Category: Audiology News


May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Leisure Activities Rife With Loud Noise

With more than half of Americans who experience noise-induced hearing loss not working in noisy jobs, the spotlight turns to what Americans are doing in their leisure time. May 1 marks the beginning of Better Hearing & Speech Month—a time to assess lifestyle habits that may be contributing to hearing loss as well as schedule a hearing evaluation for anyone with concerns about their hearing.

About 40 million U.S. adults aged 20–69 years have noise-induced hearing loss, a form of hearing damage that results from exposure to loud noise. This could be cumulative harm that developed from exposure over time, or it could occur from one severe episode. Although completely preventable, once it occurs, it is irreversible. Far from simply being an annoyance, hearing loss can affect almost all aspects of life, including physical health, mental health, employment status and success, social functioning and satisfaction, and much more. Hearing loss can be treated through various technologies and techniques under the care of a certified audiologist, but hearing is never fully restored.

In addition to the dangers posed by listening to ear buds or headphones at too-loud volumes and for too long, noisy settings are commonplace in today’s society, including in Raleigh. Many restaurants are specifically designed to elevate noise levels to make establishments feel more energetic. Similarly, some sports stadiums have been built with sound elevation in mind, thought to improve the fan experience and serve as a home-team advantage. Coffee shops, fitness classes, and more all make modern society a collectively loud place.

“Although many people report concern about noisy environments, not nearly enough take protective steps,” said Raleigh-based audiologist Lena Kyman, AuD. She offers some simple ways that the public can take charge of their hearing health—this month and always:

• Wear hearing protection. Earplugs and earmuffs are cheap, portable, and (with a good fit) offer excellent hearing protection. Bring them along when you know you’ll be in a noisy setting. Better yet, keep them on you at all times!

• Reduce exposure. Take steps to reduce your exposure to noisy settings. Visit noisy establishments during off times, consider quieter settings, and talk to managers if you find the noise level uncomfortable.

• See a certified audiologist for a hearing evaluation. A recent government report stated that 1 in 4 U.S. adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage. Many adults don’t routinely get their hearing checked, and even those who are concerned often delay treatment for years. Postponing treatment can have serious medical and mental health repercussions in addition to reducing a person’s quality of life, so visit a certified audiologist if you have any concerns.

“This advice about hearing protection goes for just about everyone, from the youngest of children to older adults, from those with excellent hearing who want to maintain it, to those who already have some hearing loss and don’t want to make it worse,” notes Lena Kyman, AuD. “As a society, everyone needs to prioritize hearing protection.”

World Hearing Day 2017

Every year on March 3, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World Hearing Day. This day was created to help raise awareness and draw attention to the importance of prevention, screening and rehabilitation of hearing loss. The theme for this year’s World Hearing Day is ‘Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment’.
Read More »

Quick Read: Babies Don’t Need Smartphones

Since May is Better Speech and Hearing month, we’ll be posting interesting articles and relevant facts throughout the month. Although the story is a year old, the USA Today article written by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2015 President, Judith L. Page is even more relevant in 2016.

With an increase in technology use being observed at younger and younger ages, children are beginning to show signs of suffering from delayed speech and social development. Click here to read more

America must confront hearing loss: Column

Hearing loss is a larger problem than one may think. It’s not just about not being able to hear noise at certain levels but how it impacts the daily life of an individual. Hearing loss is associated with depression, lower incomes for adults, and learning difficulties for children, yet the Center for Disease Control doesn’t recognize it as a disability with the hardship it causes someone. Read the article from USA Today to learn more about how Americans must confront this issue.

The United States is approaching a tipping point in terms of hearing loss and how it is treated under current policy.

Audiology Abroad

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This July, I was blessed with the opportunity to return to Antigua, Guatemala, on a volunteer audiology trip.

I first went to Antigua as a graduate student in 2010, and was able to visit schools and clinics, perform hearing screenings, and make referrals to appropriate sources for further evaluation.  Five years later, I had the opportunity to return and continue this work.

This trip, I was able to visit a local elementary school and perform hearing screenings on the children that teachers had concerns about.  Further, I was able to provide batteries, and do cleanings/listening checks on two students’ hearing aids.  Later in the week, we were able to visit one of the Universities, and instruct speech and hearing students on audiology basics, and how to perform otoscopy and hearing screenings.

Visiting another country is such an opportunity to learn and experience a different culture.  While I was there to provide a service, I definitely feel like I received more from the people there. We are so fortunate to have sound proof booths here, sometimes in other countries hearing screenings are performed in classrooms without doors, noisy hallways, and even in showers!  One of the children with hearing aids who I worked with had a broken battery door.  I did not have a replacement door with me; however, I was able to make one out of packing tape at the school.  A temporary solution at best, however it made the difference between hearing and not hearing.

