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The Insomnia And Tinnitus Connection

insomnia and tinnitus

Fifty million Americans experience the ringing, buzzing, whistling, hissing, humming, and other noises that accompany tinnitus. Tinnitus is not a disease, but somewhat of a symptom of an underlying problem. There is a variety of conditions that can cause tinnitus with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. There is also a connection between tinnitus and a good night’s rest as many people with tinnitus have difficulty sleeping. However, treatment for the two is similar and can be useful.

Tinnitus And Insomnia

The problems a person who has tinnitus experiences may not be limited to a ringing noise in the ears. It is possible that a sleep disorder may be connected with tinnitus and have life-changing effects for a person. According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, chronic insomnia is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep for three months. Insomnia must occur at least three times per week and also impair daytime functioning. The person with tinnitus often complains of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, early awakenings, and chronic fatigue. Estimates indicate that 50% of people with tinnitus also have chronic insomnia.

The Connection

The effect of tinnitus on a person is very much like that of the impact of insomnia. When a person experiences both at the same time, shared psychological patterns and worries become a common theme. The more intense the severity of tinnitus is, the higher the chances that the person will experience insomnia. Cognitive distortions and negative thoughts are common among both tinnitus and insomnia patients. Avoidance behaviors develop which add to the negative thinking.

Treatment

Because insomnia is a frequent complaint of those with tinnitus and the two share similarities, treatment should share a common goal. It is common for healthcare professionals to recommend benzodiazepine medications such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin to help people with insomnia sleep. The issue with these medications is that they are highly addictive and the withdrawal symptoms of these medications can be worse than the symptoms for which they took the drugs.
Clinical trials indicate that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI) provides a higher degree of sleep improvement with fewer side effects. Studies with similar findings recommend CBTI for tinnitus. Although hearing aids can reduce the impact of tinnitus, they do not benefit insomnia. A patient may find relief from alternative options such as online training for insomnia and mindfulness-based stress reduction for tinnitus. Melatonin can help reduce insomnia and tinnitus according to studies. Because of the minimal side-effects associated with Melatonin, the researchers recommend it be a part of treatment for both tinnitus and insomnia.

Get Relief Today

Insomnia and tinnitus bear similarities in their symptoms and effects. Research indicates that improvement in patients with both is possible. Remedies such as CBTI, and Melatonin, which help both problems are useful. If you have tinnitus, insomnia, or both, don’t sit on the sidelines and be miserable. Schedule an appointment today with a healthcare professional to learn what you can do for this nagging, and often life-changing conditions.

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The Changing Relationship Between Hearing Loss And Chronic Illness

hearing loss and chronic illness

The way hearing health care providers are caring for their patients is taking a new shape thanks to the increasing amount of information coming to surface thanks to important scientific research highlighting comorbidities between chronic medical illness and hearing decline.
Past Awareness
In the past few decades, new information about the link between chronic illness and hearing loss has been trickling into the medical community. However, awareness of the issue and knowledge of the exact conditions that share a link to hearing loss has been slow to evolve.
According to a recent article in The Hearing Journal, Kathryn Dowd, Aud, first became aware of the link between comorbidities of chronic disease and hearing loss in 1984 when she found information from the Maryland Department of Aging recommending that anyone with diabetes, cardiovascular, chronic kidney, Alport syndrome, or Crohn’s syndrome have their hearing checked.
What Dowd soon realized was that this information was not widely known among the medical or hearing health community. She began an effort called the Audiology Project to help get the CDC and other organizations the right information to disperse to patients who need it so their hearing needs can be properly attended.
Research At Work
In the meantime, the evidence base for the link between chronic conditions and hearing loss has been growing steadily. In 2008, researchers established a higher rate of hearing loss among those suffering from diabetes than those who do not. In 2011, a research study highlighted the link between early-stage dementia and hearing loss.
Research continues to expand the list of chronic illnesses that have a definitive link to hearing loss. They’re also working to understand whether the relationship between the two is causal or correlative. As information expands, so is awareness among the medical and hearing healthcare community, which will continue to shape future provider care.
The Future Of Provider Care
Links between chronic disease and hearing loss, particularly in older populations will play an integral part in determining the right kind of provider care. Primary care physicians who are properly educated will increase referrals to Audiologists and other hearing health professionals.
In turn, these professionals will begin providing feedback to the referring physician or make their own referrals to medical professionals if they suspect possible links between a patient’s hearing loss and other conditions.
The Future Of Patient Care
The growing awareness of these links means more comprehensive care and communication between hearing healthcare and other medical care providers. Diagnosis of hearing conditions that may have otherwise be missed may now be more probable thanks to the awareness both providers are beginning to gain with the Audiology Project and similar awareness movements.
Awareness may reduce the chances of isolation patients suffer from living with undiagnosed hearing loss. It may also lead to improved means of communication between patient and medical healthcare provider thanks to proper hearing healthcare.
Audiologists will also be better suited to tailor hearing health solutions for their patients based on increased awareness of patients limitations due to chronic illness. Patients with early onset dementia may benefit from early intervention so hearing aids become a part of their established routine. Whereas those with vision problems due to chronic disease may be well suited for a hearing aid with bright colors so that it can easily be found and worn.

