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Hearing Loss

What Causes Tinnitus?

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Hearing Loss

What is Ototoxic Hearing Loss?

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What Causes Tinnitus?

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than 25 million Americans experience tinnitus. If you have ever experienced a buzzing, ringing or hissing in your ears, you have likely experienced tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

According to WebMD, “Tinnitus (pronounced ti-ni-tis), or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling, or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness.” Tinnitus is not caused by an external source outside of your body.

For some people, tinnitus can worsen when you’re in a quiet environment. This can mean you may be more aware of your tinnitus when you’re trying to fall asleep. For the majority of people, tinnitus is merely an annoyance. However for some, the condition can have a significant impact on quality of life.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

The symptoms of tinnitus involve a noise in your ear. The noises heard can vary from person to person. The most commonly reported noise is ringing in the ears, but others include:

  • Roaring
  • Hissing
  • Buzzing
  • Clicking
  • Chirping
  • Whistling
  • Music

What Causes Tinnitus?

There is no one definitive cause of tinnitus. Instead, a number of different conditions are known to trigger tinnitus. These can include: 

  • Hearing loss – According to the Hearing Health Foundation, 90% of people with tinnitus have an underlying hearing loss.
  • Exposure to loud noise – Have you ever been to a loud event and walked away with a high-pitched whine in your ears? Loud noise can actually cause tinnitus. Symptoms generally subside after a few hours.
  • Blockage in the ear – A blockage in the ear, such as a buildup of earwax, can cause tinnitus. Removing the blockage generally stops the tinnitus.
  • Medication – Certain types of medication, known as ototoxic, can impact your hearing health. Tinnitus can be the first symptom that your medication is affecting your hearing. Learn more about ototoxic hearing loss on our blog here.

This list of tinnitus causes is not exhaustive. Other causes can include an underlying  medical condition or an injury. If you have been experiencing tinnitus for longer than 2 weeks, book an appointment to see your local healthcare practitioner. 

Tinnitus Treatment Options

While there is no definitive cure for tinnitus, there are treatment options to help reduce symptoms. In some cases, treating the underlying cause for the tinnitus will help eliminate symptoms. For others, masking technology or behavioral modifications can help reduce symptoms.

Have Questions? Need Help? Contact Us Today!

If you’ve been experiencing tinnitus, ask yourself when you last had a hearing assessment? With such a large proportion of tinnitus caused by an underlying hearing loss, treating the hearing loss can really help! To book in an appointment with the hearing healthcare professionals at Clear Wave Hearing Center, call us on (864) 546-5708 or click here to request an appointment now.

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What is Ototoxic Hearing Loss?

Ototoxic and ototoxicity refer to anything that is poisonous (or toxic) to the ear. There are certain medications or chemicals that can cause adverse effects to the cochlea and the connected nerve. There is a wide range of chemicals that are known to be ototoxic to some people and that includes a large number of otherwise beneficial medicines.

Making sure you’re aware of the possible causes and monitoring any changes in your hearing or the onset of tinnitus to ensure that you keep on top of your hearing health.

What are the Symptoms of Ototoxic Hearing Loss?

The first symptom to appear is often tinnitus, normally indicated by a ringing in the ears. Tinnitus on its own isn’t usually a sign of a serious condition and will often improve over time without any further assistance. Tinnitus itself can be a cause of hearing loss as the sounds that you hear may obscure other sounds.

Loss of balance is another possible symptom of ototoxicity as the organs that control balance are located in the ear and can be affected by the ototoxic chemicals. If you find yourself feeling wobbly or unsteady it could be an indication that you are having problems with your ears. This symptom can be a temporary one as your body can adjust to control your balance despite there still being ongoing problems.

Prolonged exposure to ototoxic chemicals can cause these symptoms to be more long-lasting and more damaging to your health and hearing overall as the damage to your ears builds up and persists.

Potential Ototoxic Substances

The list of ototoxic chemicals is mostly made up of substances that you would expect; Alcohol, Marijuana, Nicotine, and Caffeine. Each of these chemicals could potentially damage your hearing and should always be taken in moderation, if at all.

The list of beneficial medications that could be potentially toxic to your ears might be a little more surprising though as it contains several commonly used medications for a number of conditions; Aspirin, NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen), Antibiotics, Diuretics, and Chemotherapy.

While the full list is much longer and contains around 200 different medications and chemicals that could cause ototoxicity, the more common ones are listed above. This doesn’t mean that every one of these drugs will cause ototoxicity as in some cases it can be prolonged use, a combination of medications or even the dosage that causes a reaction.

Another important thing to note is that ototoxic hearing loss is an uncommon illness and even those who do suffer from it often find that the symptoms are temporary rather than permanent. 

Protecting Your Hearing

The most important way to protect yourself from ototoxicity is to make sure that your healthcare advisor is aware of all the medications that you are using. This will allow them to make an informed decision regarding your health and well-being as well as giving them a baseline from which to work with should any difficulties arise.

If you do find yourself suffering from any of the symptoms following a change in medication you should always make sure a hearing care and health care professional is aware and kept updated. To book in an appointment with the hearing healthcare professionals at Clear Wave Hearing Center, call us on (864) 546-5708 or click here to request an appointment now.

