Alarming Hearing Loss Stats and Data

Do you have a loved one that needs a hearing aid (or at least a hearing test) but resists your suggestions? People often resist seeking help for hearing problems, but talking to them about the causes, effects and prevalence of hearing problems can help. Listed below are some facts and statistics to help you make your case:

  • Women are less likely to have hearing loss than men.
  • Approximately 36 million individuals the United States have some type of hearing loss, which is almost one out of every 5 people.
  • Roughly 13% of the population over age 65 will experience tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
  • Over the past 30 years, the number of Americans with hearing loss has approximately doubled.
  • Ten million people have irreversible loss of hearing due to noise, and 30 million more people are exposed to dangerous levels of noise every day.
  • One million Americans have tinnitus that is so severe it gets in the way of everyday living.
  • Of the individuals who could benefit from using a hearing aid, just one out of five people wears one.
  • High frequency hearing loss caused by repeated loud noise exposure affects about 26 million people in the US (ages 20-69). This includes regular noise exposure from both work and recreational sources.
  • People with hearing loss delay roughly 10 years before taking any action. Don’t let this be you or someone you love!

Summary of the 5 Major Forms of Hearing Loss

Hearing problems are classified in a variety of different ways. The specific section of the auditory system affected is what determines the classification. The hearing loss may be conductive, senorineural, functional, central or mixed. Some kinds of hearing loss are more treatable than others, and we can explain your choices after an initial assessment.

Conductive hearing loss

When sound waves are not completely conducted to the interior of the ear through the structures of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss occurs. This is rather common and can be caused by a buildup of ear wax, an accumulation of moisture in the eustacian tube, which prevents the eardrum from moving properly, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the bones of the middle ear and other blockages in the ear canal.

Most cases of this type of hearing loss are reversible, assuming there is no irreversible damage to the parts of the middle ear, and with treatment the trouble usually clears up fairly quickly. For some patients surgery can assist in correcting the problem or a hearing aid may be fitted.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This type of hearing loss is responsible for over 90% of the cases in which a hearing aid is worn. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to damage in the inner ear or damage to the acoustic nerve, which blocks sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also referred to as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the impairment is more often than not irreversible, although improvements in technology have enabled some previously untreatable cases to see some improvement.

The most frequent reasons behind sensorineural hearing loss are the aging process, extended exposure to noise, issues with blood flow to the interior of the ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, drugs that cause injury to the ear, a handful of diseases, heredity and issues with the auditory nerve.

Hearing aids are suitable for most people who have this type of hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant may help bring back hearing to those individuals for whom a standard hearing aid is insufficient.

Central hearing loss

Central hearing loss occurs when an issue in the central nervous system prevents sound signals from being processed by the brain. Affected individuals can seemingly hear just fine, but cannot understand or decipher what the speaker is saying. Numerous cases involve a problem with the person’s ability to properly filter rival sounds. For example, most of us can have a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but individuals with this problem have a difficult time doing so.

Functional hearing loss

A rare occurrence, functional hearing loss is not physical. Functional hearing loss is due to an emotional or psychological problem in which the person’s physical hearing is normal, but they do not seem to be able to hear.

Mixed hearing loss

As the term suggests, mixed hearing loss is a mixture of different types of hearing loss – conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Though there are a couple of other types of hearing loss, the combination of these 2 is most frequent.

Real or Imaginary – Too Much Ear Wax Leads to Loss Of Hearing

The canals in our ears are covered with hair follicles and glands that produce an oily wax called cerumen, or ear wax. This wax coats the inner surface of the ear canal and helps to protect it by attracting and gathering foreign debris such as dirt and dust, bacteria, and other microbes. Ear wax also helps to prevent discomfort when the sensitive skin of the ear canal is exposed to moisture; There is absolutely nothing unnatural or unhealthy about ear wax or the production of it.

Typically, ear wax slowly makes its way to the opening of the ear, where it comes out on its own or is removed when we rinse out our ears. But, the glands in certain people’s ears make more wax than usual. This surplus ear wax can accumulate in the ear canal and harden, resulting in a blockage which keeps sound waves from getting to your eardrum. The accumulation of ear wax is among the most frequent causes of hearing loss, in people of all ages.

