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.
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.
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.
Guest post by Scott Novak - patient of Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona
In Part 1 of this article (found here), I mentioned an elderly couple that I approached on my bike that didn't hear me. As you might have noticed, I theorized several reasons why that man might be resisting getting hearing "assistance." Since then, I started thinking more about the possible association with hearing loss and simply being elderly.
When I turned 42, I noticed my eyesight getting blurry when I would read printed material or the computer. Okay, I thought, I'm probably going to need glasses. There's a certain "resistance versus resignation" to getting older that I think we all struggle with. We can't fight Father Time though, as much as we try. Perhaps admitting to a hearing loss is also admitting to getting older, and even to one's own mortality.
So why not take every opportunity to maximize the enjoyment of every day? Every minute? Why do some people resist going to a hearing doctor (an audiologist) and explore options for hearing aids, but are perfectly fine going to an eye doctor and paying for glasses? We talked about that in the last article, but I wanted to explore the idea of the hearing loss stigma a little more, and found some interesting research.
The Impacts Caused By The Hearing Loss Stigma
Despite how prevalent hearing loss is (around 20 percent of Americans report that they have hearing loss to some degree), the stigma still persists. Whenever people are ashamed of having a hearing loss, they might refuse to acknowledge their problem. There was another study that Southall, Gagne, and Jennings conducted where participants experience a high level of stress when attempting to conceal or deny their hearing loss. Both professionally and personally they were afraid of being labeled and put off going to see an audiologist.
Even after they visit a doctor, an individual may reject hearing aids since they are afraid of looking old, and feeling inferior or ashamed, or view hearing devices as being signs of weakness and being handicapped. Unfortunately, failing to seek treatment may cause long-term effects.
Untreated hearing loss can result in lower signal quality inside of the brain (which can be held to higher cognitive load), behavior changes, social disengagement, changes in the brain's structure, and health problems like anxiety, fatigue, depression, and dementia.
Fighting the Stigma
How can we effectively fight the hearing loss stigma? Education is the key. By educating the public (including individuals with hearing loss) about the various challenges involved with hearing loss as well as the benefits that treatment can provide, empathy can be fostered which can lead to a more positive outlook for hearing health.
Finally, if you are suffering from hearing loss, don't allow the stigma to hold you back. You might feel as if a hearing aid makes you look old, but it actually will help you in many ways in maintaining your youth. After all, young people who have excellent hearing do not continuously ask other individuals to repeat themselves constantly. They don't respond in conversations inappropriately because they are unable to hear the other part of the conversation. They don't disconnect socially because they are struggling to hear the conversation.
These days, hearing aids are very effective and can help you maintain your mental faculties, your social life, and maybe even your career. Modern hearing aids are also very inconspicuous and small, so you won't have to worry that you will stand out in a crowd. If you really want to hide the fact that you are suffering from hearing loss, then check out the discreet styles such as receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids. Also, search for a hearing aid that comes with an inconspicuous remote, to allow you to not draw attention to yourself whenever you are wanting to press the program button or change the volume. There are some devices that connect to a smartphone, which makes them technologically savvy and very convenient. Whenever you need to use your hearing aid's control center, it will just look like you are using your cell phone.
Get a dang hearing test already!
If you have been procrastinating having a hearing test, you are not alone. Most people wait, on average, almost seven years from the time when they first notice there is a change in their hearing before they actually seek out help. Seven years worth of strained relationships at work and at home, missing out on so many of the sounds all around you, and risking health problems that are associated with hearing loss.
Keep in mind that it is critically important to treat hearing loss for your future and current health. Rather than hiding your struggles, help to reverse the hearing loss stigma by using hearing devices and helping to encourage other people that you know to go see an audiologist.
I'm so glad that I listened to my wife and scheduled a hearing test with Dr. Allen and Amy Rohe. Not only were they knowledgeable about their craft, but hey were just genuinely kind people, so the hearing test and conversation about options was very casual and friendly. I was able to try a pair of hearing aids for a week or so, and Dr. Rohe actually let me try a few other pairs until I got the set that I loved. Who does that? Having those options and such an enjoyable interaction is plenty to highly recommend Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona.
If it's any consolation, my wife is happier that she doesn't have to repeat herself all the time, and I'm happier knowing that I can hear most any conversation now. And that, to me, is priceless.
If you're interested in hearing aids in Tempe or the surrounding Phoenix metro, it's worth a call to Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona: (480) 831-6159 or use their convenient online scheduler so you can book online and see what times are available.
Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, LLC
2034 E. Southern Avenue, Suite I
Tempe, AZ 85282
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Guest post by Scott Novak - patient of Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona
While riding my bike the other day, I rode up behind an elderly couple on the sidewalk. I rang my bicycle bell, and while most people hear it and move aside, there was no response. I rang again as I got closer - still nothing. After one more try without movement, I shouted "on your left please," and the woman grabbed the man's arm and said "move over honey," to which he grumbled and seemed oblivious to anyone behind him or that he heard a thing.
Now there's someone who obviously has hearing loss.
I started wondering if he knew that he was "hard of hearing," and if he did, why didn't he do anything about it?
Is it because he didn't want to seem "old" by getting hearing aids? If anything, his befuddled reaction made him seem like an old person way more than a little hearing aid on his ears.
Maybe they're costly? I get that - not everyone has a few thousand dollars to spend. And some people - my Mom, for instance - just simply won't pay any medical expense "unless insurance pays for it." Hey, I understand being frugal, but we're talking about suffering through every day not being able to hear well. You want to talk about "quality of life?" A few dollars a day toward hearing everything is worth it. To me, at least.
Then I started thinking about how it's perfectly fine for people to wear glasses on their face, but somehow it's "weird" to have a tiny, near-invisible device tucked behind your ear. So it's fine if your eyes start failing due to aging, but unacceptable if your ears start failing? How is that fair? They're sensory organs on your head - they should get equal respect, right?
And think about it - can you imagine the world we'd live in if people resisted getting their vision corrected? Lots of bumping into things, I'd reckon...
Is it stubborn pride? Resisting that your body is aging? Maybe not admitting that you could use a little help? Maybe distrust of technology?
So why the stigma? Why the resistance to hearing aids, hearing loss, and hearing testing? I decided to look into it further.
Full disclosure: I am a 50-year old male that is a patient of Dr. Rohe's at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona. I have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and it became so noticeable that I decided to check for hearing loss. I'm grateful that I found Dr. Rohe; he has guided me through a journey of hearing improvement and self-awareness that I thought would be helpful to others in my similar predicament. This 2-part article is some of the information I uncovered.
How To Combat The Stigma Of Hearing Loss
Unfortunately, there is a stigma that comes with hearing loss, or a sign of disgrace that is associated with a specific person, quality, or circumstance. Sadly, this is perpetuated by the general public, by advertisers, and even some individuals who have hearing loss. This hearing loss stigma results in individuals struggling with the condition sometimes failing to seek out treatment, thinking that wearing hearing aids will make them appear feebler, weaker, or older. However, when hearing loss is not addressed, it will continue to persist, and it might result in various serious health issues, social disengagement, or cognitive decline. By waiting to seek out treatment, or maybe completely refusing to acknowledge that you have a hearing loss, you are putting both your mental and physical health at risk.
Have you been held back by the stigma that comes with hearing loss?
Although there are numerous factors involved in the hearing loss stigma, most of them revolve around three major ideas:
- Changes in self-perception
These ideas were explored by Dr. Margaret I. Wallhagen in a study that was published in 2009.
The study reported that individuals who suffer from hearing loss will sometimes view themselves in a way that is somewhat different. They may focus on the difference between their current self and former self - being disabled versus being whole, being disabled versus able, and being cognitively impaired versus smart. For example, some people didn't want to be called "handicapped" so they procrastinated going to see an audiologist. They may present they don't have the issue and attempt to hide the fact they are having a hard time hearing.
Many people also associate hearing with ageism and aging, which is discrimination or prejudice based on an individual's age. They may find it hard to relate to younger relatives or friends or feel ostracized. Also, maybe because hearing loss has a strong association with aging, many individuals will discover that hearing aids remind them they are getting old, and that is uncomfortable for all of us.
Finally, there are some people who are afraid that if they wear a hearing aid it will make them look unattractive. They are concerned that the technology will emphasize their hearing loss and draw attention to their ears.
Not all of the participants in the study by Wallhagen were influenced by the hearing loss stigma. Even those who brushed it off, still acknowledged that the stigma exists.
Many people put a lot of value on what other people think of them, and that social concern is what produces the hearing loss stigma. Stigma is a concept that isn't unique; it is just relevant within the context of relationships and how society treats and reacts to individuals who are stigmatized, since it is only within that context that we are able to experience discrimination, judgment, isolation, or rejection.
