LINK BETWEEN HEARING LOSS AND PREMATURE BIRTH

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that women with hearing loss are more likely to deliver babies prematurely or with lower birth weights.

According to a 2014 National Health Review survey, nearly 5% of women aged 18-39 report difficulty hearing without the use of assistive devices like hearing aids.

It’s important to note, however, that it’s the healthcare circumstances surrounding women with hearing loss – not hearing loss itself – that leads to low birth weights and preterm births.

Researchers at Brandeis University conducted a survey of both deaf and healthy hearing pregnant women, and found that women with hearing loss reported:

  • Fewer prenatal visits
  • Lower levels of satisfaction with their healthcare

Factors that contribute to premature birth

The study reveals several factors that help explain why women with hearing loss experience higher rates of both preterm birth and low birth weights:

  1. Early-onset hearing loss often correlates with speech and learning deficits
  2. Lower socio-economic status
  3. Coexisting health issues
  4. Inability to effectively communicate with healthcare providers

Researchers also stress the surprising differences in health insurance between women with normal hearing and women with hearing loss. Women without hearing loss are more likely to have private insurance, while women with hearing loss often rely on Medicare and Medicaid for prenatal care.

At REM Audiology, we hope these findings will help healthcare providers better understand the factors that lead to preterm birth and low birth weights for babies born to mothers with hearing loss, and lead to improved maternal healthcare programs.

If you have untreated hearing loss, contact REM Audiology in Philadelphia, PA, and New Jersey today to start your hearing health journey.

PEDIATRIC HEARING LOSS AND EARLY PARENT INTERACTION

According to the NIH, the earlier a child is screened for hearing loss, the “earlier that deafness or hearing loss is identified, the better the chances a child will acquire language, whether spoken or signed.” This is something all parents need to consider when deciding the appropriate time to get their child’s hearing tested.

If auditory hearing loss is identified, the first steps are often at the guidance of an audiologist. With their help, as well as the help of the school district, a plan will be set in place for hearing maitenance at home and in the classroom. But a positive approach to pediatric hearing loss doesn’t stop there.

The most positive approach to pediatric hearing loss may often rest at home with early child-parent interaction.

Also from the NIH:

“Parents should interact often with a deaf or hard-of-hearing infant. All of the caregivers in your child’s life should interact with him or her as much as possible. You can do this by holding, facing, smiling at, and responding to your infant from the very beginning. Children need love, encouragement, and care from their families and caregivers.”

Having a child with hearing loss can often seem daunting, but there are many resources parents can explore, everything from support groups for themselves to lists of communication exercises parents and children can do at home.

LINK BETWEEN DIABETES AND HEARING LOSS

In a recent study, people diagnosed with diabetes were found to be almost twice as likely to be afflicted with hearing loss than those whose tests came back negative. The severity of illness as well as the age of the patient were factors. Somewhat surprisingly, the younger the patient, the poorer the hearing threshold.

According to ASHA’s detail of the study:

“These results suggest that patients with diabetes—especially those who are younger—should be routinely screened for hearing loss. A protocol that includes extended high-frequency testing may provide additional sensitivity to diabetes-related changes in hearing.”

Why is this the case? There’s no definitive answer, but one theory has to do with blood circulation. Elevated blood sugar can injur blood vessels, “thereby reducing blood flow to certain areas…”  and causing damage to the inner ear.

According to the CDC, 29 million Americans have diabetes. An extra 89 million live with prediabetes. The last few years the numbers have been slowly declining, but it’s still considered a major public health problem.

TINNITUS TREATMENT TOOLS

Effective management of tinnitus often depends on the type of tinnitus you have.

The vast majority of tinnitus suffers have subjective tinnitus, ringing in ears that often cannot be fixed. This type can usually be managed.

Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, can often be cured in its entirety. For those whose “buzzing, ringing, whistling” is caused by a buildup or earwax or a punctured eardrum, the path to clear sound is often as simple as fixing the underlying problem.

An easy way to distinguish between the two is by determining who can hear the noise. If it’s only the patient, then it’s subjective. If the tinnitus can be heard or measured by others (often through hearing instruments), then it’s objective tinnitus. Objective tinnitus sounds “are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems.”

There are many treatment options for subjective tinnitus. Many doctors recommend limiting intake of caffeine or alcohol and reducing stress. Auditory habituation or tinnitus retraining therapy is another method, and involves a device or hearing aid that produces a low level sound alongside the ringing in order to desensitize. This is similar to acoustic therapy, which – through the use of hearing aids or sound generators – masks any annoying tinnitus sounds.

Don’t hesitate to talk to talk to your audiologist if you’re having problems with any ringing in your ears. Tinnitus is often a symptom of another problem, so it’s best to get it checked out by a medical professional.

HOW TO HAVE A BETTER CONVERSATION WITH A HEARING IMPAIRED LOVED ONE

Those with hearing loss know how difficult it can be to converse comfortably with their loved ones. They get frustrated, tired and sometimes just tune out.

But it’s hard for their family and friends, too. Loved ones don’t like to see their hearing impaired family member struggle or be unhappy, and they might get equally frustrated during conversations.

REM Audiology in Philadelphia, PA, understands these communication difficulties. That’s why we’ve devised these tips for the friends and family of those with hearing loss to enjoy better conversations.

It’s important to understand how your hearing impaired loved one actually hears. Some of the words are filled in, while others remain blank. Your loved one with hearing loss struggles to make sense of these assorted and incomplete sounds and tries to turn them into words that make sense in the context of the conversation.

With that in mind, here are some tips for having a successful conversation with a hearing impaired loved one.

Get their attention
For those with hearing loss, hearing takes concentration. Make sure your partner is paying attention and prepared for the context of the conversation.

Ensure they can see your lips
Lip-reading helps people with hearing loss fill in the blanks of what’s not heard. Ensure you’re in a well-lit area, and don’t cover your mouth with your hands.

Speak clearly and steadily
While volume of your voice plays a role, clarity of your words is really the key. Maintain a regular pace of speech and talk clearly.

Stay aware of background noise
If you can, try to avoid background noise. Don’t play music in the background and turn off the TV. When out and about, choose a quieter restaurant and request a corner booth.

Keep your sense of humor!
Conversing with a hearing impaired loved one can be frustrating for all parties! Remember the goal is to connect, so why not laugh at any misunderstandings?

Do you have tips for improving conversations with your hearing impaired loved one? Share your thoughts with REM Audiology in Philadelphia by contacting us online or calling 888-710-7540 today!