Combatting Military-Related Hearing Disorders

Going into combat puts you at extreme risk for injury. Of all service-related injuries, the most common are hearing disorders. Specifically, hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Experts approximate that more than half of combat soldiers experience some degree of hearing loss due to their service. This percentage is much higher than it is among civilians, of whom 20 percent experience some degree of impairment. A loss of hearing affects more than your auditory abilities. Studies have shown that an impairment can also impact your mental, emotional and physical well-being.

military and hearing loss

In recent decades, the Pentagon has taken some initiatives to improve accessibility to hearing protection for combat soldiers. Retired soldier Stephen Carlson reported in The Washington Post that mandatory forms of hearing protection—ranging from over-the-ear headphones to noise-canceling earplugs—were provided to soldiers, but rarely used in practice. A common explanation for this practice is survivability. Soldiers fear missing commands or being unaware of their surrounds in high-pressure situations.

 

Further discussions have been held at the governmental level to determine more effective solutions. In 2013, the Office of Naval Research began an initiative to find better hearing preservation alternatives. The organization met with experts in the industry of hearing health to discuss the future of hearing protection research, which will be focused on:

 

  • Creating personalized solutions
  • Developing medical solutions to maintain auditory function
  • Measuring noise exposure in combat

 

Experts in the industry of hearing disorders have found hearing loss is not an isolated condition. When left untreated, it can lead to social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and heightened anxiety. Considering the role hearing plays in our overall well-being, these hearing loss treatment and protection initiatives could be life-changing for veterans.

 

To learn more about hearing disorders or find a provider specializing in tinnitus management, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing consultants.  Our team, which includes some of the best audiologists in American Fork, are dedicated to providing innovative and patient-focused services. To learn more about our clinic, contact us today at 801-763-0724!

 

Have You Heard? Exercise is Good for Your Hearing

To say exercise is beneficial isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Chances are, you already know it is good for you. But do you know how good? In addition to improved mood, a healthier heart and reduced risk of weight-related illness, regular physical activity may also be beneficial to your hearing. A recent study conducted as University of Florida has shown exercise to decrease the likelihood to developing age-related hearing loss in mice.

hearing loss and exercise

Age-related deterioration of the auditory system is one of the most common hearing loss causes. Hearing loss occurs gradually over many years as the result of damage to delicate hair cells of the inner ear and other parts in the auditory system. Loss of hearing is one of the most common conditions impacting seniors, as approximately 70 percent of individuals over 69 years of age have some degree of hearing loss.

 

Our auditory system needs to be well oxygenated in order to be healthy.  The researchers at the University of Florida, among other things, studied the effects of oxygen on our hearing. Using two groups of mice, one with access to an exercise wheel and one without, the research team examined the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle on the animals.

 

The results of the study show that age-related inflammation results in damage to the the cells of the auditory system, a factor the active group were able to reduce by about 50 percent. The active group also had a much lower rate of auditory damage. While the sedentary mice experienced hearing loss at a rate of about 20 percent, only 5 percent of the active group had hearing loss.

 

The medical community hopes that these findings may also be applicable to humans. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (HIH) has already placed their bets on this theory. They are currently funding research to explore the molecules released during exercise and how they could be utilized to preserve hearing health.

 

While these solutions are not yet available to the general public, there are ways to maintain your auditory system. Audiologists recommend that people over the age of 50 receive annual hearing tests to monitor their hearing. Getting regular hearing exams can help individuals take control of their auditory health and, when necessary, treat hearing loss before unwanted complications arise. To find an audiologist in American Fork, we encourage you to contact our team. Our team of expert providers have been offering exceptional patient care to the American Fork community for years. To learn more about our services, call 801-763-0724.

 

A Senior’s Guide to Hearing Tests

Experts recommend that individuals over 50 should get an annual hearing test. If you haven’t already heard the news, you might be overdue for your screening!

hearing test spanish fork

Why You Need to Be Tested

It is true that hearing loss affects individuals of all ages and demographics. However, the correlation between hearing loss and aging is particularly strong. Throughout our lifetime, we are knowingly or inadvertently exposed to unsafe noise levels. This has a cumulative effect that can increase the risk of hearing loss in people over 50.

 

The Risks of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is not an isolated condition. When left untreated, hearing loss can impact other areas of your health, including your mental, emotional and physical health. Untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, heightened anxiety and a decline in cognitive function. It also has social impacts and has been shown to negatively impact relationships and work performance.

 

Types of Hearing Tests

A variety of hearing tests available to the public, ranging in sophistication.