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A Holistic Approach To The Management Of Hearing Loss

holistic approach to hearing loss

Holistic medicine is an approach to health treatment that emphasizes cooperative relationships. It is the practice of medicine that addresses the wants of the whole person including physical, nutritional, environmental, social, spiritual, and lifestyle changes. This approach to health treatment includes the use of drugs and surgery if needed, and focuses on education for balance and well being. Now, hearing healthcare professionals are using a multi-step process to improve treatment outcomes for hearing loss patients. The transition is placing hearing health as part of whole-body health.

Evaluation

Evaluation is the first step in the holistic approach to hearing loss treatment. Hearing healthcare professionals identify the presence of hearing loss and if present, determine if the damage is due to a sensorineural impairment. The inner ear is susceptible to numerous chronic diseases, and as a specialist in this area, the hearing healthcare professional can assist in the detection and possible treatment of chronic diseases.

Case History

A review of the patient’s case history is essential for identifying the presence of chronic diseases. Chronic diseases often have multiple and overlapping pathophysiology so a method of identification of these diseases should be a part of a medical history form for patients of hearing healthcare professionals.

Hearing Loss Comorbidities

At this step, the professional will determine if both a chronic hearing loss and another chronic condition are co-existing. If this is the case, then comorbidity, the presence of two or more chronic conditions simultaneously exists. Poor health outcomes increased healthcare costs, and highly complex clinical management are part of treating comorbidities. This interaction between the two illnesses affects the manner of treatment and prognosis.

Odds Ratio

At this point, the hearing healthcare professional determines if the odds ratio of chronic disease is increasing. This increase may indicate associated pathology. Vascular diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and chronic kidney disease as well as neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease are known to elevate odds ratios.

Self-Evaluation

Self-evaluation is a time for hearing healthcare professionals to assess readiness to attempt patient co-management of the patient’s diseases. The practitioner must decide if they wish to be involved in the sharing of information with other providers to improve the patient’s outcome. This access allows the hearing healthcare professional to provide awareness regarding the interactions with hearing and balance disorders.

Team Management

This phase is communication that works toward team management of comorbid chronic health conditions. These interactions usually involve the patient’s primary care physician. A hearing healthcare professional can add a clear insight to a healthcare team for a few reasons:

  • The hearing healthcare professional is the only member of the treatment team who can assess inner ear function.
  • Hearing healthcare professionals are the sole members who can provide treatment for sensorineural hearing loss.
  • The hearing healthcare professional can notify the other health care professionals of hearing disorders.

The future of hearing health is gearing up for enhancement through the collaboration of hearing healthcare professionals with other medical specialties.

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What is Normal Hearing?

What is normal hearing

Have you ever wondered about hearing loss and what is considered “normal” hearing? You’re not alone. With so many people now living with a diagnosis of hearing, it’s no surprise that many wonder just what exactly “normal” is. Scientists determined the standard many years ago and with the help of many, many people.
How hearing works
Before we discuss how science determined normal levels of hearing, it’s important to understand just how your hearing works. It all starts with a sound that is captured by your outer ear. These sounds (sound waves) are funneled into your ear canal. From there, sound waves hit the eardrum. As they vibrate the eardrum, which is the beginning of the middle ear, the eardrum moves three small bones called ossicles to varying degrees depending on the pitch of the sound. It doesn’t end there, though.
As the ossicles move, signals are sent to the inner ear and the cochlea. The fluid within the cochlea begins to move, moving the hair-like cells within it. This minute movement is then translated to the brain as sound by way of the auditory nerve. In many cases, it is damage to the small hair-like structures of the inner ear, due to aging or exposure to loud noise, that result in hearing loss.
Hearing and hearing loss
As long as there have been humans there has been hearing loss. There is evidence of hearing loss in 10,000 year old skeletal remains from the Middle East, writings on the subject from Plato and Aristotle and the first electronic hearing aids were developed in 1940. It’s no wonder that science wanted to find common ground and global standards for hearing and hearing loss.
The core of that standard is “audiometric zero.” Audiometric zero is the frequency range detectable by someone with normal hearing. Generally, that range is from 0 dBHL (Decibel Hearing Level) to approximately 20 dBHL. It took a unique approach to determine this range, though. Researchers tested the hearing of thousands of attendees at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Once they were done, they determined an average for the lowest level those people could hear at certain frequencies. The resulting information became audiometric zero.
What does that mean?
Those with hearing loss are those who only hear louder sounds, those over 20 dBHL. They are unable to hear within the audiometric zero range.
Individuals can have varying degrees of hearing loss as determined by a hearing evaluation:

  • Hearing loss of 20 to 40 decibels = mild hearing loss
  • Hearing loss of 41 to 60 decibels = moderate hearing loss
  • Hearing loss of 61 to 80 decibels = severe hearing loss
  • Hearing loss of more than 81 decibels = profound hearing loss

Any loss over 40 decibels is considered a hearing impairment.
To give you a better idea of what these decibel levels mean, here are some common sounds and where they measure in decibels:
Quiet countryside: 20 dB
Conversation: 60 dB
Traffic: 80 dB
Jet engine: 140 dB
Sustained exposure to noises over 90 dB can lead to hearing loss.
Our hearing is delicate and easily damaged. It is important to protect it with hearing protection and regular hearing evaluations. These screenings can help determine if you have a hearing loss and how best to manage it to protect further loss.

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Is Hearing On All Of The Time? Science Seems To Think So

can we hear while we sleep

The human brain functions much like a switchboard that is teeming with all types of electrical activity. When the brain receives a stimulus from a sound or a smell, the brain must decide if the stimulus is something about which a person should be made aware. The sensation remains in our memory even if the person does not wake up. It is a common belief that our ears are on all the time. If we are asleep and dreaming, we are still processing environmental sounds.

No Rest For The Brain

When we sleep, the brain does not rest; it is very active during sleep. There are changes in the electrical activity of the brain during sleep due to the trillions of nerve cells rewiring themselves. It is this rewiring that allows us to process and retain new information. Sleep is essential for maintaining the pathway in your brain that helps you to learn and create new memories. The brain also removes toxins in your brain that build up during the time you are awake. This activity of the brain also makes hearing while you sleep possible. It is this ability to hear while asleep that is the focus of a new research study involving preschool children.

A Study

A group of researchers from Vanderbilt University is studying preschool children to answer the question of what the children hear during sleep. The purpose of this EEG study is to show traces of sounds heard during the children’s nap time. This project is among the first of its kind to determine how sleep environments affect pre-school children.
The team uses a portable EEG machine to test individual children in silent, isolated rooms during the children’s nap time at the university preschool. When the children are sleeping, the investigators play three nonsense words to each child for a short period.
All the children demonstrated a recognition of the test sounds when lined up with other nonsense words that the children did not hear during the study. The indication is that the children process sensory information even when they are asleep. The team was able to verify that the children were asleep before the administration of the sounds. The research team considers that this study may serve as a critical first step in understanding the process in children who use hearing technology because of hearing loss but who do not use the devices while sleeping.

Never Stop Working

The brain is indeed a workhorse that never stops working. Even during sleep, the neural activity within the brain is still active. When we sleep, it is also a time for the brain to rewire the delicate nerve cells that reside within the brain and to maintain the pathway for learning and creating new memories. Thanks to new research, we are closer to understanding our ability to hear during sleep. Hopefully, this information will help to shed more light on the mysteries surrounding the brain and its impact on our hearing ability.

