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8 Tips For Hearing Loss Better Communication

Hearing loss can make conversations challenging. Often we rely on our conversation person to face us when they speak and provide us context before changing topics.

But communication is a two-way street. There are also many things we can do to enhance our ability to have successful and productive conversations with others. By following some simple rules of thumb, we can put ourselves in a better position to hear and communicate as best is possible.

Here are my tips. Please share yours in the comments.

1. Inform Others About Your Hearing Loss

Don’t be shy about disclosing your hearing loss. People cannot help you if they do not know you have difficulty understanding. I make a habit of announcing my hearing loss at the start of any group meetings or retreats. It is easy to do as part of the introductions. This way I get the information out and avoid any awkwardness later when I ask someone to repeat themselves or grab a seat in the front row so I can hear the speaker better.

2. Be Specific About Your Needs

Let others know what they can do to help you hear better. The more specific you are in your request, such as: I need you to sit on my left side or please face me when you speak to me — the more likely you are to get good results. Be prepared to remind people what they can do to help.

3. Put Others At Ease

If you appear comfortable with your hearing loss, others will be as well. Let people know that they can ask you about it. I often joke with people saying, “If you say something to me and I don’t answer, please don’t think I am rude, it is probably because I didn’t hear, or understand you.” Humor often makes people more forgiving  and more willing to try again to engage you in conversation.

4. Stay Informed

Since context is so important in following conversations, try to stay abreast of current news and social happenings. It is easier to understand a new name (of a country or a celebrity) if you have seen it written about recently. This can be especially important if you are traveling to a different state or country.

5. Maintain Good Energy

Hearing may require extraordinary concentration for those with hearing loss so it is important to approach communication situations well rested and alert. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and be sure to get enough sleep. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks from communication if you are getting tired.

6. Interrupt for Clarification In Moderation

If you miss a word or two of a story, listen a little bit longer before jumping in with “What?” You may be able to piece together what was said after another sentence or two. This does not apply at the doctor, or other important situation where full knowledge is imperative, but in social situations, not following every detail is probably OK some of the time. Also, when  you ask for clarification, say what you think you heard to minimize what the speaker needs to repeat.

7. Use Non-Verbal Clues To Guide Your Communication Partner

Cupping your hand behind your ear is a good way to ask the speaker to raise his voice without interrupting the flow of the conversation. Leaning closer to the speaker can also indicate that you are having trouble hearing them.

8. Go With The Flow

Manage your expectations. In certain situations, understanding every word may not be not possible, but try to be grateful for what you can hear. Keep your sense of humor ready for the misunderstandings. Some of them can be quite funny if you let them.

If you have any suggestion, please leave them under comments.

Right ear hearing advantage

The Remarkable History of Right-Ear Advantage

Abram Bailey, AuD

abram_bailey_aud

The summary of his article is:

1) When different words are presented to both ears simultaneously, the left ear is, on average, at a slight disadvantage in speech recognition.

2) The average difference, or “right-ear advantage/ left-ear disadvantage (REA/LED),” is small, perhaps 3-5%, in young adults with normal hearing.

3) This REA/LED increases systematically as some persons age and develop hearing loss. The effect may be due to aging effects on the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two cerebral hemispheres.

4) When elderly persons with hearing loss are evaluated for possible use of amplification, some reject binaural fittings in favor of monaural amplification, suggesting the possible presence of binaural interference.

5) The favored fitting, in this case, is usually for the right ear.

Click this title to read the entire article :

The Remarkable History of Right-Ear Advantage

Memory loss linked to hearing loss

Studies show that a person with an uncorrected hearing loss, who is trying hard to listen and make sense of what’s being said, does poorly at remembering what has been said. It appears that the brain shifts its focus, in order to comprehend real-time speech, leaving very little to remember what’s been said.  Experts call this ‘Cognitive Load’ and it can be described as similar to streaming video on a slow Internet connection, where the results are frustrating, choppy and nearly useless.

Here are ten tips to reduce your brain’s cognitive load and increase the success of your connection with friends and family:

  • Have your hearing tested if you suspect it’s not as acute as it used to be and you have increased problems understanding.
  • Maximize your hearing ability by wearing hearing aids if you have a hearing loss
  • Reduce multiple activities so you can concentrate on one thing at a time; cooking the meal while trying to carry on a conversation.
  • Try to relax. Find a quiet spot and take a break from noise when agitated.
  • It’s not necessary to understand every word that is said.  Use your eyes to pick up non-verbal visual cues to help what is being said.  And instead of asking people to repeat, ask them to rephrase.  Often times it’s only one word that makes the difference between understanding or not.
  • Trying to hide a disability is stressful. Therefore, talk about your hearing loss and explain your situation to others so that they know you might not understand everything said
  • Others don’t judge you by your disabilities but by how well you overcome them
  • Avoid being frustrated by people with soft voices in noisy environments, either find a quieter place to have a conversation. Face the directly and be close.
  • Familiarize yourself with your hearing aid controls, and which settings are best in noisy environments
  • Anticipate the chances of hearing aid failing at the worst possible time by prior proper maintenance and operating on fresh batteries

Heart Trouble and hearing loss connection

Numerous scientific studies in recent years confirm the link between heart disease and hearing health. The connection seems to come from the small but required amount of oxygen rich blood circulating through the inner ear (cochlea).