The signs of ear wax blockage include earaches, a sense that the ear is stopped up, a chronic ringing noise (tinnitus), and partial hearing loss, which seems to get gradually more serious. This is a kind of conductive (as opposed to sensorineural) hearing loss, in which the sound waves are blocked from reaching the eardrum. Luckily, this cause of hearing loss is easily diagnosed and treated.

If the symptoms in the list above sound familiar to you, see us in our office where any of our team members can perform pain-free assessments to see whether you do indeed have an excess build-up of ear wax. If it is, an excessive accumulation of ear wax is easily treated, either at home or at the office.

If an audiologist diagnoses you as having earwax blockage, there are steps you can take at home to remove it. One of the things not to do, however, is to use a cotton swab or Q-tip, which tends to just compact the ear wax, not get rid of it. A much better home treatment is to add drops of mineral oil, glycerin, baby oil, or commercial ear drops to each ear, allow them to loosen the wax buildup, and then wash it out using water at body temperature. (Note: using either cold and hot water to flush your ears can lead to feelings of dizziness or vertigo.) To wash out the ear drops, look at buying one of the bulb-shaped syringes sold by drug stores, which are intended to make the irrigation process simplier and easier. Two more things not to do are to 1) use a jet irrigator such as a WaterPik because its spray is simply too powerful and might cause damage to your eardrums, and 2) use any form of irrigation at home if you know for certain that you have a punctured eardrum.

If these home remedies don’t seem to clear up the blockage, call or visit us for assistance.

Is It Possible To Get Noise Induced Hearing Loss from Live Concerts?

If you’ve previously attended a modern day rock concert and found yourself saying, “That music is just too darned loud,” it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re getting old. This reaction could be your body’s way of telling you that you are at risk of hearing impairment. If after the concert your ears are ringing (tinnitus), or you are not able to hear quite as well for several days, you’ve probably experienced noise-induced hearing loss, abbreviated NIHL.

Noise induced hearing loss can happen even after one exposure to very loud music, because the loud noises harm very small hair cells in the inner ear that detect auditory signals and interpret them as sounds. Fortunately for most people, the NIHL they experience following a single exposure to loud concert music is short-lived, and goes away after a few days. However repeated exposure to very loud sounds can cause the damage to become permanent and result in tinnitus that doesn’t go away or in a serious loss of hearing.

A pair of factors determine how much harm is done to hearing by exposure to very loud sounds – how loud the noises are, and also the amount of time you are in contact with them. The volume of sound is measured in decibels, a scale that can be difficult to comprehend because it is logarithmic, meaning that every increase of 10 on the scale means that the sound is two times as loud. Noisy city traffic at 85 decibels is thus not just a little louder than ordinary speech at 65 decibels, it’s 4 times louder. The decibel rating at typical rock concerts is 115, which means these sound levels are 10 times louder than normal speech. In addition to precisely how loud the music is, the second factor that impacts how much damage is done is the length of time you are exposed to it, the permissible exposure time. Loss of hearing may occur from being exposed to noise at 85 decibels after only eight hours. In contrast, the permissible exposure time that you can be exposed to noise at 115 decibels without taking a chance on hearing loss is less than 1 minute. Therefore concerts are high risk, because the noise levels at some of them have been recorded at more than 140 decibels.

It has been estimated that up to 50 million Americans will suffer loss of hearing due to exposure to loud music – either at live shows or over headsets by 2050. Considering this, many live concert promoters and music venues have begun providing sound-baffling earplugs to concertgoers for a nominal charge. One popular British rock band actually partnered with an earplug vendor to offer them free of charge to everyone attending its live shows. Signs are starting to crop up at music venues saying, “Earplugs are sexy!” Earplugs may, in reality, not be very sexy, but they might just save your hearing.

Any of our hearing specialists right here is very happy to supply you with information regarding earplugs. We recommend getting them next time you’re planning go to a very loud rock concert.

Linking Foods to Hearing Losses and Prevention

The majority of us have been told to eat our carrots for good eyesight. It’s likely that you were not given any equivalent suggestions about what foods were healthy for your ears and hearing. We can finally teach our kids what to eat for healthy hearing; information that’s undoubtedly wise for us to follow as well.

Several things can result in loss of hearing, including infections, age and noise. Nutrients and vitamins that may help impede or prevent some types of hearing loss are found within the following foods.

