Musicians With Hearing Loss & Tinnitus
Musicians carry a high risk of hearing loss. The power of cranked up amps, overdrive pedals, pumping bass, and screaming fans all add up. Without it though, touring and making music would definitely be worse off. In fact, tinnitus and hearing loss affect musicians more than anyone else. And yet, these issues are often downplayed or hidden for fear that they will interfere with ones career choice but it doesnt have to be this way. With the right resources available in your community you can get help.
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What Effect Does Hearing Aid Usage Have On Hearing Loss Progression
âSensory hearing loss that people may get as they age is a progressive condition,â Paul Kileny, AuD, director of the audiology program at the University of Michigan Medical School, tells WebMD Connect to Care. âIf you donât use a hearing aid consistently, your hearing loss could progress in the meantime, but it has nothing to do with your decision. Not using the hearing aid or any other kind of device will neither speed up nor improve oneâs hearing loss.â
Still, leaving your hearing aids in a drawer could hurt your communication abilities in other ways. Some studies indicate that not wearing hearing aids can reduce your language and speech comprehension over time, Holly Schissel, senior director of strategic insights at Starkey Hearing Technologies in Eden Prairie, Minn., tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Why? Itâs not that you are hurting your ear bones or nerves when you put your hearing aids aside. Rather, untreated hearing loss in addition to cognitive decline that naturally occurs with age can combine to negatively affect the parts of your brain that process sounds, Kileny says.
However, not wearing your hearing aids will not prevent you from being able to hear and process non-speech sounds, such as music or the sound of your dishwasher running, in the long-term Kileny and Schissel say.
âBut when those sounds are not being heard at the right level, they can be overlooked or missed,â Schissel says.
Bone Conduction Hearing Aids
Bone conduction hearing aids are recommended for people with conductive or mixed hearing loss who can’t wear a more conventional type of hearing aid. Bone conduction hearing aids vibrate in response to the sounds going into the microphone.
They can also sometimes help people with no hearing in one ear and normal or mild hearing loss in the other ear.
The part of the hearing aid that vibrates is held against the bone behind the ear by a headband. The vibrations pass through the mastoid bone to the cochlea and are converted into sound in the usual way. They can be very effective, but can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods.
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How Is Hearing Loss Treated
In most people, hearing loss cannot be reversed, but there are treatments available that can help you improve your hearing, including:
- hearing aids
- cochlear implants and
Technology, including some phone apps, can also help. You can find out more about technology for hearing loss at Hearing Australias website.
Find out more about hearing loss prevention and the Australian Governments hearing services program.
Hearing And Cognitive Health
Studies have shown that older adults with hearing loss have a greater risk of developing dementia than older adults with normal hearing. Cognitive abilities decline faster in older adults with hearing loss than in older adults with normal hearing. Treating hearing problems may be important for cognitive health. See Whats the Connection Between Hearing and Cognitive Health?
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Hearing Impairment In Toddlers And Children
These signs might become more evident in slightly older children:
- The child is behind others the same age in oral communication.
- The child keeps saying âWhat?â or âPardon?â
- The child talks in a very loud voice, and tends to produce louder-than-normal noises.
- When the child speaks, their utterances are not clear.
Degrees Of Hearing Impairment
To find out how impaired your hearing is, your doctor may order a formal hearing test also known as an audiogram. It can show the degree of your hearing loss by looking at the range of decibels — a measure of loudness — you can hear.
- Normal hearing is in the range of 0 to 20 decibels. People with normal hearing are able to make out sounds as faint as human breathing, which measures about 10 decibels.
- Mild hearing loss ranges from 21 to 40 decibels.
- Moderate hearing loss ranges from 41 to 55 decibels.
- Moderately severe hearing loss ranges from 56 to 70 decibels.
- Severe hearing loss is in the range of 71 to 90 decibels.
- Profound hearing loss is greater than 90 decibels. People with severe to profound hearing loss will have trouble hearing speech, although they can make out loud sounds like a truck that backfires or an airplane taking off.
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How Can I Reduce My Hearing Aid Feedback
4 Ways to Prevent Feedback in Hearing Aids
Should You Get A Hearing Aid For Mild Hearing Loss
People with slight hearing loss can benefit from this amplification and so benefit from the use of a hearing aid. Sometimes those who experience hearing loss wait years until they get a hearing aid. When patients with slight hearing problems wait to use an aid, their hearing problems may worsen during this time.
