What’s the one Thing to Know About Hearing Loss?

Woman not letting hearing loss and use of hearing aids stop her from feeling young and playing with her grandkids.

As we age we tend to think that hearing loss only has an effect on the older generation. Almost all of us have had experience with older people attempting to comprehend conversations, or using hearing aids.

As you become more mature, you start to learn that there is a different factor regarding hearing loss other than aging.

Most people are afraid to admit they suffer from hearing loss because it causes them to feel old.

Hearing Loss Is an “Any Age Problem”

Even before we turn 13, audiologists already begin to diagnose some amount of hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this is not because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the past 30 years there has been a 33% increase in teen hearing loss.

What are the key factors involved?

2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64-year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.

It’s not an aging problem. It’s 100% possible to avoid, although most people might consider it an aging problem. Considerably minimizing your hearing loss is within reach.

Sensorineural hearing loss, which is the medical term for age-related hearing loss, is generally brought on by loud noise.

For ages hearing loss was believed to be inevitable as you age. However thanks to today’s science we know a lot more concerning hearing loss prevention and also hearing regeneration.

How Hearing Loss is Caused by Loud Noise

Step one to safeguarding your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocent” as noise causes hearing loss.

Sound is composed of waves of pressure. Going down into your ear these waves go beyond your eardrum and into the inner ear.

Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. A neurological code is made up of how fast and how frequently these little tiny hairs vibrate. This code will be translated by your brain into the sound of crickets, someone crying for assistance, a jet plane, or any other sound which might be near you.

The problem is that as noises get too loud these little hairs are damaged beyond repair. The sound shakes them until they die.

If you don’t have them, you can’t hear.

Why Noise-Related Hearing Loss is Permanent

Various kinds of damage can be healed by your body. But when you harm these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they will not grow back. Every time you are subjected to loud noise, a few more of these cells die.

Hearing loss progresses as they die.

Common Sounds Which Cause Hearing Damage

Most people are surprised to discover that everyday activities can cause hearing loss. It’s very easy to overlook:

  • Going to a concert/play/movie
  • Wearing earbuds/head phones
  • Turning the car stereo up too loud
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Using farm equipment
  • Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
  • Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
  • Working in a manufacturing plant or other loud profession
  • Hunting
  • Playing music in a band

It’s not necessary to quit these activities. Fortunately, you can take practical steps to reduce noise-related hearing loss.

How you can Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” old

If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to cause you to feel older. The longer you disregard it, the worse it’s going to get, and you will end up feeling older much sooner because of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Increased Fall Risk
  • Social Isolation
  • More frequent trips to the ER
  • Strained relationships

It’s significantly more common for people with untreated hearing loss to have problems with one or more of these.

How can you Avoid Continued Hearing Damage?

The first thing you have to do is learn how to to avoid hearing loss.

  1. Put a sound meter app on your phone, and find out how loud things truly can be.
  2. Harmful volumes should be avoided without the proper ear protection. More than 85 dB (decibels) will cause permanent hearing loss in just 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. 120 dB and above results in immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
  3. Know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after a concert, you already caused permanent damage to your hearing. Over time it will become worse.
  4. Wear earplugs or maybe sound-dampening earmuffs when necessary.
  5. Observe workplace hearing safety policies.
  6. Minimize your exposure time to loud sounds.
  7. Steer clear of standing in close proximity to loudspeakers or cranking speakers up when at home.
  8. Invest in earbuds/headphones that come with built-in volume control. These never go over 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen pretty much non-stop all the time to cause permanent damage.
  9. High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can cause you to be more susceptible at lower volumes. To be certain, never listen to headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
  10. Wear your hearing aid. Not using a hearing aid when you actually need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s the same as your leg muscles. If you stop walking, it will be much more difficult to start walking again.

Get a Hearing Test

Are you procrastinating or are in denial? Make the right choice now rather than later. The faster you make the wise decision the less damage you will continue to do.

Speak to Your Hearing Professional Concerning Hearing Solutions

There are no “normal cures” for hearing impairment. If you have serious hearing loss, it’s time for a hearing aid.

Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Hearing Aids

Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or maybe, they choose to “tough it out.” They presume hearing aids make them seem old. Or they believe that they cost too much.

But as soon as they realize that hearing loss will decline faster and can cause various health and personal complications, it’s simple to see that the pros far outweigh the cons.

Talk to a hearing care expert now about getting a hearing evaluation. And if hearing aids are needed, don’t worry about “feeling old.” Hearing aids at present are much more streamlined and more sophisticated than you probably think!

Why Investing in Hearing Aids is a Good Decision

Man suffering from hearing loss saving money buy buying hearing aids to earn more money and stay safe.