When cardiovascular health problems cause changes in the heart’s efficiency, it can be reflected in a person’s hearing health as well. A loss of hearing sensitivity can be one of the earliest symptoms of heart disease.

To potentially predict signs of heart related issues, an annual hearing check to monitor your hearing health can be considered a smart early detection system for potential heart health problems down the road.

As a result of the compelling body of evidence linking the heart and the hearing, there has become an increased collaboration among cardiologists, hearing care providers and other healthcare professionals – working together to find solutions.

There are five main warning signs of an impending cardiovascular event. Their continued presence oftentimes means that a physician should be consulted and that a person may be in danger.

The warning signs are;

  1. Chest pain
  2. Light-headedness, dizziness, and other pain
  3. Changes to your ability to exercise
  4. Heavy or labored breathing
  5. Feeling unwell or fatigued

Since you may already in trouble by the time one or more of the above warning signs manifests itself,  it is reassuring that there is something that can alert you to a heart problem much earlier? The earlier a heart problem is detected the more likely it becomes that you can take steps to avoid suffering a heart attack.

Researchers such as David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee have concluded that the onset of hearing loss for people even as young as their forties can be just such an early warning. This means that if you notice sounds becoming little less clear, or that the TV needs to be turned up a little louder, getting your hearing checked may be a lifesaver.

Here are 4 other facts about the relationship between your heart and your ears.

  1.  Both heart disease and untreated hearing loss are linked to increased risks of depression. However, among those with hearing loss that use hearing aids are more likely to be a more optimistic and positive outlook on life as they become more reengaged in their lives.
  2. Increased levels of exercise is beneficial for both your heart and your ears. By keeping your body active through walking, or anything that increases your physical activity you are also helping to keep blood pumping strongly through your heart as well as improving oxygen rich blood circulation to your ears.
  3. Smoking has known links to numerous cardiovascular problems and also plays a role in increased hearing loss risks as well. It is unclear whether or not the toxins in tobacco smoke affect hearing directly, however the damaging effects they have on respiratory and heart health are clear and this in turn has a negative effect on the ears.
  4. Healthy eating habits keep both your heart and hearing in better shape. Diets rich in the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals can help our bodies and heart in countless ways, especially when combined with an exercise regimen. For example, diets containing increased amounts of antioxidants (vegetables) and omega 3 fatty acids (wild fish) can help protect skin, tissues and organs as well as strengthen blood vessels.

Remember to schedule an annual hearing screening along with your annual physical, dental checkup and eye exam, you can help protect your hearing health. If you have a hearing loss, wearing hearing aids will further protect your health and aid your happiness.

Personality changes with hearing loss, study shows

People tend to become less outgoing as they age, with a new study from the University of Gothenburg indicating this change is more apparent in those suffering from hearing loss.

Researchers studied 400 individuals 80-98 years old over the course of six years. Subjects were tested for mental and physical prowess every two years, including personality characteristics such as emotional stability and extraversion. Results indicated that even if emotional stability stayed the same during the study period, participants became less outgoing.

Researchers could not connect the changes to most physical or cognitive impairments, or to difficulty finding social activities. Hearing loss was the only thing linked to reduced extraversion, and use of hearing aids did not affect this link — indicating to researchers that providing support in the use of such hearing aids is key.

​​​​​​​”To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies…. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others,” said Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.

“Our previous studies have shown that outgoing individuals are happier with their lives. It is hypothesized that an outgoing personality reflects a positive approach to life, but it also probably shows how important it is for most people to share both joy and sadness with others,” she added.

Hearing Loss leads to Fall Risk

Hearing Loss and Fall Risk studies:

This article explains the links between falls and hearing loss and was originally published in Aging Answers magazine, March 2015.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths for Ohioans age 65 and older.  Falls among older adults cost Ohio residents $646 million in 2012. Moreover, the rate of falling has been increasing.  From 2000 to 2012, Ohioans aged 65+ experienced a 167% increase in the number of fatal falls and a 136% increase in the fall death rate.  On average, 2.7 older Ohioans suffered fatal falls each day in 2012.

But there’s a ray of hope in this disconcerting data.  Most falls can be prevented.  And preventing falls is the number one thing you can do to keep your loved ones aging safe at home.