Amongst all that work, I was able to have some fun too!  Antigua is a beautiful city, and I really enjoyed walking the streets and visiting the central park.  I got to hike Pacaya, an active volcano, and take a jade workshop at the home of a long-time jade miner.  An amazing experience, to say the least.

I look forward to returning again next year, hopefully with more donated supplies, and a larger team of students.  I want to thank ENT & Audiology Associates for their generosity in donating batteries and ear plugs, and allowing me to travel during such a busy time of the year.  Global audiology is a passion of mine, and I hope to make a difference, one ear at a time.

 

DrKymanPic Lena Kyman is a clinical audiologist at ENT & Audiology Associates.  She is passionate about hearing health education, and global audiology.  She can be reached at Dr.Kyman@entandaudiology.com.

 

 

Tackling Resistance To Hearing Aids- One Misconception At A Time Vol. 2

We are starting a new mini-series on this blog: Tackling Resistance to Hearing Aids- One Misconception At A Time.  According to the Better Hearing Institute, people delay a solution for multiple reasons, including but not limited to inadequate information, stigma, and undervaluing the ability to hear.  We are going to start tackling these issues one at a time.

Volume 2: Hearing loss only affects old people, and is merely a sign of aging.

This is blatantly untrue.  According to the Better Hearing Institute, only 35% of people with hearing loss are older than age 64.  That means that 65% of people with hearing loss are younger than 64! In fact, there are close to SIX MILLION people in the U.S. with hearing loss between the ages of 18-44.  Even if your hearing loss is due to aging, that doesn’t mean you have to just accept it.  You can take action, and regain control of your life.  Don’t let hearing loss make you avoid your favorite restaurant, or social gatherings.  Don’t miss out on hearing your loved ones!  Untreated hearing loss is #NotWorthIt.  Hearing aids today are different than the big, beige, whistling devices from 20 years ago.  Hearing aids today are like little wearable computers.  They are digital, wireless, and have capabilities that used to seem ‘futuristic’ in James Bond movies.  Hearing aids can stream music, tv, phone calls, voices from external microphones, and even work with the Apple Watch.  Now if that’s just for ‘old people’, sign me up!

Tackling Resistance To Hearing Aids- One Misconception At A Time Vol. 1

We are starting a new mini-series on this blog: Tackling Resistance to Hearing Aids- One Misconception At A Time.  According to the Better Hearing Institute, people delay a solution for multiple reasons, including but not limited to inadequate information, stigma, and undervaluing the ability to hear.  We are going to start tackling these issues one at a time.

Volume 1: Hearing aids will make me look ‘old’

This is simply untrue!  If the hearing aids allow you to function like a normal-hearing person, and hear in situations where you may not have before, they are not making you look old, in fact they are returning you to an active and social lifestyle.  Untreated hearing loss is far more noticeable than a hearing aid.  Missing the punchline of a joke, and smiling and nodding your way through a conversation you cannot hear is drastically more noticeable than the largest hearing aid on the market.  Further, hearing aid manufacturers know that vanity exists, and have largely reduced the size of modern hearing aids, and incorporated sleek, digital, high-tech looks into the devices.  So what are you giving up for your vanity- hearing a child’s laughter, the whispers of a loved one, the birds chirping on a summer morning?  Don’t fake your way through a conversation.  Own your hearing loss, take action, and get back in control.

Remember: 
Not-Worth-It

Awards Luncheon For Audiology Training Completion

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This year, our office coordinated and completed a comprehensive audiology training for the entire staff. It started with a conference follow-up and introduction to our training program, followed by an Audiology overview presentation, followed by an ABR and hearing aid programming demonstration. Today, we reviewed the highlights of what everyone learned, and discussed over a delicious catered lunch. Our audiology team is so grateful to have an office full of amazing staff, and everyone received a thank-you gift for completing the training. Oh, and there was some dancing too!

Smart Watches

VibraQuartz Vibrating Alarm WatchDid you know that the Apple Watch is not the first vibrating watch?  Vibrating watches have been around for years as assistive devices for the hearing impaired.  They come in many forms: analog, digital, for adults, kids, etc.  Some examples can be found here at Harris Communications.

What’s great about this new technology, is that the Apple Watch works with made-for-iPhone hearing aids.  If you have already been fit with these hearing aids, or are interesting in learning about how this technology can better your quality of life, contact an audiologist today. 

