hearing aids, Hearing Health Facts, New Research

Hearing Aid Use Can Slow The Progress Of Dementia

dementia

Wearing a hearing aid can slow the progress of dementia by up to 75%

Scientists believe that keeping older people engaged and active by adopting the devices can significantly reduce age-related cognitive decline.

The followed the progress of 2,040 individuals between 1996 and 2014, asking them to complete word memory tests at various stages and monitoring the rate of decline before and after getting a hearing aid.

The research team found that while the aids did not halt or reverse cognitive decline, they slowed it down by three-quarters. Meanwhile in a separate group of 2,068 who underwent cataract surgery, decline slowed by around half.

The team at the University of Manchester said the strength of the association between hearing aids, cataract surgery and mental deterioration meant policy makers should consider hearing and sight loss screening for all older adults.

Dr. Piers Dawes said, “These studies underline just how important it is to overcome the barriers which deny people from accessing hearing and visual aids.

“It’s not really certain why hearing and visual problems have an impact on cognitive decline, but I’d guess that isolation, stigma and the resultant lack of physical activity that are linked to hearing and vision problems might have something to do with it.

“And there are barriers to overcome – people might not want to wearing hearing aids because of stigma attached to wearing them, or they feel the amplification is not good enough, or they’re not comfortable.”

The fact is that 15 million people in the United States with hearing loss avoid seeking help, but 1 out of 3 people over age 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Also, people who need hearing aids but choose not to get and/or wear them spend 33.25% more, on average, on hospital visits than their counterparts who do choose to wear them.

The new research was published in PLOS ONE and the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Hearing Loss and Overall Health

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast-Cancer-Awarness-Month-at-COR-1030x453

Because your ears are only two of the many important parts of you and of the people you love, we’re posting today about the effects of some breast cancer treatments.

More women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other cancer, excluding skin cancer. This year, an estimated 266,120 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and 63,960 women will be diagnosed with in situ breast cancer. An estimated 2,550 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

How does hearing figure into all of this? Ototoxic drugs.

Hearing problems can include hearing loss and ringing in your ears (tinnitus). Hearing problems can occur naturally and gradually as you get older, but they also can be a side effect of some breast cancer treatments.

Signs you may have a hearing problem:

  • Hearing sounds (ringing, buzzing, humming, or whooshing) in your ear when no external sounds are present. The noises may vary in pitch or switch from ear to ear.
  • The sounds are loud enough to interfere with your concentration or muffle or distort surrounding noises.
  • Having trouble carrying on a conversation, watching television, or falling asleep because of the sounds.

Chemotherapy used in breast cancer treatment may cause hearing problems.

In rare cases, hearing problems can be permanent, but they usually go away after you’ve finished chemotherapy. Be sure to tell your doctor about any hearing changes you have. You may be able to get a lower dose of chemotherapy.

Other pain, antibiotic, and anti-nausea medications can cause hearing problems as well. If you suspect your hearing problems are caused by medications you’re taking along with treatments for breast cancer, talk to your doctor about switching medications.

We care about our patients’ hearing healthcare needs, but we also understand that hearing loss has a range of causes, and we do our very best to ensure that each patient’s special needs are met.

To all of you warriors battling breast cancer with courage, perseverance and hope, we salute you.

Audiological Diagnostics
We’re All Ears™

Offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan & Queens
(718) 745-2826

 

Sources:
https://www.breastcancer.org/
https://www.asco.org/

hearing aids, Hearing Health Facts

If It Looks Too Good To Be True. . .

. . . It probably is.

shopping line

With the advent of the internet, it’s become easier and easier to get better deals on the things we buy.  And while that’s definitely convenient for clothing and household items, it’s not such a great deal when you’re talking about medical devices like hearing aids.

Online hearing aids and over-the-counter hearing aids can harm your hearing.

Generally speaking, using hearing aids has been proven to actually keep your hearing abilities sharper and delay the natural progression of hearing loss over time, but the trick is to have them programmed for your specific hearing loss.

On average, a person experiencing hearing loss waits seven to ten years before seeking help from a hearing healthcare professional. It’s common (and likely) that their hearing ability will gradually worsen throughout that period of time. As a result, the brain gets more and more accustomed to hearing loss and begins to perceive their level of hearing ability as “normal.”

When a person begins wearing hearing aids, the volume and clarity of sounds can seem jarring for the first few weeks. This happens because your brain is readjusting and learning to recognize a new “normal” level of hearing ability. Once that happens, your hearing loss becomes much more noticeable when you aren’t using hearing devices. You might find that without your devices, sounds seem drastically muted … because they are! (and they had become increasingly muted for the time delayed in confronting the issue!)