Hearing Loss and Fall Risk

Two recent studies point to a critical link between hearing loss and an increased risk of falls.

In one study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that people with only a 25 dB hearing loss (considered mild), were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling, even when adjusting for other factors, such as age and inner ear (vestibular) function.  The same study showed that as hearing loss increased beyond the 25 dB loss, so did the chances of falling.

Another study from Washington University in St. Louis showed that patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on balance tests when their hearing aids were ON compared with when they were OFF.

Hearing Check-ups – An Easy Way to Identify Fall Risk

Although the NIH reports that 47% of adults 75 and older have a hearing impairment, the good news is that it is easy to find out how much loss is present, and that the super-majority of people with hearing loss can effectively be treated with hearing-assistive devices, especially hearing aids.

A simple step to identify and reduce fall risk is to insist mom and dad get a hearing check-up.  This easy test is non-invasive, painless, and takes less than and an hour or two if you have a convenient location to get a hearing evaluation nearby.

Some Audiologists and hearing aid fitters do not charge anything for a hearing evaluation, and will share the audiogram and other test results to help you determine if you have a hearing loss, if any exists, so be sure to ask about costs and what you can expect when you schedule.

Hearing Aids – An Ounce of Prevention

This next step is critical but by no means easy, given the ambivalence many older adults feel about hearing aids.  If the hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids or another assistive device — make sure they wear them!

While hearing aid performance continues to rise, some prices and sizes have fallen, meaning they’re more affordable and discreet than ever.  If their current aids are not working properly, demand the assistance you deserve to make sure the aids are functioning, have been fitted correctly, and proper training in use and care was provided.  Above all, help set realistic expectation since no assistive device is capable of returning hearing to a pristine state.

 Consider Home Modifications

“Fall prevention is absolutely critical to remaining safely in their homes.” says Brian Pritchard, a home modification specialist for HandyPro of Cleveland.

“That TV commercial we’ve all seen, of someone who has fallen and can’t get up, is giving people a solution that only helps them AFTER they’ve experienced an injury.  We want people to prevent falls from happening in the first place.”

Start with the basics, like installing grab bars inside and outside the bathing area, and near the toilet.  “Many people use hand towel holders for support or to pull themselves up, and are pulling them right out of the wall and down to the floor when they fall. You need something properly installed and designed to support enough weight to keep you safe”.

Final tips to reduce fall risk

  1. Get your hearing tested annually and wear your hearing aids on a regular basis.
  2. Declutter to make the home safer and install proper safety handrails and other assistive devices.
  3. Keep active.  Begin a regular exercise program and seek assistance from community fitness programs if you need help getting things kick-started.
  4. Use special precautions when venturing outside in the winter.  Ice can be treacherous and the body dehydrates faster in the colder weather.
  5. Have your health care provider review your medicines for any that may cause dizziness or fainting.

 

Caring for hearing aids, TIPS

To get the longest life out of your hearing aids, follow these tips..

Protect your hearing aids from high heat, ear wax, and excessive moisture.

Don’t expose them to direct sunlight, and never leave them in a car, especially in direct sunlight.  Avoid other locations where they might be subjected to extreme temperatures.

Avoid excessive moisture. It’s a good idea to remove them if you’ll be exercising vigorously or engaging in any other type of activity which will cause you to sweat excessively. And of course, do not wear them while bathing, swimming and in the rain wear a hat or use an umbrella to protect them.

Clean your hearing aids at night when you take them out. Wipe them with a soft, dry cloth and inspect the tube tip opening to see if any wax has accumulated. If it has, use a hearing aid brush and pick to gently remove the wax.

NEVER use any type of alcohol or cleaning solvent for cleaning, as solvents can be very harmful to the plastic material that the hearing aid is made of.

Hairsprays and hair gels can also harm the material and can cause clogging of the microphone openings. It is wise to insert the hearing aid after the hairspray dries.

If you follow these simple tips you can keep your hearing aid working properly for many years to come.

Diplomats’ Hearing Loss caused in Cuba investigated

WASHINGTON — A senior federal law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday that several U.S agencies are investigating allegations that Cuban officials directed some kind of ultrasound energy at American diplomats in the Havana embassy that left several with damaged hearing. 

Hearing Loss Audiogram

The official said the State Department’s office of Diplomatic Security is leading the investigation. The FBI has one person in Havana, a legal attaché with the American embassy, who can help. The FBI may be asked to provide technical assistance in the probe.

 ‘Acoustic attack’ in US embassy in Cuba blamed for diplomats’ hearing loss 2:31

One State Department official confirmed reports that the “incidents” involved symptoms of hearing loss. And a Cuban government official told NBC News that the Americans had complained of an acoustic “incident.”

The State Department has also left open the possibility of a third country being involved. Iran, North Korea and Russia all have a significant diplomatic presence in Cuba.

