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Can Stress and Hearing Loss Be Related?

Stress is a natural part of life. Between family, job, and social obligations, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. It can impact your health in very profound ways, including impacting your hearing. Being mindful of the degree and duration of stress is an important way to monitor your overall health.

Acute vs. Long-term Stress

During acute stress responses, your heart rate and breathing may increase as a result of your adrenaline flowing. After the threat triggering this “fight or flight” response is neutralized, the body typically returns to neutral to recover from the surge of adrenaline.

However, there are times when stress continues for an extended period, thereby causing the body to keep releasing adrenaline without much (or any) rest and recovery time. This type of long-term stress is harmful to your health and can affect your immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems.

Chronic Stress and Hearing Loss

Stress is often not an isolated condition. Its interrelationship with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking can have significant health consequences. These conditions impact and restrict your circulation, which in turn can affect your hearing.

The small sensory hairs of your inner ear need good blood circulation to survive and thrive in doing their job of interpreting sound. With poor circulation, these inner ear hairs can be damaged or die and result in hearing loss.

4 Tips for Managing Stress

More stress causes more health complications. Therefore, proactively managing it is a crucial way to protect yourself. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) publishes a stress index to help…

  1. Exercise regularly. Maintaining a regular flow of physical activity boosts cardiovascular health. Commit to even 15-20 minutes a day of getting your heart pumping and worry less about your heart health.
  2. Talk to someone. Finding a therapist or counselor to talk to during difficult periods can be a big help to reduce and process stress.
  3. Get a checkup. Visit your doctor, naturopath, or other healthcare professional to get a clearer picture of the impact stress is having on your body. They may be able to prescribe additional medications, supplements, or strategies to help your body recover.
  4. Get your hearing checked. If you’ve noticed a change in your hearing or have concerns about circulatory conditions, book an assessment with your hearing healthcare professional.

Concerned about the effects of stress on your hearing health? Talk to us today.

Posted by Admin

No big deal: Ending the stigma of hearing loss

It’s no big deal! Really. After all, it’s 2018. So isn’t it time that we end the stigma related to wearing hearing aids and hearing loss? Since inclusion has become pervasive in today’s society, why not let go of any negative images of hearing loss? Here at Clear Wave Hearing Center we know that people of any age can have hearing loss and that wearing hearing aids is a smart solution to a challenge. Let’s all let go of any negative associations to hearing loss.

Not just “old people” have hearing loss

Some people equate wearing hearing aids with old age, but it simply isn’t true. Plenty of young people have hearing loss and use hearing aids or implants. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 2-3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with some hearing loss.1 Schools across the country, from pre-school through high school, make accommodations to “mainstream” students with hearing loss, and several colleges offer programs specifically for students with hearing loss.

Why is there a stigma? Self-perception, ageism and vanity

Even though many younger people have it, hearing loss continues to be thought of as something only old people experience. It isn’t. Nor is it anything to be embarrassed about. Yet, recent research shows that stigma remains an issue. In 2010, The Gerontologist conducted research focused on stigma and hearing loss, and how these may impact an individual’s decision to wear hearing aids. The researchers found that perceived stigma did make a difference in whether people with hearing loss accepted hearing aids and how well they adapted to them.2 People in the study expressed concerns about being seen as old, or worried that people may stare at them if they were wearing hearing aids. But this isn’t new. The study noted that the concept of stigma dates back to the ancient Greeks, and that people labeled stigma to alterations in self-perception, ageism and vanity.

Society has changed rapidly over the last decade

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans have improved their view of people with disabilities,3 especially since 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. People’s viewpoints have changed. But assistive technologies, such as hearing aids, play an integral role in helping people with challenges integrate fully into society. Getting to know people with hearing loss, seeing how well they manage with hearing aids at home, work and in the community, helps break down any residual stigma.

Hearing loss is an invisible disability

You can’t see if someone has hearing loss, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if they struggle to hear you. A hearing aid may be the only clue. Hearing aid manufactures understand that aesthetics count. Sometimes hearing aids are so well-hidden that they’re even invisible. Others have a sleek design, available in many colors, including a variety of skin-tones. Some people choose to flaunt the latest in hearing aids designs and pick bolder colors, like blues or pinks. And why not? We think that hearing aids are nothing to hide!

Why break the stigma?

Hearing loss advocate, Shari Eberts, recently wrote in Psychology Today that the time has come to end the stigma of hearing loss. She lists multiple avenues you can follow to break the stigma of hearing loss. She encourages the public to do the following:

      “Get your hearing tested as part of your annual medical screening and encourage your friends and family to do the same.”
      “If you have hearing loss, treat it.”
      “If you have hearing aids, wear them.”
      “Speak up about your hearing loss”4

We agree that all of these things can help the public understand hearing loss and improve their own well-being.

Want more information on ending stigmas, accepting hearing loss and finding the best options for you?

Whether you are a “newbie” to hearing loss or have been facing hearing loss for decades, we can help you choose the best solution for your individual needs. We understand that first-time wearers may go through a process to get used to hearing aids, and our experienced team know how to help acclimate you to wearing your new devices. Want to learn more? Make a no-obligation appointment. Should you need hearing aids, we will help you find the right design for your ears. Call (507) 208-7002 to book time with us.

Posted by Admin

Caffeine and hearing loss: good news for coffee lovers

It is the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. Today you have the perfect excuse to treat yourself to an extra cappuccino or a straight shot of espresso. But how does caffeine affect you? In terms of your hearing health, we are pleased to share some good news. Research shows that caffeine from coffee or tea may be connected to lower risks of tinnitus in women and to living longer in healthy adults. So if you ever needed an excuse to drink more coffee, read on.

Research reveals good news for coffee and tea drinkers

According to the American Journal of Medicine1, in a study of more than 65,000 women, caffeine has positive associations with your hearing health. Specifically, over a period of 18 years, women who had higher intakes of caffeine showed lower incidence of tinnitus. In fact, those who drank less than 150 mg (approximately an 8-ounce cup of coffee) a day showed higher rates of tinnitus.

Why is this important?

Tinnitus, a ringing, buzzing or similar noise that individuals hear without anything present producing the sound, can be debilitating. Especially when it presents as a chronic issue. Although some people develop tinnitus after a trauma, for many others the cause is unknown, so preventative measures provide much-needed help.

Too much of a good thing?

But how much caffeine is too much? The study showed that the women who ingested 450 milligrams to 599 milligrams of caffeine daily were 15% less likely to experience hearing loss. Those who consumed more than 600 milligrams were 21% less likely to develop tinnitus. To put it into perspective, to meet the 450-599 mg category, a person would have to consume about four 8-ounce cups of coffee. Casual coffee drinkers are in luck.

Good for your ears – and your heart!

Benefits for coffee lovers do not end with decreased incidence of tinnitus. At a recent meeting of the European Society of Cardiology2, Spanish researchers presented the results of a 10-year study of nearly 20,000 people called the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project. The results showed that healthy people who consumed a Mediterranean diet and drank more coffee lived longer. Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, said in presentation, “In the SUN project we found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants.”

You may wonder how much coffee is helpful. Dr. Navarro told the audience that drinking four cups of coffee daily is fine for healthy people.

Good for your hearing, good for your heart

Starting tomorrow, the days will get a little bit lighter. Nevertheless, you may still enjoy a second cup of joe without regrets.

If you have concerns about tinnitus, hearing loss or hearing health, make an appointment to speak with our hearing professionals. We have plenty of tips for hearing wellness.

Posted by Admin

Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

Specialists believe that it is more than anecdotal evidence.
Audiologists and hearing specialists have long suspected a connection between hearing loss and depression based on years of anecdotal evidence. Until recently, however, there was limited scientific data to support this link. The few studies that existed showed mixed results, tenuous connections, and primarily focused on seniors or specific demographics. However, a 2014 study documented the connection between depression and hearing impairment with quantifiable data. It showed that women and individuals under 70 years of age in the U.S. are particularly susceptible to depression if they already have some degree of hearing loss.

About the research

The 2014 study, authored by Chuan-Ming Li, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, was published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. The study found a significant association between hearing loss and moderate to severe depression. Researchers showed that 5% of individuals without hearing loss had symptoms of depression, compared to 11% of individuals with hearing loss who also exhibited signs.

Who is most at risk of developing depression?

More than 18,000 adults responded to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It required filling out a questionnaire with questions the researchers designed to reveal symptoms of melancholy. The research demonstrated the strongest connection between hearing deficits and depression in women age 18 and 69 years. The research did not show a correlation in men over age 70, only in women. This may be due to the fact that women, after the age of 65, begin losing the ability to hear higher frequencies. The brain needs these higher pitched sounds to comprehend speech in loud environments. A decrease in communication leads to loneliness and feeling left out.

Why are individuals with hearing loss more likely to experience depression?

People with hearing loss often express difficulty in communicating with family members, colleagues and friends. This can lead to the individual with hearing loss retreating from social life and isolating him- or herself. But treatment is effective in restoring relationships. If you have symptoms of hearing loss and sadness, contact your health care provider. If you are concerned about hearing loss, make an appointment for a free hearing assessment*.

Posted by Admin

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