What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

90% of all hearing loss is sensorineural (pronounced “sensory-neural”), which is hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathway from the inner ear to the brain.  Below are the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss.

  • Aging: As you age, hearing loss is pretty much inevitable.
  • Noise Exposure: Firearms, heavy machinery, music… if it hurts your ears, it’s probably hurting your hearing.
  • Head Trauma: Falls, concussions, sports injuries… when your head gets jolted, your hearing “system” can suffer.
  • Virus or Disease: Diseases that spike fevers, like measles, meningitis, and mumps, can lead to hearing loss.
  • Genetics: Good looks and goofy jokes aren’t the only things moms and dads pass down.
  • Ototoxicity: Believe it or not, medications like aspirin, certain antibiotics, and some anti-cancer drugs can cause hearing loss.

If you have sensorineural hearing loss – no matter the cause – there is a good chance you can benefit from wearing hearing aids.  Call one of our offices to schedule an appointment today. Together we will improve your quality of life by finding the hearing aid that will work best with your budget and lifestyle.

Hearing Loss Isn’t So Invisible

Hearing loss is commonly referred to as an invisible health condition, and early warning signs are often overlooked. Unlike other medical conditions, you can’t physically see the signs of hearing loss. Often the most difficult step in improving your hearing is recognizing you need help.

Hearing loss can develop at any age and can be caused by a number of different factors. Individuals with hearing loss often have difficulty following conversations and understanding the voices of women and children. Most complain that people mumble or talk too fast and many also experience tinnitus, a high-pitched ringing in the ears.

Less than 5 percent of hearing loss in adults can be treated medically or surgically, which means 95 percent of adults with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids are high-tech devices that help compensate for a loss of frequency by amplifying sounds and helping replace inaudible high-frequency sounds by replicating them with audible low-frequency sounds. Hearing aids today are small and incredibly powerful, available in a variety of options from invisible solutions that fit deep inside your ear to wireless Behind-The-Ear options that stream audio directly from your television, radio or telephone.

If you’ve noticed a change in your own hearing or the hearing of a loved one, the next step is to schedule a complete hearing evaluation with our Doctors of Audiology.

You may be wondering why it’s important to see a Doctor of Audiology when there are other options to purchase hearing aids online or at a big box store. You may also consult with friends, read online reviews, sort through detailed product descriptions, or ask for input on social media sites. Consumer data is just a click away on your smartphone or tablet. Who you see for your hearing healthcare is an important decision.

Audiologists are experts with the training and equipment necessary to inspect your ear, determine the degree and type of hearing loss, assess your unique listening needs, and prescribe hearing solutions to fit your lifestyle and budget. No person’s hearing loss is identical to another, and each person’s physical ear configuration is unique.

Only a Doctor of Audiology can help you accomplish the following accurately:

  • Give accurate hearing examinations and safe ear cleanings
  • Determine your degree and type of hearing loss along with possible causes
  • Help identify the most appropriate hearing solution for your hearing loss and lifestyle needs
  • Work with you to ensure your hearing aid settings are working for your lifestyle, help with repair and maintenance, and help track your hearing loss for any signs of decline throughout the year

 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the appointment.

At your appointment, the results of your hearing test will be explained to you by your doctor. Your Audiologist will ask about your lifestyle and the types of listening environments you frequent to determine the technology and product features that would be most beneficial. You will be able to see the different types of hearing aids and discuss your preference for size, color and invisibility. Your Audiologist will help you narrow down your choice of hearing instruments based on the degree and type of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, the investment you are comfortable making. Insurance coverage and payment plan options will also be discussed.

Good Sound Audiology also provides ongoing support and care for your hearing and your hearing aids. The biggest reason to see a Doctor of Audiology is to ensure that your hearing aids are personally customized for your unique lifestyle and hearing needs. Our doctors are invested in your success and your hearing journey, so you should always be open and honest about what you do and don’t like during fitting and adjustment appointments.