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Hearing Health New Year’s Resolutions 2020

Are you committing to a “new year, new you” this year? If you have, you’re not alone. Up to 50% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Popular resolutions include:

  • Focusing more on a positive mindset
  • Exercise more
  • Save more money
  • Diet
  • Improve health and wellness

It’s not unusual for our thoughts to turn to how we can improve our overall health at the turn of a New Year. After all, how many of us can honestly say that we haven’t indulged during the holiday season?

Despite how many of us make New Year’s resolutions, only 10% of us manage to stick to our resolutions completely. 35% of us admit to having unrealistic goals. Another 33% didn’t keep track of their progress, while 23% forgot about their resolutions.

To ensure success in your New Year’s resolutions this year, set yourself achievable goals. One resolution that you can easily stick to is committing to your hearing health.

Hearing Health New Year’s Resolutions

These hearing health New Year’s resolutions will not only benefit your hearing, they can have wider physical benefits too. It’s a win-win!

Book a Hearing Assessment

The first step towards protecting your hearing health is a routine check-up with your local hearing care professional. This will evaluate if anything about your hearing has changed, and establish what your baseline hearing is.

If you’re already a hearing aid wearer, it’s also the perfect time to get your device checked. At Clear Wave Hearing Center, we can ensure your device is properly maintained, clean the device if needed, and talk through an upgrade or any accessories that may be advised.

Keep Your Ears Warm & Dry

Did you know that cold weather can affect your hearing? Colder temperatures can actually cause physical changes in your ear. These changes can result in tinnitus, dizziness, pain, and in some cases, hearing loss.

Keep your ears warm and dry during the cold winter months. Not only can this help to avoid unwanted ear infections, it can also help keep your hearing aids in good working order. Keep your ears warm during the winter with a pair of ear-warmers or a hat that covers your ears. Learn more about how the cold weather can affect your hearing here.

Pay Attention To Noise Levels

Estimates show that up to 15% of Americans have Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) caused by loud leisure or work environments. If you have to shout in order for someone next to you to hear you, you’re probably in an environment that can pose a threat to your hearing.

Keep a set of earplugs on you, so you can protect your hearing on the go. Common places that you may be exposed to dangerous noise levels include: sporting events, commuter journeys, even restaurants. Learn more about NIHL here.

Exercise

Most of us are well aware that exercise has physical and mental benefits. However, did you know that it’s good for your ears too? Cardio exercises like running, cycling or even walking help increase blood flow around your body, including your ears. A healthy blood flow to your ears helps keeps them in tip-top shape, so get moving!

Take Care of Your Hearing Health this Year!

Make committing to your hearing health a priority in 2020. Not only can it help prevent future hearing loss, you may find added physical, emotional and mental benefits too. If you’re due a hearing assessment, please get in touch. The hearing healthcare professionals at Clear Wave Hearing Center would be happy to offer you a complimentary hearing assessment. Call us on (864) 546-5708 or click here to request an appointment now.

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What’s the Difference Between Sensorineural & Conductive Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can affect people of any age. When many of us think about hearing loss, we think of it as being something that happens gradually over time. In fact, many of us may think of it as being a normal part of the aging process. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is not the only cause of hearing loss; there are multiple causes that can include:

  • Noise
  • Injury
  • Ototoxic medication
  • A blockage

There are three basic categories of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed. Understanding what type of hearing loss you have can help you make more informed decisions about treatment options with your hearing care provider.

What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is the most common form of hearing loss. It is the result of damage to your inner ear or your auditory nerve. SNHL is a permanent hearing loss, and in most cases medicine or surgery will not fix it. Your ability to hear may be improved with the use of hearing aids, or in some cases a cochlear device.

Some of the more common causes of sensorineural hearing loss include:

  • The natural aging process (presbycusis)
  • Exposure to loud noises (noise-induced hearing loss)

Less common causes of SNHL include:

  • Viral infections such as mumps, meningitis, measles or scarlet fever.
  • Injury
  • Genetics
  • Medication (ototoxic hearing loss)

What is Conductive Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss caused by an obstruction or blockage in your ear is referred to as conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss happens when problems with the eardrum, bones, muscles or ligaments in the middle ear prevent sounds from passing through to the inner ear. Blockages in the outer or middle ear slow down the vibrations of incoming sound, which results in hearing loss. In many cases, conductive hearing loss is treatable.

Conductive hearing loss can have a number of causes. Some of the top causes include:

  • Ear Infections
  • Colds & Allergies
  • Earwax
  • Physical Obstruction

What is Mixed Hearing Loss?

Someone with a mixed hearing loss has a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This can happen if someone has a pre-existing hearing loss, such as age-related hearing loss, and then has an obstruction in their ear.

What are the Differences Between Sensorineural & Conductive Hearing Loss?

The main differences between sensorineural and conductive hearing loss is the cause of the hearing loss, and the treatment options.

Sensorineural hearing loss treatment options may include: 

  • Hearing aids
  • Cochlear implants

Conductive hearing loss treatment options may include: 

  • Treating the underlying infection
  • Removing the obstruction

If you suspect you may have a hearing loss, click here to read our guide on how to recognize the symptoms. If you’re due a hearing assessment or would like to learn more about the different types of hearing loss, please get in touch today. Call Clear Wave Hearing Center today on 507-208-7002 or click here to book your complimentary hearing assessment.

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