“We don’t have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Wednesday.

She said that there are a “variety of physical symptoms in these American citizens who work for the U.S. government. We take those incidents very seriously, and there is an investigation currently under way.”

Cuban officials have denied directing any actions against the diplomats and have launched their own investigation.

“Cuba has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families,” the Cuban foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday. “It reiterates its willingness to cooperate in the clarification of this situation.”

Also on Thursday, Canadian officials said one of their diplomats in Cuba was treated for hearing loss. The Canadian government is “aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana. The government is actively working — including with US and Cuban authorities – to ascertain the cause,” a spokesperson told the Associated Press.

The U.S. first learned of the health issues toward the end of 2016, more than a year after the U.S. reopened its embassy in Havana.

Nauert said the Americans working in Cuba had returned stateside for “medical reasons.”

Image: An exterior view of the U.S. Embassy is seen in Havana, Cuba
An exterior view of the U.S. Embassy is seen in Havana, Cuba, June 19, 2017. Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters file

Two Cuban officials in Washington were asked to leave the U.S. in May as a result of the incidents.

The development threatens to set back relations between the two countries, but the U.S. embassy in Havana remains open.

The Cuban government has a responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva Convention to protect our diplomats,” Nauert said. “That is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours, why we take this so seriously…in addition to the protection and security of Americans.”

“What this requires is providing medical examinations to these people,” Nauert said. “Initially, when they’d started reporting what I will just call symptoms, it took time to figure out what it was, and this is still ongoing. So we’re monitoring it.”

A U.S. government official said several colleagues at the U.S. embassy in Havana were evacuated back to the United States for hearing problems and other symptoms over the past six months. Some subsequently got hearing aids, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Washington, D.C. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the alleged incidents violated international norms: “The Cuban government has been harassing U.S. personnel working in Havana for decades. This has not stopped with President Obama’s appeasement. Personal harm to U.S. officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates international norms.”

Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic relations in 2015 after more than five decades of hostilities, re-opening embassies in each other’s capitals and establishing a new chapter of engagement between the former Cold War foes.

President Donald Trump rolled back part of his predecessor Barack Obama’s policy toward Cuba, but has left in place many of the changes, including the re-opened U.S. Embassy in Havana.

Extend hearing aid battery life, tip

There was a recent discovery to make hearing aid  batteries last 85% longer. 

And who made this discovery?

Would you believe it was a 14-year-old boy.

His name is Ethan Manuell of Rochester, Minnesota, He learned that batteries can last up to 85 percent longer when left exposed to oxygen, after removing the adhesive tab, before being inserted into the hearing aid itself.

Zinc Air hearing aid batteries have a tab or sticker attached to the back of them.

Ethan learned that the best way to improve battery life is to remove the tab from the back of the battery , then wait five minutes before inserting the battery into the hearing aid.

This will allow ample time to air-charge the battery to receive essential oxygen.

So, next time you need to change your batteries, try his trick so you can get more life out of them.

Decrease hearing loss risk, EAT MORE FISH

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a strong connection between eating two or more servings of some fish per week and a decreased risk of hearing loss.

Researchers analyzed almost two decades’ of data from 65,215 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II. In the study, women self-reported on their diet, as well as about hearing loss, among many other things.

In this prospective study among 65,215 US women, we observed a lower risk of hearing loss among women who consumed 2 or more servings of fish per week. Consumption of any specific type of fish (tuna, dark-meat fish, light-meat fish, or shellfish) tended to be associated with lower risk. In addition, higher intake of long-chain omega-3 (fatty acids) PUFAs was inversely associated with risk. These findings suggest that diet may be important in the pathogenesis of preventing or reducing hearing loss.

Evidence suggests regular fish consumption (1–2 servings per week) may protect against several diseases, such as coronary artery disease (40), sudden cardiac death (41), ischemic stroke (21), atrial fibrillation (42), cognitive decline (43), and dementia (44). The proposed benefits of fish intake may be attributable in large part to the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that fish provide. Finfish and shellfish are the chief dietary sources of the major long-chain omega-3 PUFAs, EPA (20:5n−3) and DHA (22:6n−3), often referred to as “marine” fatty acids. Intake is particularly essential for DHA, because it cannot be synthesized appreciably after infancy (45). DHA appears to be important during auditory neuro-development, and higher dietary intake of DHA in breast milk or supplemented formula during early infancy is associated with accelerated maturation of auditory brainstem response latencies (4647).

To read  the entire study click here  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/100/5/1371.full

What are binaural hearing aids?

Binaural hearing aids is the professional way of saying, “Two EAR hearing aids”.  

​If you have bilateral hearing loss (loss of hearing in both ears), wearing two hearing aids is very important and the best solution.

