Loud noise is not only bad for your ears but can play a negative role in your overall health. Exposure to loud and annoying sounds can affect our blood pressure, cause headaches, cause irritability, and even cause fatigue. When we hear a sound that is annoying to us, our blood pressure can elevate, and the rhythm of our heartbeat can change. Both affect our overall health and well-being.
It’s Not Just the Noise Level
It’s not much of a surprise that loud sounds are more bothersome than quiet ones. However, new research takes it a step further showing that it’s not just the loudness, but the sound itself. Researchers believe that the amygdala, the part of our brain that regulates emotions, takes over the auditory part of our brains when we hear noise. This can explain why we have negative reactions to unpleasant sounds.
Annoying Sounds Aren’t the Same for Everyone
The phrase “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” certainly applies to noise. Most of us can agree that nails on a chalkboard, squealing brakes, and a baby crying are unpleasant sounds. However, we don’t agree on all sounds. What may be music to one’s ears may be awful to another. For example, some of us may find that listening to white noise or a fan is a soothing way to fall asleep, while others may find it annoying and need complete silence.
How Noise Affects Our Bodies
Our brains can perceive sounds as noise and that can increase irritability and anxiety. Increased levels of agitation from this can increase the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies. In turn, cortisol increases blood pressure and blood sugar, while decreasing our body’s immune system. Increased stress can also increase our cardiovascular risk. Overall, loud sounds not only affect our moods, but can impair our immune systems.
How to Handle Noise
Unfortunately, there is no escaping noise. It is everywhere. So, while you can’t avoid noise entirely, you can start paying closer attention to how sounds make you feel. Once you find noises that are bothersome, you can start making small changes to fix that. For example, try using a white noise machine to fall asleep if you have a neighbor’s dog that barks and makes you irritated.
Simply noticing how the sounds make you feel gives you a chance to make changes accordingly. Making those small changes can go a long way towards improving your mood and overall health.
Just like your car, your hearing aids and hearing health can benefit from routine care and maintenance. After a hearing aid fitting, you are likely to be asked to come back for follow-up appointments. These routine visits offer great opportunities for you to ask your hearing professional questions, have maintenance performed on your hearing aids and keep your hearing top notch. Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of your appointments.
Keep a Journal
Adjusting to hearing aids can be challenging. It is likely for you to experience sounds that you have not heard in a long time. You may find that you’re paying closer attention to your surroundings as well. Before each follow-up appointment, set aside some time to reflect upon your experiences. Ask yourself if you’ve heard any new sounds since you began wearing your hearing aid devices. Ask friends and family how the hearing aids have affected their communication with you. Have there been any environments or situations where you wish your hearing aids would have worked better? Finally, write down any questions or concerns you may have. The more details you can provide, the better your hearing aid specialist will be able to help.
Bring a Friend or Family Member
It can be very beneficial to have a friend or family member with you at your appointments. Your loved ones likely have additional insight and may be able to provide other perspectives to your hearing aid specialist. They may also be able to help you remember anything important from your appointment. Research shows that we immediately forget about half of what we hear at our healthcare appointments.
Build a Relationship
Your hearing aid specialist can be one of your biggest advocates for better hearing. You will continue to have a relationship with your provider long after your hearing aids are purchased. They will help you clean and maintain your hearing aids. They will be there to answer any questions you have and provide counseling during your adjustment period. Your hearing aid specialist will also be able to give you suggestions on what hearing aids you will need and keep you updated on changing technology. So, it is important to build a relationship and work with someone you trust.
Coming to terms with your hearing loss isn’t easy. Chances are you’ve put off going to the hearing aid clinic for as long as you could. In that time, you probably got used to living with hearing loss. Wearing a hearing aid can feel overwhelming at first. It’s a big change and you’re hearing new sounds or even old sounds – they’re just sharper now. If you’re feeling nervous about taking that step to better hearing, take a look at the questions below. Asking these questions to your hearing aid professional could help put your mind at ease.
What Can I Expect with My New Hearing Aid?
Depending on how severe your hearing loss is, normal sounds may seem loud. You might be sensitive to day-to-day sounds and noise levels. Your hearing professional can give you other expectations with your new hearing aid.