Continued Office Audiology Training

IMG_0053In January, our clinicians went to an audiology summit, and returned with new skills, motivation and momentum.  Since that time, our entire office has been receiving training on audiology in general, and all of the procedures we perform and services we offer.  We started off with a summary of our summit, and an introduction to our plans for audiology training.  This meeting was in the morning, and we created a homemade breakfast burrito bar!  That post can be found here.  A few weeks later, we had a presentation covering audiology and the services we offer, over lunch with homemade pizzas.  That post can be found here.  After that presentation, our entire office received a checklist of audiology services to either observe or experience first hand.  Our staff has been so great and motivated to participate, and we have received positive feedback that they have all learned a lot.  This type of training is important, because it better enables our staff to have meaningful conversations with our patients, and offer insight and empathy.

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Today, we all gathered to observe an ABR and some hearing aid programming with our very own Randi Holmes as a patient.  We were able to hook IMG_0052our laptop up to the projector, so everyone could see the ABR and hearing aid software on the big screen.

 

Next week, everyone will be done with their observations, and we will all gather for a celebratory catered lunch.  We will all share what we learned from the observations, and further answer any questions.  We have such an incredible team in our office, and are so grateful for our amazing staff!

 

 

 

 

Audiology Training With Homemade Pizzas

Today we had a great office workshop.  The audiologists put on a presentation for the entire office staff, offering more education and training on what all is involved in hearing evaluations, and all of the other services we provide.  Randi headed up a homemade pizza station.  We had about 6 pizza stones going at once, with toppings ranging from spinach, pineapples, to anchovies!  We are excited about everything that was accomplished today.

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Can you hear a microwave beep with your earbuds in?

Read the full article from the WSJ here.

How loud is too loud when using a personal audio device? Experts weigh in with specifc recommendations.

Is Your Music Too Loud? Experts Say It May Be If It Is Louder Than a Microwave’s Beep

To lessen hearing-loss risk, some experts say listen to loud music with earbuds for less than an hour a day
How loud is too loud when using a personal audio device? Experts weigh in with specifc recommendations.
How loud is too loud when using a personal audio device? Experts weigh in with specifc recommendations. PHOTO: CORBIS

By SUMATHI REDDY
Updated March 9, 2015 5:37 p.m. ET

Think twice the next time you pump up the volume on your iPhone to drown out the chatter of those neighboring commuters.

Experts say listening to music at high volumes using earbuds or headphones for more than an hour—and in some cases, as little as a few minutes—could put you at risk for noise-related hearing loss.

The World Health Organization in a new campaign advises limiting the use of personal audio devices to less than an hour a day, or for longer periods if kept at a volume of less than 85 decibels, roughly equivalent to the beep of a microwave.

The recommendation is based on the WHO’s review of previous studies estimating that people use personal audio devices at an average of 94 decibels, said Shelly Chadha, technical officer of the WHO department for management of noncommunicable diseases, disability, violence and injury prevention.

At 100 decibels, listening should be limited to 15 minutes. But by reducing the volume to 80 decibels or less, a person can safely listen to headphones for long as desired, said Dr. Chadha.

Apple and most other makers of personal audio devices don’t provide decibel equivalents for the volume controls on their devices. Maximum volume varies depending on products and headphones. Some experts say the most effective way to reduce the risk of hearing damage is to wear noise-canceling headphones, which block out background noise so that users can listen at lower volumes when in a noisy environment such as an airplane.

In a 2011 study published in the Journal of American Academy of Audiology, researchers evaluated output levels of audio devices and determined that a person using the white earbuds that come with Apple products and setting the volume on an iPod at maximum experiences a sound level of 102 decibels.

At that level, safe listening is limited to about five minutes, said Cory Portnuff, a clinical audiologist at the University of Colorado Hospital and a co-author of the study.

Some experts say the WHO recommendations are a bit too restrictive, and its estimate that 50% of young adults are exposed to potentially unsafe levels of sound from their personal audio devices may be an overstatement.

In a 2013 study, this one published in the International Journal of Audiology, Dr. Fligor and Dr. Portnuff found that of 24 adolescents ages 18 to 29, only 16% were listening to personal listening devices at levels that raised their risk of cumulative hearing loss.

“Volume level and listening time are inextricably combined,” said Brian Fligor, a Boston audiologist and another co-author of the 2011 and 2013 studies, as well as chief audiology officer at Lantos Technology, Inc., an audiology device company, who has published numerous studies on personal listening devices. “You can listen really loud for short periods of time safely.”

“I take my favorite song at the end of my run and I crank it to the max. But it’s only one song,” Dr. Fligor said. He recommends keeping the volume on a device no higher than 80% of maximum, or about 89 decibels, for 90 minutes of safe listening.


