Those who subscribed to our quarterly newsletter received our latest installment last week, and we hope you enjoyed our tips and new product announcements. We've posted the web version below.
If you have questions, or would like to schedule a hearing test or consultation, feel free to call us at (480) 831-6159, or use our online scheduler on our website.
Hearing aids are devices designed to help improve hearing and communication, as we all know. However, did you know that these aids can help enhance safety? According to various studies, the use of these hearing aids improves the quality of life or its users, providing the wearer with a heightened sense of security and independence. Below are some of the reasons that support these findings.
1. Improved Balance
The Washington University School of Medicine did some studies that found an increased level of performance in the balance tests among the respondents. The findings of the research support the notion that treating hearing loss can aid in lowering the cases of falling.
2. Increased awareness
Proper hearing plays a significant role in increased awareness of the surroundings, thus lowering the occurrence of accidents. The use of hearing aids can help the user detect potential threats around them. They can hear alarms and sirens, vehicles as well as various machine and stay out of harm's way. Therefore, the aids help them overcome their hearing challenges, thereby helping them to be alert and safe during their daily activities.
3. Enhanced safety
Different studies have found a link between untreated hearing loss an increased risk of safety issues that include injuries at work, accidental injuries when out in public, and the increasing frequency of lengthy hospitalizations. The use of the hearing aids will give the user some peace of mind since safety risks are lowered, and the aids enhance their sense of security.
Hearing aids are small devices that can have a significant impact. They are gadgets that can dramatically improve the life of the user. The wearer will be able to hear better thus able to engage in social conversation, thus building strong bonds with people around them. But the hearing aids also help the wear go beyond hearing and reacting to such basic sounds thus they can stay safe.
4. Improved Independence
EuroTrak did a study in 2010 that involved the use of hearing aids. The research showed that 88% of the surveyed people in America, relying on hearing aids found these devices aided in improving the quality of their lives. In France, that figure stood at 86% and 93% in Switzerland. All the respondents stated that these hearing assistances devices seem to aid in bolstering their safety and being able to engage in various things independently. Nearly all the respondents also reported that they felt more safe and secure when wearing hearing aids.
Improve Safety When Out
When out there in the great outdoors, our hearing sense plays a vital role in our safety. We depend on our hearing to take note of any warning sounds when walking or even when driving so that we can react in good time. If we can hear an oncoming car when walking, running, or biking, we shall anticipate it and respond accordingly so that we stay out of harm's way. Other senses will also be active in keeping us safe, but our hearing is incredibly vital for such a role.
Take another example of the following scenario. Christine has severe hearing impairment but is famous because of saving two capsized sailors after she heard their cries. The sailors were lucky because Christine heard them, and this is fortunate because she had only used the hearing aids within the last 24 hours. Christine managed to hear cries in the open water of stranded people that were about half a mile from the shore though Christine could not see anyone. She called the local emergency number for the relevant rescue times to step in and save the two vacationers. When asked, Christine stated that the sailors were fortunate because she just got the hearing aids the morning before. She implied that she was virtually deaf less than 24 hours before the incident.
If you've been thinking about getting hearing aids for yourself or a loved one, we here at the Tinnitus & Hearing Center provide the types of hearing aids Tempe and Phoenix metro residents can count on for top performing and realistic sounding hearing aid brands, proper and thorough hearing testing, and genuine approach to consultation to ensure that you get the right hearing aid to fit your budget and individual lifestyle. Contact us today at (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler on our website.
After reaching the age of 60, it is not uncommon for the average person to develop a higher risk of hearing loss, as well as increased risk of clinical depression. There have been many studies made to determine the association between hearing loss and higher risks of depression as they occur in older people. Some studies have suggested there could be a connection, while others report no such association.
There are several reasons for the differences in the findings of these studies. First and foremost, many of these studies that report a connection between depression and hearing loss are of the epidemiological sort. These cohort or cross-sectional studies are often tainted with bias on the part of the researchers and this will obviously affect the conclusions and makes the findings dubious.
The second reason has to do with the use of pure tone audiometry, and others use a form of self-reported measuring. Naturally, the outcomes of these different trials may produce a wide range of outcomes and biased results and can't be used as hard evidence.
