Loud Or LOUD
If you have a relative or acquaintance with hearing loss, you may have heard those words before…or perhaps you’ve had to say them yourself?
Most people understand ‘hearing loss’ to mean that more volume is required in order to hear. However it is not only about adding more volume; many people with hearing loss perceive loud sounds in a similar way to normal hearing individuals; and may even be more sensitive at certain frequencies or pitches.
The ability to manage the range of incoming sound volume is referred to within the world of psycho-acoustics as a person’s ‘dynamic range’. Psycho-acoustics is the study of how sound is perceived; and is central to developing products designed to help with hearing loss such as hearing aids. So, in other words, dynamic range is the range of hearing between hearing threshold (i.e. just audible) and uncomfortable listening levels.
Being able to process different volumes is controlled by the cochlea, which is a part of our inner ear. This is a non-linear organ, in that it handles sounds with lower intensities differently to sounds with higher intensities. Within the cochlea, tiny hair cells pick up various aspects of the incoming ‘wave’ of stimulation. Hearing loss occurs when these hair cells are damaged. If this happens, we often see a reduced dynamic range which indicates that the ear’s ability to process loudness is impaired.
For the normal hearing ear:
10dBHL is ‘I can only just hear it’ ; 100dB HL is ‘very very loud!’
Therefore the dynamic range is 90dB.
For the ear with sensorineural hearing loss:
60dBHL is ‘I can only just hear it’ ; but 100dBHL is ‘very very loud!’
The dynamic range is 40dB.
Hearing aids can not (yet!?) replace a normally functioning cochlea however they try to imitate the function of the hair cells, particularly when it comes to restoring normal loudness growth. For a hearing aid to do this well means that a hearing aid wearer should perceive soft sounds as soft, medium sounds should be comfortable and loud sounds should sound loud, regardless of their dynamic range. Digital hearing aids therefore aim to provide what is referred to as non-linear amplification so that low-intensity inputs are given more increased volume more than high-intensity inputs.
6 Lifestyle Changes for Better Hearing Health
Work On Your Nutrition
According to a study published in Ear and Hearing, the official journal of the American Auditory Society, there exists a known link between diet and the susceptibility to conditions like tinnitus, the sensitivity of the inner ear to noise, and age-related hearing loss. Per the study, a diet high in vitamin B12 reduced the odds of these conditional, whilst high intakes of fat, iron, and calcium had the opposite effect. Vitamin D also reduced hearing difficulties, as did a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
In other words, if you tend to overindulge in stuff like pizza, burgers, and other unhealthy meals, your hearing health (and your health in general) will suffer. If you focus on a balanced, healthy diet rich in natural foods and low in stuff like sodium and saturated fat, you will be in far better shape overall. And not just where your ears are concerned.
Do Some Light Exercise
As noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise reduces the risk of a wide range of debilitating conditions, including both diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. It's also been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and dementia. In addition, because it promotes better cardiovascular health, it can even help protect against age-related hearing loss.
Make sure you don't overdo it, though. You should start with 15 to 30 minutes of light exercise daily. Just enough to get your blood flowing and work up a bit of a sweat.
You can always amp things up later, so as to reduce the risk of self-injury.
Stay Away From Cigarettes
Even secondhand smoke can cause hearing loss, according to a study published by Web MD, an online health information network. Not only do cigarettes wreak havoc with your blood pressure and central nervous system, but the smoke can also create blockages in the eustachian tube. Any of these problems can cause hearing loss.
It seems like we never get enough sleep. Especially now, with all the stress of what's going on in the world around us. And that's a problem.
Not only does a lack of sleep cause significant issues with your mental health, but it can also cause a number of different problems related to your physical wellbeing, including increasing your risk of developing a wide range of illnesses and diseases. And yes, this includes hearing loss.
Watch The Noise
As you might expect, loud noise tends to be one of the most significant causes of hearing impairment and hearing loss. Fortunately, protecting yourself against it isn't too difficult. Avoid listening to loud music via headphones for extended periods, and wear hearing protection in loud environments such as construction sites and nightclubs.
Schedule Regular Hearing Tests
Last but certainly not least, talk to an audiologist. Especially as you get older, it's critical that you contact an audiologist and schedule a hearing test at least annually. Not only can this help you correct any ongoing issues with your hearing, but it can also help you catch potential causes of hearing impairment before they cause permanent damage.
