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Hearing Loss

How Does Noise Affect Your Health?

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How Can Hearing Loss Impact Your Earning Potential?

In the United States, approximately 48 million Americans have a hearing loss. Of these, approximately only 35% are 65 years of age or older. Despite the prevalence of hearing loss, many wait up to 10 years to seek treatment. Untreated hearing loss has far-reaching effects on a person’s life, but increasingly there is evidence that untreated hearing loss can impact your earning potential.

The Research

In a study entitled ‘The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income,’ the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) analyzed the impact of untreated hearing loss on the earning potential of a working adult. The purpose of the report was to “quantify the relationship between treated and untreated hearing loss and income.”

The BHI study analyzed data from surveys of over 40,000 households. Respondents included “heads of households” with a hearing loss who wore hearing aids, those with untreated hearing loss, and those without a hearing loss.

Based on the results, the data indicated that untreated hearing loss has a significant impact on earning potential. Specifically:

  • “Hearing loss was shown to negatively impact household income on-average up to $12,000 per year depending on the degree of hear­ing loss
  • The use of hearing instruments was shown to mitigate the [income] effects of hearing loss by 50%
  • The estimated cost in lost earnings due to untreated hearing loss is $122 billion”

The Challenges

The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that a person with hearing loss cannot be discriminated against in the workplace. However, this does not mean that untreated hearing loss doesn’t present challenges. Some of the difficulties that untreated hearing loss can present include:

  • Difficulty Communicating – Communication is an important part of many jobs. Although more and more of our work is moving into the digital world, face to face conversations and meetings are still commonplace. Untreated hearing loss can hinder a person’s ability to communicate effectively, which can have knock-on effects in their performance on the job.
  • Reduced Confidence – Untreated hearing loss has been linked to reduced confidence. The fear of not being able to understand someone, answering inappropriately or missing bits of a conversation can all impact confidence.
  • Anxiety and Depression – In line with reduced confidence, untreated hearing loss can also result in anxiety or depression.

The Benefits of Treatment

Positively, The BHI study found that the use of hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by up to 90-100% for adults with mild hearing loss. For those with moderate-severe hearing loss, treatment reduced the risk of lost income by 65-77%.

The results are clear: left untreated, hearing loss can impact your earning potential. But seeking treatment can significantly reduce the impact. If you are concerned that hearing loss is negatively affecting your earning potential, book in a hearing assessment with the team at Oviatt Hearing & Balance. Call 888-342-4734 or click here to request an appointment online.

Posted by Admin

How Does Noise Affect Your Health?

Many studies have investigated how excessive noise harms health and disrupts our daily lives. It’s not just about our hearing; the effects are far reaching. Here we will briefly explain some of these and why it’s important to protect yourself.

Mental Health

We’ve all experienced loud and ongoing noises; i.e during construction work, or roadworks or even when commuting. At the end of the day, what happens? We’re tired, in a foul mood, our ears hurt and we may possibly have a headache.

Why? Our body could be responding to perceived danger by releasing the stress hormone cortisol (even if we are asleep). Frequent repetition of this response may impact hormone levels, reduce your immune system, cause irritability and maybe social withdrawal.

A study carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) showed a 200% increase in the risk of anxiety and depression in working-age adults subjected to excessive noise. There is also growing evidencethat the impact of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) on damaged nerve endings can cause inflammation in the brain. This has the potential to affect cognition and lead to dementia as this John Hopkins study found.

Heart

Because noise exposure can trigger irritation and annoyance it drives blood pressure up. A German study has found that it also causes irregular heartbeat, which could cause blood clots, stroke and heart failure. In fact, 3% of heart attacks in Germany can be linked to noise exposure.

Disturbed Sleep

An overstimulated or overactive brain, makes it difficult to relax which leads to poor quality sleep. A lack of sleep impacts the immune system, slows healing and has health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as shown in this study.

Concentration and Performance Reduce

The extra work your brain does to filter out noise in order for you concentrate is very draining. It also reduces focus and problem solving skills, not to mention a decline in motivation.

Hearing

Noise exposure makes your auditory system have to work harder to filter out noise. It can cause damage to delicate hair cells resulting in permanent hearing loss. Loud noise can also cause tinnitus. But it’s not just how loud a sound is, it’s how long or repeatedly you are exposed to it. For this reason, you should be aware of noise levels. To quantify, these are noises you may experience on a daily basis, and their corresponding noise levels:

  • Most conversation is around 50 – 60 dB.
  • Residential traffic will be around 50 db, with freeway traffic around 70 dB.
  • Heavy traffic, such as in commuting conditions, can reach 85 dB.
  • The subway can average 90 – 100 dB.
  • A motorcycle will be around 95-100 dB.
  • Jet engines taking off reach 150 dB.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the maximum exposure time at 85 dBA is eight hours. Exposure to levels of 110 dB can cause damage to your hearing after just 1 minute and 29 seconds.

What You Can Do

  • Invest in custom fit earplugs.
  • Download a decibel app on your phone.
  • Try closing windows when you sleep.
  • Consider a white noise machine.
  • Consider solutions such as the library if it’s too noisy to work at home.
  • Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can help reduce your risk of developing some health conditions- Have regular check ups.

Noise induced hearing loss is preventable, but as the above shows- noise has many ill effects on health. If you have any concerns about your hearing or wish to find out more about protecting your hearing, come in and see the team at Oviatt Hearing & Balance. Book in a hearing assessment with our hearing care specialists by calling 888-342-4734. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.

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Tinnitus Awareness Week: The Link Between Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Not everyone who has a hearing loss will suffer from tinnitus, but it is common for those who have tinnitus to also have a hearing loss. Research is helping us understand why tinnitus happens, but how are the two conditions linked?

How And What

First, let’s look at the basics of how hearing works.

  1. An external sound makes sound waves. These travel into the outer ear, made up of the ear canal and eardrum. Sound travels down the ear canal, and strikes the eardrum.
  2. The sound striking the eardrum causes it to vibrate. These vibrations travel on towards the middle ear, made up of 3 tiny bones, known as the ossicles (malleus, incus and stapes). The vibrations from the eardrum will result in the ossicles vibrating.
  3. Vibrations move the fluid of the inner ear (cochlear), and cause the tiny hair cells inside to move.
  4. Movements convert into electrical signals to send to the auditory nerves. Nerves then transmit electrical impulses to the brain – which are interpreted as sound.

If any part of this delicate system is damaged or blocked, it can reduce or prevent sound signals to the brain. This can lead to increased activity in the form of spontaneous signals to the hearing center of the brain (basically the brain trying to fill in the gaps). This causes sounds to be perceived, even though no sound signals were received from an external source. This is what tinnitus is.

If you have a hearing loss, you are also likely to be more aware of your tinnitus because there is less environmental sound to block out the phantom sounds.

Causes And Links

There can be many potential causes of tinnitus. Most common is damage of varying degree to the inner ear, as commonly found in sensorineural hearing loss. This can be caused through loud noise exposure, ageing or Meniere’s disease.

Loud noise exposure in particular is known to damage the nerves and tiny hairs of the inner ear, directly affecting signals travelling to the brain.

Tinnitus is linked to blockages in the outer or middle ear known as conductive hearing loss. Here sound waves are prevented from reaching the inner ear. Examples of this could be ear wax build up, ear infections, a benign tumor on a hearing nerve or an  abnormal bone growth called otosclerosis.

Tinnitus can also be linked to some medications such as aspirin, ototoxic drugs, cancer drugs and more. It can also be caused by a perforated eardrum, head trauma or stress. Unfortunately stress and anxiety often increase as tinnitus continues, creating a cycle of symptoms.

Tinnitus can be temporary or long term, it can be severe or mild. If you experience tinnitus symptoms, we recommend booking in a hearing assessment. Our hearing care professionals can help relieve the symptoms of tinnitus. Call us to book in today on 888-342-4734, or click here to request an appointment.

Posted by Admin

Using Headphones with Hearing Aids: What You Need To Know

Recent advances in hearing device technology has enabled millions of Americans with a hearing loss to hear and listen to their favourite music. If you’re a new hearing-aid user, you may be wondering if you can use headphones with hearing aids. The answer is a musical “yes!” We’ve put together a guide on the headphones that work best with different types of hearing aids.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

If you wear BTE or received-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing devices, over-the-ear headphones are your best option.

  • BTE hearing aids come in a range of sizes, from the mini-BTEs with thin tubing, to those that work with earmolds to address more severe hearing losses.
  • RIC and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aids have a built-in speaker, located in the tip rather than the main body of the device.

These models are most suited to a headphone model that fits over the hearing aids’ microphone. If your headphones don’t completely cover the microphone, then your hearing aids may pick up external sounds rather than those coming through the headphones. We recommend trying a few models so that you can find the one that’s right for you.

In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

If you wear ITE hearing aids, finding a pair of headphones that will fit well is easier than with other hearing aid models.

  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the smallest hearing aid devices on the market. As they can fit completely inside the ear canal, they offer more discretion than other, larger models. You may have been prescribed these by your hearing care professional if you have mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
  • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are situated in the lower part of your outer ear bowl. They are both comfortable and easy to use. They have a longer battery life than IIC and CIC devices, but they are slightly larger.

As the devices listed above sit entirely within your ear canal, you may find you can use over-the-ear or on-ear headphones. Some IIC wearers may even be able to use earbuds.

Take Advantage Of The Latest Tech

Another option that advances in hearing aid technology allows is to turn your hearing aids themselves into your own personal headphones. We can talk you through the latest advancements, and how you can take advantage of them to enjoy your music (and more!)

Once you’ve found the right headphones, remember to protect your hearing! Listen at 60% volume for no more than one hour at a time. Give yourself 5 minutes break between each hour, to allow your ears to detox. If you’d like to discuss further, or explore hearing aid options for you, call us on 888-342-4734 or click here to request an appointment.

Posted by Admin

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