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Hearing Loss

Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss

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Hearing Aids

Tips to Adjust to Your New Hearing Aids

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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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Is hearing loss like vision loss?

Why do we pay more attention to our vision than our hearing?

Both are very important senses, and both cause us great difficulties if they don’t work effectively. But due to the way we use them, their loss affects us in different ways. Many adults get their vision checked regularly, so why do so many people ignore their ears?

Addressing vision loss

When you go to an optician, you look at a letter chart. If you have a loss of vision, you may not be able to read the lower lines of smaller letters, because they become blurry. Your eyes can’t focus on them.

Another way to understand vision loss is to think of how we age. Over time the eyes gradually lose their ability to focus so close objects become blurry. If you are farsighted you know that seeing things close to you – like reading – become more difficult. This loss of sensitivity to nearby objects does not vary; it is uniform.

Comparing to hearing loss

Like vision, our ears often gradually lose the ability to hear high frequencies, both through damage and aging. However, unlike with vision loss, the actual effects of this are not uniform.

Speech is made up of many different frequencies and tones. If we can’t hear high pitched sounds, we find it hard to understand specific letters such as f, s and t. This is because they contain high frequencies. Such letters can also be drowned out by louder, low-pitched vowels like a, o and u.

In contrast to vision loss where we miss chunks of vision (such as the lower rows on a vision chart), the loss of hearing sensitivity affects many different parts of speech that are scattered throughout the conversation, so random bits of conversation get lost.

Are there similarities with vision and hearing loss

There are clear differences between hearing loss and vision loss. But there are many similarities too:

  • Healthcare professionals offer solutions for both
  • Both have stylish and discreet options
  • Treatment makes it possible to live life fully
  • The consequences of not treating the problem are similar for both, including tiredness, mental decline and social isolation

Vision aids (glasses) versus hearing aids

When people struggle to see, they wear glasses. These “vision aids” help a broad range of people. Whether you wear them for distance, computers, reading or a combination, they work best when an optometrist or ophthalmologist checks your vision, writes a prescription and a professional, such as an optician orders lenses specifically addressing your individual needs – whether you are near-sighted, far-sighted, have astigmatism or a combination of challenges.

The same holds true with solutions for hearing. Since modern hearing aid designs are discreet and stylish – and come in a range of subtle colors – many people find any stigmas to be silly. That’s why our hearing aid wearers are happy that today’s technology-packed aids are cool. Besides, if you hear and see well, your entire world is brighter.

Getting a hearing assessment* is as easy as a vision test. And no drops in your eyes. Plus, with us, it’s free. Contact us and make an appointment to get started.

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Can you test for tinnitus?

How do I know if what I am hearing is real or phantom?

If you or someone you love has been experiencing ringing in the ears of other sounds that no one else can hear, it might be tinnitus. The first step for answers is to make an appointment for a hearing assessment*. After discussing your medical history with a hearing care professional, your provider will check for obstructions in the ear canal and clear out any built-up earwax.

If the tinnitus is reported as being unilateral (only in one ear) you may need to speak with a physician. An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may order an X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan to rule out larger issues. If no obstructions are present in the ear canal and no other potential causes are discovered, an audiologist or other hearing care provider will consider other causes, including hearing loss.

Professional hearing assessments

Your hearing care provider may conduct a pure tone audiogram, especially if your tinnitus is unilateral or accompanied by loss of hearing. A pure tone audiogram plays different frequencies at varying volumes. Even if you haven’t noticed reduced hearing, an audiogram may show areas of weakness that you may not have noticed before. In addition to an audiogram, your audiologist may consider performing speech audiometry, which looks at how well a patient can hear and repeat certain words.

Sound matching and other methods

Since generally tinnitus’ perceived sound cannot be heard by another person, audiologists use sound matching to determine what the patient experiences. Sound matching consists of playing a series of audio clips to identify which sound is closest to the internally perceived sound.

A hearing care provider may use minimum masking levels to determine if a patient is experiencing tinnitus. This also determines how loud a sounds seem. The audiologist or hearing care professional plays audio clips at increasing volume levels until the patient registers that the external noise entirely conceals the phantom sounds.

How is tinnitus impacting you?

You may be asked to fill out a self-assessment form or questionnaire. This will establish how your symptoms are impacting your life and emotional well-being.

Tinnitus is not an illness. If you are experiencing buzzing, ringing or other sounds you cannot identify, and want to discuss options for relief, contact our professionals. We can discuss your challenges – and provide solutions. Make an appointment for a free hearing assessment* today.

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