Hearing Resources

Hearing Resources (199)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 12:17

Young People and Hearing Loss

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It’s a common myth that hearing loss only affects older people. In fact, studies show that 1 in 14 people between the ages of 29-40 have hearing problems and 1.4 million people under the age of 18 suffer from hearing impairment.

Research suggests that this is partially because people don’t understand just how easy it is to damage their hearing. Combine that lack of knowledge with a tendency to listen to portable MP3 players at dangerously high volumes and it’s no wonder that hearing loss has become more prevalent in the past decade.

When exposed to harmful noise - anything above 85 decibels - small sensory hair cells in the inner ear can be damaged, resulting in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

NIHL is:
•         Unnoticeable. It usually occurs without being recognized.
•         Cumulative. It worsens over time, and every exposure causes more damage.
•         Permanent. The damage cannot be reversed.

Fortunately, NIHL is also 100% preventable. Limiting your exposure to loud sounds can help prevent hearing loss. Wearing hearing protection on the job is also beneficial.

If you suspect that you’ve sustained NIHL, schedule a hearing evaluation at any of our three convenient locations.

According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss is the number one sensory disability in the world, with 12% of Americans suffering from hearing impairment. Sensorineural hearing loss, caused by the loss of sensory hair cells in the cochlea, is the most common type and is normally irreversible.

Research from Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School reveals that hair can be regrown in an adult mammalian ear, resulting in partial recovery of hearing in damaged by noise trauma (in mouse ears). This finding brings hope for future application of reversing deafness in humans.

Treatment, through auditory hair cell replacement, holds great promise. Read more about the study.

One very common question my patients ask relates to being able to hear in crowded and noisy environments. Often times, people who have no problem following conversations in small group settings or one-on-one, are challenged to follow along at parties or other larger gatherings. They find it difficult to hear what people are saying to them or to distinguish the peoples’ voices from the background sounds. People who suffer from this condition often note that they have difficulty distinguishing between soft consonants such as the letters F, S, SH, T, TH, etc.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it may possible that you have some hearing loss in the higher frequencies. Human speech, especially those “soft consonants” fall into the range of sounds between 3000 and 8000 Hz. These frequencies are defined as “high-frequency.” In crowded and noisy environments, there is a mix of frequencies, ranging from the low frequencies of background music or people walking or dancing to the higher frequencies of speech. People with a loss in the high frequency region tend to perceive the low-frequency sounds (noise) as sounding louder than the high-frequency sounds they are trying to focus on, like the voices of people speaking to them.

According to studies, at least 18% of the population suffers from some form of high-frequency hearing loss. In recent years, audiologists have found increasing numbers of teenagers and young adults suffering from it from this type of hearing loss. Other factors that can cause hearing loss include genetics, exposure to toxic drugs (including some chemotherapy agents), diabetes, and other diseases.

The most important thing to remember is that if you have some degree of high-frequency hearing loss, it can be effectively treated. Audiologists can prescribe hearing aids that have been adjusted to reduce the volume of low-frequency sounds (background noise) and boost the volume of the higher frequencies, allowing you to hear better in crowds.

It is critical that you receive a proper diagnosis. To find out if high-frequency hearing loss is the root cause behind your difficulty hearing in crowds, call and make an appointment at Audio Help Hearing Centers today. Our licensed audiologists can perform tests to determine whether your difficulties with hearing in crowds are related to hearing loss, or whether it caused by something else.

My patients ask me on a daily basis what they should do with their unwanted, used hearing aids. I always advise them to keep one set of devices to use as a back-up, in case something happens to their most current devices or if their current hearing aids need to be sent out for repair.

I’ve been asked by many patients whether or not they can be given to others to use. While this may seem like a good option, be aware that not all hearing aids are suited to fit all types of hearing loss. Just like with eyeglasses, the prescription in hearing devices is set specifically for you. If do you choose to donate them to someone, be sure that person is evaluated by an Audiologist and has the devices set to their specific needs. This may require additional fees/costs.

If your devices are newer, you may be able to sell them through websites such as e-Bay or Craigslist. Just be sure to make sure this is legal in your community. Some states prohibit you selling hearing devices on your own.

Another great option available is to give these devices away to someone who is in need of them. There are organizations that specialize in collecting used hearing devices, refurbishing them to the best of their ability and distributing them to people who would benefit from them but simply cannot afford them.

In the United States, organizations that specialize in the charity collection and redistribution of hearing aids include:

• Hear Now by the Starkey Foundation
• Sertoma
• Worldwide Hearing

The implementation of mandatory newborn hearing screenings is definitely worthwhile and beneficial. However, some newborns receive a passing score when they actually have hearing loss. In other cases, babies who are born with normal hearing sensitivity may develop a progressive hearing loss as they age.

Dr. David Chi, lead author from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study, reported that parents and physicians may mistakenly think, “this child passed their newborn hearing screening, so they must not have any hearing loss.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, two to three out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are born either deaf or with some type of hearing challenge.

