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Hearing Aids Are Tax Deductible

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Can you test for tinnitus?

How can I know if what I am hearing is real or phantom?

If you or someone you love has been experiencing ringing in the ears of other sounds that no one else can hear, it might be tinnitus. The first step for answers is to make an appointment for a hearing assessment*. After discussing your medical history with a hearing care professional, your provider will check for obstructions in the ear canal and clear out any built-up earwax.

If the tinnitus is reported as being unilateral (only in one ear) you may need to speak with a physician. An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may order an X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan to rule out larger issues. If no obstructions are present in the ear canal and no other potential causes are discovered, an audiologist or other hearing care provider will consider other causes, including hearing loss.

Professional hearing assessments

Your hearing care provider may conduct a pure tone audiogram, especially if your tinnitus is unilateral or accompanied by loss of hearing. A pure tone audiogram plays different frequencies at varying volumes. Even if you haven’t noticed reduced hearing, an audiogram may show areas of weakness that you may not have noticed before. In addition to an audiogram, your audiologist may consider performing speech audiometry, which looks at how well a patient can hear and repeat certain words.

Sound matching and other methods

Since generally tinnitus’ perceived sound cannot be heard by another person, audiologists use sound matching to determine what the patient experiences. Sound matching consists of playing a series of audio clips to identify which sound is closest to the internally perceived sound.

A hearing care provider may use minimum masking levels to determine if a patient is experiencing tinnitus. This also determines how loud a sounds seem. The audiologist or hearing care professional plays audio clips at increasing volume levels until the patient registers that the external noise entirely conceals the phantom sounds.

How is tinnitus impacting you?

You may be asked to fill out a self-assessment form or questionnaire. This will establish how your symptoms are impacting your life and emotional well-being.

Tinnitus is not an illness. If you are experiencing buzzing, ringing or other sounds you cannot identify, and want to discuss options for relief, contact our professionals so we can discuss your challenges – and provide solutions. Make an appointment for a free hearing assessment* today.

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Is Your Hearing Loss Linked to Diabetes?

Hearing loss affects approximately 34.5 million Americans, and approximately 30 million people have diabetes. These statistics make them two of the most prevalent health concerns in America. Beyond these numbers, the overlap of these populations is growing. Research continues on the potential connection between hearing loss and diabetes.

In her 2008 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, Kathleen Bainbridge, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, drew a number of conclusions from national survey data. She concluded that hearing loss is more than twice as common in diabetes patients than in the general population. In addition, 21% exhibited both hearing loss and diabetes, compared to 9% of those surveyed who had some form of hearing impairment but no diabetes. Finally, of the 86 million Americans with prediabetes, rates of hearing loss are 30% higher than adults with normal blood glucose levels. Perhaps, this final group is the most alarming number.

More research?

Current studies show evidence to support a noticeable overlap between the illnesses. Beyond primarily impacting older populations, medical practitioners have several theories as to how the two might be related. The current body of research linking hearing loss and diabetes is still fairly limited. So, we need more research to connect the two health concerns definitively.

What links the conditions?

Diabetes patients have sustained elevated blood glucose levels. This results in damage to many of the fine blood vessels that supply the inner ear. A network of vasculature supplies the cochlea. When patients fail to manage their illness or it goes uncontrolled for too long, it negatively impacts the the inner ear tissue and nerves. This leads to impaired hearing.

Take the Appropriate Course of Action for your hearing loss

Talk to your primary care physician or an endocrinologist to address your diabetes. Our professionals at Ross Hearing Center can counsel you on your hearing loss. You may need to visit a specialist for a full hearing assessment*. If so, we can work with you decide which treatments suit your needs best. For more information on hearing loss and links to other illnesses, make an appointment or make for a free hearing assessment*.

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Research Links Stroke to Sudden Hearing Loss

The onset of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) can be a frightening experience. Since it is unpredictable and develops rapidly, it is especially alarming. Most incidents of SSNHL develop within three days and are usually unilateral – affecting only one ear. Individuals may wake up to discover hearing loss, or they may notice it occurring over the course of several days. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is defined as a hearing impairment of at least 30 dB in three sequential frequencies.

Vascular occlusion and hearing

While medical practitioners can’t say definitively what provokes an episode of SSNHL, sometimes the vascular system seems to play a role. Besides vascular occlusion, other causes may include:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Ruptured inner ear membranes
  • Tumors
  • Autoimmune diseases

Researchers have focused on understanding the role that the vascular system plays in sudden hearing loss, including strokes. A stroke is brain damage that results from an obstruction in its blood supply. A stroke that occurs in the outer part of the brain stem can impact hearing.

Risk of Stroke Development among SSNHL Patients

Published in 2008 in Stroke, a study based in Taiwan sought to determine whether there was a link between SSNHL episodes and an increased risk of stroke. The study, conducted by Herng-Ching Lin, Pin-Zhir Chao and Hsin-Chien Lee, evaluated 7,115 patients over the course of five years after hospitalization. Of these 7,115 patients, 1,423 of them were hospitalized right after sudden hearing loss. The researchers used the remaining 5,692 appendectomy patients as a control group.

At the conclusion of the five-year study, 621 patients of the entire sample population had experienced a stroke – 180 of whom were SSNHL patients. After the researchers adjusted for gender, income, medical background and other relevant factors, the data indicated that the hazard for having a stroke was 1.64 times greater – more than a 150% increased chance – for SSNHL patients than the control group appendectomy patients. For the first time this study demonstrated that sudden hearing loss may serve as an early warning sign for a stroke.

What Should Patients who have Experienced Sudden Hearing Loss do Next?

Since approximately 40 – 65% of SSNHL cases result in spontaneous recovery, there is hope. However, anyone who has experienced sudden hearing loss should monitor their health and look for signs of impending stroke. According to the 2008 study, the average time between initial SSNHL hospitalization and the onset of stroke was 804 days. Most strokes occurred within the first two years.

After you or a loved one has experienced sudden hearing loss, it’s important to undergo a comprehensive neurological exam and schedule routine follow-ups, even years after the initial event. For more information on hearing and audiological effects of stroke, make an appointment for our free hearing assessment*.

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Memory Function and Hearing Loss: What You Need to Know

While hearing loss often presents a host of emotional complications, such as feelings of frustration, research now ties hearing loss with additional health conditions. Recent research from Johns Hopkins drew a connection between varying levels of hearing impairment and diminished mental health. This included increased difficulty walking and dementia. Along with hearing loss, individuals demonstrated general brain function loss, resulting in forgetfulness, impaired thinking and fluctuations in mood or personality.

About the research

Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. led the study. It tracked and analysed 639 adults over 12 years. Brain scans showed degeneration occurred at a faster rate in those with hearing loss over those without. The study concluded that:

  • Individuals with mild hearing loss were two times as likely to have dementia.
  • Those with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely to have dementia.
  • Individuals with severe hearing loss were five times as likely to have dementia.

Why does hearing loss contribute to mental deterioration?

We don’t know for sure. However, medical practitioners believe that social isolation may play a role. Individuals with hearing loss tend to disconnect and withdraw from their social world. As a result they miss out on conversations and everyday interactions that stimulate the brain. Without the frequent mental stimulation of socializing, the brain may begin to undergo atrophy. Therefore, an individual’s diminished hearing impacts memory.

Additionally, the brain works harder to process surrounding sounds and signals to compensate for hearing loss. This increased exertion and mental multitasking may interfere with the neural connections needed to walk and move around.

Reducing risk factors

Hearing aids help individuals process sound and follow conversations. Data shows that even though millions of Americans have hearing loss, only one in seven uses a hearing aid. And, hearing aid users wait seven years before seeking audiological assistance. Despite common misconceptions, today’s hearing aids are inconspicuous, affordable and highly effective in combating hearing loss.

If you or someone you love exhibits signs of hearing impairment, we can help. Since hearing loss can impact memory and other aspects of brain function, it is important to have a hearing assessment. Contact us today to discuss if hearing aids or other services are right for you.

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