Finally, once you have your hearing aids, your Audiologist will walk you through proper care and maintenance. Hearing aids are advanced technological devices akin to a computer but in a very compact package. After your initial fitting, you will probably see your Audiologist for updated programming, repairs and cleanings as you adjust to and use your hearing aids more several times per year. This type of personalized care is not available if your hearing aids are purchased online.

Recognizing, diagnosing and treating hearing loss can profoundly improve quality of life. Acknowledging the presence of hearing loss is the first step toward improving communication with your family and friends. Take the next step to restore your hearing by contacting us  at Good Sound Audiology today!

 

Quick tips to reduced repairs

5 Quick tips to reduced repairs and improve the life of your hearing aids.

After acclimating to wearing hearing aids, many patients feel lost when they have to send their hearing aids in for repair and be without them for a week or so. Below are 5 quick and easy tips to help reduce repairs and improve the life of your hearing aids.

  • Utilize a hearing aid dryer.
    Hearing Aid Dryer

    Hearing Aid Dryer

-Putting your hearing aids in a dryer every night will help remove any moisture in the hearing aids from perspiration, humidity and rain. A dryer that has a UV light and dehumidifier built in is preferred to sanitize the hearing aids and remove any moisture. The dryer also serves as a safe place to store your hearing aids every night. You can purchase a hearing aid dryer that has UV light and dehumidifier at Good Sound Audiology.

  •  Wipe clean and brush away any debris in the morning before insertion.

-It is good practice to use the dry cloth and cleaning brush that came with your hearing aids every morning. Simply brush the silicone tip away from the receiver and then give the silicone tip a thorough wipe down to remove any oils or leftover debris from the brush.

 

  • Remember to remove devices before taking a shower or going into the pool.

-Although hearing aids are becoming more and more water & dust resistant, very few are waterproof. It is important to remember to remove your devices if you are going into a pool or getting in the shower. If you happen to forget to remove them, simply open the battery door and place them in your hearing aid dryer as soon as possible. If you do not have a hearing aid dryer, leave the battery door open to allow air to circulate through the devices.

 

  • Keep hearing aids in their case and in a place that pets and children cannot get to them.
    Help! My dog ate my hearing aid!

    Help! My dog ate my hearing aid!

-Pets love hearing aids because they smell like their owner, and they feel like if they chew on them just right they can make them emit a very high frequency sound. Children and Grandchildren are also intrigued by hearing aids. That is why it is imperative to keep your hearing aids in their case or in a dryer when they are not in your ears.

 

  • See your provider every 3-6 months for a thorough cleaning and inspection of your hearing aids as well to address any concerns with your hearing.

-Your provider has supplies, tools and techniques to give your hearing aids a thorough cleaning to help them sound like new again. It only takes a few minutes to do, and you are paid for the service with most providers. At Good Sound Audiology, you can stop by anytime during our normal business to have your hearing aids examined and cleaned without an appointment and for no charge if your hearing aids are still under warranty.

 

Written by: Kevin Kimball, B.S., Doctor of Audiology Student, Arizona State University

Tips for Moms and Dads on Picking out a Hearing Aid for Children

Sadly hearing loss impacts countless youngsters, but the right style of hearing aid can have a really positive effect on their daily lives. On the other hand, the sheer variety of hearing aid models and attributes offered can certainly make selecting the right one hard for many parents. Continue reading for additional information on the kinds of hearing aids best suited to aid younger listeners.

The most common types of hearing aids used by children are identified as in-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE). Unlike adults, children are constantly growing and developing, making normal hearing aid adjustment critical. ITE and behind-the-ear type hearing aids are often preferred for children because they are most easy to fine-tune. ITE hearing aids are small devices in plastic cases that fit in the outer part of a child’s ear. These hearing aids are able to integrate supplemental technologies, such as telecoil. BTE aids have a little plastic case that is worn behind the ear. This case is connected to a plastic earmold that generates sound to the child’s ear. Both types of hearing aids can address mild to severe hearing issues.

