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.

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR HEARING AIDS

The holidays are a time of friends, family, laughter and warmth for many people, but all of this festivity takes preparation and planning. This is no less true when it comes to enjoying the season with hearing aids. Holiday parties can be noisy endeavors with a lot of entertainment and background noise. Now is a great time to learn how to take advantage of all of the benefits hearing aids have to offer!

If you can, visit your audiologist before the holiday parties and get a tune-up for your hearing aids. While you are there, ask your audiology a few questions.

Maintaining hearing aids: make sure the microphones are clean and the software for the noise-reduction components are working correctly. If you’ll be traveling or away from your home for an extended period, it’s also a good idea to have some spare tubing and batteries.

Be aware of your listening environment. Family functions can become loud with background noise, music and conversation. Find out what noise-canceling features your hearing aids have and learn how to use them for optimal function before you go to these events. If you plan to do any skiing or being outside during the winter, ensure you have the proper accessories to protect your hearing aids against moisture and wind, and hold them in place during activities.

When you go to holiday parties, know your hearing aid’s capabilities to block background noise and assist you in conversation. Let your hosts know your limitations with hearing loss so they can help make sure you are seated away from the noisier parts of the house, such as the television or kitchen, to make sure you have the best chance possible to enjoy the conversation without difficulty. When eating at a restaurant, try to avoid peak times by going earlier or dining on a weeknight so the background noise will be at a minimum.

If you go to a holiday performance, check to see if they offer listening devices that can help you isolate the performance sounds and minimize background noise and echoes. Sitting at the front can also help you to hear more clearly. Carrying an extra set of batteries for your hearing aid wherever you go can definitely help as well, just in case.

We hope you have a warm, festive holiday season!

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

PROTECTING YOUR DEVICES AND YOUR HEARING ALL YEAR LONG

If you live in a cold, wet or snowy climate, the winter weather can do a number on all of your devices. This includes hearing devices, so special care should be taken during the colder season to adequately protect your hearing aids and your hearing. Here are a few things to keep in mind as winter approaches.

Earmuffs Are Your Friends

Earmuffs have a bigger use than just keeping your ears warm: there are earmuffs that can also protect your ears from excessive noise that can damage your hearing. The best way to combat hearing damage is prevention, even if you already suffer from hearing loss.

Luckily, prevention is often fairly easy with just a little foresight and planning.

Limiting your exposure to loud noises is key to preventing the majority of hearing damage. Purchasing a pair of noise-reducing earmuffs is a wise investment: they can reduce noise exposure by as much as 30 dB (anything over 80 dB can damage hearing and cause hearing loss). They aren’t only for winter, either: you can use them year round, from noisy football games to mowing the lawn or 4th of July fireworks shows. Noise-reduction earmuffs are affordable; they start at about $10.

Sweat Bands Can Protect Your Devices

If you engage in activities in which you sweat, including sports activities year-round, an inexpensive sweat band can help protect your hearing aids from damaging moisture. Hearing aid sweat bands are specifically designed to protect hearing aids worn outside the ear, and they start at about $20. They are available in many colors and sizes, and are easily washable and easy to wear. They can also serve as a wind screen to prevent wind feedback in your microphone when you are outside.

Your Memory Settings Can Protect Your Hearing

Many hearing aids have memory settings that adjust the volume on your hearing aids if you come in contact with very loud noises. In the winter, snow blowers and snow mobiles can expose you to high levels of noise: louder than 100 dB! Check with your audiologist to see if your hearing aids have memory settings and find out how you can use them to protect your ears against excessive noise year-round by programming them for aggressive noise reduction.

Dry Batteries Last Longer

Humidity, moisture, and changes in temperature can affect the life of your hearing aid batteries. When you turn your hearing aid off at night, take a look at the battery compartment, ensuring it is free of moisture, and wipe it with a soft, dry cloth before storing.

Dehumidify for Longer Life

Like the batteries, the other components of hearing aids are sensitive to temperature changes and moisture. These factors can affect the performance and the lifespan of your hearing aids. A hearing aid dehumidifier is inexpensive and can prolong the life of your hearing devices by removing moisture at night while you are sleeping; some even sanitize them as well! Hearing aid dehumidifiers range from $5 to $100 and can be purchased through your audiologist, online or even in some drug stores.

With just a little bit of planning, your hearing devices and your hearing can be protected from damage in the winter and throughout the year.

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

HOW TO EXPLAIN HEARING LOSS TO THE GRANDCHILDREN

If you have young grandchildren, you know they have questions about everything. Everywhere you go, an inquisitive mind is watching, and they learn by asking questions and listening to what we tell them. If you have hearing loss it is natural for your grandchildren to ask questions and be curious about your hearing devices, and that they may not fully understand what hearing loss entails.

So what do you say to them when they ask about your hearing aids, and how do you let them know that you may sometimes have difficulty hearing that others don’t?

Our mothers all told us not to put anything in our ears, so a child will naturally be curious about what you are doing when you wear hearing aids. As they watch you, you can acknowledge what you are doing and explain the process to them. Telling them you don’t hear as well as you did when you were younger will teach them about getting older, too. Explain that the small pieces in your ears help you to hear sounds better, like when they ask a good question or say, “I love you!”

To give them a better understanding of your experience, ask them to cover their ears and then say their names softly. Ask if they can hear you. Then do the same thing with their ears uncovered. Let them know that using your hearing aids is like having your ears uncovered.

Safety and Precautions for Children

After you explain how much your hearing aids help you, your grandchildren may become curious and wonder what they feel like, or they sound like, or they taste like! Curiosity is not a bad thing, but it is important to keep your grandchildren (and your hearing devices!) safe and sound.

  • Explaining that your hearing aids are only for you and that they won’t work in anyone else’s ears may prevent small hands from trying them out, and make sure they know they are not toys for playing.
  • When storing your hearing aids, make sure they stay out of reach, in a case or dehumidifier. As you know, your hearing devices are very expensive, and may also put your little one in danger if they get ahold of them.
  • Also be very careful with your batteries. They look harmless enough, but batteries are very dangerous if swallowed, as the battery acid can do serious injury to internal organs. The National Capital Poison Center states that more than 2,000 children under the age of six swallowed a battery in 2016.

If a child does swallow a battery, call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline immediately! They operate 24 hours: 202-625-3333

What about traveling?

If you are traveling with grandchildren, there are a few more things to keep in mind:

Keep your hearing aids dry. If you play in the pool with grandkids, you will definitely get wet! Stay on the safe side by removing your hearing aids, which will be damaged by water unless they are waterproof.

Let them be little helpers. When at airports or other locations, ask them to help you hear announcements and other communication. You can explain that you need some help since you wear hearing aids, or you can make a game out of it to keep them occupied.

While you are driving, communicate to grandchildren that it is very important to have a quiet environment in the car, and that’s the only way you can make sure you get everyone to the toy store safely! Having activities or toys in the car to help occupy children can help with this.

With a little foresight and prevention, keeping both your grandkids and your hearing aids safe during a visit is a piece of cake.

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