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Can Seasonal Allergies Cause Hearing Loss?

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Hearing Assessment

Why bring someone to a hearing test?

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Hearing Aids

Do’s And Don’ts With Your Hearing Aid

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Be proactive with your hearing safety

Louder isn’t better!

It seems obvious – but it’s worth a reminder: the louder the noise and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of damage to your ears. Even some sounds that don’t seem loud or give you noticeable discomfort can damage your hearing. Loud sounds, of course, can cause damage much more quickly. Always remember that safety counts.

Measuring noise and understanding decibels (dB)

The decibel scale is matched to human hearing, so 0 dB is the very quietest sound that a human can hear without hearing loss. A “typical” spoken conversation is generally estimated to be 60 dB. Although this is not enough to hurt you, many every-day sounds are in the near-harmful range and can impact your hearing long term – so think safety first. A lawnmower, for example, averages in the 90 dB level, so it can cause damage. That’s why it is important to wear protection whether you are mowing the lawn or around loud engines. Even a car travelling at 65 miles per hour or a vacuum cleaner can irritate your ears.

Workplace challenges

Most experts – including the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health – agree that continued exposure to sounds over 85 dB risks damage to hearing. Therefore, workplace safety regulations usually require employers to provide protection for employees exposed to noisy environments. In the US, the Department of Labor regulates occupational noise exposure and has set a “permissible exposure limit” (PEL) of 90 dB for an 8 hour long day.

The biggest sources of dangerous noise

More dangerous – with immediate impact – are sounds in the 140 dB range. These include jet engines and gun shots. Even louder, is 180 dB of a rocket launch. These sounds can lead to permanent hearing damage. According to Purdue University, your eardrum can rupture if you are 25 meters or less from a jet as it is taking off.

Knowing the danger signs and preventing damage to your hearing

Unfortunately, it is rarely immediately obvious when we damage our hearing – normally we notice it afterwards. However, with awareness, we can help protect our hearing. If you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, you may be in the danger zone where prolonged exposure could lead to damage.

Heed your ears’ warning

If you notice ringing in your ears or experience pain, these are signs that your noise exposure is too high. This often appears after a noisy event such as a music concert. If you find it difficult to hear for several hours after exposure to loud sounds, or hear ringing in your ears or other unusual effects, then you probably have been around harmful levels.

Safety first: tips for protecting your hearing

  • Avoid loud noises. If you are attending a loud event, avoid sitting near the amplifiers or take breaks outside the main venue.
  • Invest in earplugs. Whether you want to spring for higher-end ear plugs that are moulded to your ears or use noise-cancelling headphones
  • Take sound breaks. If you are near loud noise, escape for a break every hour.
  • Lower the volume. Turn the sound down on your earphones or earbuds.

Earphones and hearing loss

Many people regularly use earphones or earbuds – on the way to school or work, while out running, or just while relaxing at home without considering the excess levels of noise exposure.
Earphones generally produce up to 100 dB, while some can produce even more. At this level, you risk damage to your hearing after a mere 15 minutes. Some smartphones have a feature that warns uses when the volume is at a dangerous level. Heed this warning and limit music at excessive volumes piped directly into your ears.

City life’s impact on your ears

According to a recent study, just living in an urban area can increase your risk of hearing damage – by 64%. Traffic, construction, loud music, sirens and other environmental sounds of the city provide continuous exposure to noise can cause hearing damage.
At Clear Wave Hearing Center we strive to educate and advise. If you want to learn if exposure to music, explosions or other noise has damaged your hearing, contact Clear Wave Hearing Center for a complimentary hearing assessment*.

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Memory Function and Hearing Loss: What You Need to Know

While hearing loss often presents a host of emotional complications, such as feelings of frustration, research now ties hearing loss with additional health conditions. Recent research from Johns Hopkins drew a connection between varying levels of hearing impairment and diminished mental health. This included increased difficulty walking and dementia. Along with hearing loss, individuals demonstrated general brain function loss, resulting in forgetfulness, impaired thinking and fluctuations in mood or personality.

About the research

Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. led the study. It tracked and analysed 639 adults over 12 years. Brain scans showed degeneration occurred at a faster rate in those with hearing loss over those without. The study concluded that:

  • Individuals with mild hearing loss were two times as likely to have dementia.
  • Those with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely to have dementia.
  • Individuals with severe hearing loss were five times as likely to have dementia.

Why does hearing loss contribute to mental deterioration?

We don’t know for sure. However, medical practitioners believe that social isolation may play a role. Individuals with hearing loss tend to disconnect and withdraw from their social world. As a result they miss out on conversations and everyday interactions that stimulate the brain. Without the frequent mental stimulation of socializing, the brain may begin to undergo atrophy. Therefore, an individual’s diminished hearing impacts memory.