Hearing aids are a worthwhile investment. People with hearing loss are regularly concerned with the price tag. However, when you invest in a house you don’t determine the price and state, “well being homeless is less costly!” You have to go past the price to decide the true worth of hearing aids.

Before purchasing a big-ticket item like this you need to ask yourself, “what do I get from wearing hearing aids and what’s the impact of not having them?” If you need hearing aids it will end up costing you more if you don’t invest in them. You really should factor these expenses into your choice as well. Take into consideration some good reasons why investing in hearing aids will help save you money over the long haul.

As Time Goes by, Cheap Hearing Aids Tend to end up Being More Expensive

There certainly are cheap hearing aids out there which appear more affordable. You might even buy a hearing aid off of the internet costing less than a dinner.

You get what you pay for in quality with over-the-counter hearing devices. When you buy these devices, you are really getting an amplification device similar to earbuds, not a hearing aid. These devices turn up the sound of everything around you. That includes unwanted background noise.

You miss out on the most effective functions and features hearing aids provide, custom programming. Having your hearing aid tuned to correct your distinct hearing issue can stop it from getting worse and provide you with amazing hearing quality.

Some low-quality hearing devices are powered by equally cheap batteries, too. Needing to swap dead batteries frequently can become expensive. When you wear the amplification device every day, you could very well end up replacing the battery once or twice a day. When it’s most important, these cheap batteries regularly fail, so make sure to bring plenty of emergency batteries. Do you really save cash if you have to exchange worn out batteries on a daily basis?

Because the technology is better, the batteries live longer. Rechargeable batteries in the high-quality hearing aids means no more buying batteries.

Work Related Worries

Deciding to go without hearing aids, or choosing low-quality ones will be costly at work. A 2013 study published in The Hearing Journal says that adults that have hearing loss often earn less money – as high as 25 percent less, and are more likely to be without a job.

Why? There are several reasons for this, but the basic explanation is that communication is essential in virtually every industry. You need to be able to hear what your supervisor says to be able to give good results. You should be capable of listening to clients to help them. If you spend the entire discussion trying to figure out precisely what words people are saying, you’re probably going missing the total content. Simply put, if you can’t take part in conversations, it’s not easy to succeed at work.

The struggle to hear what people are saying at work takes a toll on you bodily, also. And if you do find a way to get through a day with sub-par hearing ability, the stress and anxiety associated with wondering whether you heard something correctly plus the energy required to hear just enough will keep you fatigued and stressed out. Here are some impacts associated with stress:

  • Your immune system
  • Your ability to sleep
  • Your relationships
  • Your quality of life

All of these have the potential to impact your work efficiency and reduce your income as a consequence.

More Trips to the ER

There are safety issues which come with hearing loss. Without correct hearing aids, it becomes unsafe for you to cross the street or drive a car. How could you stay clear of another vehicle if you can’t hear it? How about public warning systems like a tornado warning or smoke alarm?

For a number of jobs, hearing is a must have for job-site safety such as construction zones or processing factories. That means that not wearing hearing aids is not only a safety risk but also something which can minimize your career possibilities.

Financial safety is a factor here, too. Did the waitress say that you owe 25 dollars or 75? What did the salesperson tell you regarding the functions of the dishwasher you are shopping for and do you actually need them? Maybe the lower cost unit would be all you would need, but it’s difficult to tell if you can’t hear the sales clerk describe the difference.

The Health of Your Brain

One of the most critical concerns that come with hearing loss is the increased possibility of dementia. The New England Journal of Medicine has found that Alzheimer’s disease costs individuals more than 56,000 dollars a year. Dementia accounts for 11 billion dollars in Medicare expenditure annually.

Hearing loss is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It is calculated that a person with acute, untreated hearing loss multiplies their possibility of brain impairment by five times. A modest hearing loss carries three times the chances of getting dementia, and even a minimal hearing issue doubles your risk. Hearing aids will bring the risk back to a regular amount.

Certainly a hearing aid is going to cost you a bit. When you look at all the costs that come with going without one or buying a cheaper device, it’s surely a financial choice. Make an appointment with a hearing aid specialist to find out more.

These Seven Yummy Goodies Might Help to Reduce Tinnitus

Family in the park enjoying foods that help reduce tinnitus symptoms.

Along with splashing in the water, and holidays, the summertime brings a lot of delicious food. When summertime comes, specific foods go to the top of everyone’s must-have list. A few of these yummy snacks may offer relief from tinnitus. Fundamentally, tinnitus isn’t really about what you eat; it’s connected with how well you hear. The food that you consume might be a contributing factor, though. Consider seven summer treats that you may want to think about that might help with tinnitus.

Making sense of Tinnitus

Tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a sign of something else taking place with your body, and, for most, that implies hearing loss. Clicking, buzzing, or ringing, are noises you might begin to hear as your hearing declines. Tinnitus is poorly understood, but it’s possible that this is the brain’s way of coping with the loss of sound.

