HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG FOR A HEARING TEST?

Though REM recommends annual hearing tests for anyone over the age of 55, hearing problems can occur at anytime, in any age.

Should I get a hearing test if I have no symptoms?

Though the obvious symptoms (such as problems hearing speech in noise, or a decreasing ability to retain spoken or audible information) are often what send people to the audiologist, those who hear fine but fall into certain risk categories should still get their hearing tested.

Exposure to continual noise (whether occupational or recreational), a family history of hearing loss, even certain illnesses and medications can all cause hearing loss down the line.

 

Experiencing Symptoms

If you do find yourself struggling with speech in noise and intelligibility, it’s really time to get tested.

Hearing impairment can either be temporary or permanent, and either one requires the attendance of an audiologist. If temporary, the audiologist will walk you through sound dampening options and lifestyle changes so your hearing doesn’t permanently disappear. If permanent, hearing aids or assistive listening devices will be discussed so you’ll be able to accurately maintain and manage your hearing.

No matter what type of loss you have, there’s no reason to assume you won’t be able to participate normally in your every day activities.

 

No Symptoms, No Risk Factors

Hearing screenings are often encouraged for younger children. According to patient.info, “Hearing loss is not confined to those with risk factors – approximately 40% of all children ultimately identified with sensorineural hearing loss do not have an established risk factor; therefore, universal screening is recommended.”

Hearing tests like these can often be carried out when the child is young, even before release from the hospital a few days after birth, but another hearing screening should also be conducted when the child is a little bit older.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association says, “School-age hearing screenings are an integral tool in identifying children with hearing loss who were not identified at birth, lost to follow-up, or who developed hearing loss later. Without mandated routine hearing screenings in schools, students with unilateral, less severe or late onset hearing loss may not be identified or will be misdiagnosed and managed.”

 

Hearing is Important

Your hearing is important, so if you have symptoms, find yourself in several risk categories, or have a child who has never had a hearing screening, we at REM encourage you to come in for a hearing test. It’s always better to test and know than to wonder and worry about a possible hearing loss.

CAN EXERCISE HELP RELIEVE TINNITUS?

“Reaction to tinnitus sound is connected to a personal’s emotional processing system.” So says Dr. Fatima Husain in an article included in this month’s Hearing Journal. People afflicted with tinnitus often complain of it’s disruptive effects, going so far as to say it’s presence can affect their day to day life as well as their mental health.

Fatima says, however: “In one fMRI study, we investigated the differences in emotional processing between participants with mild tinnitus and those who rated their tinnitus as being more bothersome… Notably, the participants also had different physical activity levels.”

Exercise, physical activity, might have an effect on not only tinnitus, but on a person’s ability to deal with its symptoms.

Other Types of Exercise

Though physical exercise is often helpful, certain relaxation techniques might be just as beneficial.

According to Widex, exercises ranging from deep breathing to progressive muscle relaxation to guided imagery can have a positive effect on your tinnitus symptoms and their manifestations. They outline the different approaches on their website.

Tinnitus.org.uk also has a whole self help list which includes (in addition to regular exercise) meditation, diet, and personal contact. “If your mind is occupied with something absorbing, it is easier to forget about the tinnitus.”

Retraining and Management

Tinnitus can be disruptive and hard to deal with, especially when you take into account the amount of work that can go into brain retraining, but there’s no doubt that with a few lifestyle changes, its treatment might become a little more manageable than you would initially imagine.

HEARING AID BATTERIES AT REM

How long should hearing aid batteries last?

One of the questions audiologists at REM get asked the most is “how long should my hearing aid batteries last?” The answer is — it depends. Your battery life is dependent on multiple variables, such as degree of hearing loss, if your battery is powering other devices (such as Bluetooth streamers or FM receivers), and hours worn daily.

Usually, though, it’s safe to say hearing aid batteries last from 7 – 10 days. But if your use is heavy, that time could be significantly lower.

How do I know when it’s time to change batteries?

From the Starkey website: “Change your batteries if the sound becomes distorted or if you have to turn the volume up more than usual.”

Some hearing aids will beep or give a warning sound every 30 to 60 minutes before the battery needs to be changed, but older model hearing aids will simply shut off when the battery dies.

What type of batteries should I use?

Batteries are designated by a number such as 10, 312, 13, or 675. You must use the number that goes with your particular hearing aid. Generally speaking, the smallest aids run on a 10 battery while the behind the ear aids are either a 13 or 675 battery.

Battery Tips:

All batteries on the market are mercury free.

You should look for the 1.45 volt.

Make sure that once the sticker is taken off, the battery is exposed for 30 seconds before inserting in the hearing aid. The battery needs to be activated by air before insertion.

If the battery has 1.4 volts, do not purchase (1.4 is an older battery with less than efficient function).

What batteries and battery programs does REM provide?

At REM, batteries are supplied 5 years after purchase of a hearing aid under our complete hearing healthcare program. If you bought your aid elsewhere, you can ask about our comprehensive service plans, a great arrangement that could save you money in the long run.

Batteries can also be purchased in individual packs — $6.00 for a 6 pack of batteries.

If you’re not yet a patient and call for a hearing aid cleaning, you can also get a pack of batteries on us!

 

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL PROTECT YOUR HEARING MONTH

This October, join us in getting the word out about National Protect Your Hearing Month.

According to Noisy Planet, “Noise-induced hearing loss affects people of all ages. Approximately 26 million American between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises.”

National Protect Your Hearing Month is important for awareness, which is often the first on the road to prevention. In a recent report, the CDC estimated that up to 16 percent of all teens have reported hearing loss caused by loud noise. This is due to a number of factors, such as continuous, loud music through earphones.

We at REM believe that 16 percent is too high. Hearing loss in childhood is often preventable, especially if the right steps are taken.

In October, tell someone you know about National Protect Your Hearing Month. Good hearing habits now help prevent hearing problems down the line.

The American Academy of Audiology has a good list of October hearing month resources.

 

POSITIVITY, AGING, AND HEARING LOSS

Negative feelings about aging can affect your hearing, says a recent article on Medicine News Today. Hearing and brain function go hand in hand, and when one is affected “so is the other.”

“People’s feelings about getting older influence their sensory and cognitive functions. Those feelings are often rooted in stereotypes about getting older and comments made by those around them that their hearing and memory are failing.”

Positivity and personal outlook are important. If negative feelings about growing older can influence how one hears in day to day life (and vice versa), it makes sense that a good attitude could have the opposite effect.

But when there is so much social stigma attached to aging, how can one maintain an optimistic view of the future?

  1. Don’t worry yourself sick. Hearing loss may be a normal part of the aging process, but there is no better time than the present to optimize hearing function. Today’s sophisticated technology offers efficient and effective hearing difficulties. If you notice trouble hearing sound in noise, meet with an audiologist to discuss a plan.
  2. Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Physical fitness is a big part of keeping your mind sharp.
  3. Realize that advances in hearing technology are always being made.
  4. Socialization is important! If you’re having trouble hearing or feeling down for any reason, don’t lock yourself away.

Keeping your mind occupied and your thoughts positive is something everyone should work towards, especially when you consider the potential benefits.

PREVALENCE OF HEARING LOSS

A recent study found that close to a quarter of Americans have trouble hearing. “An estimated 38.3 million U.S. residents ages 12 and older—23 percent of that population—have some degree of hearing loss, according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers Adele M. Goman and Frank R. Lin.”

Hearing impairment is a challenge many people are not often prepared for, as it can be slow to make itself known. One day you might notice trouble hearing the tv or understanding your family. Maybe you’re out with friends and you’re having trouble picking up parts of the conversation — problems hearing speech in noise are often one of the first indications that something is wrong.

Once hearing loss is present, it’s there to stay, so prompt treatment is important. The bright side of the high incidence of hearing loss, though, is that there are a lot of people in the same boat. People often report postponing seeing an audiologist out of embarrassment, but its important to realize that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. For those with hearing loss, no matter where on the scale you find yourself, always remember: you are not alone.

On the technology side, advancements are being made every day. Hearing aids are getting more and more advanced, and smaller and smaller, and let’s be honest, they look kind of neat, too. Assisted listening devices.

The Better Hearing Institute runs down the stats.

SOME STATS AND FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT HEARING LOSS

1. Some people might be more susceptible to hearing loss than others.

From the ASHA article, "Genes May Increase Risk for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss."

2. Hearing loss can manifest in unborn children due to viral infections.

3. A lot of teens and young adults might have hearing loss without knowing it. This may be due to the increase of earbuds and “music on the go.”

From NBC news and ASHA

4. Effective treatment for hearing loss is VERY high. “According to the Better Hearing Institute, 95 percent of Americans with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids and individuals who treat their hearing loss early have shown significant benefit.”

AUDIOLOGY AND THE COMMUNITY

Hearing loss is not an isolated incident. According to Audiology Today Magazine, the “World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over five percent of the world’s population has a disabling hearing loss.”

It is often up to audiologists, then, to reach out to the community and inspire those with hearing loss. Hearing loss is a very personal problem, and it’s essential that those afflicted with a hearing disorder realize they’re not alone.

How to get involved?

For an audiologist, participating in local programs or health fairs (like REM does with their Kiosk program) can show the members of your area that there are options available. For patients motivated to similarly reach out, the Hearing Loss Association of America has a list of potential activities and ideas.

One that caught our eye: “Help educate people about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by introducing the need for assistive listening systems in the community.”

The more you spread the news of hearing loss, the more people will hear.

PEDIATRIC COCHLEAR IMPLANTS

In 1990, The FDA first approved cochlear implants for children as young as 2 years old. 10 years later, the FDA revised pediatric candidacy for those 12 months or older.

Today, nearly 26,000 children in the United states have an implant, and though the effects vary from individual to individual, the device – especially when used in conjunction with other speech processors and technologies – can often be a deciding factor in the child’s success in the mainstream classroom.

Many children are eligible for a cochlear implant, and its important to talk to your audiologist to see if your child qualifies. Though implants are not inexpensive, health insurance coverage for the device has greatly improved over the years.

What’s the Future Hold?

Since 2000, there has been no official change in FDA eligibility guidelines, despite the significant evolution and advancement of implant technology. Currently, some doctors are pushing for children under 12 months to be considered for cochlear implants. The general consensus seems to be: the earlier the better.

RECHARGEABLE HEARING AIDS

Over the summer, Phonak released a new Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid called the Phonak Audeo B. This new technology – now offered at REM Audiology – offers 24 hours of hearing with a single 3 hour charge.

With the batteries permanently embedded in the aid, the whole device can be charged overnight or on the go. Charging options include the Phonak charger case (a “charger, drying kit, and protective hard case all in one”) and the Phonak Mini charger (a smaller, “compact charging option”). If you find yourself in an area with no power, the Phonak power pack is able to attach right to the Phonak Charger Case.

The aids not only come with a new design, but are also available in 4 different performance levels and 9 different colors. All models are protected against dust and water.

If you’re interested in trying this new hearing aid, don’t hesitate to call us today for a free demonstration.