Believe it or not, fish like salmon or trout which contains omega 3 fats and vitamin D, has been shown in studies to protect against age-related hearing loss. Some other smart options for fish containing vitamin D and omega 3 fats include the can of tuna in your cupboard and the anchovies that many of us hold from our pizza. For a hearing boost later in life, eat any one of these at least two times per week.

Musicians, construction workers, and other professionals exposed to loud noises, are at a high risk for ear damage. Bananas, artichokes and potatoes are loaded with magnesium and can help protect the hearing of individuals with a hobby or a job exposing them to intense sounds. Foods containing magnesium help protect against noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) although the mechanism for how the magnesium does this is not known.

There are even some foods we consider sweets, such as dark chocolate, are good for hearing health. Age-related hearing loss has been connected to zinc deficiencies, and zinc is a component of dark chocolate. Try some oysters on the half shell if you don’t care for dark chocolate; any foods containing zinc will help assure you aren’t deficient.

Exposure to high decibel noise can trigger the formation of damaging free radicals contributing to the demise of delicate inner ear hair cells, according to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Reduce free radical damage with folic acid and antioxidants. Foods rich in both antioxidants and folic acid include asparagus, eggs, nuts and spinach.

In addition to encouraging our children to consume carrots for good eyesight, now we can help them safeguard their hearing and slow possible hearing problems with specific food suggestions.

There is a Right and Wrong Way to Clean Ears and Eliminate Wax

Among the most typical reasons for short-term hearing loss is an accumulation of ear wax, which obstructs the ear canal and disturbs hearing. People who have experienced this, and experienced a reduced ability to hear, clearly want to find out how to clean out their ears to avoid it. Having said that, you need to clean the ears correctly and safely, or else you may cause permanent injury to your ears.

To stress safety when cleaning your ears, let’s begin with what not to do. Don’t insert any physical objects into your ear. No matter if it‚Äôs a cotton swab or other object, you’re more likely to make the condition even worse by further compacting the ear wax if you start poking around in your ear. Another thing you shouldn’t do is use any device that injects water under pressure (such as a WaterPik) directly into your ears; to do this risks rupturing your ear drums. Finally, if you know that you have a ruptured eardrum, leave cleaning your ears to a hearing specialist. The same is true if you think you have an ear infection. Symptoms of ear infections include ear pain, fever, fluid draining from the ears and vomiting or diarrhea.

To clean your own ears gently at home, all you need is a syringe or bulb, obtainable at any drug store, and a solution with which to safely rinse out your ears. You can buy a carbamide peroxide solution at the drug store, or make your own solution by combining equal measures of glycerin, mineral oil and 3%-4%.

When using this solution, it is best to lay on your side on top of a towel to catch any dripping solution, or lean over a sink or bowl; then you simply squeeze the solution carefully into each ear, ideally without touching the ear with the syringe or bulb. Leave the solution in each ear for a couple minutes giving it time to work on dissolving the ear wax.

Once the ear wax has been softened and loosened by the solution, rinse each ear again with lukewarm water, and then dry the outer ears carefully with a soft towel. If the congestion continues, repeat this procedure for cleaning your ears twice a day for 2 or 3 days. Check with your a hearing specialist or audiologist if the problem continues.

What Treatments are Offered for Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is a difficult condition to diagnose correctly for several reasons. Traditional hearing tests don’t consistently detect CAPD because the disorder stems from the brain, not the ears. Children with CAPD can hear spoken sounds, especially language, but their brains improperly process the information received from the ears. Furthermore, kids who have CAPD often establish coping mechanisms to conceal or disguise their disorder; they can’t truly understand the words people are speaking, yet they figure out how to read their lips or their expressions to pretend to understand.

CAPD therapy is complicated for the very same reasons that the diagnosis is tricky. Any individual working with a child to treat CAPD needs to be alert to these characteristics. At present there is no recognized cure for CAPD, and no therapy that works equally well for all kids with the disorder, so therapy must be individualized and adapted for the limitations and capabilities of each patient. That said, there are a variety of treatment protocols that may considerably improve the learning abilities of children with CAPD.

There are three major categories of Central Auditory Processing Disorder treatments: compensatory strategies, environmental change and direct treatment.

