Loss of hearing is not a life sentence. There are solutions to remedy the problem. One of them is the use of a hearing aid. These days, they are quite small but very effective, and help you to keep it discreet if you want.
On the other hand, use of a hearing aid is not something that needs to be hidden. We don't hide the fact that we wear glasses to improve our eyesight, do we? It's just a tool, just like a hearing aid.
Statistics show that in older people who are likely to experience hearing loss also, consequently, suffer from depression. Their quality of life diminishes because the person begins to lose confidence in all social situations.
To be able to hear clearly with the help of hearing aids will improve your life in the following ways:
Happiness and improved relationships
A lack of hearing means that your relationships suffer.
For instance, people may lose their patience with you, or get annoyed with you probably because the volume levels on TV or radio is too high.
Slowly you find yourself resigning into isolation and it affects your mental well being. With a hearing aid, you regain the sense of happiness along with your hearing. The communication is restored and you are able to avoid misunderstandings thereby improving your relationships.
Better social life
You will be motivated to participate in group activities when you start using a hearing aid. When hearing becomes too hard, you stop listening, stop engaging in conversations, and often refuse to leave home. Having a quality pair of hearing aids reverses that.
Improve your quality of life
With the loss of hearing, there is a loss of the quality of life as well. Hearing aids allow you to hear better in social settings and you can actively participate in a conversation. That, in turn, reduces depression. There will be an improvement in self-confidence, self-image, self-esteem, independence, and communication.
If compared with someone who is not using a hearing aid, the overall health of the hearing aid user will be better than the non-user. Users are more likely than non-users, to engage in activities involving other people. Hearing aids improve most aspects of emotional life and will pull you out of that feeling of helplessness and burden.
Your optimism will return and people around you will not be anxious as well. Simple tasks will …. Well, be simple again.
Identify speech in noise
Since we are surrounded by nearly constant background noise almost everywhere, you may not be able to discern what people are saying. You might think they're not enunciating enough, or not speaking loudly enough, but chances are, it's your hearing that's not cooperating. This makes a huge impact on your life and you start avoiding public places. The hearing aid is an amazing technology that's designed in a way to filter the noise and capture spoken words.
Stay sharp and alert
Did you know if hearing loss is untreated, you are more likely to experience dementia or Alzheimer’s than someone without hearing loss? Our brains are used to hearing the everyday sounds and this helps us stay alert and keeps our mind sharp. So regaining this with the help of a hearing aid is a positive step.
It will not only help keeping our brains active, it will keep us safe as well. Alertness improves, as you would be able to hear the alarms, doorbells or sirens. It will also improve the reflexes and response to any kind of sound.
Do better at work
Hearing loss is an occupational hazard in many professions. A hearing aid will help you improve your productivity and conduct. You will be happier, safer, and be able to communicate better with clients and co-workers alike.
It's important to note that if you have concerns about your hearing, it can be worse the longer you wait.
At Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona, our experienced audiology team would guide you to choose the right hearing aid that will add tremendous value to the quality of your life. You'd get expert care from the hearing test, to consultation conversations, to exploring options for hearing aids for Scottsdale and other Phoenix metro clients. Then, if you do move forward with hearing aids, you can try a set for a few weeks to see how you like it. We carry four major brands (considered the best hearing aids on the market), so you can experiment with others if you like.
We've seen so many patients that were either hesitant, or skeptical, and nearly all of them thanked us later for not only our friendly guidance in the appointment, but for helping them hear better in all situations, which led to better interactions and communications with friends and family.
We can't tell you how many times we've been thanked for "getting my life back." Is it time to improve your life with better hearing? Contact us today by phone at (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler.
Hearing is one of the five senses, as we all know. A newborn is usually tested for hearing to determine if there is any permanent hearing loss at birth. Those with normal hearing are re-examined again at school at some point. There is no regular hearing test requirements carried out after school, which means, unless someone identifies any symptom, hearing loss is not diagnosed until symptoms are noticeable.
The audiologists at Tinnitus and Hearing Center provide hearing tests in Tempe AZ and serve residents of the Phoenix metro, including Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, and throughout the East Valley. If you suspect that you or a family member has a problem related to hearing, it is important to understand that there are experts who can explain and help you resolve the issues with ease.
What is the role of an audiologist and what are the different hearing tests available in a clinic?
When you attend a clinic, you will have an initial consultation with an audiologist. Audiologists are specialists in ear conditions, hearing, and hearing rehabilitation. The first step is a general screening, which involves asking questions which may reveal vital symptoms.