Hearing Aid Marketing Is Part Of The Problem
Hearing aids advertisements are partly to blame. They have a tendency to highlight the discreet positioning and small size of hearing aids and focus on the device's appearance. Although these acknowledgments and advertisements address perceived realities and might enhance the chance that people will decide to seek out treatment, they also have a tendency reinforce the concept that hearing loss and using hearing aids are a stigma and need to be hidden. Advertisers showcase how valuable communication is and depict individuals of various age groups in their ads. That emphasizes the benefits that are offered by hearing aids and that people of every age are affected by hearing loss.
If you are suffering from hearing loss, then the opinions of other people who are close to you (like your coworkers, friends, children, parents, partner, or spouse) can influence your decisions and thoughts concerning your hearing health. There are so many people who just don't understand the challenges that are faced by individuals who have hearing loss and how beneficial effective treatment can be, and they continue to perpetuate the stigma of hearing loss. For example, if your spouse has a negative attitude about your hearing aids, you might not want to visit an audiologist and having your hearing loss issue addressed. On the other hand, a supportive environment can help an individual with hearing loss, help them to move forward, and explore various options as well as wear their hearing aids without them feeling they are being stigmatized or judged.
There's more to this article that I'll continue later this week. In the meantime, I highly encourage you to contact Dr. Allen and Amy Rohe at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona. They're a Scottsdale audiologist that has done wonders for my hearing loss issues, tinnitus treatment, and more. They have a convenient online scheduler so you can book online and see what times are available.
Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, LLC
2034 E. Southern Avenue, Suite I
Tempe, AZ 85282
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World Hearing Day Puts A Spotlight On The Toll Of Untreated And Unidentified Hearing Loss
Following in the footsteps of the international call from the WHO (World Health Organization) this World Hearing Day, the ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) encourages all Americans to have their hearing tested.
With the WHO's observance on March the 3rd every year, World Hearing Day draws attention to how important it is for early identification along with intervention to combat hearing loss as their focus for 2019.
Failing to get the necessary treatments often results in millions of individuals living a poorer “quality of life”. The WHO has projected that close to 630 million people around the world will experience hearing loss that is disabling by the year 2030 unless these people start taking action when it comes to the health of their hearing. By the year 2050, this number might elevate to over 900 million. In addition to this, hearing loss that goes unaddressed is linked with significant costs. At this stage the WHO has said, that hearing loss that has gone untreated imposes a global annual cost of around $750 billion.
Factors linked to hearing loss that goes unaddressed varies. The majority of people that suffer from severe hearing loss come from the low and the middle-income countries, where they typically lack the access to the required interventions and services.
However, in the US, hearing loss is still a very common type of chronic health condition.
The thing that stands out the most in the United States, is a dire need for treatment and identification of hearing loss that occurs in adults, states Shari Robertson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, 2019 ASHA President. She goes on to say that many of the adults in the US fail to seek the necessary treatments for loss of hearing, which is often caused from a perception that loss of hearing is just an annoyance opposed to an actual medical condition that is serious. Many are not aware that this condition usually affects the overall health of the person, their career success, job, mental health, social life, personal relationships, and their overall quality-of-life.
Adults in the US that are aged 70 or older that suffer from some degree of hearing loss that may benefit from a hearing aid, less than 1 in 3 (30%) have ever used these aids, states the NIDOCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders). And the adults between the ages of 20 to 69, only 16% of these people that can benefit from using hearing aids have used them.
The ASHA states that the public should be asking questions about the current state of their hearing, and individuals should Self-Test for Hearing Loss with these questions:
Do I Need To Have My Hearing Tested?
You should definitely see an audiologist when you answer “yes” to 2 or more of these questions:
Any person who answered yes, and/or is concerned should go for a test with an audiologist that is certified. Thankfully, we here at The Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona are licensed Audiologists who specialize in all hearing conditions for all ages. We're a Phoenix audiologist clinic that sees patients for hearing loss, hearing issues like tinnitus, misophonia, hyperacusis.
And we also consult, fit, and fine tune several major brands of affordable hearing aids, so if hearing loss is a concern, know that we're in your corner. Give us a call at (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler.
Over the last few years, various studies have now found an association between people with hearing loss and a risk that is increased for dementia. It makes sense if you consider the result of hearing loss - isolation. If someone can't hear conversations, they tend to disengage from contact with other people. And isolation simply is NOT good for your mental health. Friends matter! Plus, communication triggers certain neurons in the brain, and when those neuronal connections aren't exercised, they stop firing.
Whether this link is a correlational or causational relationship is still under investigation, yet there is definitely a relationship that is present. Across all these studies, individuals that experienced hearing loss all showed an increase in the signs associated with cognitive decline.
