The Hurdles to Getting Hearing Aids

A New York Times blog posted this morning struck a cord with us here at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic. (Click here to read it.)

Jane Brody writes that

Hearing loss is usually gradual, and people often fail to recognize when it becomes severe enough to warrant hearing aids. Some deny that they have a problem, and instead accuse others of mumbling when they know people are talking but can’t understand what is being said. Still others regard hearing aids as unattractive devices that make them feel and look old in a society that prizes youthfulness.

We see this every day. Mostly those who could benefit from a hearing aid value their vanity over communication with family and friends.

What many people with hearing loss don’t realize is that the signs of the untreated hearing loss are more noticeable to others than hearing aids.

If you feel you are having trouble communicating or are isolating yourself socially because of your hearing trouble, give us a call. We would be happy to walk you over perceived hurdles. Our Doctors of Audiology are here to help. (519) 961-9285

 

 

 

 

October is Audiology Awareness Month! What is an Audiologist?

October is right at the doorstep: the trees are starting to change, the weather has taken a turn and of course: We’re about to kick off Audiology Awareness Month!

What is an Audiologist?

Well according to Google, we are health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders in newborn, children, and adults. Audiology is a well-respected and highly recognized profession. However, we think we do much, much more!

We act as marriage counselors, miracle workers, a shoulder to cry on, community members, hearing aid mechanics, friends and trusted allies.

Why should you choose an Audiologist?

An Audiologist has extensive education, training and experience in your auditory system. We are not just here to sell and service hearing aids, our scope of practice is much larger. Audiologists are taught the foundations of how sound works, the underpinnings of hearing aid fitting algorithms, and the best ways to identify not only hearing loss, but also any underlying conditions that may need medical attention. Audiologists in Ontario are governed by CASLPO – College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario which sets the the gold standards of practice.

If you have questions about whether or not you should see an Audiologist, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time! We can be reached at (519) 961-9285, Monday through Friday.

Comment to Win! What’s your favorite sound?

Kittens Purring.  Waves Crashing.  Thunderstorms!  Cards Shuffling.  Bonfires.  Laughing Babies.  Engines Humming.  Skates on Ice.  Snow Falling.  Favorite Song.  Dogs Barking.

Visit us on Facebook  and simply tell us about your favorite sound to be entered to win 4 tickets to an upcoming Windsor Spitfires home game with VIP Parking and Crown Royal Lounge access!

One winner will be selected randomly Wednesday September 30, 2015, no purchase necessary, simply comment with your favorite sound on our Facebook post.

So do tell us: What’s your favorite sound?

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What do William Shatner, Beethoven, Will.I.am & Ronald Reagan have in common?

William Shatner, Beethoven, Will.I.am & Ronald Reagan seem likely to have nothing in common. An actor, a classical composer, a rapper and a former American President – they seemingly couldn’t be more different. But according to an article by stoptheringing.org they all (and many others) suffer from Tinnitus.

Tinnitus is commonly referred to as a ringing or buzzing in the ears, and it is the perception of sound when there is no external sound present.

The British Tinnitus Association recently released a Top Ten List about Tinnitus for Physicians.

 

Ten Top Tinnitus Tips 

1 At any point in time around 10% of the population experience tinnitus – both sexes are equally affected and although tinnitus is more common in the elderly it can occur at any age, including childhood. The perceived sound can have virtually any quality – ringing, whistling and buzzing are common – but more complex sounds can also be described.

2 Most tinnitus is mild in fact it is relatively rare for it to develop into a chronic problem of life-altering severity, but it does happen. The natural history of tinnitus in most patients is of an acute phase of distress when the problem begins, followed by improvement over time. But for a minority of patients the distress is ongoing and very significant, and they will require specialist support.

3 Tinnitus is more common in people with hearing loss tinnitus prevalence is greater among people with hearing impairment but the severity of the tinnitus correlates poorly with the degree of hearing loss. It is also quite possible to have tinnitus with a completely normal pure tone audiogram.

4 Tinnitus can be associated with a blocked sensation for reasons that are not clear tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss can give rise to a blocked feeling in the ears despite normal middle ear pressure and eardrum mobility. Otoscopy and, if available, tympanometry can exclude Eustachian tube dysfunction. Decongestants and antibiotics are rarely helpful.

5 Giving a negative prognosis is actively harmful it is all too common to hear that patients have been told nothing can be done about tinnitus. Such negative statements are not only unhelpful but also tend to focus the patient’s attention on their tinnitus and exacerbate the distress. A positive attitude is generally helpful and there are many constructive statements that can be made about tinnitus, such as: most tinnitus lessens or disappears with time; most tinnitus is mild; tinnitus is not a precursor of hearing loss.

