September is World Alzheimer’s Month.

Each year in September, there is an international effort to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and the stigma attached to the disease. Dementia is a nonreversible decline in mental functions. As a result, thought, memory, emotion, language and awareness of surroundings are all affected.

Alzheimer’s is a disease and the most common form of dementia. Sixty to 80% of dementia cases are attributed to the disease, Alzheimer’s. Dementia can be caused by other things, Parkinson’s, alcoholism and high blood pressure.

Globally, two out of three people believe there is little to no understanding of dementia in their countries even though Alzheimer’s is projected to impact 152 million people world-wide by 2050.
There are factors that put you more at risk for dementia. Those factors include: rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, obesity and – untreated hearing loss.

Audiology Associates of Redding is ready to help you control one of those factors that put you at risk: hearing loss. Each of the factors increases your risk of getting dementia three to six more times than someone who does not have one of the factors. A hearing evaluation and hearing aids from Audiology Associates of Redding can help you decrease your risks.

Early Indicators of Alzheimer’s Disease


Early indicators of Alzheimer’s are a more serious than occasionally forgetting where you put your keys. They do include memory loss, but also problems finding the right word in a conversation as well as the right name for an object, problems understanding what people are saying, not being able to perform that were previously routine tasks as well as personality and mood changes.

Some other early warning signs are: getting lost in familiar places, trouble handling cash and paying bills, repeating the same questions over and over in a very short time, placing items in odd places and confusion over time and events. Personality changes that occur include paranoia and distrust of family members as well as caregivers. As Alzheimer’s progresses, the ability to function in any sort of environment decreases.

Cognition and Hearing Loss


Hearing loss is a fact of aging. There are 48 million Americans dealing with hearing loss now. As you get older, the chances of losing your hearing do increase. After age 75, a majority of people do have some hearing loss. Dr. Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist with Johns Hopkins University, studied cognitive decline and hearing loss and the conclusions of those studies is that treating hearing loss can help ward off cognitive decline and dementia. Too often adults wait up to seven years before getting treatment for their hearing loss.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Power


To keep your cognitive abilities sharp, you must use your brain and you must have some outside stimulation. Social interaction, driving, shopping and even walking in the park are all great brain exercises. Baking, doing the crossword puzzle and playing word games, even reading all help keep you sharp.

Untreated hearing loss causes your brain to struggle repeatedly with what fragments of conversations mean. It puts what scientists call a “cognitive load” on certain areas of the brain and not others. If you are using too much of your brain for one thing – other cognitive abilities are reduced.

Most people with untreated hearing loss tend to withdraw from activities outside the home. They find it embarrassing to not be able to hear conversations and respond correctly. Those with untreated hearing loss withdraw from their friends and social circles. This cuts out a valuable piece of social interaction that keeps your cognitive abilities sharp. Untreated hearing loss also has been recognized as one of the leading causes of depression in seniors. Lack of socialization as well as depression have long been recognized as factors that can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.

Audiology Associates of Redding


Studies show hearing aids improve both the emotion and physical qualities of a person’s life. Additionally, when someone treats their hearing loss, others around them recognize that the quality of their interactions improve!

Hearing clearly helps you connect with family, friends, and the world around you. Let Audiology Associates of Redding, with our decades of experience, help you. We offer competitive pricing, the patience and knowledge to explain the latest in hearing aid technology and how it can help you.

Coming to Terms with Your Hearing Loss

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Losing one of your all-important senses can be a wrenching jolt that is tough to come to grips with. At Audiology Associates of Redding, we understand, and our caring and compassionate staff – as well as Peach the mascot – are ready to help you understand that hearing loss is a challenge that can be overcome.


You are likely feeling distress, angry, frustrated and maybe you are still in a little bit of denial thinking you should just deal with it or work around it. The best course of action is to take action – call today for hearing evaluation and the team at Audiology Associates will help you improve your hearing and reconnect with family, friends and the world around you. Remember, you are not the first person to experience hearing loss and here are some suggestions about coping and helping those around you to adjust.

Look to the Future


One audiologist equates hearing loss like losing a loved one. “It’s a death of a part of an individual,” says Dr. Angela Nelson, a California audiologist. “[You have] to move through the grief process.” You may need to reach out to friends and family for help and you may need to discuss your feelings with a therapist.”