Third, many of the studies in question do not consider the influence of cognitive decline that also occurs as part of the aging process and how it plays into the association between hearing loss and depression. This is despite the well-known fact that cognitive decline has been found to have a positive association with hearing loss in aging adults. Therefore it remains uncertain whether the use of a hearing aid will improve conditions of depression.
Finally, a good portion of the studies that examine the connection between hearing loss and depression in elderly people fail to include results adjusted by participant psychosocial characteristics and this shakes the foundations of their certainty.
Considering these points, it was clear that only systematic review and meta-analysis of the assortment of studies would provide any solid evidence that supports the possible connection between depression and hearing loss.
And so such a systematic review and meta-analysis on the possible association between these two common conditions of aging was conducted and identified all the studies performed on the subjects from the first dated publication to the July 17, 2018. The outcomes of study characteristics, participants and other research on hearing and depression as they could be associated in aging adults were reported from the cohort but different study. The effect size of this meta-analysis has been represented by an Odds Ratio. Smaller ORs are greater or equal to 1.68, medium ORs to 3.47 and large ORs to 6.71.
A total of 1,435 titles and abstracts were examined in their online databases and from these, only 35 suitably matched the criteria of this meta-analysis. From these studies, 147,148 included participants from 18 countries, 24 has cross-sectional designs and the remaining 11 were cohorts. In the studies that used samples from the demographic in question, the tests subjects were always older (with an average age of 73.43) and mostly female (58.69%).
In general, there was a small but significant increase in depression associated with the loss of hearing (OR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.31 – 1.65). But there were no significant connections observed when the studies were arranged by the proportion of participants, type of hearing measurements used, presence of cognitive impairment or inclusion of covariates in results.
HEARING LOSS-DEPRESSION CONNECTION
The first important finding that is established by this meta-study is that hearing is associated with a small but significant increase in the risks of depression, as much as 1.47. Even though this is a fairly small amount, this increase in the risk of depression in seniors experiencing hearing loss means that many will suffer depression, although most probably won’t.
Within the broader population, depression is frequently associated with negative life events (e.g., death of a loved one, loss of income), long-term stress, personality disorders, substance abuse, and poor diet, and these factors may be exacerbated considerably in adults with health concerns and preconceptions of the aging process. In the broader scheme of things, depression can be related to a wide range of conditions including life events, stress, long term health conditions, and more.
This means that, health providers and especially audiologists addressing the conditions of hearing loss in older adults must be sure they consider the heterogeneous etiology of depression. In other words not all of their elderly patients suffering from hearing loss will be depressed about it.
The next important finding by the meta-analysis, was that the association between a loss of hearing and the risk of depression is not affected by the type of measuring unit, physical or social characteristics or any form of hearing aid. There has been evidence that suggests that social support is an effective treatment to counterbalance hearing loss and depression in later life and suggest that counseling and educational training may be the best thing to improve their quality of life.
Aging adults suffering from loss of hearing have reported wanting, but not being offered, psychosocial counseling as a part of their overall aural rehabilitation. It is also worth noting that many older adults introduce stigma with depression and it can also contribute to depression and other mental disorders. This may make them reluctant to look for help and this can make it increasingly difficult for those geriatricians and audiologists trying to provide help to know where and when help is needed.
Audiologists can get ahead of this issue by learning more about the difficulties older adults will face when their hearing is becoming reduced and what kind of psychosocial challenges they will experience. This will increase your capacity and confidence in speaking to older patients about their needs for aural help. Furthermore, health professionals working in the field of adult hearing loss will benefit from depression scorning tools to zero in on patients that may already be at risk. This will also allow more people to benefit from suitable psychological and psychiatric care for depression.
In conclusion, some adults who experience hearing loss may also suffer from a resulting depression. While technically there is no clear-cut evidence that hearing aids will improve their depressive condition, at the same time, there has been an excess of variability between the methods applied for achieving these results in the various meta-analysis studies.
So, while hearing loss sufferers may experience a marginal level of depression over non-hearing loss individuals, we suspect that anyone frustrated with not being able to hear conversations, music, television, or movies is at risk of a decrease in enjoyment of life, and even as far as detachment and withdrawal from social environments. Whether you call that depression or not, there are options to improve your hearing. We can help you at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona. Call us to schedule a consultation at (480) 831-6159.
Researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School used an innovative gene-editing system in order to recover the hearing abilities in mice that had genetic hearing-loss. The project was successful without harmful or unwanted side-effects.
The latest approach involves a more enhanced and precise version of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing system. This system is better able to recognize a mutation which results in hearing loss that is progressive in an animal model called the "Beethoven mice." The tool provided researchers with a way to disable Tmc1 which is a hearing gene known as the defective-copy without affecting or disturbing the copy that is healthy.
David Corey, Ph.D., a co-senior investigator of the study stated that the aspect that was the most surprising was how well it worked, providing just about undetectable cutting when it came to the inappropriate genes. He went onto say that this significantly reduces the risks in clinical settings, and also means that the CRISPR approaches might be ready for use for the purpose of gene therapy a lot sooner than expected.
The Beethoven mice in this study underwent treatment for the very same genetic-mutation which causes hearing loss that is progressive in humans. Without any therapy, these mice go deaf completely after they have reached 6 months of age. With therapy, which was described recently in Nature Medicine, the mice are now able to detect sounds at around 45 dB, which can be compared to a standard conversation level. In the mice, this mutation is associated with 1 incorrect letter, which is an A instead of a T, in a DNA sequence of the Tmc1 gene. It is this 1 incorrect letter which marks the differences between deafness and normal hearing.
The system was able to recognize the 1 incorrect DNA letter from a defective-copy across 3 billion letters in the genome of a mouse. Regardless of this success, there is still a lot of work required before this therapy of gene-editing will be appropriate for human use, stated the authors of this study. However, this latest therapy has become necessary to improve the effectiveness and safety associated with the standard gene-editing technique.
Corey told the Hearing Journal that this specific mutation that they were studying in mice happens to be somewhat rare when it comes to humans, which somewhat limits the overall impact of this research. Corey does go onto say that when they analyzed the DNA sequences for the disease-causing mutations that are known in various other genes, they were surprised to discover that many of these, close to a quarter, could also be targeted with the modified SaCas9-KKH.
With the original CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tools, they worked in the way of using a "guiding molecule" known as gRNA, in order to identify a DNA sequence that is mutant. When the mutant DNA has been detected, the Cas9 enzyme cuts it off. Up until now, gene-editors have not been very accurate. In order to overcome this challenge, researchers have adapted the tool which was developed originally by Keith Joung, MD, Ph.D., and Ben Kleinstiver, Ph.D., in the way of using a modified Cas9 enzyme derived from Staphylococcus aureus rather than the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, that the original Cas9 was derived from. In order to improve the accuracy of detection, the latest system utilizes the gRNA to detect mutant genes along with the optimized Cas9 in order to find the specific DNA mutation.
The idea that is critical to this study has to do with how it is used, along with the guide RNA, of the “PAM site”, in a modified SaCas9-KKH enzyme which mediates a secondary-recognition of a mutant gene, states Corey. He goes onto say that they were hoping this approach would lower off-target effects of the Cas9, which involved either inappropriately cutting of a normal copy of the TMC1 gene or inappropriately cutting off any other genes that are unrelated.
Corey along with his team injected this treatment inside the inner ears of the mice. On further investigation, they discovered that this tool worked as the editing occurred only inside the inner ears of these mice. In order to study this evidence, they also stimulated hair cells of these mice which did not carry these mutant cells. The study also involved measuring auditory-brainstem responses in order to decide whether this therapy worked.
Due to the ability of the tool to target the single-point gene mutations, this system is able to mediate as much as 15 other types of deafness that are inherited which are also caused from a single-letter mutation in the DNA sequences of the other types of hearing genes.
Corey says that they will continue to work alongside other colleagues within the field linked to deafness and hearing in order to apply the method to other types of deafness that are hereditary. They are hoping that others that work in the community of gene therapy will take on these approaches to treat other disorders.
Clearly these are some promising studies being done in the world of research related to degenerative hearing loss. Keep us at Tinnitus & Hearing Center in mind for all of your questions related to hearing loss and your options to improve your hearing. Give us a call at (480) 831-6159 to schedule an appointment or with any questions.
