Hearing Tips

Healthcare Cost Can be Over 40% Higher if You Have Untreated Hearing Loss

By: Scot Frink : December 12, 2018

Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

The impact loss of hearing has on overall health has been examined for years. Understanding what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the aim of a new study. Individuals, as well as the medical community, are looking for methods to reduce the soaring costs of healthcare. A study published on November 8, 2018, says something as basic as taking care of your hearing loss can help significantly.

How Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss

There are hidden risks with untreated hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Researchers spent 12 years tracking adults with anywhere from mild to severe hearing loss and discovered it had a significant impact on brain health. For example:

  • The chance of getting dementia is doubled in people with only minor hearing loss
  • Somebody with a extreme hearing impairment has five times the risk of developing dementia
  • The risk is triple for people with moderate hearing loss

The study showed that when somebody has hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain is put under stress that can lead to injury because it has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance.

Also, quality of life is affected. Stress and anxiety are more likely in a person who can’t hear well. They are also prone to have depression. Higher medical costs are the result of all of these issues.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you decide not to address your loss of hearing. The University of California San Fransisco, Johns Hopkins with AARP, and Optum Labs also led this study.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Just two years after the diagnosis of hearing loss, patients generated almost 26 percent more health care expenses than individuals with normal hearing.

That number continues to grow over time. Healthcare costs increase by 46 percent after a decade. Those statistics, when broken down, average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are involved in the increase are:

  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Lower quality of life
  • Falls
  • Dementia
  • Depression

A second companion study done by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. Some other findings from this study are:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.6 more falls
  • In the course of ten years, 3.2 more cases of dementia

Those numbers match with the research by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is Increasing

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • About 2 percent of those at the ages of 45 to 54 are significantly deaf
  • The simple act of hearing is difficult for around 15 percent of young people around the age of 18
  • Hearing loss currently effects 2 to 3 out of every 1,0000 children
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent

The number goes up to 25 percent for people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anyone over the age of 74. In the future, those figures are predicted to go up. As many as 38 million individuals in this country may have hearing loss by 2060.

Wearing hearing aids can change these figures, though, which the study doesn’t indicate. What they do recognize is that using hearing aids can get rid of some of the health issues connected with hearing loss. Further research is needed to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. It’s safe to say there are more reasons to use them than not to. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional to see if hearing aids help you.

8 Subtle Symptoms Your Hearing is Failing

By: Scot Frink : December 5, 2018

Woman suffering from hearing loss struggling to hear on the phone.

You don’t suddenly lose your hearing one morning when you wake up. Hearing loss comes gradually over time for most people, especially when it comes to aging. Age-related hearing loss affects about one in three people in this country. Many of them are over the age of 75 before they recognize a change. Some symptoms show up sooner, though, and you may not realize there is an issue immediately.

Early hearing loss has gradual and subtle signs. Recognizing them as soon as possible is essential to slow down the progression of hearing loss or other health problems related to hearing loss. However, if you’re not sure what the signs are, you can’t recognize them. You could be suffering from hearing loss if you have any of these eight barely noticeable signs.

1. Ears Ringing

This is one that people have a tendency to neglect if it doesn’t become too distracting and it’s really not that subtle. Tinnitus, the medical term for the ringing, is a typical sign of hearing loss.

Triggers are a major factor in tinnitus so it can be intermittent, too. Perhaps the ringing only takes place when your tired or in the morning for example.

It’s essential that you don’t ignore tinnitus because it is a symptom that something is going on with your body. Besides hearing loss, tinnitus can be induced by high blood pressure, trauma, or a circulatory problem. If you want to know for certain, you will need to consult your doctor.

2. Talking on The Phone is Stressful

It’s easy to make excuses for phone issues like:

  • I have an old phone.
  • It’s a new phone, and I’m just not used to it yet.
  • I dropped my phone in water or on the ground.

Consider why you dread using our phone. Get someone you know to test the phone for you if the volume is all the way up and you still don’t hear it. If they can hear the conversation and you can’t, your ears are the problem.

3. These Days it Seems Like Everybody Mumbles

It used to be just the kids, but lately, the lady on the TV news, your neighbor, and your spouse all have taken to muttering when they speak to you. Could it actually be true that suddenly everyone in your life has poor enunciation.

The most likely answer is the way you hear words is changing. One of the first indications that your hearing is changing is when talking sounds like mumbling and consonants like “S” and “T” drop off.

4. What?

Only when someone calls you out for saying “what?” a lot do you begin to recognize that you can’t hear conversations as well anymore. Usually, the first to recognize you have hearing loss are people you see every day like coworkers or family members. If someone comments on it, pay attention.