6 Enriching the sound environment is helpful useful sources of sound to reduce the starkness of tinnitus include quiet uneventful music, a fan or a water feature. There are inexpensive devices that produce environmental sounds, and these are particularly useful at bedtime.

7 Hearing aids are helpful straining to listen causes increased central auditory gain and this increased sensitivity can allow tinnitus to emerge or, if already present, to worsen. Correcting any associated hearing loss reduces this central auditory gain and thereby reduces the level of the tinnitus. Hearing aids are useful even if the hearing loss is relatively mild and an aid would not normally be considered. Recent Department of Health guidelines have emphasised the value of audiometry in a tinnitus consultation, and this is the definitive basis for decisions about hearing aid candidacy. If in doubt, refer for an audiological opinion. In our view, all people who describe tinnitus deserve an audiological assessment. Decisions on when to start using a hearing aid and what sort to use are up to the individual patient and audiologist.

8 Underlying pathology is rare, but be vigilant in many cases tinnitus is due to heightened awareness of spontaneous electrical activity in the auditory system that is normally not perceived. It can however be a symptom of treatable and significant otological pathology, such as a vestibular schwannoma or otosclerosis. One should be especially vigilant if the tinnitus is unilateral, or if it has a pulsatile quality.

9 There is no direct role for drugs although they can be used to treat associated symptoms such as vertigo, insomnia, anxiety or depression. There is also no conventional or complementary medication that has been shown to have specific tinnitus ameliorating qualities and there is anecdotal suggestion that repeatedly trying unsuccessful therapies worsens tinnitus.

10 Self-help is often effective – Audiologists provide excellent information on tinnitus and common sense advice on managing symptoms. Written by: Dr David Baguley PhD, Head of Audiology

Of course, as Doctors of Audiology, our Audiologists have extensive education and experience with tinnitus. If you or a loved one experience tinnitus, please feel free to call our office for more information about how we can help.

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Top 10 Facts About Positional Vertigo (BPPV)- Balance Awareness Week

Is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)  a rare and exotic disease? No, on most clinic days, I see at least one person with BPPV, and often, I see several. For some, BPPV is a minor annoyance. For others, it’s a nightmare of dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, and inability to work or participate in family activities. — Gregory T. Whitman, M.D. (otoneurology)

Here are the Top 10 things you should know about Positional Vertigo (BPPV), with thanks to the Vestibular Disorders Association

1. If you woke up with vertigo, it is likely you have BPPV.

2. If you have vertigo that comes on when you lie down, it is likely you have BPPV.

3. If you have had more than 2 episodes of severe vertigo, there’s a strong possibility you have BPPV .

4. If you have BPPV in both ears, it will almost certainly throw off your balance.

5. If you have a past history of migraine and develop BPPV, you may notice an increase in headaches or light sensitivity. These symptoms will likely decrease after the BPPV has been successfully treated.

6. After BPPV has been treated, it’s a good idea for the doctor to ensure that dizziness, imbalance and related symptoms resolve.

7. If your vertigo makes you nauseated, and you do not have any vestibular tests planned, you may want to ask your audiologist if it would be all right to take a medication for vertigo before the Epley Maneuver. This can make BPPV treatment much more comfortable.

8. Curing a bout of BPPV can require persistence. Doctors and Audiologists always talk about the “easy” cases, miraculously cured on the first visit. However, I have seen patients who needed treatment on 10 different days in one month to finally clear the symptoms.

9. Another version of Rule 8: if you’ve “had BPPV for a year” or more, it’s likely you haven’t been treated enough.

10. In some cases, BPPV follows a previous inner ear infection that has damaged the inner ear and/or vestibular nerve. If this is the case, and if you still have symptoms after successful treatment of BPPV, the best treatment may be vestibular physical therapy, intended to train the ear and brain to work well together.

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If you think that you or someone you may know may benefit from speaking to our Doctors of Audiology, please give us a call! We’re here to help you (519) 961-9285.

Adventures in Dizziness – What does ‘Dizzy’ feel like to you?

Continuing with the theme of Balance Awareness Week, I sat and thought what would be interesting for our followers to read. As I think about the dizzy, vertigo and imbalance patients that we’ve been lucky enough to see at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic, their stories came to mind.

The moment that they got dizzy, felt the world spin or that they were spinning.

I stumbled upon this blog post by blogger Mysocalleddizzylife and was amazed at the clarity with which she described her symptoms.

My Dizziness is sometimes more like a little ripple of vertigo, this weird uncomfortable sensation: like if I turn my head, it feels like my head hasn’t caught up to where I am.  My head feels unsteady.  I feel unsteady.  When I’m dizzy I can feel nauseous.  I feel it if I turn around too quickly or when I’m practicing some of my vestibular rehabilitation therapy exercises.  And like butterflies in your stomach when you feel naseous, I also feel the butterflies in my head, spinning around, making me feel woozy.  When this happens, I want nothing more than to close my eyes and pray for the tranquility of stillness.  When I’m really dizzy, I have no balance.  I’m more than clumsy.  If I walk, I look like I’m drunk.  Unsteady and stumbling.

The other night I felt so dizzy; it was like there was a violent sea in my head, waves sloshing around so that I couldn’t find my balance.

Emily’s blog describes the beginning of her symptoms, tests, treatments, vestibular rehabilitation and her life after her dizzies. How many of our readers have shared their dizzy stories with family and friends and learned that they too have had some vestibular dysfunction?

Balance Awareness Week isn’t just learning about imbalance, but about knowing that you aren’t alone.

Hearing Loss & Depression

A new study by the American Psychological Association has shown that adults with hearing loss who don’t wear their hearing aids are 50 percent more likely to suffer from sadness or depression.

Of course we see the effects of hearing loss all the time, except it’s not always the person with hearing loss complaining. Its usually family and friends who complain that ‘Mum doesn’t want to go out anymore‘.

Those with hearing loss – at any age, tend to socially isolate themselves. They feel that other people will often get frustrated or angry with repeating themselves and so they avoid social contact.

So the question begs, Why are there so many  people with hearing impairment not wearing hearing aids?

Most of the those with a hearing loss who do not wear hearing aids say “my hearing is not bad enough” or “I can get along without one.” Cost is also a large factor. Many times we hear the explanation that “it would make me feel old,” or “I’m too embarrassed to wear one,” or even “my mother wore one and it didn’t help her.”

In mid-September we are offering a Hearing Aid Test Drive. If you or a friend or family member have been contemplating giving a hearing aid a try, THIS IS FOR YOU! This is a 2 week trial of hearing aids at no cost or obligation. The only commitment from you is to wear them for two weeks.

What have you got to lose?

This was fun!

Melissa stumbled across THIS WEBPAGE today.

In this test, created by Amplifon, players are taken to three different locations filled with noises.

It’s the player’s task to locate the waterfall, birds and telephone. The interactive sound map lets you move 360 degrees around the public location to pin-point the source. The noises get louder and clearer as you explore the map. After you’ve had a stab, it reveals where other users have guessed.

Aging is the most common cause of hearing loss, but the World Health Organisation recently said that the single largest cause of preventable loss is loud noise, such as from heavy industry in work places and loud music.

Generally, we don’t like online hearing tests – as they are only as good as your speaker system, but this was a fun take on showing how well we localize sound.

Put on your headphones and give it a try! And if you don’t score as well as you had thought, you know who to call!

Who needs Beats when you have these?

It’s estimated that half of baby boomers have some degree of hearing loss, caused by everything from rock music to lawn mowers or just aging. (It happens.) Yet only a quarter of those who need hearing aids actually get them. As one study notes, “For many people a hearing aid is an unwelcome reminder of the aging process, one that they simply cannot accept.”

Screw that. When I explain what my hearables can do, the kids are envious.

We love this article on the Mother Nature Network, and the vigor with which Lloyd Alter writes about his ‘hearables‘. We wish that everyone had the appreciation for the raw power of these tiny little devices that sit in our ears. So much more than a hearing aid, hearables help control the life around us and connect us to family, friends and the rest of the world in a way that leaves “kids envious”. Who needs Beats when you have these?

Forget wearables; let’s talk hearables, the devices formerly known as hearing aids. The hearing aid/hearables market is $5.4 billion worldwide, compared to the $2 billion headphone market. Apple buying Beats may have made headlines, but Apple building Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and an accessibility app into the iPhone 5 and 6 is much more newsworthy. Why? Because this opens up the hearables market so wide that the $3 billion Beats purchase will look like small change — and make Google Glass look like a toy.

We think it’s pretty cool too! If you’d like to try a set of ‘hearables‘, please give us a call and we’d be happy to demonstrate this new realm of hearing technology on you! Call to arrange an appointment with our Doctors of Audiology, Audiologists. (519) 961-9285

 

Osteoporosis linked to hearing loss

What do Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Smoking, Obesity, Noise Exposure and now Osteoporosis have in common?

