Is there a link between iron and hearing loss?

hearing loss and ironWe all know that it is important to have a diet rich with iron. But what role does iron play in our health, and how is it related to hearing loss? Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to transport it throughout your body. A lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anemia. Without healthy red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen.

In a recent study of 305,339 adults, those that had iron deficiency anemia, were twice as likely to have a hearing impairment than those with normal levels of iron. Those with low levels were more likely to develop sensorineural hearing loss. This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is a permanent hearing loss that occurs when there is damage to either the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear, or the auditory nerve itself. This damage prevents or weakens the transfer of nerve signals to the brain. These blocked nerve signals carry information about the intensity and clarity of sounds.

Some of the symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss:

  • Noises may seem too loud or too quiet
  • Difficulty following a conversation when two or more people are speaking at the same time
  • Problems listening in noisy environments (e.g. train stations, construction sites, convention centers, sports arenas, etc.)
  • Difficulty hearing women’s or children’s voices
  • Certain speech sounds are difficult to hear during conversations (e.g. the “s” or “th” sound)
  • Speech of others may seem slurred or mumbled
  • A consistent ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • A feeling of being off-balance or dizzy

For most individuals, eating a balanced diet provides the body with an adequate supply of iron. Foods rich in iron include red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, dark leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and iron fortified cereals and pasta.

In the inner ear, oxygen is necessary for the health of sensory hair cells involved in translating sound into electrical impulses. A lack of oxygen can damage these sensory hair cells or cause them to die. This will affect the way they are able to perform the translation and transmit the impulses to the brain for interpretation.

It’s important to get checked out by your physician and go over your health history with them if you think you have low levels of iron. More research needs to be done between the link of low iron and hearing loss.  If you notice you’re not hearing as well, it is important to have your hearing checked by an audiologist.

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Fight Hearing Loss with the Help of an Audiologist

Benefits of an AudiologistThe battle against hearing loss is better fought with an audiologist on your side. Untreated, hearing loss is hard to live with; there’s the shame, the isolation, and the embarrassment that you confront every single day. As you move forward in the process of getting help, you will understand the benefits of having an audiologist to support and guide you. Our knowledge and understanding will make you feel better about something that is hard enough to deal with in the first place.

What can an audiologist offer their patients?

Whether we’re talking about the emotional aspects of hearing loss, or the hearing devices, we’ll walk you and your loved ones through this life change.  Experts agree that the benefits of an audiologist include:

  • Someone who will listen to your story from start to finish. Anyone with hearing loss has a story about why or when it happened. Sometimes a patient’s story is traumatic, and other times it isn’t. We’ll give you and your family members time to talk, to respond to treatment, and to heal. Together we will set attainable goals, discuss our expectations, and utilize the story you tell to help with diagnosis.
  • Provide an accommodating environment at our office locations. When you come to our offices, we want you to be comfortable. It can be nerve-wracking, so we will do everything we can to help calm those nerves. Everyone from our receptionists to our doctors will provide a reassuring experience, making your needs our top priority.
  • Focus on the solutions, not upselling the products. We know that there are websites and businesses out there that don’t care about your hearing loss, they only care about selling you their products. However, we here at Advanced Hearing Group feel that treating your hearing loss is the goal, not selling our products. Our hearing aids and devices are simply tools to improve your hearing, and therefore your quality of life. The products we choose for you are the products we think will best fit your needs.
  • Our audiologists are up-to-date on new hearing technologies. There are so many new devices on the market that we can discuss – things that will assist you to watch TV, enjoy a dinner out, or even attend a live concert or play. We will help you to stay current and live your life as part of your treatment.
  • We can help bridge you to the hearing loss community, and show you that you’re not alone. We want to earn your trust and help you understand the risks and realities of hearing loss. The biggest thing to know is that you are not alone.

Don’t deny your hearing loss any longer

Working with a trusted audiologist can change your life for the better. We offer many benefits that other online companies or businesses can’t – and that alone is worth trying. Contact one of our offices today and you’ll be on the road to treating hearing loss tomorrow.