At least 1 in every 10 people in the US suffers from a type of hearing loss. At least half of these people have never had their hearing checked. Keep in mind that hearing problems are likely going to get worse if ignored so you need to get your hearing tested, early and often. In some cases, the damage might be permanent.
Inside your ear, there are tiny hairs that send sound waves to your brain. If there is any damage to these hairs, they will never grow back. You might be doing something to your ear that damages it so you need to find out immediately. Did you know that normal drugs such as antibiotics or aspirin can actually cause hearing problems?
It's important to have your ears checked to take care of any hearing problems immediately. Nerve damage is one of the most common hearing problems. We're an audiologist in Phoenix, and we've seen plenty of patients that come in early enough that they can avoid hearing aids or surgery. But most people wait until their hearing damage is past the point of no return, and need hearing aids to keep their lifestyle intact.
Hearing Aids And Their Benefits
There are so many misconceptions about hearing aids that keep a lot of people from getting the help they need. In the last few years, these devices have actually come a long way. If you have mild hearing problems, you can definitely benefit from wearing them. Of course, you need to get a hearing test to determine the extent of your hearing loss and whether or not you need hearing aids.
You might assume that there is nothing you can do to cure your hearing loss. Previously, doctors were limited when it came to helping people who had hearing troubles in one ear, experienced nerve damage, or who couldn’t hear high-pitched sounds. However, technology has changed a lot of that. All these individuals can make a lot of strides with hearing aids.
"I Don't Want to Look Old" And Other Myths
As much as hearing aids might make you "look old," if you can’t hear, that's actually more of an "old person" stereotype. You need to remain sharp and hearing aids will help you get there. Note that with diminished hearing, you could develop a host of other issues such as dementia. Yes, hearing aids might be slightly noticeable to someone, but so what? Most patients we know would rather hear sounds than worry what people think about some tiny device on their ear. Hearing aids are so small these days that they're barely noticeable at all.
Note that the age of hearing aids making everything sound too loud is in the past. Now, you can enjoy a sane amount of volume to whatever you are listening to, with split-second compression that mutes loud sounds.
Keep in mind that having hearing loss can change the quality of life. Most people eventually develop anger, stress, loneliness, depression, and memory loss, and even dementia. It could hurt your chances of being promoted at work, and prevent you from hearing words from your loved ones, friends, and family. By using hearing aids, you can improve your self-esteem, physical health and much more.
For children, hearing loss needs to be treated very early. Note that if they can’t hear, it can seriously impact their development if they can’t talk, make friends, communicate or develop normally. When babies are born, their hearing should be checked in the hospital or at least when they are one month old. If there are any issues, they should receive professional help immediately. Check on your toddler who has frequent ear infections. Note that the hearing loss caused by ear infections may be temporary but it might lead to bigger problems in the future if not checked early enough.
At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, we're a Phoenix Audiologist clinic that consults with patients about hearing loss and hearing aids, conduct hearing testing in Phoenix and the entire Phoenix Valley, including Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, Fountain Hills, and more. We also work with tinnitus treatment, misophonia, and hyperacusis. For more information or to schedule an appointment contact us at (480) 831-6159 or visit our website at https://www.tinnitusaz.com.
Know What Hearing Tests Are Before You Take Them
If you live in the metro area of Phoenix, hearing testing might come up when speaking to your doctor, and he/she may ask you to get your ears tested. This does not in any way mean that something is wrong. It is just that the doctor needs you to have a hearing test to make sure that your ears are working as they should.
Hearing loss becomes a possibility as you grow older. Between the ages of 45 and 64, 14% of people have some loss in hearing, and this percentage rises to 30% among people who are 65 years old or older. That is the reason doctors want to have your hearing tested every few years, instead of just once after you have become an adult.
It is recommended by experts in the audiology field to get your hearing tested once every ten years till you cross the age of 50, and once every three years after you have crossed this age. Of course, if you have any concerns about your hearing, you should get a hearing test immediately.
Thankfully, hearing tests are painless, quick, and inexpensive.
The Need for a Hearing Test
At times you may suspect that you have a hearing loss. You may have trouble hearing what is being said to you when you are in a crowded room or find that you have to turn on the volume high on your TV.
Not everybody realizes that they have a hearing problem. Hearing loss is a gradual process, and this prevents it from being realized. So, even if you think you might be fine, and the doctor suggests a hearing test, just do what they say!