5. You Hear Some People Just Fine But Not Others

Maybe you can hear the neighbor perfectly, but when his wife starts talking, everything gets muddled up. You can have sensorineural hearing loss, or damage to the nerves that send electrical signals to the brain, and this is a normal symptom.

Her voice is a higher pitch, and that’s why it’s not as clear. You may have the same issue with your grandchild or daughter. Even things like the microwave or an alarm can throw a loop into things. Those sounds are also high pitched.

6. Going Out Used to be a Lot More Fun

Even worse are the people who actually mumble. Also, it’s much harder to comprehend what people are saying when it’s noisy. Something as routine as the AC coming on during dinner or the sound of people conversing around you makes it impossible to hear anything.

7. You Are More Tired Than Normal

Battling to understand words is fatiguing. You are more tired than normal because your brain is working harder to process what it hears. Your other senses may also undergo changes. If your brain is utilizing 110 percent of its time and energy to comprehend words, what’s left for your eyesight or balance? If your last eye exam was okay, then the next thing to get checked is your ears.

8. That Darn TV

Rather than accusing the service provider when you need to keep turning the TV up, consider getting a hearing test. It can be tough to follow people talking on TV shows when you suffer from loss of hearing. For instance, when the background music is playing, it makes everything sound unclear. And don’t even mention the AC, ceiling fan or other things in the room. Your hearing is probably starting to falter if you have to keep turning the volume up.

A professional hearing exam will tell you for certain and that’s the good news. If it turns out you have a hearing problem, hearing aids will get things back to normal.

Tackle Tinnitus With This Ultimate Checklist

By: Scot Frink : November 28, 2018

Photo of man tackling tinnitus metaphorically when he's really tackling a quarterback.

Tinnitus is a condition that affects more than 45 million people in this country, according to the National Tinnitus Association. Don’t worry, if you have it, you’re not alone. There is no cure, and it’s not absolutely obvious why some people get tinnitus. For many, the trick to living with it is to come up with ways to manage it. A perfect place to start to tackle tinnitus is the ultimate checklist.

Learning About Tinnitus

About one in five people have tinnitus and can hear sounds that no one else can hear. Medically, tinnitus is described as the perception of a phantom sound caused by an underlying medical issue. It’s not a sickness of itself, but a symptom, in other words.

The most common reason people get tinnitus is hearing loss. The brain is attempting to fill in some gaps and that’s one way of thinking of it. A lot of the time, your mind works to translate the sound you hear and then determines if you need to know about it. All the sound around you is transformed by the ear into electrical signals but before that, it’s just pressure waves. The electrical impulses are translated into words you can comprehend by the brain.

You don’t actually “hear” all the sound that is around you. If the brain doesn’t think a sound is important to you, it filters it out. You might not hear the wind blowing, for instance. Because it’s not crucial, the brain masks the sound of it as it passes by your ears even though you can feel it. If you were capable of listening to every sound, it would be both distracting and confusing.

When someone suffers from certain types of hearing loss, there are less electrical signals for the brain to interpret. The signals never arrive because of damage but the brain still waits for them. The brain may try to create a sound of its own to fill the space when that occurs.

Some Sounds tinnitus sufferers hear are:

  • Buzzing
  • Ringing
  • Clicking
  • Hissing
  • Roaring

The phantom noise might be high pitched, low pitched, loud or soft.

There are other reasons besides hearing loss you could have tinnitus. Here are some other possible factors:

  • Poor blood flow in the neck
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Neck injury
  • Tumor in the head or neck
  • Earwax build up
  • Head injury
  • TMJ disorder
  • Malformed capillaries
  • Ear bone changes
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Medication
  • High blood pressure
  • Loud noises near you

Although physically harmless, tinnitus is linked to anxiety and depression and can cause problems like difficulty sleeping and high blood pressure.

Your Ear’s Best Friend is Prevention

Like with most things, prevention is how you avert a problem. Protecting your ears decreases your risk of hearing loss later in life. Tricks to protect your hearing health include:

  • If you have an ear infection, consult a doctor.
  • When you’re at work or at home reduce long term exposure to loud noises.
  • Spending less time wearing headphones or earbuds.

Every few years have your hearing checked, too. The test not only points out hearing loss problem, but it allows you to get treatment or make lifestyle adjustments to prevent further damage.

If You Notice Tinnitus Symptoms

Ringing doesn’t tell you how or why you got tinnitus, but it does tell you that you have it. You can understand more with a little trial and error.

Find out if the sound goes away over time if you refrain from wearing headphones or earbuds.