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When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you’re having problems with your hearing, or your child is showing signs of hearing difficulty. If you lose your hearing suddenly, in one or both ears, you must see your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP can check for any problems and may refer you to an audiologist or an ENT surgeon for further tests.
You can also visit the Action on Hearing Loss website for an online hearing test.
Read more about diagnosing hearing loss
Managing High Frequency Hearing Loss
High frequency sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent and is commonly caused by damage to the hair cells in your cochlea. A hearing aid that targets high frequency sounds may be the best option if your hearing loss is serious enough to impair your life.
Technological improvement in the past 25 years has led to the creation of hearing aids that can better match your specific type of hearing loss. Modern hearing devices often even have Bluetooth technology to sync with phones and tablets.
You can take steps to prevent high frequency hearing loss by avoiding sounds with a high pitch or frequency. Even one-time exposure to loud noises over 85 decibels can cause irreversible hearing loss.
Here are some ways to protect your hearing.
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How Can You Protect Your Hearing
Plan to use hearing protection like earmuffs and earplugs anytime youll be immersed in loud sounds. Not only do you reduce your risk of hearing loss, you may also stave off tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. If you work in a noisy placefor example, at a hair salon with blow dryers constantly in use and music blaring in the backgroundfind out if your employer offers noise protection, or bring your own. Youll thank us later!
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Will Wearing Hearing Aids Prevent Further Hearing Loss
Wearing or not wearing hearing aids will not affect the sensory progression of hearing loss. We are specifically talking about the changes that occur to the hair cells within the cochlea. However, the daily use of properly fit hearing aids may preserve the clarity of speech. This is a direct relationship from the stimulation of the neural pathways in the brain from the amplified sound. Properly fit hearing aids that are worn all day every day keep these pathways strong, which will improve your ability to communicate easier. This ease of communication lessens our cognitive load. You can learn more about the link between cognition and hearing loss here.
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Can You Fake A Hearing Test
Technique of detecting hearing malingering: Recently, the advent of OAE tests have made the situation very simple. Someone who claims to be deaf on audiometry, but has normal OAE tests, is likely to be pretending. For example, the Yes-No test answer yes if you hear the tone, and No if you dont.
Causes Of Progressive Hearing Loss
Why does my hearing get worse? Many types of hearing loss develop and get worse over time. Just as our vision becomes poorer as we age, the same happens with our hearing. Our ability to hear declines when we get older. This is called an age-related hearing loss. In this way, many of us will experience a progressive hearing loss sooner or later.
Also, a hearing loss caused by noise and some types of genetic hearing loss can get worse over time. Some illnesses and certain types of medication can also result in progressive hearing loss.
Most often, it is a sensorineural hearing loss that develops and becomes worse. A sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. This damage in the inner ear can get worse and more widespread over time.
An age-related hearing loss and a noise-induced hearing loss are both forms of sensorineural hearing loss.
A conductive hearing loss is often more stable. A progressive conductive hearing loss is quite rare, but the condition otosclerosis often causes a progressive conductive hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss is when the ability to conduct sound from the external and middle ear into the inner ear is reduced or lost.
Buildup of earwax can also result in a progressive hearing loss. In this case, the earwax must be removed by a professional and the hearing will then typically be restored.
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What To Do If Youve Been Concerned About Hearing Loss
Talking to Professor Wallhagen really brought this home for me: hearing loss is important and its much better to address it sooner rather than later!
In particular, addressing hearing loss earlier is better for the brain, better for relationships, and may even help a person perform better at work.
There are, of course, common obstacles that come up to addressing hearing loss.
A major one is that affected person often either doesnt notice their hearing loss or avoids addressing it. They dont want to feel old. They may have heard hearing aids dont work, or that theyre expensive. Or they may just be waiting for their doctor to bring it up.
To get around this type of obstacle, Im going to again recommend Professor Wallhagens brochure. You can print it out, discuss it with family, and then use it to spark a conversation with your health providers. Here it is again: Hearing Helps Us Stay Connected to Others.
And for a short-term solution to hearing loss, consider a Pocketalker * type of device. These are especially helpful when it comes to people with dementia, who often are not good candidates for hearing aids.
I am linking to a Williams Sound Pocketalker on Amazon, but you may be able to find something similar at lower cost by shopping at Best Buy, Radio Shack, or another local electronics store.