The thing with hearing aids, is that they’re meant to be personalized. Some people express concerns that hearing aids are dangerous for their eardrums. However, this isn’t the case if the devices are fit and programmed correctly.  That’s something you won’t get with an online or over-the-counter purchase, and you could very well end up doing more harm than good.

Hearing aids work by amplifying sounds, sure, but more importantly, they’re also processing sounds so you can hear them more easily. It’s true that powerful sounds played directly next to your eardrum can damage your ears and your hearing (such as loud music played through headphones). However, if you have hearing loss, the volume of properly programmed hearing aids won’t be loud enough to do harm.

When an experienced audiologist fits you for a hearing aid, they’ll program the device to fit your personal level of hearing loss, and take your lifestyle into consideration. This means the level of amplification and sound processing will be just enough to allow you to hear as naturally as possible.  They’ll also likely set you up to either call or come in after about two weeks, to see how the outside world sounds to you, and if adjustments need to be made, they can take care of it for you.

There are specific instances when improperly-fit hearing aids can pose a danger to your hearing. If they’re set to be louder than they need to be in order to compensate for your specific hearing loss, then the sound levels can cause noise damage. This can happen more often in hearing aids bought online. Even if you send an online retailer your audiogram results and they make adjustments based on that information, there’s no substitute for an experienced professional programming them with you in person.

It’s also important to note that personal sound amplifiers, like those found in drug stores or advertised in magazines, are not meant to be used to help with hearing loss. They are meant to help people without hearing loss hear very quiet noises better (like a hunter listening for a deer) and are not substitutes for hearing aids. These types of devices may, in fact, pose a danger to your hearing by being too loud for your needs.

We understand that this is a delicate issue; we’d be happy to help you navigate the landscape of hearing loss in a discreet and professional environment. If you live in the New York City area, and are curious about hearing aids, we have an ongoing promotion for anyone whose test results show a hearing loss.

There is no “too soon” about it. Hearing aids will help you to maintain your current level of hearing, and waiting to do something about it will only make it more difficult.

Just as glasses used to be something to be avoided, hearing aids are becoming more and more common as people come to their senses about hearing health, and as manufacturers offer more and more extras like streaming phone calls to the devices, and playing music.

If this article has piqued your curiosity, or if you think maybe it’s time you save the hearing you have, give us a call or stop in and ask us about our one-week free trial — you’ll believe everything you hear.

Audiological Diagnostics • We’re All Ears™
Offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens
(718) 745-2826

hearing aids, Uncategorized

All We Are Saying . . .

 

9-19 blog post

. . . is give these a chance.

(did you sing that…?) 😉

 

More often than not, when a patient comes into our office to have their hearing aids dispensed, their initial reactions are that they’re too loud and that their voice sounds funny. There’s also a bit of anxiety involved for first-time hearing aid wearers, and that’s completely understandable. It’s a lot to navigate (which is why we’re here.)

Dispensing in hearing aid terms is nothing like dispensing medication. We don’t just count out the number of devices and scrape them into a little amber-colored bottle and hand them over.

Also, hearing aids are more than amplifiers. They’re little pieces of technological wizardry with a myriad of settings that need to be calibrated based on the patient’s hearing loss.

Add to that, the fact that some have Bluetooth functionality for cellphone conversations, and some devices’ ability to stream music and movies to the device, and it gets a bit more involved.

During a dispense of a hearing aid (or two,) the Audiologist will start off by asking the patient if they’ve ever worn hearing aids before. If so, the process becomes somewhat simplified. If not, then the best bet is to go through the basics during the first visit, then follow up for more information and to see how the initial programming is working for them.

As stated above, though, many patients get a first-impression shock and think that hearing aids were the wrong idea. They can hear, but in some cases, it’s just too much noise.

Am I hearing the person in the next room?

How is it that I hear the television in the waiting room?

Is that my footsteps?

My voice sounds weird!

All of the above are perfectly reasonable, and are experienced by the majority of the patients – and that doesn’t even include the fact that most of our patients come back saying they are hearing more than they’re comfortable with.

The reason for this, is that their brains stopped processing the sounds for recognition once their hearing loss began, and as the loss continued, so did the brain’s the ability to process and understand the sounds.

In the same way that people who suffer a physical injury need to go to physical therapy, the brain needs some therapy, too, so to speak, in order to grow accustomed to translating all the things it hadn’t been processing into recognizable sounds and words.

