Category: Audiology


A Safer Way To Listen: Addressing The Teen Hearing Loss Epidemic

The numbers are staggering. According to the CDC, as many as 16% of teens have reported some degree of hearing loss that could have been caused by loud noise. The Journal of Pediatrics reports that 12.5 % of kids between ages 6 and 19 suffer from hearing loss as a result of using earphones/earbuds turned to a high volume. This is millions of teenagers.

how loud too loud

How? How is it that so many of are youth are able to damage their hearing right in front of us? Because it’s easy. The average MP3 player has a potential output of 105 decibels. The risk of noise-induced hearing loss starts at 85dB, with long and repeated exposure.

What can be done? Education! Our kids and teens need to learn the value of our sense of hearing, and how noise-induced hearing loss occurs. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, but completely preventable. This is the first step. But how do you know if your volume is too loud? Get Puro Sound headphones that will not let the sound reach a dangerous level.puro phones

These new headphones are stylish, sleek, high quality, and SAFE. They connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth capable device, (with a wired option for non-Bluetooth devices), they are noise attenuating (reducing the need to increase the volume), and they have a limited output. Sounds will not exceed a safe listening level.

These headphones are perfect for any kid who listens to music, watches movies on a mobile device, etc. They are very high quality, reasonably priced, and acceptable for standards of hearing health. We now have these in our office, so please call or stop by for a free demonstration, and to pick up a pair today. We have two colors, and are expecting adult sizes by the end of the year!

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The Real Problem With Hearing Aids Being Portrayed In The Media

UP While it’s rare for hearing aids to make appearances in mainstream movies, when they do, they make big ones. And by big, I don’t mean prominent, or important to the plot or character development, I mean big, ugly, usually squealing hearing aids. Ones that immediately come to mind are Up, and The Wrestler. While I appreciate that ‘bad press is better than no press’, this is not doing hearing impaired people that are on the fence about hearing aids any justice. Most times hearing aids are portrayed in a movie, they are a negative connotation.

The problem is, this is completely unrealistic! While feedback (whistling, squealing) used to be a problem with older hearing aids, due to advances in digital technology, this hasn’t been an issue in years. Further, hearing aids today are so small, they are virtually invisible. I understand they need to be seen to have a presence in the movie, however there has to be a better way.

ant-man-stoll Take Ant Man for instance! He has this incredibly high tech ear piece that can literally control ants. However, it doesn’t even have a custom earpiece! If the movie industry invested just a little research into the hearing aid industry before their next production, I think it would be a win-win for everybody.

HAs and EARsIn addition to the accuracy of the portrayal of hearing aids, the frequency also needs to reflect a more accurate adult population. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. That’s 48 MILLION Americans! Further, hearing loss is not just for the ‘grumpy grandpa’ characters. The Better Hearing Institute reports that the majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. In fact there are more than SIX MILLION people in the U.S. between the ages of 18-44 with hearing loss.

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This means we need to see more average middle aged working adults with hearing loss being represented in the movies, wearing modern, digital technology. And it doesn’t have be be a completely deaf character; something as simple as needing a few things repeated occasionally, and maybe a scene where they wirelessly stream a phone call to their hearing aids using bluetooth would suffice. That is real technology, and not just for futuristic movies like Her. Today, in 2015, you can connect your hearing aids wirelessly to your iPhone, and stream phone calls, music, and more!

 

I would love to see a movie with a scene where a character takes his or her hearing aids out at night before going to bed, and maybe the audience didn’t even realize that character wore hearing aids until that scene. They don’t have to be directly addressed or talked about, they’re just there, like they are for millions of Americans.

Kyman_Headshot2Lena Kyman is a clinic audiologist at ENT & Audiology Associates in North Carolina. She is passionate about global audiology, and breaking down the stigma and stereotypes associated with hearing aids and hearing loss. She can be reached at Dr.Kyman@entandaudiology.com.

 

 

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.

 

 

Audiology Abroad

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.

Changing Perspectives

I recently had a unique experience in the ENT & Audiology Associates office, as I went from being a clinician, to being a patient.  While I can talk all day about how great it is to work here with Dr. Holmes and our amazing staff, I didn’t fully understand how amazing this practice is until last week.