Hearing loss in adults can be due to several reasons:
Older people who have hearing loss, and do not do anything about it, will feel they are being left out of social events which they have always enjoyed, just because they are unable to hear what is happening. This inability to hear well can be embarrassing and can lead to their avoiding both friends and family. This isolation can lead to depression unless they get themselves some help with their hearing.
What Can You Expect During Testing
The entire process of testing can take about half an hour, and there is no pain. Adults who undergo these tests will be asked to wear headphones while they listen to tones played at different pitches and volumes in both the ears, but one at a time. Your ability to listen to each short burst of sound will show whether you can hear low or high pitched sounds, loud or quiet sounds, and if any of the ears has hearing loss.
Some of the hearing tests involve listening to speeches at varying volumes and will require to hear them one ear at a time. The voices will come to you quietly in the earphones, and you are required to repeat the words that you have heard. This test can be carried out in rooms that are quiet or noisy, as your hearing of voices can be troubled when there is any background noise.
The Results and What They Mean
A test for hearing does not mean that you have passed or failed. The results will indicate your loss of hearing in each ear and the degree to which it is affected.
Sound intensities are measured in decibels. A whisper is 30 decibels. Normal speech measures 60 decibels, while anyone shouting in your ear will do so at 80 decibels or higher.
Adults who have normal hearing will have a loss of 25 decibels. The degrees of hearing loss are:
At times hearing test results can surprise you when they say you have mild, moderate or severe hearing loss, and this is because the loss of hearing is gradual.
Hearing loss can rarely be restored, but you can make up the loss and also protect whatever hearing you have left.
If you need to wear hearing aids than you can choose aids that come in many styles. They are nowadays much smaller than what the elders in your generation used to wear. Models can go into the ear or sit behind it. Some may be completely hidden in the ear canal.
Some hearing aids are devices that amplify the sound you want to hear. They will be able to make phone calls louder. Others can help you hear better when you are in a theatre or a place of worship. Some specialize in loud, crowded environments like restaurants, and others combine hearing amplification with tinnitus treatment.
Lip reading can help you understand what people are saying. You can learn how to do this with a little training.
Your audiologist can suggest the wearing of earplugs when you go to places where there is too much noise, concerts, restaurants, or even while using loud yard equipment. This can help to prevent any increase in hearing loss.
Sometimes those who live or work with someone that's "hard of hearing" find it difficult to figure out the best way to communicate with someone who suffers from hearing loss.
Certainly hearing aids are the easiest remedy for those who suffer from loss of hearing, but sometimes cost can prohibit the purchase. Lipreading is an important skill for many people who have hearing loss. They are able to recognize the lip shapes, gestures and facial movements of someone when they speak. This helps them to communicate well. Next time you speak with someone with the loss of hearing, assist them to lipread the speaker in a variety of ways.
Here are some simple tips to help you to effectively communicate with them.
Speak slowly, clearly and loudly
It is important that the person understands the conversation. Speak slowly, naturally, and loudly - but NOT shouting or exaggerating mouth movements. Use simple words and short sentences. Repeat yourself if necessary, or rephrase it. Make sure that one person talks at a time. Shouting distorts the sound of speech and the person will find it difficult to understand. Pause to check if the person has understood what you said before you continue the conversation.
Remember that the person with the hearing loss is certainly aware of their condition, but can be tremendously frustrated about their situation. Speak to them in a mature way - after all, it's only their hearing that's affected, not their mental capacity.
Include them in a group and address them by their name
It is important that the person understands the conversation. Speak slowly, naturally, without shouting or exaggerating mouth movements. Use simple words and short sentences. Repeat yourself if necessary, or rephrase it. Make sure that one person talks at a time. Shouting distorts the sound of speech and the person will find it difficult to understand. Pause to check if the person has understood what you said before you continue the conversation.
Reduce background noise
In a social gathering, find a quiet place to talk to help reduce background noise. It will be useful if you switch the TV or the music off when they come to visit. Some people with hearing loss may be very sensitive to loud sounds. You should be aware of this reduced tolerance and consequently avoid loud sounds.
