Hearing Loss

Can Seasonal Allergies Cause Hearing Loss?

Posted by Admin |

Hearing Loss

Can Seasonal Allergies Cause Hearing Loss?

Posted by Admin |

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Isn’t Just For Seniors

Posted by Admin |

Can Seasonal Allergies Cause Hearing Loss?

It’s that time of year when the seasons are beginning to change. For allergy sufferers, that can mean itchy eyes and stuffy noses. It might surprise you to find out that it could also mean hearing loss for many people. Your hearing and auditory systems are extremely complex, and can in fact be affected by an allergic reaction.

Understanding Allergies

An allergic reaction is a body’s way of responding to a perceived threat. Your immune system will identify a foreign body, such as an infection, and work to fight this off. In the process, your immune system will create antibodies designed to help fight off the same infection in the future.

The problem is the immune system is far from perfect. Sometimes harmless substances like dust or pollen will have been marked as a threat by your immune system, and antibodies subsequently produced. Once this occurs, these foreign bodies will always seem like a threat. This is how an allergy comes to be. For allergy sufferers, this means every time you come in contact with this allergen, i.e. the dust or pollen, your immune system will respond. By definition, an allergy means you are hypersensitive to something that is harmless to most people.

Seasonal Allergies and Hearing Loss

Each year, millions of people in this U.S. seek treatment for seasonal allergies. Common symptoms of allergies, such as congestion, may cause people not to notice a change in their hearing. The ears rely on sound waves reaching a nerve in the inner ear, and allergies can interfere with that process.

An allergic response typically leads to swelling and congestion. This can, in turn, change the fluid pressure and prevent sound from traveling to the inner ear. This often manifests as a sense of fullness or feeling of pressure in the ear. The body can also produce more earwax in response to an allergy, thereby creating a buildup that blocks sound.

The Skin and Allergies

An allergic response can affect the skin, causing inflammation or a rash. The skin in the ear is also at risk when allergies strike. As the ear canal is covered with skin, if it swells it could potentially become inflamed enough to close the ear passage and prevent sound from entering further into the ear.

Allergies and the Middle Ear

The middle ear is the area most often affected by allergies. This region contains tubes that allow fluid to drain and control the pressure inside the ear. An allergic reaction closes the tubes, allowing fluid and pressure to build. This makes it hard to hear.

How to Recognize Allergy-Related Hearing Loss

If you are prone to allergies, these symptoms will be familiar:

  • Itching inside the ear canal
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Fullness inside the ear
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

If you experience any changes in your hearing, you may want to consider speaking to a hearing care professional. Contact us at (507) 208-7002, or click here to request an appointment today.

Posted by Admin

Did You Know How Easy it is to Damage Your Hearing with Headphones?

We accept the fact that loud noise exposure damages hearing. Stats show there are more people than ever with Noise Induced Hearing Loss and sufferers are getting younger. 20% of our teens today have a noticeable hearing loss, which is 30% more than in the 1980’s.

The World Health Organization, among others, concludes that although it cannot be directly proven, headphone use could be a culprit. So heeding the warnings about loud noise, let’s start by looking at why headphones pose a threat to your hearing health.

How does loud noise damage hearing?

The hair cells of the inner ear need to send signals to the brain when we hear a sound. But, loud noise damages these hair cells by disrupting the fluid of the inner ear. This then causes a reduction in the threshold of sounds that can be heard. When this keeps happening, more and more hearing loss occurs.

Why blame headphones?

Our workplaces have to protect us from loud noise exposure. We naturally limit time in loud environments – such as speeding past roadworks, or rushing a meal in a noisy restaurant, or sitting away from a crying child etc.

When it comes to music and computer games, we feed it directly into our ear canal. We even turn it up to drown out the rest of the world, and some of us frequently do this for hours. It’s the direct feed of loud noise into our ears for long periods, frequently repeated that poses the threat to hearing.

The louder the sound, the less time you should be exposed for. A daily limit guideline is…

  • 95 dB, less than 4 hours.
  • 100 dB, less than 2 hours.
  • 105 dB, less than 1 hour.
  • 110 dB, less than 30 minutes.
  • 115 dB, less than 15 minutes.
  • 120-plus dB, damage occurs almost immediately and causes pain.

For comparison, a soft whisper is usually measured at 30dB.

How to tell the volume is too loud

  • You can’t hear or understand someone 3 feet away from you.
  • You have to raise your voice to be heard.
  • When you remove headphones, speech around you sounds muffled or dull.
  • You have ringing or pain in your ears.

I want to use headphones – how do i limit the damage?

  • Choose noise cancelling headphones.
  • Do not use earbuds – they have no sound buffer.
  • Keep the volume at around 60% of the maximum.
  • Limit your time and take a ten minute break for every hour during the day to let your ears recover.
  • Use both earphones.
  • If you use a hearing aid – look for bluetooth headphones to regulate the volume.

If you’re concerned you may have impacted your hearing from prolonged headphone use, get in touch to arrange a hearing evaluation. Any damage may not be permanent and our advice may just be music to your ears. Request an appointment today, or call us on (507) 208-7002.

Posted by Admin

Hearing Loss Isn’t Just For Seniors

Many people seem to simply accept that hearing loss is “normal” as you age. Presbycusis is the most common form of sensorineural hearing loss, which can be caused naturally as your auditory system ages. It is a gradual onset hearing loss, and can often go unnoticed for a while.

However, it’s not only the elderly who are at risk of hearing loss. Nobody should take their hearing health for granted. Statistics show that anybody can be impacted by hearing loss:

  • 15% of all American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.
  • Only 35% of people diagnosed with hearing loss are older than age 64.
  • 14.6% of baby boomers (ages 41-62), have a hearing problem.
  • 7.4% of Generation Xers (ages 29-43) have a hearing loss
  • At least 1.4 million children or 5 in every 1000 (18 or younger) have hearing problems.

Reducing the Risks of Hearing Loss

You can protect your hearing, if you’re aware of the risks and symptoms of hearing loss.

One of the more common causes of hearing loss in the younger generations, is prolonged exposure to loud noises – most commonly music enjoyed through headphones. But did you know:

  • The NIDCD suggests that at least 10 million adults in the U.S. under age 70 may have Noise induced hearing loss.
  • The WHO warned that 1.1 billion young adults are at risk for developing hearing loss, due to increased use of headphones and attending loud music festivals.
  • The CDC found that at least 12.5% of children aged 6 to 19 have suffered permanent damage to their hearing due to excessive noise exposure.

Day to day loud activities can have an impact on hearing loss. These can include machinery, a noisy workplace, playing in a band, motorcycling and more. Knowing the risks of these noisy environments, take measures to protect your hearing by:

  • Wearing ear defenders or ear plugs
  • Take regular breaks, or auditory detoxes. Even 15 minutes in a quiet environment can be enough!
  • Turn the volume down, or avoid prolonged listening to loud music
  • Purchase noise cancelling headphones. These can eliminate background noises and help you enjoy your music at lower volumes.

Preventative Protection

Adults 45 and over are recommended to have annual hearing screenings. Those younger than 45 are recommended to have bi-annual hearing screenings, to increase the chances of catching any changes to your hearing ability early. This also helps maximize the impact that treatment will have.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only noise that can threaten your hearing. Lifestyle factors can also play a role. Smoking, excess weight and alcohol consumption can increase your chances of hearing loss by restricting blood flow to the ears. This can result in long term damage or contribute to cardiovascular disease, which increases chances of hearing damage.

A healthy combination of a diet full in natural nutrients and vitamins, alongside the use of apps that help to monitor the volume of your surroundings can go a long way in helping to prevent hearing loss. Want to learn more? Call us today on (507) 208-7002 or Request an Appointment now.

Posted by Admin

Can You Get Tinnitus Relief with Hearing Aids?

Hearing specialists will often prescribe hearing aids to a patient who has hearing loss with associated tinnitus. When it comes to helping relieve the symptoms of tinnitus, hearing aids may actually provide positive benefits,  particularly when used in conjunction with a hearing loss treatment plan.

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a common underlying factor of hearing loss, however even individuals with normal hearing can experience tinnitus. Loss of hearing is often an unnoticeable and gradual process, and many people are surprised when they are told that they have a hearing loss. It is not uncommon for a patient to presume that their tinnitus is causing difficulty hearing, rather than hearing loss.

Hearing Aids and Tinnitus

Although the direct cause of tinnitus is unclear, researchers agree that tinnitus is most commonly found in conjunction with hearing loss. The purpose of a hearing aid is to help alleviate hearing loss, and therefore can have a positive impact on the symptoms of tinnitus also.

Is there a positive effect on tinnitus by using hearing aids?

Some studies have looked at the effect of hearing aids on every day life for the tinnitus patient e.g. how a hearing aid may help reduce tinnitus and improve quality of life. Bilateral hearing aids (namely, an aid in each ear) have shown to provide more benefits than the use of a singular hearing aid.

With the improvements in hearing aid technology in recent years, particularly with the introduction of digital hearing aids, audiologists are able to more accurately tailor a hearing solution on an individual basis. This has seen an increase in the benefits that hearing aids can bring to sufferers of tinnitus.

If you are struggling with tinnitus and want to learn more about how a hearing aid might be the right solution for you, contact us today. Our hearing specialists will be glad to discuss your hearing aid options. Click here to request an appointment, or call us on (507) 208-7002 now.

Posted by Admin

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