What Does Wearing a Hearing Aid Feel Like?
Just like wearing glasses or new shoes, a hearing aid will take a little getting used to. It may feel strange at first – putting something in or around your ear, hearing sounds at a different level, processing sounds in a different way. Your hearing aid specialist should be able to explain what it would feel like.
What should I expect after that?
With all change, it’s important to remember that this could take time. But getting an idea of what to expect when this becomes normal could be helpful and ease some fear.
What Advice Should I Give My Friends and Family?
Some of your loved ones will be anxious to help, but they may not necessarily know what to do. Asking for advice from your friends and family can be helpful.
Do You Have Any Other Advice?
Your hearing aid specialist might be able to give you a few tips and tricks they’ve learned. It could be something like an easy way to get your hearing aid in your ear, the best way to clean it, or just general care.
If you have any other questions that weren’t covered in this, don’t be afraid to ask. The professionals at the hearing center are there to help you.
Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition known to cause ringing, buzzing, and other noises in the ear. During the day, these sounds aren’t as noticeable. But when nighttime rolls around and you should be sleeping, these sounds seem to increase and keep you awake. Here are some tips on improving tinnitus and in turn, improving your sleep.
Avoid Rooms That Are Too Quiet
One of the reasons people don’t notice tinnitus as much throughout the day is because there are other noises to help reduce the ringing. When a room is quiet, the buzzing is much more noticeable. One way to avoid a quiet room is to have an app or a device that creates sleep-friendly sounds.
Try Meditation or Other Relaxation Techniques
Meditation can help reduce stress. Studies have shown that meditation can be a beneficial tool to better manage tinnitus. It makes you focus on your breathing rather than the ringing in your ears. Other relaxation techniques – deep breathing exercises, aromatherapy, or whatever technique you use to relax – can reduce the anxiety tinnitus is known to cause.
Limit Your Use of Earplugs
Earplugs can reduce the ability to hear external sounds and make tinnitus worse. On top of that, frequent earplug use can lead to earwax buildup and impacted earwax. Both of these can make tinnitus worse.
Don’t Ignore Ear Pain
The combination of ear pain and tinnitus could worsen your symptoms if left untreated. Always speak to your doctor about the symptoms you’re having.
Seek Treatment for Hearing Problems
If you begin to experience hearing difficulties, then speak to your doctor. There could be another medical condition that is triggering this. If your doctor cannot find any reason for your tinnitus, you may be referred to either an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor) or an audiologist who can test your hearing.
Are you having issues with your ears? Do they feel stuffy and clogged? Are you suffering from sudden hearing loss or difficulty hearing? There could be a simple reason for this – impacted earwax, a sinus infection or something else. Most of the time there’s an easy fix. It is important to discuss your symptoms with a general physician or a hearing specialist to properly diagnose the reason for your ears feeling clogged. They will also help you properly fix it. Let’s explore why your ears feel clogged.
Impacted Earwax People often see earwax as “gross,” but it’s a very useful way to protect your ears. Your body naturally produces it to trap dirt, dust, or anything else that can get into your ears and keeps your ears clean. Unfortunately, earwax can occasionally become impacted. If your ears feel clogged, you have an earache, and you have itching or discharge, you could have impacted earwax. Luckily, this can be easily removed. It is important to consult a general physician or audiologist for proper treatment. Do not try to remove impacted earwax yourself by using a cotton swab, Q-tip, or any other tool. You could push the earwax deeper into the ear canal or possibly puncture your eardrum.
Sinus Infection We’re all familiar with the signs of a cold – stuffy nose, congestion, tenderness around your nose. But did you know that sinus inflammation could affect your ears? We have sinus cavities next to our ear canal. Any sinus inflammation or sinus infection can put unwanted pressure on your eardrum. This can be extremely uncomfortable. Typically, the stuffiness you feel in your ears fades when your cold symptoms do. In more severe cases, people experience pain, dizziness, and have difficulty hearing. Nasal decongestants or topical nasal steroids can help with this. If these symptoms persist, it is best to visit your doctor.
