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Hearing Loss Association of America facts:

  • About 20 percent of Americans (48 million) report some degree of hearing loss
  • At age 65, 1 in 3 people has hearing loss.
  • 60% of the people with hearing loss are either in the workforce or in educational settings.

What are the most common diseases that cause hearing loss?
Do ear infections cause hearing loss?
No: Your Eustachian tube connects your inner ear to the back of your throat and is responsible for maintaining pressure equal to the outside air, so your eardrum can move freely. When you have a cold or allergies the Eustachian tube can become blocked, trapping fluid and bacteria in the middle ear. Ear infections occur when fluid sits in the middle ear and causes inflammation. Many people with an ear infection will experience temporary hearing loss due to the blockage. When the ear infection has been treated hearing should return to normal.
Do ear tubes cause hearing loss?
No: Children experience more frequent ear infections than adults because their Eustachian tubes are shorter and more horizontal. Without the help of gravity fluid easily becomes trapped and ear infections occur. Frequent ear infection sufferers can have ear tubes placed from their eardrum to their middle ear to increase airflow. Ear tubes do not cause hearing loss; they are designed to decrease the frequency of temporary hearing loss caused by ear infections.
Do earbuds cause hearing loss?
Yes and no. It’s not the buds themselves causing the problem, more so the volume of sound coming through them!

Click here to read more about How to stop hearing loss from earbuds.

Do earplugs cause hearing loss?
Not when used properly. When used appropriately earplugs will save you from noise induced hearing loss. Frequent and prolonged earplug use will block your earwax natural progression out of the ear. The trapped wax may become impacted and cause hearing loss. A medical professional can easily remove the wax and restore hearing.
Do headphones cause hearing loss?
Depends. Headphones that sit outside the ear are generally less damaging to the delicate structures of the inner ear than earbud style headphones. But, headphones can still cause hearing loss if they are used at high volume levels for an extended period of time. The 60-60 rule is key to keep from damaging your ears. Use your headphones at 60% of the maximum volume for a total of 60 minutes per day.
Do hearing aids cause hearing loss?
Possibly. Hearing aids that are not fit correctly can cause hearing loss to worsen. That is why it is so important to work with a reputable hearing aid specialist to have your hearing tested and your hearing aid custom fit and programmed to your needs.
Do hearing aids slow hearing loss?
When your hearing aids are properly programmed for your hearing needs they will keep your ability to comprehend sharper and slow the progression of hearing loss. By wearing hearing aids you are keeping your brain active, which slows the atrophy of the auditory processing portions of the brain.
Do hearing aids stop hearing loss?
There is no way to fully stop hearing loss. Several causes of hearing loss like exposure to loud noise, head trauma and illness are unpredictable and not affected by hearing aid use. Hearing aids will slow the progression of hearing loss, but cannot guarantee you won’t experience further loss.

How do you know if you have hearing loss?

We’ve broken down the Signs and Effects of Hearing Loss into 4 main topics and two sub-topics below for the rest of this post.

  1. Signs of Hearing Loss
  2. Reasons for Hearing Loss
  3. How Hearing Loss Affects Your Health
  4. Why Hearing Aids
    • How to Choose a Hearing Aid
    • How to Find a Hearing Specialist

Read through the rest of this section to learn the signs of hearing loss as well as the negative effects of leaving hearing loss untreated.

The only way to truly know if you can improve the quality of your life with hearing instruments is to schedule a comprehensive hearing test with a licensed hearing aid specialist.

Signs of Hearing Loss

The symptoms of hearing loss often appear gradually and can be difficult to detect on your own. Family members and caregivers are usually the first to recognize a problem. Early diagnosis can minimize the long-term impact of hearing problems.

Common signs include:

  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves
  • Turning up the volume on the TV and radio to levels that are uncomfortable for others
  • You don’t always hear the doorbell or telephone ringing
  • You can hear people speak, but struggle to understand the words they are saying
  • It feels like others are always mumbling
  • Understanding conversation in groups is difficult
  • It is easiest to understand people who are looking directly at you when speaking
  • Hearing someone call you from behind or in another room is difficult
  • Understanding conversation is noisy places like restaurants is hard even though the speaker is relatively close to you
  • You often withdraw or avoid conversation and social interaction
  • Misunderstanding or “forgetting” what has been said or agreed upon
  • Hearing a ringing or buzzing in your ears
  • Noticing a slight muffling of sound after noise exposure
  • Difficulty understanding after leaving noisy environments
  • Hearing or understanding the speaker during business meetings or church services is hard

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur for a number of reasons including aging, overexposure to loud noise, medication use, infection, head/ear trauma, congenital or hereditary factors, or disease.

Approximately 36 million American adults report some degree of hearing loss including nearly 50% of adults 75 years and older. Aging is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. As you age your auditory nerve becomes weaker and the hair cells in your inner ear begin to die, the fewer hair cells you have the harder it becomes to hear.