An increased risk for sensorineural hearing loss. *

Researchers at the Hormone Health Network / Endocrine Society have recently discovered that those with osteoporosis, a progressive disorder that weakens the bones putting those with the disorder at risk for breaks and fractures – also increases the risk of developing a sudden sensorineural hearing loss nearly twofold.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), also called sudden deafness, is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing that typically happens in one ear, It can happen all at once or over the course of several days. About half of the people who develop SSHL will spontaneously regain their hearing, but it is important to seek treatment immediately. About 85 percent of those who are treated for the condition recover some hearing.

 

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it is important to have a baseline hearing test and also to be aware that you are at risk. If you or someone you know has suffered a sudden hearing loss, it is imperative to seek medical help immediately.

* http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150416132017.htm

Why do we have earwax?

We stumbled across this video today:

Earwax is another of our body’s mundane, under-appreciated, yet totally amazing protective devices. Like eyelashes and nose hair, earwax shields our body from outside invaders, including dust, bacteria, and other micro-organisms that can get in and irritate, inflame, or infect. Earwax lubricates our ears, in much the same way as tears lubricate our eyes. Without adequate amounts of earwax, our ears would feel dry and itchy.

Since our ears are self-cleaning, we should never, ever stick anything in them! Hence the old adage that you shouldn’t put anything in your ears smaller than your elbow and YES! that includes Q-Tips, even though they seem perfectly designed to fit inside the narrow ear canal. Keep these swabs and any other objects – including your fingers – out of your ears. When you put something in your ear – to scratch an itch or to attempt to remove wax – you risk pushing wax further into the ear, where it can block sound from meeting your eardrum.

If you feel your earwax may be affecting your hearing, contact your doctor for an appointment, it may be useful to instill a few drops of oil daily into your ears for a couple of days before your appointment. And of course, afterward come to see us at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic to have your hearing tested.

 

Meniere’s Disease – Do you have it?

Do you have other symptoms with your hearing loss?

How about dizziness? Vertigo, or imbalance? Tinnitus or ringing in your ears? Fullness in your ears?

When the three occur together – Hearing Loss, Tinnitus & Dizziness – as Audiologists, this triad of symptoms is a red flag for a disease called Meniere’s Disease.

There is no quick and easy test for Meniere’s Disease. Diagnosis is based on a detailed case history, hearing tests and balance assessment. Your Doctor may send you for a CT scan or an MRI to rule out other possible causes for your symptoms.

The disease itself is no fun, but with ongoing research and new treatments, people with Meniere’s are finding success in managing their various symptoms. And one day there may even be cure as researchers continue to learn more.

If you are experiencing Meniere’s like symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have Meniere’s Disease. Contact The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic to have your  hearing and balance tested today!

Hearing Loss linked to Dementia in the Elderly

As if we needed ANOTHER reason to have a hearing test, new studies have come to show that the social isolation and lack of stimulation to the brain that stem from untreated hearing loss accelerate the onset and progression of Dementia.

Out of 639 participants, researchers found that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were significantly more likely to develop dementia by the end. In fact, the risk of developing dementia over time was believed to increase by as much as five-fold.

Read the whole article here: http://www.free-alzheimers-support.com/wordpress/hearing-loss-can-lead-to-dementia/

Do your ears make you a dangerous driver?

Think for a minute about all the things that we hear as drivers that make us better prepared for the road… we hear a vehicle rounding a corner before we see it, we hear sirens before we see an accident site, we hear the sounds of children playing and tires squealing. We hear the sounds of our car asking for servicing.

Are you in denial about a hearing loss? (Yes we’re talking to you!) Studies show your hearing loss does in fact affect your driving skill, particularly, adults with hearing loss had greater difficulty driving safely in the presence of distractions than older adults with normal hearing.  Because distractions such as conversation, reading street signs, listening to the radio, using a mobile phone or navigation system are a present day reality for all drivers..  This study, which references similar studies of adults with hearing loss suggests that the additional effort of listening to a degraded auditory signal detracts one’s resources from other cognitive tasks, making it more difficult to attend safely to the road.

As you get older, the Ministry of Transportation makes it essential that a hearing test is performed before renewing a drivers licence, and amplifying if there is need. This is never a bad idea for the safety of all drivers on the road. 

If you or a loved one are struggling to hear road noises and you believe its affecting safety, come in for a hearing test. One hour of your time could mean safer roadways for everyone. Call us to arrange an appointment. Remember, May is Better Hearing Month, your hearing test only costs a canned food donation for The Essex Area Food Bank! (519) 961-9285.

 

 

 

 

Summertime activities could lead to permanent hearing loss

Ahhh… the warmer weather is in the air! The birds, the breeze, the flowers, the loud noises!