Finding the perfect type of hearing aid for your youngster can be complex, particularly if he or she has other medical problems. Children with misshapen ears may find BTEhearing aids tough to use. In-the-ear hearing aids may not fit correctly if a child has a shallow ear canal. An abnormal build-up of ear wax can hinder hearing aid performance, particularly for devices that rest in the ear.

Talking to your child’s hearing specialist is a vital step in selecting a hearing aid for your child. Your child’s unique needs will be considered by a specialist to make the most educated suggestion. Instruction about your role in maximizing your child’s hearing can also be given by your specialist. Removing, inserting, or adjusting the volume of your child’s hearing aids to make sure they are comfortable may be up to you if your child is young.

Although it may seem too much to handle in the beginning, research and consulting with an expert will help you better understand the best hearing aid options for your child.

Hearing Loss Stats that may Shock You

Do you have a loved one that needs a hearing aid (or at least a hearing test) but won’t go along with your advice? Chatting about some of the data related to the frequency, causes and effects of hearing problems may finally get them to make that first appointment. Below are some basic facts and stats to help you make your case:

  • Roughly 13% of the population over age 65 will experience tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
  • Approximately 36 million people in the United States have some sort of hearing loss, which is almost 1 out of every 5 people.
  • The number of Americans with hearing problems has doubled over the past 3 decades.
  • Of the 12 million Americans with tinnitus, 1 million have it so badly that it disrupts everyday activities.
  • Noise is a key contributing factor to hearing loss. Noise has already caused irreversible hearing loss for 10 million. Another 30 million are exposed to harmful levels each and every day.
  • More people could really benefit from a hearing aid than in fact wear one. Some estimates say there are 4 additional individuals who could benefit, for every 1 actually using a hearing aid.
  • Approximately 26 million Americans aged between 20 and 69 suffer from high frequency hearing loss due to repeated exposure to loud noise either at work or during leisure activities.
  • Close to 23,000 people in the US have cochlear implants – 43 percent of the them children.
  • People with hearing loss delay an average of approximately ten years before doing anything about it. Does this describe you or someone you love?

Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplifiers Are Not At All Equal

What exactly is the difference between a hearing aid and a personal sound amplifier (PSA)? One distinction is that the PSA is being heavily marketed to the consumer giving rise to quite a great deal of confusion. You generally don’t see comparable advertising campaigns for hearing aids because they are medical devices according to the Food & Drug Administration and cannot be offered without a prescription by a an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. Hearing aids are for people with hearing loss ranging from modest to profound. Hearing aids are adjusted for each individual person to specifically target their unique hearing loss as determined by the audiologist or dispenser.

Conversely, personal sound amplifiers were developed for individuals with normal hearing. A personal sound amplifier increases the volume of sounds by amplifying them. Some personal sound amplifiers look a little like hearing aids, simply because they are smallish and can be worn on the body, but the only thing that they do is amplify sound. They are not intended to help with the problems that a hearing-impaired person might have.

The price of personal sound amplifiers (often under $100, versus thousands of dollars for the top hearing aids) may make them sound appealing to those on a limited budget. The huge difference in price is a primary reason the Food & Drug Administration is now involved developing websites and information campaigns to ensure that buyers learn the distinction. Simply put, PSAs are for people with normal hearing only. For anyone who is having difficulty hearing in situations where other people are not having problems, you need to see a hearing specialist for a professional hearing exam. If you have real hearing losses, using a personal sound amplifier can postpone treatment that might improve your hearing, and in some cases could even impair your hearing further (for instance, by making it possible for you to turn the volume up excessively).

Prior to purchasing any product to improve your hearing ability, see an audiologist or hearing specialist. This is the FDA suggestion to make sure you get the appropriate care. Some hearing problems (say for example a blockage of the ear canal caused by a ear wax accumulation) can be corrected in a single office visit. Other hearing problems are more significant, but can also be reversed with correctly-prescribed and correctly-programmed good quality hearing aids. A hearing instrument specialist or audiologist can figure out the underlying cause of your difficulty hearing. In some scenarios you won’t need a hearing aid or a personal sound amplifier.

