American Hering & Balance

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How Ibuprofen can Lead to Hearing Loss

If you ever wondered what causes hearing loss, you probably never considered that over the counter medications could harm your ears. It’s true, thanks to a conclusive study just out that points to ibuprofen as a source of hearing loss in women. We all know that age as well as prolonged noise exposure can harm hearing, but now we know ibuprofen can too. One way to combat this from happening is to avoid certain medications in order to protect the health of your hearing, says the American Journal of Advanced Epidemiology through its research.

Conclusive Findings

The study we just mentioned revealed that a quarter of women who, more than twice a week, took ibuprofen and acetaminophen regularly reported increased incidents of hearing loss. The study spanned the country and involved 60,000 women over 14 years time. The purpose of the study was to determine whether pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen could bring on hearing loss in females. Researchers found that yes, they can.

What to Do

Instead of taking ibuprofen, if hearing loss is concerning you, is to pop naproxen for pain instead. This type of pain med has not been found to affect hearing adversely. You don’t necessarily have to stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen for things like muscle pain or headaches, but it is a good idea if you worry about hearing health. To be sure, take a look at all labels on cold and sinus medications at the store, as many have ibuprofen in them. To learn your risk factors, talk to your doctor.

More Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recognized the need for more evidence on hearing loss causes, so it is conducting research on 150,000 women country wide. The goal is to find out the many factors that can contribute to hearing loss, from diet and hormones to alcohol consumption and prolonged noise exposure.

Causes

You may be thinking: how does ibuprofen encourage hearing loss? It all has to do with the reduction in normal blood flow to the cochlear, situated in the inner ear. Acetaminophen, in particular, can attack those structures that are meant to protect your cochlear, leading to hearing damage over time. In previous studies, ibuprofen has been found to worsen symptoms of tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo in people. Any medicine, like analgesics, that hurts your kidneys can also hurt your ears. Just keep that in mind. This is the first time research on women has been done in connection with ibuprofen. Researchers already knew that this effect was seen in men.

How Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Holiday Gatherings

Check out the following negative effects of hearing loss on social happiness. We’ll also tell you how to best manage hearing loss, and also how to help people who suffer from hearing loss. The holiday season is a time when family and friends can come together. Just be sure everyone’s having fun. Don’t let the holidays get you down if you or a loved one has a hearing impairment. While millions of people around the nation will gather together and have a great time in one another’s company, people who suffer from hearing loss will not have such an easy time with one another. Hearing loss can deeply affect various aspects of a person’s overall happiness and health.

What Can We Do About Hearing Loss In The Holidays?

It’s a helpful idea to invite your hard of hearing family members to events and make them feel welcome in your home. Specifically, bring them over and make sure that everyone completely understands their situation. Do not be afraid to break the ice and build the room’s conversations around them in order to build their confidence. Also, you can be sure to help people with hearing loss by making sure that you are speaking to them loudly and slowly depending on their overall preferences. Take a person-first approach to their needs.

There are ways that you can do something about it, even though hearing loss can have a huge impact on the way that people approach and celebrate the holidays. The first type of help that you can provide is by working through the basic barrier of isolation that these people with hearing loss put up with.

Another way that you can combat hearing loss is by consulting a hearing specialist. These specialized medical professionals can work to the advantage of their patients by giving them the ability to examine possible hearing solutions available to them. After all the best way to help integrate family and friends with a more active community is being sure that they can actually hear conversations as they are happening. A hearing specialist will typically offer two great ways to go about helping your hearing- surgical options and device solutions. Surgery can repair the physical structures of the ear that have been harmed throughout your life. For hearing devices, there have been many advances in technology that have allowed hearing aid devices to give an incredible amount of hearing back to the patients. With all of these means, hearing specialists are able to help people with their overall hearing health and with making the most out of the holidays.