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Hearing Loss And Cognition In Young Adults

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Impairment in young people

Preserving your hearing health has always been important. The importance of protecting your hearing has been a drum that professionals and educators constantly beat for you at a very early age. Young people have always been an at-risk population due to feelings of invincibility or not wanting to think about those kinds of things until we are older. But, now new light is being shed on the link between diminished hearing and diminished cognitive ability, underscoring the importance of taking good care of your hearing at any age.
Correlations Found In Recent Studies
Recent studies have shown a consistent correlation between individuals who have suffered hearing loss, and affected cognitive processing, particularly in the frontal lobes. This correlation was not only found in older populations, an observation that has long been established. It has also appeared consistently in studies involving younger people. While educators have always emphasized to young people the need to take their hearing health seriously, the increased use of ear pods at unsafe volume levels and other exposure to occupational noise has increased the cause for concern in recent years.
A recent study published in eNeuro showed brain activity in younger adults ages 18 to 34 with mild hearing loss that indicated impacted cognitive ability. Up until this point, studies focused on the prevalence of impaired cognition in patients with cochlear implants, or older individuals living with reduced hearing. This is one of the first studies that demonstrate similar correlations in younger patients with hearing loss. While one study is not enough, it does give precedence for numerous other studies in the future that may build on that foundation.
Overburdening The Brain
It also gives some support to the theory that dementia in older patients is a result of the brain devoting more processing power to understanding what is said, thereby fatiguing the brain. While this is not proven, it is one theory that differs from the thought that older adults with hearing loss experience dementia because of the resulting isolation that’s experienced as a result of slowly losing your hearing.
In the meantime, a new call for hearing awareness is underway, focusing on communicating the importance of protecting your ears while still in your youth, whether that be by listening to music at lower levels, paying attention to the noise levels in the room, or wearing earplugs at loud events or locations.
More Research Needed
With more research, an increased effort can be placed on exploring the link between reduced hearing and cognition, and ways to mitigate that problem could be investigated. This would allow professionals to treat individuals living with hearing loss in a way that addresses the isolation they may feel from having reduced hearing to decrease risk of dementia, and medically treat any physiological ties between hearing loss and dementia.
In the meantime, whatever age you are, use headphones at safe volume levels, monitor your environment for atmospheric noise, and use earplugs whenever necessary. If you have any questions about hearing loss and cognition, please reach out to one of our hearing professionals today.

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Couples With Hearing Loss

Couple with sensory loss

Valentine’s Day is an annual chance to express your love and thankfulness for the fantastic people in your life, particularly your significant other. For many of us, this involves giving flowers or chocolates, preparing breakfast in bed, or going out for dinner and drinks with that special someone. But, for those of us who live with hearing loss, it can be tricky to fully experience such a special day in a world created by and for hearing people.
While many people with hearing loss find that it can be difficult to fully enjoy a holiday, a new study has investigated the value and benefits of support that a significant other can provide for a partner with hearing loss, thus sparking a conversation about how we can create the best possible experience for our loved ones during the holidays and throughout the year.
The Study
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen and the University of Montreal, investigated the coping and support mechanisms at play in relationships where one or both partners experience some form of sensory loss, both hearing and visual. Before conducting this study, the researchers noticed that most information about support for people with sensory loss comes from researchers and specialists, without taking into account the voices of people who actually experience hearing loss. In an effort to change this practice, the researchers focused their study on actual couples living with acquired sensory loss.
The data in this study were drawn from two sources: in-person interviews with 12 couples in Denmark with acquired deafblindness and an online survey of 72 adults with sensory loss and 39 of their spouses. The couples in both studies were asked, “What advice would you give to other couples who are living with sensory loss?” and their advice is both unique and insightful.
Advice For Couples With Hearing Loss
While no two couples with sensory loss will have the same experiences, couples with newly developed hearing loss may find it difficult to navigate their new world or to support each other in the initial stages of their new condition. The advice from people who have experienced these difficulties firsthand can be incredibly helpful as couples re-establish norms and support mechanisms in the face of new adversity. Here’s what participants in the study recommend:

  • Seek out peer support. While many healthcare professionals may suggest that people with new sensory loss diagnoses seek out counseling and therapy services, many people with hearing loss find that peer support and patient-led organizations are particularly helpful in learning to live one’s best life even with sensory loss.
  • Be open and honest with your partner. If you have a new hearing loss diagnosis, you may naturally turn to your partner for support. But, as this is a new experience for both of you, it’s important to be honest about what you need to feel supported. Moreover, patience and understanding are key to accepting the new sensory loss while also respecting each person’s independence and choices.
  • Discuss what your partner can do to support you in public situations. For many people with newly diagnosed, sensory loss having to rely on others to interact in public can be a difficult new process to get used to. To best support a partner without diminishing their independence, it’s important to discuss how you can help them get the most out of a public conversation before they happen.
  • Focus on what someone can do, not what they can’t. In the deaf community, there’s a common saying that the only thing a deaf person can’t do is hear. This is an incredibly important thing to remember when faced with a new sensory loss diagnosis. While it’s easy to concentrate on the things that someone can no longer do or experience, focusing more on what someone can do can be empowering and affirming.

Although living with sensory loss can be challenging, a supportive, open, and understanding partner can help bring a positive attitude to the mix. Even those of us without sensory loss have a lot to learn from the support mechanisms in place within couples with sensory loss.

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Tinnitus is a very annoying condition – so why do so many people put off getting treatment?

why people put off tinnitus treatment

Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears, is a fairly common condition. Tinnitus is generally regarded as a symptom of another condition, rather than a condition on its own; proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying condition is needed in order to alleviate tinnitus. While it can be very annoying to those who suffer from it, people often put off getting treatment for tinnitus.
Why do so many people put off getting treatment for such an annoying condition? While the reasons vary for each individual, there are some common issues that may cause individuals to delay seeking treatment.

  • Consultation timeStudies indicate that 71.7 percent of otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) spend less than 10 minutes of counseling with their patients. When a patient is given 10 minutes or less with their medical professional, the patient may not mention tinnitus, or they may not fully explain their symptoms. This can lead to a lack of treatment for tinnitus.
  • Wait time – The waiting time to see a specialist may also deter some patients from seeking treatment for tinnitus. Many patients must wait several weeks to see a specialist after being referred by their general practitioner (GP), with 45 percent of patients waiting four to eight weeks to see an audiologist. The stress of a long wait time can also worsen tinnitus in some patients.
  • Education and knowledge among medical professionals – Education and knowledge of tinnitus varies widely among medical professionals. While it is often best to seek specialized care from an audiologist or ENT specialist for this type of condition, some GPs do not refer patients to specialists for tinnitus. Even among audiologists and ENT specialists, not all health providers are fully aware of the latest training and information on treating tinnitus or the resources available to patients.
  • Healthcare provider approach – Just as knowledge of and education on tinnitus varies among health providers, so does their treatment approach. One study reported that 14.7 of GPs seldom to never provided a diagnosis to patients suffering from tinnitus, and some GPs have told their patients that “nothing can be done” to treat tinnitus. Such an approach can prevent the patient from receiving proper treatment and may discourage them from seeking treatment from another medical professional or specialist.
  • Variation in assessment – GPs, ENT specialists, and audiologists may use varied assessments to evaluate a patient’s report of tinnitus. Because varied assessments are used, diagnosis and treatment may vary and may not be effective.
  • Unavailable services – In some cases, a GP may wish to refer a patient to a specialist, or an audiologist may wish to refer a tinnitus patient to a clinical psychologist. Some health providers lack the option to refer their patient to the proper specialist, as these services may not be locally available.
  • Ineffective treatment – Many health providers, including GPs and ENT specialists, are currently dissatisfied with the medications often recommended for tinnitus. A study reported only a 22-57 percent success rate in treatment for chronic tinnitus, and a 37-61 percent success rate in treatment for acute tinnitus. For patients suffering from tinnitus, ineffective treatment can be discouraging and frustrating, leaving them uncertain of whether effective treatment is possible.

Audiologists receive additional training to treat tinnitus and to detect the underlying conditions that may cause it. We understand how annoying this condition can be; please contact us today to learn more about how we can care for you.

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Live On Broadway: Enjoying The Movies And The Theater With Hearing Loss

enjoy the movies with hearing loss

If you have hearing loss, it’s understandable that you might be a bit apprehensive about going to the movies or to the theater. While everyone else can sit back, relax, and enjoy the feature film, people with hearing loss worry that they’ll miss a major plot twist because the person behind them is chatting away or munching on popcorn.
Due to these anticipated issues, many people with hearing loss wait for a film to come out on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Although this can be a useful way to avoid missing out on a film, avoiding the movie theater can cause people with hearing loss to miss out on quality time with their friends or families.
Luckily, recent technological advancements have made movie theater and live theater anxiety fall by the wayside for many people with hearing loss. If you are concerned about being able to fully enjoy your next trip to the movies: here are some suggestions to maximize your experience:

  • Use a captioning device. These days, most movie theaters can provide people with hearing loss with free captioning devices so that they can read along with the movies. Often, these captioning devices attach to the cup holder on your seat and sit right below the big screen so they don’t affect your visual field. Other theaters may provide captioning glasses, which project the movie’s script onto the digital lens of the devices. Check in with your local movie theater before you buy your tickets to see if they can support your hearing needs. You can also search for theaters with caption readers at com.
  • Look for open caption screenings. Open captioning combines all of the benefits of a closed caption device without the need to set up a device and without the need to constantly switch your eye focus from the screen to the captions. Essentially, open captioned films are movie screenings with the closed captioning already on the screen – just as if you were sitting at home watching Netflix with the subtitles on. While these film screenings are still fairly rare, they are becoming more available every year. If your local theater does support open caption screenings, ask the theater staff for a schedule as showtimes and tickets are usually limited.

