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Posted on Monday, July 22, 2013

Ten Facts Your Doctor Might Not Tell You About Hearing Loss

Couple listens to audiologist tell them things their doctor didn't about hearing loss.

Most doctors aren’t as familiar with the intricacies of hearing loss as an audiologist, and therefore there are things you might not know if consulting him or her about your hearing loss. So what are the top ten things your doctor might not tell you about your hearing loss?

1. DIABETES AND HEARING LOSS: If you have diabetes, know or are related to someone with diabetes, you are probably familiar with the damage the disease can do to the circulatory system including the heart. What you might not know is that the same glucose overload that destroys other parts of the body can and does diminish hearing. Learn More

2. HEARING LOSS CURE: It’s been repeated so many times, it seems set in stone—once damaged the delicate hair cells of the inner ear cannot grow back. Startling new research is challenging the long held belief that humans, unlike birds and amphibians, cannot regenerate hair cells. By transplanting stem cells and coaxing them to behave like the hair cells of the inner ear researchers have been able to restore, in varying degrees, hearing in mice. Learn More

3. MUSIC CAN IMPROVE HEARING: Music can help refine your ability to listen and therefore fine tune skills when it comes to hearing loss.
Dubbed the Musician Effect, Dr. Kraus discovered brains are more efficient at converting these sounds and neurological processes are healthier when a person has had musical training.

“Music experience bolsters the elements that combat age-related communication problems.” (Dr. Nina Kraus)

Functions of hearing influenced by musical training are timing, pitch lock, pitch track, and processing, to name just a few. This exciting news has positive implications for preserving hearing fitness, because as the study reported on by PLoS ONE states,“While understanding speech in noise is a challenge for everyone, it becomes increasingly difficult as we age.” This loss of ability to focus in on a specific sound, say someone talking in a noisy restaurant, is one of the reasons that many people stop going out once they develop a hearing loss. It is also one of the hearing health problems that musicians are less likely to encounter. Learn More

4. BACKGROUND NOISE; There is no hearing aid that completely compensates for background noise, but there are some that are better than others and there are ways of boosting hearing aid signals in background noise. Poor room acoustics, a greater distance to the speaker, and background noise are all elements that can inhibit the sound quality of hearing aids. This means that a higher volume cannot make up for the interference, so understanding what is being said becomes a real chore. In these cases it helps to clarify the signal into your hearing aids by eliminating background noise and acoustical reverberations. This clearer hearing is best accomplished with an assistive listening device (ALD). Learn More

5. HEARING LOSS HORMONE: People with hearing loss may be short on aldosterone a hormone. Researchers have linked a hormone called aldosterone to the quality of people's hearing as they age. This hormone plays crucial roles within the body. It regulates kidney function and is key for signaling two essential chemicals in the nervous system, potassium and sodium. According to recent studies, the more aldosterone hormone a person has in their bloodstream, the better their hearing and the less of the hormone, the worse their hearing. Learn More

6. SUDDEN HEARING LOSS: Sudden hearing loss can be an emergency situation that can lead to permanent hearing loss. Recent plane travel, trauma to the ear or other physical causes like sneezing are overt signs of sudden hearing loss, but sudden hearing loss doesn’t always have an obvious cause. When sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs without pain, it can seem even less like the emergency that it is. Learn More

7. MEDICATION CAN DAMAGE HEARING: Ototoxicity or what some call ear poisoning is a side effect of taking certain medications, including too much aspirin, and results in damage to hearing. Medications can harm the inner, outer, or middle ear. Hearing problems can be temporary, permanent, curable or incurable. Ototoxicity is typically bilateral—in both ears, but damage to hearing can happen unilaterally or in one ear. Knowing what medications cause hearing loss and how to avoid them, can go a long way in keeping your hearing health. Learn More

8. MENTAL DECLINE: An increase in mental decline is now associated with hearing loss. Though the exact cause of this mental decline is unknown it’s thought that it might have something to do with lack of auditory stimulation that causes parts of the brain to atrophy or with the forced isolation that comes from not treating hearing loss. Learn More

9. UNEXPECTED FALLS: People with hearing loss are more likely to suffer a bad fall. This may be due to a cognitive overload—a situation where the brain has to struggle to compensate for the ears and this added stresses causes a mental exhaustion that prohibits the mind from fulfilling its functions as related to balance. According to a study by Johns Hopkins and funded by the National Institute of Health, untreated hearing loss leads to an increased likelihood of falls. Even people with mild hearing loss were shown to have a greater chance of losing their balance. Learn More

10. MISDIAGNOSES: Not only is hearing loss often misdiagnosed as dementia in adults, children with hearing loss can be misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD or other learning problems. Hearing loss among U.S. adolescents and younger children has risen thirty percent in recent years. Unfortunately, recognizing students with hearing loss is often a difficult and confusing task. The lack of information around childhood hearing loss means that many years can pass before a student is diagnosed and treated. Learn More

Finding a hearing health professional is essential to get all the facts about hearing loss. Not only can good hearing health help preserve your hearing, it has whole body, whole life effects. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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