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.
Did you know – musicians have occupational hazards? Yep, the two biggest dangers to musicians are hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). (The occasional food truck burrito gets honorable mention). The quality of life of a musician is diminished over time due to hearing loss, unless proper precautions of hearing protection are taken.
Did you know — that loud music at concerts and festivals can reach decibel levels higher than 110 dB, which is like hearing the ambulance siren on loop?
Would you voluntarily stand right by an ambulance for a 90-minute set? I sure hope not. But concert-goers and musicians do about the same at loud concerts.
While music is very beneficial for our mental wellbeing and happiness, continuous loud music is not. The good news is that there’s an ingenious way to prevent it, which we’ll get to in a bit.
There's a strong link between hearing problems and professional musicians. Musicians have a 60% greater chance of experiencing tinnitus or ringing in the ears. A large study looked at more than two thousand musicians and found that more than 10% of them suffered from significant hearing loss.
Given that musicians are able to hear a broad range of sounds, their sensitivity to different sound level is high as well. That increase in risk however, overshadows much of the enjoyment of being surrounded by loud music.
Music lovers are affected too. There are growing concerns regarding ever-increasing noise levels in entertainment settings like concerts, cinemas, and festivals. Personal music devices and digital games emit sounds whose levels are dangerous. Loss of hearing can be temporary or permanent. It might take just one concert to cause major damage.
What happens in the ear, exactly?
There are very sensitive hair-like cells in our inner ears called cilia. These hairs become overactive when the noise levels are high. On repeated stimulation, the hairs become weakened and they stop responding to sound. In turn, the nerve that is attached also gets stressed because of not getting any signal. As a result, the brain generates a typical ringing sound. This ringing sensation is called tinnitus. The whole impact of loud noise can be temporary. If the ear gets a break from loud noise — it gets a lifeline.
If you stop the loud music, chances are that the tired hair cells may return to their active state. However, years of prolonged exposure to loud noise may ultimately permanently kill these hair cells and then, unfortunately, the loss of hearing becomes permanent, and the tinnitus becomes challenging to treat.
Awareness and prevention
There should be a raised awareness of the cumulative effect of loud music and lack of protection. The sound levels in parties, restaurants, movie theaters, music festivals and even gyms should be clearly mentioned and advise the visitors to take the necessary protection.
Young musicians should take precautions to reduce the long term impact of loud noise. Generally, moderated use of headphones and earbuds would be a good start. The volume of the personal sound system should be turned down and switched off at regular intervals. All concert halls and music studios should incorporate acoustic designs with sound absorbing panels to reduce the effect of loud noise on people who are inside the room, rather than just soundproofing them.
What can you do?
As a start, being aware of loud environments and ear pressure is important, and removing or distancing yourself from the source is helpful.
Bringing earplugs to events you think might be loud is the next step. We have our recommendations for earplugs beyond the cheap foams, which we list below.
If you feel concerned about your hearing and are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus or hearing loss, it’s not too late. Tinnitus is treatable and loss of hearing can be managed.
Audiologists at the Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona offer a specialized hearing service for the needs of musicians, sound engineers, and members of the entertainment industry.
As trained audiologists, we would diagnose and treat a musician effectively. An initial consultation may include a pressure test, testing your eardrum and a few other standard hearing tests. They are all very quick and painless. The next steps will be taken based on the test results.
We would discuss hearing protection, conservation and preservation. You may be offered custom-fit or musicians earplugs or in-ear monitors (IEM). These would help empower you to improve your quality of life while keeping your condition discreet and you can continue to enjoy the music.
There’s no easy way to say this, but…
Loud music damages the ears. Before you realize it, loud music has altered the inner ear, causing a ringing or buzzing sensation called tinnitus, or causing hearing loss – or both.
Plenty Of Excuses To Go ‘Round
Even with all the evidence that loud music causes hearing issues, surveys have found a few common threads, so let’s discuss them here:
1) “By the time I need hearing aids or have tinnitus, technology will have developed replacement ears.”