I had just returned from a whitewater kayaking trip in northern California.  It took me three flights to get back home, flying overnight and coming straight to work Monday morning.  I had a sore ear at work on Monday, but attributed it to sleep deprivation, the black eye I had gotten from paddling, and all the pressure changes on the flight, so I didn’t think much of it.  The next day though, the pain had increased.  I did a tympanogram on myself, saw that my eardrum was still moving normally, so tried to still brush it off.  Later in the day however, it had gotten worse, and I asked Dr. Holmes to look in my ear.  He noted that my eardrum on that side was red and inflamed, and gave me some drops for what looked like the start of an outer ear infection (made sense, as I had just spent a week on a river).  Unfortunately, what looked like the beginning of an external ear infection was actually the onset of acute otitis media, and that night my middle ear filled with fluid, so that by the time I got to the office on Wednesday, my eardrum was bulging.  (I have never had an ear infection my whole, life, and now that I’m almost 30, I get my first one!)  Dr. Holmes came to my side of the office first thing in the morning, to see how I was doing, immediately diagnosed the problem, he and the nurses were able to call me in an antibiotic to start right away.

Later in the day, it had gotten to the point where it was so painful and there was so much pressure, it was determined that a myringotomy was the best option to relieve the pressure and remove the fluid.  While I was nervous (as I was about to have a incision cut into my eardrum), I tried my best to act tough, knowing that some of my colleagues wanted to watch.  The nurses were incredibly empathetic, and made me feel very comfortable. Dr. Holmes talked me through the whole procedure (all two minutes of it), and I was immediately feeling better.  That night I slept better than I had all week, and by the next day, I was feeling completely healthy again.  Every time I saw a nurse in the hallway, they would ask to make sure I’m feeling better.  I felt so supported and cared for by everyone in the office.

I definitely have new empathy for the patients I see, and can say without hesitation that Dr. Holmes and the staff at ENT & Audiology Associates provide excellent care, difficult to find elsewhere.  My eardrum is already healed, and I’ll be back on the water in no time thanks to Dr. Holmes.

Lena Kyman is a clinical audiologist at ENT & Audiology Associates, and patient of Dr. Holmes’.

Changing Perspectives

I recently had a unique experience in the ENT & Audiology Associates office, as I went from being a clinician, to being a patient.  While I can talk all day about how great it is to work here with Dr. Holmes and our amazing staff, I didn’t fully understand how amazing this practice is until last week.

I had just returned from a whitewater kayaking trip in northern California.  It took me three flights to get back home, flying overnight and coming straight to work Monday morning.  I had a sore ear at work on Monday, but attributed it to sleep deprivation, the black eye I had gotten from paddling, and all the pressure changes on the flight, so I didn’t think much of it.  The next day though, the pain had increased.  I did a tympanogram on myself, saw that my eardrum was still moving normally, so tried to still brush it off.  Later in the day however, it had gotten worse, and I asked Dr. Holmes to look in my ear.  He noted IMG_0374that my eardrum on that side was red and inflamed, and gave me some drops for what looked like the start of an outer ear infection (made sense, as I had just spent a week on a river).  Unfortunately, what looked like the beginning of an external ear infection was actually the onset of acute otitis media, and that night my middle ear filled with fluid, so that by the time I got to the office on Wednesday, my eardrum was bulging.  (I have never had an ear infection my whole, life, and now that I’m almost 30, I get my first one!)  Dr. Holmes came to my side of the office first thing in the morning, to see how I was doing, immediately diagnosed the problem, he and the nurses were able to call me in an antibiotic to start right away.

Later in the day, it had gotten to the point where it was so painful and there was so much pressure, it was determined that a myringotomy was the best option to relieve the pressure and remove the fluid.  While I was nervous (as I was about to have a incision cut into my eardrum), I tried my best to act tough, knowing that some of my colleagues wanted to watch.  The nurses were incredibly empathetic, and made me feel very comfortable.  Dr. Holmes talked me through the whole procedure (all two minutes of it), and I was immediately feeling better.  That night I slept better than I had all week, and by the next day, I was feeling completely healthy again.  Every time I saw a nurse in the hallway, they would ask to make sure I’m feeling better.  I felt so supported and cared for by everyone in the office. DrKymanPic  I definitely have new empathy for the patients I see, and can say without hesitation that Dr. Holmes and the staff at ENT & Audiology Associates provide excellent care, difficult to find elsewhere.  My eardrum is already healed, and I’ll be back on the water in no time thanks to Dr. Holmes.
Lena Kyman is a clinical audiologist at ENT & Audiology Associates, and patient of Dr. Holmes’.

