Should You Get Tested For Hearing Loss Or For Dementia
As a general rule, you should get your hearing checked first. This is because audiological evaluations are very simple to have done. And for most people, the telltale signs of hearing loss tend to crop up sooner than those for cognitive decline. In other words, sufferers will complain of dropped conversations or muffled sounds before they begin having difficulty remembering names or where they left their keys.
So whether youâre struggling to make out sounds or recall simple details, you should start with a comprehensive hearing examination before exploring neurological intervention.
However, traditional hearing tests canât always diagnose the root cause of the problem.
This is why we use a far more holistic approach to evaluating our patients.
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Whats The Link Between Hearing Loss And Balance
Inner ear damage or infection occurs at the onset of many balance disorders. As time goes on, the link between hearing loss and balance disorders only grows stronger. One 2015 study found the risk of falls increases by 140 percent for every 10 decibels lost. So, even those suffering from mild hearing loss were three times as likely to experience a disastrous fall.
How Does Conductive Hearing Loss Affect The Body
Conductive hearing loss is considered one of the less severe forms of hearing loss, and often does not even damage the ear in the long-term. Those with conductive hearing loss typically get back most of their hearing, especially if it is promptly treated.
In some instances, however, conductive loss can develop into sensorineural hearing loss, which is when the nerves and cells of the inner ear become damaged. This can happen if the conductive hearing loss is caused by an infection, and the infection is recurring or goes untreated for too long. In these cases, the nerves or cells of your inner ear may be permanently affected, and your hearing may not get fully restored.
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How Hearing Loss Affects Life In Cities
The problems associated with hearing loss extend well beyond the office. When you leave to catch the bus or subway home, you rely on your hearing in a multitude of ways.
For instance, on the subway platform, when announcers cancel trains or let you know about delays, its hard enough to comprehend them over poor-quality PA systems without hearing loss. But when your ears cant pick up different words, and focusing on speech becomes hard, staying informed about transportation becomes a nightmare.
In unfamiliar cities, youll start to miss announcements about stops, or youll miss information given by station attendants. In the process, youll quickly come to understand how important speech is to getting around modern cities, even with all the apps in the world to guide us.
Then there are our fellow commuters. When we travel to and from work, we have to ask people to move aside, apologize, smile, say hello all of the little things that make massive movements of people run smoothly. If you cant hear well, it becomes more confusing and stressful to deal with strangers, particularly on packed buses or trains.
And finally theres the street. When you cant hear properly, it can be difficult to pick up the noise of approaching traffic, and pushbikes are really hard to detect, raising the risk of accidents.
What Decibel Level Causes Hearing Loss
The Centers for Disease Control defines an average of 85 decibels over an eight-hour period as the level of noise that poses a threat. As a guideline, the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration states, If you need to raise your voice to speak to someone three feet away, noise levels might be over 85 decibels.
A common form of hearing loss is from chronic occupational noise exposure, according to Dr. Adunka.The CDC estimates that 22 million workers a year are exposed to occupational noise loud enough to potentially damage their hearing. Employers are federally required to protect employees with a hearing conservation program when workplace noise averages 85 decibels over an eight-hour period.
For perspective on what different noise levels sound like, imagine a freight train passing by about 100 feet from you: Thats 80 decibels. By contrast, a whisper from 5 feet away is about 40 decibels. A construction site or a nightclub both weigh in around 100 decibels, while gunshots, fireworks and explosions range from 120 to 165 decibelsloud enough to cause immediate hearing damage if youre close to the source.
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Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, itll be capable of returning to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. Thats a lesson to remember as you get older.
Stem Cell Transplant And Gene Therapy
A 2005 study achieved successful regrowth of cochlea cells in guinea pigs. However, the regrowth of cochlear hair cells does not imply the restoration of hearing sensitivity, as the sensory cells may or may not make connections with neurons that carry the signals from hair cells to the brain. A 2008 study has shown that gene therapy targeting Atoh1 can cause hair cell growth and attract neuronal processes in embryonic mice. Some hope that a similar treatment will one day ameliorate hearing loss in humans.
Recent research, reported in 2012 achieved growth of cochlear nerve cells resulting in hearing improvements in gerbils, using stem cells. Also reported in 2013 was regrowth of hair cells in deaf adult mice using a drug intervention resulting in hearing improvement. The Hearing Health Foundation in the US has embarked on a project called the Hearing Restoration Project. Also Action on Hearing Loss in the UK is also aiming to restore hearing.