Additionally, the brain works harder to process surrounding sounds and signals to compensate for hearing loss. This increased exertion and mental multitasking may interfere with the neural connections needed to walk and move around.

Reducing risk factors

Hearing aids help individuals process sound and follow conversations. Data shows that even though millions of Americans have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. And, hearing aid users wait seven years before seeking audiological assistance. Despite common misconceptions, today’s hearing aids are inconspicuous, affordable and highly effective in combating hearing loss.

If you or someone you love exhibits signs of hearing impairment, we can help. Since hearing loss can impact memory and other aspects of brain function, it is important to have a hearing assessment. Contact us today to discuss if hearing aids or other services are right for you.

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Research Links Stroke to Sudden Hearing Loss

The onset of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) can be a frightening experience. Since it is unpredictable and develops rapidly, it is especially alarming. Most incidents of SSNHL develop within three days and are usually unilateral – affecting only one ear. Individuals may wake up to discover hearing loss, or they may notice it occurring over the course of several days. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is defined as a hearing impairment of at least 30 dB in three sequential frequencies.

Vascular occlusion and hearing

While medical practitioners can’t say definitively what provokes an episode of SSNHL, sometimes the vascular system seems to play a role. Besides vascular occlusion, other causes may include:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Ruptured inner ear membranes
  • Tumors
  • Autoimmune diseases

Researchers have focused on understanding the role that the vascular system plays in sudden hearing loss, including strokes. A stroke is brain damage that results from an obstruction in its blood supply. A stroke that occurs in the outer part of the brain stem can impact hearing.

Risk of Stroke Development among SSNHL Patients

Published in 2008 in Stroke, a study based in Taiwan sought to determine whether there was a link between SSNHL episodes and an increased risk of stroke. The study, conducted by Herng-Ching Lin, Pin-Zhir Chao and Hsin-Chien Lee, evaluated 7,115 patients over the course of five years after hospitalization. Of these 7,115 patients, 1,423 of them were hospitalized right after sudden hearing loss. The researchers used the remaining 5,692 appendectomy patients as a control group.

At the conclusion of the five-year study, 621 patients of the entire sample population had experienced a stroke – 180 of whom were SSNHL patients. After the researchers adjusted for gender, income, medical background and other relevant factors, the data indicated that the hazard for having a stroke was 1.64 times greater – more than a 150% increased chance – for SSNHL patients than the control group appendectomy patients. For the first time this study demonstrated that sudden hearing loss may serve as an early warning sign for a stroke.

What Should Patients who have Experienced Sudden Hearing Loss do Next?

Since approximately 40 – 65% of SSNHL cases result in spontaneous recovery, there is hope. However, anyone who has experienced sudden hearing loss should monitor their health and look for signs of impending stroke. According to the 2008 study, the average time between initial SSNHL hospitalization and the onset of stroke was 804 days. Most strokes occurred within the first two years.

After you or a loved one has experienced sudden hearing loss, it’s important to undergo a comprehensive neurological exam and schedule routine follow-ups, even years after the initial event. For more information on hearing and audiological effects of stroke, make an appointment for our free hearing assessment*.

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Is Your Hearing Loss Linked to Diabetes?

Hearing loss affects approximately 34.5 million Americans, and approximately 30 million people have diabetes. These statistics make them two of the most prevalent health concerns in America. Beyond these numbers, the overlap of these populations is growing. Research continues on the potential connection between hearing loss and diabetes.

In her 2008 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, Kathleen Bainbridge, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, drew a number of conclusions from national survey data. She concluded that hearing loss is more than twice as common in diabetes patients than in the general population. In addition, 21% exhibited both hearing loss and diabetes, compared to 9% of those surveyed who had some form of hearing impairment but no diabetes. Finally, of the 86 million Americans with prediabetes, rates of hearing loss are 30% higher than adults with normal blood glucose levels. Perhaps, this final group is the most alarming number.

More research?

Current studies show evidence to support a noticeable overlap between the illnesses. Beyond primarily impacting older populations, medical practitioners have several theories as to how the two might be related. The current body of research linking hearing loss and diabetes is still fairly limited. So, we need more research to connect the two health concerns definitively.

What links the conditions?

Diabetes patients have sustained elevated blood glucose levels. This results in damage to many of the fine blood vessels that supply the inner ear. A network of vasculature supplies the cochlea. When patients fail to manage their illness or it goes uncontrolled for too long, it negatively impacts the the inner ear tissue and nerves. This leads to impaired hearing.

Take the Appropriate Course of Action for your hearing loss

Talk to your primary care physician or an endocrinologist to address your diabetes. Our professionals at Clear Wave Hearing Center can counsel you on your hearing loss. You may need to visit a specialist for a full hearing assessment*. If so, we can work with you decide which treatments suit your needs best. For more information on hearing loss and links to other illnesses, make an appointment or make for a free hearing assessment*.

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