A patient told me that he thought that very thing 20 years ago, but of course we still don’t have replacement ears. Research is still being done with replacing the cilia (the tiny hair cells that are the receptors of sound in your ear), but even that has its complications. Will we have better technology 20 years from now? Sure, but don’t risk your hearing on the hope of technology saving you. Keep and preserve what you’ve got now, which is certainly better than robot ears.
2) “I just can’t hear the same with earplugs on stage, and it affects my performance.”
If you’re using the cheap foam earplugs you find at the pharmacy, then that would explain why you can’t hear naturally. They’re simply not designed for sounding good. They sound plugged up, mid-range heavy, and congested. By contrast, there are speciality earplugs made specifically for musicians, called, you guessed it – “Musicians Earplugs.” These custom molded earplugs have two great features:
a) They are "flat frequency" designs, so you’ll hear the same spectrum of frequencies – from the deep bass to the shimmer of cymbals – but the sound pressure level is lowered, so it’s like you turned down the volume on everything. Again, remember the ambulance scenario referenced above – if you can reduce the decibels you can reduce your risk of hearing damage.
b) Musician ear plugs have removable filters that you can customize to your environment. These little discs pop in and out of the earplugs, and come in three dB (decibel) levels – 9dB, 15dB, and 25dB. Loud concert? Use the 25’s. Restaurant or nightclub conversation? Use the 9’s. We feel this is the customizeable and best hearing protection you can buy.
3) “Earplugs are uncomfortable and hard to get in and out.”
This is common with people that use the cheap foam earplugs, and they’re right – they feel unnatural and are hard to insert properly. By contrast, the Musician Earplugs are customized to your individual ear canal, so they’re a perfect fit every time you use them. You’d schedule a visit with your audiologist (like us, hello!), and they would take an impression of your right and left ear canals. The impressions get sent in to the manufacturer, and in a week or so you’d get the reusable ear plugs back.
These custom ear plugs usually cost about $150 or so. One patient reported that "it's the best $150 I ever spent." Certainly more than the $5 at the pharmacy for the cheap foamies, but, how much is your hearing worth? How valuable is it to not have ringing in your ears, night and day, or struggling to hear everyday conversations due to hearing loss? Your future self will thank you profusely for taking care of your ears now.
What are the best earplugs for musicians?
We're proud distributors of the Sensaphonics brand, which are made of premium silicone unlike other manufacturers. Vinyl used by other companies shrinks over time, and will progressively get looser in your ear canal, allowing sound to enter in - the very thing you're trying to prevent! We carefully chose Sensaphonics and we've been extremely happy with their products and service. They even make sleeves for those generic fitting Shure monitors, giving them a more customized fit, feel, and look.
Sensaphonics also happens to be our choice for the best earplugs for concerts. You can read more about our Musician's Clinic products and services here.
The most valuable instrument you own
At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, we’ve fit countless musicians with custom ear plugs – from members of the Phoenix Symphony to the Gin Blossoms and members of Pink’s band. We just had a member of Night Ranger in here, as well as jam band Spafford to get fit for musician ear plugs and in-ear monitors.
We understand musician’s needs – so much so that we’re known as “The Musician’s Clinic.” We know the concerns musicians have about their ears and hearing, and have designed effective strategies to combat hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing conditions.
Curious about the status of your hearing? Schedule a hearing test today. Just like we get our vision tested every so often, when is the last time you had your ears checked? Musicians value their hearing, so treat your hearing like the most valuable instrument you own.
Call us today at (480) 831-6159, or use our convenient online scheduler.
It's not uncommon in today's noisy world to experience a gradual loss of hearing. However, left undetected or unaddressed, it can become problematic to one's everyday lifestyle.
If you are unable to hear as well as a person with normal hearing, which is about 50 decibels (dB), then you may be affected by hearing loss. It can affect one or both your ears.
To give you an understanding of the decibel levels, city traffic noises are usually 85 dB and sirens are 120 dB. Regular exposure to sound levels above 75 dB might cause hearing loss.
How would you recognize hearing loss?
Newborns are usually tested after birth and the audiologists take appropriate steps. If a child is slow to learn talking or if their speech is not very clear, then their hearing should be checked.
If you, whether young or old, talk very loudly, find it hard to hear a conversation or even hear the alarm, doorbell or watch television very loudly, then you should see an audiologist.
Hearing loss has a stigma and it should not be. According to the World Health Organization, around 466 million people experience from severe loss of hearing, worldwide. Estimates suggest that the numbers will double in the next thirty years.
This means, you are not alone.
Causes of hearing loss
Besides hereditary cause, newborns may be affected with loss of hearing if they have a difficult birth or have jaundice. If the mother had complications during her pregnancy with illnesses like rubella or syphilis, or had certain strong medications, the newborn may have a loss of hearing.
Aging is one of the most common causes of progressive hearing loss. Hearing loss affects their daily life. They may find it difficult to have a conversation or even respond to the doorbell. There is a risk of older people falling into depression and memory loss because of their problems with hearing.
The other common cause of hearing loss is long term exposure to loud noise. Modern life tends to be noisy, including traffic noises, various modern gadgets and loud music. When surrounded by such loud noise, people may experience a gradual loss of hearing.
How does hearing actually work?
In the center of the hearing mechanism is the eardrum, present in the inner ear. The ear is a very sensitive and complex organ. It converts the sound wave to an electrical wave in the brain through a series of steps. The middle ear is a bony structure that vaguely looks like a snail. This structure called cochlea and the fluid inside it helps the sound wave to reach the eardrum which sits deep inside the inner ear. The vibration of the eardrum, in turn, triggers the tiny hairs on it converting it into an electric wave. This wave travels to the brain via the auditory nerve.
What causes hearing loss?
Loud noise, ear infection or putting objects in the ear like a cotton swab can injure the hair cells in the eardrum. A very loud burst of noise like an explosion may cause sudden loss of hearing. Fluid or earwax in the ear acts as a sound barrier and cause a temporary loss of hearing. Otosclerosis or growth of excess bone and Cholesteatoma, which is an abnormal collection of skin in the ear are two conditions where hearing is affected.
Illnesses like Meningitis, Meniere’s disease and certain conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart conditions, and viral infection can cause loss of hearing. The chances are higher in older people.
Use of certain medicines used for treating severe infections, heart conditions and cancer may affect hearing. These medicines known as ototoxic drugs may damage the eardrum. Otosclerosis is thought to be a heredity condition that affects hearing.
If you feel that you or a loved one might be experiencing gradual hearing loss that is becoming noticeable or problematic, we recommend contacting us at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona to schedule a simple, quick, and non-invasive hearing test is a great idea. Our friendly audiologists will welcome you into our clinic, discuss your situation, and conduct a painless (and even fun) hearing exam.
Just as you might have an annual eye exam to measure your vision, you should have a hearing test to measure your other important sense - your hearing.
We provide hearing tests for Scottsdale AZ and Phoenix residents, and any patient in the Valley. Call us directly at (480) 831-6159 or use our convenient online scheduler to book an appointment on your computer or phone.
Tinnitus is the sensation of noise or "ringing" in the ears - a common problem that affects approximately 15 to 20 percent of individuals, so roughly 1 out of 6 people suffer from it. With those kinds of numbers, we feel it's a topic worth exploring, and in fact, it's an important part of our practice at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona. The Rohe Method® of Tinnitus Treatment was created as a unique blend of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy to facilitate retraining the brain. Retraining activates plasticity in the brain, which allows the nervous system to change its function in various ways, typically for learning or self-repair.
Tinnitus is not an actual condition; it is a symptom of some type of underlying condition, such as an ear injury, circulatory system disorder or age-related hearing loss.
