Hearing loss is a common problem in our society. It is due to the effects of noise, aging, disease and heredity. Hearing is a complex sense that involves not only the sensitivity of the ear but also the ability to understand speech. Here are some facts from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 28 million Americans have a hearing impairment.
- The incidence of loss increases with age. Approximately 30% of people over age 65 and 40%-50% of people over age 75 have hearing loss. The incidence is greater in men.
- Only 1 in 5 people who could benefit from wearing a hearing aid actually wear one.
- At least 12 million Americans have tinnitus. Of those 12 million, at least 1 million experience a severe form that interferes with their daily activities and life.
- Approximately ten million Americans have suffered irreversible noise induced hearing loss and at least 30 million more are exposed to dangerous noise levels every day.
- There are approximately 4,000 new cases of sudden deafness occur yearly in the United States. Of those cases, the loss affects only one ear in 90% of the cases. In addition, only 10%-15% of patients with sudden deafness know what caused their loss.
CONSEQUENCES OF UNTREATED HEARING LOSS
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on an individual’s emotional, physical and social well-being. People that suffer are more likely to report symptoms of depression. In addition, they also express more dissatisfaction with friendships/family relationships, a lower level of functional health and they are more apt to withdraw from social activities. Studies have also linked untreated hearing loss to the following:
- Irritability, negativism and anger
- Fatigue, tension and stress
- Social rejection and loneliness
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety (i.e. driving)
- Impaired memory and decreased ability to learn new tasks (signs of hearing loss and signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease are very similar). Also, a recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging suggests that older individuals with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing.
- Reduced job performance and earning power
Hearing loss is not limited to older individuals though. It can affect people of any age at any time, even children. Most people can be helped with hearing aids.
Today’s digital hearing aids are more than just amplifiers. They offer many advanced features to choose from that will assist you in hearing better. Digital hearing aids are more like small computers than amplifiers. They use a small digital circuit to raise the volume of what you hear and are they are very precise at replicating the sound. Less distortion is introduced than with past hearing aid amplifiers which results in a clearer more acceptable sound.
Some of the other advantages of today’s digital hearing aids are:
- Smaller, more comfortable and attractively designed. The size and style which is appropriate for you will depend on a variety of factors such as your degree of hearing loss, physical anatomy and dexterity. Your hearing professional will help you determine this. Please click on this link for more information.
- Improved overall sound quality for varied incoming signal levels.
- Programmable to fit each individual’s hearing loss.
- Better at discriminating the sounds that you do not want to hear versus what you do want to hear. Their ability to sharpen their focus on what you want to hear varies depending on the level of digital technology that you choose. See the below for more information on digital hearing aid technology level descriptions.
- Sophisticated noise reduction features are available in most digital hearing aids.
- Feedback (whistling) is less of an issue with advanced digital feedback suppression systems built into the hearing aids.
LEVELS OF DIGITAL HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY
Various levels of hearing aid technology are available depending on the individual needs of the listener.
There are basic hearing aids for those who spend most of their time in a quiet environment such as at home watching TV, talking on the phone or having a quiet, one-on-one conversations.
Next, there are more advanced level hearing aids for the moderately active person who needs assistance not only at home but who also frequently finds themselves in moderately noisy situations such as places of business, social gatherings and dining out in restaurants.
Finally, there are premium level hearing aids for the very active person who needs assistance in all areas such as:
- At home
- Using the phone
- Watching TV
- At places of business
- In crowds and public places
- At restaurants and social events
- Listening to music
This level offers the very best in digital features and technology.
Do you hear a ringing, roaring, clicking, or hissing sound in your ears? Do you hear this sound often or maybe all the time? Does the sound bother you? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a symptom that can be associated with many forms of hearing loss or other health issues. Approximately 25 million Americans have experienced tinnitus at some point in their lives. Some cases are so severe that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. People with severe cases may find it difficult to hear, work or even sleep.
CAUSES OF TINNITUS
Hearing loss. Doctors and researchers have discovered that people with different kinds of hearing loss also have tinnitus.
Loud noise. Too much exposure to loud noise can result in noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
Medicine. There are over 200 medications that may possibly cause tinnitus. If you have tinnitus and you take medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether your medicine could be involved.
Other health problems. Allergies, tumors, problems in the heart and/or blood vessels, jaws and neck may be the cause.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE TINNITUS?
The most important thing you can do is to see your physician or one of our otolaryngologists (an ear, nose, and throat doctor). They can determine if it is related to your blood pressure, kidney function, diet, tempromandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), ear wax or allergies. Our physicians can also determine whether your condition is related to any medications that you are taking. We also have audiologists on our staff who are trained to evaluate hearing loss and related disorders.
TREATMENT FOR TINNITUS
Treatments can include:
Hearing Aids. Many people with tinnitus also have a hearing loss in one or both ears. Wearing a hearing aid makes it easier for some people to hear the sounds they need to hear by making them louder.
Sound Generators. Sound generators are small electronic devices that use sound to make tinnitus less noticeable. Although sound generators do not eliminate the ringing, they do make the noise seem softer or less noticeable for some people. Sometimes, sound generators hide the noise so well that they can barely hear it. Some people also sleep better when they use maskers. Some types of sound generators used are listening to static at a low volume on the radio or using bedside sound generators (i.e. sound machines).
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). This treatment uses a combination of counseling and sound generators. Otolaryngologists and audiologists help you learn how to deal with your condition better. You may also use sound generators to make it less noticeable. After a while, some people learn how to avoid thinking about their tinnitus. It takes time for this treatment to work, but it can be very helpful. We are happy to provide you with more information on where you may investigate this option during your visit.
Relaxing. Learning how to relax can be very helpful if the noise in your ears frustrates you. Stress can make your condition seem worse and more severe. If you relax, you have a chance to rest and better deal with the noise.
Counseling. People with constant noise in the ears may become depressed. Talking with a counselor or people in a support groups may be helpful. We offer a South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group in our practice. Please contact Beth Savitch or Erin Lustik at (856) 602-4200 or email or email email@example.com for more information about meeting dates, times and locations.