Dr. Chi and his colleagues are looking into developing strategies for screening young children after their initial newborn hearing screening. One possibility is implementing a standard second round of screening at 3 months of age.

If you have concerns about your child’s hearing, speech or language development, schedule another hearing screening. It is critical for parents (and physicians) to not rely on the sole fact the child passed a newborn hearing screening.

It’s a common myth that noise-induced hearing loss in musicians is only experienced by those who play rock 'n roll, but that’s not the case. Classical orchestra musicians are at risk as well.

A Massey researcher has found almost two-thirds of adult orchestral musicians have hearing loss. Dr. Sargunam Sivaraj performed extensive audiological evaluations on 183 Wellington-based orchestral musicians. He conducted hearing tests, measured their personal music exposure and studied the progression of hearing loss over time.

The study concluded that 61% of the adult musicians, ages 27-66 have experienced hearing loss; 22% in youth musicians, ages 18-38; 16% in child musicians, ages 8-12.

Hearing loss is found in all groups of musicians.It is not specific to those who play loud musical instruments or to musicians with many years of music exposure.The study found that the increased years of music exposure does cause progressive hearing loss in significant numbers of individual musicians.This trend is observed in all age groups of musicians but not in all musicians.The researcher explained that some musicians' hearing loss starts at a very early age, and gradual deterioration is observed with increased music exposure. For others, hearing is well-preserved in spite of extensive exposure.

Female musicians were also found to have better hearing thresholds than males. Dr. Sargunam Sivaraj also found that the progression of hearing loss is slower in females than males.

Hearing loss is one of the leading and fastest growing disabilities. Dr. Sivaraj states that one third of all types of hearing loss can be attributed to music and noise exposure. The study revealed that although musicians are aware of the dangers of repeated exposure to loud music and the benefits of musicians’ plugs, very few used them.

Dr. Sivaraj noted that shortening rehearsals, incorporating a break in the midst of a session, and avoiding rehearsals and performances on the same day should be seriously considered to limit music exposure. He believes that young musicians need to be taught that their ears are their most important musical instrument!

“It is important we adopt different strategies for different individuals as there is a large individual variation in susceptibility or vulnerability to noise or music; otherwise prevention of hearing loss in musicians will remain an elusive goal.”

Before you hit the stores for those last-minute gifts, be aware that some toys pose safety hazards to your children. The United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) recently released their 27th annual Consumer Protection Report. It contains safety guidelines and examples of toys that are potentially dangerous.

http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/USPIRG_Trouble_in_Toyland_0.pdf

One of the categories in the report is on toys that are considered excessively loud. Studies show Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) accounts for one-quarter to one-third of all hearing loss cases. NILH can be caused by a one-time exposure or by repeated exposure over a long period of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics uses 85 decibels (dB) as a threshold for dangerous sounds. Some of the toys listed are at or near this level. Careful consideration should be used before purchasing.

The article offers these suggestions:

•    If a toy seems too loud for you, then it is probably too loud for your child.
•    Put tape over the speakers of the toys you already own that are too loud
or, if possible, remove the batteries.

If you come across a toy that raises concern, please report it to the CPSC website, at www.saferproducts.gov.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012 16:26

Netflix to Provide Closed Captioning

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After reaching an agreement with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Netflix announced it’s intent to provide closed-captioning in 100% of streaming content by 2014.
Currently, 82% of programing is available with closed captioning, with an expected increase to 90% next year and then the complete library becoming available by 2014.

This is a benchmark win for the hearing impaired community. Being unable to hear will no longer be an obstacle for enjoying movies in the comfort of one’s own home.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is gathering more information about hearing aid compatible (HAC) phones.

How difficult do you have finding a hearing aid compatible phone? Do you have trouble finding a phone that works with your telecoil program in your hearing aids? The FCC wants to hear from you!

If you have searched for and/or purchased a cell phone in 2012, please complete this quick survey.

https://s.zoomerang.com/s/hlaahacsurvey

Please answer soon: The FCC plans to close the survey December 19, 2012.

The most common compliant of all hearing aid users who have noise induced hearing loss is they still cannot hear in their favorite social settings. In general, our world is very noisy. Living in New York City is no exception. People who reside in NYC actually are exposed to more noise than people who live in smaller and/or rural cities in America. It’s no wonder noise induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational disorders (Nelson, Nelson, Concha-Barrientos, & Fingerhut, 2005).  

Researchers are actively investigating drugs to prevent and treat hearing loss. Therefore the number of people who have hearing loss due to noise exposure could be changing with the development of a new otoprotective medication that is entering clinical trials under the oversight of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through the Investigational New Drug application process.  Possibly in the new few years, we will discover one or more of these otoprotective agents will succeed within the clinical trials and become approved by the FDA for the prevention of hearing loss!

Currently, there are no FDA approved drugs to prevent or treat any type of hearing loss or tinnitus.

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