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.

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists, Unsafe Sound Levels, Ear Protection, Teen Health, Hearing Loss | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists, Unsafe Sound Levels, Ear Protection, Teen Health, Hearing Loss | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized, Unsafe Sound Levels, Ear Protection, Teen Health, Hearing Loss | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

 

 

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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!

 

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists, Unsafe Sound Levels, Ear Protection, Teen Health, Hearing Loss | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

School Performance Depends on Hearing Health

Hearing loss in childrenChilds hearing lossEvery parent wants their child to be successful in school, but could your child’s hearing be affecting their performance? If you suspect your child is suffering from hearing loss or other hearing issues, it is important to speak with their physician or allow us to test your child’s hearing. In the first few years of life alone, hearing is a critical part of your child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. Even mild or partial hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop speech and language properly. Not being able to hear well can have a negative impact on your child’s school performance or their feelings towards school and getting their hearing evaluated this summer could be one very important decision.

There are many reasons as to why hearing loss may occur in your child. Some children are born with hearing impairments, while other reasons may include but are not limited to medications, ear infections, genetics, or even excessive and repeated exposure to loud noises. While newborn hearing screenings usually help identify hearing loss in infants, a school age child may also need their hearing tested. If you noticed that this summer your child needs things repeated, listens to the television at a loud level, seems withdrawn or depressed, has been falling behind in school, and so on, it may be time for a hearing assessment by one of our audiologists.

Early detection is important in managing any disease or disorder, and that includes hearing loss. For a child, hearing and speech are an essential part of their academic success and social journey. Children learn to communicate with the rest of the world by mocking the sounds they hear. If they cannot hear the sounds, a major piece of learning and development is missing. Delayed speech, social problems and academic difficulties could be avoided by having your child’s hearing tested this summer before they head back to school. Our audiologists are ready to treat your child with a variety of hearing loss tools and give your child their best chance of success this coming school year.

 

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists, Unsafe Sound Levels, Ear Protection, Teen Health, Hearing Loss | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ear Wax Removal: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We get it, ear wax seems kind of gross, however if you think of it as the result of your ear’s self-clean cycle, it doesn’t seem so bad! The beauty of our ears is that they are designed to produce cerumen – the technical term for ear wax – as a protective measure. Just look at all the benefits of this waxy substance:

  • It prevents germs, bacteria and even dust particles from entering into your sensitive inner ear
  • It slows the growth of bacteria that already lives in your ear canal
  • It serves as a protective barrier against water and other substances – keeping irritation, damage and infection at bay

With all the great benefits, it almost seems like ear wax removal is a bad thing; this isn’t necessarily the case though. A buildup of ear wax can cause irritation in your ear canal, an earache and is even responsible for hearing loss and tinnitus in some individuals. Excessive ear wax can also increase the amount of bacteria found in the ear, resulting in an ear infection.

So this begs the question – when should you resort to ear cleaning and when should you leave it alone? Well the simple answer is, it depends. Our ears are designed to be self-cleaning; ear wax is produced in the outer ear canal and as it slowly makes its way to the opening of the ear, it picks up bacteria and debris before it either falls out or is removed with normal washing. In normal conditions, there is really no need for ear wax removal or frequent ear cleaning since the ear does it by itself. However, there are exceptions.

Some individuals produce an excessive amount of ear wax and the ear is unable to remove it effectively. When this occurs, they can experience a feeling of “fullness” in the ear, an earache, tinnitus or ringing in the ear and even partial hearing loss. If this is the case, ear cleaning is a necessary, and vital, course of action. Another reason why ear wax removal may be necessary, is if individuals try to clean their ears and in the process push ear wax further down into the ear canal. In fact, the use of cotton swabs is the number one reason why ear wax gets impacted in the ear canal.

Ear wax removal is not as simple as sticking something down in your ear canal, swirling it around, and seeing what comes out. If you find yourself in a situation where you require a good ear cleaning, it would actually be a good idea to make an appointment with an audiologist and have it professionally cleaned; there is no risk of further damage and you can be assured that all the buildup ear wax is efficiently and effectively removed.

There are certainly home methods that you can try, such as mineral oil, ear cleaning solutions found at drugstores and irrigation. Most of them work pretty well, but certainly not as well as leaving it to a professional audiologist. One ear cleaning method you should never try is ear candling – the FDA recently issued an official statement saying that ear candling is “dangerous to health when used in the dosage or manner, or with the frequency or duration, prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the labeling thereof.” There have been reports of hair catching on fire, serious burns from dripping wax and even ruptured ear drums.

If you have a problem with excessive ear wax or suspect that your ear is plugged, give us a call and schedule an ear cleaning appointment with us. We will choose the safest technique for ear wax removal based on the severity of the impaction.

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Christina Gabler, Au.D.

ChristinaChristina Gabler, Au.D. helps patients in our Mesa office. She has been practicing Audiology at the Mesa location for a couple years.  Prior to AHG, she worked with the ENT patients.  She has completed clinical rotations throughout the Phoenix valley, as well as 1 ½ years at the Nevada School of Medicine and the Clark County School District. She has worked with patients ranging from 8 hours to over 100 years old.

Dr. Gabler is a native Phoenician, having attended High School at Sunnyslope High in Phoenix, AZ. She obtained by undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Deaf Studies at The University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.  Her Clinical Doctor of Audiology degree was obtained from A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. Completing graduate school and buying her own home are accomplishments that top of the list of her proudest moments.

Before pursuing her doctorate in Audiology, she was a speech therapist at a school for special needs children in Phoenix.  Dr. Gabler believes her four (4) years of experience at that school helped her to be a better practitioner today.

Dr. Gabler dreams of traveling the world.  In fact, one of her most ardent dreams is to eat and drink her way through Italy! It will happen someday! Her favorite thing to do is to play with her 3-year-old black lab/shar pei rescue and 1 ½ year old Maltese.  She is a crafting queen and love to hunt for good ideas and recipes on Pinterest.  She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with friends.

Dr. Gabler’s lifetime goal is to help as many people as possible. For her, the most rewarding part of her career it to see a person reconnect with their family through better hearing. Her motto is simple; laughter is always the best medicine and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you are missing out.

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists | Leave a comment

Understanding Tinnitus

Tinnitus is one of the most common health conditions in the United States, and currently affects more than 50 million Americans. This disorder can present as a temporary condition or a chronic one; according to the American Tinnitus Association, it is estimated that roughly 20 million people struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, and 2 million with extreme debilitating symptoms. So what exactly is tinnitus and how is it treated?

By definition, tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. Many people describe it as a constant ringing in the ears, however that is only one type of sound. Tinnitus can present itself as a hissing, buzzing, swooshing, whistling or even clicking in the ears. The majority of patients develop this disorder as a secondary condition of hearing loss.  As less outside sound stimuli travels to the brain due to hearing loss, the brain undergoes neuroplastic changes in how it processes the various sound frequencies, and tinnitus is the result.

While there is ongoing and promising research being done for the treatment of this condition, currently there is no proven cure for chronic tinnitus. Audiologists focus on managing the condition and finding the right combination of tools to allow patients to find relief and live productive lives. The most common treatment of symptoms is through utilization of hearing aids, sound therapies and behavioral therapies. By concentrating on the emotional and cognitive impact of tinnitus they allow patients to find ways to cope with the sound and redirect the brain to focus on other sounds.

Just because there is not currently a proven cure for tinnitus, does not mean that sufferers should not receive some form of treatment. Treating the symptoms of this disorder will stave off some of the more severe consequences of untreated tinnitus such as: depression, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, stress, lack of concentration and sleep issues. There are several different treatments available to help overcome the burden of tinnitus including the following:

  • Sound Therapy – Since tinnitus is a non-auditory internal sound produced by the brain, utilizing real external sounds can help to counteract or mask the sound of tinnitus.
  • Hearing Aids – Due to the fact that the majority of tinnitus patients have some form of hearing loss, treating the hearing loss and allowing external sounds to once again reach the brain, can often relieve tinnitus symptoms.
  • Behavioral Therapy – Since tinnitus can cause some serious emotional issues such as depression, anger and anxiety, focusing on the patient’s emotional reaction to the condition and giving them the tools to manage that reaction can be one of the most effective treatments.
  • Drug Therapy – There are not any medications that can cure or alleviate tinnitus, however many patients use anti-anxiety or anti-depression drugs to help control their emotional reaction to the condition, giving them some relief.

Here at Advanced Hearing Group we see tinnitus patients on a daily basis and understand the pain and frustration of this condition. Our audiologists have several options that, depending on the severity of the tinnitus, will help overcome the burden of this disorder. Check out our website for a list of hearing aids specifically designed with tinnitus treatment options.

Posted in Heath and Wellnes, Audiology, Hearing Tests, Audiologists | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment