Hearing Loss’ Connection to Mental Health

Hearing Loss’ Connection to Mental Health

Have you ever sat by yourself in a quiet room for days or weeks on end? Hopefully not. Unfortunately, this is how many individuals with untreated hearing loss in San Diego live their everyday lives. There are 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss but only one in five of them actually seeks treatment. These individuals who seek treatment typically wait an average of seven years before they meet with their audiologist.  So, what’s the connection to mental health?

Hearing Loss Can Cause Depression

hearing loss and depression connection to mental healthWhile it may seem obvious, being cut off from the rest of the world can lead to a number of mental health disorders, ranging from depression and anxiety to loneliness and frustration. This is what happens when people try to live with untreated hearing loss.

 

A study by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) found that moderate to severe depression occurred in 11.4 percent of adults with hearing loss, compared to only 5.9 percent in those without hearing loss. They also found that these feelings of depression are much stronger in women.

Connection to Mental Health

Two of the largest problems facing seniors with hearing loss are loneliness and social isolation. Many seniors choose to avoid social situations since it is extremely frustrating to not understand the world around you. The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) conducted a study that determined that those who used their hearing instruments were “more socially active and avoided periods of depression, worry, paranoia and insecurity compared to non-users with hearing loss.”

Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline

Cognitive decline is another serious problem for those with untreated hearing loss. While conclusive research has not yet been completed proving hearing loss can lead to cognitive decline or dementia, many studies have shown that there may be a correlation. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins University found that the individuals with severe hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia, compared to those with moderate hearing loss.

 

If you or a loved one is beginning to show signs of hearing loss, there is no time like the present. Contact your local San Diego audiologist to schedule an appointment, today.

 

 

Hearing Aid Attachments

The Right Attachments for Your Hearing Aids

You bought the best hearing aids in San Diego, your hearing is as good as it can get now, right? Wrong! There are many additional features, called hearing aid accessories that can be added to your device to elevate your hearing even more.

hearing-aids

Think of them like attachments for a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum works just fine on its own but when it comes to specific tasks, like cleaning under the fridge, an attachment allows you to clean without the extra work of moving the fridge.

The most popular hearing aid accessories are assistive listening devices (ALDs). These enable you to hear and understand voices better than you could with just your hearing aids, especially in crowded or loud environments. Within all modern hearing aids is a small copper coil that acts as a wireless receiver, called a telecoil (also known as t-coil). This telecoil is essential for any assistive listening device.

Common Listening Devices

There are three common listening devices: hearing loop, FM system and infrared.

  • A hearing loop uses electromagnetic energy to transmit sound. The hearing loop consists of four parts: a sound source, an amplifier, a thin wire loop and a receiver. Sound is amplified, converted into an electromagnetic signal and sent through the loop where it is picked up by the telecoil-enabled hearing aid. Since the sound is picked up directly by the hearing aid, it is clearer and contains less distracting background noise. Hearing loops can be found in places such as popular San Diego theaters and conference centers.
  • An FM system uses radio signals to transmit sound. This system is typically used in a classroom setting. The speaker will wear a small microphone connected to a transmitter. The hearing impaired individual wears the receiver tuned to a specific channel.
  • An infrared system uses infrared light to transmit sound. A transmitter converts sound into light and sends that light to the receiver worn by the hearing impaired individual. Unlike the FM and hearing loop systems, infrared cannot pass through walls, making this method of transmission ideal for locations where confidential information is being discussed, such as a San Diego courtroom.

Other Assistive Listening Devices

In addition to assistive listening devices, there are a number of other hearing aid accessories.

  • Personal microphones can help hearing impaired individuals with one-on-one conversations. The microphone is worn around the neck of your conversation partner. It directly broadcast their voice into your hearing aid without distracting background noise getting in the way. If you are dining with a larger group, the microphone can be placed in the middle of the table to pick up multiple voices.
  • Remote controls are able to wirelessly connect to your hearing aid, letting you change the program or volume without having to fiddle with small buttons.

This is just the start of the list when it comes to available accessories. Your San Diego hearing aid provider can help you figure out which ones can help you, based on your lifestyle.

How to Troubleshoot Your Hearing Aids

Troubleshooting Hearing Aids

We are all busy people. Who has the time to drive back and forth to their San Diego audiologist’s office whenever the slightest thing goes wrong with their hearing aid? Before you sit in San Diego traffic, try the following techniques for a quick fix.

If there is no sound:

  • Make sure the battery is inserted correctly.
  • Replace the battery if you suspect it is dead or weak.
  • Remove excess earwax from earmold or replace wax guard.
  • Check tubing for wax buildup or moisture; clean with blower tool.
  • Make sure hearing aid isn’t accidentally set to telecoil mode.

If you are experiencing feedback or whistling:

  • Remove and reinsert your hearing aids.
  • Turn down the volume.
  • Make sure there is nothing blocking or covering your hearing aids.

If the sound is weak or distorted:

  • The battery may be dead or weak; replace it.
  • Open the battery compartment and clean the contacts with a dry cloth.
  • Clean the earmold or tubing with wax removal tools; replace wax guard.

Professional Hearing Aid Repairs

Unfortunately, sometimes your hearing aid may need to be professionally repaired. Like anything you own, you will never know the extent of the repair needed until you take it in (think of your San Diego audiologist as your hearing aid mechanic).

If your hearing aids are still under warranty, repair costs will be nominal or free. If the warranty has expired, your San Diego audiologist will need to assess the level of damage before providing you with an estimate.

Much like you cannot simply drive your totaled car, a hearing aid that needs to be repaired cannot provide with you the level of hearing assistance that you need. If you are in need of a hearing aid repair, don’t wait. The sooner the problem is fixed the quicker you can return to your life.

New Wireless Hearing Aid Technology

hearing aid technology in san diegoRemember back in the day when you only had a corded home telephone? And that was all! You connected with your friends and family while sitting 4 inches from the wall in your kitchen.  Times sure have changed. Not only do fewer and fewer people even have a home phone, but we are overloaded with smartphones, tablets, laptops and other wireless devices.

For those with hearing loss in San Diego, the increase in devices may seem daunting. But with the new advances in wireless hearing aid technology, those who use hearing aids are able to connect with more devices than ever before.

Control

Wireless technology enables users to control their hearing aids from remotes, or apps on their smartphones. Users are able to change the program or adjust the volume, all without touching the device. This also enables manufacturers to create hearing aids with fewer buttons, freeing up room for additional features.

Connectivity

Probably the most obvious use of wireless technology is your ability to pair all of your other devices with your hearing aid. You will be able to answer phone calls, listen to music and even hear directions from your phone’s GPS. You will also be able to utilize hearing loops, FM and infrared systems to help you hear better in large conference centers or small classrooms.

Localization

One thing those with a hearing impairment miss when using their hearing aids is the binaural hearing they were used to. We have two ears for a reason; the brain is able to quickly analyze the timing and level differences of the sounds it hears to figure out which side of the head they are coming from. But until recently, those who needed two hearing aids had to go without, as traditional hearing aids worked independently of each other. Now, hearing aids are able to communicate with each other; they are able to actually compare the timing and level differences of sounds received in the microphone and provide the brain with correct information.

Sound Quality

Wireless technology has enabled those with hearing loss who use two hearing aids to have an improved experience. New hearing aids are able to communicate with each other. This means they are able to digitally process sound and both switch to the correct mode in only nanoseconds. This drastically improves the sound quality.

If you have been relying on an older hearing aid model, now is the time to speak with your San Diego audiologist at San Diego Hearing. These experts will help you figure out the correct level of technology you need as well as choose the right hearing aid for your type and degree of hearing loss. Your audiologist is your gateway to a better quality of life.

How Hearing Aids Can Help Date Night

January is a weird month; you’re tired from all the holiday travels and still in a food coma from all the cookies. If you feel like taking it easy but still want to get out of the house the best place to go is the movies. The theater has everything those in San Diego want: entertainment, popcorn and a comfortable chair. But, what do you need to know if you wear hearing aids?

hearing aids and movies

For most of us this sounds like an easy activity. Drive to the movies, sit down and enjoy. But for the hearing impaired individuals who use hearing aids, it may be quite daunting. The combination of surround sound, noisy patrons and background noise can all mix together to make enjoying a movie a seemingly impossible task.

 

This is where an assistive listening system comes into play. These systems are able to broadcast sound directly from the source to your hearing aid, thus eliminating any distracting background noises. There are three types of systems: hearing loop, FM and infrared. Most movie theaters employ the hearing loop as their system of choice.

 

All modern day hearing devices come telecoil enabled. A telecoil, also called a t-coil, is a wire spring that works as a miniature wireless receiver. The telecoil picks up electromagnetic signals (used in a hearing loop) and turns the signal back into sound within the hearing aid.

 

A hearing loop consists of three parts: a sound source, an amplifier and a thin loop of wire that surrounds the room. As long as you are within the loop sound can be picked up and sent as an electromagnetic signal to the hearing aid.

 

While you may be tempted to think “this is all well and good but the small neighborhood theater I was planning to visit cannot possibly have such an advanced system in place,” you would be wrong. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required that all places of public accommodation with fixed seating that either accommodates at least 50 people or has an audio amplification system (or both) must provide an assistive listening system.

 

Don’t let your hearing loss get in the way of a good time. If you have any questions about how to get the most from your hearing aid, contact your San Diego audiologist.

 

How Socialization is Good for Your Hearing

There are many mysteries left to discover about our auditory system. Key among these mysteries is its capacity to adapt over time, which generally occurs as a response to our environment. As sounds enter our outer ear, pass through the cochlear and are transmitted to our brain, they have the power to influence our auditory perception. New research in this arena suggests that this extends to social sounds. A recent study conducted by a research team at Georgia State University indicates that exposure to speech sounds can actually improve our hearing ability.

social sounds

Using green tree frogs, which have relatively simple forms of communication, the researchers examined the consequences of social isolation on sound perception. For 10 consecutive nights, two groups of frogs, a control group and test group, were subjected to varying sounds. While the control group heard a series of random sounds, the test group heard socially important sounds—their species’ calls—just as they would in the wild.

 

Just as human rely on speech, the species-specific calls have great significance to the green tree frog, as they facilitate social behavior. When the test group was exposed to these socially meaningful calls, they were shown to be more sensitive to these sounds than the control group.

 

The study suggests that more social interaction increases your capacity to understand social sounds. It also shows that these sounds can physically modify the ear to increase sensitivity, though the precise location of this change is unknown.

 

The research has substantial implications for socially isolated humans, such as individuals in nursing homes and prisoners, who are likely to communicate less frequently. It could also have importance for the hearing impaired community as well, who sometimes struggle to hear speech frequencies.

 

Our ability to hear keeps us connected to the world around, so the maintenance of our auditory system should be a priority. If you don’t have hearing loss, take precautions to protect your hearing ability through the use of hearing protection and annual hearing tests. If you are experiencing some degree of hearing loss, the use of hearing aids can help preserve your auditory function. To schedule a consultation with a professional audiologist in San Diego, CA, contact our team today. As experts in hearing health, our audiology doctors provide a full range of hearing services, including comprehensive evaluations, hearing aid fittings and hearing aid repair. Learn more about hearing loss treatments by calling (858) 279-3277

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Exercise May Help Your Hearing

The benefits of exercise are widespread and well-documented. Regular physical fitness can positively impact your mental, emotional and physical well-being. Commonly referenced benefits of exercise include improved mood, reduced risk of chronic illness and a longer life. Recently, a new addition to the long list of exercise-related benefits has been discovered at the University of Florida, where a team of researchers have shown exercise to prevent the development of age-related hearing loss in mice

fitness and hearing in san diego

Of the most common hearing loss causes is the age-related deterioration of the auditory system. This form of hearing loss occurs gradually over many years as the result of damage to delicate hair cells and other parts in the auditory system. This condition affects approximately 70 percent of individuals over 69 years of age, making it one of the most common conditions impacting seniors.

 

In order to maintain a healthy auditory system, it needs to be well oxygenated. The effects of oxygen on our hearing is one of the aspects studied by the researchers at University of Florida. Using two groups of mice, one with access to an exercise wheel and one without, the research team examined the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle on the rodents.

 

Their study suggests that age-related inflammation results in damage to the the cells of the auditory system, a factor the active group were able to reduce by about 50 percent. The active group also had a much lower rate of auditory damage and, while the sedentary mice experienced hearing loss at a rate of about 20 percent, only 5 percent of the active group had an impairment.

 

The scientific community is hopeful that this study may also be relevant for hearing impaired humans. The National Institutes of Health is undertaking a research initiative to explore which molecules released during exercise may help maintain auditory health.

 

Currently, the best known method for maintaining auditory health is to use hearing protection and receive regular hearing tests. Taking these precautions can help prevent the development of a more serious condition caused by hearing loss, which may include depression, anxiety and cognitive decline. To find out more about maintaining your hearing, speak with a doctor of audiology. To find a provider of audiology in San Diego, contact our team at (858) 279-3277.

 

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Hearing Aid Repair

Hearing aids consist of many small, technologically advanced parts. As a result, the occasional malfunction is commonplace. Should your hearing aid need servicing, take the following do’s and don’ts into consideration.

The Don’ts of Hearing Aid Repair :

Don’t Do It Yourself (DIY)

Hearing aids may appear to be a straightforward piece of technology; however, each device is made up of many small interconnected pieces. Messing around one part of the hearing aid may lead to a more serious problem with another part. As a result, it’s better to leave the fixing to the professionals.

Don’t Stop wearing them

If your hearing aid stops working, don’t set it aside for a long period of time. Using hearing aids helps to prevent unwanted complications from untreated hearing loss, so it is important to use them regularly.

The Do’s of Hearing Aid Repair:

Change the battery

If your hearing aid has stopped working or sounds weak and distorted, the battery may be to blame. The zinc batteries used in hearing aids act differently than the mercury batteries we are all used to. Typically, they only last five to seven days, depending on the size and style of your hearing aid, degree of hearing loss and the amount of time your hearing aids are used.

Clean the device

It is important to properly clean your hearing aid every day. This involves removing any buildup of earwax, dirt or grime. The hearing aid itself should be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth. The earmold (the part that goes into the ear canal) should be removed and cleaned with a mild soap solution. Make sure the earmold is completely dry before reattaching it to the device.

Visit your audiologist

When something stops working in your device, take it straight to your audiologist. Depending on the extent of the issue, your audiologist may be able to repair your device in the office. Many audiology professionals cover the cost of these repairs under the price of your hearing aid, so you might save money in the long run.

Consider buying a new device

At a certain point, keeping an old pair of hearing aids can be similar to owning an old car—the cost of upkeep may be higher than the cost purchasing something new. If your hearing aid is older than four years of age and is requiring regular maintenance, it might be time to look for a new device.

Inquire about warranties. Once your original hearing aid warranty expires, you may want to ask your audiologists about an extended warranty. This will help cover the future costs of repairs and fittings.

To find a provider specializing in hearing aid repair in San Diego, CA, we encourage you to contact our team at (858) 279-3277.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

How Hearing Aids Will Help Your Career

The average US citizen is staying in the workforce longer than in previous generations. One consequence of this trend has been an increase of hearing impaired employees. Due to social stigma, a high percentage of people avoid seeking immediate treatment for their condition, choosing instead to cope with their hearing loss privately. However, the use of hearing aids can improve many areas of your life, including your professional performance.

 
hearing loss and your career
Improved communication.

Most professions involve a fair amount of communication, and the hearing impaired are often at a disadvantage in these situations. A study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute showed employees struggled the most when speaking over the phone or conversing with co-workers. Wearing hearing aids improves your ability to hear others and leads to more effective communication.

 

Decreased cognitive load.

Hearing loss effects more than your ability to hear sound. The auditory system also involves areas of the brain, which are responsible for processing and decoding sounds. A hearing impairment places additional strain on these areas of the brain, which can negatively impact job performance. A study by The University of Texas at El Paso demonstrated that using hearing aids decreases cognitive load, which results in improved memory and processing speed.

 

Increased confidence.

A loss of hearing can be harmful to self-perception and confidence. This is often due to social stigma, and impaired ability to communicate with others. Many worry that wearing hearing aids will make them self-conscious; however, studies repeatedly show that listening devices improve confidence and leads to a more positive outlook.

 

If you are suffering from some degree of hearing loss, schedule a consultation with an expert in audiology. San Diego Hearing Center has been providing the community with expert patient care for decades. Our highly trained staff provides a variety of hearing services, including diagnostics, hearing aid repair, and hearing treatments. We pride ourselves in finding each patient the best hearing aids to treat their individual loss. To learn more about our services, speak with one of our team members today at (858) 279-3277!

Listen Up, Seniors! Don’t Forget to Get Your Hearing Checked

Hearing loss is the third most common health condition in the United States. Hearing loss is often overlooked due to the invisible nature of the condition; however, it affects as many as 48 million Americans. The stigma of hearing loss often prevents individuals from seeking treatment for a hearing impairment, but early intervention is one of the best ways to maintain the health of your auditory system. This is especially important for those over 50, as there is a strong correlation between aging and hearing loss. By receiving regular hearing test, seniors can reduce their risk of developing permanent hearing loss.

 

Some conditions are easy to identify and are therefore more likely to be treated quickly. A toothache, for example, is not likely to be ignored for an extensive length of time. However, hearing loss can be difficult to discern. In many cases of noise-induced hearing loss, the impairment occurs over a lifetime, making it much easier to adapt to. On average, people wait up to seven years to seek treatment for hearing loss. During this time, untreated hearing loss can take its toll on many areas of your emotional, physical and mental well-being.

 
senior hearing test in san diego
 
For this reason, audiology professionals recommend annual hearing exams for all individuals over 50 years of age. A standard hearing exam takes approximately an hour to complete, and generally involves a physical examination of the ear, sound-based tests and a consultation with a hearing professional. The test will gauge your auditory capabilities and determine if the use of hearing aids is necessary.

 

If hearing loss is diagnosed, your hearing health professional will generally provide a personalized hearing treatment plan, which may involve auditory rehabilitation and assistance from listening devices. When hearing loss is identified, it is important to seek immediate treatment. Left untreated, hearing loss can worsen and even impair cognitive function.

 

If you or a loved one is over 50, makes sure to include annual hearing exams as a part of your preventative health routine. To find a quality doctor of audiology in San Diego, contact our team today! San Diego Hearing Center has decades of experience providing expert level care. Our clinic offers a range of hearing-related services, including diagnostics, hearing aid repair and hearing loss treatment. Additionally, we pride ourselves in dispensing only the best hearing aids in the industry. To learn more, contact our staff at (619) 298-8546.