Eliminating or curing these phantom sounds is currently not possible. Your best chance is looking for ways to manage it. Here are some ways of doing it:

  • Amplification devices like hearing aids
  • Masking devices such as white noise machines
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Diet and lifestyle changes

There are Some Things You Should Avoid Consuming if You Suffer From Tinnitus

It’s not just about what you do consume, but also what you don’t, if you want to regulate your tinnitus this summer. Try steering clear of these:

  • Salty meals
  • Processed sugar
  • Flavor enhancers like MSG
  • Fatty foods

Summer is a good time to think about what you are putting into your body and what goodies may affect your tinnitus in a positive way.

You Could Try to Decrease Your Tinnitus With These Seven Yummy Goodies

This summertime what can you consume that might help out your tinnitus? These are seven tips for you to try.

1. Grilled Chicken

Barbecued chicken is a good, low-fat option for summer grilling. It is tasty enough that you don’t have to over season it with salt, too. Being high in vitamin B12 means that grilled chicken can help lessen tinnitus.

Keep in mind these few things when grilling chicken:

The skin should be taken off prior to cooking. The skin is the place where most of the fat is.

Be certain to thoroughly wash your hands and counters immediately following handling raw chicken.

A hot grill is important when cooking chicken. That better seals in the taste and makes sure the meat gets to a safe temperature of 170 degrees.

2. Frozen Bananas

If you place a banana in the freezer it’s not only a sweet snack but also a refreshing one. Just put a popsicle stick in a peeled banana and put it inside the freezer.

You can even put chocolate or peanut butter on them prior to freezing. The bodily fluids are helped by the high levels of potassium in bananas which then helps reduce tinnitus.

3. Pineapple

Pineapple is an effective anti-inflammatory, so it may be beneficial for people that suffer from tinnitus. It’s also a versatile fruit. You can serve it up it uncooked as a dessert or a snack. You can freeze it in juice to make a fruity popsicle or add a piece to a glass of iced tea for flavor. And on the barbecue you can dress up meats with it.

4. Watermelon

Watermelon is a enjoyable means to boost your liquid consumption and cool yourself down at the same time. It reduces your danger of becoming sick simply because of the antioxidants it contains. Watermelon is rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Copper
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B1

Having zero fat and almost no calories, it is the perfect summertime snack.

5. Iced Tea With Ginger

Tinnitus in the ear that may possibly be triggered by pressure may be relieved by eating ginger. It becomes a tasty and refreshing summer beverage when you incorporate it with a couple different other spices. Beginning by boiling one teaspoon of:

  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Cinnamon

Use four cups of water for 15 minutes to steep three slices of ginger. Once the tea cools pour it over ice. You can add to it for more flavor such as a lemon slice, or play with the recipe to suit your flavor taste.

6. Kiwi

Help reduce your blood pressure by eating kiwi. It contains a larger amount of vitamin C than an equivalent sized orange and also has magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Grilled meats, desserts and salads are all complemented by this fuzzy brown fruit. If you drop a piece in your favorite summertime drink, you get a unique flavor.

7. Avocado

The avocado is a super-food that is great for your heart, as well as helping to control your tinnitus. In only one half of an avocado you get:

  • 1 percent of your daily recommended intake of calcium
  • 5 percent of your daily recommended intake of magnesium
  • 10 percent of your daily recommended intake of potassium

It also contains beneficial fats and carotenoids to fight disease. The downside to the avocado is calories, so a little goes a long way. Add it to your favorite summertime salad recipe.

This summertime, go out and enjoy some smart, nutritious treats. Your hearing might just thank you by ringing less.

Even if You Have a Healthy Lifestyle You Still May be Injuring Your Ears

Grandma and grandson are cooking healthy food together in the kitchen to prevent hearing loss.

Healthy choices are not always straight forward. We can oftentimes overcome our hesitation by reminding ourselves what is good for us. But is it possible that our health habits may actually hurt our ears? It’s more likely than you’d think.

Your Hygiene Practice

How healthy you look and how well you keep up yourself matters to you. Most likely brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and maybe cleaning your ears is a normal practice.

With time an irritating trickle of a small amount of earwax can build up. Despite earwax having many vital purposes in your ear, it does have to be cleaned from time to time. The means you use to remove earwax determines the potential damage.

You should stop using cotton swabs for earwax removal as they are not really the tool of choice. Irreparable harm can be done by using cotton swabs to eliminate your earwax. The better choice would be to seek advice from a hearing specialist for help. It’s a standard and easy process for them to remove the wax and you can rest assured that your hearing is safe.