Is there a tinnitus cure?
Tinnitus – the ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears that may be constant or come and go – has annoyed people for thousands of years. It is a phenomenon highly associated with hearing loss. Not all people who experience tinnitus have hearing loss, and some people with hearing loss don’t experience tinnitus. HearingLife’s professionals have options for you to help you treat tinnitus.
Despite worldwide efforts to address a chronic issue that impacts more than 50 million Americans,¹ scientists and audiologists are still searching for an overarching cure for tinnitus. Until there is one, here are some remedies that could mean an improved quality of life for millions.
Recent research and a cure for tinnitus
Fortunately, researchers are examining multiple aspects of tinnitus. Across the globe, studies are ongoing to expand understanding of the phenomenon, including exploring new treatment options for tinnitus, with the goal of a tinnitus cure. Some are looking at triggers for tinnitus, others at therapeutic treatments.
In one study researchers, including Martin Jensen with the University of Marburg in Germany and Eriksholm Research Centre, are investigating how retraining the brain could improve tinnitus symptoms. (Eriksholm Research Centre partners with Oticon in developing Oticon More™ and other hearing aids that offer tinnitus settings.)
Covid-19 and tinnitus
In late 2020, researchers from the UK and the United States looked at links between Covid-19 and tinnitus. The study of more than 3,100 people found that Covid-19 exacerbates tinnitus for people who already had tinnitus prior to having Covid. The study included patients in 48 countries. 40% of participants experienced a worsening of tinnitus after becoming ill with the Coronavirus.² If you or a loved one have experienced increased tinnitus with Covid and would like to discuss treatment for tinnitus, we invite you to schedule an appointment online. As scientists continue to look at the impacts of the pandemic, there may be more news on this front.
Is there research for a tinnitus cure?
With diverse causes, a tinnitus cure may not be one-size-fits-all. In the interim, research continues in both treatment and cures. Focusing on the causes of tinnitus, which are very similar to hearing loss, may lead to new ways prevent it. on the causes of tinnitus and how to prevent it. Tinnitus has many of the same causes as hearing loss.
Hope on the horizon with clinical trials
If you are considering seeking innovative therapies, you may want to look into joining a US government-approved clinical trial. More than 20 tinnitus clinical trials are recruiting candidates as of February 2021. You can find the latest admissions criteria and opportunities to take part at the U.S. government’s clinical trials online information. To learn more, talk to your physician to find out if this is right for you.
The American Tinnitus Association is a professional organization focused on tinnitus relief. Since 1980, they have contributed more than $6 million to sponsor research aimed at finding a cure and optimizing treatments. For information on their research program, how to submit a proposal, and to learn about their findings, go to https://www.ata.org/research-toward-cure/research-program.
Tinnitus and hearing loss and why it’s important to check your hearing
According to the Hearing Health Foundation, roughly 90% of people who have tinnitus also have underlying hearing loss.³ If you have debilitating tinnitus, it may be beneficial to check for hearing loss.
When Should You See a Doctor About Tinnitus?
However, if your symptom persists, you must seek medical attention. Some underlying conditions can be cured or at least slowed if treated early enough.
Even if the condition can't be cured, healthcare professionals will be able to help you find solutions to deal with tinnitus.
So when should you see a doctor for tinnitus?
Below are some indicators that you should discuss your tinnitus symptoms with a healthcare professional immediately.
You’ve experienced ringing in the ears for more than a week
If you woke up this morning with a slight ringing in your ear, it might not be anything to worry about. Perhaps you have water in your ear from last night's pool party or a buildup of wax.
However, if you've experienced a constant ringing, static or buzzing sound for at least a week, you should contact a doctor to see if there is an underlying condition.
Therefore, even if your tinnitus is bearable, don't hesitate to go to a doctor if your symptoms persist.
You’re experiencing discharge from the ear
If you're experiencing discharge from an ear and also experience a constant ringing or buzzing (tinnitus), you may have an ear infection.
Ear infections are particularly common in children with four out of five children experiencing an ear infection before their third birthday. An ear infection occurs when an infection overtakes the air-filled space in the middle ear. The ear is typically painful to the touch.
