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.

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.

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!