Let the person see your expression
Make sure you are in a well-lighted area where the person can see your facial expression and gestures. This helps in better lipreading and understanding. Also, face the person and maintain eye contact. Remember, not to hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while speaking. Beards and mustaches may act as barriers as well. Additionally, avoid talking from another room for the same reasons.
Be patient, stay positive and relaxed
If you are talking to someone who has loss of hearing, it is vital to make an effort by being patient and tolerant. If you relax and make the person feel relaxed, then it would help the person communicate better.
Familiarize the listener with the general topic of the conversation
If you change a topic without warning, it might confuse the person with hearing difficulty. Avoid sudden changes of topic and warn about the change. When you are in a group, it may help if you repeat the important points and information before you continue with the discussion.
Pay attention to the listener
Expression speaks a thousand words. If the person has a puzzled look, it may indicate misunderstanding. Be tactful and make sure the person has understood you, You may ask leading questions so you know your message got across.
Help them readjust their hearing
After a performance or a conference, allow the hearing-impaired person a few moments after the event is over to readjust their hearing. By either mentally or manually (changing the program on a hearing aid, for instance). They likely cannot hear you if you whisper to them in the middle of a performance as well.
Provide information in writing
Consider providing specific information like directions, phone number, work assignments in writing. You could talk them through the details and then provide the same thing in writing or drawings. That way, you would be sure that the person has the information. Alternatively, you could ask them to repeat the specifics back to you.
If you suffer from hearing loss, we would like to hear from you. Do you have any tips that would help us communicate better with you?
At Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona, we know how challenging it can be for those with hearing loss, and their friends and family. The good news is that there are options to improve your hearing condition and your lifestyle. Give us a call to schedule a consultation and free screening, and we can discuss hearing testing as well as options to make life easier for you and those around you. We conduct the type of hearing tests Scottsdale and Phoenix valley residents appreciate for our kind and genuine approach. Call us at (480) 831-6159 or use our Contact page to schedule an online appointment or email us a message.
Throughout life, music plays an important role in individuals’ everyday experiences.
Presbycusis or age-related hearing loss is common in elderly people that occur because of natural neurodegenerative processes. It affects the cochlear receptor cells and brain circuits that are involved in auditory perception. Clinically, older people may have high-frequency hearing loss on both sides and reduced ability to understand speech. Using a hearing aid is the best way to deal with hearing loss at old age. However, you may wonder, if the ability to differentiate different notation of music changes too.
Can you enjoy music at old age?
Even though aging is associated with a decline in both cognitive and auditory abilities, whether aging damages music perception remains controversial. The question is, do you enjoy the harmony of different musical notes?
Harmony is the process when two or more notes are played at the same time. It is composed of simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches (tones, notes), or chords and this is analyzed by hearing. When two musical notes are compatible, the musical chord is pleasing and evokes a sense of resolution or “consonance." A mix of different frequencies, on the other hand, might evoke a feeling of tension or “dissonance”. Harmony is a combination of this consonance and dissonance.
Even though anecdotal evidence suggests that harmony is enjoyed by the older population, interestingly, a study revealed that older listeners found consonant chords less pleasant compared to younger listeners and had less distinct neural representations of consonant and dissonant chords. Which means that there may be age-related differences in perception which is likely to be related to differences in neural temporal coding.
Despite aging, music perception is relatively spared. How does that happen?
Other studies, however, strongly suggest that the decline in music perception is relatively spared. Despite relying on auditory and cognitive abilities that tend to decline with age, it is likely that older adults engage in some form of a compensatory mechanism in the way the neurons in the brain processes music. Scientists have shown that the underlying mechanism to process music is very different between young and old but the ability to perceive it is similar.
Both could equally detect inconsistencies in music. Compared to the younger, the older person had reduced perception of amplitude but increased perception to detect out-of-key notes. This means that the perception of the tonal structure is preserved in older adults, despite aging.
Music training and education are important factors
Evidence shows that if older individuals were musically trained, their perception of music was better than the untrained older individuals. Also, the level of education seemed to make a difference. Performance of temporal tasks, which includes enjoying musical notes, was better in highly educated older individuals.
This means that music training and education are important factors as they can slow the deterioration of music perception produced by age-related hearing loss.
Aging does not alter specificity to music
Further evidence on the age differences in music perception reveals that even though the young and old have differences in the perception of valence and arousal in music, there is no difference in perceiving musical notes. Valence means whether the music has a positive or negative effect, and arousal measures how calming or exciting the music is.