An otoscope is then used to check the eardrum. It is a very common device, has a conical end and is pressed against your ear. Being illuminated and magnified, the audiologist can clearly see through this device, if there is any abnormality in the eardrum. A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the next step.
This evaluation can be done for both children and adults to help identify the type and the degree of hearing loss. This may also give an insight into the cause of the hearing loss and help the audiologist determine the appropriate treatment recommendations and referrals.
Please note that these tests are completely safe and painless. They can mostly be performed even if you have other medical condition.
You will be asked to go and sit inside a soundproof booth and relax with headphones on. Usually, you will be given a button to press and follow simple instructions. Your response will be automatically recorded by a machine, and a chart will appear. Imagine an electronic cash register or an ECG machine. This chart is called an audiogram. Based on the audiogram, your audiologist will be able to decide on treatment options.
Types of hearing tests
The ear is a complex organ and is connected to the brain with a network of nerves. Any damage or alteration along the way might affect the hearing.
In our clinic, expert audiologists will conduct a combination of diagnostic tests depending on the symptoms of the patient. The aim is to find the cause and also the extent of any damage.
These tests are quick and painless, and as mentioned before, mostly involves sitting in a silent booth with headphones on.
Here is a list of some of the hearing tests:
1. Acoustic Reflex Testing (AR) — AR test measures the reflexes in the ear. It measures the involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear, in response to sound. The middle ear is home to the three smallest bones of the human body, the ossicles. When sound reaches the middle ear, two muscles, the stapedius, and tensor tympani muscles, attached to the ossicles, contract involuntarily. On contraction, these muscles create a movement of the bones which in turn stimulate the inner ear. If the reflex action is reduced, the hearing mechanism will be impaired. This broadly means, this test will indicate if the problem lies in the middle ear.
2. Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing— OAE test is a quick, non-invasive method that measures the cochlear (inner ear) function. This is the test done on newborns to establish any hearing loss at birth. A small probe is placed in the ear and clicks or tones are played. The machine attached to the probe records the response of the hair cells of the inner ear. Any change from normal, in the audiogram pattern indicates that the problem lies in the inner ear.
3. Tympanometry —It is a simple and painless testing method that measures the air pressure on the eardrum. Air pressure will be abnormal if there is a build up of fluid or wax, presence of a tumor or if the eardrum is damaged.
4. Pre-tone and pure-tone testing — This test, uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear various sounds at low, mid, and high frequencies. You will hear a series of sounds through the headphones and you will be instructed to press a button every time you hear a tone. Any abnormal pattern in the audiogram chart will indicate a problem in the middle ear.
5. Speech-in-noise testing — In case of any abnormality in the previous test, a speech-in-noise (SIN) test is carried out in older children and adults. Similar to the tone-testing procedure, it determines if the person can hear speech in the presence of background noise. So in essence, this is considered as a “real world” test. It also works as part of the counseling process and helps the patient reach their hearing expectations.
5. Bone conduction testing — This test measures the inner ear’s response to a sound. A conductor is placed behind your ear which sends tiny vibrations through the bone directly to the inner ear. The experts can interpret the audiogram and the results will indicate if there is any loss of hearing.
From these tests, the experts get invaluable insight into the patients' status of hearing. Subsequently, it helps them to prescribe the appropriate treatment or hearing aid strategy.
Your audiologist will explain the test results to you, and clarify your doubts and fears. You will get help in understanding the plan for treatment and get referrals if necessary. We encourage you to ask your audiologist plenty of questions - we’re here for you to make sure you thoroughly understand the information provided and that you feel comfortable with the recommendations. We're a hearing doctor in Tempe, AZ that understands the best pathway to better hearing.
Misophonia is a condition where people experience a negative emotional reaction and dislike (e.g., anxiety, agitation, and annoyance) to specific sounds (e.g., ballpoint pen clicking (repeatedly), tapping, typing, chewing, breathing, swallowing, tapping a foot, etc.) While these are considered as normal sounds to most, it might act as a trigger for anger and rage for a few.
Misophonia is, therefore, a very subjective response and hyper-sensitivity to certain sounds. Phonophobia is a type of Misophonia, when someone is scared of a specific sound. So, while fear is the dominant emotion in Phonophobia, anger is the dominant emotion in Misophonia. In addition, people with Misophonia also display other emotions like irritation, stress and anxiety, aggravation, feeling trapped, and impatience.