A 2006 laboratory study of about 100 young adults in a simulated airplane found that when listening to music or movies with regular earbuds or headphones, they listened at levels that were too loud—more than 85 decibels—more than 80% of the time, said Dr. Fligor. But when wearing headphones that blocked out background noise, people listened too loud only 20% of the time.

Noise-related hearing loss, while unusual among young adults, can still prematurely age one’s ears, Dr. Portnuff said. “It is normal to lose some hearing as we age, but overexposure to noise and music can make that happen much faster.”

Audiologists can detect early signs of hearing loss. Dr. Portnuff said warning signs include ringing in the ears and difficulty following conversations in noisy restaurants and bars. High-frequency sounds typically are lost first, resulting in difficulties in hearing things like whistles or the beep on a watch. Consonant sounds such as s’s and t’s are also harder to hear.

There is evidence that noise-related hearing loss is on the rise. A 2010 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found hearing loss in adolescents ages 12 to 19 in the U.S. grew by about a third over the previous two decades, with a 28% rise in the prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss, said Sharon Curhan, co-author of the study and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The study, which used data from a nationally representative survey, couldn’t attribute the increase specifically to noise or the use of earbuds, but high-frequency hearing loss is often associated with excessive noise exposure, Dr. Curhan said.

Genetics, diet and lifestyle also contribute to hearing loss, Dr. Curhan said. Her research has found that staying physically active, eating a healthy diet including fish twice a week and limiting the use of pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help reduce the risk of hearing loss in men and women.

Seth Schwartz, an otologist and director of the Listen for Life Center, a comprehensive hearing-health clinic at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, said mechanical trauma to the inner ear caused by even a short exposure to an extremely loud noise, such as a jet engine, can result in hearing loss. In such instances, both the sensory cells of hearing and the structural cells that support them can be damaged.

Some noise-related hearing loss can be temporary, which is why experts recommend taking 15 to 20 minute breaks when listening on headphones to allow the ear to recover, Dr. Schwartz said.

Exposure to lower but still dangerous levels of noise for longer durations can damage the sensory cells of hearing and can be permanent.

Dr. Fligor recommends over-the-counter earplugs for people who regularly attend loud concerts and sporting events. He recommends custom-fitted earplugs or custom in-ear monitors for patients in the music industry.

RJ Jaczko, a 15-year-old high-school sophomore in Wellesley, Mass., is one of Dr. Fligor’s patients. A drummer, DJ and concertgoer, RJ hasn’t experienced hearing loss, but began seeing an audiologist because his father, Rob Jaczko, a recording engineer and record producer, and chairman of the music production and engineering department at Berklee College of Music, began suffering from tinnitus, or ringing ears.

Now, RJ says he wears earplugs to concerts, and whenever he drums or DJs. “They’re very helpful,” he says. He also keeps an eye on the volume on his iPhone. “I never listen to it that loud,” he said. “I started making a conscious effort once my dad explained to me how his ears got to have problems and I realized how easy it was to keep it lower.”

Write to Sumathi Reddy at sumathi.reddy@wsj.com

How To Listen To Music Without Destroying Your Hearing

How To Listen To Music Without Destroying Your Hearing

Click on the title to link to the full article from Huffington Post.

Posted: 03/06/2015 7:33 am EST Updated: 4 hours ago
EARS

Hearing loss is practically an epidemic among young people in middle- and high-income countries — and it’s getting worse, not better. The World Health Organizationsaid last week that 1.1 billion people ages 12-35 listen to personal audio devices at “unsafe volumes,” risking permanent hearing loss. Worse, people who experience hearing loss don’t always get the help they need fast enough, and they may not recognize that their behavior is risky to begin with.

The proliferation of smartphones, which provide easy access to music-listening apps and often come packaged with earbuds, coincides with higher hearing-loss statistics. There’s basically no question that the two are related.

“Everyone’s got something in their ears these days. That constant exposure is definitely causing an increase in hearing loss statistics,” Dr. Diane Catalano, a senior audiology clinician at Duke University Medical Center, told The Huffington Post.

Anna Gilmore Hall, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, concurred, adding that people are experiencing “severe hearing loss much earlier.”

Here are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself from permanent, noise-induced hearing loss:

Get Headphones That Fit

A whopping 86 percent of U.S. consumers age 25-34 owned smartphones in 2014, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Smartphones were also in the pockets of 85 percent of millennials (age 18-24). That’s up from 80 percent and 77 percent, respectively, in 2013.

That’s a lot of phones. The problem is, the headphones that come with these devices aren’t designed to fit perfectly into your ears, which means they let in a lot of ambient noise. People tend to crank up the volume on their devices to make up for this, Catalano said.