Hearing Loss Problems

The problems posed by hearing loss can be looked at as chiefly social in nature. This is significant in terms of hearing loss during the holidays because, more than anything else, the holidays area a time to gather with your close family and friends. If you cannot communicate with these people that you love, it can cause some significant effects on your overall sense of well-being. For example, people who suffer from hearing loss are much more likely to have issues with depression as well as anxiety. After all, not being able to take part in the holiday festivities is enough to get anyone feeling the holiday blues. This is only compounded by the fact that hearing loss may stop people from even going out and participating in any form of family activity in the first place. This social isolation will result in other problems in life as well, and can manifest in health problems such as brain damage and even dementia in severe cases.

How Hearing Aids are Programmed

Bet you never knew just how much programming goes into your hearing aid. It’s a lot, and it’s all done with software. Your hearing aid should be custom made, matching your hearing loss needs and feeling comfortable within your ears. You can’t just buy a set of hearing aids off the rack without having them programmed, similar to the way you can’t buy generic lenses for your prescription glasses. This is why a hearing aid won’t benefit you without programming by a certified audiologist. So, no two hearing aids are the same because everyone has different needs. How your hearing aid is programmed depends on your personal comfort level.

Programming Hearing Aids

As part of the process, a surround sound system can actually simulate crowd noises to determine how they will achieve noise reduction. This is helpful because so many people with hearing aids say they work great when all is quiet but as soon as they are in a restaurant, or even at a train station, they have to work hard to compete with all that background noise. During the actual programming process, many doctors use a surround sound system to simulate real noise from the outside world and make adjustments based on real-time feedback. Many people learn to program their own hearing aids but the equipment can get expensive and the level of accuracy goes down. You should always have a qualified audiologist perform this important task for the ultimate in hearing health.

The process of programming a hearing aid requires the proper hardware, software and cables to connect to the hearing aid. Due to the incorporation of real ear measurements, visual mapping and environmental simulations, a hearing aid can be customized to the individual. Also used are real-ear probe microphones which can pick up on how much sound is reaching the eardrum so the doctor can be the most accurate in his programming.

Processing Time

Hundreds of elements can be fine tuned within digital hearing aids to accommodate the hearing needs of someone with hearing loss. Programming takes place as a result of a complete hearing evaluation with the user on his or her subjective preferences. Digital hearing aids are great because they can undergo troubleshooting. Most hearing aids manufactured today are digital and can be programmed via software, while older devices only required a screwdriver to make tweaks. It’s important to know that once a hearing aid is programmed, this doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted again in the future. In fact, most people come back to their doctor with suggestions on how the device could work better or complaints about what the device can’t do for them. This is because the brain needs a bit of time to adjust to the new sounds emitted by the device, which can only be determined in certain listening environments. The device can then be tweaked as a result of those suggestions.

What Factors can be Adjusted?

Volume, frequency, levels of intensity, compression ratios, max power output, noise reduction and microphone parameters can all be adjusted. This ensures your hearing aid can be programmed exactly how you want it, all depending on the model type you have, along with the software contained within. If one setting is too sensitive to noise, it can be changed to accommodate the user’s comfort level, with background noise able to be filtered as well.

Brain Hearing Restores Optimal, Natural Hearing

With hearing aid technology outpacing its former reputation for clunky, cumbersome models, it’s harder for people to catch up with the level of technology that is immersed in this industry. It’s important to realize that the hearing aids of today are not associated with the unattractive, burdensome contraptions years ago any longer. Today’s devices are, instead, sleek and nearly invisible. They also work as intended, and then some.

The past 10 to 15 years have brought a lot of growth in the industry. Hearing aids that were once bulky, expensive, and ineffective are now discreet, affordable, and capable of reproducing the subtleties of natural sound. What makes them work isn’t just technology but the basic shift in a better method of research and design. This is called “brain hearing.”

So what is brain hearing, exactly?