It sounds like a lot to deal with, but the alternative is (a) that the brains of anyone with hearing loss continue to lose the ability to process sound into something recognizable, and (b) the fact that it is more stressful and wearing on a person to continually strain to hear.

All  in all, the dispensing process is about the patient’s hearing, but it’s also about their comfort level.

If you haven’t been tested in awhile, etc. etc.

If you think you have a hearing loss, but aren’t sure, please be sure to be tested. The sooner you deal with it, the better off you’ll be. If you’ve already been tested, but need to navigate the journey to hearing aids, and you live in the NYC area, give us a call. We accept most insurances, and are very happy to help.

• Audiological Diagnostics • We’re All Ears™ • 
Offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens
(718) 745-2826

Hearing Technology

Spatial Hearing

soundwaves

We rely on our ears to tell us where sounds — from the chirp of a bird to the call of your name in a crowd — are coming from. Locating and discriminating sound sources is extremely complex because the brain has to process spatial information from many, sometimes conflicting, cues. Using virtual reality and other immersive technologies, researchers are able to use new methods to investigate how we make sense of the word with sound.

“These technologies allow us to bring the real world into the lab and, ultimately, the lab into the real world,” said G. Christopher Stecker, associate professor of hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University. Stecker uses these immersive tools to probe auditory spatial awareness in naturalistic, yet controlled settings. He foresees that these technologies will yield improved hearing aids, more accurate diagnoses of auditory disorders, and video games with richer sound experiences.

This 360-degree view helps us direct our attention to where sounds originate — crucial for navigating the environment to avoid danger, like detecting an oncoming car.

At the 175th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, held May 7-11, 2018, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stecker will survey his team’s use of virtual reality and augmented auditory reality to study how people use explicit and implicit sound cues.

In an ongoing study, subjects wear head-mounted displays, immersing them in a parklike setting, and are told to turn their heads in the direction they hear sound. In the background, doctoral student Travis Moore manipulates two essential locational cues. The first is a difference in time — measured in millionths of a second — when sound waves reach each ear. The other is the difference in sound pressure levels registered in each ear.

Consistent with earlier work, Moore has found considerable variability in how much weight subjects’ brains assign to each cue. “This is an important step because we really don’t know how this process of integrating two cues plays out in real-world listening tasks,” Stecker said.

Another ongoing study, meant to simulate a busy cocktail party, looks at how differences in acoustics and the resultant differences in sound qualities, echoes and reverberations influence spatial awareness. “In the ear, there’s a very clear representation of sound frequency and intensity, or loudness, but place has to be computed by the brain,” Stecker said. “The ear doesn’t know where things are. The brain figures it out.”

Stecker imagines that studies examining these more implicit aspects of spatial awareness could lead to augmented reality devices that remotely render realistic virtual versions of people. “Consider a chat with your grandmother,” Stecker said. “This kind of technology could make it look and sound as if she were sitting on the couch across from you. To achieve that on the sound side, we will need to make the acoustics of that simulation indistinguishable from the real world.”

It’s amazing how hearing aids have changed in recent years in terms of hearing health (not to mention, all the cool bells and whistles!) We pride ourselves on keeping up with the times, and ensuring that our patients are able to choose from the best technological advancements the industry has to offer.

If you think you have a hearing loss, but aren’t sure, please be sure to be tested. The sooner you deal with it, the better off you’ll be. If you’ve already been tested, but need to navigate the journey to hearing aids, and you live in the NYC area, give us a call. We accept most insurances, and are very happy to help.

• Audiological Diagnostics • We’re All Ears™ • 
Offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens
(718) 745-2826

Sources:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/
https://acousticalsociety.org/

Hearing Loss and Overall Health, New Research, Uncategorized

The Ear>Brain>Heart Connection

As you may have read in our blog post this past February,  there is a connection between hearing loss and heart health.  (That post can be found by clicking here.) And now a study coming out of Bordeaux, France concludes that better cardiovascular health is associated with a lower risk for dementia and lower rates of cognitive decline.

EAR to HEART to BRAIN to EAR.png

Having optimal levels in more measures of cardiovascular health (nonsmoking, weight, diet, physical activity, cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure) for older adults was associated with lower risk for dementia. This observational study included 6,626 adults in France 65 or older. A lower risk for dementia and lower rates of cognitive decline were associated with each additional metric at the recommended optimal level based on an American Heart Association seven-item checklist aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular health at young and old ages showed ties to better brain function, according to two reports.

Optimal scores on an American Heart Association (AHA) seven-item checklist were linked to a lower risk of dementia, a longitudinal study of nearly 7,000 older adults in France found.