Here are a few reasons why this is:

1) Better understanding of speech: Research shows that people who wear two hearing aids understand conversations and speech significantly better than those who wear just one, especially in noisy situations.

2) Better ability to tell where sound is coming from: This is called localization, and it helps you determine where traffic sound is coming from or where your grandchildren are playing.

3) Better sound quality: When you listen to a stereo system you get great sound. Wearing two hearing aids gives you similar results and increases your hearing direction  from 180 degrees to 360 degrees.

4) Makes hearing less of a strain and tiring and listening more pleasant: You won’t have to strain to hear with your ‘good’ ear, making life much more relaxing. There have been studies that show not correcting hearing deficiency can contribute to Alzheimer’s.

​​​​​​​5) Keeps both ears active which can help reduce further hearing loss, (or loss of understanding): Research shows that if you don’t use your hearing, you lose it, or effective function. By only wearing one hearing aid, you can cause further damage to the other ear, or loss of discrimination. The use of two hearing aids helps eliminate these problems in focus for greater clarity.

So, if you have hearing loss in both ears, but you’re trying to get by with just one hearing aid (or, none at all), you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Will a hearing aid help or hurt my hearing loss?

Will a hearing aid help my hearing loss?

Most people with hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids. Medical treatments and surgical procedures are helpful for only five percent of adults with hearing loss.

Hearing aids cannot cure hearing loss, but they CAN help you hear better again, may reduce further hearing loss and loss of understanding.

Hearing is a complex process that begins as sound waves with the ears and ends up in the brain where information is received, stored as memory and “decoded” into something that we understand as sound.

When you add hearing aids to boost hearing, the brain suddenly registers long-forgotten sounds. Adapting to hearing aid amplification requires time, training and patience. You are essentially retraining your brain to interpret and recognize sounds, focus on some and filter others out – just as you did previously when your hearing was normal.

Hearing aids can improve your ability to hear and communicate with the world around you, but they cannot “cure” your hearing loss – just as glasses do not “cure” your nearsightedness or farsightedness. With continued use they can help prevent the active loss of the memory of speech sounds, called REGRESSION. Just as you might forget a second language if you don’t use it, so also you will forget the sounds of speech that you can no longer hear, unless your hearing aids allow you to hear and understand them.

Hearing aids are tools to help you manage your hearing loss problem, and while they can contribute significantly to an improved quality of life, they are not perfect. Even with successfully fitted hearing aids, you might still have some difficulties hearing well in some situations. With patience you will find ways to adapt to your new hearing aids, including watching people more closely as they talk and keeping background noise to a minimum when possible.

The key to success is to consistently use your hearing aids, read aloud to refresh your hearing memory of the speech sounds that you have been missing, stay as close as practical to what you want to focus on, keep your ears and hearing aids clean and be patient as you relearn to interpret the sounds that you are once again hearing.

Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Extended Wear Hearing Aids

Extended Wear Hearing aids are very small hearing aids that are non-surgically placed in the ear canal by an audiologist/ specialist. They are worn up to several months at a time without removal. The devices are made with a flexible plastic material designed to fit the curves of the ear canal. They are worn continuously and then discarded and replaced with a new device. They are very useful for active wealthy individuals because their sealed design protects against moisture and earwax, and they can be worn while exercising, showering, etc. They are worn CIC, Completely In The Canal. They are not re-usable. The battery is sealed within the housing and is not replaceable. Most in the ear hearing aids that are sold are removable and have removable batteries.

The majority of hearing aids sold today are the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. and are the most commonly recommended aid for infants and young children  and many adults now wear the open fit style of BTE. Some people still choose to wear all-in-the-ear hearing aids, though the battery life is the shortest (due to the small size) and they are not as powerful as the BTE hearing aids. The are normally made from an ear impression and custom made inside a small shell. The CIC do not have volume controls, directional microphones or other controls, because of their small size.

There are also special hearing aids built to handle very specific types of hearing loss. For example, a bone conduction hearing aid uses a headband and a bone vibrator for individuals who have no ear canal or outer ear. These devices bypass the outer and middle ear and directly stimulate the cochlea (inner ear). A relatively new innovation is the osseo-integrated hearing aid (bone anchored), which is surgically implanted in the skull. This device has three parts: a titanium implant, an external abutment, and a detachable sound processor.

Health conditions, drugs that cause or worsen tinnitus.

Tinnitis is a ringing, roaring, buzzing or similar unreal sound in the real world, but is heard as an actual sound in a persons ear. 

In many cases, an exact cause of Tinnitus is never found.  A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hair cells (Cilia) in your inner ear move in a fluid, in relation to the pressure changes of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your inner ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hair cells inside your inner ear are bent, damaged or broken, they can send random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.

Other causes of tinnitus include other ear problems, chronic health conditions, drugs and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain.