Direct Treatment – Direct treatment methods include the use of computer-aided learning and one-on-one therapy sessions to make the most of the brain’s inherent plasticity – the ability to establish new neural pathways or ways of thinking. Software and games such as Hasbro’s “Simon” game or the “Fast ForWord” educational software from Scientific Education are used as treatment tools. These exercises help learners enhance discrimination, sequencing and processing of auditory inputs. Other types of direct treatment use dichotic training (to enable children to hear multiple sounds in different ears and yet process them accurately), or use the “Earobics” program by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (to improve phonological awareness).

Compensatory Strategies – Compensatory strategies concentrate on supporting the CAPD sufferers with better skills in problem solving, language, attention, memory, and other critical daily living strategies. The main focus of these types of training are to teach children both to take responsibility for their own learning success, and to give them the improved techniques and skills they need to do well. Such techniques often include lessons in “active listening” and activities or games based on the solving of word problems.

Environmental Change – Within the category of environmental change one strategy is reducing the quantity of background noise via soundproofing and installing wall hangings, curtains or acoustic tiles because background noise is proven to make it more difficult for a person with CAPD to comprehend speech. Amplifying voices in the classroom can also be effective; the instructor dons a microphone and the CAPD pupil puts on a small receiver that raises the instructor’s voice to make it more distinguishable from other speakers or sounds. Some benefits are from improved lighting, because expressions and lips are simpler to read on fully lit faces than on dimly-lit faces.

So if your child is identified as having CAPD, relax realizing that there are treatments available to address it, but keep in mind that an early accurate diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Should you have additional questions about CAPD diagnosis and treatment options, commentary ask us. In the event that our terrific team can’t assist you we can refer you to the best area specialists.

Which Hearing Aid Battery Size Do I Need?

“Which kind of hearing aid battery do I need?” is a difficult question to answer generally, because there are numerous different types of hearing aids, and each needs a battery that matches it and offers enough energy to power it. For anybody that currently owns a hearing aid the owner’s manual should clearly indicate which battery is required. Conversely you may call the professional that sold you the device to ask. If you’re still shopping for a hearing aid and attempting to choose which model is right for you, you might wish to do some research to assist you in your selection. The explanation for this is that hearing aid batteries vary in price and in battery life, and so a rough knowledge of how many batteries you will need over time may influence your choice of which hearing aid to get.

The makers of hearing aids and hearing aid batteries have made things simpler for you by coming up with a standardized color coding system, to help make finding the right size easier. Regardless of who the maker is, hearing aid batteries of a specific type and size will always have the identical color code on their packages.

The 4 most common varieties are:

Size 13 batteries are generally used in Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids, and have an expected battery life of 240 hours.

Hearing aid batteries with a color code of yellow are Size 10, and can be the easiest to obtain because they are widely used in Completely-In-Canal (CIC) and In-The-Canal (ITC) models of hearing aids; their battery lifespan is shorter, an average of 80 hours.

A color code of brown corresponds to a Size 312 battery, generally used in In-The-Canal (ITC) and In-The-Ear (ITE) styles of hearing aids; due to their smaller size they typically have battery life near 175 hours.

Size 675 is coded blue, and is frequently used in Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids and in some cochlear implants; these batteries are comparatively large and have the benefit of a long charge – up to 300 hours.

These are the most widespread sizes of hearing aid batteries, however there are hearing aids that require different ones. If yours requires one of these alternate types, most retailers that sell batteries can custom order them for you.

Don’t forget to consult the manual that comes with your device before purchasing batteries, because a number of the new hearing aids take rechargeable batteries, so disposable batteries are only needed for emergencies. To keep your batteries fully charged after you buy them, always store them in the original unopened packages at room temperature.

Work-Related Hearing Loss: Professions With Higher than Average Risk

Do you find yourself concerned about hearing damage from excessive noise levels on the job? Hearing loss has lots of root causes, but the most common continues to be noise-induced hearing loss. Thinking about your ability to hear is a normal response for anyone working at a high-noise occupation.The Centers for Disease Control reports that 30 million workers are subjected to harmful noise at work and an additional nine million are at risk for hearing loss from other agents such as solvents and metals.The most important thing that you can do is to educate yourself about the risks of noise and have an open discussion with your company.

All employees should evaluate their own work environments for high-noise levels, especially anyone in the following job roles.

