Pain Relievers Lead to Hearing Loss: Say What?

health-1628372_1280Hearing loss is something we want to avoid at all costs. There are times when you have no control over your hearing loss, however, if there is something you could do to prevent it from occurring, wouldn’t you? Well, new information has been brought to light about over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications and their relationship to hearing loss.

Anyone who has ever had a headache, fever or body ache, knows how wonderful OTC pain medications are. They are an easy to grab, relatively inexpensive solution to get rid of our most common aches and pains, and can often feel like a life saver. However, what most may not realize, is that taking these medications, especially pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol), puts our hearing health in jeopardy.

For those of us who have the occasional headache, these over-the-counter medications are wonderful. It is easy to pop one and go. But for those with every day aches and pains, OTCs like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) that are taken on a daily basis are not a good idea. While this may help curb the pain, so they can perform everyday activities, long-term use of OTCs can cause more damage to the body than was originally thought.

Long-term use of OTC medications has already been linked with increased risk of heart failure, hypertension, and kidney problems. However, perhaps the most un-considered damage of OTCs would be to the ears. While the exact cause of harm is still being researched, there is a definite link between hearing loss and OTC pain medications, especially NSAIDs, and acetaminophen. The causes of this loss of hearing is due to either damage to the cells in the ear, or compromised blood and oxygen flow to the inner parts of the ear. Regardless of the physiological reason, hearing loss is a serious complication.

People are being urged to treat the root cause of their aches and pains, rather than reaching for NSAIDs and acetaminophen every day. Even though it might be easier to just take a pill and go, it is a much better idea to treat the root cause of your pain. Masking the symptoms does not solve anything, instead you will be feeding your body something that could potentially cause even worse harm.

Maybe you struggle with drinking enough water each day, which causes you to suffer from dehydration headaches. Instead of taking an NSAID every day, or even 5 times a week, perhaps try to increase your water intake. Keeping a bottle of water with you at all times might just help save your hearing. If you have chronic joint pain, consider visiting a doctor, or perform activities that would build up the muscles around the area.

When taken as directed, as an occasional treatment for aches and pains, OTCs are perfectly safe. However, if these medications are taken on a long-term basis, they put your hearing in danger. Even though these medications are at our disposal, like most things, we need to use caution when taking them, and do so in moderation. Hearing loss is too big a price to pay for everyday aches and pains.

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Hearing Tests are Important After Ear Tube Surgery!

Ear tube surgery is one of the most common surgeries that children undergo in the United States. Approximately 667,000 children have this procedure done every year, for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for performing ear tube surgery is frequent, recurring middle ear infections, resulting in hearing loss or other associated problems. Hearing tests can determine if your child has been impacted by frequent hearing loss.

Even though ear infections are usually treated fairly easily, some children are resistant to treatment or begin showing signs of hearing loss and a deficiency in their speech and language development. When this occurs, many physicians will recommend ear tube surgery.

During ear tube surgery, small tubes are placed in either one or both eardrums to ventilate the area behind the eardrum and keep the middle ear pressure equalized with the atmospheric pressure. By equalizing the pressure, it prevents the formation of a vacuum in the middle ear and allows air from the middle ear to exchange freely with the outside ear. This exchange helps to prevent infection generated from the back of the nose.

Research has shown that it is important for parents to make an appointment with an audiologist to have their child’s hearing tested before undergoing surgery. Even if they don’t think their child’s hearing has been impacted, it’s important to have a definitive diagnosis prior to surgery. While most physicians agree on this point, and about 77 percent of children do have hearing tests before surgery, not all physicians do a follow up hearing test after surgery.

This follow up hearing test is also vitally important, because about 20 percent of children who had hearing loss prior to surgery, continued to have some degree of hearing loss post-surgery. The most common reason for post-surgery hearing loss is due to malfunctioning ear tubes. It’s not unusual for ear tubes to come out prematurely or get clogged from a buildup of mucus or wax. However, this is not the only reason hearing loss can occur post-surgery.

It’s estimated that 4 percent of children have hearing loss after ear tube surgery that is unrelated to frequent ear infections. Problems with the inner ear itself, nerve deafness, structural problems with the eardrum or bones in the middle ear, as well as the ear’s inability to conduct sound can all be underlying causes of their hearing loss. This 4 percent of children would most likely not have been diagnosed or treated until much later in life, if they had not had post-operative hearing tests performed.

The good news is that if a child does not present with any hearing loss before surgery, it is extremely unlikely that they will have hearing loss post-surgery. Children who fall into this category don’t necessarily need to have a hearing test after their ear tube surgery. However, it is strongly recommended that parents whose child had any sort of hearing loss prior to surgery, have their hearing checked again afterwards to make sure it returns to normal.

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Hidden Hearing Loss: A Tough Diagnosis

ahg-hidden-hearing-lossHearing loss is becoming all too common among the younger generation these days. Children, teens and young adults are being impacted by hidden hearing loss more frequently than ever. Hearing loss is more often associated with aging, however there are many other complications that can cause hearing loss; head trauma, noise, age, ototoxic medications, illness, tumors and so much more. When someone suspects that they may be suffering from hearing loss, the first step is to visit a doctor. An audiologist can measure hearing with an audiogram or other hearing assessment. The problem for individuals suffering from hidden hearing loss, however is that their results often look normal; hence the name hidden hearing loss.smartphone-923081_1280

In a normal ear, sound waves are transmitted through the middle ear bones to the inner ear, where they cause vibrations in the hair cells. These vibrations transform the signals via the nerve cells into electrical pulses which are sent to the brain.  Hidden hearing loss is often caused by loud noise. Loud noise can damage hair cells in your inner ear, as well as the ear’s nerve cells. It is much harder to identify specific sounds in loud environments when those nerve cells are damaged. The nerve cells lose their connection with the hair cells, so they cannot send information to the brain. As a result, your brain receives less information from the ear and/or poor quality information. Consequently, the brain struggles to interpret the information correctly; the main symptom of hidden hearing loss.

An individual with hidden hearing loss doesn’t usually have a problem hearing soft or isolated sounds. This is why a typical hearing test fails to diagnose it. It will become evident when you are attempting to listen to several conversations as once. You will also notice it more if there is a lot of background noise. Even though hidden hearing loss cannot be measured with a standard hearing test, our audiologists can help.

We have the technology and expertise to both diagnose and treat hidden hearing loss, something that is as common as it is under-diagnosed. Many young people are damaging their hearing because they fail to protect it when they are around loud noises, or subject their ears to extended periods of time listening to loud music through their headphones.

According to a recent article from Scientific American, individuals who have hidden hearing loss when they are younger, may suffer from more severe hearing loss as they get older. If you think that you may have hidden hearing loss, you should consult your doctor or contact one of our audiologists to get started on a treatment plan. Hearing loss negatively impacts your quality of life when left untreated – don’t wait too long to see your doctor, do something about it now.

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Is Having an Audiologist on your Side Important?

Cancer Treatment & Hearing LossHearing loss isn’t an easy thing to live with. However, only 20 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids, actually use them. There are currently more than 35 million Americans suffering from some degree of hearing loss; we need to make sure they are being treated properly. A hearing aid, at its most simplistic, is a tiny electronic device worn behind, or in the ear, that amplifies sounds for someone who has hearing loss in varying degrees. Hearing aid technology has improved significantly within the last two decades, and more and more Americans are finally seeking hearing assistance. Due to this fact, there are also more places popping up, offering hearing aids or other assisted hearing devices. So, is it really necessary to visit an audiologist for your hearing aids or will any hearing aid dispenser shop work?