 Common causes of tinnitus

In many people, tinnitus is caused by one of these conditions:  Age-related hearing loss. For many people, hearing worsens with age, usually starting around age 60. Hearing loss can cause tinnitus. The medical term for this type of hearing loss is presbycusis. Exposure to loud noise. Loud noises, such as those from heavy equipment, chain saws and firearms, are common sources of noise-related hearing loss. Portable music devices, such as MP3 players or iPods, also can cause noise-related hearing loss if played loudly for long periods. Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away; long-term exposure to loud sound can cause permanent damage.

Earwax blockage.

Earwax protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. When too much earwax accumulates, it becomes too hard to wash away naturally, causing hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum, which can lead to tinnitus.

Ear bone changes.

Stiffening of the 3 tiny bones ( below, red, blue, yellow) in your middle ear (otosclerosis) may affect your hearing and cause tinnitus. This condition, caused by abnormal bone growth, tends to run in families.   Inner ear

Other causes of tinnitus

Some causes of tinnitus are less common, including:  Meniere’s disease. Tinnitus can be an early indicator of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that may be caused by abnormal inner ear fluid pressure. TMJ disorders. Problems with the temporo-mandibular joint, the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull, can cause tinnitus.

Head injuries or neck injuries.

Head or neck injury (trauma) can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Such injuries generally cause tinnitus in only one ear, on the side that was damaged.

Acoustic Neuroma.

This noncancerous (benign) tumor develops on the cranial nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear and controls balance and hearing. Also called vestibular schwannoma, this condition generally causes tinnitus in only one ear.

Blood vessel disorders linked to tinnitus

In rare cases, tinnitus is caused by a blood vessel disorder. This type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus. Causes include:  Atherosclerosis. With age and buildup of cholesterol and other deposits, major blood vessels close to your middle and inner ear lose some of their elasticity — the ability to flex or expand slightly with each heartbeat. That causes blood flow to become more forceful, making it easier for your ear to detect the beats. You can generally hear this type of tinnitus in both ears.

Head and neck tumors.

A tumor that presses on blood vessels in your head or neck (vascular neoplasm) can cause tinnitus and other symptoms. High blood pressure. Hypertension and factors that increase blood pressure, such as stress, alcohol and caffeine, can make tinnitus more noticeable.

Turbulent blood flow.

Narrowing or kinking in a neck artery (carotid artery) or vein in your neck (jugular vein) can cause turbulent, irregular blood flow, leading to tinnitus.

Malformation of capillaries.

A condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins, can result in tinnitus. This type of tinnitus generally occurs in only one ear.

Medications that can cause tinnitus

A number of medications may cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse tinnitus becomes. Often the unwanted noise disappears when you stop using these drugs. 

Medications known to cause or worsen tinnitus include:  Antibiotics, including polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin and neomycin Cancer medications, including mechlorethamine and vincristine Water pills (diuretics), such as bumetanide, ethacrynic acid or furosemide Quinine medications used for malaria or other health conditions Certain antidepressants may worsen tinnitus Aspirin taken in uncommonly high doses (usually 12 or more a day)

Risk factors

 Anyone can experience tinnitus, but these factors may increase your risk:  Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your inner ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly at risk. Age. As you age, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems often associated with tinnitus.

Gender.

Men are more likely to experience tinnitus. Smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus. Cardiovascular problems. Conditions that affect your blood flow, such as high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of Tinnitis. With so many possible causes, it may be difficult to pin-point your  cause. Review the likely causes and remove those causes , if possible and see if the noise is reduced or is eliminated.

Testimonial Ear Mold Kit

Testimonial we just received:

“Just received my new HCPB  EARMOLD KIT today and am amazed at how clear the sound is compared to my old ones. They are also extremely comfortable to wear. I followed your clear printed instructions and modified them until they sounded perfect.

I don’t have that horrible plugged up feeling and sore ears like I used to with my old hard pair. Where I had to take them out and only wear them if I really had to. Now I will wear them all the time. They are almost invisible in my ears and being flexible is a real bonus.

I’m so glad to have discovered your website to be able to purchase high quality hearing aid custom EARMOLDS, at such an amazing low price. And it only took about 20 minutes to complete both earmolds and be satisfied. To think that I don’t have to make an appointment to have an adjustment on the molds is great. I can now do it myself. My previous lab earmolds took 2 weeks after the ear impressions were taken. And I had to go back several days later for an adjustment to relieve soreness in my ears, which were never really satisfactory.

I would recommend HCPB to anybody that has hearing loss and are looking for affordable, high quality hearing aid CUSTOM EARMOLDS.

I for one will never get hearing aid molds through a hearing medical provider ever again.

Thank you HCPB.​”

– Richard H., New Jersey

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My reorder has been submitted. Please remember I want largest size 10, not large size 8 tube/tip. Thank you.

