THE STIGMA OF HEARING LOSS

As we age, we may begin to feel left behind and even devalued, especially after retirement. We may get the idea that we are no longer contributing to society. Negative stigma may be perceived from other sources as well: our health may begin to fail, and we may feel that we are on a downward path. Hearing is one ability that commonly begins to fail as we age.

There is a stigma against hearing loss, which is both internal and external. With hearing loss comes more difficulty communicating with people around us, and it may be tempting to try to deny there is a problem. This can result in a person with hearing loss in the early stages not seeking treatment.

There is a Problem

Hearing aids are expensive and are usually not covered by insurance. On top of this significant cost, the negative stigma towards the need for hearing devices can be a deterrent. People generally don’t want to admit that they are getting older and that their bodies are failing. The first step to fixing the situation and possibly even halting the progression of healing loss is to admit that it is present.

Even well-meaning friends and family can create a negative stigma against hearing loss, because they may not understand the issue. Seeing advertising of hearing aids boasting of their invisibility can sometimes exacerbate this further, creating the notion that hearing aids should be hidden because they are something to be ashamed of.

The negative stigmas surrounding hearing loss can result in people postponing a visit to the audiologist to deal with the issue. And the longer the issue is delayed, the more hearing can deteriorate. Education about how hearing loss works is crucial to helping people overcome this stigma and seek help while the hearing loss is still in its early stages. This may help them to stop the progression of hearing loss, which is irreversible.

Getting Rid of the Stigma

If hearing and communicating effectively has become a problem for you, your first step is to visit an audiologist to assess the situation and evaluate your options. Technology is available to help us with this, so why not use it? Hearing aid technology allows us to seamlessly and discreetly hear and understand our environment. Which is more embarrassing: the need for help, or constantly having to deal with miscommunication?

Start Now

Regular hearing screenings are an easy and effective way to ensure that hearing loss is spotted and treated early on, which could prevent further decline. Since hearing loss is gradual, we may not notice it until the damage is already done, so hearing evaluations can detect it before any noticeable hearing damage occurs.

The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

LOOP SYSTEMS: AVAILABILITY AND BENEFITS

Almost any place you go, whether it’s a ballpark, an airport or a busy restaurant, may cause problems for you if you have hearing aids. Surrounding noise can restrict hearing and trying to communicate can become exasperating in public surroundings.

There is a Solution Coming to You!

Have you heard of loop systems? This technology is popping up in more and more public spaces, and it is helping wearers of hearing aids with these issues. First installation of an insulated copper wire loop around a space generates a magnetic field. Sound is then transmitted wirelessly to hearing aids or cochlear implants. This eliminates a need for earpieces or headphones.

Who can take advantage of this technology? Anyone who wears hearing aids with T-coils or cochlear implants. The location’s audio system can be wirelessly connected by the user with the push of a button.  

For those of us who use hearing aids in public spaces, this is truly life-changing technology. Hearing aids can now be seamlessly integrated into a venue’s speaker system, which will make listening much more convenient.

Advantages of Loop Systems:

  • Location freedom: users can move freely within the loop space
  • No more need for ear pieces or large headsets
  • Interference from surrounding noise is reduced and signal sound is enhanced
  • Convenience: users interact with their own hearing devices instead of an unfamiliar system
  • Ability to adjust the settings to the user’s unique needs
  • Pure, direct sound is possible with no need for other devices
  • Tablets, smartphones, radio signals, PA systems, and TVs can be accessed wirelessly
  • Users can interact in group settings discreetly and without embarassment
  • Free to users (and just the cost of set-up for the venues)

In Europe, loop technology was made available over 70 years ago, and no disadvantages have been found besides the initial cost of set-up. The reason most venues had not taken the initiative to install loop systems until this point was because hearing aid technology in the U.S. had not yet caught up to the technology of loop systems.

Now almost 70% of hearing aids and cochlear implants are compatible with loop system technology, the availability in public settings is becoming more common.

Installation of more loop systems in public places in American can also be the result of advocacy. The installation of loop systems is making a difference in both private and public locations. Movie theaters, churches, sporting arenas, and concert halls across the country are being outfitted with loop system technology, with New York and Michigan leading the way.

Keep an eye out for loop systems in the venues you visit and research how this technology operates so you can utilize it when it is available. Suggest the implementation of loop systems in the public venues you frequent to speed up the process. Older hearing devices might not be well-suited to the technology, so you may need to upgrade to hearing aids that let you use this remarkable service.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

PROTECT YOUR HEART AND PRESERVE HEARING

Many things come to mind when you think of your heart: emotions, desires and dreams, the soul.You may also think of the physical organ that pumps blood through your body and sustains your life.