“A good support system is essential,” adds Aaron Moberly, a doctor with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Moberly says adults who get hearing aids have to learn to hear through the devices and that may take a little time for some.


The average adult waits too long before getting hearing treatment. The most recent statistics show an adult lives with hearing loss for up to seven years before getting treatment. And no one is exactly sure why people wait, the explanation varies from “it’s a part of aging” – so is vision difficulties but everyone gets those corrected to “hearing aids will make me look old” – a lot of the new models sit in your ear canal or just inside your ear and are not visible.

 

Helping a Loved One


If you have someone in your life with a hearing issue there are some things you can do to help them out.


*Be aware of background noises like the television or dishwasher. You may not even notice the background noises anymore, but a hearing-impaired person has difficulty filtering conversational tones from background noise.


*Say the person’s name before you start talking so their attention is on you.


*Speak slowly and clearly - and don’t shout. Raising your voice distorts the sound and it also will mask the visual cues a person could get from watching you speak in a normal tone. Don’t talk with your hand in front of your face.


*Look at the person you are talking to so they can watch your facial cues and hand gestures.


*Conversation will be easier in a lighted, quiet area.


*Don’t get frustrated. The individual with hearing loss may be angry they can’t hear and angry people are asking them to turn down the volume on the television and angry they are being told to go to the doctor. Anger is normal both for the individual with hearing loss and other family members who think they may be being ignored because the individual can’t hear them.



There’s Lots of Options


The professional team at Audiology Associates of Redding all are committed to helping you hear better. We have decades of experience and our state-of-the-art facility has the technical bells and whistles – but we’ve also got cookies and coffee! We can go through your options and share resources with you when you make an appointment for a hearing evaluation.


Not getting your hearing treated means closing off some of a lot of your connections to the world around you. Untreated hearing loss can lead to isolation and depression and it can have a negative effect on family dynamics.


If your loved one is getting a hearing evaluation, be supportive – you can come along to the appointment. Sometimes that little bit of support is all they need to come in.

 

Audiology Associates of Redding


Putting aside your negative thoughts about hearing loss and seeking treatment is such an empowering experience. We can talk to you about all the amazing technology that is involved in the new hearing aids. There’s a model for you to fit your lifestyle and we’ll help you find it. Contact us today at Audiology Associates of Redding.

In the Loop: Get the Most out of Your Hearing with Hearing Loop Technology

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Imagine spaces as small as a city cab to a large train station to a music auditorium as being inclusive environments to those with hearing impairments. With the advent of the audio induction loop, it is possible now for many public spaces to be navigated with greater ease and clarity. Here, we take a look at the remarkable technology of hearing loops.

 

What is the “Loop”?

Audio Frequency Induction Loop Systems (AFILS) is known commonly as the “Loop”.

Let’s start with the environment that the loop system is a part of. Look for a label indicating that the site has the “Loop” system available. The location will be equipped with a microphone connected to an amplifier. The amplifier is connected to wires within and around the floor or ceiling of the space. It then sends out a current which generates magnetic signals. Your hearing device or cochlear implant is equipped with a telecoil that picks up the magnetic signals.

Telecoils are also available in other assistive listening devices such as the IR (Infrared) or FM systems with a neck loop. The “Loop” system is known for delivering clarity in sound and speech in otherwise highly challenging environments for people with hearing loss. It cuts out distortion and enables the user to hear speech clearly without having to fight to differentiate it from background noise.  

The flexibility of the system means environments that were once a nightmare for the hearing impaired to navigate are now much less so. From ticket booths to the corner pharmacy to pick up prescriptions to musical plays to places of worship, the Loop system is opening up a world where sounds are not a source of anguish for those with hearing loss.

The “Loop” system is gaining traction with businesses and institutions worldwide. The push for public awareness and education is making the system advantageous for those in need and for places that have to be ADA compliant.

 

The Advantages of Hearing Loops 

Sound Quality

The system delivers the clarity of speech despite ambient and noisy background sounds. The user can receive sound programmed to their needs and in accordance with their own personally programmed requirements. Because of the loop induction system installed in the space, the telecoil in the user’s hearing device is picked up directly! 

Across the board

One of the reasons the “Loop” is highly advocated is that communication is effectively facilitated over a wide range of public and private environments. These range from an apartment to an auditorium!

Travel-friendly

You can experience clarity of sound while dealing with ticket counters for trains, airports, and buses or getting your prescriptions at pharmacies. All you have to do is switch your device to its telecoil program based on your hearing needs and you’re ready to go!

Easy to implement

It’s not necessary to switch to headphones or earbuds used by others in public places. You have a greater level of hygiene and that is a big plus for the health of your ears.

Finally, imagine a high level of clear speech and sound being delivered to your personal hearing device that is barely noticeable to others. It makes for a more inclusive experience!

As of 2010, the ADA Standard for Accessible Design continued its advocation for more public awareness and implementation of the “Loop” in venues that are required to be ADA compliant. This means those with hearing loss can look forward to engaging in an even broader spectrum of activities that a lot of us take for granted.

Surveys have shown user experiences of the “Loop” system have been graded extremely high and that there really is a need for further public education and advocacy to both those with hearing loss and those without.

 

Are My Hearing Aids Equipped with Telecoils?

If you currently have hearing aids and are curious if they’re equipped with telecoils, contact us at Audiology Associates of Redding. Our hearing professionals will be able to let you know, and we’ll also take the time to explain the benefits of the loop induction system to you so that you can enjoy a more inclusive and wider range of hearing experiences. We can also inform you of programming options that will fit your needs and better serve you.

 

Audiology Associates of Redding

At Audiology Associates of Redding, we take pride in empowering people with the information and education to better their hearing health for their overall well-being. We look forward to your call, and our first appointment together for a healthier, happier you!

 

 

 

The Role of Ears in the Balance System

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Have you ever watched a gymnast on the balance beam and wondered how it is possible to do such amazing acrobatic feats while remaining on a thin elevated object? The things that gymnasts can do are truly amazing, and these feats rely on a fully integrated body with multiple sensors acting in concert.  

On the other end of the spectrum, some people have serious balance disorders that make it impossible to walk a straight line or travel without getting nauseous or faint. For those of us with functional balance systems, our bodies need to use a number of sensory organs at the same time to create a feeling of uprightness and orientation to space. Among these many sensory organs that enable us to maintain balance, the ears are a crucial piece of the puzzle.

How Our Bodies Keep Balance

In one basic sense, our skin, muscles, and joints respond to the sensory stimuli of the world and send that information back to the brain for orientation and balance. We have all had the experience of being knocked off balance by something or tripping, and our bodies sense the ground or other objects to distribute bodily weight and grasp on to something for balance. Slipping on a patch of ice is a great example of the utility of skin, muscles, and joints in the re-orientation process after losing balance. Though one foot may move in a way it does not expect to do, the other can plant itself on steady ground, shifting weight in that direction to avoid a total collapse.

The eyes also play an important part in the process. Visual cues are used to balance the body and brain, and the eyes have to do extra work to avoid blurred vision when we quickly move or reorient. The eyes are important to a sense of equilibrium while riding in a car or boat, and disturbances in that visual connection can lead to motion sickness. The eyes are even necessary to keep a feeling of balance while moving relatively slowly, such as walking or jogging. If we move too quickly with our eyes closed, we can have the experience of disorientation or even vertigo.

In addition to these important sensory organs in the development of balance, our ears may be the most vital.

Our Ears & Balance

A tiny organ in the inner ear, known as the vestibular system, enables our bodies to connect with our brains to maintain balance. This fragile system is made up of three semi-circular canals and two pockets, called the otolith organs, and this system constantly sends sensory information to the cerebellum about the position of the body in space. Without a functional vestibular system, our bodies can feel completely out of whack. This system is particularly important in measuring changes in head position. Something as simple as nodding or shaking the head moves fluid inside the inner ear to stimulate the tiny hairs in the vestibular system. When these hairs are moved even slightly by the fluid stimulus, the brain will receive subtle information about bodily position in space. With that information in use, the brain is able to respond by telling the body what to do in response.

Protecting the ears can be an important behavior to maintain a good sense of balance and overall equilibrium. If the ears have a buildup of earwax, or cerumen, they can affect the ability of the vestibular system to properly respond to changes in bodily and head orientation.

Keep the ears clean in a safe way will make sure you are able to balance and move through the world without trouble. However, damage to the inner ear can also have an effect on equilibrium. If the vestibular system is damaged by debris, excess fluid, or even an attempt to clean the ears too deeply with a cotton swap, equilibrium can be damaged. Ears should be cleaned only in the exterior with a clean, soft cloth or cotton swab, but be sure not to insert anything into the ears. Tempting as it may be, you may be doing more harm than good. If regular cleaning of the outer ear seems to be insufficient to remove earwax, see a hearing specialist for professional assistance.

Audiology Associates of Redding

At Audiology Associates of Redding, we provide comprehensive hearing health services – and that includes keeping your ears healthy. If you suspect you may have impacted earwax, visit us for a hearing test and consultation.

Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters

We understand that it is not easy telling others about your hearing loss. Often, many people go out of their way to do just the opposite, feeling the information is too personal or embarrassing.  However, studies are finding that disclosing your hearing loss can be beneficial to making conversations and communication easier.

 

Three Disclosure Methods

A recent Duke University study focused on the disclosure methods of 337 people with hearing loss. The gathered data showed that there are three main strategies people use when navigating their hearing loss and author Jessica S. West, M.P.H codified them as follows:

Nondisclosure: phrases that do not disclose hearing loss. “Can you please repeat that?”

Basic disclosure: phrases that disclose hearing loss through the term, a label, or details about the condition. “I have partial deafness. Can you speak more loudly, please?”

Multipurpose disclosure: phrases that disclose hearing loss and provide information to facilitate communication. “I wear hearing aids to help with my hearing loss, but it also helps me to read your lips when we talk.”

These findings help healthcare providers better equip their patients with information for addressing hearing loss accommodation. It also prevents social isolation felt by those with disabling hearing loss or deafness and other communication disabilities.

 

Benefits of Disclosure

All of these methods offer benefits for effective communication, but multipurpose disclosure may be most advantageous in many situations. Though it discloses more personal information about your hearing loss, it simultaneously sets up a system of support and accommodation for effective communication going forward. It is the fastest and most direct approach of the three methods.

Communicating effectively is the common denominator for all of these methods. Perhaps not every situation requires multipurpose disclosure, but a basic disclosure of hearing impairment brings attention to any conversation. These methods also bring visibility to the hearing impaired and deaf community, which is a population of approximately 48 million in the US alone.

 

Women in the Study

The study at Duke University found women to be more open and skillful at disclosing their hearing loss to those with which they are communicating. Statistics tell us that women are twice as likely to employ a multipurpose disclosure to improve communication than their male counterparts. The women participating in the study also reported positive reactions to multipurpose disclosure saying it helped them feel supported and it helped improve communication.

 

Education

Hearing loss can be a very personal disability, not easily discussed in casual company. It can be quite daunting and uncomfortable to disclose your hearing loss to new people. However, when you take on the burden of listening harder or missing out on information, you put yourself at risk for other hearing loss-related factors like hearing fatigue and social isolation.

One recommendation of the Duke University study was for hearing health professionals to better educate their patients about various disclosure methods and be open to suggest accommodations for effective communication. The hearing loss population is often ‘invisible,’ which is to say that not everyone with disabling hearing loss wears a hearing aid or other device that might offer a visual cue to an observer. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately 16 percent of adults aged 20-69 who could benefit from hearing aids have never used them. Even when a hearing aid is present, it may be so discreet or hidden that a method of disclosure is still the best course.

In more complex settings like school or work, disclosing hearing loss can simplify the experience. It can make conversing easier on a large scale with many people accommodating your needs, adjusting and adapting the ways in which they communicate. Disclosing can even shift your social habits. Friends or family may suggest lunch in a park or quiet cafe rather than a busy restaurant. They may also be amenable to chatting during a nice drive rather than blasting loud music.

 

Audiology Associates of Redding

These are just some examples of multipurpose disclosure and their potential long-lasting benefits. No matter which method is best for you, it is important to make sure that you are on top of your hearing health and seeking treatment for hearing loss. At Audiology Associates of Redding, we provide comprehensive hearing health services and are here to help. Schedule an appointment or consultation with our team today!

Things to Consider when Selecting Hearing Aids

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If you've made the leap to treat your hearing loss and are on the path to selecting the right hearing aid then congratulations! You have just made it over a hurdle that takes the majority of people living with hearing loss ten years or more! Now you can choose the hearing aid that is right for you.  There are a lot of options out there and like with any big investment it’s best to educate yourself and start your search prepared.

The first thing you need to understand when you are looking for hearing aids is that they are not “one size fits all.”  If you’ve spent any time researching hearing aids or talking to your hearing provider at Audiology Associates of Redding, you know there are hundreds of hearing aid models to choose from. There are so many models, styles, and features (not to mention a huge range of prices), that choosing the right hearing aid for your needs can be very overwhelming. Picking the right hearing aid depends on your specific hearing loss, lifestyle, and the sounds that are most important for you to hear.

Different Kinds of Hearing Aids

It’s important to understand that, regardless of the hearing aid manufacturer, hearing aids are available at many different technology levels, but most of them fall into a basic, standard, or premium category. The different levels do not represent the quality of the devices, only the number and types of features available in each model.

Typically, as hearing aids are developed, the most advanced features are introduced into premium-level devices first—and they’re the most expensive. However, as newer or more refined features are implemented, the older features trickle down to the standard- and basic-level devices.

Your Unique Hearing Loss

Everyone hears differently, so it’s important to talk to your provider about a hearing aid that will address your unique needs. Since they know your hearing strengths and weaknesses, they can guide you toward a hearing aid that is the right fit for you. Different people need different features in order to hear optimally.

While older hearing aids only had one channel (meaning an entire range of hearing), modern hearing aids have anywhere from about 4 channels up to 24 or more channels available in some premium models. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone has to have the most channels possible. An individual with hearing loss that is the same across all frequencies may do just fine with a basic-level hearing aid that has fewer channels, because they need the same amount of amplification across the entire range of hearing. This is why it’s important to have your hearing tested by a professional before looking for a pair of hearing aids. The results from your test will determine the solution that will bring you the most benefit.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle plays a big part in the type of hearing aid you might need and the features that will be best for you. An individual who works long hours, spends lots of time on the phone, and needs to be able to understand conversation in large meetings has different needs than the person who spends more time working at home, not needing to converse in a quieter environment. Certain features, like advanced speech enhancement or noise reduction, may make more or less of a difference to you based on the activities you participate in most. It’s best to talk to your provider about which features are more critical for your unique hearing loss, so you can make an informed decision about your hearing health. That way you won’t end up investing in a hearing aid with features you won’t use.

Hearing Needs

Another important factor to consider is the exact sounds you want to hear. For example, it would be easy to assume that someone with only a slight hearing loss, who is generally in very easy listening environments, would do well with a basic-level hearing aid. However, an individual in that same situation who plays guitar, may want a hearing aid with advanced features that provides more clarity, so they can still enjoy a favorite hobby.

Overall, there are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a hearing aid, from price to lifestyle to your specific hearing needs. That’s why a provider is so important. At Audiology Associates of Redding, we can give you an exam and help guide you to the hearing aids that are not only right for your ears, but will also fit your lifestyle.

Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

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Although hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, it is often left untreated. This is due to the fact that it is considered an invisible condition, and as a result, people experiencing it tend to make listening adjustments while engaged in conversation. The consequences of untreated hearing loss are costly as it leads to not only functional impacts of communication, but also social, emotional, and other health impacts such as social isolation, depression, and even dementia. Overtime, untreated hearing loss can lead to rifts in once close knit relationships and even challenges and troubles at the workplace.

If you have recently noticed a loved one exhibiting the signs of hearing loss– turning up the volume high on the TV and phone and radio; asking you to repeat yourself often; avoiding social gatherings and interactions – you may want to bring up the issue with your loved one and encourage them to seek out treatment. Although hearing loss can be a sensitive topic, taking that first step in addressing it with your loved one is crucial in improving their hearing loss. Here are some tips for encouraging your love one to take a hearing test.


Do Your Research on Hearing Loss

Before stepping up to the plate and taking a swing at having that conversation about hearing loss with your loved one, do your research first. Learning the facts about hearing loss will give you the necessary tools to have a much more constructive conversation. Both the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) provide information on signs of hearing loss, the consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated, and the different types and causes of hearing loss. This type of knowledge will be greatly helpful in approaching how you have that conversation with your loved one.


The Importance of Picking a Quiet Time and Place

The sensitivity of talking about hearing loss with a loved one means choosing the right time and place is crucial. Those facing hearing loss may be hesitant to initially engage in such a conversation, so picking a quiet and isolated place is preferred. It’s best to have the conversation one-on-one conversation as opposed to a large group setting, as a group setting may feel too much like an intervention. Be sure to find a place that is quiet as to respect the hearing ability of your loved one. Being in overly noisy places only makes the conversation even harder for the person you’re trying to engage with.


Use “I” Statements Instead of “You” Statements

Approaching the conversations with “you” statements may push the person you’re trying to engage away further. Instead of using statements like “You are never listening” or “You are always asking me to repeat myself,” trying reframing the conversation by using “I” statements to allow the listener to see it from your point of view. You may want to try saying something like, “I’ve noticed that when we’re talking, I find that I must repeat myself often.” Framing this from a point of concern that you have takes a little bit of the pressure off of your loved one, who may already be feeling sensitive about the topic.


Listen Actively and Ask Open-Ended Questions

After you’ve shared your viewpoints and concerns about your loved one’s hearing loss, allow them the platform to speak their mind and share their thoughts. More likely than not, your loved one has already noticed the changes in their own hearing ability, but is worries or anxious about seeking treatment. Listen actively to what they share and ask open ended questions to further engage with them on this important conversation. You may find that approaching the conversation in this manner may be more constructive.


Encourage Your Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

Even though many adults haven’t gotten a hearing test since our childhood years, it is a painless and quick procedure. The most positive thing about them is that they provide a great deal of information about one’s hearing abilities. If you’re able to reach the point in conversation with your loved one about seeking treatment, share with them the research you’ve conducted about the benefits of treating hearing loss and the positive outcomes. Share with them that the first step towards hearing health is by going through with a hearing test.


Reach Out to Audiology Associates of Redding Today

If your loved one is responsive and in agreement to possibly take a hearing test, offer them support on their journey towards better hearing health. To schedule a hearing test, reach out to us at Audiology Associates of Redding today. Our team is here to help you and your loved one with comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid suggestions. Give us a call today to make an appointment!

Add an Annual Hearing Test To Your New Year's Resolutions!

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It’s 2019 and we’re certain you have improving your health on that resolution checklist. Each year we all resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, or quit drinking and smoking as a way to improve our overall health. Yet rarely do we think about our hearing health as part of our overall health. Hearing loss is more prevalent than you think; close to 48 million Americans are affected by it. If you haven’t already, add hearing health to that New Year’s resolution list and be on your way to improving your hearing health this year!

 

Why Hearing Tests Matter

According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before seeking help. This is because hearing loss is often gradual, allowing us to make slight adjustments to our listening. Those with low to moderate hearing loss might not even be aware they have hearing loss due to this reason.

Hearing tests are important because they allow a hearing health professional to monitor changes in your hearing abilities over time and to provide early treatment if necessary. If you find yourself struggling in everyday conversations or turning up the volume on your TV, you may be suffering from some sort of hearing loss. Even if you believe that nothing is wrong with your hearing ability, getting a hearing test is important for your overall hearing health.

 

Understanding Safe Sound Levels

Sounds are all around us. From the moment we wake up, we are exposed to them. From your alarm clock to the honks and sirens on your daily commute, these sounds may turn into unwanted noise that impacts your hearing health. That’s why it’s crucial in knowing how loud is too loud.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and the higher the number, the higher the intensity. According to audiologists, the safe level is 85 decibels (dB). For example, normal everyday conversation is measured at 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is 95 dB. Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.

Hearing loss caused by noise, or Noise-induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), is the only type of hearing loss that is preventable, so it is important to take the necessary steps in protect our hearing health.

 

Easy Steps to Protect Your Hearing Health

If you regularly find yourself in noisy environments, you should think about taking preventative measures to mitigate any potential hearing loss. Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, when using loud equipment at work or at home. Foam earplugs are readily available at your local pharmacy. Earmuffs can be purchased at either sporting goods or safety equipment stores. If you need more specialized hearing protection, reach out to a hearing health clinic.

In addition to purchasing protection, limiting your exposure to noisy activities helps. You can monitor your listening level on the TV or on your music device. If you’re out and about in a louder environment, stay as far away as you can from the sound source.

 

Healthy Diets and Lifestyle Habits Impact Hearing Health

Although the leading cause for hearing loss is most associated to unsafe levels of noise exposure, research also links hearing loss to our diet and lifestyle habits. A well balanced diet not only impacts your weight, but the vitamins consumed within your daily diet helps maintain your long-term hearing.

Harmful lifestyle habits like smoking are also detrimental to our hearing health. A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research analyzed eight years of health data on over 50,000 people. The findings revealed that smokers were 1.2 to 1.6 times more likely to suffer from hearing loss compared to their non-smoking counterparts. The toxins and carcinogens can destroy vital hearing components within the inner ear and auditory processing nerves in our brain.

 

Make an Appointment with Audiology Associates of Redding

If you’ve never set foot inside an audiologist’s office, be proactive and make that appointment to get your hearing tested today. Even your hearing is normal, it is important to establish a baseline to contrast future hearing tests and seek the right treatment. If the hearing test indicates some sort of hearing loss, our hearing health specialists at Audiology Associations of Redding will guide you and find out the best way to improve your hearing health moving forward!

What To Expect At A Hearing Test

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If you suspect you are suffering from hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis, or another auditory ailment, your treatment will likely begin with a hearing test. Brief, comfortable and affordable, hearing tests inform your audiologist about your hearing condition. A comprehensive hearing examinations usually lasts 30-45 minutes, depending on which tests are required.  There are many different types of tests that work together to decipher your auditory health status. A thorough hearing test can also help define the type of hearing loss you have: conductive, sensorineural or mixed and whether it will respond best to medical treatment or hearing aids.

 

Consultation with Your Audiologist

To begin, your audiologist will review your personal information and health history. This healthcare professional will ask questions designed to learn more about your hearing concerns. You may be asked about your symptoms, your history to noise exposure, your family’s history of hearing loss, and the specific types of environments in which you experience difficulty hearing. Feel free to jot down notes ahead of time so that you are prepared and confident.

 

Physical Examination

Once your audiologist understands your specific situation, a physical examination of your ears will be conducted by looking into them with an instrument called an otoscope. Using this tool, your audiologist can view your eardrum and look for issues such as a build up of earwax obstructing the ear canal or infections of the middle ear.

 

Hearing Tests

Here are the most common hearing tests that you can expect at an exam:

1) Pure Tone Audiometry Test

Hearing tests usually occur in a quiet, sound-treated room designed to keep out other noises, which could interfere with your hearing exam. You will be asked to wear headphones or soft earplugs with wires connected to an instrument called an audiometer that is used to conduct the test.  Your test administrator will communicate and provide instructions through the headphones. A series of tones at different pitches and different volumes will play. You will be asked to trigger a button or raise your hand when you hear them. You will need to listen carefully because it is important to respond even if the tone sounds very subtle and you can barely decipher it. The test measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency tested. This part of the test is called pure tone audiometry.

 

2) Speech Audiometry Test

A speech audiometry test is another component of most hearing tests; it uses recorded or live speech instead of pure tones. The speech portion of the exam evaluates the softest speech sounds, or the threshold that you can hear and comprehend. You will be asked to repeat back the words that are presented at different levels to see if you can understand them accurately. Some practitioners use speech sounds to determine your most comfortable listening level.

3) Tuning Fork Test

Some audiologists use a tuning fork to assess the ability of sound to move through your ears. This is a metal device with two prongs that creates a tone as it vibrates. The tuning fork may be placed behind your ear or on your head during the test. Your doctor can tell whether there’s an issue with sound getting to your nerves or the nerves themselves based on how you hear and process the tone.

 

4) Audiogram

The results of your hearing tests will be recorded as an audiogram, a visual representation of your hearing abilities in frequencies and decibels. It will reveal the percentage of normal conversational speech that you are capable of hearing. Your audiologist will review your results with you, and if a hearing loss is detected, you will learn about the type, pattern, and degree of your hearing loss.  The measure of your hearing loss is calculated in decibels (dB) by using the following categories:

  • Normal hearing (0 to 25 dB HL)

  • Mild hearing loss (26 to 40 dB HL)

  • Moderate hearing loss (41 to 70 dB HL)

  • Severe hearing loss (71 to 90 dB HL)

  • Profound hearing loss (greater than 91 dB HL)

 

Your audiologist will make connections between the audiogram and your concerns about your hearing, so that you can begin to explore your personal treatment options.

