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.

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

A new arrival to Good Sound Audiology!

Congratulations to Dr. & Mr. Karg! Baby Karg was born on June 16th at 12:00pm. Both mom and baby are doing great!

Baby Karg had her hearing screened within hours of being born. You will be happy to know that she passed and is ready to protect her hearing from loud sounds. (Insert adorable pictures of her!)

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss are different for each child. If you think that your child might have hearing loss, call for a hearing evaluation today 480-497-0780. Don’t wait!

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program sets the protocol for screening every newborn for hearing loss prior to hospital discharge. Infants who do not pass the screening receive an evaluation before three months of age and, when necessary, are enrolled in early intervention programs by six months of age. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) laws or voluntary compliance programs that screen hearing.

Facts from Arizona department of Health Services:

84,811 babies, born in 2013 passed the newborn hearing screen

738 did not pass the newborn hearing screen

  • 246 passed a subsequent hearing test
  • 121 were diagnosed with hearing loss
  • 371 did not have follow up!

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss are different for each child. If you think that your child might have hearing loss, call for a hearing evaluation today 480-497-0780. Don’t wait!

Even if your child has passed a hearing screening before, it is important to look out for the following signs.

Signs in Babies

  • Does not startle at loud noises.
  • Does not turn to the source of a sound after 6 months of age.
  • Does not say single words, such as “dada” or “mama” by 1 year of age.
  • Turns head when he or she sees you but not if you only call out his or her name. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
  • Seems to hear some sounds but not others.

Signs in Children

  • Speech is delayed.
  • Speech is not clear.
  • Does not follow directions. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
  • Often says, “Huh?”
  • Turns the TV volume up too high.

Babies and children should reach milestones in how they play, learn, communicate and act. A delay in any of these milestones could be a sign of hearing loss or other developmental problem. Visit the CDC web page to see milestones that children should reach from 2 months to 5 years of age.

Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/facts.html on 5/29/15.

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss are different for each child. If you think that your child might have hearing loss, call for a hearing evaluation today 480-497-0780. Don’t wait!




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.

Did You Know that Specific EverydayMedications Can Cause Hearing Loss?

Most likely you already know of countless drugs which can cause liver damage, increase rates of infection, and cause various additional side effects. Many consumers don’t understand that certain medications are damaging to their hearing and may contribute to deafness or balance problems. These medications are in wide use, and they’re called ototoxic medications. Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) may be ototoxic. As reported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLHA), there exist more than two hundred medications that may cause temporary or permanent hearing loss or even balance disorders. A large number of of these ototoxic medications are used, and you’ve probably heard of them and might even be taking them.

  • Salicylates – Salicylates are widely found in common pain relievers such as aspirin and in aspirin-containing medications. In doses of eight or more pills per day, salicylates are known to cause tinnitus and hearing loss. Luckily, the adverse effects fade away once the medication containing the salicylates is stopped.
  • NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often abbreviated NSAIDs, can result in temporary ringing in the ears and hearing loss in large quantities.Naproxen and ibuprofen are 2 well-known NSAIDs.
  • Loop Diuretics – High blood pressure, heart failure, and certain kidney disorders are frequently treated with Loop diuretics. These medications have been shown to cause hearing loss and tinnitus, which is sometimes only discovered during a hearing test.
  • Aminoglycoside Antibiotics – Streptomycin, kanamycin, amikacin, neomycin and gentamicin are just a few of the aminoglycoside antibiotics prescribed by doctors in the treatment of bacterial infections. Complications arise when these drugs produce free radicals, which can destroy the inner ear. Babies have been known to be born deaf as a result of the mother taking kanamycin or streptomycin while pregnant.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs – Permanent ear damage has been noted in many cancer treatment medications, such as carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, cisplatin and bleomycin. Like many mentioned in this article, the life-saving benefits commonly outweigh the risk, but mention any changes in hearing to your physician.

The risk for ear damage generally rises with dosage for most drugs and when more than one of these medications are taken at once. If you use any of these drugs and are worried about potential ototoxic effects, consult your doctor or pharmacist so that he or she can examine your dosage and help keep you at minimal risk and optimal ear health.

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?

What are the Various Forms of Hearing Loss?

There are a few distinct forms of hearing loss, determined by which portion of the auditory pathway is affected. In this article we offer an overview of five types – conductive, sensorineural, central, functional and mixed. The starting point in developing a therapy plan is to correctly establish the kind of hearing loss.

  • Conductive hearing loss – In situations where sound waves aren’t properly conducted to the interior of the ear through the parts of the outer and middle ear, conductive hearing loss arises. This is quite common and can be caused by an accumulation of ear wax, a buildup of fluid in the eustacian tube, which prevents the eardrum from moving properly, a middle ear infection, a perforated eardrum, disease of the tiny bones of the middle ear or blockages in the ear canal.Most cases of conductive hearing loss are reversible, presuming there isn’t any irreversible damage to the parts of the middle ear, and with treatment the trouble usually resolves fairly quickly. For some patients surgery can help to correct the issue or a hearing aid may be fitted.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss – Sensorineural hearing loss accounts for more than 90% of the instances in which a hearing aid is used. It is the result of damage in the interior of the ear or to the acoustic nerve, which prevents sound signals from being transmitted to the brain. Also known as nerve deafness or retrocochlear hearing loss, the damage is for the most part permanent, though breakthroughs in technology have allowed some formerly untreatable cases to see some improvement. The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are aging, extended exposure to noise, problems with circulation of blood to the inner ear, fluid disturbance in the inner ear, medications that cause damage to the ear, some diseases, heredity and problems with the auditory nerve. Hearing aids are sufficient for most people that have this sort of hearing loss, but in more serious cases, a cochlear implant may help restore hearing to those for whom a typical hearing aid is not enough.
  • Central hearing loss – This condition arises in situations where an issue in the central nervous system blocks sound signals from being processed by the brain. Affected individuals can ostensibly hear perfectly well, but can’t decode or decipher what is being said. Many cases involve a problem with the individual’s ability to adequately filter competing sounds. For example, the majority of us can have a conversation while there is traffic noise in the background, but individuals with central hearing loss have a really hard time with this.
  • Mixed hearing loss – As the term suggests, mixed hearing loss is a combination of multiple types of hearing loss, in this case the combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Although there are a couple of other types of hearing loss, the combination of these 2 is most common.
  • Functional hearing loss – An infrequent occurrence, functional hearing loss does not have a psysiological explanation. This condition is due to an emotional or psychological condition in which the person‚Äôs physical ability to hear is normal, but they do not seem to be able to hear.

Fact or Fiction – Excess Ear Wax Leads to Loss Of Hearing

What most people call ear wax occurs because our ear canals are lined with hair follicles and glands that produce an oily wax called cerumen. This wax lines the interior surface of the ear canal and helps to protect it by attracting and gathering alien debris like dirt and dust, bacteria, and various microbes. Ear wax also helps to avoid irritation when the hypersensitive skin of the ear canal is in contact with moisture; Thus, the production of ear wax is both normal and healthy.

In most people, ear wax ultimately makes its way to the outer sections of the ear, where it either falls out or is washed away when we wash our ears. However, the glands in certain people’s ears generate more wax than usual. Because of this, the wax collects and can harden, blocking the ear canal and preventing sound waves from getting to your inner ear. The accumulation of ear wax is among the most frequent grounds for hearing problems, in people of all ages.

The symptoms of a blockage caused by excess ear wax may include feeling like your ears are clogged up, hearing a ringing noise (tinnitus), and a partial loss of hearing, which becomes worse as time goes by. This is a kind of conductive (rather than sensorineural) hearing loss, in which the sound waves are blocked from getting to the eardrum. Hearing loss caused by excess ear wax, happily, can be easily diagnosed and remedied.

If you have experienced some or all of the symptoms previously mentioned, come in to our practice where our hearing care specialists can easily and painlessly determine whether the cause is a build up of ear wax. If it is, an abnormal accumulation of ear wax is readily treated, either at home or at the office.

If a hearing specialist tells you that you have excess ear wax that is obstructing your ear canal, you can take steps to remove it yourself in your own home. One thing not to attempt, however, is to use a cotton swab or Q-tip, which tends to just compress the ear wax, not get rid of it. Alternatively, add a couple of drops of glycerin, baby oil, mineral oil, or commercial ear drops made for this purpose to each ear, let them remain in the ear for a couple of minutes to loosen the wax, and then wash the loosened wax out, using body-temperature water. (Hot or cold water may cause feelings of vertigo or dizziness.) Pharmacies offer small bulb-like syringes that can be used to irrigate the ear after the wax has been loosened, aiding the process. Two more things not to do are to 1) use a jet irrigator such as a WaterPik because its spray is simply too powerful and may cause damage to your eardrums, and 2) use any kind of irrigation at home if you know for certain that you have a punctured eardrum.

If this doesn’t seem to work to clear up the buildup of ear wax, come visit us.

Ever Heard of the Human Speech Banana? Learn What It Is and Why It Matters

If you are curious, a “speech banana” is not an audiologist’s mid-day snack.Speech banana is a reference to the sounds in an audiogram – a visual rendering of a person’s hearing acuity within a range of frequencies and loudness levels. Audiograms are graphs of sound frequency (on the x axis) and volume (on the vertical axis). In a hearing evaluation, each test sound is characterized by its frequency and volume and can be graphed to create a chart.

The phrase ‘speech banana‘ stems from the banana-shaped group of points on the audiogram that is produced when human language is analyzed. Nearly the whole alphabet and most letter combinations (such as ng, ch, sh and th) fall into the speech banana range on an audiogram. The primary exceptions are the letters w, x, y and q.

The speech banana is important because it encompasses nearly all of the sounds of human speech which is vital for our communications with one another. Individuals with normal hearing, can also hear many sounds outside the banana such as low frequency thunder or high frequency glass breaking. Hearing impairment often strikes this speech banana area, which results in individuals having difficulty hearing or understanding the letter combinations ng, th, sh and ch.