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Saving a Relationship Jeopardized by Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss and RelationshipsAll relationships have ups and downs. Even the strongest relationships are put to the test with hard times. But one of the biggest challenges that relationships may end up facing, is when someone has untreated hearing loss. The inability to communicate, the frustration and embarrassment of not being able to hear the other person, the missed “I love you” and “I miss you,” the isolation and depression. These are just some of the things that couples of all sorts will face when someone is unable to hear.

In one article from Huffington Post, they note that hearing loss is going to become an even bigger issue soon. This is simply because the population is aging. The number of people living with impaired hearing is projected to jump considerably in the next few years. Almost 25 percent of those ages 65 to 74, and 50 percent of those 75 and older, have a disabling hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Why do you or your partner need to consider hearing aids to treat your hearing loss?

These are some of the most important reasons to consider meeting with one of our audiologists about hearing aids:

  • According to a survey by the British firmcom ― ongoing deafness can promote marital breakdown to the point of divorce. The site surveyed about 1,000 people over age 40 who had worsening hearing loss and found that 33 percent said it led to arguments with their spouse.
  • Arguments or depression can cause marital distress.
  • Lack of communication between partners can lead to stress, fights, or misunderstandings.

We couldn’t agree more with the author, who urges people understand one major concept; that attention be paid now to prevention strategies. Better to preserve our hearing than deal with its loss. If you or someone you love is dealing with untreated hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids, the time to contact our audiologists is now! Don’t lose a relationship over hearing loss.

 

 

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It’s Time to Tell your Parents they need Hearing Aids

Talking about hearing aidsWe all dread the day when we will have the conversation with our aging parents that they can no longer drive, and they may need hearing aids. What is the right way to have the “talk” with our parents? It’s an uncomfortable conversation, yet an important one.  The biggest fear our aging population has, is losing their independence.  One of the most important things to convey to our parents is that we want the best for them in their later years. By showing compassion and understanding, the whole conversation about hearing loss will go much smoother.

Addressing hearing loss may not seem like the most pressing issue for our parents, but it can affect their everyday lives. It can also become a safety issue and can hasten cognitive decline. Driving with hearing loss can prevent the ability to hear emergency vehicles and other drivers and cause accidents. Trying to navigate public transportation with hearing loss can cause frustration and lead to older adults staying home and not seeking medical help and losing contact with friends and family.

Other Factors Involved

Hearing loss can lead to miscommunication or misinformation from doctors and other healthcare professionals. They may not hear all the details of their illness, and could possibly misunderstand important details pertaining to medication usage and dosage. It has also been shown that hearing loss can lead to increased cognitive decline. Not being able to hear can cause confusion, frustration, isolation and even depression. Communication can become strained, which can lead to older folks shutting down, and not enjoying precious time with friends and family.

Beginning the Conversation on Hearing Aids

There are some simple steps to take before having this difficult conversation. Take time and think about when is the best time to have the conversation about hearing loss with your aging parents. The first thing to do, is to put yourself in their shoes. Be empathetic and loving. Remember that you want to help them get the best help for their hearing loss, and that you want only the best for them. Keep in mind that the conversation may not end the way you planned.

The second thing to do is, research. Do your best to know the basics about hearing loss.  Your parents may not know the basics and will be grateful that they don’t need to spend time researching. Make sure to study the basics of hearing loss, such as the progression of the disease, and the typical solutions.

Next, timing is everything. We all know that picking the right time and place to have a difficult discussion can be just as important as the topic. Don’t do it when they are stressed about any other health issues or in a loud setting. Find a quiet, comfortable spot to talk and consider the time of day. Many older adults are tired toward the end of day. You know your parents better than anyone else, so choose what you know will work best for them.

Scheduling their First Visit

Before you make an appointment with an audiologist, check out insurance requirements, and be willing to attend the appointment with them. Some families can also help with the expenses of hearing aids. Many adults put off hearing tests because of the cost of treatment. If you can help financially, please offer. Stay on their side. If you notice that their hearing is worsening or their hearing aids may not be working properly, let them know and help with getting them back in the office for a “tune-up”.

Listen to your parents. If they have complaints about their hearing, make sure you follow up and ask questions. You may need to attend their appointments to help convey any frustrations they are experiencing.  The last thing you want is for an expensive hearing aid to end up in a drawer somewhere.

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It’s a Great Day for Hearing Health!

AHG Hearing HealthThere was some promising hearing health news lately – a paper published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, discovered that hearing loss prevalence in working age Americans has actually decreased in recent years! This is great news, and just goes to show that hearing health awareness is finally doing its job.

According to the paper, researchers reported a decline from 15.9 percent of the working age population suffering from hearing loss, down to 14.1 percent. They also stated that the total number of hearing loss individuals in America has also declined from 28 million to 27.7 million.

The Reasoning Behind the Decline

Even though hearing loss does continue to be a concern, it’s encouraging to think that Americans are taking hearing health more seriously these days.

One area where we have seen some vast improvements is in the manufacturing arena. Employers are realizing the need for their employees to wear hearing protection, and educating them on the dangers of neglecting it. Even OSHA has stepped up to the plate; in 1981, OSHA implemented the Hearing Conservation Program. This program protects workers who are exposed to a time weighted average noise level of 85 dBA or higher over an 8 hour work shift.

Physicians have also helped by reducing the use of ototoxic medications unless absolutely necessary. Where some antibiotics, and other medications causing hearing loss, were once widely used, they are now severely restricted. Also of medical importance, is the use of certain immunizations against diseases that can cause hearing loss, such as measles.

There is also the thought that, we as a population, are more health conscious overall – and that extends to our hearing health as well. Other research has discovered that there is a broad international health trend, which shows that almost every major disease and disability is on the decline. They aren’t necessarily eradicated, just occurring later in life. Seventy is the new fifty!

How can we Keep it Up?

So how do we keep this downward trend going? Education, education, education. The more that Americans are educated on the need to wear hearing protection, and limit their exposure to loud noise, the better. We need to be more aware of the causes behind hearing loss, whether from noise exposure or from other environmental factors and avoid them at all costs.

One surprising topic in this paper was headphones. While there is a huge noise exposure danger with headphones, it seems that we are learning how to use them properly. Their study looked at individuals in their 20’s who have experienced widespread headphone usage over the last decade. They discovered that they had no more hearing loss than people their age a decade ago. Long term data hasn’t been gathered yet, but we hope that this remains the case once it does.

Next Steps

An easy way to keep on top of our hearing health is to have a hearing test or hearing screening. Most school aged children are required to have some sort of hearing screening before entering school, but many adults neglect it.

The greatest risk factor for hearing loss is age. It is important to have a hearing test done periodically throughout your lifetime, but especially as you get older. The earlier it can be detected and treated, the better, for a positive patient outcome.

Our audiologists can conduct a thorough hearing test in the office, but if you just want a quick snapshot of your current hearing health, try our online hearing assessment. Our website also has some great information on hearing health and what risk factors to be on the lookout for.

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Why are We Losing Our Hearing?

Hearing Loss in Aging PopulationAs the American population ages, more and more individuals are experiencing hearing loss. Approximately 44 million adult Americans in 2020 will experience some degree of hearing loss. That number is expected to increase to 73.5 million by 2060. The greatest increase will be among older adults age 70 and older. Currently, hearing loss is the third most chronic condition in the US. To put the numbers in perspective, twice as many people report hearing loss as diabetes or cancer.

Impact of Increased Hearing Loss

It’s important to remember that hearing loss can take a toll on an individual’s quality of life. Oftentimes, it can affect their ability to work or communicate and engage socially with family and friends. With older adults, it is important that they stay active and social. Hearing loss has been shown to lead to a decrease in mental acuity, another reason why it is so important to have preventative hearing care.

Among our aging population, it has been shown that older adults with hearing loss often show more signs of depression, anxiety, falls, and higher rates of hospitalizations.

Signs of Hearing Loss

There are some common signs that may indicate that your loved one may be experiencing hearing loss:

  • Isolation
  • Staring
  • Speaking loud
  • Not engaging in conversation
  • Repeating themselves

Adults with hearing loss often feel “left out” of conversations. They may hear only pieces of the conversation so they choice to stay silent.

How loud is too loud?

According to the ASHA website, the noise chart below lists average decibel levels for everyday sounds around you.

  • Painful
    150 dB = fireworks at 3 feet
    140 dB = firearms, jet engine
    130 dB = jackhammer
    120 dB = jet plane takeoff, siren
  • Extremely Loud
    110 dB = maximum output of some MP3 players, model airplane, chain saw
    106 dB = gas lawn mower, snowblower
    100 dB = hand drill, pneumatic drill
    90 dB = subway, passing motorcycle
  • Very Loud
    80–90 dB = blow-dryer, kitchen blender, food processor
    70 dB = busy traffic, vacuum cleaner, alarm clock
  • Moderate
    60 dB = typical conversation, dishwasher, clothes dryer
    50 dB = moderate rainfall
    40 dB = quiet room
  • Faint
    30 dB = whisper, quiet library

It’s never too early

Taking care of your hearing before hearing loss occurs is key to successful outcomes. Hearing testing should begin by age 55.

Some common culprits of hearing loss include, leaf blowers, loud concerts and even cellphone use. It has also been shown that one in four adults say their hearing is good or even excellent but already exhibit signs of hearing damage.

It’s also important to remember that there are ways to treat and prevent hearing loss. The most common cause of hearing loss is from exposure to loud music and noisy workplaces. It is vital that individuals limit their exposure to industrial noise at workplaces and sound from headphones. If they can’t be avoided, then ALWAYS employ the use of earplugs or noise reducing headphones.

If you are over the age of 55, or think that you might already have some degree of hearing loss, give us a call and schedule a hearing test and comprehensive hearing checkup.

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Exercise your way to Better Hearing!

cardio exerciseIt’s no secret that exercise is beneficial to our overall health, but unfortunately, it is all too often neglected. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that only about twenty percent of the American population gets adequate amounts of exercise. While we know that a lack of activity can be detrimental to our health, many don’t realize that it can also be detrimental to our hearing health as well.

Why is Hearing Health So Important?

Many individuals who have never experienced a problem with hearing loss, take their hearing for granted. But the fact is, this condition can be devastating. With over 48 million Americans already suffering from some form of hearing impairment, we don’t ever want to take it lightly. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on both the emotional and mental health of those who experience it.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) conducted a study on untreated hearing loss. Their results showed that individuals with untreated hearing loss were more likely to be anxious, depressed or paranoid. They reported that hearing loss was a factor in a reduced quality of life perception in the elderly. There is also a link between untreated hearing loss and early onset dementia; so yes, hearing health is important and something we don’t want to ignore.

How does Exercise Help?

As people age, they expect that they will lose some of their ability to hear. Researchers have suggested that this loss of hearing could be directly related to an individual’s heart health. Cardiovascular health is often a concern in the elderly population and could be the correlation to hearing loss. If the heart is not healthy and not pumping blood as efficiently, your ears suffer.

Our ears are extremely sensitive to blood flow. Our auditory system requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. When the heart isn’t healthy, blood flow is compromised which can cause damage to the tiny capillaries in the auditory system. This is where exercise becomes a contributing factor.

When individuals get adequate amounts of cardiovascular exercise, their heart is able to pump more efficiently. This means that not only does the rest of the body benefit from the increased oxygen supply, but our auditory system as well. This study also determined that an individual in their 50’s who is in good physical shape has the ability to hear just as well as an individual in their 30’s.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

While regular exercise is recommended for every age group, the older an individual is, the more important it is to maintain cardiovascular fitness. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends a minimum of 20 – 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days per week. Consistent cardiovascular exercise will have a positive effect on both hearing health as well as overall health.

Other Benefits of Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise can help to stave off age related hearing loss; it can also have these other health benefits as well:

  • Improves Your Mood
  • Improves Your Mental Acuity
  • Helps Stave off the Aging Process
  • Helps Your Skin
  • Helps with Weight Loss
  • Easier Recovery After Illnesses

It doesn’t take much to get started on the path to better hearing health – just get up and go for a walk! Who knew that hearing protection could be so easy?

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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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