While some ear infections go away on their own, you can contact your doctor to receive an antibiotic to speed up the healing process. If left untreated for an extended period of time, ear infections can result in hearing loss, mastoiditis, perforation of the eardrum, and more.
This type of tinnitus usually isn't lasting, but it's worth getting a doctor's opinion.
You feel dizzy or nauseous
If dizziness or nausea accompanies your tinnitus symptoms, you should contact a doctor immediately. While there are multiple causes for tinnitus, dizziness and nausea are also symptoms of Meniere's disease. There is no cure for Meniere's disease right now, but treating it quickly will help slow the disease's progression.
In the meantime, you should avoid caffeine, tobacco, high sodium foods, and even chocolate.
While Meniere's is a rare disease that affects only about 0.2 percent of American adults, it should be seriously examined.
You only experience symptoms in one ear
Tinnitus usually occurs bilaterally (in both ears). However, if you experience tinnitus unilaterally (one ear ringing), you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
Unilateral tinnitus is usually a sign of Meniere's disease, or Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (ISSNHL). ISSNHL is quite serious, and studies have shown that patients that are treated earlier (in say 24 hours) have a much higher recovery rate. In fact, most doctors will refer you to a specialist for a same-day appointment to begin treatment immediately.
The symptom is rhythmic with your pulse (pulsatile)
Tinnitus noises can be constant or infrequent, though if you notice it's steady with your pulse, you should make a doctor's appointment sooner than later.
Pulsatile tinnitus can be an indicator of anything from high blood pressure and vascular malformations to head and neck tumors or aneurysms.
However, the majority of underlying conditions are not very serious, and pulsatile tinnitus is usually just an indicator of a blood vessel with fluid in the eardrum.
Only 10 percent of all tinnitus patients suffer from pulsatile tinnitus, and it is often audible to doctors as well.
What Kind of Doctor Treats Tinnitus?
As nearly 90 percent of those with tinnitus also experience hearing loss, a tinnitus audiologist is an ideal doctor for hearing loss. The audiologist will give you a tinnitus hearing test to see what is causing your tinnitus and better understand how to treat it. You will be able to live with tinnitus and there are options to increase your quality of life.
What People with Hearing Loss Can Teach Everyone About Better Communication
At the end of our first full week of working from home due to the COVID-19 crisis, my team held a 20-person meeting over Zoom. Cheering to a hard week of working from home, attendees turned off Mute to start clapping. Unlike the other team members, I applauded the Deaf way, using sign language, which I felt was appropriate for a virtual meeting – raising, waving, and shaking my hands along with an expressive face. My team loved the idea and followed my lead.
A week later, in another large meeting, the head of my team used the Deaf silent applause. I was touched that my team had remembered this small tidbit. My voice as a hearing loss advocate felt valued, and I realized how much the world can benefit from the communication styles of the hearing loss community during this COVID-19 crisis.
Virtual Meetings Highlight the Need for Communication Best Practices
With social distancing, virtual meetings, and working from home, effective forms of verbal and nonverbal communication are more important than ever. As compared to phone calls, video calls provide enhanced abilities to read someone’s body language. Utilizing virtual whiteboards for brainstorming sessions allows for visual ways to illustrate concepts, making it easier to follow unstructured conversations. Sending next steps in an email promotes accountability and sets clear expectations. The world is beginning to prioritize written forms of communication, speechreading, and active listening, communication best practices that the hearing loss community have always used.
The same is true with technology. Many technologies that support people with hearing loss have revolutionized the world, not just in the COVID-19 crisis, but for decades. Although I strongly disapprove of his view on deafness, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone for people with hearing loss. Dr. Vinton Cerf reported that he invented the Internet in part to help people with hearing loss. Speech-to-text technology, such as Google’s Live Transcribe, is an extraordinarily powerful tool with a wide range of applications for both hearing and hard-of-hearing people. Hearing aids have inspired the hearables industry.
Today, the entire world is relying on these very tools to work from home in order to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Tips For Inclusive Virtual Meetings
Here are some tips for making your next virtual meeting more inclusive for people with hearing loss.
* Create multi-sensory experiences by using visual features, to ensure that the meeting is not solely audio based. For instance, Zoom has annotations and whiteboard features. Write down the key transitions and main points being brought up by others on the screen. Alternatively, a meeting attendee can share a screen and type in Word.
