Tinnitus, also known as "ringing in the ears" can be a frustrating and sometimes debilitating hearing condition. The good news is that there are experts who can help you manage your symptoms and lead a good quality life. There is no medication proven to help, and no surgical option that works, so treatment is focused on dealing with your emotions.
There are a few effective standalone treatments for tinnitus like TRT, CBT and Desyncra.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is a neuromodulation technique, where an external sound is added to mask the ringing sound. This can bring relief to the person. In the long term, the sound therapy convinces the brain that the tinnitus sound is unimportant and therefore learns to ignore it.
CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as the name suggests looks at your emotional response to tinnitus. It identifies any distorted thinking, beliefs and reactions to the ringing sound and encourages a change of behavior. Very few clinics offer CBT for tinnitus. Dr. Rohe and his team are trained to utilize the CBT tools to address your concerns and relieve your tinnitus.
Desyncra™ is a sound therapy where the doctor first conducts pitch-matching tests to establish the frequency of the tinnitus tone that you are experiencing. This information is then fed to the software that tailors a pattern of therapeutic tones complementing that frequency. You can listen to your tailored therapeutic music which is quite soothing, through the Desyncra app. This therapy can be easily integrated into your daily routine and the instructions are simple. Over time, the nerve patterns would alter and the tinnitus sound would diminish.
In our clinic, Dr. Rohe has devised a highly effective practical program to treat tinnitus. It is personalized to the needs of his patients.
The Rohe Method®
Dr. Allen Rohe of Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona has developed a treatment program called the Rohe Method® that has successfully improved the quality of life of many sufferers like you. It is based on mindfulness and has integrated the principles of cognitive behavior therapy.
It is quite an intensive eight-week program that uses a comprehensive step by step approach. The main focus of the Rohe Method is to understand your specific symptoms first. Your symptoms are due to a combination of the nerve connections and the psychology behind it. This program is specifically designed to desensitize your nervous system through a series of therapy sessions. The program targets specific areas of your brain and promotes rewiring and retraining through a systematic approach.
Retraining your brain is like learning a new language and also being emotionally detached to that irritating sound. For example, if your daily commute involves a train ride, or if you live near train tracks, you hardly ever ‘hear’ the noise of the train. This is because your ears have acclimatized to the entire railway commotion. Similarly, the Rohe Method helps you to get used to the tinnitus noise and allows you to emotionally get detached from it. As a result, you will feel much better. You would be able to sleep better and perform your daily activities better.
Despite no psychology sessions, the audiology team is aware that trauma may have caused your tinnitus like an accident, whiplash or bereavement. Treatment sessions are carried out with these sensitivities and patients can discuss their symptoms in detail. The team also specializes in dealing with musicians who have tinnitus, as well as people exposed to loud sounds. People with hereditary factors or accident victims may also suffer from tinnitus.
By the end of the program, you will have tools and strategies that will help you to manage your symptoms so effectively, that you will feel significantly relieved from the constant ringing sound. So far, the patient satisfaction of those who have completed the Rohe Method® has been very high. (Read testimonials here)
Dr. Rohe says, “The bottom line is that there is hope, and I’ve been very successful in helping patients regain control and enjoy their lives again.”
Read More about The Rohe Method® here.
Dr. Rohe conducts Tinnitus treatments both in his Tempe, Arizona clinic, as well as globally via Skype internet teleconference.
Contact Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona at (480) 831-6159, or use our Contact Form here.
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.
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
Check Us Out On Social Media:
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.
Taking Proper Care Of Your New Hearing Aid
You can extend the life of your new hearing aid with proper care and maintenance. Follow these care tips:
-Moisture and heat can damage the device, keep it away from them.
-Ear drainage and earwax can damage the device. Keep the aid clean by following the directions provided to the letter.
-When wearing hearing aids, don't use hair care products, such as hairspray among others.
-When not in use, turn the hearing aid off.
-Dead batteries should be swapped out with new ones as soon as possible.
-Tiny aids and replacement batteries should be kept away from pets and kids.
Can I Find Hearing Aid Implants?
Even though hearing aid implants help enhance sound wave transmission in the inner ear by design, their operation differs from those discussed above. For instance there’s a tiny device that is designed to be implanted on one of the bones in the middle ear referred to as a MEI (Middle Ear Implant). The device vibrates the bones directly instead of amplifying the sound waves moving towards the eardrum. To help persons suffering from sensorineural hearing loss to detect sound, both approaches basically strengthen the sound waves making their way into the inner ear.
Another option comes in the form of a tiny device implanted onto the bone behind the inner ear, referred to as a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid). The device by passes the middle ear altogether, using the skull to transmit sound waves to the inner ear directly. People who suffer from deafness in one ear or middle ear issues are usually advised to use BAHA devices. However, a huge number of specialists feel that the risks outweigh the benefits of using these devices as both require surgical implantation.
Meeting the cost of hearing aids through financial assistance
Although some insurers cover the cost of getting hearing aids, most don’t. Under the EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment) service, young adults (age 21 and below) and eligible children qualify for financing for treatment, including the cost of hearing aids, and diagnosis of hearing issues through Medicaid. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program or individual state’s intervention program may meet these costs for kids.
Diagnostic evaluations prescribed by a doctor to help them come up with a plan for treating an adult may be covered by Medicare even though hearing aids are not covered. Where other coverage requirements have been satisfied, Medicare will meet the cost of a BAHA device, since it is categorized as a prosthetic, instead of a hearing aid, under Medicare.
Refurbished or used hearing aids are offered by some non-profit organizations, while others offer financial assistance towards the acquisition of the aids. To learn more about any non-profit organizations providing financial help towards the acquisition of hearing aids reach out to the NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders) information clearinghouse.
Ongoing Hearing Aid Studies
Studies on how to integrate emerging signal processing techniques in the design of hearing aids are ongoing. To match the diminished hearing capacity of individuals using hearing aids, signal processing facilitates the amplification of sound through the modification of normal sound waves. To help improve understanding, researches funded by the NIDCD are looking into ways of enhancing speech signals using hearing aids.
Furthermore, to create and produce improved hearing aids, researchers are also looking into the use of computer-aided technology. Methods of improving the transmission of sound and reducing the occlusion effect, feedback and interference form the basis of other ongoing studies. For groups where testing for hearing ability poses a challenge, like kids among others, some studies are looking into ways of better choosing and fitting hearing aids.
Designing improved hearing aid microphones using observations drawn from animal models is another promising research path. Since the construction of its ear allows it to identify the direction from which sound is coming with ease, the Ormia ochracea fly, which has exceptionally acute directional hearing, is the main focus of a group of researchers also funded by the NIDCD.
Scientists are looking to develop tiny directional hearing aid microphones modeled against the ear structure of the fly. Instead of picking up sounds from all directions, the microphones prioritize sound waves coming from the direction the person is facing. Even when surrounded by noise from all corners, directional microphones hold a lot of potential when it comes to helping individuals focus on a single conversation.
This translates into the research and technology behind the hearing aids of today. They’re smaller, more discrete, and able to utilize customizable features through interfaces and/or smartphone apps. Major companies that we represent, like Oticon, are coming out with new hearing aids like their Opn S that claim, “Opn S hearing aids take the open sound experience to the next level to deliver speech understanding on par with normal hearing.” And the apps that are available to pair with today's hearing aids are amazingly customized to volume levels, speech directionality, tinnitus masking options, and much more.
We at Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona are familiar with this research, and bring on the finest technology hearing aids at affordable costs. We’re confident that you’ll like the performance and our selection, and we encourage you to contact us to schedule a hearing aid demonstration to see what they could do to improve your hearing.
Call us at (480) 831-6159, or use our Online Scheduler to book your appointment online for hearing aids in Tempe AZ.
What is a hearing aid?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that are worn behind or in your ear. They make sounds louder so an individual who has hearing loss is able to communicate, listen, and participate in daily activities more fully. Hearing aids are able to help individuals hear more in both noisy and quiet situations. However, only around one out of five individuals who can benefit from using hearing aids actually wear them, meaning more people should be wearing them.
Hearing aids are made up of three basic parts: the speaker, amplifier, and microphone. Sound is received by the hearing aid via a microphone, which then converts the sound waves into electrical signals and then sends them over to an amplifier. The signal's power is increased by the amplifier and they are then sent via the tiny speaker to the ear.
How do hearing aids help?
Mainly hearing aids are useful in improving speech and hearing comprehension in individuals who have had hearing loss that is the result of damage to the small sensory cells (called stereocilia, which are tiny hair cells) that are inside of the inner ear. This kind of hearing loss is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. Damage may have occured due to certain medicines, injuries from noise, aging, or disease.
Hearing aids magnify the sound vibrations that enter into the ear. The larger vibrations are detected by the surviving hair cells and converted into neural signals that get passed along into the brain. The more damage to the individual's hair cells, the more serious the hearing loss is, and greater hearing aid amplification is necessary in order to make the difference up. There are some practical limits to how much amplification can be provided by a hearing aid. Also, if the inner ear has become too damaged, then even larger vibration are not converted into neural signals. A hearing aid will be ineffective in this type of situation.
How can I determine whether I need to have a hearing aid or not?
If you suspect that you may have hearing loss and may benefit from having a hearing aid, consult with an audiologist (like us). An audiologist is a hearing health professional who can identify and measure hearing loss, and can conduct a hearing test in order to determine the degree and type of hearing loss. At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, we offer thorough hearing tests and screenings to check for ear diseases as well as chart your hearing performance frequency range.
Are there different styles of hearing aids?
Hearing aid styles:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE): This type of hearing aid comes with a case made of hard plastic that is worn behind your ear and connects with the plastic earmold which fits inside of the outer ear. The case that is behind the ear holds the electronic parts. Sound travels via the earmold from the hearing aid and into the ear. Individuals of all ages use BTE aids for mild to profound levels of hearing loss.
A new type of BTE aid is in the style of an open-fit hearing aid. An open-fit small aid fits completely behind the ear, with a narrow tube that inserts inside of the ear canal, which allows the canal to stay open. For that reason, an open-fit hearing aid can be a good option for individuals who experience earwax buildup, since it is less likely that this kind of aid will be damaged by the substance. Also, some people might prefer an open-fit hearing aid due to the fact that their perception of their own voice doesn't sound like it is plugged up or congested.
- In-the-ear (ITE): This type of hearing aids fit inside of the outer ear completely and are used for hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. A hard plastic case holds the electronic components. There are some ITE aids that might have certain extra features that are installed, like a telecoil, which is a magnetic small coil that enables the user to receive sound via the hearing aid's circuitry, instead of through the microphone. That makes hearing telephone conversations easier. Also, a telecoil helps individuals hear in public places where a special sound system is installed that is called an induction loop system. These can be found in numerous auditoriums, airports, schools, and churches. Usually, ITE aids are not used by young children since the casings have to replaced frequently as the ear continues to grow.
Canal aids fit inside of the ear canal and come in two different styles. An in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids designed to fit the shape and size of an individual's ear canal. The other type is the completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid which is almost completely hidden inside of the ear canal. Both of these types are used for moderately severe and mild hearing loss.
Since canal aids are small they might be hard for an individual to remove and adjust. Canal aids also have less space available for additional devices like a telecoil or batteries. Usually, they are not recommended for individuals with severe or profound hearing loss or young children since their smaller size reduces their volume and power.
At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona in Tempe hearing aids are one of our specialties, and we encourage you to schedule a free hearing aid demonstration, with a hearing test to check your hearing loss, as well as try on a few hearing aids to see how they can improve your individual hearing. We offer a 30-day risk free trial so you can take them home and see how they perform in daily use.
Call us today at 480-831-6159, or schedule your appointment with our online scheduler and schedule your free hearing aid demonstration today.
If you didn't see your question here, know that we'll post Parts 2 and 3 again next week, and you can also call us at 480-831-6159.
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.