Researchers reported in 2015 that genetically deaf mice which were treated with TMC1 gene therapy recovered some of their hearing. In 2017, additional studies were performed to treat Usher syndrome and here, a recombinant adeno-associated virus seemed to outperform the older vectors.
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How To Get Help
Hearing loss isnt age-specific it can affect everyone, from babies to adults and seniors. The best way to know how to get help is to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. He or she will be able to help determine the type and degree of hearing loss you have. From there, the hearing care professional will be able to suggest a type and style of hearing aid that can help you begin to live a happier, more fulfilled life.
If you think you or a loved one suffers from hearing loss, dont delay another day. Visit a hearing healthcare professional and take the first step toward a world of better hearing.
How Is My Hearing Tested
To test your hearing, youll be given a test called an audiogram. During this test, your provider plays sounds through headphones. Youll press a button when you hear a sound. The results measure your ability to hear. Tests take place in your providers or audiologists office in a soundproof booth.
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Does Aging Affect Hearing
Hearing sensitivity also declines as people become older. This medical condition is called presbycusis. Again, just like noise-induced hearing loss, everyone is not affected equally. Age-related hearing loss adds to noise-induced hearing loss. As such hearing ability may continue to worsen even after a person stops work in a noisy environment.
Effects Of Hearing Loss On The Body
Many diseases can have a negative impact on an individuals hearing and the opposite is also true. Once established, hearing loss can impact an individuals social, economic, academic, and personal successes. These hits on the body can develop slowly over time into even more disruptive, life-altering diseases, leading to a lower quality of life and an increased need for medical attention.
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Signs/symptoms Of Hearing Loss
There are signs and symptoms which can help you to find out if you have a hearing impairment. Signs include-
- You are unable to hear someone 2-3 feet away from you.
- You need to raise your voice to be heard.
- After being in a noisy place, you feel ringing in your ears.
- Sounds around you become dull or muffled after leaving a noisy place.
Hearing And The Nervous System
When the ear receives sound vibrations, there are hair cells in the cochlea that vibrate and translate the sounds into electrical signals. These electrical signals are transmitted to the auditory nerve, which transmits the information to the brain.
The part of the brain that enables you to understand electrical signals as specific types of sounds is called the auditory cortex. Its located within the temporal lobe, which is on either side of the brain in the region called the cerebral cortex. There are specific neurons in the auditory cortex that can process specific frequencies of sound that we perceive as high or low pitches. There are also parts of the brainstem and the midbrain that provide automatic reflex reactions to certain types of sounds.
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Something In The Ear Canal
Objects that shouldn’t be there are most often found in the ears of children. Peas, beads or small pieces of a toy are the most common foreign bodies to block the ear and affect hearing.
It is usually best to have the object removed. This is done either by syringing it out with warm water or with a special extracting device.
Impact Of Hearing Loss On Daily Life And The Workplace
As people move through the activities of daily living at home, at work, and in social or business situations, basic auditory abilities take on functional significance. Audition makes it possible to detect and recognize meaningful environmental sounds, to identify the source and location of a sound, and, most importantly, to perceive and understand spoken language.
The ability of an individual to carry out auditory tasks in the real world is influenced not only by his or her hearing abilities, but also by a multitude of situational factors, such as background noise, competing signals, room acoustics, and familiarity with the situation. Such factors are important regardless of whether one has a hearing loss, but the effects are magnified when hearing is impaired. For example, when an individual with normal hearing engages in conversation in a quiet, well-lit setting, visual information from the speaker’s face, along with situational cues and linguistic context, can make communication quite effortless. In contrast, in a noisy environment, with poor lighting and limited visual cues, it may be much more difficult to carry on a conversation or to give and receive information. A person with hearing loss may be able to function very well in the former situation but may not be able to communicate at all in the latter.
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Causes Of Auditory Deprivation
One common way people develop auditory deprivation is by avoiding hearing loss treatment. For example, if hearing aids remain in their case , then auditory deprivation can result.
This mostly comes about when someone has a diagnosed hearing loss and they dont treat that hearing loss, Pulido says. Over the time of not getting that auditory stimulation that connection between the ears and the brain gets weak.” The auditory nerve begins to atrophy and weaken, she says.