Brain hearing begins with the simple acknowledgment that sound actually occurs in the brain, and not in the ears. Traditional hearing aids, designed with the ears in mind, tend to amplify any and all sounds, pushing through a mass of noise directly to the brain. The result is terrible sound quality that causes the brain to become overwhelmed and fatigued. And that, unfortunately, sums up the majority of the history of hearing aids.

The good news is that researchers have finally figured out that the processing of sound within the brain, and quality of the signal the brain receives, are just as important as the amplification of sound in the ear. By considering the entire hearing process, brain hearing research is leading to the development of some incredible hearing aids.

How do brain-focused hearing aids work?

Simply put, brain hearing leads to drastically improved hearing aid performance. By modifying only the sounds that the inner ear cannot already hear well, the natural quality of sound is preserved, and the brain is not fatigued and overwhelmed with unnecessary amplification. By preserving a natural, clear signal that is full of detail, brain-focused hearing aids work with the brain’s four key functions used to make sense of the sound it receives:

1. Spatial recognition – brain hearing preserves the difference in sound between the two ears, allowing for the ability to accurately locate sounds.

2. Speech recognition – brain hearing preserves the natural characteristics of speech, making it easier to focus on conversations and switch between speakers.

3. Sound filtering – brain hearing preserves the ability to identify and separate relevant information from background noise.

4. Sound focusing – brain hearing preserves the ability to focus on relevant sounds and speech, even in noisy environments with abrupt changes in background noise.

How you can benefit from brain hearing

At this point, you may be asking yourself how you can get your hands (and ears) on this new brain hearing technology. While hearing aids are not off-the-shelf products and need to be professionally fitted and programmed, the process is likely to be easier than you think.

The first step is to schedule a hearing test with any board-certified audiologist. Next, your audiologist will precisely measure your hearing loss, using that information in the custom programming of your new state-of-the-art hearing aid.
And finally, best of all, you can start enjoying the sounds of life again, free from the burdens of hearing loss courtesy of brain hearing.

Consumers love brain-focused hearing aids

Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon, tells us why brain hearing is so important. “Brain Hearing is a natural evolution of Oticon’s long-standing commitment to putting the needs of People First,” says Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon. “This comes back to our research from our Eriksholm research facility, where we have understood that treating hearing loss is much more than presenting sound through amplification. We have known for some years that the brain has a unique ability to process sound if it receives a robust signal that is full of detail.”

Oticon, a global leader in the hearing industry, specializes in brain-focused hearing aids with positive reviews. Oticon, for example, reports that while average hearing instrument user satisfaction is 79%, user satisfaction associated with one of its brain-focused hearing aids is 96%.

How Cell Phones Are Revolutionizing The Hearing Aid Industry

You may have thought all hearing aid devices could provide a hearing impaired person with all the benefits they need to hear better. While this is somewhat true, the burgeoning technology of cell and smart phones are making these experiences even better. With the ability to achieve more positive results when used together, cell phones and smarts phones pave the way for those with hearing loss to go about their day with bravery. The hearing aid industry, receiving a big boost by cell phones and smart phones, is utilizing devices that are a leading force in the hearing impaired community because they can be used in conjunction with the capabilities of modern day hearing aids. Often times, hearing aids on their own can’t provide the power or convenience that a phone can, which is where apps on your phone come in. You receive a higher level of sound in return.

Smart Phones- Leading The Way

One big way that people who use hearing aids are taking advantage of using smart phones is through the static and noise cancelling technology inherent in the latest models. This makes sure that using a hearing aid in tandem with a cell phone will not result in feedback or static, which allows for almost total clarity while in use. This is referred to as hearing aid capability, or HAC, which means that hearing impaired people can gauge their device’s abilities before they make a purchase. Smart phones can help individuals with hearing impairment by leading the charge with superior technology. Similarly to regular cell phones, these devices often come with high-level telecoils built into their construction.