The study also found that there was no difference in perception of the quality of the music. This reiterates that with aging, music perception does not change.
If you are above 65, you may need a hearing aid due to aging, but you will still distinctly recognize and enjoy all the musical notes.
Call us at (480) 831-6159 to schedule a consultation with Sun Lakes audiologist Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona. We're a friendly and knowledgeable Audiologist clinic near Sun Lakes AZ that knows musicians' needs so much that we're known as "The Musician's Clinic!" Even if you simply love to listen to music and have concerns about your hearing, we'd love to show you some great options to improve your everyday life.
Aging is inevitable and every individual has to face its natural consequences, which includes hearing loss. The good news is, besides being lucky to have lived for more than 65 years or more, there is help available to address your concerns about hearing.
Role of your ears
Your ears help you with hearing and maintaining balance. When sound waves reach your eardrum, the vibrations are changed into nerve signals in the inner ear and are carried to the brain by the auditory nerve.
Your inner ears also control your balance, which is also often called as the equilibrium. Fluid and small hair-like cells in the inner ear stimulate the auditory nerve, which in turn help your body to stay in equilibrium.
As you age, structures inside the ear begin to change, and their functions decline. Your ability to pick up sounds decreases. You may also have problems maintaining your balance as you sit, stand, and walk.
Aging affects your five main senses
You receive information from your environment through your senses. This information can be in the form of sound, light, smells, tastes, and touch. Sensory information is converted into nerve signals that are carried to the brain. There, the signals are turned into meaningful sensations.
As you age, the way your senses (hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch) give you information about the world changes. Your senses become less sharp, and this can make it harder for you to notice details. Sensory changes lead to isolation because with age you may have problems communicating, enjoying activities, and staying involved with people.
A certain amount of stimulation is required before you become aware of a sensation. This minimum level of sensation is called the threshold. Aging raises this threshold; you need more stimulation to be aware of the sensation.
Hearing and vision are the two senses most affected with age. Using glasses and hearing aids, or lifestyle changes can improve your ability to hear and see.
Aging affects adaptation to different sound levels
Recent studies show that the ability of your brain to adapt to sound declines as we age. This may help explain why older people can have problems hearing in certain situations.
Neuroscientists at Western University in Canada* found that aging affects adaptation to sound-level in the human auditory cortex. They found that our brains become more sensitive to sounds as we age. This may lead to hearing challenges over a lifetime.
Interestingly, when the scientists examined the response of the auditory cortex to different sounds of groups of young and old people they responded differently to soft and loud sounds. The main conclusion was that older individuals do not adapt as well to their sound environment.
Older people are more "over-sensitive" to sounds
Imagine a young and an old individual attending the same rock concert.
Based on the finding of the above study, the young person’s brain would become less sensitive to relatively quiet sounds. This allows the listener to hear the relevant sounds (like a guitar riff) better without being distracted by those irrelevant sounds.
However, the older listener is over-sensitive to each sound, hearing both quiet and loud sounds all at once. The person cannot ignore or tune out irrelevant auditory information. Without the ability to reduce sensitivity to irrelevant sounds, the individual experiences hearing challenges.
One of the fundamental properties of the auditory system is to be able to adjust very quickly to any environment a person goes into. If you cannot do that anymore, it becomes overwhelming. So the experience is unpleasant and the older person is surrounded by annoying sounds.
This is the reason why older people would prefer quieter places and avoid a loud restaurant, or a busy festival, simply because it is very distracting.
Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss)
Age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis. If you are having trouble hearing, discuss your symptoms with your audiologist. One way to manage hearing loss is by getting fitted with hearing aids. Even though presbycusis is a natural progression, it is not identical to everyone. Factors like genetics, environmental exposures, and general health may affect the extent of it. At present there are no preventative measures known other than hearing protection (which we offer at our clinic).
Tinnitus is another common problem in older adults and as your audiologist, we at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona are here to help you. We're a Phoenix audiologist that has a wealth of experience with hearing loss, hearing testing, and tinnitus treatment. In fact, Dr. Rohe is one of the leading tinnitus experts in the US, and has developed his own method of tinnitus treatment, aptly named "The Rohe Method ®."