That said, if your audiologist or hearing specialist doesn’t find any signs of significant hearing loss, but you’re still having some difficulty hearing, you may think about a low-cost personal sound amplifier to help you hear. When shopping for one, study the PSA’s specifications, and only consider those that satisfactorily amplify sounds in the frequency range of human speech (between 1000 to 2000 Hz). Get a unit with volume level controls that don’t permit it to go beyond 135 decibels. That’s already really loud! There is a role for PSAs in the market when utilized by the right individuals. They can be beneficial for people with normal hearing to hear distant or faint sounds better. A PSA should just not be confused with more sophisticated and more precise hearing aids, or be perceived as a substitute for them by individuals who have suffered genuine hearing loss.

Educational Sessions held every Wednesday at our Sun Lakes Office

brainstormHearing loss is a disease that affects everyone who is around you and often others just don’t understand the challenges that someone with hearing loss faces.  We offer educational sessions so you and your loved ones can get more information, strategies and a better understanding of hearing loss and hearing aids.  The sessions are offered in a five week course and would serve you best if you can attend all five, however valuable information can be obtained by even attending one session.

The sessions are designed to go over your specific hearing loss and any questions you may have about your audiogram and your results.  How hearing aids work and how to make the most of your hearing aids will also be covered.  There is also a lab day where we play interactive games that are designed to help you adjust to wearing hearing aids and aim to have the best possible comprehension of speech with your hearing aids.  We also leave ample time for group discussion, strategies and questions.

Topics Covered:

Hearing Loss

Hearing Aids

Challenging Listening Environments

Challenges of Living with Hearing Loss

Causes of Hearing Loss

Tinnitus

Noise Exposure and Hearing Protection

Prevent Auditory Deprivation

Listening and Communication Strategies

These sessions are offered on Wednesdays from 10am-11am at our Sun Lakes Location

10450 E Riggs Rd Suite 116

Sun Lakes, AZ 85248

These sessions are offered to both the patient and their loved ones so bring your friends and family members!  There is great information for them as well.

If you would like to attend our education sessions please call and reserve a spot because space is limited (480) 883-2842

Can My Ability to Hear be Further Damaged by Hearing Aids Increasing Already Loud Noises?

A common question asked by patients being fitted for hearing aids deals with whether the hearing aids that are intended to help them hear faint sounds will make the loud noises too loud.The response to this common question is quite comforting.

Put simply, as long as they’re properly fitted and adjusted today’s hearing aids are made so that they won’t take already loud sounds and make them louder still, possibly harming the user’s ears. We cannot overemphasize how important the bold phrase is; this is the reason you need professional help with choosing and fitting your hearing aids.

A longer answer to the same question requires an explanation of hearing aids themselves, and the way that they work. Basically, they pick up sounds and transform them into digital information, which is then processed by the microchip in the hearing aid in many different ways before being routed to your ears. Your individual needs can be met with these digital hearing aids by programming and adjusting the maximum volume and the quality of sounds. An example might be that we program your hearing aid to amplify high-frequency sounds and reduce the volume of lower-frequency sounds if you suffer from primarily high-frequency hearing loss. This preference can be reversed, of course, if you suffer from primarily low-frequency hearing loss.

In addition, modern digital hearing aids are able to filter the sound to make it more understandable. For example, if foreground voices are obscured by background noise, the hearing aid can detect the noise and suppress it or lower its volume, amplifying only the voices. If volume levels change – for example if music starts at a low volume but then becomes too loud – the hearing aid can dynamically compensate for it. This process is aided by directional microphones that can detect where sounds are coming from and thus reduce the volume of background noise coming from behind or to the sides while increasing the volume of sounds coming from in front of you.