Your Workout Habits

Staying physically fit is the best way to look and feel your best. The benefits of working out are that it gets your blood flowing, clears your mind, helps you lose weight, and relaxes your muscles. But workouts practiced improperly are the concern.

It’s becoming more popular to do endurance testing, high impact workouts. Taking part in these kinds of workouts, while building muscle, may also be harming your ears. Strenuous exercise can cause a build up of pressure in the ears. Resulting in balance and hearing concerns.

That doesn’t mean that you should quit working out. The important factor is correct workout technique. Avoid strain and don’t hold your breath while exercising. If you feel like you’ve come to your limit, quit.

Your Prospering Career

Stress goes with a successful career. While working hard to achieve career accomplishment is great, the high levels of stress can cause health troubles.

Stress has been known to cause weight gain, impaired thinking, and muscle pain, but did you know it can also cause hearing loss? Poor circulation caused by stress is actually the issue. When you have poor circulation the delicate hairs in your ears don’t get the blood flow and oxygen they need. When the hairs in your ear die, they won’t grow back. Why are these little hairs important? Those hairs are how your brain senses sound waves. Because without them your brain has no way to receive sound waves.

But don’t suspect your job has to cost you your hearing. Finding ways of reducing strain can help blood flow. If you’re finding yourself stressed out, take a break. If you have time, read or watch something funny. When you laugh, you naturally shake off your strain.

Enjoying the Arts

Exposing your mind to all forms of art is a healthy practice. But different forms of art have different levels of impact on hearing.

Going to the movies or attending a live music event is louder than you may imagine. While enjoying our favorite art form we usually don’t worry about whether it is damaging our hearing. The sad truth is, it very well may be.

This is easily solved. Make sure you protect your ears if you are planning on attending a loud event. While you wouldn’t wear large earmuffs at an opera, you might use small discreet in-ear noise reduction devices instead.

Like with anything else, being informed and prepared will help to protect. If you fear that participation in a high volume activity has already damaged your hearing, you should schedule an appointment with a hearing expert. Only then will you know for certain.

Hearing Loss: Do Your Hobbies Put You at Risk?

A man is playing guitar not realizing it may cause hearing loss as he is not wearing hearing protection.

What do people in this country do on their days off? You can understand more about a person by looking at the things they do to relax. For instance, the American Time Use Survey produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states you are able to judge how much a person makes if you know their favorite hobby. It seems the more money you have, the more free time you spend improving your appearance at the gym, jogging or playing games on the weekend. Clearly, there is a major difference between the person who jumps out of a plane for fun and the one who hits the golf course once a week, right? The skydiver is looking for adventure, and the other person wants a life without the adrenaline surge.

These same things you do to relax relate to your hearing health, as well. You think what you enjoy on your days off is fun but what is it doing to your ears? Take some time to think about what you like to do and how it might affect your hearing.

Could a Hobby Lead to Hearing Problems?

When it comes down to it, noise is the major culprit in hearing loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noise that falls at a certain volume level will damage to the delicate mechanisms of the ear like:

  • Hair cells
  • Membranes
  • Nerves

Sound enters the ear in a wave. The strength of the wave depends on a couple of different factors with volume and distance being the most critical. A sound wave travels down the ear canal until it is amplified by the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, as it enters the middle ear.

In the middle ear, three small bones work together to transmit the vibrations caused by the amplified sound wave to a flexible membrane that sits on the cusp of the inner ear. The combination of the bones and the membrane strengthen the sound even more.

The vibration caused by this stronger sound wave vibrates the fluid in the cochlea, a chamber in the inner ear. When that happens, the movement sways the tiny, and very delicate, hair cells to create a kind of electrical message. Simply put, the hair cells translate this sound wave into something the brain can understand. Once it gets that electrical signal, the brain can tell you what you are hearing.

For example, think about when you turn the radio on in the car. The music goes into the ears as a sound wave with the help of the pinna, or outer ear. The wave is strengthened by the tympanic membrane to move the small bones, so they can vibrate the membrane at the entrance to the cochlea. This membrane moves the fluid in the cochlea which causes the hair cells to send an electrical message to the brain. The brain decodes the message and sends a signal that tells you there is music playing. All the happens in a nanosecond and without you even having to think about it. Not only do you hear the sound, you understand it, you know what direction it is coming from and whether you enjoy or hate it.

What If You Turn the Volume Up

Now, consider someone running in the park wearing headphones. It’s a little bit like firing a gun from point blank range. The sound wave that goes the ear is already loud, maybe enough to damage the eardrum. It’s certainly strong enough to cause the bones in the middle ear to move dangerously fast, creating a larger wave in the fluid of the inner ear; one that will eventually break the hair cells.