Basic Hearing Screener: These types of tests can be conducted online, over the phone or in your primary care physician’s office. These test are designed to determine if there a hearing loss might be present on a pass/fail basis. If the test suggests some degree of impairment may exist, further testing is required to formally diagnose the hearing loss.

Hearing Evaluation: A formal evaluation needs to be conducted by a doctor of audiology. This process is more involved than a basic screener and provides a detailed analysis of your specific type hearing loss.

 

How to Get Tested

A baseline test should be conducted by a local audiology professional to determine your current level of hearing capabilities. The baseline test will be used to as a way to compare your hearing results over time. After getting your baseline exam, ask your hearing professional if you should receive a full examination every year or if a basic screener would be sufficient. If you are more at risk for hearing loss, your audiologist may suggest complete annual examinations.

 

If you haven’t had your hearing tested in the last year, schedule a consultation with a hearing health provider today. To find a trusted audiologist in American Fork, contact our team today. Our highly skilled professionals provide exceptional patient care, working to fit each individual with the best hearing aids for their specific type of hearing loss. Learn more about our services by calling 801-763-0724.

 

Prevalence of Tinnitus in the US

Tinnitus is a condition that involves the perception of chronic phantom sounds. These sounds might manifest as buzzing, ringing, whooshing or even music. Because of the invisible nature of the disorder, it can be easily overlooked. However, a large percentage of the US population suffers from symptoms.
tinnitus treatment american-fork
Experts approximate that roughly 50 million adults in America have some degree of tinnitus and the severity of the condition also ranges from each individual. Of the affected individuals, 25% individuals report the phantom sounds as being “loud.” About 20% of suffers categorize their symptoms as “debilitating” or “nearly debilitating.” In the most extreme cases, tinnitus can prevent individuals from engaging in their normal daily activities.

A study involving over 14,000 participants showed that the prevalence may be linked to specific risk factors. For example, the prominence of buzzing or ringing symptoms appears to increase with ag—as many as 14.3% of adults between 60-69 experienced frequent sounds. Race also appear to be a factor, as the study showed the non-Hispanic white population had a greater risk of chronic tinnitus.

Despite to prominence of this condition, there is still no known cure. A greater understanding of the auditory system has provided us further insight, which may prove promising. One important factor in tinnitus cases is hearing loss. Approximately 90% of suffers experience some degree of hearing loss. Audiologists warn that, through proper preventative measures, such as regular use of hearing protection, the risk of tinnitus can be greatly reduced.

While there is not yet a way to reverse tinnitus cases, a good majority of tinnitus sufferers can find relief through management methods. Sound and behavioral therapies have long been used to curb an individual’s reaction to the ringing or buzzing sounds, thereby providing relief to the patient. If you or a loved one is experiencing ringing or buzzing sounds, our team can help. We provide expert level management in American Fork, Utah. Learn more about our services by contacting our team at 801-763-0724.

Future of Hearing in the Classroom

 

hearing loss kids american-fork

Hearing loss often prompts people to think of aging; however, the condition affects other demographics more than many realize. Up to 12 percent of youth in the United States suffer from some degree of noise-induced hearing loss. For school-aged children, this presents additional barriers to academic success. Hearing impaired children are likely to receive lower grades than their counterparts. The invisible nature of the condition means that these issues often go unaddressed. Fortunately, advancements in technology are making it easier for students with hearing loss to receive an equitable educational experience.

 

Hearing-impaired students often struggle to hear their teachers while in the classroom. Background noise and a reliance on reading lips inhibit their ability to follow class lectures. Fortunately, certain devices can be implemented to overcome these obstacles. One method with proven success is the FM system, a wireless device designed to capture, filter and deliver sound directly to an individual’s digital hearing aids. Utilizing an FM system helps to reduce distractions from ambient noise, allowing the student to focus on significant sounds, take notes and interact with the classroom.

 

pediatric hearing healthFor many years FM systems have been a staple in addressing hearing concerns, but recent developments have made this setup more effective than ever before. Newer devices have more advanced capacity to filter through background noise, offering crystal clear sound delivery. Additionally, new wireless systems like the Roger Pen, which operates similarly to an FM system, do not provide feedback when multiple devices are present.

 

There are other options for students who prefer different information delivery methods. For example, C-Print is a speech-to-text technology that uses trained a captionist to type up classroom conversations and lectures in real time. This method is especially useful to the deaf and profoundly hearing impaired.