Misophonia is common but rarely known
Misophonia is not considered a rare disease but it is a ‘rarely known’ disease. It was identified and treated, for the first time, in 1990 and the term Misophonia was coined as recently as 2002. This condition is common and people suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis may also have Misophonia. Some people who are extremely sensitive to smell, light or even touch may have high sensitivities of particular sounds as well. Children within the autistic spectrum have been found to display Misophonic symptoms.
Misophonia usually develops during childhood or early adolescence. The feeling of anger or rage appears suddenly or after an emotional incident. Very often, people misunderstand and don’t realize that it is because of a hearing problem.
It is important to point out that usually everyone has a dislike of any particular sound, but it can be categorized as a condition only when it severely affects the persons’ quality of life.
Doctors have argued that Misophonia is either a psychological or an auditory condition or both. In 2012, experts suggested that this condition is a particular form of DST (decreased sound tolerance). This means it can be associated with the broader medical diagnostic categories of abnormal auditory perception and/or hyperacusis.
However, doctors still believe that Misophonia is not specific to the inner ear, but a combination of different parts of the brain that controls hearing, memory, balance and other reflexes.
Misophonia Testing and Treatment
If you suffer from Misophonia, doctors would use a multidisciplinary treatment approach. They begin with counselling and focus on regular progress. They prefer the family members to get involved as well because family interaction might be a trigger for Misophonia.
Psychologists may help with treatment if necessary, since behavioral therapy plays an important part in treatment.
Misophonia symptoms are found in people with other conditions
Below is a long list of conditions where patients display symptoms of Misophonia. It shows that Misophonia is not always a stand-alone phenomenon, but rather a combination of other psychological, developmental, or neurological conditions.
A few of the conditions are:
• Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Autism spectrum disorder or Asperger's syndrome
• Multi-sensory hypersensitivity
• Hearing loss
• Family relational problems
• Intermittent explosive disorder (IED)
• Tonic tensor tympani Syndrome (TTTS)
• Acoustic shock
• Major depressive disorder
• Anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia
• Bell’s palsy
• Ramsay Hunt syndrome
• Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• Superior canal dehiscence syndrome
• Perilymph fistula
• Lyme disease
• Williams syndrome
• Lacunar stroke
• Narcotic and benzodiazepine withdrawal
• Head injury
Coping with Misophonia
There is no medicine to treat Misophonia. However, there are several effective options available to manage this condition:
1. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) – this therapy is widely available, especially in auditory clinics. It is a way to teach the brain to tolerate specific sounds that affect you.
2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – This therapy focuses on altering the negative associations you have with triggering noises. Studies have shown that this therapy is very effective for most people with Misophonia symptoms
3. Counseling – You and your family can benefit from counseling sessions with a psychotherapist.
Thankfully, Dr. Allen Rohe of Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona is a qualified audiologist that treats patients with Misophonia. You can read more about his approach to Misophonia here.
If you or someone you know suffer from Misophonia, we encourage you to contact us to set up an initial consultation to discuss misophonia treatment. Dr. Rohe can conduct consultations either in his Tempe, AZ office, or online via Skype teleconference.
Palumbo, D. B., Alsalman, O., De Ridder, D., Song, J. J., & Vanneste, S. (2018). Misophonia and Potential Underlying Mechanisms: A Perspective. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 953. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00953
Tinnitus, also known as "ringing in the ears" can be a frustrating and sometimes debilitating hearing condition. The good news is that there are experts who can help you manage your symptoms and lead a good quality life. There is no medication proven to help, and no surgical option that works, so treatment is focused on dealing with your emotions.
There are a few effective standalone treatments for tinnitus like TRT, CBT and Desyncra.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is a neuromodulation technique, where an external sound is added to mask the ringing sound. This can bring relief to the person. In the long term, the sound therapy convinces the brain that the tinnitus sound is unimportant and therefore learns to ignore it.
CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as the name suggests looks at your emotional response to tinnitus. It identifies any distorted thinking, beliefs and reactions to the ringing sound and encourages a change of behavior. Very few clinics offer CBT for tinnitus. Dr. Rohe and his team are trained to utilize the CBT tools to address your concerns and relieve your tinnitus.
Desyncra™ is a sound therapy where the doctor first conducts pitch-matching tests to establish the frequency of the tinnitus tone that you are experiencing. This information is then fed to the software that tailors a pattern of therapeutic tones complementing that frequency. You can listen to your tailored therapeutic music which is quite soothing, through the Desyncra app. This therapy can be easily integrated into your daily routine and the instructions are simple. Over time, the nerve patterns would alter and the tinnitus sound would diminish.
In our clinic, Dr. Rohe has devised a highly effective practical program to treat tinnitus. It is personalized to the needs of his patients.