One of the most important decisions you can make when deciding to purchase hearing aids, especially for the first time, is where to get them. There is an influx in the number of hearing aid dispensers out there. They tend to offer cut-rate pricing to lure customers in, but that’s really the only upside to them. Let’s look at it another way; do you really want someone with limited experience and knowledge about hearing health and hearing loss to fit you for such an important, life-changing product?

One of the biggest differences between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser is their qualifications, which are vastly different. An audiologist is a doctor with at least 4 years of post-graduate studies in the hearing field. They have also done significant research and clinicals before graduating. On the other hand, a hearing aid dispenser applies for a license after meeting some basic requirements. Audiologists have been trained to diagnose, treat and monitor disorders of the hearing and balance system; hearing aid dispensers have none of that training.

Just handing out hearing aids is simple. It takes knowledge, experience and care to find the perfect fit and hearing loss treatment for you and your lifestyle. You want someone who knows what they’re doing from start to finish. Someone who is able to be by your side the whole journey. It doesn’t start and end with the hearing aid alone. As hearing aid technology continues to develop, they can require fitting strategies, testing modifications and auditory rehabilitation programs. These additional steps, will help to improve the experience and the quality of life for the millions of Americans suffering from hearing loss. Follow up care, continued monitoring of your hearing loss and health screenings are just some of the additional services that an audiologist can provide. The experience, reputation and training of the hearing professional matter significantly in the ultimate decision of where to go.

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Workers Beware – Hearing Loss a Major Issue

 

hearing-loss-in-workplaceMany workers aren’t even aware of the most common workplace injury; they protect themselves from all sorts of various injuries, without ever realizing that their hearing is in danger too. When we speak with our clients, many of them admit that they wish they had protected their hearing at work over the years. Some precautions may have been taken, but with statistics stating that hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in America, people are not doing enough. A recent article from PBS News explores the story and journey of one American worker who is dealing with the effects of hearing loss due to noise in the workplace.  We hope that this information serves to inform people, and to motivate you all to start protecting your hearing now, before the damage has been done.

From factories to construction sites and on to farmers, American workers are dealing with more hearing loss from noise at work than anyone imagined. One construction worker featured in the PBS news article had to stop working in 2011, when the pain became unbearable. He also hears ringing in his ears and experiences dizziness, both side effects of the auditory damage he incurred from spending his life working around jackhammers, saws and air compressors. Because he never used proper hearing protection, the noise damaged his hearing over time, just as it does to millions of other Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common work-related injury with approximately 22 million workers exposed annually to hazardous levels of occupational noise. Those most at risk are in the mining industry, following by construction and manufacturing.

Americans are having to deal with hearing loss more and more, and it is a costly issue. An estimated $242 million is spent on worker’s compensation annually for hearing loss disability, according to the Department of Labor. It isn’t just about the financial cost either, but also about your well-being and the deficits in your quality of life. If you work in the labor industry and are constantly exposed to loud noise, consider protecting your hearing with our custom fit ear molds or ear plugs. They are not only comfortable, but exceptionally effective at helping to prevent hearing loss down the road.

If you already suspect that your hearing has been damaged from past exposure to noise, our audiologists can help you find the right hearing aids for your lifestyle and hearing needs. Whether for prevention, protection or a hearing device, we want to help. Give us a call today! To read the entire PBS article, click here.

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How to Support a Loved One with Hearing Loss

ahg-hearing-aidsHearing loss can be an isolating existence for those who have it. They often feel as though they are missing out, and tend to avoid social situations because they are afraid they won’t be able to enter in properly. This tendency to avoid others can lead to depression and even cognitive decline. There are currently 48 million Americans who have been diagnosed with significant hearing loss and odds are you know at least one or more individuals who suffer from hearing loss. So how can we support our loved ones who suffer from this condition?

Well the first step is to make sure they get help for their hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss is a real problem and can have some serious consequences over time. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can cause fatigue, tension, stress, depression, irritability, negativism, anger, social rejection, loneliness, impaired memory and the ability to learn new tasks. So, getting your loved one to an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing test is the first step in supporting them.