Yes, you are right, there’s an app for that! Some apps can find a syndicated television program on television while others can pinpoint subtitles for a movie a user wants to watch. In addition, users can be alerted via blinking LED lights, or they can be sent vibrations to inform them of an incoming message, phone call or text. The smart phones of today feature helpful applications for hearing impaired individuals, thanks to built-in components that make users feel safe and secure each day.

Cell Phone Technological Advancements

Most cell phones feature a T3 or T4 standard, meaning they have met and surpassed the overall power and efficiency that they are required to have in order to function well with the hearing impaired. Sufferers of hearing loss, in turn, experience a far greater range of accessibility to their cell phone. To make this clear, many modern cell phones come with a telecoil, which that is responsible for changing magnetic signals from the phone into sound signals that can be interpreted by the user. This occurs when the telecoil and the cell phone are used in conjunction.

As you can see, there are many benefits to how smart phones and cell phones bolster the use of hearing aids today, allowing for a clearer experience on a daily basis for hearing impaired individuals.

Electric Cochlear Implants: Functions and Benefits

Historically, hearing aids, which have gone through many iterations over the last couple of hundred years, have been the traditional solution to hearing loss. Recent technology has shown that cochlear implants are becoming even more popular for individuals with high degrees of hearing loss. Those who can’t benefit from a simple hearing aid can opt to get a cochlear implant, which has several parts that are implanted beneath the skin. They are meant for both children and adults. These devices essentially are attached surgically to the wearer’s skull, allowing for a special bypass that helps interpret sound waves by the auditory nerve. These devices are ideal over hearing aids because they address much more severe forms of hearing loss.

How Do Cochlear Implants Function?

Cochlear implants are crucial for many people in which a hearing aid simply won’t provide the help they require. They operate through the use of four major components that simulate hearing, resulting in crisp, clear sound waves for optimal enjoyment. The microphone is located on the outside of the ear, which detects sounds and sends them to the speech processor that sits near the microphone. Consequently, this can be worn in other places on the body, and the place where interpretation and digitization of sound occurs. This puts it in a great place to be picked up by the transmitter. The transmitter, which fires off signals to the receiver underneath the skin, sends the signals to the electrode cluster within the cochlea. This component sits directly behind the ear and under the skin, where electrodes activate fibers on the auditory nerve for processing.

What Makes A Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants have many fine tuned components, most of which are located on the outside of the ear. Other components are anchored under the skin and behind the ear. The microphone, speech processor, and a transmitter comprise the external parts of the device, but the receiver and an electrode cluster comprise the parts underneath the skin.

Benefits of Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants allow the individual to clearly pick up on sounds such as speech and surrounding environmental sound, leading the user to feel safe and secure on a daily basis. In regards to the most integral hearing devices available to the hearing impaired community, these devices are excellent for people kids and adults who live with a high degree of hearing loss.

Advancements in Digital Hearing Aids

Move over, analog hearing aids. Today, about 90 percent of all hearing aids are digital, which is lucky because audiologists can now program each device according to the wearer’s degree of hearing loss. The first primitive hearing aids came out in the 1800s with the introduction of the ear trumpet. But now, digital hearing aids are available with remote controls that allow the user to adjust volume controls, along with omni-directional microphones to detect sound from several directions. From filtration of background noise to connections to Bluetooth devices, today’s digital hearing aids are making quite a stir. Digital hearing aids have the ability to remove fuzzy and loud background noise, but they can also do a whole lot more.

The First Digital Hearing Aids

The initial digital hearing aids helped spike processing speeds which improved the ability to hear. Range of amplification was also greatly improved. The first digital hearing aids featured DSP for digital noise reduction, technically standing for digital signal processing. 1996 was the first year that saw this advancement.

Self-Learning

Today’s hearing aids boast self-learning or regulating tendencies. These are truly “smart” hearing aids that adjust settings like volume automatically after a period of time according to user preferences. This puts control into the hands of the wearer. Self-learning hearing aids are integral to modern devices because they have self-learning or regulating tendencies.

Single Sided Deafness

Technologies such as CROS devices and bone conduction devices allow the good ear to receive signals from the bad ear to increase amplification to an acceptable level. Prior to big advancements in digital technology, people who had single-sided deafness had to deal with the frustration of background noise and were relegated to using their “good ear” to hear conversation.

Better Connections

People who incorporate digital hearing aids benefit from digital noise reduction and better frequency transposition, as well as increased range. With the advancement of digital hearing aids, users can now make a connection to Bluetooth and other wireless technological services to expand their ease of use.

The First Digital Hearing Aids

The first digital hearing aids, introduced into the medical community, came out in 1996. They utilized DSP, which stands for digital signal processing. Ideal for digital noise reduction, DSPs provided a boost in processing speeds which improved the ability to hear as well as the range of amplification for individuals wearing the hearing aid.

DNR

Digital noise reduction technology surpasses that of directional microphones because it is based on the physical characteristics of noise and speech rather than the separation of space, taking into account speech modulation.

The Outlook

The outlook for digital hearing aids is superior over other types, as the technology will only continue to grow and improve. For improved ease of use and flexibility, hearing impaired individuals can count on digital hearing aids to take advantage of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics to propel to more sophisticated abilities.

10 Ways Good Hearing can Help Keep Seniors Young

In this article, we’ll learn how good hearing can help you maintain your youth, leading to increased self-esteem and even a better social life. By maintaining your hearing, you’ll experience many ideal side effects that make you feel younger. The formula is quite simple: stay young by protecting your hearing. You realize how good exercise  can be for your overall health, staving off cancers, heart diseases and extra pounds: it’s the same with your hearing.

  1. Speedier reaction time. When you have a healthy hearing level, you can better react to fire alarms and sirens so you can get out of the way and not get hurt

  2. Have better sex. Hearing impaired seniors who wear hearing aids, along with seniors who have no hearing loss, tend to have an improved social life and sex life, plus better overall mental health and a sense of independence.

  3. Interact better in school. Are you back in school after many decades away? You won’t learn as well if you constantly have to sit up front and ask the teacher to repeat herself. Maintaining a healthy level of hearing means you can understand the teacher’s instructions more clearly, plus you can interact with your classmates and participate in projects.

  4. Engage in productive interactions in daily life. Hearing loss has a tendency to alienate people from getting the information they need to go about their daily lives. It’s tough to effectively communicate with anyone from the librarian to the check-out clerk when you suffer from hearing loss.

  5. Increase blood flow to your ear canals. Exercise is great for the ears. Via aerobic activity, you send oxygen-rich blood flow to the ears which protects them from additional hearing loss.

  1. Stay out of the hospital. Hearing loss can boost your risk of going to the hospital due to falls and other events, can actually lead to inactivity, which in turn leads to depression.

  2. Enjoy less risk of falling. Individuals who can’t hear well don’t have as much of a stable awareness of their surroundings, and can trip and fall easier. People with a 25-decibel hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than others with no hearing impairments, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

  1. Hear better in the workplace. You can’t hear important instructions or safety precautions when lacking sufficient hearing, and you certainly can’t readily participate productively in coworker discussions or meetings. The result is an impact on your job performance. You may even become obsolete in your own profession.

  2. Stave off dementia. Brain shrinkage gives you an increased risk of developing dementia in old age, and no one wants that. The National Institute on Aging has linked hearing loss with dementia, thanks to the brain shrinkage we experience as we get on in years.

  3. Boost in confidence. Those with difficulties in hearing can have a lack of self confidence or self-esteem. Why? They don’t have as easy a time interacting in social situations. This may result in a reluctance to go to parties, meetings and get-togethers.

Digital Hearing Aids

Being that up to a third of people over the age of 60 are believed to suffer from hearing loss, it is now more important than ever to take measures to prevent hearing loss. One of the most basic ways that people have attempted to help their hearing is by wearing ear plugs to prevent sound from entering their ears. Now technology has caught up to these simple devices and improved them so that they have multiple benefits that can keep your hearing safe. In this article we will take a look at the different benefits of digital ear plugs, how they work, and the industries in which they offer protection.

