5 Reasons to Treat Hearing Loss

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So you’ve got a little hearing loss. What’s the big deal, right? It happens to almost all of us as we age.

FACT: 37.5 million Americans 18 and older have hearing loss, including one out of every three, 60 and older.

You can cope, you’ve decided. You’ll just turn the TV up a little louder. Ask people to speak up or repeat what they said. And hey, the quiet can be kind of nice, to be honest. “Why should I treat it,” you wonder?

Should you treat or ignore your hearing loss?

The decision to treat or ignore hearing loss should not be taken lightly. Why? Because hearing loss plays a significant role in many important issues that impact our quality of life, including five important ones:

  1. Mental health
  2. Physical health
  3. Income and career
  4. Personal safety
  5. Relationships and social interactions

Before you decide whether to ignore or treat your hearing loss, read what studies, health care experts, and hearing aid wearers themselves have to say about each choice.

Ignore or treat hearing loss — a side-by-side comparison

(1) Mental Health

Ignore hearing loss

Numerous studies link hearing loss to issues of mental decline, including increased anxiety and depression, accelerated brain shrinkage, and even dementia. One such study, by Johns Hopkins Medicine, tested volunteers with hearing loss over six years and found their cognitive abilities declined 30-40% faster than peers with normal hearing.

Treat hearing loss
Johns Hopkins’ researcher, Dr. Frank Lin, thinks that “if you want to address hearing loss well, do it sooner rather than later.” He recommends treating hearing loss before “brain structural changes take place.”

A separate study released in 2015 backs him up. In the study, scientists concluded that treating hearing loss by wearing hearing aids reduces the risk of cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.

FACT: Untreated hearing loss may result in serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning.

(2) Physical Health

Ignore hearing loss
The National Council on Aging notes that “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” While no one knows how many falls are linked to hearing loss each year, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have found that people with hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than those without hearing loss.

It’s thought that hearing loss may detract from environmental awareness, which increases the likelihood of tripping and falling.

Treat hearing loss
Recently, a study by the Washington University School of Medicine found that improving hearing through hearing aids appears to “improve balance in older adults with hearing loss” and helps reduce the risk of falls. Researchers credited the results to both increased alertness and improved balance.

(3) Income and Career

Ignore hearing loss

A study by the Better Hearing Institute quantified the impact of untreated hearing loss on the job. The study found that people with untreated hearing loss can see an income hit of up to $30,000 annually, and were nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as peers who wore hearing aids.

QUOTE: “Hearing loss was affecting my presentations and ability to service clients.” Chris T., Pennsylvania  

Treat hearing loss

That same study found that people who use hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent. It also reported that most hearing aid users in the workforce said wearing hearing aids has helped their performance on the job.

QUOTE: “Listening is SO important in my work, and I can now work better, more efficiently and more effectively because of my hearing aids.” Marty C., New York  

(4) Personal Safety

Ignore hearing loss

Studies aren’t needed to know that missed or misheard signals like car horns, alarms and other warning alerts can jeopardize a person’s safety. And it doesn’t always have to be one’s own. Adults caring for infants and young children need to know when their charge is crying or in distress. 

Treat hearing loss

Treating hearing loss with hearing aids enhances your awareness of your surroundings and can help ensure you hear every smoke detector, bike bell, emergency alert or distress call.

(5) Relationships and social interactions

Ignore hearing loss

More than anything, untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, as the challenges of listening and feelings of “missing out” often cause people to withdraw from the friends, family and activities that bring them joy.

This, alone, is significant, as social isolation is closely linked to numerous quality-of-life issues, including depression, illness, exhaustion and even shorter life spans.9

Treat hearing loss

Treating hearing loss with hearing aids enables you to hear, participate, and ensure you don’t miss out on the people and activities that make you happy. It’s as simple as that.

QUOTE: “I’m so glad I got hearing aids. It has truly been life changing!” Lesley P., California

South Suburban Hearing Health Center is here to help you treat your hearing loss! Contact us today to receive a hearing evaluation and find out what your options are.

“They’re not a stigma to me; they’re a superpower.”

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Recently, writers David Owen and Lloyd Alter chronicled their experiences with hearing loss and their Starkey hearing aids for The New Yorker and Mother Nature Network (MNN), respectively.

In The New Yorker piece, titled “High-Tech Hope for the Hard of Hearing,” Owen touches on his tinnitus — which he attributes to a cold, China and cabin pressure —before going deep into the causes of hearing loss and, ultimately, his quest to understand and treat his own hearing loss.

Owen’s quest leads him to Starkey — the only major hearing aid manufacturer based in the United States — and into a pair of Muse hearing aids. He writes:

“Each unit sits behind an ear, as my grandmother’s hearing aid did, but is so small that it’s all but invisible. A button on the part behind the ear allows me to choose among settings programmed by the audiologist. Two of them add a subtle tone that’s meant to mask my tinnitus, which during my hearing test she pinpointed at about six thousand hertz. 

My main reaction when I first put the hearing aids on was mild annoyance at the sound of my voice. I also became more aware of turning pages, creaking doors, and the surprisingly varied noises made by my pants. The audiologist said that people with new hearing aids get used to all that within about a month, as the brain adjusts.” 

While at Starkey, Owen also checks out our SoundLens Synergy, which “looks scarcely larger than the aspirin-size battery it runs on,” and Halo, Starkey’s “line with the most features.”

“Internet-connected wearables for your ears”

Halos — or more specifically, Halo 2s — are the hearing aids Alter wears and writes about in his MNN story, “Newest hearable will change the way people think about hearing aids.”

Alter, who has tried several different brands and styles of hearing aids since first needing them in 2012, writes that his Halo 2s are “more than just a serious upgrade. They’re more like ‘aural implants.’”

He refers to them as “hearables,” and correctly notes that “connected hearables are hot these days.” Why? Because they “do so much more than just help you hear.”

For Alter, his Halo 2s are his “default link to the audible internet,” thanks to their ability to connect seamlessly to his Apple iPhone, which enable him to make phone calls, listen to music and podcasts, and take advantage of notifications and alerts.

“As hearing aids,” he concludes, “these devices have changed my life by letting me hear the immediate world around me; as hearables, they are wiring me directly into a much larger world.”

Say goodbye to hearing aid stigma

Owen and Alter might wear different Starkey hearing aids, but both agree that the stigma of wearing hearing aids is coming to an end. “Once people start realizing that they do so much more than just help you hear, I suspect the stigma will disappear,” writes Alter.

Owen agrees. He points out that attitudes about being seen wearing hearing aids “may be changing … now that people of all ages walk around with electronic gadgets sticking out of their ears.”

Let South Suburban Hearing Health Center help you find your superpower! Contact us today!

Can staying active reduce the risk of hearing loss?!

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The Nurses’ Health Study II — a study of thousands of women conducted over the course of 20 years — wanted to see if body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and physical activity had any associations with hearing loss.

The study’s authors understood the negative effects of untreated hearing loss, noting how it “can impair communication and social interaction, and adversely affect psychosocial well-being and quality of life” — and they wanted to identify “modifiable risk factors” to help reduce the prevalence of hearing loss. This study focused on physical activity.

The study concluded that higher BMI and larger waist circumferences increased the risk of hearing loss, but that higher physical activity — including walking, swimming, aerobics and even lower-intensity exercise — was associated with reduced risk of hearing loss in women.

For more advice on reducing the risk or severity of hearing loss, consult South Suburban Hearing Health Center hearing professionals here.


What should you do if you have hearing loss?

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Most people who have hearing loss aren’t born with it. Instead, hearing loss is acquired, typically caused by exposure to loud noises, aging, or some combination of the two. For most, hearing loss is normal and natural — a tradeoff to living a long and fulfilling life.

Research shows human hearing is at its best between the ages of 18-25, and age-related hearing loss usually starts becoming noticeable around age 50. In fact, the prevalence of hearing loss doubles for every decade of life, which explains why one out of three people older than 60 have hearing loss, two out of three over 70 have it, and four out of five people 85+ have hearing loss.

You should test it.

If you’ve concluded you have hearing loss — either by exhibiting common signs, which you can find here, or by taking a quick and free hearing test, which you can find here — the good news is that help and treatment are readily available.

There are two options when it comes to dealing with hearing loss.

See what you should do if you have hearing loss. 

You should treat it.

Study after study have linked untreated hearing loss to an array of issues like depression, anxiety, increased risk of falls and hospitalizations, and even dementia. But doctors and scientists from institutions like Johns Hopkins Medicine and Columbia University have long noted that treating hearing loss can help, and that “hearing aid use has been shown to improve the social, functional and emotional effects of hearing loss.”

You should visit a professional who specializes in hearing healthcare.

When you are ready to deal with your hearing loss — and Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Frank Lin recommends treating it “before brain structural changes take place — you can start with your doctor or general practitioner (GP), who will most likely refer you to a hearing healthcare professional. Or, you can go directly to a hearing healthcare professional, like an otolaryngologist (ENT doctors), audiologist or hearing aid specialist.


What to expect at your appointment.

While not every practice or clinic will do things exactly the same, you should expect some common procedures when you go in for your first visit.

  1. Fill out paperwork — including intake papers with health history and hearing questionnaire.
  2. Complete a hearing evaluation — which typically includes a visual inspection of your ears and a hearing test in a sound booth.
  3. Review of your audiogram — the results of your test will be in the form of an audiogram, which is a graph that measures your specific hearing loss.
  4. Discussion of treatment and next steps — which may include a technology demonstration and hearing aid recommendation.

Hearing aids are successful in treating most hearing loss.

If hearing loss is confirmed during your appointment, hearing aids will most likely be recommended.Hearing aids are by far the most common way to treat hearing loss. They can help 90-95% of people who have hearing issues, especially if the hearing aids have been fit by an experienced professional, and programmed and customized to the individual’s unique hearing and lifestyle needs.

Not all hearing aids are the same.

Today’s hearing aids come in many styles and offer a range of advanced features.

There are “invisible” hearing aids that fit deep inside your ear canal — so small barely anyone can see them. There are hearing aids that sync to your iPhone, so you can take phone calls and listen to music, podcasts or videos wirelessly through your hearing aids — and even control and adjust your hearing aids remotely using your iPhone.

And the best of today’s hearing aids — Starkey’s new Muse and Halo 2 hearing aids — are the first to feature technology designed to make listening to music more enjoyable and natural than ever before.

The provider you pick will become your better hearing ally.

It’s important to pick a hearing healthcare provider you like and trust. The two of you will work closely together to get just the right hearing aids for you — which will be based on many factors including your degree of loss, personal style and feature preferences, how active you are, and more.

He or she will also be your go-to expert for better hearing tips and advice, hearing aid tune-ups and maintenance, or just to answer any questions you have about this important and wonderful sense.

Most importantly, the hearing healthcare professional you pick will become your better hearing ally — the person you can lean on to help ensure that your hearing loss never slows you down or prevents you from living a full and happy life.

Ready to proactively tackle your hearing loss? Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to schedule your first hearing consultation!

WebMD Confirms!

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We frequently tout the many benefits of wearing hearing aids — like improved relationships, increased confidence, reduced risk of cognitive decline and more — because we see and hear first-hand how hearing better changes a person’s life, and we want everyone with hearing loss to experience the same.

Now, a WebMD® study confirms it. Watch the short video below to see some of the key findings of WebMD’s recent study in which they asked hearing aid wearers and healthcare professionals who diagnose hearing loss what they think about hearing aids.

Let South Suburban Hearing Health Center help improve your life! Contact us today!


What is High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

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Although hearing loss varies by degree and type, high-frequency (or high-pitch) hearing loss is one of the most common configurations of hearing loss. Hearing professionals define high-frequency hearing loss as hearing loss that occurs between 2000 Hertz (Hz) – 8000 Hertz. Decreased hearing acuity in the high-frequency range is often the firstsign of hearing loss.

Following your hearing test, your hearing professional will explain your test results using an audiogram. An audiogram is a graph that displays how well you hear at each frequency, or pitch, which is important for speech understanding.

South Suburban Hearing Health Professionals test hearing between 250 Hz – 8000 Hz. Frequency is charted on an audiogram from left to right, starting with low frequencies to the left, and increasing in pitch as you move to the right, similar to a piano keyboard. An audiogram for high-frequency hearing loss shows hearing within the range of normal from 250 Hz – 1500 Hz, with results falling outside the range for normal hearing around 2000 Hz.

High-frequency hearing loss makes it challenging to understand speech

Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss have difficulty understanding speech in noise, and the voices of women and children, which are higher in pitch. Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss may also have difficulty hearing birds or the doorbell. Talking to family and friends over the telephone is also more challenging with high-frequency hearing loss.

High frequencies help with speech understanding, because fricative sounds like S, H, and F are high in pitch. When hearing in the low frequencies is normal, loudness is normal and vowel sounds can still be heard easily, but it’s easy to miss important high-frequency consonant sounds.

Tiny hair cells inside the cochlea process incoming sounds. High-frequency sounds are processed at the base of the cochlea, while low-frequency sounds are processed near the top. Hair cells at the base of the cochlea are more susceptible to damage than hair cells closer to the top, that’s why hearing loss often effects high frequencies before low frequencies.

Hair cells in the cochlea can be damaged by a number of factors, including: noise, age, ototoxic medications and disease. Age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss often effect the high frequencies first.

Hearing aids can help people with high-frequency hearing loss

Hearing aids are an effective treatment option for high-frequency hearing loss. Open fit hearing aids, and custom hearing aids with large vents leave the ear open to maximize normal hearing in the low- and mid-frequency ranges, amplifying only the frequencies affected by the hearing loss.

Cutting-edge technology processes speech differently than noise and can help reduce the listening fatigue commonly associated with high-frequency hearing loss. There are many options available to correct high-frequency hearing loss. Your hearing professional will work with you to find the best option for you.

Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center today to see what your hearing levels are at! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Hearing Loss is Very Common!

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According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, hearing loss is so common, it affects more people than all other physical conditions except arthritis and heart disease.

That’s a lot of people with hearing loss. But considering the likelihood of hearing problems doubles for every decade you live, it’s maybe not as surprising as it first sounds.

To see more hearing loss data, check out Starkey’s Hearing loss by the numbers infographic.

If you think you might have hearing loss but aren’t certain, give us a call!

Separating Hearing Aid Fact From Fiction

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Hearing and sight are arguably our two most important senses. Yet, if and when either starts to fail us (and both usually do as we age), we react to each quite differently.

Look around at all the people with glasses, contacts, Lasik surgery or just cheaters, and it’s obvious that we have no problem or hesitation with treating vision issues.

But when it comes to treating hearing loss, we don’t seem to be in nearly such a hurry, if we even bother to treat it at all. If we did, nearly one in six adults you see would be wearing hearing aids — as that’s the number of U.S. adults with hearing loss.

What’s stopping us from treating hearing loss?

Why is there such discrepancy when it comes to “fixing” these two vital senses? Certainly a key factor is the immediate and tangible impact of each impairment. You can’t easily drive, read, watch TV or work at a computer when your vision is compromised. But you can cope with or work around hearing issues — at least temporarily.

It’s important to know, though, that while the immediate impact of compromised hearing may seem negligible, the long-term and overall quality-of-life impact is real and potentially severe.

Is our perception of hearing aids to blame?

Another reason for inaction comes from people’s perception of hearing loss and hearing aids. Unfortunately, some old myths linger. But advancements in science and technology mean many are no longer true. Let’s debunk five common ones now.

1. Fiction: There’s no treatment for hearing loss.

Fact: Hearing loss might be irreversible — but it can definitely be helped. Amplification with hearing aids is by far the most recommended and effective treatment for hearing loss. In fact, 90-95% of people with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. Custom programmed by a trained professional, today’s digital hearing aids can help people with even severe hearing loss hear sounds they might not otherwise hear, and be a part of things they might otherwise miss.

2. Fiction: If I needed hearing aids, my doctor would have told me.

Fact: Actually, most busy general practitioners don’t have time to test for hearing loss. In a recent survey, only 23% of adults reported having their hearing screened during a physical exam. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted the issue this past February, reinforcing to physicians the importance of catching hearing loss in the early stages, and reminding primary care providers to “make referrals to hearing specialists” when “patients show or report hearing problems.”

3. Fiction: Hearing aids are hard to use.

Fact: Today’s hearing aids have come a long way from the hearing aids of just a few years ago. Advancements in processing speeds and hearing science enable hearing aids to distinguish speech from noise, detect sound direction, and adjust to environments and specific sounds — all automatically. If fit and programmed by a hearing professional to your unique hearing needs, your hearing aids can be worn all day with little fuss, attention or adjustments required.

4. Fiction: Hearing aids will make me stand out or seem old.

Fact: Several things conflict with this perception, so take your pick.

  • Today’s hearing aids are significantly smaller and more discreet than hearing aids from just a few years ago, and include options that fit deep in your ear canal, “invisible” to others.
  • Wearable communication and health-monitoring devices like FitBits and Bragi — along with the pervasiveness of headphones — have made body-worn accessories commonplace and even trendy.
  • Old is a perception, and adults who hear confidently and engage readily convey “old” much less than those who ask “what” all the time, don’t acknowledge when someone is talking to them, or disengage from the action.

5. Fiction: Hearing aids aren’t worth it.

Fact: It’s one thing for us to tout the impact that hearing your best can have on quality of life, and quite another to hear it from people who’ve treated their hearing loss. Watch this video to see just some of what hearing aid wearers have shared with us via email or our social pages.

Maybe the best thing to do is try hearing aids for yourself. South Suburban Hearing Health Center can help! Contact us to set up a hearing consultation!

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Nobody Likes Tinnitus

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Maybe it’s you. Or your dad. Or your grandmother. Or maybe it’s a friend. But chances are, you know someone who’s dealt with tinnitus. This author had ringing in his ears for over half a year after going to a concert. Then it just went away, mysteriously but thankfully.

I was lucky. For many, tinnitus never goes away — and it has a profound impact on their daily life.

Help is available. Many hearing aids, including our Muse™, Halo™ 2 and SoundLens® Synergy, have tinnitus relief technology built into them. You can try this proven technology for yourself by calling us today to set up a FREE hearing consultation!