Once hearing loss has been diagnosed, the next step is to encourage them to get treatment. Hearing aids are an amazing invention and there are several different options available that will ensure the patient gets the right hearing aid for their condition along with the perfect fit for comfort and wearability. Today’s hearing aids are fully programmable for superior hearing, there are iPhone compatible hearing aids, hearing aids that are completely discreet, hearing aids that can be worn behind the ear, completely in the ear canal or in the outer canal. Options abound!

New hearing aid users can sometimes be overwhelmed with the amplified sounds. The brain needs time to adjust to sounds that have been forgotten over time and that can be stressful for new wearers. Encourage them to be patient and to wear their new hearing aids as much as possible so their brain can have a chance to adjust. Also, encourage them to be aware of how they are hearing and to make sure to go back to their audiologist for adjustments as needed.

Lastly, be aware that communication is a two-way process. Sometimes, hearing loss is so severe that hearing aids are not able to compensate enough to make every conversation and every word audible. There are some tools you can use however to help make every conversation a success.

  • Speak clearly and naturally – shouting does not help
  • Move closer to the individual so they are able to clearly see your facial expressions and lips while talking
  • When you are in a group, talk one at a time – talking over each other will make it almost impossible for hearing impaired individuals to distinguish words
  • Reduce background noise as much as possible – turn off, or turn down the TV or radio or go someplace where it is quiet to talk
  • If they don’t understand what you are saying, try rephrasing it instead of repeating it, sometimes it is just certain sounds or words that their brain cannot interpret

Hearing loss does not have to be a devastating diagnosis – there is help! If you or someone you love thinks they might be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with an audiologist today and get started on the road to hearing once again.

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Custom Ear Plugs to Protect Your Hearing!

ahg-ear-moldsWhen we think of hearing loss and the need to protect our hearing health, we often think of the aging population. The truth of the matter, however, is that we all need to do a better job protecting our hearing. Although hearing loss doesn’t come with symptoms that we can see in person, monitoring your own hearing can save you from future hearing loss that requires even more extensive treatment. Our audiologists can help you find the best hearing protection for your lifestyle. From ear molds to ear plugs, our audiologists can help you to prevent future hearing loss related to loud noises, from either recreational or work-related activities.

We need to take our hearing health seriously now, so that we will be able to enjoy our hearing in the future. Hearing protection comes in many shapes and varieties, and here at Advanced Hearing Group, we are able to offer several different types of protective devices depending on your needs. It has been proven that excessive noise exposure can cause temporary hearing loss, permanent hearing loss, ringing in the ears known as tinnitus, or even a stuffy feeling in the ears.

When you’re repeatedly exposed to loud noises at work or during some recreational activities, such as shooting, racing, building, music, etc., you could face the risk of permanent and irreversible hearing loss. This too, could also bring on tinnitus. While loud noises are often just considered “part of the job” or “part of the fun,” our audiologists know differently and can help you find the right protective device to protect your hearing, no matter what you are doing. You will still be able to do all the things you love, while enjoying maximum protection, as well as comfort and wearability – which is often a concern of our clients.

Ear molds are a product that are custom-fit for each client, and they provide exceptional hearing protection in a variety of situations. They are worn inside of the ear, which is why we take a cast of the ear – for the perfect, unique fit. These custom ear molds will not only help to reduce the loud noises around us, but they are also able to serve as ear plugs while swimming. This can help to alleviate the risk of developing swimmer’s ear.

We also offer expandable foam plugs, custom re-useable ear plugs and canal caps. The longer you wait, the more damage you could be doing to your hearing, so contact us today to get fitted for your custom ear molds!

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Hunters Are At Risk For Hearing Loss

hearing loss huntingHunters all over the United States are gearing up for this year’s hunting season. Their bright orange gear, survival kits, calls and bullets are all being packed in anticipation of opening day. But there is one thing missing from many hunter’s packs – hearing protection. While most hunters know the importance of wearing ear protection when they are sighting in their guns, many don’t even think about putting in ear plugs when they are out in the woods. The main reason for this is because they rely heavily on their ability to hear what’s going on around them, and they don’t want to take a chance that they might miss something.

What many hunters don’t realize is that a single gunshot can top the chart at 150dB (decibels), which is more than enough to rupture the eardrum or damage the delicate bones in the middle ear. Sudden exposure to decibels in this range has the ability to cause immediate and permanent hearing loss. Oftentimes, when individuals are exposed to loud noises, such as a gunshot, there may be a temporary loss of hearing or tinnitus that will disappear within a couple days. However, even though the hearing loss may be temporary, there is still the possibility of residual long-term damage to your hearing.

Fortunately, there is a solution for hunters, law enforcement officers and recreational shooters, to alleviate the risk of hearing loss from gunshots – digital hearing protection. Digital hearing protection offers the unique ability to permit lower decibel noise levels, such as the launch of a trap or the flush of a bird, while still providing superior protection for your ears from sounds that exceed 90dB. Wearers are able to carry on a conversation just like normal, hear the rustle of the leaves around them and listen to the hundreds of other sounds in the woods, all while protecting their delicate hearing when they need to shoot their firearm.

Products such as the ESP America Digital Ear Protection, are able to be customized to ensure the most comfortable fit in the ears. They are lightweight, but incredibly durable and easy to put in and wear. In fact, they are so comfortable that many individuals forget that they are even wearing them! They are one of the most effective and innovative digital earplugs on the market today and perfect for hunters, recreational shooters and law enforcement officers alike. For more information on digital ear plugs or other hearing protection devices, you can visit our website.

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The Essential Guide to VNG Testing

Balance problems can cause some serious complications, especially if they are frequent or severe. The risk of falls, broken bones or other injuries are greatly increased if an individual suffers from a loss of balance. Oftentimes this condition is caused by inner ear  problems, medications or other medical conditions such as Meniere’s disease. Balance issues are frequently accompanied by a feeling of dizziness or spinning which can lead to nausea and vomiting. If an individual suffers from balance issues or dizziness, their physician will generally order a videonystagmography or VNG test to help determine the cause.

A VNG test is a valuable diagnostic tool that can more accurately determine the root cause of your balance or dizziness problems; it can determine whether the dizziness, vertigo or balance problems are caused by a vestibular (inner ear) condition or something else. It is one of the only tests that has the ability to decipher between unilateral or bilateral vestibular conditions. It also can determine if the issue is due to a peripheral pathology, central pathology or a combination of the two. So what happens during a VNG test?

Here at Advanced Hearing Group, we are able to perform VNG testing right here in the office and will typically work with a team of specialists who help diagnose and treat vestibular disorders. If you have been scheduled for a VNG test, it is nothing to fear – It is a painless, noninvasive procedure and is usually completed in just about an hour.

A VNG test is actually a series of tests that document how well the eyes respond to stimulus from the vestibular system. The test will also check the functionality of each ear to determine if a vestibular deficit could be the source of the balance or dizziness problem. Everyday Hearing did a great job of breaking down the test into the following descriptive parts:

  1. Sensory organization testing – During the testing you will be asked to walk or stand in various conditions. With eyes open and closed and on different surfaces. This is used to determine how well your sensory systems are working together to maintain balance. It is unlikely that you will feel dizzy during this part of the test but you may lose your balance.
  2. Ocular motor testing – During this portion of the testing you will be asked to follow a light with your eyes. The light will be moving across a bar in front of your, or inside the goggles. The light will be moving quickly in different directions. This part of the test may make you slightly dizzy.
  3. Positioning/Positional testing – With assistance from your test proctor, you will be asked to move your head and body in a series of positions. This includes head movements up and down, side to side, and body movements sitting up, laying down, and turning on your side. You will be instructed on whether to open or close your eyes during the movements, while your eyes are being recorded. During this part of the test, you may experience dizziness and/or vertigo. This is more likely to occur if your initial symptoms of dizziness are triggered by movement.
  4. Caloric testing – This portion of the testing is usually done at the end. You will be laying on your back while cool and warm air or water is delivered to your ear canal, one at a time, warm in each ear followed by cool in each ear. This is a very important part of the testing that will stimulate each vestibular system, right ear and left ear, and compare the response between the ears. It helps to determine whether the vestibular organs are functioning properly and whether one system is significantly weaker than the other. The air or water will stay in your ear for about 1 minute each time. Once it is removed, your eye movements will be recorded for an additional minute. It is important to follow the instruction of the test proctor during this time as to whether your eyes should remain opened or closed in order to avoid the need for repeat testing. During this portion of the test, it is likely that you will experience dizziness and vertigo. This will only remain for a few minutes following each ear stimulation. It is normal to be dizzy during caloric testing.

If you are looking to schedule a VNG test or have more information on the types of testing we can provide, you can visit our website for a list of services, as well as our office locations and phone numbers.

 

 

 

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Turn Down the Volume!

Sometimes we can help how loud the things we are listening to are and other times they’re AHG_Senior-500pxbeyond our control. But as we age, we want to minimize sounds and loud volumes in order to protect our hearing. As we age, some hearing loss is common, but turning down the volume can help to protect our ears and the future of our hearing health. One question our audiologists often get is, how loud is too loud? How do we know what volume is safe and when we need to turn something down? What levels of sound can actually do damage to our hearing? We also see our aging clients who have been compensating for hearing loss by turning the volume up when they can’t hear their television. Instead of helping, they are actually hurting their ears and causing more damage. Nonetheless, those are good questions and we hope that this blog can help explain.

Hearing loss in senior citizens isn’t just an age issue. It is a health issue that people of all ages need to be aware of. Starting from youth through adulthood, your hearing health depends on your hearing habits.  There are acceptable standards of volume and recommended exposure time for certain levels. Volume is measured in decibels and we should all be paying more attention to the volume and length of exposure. According to the NIOSH and the CDC, for every 3 dBAs over 85dBA, the permissible exposure time before possible damage can occur is cut in half. Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss. As a reference, a whisper comes in at 35 dB and is safe for 30 years. Listening to a voice typically is at 65dB and is safe for 85 days of exposure. A loud TV? 90 dB and is only safe for 2 hours. A concert usually levels at 110 dB and is only safe for 15 minutes while ambulance sirens are 140 dB and is safe for exposure of only <0.25 seconds.  

Loud noise can be very damaging to hearing. Again, both level of noise and the length of time you listen to the noise can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. The hearing system can be injured not only by a loud blast or explosion but also by prolonged exposure to high noise levels. The senior citizen population often is more sensitive to loud noise. It actually sounds louder to this age group. As most people age, they may develop a common hearing loss condition, called presbycusis, in which hearing gradually deteriorates and certain sounds become distorted. The elderly’s perception of high frequencies diminishes, and low frequencies are magnified. Furthermore, this type of noise-induced hearing loss can damage the sensory hair cells in your ear that allow you to hear. Once these hair cells are damaged, they do not grow back and your ability to hear is diminished. 

Don’t damage your hearing any further. Turn down that volume to well below 85 dB or limit your exposure to loud noises. If you suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss or notice that you’re compensating for your inability to hear by turning the volume way up, you could be doing more damage. Our audiologists can work with you, even as you’re aging, to improve your hearing with the use of hearing aids, aural rehabilitation, or other hearing devices. From hearing tests to hearing loss diagnosis, we will work with your individual goals and lifestyle to find the best course of treatment. Hearing loss in the elderly is common, but we’re here for you no matter the cause. Start your journey to better hearing today!

 

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