The Rohe Method®
Dr. Allen Rohe of Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona has developed a treatment program called the Rohe Method® that has successfully improved the quality of life of many sufferers like you. It is based on mindfulness and has integrated the principles of cognitive behavior therapy.
It is quite an intensive eight-week program that uses a comprehensive step by step approach. The main focus of the Rohe Method is to understand your specific symptoms first. Your symptoms are due to a combination of the nerve connections and the psychology behind it. This program is specifically designed to desensitize your nervous system through a series of therapy sessions. The program targets specific areas of your brain and promotes rewiring and retraining through a systematic approach.
Retraining your brain is like learning a new language and also being emotionally detached to that irritating sound. For example, if your daily commute involves a train ride, or if you live near train tracks, you hardly ever ‘hear’ the noise of the train. This is because your ears have acclimatized to the entire railway commotion. Similarly, the Rohe Method helps you to get used to the tinnitus noise and allows you to emotionally get detached from it. As a result, you will feel much better. You would be able to sleep better and perform your daily activities better.
Despite no psychology sessions, the audiology team is aware that trauma may have caused your tinnitus like an accident, whiplash or bereavement. Treatment sessions are carried out with these sensitivities and patients can discuss their symptoms in detail. The team also specializes in dealing with musicians who have tinnitus, as well as people exposed to loud sounds. People with hereditary factors or accident victims may also suffer from tinnitus.
By the end of the program, you will have tools and strategies that will help you to manage your symptoms so effectively, that you will feel significantly relieved from the constant ringing sound. So far, the patient satisfaction of those who have completed the Rohe Method® has been very high. (Read testimonials here)
Dr. Rohe says, “The bottom line is that there is hope, and I’ve been very successful in helping patients regain control and enjoy their lives again.”
Read More about The Rohe Method® here.
Dr. Rohe conducts Tinnitus treatments both in his Tempe, Arizona clinic, as well as globally via Skype internet teleconference.
Contact Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona at (480) 831-6159, or use our Contact Form here.
Last week, we talked about reducing your exposure to loud sounds by using custom earplugs that are more comfortable and perform far superior in terms of frequency response than the cheap foam earplugs. Any hearing protection is designed to reduce two things: hearing loss, and a hearing condition called tinnitus - also known as "ringing in the ears."
Tinnitus is often described as a phantom sound sensation where you hear ringing noises which are not caused by an outside source. It is a very common condition in which one in about every seven people experiences ringing sounds in their lifetime. This means millions are affected worldwide.
The exact cause of tinnitus is not known. Various conditions like exposure to very loud noise, certain strong medications, head or ear injuries, ear infection, bereavement or extreme stress are few of the factors that may cause tinnitus. It affects many musicians and those who work and live in noisy environments.
You are not alone
About 19% of Americans experience tinnitus in their lifetime and more than half do not seek help. Majority of sufferers are over 60 years of age. That said, tinnitus can affect people of all ages. Many tinnitus sufferers also suffer from severe depression, which is worrying. People describe the noises as ringing, roaring, hissing, whistling or whizzing. Daily life is severely affected and is often very distressing. Tinnitus can be an all-consuming phenomenon for the person. Constant ringing in your ears would naturally be an irritant that would consequently lead to a lack of concentration, lack of sleep, fatigue, and anger.
Surprisingly, most people resign to the fact that nothing can be done and learn to live with it. There is a feeling of hopelessness and wish that one day it will disappear on its own.
This is not true.
What can you do?
There are many effective ways in which experts can resolve your problem. These are easily available in a specialized audiology clinic like ourselves. Since we perform Tinnitus Treatment in our Tempe office, as well as online remotely from any location via Skype, there are several options to choose from. You can read more about those options here.
Tinnitus cannot be treated using medicine or surgical intervention, but there are effective ways to manage this condition. Expert audiologists can provide effective tools and self-control techniques that can modify the way you react to the ringing sensation.
There are standalone techniques available like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). These techniques either modify the persons’ behavior or mask the sound, which in turn provides relief.
In our clinic, we are in the enviable position to offer another technique which is a unique treatment method called the Rohe Method. This trademarked method, designed by our own Dr. Allen Rohe, combines the main principals of these standalone therapies and personalizes it for you to get maximum benefit.
Essentially, it is a method used to retrain the brain, desensitize the nervous system and emotionally separate the patient from the ringing sound. Regardless of what’s causing your tinnitus, and the nature and extent of the tinnitus, we would be able to address your individual concerns with the help of this program.