There are three primary reasons as to why hearing loss might be associated with dementia. These include social isolation, a change that occurs in the natural function of the brain, and a strain that is uneven on the cognitive resources in the brain.
It is well-known that maintaining relationships with friends and family, combined with communication that is face-to-face is a significant weapon when it comes to warding off cognitive decline.
Bryan James from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center based in Chicago, states that the human brain is able to evolve in order to manage up to 150 social relationships, yet when we no longer manage a fair amount of these relationships, this portion of our brains can start to atrophy. In addition, social relationships that are healthy can lower stress that is chronic which is also linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive decline.
Yet you may be wondering, how is hearing loss linked to all of this? The fact is that hearing loss happens to be naturally isolating. Even when surrounded by many people in one room, an individual that has hearing loss that has gone untreated can become disconnected quickly. When a person is unable to hear what people are saying in conversations, then the conversation will quickly fade.
As time goes by, the strain linked to trying to recognize and hear every word will eventually take over the previous desire to socialize and participate in any social interactions. Hearing loss that is left untreated not only disengages a listener but will also place uneven pressure on the cognitive resources inside their brain.
The strain might not appear to be of importance, yet it lowers the capability of the brain to perform related or simultaneous tasks. Spending such a large amount of mental energy to try and hear what people are saying, regardless of whether it is unconsciously or consciously, also prevents this individual from storing these events in their short-term memory. Hearing loss interferes with not only their listening abilities but also their capabilities of processing information.
Even hearing loss that is mild has been proven to interfere with the method of storing and processing speech that is quickly communicated.
Since hearing happens to be a brain response to the auditory signals, hearing actually occurs inside the brain as opposed to the actual ears. When these signals start to weaken and become disrupted, other parts of the person’s brain try to compensate. In response, the brain starts rerouting other parts of the brain where it tries to compensate for information that is lost due to hearing loss.
Even in the instances when what has been said is comprehended successfully, as the person's hearing continues to decline further, and inabilities to hear starts to become a new normal, the brain modifies how it used to organize activities, which results in changes in the natural functions of the brain. In many of the Johns Hopkins studies, losses in hearing are linked with accelerated rates of tissue loss in the brain which could also be linked to a change in brain function as time goes by. Age is known for shrinking the brain naturally, yet hearing loss might accelerate these processes.
Why It Is Important To Treat Hearing Loss
It is very important to understand that a loss of hearing does not automatically translate into dementia. Yet dementia is just one of the reasons why hearing loss should be treated. The correct treatment will improve the individual’s quality-of-life. When loss of hearing has been treated, the cognitive improvement of the person can be highly significant, even if the cognitive decline is not associated directly with dementia.
According to Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy from Duke University, and as was quoted by the AARP, benefits associated with treating a condition such as hearing loss is double when compared to any of the cognitive-enhancing medications currently available. It should also become an important priority when treating any of the cognitive problems linked to age. Treating loss of hearing also helps to strengthen social bonds, can restore relationships, and even make the person feel many years younger than they actually are.
Since hearing takes place in the brain, it's important that these connections stay active. If you think that someone you love is drifting into isolation due to hearing loss, please make a point to encourage them to contact us for a hearing test and possible hearing loss solutions such as hearing aids.
Contact us today for your hearing test in Tempe AZ at (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler.
How Do Different Hearing Aids Work?
Depending on the electronics used, hearing aids operate differently. Digital and analog are the two electronic variations.
Sound waves are converted into amplified electrical signals in analog hearing aids. To fit the exact requirements of the user, analog/adjustable aids are tailor made. The recommendations made by your audiologist are used by manufacturers to program the aid and meet your specific needs. These aids are designed with variable settings or programming. Users can change the settings to fit their listening environments, from wide, open spaces like stadiums or theaters, and crowded, noisy restaurants to small quiet spaces, after their audiologist uses a computer to program the hearing aid. All types of hearing aids can be designed using these programmable/analog electronics.
When compared to digital hearing aids, analog variants are more affordable.
Before amplifying sound waves, digital aids normally convert them into numerical codes, just like a computer’s binary code. These hearing aids can be programmed to increase the intensity of some sound frequencies over others because the numerical code also captures details of the pitch of the sound. When it comes to customizing a hearing aid to the specific listening environment and requirements of the user digital electronics provide audiologists with more options. The direction from which the sounds the user wants the aid to focus on can be specified when using digital aids. All types of hearing aids can be designed using digital electronics.
Which Hearing Aid Should I Choose?