Swimmer’s Ear Most of us have experienced the feeling of having fluid trapped in our ears. Earwax typically stops water from getting into our ear when we’re in the pool or the shower, but water can make its way into our ear canal. Sometimes it becomes trapped in our ear. Even if you’re not a swimmer! The best way to get water out of your ear is to tilt your head sideways and gently pull on your earlobe to release the water. Occasionally, fluid can develop in the ears when the person has a middle ear infection. These are typically minor, but you should contact your doctor if you experience severe pain or you have these symptoms for longer than a day.
Altitude Change Flying on planes, driving up or down the mountains, or any other altitude changes can cause an uncomfortable, sometimes painful sensation in your ears. Altitude changes can unsettle the auditory tube and that can cause pressure between the middle and outer ear. Swallowing, chewing, or yawning can help allow more air into your auditory tube and help keep you comfortable.
Hearing Aid Specialists
Sometimes the clogging in your ears is more than one of these four problems. The sudden hearing loss or difficulty hearing may be something bigger. That’s where we come in. Here at the Hearing Group, we care about you and your hearing. We have local hearing professionals that can help you determine what the issue is with that clogged feeling in your ear. You can request a hearing evaluation at one of our hearing aid clinics. Our professionals will discuss if you need a hearing instrument and help you determine which one is the best fit for you. We will help you every step of the way.
Acupuncture is an ancient medical treatment that began in China. This therapy involves sticking small needles in very specific parts of the body. It may be used to treat pain and help with other conditions. A person with hearing loss may want to try acupuncture for sensorineural hearing loss. It may target the nerves responsible for this problem.
Understanding Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the nerves cannot send sound signals to the brain. The human ear has tiny hairs that send the sounds through the rest of the ear. Loud noises over 85 decibels can damage these hairs. The nerves that send the signals may also become damaged. Acupuncture may be useful in the treatment of nerve damage.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when hearing is blocked. This may happen if the ear canal is full of earwax or part of the ear’s is damaged.
A person with tinnitus will hear ringing. Tinnitus is very common with around 20% of people dealing with the problem. The ringing isn’t a condition on its own. People with tinnitus have another more significant hearing problem and the ringing is just a symptom of the larger issue.
Tinnitus has a link to sensorineural hearing loss. Very loud noises cause sensorineural hearing loss, and ringing may be a direct result of exposure to loud noise. For example, people often hear ringing after loud concerts. Some people have ringing every once in a while. But, it is a constant issue for others. People who have constant ringing will usually seek treatment. Finding a treatment method is hard because doctors can only verify the condition by asking the patient if he still has it.
Acupuncture – Needle Therapy
People use acupuncture to treat a wide variety of conditions. In addition, medical practitioners see acupuncture as a real form of treatment. During this treatment, they will insert needles into the skin. They use heat and electrical impulses to stimulate the release of chemicals that trigger the body’s natural healing abilities. This area of medicine isn’t well researched. There isn’t strong evidence to suggest this sort of treatment will help with tinnitus, but many people say it helps them. A 2015 study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine showed that acupuncture with medication can help some people treat their tinnitus.
Does Acupuncture Stop the Ringing?
There is no cure for tinnitus, so treatment plans are typically just to treat the symptoms as much as possible. Some believe the ringing may be secondary to an issue in the gallbladder or kidneys. Acupuncturists may target these areas to eliminate symptoms.
This treatment may help minimize tinnitus, but there is not enough research on the subject to prove this statement. There isn’t any evidence that shows it can make the symptoms worse, so it may be a good idea to give it a try. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says acupuncture done by professionals is safe. You may have some pain or tenderness after the treatment, but this usually goes away within a few days.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
For acupuncture, you will want to seek help from a therapist who specializes in ear treatments. In addition, you don’t need a referral from a doctor to receive these treatments.
Also, keep in mind, hearing aids may offer a tinnitus treatment as well. A hearing specialist can diagnose and treat hearing loss. They will do a hearing test and if necessary, discuss hearing aids. There are many types of hearing aids on the market, so you want to speak with someone who knows a lot about the different features. Some hearing aids have a “Tinnitus Masker”. This has helped people reduce their struggle with ringing in the ears.