Maybe your favorite hobby is riding a motorcycle. The sound caused by the engine roar is will lead to similar damage. Decibel (dB) is the measurement associated with sound. Any noise above 85 dB can mean hearing loss. The average motorcycle engine generates around 100 dB of sound. The traffic you hear when driving in your car to the golf course is around 85 dB. The lawn mower comes in at about 107 dB.

What Hobbies can Mean the Most Hearing Damage

Anything you do that involves sound over 85 dB is a trouble. Everyday conversation or music playing at a sensible volume measures at about 70 dB; just to give you an idea of what sounds are a problem. Some of the common hobbies that can damage the ear include:

  • Motorcycle riding
  • Home Improvement
  • Woodworking
  • Sporting or music events
  • Driving with the top down
  • Paintball

Add to this list the things you do with headphones or earbuds in place including video games or listening to music.

What Should You Do To Protect Your Hearing

You don’t have to give up the fun things to keep your ears safe, just be smart about what you do. First and foremost, don’t wear headphones or earbuds for anything. If your hobby requires you to used drills or hammer, wear hearing protection such as ear plugs or muffs. If you love live music at a sports arena or local bar, consider musician earplugs that preserve sound quality but reduce the noise exposure.

You only have two ears, so do right by them. Go ahead and have some fun on your day off, just turn down the volume.

How Tinnitus Could Transform Your Impression of the World

Bells ring to represent suffering from hearing loss related tinnitus.

It’s just a little noise in your ear, right? When you put it that way, it sounds harmless but the reality is that tinnitus alters your view of things right from day one. Tinnitus is not a real noise but it still takes a toll and not in a good way. For some suffers, it is a life changer that gets in the way of talking to others, a good night’s sleep and the ability to concentrate. It alters your perception of your world by interfering with many different parts of it. To understand how this happens you need to know more about this condition.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is noises that only you hear. Technically, it isn’t a disease or illness on its own, but a symptom of an underlying condition like the age-related hearing loss. If you do have it, you are not alone. According to the American Tinnitus Association, about 15 percent of the U.S. population have tinnitus in some degree.

Tinnitus isn’t the same for everyone, either. Some people report a ringing while others say they hear:

  • Buzzing
  • Wind blowing
  • Clicking

These are all sounds indicative of tinnitus.

What Causes Tinnitus?

That tells you a lot but it doesn’t explain the cause of tinnitus. Tinnitus a bit of a medical mystery, in part, because there may be more than one cause. For many, it is a symptom of profound hearing loss. The brain gets used to hearing sounds all the time because it’s always around you. It’s there when you go for a walk or read a book. There is some kind of noise even as you sit in a quiet room.

Noise is always there for your ears pick up on even if it is slight. Faint sound creates small waves that the brain can interpret. It then decides whether you actually should hear the noise or not.

When someone develops hearing loss things changes gradually. Over time, the sound stops coming to the brain the way it used to, so it tries to figure out why. Researchers believe that it tries to fix the problem by creating the ringing, buzzing or wind sound associated with tinnitus. It would rather “hear” a phantom noise then live in silence.

There are other medical problems that can cause tinnitus beside age-related hearing loss such as:

  • Ear canal blockage
  • Head or neck trauma
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Sinus conditions
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Ototoxic drugs
  • Metabolic disorders such as hypothyroid
  • An autoimmune disorder like Lyme disease or fibromyalgia
  • Circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure
  • Vestibular disorders like thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Tumor-related disorders such as acoustic neuroma

If you suddenly notice the phantom noises of tinnitus, it is time to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. You need to find out why you have this problem and to rule out very serious medical concerns like high blood pressure.

Why Does Tinnitus Impact How You See the World?

Tinnitus has a negative impact on most people and even faint ringing in the ears can be distracting. The irritation of not being able to turn it on and off can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration

People with severe tinnitus might experience:

  • Social isolation
  • Unemployment
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Major depressive disorder

That loss of control and frustration may bleed through to everything else you do.

What Treatment is Available for Tinnitus?

First, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about the medical options. If the cause is hearing loss, using a hearing aid for that ear may be the only thing you need. Hearing aids amplify sound, so your brain starts getting the daily noise it expects. White noise machines mimic environmental sounds when you take your hearing aids out like at night. You can also try to create your own kind of noise with a fan or by running a dehumidifier.

Your view of the world defines your awareness of what’s going on around you. That improves when you eliminate the distracting noise of tinnitus.

Why Hearing Loss Can Spoil More Than Your Ears

A woman is in pain, but she doesn't realize the cause is her untreated hearing loss.

When someone says hearing loss, you naturally think about ears, and why not? Clearly, a person with hearing loss has a problem with the elements of the ear. If you injure your leg, it doesn’t affect your hearing, right? While it is normal to connect hearing loss with your ears, it’s a little more complex issue. If you or someone you love has hearing loss, think about the other ways it changes a person’s life.