Hyperacusis means a hypersensitivity to sound. When normal sound feels much louder than it really is, it is possible that you may have a condition called Hyperacusis.
Normally, we tolerate everyday sounds, at least when the sound level is within 85 decibels. However, some people complain about these sounds to the extent that they feel pain and generate a strong negative reaction to it. This means noises, such as a car horn, and everyday sounds like a telephone can feel uncomfortable and painful. The level of perception may vary from being slightly inconvenient to a life-changing condition.
You might be suffering from hyperacusis if:
• You feel sudden discomfort hearing a sound that would be otherwise perceived as normal. So, the everyday sound seems much louder.
• You will have an increased sensitivity to sounds, for example, a dog barking, vacuum cleaner or a car engine.
• You feel pain and distressed as a result of a normal sound.
• The general well being and productivity is affected due to different sounds.
If you feel uncomfortable with normal sounds that people usually tolerate, then it might be worth getting evaluated.
This condition can sometimes be associated with phonophobia, fear of noise because the noise becomes associated with pain followed by distress and anxiety. Hyperacusis is often experienced along with tinnitus and misophonia.
Categories of patients with hearing problems
Paradoxically, the symptoms of hyperacusis, overlap with hearing loss and even pain disorders. (Source: ENT and audiology news)
It is worth mentioning, there are four broad categories of treatment stages assigned to patients with tinnitus and hyperacusis:
Category 1 — Patients with severe tinnitus, but do not have hyperacusis or subjective hearing loss.
Category 2—Patients have tinnitus and have significant hearing loss, but no hyperacusis.
Category 3 —Patients have hyperacusis, but no prolonged ear discomfort or severe tinnitus when exposed to noise. Ear discomfort and/or tinnitus is usually brief, and, if present, resets itself after a while. Hyperacusis is addressed first in this case. Amplification of the hearing aids may be considered after the hyperacusis problem is resolved.
Category 4—Patients have tinnitus and hyperacusis, along with excessive ear discomfort and/or exacerbation of tinnitus when exposed to noise. This category is treated very cautiously and monitored regularly.
Therefore, there is a huge overlap between symptoms of all these conditions.
Causes of Hyperacusis
The most common cause of hyperacusis is high noise levels.
Adverse drug reactions, ear infection, Meniere’s disease, Lyme disease, surgery, trauma like accidents or head injury may cause sudden hyperacusis. An antibiotic called ciprofloxacin is believed to cause a particular condition called ciprofloxacin related hyperacusis.
There are a few other diseases associated with hyperacusis. They are Bell's Palsy, Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome, Stapedectomy, Perilymphatic Fistula, Migraine, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Head Injury, Fibromyalgia, William's syndrome, Addison's Disease, Autism, Myasthenia Gravis, Middle Cerebral Aneurysm, and Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) High Pressure.
Also, symptoms can be linked with anxiety and depression, making a person feel isolated.
You can take preventive measures to avoid hyperacusis. Some of them include
• Reducing the noise levels and loud music
• Ear protection when the noise levels can't be controlled (loud concert)
While there is a lot of debate about the cause of hyperacusis, there is treatment available.
Diagnosis of this condition is not always straightforward. This is because hyperacusis often occurs in combination with other conditions like loss of hearing or tinnitus.
Sound therapy is the most common treatment for hyperacusis, similar to the treatment of tinnitus but with changes to the protocol - TRT Hyperacusis Protocol. Additional treatment options that are available include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which may also help tame the feelings of anxiety and depression. Taming the anxiety is crucial as the anxiety can make the symptoms much worse. Following an extended course of sound therapy and counseling, your sound tolerance thresholds have the potential to be reset back to normal levels.
Auditory experts decide on the treatment stages based on the severity of your condition. It may well be that your tinnitus or loss of hearing is treated first. Sound intolerance is thoroughly evaluated throughout the course of treatment.
Medical evaluation is carried out carefully because other conditions are associated with hyperacusis (see infograph above). This includes an examination of the nerves associated with the ears and temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) which is essentially checking the painful jaw muscles. Blood and serum are tested to rule out any additional deficiencies that need to be considered prior to treatment.
What to do next
At Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona, Dr. Allen Rohe is a uniquely qualified audiologist that offers therapy for Hyperacusis. He's familiar with associated hearing conditions, including tinnitus, misophonia, and hearing loss.
It's recommended to schedule a consultation to discuss your options. Whether you're from out of state, out of country, or local to the Tempe, Arizona office, call the clinic at (480) 831-6159, or use the convenient online scheduler. Therapy sessions can be conducted remotely via internet Skype teleconference to those that qualify.
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.