Hearing loss is an issue that affects millions of people and there are various causes that some might not have considered. This article is going to highlight a few of the symptoms associated with hearing loss, certain causes, possible treatments, and the benefits of these treatments.
How Do You Know If You Suffer from Hearing Loss?
If you are starting to notice issues with your hearing, just know that you are not alone. One in seven adults suffers from some form of hearing impairment, so it’s important to book a hearing test with your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms. It might not be cause for concern, but it’s worth it to get examined in the event the issue gets worse.
There Are Many Causes for Hearing Impairment
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when you’re regularly exposed to a noisy environment. Despite employers having a legal obligation to protect your hearing, it is possible that working in construction, a bar or club, or printing press contributes to hearing loss. Diseases and infections are another common cause of impairment, although it might not affect you right away. When your ear itches or needs cleaning, you’re tempted to use something to fix that, however, doctors suggest avoiding doing so as that causes the spread of infection, possibly leading to damage to the ear canal, thus causing future hearing issues.
If you do some of the following, you could potentially have a hearing problem:
When people speak, it sounds like they’re mumbling
One of the more common symptoms of hearing loss is struggling to hear or understand what others are saying, despite the other person speaking clearly. With age, our hearing is prone to deteriorate, so it is possible to have developed a problem without realizing it. If the people around you sound like they’re whispering or muffled, you could need a hearing aid. The good thing about modern-day hearing aids is that they are very discreet and hardly noticeable.
You avoid being social
If you tend to make excuses to avoid being social because of your hearing, it’s vital that you schedule an appointment at your local hearing center. A hearing specialist will help you address your problems. They will examine your ears to get down to the root of the problem. First, they will take a look at your outer ear to determine how efficiently your ears respond to different frequencies. When your results are available, the specialist will discuss your options, if needed.
You remove yourself from conversations
Do you fear talking to your friends due to the possibility of missing something important? If so, you could be suffering from a loss of hearing. Nerve damage to the ear does make exchanging conversation difficult, so have an exam as soon as possible. An Audiologist will ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle and have you fitted for a hearing device. When you live in a world of silence, it can feel lonely. The good news is, a hearing aid can really assist you and give you the much-needed confidence to socialize.
You always need to turn the volume up on the TV
Always needing to turn up the volume on your television or radio is a classic symptom of hearing loss. Maybe you had an older relative who was guilty of doing the same thing. You never it could one day be you, having the same problem. Are family members or friends constantly telling you to turn the volume down? If so, you need to make an appointment with your doctor.
You might be embarrassed by this ailment, but there is no reason to be. Millions suffer from hearing loss. There are a number of treatments to either remedy the problem or make it easier to live with. You can’t avoid age-related hearing loss completely, but you can stop it from affecting your quality of living. Whether you decide on a hearing aid, or if you’re suffering from more significant damage that requires surgery, seeking treatment as soon as possible gives you the best chance of getting back to enjoying your life. Everyone deserves the blessing of being able to hear those around them, so don’t hesitate in getting the help you need!
There is a long list of past “treatments” for hearing loss. It’s important to note that none of these were ever scientifically proven to work and can, in most cases, actually do more harm than good. Thankfully, doctors, today do not prescribe such bizarre remedies. Today’s technologies provide incredible sound options. Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to learn about these odd methods for treating hearing loss!
Isolation is one example of a treatment that did more harm than good. Some doctors thought that isolation would be a successful treatment because they thought it would give one’s ears the rest they needed in order to recover from the every-day use. However, this method would only lead to high-stress levels. In addition, if the isolation was prolonged, the long-term health effects could result in heart disease or even mental decline.
Another potential cure – bloodletting. This practice of cutting an open wound in order to let the blood out was typical for many generations. In many instances, leeches were used as a way of getting the blood out. Direct health effects of bloodletting can range from vivid hallucinations to fainting. Today, only in rare cases in which blood volume levels need to be lower, do they practice bloodletting.