An important point to remember is that hearing aids will not protect your ears from loud sounds like earplugs do. Noise-induced hearing loss can still be caused by loud sounds such as chainsaws or overly amplified rock concerts. But in most situations your properly fitted and programmed hearing aid should handle most of the range of sounds you’re likely to encounter.

Meniere’s Disease

earMeniere’s disease, also known as endolymphatic hydrops, is an inner ear disorder that affects a person’s balance and hearing.  It develops in approximately 50,000 to 100,000 people a year.  It occurs when the fluid in the inner builds up and causes pressure on the inner ear membrane in which the membrane burst.  The exact cause of fluid buildup is unknown.  When the membrane burst two different fluids in the ear mix causing vertigo, a rushing or roaring tinnitus, a feeling of ear pressure and hearing loss.  Typically vertigo last for several days and when the membrane begins to heal the vertigo subsides and hearing typically is restore, however not usually back to the original state it was before the membrane burst.  In most cases, this incident reoccurs with each episode causing further permanent hearing loss.  The severity of each episode varies.  To have the status of your hearing evaluated schedule an appointment with us at Good Sound Audiology.

Some risks that may be related to the cause of Meniere’s disease include:

Head injury

Middle or inner ear infection

Allergies

Alcohol use

Family history

Fatigue

Recent viral illness

Respiratory infection

Smoking

Stress

Use of certain medications

To test for Meniere’s disease several different procedures are performed.  A hearing evaluation or audiogram will show hearing loss that occurs with Meniere’s disease which typically will show up in low frequencies first.  Schedule an appointment with us today for a complete assessment of your hearing.  A vestibular evaluation will include caloric stimulation, electrocochleography (EcochG) and electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography (VNG).  A head MRI scan may be included in the evaluation of Meniere’s disease as well.

There is currently no known cure for Meniere’s disease, however lifestyle changes and a few different treatments may be recommended based on each individual person and his/her needs.  These include:

Diuretics (water pills)

A low sodium diet

Not over eating

Exercising regularly

Getting enough sleep

Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation

Limiting caffeine and alcohol

Avoiding sudden movements during episodes

Avoiding bright lights, TV and reading during episodes

Avoiding driving and operating heavy machinery during episodes and after 1 week after the episode subsides

Your health care provider may prescribe medication for nausea, vomiting and vertigo

Surgery may be needed if the symptoms are severe and other forms of treatment do not help

Hearing aids are usually needed after a person has experienced several episodes in which the hearing has decreased and does not return to normal or close to normal hearing sensitivity – if you think you have hearing loss and are interested in the possible options for treatment schedule a hearing aid evaluation with us

Currently there is no way to prevent the occurrence of Meniere’s disease, however prompt treatment can help reduce the frequency of and the damage caused by each episode.  Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of Meniere’s disease such as hearing loss, ringing in the ears and dizziness.  Schedule an appointment to have a complete evaluation of your hearing.

Signs of Hearing Loss

131-hearing-lossDo you have trouble hearing what others are saying?  Have you been having a difficult time following conversations?  Do you think you may have a hearing loss?  Below are several signs of hearing loss, if you have any one of these signs it is time to see an audiologist and have your hearing checked.  Schedule an appointment with us for a complete evaluation of your hearing.

 

Signs of Hearing Loss:

Asking others to repeat often

Difficulty hearing in groups and/or noisy environments such as a restaurant

Hearing others but they sound muffled or as if they are mumbling

Difficulty understanding certain people such as women or children

Trouble hearing while using the telephone

Having the television volume turned up

Struggling to follow a conversation without visual cues

Having the feeling that your ears are plugged up

Tinnitus (a sensation of noise such as ringing or roaring in the ears)

Having a history of noise exposure such as gun fire, musician, construction, military, etc.

Having a family history of hearing loss

Having diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems

Feeling stressed from straining to hear what others are saying

Feeling embarrassed from misunderstanding what others are saying

Withdrawing from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing

 

If you have any questions about hearing loss, a hearing evaluation or hearing aids please contact Good Sound Audiology for more information and to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists for a consultation.