When it comes to a live performance, however, people with hearing loss have a number of different options available to them. Here are some ways to best enjoy a live show, even if you have hearing loss:

  • Ask for an infrared headset or FM system. If you use a t-coil enabled hearing aid or cochlear implant, you can take full advantage of the hearing loops that are becoming more readily accessible at live theater productions. These devices provide excellent sound quality to people with hearing loss by connecting their hearing aids or cochlear implants directly to the theater speaker system. If you don’t have a t-coil enabled hearing aid, many theaters also have hearing loop receiver earphones that you can pop right into your ear for maximum audio quality.
  • Look for open captioning. Just like at the movie theater, open caption shows provide real-time captioning throughout a performance. Usually, these captions are displayed on a board at one side of the stage and they offer a great way for people with hearing loss to fully engage with a theater production. Unfortunately, open captioned shows tend to be quite rare and only happen once or twice within a major show’s production run, so check out the schedule early to avoid disappointment.
  • Use an app. Smartphone technology is already changing our daily lives, so it’s no surprise that it’s also a great way for people with hearing loss to enjoy a live show. One app, called GalaPro, provides captioning for any Broadway performance after its first four weeks of production. The captions aren’t real-time, though, rather, they use lighting cues to prompt caption displays. Reportedly, the app syncs properly about 95% of the time and is only set to improve in the future.

The plethora of choices available to people with hearing loss makes avoiding the theater or the movies a thing of the past. Since each person with hearing loss is unique, it’s important to find the theater and movie-going tactic that works best for you.

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Hearing Loss Prevention Practices to Start in the New Year

protecting ears in winter

At this point, we all know to wear a helmet to protect our heads when riding a bike. It’s common sense, just like wearing eye protection when working with tools or the proper outer garments to guard against frigid temperatures. For some reason, though, the idea of protecting our ears does not seem like a priority.
Even with the World Health Organization stating that 360 million people worldwide are affected by hearing loss and 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are projected to suffer from hearing loss in the coming decades, adoption of preventative hearing practices is not taking hold.
What Are Good Hearing Loss Prevention Practices?
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, it’s probably too late to repair the damage. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent hearing loss from taking hold in the first place.

  • Be aware of the noise levels in your daily life. A decibel level of 85 is not damaging for short exposures but can be damaging with long-term exposure. Most people don’t realize that a noisy office can reach 85 decibels. Eight hours in that office may negatively impact your hearing health.
  • Take frequent hearing breaks. If we read a book and our eyes tire, we put the book down for a bit. Do the same for your ears. Our ears are not as good at letting us know when they’re fatigued, so take no-noise breaks often during your day.
  • Use hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs if you know you will be exposed to high noise levels or long-term noise. Typical noises in the danger range are motorcycles, concerts, chainsaws, and shouted conversations.
  • Limit your use of earbuds. This one will be tough for many people, but turn the music down and get those buds out of your ears. Earbuds rest near the eardrum and are damaging when used at high volumes.

Damage From Unexpected Places
These tips are ridiculously easy to apply for most people, but what if your livelihood depends on being in a noisy environment? Most of us will immediately think of a construction or industrial zone when we think of high-noise jobs. A recent study evaluated the noise impact on another group of employees exposed to constant loud noises: professional musicians.
Decibels are decibels. It doesn’t matter if it’s a jackhammer or an instrument. The study found that musicians were impacted, not only in full orchestra sessions but, when practicing alone at home, as well. As expected, percussionists were found to be the most affected, along with flutists. Cellists and musicians in the bass section were the least affected due to the softer sounds produced by their instruments.
The solution for musicians? It’s the same as the solution for all of us: use ear protection. Part of the issue with ear protection may be that it dulls our hearing and that can feel uncomfortable. When we use eye protection it doesn’t impact our vision. Regardless of the reasons for a lack of adoption, hearing protection should be used often and encouraged by all hearing healthcare providers. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss how to protect your hearing and to set up a hearing care plan.