The Value of Treating Hearing Loss

A recent article in HealthyHearing.com discusses the relationship between depression and hearing loss, and one of he most important points made in the article is that treating hearing loss early on can minimize the risk of depression.  Hearing loss and the tendency to withdraw go hand-in-hand, and early diagnosis and treatment of adult onset hearing loss can be vital in helping individuals maintain their independence and relationships.

The cognitive effects of hearing loss are complex, but one of the biggest reasons for cognitive decline in individuals with hearing loss is isolation and lack of social stimulation.  Additionally, those who withdraw from social situations suffer as their friendships and close family relationships begin to deteriorate.

Treating hearing loss IS definitely a financial investment, but when weighed against the VALUE of maintaining independence and inclusion, the benefits far outweigh the cost.  With continued advancement in bluetooth technologies, hearing apps, advanced technology in hearing aids, and more venues, churches, hospitals, and places of business installing hearing loops, it IS possible to stay active and involved despite the challenges of hearing loss.

If you want to learn more about hearing loss technologies available, specifically hearing loops, please visit our advocacy page.  If you are interested in learning more about assistive listening and hearing loop technology, you can visit our online hearing loop store!

 

The value of treating hearing loss far outweighs the cost.

The value of treating hearing loss far outweighs the cost.

Hearing Health and Nutrition

Every aspect of our health and physical wellness relies on good nutrition, and believe it or not, hearing is not an exception!  Although many people believe hearing to be a "process," and indeed it is, it still involves tissue, ligaments, neurons, and cellular integrity, all of which depend on good nutrition.

Foods rich in antioxidants A and E such as lentils, bananas, leafy vegetables and beans can help maintain your health at the cellular level, and help to prevent hearing loss as well as ear infections.

Vitamin B12 is an essential element for nerves and neurons.  Because our brain relies upon the mechanical signal that comes through our middle and inner ear, the connection between the inner ear and our neurons is essential for processing and interpreting the sounds we hear.  Fatty Omega Acids are also essential to a healthy nervous system, and a diet rich in a good balance of Omega 3-6-9 can help maintain nerves and neurons necessary for hearing and every other function.

Nutrition plays a big role in maintaining hearing health!

Nutrition plays a big role in maintaining hearing health!

The popular herb, Ginko Biloba, is believed to prevent cochlear damage.  Research published in the DovePress Journal, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, demonstrated that the dry extract, EGb716 is commonly effective in the treatment of tinnitus and can help prevent hearing loss overall.  Because this extract has been shown to protect the mitochondria from oxidative stress and improve metabolism in coclear cells, most medical experts agree this can be a helpful addition to one's diet in order to help protect hearing as we age.

Who would have thought that diet plays such a huge role in hearing?  So next time you have a choice between a burger and fries or the salmon and asparagus, listen to your ears!

Hearing Loops and Improving Patient Satisfaction

Among the many challenges facing the healthcare industry today, profitability is among them if even for the reason of sustainability.  Healthcare facilities, hospitals, and even doctors offices must rely on patient satisfaction as at least one of the factors that will ensure their sustainability, improve their profit margin, and ensure repeat business and referrals.

When asked to consider their experience at a facility or doctor's office, most patients think about comfort, safety and communication as ranking at the top of the list of what is important to them when at a health care facility or medical facility.  So how do we improve those aspects of the patient experience when that individual is living with hearing loss?

The fact is that NOT installing hearing loops is cheating many patients and their family members of ALL THREE of these aspects that are important to patient satisfaction.  Their safety is at risk if they cannot hear important announcements over the PA.  Their comfort level may be less than ideal if they are struggling to hear over background noise, rather than being able to hear at normal conversational distance and volumes.  And patients with hearing loss are handicapped in the arena of communication if they cannot understand what is being said to them about their health or the health of their loved one.

While the ROI of hearing loops cannot be directly measured, the effects of NOT addressing the comfort of patients who live with hearing loss will definitely be felt as more and more are uncomfortable communicating, struggling to feel included, and may even be at risk for injury if they cannot hear safety warnings.

What's the cost to healthcare facilities of NOT addressing the needs of individuals with hearing loss?

What's the cost to healthcare facilities of NOT addressing the needs of individuals with hearing loss?

Should Hearing Loss be Embarrassing?

In a recent article in Audiology Today, Sheena D. Oliver et al. disclosed that research conducted into what people were looking for when addressing hearing loss offered some unexpected findings.

One of the top desired outcomes among people surveyed was "performance."  Well, no great surprise here.  The investment in assistive listening devices, portable hearing loops and hearing aids can be substantial, so of course people want their investment to offer the return of an improved quality of life.

The VERY top desire, however, was DISCREET.  Despite the fact that our population's median age continues to rise, there is still a very real stigma around hearing loss, and many people still feel extremely self-conscious about their hearing loss.  This lack of our culture to embrace hearing loss as a natural part of the aging process has had a dramatic effect on individuals who experience hearing loss in their 50's and 60's.

One solution can lie with the marketing of assistive listening devices.  As manufacturers and assistive listening device providers create ads depicting images of people in mid-life, it may become easier for individuals to address their hearing loss earlier in life, and not see it as something that happens "when we get old."  Making assistive listening technology more integrated with contemporary technology like smart phones and blue-tooth devices is another great way to help people in mid-life, who are comfortable using these technologies, be more open and realistic in addressing their hearing loss issues as they can see these devices fitting into their current lifestyle.

Whether it's an audiology practice, a hearing loss non-profit, an assistive listening device provider, or an employer, the more we all work to make hearing loss something that's "normal" the easier it will be for people to begin to address this issue at an earlier stage in life.

Addressing hearing loss earlier in life can be encouraged when we begin to "normalize" hearing loss as a natural part of the journey.

Addressing hearing loss earlier in life can be encouraged when we begin to "normalize" hearing loss as a natural part of the journey.

Noise in the Workplace and Gradual Hearing Loss

Did you know that most people have SOME degree of hearing loss, and aren't even aware of it?  It's true.  Hearing loss that is gradual over time often goes undetected, but is frequently caused by exposure in the workplace.

Those especially at risk include First Responders, Construction Workers, Factory Workers, and Mine Workers, but continued exposure to any noise over 85 Decibels may cause gradual yet PERMANENT hearing loss.  There are OSHA guidelines in place, and many of these occupations require hearing protection which is supplied by the employer, but if the hearing loss is so gradual that it goes undetected by the individual, it can have an affect on one's social abilities.

Noise and gradual hearing loss can hamper work performance, increase irritability, create social anxiety and insecurity, and can even cause physical fatigue.  Those who experience gradual hearing loss over time slowly disengage from others, or are a source of irritation as they need increased volume of television, radio or conversation.  This can lead to relationship issues, increased isolation and loss of desire to socialize.

Hearing loss CAN be treated!  If you suspect you have gradually suffered significant hearing loss to the point that it is affecting your personal and professional life, talk with you physician about options.  Hearing loss doesn't have to mean exclusion; you can still retain a great quality of life with the proper treatment and assistive listening devices.

Treat your hearing loss and retain a great quality of life!

Treat your hearing loss and retain a great quality of life!

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Cognitive Function

Health care providers and the medical community are beginning to consider hearing an important element of cognition and overall health, according to recent trends in the medical community.  More and more, researchers are conducting studies which show the important link between cognition and hearing health, and the overall importance of hearing as a way for individuals who are aging to retain independence, inclusion, and overall quality of life.

Although some of the studies are conducted by hearing technology manufacturers, the findings that, overall hearing is a very important component to retaining cognitive function, are across the board regardless of the sponsors of the studies.  In fact, many of these studies have been conducted by Neurologists and Neuroscientists as well, and all support the same basic conclusion:  Wearing hearing aids, and the consistent use of assistive listening devices does have a positive impact on cognitive function in the aging brain.

You can read one such study here, with links to other studies as well.

Maintaining hearing function is an important component of overall cognitive health and quality of life.

Maintaining hearing function is an important component of overall cognitive health and quality of life.

Affording Hearing Assistive Technology

While it's exciting to see the breakthroughs in assistive listening and hearing technology, the real issue for most people with regard to accessibility to this technology is cost.

Did you know there are resources that can potentially help you afford assistive listening devices?  Depending on income level or sometimes barriers to employment, you could potentially qualify for help getting the technology you need for inclusion.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has some great resources listed which could be of assistance to you or someone you love!  Learn more here.

Advocate for Hearing Loop Systems in Transportation Hubs

Traveling can be stressful for even the most seasoned business person or globetrotter.  Arriving late to the airport or train terminal due to traffic, delays in security lines, misunderstandings during check-in, and navigation the large venues are just some of the stressors we all experiences when traveling.

Imagine these same stressors, which are manageable with all faculties, but exacerbated by hearing loss.  Imagine having to "watch" among seven or eight stations for which TSA agent is next available because you can't hear when called.  Imagine having to stay alerted to the boards constantly in the event there is a gate or time change that will affect your itinerary.  Imagine attempting to communicate with a ticket or boarding agent about needing accommodations or assistance.

With the advances in assistive listening technologies, and especially the advances in hearing loop technology, there really is no reason that public transportation hubs are not all looped for the benefit of those with hearing loss who have t-coil enabled hearing aids, or portable loop receivers.

While there are more and more people beginning to advocate for those living with hearing loss, it's important that we all make our voices heard on this issue.  When you are in a public transportation venue such as the airport, bus terminal or train station, go ahead and notice whether you see hearing loop signage, and if you don't it's ok to ask an official, or make your thoughts on the issue known.  Until we begin seeking change and support for those living with hearing loss, we can't expect public officials to know how important it is for the safety and dignity of our family members, friends and neighbors who are living with hearing loss.

Hearing Aids and Hearing Loops May Help Preserve Hearing

More and more research is demonstrating that preserving hearing through the use of hearing aids and hearing loops is becoming increasingly important for overall lifelong wellness.

Research has shown that people who address hearing loss issues via the use of hearing aids and hearing loops actually experience reduced levels of hearing loss as compared to individuals with hearing loss who don't wear hearing aids consistently.  The reason for this is believed to be a reduction in the atrophy of the nerves in the brain which process hearing.  In an article from Harvard Health, the author emphasizes, "maintaining a good level of hearing can slow further hearing loss by keeping the brain attuned to signals from the auditory nerves."

Additionally, the appropriate and consistent use of hearing aids and hearing loops can greatly help reduce the level of fatigue and strain experienced by individuals with hearing loss.  In fact, new hearing aid technologies like Voice iQ are focusing on this by developing hearing aids which can better filter speech from background noise, making the wearer much more comfortable and relaxed, especially in public settings.  This allows people to maintain their social interactions, which is shown to have an increased positive effect on overall health as well.

If you or someone you love is living with hearing loss it's important to maintain consistent use of a good hearing aid, tuned properly, and in conjunction with hearing loop technologies as often as possible.  It's good to advocate for those living with hearing loss because it can help improve their enjoyment of life and overall health in the long term.