Assess your noise exposure. Were you around loud noise the night before the ringing started? Did you, for instance:

  • Go to a concert
  • Attend a party
  • Work or sit next to an unusually loud noise
  • Listen to the music of TV with headphones or earbuds

If the answer is yes to any of those scenarios, chances are the tinnitus is short-term.

If The Tinnitus Doesn’t Get Better

The next thing to do would be to get an ear exam. Your physician will look for potential causes of the tinnitus like:

  • Ear damage
  • Stress levels
  • Ear wax
  • Infection
  • Inflammation

Certain medication could cause this issue too such as:

  • Antidepressants
  • Cancer Meds
  • Water pills
  • Aspirin
  • Antibiotics
  • Quinine medications

Making a change could get rid of the tinnitus.

You can schedule a hearing exam if you can’t find any other obvious cause. Hearing aids can improve your situation and lessen the ringing, if you do have hearing loss, by using hearing aids.

How is Tinnitus Treated?

Because tinnitus isn’t an illness, but rather a side effect of something else, the first step is to treat the cause. If you have high blood pressure, medication will lower it, and the tinnitus should go away.

For some, the only solution is to deal with the tinnitus, which means looking for ways to suppress it. A useful device is a white noise machine. The ringing stops when the white noise takes the place of the sound the brain is missing. You can also try a fan, humidifier or dehumidifier to get the same effect.

Another method is tinnitus retraining. The frequencies of tinnitus are hidden by a machine which produces similar tones. It can help you learn not to focus on it.

You will also need to look for ways to stay away from tinnitus triggers. Start keeping a diary because tinnitus triggers are different for everybody. When the tinnitus begins, write down everything right before you heard the ringing.

  • What sound did you hear?
  • What were you doing?
  • What did you eat or drink?

Tracking patterns is possible using this method. You would know to order something else if you had a double espresso each time because caffeine is a known trigger.

Your quality of life is affected by tinnitus so your best hope is finding a way to eliminate it or at least reduce its impact. To learn more about your tinnitus, schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist today.

Make Your Hearing Aid Batteries Last With These 6 Tips

By: Scot Frink : November 21, 2018

Photo of hearing aid batteries lasting longer.

The key to keeping hearing aids cost effective hinges on just one component–the batteries. It is one of the biggest financial worries consumers face when buying hearing aids because the costs of replacing them can add up fast.

Usually the batteries quit at the worst time which is even more troubling. This is a huge problem even for rechargeable brands.

There are things you can do to increase the life of the batteries in hearing aids, so you don’t need to stop and replace them several times a week. Make the batteries last just a little bit longer by considering these 6 simple ideas.

1. If You’re Looking to Buy a Hearing Aid, be Smart About it

It begins when you are initially shopping for your hearing aids. Battery life is dependent on multiple factors like features on the hearing aids or brand quality. And some batteries are higher quality than others. Cheap components and even cheaper batteries are what defines low quality hearing aids. You’ll be switching those batteries out all the time, so be certain to talk it over with your hearing specialist.

Compare the different models as you shop and, also, think about what features are crucial for you. Wireless versions have batteries that need replacing 2 times as fast as models with wires. And the bigger hearing aids have longer lasting batteries. The smaller devices need new batteries every two days, but larger models can go for up to two weeks on one set of cells. Get the features you need but understand how each one impacts the power drainage of the hearing aids.

2. The Hearing Aids Need to be Stored Properly

To avoid drainage of power you will normally need to open the battery door at night. Also, you will want to:

Store your batteries in a cool, dry place. Humidity and high temperatures will impact battery cells. Room temperature is fine just keep them out of the sun and away from heat sources include light bulbs.

Also, a dehumidifier is a smart consideration. Both the batteries and the hearing aid itself are protected in this way. Moisture in the air is hard on their fragile components.

3. Be Careful When You Change The Batteries

Begin with clean, dry hands. The quality of the battery is adversely affected by moisture, grease, and germs. Until it’s time to use the batteries, be sure to leave the plastic tabs in place. In order to power on, modern hearing aid batteries mix zinc with air. But you want to be ready before that happens.

After you remove the tab, but before you put them in, it’s smart to allow to them sit out for 5 minutes. The battery could be extended by days if you do this.

4. Different Battery Sources And Batteries Can be Experimented with

Needless to say, bargain batteries will wear out faster than high quality ones. Don’t only think of the brand, though, but what types of hearing aid batteries you’re using and also where you buy them. If you buy in quantity, you can get good batteries for less at some big box stores.

If you purchase them online, especially from auction sites like eBay, be careful. Batteries have an expiration date that they have to be sold by. You shouldn’t use them once they expire.

The easiest way to find batteries at an affordable price is to ask your hearing care specialist.

