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Expanding Hearing Aid Access With Hearing Insurance

The loss of hearing is one of the most widespread conditions in America, yet many people who need them do not wear them. A significant reason that people give for this avoidance of hearing aids is the cost. It is true, the cost of hearing aids and maintenance can be substantial, although the improvement to the quality of one’s life is well worth the price. However, there is encouraging news. United Healthcare is now offering hearing aid insurance to expand hearing aid access to those who would not otherwise be able to purchase hearing aids. CareCredit is providing a new system that makes the process easier for the provider and the patient.

Hearing Health Insurance

United Healthcare Hearing will offer hearing health that is affordable for individuals, employer-based sponsor, and Medicare Advantage plan participants. Custom-programmed hearing aids will cost up to 80 percent less than the price of a device sold in the usual manner. Employers will be able to offer hearing health benefit plans that include a wide range of hearing aid options as well as access to a national network of hearing healthcare professionals. Participants with Medicare Advantage plans will be able to choose custom-programmed hearing aids with no out-of-pocket cost.
All of United Healthcare’s 25 million members will have access to hearing healthcare with more than 5,000 hearing healthcare professionals participating in the plan. The plan, which is known as UnitedHealthcare Hearing, is a merger between the largest provider of hearing insurance, EPIC hearing healthcare, and HealthInnovations, which is a direct-to-consumer provider of hearing aids. The company considers this an efficient way to improve the overall wellbeing of its participants.

Financing Options

Making hearing healthcare more accessible is also the goal of CareCredit. The credit provider is trying to help people get hearing aids as well as make the application process less of a hassle. CareCredit, in cooperation with the Blueprint Office Management System, is now providing more extensive assistance to patients applying for unique financing options. The goal is to enable hearing healthcare professionals the ability to save time and increase productivity. This new system allows CareCredit transactions to be written automatically back to the ledger which saves time and minimizes human error. The CareCredit application process is more straightforward as the information automatically transfers to the CareCredit application. The hearing healthcare professionals fill in a few additional fields of data and receive a decision quickly. Because cost keeps patients from getting the hearing aids they need, this arrangement provides easy access to financial assistance.
Increasing the accessibility of hearing health is vital. Many people need hearing aids, but few use them. People often cite cost as a deterrent for using hearing aids, and at an average price of $6,000 a pair, it is a sound reason. However, insurance plans and unique financing options may be changing things. Hopefully, improving accessibility to hearing aids will help all people who need hearing aids. This welcome news may help improve the hearing health and quality of life of countless individuals.

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Here Are Some Important Things You Should Know If You Sleep with Earplugs

If you’ve ever had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to noise, you may have considered using earplugs – or you might be using them already. Earplugs are a simple and effective way to block out noise, which can help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.
In fact, research has shown that using earplugs, along with eye masks, can help increase REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the deepest form of sleep, and it is responsible for supporting a number of your body and brain’s important processes, including memory consolidation. Furthermore, earplugs can help increase melatonin levels in your body. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Earplugs are a great option for enhancing sleep, especially because they are easy to use and are very affordable. They also have few side effects, which is a benefit for many people who want to avoid the potential side effects of over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids and pills. Using earplugs is helpful for people who are light sleepers, who live in noisy environments or neighborhoods, or who want to sleep in public areas.
As it turns out, getting enough sleep is critical to your health. Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk for several serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. In addition to increasing the risks to your health in the long run, a lack of sleep can also lead to immediate consequences. These may include:

  • Problems focusing
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory difficulties
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Reduced strength

Earplugs are a simple way to help you get more sleep and avoid these negative effects. You can use earplugs on a regular basis, often with no side effects or problems.
There are two main types of earplugs: expandable foam earplugs and cone earplugs. To wear expandable foam earplugs, roll the earplug into a tight cylinder, and then insert it about halfway into the ear canal. It will expand to fit your ear. Cone earplugs do not expand; simply insert the smaller end into the ear canal and gently press it in to tighten the fit. You’ll know your earplugs are properly inserted if they significantly reduce noise and are comfortable enough to sleep with.
While using earplugs is very straightforward, it is not completely without risks. The most common issue encountered by earplug wearers is a buildup of earwax. Earwax (cerumen) is a waxy substance in the ears. Its purpose is to protect the ear canal from bacteria, water, dead skin, and other debris. However, if you are repeatedly blocking the ear canal by regularly wearing earplugs, it may result in a buildup of earwax. Common signs of earwax buildup include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing noise in the ears)
  • Dizziness
  • Itching and discomfort in the ear
  • Cough
  • Hearing difficulties

If you have earwax buildup, your hearing health care professional may recommend medical eardrops or removal of the earwax.
In some cases, regularly using earplugs may result in an ear infection. This is due to bacteria in the ear canal, whether it is from the earplug itself or a buildup of earwax. Symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Itching and discomfort in the ear

If you believe that you may have an ear infection or a buildup of earwax, we encourage you to contact your audiologist or general physician. Bacterial ear infections can be cleared up with the use of an antibiotic.
While using earplugs has a few associated risks, for many people, the benefits far outweigh the risks. To learn more about how using earplugs can help you get better sleep, or if you have questions about the proper use of earplugs, please contact our audiology practice today.

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Choose These Foods for Better Hearing Health

food and hearing health

“The fork is your most powerful tool to change your health and the planet; food is the most powerful medicine to heal chronic illness.”
-Mark Hyman, M.D.
Food and nutrition are at the forefront of the health conversation these days and for a good reason. The link between what we eat and risk of so many conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes has been shown in research again and again. People around the world are looking to food for health benefits, but did you know that your diet could also impact your hearing health?
Supporting your hearing health, one forkful at a time may be easier than you think!
Fill your plate with these foods
While certain foods, vitamins and minerals have been connected to better hearing health, an overall healthy diet provides a crucial foundation. Studies like this indicate that it may rank right up there with noise exposure in importance and studies like this underline how a healthy diet can reduce the risk of hearing loss.
In general, fill your plate with:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats in recommended amounts

These types of foods can support overall health by supporting the cardiovascular system and reducing inflammation throughout the body, but there’s more you can do when it comes to eating for healthy hearing.
Focus on these foods for hearing health
While it’s smart to follow a healthy total diet, some of the newest research points to particular nutrients that are especially powerful in supporting hearing health (and reducing the risk of hearing loss). While more studies are needed, it’s hard to find a downside in adding vitamins, minerals and foods like these to your diet to boost hearing health:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids – While it’s unclear the exact link, in the Blue Mountains Hearing study, researchers identified a connection between how much fatty fish individuals ate and their risk of hearing impairment. The more salmon, mackerel, herring, black walnuts, flaxseed oil and similar omega 3-rich foods people ate, the lower their risk of hearing loss.
  • Folate – Found in dark leafy greens (think spinach and arugula), artichokes, fortified breakfast cereal, beans and other legumes, studies have found that skimping on folate can negatively impact blood flow to the inner ear increasing the risk of hearing loss.
  • Magnesium + Vitamins A, C, E – Combine this mineral and these vitamins, and you’ve got a powerhouse for hearing health according to a recent study. Working together, these vitamins and mineral may help protect against loud noises by reducing the free radicals that begin circulating after noise exposure. Those are the same free radicals that can damage the inner ear. Getting more is as easy as adding avocados, nuts and seeds, whole grains, tofu, red sweet peppers, salmon, eggs, sweet potato, guavas, and even dark chocolate to your meals, to name a few.
  • Potassium – This mineral works in harmony with sodium to help regulate fluid within the body. That includes the fluid of the inner ear. Without this important fluid, electrical impulses cannot be transmitted, and hearing is impaired. To make sure you’re getting enough potassium, add foods such as potatoes, chard and white beans to your diet.

Take steps to support your hearing health today by adding foods like these to your diet.
If you’d like to learn more ways to help protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss, contact our office. We can work with you to schedule a hearing evaluation, treat any hearing loss, and give you ideas to support your hearing.