It’s imperative that your headphones fit correctly, so you should test out a few different kinds before buying.

Earbuds should fit snuggly in your ears and isolate sound. The good ones come with a few different tip sizes, which let you pick which size best fills your ear. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” You can also get a custom pair made that molds perfectly to your ears, but be very careful about not pushing them in too far.

As for over-ear headphones: They should cover your ears completely and block out ambient noise.

Give Your Ears A Rest

The World Health Organization recommends that young people limit themselves to one hour of listening per day on devices like smartphones.

“You shouldn’t have exposure to 80 decibels for longer than 60 minutes,” Hall told HuffPost. “Give yourself a rest. Let your ears recover a little bit.”

For reference, 80 decibels is equivalent to the sounds of city traffic or a garbage disposal. After several hours, this decibel level can be damaging to your ears. Consider that next time you’re pumping music through your headphones.


Your headphone volume shouldn’t get louder than about 80 decibels, which is more or less what the sound of loud traffic is like.

Turn Your Smartphone Down

Smartphones don’t always do such a great job telling you if you’re listening at perilously loud volumes.

“There’s really no reason that any of these devices should go up as far as they do,” Catalano said.

On iPhones, Catalano said not to go above two-thirds of the volume bar.


Listening to music on an iPhone? This volume is probably a little bit too loud to be perfectly safe.

In 2013, the European Union mandated a volume limit on all personal audio devices — including smartphones — capping them at 85 decibels. The rule meant that people playing music apps like Spotify would have to bypass a warning to listen any louder.

There’s no such requirement in the United States, but many Android phones do include a warning when you try to turn your volume to an unsafe level. iPhones let you set a volume limit in the device’s settings.

But what good is a “no trespassing” sign next to an open door?


Some smartphones, like the HTC One M8 used to capture this screenshot, have volume warnings. Experts say that more should.

Get Earplugs

Even when you’re not listening to headphones, your hearing could still be damaged in super-loud settings. Rock concerts, loud bars, sporting events, the subway, traffic jams and construction sites are all risky environments. Consider wearing earplugs to protect your ears if you know you’re going to be somewhere loud for a long period of time.

V-MODA, a premium headphone maker, produces a line of $20 earplugs calledFaders VIP, which the company says will block out sound up to 20 decibels. They’re made to look like high-end earbuds, so you won’t look dopey walking down the street with them on. Like the best earbuds, they come with multiple tip sizes so you can make sure they fit correctly.
V-MODA’s Faders VIP earplugs come in three different colors and include four sizes for different ears

“I had a hearing loss scare,” Val Kolton, V-MODA’s CEO, told HuffPost of his decision to manufacture earplugs. Kolton was used to a life around loud music, but his woes actually came from custom earplugs that pushed debris too far into his ear, thus creating temporary hearing loss.

“I had never had an ear wax problem, but it pushed it so far up that it was creating a rock,” Kolton said.

The (gross, yet important) lesson: Never push anything that far into your ear. Doing so can cause a variety of health problems, including hearing loss.

Get Screened

You know not to listen to music too loud. You know to wear earplugs. Now you need to make sure your ears stay healthy.

Catalano and Hall both say people need to get screened for hearing loss from their health care providers.

“It should become something that’s more thought about on the primary care level,” Hall said.

Adults should try to get a hearing test every five or 10 years, according to Catalano. And even then, Catalano said that many people find out they’ve got hearing loss, but actually wait a few years for it to get worse before they actually do something about it.

As she put it to HuffPost: “The sooner we can get them assistance, the better.”

Tinnitus on TV

Are you watching the new season of #HouseOfCards?  One of the main characters is experiencing some major tinnitus.  (Don’t worry, we won’t spoil anything!)  It seems to have started in conjunction with severe head trauma, and increases with stress.  It also seems to be having affects on sleep, focus, ability to do work, and causing severe distress.

This character could probably benefit from seeing an audiologist.  Due to his severe head trauma, it would be wise to have a comprehensive hearing evaluation, and to have a tinnitus evaluation as well.  This could lead to some counseling on tinnitus management strategies, and possibly getting fit with noise masker or hearing aid if needed.  This character is on his cell phone a lot, so he could even get a device that allowed him to stream his phone calls in addition to tinnitus masking noise straight to his ears, wirelessly.

Do you suffer from tinnitus?  Relief is out there.  Call 919-782-9003 today to make an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation, and to develop a customized solution to suit your needs.

This is a great video on how hearing works:

Any questions?  Think you might be having trouble hearing?  See one of our doctors of audiology today for an evaluation.