5. Be Ready For The Unavoidable

The batteries are going to die eventually. If you don’t want to find yourself in a difficult situation, it’s better to get an idea when this will occur. To keep track of when the batteries fizzle and need to be changed, make a schedule. Over time, you’ll get a feel for when you need replacements.

A diary will also assist you in figuring out which brands are right for your hearing devices and what features have the biggest effect on the battery life.

6. What Are the Alternatives to Batteries

Some current day hearing aids are rechargeable and that is one of the best features. If you can save money on batteries, it will be worth paying a little more initially. Rechargeable batteries are likely the best choice if you need a lot of features such as Bluetooth or wireless.

The batteries that make hearing aids run can be as significant an investment as the hearing aids are. A small amount of due diligence goes a long way to extending the life of those batteries and saving you cash. To find out what your best option for you is, schedule an appointment with a hearing aid specialist.

Don’t Miss Out on Holiday Fun Because of Hearing Loss

By: Scot Frink : November 14, 2018

Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

Other than turkey, what do you think about when a person mentions Thanksgiving? Does the cooking and preparing with the family begin days before? While you are following grandma’s classic pecan pie recipe, will you reminisce with each other? Is it warm and cozy not just because of the aroma coming out of the oven, but because you’re together? Will you be laughing while the family enjoys hearing about your son’s grades or listening to the grandkids laughing and playing. Or are you struggling to catch the punchline of every joke?

The holiday doesn’t need to be defined for you by loss of hearing. You can take charge of your holiday experience, from hearing a salesperson at a noisy store to talking over drinks at the company party. Hearing loss doesn’t have to hold you hostage. Think about how to get the most out of your holiday in spite of your loss of hearing. Here are some tips.

Those Holiday Get-Togethers

Get-togethers might be the most difficult for those with hearing loss. Here are some tips that will make the experience less stressful:

  • Perhaps try going out of the room, even if just for a while. It will allow your brain to have a chance to a rest.
  • If there are any speakers that could interfere with your hearing aids, stand away from them. Don’t be afraid to ask the host to turn down the music so you can hear better.
  • Some of the background noise can be prevented if you stand with your back to a wall.
  • Pay attention to the visual clues. Someone is most likely talking to you if they are looking right at you. If you didn’t hear what they said tell them.
  • Ask for a seat at the middle of the table so you don’t feel so isolated.
  • If you are sitting through a speech, ask friends to pass you notes rather than trying to whisper in your ear.
  • Manage Your Expectations. It’s an unrealistic expectation to imagine that you will stroll into a party and find everything to be ideal. Things will be more difficult due to your loss of hearing. Don’t allow the difficulties to stress you out, just have a sense of humor about it.
  • Provide some visual cues of your own. You don’t need to point it out. Something as basic as cupping your hand behind your ear can tell someone you’re having a hard time.
  • Get a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat important things you missed.
  • Perhaps there is a quiet area in the room that has better acoustics where you can go.

Travel Tips

Hearing loss can make traveling more challenging but don’t allow that to get in your way. To make your holiday trip go smoother, try these tips.

Flying or Taking the Train

If you prefer to fly or ride the rails, it can be hard to hear announcements over the intercom. There are some things you can do to make the trip easier. To begin with, call the airport to see if they provide any special services for the hearing impaired. There might be an app you can get on your phone that shows vital info or visual signs that show oral announcements. They could also provide priority boarding, for example, or a sign language interpreter if you require one. You can request priority seating if being close enough to ask questions or read lips. They might offer to bring you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is offered unless you ask, but do it a few weeks before your trip.

When you get on board, be certain the attendants know you have hearing loss. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you fail to answer when they ask you if you want a drink.

Lodging Tips

If you are staying at a hotel, let them know you are hearing impaired when you make your reservation. Lots of resorts have rooms or devices available for those with hearing loss like vibrating alarm clocks and phones that flash lights instead of ringing. In order to improve your safety, some places are also set up with alarms that flash lights.

What Hearing Aid Essentials to Pack

You may not be sure what to take with you if this is your first time traveling with your hearing aids. Pack these essentials:

  • A cleaning kit
  • Extra batteries or a second charger
  • Additional accessories

As you go through security wear your hearing aids. You are not expected to take them out. You can keep them in during an air flight, also.

Finally, if you don’t have hearing aids, maybe it’s time. There are features in modern hearing aids that can amplify sound while enhancing conversations and getting rid of background noise. The holidays are a once a year celebration. There isn’t any reason the holidays can’t be everything you remember whether you’ve had hearing loss your whole life or if you are new to it. Schedule an appointment with your hearing care specialist to find out what your hearing solutions are.

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