Heart health is an important part of overall health. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) reported that 600,000 people die from heart disease yearly in the U.S. The leading cause of death for both men and women, heart disease is a major health concern, and coronary heart disease is the most common type.

The media tells us these facts regularly, but did you know that hearing health is related to heart health? It then follows that protecting heart health also serves to protect hearing health!

Heart and Hearing Health

 Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for health. The chemicals in cigarette smoke damage blood cells and every organ in the body. One in five deaths results from in some way from smoking in the US. Smoking also causes plaque to develop in arteries. The arteries then harden and the blood pathways become narrow, causing stress to the heart.

Hearing is also affected by the chemicals present in cigarettes. The auditory nerve’s neurotransmitters can become blocked, which confuses your brain when it hears sound. As a result vertigo, tinnitus and dizziness may occur.

Hypertension

High blood pressure of 140/90 or higher can stretch your arteries, resulting in vascular weakness and scarring. Plaque and blood clots that clogs arteries may follow.

Constant blood flow is vital to the inner ear hair cells that help our brains to translate sounds into meaning. Blood pressure medications may also cause hearing damage. Some people develop ringing in the ears (tinnitus) from these medications.

Diabetes

Millions of Americans are affected by high blood sugar, and adult onset (type 2) diabetes is the most common. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can burden the heart and other organs by affecting blood flow.

Diabetes can also restrict the blood flow to the inner ear as a result of this decreased blood flow. The delicate hair cells of the inner ear can then die, and they can’t grow back. This makes hearing damage irreversible. Studies have shown that people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing damage as those without it.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Modern Americans live sedentary lifestyles: many people sit in front of a computer at work during the day and then go home and sit in front of the TV before bedtime.

Exercise and eating real, unprocessed foods is the ideal method for heart disease prevention, as well as to prevent obesity.

If changing your diet and routine seems overwhelming, consider that even small tweaks can bring results. Swapping out your morning pastry for a protein-rich option like eggs, and your afternoon chicps for an apple, peanuts or a piece of cheese can cut down on carbs and keep your blood sugar levels in check. Take a walk around the block on your lunch break. Not only will you get some movement into your day, you’ll benefit from a change of scenery and fresh air.

Obesity

A majority of Americans are overweight. Obesity can stress your heart and increas the risk of heart disease, which in turn will increases the likelihood of heart failure in the future. Obesity are also often correlated with diabetes and high blood pressure, which bring more risk.

Alcoholism

If you drink one serving of alcohol with dinner, studies have shown that to be beneficial, alcohol consumption in excess can increase the risk of high blood pressure and can weaken your heart.

Drinking heavily produces free radicals that also affect the inner ear. Balance issues like vertigo, tinnitus and noise-induced hearing damage may result.

Remember these tips to protect your heart and your hearing:

  • Cut out processed foods and buy only fresh meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Get some exercise every day
  • Don’t smoke (or quit smoking)
  • Keep your weight at healthy levels
  • Drink no more than one serving of alcohol daily
  • Always get regular hearing screenings

Love your heart AND your hearing all year long!

Heart Healthy is Hearing Healthy!

Heart health and hearing health are connected, so we have to be aware of our overall health. Exercise at least a little every day (just a walk around the block will do!) and eat whole, unprocessed foods–these steps can make a big difference in overall health and also protect your hearing.

FREE Hearing Screening Celebrating Better Hearing Month

California Hearing Center invites you to come in for your Free Hearing Screening. When it comes to your hearing health, prevention is still the best medicine! No-obligation. Every Friday during the month for May 4, 11, 18 & 25 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pmAll ages welcome – No appointment necessary

Drop by at 88 N. San Mateo Dr. San Mateo, CA 94401  (650) 342-9449 www.calhearing.com

HOW DO MEDICATIONS AFFECT HEARING HEALTH?

Have you heard of ototoxicity?
Ototoxicity is a term used by health professionals for medications that can cause hearing loss. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be ototoxic.

Though these drugs may be effective for treating specific conditions and illnesses, they can also cause damage to delicate inner-ear hair cells and may affect balance and hearing.

Ototoxicity can affect people temporarily or permanently–so it is important to know how it is caused and how to prevent it or stop it.

Because drugs can accumulate in the body, the effects can be cumulative over time and get worse as the chemicals build up in the cells.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has found that there are currently more than two hundred medications and chemicals that can cause both balance disorders and hearing loss. If you are taking any of these types of drugs, speak with your physician about the implications for your hearing.

Pain Relievers

NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as acetaminophen, aspirin and other over-the-counter medicines can be effective to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Studies have shown, however, that regular use of these drugs can cause hearing loss. Even a daily aspirin recommended by your doctor may have hearing loss effects.

Diuretics

Diuretics are prescribed to alleviate many conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, edema and other issues. These medicines can also cause temporary tinnitus and hearing loss, however, though we don’t fully understand why.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can be used as life-saving medicines, and are important for serious bacterial infections. One classification of antibiotics, aminogycosides, have hearing loss as a side effect. This type of antibiotic is often treated as a last-resort medication when other antibiotics do not work for serious infections.

Chemotherapy Drugs

A platinum-based chemotherapy called Cisplatin is frequently used to treat metastatic testicular, ovarian and bladder cancers. Side effects reported for this drug range from vertigo to tinnitus as well as permanent or temporary hearing loss. A strong correlation has been found between platinum-based chemotherapy treatments and hearing loss, and researchers are looking for ways to alleviate this side effect.

What Can You Do?

You may need to take one of these medications for a serious issue, so the risks and benefits must be weighed. It is important to understand the risks and side effects of medications (even over-the-counter medications) however, so you can recognize these risks if they appear.

Medications affect different people differently, so stay attuned to your hearing and if the medications you are taking are affecting you, and approach your physician with any concerns.

Often if a medication begins to cause issues with hearing or balance, stopping those symptoms can be as simple as not taking that medication. If pro-active steps are taken, permanent damage can often be avoided.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

WELCOME SPRING – PREPARE YOUR EARS!

Spring is in the air! The weather is changing and we are already starting to enjoy blooming flowers and warmer! With the changing of seasons, we also get rainy weather, seasonal allergies, and erratic temperatures. Along with hearing aids, these changes can affect us, but we can downplay those effects.

The Weather is Changing

With changing weather, some people have a feeling of fullness in their ears. Barometric pressure changes with changes in the weather and causes this sensation of fullness, and makes the fluid in the inner ear sensitive to the weather. Seasonal allergy sufferers can experience this even more intensely.

Meniere’s disease can make the irritating symptoms even worse in the Springtime. The chambers of the inner ear can bulge and the fluid may back up. Difficulty hearing and discomfort as well as vertigo or tinnitus may sometimes result from this build-up.

Seasonal Allergies

Sinus pressure and sneezing can also result from seasonal allergies and add pressure to the inner ear. Seasonal allergies affect 40 percent of children and between 10 and 30 percent of adults. Up to 60 million Americans experience sneezing, ear pressure, sinus pressure, and itchy, watery eyes. Each of these symptoms can affect hearing temporarily.

Ear pressure can be temporarily relieved with non-prescription medications such as antihistamines and decongestants. Moderate exercise and a sensible diet of whole foods often improve these symptoms. Vegetables and fruits, like bell peppers, grapes, asparagus, watermelon, and celery serve as diuretics and promote fluid drainage.

Spring-time and Hearing Aids

Warmer, wetter weather may also affect the functionality of your hearing aids. Your hearing aids’ maintenance and care of during this time of year may also require more attention. The microphone ports can sometimes get obstructed by matter such as bee pollen. Proper cleaning of your hearing aids is important, and be sure to replace the mic port covers when needed.

Moisture from the heat, rain and humidity of spring and summer can also be introduced to your hearing aids, building up in the tubing and causing static in the receiver or microphone. Ensuring your hearing aids stay dry when going out in wet or humid weather can prevent issues.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

WHAT ARE THE LINKS BETWEEN SMOKING AND HEARING LOSS?

If you smoke, you are well aware at this point of the dangers and risks associated with that habit. The media has no shortage of news stories about how smoking can increase the risk of respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.

These risks are widely known to the 40 million American adults who smoke cigarettes, but did you know that smoking can also affect your hearing health?

Experts in the field of hearing health have long suspected that smoking can contribute to hearing damage, but on-going studies the past few decades has confirmed it. These same studies also show that second-hand smoke exposure also doubles your risk to develop hearing loss.

How does smoking affect hearing health?

It turns out there are several ways. An abundance of chemicals are found in cigarettes, from arsenic, formaldehyde, and nicotine to hydrogen cyanide.

The combination of carbon monoxide and nicotine work to deplete oxygen levels and tighten blood vessels throughout the body. The inner ear is very sensitive and dependent on the small blood vessels that circulate in them for maintaining hair cell health and hearing overall.

Chemicals that Affect Hearing.

Nicotine, the main addictive component of cigarettes, also has a number of harmful effects, including dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus and interfering with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which regulate how your brain interprets sound.

