids can help reduce the prominence of tinnitus by amplifying background sound. Just taking the focus off the tinnitus can provide relief for many people.

Research shows that using hearing aids can help improve interpersonal relationships. In one BHI study of people with hearing loss, more than half of the respondents said using hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social lives and their ability to join in groups.

Addressing hearing loss really is a smart buying decision.

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Free Hearing Aid Test Drive

Try before you buy!

It’s no fun committing to something when you don’t feel certain about it. We want you to be sure that hearing aids are right for you. That’s why we let you take home and try out hearing aids programmed with the exact technology for the actual situations you need them. You decide if it works for you – before committing to buying.

Watch the video below to learn more about our Flex:trial™ program that lets you bring a pair of hearing aids home to try out before you commit to buying anything.

 

Don’t Wait — Call Today to Learn more about Flex:trial™

Call: 800-496-3202

 

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Teenagers and Hearing Loss

earphonesHearing loss is the fastest growing health problems in the U.S. for young people. Why?  Because of the popularity of personal electronic devices that deliver loud sounds directly into the ear canals.

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 12.5 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 suffer from hearing loss as a result of using ear phones/buds turned to a high volume. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure to sounds at 85 decibels of volume can cause damage to your hearing in less than eight hours. Most MP3 players with earphones can reach 85 decibels of volume at only 70% of peak volume.  When played at full volume MP3 players can typically create 100 decibels or more of volume which can cause permanent hearing damage in less than 15 minutes of listening.

In addition, ear buds exacerbate the danger of loud sounds because they are typically pushed directly into the ear canal where the loud sounds are not buffered by air.  Without the resistance of air to reduce some of the energy of the sound waves, the loud sounds are more likely to cause damage to hearing.

Listening to loud music is not the only danger to hearing.  Even most adults don’t realize how loud and damaging sounds can be when played through earphones or earbuds.  This can be especially dangerous for anyone that uses earphones while operating loud equipment such as a lawn mower.  Lawn mowers typically run around 90 decibels of volume.  In order to hear your music or audio book or podcast, you may not realize that you’ve turned the volume to 95 decibels or more.

The good news is there are small adjustments teens and any of us can make to reduce the chance of a hearing loss. Some simple things include switching to headphones instead of earbuds, taking breaks and listening at lower volume levels. If others can hear the music, it’s too loud.  And, if you do work around loud equipment, protect your hearing with earplugs.

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