 

Treating Hearing Loss

After your hearing test, your newfound knowledge of your hearing health will help to inform your treatment plan moving forward. Using the latest developments in auditory research, state-of-the-art technology, and years of education and experience, our team at Audiology Associates of Redding will be able to find an effective treatment that works for you and get you back on the road to healthy hearing!

November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month

Audiology Associates of Redding - November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month.jpg

November is a time to come together with loved ones, friends and family as we start the winter holiday season. With the social flurry that comes with November, it isn’t a coincidence that this is also National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s Awareness promotes disease education and furthers efforts towards effective treatment and the race for a cure. Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating form of dementia, usually occurs with advancing age and is marked by cognitive decline, memory issues and disorientation. Dementia can have a profound effect on a person’s quality of life and mobility.

Unfortunately, hearing loss and dementia are not entirely unconnected. Hearing loss isn’t just an issue with your ears. Leaving hearing loss untreated has huge ramifications for cognitive functioning and places stress on the mind. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s disease. When dementia is present, untreated hearing loss can exacerbate existing symptoms.

There is good news though - while most hearing loss is permanent, it can also be effectively treated with hearing aids. Treating hearing loss has been shown to relieve cognitive stress. Additionally, treating hearing loss helps us stay connected to the people and things we value in life. If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing issues, it’s time to schedule a hearing exam.

 

Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Disease

While the connections between dementia and hearing loss may not be intuitive, they make sense when you understand the impact that hearing loss has on the mind. Hearing loss largely affects the activity of the mind making it close to the cognitive concerns of dementia.

Permanent hearing loss is mostly rooted in damage to the sensory cells of the inner ear. Tiny hair cells become damaged throughout our lifetime. They lack the ability to repair themselves, so damaged hair cells will never regrow or reform, they simply cease to function. When a significant number of hair cells are no longer functional, it starts to manifest as hearing loss. Distinct details about sound and speech become hard to distinguish.

When this happens, our brain tries to pick up the slack for us. While the mechanics of the ear are used to detect sound, interpreting the meaning of a sound is done in the brain. The less incoming sound signals we receive, the harder it becomes to discern that meaning. The brain working under the stress of hearing loss, devotes more resources towards understanding important noises, like speech, taking energy away from other cognitive tasks. While working harder can compensate a little bit for the hearing loss, mostly it is just challenging and exhausting mental work. Attention given to the task of hearing is taken away from other important mental jobs - like coordination and balance, encouraging the likelihood of accidents and falling.

This cognitive strain is also thought to be a major factor in why Alzheimer’s is more prevalent in people with untreated hearing loss. The effort and resources used for trying to hear create shortcomings in other areas of the brain and may put more stress on people who are already susceptible to dementia.

 

Hearing Loss and Isolation

Untreated hearing loss also has a role in conditions that can worsen Alzheimer’s disease. Social isolation and lack of mobility can be fed by hearing loss and lead to the symptoms of dementia deepening. Social isolation is a health issue where a person lacks connection and communication with the world around them.

Hearing loss makes it harder to connect with the world. Trouble hearing makes it more stressful to participate in social activities, even interacting with family and close friends. Anxiety and stress brought on by untreated hearing loss make it progressively harder to engage socially. By withdrawing from regular interactions and activities, a person puts themselves at risk of isolation.

The symptoms of dementia can worsen significantly if isolation and hearing loss are also involved. A person already undergoing cognitive issues can become more confused and upset when isolation is a factor. Hearing loss creates further barriers in communication.

 

Treat Hearing Loss

Treating hearing loss has shown to be a remarkable source of cognitive relief. In a recent French study almost 80% of patients receiving hearing loss treatment showed significantly better cognitive functioning one year later. If you or a loved one is facing hearing issues, now is the season to address your hearing health.

Your hearing is part of this season of connecting with family and loved ones and Audiology Associates of Redding can help. Contact us today to open the path to life-long hearing health.