Another reason it may occur is when people have hearing loss in both ears, but only wear a hearing aid in one ear, she says.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in numerous ways long before youre aware of the diminishing prowess of your ears. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the spillover.
How is so much of your brain affected by hearing loss? Well, there are a few specific ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. That can push some people to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. The brain will keep getting weaker the less its used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, youre going to experience more quietness . This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isnt used it begins to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brains systems including memory.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation exhaustion. Thats because your brain will be struggling to hear whats going on out in the world, even though theres no input signal . This can leave your brain feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to memory loss.
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Strategy : Move Away From The Sound Source
If possible, you should try to move away from loud sounds. For example, if there is construction work happening and it produces very loud noises, you can quickly walk away from it. To give you another example, imagine that you are in an auditorium standing next to a loudspeaker and you feel that it is too loud. You can choose to move away from the speaker. Moving away from the source of the sound reduces the impact of these loud sounds on your ears and minimizes the chances of damaging your hearing.
Causes For Balance Disorders
The cooperation of multiple organs result in balance control and the ears play an active part in this system. Thus, problems with the inner ear along with other causes may contribute to a balance disorder. The most common include:
- ear infections,
- blood circulation problems in the inner ear,
- head injury,
What Causes Hearing Loss In One Ear
If you experience one-sided hearing loss with no obvious cause , take it seriously because it can be a symptom of a medical condition that needs immediate attention. Asymmetry is a red flag, says Dr. Adunka. When thats the case, we need an MRI to look at the brain. He notes that one-sided hearing loss is uncommon: For the vast majority, both ears are typically affected.
Causes of unilateral hearing loss include:
- Abnormal growths. Tumors and cysts can form in the ear canal, just as they can in other parts of the body. If the growth is large enough to cause hearing loss in the ear where its located, it needs to be treated.
- Acoustic neuroma. Although rare, this type of benign tumor that presses on one of the cranial nerves produces hearing loss in one ear for 90% of the people who develop them.
- Meningiomas. Like acoustic neuromas, meningiomas are rare. These tumors are normally benign but they can cause one-sided hearing loss.
Introduction To The Vestibular System
The vestibular system is located in your inner ear and maintains balance throughout your body. This system is also responsible for giving you awareness of your bodys relationship with the space around you.
- The Labyrinth is the area of the inner ear that houses all the components of the vestibular system. This maze-like structure is comprised of spongy bone and soft tissues.
- The Semicircular Canals are three fluid-filled ducts nestled inside the labyrinth. Arranged at right angles to one another, the movement of liquids in these structures help track your heads vertical movements.
- The Cupula are gel-like structures stretching across the semicircular canals like drumheads. The base of this drumhead rests against a series of sensitive hair cells, stereocilia. When you shift your head, these tiny hairs bend to follow the movement of your head.
- The Utricle and Saccule are otolithic organs resting between the cochlea and the semicircular canals. Much like the canals, they use stereocilia to track the movement of your head as it relates to gravity.
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The Surprising Link Between Hearing Loss And Balance
Did you know there was a surprising link between hearing loss and balance disorders? Although we discussed the societal, psychological, and physical risks of hearing loss in More than Deafness: Stunning Side Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss, we feel its important to delve deeper into the link between hearing loss and balance disorders.
Simply put, hearing-related clumsiness and vertigo are no laughing matter. After all, a loss of balance is the dangerous precursor to slips and falls. And, falls, while a common feature in comedy skits, are leading cause of emergency room visits in the country. Continue reading to learn more about the surprising link between hearing loss and balance disorder.
The Impact Of Hearing Loss At A Restaurant
Restaurants are places with a lot of ambient noise .
Normally, this background chatter is what gives eateries a bit of character, and its no great problem. However, when you cant hear properly, ambient noise can make it very difficult to converse with your fellow diners or hear the waiting staff.
All-too-often, people with hearing loss will inquire about the house specials, only to nod their heads as if they understood everything, before returning to the printed menu to settle for something they might not want.
And its a problem that may be getting worse. One UK-based charity, Action On Hearing Loss, reports that 81 percent of those surveyed had experienced difficulties sustaining conversations in places to eat.
Most restaurants arent designed with acoustics in mind, which only makes the problem worse, although some have thought about the issue, adding things like cork wood ceilings to absorb sound waves so help is at hand.