Although tinnitus is annoying and can be incredibly frustrating, in the majority of cases it is not normally a sign of anything physically serious. It may worsen with age, for some individuals; if treated, tinnitus may improve. Sometimes it helps to treat an identified underlying cause such as a hearing loss or TMJ disorder, which a trained audiologist can help identify. Other treatments mask or reduce the noise, which can make tinnitus less intrusive and bothersome.
The Two Types of Tinnitus
There are two types of tinnitus: One type is called subjective tinnitus, which is the type of tinnitus that only can be heard by you. It is the most common form of tinnitus. This may be caused by problems in the inner, middle or outer ear. It may be caused by problems with the part of the brain where the nerve signals are interpreted in the form of sound (auditory pathways) or with the hearing (auditory) nerves themselves.
Objective tinnitus is the type of tinnitus that your doctor is able to hear when she or he performs an examination. It is a non-ringing sound - more typically rushing, clicking, thumping, or other atonal sounds. It is a less common type of tinnitus that might be caused by vascular issues such as turbulent blood flow through blood vessels in the neck or abnormal muscle contractions (activated by grinding your teeth for instance) that compresses some part of the auditory system. This type of tinnitus more often has an identifiable cause and may be treatable.
When you should visit your Audiologist about your Tinnitus
What Causes Tinnitus?
Cell damage within the inner ear hair is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. Delicate, tiny hairs within the inner ear known as the cilia move in relation to sound wave pressure. That triggers cells to release an electrical signal via a nerve in the ear (auditory nerve) over to the brain. Those signals are interpreted by the brain as sound. If the hairs inside of the inner ear are broken or bent, random electrical impulses may be leaked to the brain and cause tinnitus.
Other issues that cause tinnitus include chronic health conditions, other ear problems and conditions or injuries that affect the hearing center inside the brain or the nerves inside the ear. Many health conditions may cause or even worsen tinnitus. An exact cause, in many cases, is never found.
Other Tinnitus Causes
Some other common causes of tinnitus include the following:
Pulsatile Tinnitus and the Link with Blood Vessel Disorders
A blood vessel disorder may cause tinnitus in rare cases. The type of tinnitus is referred to as pulsatile tinnitus. The causes may include the following:
Medications that may cause tinnitus
There are a number of different medications that may worsen or cause tinnitus. In general, the higher the dose of the medication, the worse the tinnitus will become. Frequently, the unwanted noise will disappear once you stop using the drug. Some of the medications that are known to cause or make tinnitus worse include the following:
Also, some herbal supplements may cause tinnitus, as well as caffeine and nicotine.
Anybody may develop tinnitus. However, the following factors can increase your risk:
The Impact of Tinnitus
Tinnitus may have a significant impact on your quality of life. Although it can affect various people in different ways, if you develop tinnitus, you might experience any of the following as well:
Treating those linked conditions might not directly affect tinnitus, but can improve how you feel.
Tinnitus in many cases is caused by something that cannot be prevented. However, there are still precautions that may be taken to help prevent certain types of tinnitus from developing.
What To Do About Your Tinnitus
Tinnitus can be successfully managed and thankfully there are a variety of therapies and tinnitus treatments that you can read about in detail here. These include:
The good news is that there is hope and relief for tinnitus, and research continues to progress. Some exciting research to watch is going on in Ireland at this time, https://www.neuromoddevices.com/.
It's worth mentioning here that Dr. Rohe is currently the only audiologist in the US that is trained and experienced in audiology, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy, making him uniquely qualified to address all aspects and options for your tinnitus treatment, whether in his Tempe AZ clinic, or online via Skype conference.
To schedule a consultation, please call the Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona at (480) 831-6159, or use their online scheduler here.
There are several potential drawbacks or risks that come with buying hearing aids online or in a "megamart" store. We get asked if "Costco hearing aids" are any good, and our answer is the same: there are many factors to consider, and your hearing and quality of life are at stake. While we at Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona don't have "cheap hearing aids," we do offer affordable hearing aids from the best brands on the market (in our experience) that have impressive and significant investments in research and leading technologies.