Hearing Loss and Your Brain

Physically, the ears are not the only organs that suffer when a person has an untreated hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is the third most common chronic problem among older adults, right after hypertension and arthritis, and that’s a concern because of how it impacts the brain.

The type of hearing loss that comes with age involves the hair cells in the inner ear. It’s the movement of these cells that creates an electrical message the brain comprehends as sound. Sound is something people are immersed in all hours of the day. Even when you are sitting in a quiet room, there is still some noise going on around you. Maybe it’s the buzzing of a computer hard drive or the air conditioner running quietly in the background. Even if you were able to eliminate environmental noises, there would still be the sound of your breathing to hear.

In fact, your brain translates these impulses sent by the hair cells all day long, you just do not know it. When they disappear with the age-related hearing loss, the brain feels confused and tries to figure out what’s going on. Typically, a small amount of sound is still getting through, but the brain has to work harder to understand it, and that stress causes a number of medical problems.

Research shows that individuals with untreated hearing loss have an increased risk of dementia, for instance, maybe as much as fives times the risk. There is evidence when a person has difficulty hearing, their brain shrinks faster, and their cognitive function declines, too. The brain may try to use the area set aside for hearing for other things further decreasing your ability to hear.

About Tinnitus

Tinnitus or phantom noises is a side effect of diminished hearing. No one knows why this happens but one theory is that the brain is trying to create sound because it is missing it. If your mind is used to hearing a noise all the time and it slowly fades away, tinnitus could be an attempt to compensate for that loss.

Listening to this phantom noise has a negative impact on most lives. It can interfere with your ability to sleep or concentrate. It can cause depression and other mental health issues, as well. It’s not easy living with that constant ringing or buzzing without feeling stress.

How It Affects Relationships

It is not easy having the people in your life point out your hearing loss, especially since it usually has to do with aging. You don’t like being told you are getting older. It is estimated that about 50 percent of older adult have problems with their hearing. It’s hard to accept, so when the subject comes up, there is denial and resentment.

Someone with hearing loss may begin to fade into the background, too. They stop going out with others because they can’t follow the conversations, and it makes them feel stupid. Perhaps they worry about making their friends mad by asking them to repeat things all the time. Those same friends don’t come around as much, either, because the conversation is too awkward.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures the impact of hearing loss on quality of life using a measurement labeled disability-adjusted years. This means they measure how many fewer quality years come with hearing loss. They estimate that a person loses 2.5 healthy years with each year of hearing impairment.

Hearing Loss Affects Your Ability to Earn

There are some studies that show hearing loss can lead to less money in the bank. One conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found that individuals with hearing loss make as much as 12,000 dollars less annually. Using hearing aids can mitigate the effects and lead to more money, though.

There is not much doubt that the problems created by hearing loss are significant in many areas of life including your physical and mental health. It’s not only about your ears. That is why it is so important to be aware of your hearing health and to get a professional exam and hearing test if you think there is a problem.

Improve the Life of Your Hearing Aids With Effective Care

Man is looking at toolkit to repair and care for hearing aids.

Like just about everything worth buying, hearing aids need just the right amount of care, but it’s a worthwhile effort because it extends the life of the device and makes it work better. Taking care of your hearing aid requires a combination of practical knowledge, proper cleaning, and careful handling. Educating yourself about the right way to keep them safe and clean will mean you and your hearing aid can live happily together for many years.

About That Earwax

You don’t spend a lot of time talking about it, but everyone has it. Earwax, or cerumen as medical professionals call it, has a distinct purpose in your ears. Earwax protects the skin inside the ear canal from bacteria, insects, and water. It is an important role so, your body makes quite a bit of it, and it can end up on your hearing aids. Chances are if you notice a hearing aid isn’t working quite right, earwax is to blame.

It is a good idea to get into the habit of removing this wax from the surface of the hearing aid on a regular basis. At night before you put it away is a good time. Grab a soft toothbrush or cotton swab and wipe over the surface to clean it. Make sure to get into any crevices, too, and clean any debris off of the receiver and microphone.

Some hearing aids have filters or guards designed to protect the intricate internal technology from earwax. Don’t try to clean these filters; just replace them. Look at the manual that came with the hearing aid to determine if there is an earwax filter or guard. If you are unsure if your device has this feature, give the retailer or manufacturer a call to find out.

Keeping it Dry

Pick a good place to store your hearing aid; one that is dry and secure. This helps prevent water from penetrating the casing and doing damage. Do not touch the device with wet hands and take them out before you get into the shower or pool.

If you live in an area with excess humidity, consider purchasing a dehumidifier designed for hearing aids. As you have probably figured out, this is a device that removes water from the unit. They also make storage cases that help keep hearing aids free from condensation.