* To minimize background noise, turn on Mute when not speaking.
* Turn on videos so others can speech-read. Research shows that nonverbal communication is often as important as verbal communication.
* Make sure that only one person is speaking at a time.
* Summarize key points and next steps in a follow-up email.
* Ensure everyone is in a quiet room with good Wi-Fi connectivity.
* Have all meeting attendees test their microphones to make sure the sound is loud enough.
* Utilize headphones, if needed, to hear better.
* Make sure there is no light behind you, which prevents others from seeing your face clearly and from speech-reading.
* For more tips, see Hearing Loss Association of America’s employment toolkit.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, I hope that the world continues to apply the skills of effective listening valued and relied on by the hearing loss community. I hope that we better appreciate the hearing loss community. And most importantly, I hope that society continues to value and learn from the hearing loss community.
An Audiologist’s Guide to Hearing Loss
We have 5 senses vital to everyday life, yet hearing is thought to be one of the most important. In terms of communication, hearing allows us to connect with loved ones, contributing to our happiness and well-being.
However, to communicate effectively, our hearing should be accurate and instant. Hearing reduction can gradually affect how well we communicate with one another.
Because hearing loss can be so gradual once many of us reach 50, it can be difficult to detect hearing reduction over several years. People close to you are often the first to notice.
Yet, suffering from hearing loss is not necessarily a serious condition. There are many hearing solutions available. Suffering from hearing loss is no more serious than experiencing a loss of close vision. Yet, even mild hearing loss can affect our quality of life and how effectively we communicate with others.
Causes of hearing loss
There are several potential causes of hearing loss. Some of these include:
* noise exposure
* trauma, strokes and more.
It can be difficult to determine the exact cause of hearing loss sometimes, yet often it is due to the natural ageing process. Only 1.7% of people aged below 40 in western society (NIDCD) suffer from significant hearing loss, yet these figures increase after the age of 40.
Levels of hearing loss
There are different degrees of hearing loss. These include:
There are, however, solutions to each above level of hearing loss.
Each level of hearing loss has its own issues and solutions. It is important to look for solutions quickly if possible. Taking a proactive approach by having regular hearing tests and check-ups can catch any form of hearing loss early.
Over 90% of people who experience hearing loss are in groups 1-3. It is straightforward to find hearing solutions for these degrees of hearing loss. Same-day solutions can even be arranged.
Some solutions include hearing aids, as well as several hearing accessories which work in conjunction with phones, doorbells, and televisions. There are hearing solutions which can help with several aspects of hearing, not just communicating. Following a hearing test, if appropriate, the audiologist will be able to determine which hearing aid and programming are most suitable for you. The programming is just as important as the hearing aid.
Audiologists can carry out regular hearing checks to maintain good ear health.
As mentioned, hearing loss is usually gradual, with the slow decline being hard to detect. It is often picked up by loved ones before us. This is why regular hearing checks are so important. They are quick, non-invasive, and often free of charge. If same-day service is available solutions can be provided on the day.
What is normal hearing?
The 2 main elements of normal hearing are volume and frequency. Volume determines how loud (how many decibels) a sound needs to be before we hear it, whereas frequency determines the range of pitch we are able to identify. This is why there is a difference between how loudly and how clearly we hear.
Hearing tests determine the effectiveness of both elements. Audiologists can then determine an appropriate hearing solution depending on the results of the test.
When should we have regular hearing tests?
Whereas eyesight begins to reduce from 40, our hearing naturally reduces from the age of 50. Usually, our ability to hear frequencies reduces first, then eventually volume reduces too. Hearing loss does not necessarily affect our quality of life until it interferes with how well we hear volume and clarity of speech. This can take many years of gradual hearing loss.
Over 40% of people of 50 experience hearing loss, this figure rises to 70% for people aged over 70.
Hearing is vital for communicating with loved ones and forming connections with new people. When our hearing decreases, whether it is how well we perceive volume or frequency, this ultimately affects our quality of life.
Hearing tests can determine how you struggle to hear and allow an audiologist to provide you with appropriate solutions. Modern hearing aids restore hearing ability similarly to how glasses restore vision.
Ultimately, hearing solutions can have a great effect on our hearing, and our everyday lives.