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Need Help With Your Hearing Loss Journey
Are you wearing hearing devices but have not been receiving the follow-up care that your brain and hearing need? Are you curious if your hearing aids are programmed and fit to your specific hearing loss? Did your hearing aids seem to make a difference at first, but now you are not so sure that they are helping you?
These are all excellent questions and ones that we love to answer for you! Please call to make a consultation with one of our Doctors of Audiology at 646-2471.
Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.
How Can You Decide Which Noises Are Too Loud
The following signs should be a red flag that the noise around you is too loud:
- If you have to shout to be heard above the noise.
- If you cant understand someone who is speaking to you from less than 2 feet away.
- If a person standing near you can hear sounds from your stereo headset while it is on your head.
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Will I Need New Hearing Aids As My Hearing Loss Gets Worse Or Progresses
When you and your audiologist choose your hearing devices together, the audiologist chooses a device that would have the capability to meet your needs for 5-6 years. The device itself will have a useful lifespan of 5-6 years.
Additionally, your audiologist will test your hearing annually and will use this data to ensure that you are receiving the right amount of amplification as your hearing loss changes. Even small changes in hearing sensitivity will warrant the reprogramming of your devices. The programming will be verified and customized with the measurement of live speech with probe mic measurements.
Your hearing devices will evolve with you, your brain, your hearing sensitivity, and your life! This includes new hobbies, such as learning how to play an instrument or changes in your family such as new grandchildren riding in the backseat of your car, or maybe, yikes!…next to you as they are learning how to drive.
The portion of your hearing devices that fit in your ears may change as your hearing loss changes. This may mean that you move from a tip on the end that is replaceable, we call it a dome, that is one size to another, or from a dome to a custom-made earpiece. These are all small changes that your audiologist will guide you through and will ensure that you receive the maximum benefit from your devices. This is why it is crucial that you are seen for a hearing test every year, especially after being fit with a hearing device!
Why Do We Lose Our Hearing As We Get Older
Many factors can contribute to hearing loss as you get older. It can be difficult to distinguish age-related hearing loss from hearing loss that can occur for other reasons, such as long-term exposure to noise.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by long-term exposure to sounds that are either too loud or last too long. This kind of noise exposure can damage the sensory hair cells in your ear that allow you to hear. Once these hair cells are damaged, they do not grow back and your ability to hear is diminished.
Conditions that are more common in older people, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, can contribute to hearing loss. Medications that are toxic to the sensory cells in your ears can also cause hearing loss.
Rarely, age-related hearing loss can be caused by abnormalities of the outer ear or middle ear. Such abnormalities may include reduced function of the tympanic membrane or reduced function of the three tiny bones in the middle ear that carry sound waves from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear.
Most older people who experience hearing loss have a combination of both age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Progressive Hearing Loss
A progressive hearing loss may occur at both low frequency and high frequency.
If your hearing has become worse, you will experience that it becomes more and more difficult to hear and understand what people are saying in more and more situations. Certain high-frequency sounds like women´s and children´s voices have become more difficult to hear. Some sounds may even have disappeared, such as the birds singing. You may turn up the volume more and more on the TV or the radio and maybe you now also have to put on the subtitles to follow a film or a TV-program.
These are some of the symptoms and signs of a progressive hearing loss. Many of the symptoms of a progressive hearing loss are similar to those of a hearing loss in general. Read more about the symptoms of hearing loss.
If you suspect that your child has a progressive hearing loss, you will experience that your child has more and more difficulty hearing in more and more situations and may not even respond to what you are saying. Read more about the signs of hearing loss in children.
What Are The Treatment Options
If you are experiencing hearing loss, you should see an ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist, who can make a specific diagnosis for you, and talk to you about treatment options, including surgical procedures. A critical part of the evaluation will be a hearing test performed by an audiologist to determine the severity of your loss as well as determine if the hearing loss is conductive, sensorineural, or a mix of both.
Based on the results of your hearing test and what your ENT specialists examination shows, as well as results from other potential tests such as imaging your ears with a CT or MRI, the specialist will make various recommendations for treatment options.
The treatment options can include:
- Observation with repeat hearing testing at a subsequent follow up visit
- Evaluation and fitting of a hearing aid and other assistive listening devices
- Preferential seating in class for school children
- Surgery to address the cause of hearing loss
- Surgery to implant a hearing device
These conditions may not, but likely will, need surgery:
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