Another major cause of hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noise. Sounds you’ve likely encountered during your life can easily damage your hearing if they measure above 85 decibels, that includes sounds such as lawnmowers, headphones, snowmobiles, rock concerts, gunshots, and fireworks. The longer you are exposed to noises like these over your life the more damage your hearing sustains.

Fortunately, 90-95 percent of all hearing loss can be improved with hearing instruments.

How Hearing Loss Affects Your Health

Hearing loss can turn your world upside down if you let it. When you can’t hear, you miss out on many conversations with friends and family. You avoid meeting new people or facing new surroundings because it is easier to isolate yourself than deal with the insecurities you have about not being able to hear.

At other times hearing problems just make you feel embarrassed, upset and lonely. Friends and family can mistake your hearing loss for you being confused, uncaring or difficult.

According to the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) untreated hearing loss has serious emotional and social consequences. Their survey of 2,300 adults over 50 with hearing loss found that those who did not wear hearing aids were significantly more likely to report feelings of sadness, depression, fatigue and paranoia. When you are struggling to hear it’s easy to feel stressed and fatigued after even the simplest conversations. If hearing loss becomes severe enough, you may begin to withdraw from social situations all together in order to avoid the stress or discomfort of trying to communicate.

Untreated hearing loss also results in a 3 times greater risk of falling, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University. The study conducted by Frank Lin M.D., Ph.D. used data collected from over 2,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69 assessing their hearing and balance issues. The research team determined that people with a mild hearing loss (25 decibel loss) were three times more likely to have a history of falling. As the level of hearing loss increased so did the risk of falling. Dr. Lin hypothesizes that this is due to cognitive overload. You brain is working harder than it should to hear, taking away your focus from other tasks.

The good news is Hearing aids help! Visit a hearing specialist for a FREE hearing evaluation and find out if hearing loss is ruining your ability to enjoy life.

Hearing Aids

Hearing plays a vital part of your life. Five reasons to address your hearing loss with hearing aids.

If you think you have hearing loss but haven’t yet done anything to address it, you’re not alone. Most people wait an average of 7 years before help for hearing loss. Their reasons range from not wanting to show signs of vulnerability to being fearful of having to wear a bulky hearing aid. While these reasons are understandable, the benefits of getting hearing help far outweigh the reasons for avoiding seeing a hearing specialist.

This is especially true when you take into account that hearing aids are more discreet than ever before – some can even be considered invisible. This makes it easy for someone to correct hearing loss without experiencing the discomfort or self-consciousness often associated with hearing aids.

Top 5 Reasons To Fix Your Hearing Loss Now!

  1. Improve your social life. Whether you know it or not, hearing problems can cause you to communicate poorly with others, which can hinder relationship building. It may also cause you to decide not to participate in activities or social gatherings as you otherwise would.
  2. Increase your financial growth opportunity. If you have untreated hearing loss, there’s a good chance you aren’t reaching your full potential in the workplace, as you may be missing important items in conversation or unconsciously withdrawing yourself from your duties. Correcting hearing loss can allow you to perform your job to the best of your ability.
  3. Improve your relationships with your family. Communication is even more important in the intimate relationships you maintain with family members. When communication is interrupted by hearing loss, it can weaken those relationships without the intention of doing so. Hearing loss can affect the subtle communication that is so important to maintaining a strong bond with your loved ones.
  4. Today’s hearing aids are no longer obtrusive. For example, U.S. hearing technology company Nu-Ear offers invisible hearing aids that are worn deep in the ear canal or are hidden behind your ear.
  5. Hearing aids work better than ever. Today’s hearing aids address the most common concerns of wearers, including virtually eliminating feedback (buzzing and whistling) and providing noise management technology that identifies and preserves speech even in the noisiest environments. Volume control has also become more sophisticated, so you don’t have to constantly make an adjustment based on your environment. Finally, some hearing aids can connect directly with the media devices in your home including TVs, smartphones, and computers.

In the end – when you get help for your hearing loss, you have the potential to improve your life in ways you may have never imagined. With the right hearing aid and treatment, you can improve the way you communicate, which can help you reach your full potential and improve your relationships with those who are important to you.

Five Steps In Choosing a Hearing Aid

When faced with hearing loss, you may be wondering how to choose a hearing aid that fits your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your budget.

Step #1 – Find a Hearing Professional You Can Trust

Your hearing specialist will guide you through every step, from evaluating your hearing and fitting your new hearing instrument, to follow up and adjustments of your hearing devices.
Over 60 years of experience has taught Hearing Labs’ personnel that the process should be simple, and a true collaboration between patient and their hearing professional.