Cheap doesn't always get you what you need
In our opinion, it is best to buy hearing aids from a local provider who will be able to provide ongoing adjustments and service for the lifetime of the hearing aid (normally the purchase price includes this). Free unlimited office visits on the life of the hearing aid are offered by Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona if you purchase the hearing aid from us.
A hearing aid is a type of medical device. There are many reasons why you should not buy one online. You should get tested before you buy hearing aid so that you know what your hearing loss is. Hearing aids are also custom and must be adjusted. If you buy hearing aids online, a majority of medical professionals will not be able to program your hearing aids. It is recommended that you consult with a professional before you make a decision on any of your medical needs, including hearing aids.
The greatest risk, which is something you should be concerned about, is your overall hearing health. Without proper evaluation and testing, you will not know why you have suffered a hearing loss. Without that knowledge, you easily could mask serious problems that could potentially put your health at risk. It could potentially be an undiagnosed medical problem that is causing your hearing loss that could even result in death. Even if you don't have a medical issue that has to be addressed, a hearing aid that is improperly adjusted could damage your auditory system, and lead to even more hearing loss. You should take your hearing aid device purchase very seriously and realize that hearing sciences training is necessary for treating hearing loss properly. I recommend that you find a reputable local audiologist (us, preferably :) ) who can treat your loss properly and who is available for future adjustments and follow-up. When it comes to your hearing health, you definitely get what you pay for.
With hearing aids, it is important to allow your brain to adjust to being able to hear sounds again. If it is the first time you have used hearing aids, be aware that often they will need to be set lower and adjusted several times until you are accustomed to hearing sounds accurately and comfortably according to your preferences (and everyone is different).
You can't just take your hearing aids and be done
It is important to have a good service program with an actual audiologist so that they can be programmed properly for your specific hearing loss, and help you make the adjustments to them. To ensure they are working properly, you need to visit your audiologist regularly for checkups and cleaning. When you purchase hearing aids online or from a supermarket bulk store, chances are you won't be getting service from experts that are necessary when you buy hearing aids.
The following are a couple of "regrets" we hear from customers that bought hearing aids online:
1. Sound is really personal. If you had visited an audiologist instead and gone through the process with them, you might have picked out a different hearing aid than the one you bought online.
2. When you purchase through an internet provider, you can only buy instant fit CRT aids. You might need custom aids or custom tips.
3. Although they might suggest having an audiogram with the hearing aid, what about Real Ear Measurements, over-all levels, feedback, and more? Just sending a hearing aid and audiogram to a patient is not an actual fitting.
It is essential for hearing aids specifically be programmed for the person's individual ear that is based on an audiometric test. Therefore, the first issue is to ensure that the hearing aids are programmed using a current hearing test.
While there are numerous places online that sell hearing aids, some do this without the manufacturer's permission. One manufacturer sent a letter out that stated it wouldn't honor the warranty for any of the hearing aids that were sold through a specific company (second risk).
Although mild hearing losses may be accommodated through an initial fitting, a majority of hearing losses need to be fit by programming the hearing aid below the loss followed by the hearing aid amplification being increased over time (and over several different office visits) as the person's brain continues to accommodate the increased hearing level.
This is not done by online companies themselves. Some contract with a local provider to do the initial fittings and a certain number of follow-up visits. There are other online companies that don't provide any local service.
That leads to the third risk, and it is a major one. Hearing aids all need periodic maintenance and readjustment in order for the patient to get the best results. Even if some initial support is provided by an online company, usually it is not for longer than the first year. You are completely on your own after that and will need to find someone who is willing to work on your hearing aids that they didn't sell to you. That means you will have to pay for each office visit from that point forward. That can cost up to $150 per visit as a single fee and as much as $1,500 to $2,000 for lifetime services. Even warranty-covered repairs require that a licensed dealer send the hearing aid to the manufacturer so it can be refitted. After the hearing aid has been repaired it is then returned, but you will then have another office visit to pay for.
Here are more reasons to avoid cheap hearing aids.
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.