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.
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.
If you have realized that lately you're missing some words from conversations, you have to be in a quiet place to be able to clearly listen to the person talking to you, or while listening to music you feel like sound is muffled somehow, then you might be experiencing hearing loss to a certain degree. If you have decided is time to find out whether your hearing is compromised, then you may consider visiting a leading Tempe audiologist at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona, where you can get some clarity on your hearing performance and start a treatment that will be effective for your lifestyle and budget.
If you're in doubt, consider that usually people that sense a certain degree of hearing loss tend to delay their visit to a qualified doctor for as long as 10 years to get testing done, which is completely counterproductive and puts at risk the overall health of the individual as hearing loss can cause other issues on a person’s everyday life.
Taking a Hearing Test
In order to start your path for a better living and to determine if you are suffering hearing loss you must take a hearing test at an audiologist clinic (like Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona). As your audiologist, we will perform hearing tests that will help determine what type of hearing loss you have and how much hearing ability has been lost .
If you have already visited an audiologist and want a second opinion, you may take an online test that The National hearing test has made available at a small cost, though not as accurate as a clinical hearing test.
Choose the right audiologist
At the Tinnitus and Hearing Center, we are very committed to helping our patients find the best way to treat their hearing problems as we offer a wide variety of hearing aid brands and other assistive pieces of technology that can help you with your current situation. You can rest assured that we have taken care of many patients that have been very satisfied with the service we have provided and how accurate and precise our approach has been.
We will have you try at least two different hearing aids (or as many you need to find the most comfortable one) in order to find the one that fits your needs perfectly. We'll also take time to fit it and find the right configuration for you as we need to make sure after you decide on one specific hearing aid to cover all your needs, that is why these have a testing period before you complete your purchase. We will set the different configurations and you will inform us which one is the best for you.
In order to find the best fitting hearing aid for you, know that the hearing aid can only do so much and realistic expectations have to be made.
For more information or to schedule an appointment contact us at (480) 831-6159 or visit our website at https://www.tinnitusaz.com/.
Hearing is one of the five senses, as we all know. A newborn is usually tested for hearing to determine if there is any permanent hearing loss at birth. Those with normal hearing are re-examined again at school at some point. There is no regular hearing test requirements carried out after school, which means, unless someone identifies any symptom, hearing loss is not diagnosed until symptoms are noticeable.
The audiologists at Tinnitus and Hearing Center provide hearing tests in Tempe AZ and serve residents of the Phoenix metro, including Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, and throughout the East Valley. If you suspect that you or a family member has a problem related to hearing, it is important to understand that there are experts who can explain and help you resolve the issues with ease.
What is the role of an audiologist and what are the different hearing tests available in a clinic?
When you attend a clinic, you will have an initial consultation with an audiologist. Audiologists are specialists in ear conditions, hearing, and hearing rehabilitation. The first step is a general screening, which involves asking questions which may reveal vital symptoms.
An otoscope is then used to check the eardrum. It is a very common device, has a conical end and is pressed against your ear. Being illuminated and magnified, the audiologist can clearly see through this device, if there is any abnormality in the eardrum. A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the next step.
This evaluation can be done for both children and adults to help identify the type and the degree of hearing loss. This may also give an insight into the cause of the hearing loss and help the audiologist determine the appropriate treatment recommendations and referrals.
Please note that these tests are completely safe and painless. They can mostly be performed even if you have other medical condition.
You will be asked to go and sit inside a soundproof booth and relax with headphones on. Usually, you will be given a button to press and follow simple instructions. Your response will be automatically recorded by a machine, and a chart will appear. Imagine an electronic cash register or an ECG machine. This chart is called an audiogram. Based on the audiogram, your audiologist will be able to decide on treatment options.
Types of hearing tests
The ear is a complex organ and is connected to the brain with a network of nerves. Any damage or alteration along the way might affect the hearing.
In our clinic, expert audiologists will conduct a combination of diagnostic tests depending on the symptoms of the patient. The aim is to find the cause and also the extent of any damage.
These tests are quick and painless, and as mentioned before, mostly involves sitting in a silent booth with headphones on.
Here is a list of some of the hearing tests:
1. Acoustic Reflex Testing (AR) — AR test measures the reflexes in the ear. It measures the involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear, in response to sound. The middle ear is home to the three smallest bones of the human body, the ossicles. When sound reaches the middle ear, two muscles, the stapedius, and tensor tympani muscles, attached to the ossicles, contract involuntarily. On contraction, these muscles create a movement of the bones which in turn stimulate the inner ear. If the reflex action is reduced, the hearing mechanism will be impaired. This broadly means, this test will indicate if the problem lies in the middle ear.
2. Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing— OAE test is a quick, non-invasive method that measures the cochlear (inner ear) function. This is the test done on newborns to establish any hearing loss at birth. A small probe is placed in the ear and clicks or tones are played. The machine attached to the probe records the response of the hair cells of the inner ear. Any change from normal, in the audiogram pattern indicates that the problem lies in the inner ear.
3. Tympanometry —It is a simple and painless testing method that measures the air pressure on the eardrum. Air pressure will be abnormal if there is a build up of fluid or wax, presence of a tumor or if the eardrum is damaged.
4. Pre-tone and pure-tone testing — This test, uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear various sounds at low, mid, and high frequencies. You will hear a series of sounds through the headphones and you will be instructed to press a button every time you hear a tone. Any abnormal pattern in the audiogram chart will indicate a problem in the middle ear.
5. Speech-in-noise testing — In case of any abnormality in the previous test, a speech-in-noise (SIN) test is carried out in older children and adults. Similar to the tone-testing procedure, it determines if the person can hear speech in the presence of background noise. So in essence, this is considered as a “real world” test. It also works as part of the counseling process and helps the patient reach their hearing expectations.
5. Bone conduction testing — This test measures the inner ear’s response to a sound. A conductor is placed behind your ear which sends tiny vibrations through the bone directly to the inner ear. The experts can interpret the audiogram and the results will indicate if there is any loss of hearing.
From these tests, the experts get invaluable insight into the patients' status of hearing. Subsequently, it helps them to prescribe the appropriate treatment or hearing aid strategy.
Your audiologist will explain the test results to you, and clarify your doubts and fears. You will get help in understanding the plan for treatment and get referrals if necessary. We encourage you to ask your audiologist plenty of questions - we’re here for you to make sure you thoroughly understand the information provided and that you feel comfortable with the recommendations. We're a hearing doctor in Tempe, AZ that understands the best pathway to better hearing.
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.
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.