If your hearing aid does get moisture in it, carefully wipe it down with a towel. Don’t look for a fancy solution to the problem like a hair dryer or any other heated device because that will likely cause damage.

Keeping It Charged

For most people that will mean changing or charging the batteries regularly. A degrading battery can damage the unit by corroding the delicate circuitry. When you take your hearing aid out at night, open the battery door to keep moisture from building up and leading to corrosion.

When you do change the battery, take a minute to wipe down the contact points before installing the new one. Just rub a dry cotton swab over them to remove any earwax or other debris.

Handling Your Hearing Aid

One of the most important things to understand is how to handle your hearing aid. For one thing, make sure your hands are clean before you touch it. They should be free from lotion and hand sanitizer, too.

Avoid dropping the device onto a hard surface like the kitchen counter. If you do set it down, place it gently and make sure that space is clean first. You might ruin the unit if you put it down right where you spilled your coffee earlier! Don’t place your hearing aid near heat or in direct sunlight. They are sensitive to high temperatures.

Avoid leaving your hearing aid someplace that your dog can get to it. Some hearing aids continue to make a sound when out of your ear that you can’t hear but the dog can. Your best friend might eat the hearing aid to shut it up, and that’s bad for both you and the dog.

Get Professional Help When You Need It

If for some reason your hearing aid needs repair, go to a certified retailer for help. They have the training to work on this unique technology. They also have tools that allow them to test each element and quickly locate the problem and the proper replacement parts. Frankensteining your hearing aid with parts from other units rarely turns out well.

You will need to schedule regular professional cleaning for your hearing aid if you want it to last. A repair technician will clean it inside and out and make adjustments as needed to ensure you are getting the most from it. This is a good time to ask any questions that you might have about caring for your hearing aid, as well.

You put your hard earned money into getting a hearing aid, why not take the steps necessary to keep it working at it’s best for as long as possible. A little careful consideration and care are all it takes to extend the life of your hearing aid.

Whatever You May Think, Getting Hearing Aids May Help Keep You Feeling Youthful

A man with hearing aids playing soccer with his grandson in a youthful way.

There are many myths circling around about the use of hearing aids, for example, wearing one can make you feel old. Of course, that might be true since one in three individuals over the age of 65 have a type of hearing loss called presbycusis. so many elderly do wear a hearing aid. That’s not the end of the story, though. These days, medical researchers have proven that wearing a hearing aid will actually keep you from feeling your age. To figure out why this happens, you must know more about how the brain works.

Let’s Talk About Neuroplasticity

That’s a fancy word that means the brain can adapt based on changes in your life. Consider this scenario; you are a person who loves to exercise in the morning. Each day, you go out and walk along the same sidewalk, but one day, there is a big hole that you can’t cross. You don’t stop walking — you look for a route that takes you around the hole.

The human brain works the same way. There are nerve channels in the brain that allow you do everyday things like take a walk or read a book. When something happens to you like a stroke, for example, the brain needs to find a way to reroute those pathways through neuroplasticity. Your adaptable brain is also how you learn new skills. If you take a tap dance class, for instance, the brain develops new channels called neural pathways to accommodate what you have learned.

Most the time the adaptation works well. If a person has a stroke, the original pathways that let them walk might close down. The brain finds new neural routes so that person can relearn how to take a step.

When Neuroplasticity Fails

Neuroplasticity sometimes causes problems for people with hearing loss. Hearing requires sound waves to go through the ear canal to reach the inner ear. There, tiny hair cells move with the waves to send electrical signals that the brain translates into what you hear.

When a person does lose their hearing, whether it is due to aging, noise exposure or disease, their brain stops getting those critical electrical signals from the inner ear or gets fewer of them, at least. When that happens, the brain can decide that the part it has dedicated to hearing is free real estate. It will create new pathways in that section that have nothing to do with hearing. This is an attempt to use that space efficiently, but it backfires.

A 2015 study done by researchers at the University of Colorado supports this idea. The scientists did EEG recordings, that’s a tool that measures electrical activity in the brain, on people of all ages that have varying degrees of hearing loss. They found that functions like vision and touch can actually invade the part of the brain responsible for hearing.

Hearing Loss and Memory Problems

Researchers already know there is a connection between an increased risk of dementia and hearing loss. Studies indicate that an older individual with hearing loss may suffer mental decline 40 percent faster than someone with good hearing. When the brain stops getting signals from the ears, it starts to decline.

It’s not clear why this decrease might happen, but it is possible neuroplasticity causes it. When the brain struggles to pick up sounds that are faint and it has to pull in resources from other critical functions like short-term memories to compensate.