How Do They Work?

Digital ear plugs take on the most basic property of the ear plugs that we have used in industry for the last few centuries- they block out all sound if you need them. Another one of the functions of a digital ear plug is that they are able to alter the type of frequencies that are allowed to pass through the plug and into the ear canal. Finally, these ear plugs are also capable of altering the amount of decibels that are ultimately passed through the device.

What Are The Specific Means They Use?

These digital ear plugs use a variety of technology in order to make this possible. The first thing that they do is make sure that the ear plug is fitted completely to the user. This allows them to have almost no room for sound to come through and get past the ear plugs. In terms of allowing some sounds through and not others, the ear plugs use a frequency response alteration device, making sure that there is only a certain range that is allowed through. Also, these digital ear plugs have a stop-gate technology built into them so that they can reach a sound threshold before shutting off. This prevents large amounts of sudden sound as well as prolonged sounds from entering the ear.

The Professions That Benefit From This

There are many professions that can benefit from these ear plugs. One of the professions that sees the greatest benefits is first responders and soldiers. Both of these groups are exposed to long term, tremendous amounts of noise at any given time. The stop-gate technology allows the individuals to work in a loud environment without being distracted by painful amounts of noise. Another way that digital ear plugs can help people is by amplifying the sounds that are involved in conversation, while still muting the other noises in the environment. This allows people under the duress of alarms to communicate more effectively while protecting their hearing abilities. For all of these reasons and more, digital ear plugs are becoming more and more popular.

 

Hearing Loss Diabetes

Because various conditions tend to play off each another, it’s really no surprise that diabetes and hearing loss – the top two health problems in America today according to the American Diabetes Association – have been linked. Take a look at the statistics are incredible: 30 million people suffer from diabetes, while 34.5 million people have some degree of hearing loss. Recent studies have shown that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes than other people without the disease. The recent studies in question concentrated on 20,000 people from various places around the globe, including the U.S., Asia, Brazil and Australia.

Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Certainly these many studies have drawn a link between diabetes and hearing loss, but the fact remains that researchers still aren’t sure exactly why diabetes causes hearing loss or vice versa. One theory as to curbing this correlation? Diabetics should better control their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but this is not proven yet. Even though loud noises contribute hearing loss in many people, a noisy workplace has also been ruled out as a factor in the above studies. The medications and diuretics diabetics take to keep their blood pressure could actually bring on the hearing loss, so that’s something to look into. Could it involve high blood glucose levels that come with the territory with diabetes? These levels can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, known to cause hearing impairment. Researchers don’t assume age plays a role in these links, even though it’s been known for awhile now that hearing loss occurs as we age.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Be on alert when looking for signature signs and symptoms of hearing loss so you can get diagnosed and begin treatment immediately. You could suffer from some degree of hearing impairment if you have trouble keeping track of conversations with two or more people, constantly only hear mumbling from others, put the volume on the TV or radio way up, or can’t easily pick out the voices of small children or women. Other signs to look out for include if you can’t distinguish words within a large noisy crowd, if words are muffled rather than clear, and if you have others repeat themselves over and over. You don’t want this to lead to the avoiding of certain social situations just so you don’t get embarrassed, so take action and see an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment so you don’t put yourself or others at risk. Usually, your spouse, partner, friend or family member will alert you to these displays of hearing impairment.

Testing for Diabetes

Hopefully, the results of the studies outlined above will spur more doctors to test for hearing loss in their diabetic patients. This is why you should get your hearing tested at the doctor’s office during your annual diabetic checkup and alert him to the correlation you’ve heard between diabetes and hearing loss. If the results come back showing you need further evaluation, your doctor can send you to an audiologist. Hearing tests are often overlooked at doctor’s visits for adults, but they shouldn’t be any longer in light of these findings.