Smoking in general causes damage to every cell in the body with free radicals that cause disease and damage DNA. Smoking can also irritate the lining of the middle ear and make you more sensitive to loud noise. This can in turn increase your risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.

Studies have shown that the longer you smoke, the worse for your hearing health, but the good news is that as soon as you stop smoking you can start to see the benefits of quitting. As soon as 20 minutes after your last smoke, circulation improves and blood pressure is decreased. Eight hours later, oxygen and carbon monoxide levels normalize and in 48 hours your senses of taste and smell return to more normal levels.

Quitting smoking has numerous benefits for your whole body, including lowering your risk of heard disease, vascular disease and stroke as well as several types of cancer. Not smoking can also increase fertility and reduce risk of many other diseases.

Stop the damage now.

Since you can’t reverse hearing damage that has already happened, it is beneficial to quit smoking before the damage occurs, or gets worse. If you are ready to quit smoking, visit smokefree.gov for tips and ways to get through your first few days without cigarettes.

No matter what the cause, if you suspect you have hearing loss it is best to visit your audiologist right away to take the best course of action. Your audiologist may offer a solution that can slow or halt the progression of hearing loss.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

DO YOU KNOW THE LESS COMMON CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS?

You probably know the most common causes of hearing loss: quick exposure to extreme noise, like a gunshot near your ear or an explosion; or long-term exposure to noise above 80 decibels, such as ongoing proximity to factory machinery, lawnmowers or loud music.

There are some other not-so-common causes of hearing damage that you may be unfamiliar with. If you are experiencing hearing loss and have not had exposure to loud noise, you may have one of these less common causes.

Diplacusis is a phenomenon where people experience “double hearing,” similar to “double vision.” There is a shift in pitch perception and this can cause them to hear one sound as two sounds. Often this can occur with people who have hearing impairment in only one ear, with normal hearing in the other ear. People with conductive hearing loss can sometimes experience diplacusis temporarily. Musicians are most likely to notice this phenomenon.

Otitis Media is also known as an ear infection. Ear infections can result from a cold and can interfere with hearing. Seventy-five percent of children have experience otitis media at least once by the age of three, but it can affect people of any age.

Usher syndrome is believed to be responsible for three to six percent of all childhood deafness and up to 50% of blindness and deafness in adults. Usher syndrome is inherited, and the symptoms include deafness or hearing loss, issues with balance, and retinitis pigmetosa, a vision disorder. Children born with type 1 Usher syndrome are born deaf, while those with type 2 are born with some hearing damage and those with type 3 are born with normal hearing but suffer with progressive hearing and vision loss that may affect them as teenagers or young adults.

Meniere’s Disease is a chronic inner ear condition affecting hearing and balance. If you think you have vertigo but it does not go away, you may be suffering from Meniere’s Disease. It is thought to be caused by an imbalance of inner ear fluid, and may be caused by things such as allergies, head trauma, viral infections, migraines, or the inability of the ear to drain properly. Meniere’s Disease may also be hereditary.

Acoustic Neuroma is a rare condition, affecting approximately two in every 100,000 people. It is a slow-growing and benign brain tumor that develops in the cranial nerve connecting the brain to the ear. The symptoms may include loss of hearing in one ear, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), vertigo (dizziness) and balance issues.

No matter what the cause, if you suspect you have hearing loss it is best to visit your audiologist right away to take the best course of action. Your audiologist may offer a solution that can slow or halt the progression of hearing loss.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

RETIREMENT AND (HEARING) HEALTHCARE

If you plan to retire soon, it’s time to think about expenses and how everything will be covered. Healthcare costs, including hearing healthcare, should be factored in. Estimates from HealthView Insights show that an American couple retiring this year can expect just over $400,000 in healthcare costs over the course of retirement, with about 4% of that being out of pocket (and most of it covered by insurance or Medicare).

These numbers are estimates and averages, so actual expenses can vary with gender, age and location. What we can be sure of is that medical expenses will probably make up a significant amount of your total budget. Housing or mortgage costs will probably be the biggest expense, with healthcare costs coming in second. If you are using Medicare, there are a lot of out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered, including hearing aids.

Being Prepared Before You Retire

There are a few things you can do to prepare and save for retirement medical expenses while you are still working. For example, if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) set up while you are still working, before-tax dollars can be used on all of your medical expenses for that year, and you can buy things that aren’t going to be covered when you are retired (like those hearing aids!). Sometimes employers contribute to FSA accounts as well, beefing up the total amount of money you have to spend on such medical expenses, and saving you out-of-pocket costs.

Even if you are not working, make things easier by portioning out money in a separate account for medical expenses so you have easy access when you need it. HealthView has estimated that the average American couple at age 65 will incur about $950 in medical expenses per month, and this number will increase with age.