Why Hearing Aids are the Hero of the Story

These problems all have one thing in common, the brain is no longer receiving the electrical signals from the inner ear that allow it to translate sound. For many individuals, merely filtering sound and amplifying it with hearing aids makes that possible again.

A hearing aid will stimulate the brain, so it tries to hear again. When that happens, it can regenerate the necessary cells and develop new neural pathways. That effect can slow the cognitive decline that leads to memory issues and protects short-term memory.

Having a hearing aid will open you up to new opportunities, too, and that strengthens the brain to keep you young. You can watch TV, take classes and learn new things. Remaining mentally active is really the key to feeling like someone half your age. Too often, older people with hearing loss end up isolated because they can’t take part in discussions or understand what is going on around them.

Hearing aids will change how you live and how your brain works. If you are wondering how well you hear these days, it’s time to schedule a professional hearing exam to see if hearing aids will make you feel young again.

Should You Tell a Loved One About Their Hearing Loss?

A young woman leans into an older woman to have a delicate conversation about hearing loss and hearing aids.

Hearing problems are one of those things other people usually notice before you do. In part, because a person’s family and friends know them better than they know themselves. They are the ones that see the changes and connect the dots about hearing loss the person with the problem notices the gradual decline that comes with age-related hearing loss.

It’s a difficult subject to approach with a person that you love because it is personal. They might not notice this decline or realize that they are asking you to repeat things often or missing information when you talk. It probably feels like an attack instead of your attempt to help. So, when is it the proper time to talk about it? There is no clear-cut answer to this question, but there are some obvious signs that you need to have a conversation about hearing loss.

The What Did You Say? Syndrome

It might be the first thing you will notice when this person’s hearing starts to decline. What did you say? It’s a natural response when you don’t hear something very clearly. The problem with age-related hearing loss is they still hear the sound of your voice, just not each word. When that happens, the brain makes them think you are mumbling. The fact is you’re speaking the same way you always did, it is their hearing that is different.

A person that has to say what all the time does not even know they do it, which makes it a hard thing to talk about. You can try counting the number of times you have to repeat something in a conversation. If you see a regular pattern over a week, then it’s time to say something.

When Safety Is a Problem

There is more to hearing than just comprehending speech. Individuals with gradual hearing loss lose the ability to understand specific sound frequencies, too. A traditional smoke and carbon dioxide detector uses a high pitched tone to tell you here is a problem. It’s a sound that someone with hearing loss might not hear. Those who do have this issue can compensate for it by putting in alarms that use a different frequency and that are able to flash the lights and shake the bed, as well.

Safety is a concern for the hearing challenged person that wants to drive a car, too. You need to be able to hear warning sounds like horns, for example, and the car engine running. A person trying to cross the street needs to hear warning sounds there, too. Safety is a definite issue with untreated hearing loss and one that indicates you need to take action.

When the Complaints Start Rolling In

The guy next door complains the TV is too loud, for instance, TV dialogue is as hard to understand as a face-to-face conversation, but there is no one there to answer when they say, “What?” Instead, the volume goes way up. That doesn’t make the words any clearer, though, so it goes up more. When the people around your loved one start talking about high volumes, hearing loss has become something worth talking about.

When Tongues Start Wagging

When other people start asking about this your loved one’s hearing and wondering if something is wrong. Maybe your dad’s neighbor stops to ask if he is having hearing problems or your brother brings the subject up. These people might notice something that you do not yet. This is a big indicator, especially for the parent who lives alone. Friends and neighbors are their social network. They spend time together and are in a position to see pick up on something you do not, so when they take the time to mention it, you need to listen.

When Frustration Becomes the Norm

It is frustrating when you have to struggle to hear, especially if you don’t realize it is a problem. That frustration can quickly turn to angry conversations and other shows of emotion. They may always seem on the edge of crying or yelling but not know why. It’s up to you to help them understand what is going on.

Tips for When the Time Comes

You know the time has come to say something but what? It is a tricky subject because you are saying they are getting old, and that’s something no one wants to hear. How you approach the topic will make all the difference, such as:

  • Make the conversation about you – Talk about the things you’ve noticed and how you feel about them. If you make it about them, they will not want to talk. By making it about how it impacts your life, they are more likely to want to help and be less defensive.
  • Make the conversation positive – Keep in mind, their anger is really just fear. You need to address those fears and reassure them that there is a quick and painless solution like getting a professional hearing test and, maybe, hearing aids. Point out other people who have hearing aids and how they changed their lives.
  • Make the conversation beneficial – Focus on the benefits that will come with getting hearing aids. They will be able to enjoy their favorite shows again and listen to the birds sing. They may not even know what they have been missing, so point out the positives.

You can make a difference in the life of someone you love life by helping them come to terms with age-related hearing loss, so go ahead and reach out.