We at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic would like to take a minute to remind you that your exposure to loud noises can permanently affect your hearing!

Research shows that prolonged exposure to noises over 85dB can cause permanent hearing loss. We expect to see you wear your hearing protection when engaging in the following dangerously LOUD summer activities:

  • The LAWNMOWER – (100dB) – this one seems like a no-brainer, but my neighbor laughs at my hearing protection! Your lawn mower is not the only enemy, your Weed Trimmer (130dB), and leaf blower (75dB) are suspect too.
  • FIREWORKS – (175dB) – Every year people complain about buzzing in their ears after watching a particularly fantastic fireworks show. That’s your ears crying out for hearing protection! Bringing your children? Protect their ears too!
  • BOATING/WATER SPORTS – (105dB) – A fun day out on the water wouldn’t be less fun with hearing protection. Your loud outboard motor or Sea Doo can cause hearing loss.
  • MOTORCYCLES – (100dB) – The drum of the road and the feel of the wind on your face could be causing a hearing loss. While we want you to use hearing protection, its important to continue to hear normal traffic noises, so we recommend custom hearing protection with a filter to block only the noises that are dangerous to your ears and hearing.

There are many other activities that are in the dangerous range (my neighbor’s a/c unit is ridiculously loud and they sit right next to it on the patio)  – use your best judgement, and protect your ears now so you don’t need us later! 

And of course, if you are experiencing ringing in your ears after a particularly spirited concert or day on the boat… call us and have your hearing tested. (519) 961-9285. Our Audiologists can give you tips and pointers and even make custom hearing protection specifically for YOUR ears!

custom_ear_plugs
Custom hearing protection comes in many colors and sizes!

Today is epic!

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I recently stumbled upon this post on the WUWT climate change blog. Its just sort of story that I love to read (its not about climate change!) – people who were previously unhappy with their hearing aids who years later try again. What I love most about Anthony’s story is all of the small things that he mentioned, things that those with a very gradual hearing loss probably don’t even realize are missing. -ordering food through the drive thru, ordering coffee at Starbucks.

…She then asked me if I wanted to order something to eat and asked me if I wanted to hear the specials for today. For decades I’ve never heard what the specials have been in restaurants – they are just something that I waited for it to be over, but this time I heard them all.

I wish that anyone who has previously experienced displeasure with their hearing aids would come in and try out the new technology. Its incredibly rewarding to have them hear better with something new; something that wasn’t available 20 years ago.

We know how rewarding improved hearing is to the person who wasn’t hearing. But we love how he touches on how his family was affected. It is extremely frustrating for family members of the hearing impaired to attempt communication with their loved one.

…it made me frustrated and angry all the time. This affected people around me and especially the people I hold most dear; my own family. Now all of that is gone and I’m like an entirely new person because of this transformation.

Remember, May is Better Hearing Month, come in to see our Audiologists, and try the newest hearing solutions out on the market. They are incredible little gadgets that have come a long way! Just one hour could make tomorrow EPIC!
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What I’ve learned about hearing loss

WhatIWishHL

Nothing is more important to us that the thoughts and feedback of the people who wear hearing aids. Starkey recently asked their social media community to share one thing they’ve learned about hearing aids and hearing loss. The responses were so heartfelt and meaningful that we had to share a few!

I wish I would have gotten my hearing aid sooner. I was too vain to get it because I was only in my 40’s but I really missed hearing so much. Please don’t let vanity keep you from missing out on someone’s words.” – Maria S.

“Do we, as a society, value perceived aesthetics over the ability to communicate, connect and understand each other? I think not. We get our eyes checked yearly and should do so with our ears, too. Be deeper than an empty pleasant nod and smile. Don’t settle for being a spectator in life. Be a participant, get tested and if needed, fitted. Be connected with the ones you love. Stop missing important moments.” – Richard B.

“Having a daughter with hearing loss has made my family learn to be better speakers – looking directly at the person you are talking to, speaking clearly and not shouting at someone who has a hearing aid.” – Christy W.

“Hearing loss is all about being open to change. Change your batteries, domes and wax guards often! Change your mind about wearing them in the rain (oh, the sounds of splashing on rooftops!). Change embarrassment to empowerment; stop pretending you can hear or isolating yourself to avoid poor hearing situations, and change your life by admitting you need help. Talk to an audiologist and get some hearing aids to hear what you’ve been missing.” – Lynette T.

“When you lose your hearing you feel isolated and many other feelings. With my  hearing aids I feel like I have recaptured all that I thought I had lost!” – Kevin M.

Read more here.

Don’t forget that May is Better Hearing Month! Have your hearing tested by our Audiologist 519.961.9285!