The extent and type of your hearing loss determines which hearing aid you should use. To send a more natural signal to the brain, you should choose two hearing aids if you have lost hearing in both ears. Furthermore, you will be able to easily identify where the direction of the sound and better understand speech by hearing in both ears.
Pay attention to your lifestyle and requirements when you are looking for the right hearing aid with your audiologist. Since the cost of hearing aids ranges between hundreds and thousands of dollars, be sure to consider price as well. Styling details and functionality also affect pricing just as is the case with other electronic devices. When looking for the best hearing aid however, don’t solely rely on pricing. A hearing aid won’t automatically meet all your needs simply because it is expensive than others.
Your normal hearing cannot be restored by a hearing aid. Your awareness of sounds and their origin/sources can however be improved with the help of a hearing aid with time. Choose a well-suited and easy-to-use hearing aid as you will need to wear it regularly to get the most out of it. The manufacturer’s reputation with regard to customer support and quality, potential upgrades, options, repair and maintenance schedule and costs and the warranty cover for services and/or parts are some of the other factors to keep in mind.
Before buying a hearing aid, ask your audiologist the following questions:
Getting Used To Your New Hearing Aid
To use your hearing aid successfully, you will need to be patient. You will be able to get used to using your hearing aid if you wear it more frequently.
Master the features on your hearing aid. Practice wearing and removing the aids, changing out the batteries, distinguish between left and right aids and also how to clean it with your audiologist there. Seek clarification on how test it in listening environments where hearing becomes a challenge to you. When sounds are too low or too loud, find out how you can program it or adjust the volume to make comfortable hearing possible. When all your concerns have been answered, you can leave the audiologist in confidence.
Challenges to expect during the hearing aid adjustment period:
At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, we want you to be 100% satisfied, and so we offer additional options for fine tunings and adjustments – far more than the strip mall or megamart stores will provide. It’s a far better move to go with a trusted specialist for your hearing needs. If your looking for hearing aids in Phoenix metro, we encourage you to contact us today for a free hearing aid demonstration and start hearing better today!
Call (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler.
Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona Discusses Air Travel with Hearing Loss
Traveling is fun to do, but those with hearing loss may be facing different struggles then the rest of folks. Just like little kids being sensitive to air travel, those with hearing loss go through somewhat of a similar thing. A Scottsdale audiologist understands that the changes being implemented on these flights and through other air travel are difficult, but with hearing loss, they can seem much more difficult than for those that might have full hearing capabilities. Due to this, it is important that the correct steps are taken to help those with hearing loss also have pleasant flights.
Preparing for the Trip
Before heading out for the trip there are some things you want to keep in mind. You want to visit your hearing healthcare professional first and foremost to have everything looked into. You also want to make sure your hearing aids are charged up and ready to go, well fitted and clean, and spare batteries packed. And don’t forget to bring the cleaning kit with you!
Getting Through Security Check
Make sure to let TSA know that you’re wearing hearing aids before walking through the metal detector, as you might get flagged for them. You don’t want additional screening done because they didn’t know. If you’re not wearing them on you, then making sure not to put them through the conveyor belt is a good idea, as this can ruin them of course!
Be in the Loop
Flight areas and boarding decks can be loud and chaotic; however, airports have something known as the induction loop system. Hearing aids equipped with telecoils can be connected to this system so that they can hear the announcements much clearer - even over the hustle and bustle of the airport. You just have to have telecoils in your hearing aids and have them switched to that setting to be connected. Does your hearing aid have telecoils? The larger it is, the more likely it does. Smaller, discrete hearing aids tend not to have them.
You may not be able to hear the videos or read captioning on anything that is on the plane, so this is a downfall, but you’re able to bring your own. You also do not have to turn off your hearing aids while on the plane, even when the attendants tell you turn all of your devices off, as they are safe to use now.
Know Your Rights
Always know your rights while traveling. Being hard of hearing is something that many people suffer from and being able to correctly be served is great. Find the right help that is needed and use all of the available options offered through the flight and airport and you should be fine with your travels. Just make sure to know how to reduce that ear pain while on the flight and you’ll be set to fly.
It is always good to speak with your audiologist regarding the trip before you take it. They can give you further information on what can be done to help you ease into the flight and get the most from it. Professional audiologists understand the struggles of air travel for those that have limited hearing. Speak with The Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona today regarding the many things you can do to make this one of the best flights you have ever been on. Connect with a leading audiologist in Scottsdale today at https://www.tinnitusaz.com/scottsdale.html.
Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, LLC
2034 E. Southern Avenue, Suite I
Tempe, AZ 85282
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Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.