HCPB DIY ear molds are exactly what I needed.  I have a very severe hearing loss. Regular ear molds do not allow me to increase hearing aid volume without the annoying feedback. No feedback at all with the HCPB product. I had custom Lab ear molds in the past, at a cost of $150; plus only to last a few months.  

I am very pleased with your products and service!

Douglas Smith

Famous hearing aid users

There are millions of people around the world who have difficulty hearing, and many wear hearing aids.

Among those with hearing aids are a number of very famous people, including:

Steve Martin    

Pete Townshend

Dan Rather

Jodie Foster

Bill Clinton

Whoopi Goldberg

Phil Collins

Dolly Parton

Michael Bloomberg

Mariel Hemingway

Debbie Harry

and Sting

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you are not alone. Millions of people at all ages wear them, including the author of this web site.

New science”optogenetics”

New hearing aid science”optogenetics”

See the latest news out of theUniversity Medical Center Göttingen in Germany. There, researchers have found a way to supercharge cochlear implants – cutting-edge hearing aids – by converging gene therapy and tiny light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Researchers are calling this relatively new science”optogenetics” – the use of light and lasers in genetics.

Earwax, what is it and why?

Earwax, known as Cerumen, is a yellowish waxy secretion in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. The skin of the outer part of the canal has special glands that produce earwax. It provides protection for the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection against bacteria, fungi, insects and water.

Some people are prone to produce too much earwax. Still, excess wax doesn’t automatically lead to blockage. In fact, the most common cause of earwax blockage is at-home removal. Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects in your ear canal can also push wax deeper, creating a blockage. If the wax is very soft and you gently rotate the Q tip when inserting it, you might be successful. But, if the wax is hard, you probably will just push it in deeper. Some Doctors use hydrogen peroxide to soften hard wax to make the removal easier.

You’re also more likely to have wax buildup if you frequently use earphones, which can inadvertently prevent earwax from coming out of the ear canals and cause blockages.

The appearance of earwax varies from light yellow to dark brown. Darker colors do not necessarily indicate that there is a blockage.

Signs of earwax buildup include:

  • sudden or partial hearing loss, which is usually temporary
  • tinnitus, which is a ringing, hissing or buzzing in the ear
  • a feeling of fullness in the ear
  • earache (can also be caused by a middle ear infection)

Un-removed (impacted) earwax buildup can lead to infection. Contact your doctor if you experience the symptoms of infection, such as:

  • severe pain in your ear
  • pain in your ear that does not go away
  • drainage from your ear canal
  • fever
  • coughing
  • persistent hearing loss
  • an unusual foul odor coming from your ear (not earwax oder)
  • dizziness

It’s important to note that hearing loss, dizziness, and earaches also have many other causes. You should see your doctor if any of these symptoms are frequent. A full medical evaluation can help determine whether the problem is due to excess earwax or another health issue entirely.

Earwax in Children

Children, like adults, naturally produce earwax. While it may be tempting to remove the wax, doing so might damage your child’s ears.

If you suspect your child has earwax buildup or a blockage, it’s best to see a pediatrician. Your child’s doctor may also notice excess wax during regular ear exams and remove it as needed. Also, if you notice your child sticking their finger or other objects in their ear out of irritation, you might want to ask their doctor to check their ears for wax buildup.

Check with your healthcare professional before trying to use these products.

Earwax in Older Adults

Earwax can also be a problem in older adults. Some adults may let wax buildup go until it gets to the point where hearing is obstructed. In fact, most cases of conductive hearing loss in older adults is caused by earwax buildup. This makes sounds seem muffled. Hearing aid use can also contribute to a wax blockage. Cleaning the ear tip/ear mold daily can help to prevent the build-up.

Softening hard Earwax

To soften earwax, you can purchase over-the-counter drops made specifically for that purpose. You can use the following substances:

  • mineral oil
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • carbamide peroxide
  • baby oil
  • glycerin

Ear Irrigation

Another way to remove earwax buildup is by irrigating the ear. You should never attempt to irrigate your ear if you have an ear injury, a perforated ear drum, or have had a medical procedure done on your ear. Irrigation of a ruptured eardrum could cause hearing loss or infection.

Never use products that were made for irrigating your mouth or teeth. They produce more force than your eardrum can safely tolerate.

To properly irrigate your ear, follow the directions provided with an over-the-counter kit, or follow these steps:

  • Stand or sit with your head in an upright position.
  • Hold the outside of your ear and pull it gently upward.
  • With a syringe, send a stream of body-temperature water into your ear. Water that is too cold or too warm can cause dizziness.
  • Allow water to drain by tipping your head.

It might be necessary to do this several times. If you often deal with wax buildup, routine ear irrigation may help prevent the condition.

Most people don’t need frequent medical help for earwax removal. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic says that a once-a-year cleaning at your annual doctor’s appointment is usually enough to keep blockage at bay.