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Surprising Ways To Lose Your Hearing Aids

lost hearing aids

With all of our various gadgets, devices, and wearable tech, it’s no wonder that Americans spend an average of 2.5 whole days each and every year looking for their lost belongings. As you might imagine, the smaller things are, the easier it is to lose them, which doesn’t bode well for important, yet tiny, medical devices, such as hearing aids.
Thanks to modern technology, our hearing aids have gotten smaller and smaller, which is awesome for those of us who like to rock the latest in invisible in-the-ear hearing aids, but not-so-great when we accidentally misplace our hearing devices. Especially when we consider the high cost of hearing aids, losing them is more than a minor inconvenience.
Avoid Misplacing Your Hearing Aids
One of the main reasons why people misplace their hearing aids is because they don’t have a set hearing aid routine, which can help people be more responsible hearing aid owners. A good way to avoid losing your hearing aids is to wear them whenever you’re awake since it’s pretty difficult to lose your hearing aids when they’re in your ears.
Additionally, it’s important to develop good hearing aid habits, such as always placing your hearing aids in their carrying case or in their charging station when you’re not wearing them. By putting your hearing aids in the same place every time, you’re less likely to lose them or misplace them.
That being said, sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially if you’re tired and just want to take a nap on the couch, it can be tempting to set your hearing aids down on the coffee table. But, when you wake up and walk over to the kitchen to make a snack, you’ll likely forget where you placed your hearing aids, creating some unnecessary panic for your day.
Additionally, it can be helpful to keep a hearing aid carrying case on you at all times. If you carry around a handbag, laptop case, or a small backpack with you to work or on your travels, leaving a small hearing aid case in one of the pockets can be a great way to keep track of where your hearing aids are if you need to take them out.
Odd Places To Lose Your Hearing Aids
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our hearing aids can get away from us. In fact, people have had their small in-the-ear hearing aids fall out of their ears in some strange places, such as in a parking lot, or even at the bottom of a dishwasher.
The most common reason hearing aids seem to disappear, you ask? Your family dog. While young Fido might be a great pup, he might also be your prime suspect when your hearing aids go missing. Dogs have been known to use hearing aids as their personal chew toys, which is a huge financial loss, as well as a medical concern for your pup.
Oh, and don’t forget about your batteries, either. Hearing aid batteries are, for better or for worse, quite small and shiny, so they’re a prime choking hazard for young children. Keep your hearing aids and your batteries in a protective case and out of reach of your children and your pets at all times.
How To Deal With Lost Hearing Aids
If, despite your best efforts, you manage to lose your hearing aids, you’ll want to get in contact with your hearing health care provider right away. Sometimes, your hearing healthcare provider will have loaner pairs that they can lend to you while you file a warranty claim or wait for a new pair to arrive.
Although replacing a lost pair of hearing aids is a major financial investment, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. Going without your hearing aids for too long can be detrimental to your health, so if you’ve lost or damaged your hearing aids, be sure to get them replaced right away!

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Job Hunting With A Hearing Loss

job hunting with hearing loss

If you have a hearing loss and are job seeking, you may be wondering what you need to do to land the job successfully. When seeking a job, it is essential to put the hearing loss to the side and realize that to get hired you must be the best candidate for the position. Despite being hearing impaired, you must do what the other candidates are doing to prepare for the job. You will need the right tools in place as well as an understanding of your hearing loss. It is essential to understand what work accommodations will work for you and how to go about getting them. Here is advice to help you with your next job hunt.

Filling Out The Application

When applying for jobs, make sure you pick ones for which you are qualified. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes discrimination against any qualified employee with disabilities unlawful. Ask yourself if you can perform the essential functions of the job and if your experience qualifies you for the work. A job announcement will probably list the crucial tasks of a job, or it will come up in the job interview discussion. If not, ask! What skills does the job require? Be sure you have the expertise to perform the essential functions. Check out www.ada.gov for multiple resources to help you.