 

For academics struggling with hearing loss, there are new solutions that may help. To find out what treatments might benefit you, contact your local American Fork audiologist. At Timpanogos Hearing & Balance, we’ve been providing exceptional audiology and balance services for over a decade. Our services include custom hearing protection options, tinnitus management, and treatment for hearing and balance disorders.

 

Mapping Hearing Loss Solutions

mapping hearing loss

Google.org, the charitable arm of the world’s largest search engine, is supporting  World Wide Hearing (WWH) to find a solution to what the World Health Organization (WHO) has described as one of the largest disabilities on the planet.

Hearing loss.

It affects one-third of people over the age of 65 and more than 1 billion young people are at risk for impaired hearing.

The WHO highlighted the risk of hearing loss in a release in early 2015 stating that half of young people, between the ages of 12-35 “are exposed to unsafe levels of sound.”
Through Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, World Wide Hearing in Montreal, was awarded a grant to do something never done before. Develop and map out data points on hearing health from across the world in the hopes of better understanding hearing loss.

 

10,000 people will have their hearing tested as researchers try to better understand the dynamics of hearing loss.

 

This global database will be the first step in understanding and addressing the dynamics of this potentially debilitating disability.

WWH Executive Director Audra Renyi grew up experiencing the first hand impacts of hearing loss.  Her father suffered hearing loss as a child when he contracted an ear infection in his native Romania.

“So many people live with this disability that often goes under the radar,”

says Renyi.

Compounding the fact is that new research has shown a direct link between hearing health and mental health. How well you hear is directly linked to your risk for dementia, depression and anxiety.

Researchers have found that cognitive decline increases by up to 40% as hearing slides. With young people, hearing loss can have serious impacts on development.

Children and young people who suffer from hearing loss are at a greater risk for depression and anxiety; they also face challenges in school, lower self-esteem and social isolation. How well you hear is connected to how you feel and for young people, how well they develop; making early diagnosis and treatment vital.

hearing loss mapping

The first step for the team is to test thousands of ears all over the world and map out the world’s hearing health.

To make this possible, WWH needed a technology partner who could help make this a reality. They partnered with Clearwater Clinical, a Canadian company and creators of the first clinically validated iPad audiometer. “No other hearing testing equipment is as compact, easy-to-use, and fun,” says Dr. Matthew Bromwich, Otolaryngologist and Co-founder of the company

It’s called SHOEBOX Audiometry and it’s comprised of software that is loaded onto an iPad and shipped with calibrated headphones. The solution is an audiometer that can administer diagnostic hearing tests.   The test is designed to feel more like a computer game, and the data it produces is transmitted and stored safely and securely onto the cloud.

Mobile medicine, like the kind delivered through SHOEBOX is an important step in being able to reach communities. The simplicity of the technology allows for quick and easy deployment to parts of the world where people may have never had their hearing tested.

 

But not all apps are created equal. A quick Google search will pull up lots of tablet and phone applications on hearing testing, many of which can provide good, general screening results. However, only a handful of apps like SHOEBOX, Frye Colt, Piccolo and iAudiometer provide a full medical diagnostic and essentially remotely replicate a traditional audiology booth.

 

For Renyi the new approach made sense.
“We wanted to find mobile solutions and solutions that we had confidence in. There is solid research behind it and we have a lot of confidence in the data,”says Renyi.

Another important factor is that while the data must be interpreted by an audiologist, the hearing tests can be performed by individuals that aren’t hearing health professionals.

This novel approach is already being well received. In Guatemala, technicians have been trained and have administered tests in several communities.

The simplicity of the technology means that with some hands-on training, individuals – including many women – are being empowered with the opportunity to help perform vital health services, and in turn, support their families.

The global hearing project is performing hearing screenings in the Mohawk community south of Montreal this month with plans for testing in South America and Southeast Asia later this year.

 
Reprinted with permission from hearinghealthmatters.org.
Please visit http://hearinghealthmatters.org/ for the original article: Mapping Out Solutions to Hearing Loss

How Hearing and Vision Loss Are Different

As professionals in the hearing health industry, we’re regularly faced with the misconception that hearing loss and vision loss are similar. While these conditions both involve the loss of one of our senses, they are otherwise markedly different, especially when it comes to the methods of treatment. Here are a few key differences between hearing and vision loss:

 

    hearing loss and vision loss spanish fork

  1. Most eye problems are mechanical in nature, while most hearing problems are sensorineural. While this is somewhat an oversimplification, it is an important distinction to make. There is a big difference in the underlying causes of hearing and vision loss. Treating hearing loss can be challenging due to the relationship between the ears and the brain. However, treatment for vision loss is relatively straightforward, as long as the optic nerve is healthy.
  2. There is no cure for hearing loss. Modern medicine has discovered a method for restoring vision through laser technology. On the other hand, in 90 percent of hearing loss cases, the damage is irreversible.
  3. Eyeglasses won’t protect against vision loss. Glasses compensate for the muscles in your eyes so that they are working less. Over time, these muscle can weaken and your eyesight may deteriorate. On the other hand, your brain actually works harder when hearing aids are in use. Hearing aids work to stimulate the nerves in the ear which, in turn, sends more activity to the brain. This helps to preserve your hearing.
  4. There are differences in prevention. The number one cause of permanent hearing impairment is noise-induced hearing loss. This condition is entirely preventable through the responsible use of hearing protection. On the contrary, many of the leading causes of visual impairment are not preventable—including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and refractive errors—and they are also treatable.

 

Hearing and vision impairments are two conditions that can be properly managed with the help of an expert. If you or a loved one is suffering from a loss of hearing, an audiologist can help. Commonly referred to as a “hearing aid doctor,” audiologists are experts in the diagnosis and management of hearing- and balance-related conditions. To schedule a consultation or to find the best hearing aids in American Fork, we welcome you to speak to our staff at 801-763-0724.

The Latest on Cognitive Decline, Listening Effort and Hearing Aids

hearing loss, hearing aids and cognitive improvement research

The prevalence of dementia is expected to soar as the average life expectancy increases, but recent estimates suggest that the age-specific incidence of dementia is declining in high-income countries. In the February 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Claudia Satizabal and colleagues report “robust evidence” of dementia’s decline.

Using observational data collected from the Framingham Heart Study from 1975 to the present, they found a 20% decrease in dementia incidence each decade, even as average body-mass index, diabetes prevalence, and population age have increased.

Is it safe to conclude that the tide has turned in the dementia epidemic? Experts speculate the gains achieved in the overall declining incidence of dementia have been through improved education, wealth, and control of vascular risk factors. It is much too early to tell if this reduction is permanent, as there are several confounding factors such as obesity, diabetes, and, perhaps even untreated age-related hearing loss in the aging population that could undermine this decline.

This report of the decline in the incidence of dementia should be of interest for hearing care professionals, especially in light of the rapidly aging population, and recent studies showing a link to cognitive decline and degree of hearing loss.

Research is Ongoing

hearing aids and hearing loss in tucson

At a recent meeting of the esteemed AAAS group in Washington, Dr. Frank Lin stated his research team is conducting carefully designed trials to investigate the effects of hearing aid use in individuals experiencing cognitive decline. Lin’s presentation was followed very closely by a report in Hearing Review that Jamie Desjardins, PhD, of The University of Texas at El Paso, has completed research indicating that hearing aids improve brain function in people with hearing loss.

As Desjardins explained to the Hearing Review,

“as people age, basic cognitive skills – working memory, the ability to pay attention to a speaker in a noisy environment, or the ability to process information quickly – begin to decline. Hearing loss affects more than 9 million Americans over the age of 65 and 10 million Americans ages 45 to 64, but only about 20% of people who actually need hearing aids wear them.”

Desjardins examined the effects of hearing loss on brain function by studying a group of inexperienced hearing aid users in their 50s and 60s with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Study participants took cognitive tests to measure their working memory, selective attention, and processing speed abilities prior to and after using hearing aids.

Following two weeks of hearing aid use, results showed an increase in scores for recalling words in working memory and selective attention tests, and the processing speed at which participants selected the correct response was faster. By the end of the study, participants had exhibited significant improvement in their cognitive function.

In another study by Desjardins, published in the January, 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 15 older listeners with mild sloping to severe sensorineural hearing loss were fitted with commercially available behind-the-ear hearing aids. Listening effort was measured using a primary and secondary task.

Results indicated that listening effort in background noise was significantly reduced with the directional microphones activated in the hearing aids. There was no significant change in listening effort with the hearing aid’s noise reduction algorithm activated compared to condition with noise reduction on the hearing aid deactivated. Desjardins findings suggest that directional microphone processing effectively reduces the cognitive load of listening to speech in background noise. Readers are encouraged to peruse Desjardin’s other recent work in the area of working memory and noise reduction algorithms.

Reprinted with permission from hearinghealthmatters.org.

Please visit http://hearinghealthmatters.org/ for the original article: The Latest on Cognitive Decline, Listening Effort and Hearing Aids