Warning About Ear Candles

Ear candles may be marketed as a treatment for earwax buildup and other conditions, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers that these products may not be safe.

This treatment is also known as ear coning or thermal auricular therapy. It involves inserting a lit tube of fabric coated in beeswax or paraffin into the ear. The theory is that the suction produced will pull wax out of the ear canal.

According to the FDA, the use of these candles can result in:

  • burns to the ear and face
  • bleeding
  • punctured eardrums
  • injuries from dripping wax
  • fire hazards

This can be especially dangerous for young children who have trouble being still. The FDA has received reports of injuries and burns, some of which required outpatient surgery. The agency believes such incidents are probably underreported.

Check with your healthcare professional before trying to use these products.

Hearing loss Victory

In a few weeks the Super Bowl will be held. Derrick Coleman, fullback and his teammates, the Seattle Seahawks, won the title several years ago.

What makes this so noteworthy is Derrick has worn hearing aids since elementary school. Without them he hears very little.
He faced a lot of adversity growing up because of his hearing problems, but that just caused him to work harder on and off the football field.

Coaches love him because they say he pays closer attention to them than most other players and now he has a Super Bowl ring.

He was a former tailback at UCLA who transitioned to fullback at the NFL level, Coleman played in 36 games for the Seahawks after originally joining the the team as a practice-squad signing in December 2012. He played in 12 games for Seattle during the 2013 season, becoming an integral part of special teams units for Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII-winning squad.

Coleman drew national attention during the Seahawks’ rise to prominence. He released his autobiography, “No Excuses: Growing Up Deaf and Achieving My Super Bowl Dreams,” in June 2015.
Your goals may not be as lofty as winning a Super Bowl, but don’t let hearing loss hold you back no matter what your dreams are.

FDA takes steps to improve hearing aid OTC accessibility

FDA takes steps to improve hearing aid accessibility

For Immediate Release

December 7, 2016

Release

Español

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced important steps to better support consumer access to hearing aids. The agency issued a guidance document explaining that it does not intend to enforce the requirement that individuals 18 and up receive a medical evaluation or sign a waiver prior to purchasing most hearing aids. This guidance is effective immediately. Today, the FDA is also announcing its commitment to consider creating a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that could deliver new, innovative and lower-cost products to millions of consumers.

“Today’s actions are an example of the FDA considering flexible approaches to regulation that encourage innovation in areas of rapid scientific progress,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “The guidance will support consumer access to most hearing aids while the FDA takes the steps necessary to propose to modify our regulations to create a category of OTC hearing aids that could help many Americans improve their quality of life through better hearing.”

The FDA has cited that hearing loss affects some 30 million people in the United States and can have a significant impact on communication, social participation and overall health and quality of life. Despite the high prevalence and public health impact of hearing loss, only about one-fifth of people who could benefit from a hearing aid seek intervention.

In October 2015, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued recommendations intended to facilitate hearing aid device innovation, and improve affordability and patient access. Additionally, the FDA and other federal agencies and a consumer advocacy group sponsored a studydisclaimer iconpublished by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) in June 2016.

Both PCAST and NAS cited FDA regulations regarding conditions for sale as a potential barrier to availability and accessibility of hearing aids, and concluded that the regulation was providing little to no meaningful benefit to patients. PCAST noted that, at present, hearing aids often cost more than $2,000 a piece, and such barriers to distribution channels may limit new entrants who could achieve technological breakthroughs that could offer a greater variety of lower-cost hearing aid options to those suffering from hearing loss. The regulation requires that all prospective hearing aid users have a medical evaluation by a licensed physician to determine the cause of hearing loss and whether medical or surgical treatments would be more appropriate. Individuals 18 and up may waive the requirement for a medical evaluation by signing a waiver statement.

For the guidance document issued today, the FDA considered recommendations from the PCAST and NAS reports and public comments received on a draft guidance issued in 2013, as well as comments received at an April 2016 FDA workshop.

Under the new guidance, the FDA will continue to enforce the medical evaluation requirement for prospective hearing aid users UNDER AGE 18. Under the FDA’s hearing aid regulations, hearing aid labeling must include information about medical conditions that should be evaluated by a licensed physician. In addition, the FDA requires that information and instructions about hearing aids be provided to consumers before any purchase from a licensed hearing aid dispenser.

The guidance is “Immediately in Effect,” which means it is implemented without prior public comment because it presents a less burdensome policy that is consistent with public health. The public can still comment on the guidance, and the FDA will consider all comments received and revise the guidance document as appropriate.

The FDA intends to consider and address PCAST and NAS recommendations regarding a regulatory framework for over-the-counter hearing aids without the requirement for consultation with a credentialed dispenser. The agency is committed to seeking additional public input before proposing such an approach.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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