Around the 1800s, many companies argued that their artificial eardrums would cure deafness. However, today, we know this was only a ploy to obtain a long list of customers willing to spend all of their money. The eardrums were usually metal and sat directly inside the ear. The companies then said the instruments were allowing sounds to resonate throughout the ear canal.
Insertion of Foreign Objects into the Ear
In the past, many people have tried inserting a variety of objects into the ear in order to cure their ailment. Many believed that the objects inserted would eventually cause the ear to lower its pressure. Some used twigs, others tried more sophisticated means. In Beethoven’s case, his doctor suggested that he use almond oil earplugs. Unfortunately, it goes without saying that this method was an unsuccessful one. Today, we know that the use of any objects not meant for the ear is not a smart move! Doing so often results in surgical removal and does irreversible harm to the eardrum in most cases.
One of the most desperate attempts for a cure was voluntarily jumping from high places. They thought that this might release any pressure within the ear. The only thing that came of this, however, was a couple of broken bones!
Today’s Solutions to Hearing Loss
With new technology, comes new solutions. While there is no current cure for hearing loss, improvements can be made.
One way of doing so is to opt for hearing aids. They provide a hearing assist and don’t require surgery unless you have a blockage in the ear that needs to be taken care of. Many of the hearing aids today even offer additional features beyond hearing aids of the past. Bluetooth technology allows the hearing aids to link with television sets and telephones. This can prove useful to those who are frequent users. Some even have the capability to filter out background noises in the environment, allowing you to hear more effectively.
Cochlear implants are another option. These are implants and require surgery for placement. They release a better quality of hearing when you are comparing to traditional hearing aids. However, there are several drawbacks such as the cost. It could set you back as much as $50,000.
While there were plenty of hearing loss treatments that were unavailing of a cure, technology is always making progress. Perhaps we will find an actual cure one day. Until then, the options that exist today continue to improve and make an everlasting impact on everyone’s lives who decide to utilize them.
Ear infections are more often seen in children than in adults, although untreated infections in adults can be more serious. Infection of an adult ear should be carefully diagnosed and monitored by a physician to lower the risks of problems. There are certain factors, which put some people at a higher risk of developing ear infections. However, there are effective treatments and preventive measures that can be used to lower the risk of hearing loss complications. Below are guidelines about symptoms, causes, and treatment options for ear infections.
Signs and Symptoms That Might Point to an Ear Infection
The ear is a sensitive part of the body that is made up of several different chambers. Infections of the ear may strike any of these chambers. When left untreated, the infections may result in many different signs and symptoms.
The main chambers of the ear are:
The inner ear
The middle ear
The outer ear
The middle and outer parts of the ear are at higher risk of infection. Signs and symptoms of ear infection vary in adults, depending on the area infected. If they occur, you might experience some of the following symptoms:
Loss of appetite
Drainage from the ear
Tenderness to touch
If you experience drainage from your ear, it is an indication of a possibly severe issue, and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Ear Infection
Children get ear infections more easily than adults. This is because the Eustachian tubes in children are smaller and lie horizontally compared to adults. As an adult, if you have smaller Eustachian tubes, you could also be at a higher risk.
Additionally, if you are an active smoker or you live among people who smoke, you are more likely to get ear infections. People who experience seasonal allergies or upper respiratory infections (such as influenza) are also at a higher risk.
When You Should See a Doctor
Most of the infections on the ear heal on their own without medical treatment. Hence, if you only detect earache symptoms, you might wait for several days to evaluate the pain before deciding to see a doctor. If the ear pain doesn’t go away after two to three days, and you start experiencing fever, you should seek medical attention immediately. Furthermore, the presence of draining fluid or difficulty hearing may be a sign of severe underlying infection, and you should notify your medical professional.
Diagnosis of Ear Infections & Hearing Loss
A diagnosis will take account of your previous health history as well as the current symptoms. Your doctor might use an otoscope to check your outer ear and eardrum. An otoscope is a handheld device with magnifying lenses. Hearing professionals use this to check the health of your ears. A special otoscope, known as pneumatic, is capable of emitting a puff of air in the eardrum. How the air reacts in the eardrum can help to diagnose the type of problem in the ear. A Tympanometer is another device that hearing professionals may use to evaluate your ear.