Keep Yourself Healthy!

It goes without saying the better your health is, the less medical expenses you should expect to pay. Adopting healthy habits is a good rule of preventative care at any age, but can significantly reduce costs during retirement.

Not smoking, losing weight, eating right and exercising regularly are all obvious ways to improve overall health, and they also improve hearing health and reduce the risk of hearing damage.

Get moving! Blood circulation increases with regular movement, even if it’s just a walk around the block once or twice per day. Every organ in your body benefits from better blood circulation, including your ears! The delicate hair cells in your inner ear, which help to translate sound for your brain, are dependent on proper circulation for healthy function–so get that heart pumping!

We all look forward to retirement to enjoy more activities that we love–and some of those are noisy! Be sure to wear adequate hearing protection, such as ear plugs, when you are in a noisy environment, like at a concert, fireworks or in the proximity of machinery like an electric saw or lawnmower.

Hearing Health is Important!

Many Americans over 65 suffer from some degree of hearing loss, which can typically be treated easily with hearing aids. Regular screenings are key to measuring the severity of any existing hearing loss and stopping it in its tracks.

Not treating hearing loss can cost you much more than catching it early and doing something about it. If left untreated, hearing loss can worsen, causing bigger problems down the road such as dementia, anxiety and depression.

There’s good news! An annual hearing screening is painless and easy, and can save you a lot of trouble down the road!

Make a commitment today to improve your overall health by cleaning up your diet and being more active every day.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DIABETES AND HEARING HEALTH

Hearing loss has many causes: loud noise, infection, and various diseases. One lesser-known disease that can cause hearing loss is diabetes.

Diabetes is becoming more and more common around the world, and it is becoming more recognized as a cause of hearing loss. One study found some degree of hearing loss in 21 percent of 399 study participants with diabetes, as opposed to 9 percent in the adults without diabetes.

If you have pre-diabetes, there is cause for concern as well: the study found that people who were pre-diabetic had a 30 percent greater likelihood of developing hearing loss than the adults with normal blood sugar levels.

It is believed that higher blood sugar levels may damage blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear, similar to the way they damage kidneys and eyes.

With 30 million diabetics in the U.S. alone, this is cause for great concern. Diabetes (and pre-diabetes) can result in a host of health issues, hearing loss only one among them.

What Can I Do?

According to research, most American adults have Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, which can be prevented and sometimes reversed. The causes of adult-onset diabetes are things that by and large are easily preventable: a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and poor diet.

Start taking steps today to improve your overall health: exercise more (just walk around the block a couple times!), eat whole, unprocessed food and cut down on sugar. Not only will you feel better, but you may save your hearing in the process, along with your eyes, kidneys, heart, liver…

Also be sure to have your hearing checked once per year to monitor your hearing health. Hearing damage occurs slowly and may not be noticed until it has progressed to an irreversible level. If you are consistently checking your hearing, you may be alerted to a problem before you even notice it.

Make a commitment today to improve your overall health by cleaning up your diet and being more active every day.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

THIS YEAR MAKE A RESOLUTION THAT IS EASY TO KEEP

What is your New Year’s Resolution? If you’re like most people, it probably has something to do with  generally being healthier: eating better, exercising more, or losing weight. Did you know that overall health also plays a vital role in hearing health?

Since many resolutions don’t survive the month of January, we think it’s important to take steps to ensure our health, and our hearing health, early in the year. So why not make a quick call to California Hearing Center to schedule your yearly hearing exam? This one little move will ensure you have a hearing-healthy 2018 by heading off any potential hearing issues that may be developing.

People overwhelmingly think of health as something they could improve. Following closely to health is finances, relationships, hobbies, and career. Luckily preventing and treating hearing loss can impact all of these areas of your life. People who treat hearing loss by wearing hearing devices often make more money and report higher quality of life than those with untreated hearing loss.

A Resolution with Staying Power

When asked, people generally have little confidence that they will keep the New Years Resolutions they make. So why not start off 2018 on the right foot by making and keeping a resolution with staying power: preventing and treating hearing loss.

Because changes in hearing can sometimes portend other serious issues, such as heart disease and diabetes, and because hearing loss also increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease, social isolation, anxiety and depression, it is definitely worth being pro-active about your hearing health, even if you think everything is fine.

Happy New Year!

In 2018, starting with New Year’s Eve, make sure to protect your hearing when in noisy environments, like fireworks shows, concerts, or loud parties. Cheap earplugs from the drug store can protect your hearing now and in the future–carry a pair whenever you go out to ensure you are always protected.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.