When hearing impairment affects the frequencies and volumes inside the speech banana it interferes with interpersonal communications. That’s why audiologists will often concentrate on that range. If you are having trouble hearing sounds within this area, whether you are old or young, you are most likely having difficulty hearing other people properly, and may experience trouble conversing with them.

The array of spoken sounds captured by the speech banana is so essential to communications, that a number of school districts mandate hearing tests using audiograms to detect hearing impairments in this region. The significance of this special region of sounds is also why hearing aids need to be properly adjusted and programmed by a qualified hearing specialist or audiologist, to make sure you can hear the sounds of human speech clearly.Make certain you don’t miss the human speech in your life by requesting a hearing test and audiogram if you think you may have an issue.

Examining the Links Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

Do you have hearing problems? If so, do you occasionally find that it feels like work just to understand what the people near you are saying? You are not the only one. The sense that listening and understanding is taxing work is common among people with hearing loss – even the ones that wear hearing aids.

As if that was not bad news enough, it might not be just your ability to hear that is affected, but also cognitive abilities. Hearing impairment greatly increases your odds of contracting Alzheimer’s or dementia according to the latest research studies.

One of these research studies, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, analyzed 639 participants ages 36 to 90, for a period of 16 years. The data showed that 58 study participants – 9 percent – had developed dementia and 37 – 6 percent of the total – had developed Alzheimer’s. They found that for every 10 decibels of hearing loss, the individuals’ odds of developing dementia went up by 20 percent; the more significant the degree of hearing loss, the greater their risk of dementia.

A separate study of 1,984 people, demonstrated comparable results connecting hearing loss and dementia. In this second study, investigators also found degradation of cognitive capabilities among the hearing-impaired over the course of the data gathering. In comparison to participants with normal hearing, those with hearing loss developed memory loss 40 percent faster. An even more surprising conclusion in both studies was that the link between hearing loss and dementia held true even if the individuals used hearing aids.

The connection between hearing loss and loss of cognitive functions is an active area of research, but scientists have proposed a few theories to explain the results seen to date. Scientists have coined the term cognitive overload in conjunction with one particular hypothesis. The theory is that among the hearing-impaired, the brain tires itself out so much trying to hear that it can’t focus on the meaning of the sounds that it is hearing. Maintaining a two-way conversation requires understanding. A lack of understanding causes conversations to break down and may result in social isolation. Another idea is that neither dementia nor hearing loss cause the other, but that they are both related to an as-yet-undiscovered pathological mechanism – possibly vascular, possibly genetic, possibly environmental – that causes both.

Even though these study outcomes are a little dismaying, there is hope that comes from them. For people who use hearing aids, it’s crucial that you have your hearing aids re-fitted and re-programmed on a consistent basis. You shouldn’t make you brain work harder than it needs to work in order to hear. If you do not have to work as hard to hear, you have greater cognitive power to understand what is being said, and remember it. Also, if the two symptoms are linked, early detection of hearing impairment might eventually lead to interventions that could avoid dementia.

New Developments in Sound Therapy for Tinnitus Sufferers

Sound in an extraordinary thing. It impacts our moods and well-being in so many different ways – both negative and positive. Listening to music can be soothing and relaxing, but it can also be annoying and aggravating if the volume is too loud.

Everyone has a different taste in music, therefore the quality of a musical work is always subjective. On the other hand, the quantity as measured duration and decibel level is very objective and easily quantified. Prolonged exposure to music in excess of certain decibel levels injures the hair cells of the inner ear leading to noise-induced hearing loss. As a result of coming in contact with these loud sounds, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans have developed some degree of tinnitus (continuously hearing a buzzing or ringing sound in the ears). It is easy to understand how excessive volume can cause stress, but so too can really quiet sounds. For instance, the dripping of a faucet or ticking of a clock (which are usually below 10 decibels) have been shown to trigger stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Yet although sound can be a cause of stress and hearing damage, it can also be a tool to treat the effects of hearing loss. Chanting, ocean surf, birds singing or falling water are sounds that nearly all people find relaxing and peaceful. More and more, these types of sounds are being used by professionals to treat anxiety rather than create it, and by audiologists to treat hearing problems such as tinnitus rather than cause them. In hospitals and clinics, music therapy has been used successfully to hasten recovery from operations, to help stroke victims during their rehab, and to impede the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. People have successfully used white noise generators (which create a blend of frequencies similar to the sound of ocean surf) to help people overcome insomnia and sleep disorders, and to reduce their perceived awareness of background sounds in noisy environments.

And in the field of treating hearing loss, sound therapy and music therapy is increasingly being used to treat tinnitus, and to train those who suffer from it to psychologically mask the continuous buzzing or ringing sounds they hear. By using specialized tones or carefully chosen music tracks, hearing specialists have been able to teach tinnitus patients to retrain their brains to prefer the sounds they want to hear over the ringing sounds produced by the tinnitus. This treatment method doesn’t actually make the buzzing sounds go away, but it does allow people to no longer feel stress and anxiety from hearing these sounds, and to focus their attention on the sounds they wish to hear.

For tinnitus sufferers searching for new treatment methods, music therapy is worth considering. Call us to go over your specific situation.