And an observational assessment of 125 young adults in Oxford, England, demonstrated that better cardiovascular metrics were associated with higher cerebral vessel density and caliber, higher cerebral blood flow, and fewer white matter hyperintensities.

Previous analyses have examined links between cognitive outcomes and cardiovascular risk factors mostly in middle age, not earlier or later in the life span, noted Jeffrey L. Saver, MD, of the University of California Los Angeles, and Mary Cushman, MD, MSc, of the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Earlier investigations also “more often focused on the deleterious associations of moderate or severe cardiovascular risk factors with cognitive outcomes rather than the advantageous associations of attaining optimal status for each cardiovascular health factor; i.e., ideal cardiovascular health,” they wrote in an editorial accompanying the two studies in JAMA.

Older Adults

Among older adults in France, additional improvements in cardiovascular health score were associated with lower risks for dementia and lower rates of cognitive decline, reported Cecilia Samieri, PhD, of the Université de Bordeaux, and co-authors.

“Each additional favorable health factor or behavior was associated with a 10% lower risk to develop dementia in the following decade,” Samieri told MedPage Today.

In the Three-City Study, 6,626 people ages 65 or older from Bordeaux, Dijon, and Montpellier who did not have a history of cardiovascular diseases or dementia at baseline underwent in-person neuropsychological testing from 1999 to 2016 and systematic detection of incident dementia until July 2016.

The researchers assessed participants’ adherence to the AHA Life’s Simple 7 metrics at baseline. Each item was scored as 0 (poor), 1 (intermediate), or 2 (optimal):

  • Nonsmoker for more than 12 months
  • Body mass index <25
  • Regular physical activity
  • Eating fish twice a week or more, and fruits and vegetables daily
  • Untreated total cholesterol <200 mg/dL
  • Untreated fasting glucose <100 mg/dL
  • Untreated blood pressure <120/80 mm Hg

Participants had a mean age of 74 at baseline and 63% were women. At baseline, 36.5% of participants had 0 to 2 metrics at optimal levels, and 6.5% had 5 to 7 optimal metrics.

For participants with 0 to 2 optimal metrics, the incidence rate of dementia per 100 person-years over an average follow-up period of 8.5 years was 1.56. For individuals with 3 to 4 optimal metrics, it was 1.23; for those with 5 to 7 optimal metrics, it was 0.83.

In multivariable models, the risk of dementia decreased linearly with both increasing number of metrics at the recommended optimal level (HR 0.90 per each additional metric) and increasing global cardiovascular health score (HR 0.92 per 1-point increase).

The researchers used composite scores of global cognition and memory to determine cognitive decline. In standard units, with values indicating distance from population means (0 equal to the mean, and +1 equal to 1 SD above the mean), the estimated change in cognitive score for each additional metric at the optimal level was 0.031 standard units at inclusion, 0.068 at year 6, and 0.072 at year 12.

Young Adults

Optimal cardiovascular health in 125 young adults in England was associated with more robust cerebral perfusion and fewer subclinical lesions in brain white matter, reported Paul Leeson, PhD, of the University of Oxford, and colleagues.

Examining eight modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers assigned a value of 1 for each item at the recommended level:

  • Body mass index <25
  • Highest tertile of cardiovascular fitness and/or physical activity
  • Alcohol consumption <8 drinks/week
  • Nonsmoker for more than 6 months
  • Blood pressure on awake ambulatory monitoring <130/80 mm Hg
  • Non-hypertensive diastolic response to exercise (peak diastolic blood pressure <90 mm Hg)
  • Total cholesterol <200 mg/dL
  • Fasting glucose <100 mg/dL

In this analysis, the mean age was 25; 49% were women, and participants had an average of 6.0 modifiable cardiovascular risk factors at recommended levels.

Cardiovascular factors were correlated with cerebrovascular morphology and white matter hyperintensities in multivariable models. For each additional risk factor at the recommended level, vessel density was greater by 0.3 vessels/cm3, vessel caliber was greater by 8 μm, and white matter hyperintensity lesions were fewer by 1.6 lesions.

The researchers also examined cerebral blood flow in 52 participants using vessel-encoded arterial spin labeling. Cerebral blood flow varied with vessel density and was 2.5 mL/100 g/min higher for each healthier risk factor.

Both this study and the Three-City Study of older adults in France were observational, so they indicate association, not causation, Saver and Cushman noted. And in both studies, unmeasured and residual confounding may exist.

But with these caveats, these studies convey an immediate message to clinicians, policymakers, and patients, they said: “Available evidence indicates that to achieve a lifetime of robust brain health free of dementia, it is never too early or too late to strive for attainment of ideal cardiovascular health.”

In the Three-City Study, even subtle changes decreased dementia risk, Samieri pointed out.

“From a pragmatic and public health perspective, promoting change in cardiovascular health from poor to intermediate levels may be more achievable and have a greater population-level effect than the more challenging change from poor to optimal levels,” she said.

“These results offer new insights on the way to formulate recommendations for dementia prevention which may be implemented at both collective and individual levels.”

We hope you took the time to read both of our blog posts (the one linked in the first paragraph, and this one!) We look forward, every week, to providing information that helps you to navigate through the world of hearing loss, to offer insight into how hearing is connected to myriad other health concerns, and to help raise awareness about hearing health and ways to manage hearing loss.

We still have our one-week free trial promotion going on! If you believe you have hearing loss, come in for a free screening. If it turns out your suspicions are true, we will give you a completely free one week trial of hearing aids  that will be programmed specifically to your hearing loss so that you can see the benefits for yourself.

If you live in New York City you can stop by the office at 447 77th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn or call us at (718) 745-2826.

Remember to get your hearing checked annually!

• Audiological Diagnostics • We’re All Ears™ • Offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan & Queens •

Sources:
https://www.medpagetoday.com/
https://www.u-bordeaux.com/

Hearing is Life, Hearing Loss and Overall Health, Uncategorized

Hearing and Mental Wellbeing

If you continually ask people to repeat themselves, but are still hesitant to explore the benefits of hearing aids, it’s important to recognize that the alternative could affect more than just your physical wellness.

Health is about the mind as well as the body, hearing loss can negatively impact your mental wellbeing.

brain heart

  1. Hearing aids have been shown to reduce the risk of cognitive decline

A 25-year study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that people who had hearing loss and chose not to wear hearing aids showed a significant cognitive decline.

On the other hand, people who have hearing loss and wear hearing aids demonstrate cognitive skills that equal their normal-hearing counterparts.

According to a study at the University of Pennsylvania, untreated hearing loss can accelerate atrophy in the auditory areas of the brain. A fact that can make speech understanding more difficult and that increases cognitive strain.

Decreases in your cognitive capacity are linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

  1. People who wear hearing aids report lower levels of depression

When The National Council on Hearing surveyed over 4,000 people they found that most people with hearing loss that wore hearing aids didn’t perceive themselves as being depressed compared to the people that didn’t wear any hearing instruments at all.

The study also found that the people that wore hearing aids reported improvements in their physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing. They were also more socially active and felt they had more control over their lives.

  1. Hearing aids improve your memory and mental acuity

A study at Texas A&M University found that after only six weeks of wearing hearing aids, participants showed improvements in their brain performance in all areas.

The study’s participants tested people with hearing loss by measuring their memory, ability to focus, and their mental sharpness before and after wearing hearing aids.

Not only was there an improvement in cognitive function, but the participants could process information faster.

  1. Hearing aids help you enjoy sounds that may help you relieve stress

Enjoying a full spectrum of sound is good for our health.

People with hearing loss often report that they haven’t heard soft sounds like birds chirping, the sound of waves by a river, lake or ocean in a long time.

Wearing hearing aids to treat your hearing loss means you’ll probably start hearing all kinds of sounds – including the sounds of nature – that are considered relaxing and relieve stress.

  1. Hearing aids can improve your social life

Many people with untreated hearing loss often avoid social interactions because they have trouble keeping up with conversations. Some couples start speaking to each other less and less. It’s a common experience that can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

Research shows that positive, active social relationships positively impact your health. After people start wearing hearing aids, they’re often pleased with the fact that they can now join the conversation again.

  1. Hearing aids can be used to help treat the annoying sounds of tinnitus

Tinnitus sufferers know the ringing, buzzing and hissing that characterizes a condition that many can adapt to, while for others it can lead to insomnia, difficulty concentrating, poor work performance, irritability, anxiety and depression.

Modern hearing aid models are now equipped with tinnitus sound therapy programs built right in the devices. Considering that most people with tinnitus also have hearing loss, this is can be a great option to kill two birds with one stone.

Better hearing is part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you’ve been on the fence about treating your hearing loss, consider all the positive benefits. Do they outweigh the negative perceptions you have of hearing aids?

Take advantage of our one week free trial promotion. Come in or call us to discuss the details. A one week, no obligation trial of hearing aids may be a game changer for you!

Audiological Diagnostics • We’re All Ears™ • (718) 745-2826
Offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens