Can Swimmer’s Ear Cause Hearing Loss?

swimmer's ear infectionsAs parents, we work hard to ensure the safety of our children; they are our responsibility, and they trust us to take care of them. There are so many things that parents worry about, and their child’s overall health is probably one of the biggest, which includes their hearing health. When a baby is born, they have some immunity that they get from their mother, but their immune system is not fully developed yet – hence the reason children seem to get sick more often than adults.

Ear infections are one of the more common childhood illnesses. Parents and doctors should be extra vigilant to make sure to treat ear infections in a timely manner. Follow up visits are also important to make sure the infection is cleared and no hearing damage has been done. One type of ear infection that isn’t often talked about is swimmer’s ear.

What is swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection that happens from lasting water in the ear. It occurs in the outer ear canal vs. the inner ear, where the majority of childhood ear infections occur. We all know how bacteria likes moist, warm environments, which is why a damp ear canal is a perfect breeding ground for a bacterial infection.

Fortunately, our ears have a pretty good defense mechanism against this type of infection (yes, that ear wax is good stuff!) so most children won’t have a problem every time they go in the water. However, swimmer’s ear is still a fairly common condition.

One question we get asked a lot, is if repeated bouts of this infection can cause hearing loss. Well, the short answer is no, but it can cause temporary hearing loss. If it is severe enough, and left untreated however, it can damage the ear, which CAN cause permanent hearing loss. This is why it is important to treat swimmer’s ear infections and take precautions to help prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Symptoms of swimmer’s ear

The symptoms of swimmer’s ear are pretty straightforward:

  • Redness of the ear
  • Itching in the ear canal
  • Discomfort in the ear when pressing down on it or pulling on the earlobe
  • Clear discharge from the ear
  • Temporary hearing loss – usually a muffled sound

Treatment of swimmer’s ear

Fortunately, swimmer’s ear can be easily treated by your pediatrician or family doctor. They will typically prescribe antibiotic eardrops that will take care of the infection within a few days. It is important to get in to your doctor as soon as possible though, to ensure the infection does not get any worse and cause more problems within the ear, including hearing loss.

Preventing swimmer’s ear

We mentioned earlier that not everyone who goes into the water will get swimmer’s ear. However, there are individuals who are prone to this type of infection for some reason. If you, or your child, happens to be one of those individuals, there are some easy tips to help avoid a repeat infection.

  • Keep water out of your ear! There are swim molds or swim plugs you can purchase over the counter at most pharmacies that work extremely well. For frequent swimmers, you might want to consider having a custom-made swim mold from your audiologist or hearing care professional.
  • If you swim in a pool, check to make sure that it is chlorinated or has some other sort of filtration system in place to cut down on bacteria.
  • If you are a lake or river swimmer, you should also check the quality the water before you go swimming in it. Most towns and cities do regular testing of open water and will be able to tell you the bacterial information.

If you need more information on ear plugs or ear molds, you can visit our website or give us a call.

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Don’t let your hearing aids collect dust!

Hearing AidsIn a recent study, half of hearing aid users said that their hearing aids improved their relationships, and one-third of the respondents even saw improvements in their romantic lives. Whatever your reason may be for not using your hearing aids, the truth is that you’re missing the chance to fully connect. Whether it’s details on the big project in the office, the latest gossip in a classroom hallway, or a heartfelt moment with your significant other, hearing is a critical part of your daily life.

Unlike eyeglasses, which can produce instant results, it takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Remember, your brain is being asked to process sounds it hasn’t heard in a long time – or ever. Be patient and give yourself at least six to eight weeks to acclimate.

For most people, the primary obstacle to wearing hearing aids seems to be the stigma of age. Age-related hearing loss is an increasingly important public health problem affecting approximately 40% of 55–74-year old’s. The primary clinical management intervention for people with hearing loss is hearing aids. However, the majority (80%) of adults aged 55–74 years who would benefit from a hearing aid, do not use them.

Older people with hearing loss, often end up being isolated from friends and family. Because they can’t follow conversations and communicate well, they turn down invitations to gather in social settings.  Hearing loss can also lead to higher levels of depression in the elderly.

Find a good audiologist to make sure that your hearing aids are comfortable, and meet your specific needs. In a recent study by Consumer Reports, two-thirds of hearing aids provided to customers were not fit well. Properly fitted hearing instruments need to not only be the right size, but also calibrated and amplified for your specific needs. If your first fit isn’t right, make another appointment with your hearing care specialist. Your fitter is as interested as you are in making sure you find hearing success.

Research often shows that clients feel “awkward” wearing hearing aids.  With so much new technology in design of hearing aids, that just isn’t a good reason any longer to not wear hearing devices. In today’s world, there are earpieces and personal electronic accessories galore. With the advent of Bluetooth wireless headsets, more and more people are walking around with something in their ears. The net result is that others may not even notice the hair-thin tubing of your hearing aid.

Another reason hearing aids end up in a drawer is because many users feel like they just don’t work well and require too much fuss. Features like adaptive directional microphones and feedback suppression can make a tremendous difference in hearing results. Directional microphones are useful in noisy environments. They tend to pick up speech or the primary source of interest and reduce competing sounds, making conversation much easier. Today’s hearing aids also include automatic feedback suppression, which greatly reduces the chances of high-pitched feedback or whistling.

Advanced Hearing Group can Help!

Finding the right hearing solution depends on many important variables, beginning with your audiologist. Work with an expert who determines your lifestyle and listening needs, and then matches the technology to meet those needs. Once you’ve found that hearing care partner and have selected your technology, establish a schedule of follow-up visits to make sure that your devices are addressing your needs, and that you have a successful fit.

Ready to get back into life at full volume? The first thing to do is be honest about why you’re not wearing your hearing aids. Then, come up with a realistic solution, set goals, and reward yourself for reaching them. Who knows? The sounds you recapture may very well become rewards in themselves!

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Traveling with Hearing Loss

aircraft-666832_1280Traveling should be filled with fun and excitement, however for individuals travelling with hearing loss, whether for vacation or work, it can often be scary and complicated. There are a few simple things you can do though, that can help to make your trip smooth and comfortable.

Air Travel

Maneuvering through the airport can be hectic enough. Add to that, not being able to hear flight changes, gate changes and the extra commotion, can make flying daunting for someone with hearing loss. One solution to help ease the stress of flying – enlist a travel partner. While sitting next to someone, kindly ask them to let you know if there is an announcement of any kind regarding your flight. Most fellow travelers are quite happy to help.

Another simple solution while flying. Let the flight crew know about your hearing loss and ask them to keep you informed of any situation that may arise on the flight. Most will be more than happy to make sure your flight is smooth and stress free. Keep in mind, hearing aids and other hearing devices do not need to be removed prior to airport screenings.

Many airlines offer mobile alerts via text or email. When booking your flight make sure to sign up for mobile alerts. This can be a life saver when your gate changes several times and your flight is delayed by hours.

Roadtrips

Travel by car, can also pose a few problems. Unless you are traveling alone, most of us taking a summer trip have the car packed from roof to floor with luggage and passengers.  If driving, make sure your phone is connected to Bluetooth so you can have hands free driving and see and hear map directions and other notifications. Remind passengers that they should wait to ask you questions when you don’t need to be focused on the road.  Making sure you can see them talking to you, will help with communication. Have passengers wear headphones so that there isn’t as much background noise while driving and listening for directions.

Out of Town Accommodations

So now you have reached your final destination and it’s time to relax. When checking into a hotel, ask for an “ADA Kit”. This will provide visual alerts for doors and alarm clocks.  Most new TV’s have simple closed caption (CC) buttons now that make watching TV easier.

Final Thoughts

A few other things to think about before heading out the door. Make sure that your adventures, tours, meetings and sightseeing events offer audio or interpreters. If you haven’t been treated for hearing loss, or know someone with symptoms of hearing loss, please see an audiologist to have a comprehensive hearing test.  There are solutions out there for hearing loss, and the sooner you or a loved one receives help, the sooner you can enjoy your travel adventures.

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Children with Hearing Loss Cope Together

children with hearing lossWhen your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, it can be scary and uncertain. You worry about what the future will hold for them and how their life will be impacted. With early intervention, hearing loss treatment and continued hearing loss therapy, your child’s future can still be brighter than ever. These two key components of coping with childhood hearing loss, combined with introducing your child to other children with hearing loss, is going to give them the best chance at achieving whatever goals have been set.

Early intervention is important

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA ensures that children who have hearing loss receive free, appropriate early intervention programs from birth to age 3, and throughout the school years, ages 3 to 21.

These early intervention programs and family-centered activities are essential. They will help your child stay on schedule with his or her speech, language, and communication skills. They will also enhance your own understanding of your child’s hearing loss and special communication needs. These programs support your family in a way that helps you feel confident in raising a child with hearing loss. These programs are designed to help keep track of your child’s progress and to make decisions for intervention and education each step of the way as your child develops.

The earlier that hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more serious the effect on the child’s development. Similarly, the earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begun, the more likely it is that the delays in speech and language development will be diminished. “Recent research indicates that children identified with hearing loss who begin services before 6 months old develop language spoken or signed on a par with their hearing peers.”

Continued hearing loss therapy is vitally important

After hearing loss treatment, continued hearing loss therapy can also support successful growth. As you can read about in one article, theater can be therapeutic. Similarly, another article discusses summer camps for kids with hearing loss. Here, they are able to make friends and make memories without worrying about their hearing loss or their limitations.

These types of programs help to improve oral language, social skills, communication and self-esteem. Including your children into programs or activities with others dealing with similar issues can help them to cope. In the first article, the program director noticed a pattern; students who’d had more early intervention, also had improved speech and reading ability. She also noticed that low-income students were slipping through the cracks and created a program to ensure that they were being supported through free enrichment programs, too. All children deserve the chance to enroll and find increased success no matter what income level they come from.

Our audiologists can help your child

Our audiologists are prepared to help with the early intervention and treatment of your child’s hearing loss. We also encourage you to discuss with us some of the options for continued therapy. Like you, we want the absolute best for your child and to help them hear well so that they can enjoy a future that is a little bit brighter.

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Hearing Aids: Help Get Rid of the Stigma!

Hearing Aids StigmaLack of credible knowledge and fears are the number one reason why most people who need hearing aids don’t get them. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, fewer than 25 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids get them, which means there are quite a few people who have an opportunity to improve their hearing. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that 17 percent of American adults, 36 million people, report some degree of hearing loss.

Myths Surrounding Hearing Aids

One of the biggest myths surrounding hearing aids is that they are big, bulky and ugly. Today’s hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, many of which are designed to be sleek and discreet. They range from the smallest in-the-ear (ITE) models that are tucked inside the ear canal to behind-the-ear (BTE) models which are versatile and easy to use. All of the major hearing aid manufacturers strive to make their products as small as possible.

Some people think that they only need one hearing aid and they will be just fine; even if they experience hearing loss in both ears. That just isn’t the case at all. It’s important to have your hearing checked by an audiologist, especially if you’ve noticed your hearing loss. By then, it is most likely already much worse than you realize. Most hearing losses are due to either natural aging or noise exposure over many years, and they almost always affect both ears. Your brain is wired to hear best with both ears sending it sound signals. Your hearing care professional will let you know if you need devices for both ears or not.

Another common myth out there, is that buying hearing aids online is a good idea. The fact of the matter is just the opposite. The shape of your ears, as well as the configuration and degree of your hearing loss, is completely unique to you. Just as you are unique, so should your hearing solution be as well. Only a hearing care professional can select the best hearing loss products to fit your individual need and your lifestyle. They will also make sure that they are properly fitted and working at optimum capacity.

Hearing Aids Aren’t Just for Old People

It’s also important to remember that hearing aids aren’t just for “old” people. Hearing loss can occur at any stage of life, and even some infants and young children wear hearing aids. We live in a noisy world, and that has caused Americans to begin losing their hearing at younger ages. Earbuds are the biggest threat to the hearing of young adults who spend a lot of time connected to their technology.

Your hearing is too important to ignore.  If you suspect hearing loss, it’s time to find a hearing professional. Someone you can trust who can guide you through the process. Our audiologists can help find a solution that is unique to your needs and help to restore your hearing.

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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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