  • Manufacturing – Manufacturing jobs constitute the largest numbers of permanent hearing losses suffered on the job. Manufacturing positions regularly expose workers to equipment and machinery which produces over 90 decibels of noise.
  • Construction Workers – Construction workers rank second highest for permanent hearing losses suffered in the workplace. Construction equipment regularly exposes staff to heavy machinery which operates at over 90 decibels. A WA State study of construction workers found that in spite of being exposed to noises exceeding 85 decibels during 70 percent of their workshifts, construction workers only wore hearing protectors 20% of the time.
  • Chemicals Industry - Exposure to certain chemical substances has been connected to hearing loss by itself. These specific compounds now known to combine synergistically with noise to cause increased hearing loss.
  • Motorcycle Courier – A study of motorcycle noise under various road conditions at speeds between 45 mph to 65 documented that the sound measured varied from 70 decibels to 128 decibels.
  • DJs and Nightclub Staff – Absolutely everyone that works in a nightclub – security, wait staff, bartenders – is at risk, not just the musicians. In a managed study, sound levels of up to 108 decibels were recorded in the nightclubs. The average sound level for a standard session was 96 decibels which is over the noise level at which the provision of hearing protection is mandatory for employers in industry. The research came to the conclusion that DJs are at sizeable risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss and noise exposure in nightclubs routinely surpasses safe levels.
  • Orchestra & Band – A study on the noise exposures of classical musicians experienced across both performances and rehearsals found that the strings and percussion sections averaged 90 decibels while the brass section averaged 95 decibels. Peak volumes were 130 decibels in the percussion and brass sections of the orchestra. A different Swedish study showed that 59 out of 139 orchestra musicians – 42 percent – had hearing losses higher than that normal for their ages.
  • Airport Staff – The noise of a jet engine is one of the loudest occupational hazards, with sound levels at a shocking 140 decibels.
  • Firefighters and Paramedics – All of the sirens squealing accumulate over time. Several studies have explored the prevalence of hearing disabilities in firefighters and ambulance drivers with most finding that firefighters suffer accelerated hearing loss relative to the general public of the same age.
  • Military – The top disability among US military personnel is noise-induced hearing loss. As stated by the Deafness Research Foundation, over 65% of combat troops returning from Afghanistan are afflicted by noise-induced hearing loss.

A Summary of BPPV: Indicators and Treatment Methods

Vertigo, a sensation of movement where the individual or the individual’s environment appear to spin and whirl, can be a rather unpleasant experience. Vertigo can affect balance, contributing to falls that can be serious among older adults, and may be accompanied by dizziness, a feeling that you’re spinning or falling, and in severe instances migraines, vomiting, nausea, an inability to see properly (nystagmus), and even fainting.

Vertigo has several causes, but one of them is connected to your sense of hearing – benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, abbreviated BPPV. BPPV occurs as the result of calcium crystals that form naturally known as otoconia or otoliths, which generally cause no problems. In individuals who suffer from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, however, these crystals become dislodged from their normal location and travel into one of the semicircular canals of the inner ear which govern our sense of balance. When this happens, and the individual with BPPV reorients their head relative to gravity, these crystals move around, resulting in an abnormal displacement of endolymph fluid, which results in vertigo.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be brought on by such common actions as tilting or turning your head, looking up and down, and rolling over in bed, and is characterized by the brief (paroxysmal) nature of the attacks. These symptoms can be worsened by lack of sleep, stress, or changes in barometric pressure, such as before rain or snow. The disorder can manifest itself at any age, but it typically appears in people over 60 years of age. It’s difficult to pinpoint the specific cause of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo for any given individual, but it commonly occurs following accidents in which the person receives a blow to the head.

BPPV is differentiated from other types of dizziness or vertigo in that it is practically always prompted by head movements, and in that its symptoms usually decrease in in under a minute. Diagnosing benign paroxysmal positional vertigo generally involves a straightforward test where the patient lies on an exam table and tilts their head to the side or over the edge. Additional tests that can be used to diagnose BPPV include videonystagmography (VNG) or electronystagmography (ENG), which test for abnormal eye movement, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), primarily to eliminate other potential causes, such as brain tumors or brain abnormalities.

There is no complete cure for BPPV, but it can be successfully treated using canalith repositioning (either the Semont maneuver or the Epley maneuver), both of which use physical movements to shift the crystals to an area in which they no longer cause problems.In approximately 10 percent of cases, surgery may be recommended if these therapies don’t provide satisfactory outcomes. If you’ve experienced unexplained dizziness or vertigo that lasts for more than a week, see your health care provider.