When To Tell A Prospective Employer Of Your Hearing Loss

An employer is not allowed to ask you about medical conditions or make your employment contingent upon passing a medical exam. It is your decision when to discuss your hearing loss with an employer. Please understand that an employer can ask if you can perform the job duties with or without accommodation. When you do decide to speak to the employer, here are a few tips that may help you:

  • If you are involved in a telephone interview and use phone captioning, tell the prospective employer about possible response delays.
  • You will need to disclose your hearing loss if you require CART or a sign language interpreter.
  • If you believe you will need accommodations for the job to participate in meetings, phone calls, or other work tasks, inform the employer at the job interview.
  • Having a positive attitude and being comfortable with your hearing loss may give you an advantage during an interview as you display a can-do attitude which employers value.

Use Your Strengths

If you have a hearing loss, try to avoid any job that may emphasize your limitations. Even if an employer will make reasonable accommodations, try to find jobs that need minimal accommodations. Does the job require functioning as a team? If this is the situation, try to locate work where all team members are in one place as opposed to using teleconferences. Avoid those jobs that are carried out in noisy environments unless it will benefit your job performance.
Don’t make an apology for your hearing loss and don’t dwell on it. Instead, keep the focus on what you can do for the employer and how you can be a tremendous asset to their company. Remember, the employer is trying to imagine you as a part of their work team. It is up to you to make sure they see you and your talents and not your hearing loss.

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Behavior Management In Children With Hearing Loss

Children Behavioral Disorders

Hearing loss is a surprisingly prevalent issue among children, but did you know that it’s also been linked to behavioral disorders? According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss affects about 32 million young people around the world, about 60% of whom have preventable hearing loss.
For those children who have hearing loss, especially those for whom hearing loss goes untreated, new research is showing us that they may also be at risk for developing a number of different behavioral disorders. Even for children whose hearing loss is treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants, behavioral disorders remain a significant barrier to their social and educational development.
The Research
According to researchers at the University of Kentucky, there is a substantial link between childhood hearing loss and behavioral disorders. The researchers arrived at this conclusion by reviewing 36 different studies that looked at this interesting connection between childhood hearing loss and behavioral disorders.
These studies used a wide variety of different tools to asses behavioral issues and included children of a multitude of different age groups and backgrounds, as well as different types and levels of hearing loss. The being said, most of the studies assessed a child’s behavior using metrics known as the Child Behavior Checklist, the Vineland Behavior Adaptive Scale, and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Moreover, a substantial proportion of the studies (approximately one-third) looked at children with permanent hearing loss that was actively being treated by hearing aids or cochlear implants. This means that the studies also accounted for children whose hearing loss was being managed and not just those with untreated hearing loss. Thus, the findings of this research are applicable for all young people with hearing loss, regardless of whether or not it’s actually being treated.
Ultimately, the research review found that there was evidence that strongly suggests there is a link between hearing loss in children and behavioral disorders. First and foremost, the research shows that there is evidence that children with hearing loss are internalizing their behavioral disorders in a number of ways, including emotional and social withdrawal, symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, and symptoms of anxiety.
Moreover, the researchers found that even for children with treated hearing loss, these internalized behaviors did not go away. However, the researchers did note that children with treated hearing loss exhibited fewer behaviors typical of externalized behavioral disorders, including destructive, defiant, and impulsive actions.
In addition to this correlation between hearing loss in children and behavioral disorders, the research also found that young people with hearing loss are less likely to obtain mental health services that could help them overcome their behavioral issues. Although it is unclear whether or not this lack of mental health services for children with hearing loss is due to financial, time, or other constraints, the researchers argue that these services are critical for helping children with hearing a loss to work through their behavioral issues.
Moving Forward
While the research doesn’t suggest that every child with hearing loss will have a behavioral disorder, it does identify a link between the two conditions. Thus, moving forward, more research on how to help these young people, not only with their hearing loss but with their behavioral issues, is of the utmost importance. The research shows that understanding the impact of hearing loss on behavioral health in children is an important focal point in which families, educators, and medical professionals can concentrate on to best serve the needs of these young people.

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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.