Treatment options will vary depending on where the infection is located. Antibiotics are the most common drugs doctors use to treat infections in the middle and outer ear. This treatment should eliminate all ear symptoms. Untreated ear infections may put you at the risk of having permanent loss of hearing. There is also a risk of the infection spreading to other parts of the head.
To lower the chances of an ear infection, be sure to use the following tips:
Regularly clean and dry your ears
Stop smoking and keep a safe distance from someone smoking
Wash your hands regularly
Avoid people with upper respiratory infections until they are well again
Control your allergies by avoiding triggers and taking allergy medications as prescribed
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing due to an ear infection and are struggling with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!
Middle ear – found between the inner and outer ear, includes the Ossicles, Malleus, Incus, and Stapes
Inner ear – The innermost portion of the ear consisting of the Cochlea, Vestibule, and Semicircular Canals
Types of Hearing Loss
There are two common types of hearing loss, Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Conductive Hearing Loss. A hearing loss related to an issue in the inner ear would be a Sensorineural Hearing Loss. In contrast, when sound cannot get through the outer and/or middle ear, a Conductive Hearing Loss would be suspected.
Untreated hearing loss can affect your overall physical and mental health. Furthermore, you may experience some unique symptoms such as staggering, loss of balance or migraine-like headaches. Because of this, a visit with a hearing health professional is so important at the first sign of symptoms.
Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss
Causes of conductive Hearing Loss may include any of the following:
Wax buildup, earwax that becomes stuck within the ear canal. To protect the ear canal, the ear produces earwax. Body elements such as dead skin cells, hair follicles, and ear secretions are what makeup earwax or “cerumen”. Consequently, our body naturally pushes out the wax or we clean our ears to remove the debris. Furthermore, an overproduction of the earwax can cause a short-term conductive loss of hearing.
Adhesive otitis (middle ear filling with fluid) fluids can backup within the middle ear due to colds, allergies, and a poorly functioning Eustachian Tube. The Eustachian Tube is the hearing health pathway between the middle ear and the nose.
Ear infections, external otitis is an infection that forms within the ear canal. Otitis can easily occur as a result of allergies, dermatitis, too much water exposure, or items that may irritate sensitive skin like hair spray or hair dyes.
Foreign body toys that children get stuck in their ear or bugs/insects that become trapped within the ear.
Head trauma, a head injury or trauma close to the ear can cause a short-term or even permanent loss of hearing.
Heredity sometimes people are born without some inner or outer ear parts, creating a deformed ear canal.
Otosclerosis – unusual growth of the tiny bones (ossicles) in the middle ear.
Perforated eardrum the inner ear canal environment is very sensitive. A hole or perforation of the eardrum can occur. This could be a result of an infection, virus, loud noise, or even a rapid change in air pressure.
Symptoms of Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss symptoms:
noticing your own voice sounds different
trouble hearing voices
voices sounding low or muffled
an ear odor and/or discharge
not hearing equally from both ears
pain or pressure in one or both ears
Treating Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing health problems can be treated, managed, or even reversed in some instances. Consequently, how the conductive loss is treated will be dependent on the cause of the loss. So for example, if the cause is related to a build-up of ear wax, your physician and/or hearing specialist will use special tools to remove the wax. If wax was the only factor, then the hearing loss should return to normal.
In contrast, for more chronic factors causing hearing loss, other options for treatment might include:
Digital Hearing Aids
Advanced hearing aid devices are a great option for a variety of hearing difficulties. There have been so many advances in technology over the last 10 years in the hearing aid industry. The latest hearing aid technology has really advanced features like Bluetooth for streaming, hands-free features, background noise reduction, and so much more. Also, they are so tiny they stay hidden behind the ear. No one will even know you are wearing them!
Medications are an option. If your hearing loss is the result of inflammation or infection. For this reason, your doctor should be able to treat the loss with medication.
Surgery is required for repair of any medical issue causing the conductive loss. This would be factors like an unusual growth, fluid in the middle ear, trauma to the head, etc.
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing and struggle with communication, contact us today. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we’re here to help!
Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.