Questions? Feel free to give us a call at (480) 831-6159.
*Aging Affects Adaptation to Sound-Level Statistics in Human Auditory Cortex
Björn Herrmann, Burkhard Maess and Ingrid S. Johnsrude
Journal of Neuroscience 21 February 2018, 38 (8) 1989-1999; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1489-17.2018
As a musician, to create music, you fight noise!
During a live performance, you are surrounded by a myriad of sounds in various frequencies like the PA system, the amplifiers, sound from different instruments and of course the crowd singing along with you. The challenge is to be able to listen to your own instrument or voice in the midst of the cacophony.
Wedge speakers vs IEMs
For a long time, the traditional wedge-shaped speakers on stage, have been used. These speakers substantially increase the volume of one sound, so that you can hear it above all the competing noises. This just makes things worse and the musicians are exposed to unsafe sound levels.
During the 1980s, IEM's were introduced to address this issue.
IEM removes the need for floor monitors from the stage and significantly reduce onstage volume levels. With an in-ear personal monitor system, you can choose which sound you would like to hear, and the quality of the sound will be good. This would essentially mean that you get a studio-quality sound during a live performance.
In-ear monitors would help you preserve your voice if you are a singer because if you cannot hear your own voice, you strain the vocal cords and distorting the voice. In ear monitors for singers can "save your voice" if your singing voice tends to fatigue.
With wedges, you get intense feedback on stage as the amplified sound from a loudspeaker is picked up by a microphone and re-amplified. There is no feedback when you use IEMs and so enhances the experience.
One of the major advantages of IEMs is its small size compared to the wedges. They are portable and very easy to use. You can easily move on stage without having to worry about not hearing the sound properly. IEMs also empower you to have personal control of which sound you would like to hear. You can even choose to listen to one instrument in one ear and another in the other.
IEMs, therefore, help a musician to get a precise and controlled sound when performing. It dramatically buffers unwanted external noise such as drums and electric guitars. Also, it allows stereo sound similar to our natural listening environment. As a result, the sound you will hear will be clear, clean and of high performance. In ear monitors for drummers improve your technique, since you're able to hear everyone while you play at the volume level that's most appropriate for the song - not quietly enough so you can hear the band.
IEM systems include a transmitter, which transmits the monitor mix to a receiver. This receiver is connected to your earpiece.
IEMs prevent hearing loss
Besides improving the quality of the sound consistently, IEMs help with improved pitch perception and improved timing. It reduces feedback, vocal fatigue, portability, and sound levels. The audience, in turn, gets a good sound quality.
Most importantly, it prevents hearing loss as there is reduced exposure to loud noise.
The earpiece is vital. Often, they are custom molded to make it comfortable to wear and allow the sound to be sent directly into the inner ear. The customization provides a better seal and reduces noise almost by 25 to 34 dB. This means that loud onstage instruments, such as drum kits or guitar stacks, are less likely to cause hearing damage for onstage musicians.
Custom fit in ear monitors are tailor made - not only to your individual ear canal, but also depending on your requirements. The dynamic ones are used if you are a bassist or a drummer for example, for improved bass response. The other type, the balanced armature speakers delivers a more detailed sound that improves the treble performance, have a faster response and provide a flatter frequency response. Isolating the ear with silicone helps but this makes the performer feel detached from others. However, it protects the ears.
To prevent the sense of isolation, certain IEM systems embed a microphone in it, so that you can hear the music and crowd reaction in low volume.
We are experts in IEMs
If you are a musician, visit our audiology clinic, Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona, for a hearing check and to learn about IEMs. As experts, we help you at every "stage."
Curious about how In-Ear Monitors could help your performance? We've fit hundreds of musicians for IEM's, including The Phoenix Symphony, members of Pink, Jimmy Eat World, Gin Blossoms, Night Ranger, and many more - from worship groups to rock bands to DJ's to Recording Engineers.
Call us at (480) 831-6159 to schedule a consultation and viewing of the IEM's we represent, fit, and service of the best brands on the market. Don't trust your ears to retail stores - get proper ear canal fitting by an Audiologist clinic in Scottsdale that knows musicians' needs so much that we're known as "The Musician's Clinic!"
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.