 

 

#KnowTheFacts

EarQ has a great #KnowTheFacts campaign with the goal of informing the public about major health conditions that have been connected to untreated hearing loss.  Their website with further information on each of these topics and the sources can be seen here.cms_obesity cms_brain_loss

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Add Some Color

 

No need to stick with a beige hearing aid and a clear earmold.  Hearing aids come in a variety of colors, that enable your child to own their hearing loss, and incorporate it into their style!Baby with colorful HA

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!

Hearing is so important, and this video nails it!

Don’t give up hearing the sounds you love.  Limit your exposure to loud sounds to preserve the hearing you do have, and take action to treat any hearing loss you may have.

Untreated hearing loss is #NotWorthIt.

How Does The Brain Respond To Hearing Loss?

How does the brain respond to hearing loss?

This article was posted on Science Daily, link to the full article here.

Adults with mild age-related hearing loss (right) show brain reorganization in which hearing portions of their brain are recruited for processing visual patterns. This is not seen in age-matched adults with normal hearing (left).
Credit: Anu Sharma

Researchers at the University of Colorado suggest that the portion of the brain devoted to hearing can become reorganized — reassigned to other functions — even with early-stage hearing loss, and may play a role in cognitive decline.

Anu Sharma, of the Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science at University of Colorado, has applied fundamental principles of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to forge new connections, to determine the ways it adapts to hearing loss, as well as the consequences of those changes. She will present her findings during the 169th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), being held May 18-22, 2015 in Pittsburgh.

The work of Sharma’s group centers on electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of adults and children with deafness and lesser hearing loss, to gain insights into the ways their brains respond differently from those of people with normal hearing. EEG recordings involve placing multiple tiny sensors — as many as 128 — on the scalp, which allows researchers to measure brain activity in response to sound simulation, Sharma said.

Sound simulation, such as recorded speech syllables, is delivered via speakers, to elicit a response in the form of “brain waves” that originate in the auditory cortex — the most important center for processing speech and language — and other areas of the brain. “We can examine certain biomarkers of cortical functioning, which tell us how the hearing portion of a deaf person’s brain is functioning compared to a person with normal hearing,” Sharma said.

Sharma and other researchers have recently discovered that the areas of the brain responsible for processing vision or touch can recruit, or take over, areas in which hearing is normally processed, but which receive little or no stimulation in deafness. This is called “cross-modal” cortical reorganization and reflects a fundamental property of the brain to compensate in response to its environment.

“We find that this kind of compensatory adaptation may significantly decrease the brain’s available resources for processing sound and can affect a deaf patient’s ability to effectively perceive speech with their cochlear implants,” said Sharma. Cochlear implants are implanted devices that bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the implant are sent by way of the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognizes the signals as sound, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Sharma, with her students Julia Campbell and Garrett Cardon, also recently made the discovery that “cross-modal recruitment of the hearing portion of the brain by the senses of vision and touch happens not only in deaf patients, but is also clearly apparent in adult patients with only a mild degree of hearing loss.”

“The hearing areas of the brain shrink in age-related hearing loss,” she continued. “Centers of the brain that are typically used for higher-level decision-making are then activated in just hearing sounds.”

The group’s work suggests that the portion of the brain used for hearing can become reorganized, even in earliest stages of age-related hearing loss. And, “these compensatory changes increase the overall load on the brains of aging adults,” Sharma said. This finding has important clinical implications for developing early screening programs for hearing loss in adults.

“Compensatory brain reorganization secondary to hearing loss may also be a factor in explaining recent reports in the literature that show age-related hearing loss is significantly correlated with dementia,” Sharma said.

Further, the results suggest that age-related hearing loss must be taken seriously, even in its earliest stages. “One in three adults over the age of 60 has age-related hearing loss,” Sharma noted. “Given that even small degrees of hearing loss can cause secondary changes in the brain, hearing screenings for adults and intervention in the form of hearing aids should be considered much earlier to protect against reorganization of the brain.”

Sharma’s group has demonstrated that charting brain functioning in patients with cochlear implants is a valuable tool to help predict their outcomes. “If a deaf child shows cross-modal reorganization — by vision, for example — it allows us to determine the optimal rehabilitation strategy for that particular child,” she said.

Next, Sharma and colleagues will continue to explore fundamental aspects of neuroplasticity in deafness that may help improve outcomes for children and adults with hearing loss and deafness. “Our goal is to develop user-friendly EEG technologies, to allow clinicians to easily ‘image’ the brains of individual patients with hearing loss to determine whether and to what degree their brains have become reorganized,” she said. “In this way, the blueprint of brain reorganization can guide clinical intervention for patients with hearing loss.”

Sharma’s research group receives support from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

 

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!