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.



Why Do You Hear a Ringing in Your Ear?

Have you ever thought you heard a fax coming in only to realize that you have not owned a personal fax machine for at least two decades? Hearing a low buzzing, hissing, ringing in the ear, roaring or clicking is a sign you may be suffering from tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a sound when no sound is actually present. Almost 20 percent of the population in San Diego and throughout the country reports some degree of tinnitus. Those suffering from tinnitus may experience these sounds constantly or sporadically and they may be present in both ears or only one; sounds can also vary in frequency and pitch. In addition to hearing a phantom noise, those with tinnitus often also experience fatigue, sleep problems, memory problems, depression and anxiety.

ringing in the ear treatment in san diego

Have you now accepted the fact that your San Diego home has not suddenly starting making new house sounds and instead you may be suffering from episodes of tinnitus? Good. The first step toward tinnitus treatment is accepting you have a problem.


Before seeking treatment from our San Diego audiologist it is important to understand what causes tinnitus.

There are two kinds of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective is the most common type and is classified by sounds only you can hear. The second, and much rarer type of tinnitus is called objective. This occurs when your audiologist can actually hear the ringing during an examination.


Ringing in the Ear Causes

Tinnitus is typically caused by damage to the inner ear. The inner ear is lined with small hairs. When sound waves enter the ear they cause these hairs to move, which causes an electrical signal to be sent through the auditory nerve to your brain where it is interpreted as sound. If these hairs become damaged they can begin to randomly send electrical impulses. These signals are interpreted by your brain as a ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking or hissing. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise and earwax blockage are all common causes of inner ear damage. This is why hearing protection is so important.


In addition to inner ear damage, tinnitus is also a common side effect of some disorders. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder categorized by episodes of vertigo and tinnitus.  Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) or a head or neck injury can cause tinnitus. Acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumor that develops on the nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear, can also cause tinnitus, although usually only in one ear.


Blood vessel disorders have been known to cause tinnitus. Atherosclerosis is a condition that can cause the blood vessels near the ear to become rigid. This causes blood flow to be more forceful and as a result, you can actually hear it. High blood pressure, a head or neck tumor pressing on a blood vessel or irregular blood flow can cause tinnitus.

Prescription Drugs

There are more than 200 drugs known to list tinnitus as a side effect. Fortunately, the symptoms will disappear when you stop using the drug. These drugs range from cancer medications to water pills, quinine medications, some antibiotics and certain antidepressants.


Figuring out the cause of your ringing in the ear is priority number one for your San Diego audiologist, as it can help them when developing a tinnitus treatment plan. Are you ready to finally have relief from your tinnitus symptoms? If so, contact your San Diego audiologist, today.


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.

Can Young People Also Suffer from Hearing Loss?

Audiologist San Diego CA

Hearing Loss in Children

San Diego kids these days seem indestructible. They jump off monkey bars, flip on trampolines and even dive in the shallow end of the pool. But one thing does seem to catch up to them – hearing loss.

Children of all ages in San Diego and around the country can experience a loss of hearing. Roughly three out of 1000 babies are born with hearing loss, and its prevalence is increasing in adolescents. The increase in use of personal music players may be one of the reasons for a sharp surge in noise-induced hearing loss.

Main Causes of Hearing Loss in Kids

There are three main causes of hearing loss in children:

    • Congenital Factors

Congenital factors contribute to children who are born with hearing problems as a result of genetic issues, prenatal problems or premature birth.

    • Ear Infections

Ear infections are also a very common childhood ailment that occurs when fluid accumulates in the middle ear. This can cause difficulty hearing and, in severe cases, may lead to permanent hearing damage.

    • Hearing Loss Life Events

Acquired hearing loss is triggered by illnesses, physical trauma, exposure to loud noises and medications.

Signs Your Child Can’t Hear Well

But how do you know if your child can’t hear? Unlike adults, children aren’t likely to describe their symptoms in a well-organized list-like format. Your San Diego audiologist suggests familiarizing yourself with a few signs to keep an eye out for. These signs include:

  • A delay in speech and language
  • Failure to respond to loud noises or your voice
  • Poor academic performance
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Disorders associated with hearing loss (i.e. Down syndrome or autism)
  • Family history of hearing loss

If you notice any of these signs it is important to schedule an appointment with their San Diego audiologist as delaying this can have a strong effect on a child’s learning and development.

Treatment Options for Child Hearing Loss

There are numerous options for treating your child’s hearing disorder, depending upon the type and severity of their condition. Your child’s audiologist may take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to otitis media; chronic cases may be treated with medications or ear tubes that are inserted surgically and allow fluid to drain from the ears. Permanent hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, cochlear implants and other hearing devices that enable a child to communicate.

Treating your child’s hearing loss is a time-sensitive process. The earlier you act, the less chance there is of your child experiencing speech or learning difficulties. If you think your child may be experiencing hearing loss, now is the time to act. Schedule an appointment their San Diego audiologist today.

The Sweet Sounds of Tinnitus!

After anxiously waiting in the online queue for what felt like hours, you finally snagged those tickets to the hottest show coming to San Diego. We will call him “Truce Ringsteen”. Once you are done celebrating, it is time to figure out how to prepare for the concert of your life.

tinnitus and concerts

Concerts are one of the common causes of tinnitus in San Diego. To understand why, first you need to understand how loud noises can harm your hearing. Anything over 85 dB can damage the intricate inner workings of your ear. To put this into perspective: a normal conversation clocks in at about 60 dB, traffic in San Diego can be about 85 dB and the sirens on an emergency vehicle can reach 120 dB. Now, just to be clear, an ambulance zooming past you on the freeway won’t damage your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss only happens when something is incredibly loud, such as an explosion, or you are exposed to any sound over 85 dB for an extended period of time. Sounds like a concert to me.


Much like noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus is caused by damage to the inner ear. Inside the inner ear, there are small hairs. Sound waves cause these hairs to move, and these movements send an electrical signal through the auditory nerve to your brain where it is interpreted as sound. If these hairs become damaged, they can randomly send electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise and earwax blockage are all common conditions that cause inner ear damage.


The good news is there is an easy solution. Earplugs! Seems almost too simple. Fortunately for you, you had to buy your Truce Ringsteen tickets far in advance. This give you time to visit your San Diego audiologist to be fitted for earplugs. While there are a wide variety of earplugs on the market, the best ones are the ones that are expertly fit to your ear. Musician’s earplugs are the ones you will need. These custom earmolds are able to reduce sound levels evenly so music and speech sound clear. These plugs prevent dangerously loud sounds from entering the ear but still keep the integrity of the music intact.

Don’t let the concert of a lifetime leave you with a lifelong condition. Contact your San Diego audiologist for more information on how to safely attend a concert.


Children, Headphones & Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Children in San Diego and throughout the country are at an ever growing risk of developing hearing loss. The number of Americans with hearing loss has actually doubled within the past 30 years. This steep increase can be partially attributed to the use of personal music players.

children headphones and noise-induced hearing loss

San Diego audiologists explain that the danger of a personal music player is noise-induced hearing loss. Every sound is measured in decibels (dB). Listening to anything over 85 dB (heavy city traffic) can cause damage after eight hours. Listening to anything over 100 dB (motorcycle) can cause damage within 15 minutes. Listening to anything over 120 dB (jackhammer) can cause damage immediately.


Audiologists have been conducting research on personal music players. One study found that 25 percent of those who use a personal music player are exposed to daily noise that is high enough to cause damage. A 2010 study found that a standard set of earbuds connected to an iPod set to its maximum volume produced an average sound level of 96 dB. This is higher than what is legally allowed in most workplaces. Another study found that 90 percent of all adolescents listen to music using earbuds; almost half listened at a high-volume setting.


The simplest way to correct this problem would be to turn the music down. But if you are a parent you know how much children enjoy following rules. Your San Diego audiologist recommends implementing the 60/60 rule. This rule states that you can listen to your music at 60 percent of its maximum volume for 60 minutes a day.  Researchers have determined that this volume for this length of time will not cause any harm to your hearing.


Below are some things to try if your child still listens to their music too loudly.

  • Replace your child’s in-ear bud-style headphones with an over-the-ear model.
  • Set a sound limit. Most music players have a parental option. With this you can set a password-protected listening limit.
  • Purchase kid-safe headphones. Headphones designed specifically for children often have a lower-than-normal maximum volume level.


If you need any additional help figuring out how to protect your child from noise-induced hearing loss, contact your local San Diego audiologist.

The Big Hearing Aid Misconception

Are you part of the 80 percent of the 48 million individuals in San Diego and around the country who suffer from hearing loss but don’t use hearing aids? If so, separating hearing aid facts from fiction may help convince you that you have nothing to fear by taking the plunge toward better hearing.

hearing aid misconception

Myth: Buying the “best hearing aid” from an audiologist is a waste of money when you can just buy one from a big-box retailer or online.

Fact: While it is true that hearing aids are generally less expensive when purchased from a large retailer or online there are some major downfalls. When you visit an audiologist for your hearing healthcare needs they will first perform a series of tests, the results of which are used to determine the best hearing aid for your type and degree of hearing loss. They will then use an extremely sensitive computer in order to program the device to match your specific type of hearing loss. Once the hearing aid is programed, follow-up visits are encouraged. At these visits your audiologist will fine-tune and adjust the device to make sure it is working well and complete any hearing aid repairs. Big box retailers use much simpler machines to program the devices and typically have a one-size-fits-all approach. This means you could be fitted with a device that is not right for your specific type or hearing loss.


Myth: The smaller the hearing aid the better.

Fact: Hearing aid technology is rapidly evolving. This means that there are some devices on the market that are smaller than ever before, making them practically invisible. This type of hearing device is typically only appropriate for those with mild hearing loss. These small devices often have the shortest battery life and a limited number of additional features. The most common models are behind-the-ear and receiver-in-the-ear. These styles have the most amount of additional features and the longest battery life. Your San Diego audiologist will help you determine the best style for you based on your type and degree of hearing loss.


Myth: Hearing aids can actually damage your hearing.

Fact: A properly fitted and well maintained hearing aid will not cause any additional damage to your hearing.

Don’t let your preconceived fears or what you think you know prevent you from taking steps toward improving your hearing. Contact your local San Diego audiologist to learn how to get started.


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





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.



Improved Test for Hearing Aid Fittings

Hearing loss is often referred to as a “silent disease.” Both the invisible nature and gradual progression of the condition can make it hard to identify, but one of the early indicators in difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds. Because individuals with high-frequency hearing loss are often able to hear low- to mid-frequency sounds normally, this impairment is sometimes labelled as a “partial deafness” and may still require the use hearing aids to treat the condition. However, the testing methods for a high-frequency hearing loss have been somewhat limited. Fortunately, a group of European researchers have developed a promising new testing process to make high-frequency hearing aid fittings more precise.

hearing aid fittings in san diego

The Phoneme Perception Test (PPT) is a new audiology testing method that was created to measure the perception of the specific phonemes “s” and “sh.” Phonemes are distinguishing units of sound that are used to differentiate words. This new test measures if there is a difference in recognizing specific phonemes for patients with specific hearing aid settings.


Two sets of stimulus materials are used during the test so that researchers can measure how the phoneme is perceived. The first set, (LF) preserves low-level sounds in the low- to mid-frequency range; the second set (nLF) limited the audibility to high-frequency sounds.


Researches successfully confirmed that there is a significant difference in the perception of the two sets of stimulus materials. This shows that recognizing and detecting thresholds are better measured in high frequencies using the nFL set. Both sets ought to be used in order to effectively fit hearing devices for those suffering from high-frequency hearing loss.

Patients can have greater auditory rehabilitation through the use of PPT, especially in regard to hearing high-frequency sounds.


If you’re looking to treat your hearing loss, our team of audiology professionals can help. As experts in the industry of hearing health, our audiologists provide highly-specialized auditory services, including comprehensive hearing evaluations, personalized hearing loss treatments and hearing aid repair. To schedule a consultation with San Diego’s best hearing aid providers, contact our clinic at (858) 279-3277.