 

Step #2 – Ask The Right Questions

Top 10 Questions to ask your hearing specialist

  1. What kind of hearing loss do I have?
  2. Is it medically treatable?
  3. Are their specific frequencies or types of sound I have more trouble with than others?
  4. Will I receive a copy of my audiogram and other test results?
  5. What are my treatment options?
  6. Is there anything I can do on my own to hear better?
  7. Can I prevent further hearing loss?
  8. If I only have hearing loss in one ear, why should I wear two hearing aids?
  9. How many follow up appointments will I need to get the hearing aid adjusted?
  10. What is the maintenance like on a hearing aid?

Step #3 – Know How To Read An Audiogram

The first step in knowing how to choose a hearing aid is a simple hearing evaluation. This allows your hearing specialist to identify the type and severity of your hearing loss, and which level of technology will deliver the best sound quality for you and your lifestyle.

Having your hearing tested is a generally a quick and painless process. A standard air conduction test requires you to sit in a soundproof booth and press a button every time you hear a beep over calibrated headphones.

The hearing expert will record the results of your hearing test on an audiogram, which uses a graph to track the softest sound you can hear at various pitches and frequencies. A trained eye can quickly look at an audiogram and tell you which sound levels you hear well and what frequencies and pitches you need help with. They will use this information to determine the type and severity of your loss as well as potential hearing aid options.

Just like your fingerprint, everyone’s hearing is different. Small variations on an audiogram are considered normal, but large variations indicate hearing loss.

Understanding your audiogram

All audiograms use a graph to map frequency and intensity of the sounds you can hear in your right and left ears.

Frequency (also known as pitch) is read from left to right on the audiogram and measured in Hertz (Hz.) Every vertical line is a different frequency between 250 (think of the very deep sounds on a piano keyboard) to 8000 (think of the very high notes at the opposite end of the keyboard.)

Intensity (how loud a sound is) is read from top to bottom on the audiogram and measured in decibels (dB). Every horizontal line represents a different intensity ranging from 0dB (the volume turned all the way down) to 120dB (the volume cranked up). The markers you see on the audiogram represents the softest sound you heard in that particular frequency.

Your two ears can be totally different from one another, so testing has to be done on them individually, they are distinguished on the audiogram by different colors and shapes. Your right ear will be marked with circles and a red line. Your left ear is shown with X’s and a blue line.

Understanding your level of hearing loss

To determine the severity of your hearing loss, the hearing specialist looks at the softest sound you can hear at each frequency. The degrees of hearing loss is always expressed in a range from normal to profound as follows:Normal hearing – 0 to 20dB

  • Mild hearing loss – 21 to 40dB
  • Moderate hearing loss – 41 to 55dB
  • Moderately Severe hearing loss – 56 to 70dB
  • Severe hearing loss – 71 to 90dB
  • Profound hearing loss 91+dB

Accepting your level of speech understanding

After they have determined your level of hearing loss the hearing specialist will measure your speech comprehension. One reason people take many years to address their hearing loss is that they could still hear that people were speaking to them, they just had difficulty understanding what was said. To measure speech comprehension the hearing specialist will determine your most comfortable intensity level (dB.)  Presented over the calibrated headphones this volume level is not too loud and not too soft in each ear. Then the specialist will read a list of 25 words and ask you to repeat them back. Every word that is incorrectly repeated lowers your discrimination score. At the end of the test, the hearing specialist will calculate a percentage. This is the amount of speech you can expect to understand with your hearing aids in and properly adjusted for your hearing loss.

When you visit a trusted hearing expert, you won’t need to worry about being about to read and understand every mark on your audiogram. This basic knowledge will help you follow along as your hearing specialist guides you through the process of picking a hearing aid that works with your level of hearing loss.

Step #4 – Lifestyle Considerations

Other factors such as daily activities, cosmetic appearance, and physical needs should be considered when choosing which hearing instrument is best for you.
 At Hearing Lab, we get to know your daily activities, hobbies, and which environments present the greatest hearing struggles. This information gives our hearing experts a clear understanding of the required technological needs for your hearing instrument.
Cosmetic appearance, dexterity, and eyesight can influence which style of hearing instrument will fit you the best. The smallest instruments are the most discreet, but if your eyesight and/or dexterity is not what they used to be, smaller hearing instrument styles will be difficult to use.

Step #5 – Consider Pricing & Follow-Up Service

Pricing and follow-up care should also be considered when choosing which hearing instrument is the best for you. When comparing pricing, take into consideration: features, technology, and style. Ask your hearing specialist if there are any charges for follow-up services.
As a patient at Hearing Lab, you will receive a complete demonstration and pricing explanation that will help you know how to choose a hearing aid. This explanation ensures you a hearing instrument that improves the quality of your life and fits within your budget needs.
All service and follow up care is FREE for the lifetime of your hearing instrument at Hearing Lab. You never will pay for a hearing instrument adjustment, hearing instrument cleaning, or minor repairs that can be done in our office.

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