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Can Hearing Aids Help with Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of sound where none is actually present. Often described as a ringing in the ear, tinnitus often manifests as a ringing, buzzing or humming in the ears. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 15% of the general public — over 50 million Americans — experience some form of tinnitus. Of these, 20 million struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million experience extreme or debilitating symptoms of tinnitus.

If you are a sufferer of tinnitus, you may be asking what treatment options are available to you. Although there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are means to relieve the symptoms. Today, we’re looking at whether hearing aids can help with tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

First, let’s explore what tinnitus actually is. It is the term for hearing a sound in your ears when there is not actually any external sound present. Most cases of tinnitus are ‘subjective’, meaning that only the person suffering from tinnitus can hear the sound. Commonly described as a ringing in the ears, sufferers may also experience hissing, whistling, buzzing, chirping or even roaring in their ears.

Most sufferers of tinnitus will experience mild, intermittent symptoms. Others will experience more prolonged and severe symptoms. However, one thing connects all sufferers – the desire to minimize the symptoms of the tinnitus.

Causes of Tinnitus

Although there is no definitive cause of tinnitus, there are a variety of factors known to trigger or worsen the symptoms. These include:

  • Hearing Loss: According to the Hearing Health Foundation, about 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss. For some, the brain compensates for hearing loss by turning up an “inner volume control” to amplify otherwise unnoticeable sounds. So, symptoms begin, often with a cycle of emotional distress.
  • Loud Noise: If you’ve ever been to a loud rock concert, you’re likely aware of the muffled feeling in your ears when you walk away. In some cases, you may experience symptoms of tinnitus after exposure to loud noise (such as those in a rock concert). Loud noise can damage the tiny hairs in your inner ear, known as the cilia. Damage to the cilia can result in noise-induced hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about how noise can impact your hearing health, check our out blog on Understanding & Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss.
  • Ototoxic Medications: Some medications, such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants and antibiotics can be harmful to your inner ear. Known as ototoxic medication, if you suspect that your medication is impacting your hearing health, we recommend booking in an appointment with your general medical practitioner to discuss further.
  • Health Conditions: Tinnitus has been linked with a variety of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, thyroid problems, high blood pressure (hypertension), and more. To rule out an underlying health condition for your tinnitus, we recommend  booking in an appointment with your general medical practitioner.

Can Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?

Although there is no ‘cure’ for tinnitus, there are ways to minimize the symptoms. As many cases of tinnitus are associated with a hearing loss, using hearing aids can help treat the hearing loss and subsequently reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.

Oftentimes, the similarities between the type of hearing loss and the tinnitus symptoms that you experience can be remarkable. For example, if you have a high-frequency hearing loss, you may experience high-pitched ringing from tinnitus.

If you are suffering from tinnitus and would like to explore how we can help relieve your symptoms, get in touch with us today. The hearing care professionals at Sutton Hearing & Balance would be happy to go through any questions you may have, and determine if hearing aids can help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus that you are experiencing. Give our team a call on (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.

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Tips for Dining Out with Hearing Loss

Is dining out one of your favorite pastimes? Do you often find restaurant noise levels distracting to the point that it prevents you fully engaging in the experience? If yes, we have some tips for dining out with hearing loss to help.

Tips for Dining Out with Hearing Loss

A recent study by Zagat showed that when it comes to dining out, it’s not the food that gets the highest volume of complaints. In fact, the most common complaint (with 24% of the votes) was the noise levels. If you have a hearing loss, excessive noise in a restaurant can make the experience of dining out less pleasurable and frustrating. There are, however, some simple ways to help you enjoy your experience dining out.

Choosing a Venue

Noise in popular dining venues has led to the creation of a great smartphone application called ‘Soundprint’. Users of the app are constantly compiling a database of quiet spots such as cafe’s, restaurants and more. The app allows you to search for a venue based on real customer feedback and decibel readings. You can also add your own feedback to help grow the database even larger.

Researching the venue you plan to dine in is a great first step towards ensuring an enjoyable dining experience. Read customer reviews and check out the photos online. Concentrate on the decor, avoid large open spaces with high ceilings, large television screens or hard floorings. Instead, look for the less contemporary adornings of carpet, curtains, table dressings, cushioned chairs, corner booths, outdoor patios and plants etc. These can all help to absorb sound, thereby providing a quieter environment.

Get a sense of how well lit the space is. Better lighting makes reading lips or seeing facial cues easier.

Making Your Reservations

When making a reservation for your meal, aim for…

  1. A quieter day of the week (avoid weekends or public holidays where possible)
  2. A quieter time of day i.e. before 5pm or after 8pm.
  3. Keep the party size to a manageable level.

Explain Your Requirements

When you make your meal reservation, we recommend that you highlight your requirements. If this isn’t possible, you can outline your requirements upon arrival, but to ensure that your requirements are met, it’s best to sort them in advance!

Ask to be seated further away from the kitchen, bar, entrance and serving station. Center tables are often the loudest. Where possible, opt for seating on perimeter, booths with high backs or corner tables are ideal. When seated, sit in the middle of your group.

Don’t be afraid to mention if your table or the background music is too loud when you arrive.

Be upfront about your hearing difficulties with both your companions and the waiter/waitress. Politely ask them to face you and speak clearly and slowly. Ask if they have a printed list of the specials.

Finally, be sure to use the available features on your hearing aids to help you. Adjust the settings accordingly for background noise and conversation. Consider your type of hearing aid device, it may be best to sit with your back to the wall, unless you have a directional microphone and then it’s best to sit with your back to the noise.

Maintaining a healthy social life can help keep you active and less prone to feelings of isolation. Seeking professional advice and treatment for a hearing loss can boost your confidence, making socialising more accessible. Call us on (212) 786-5741 if you have any questions or to book in your next hearing assessment.

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How Can Noise Can Impact Your Health?

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by exposure to excessive sound pressure levels. The urge to cover our ears in noisy situations is a common reaction to loud sounds, but our bodies also react in many other ways. In this blog, we explore 5 ways that noise can impact your health.

  1. Mental Health. NIHL can affect individuals of any age. According to a 2011-2012 CDC study, up to 24 percent of the adult population in the United States exhibit symptoms of NIHL, yet many adults wait years to seek treatment.

    Left untreated, hearing loss can increase the likelihood of someone experiencing poor mental health. A study, led by Dr. Chuan-Ming Li MD, PhD who works in the Division of Scientific Programs at The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) “found that prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 4.9 percent for individuals who reported excellent hearing, 7.1 percent for those with good hearing and 11.4 percent for participants who reported having a little hearing trouble or greater hearing impairment.”

    Another study carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information linked exposure to excessive noise to a 200% increased risk of anxiety and depression. The study demonstrated a steady increase in depression in relation to the higher noise volumes.

 

  1. Health Problems. The European Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating: “Noise is an underestimated threat that can cause a number of short- and long-term health problems, such as for example sleep disturbance, cardiovascular effects, poorer work and school performance, hearing impairment, etc.”

    Certain demographic groups are at a higher risk of health-related problems due to noise. Young children, who spend more time in bed than adults, are more exposed to night noise. Elderly adults or the chronically ill are more sensitive to disturbances at night. shift workers already experience stressed sleep schedules, and subsequently may be more easily disturbed. The environment we live in also plays a big factor; quiet residential neighborhoods are less likely than busy urban centers to cause sleep disruption.

  2. Healing & Immune Health. According to a report published by MedPage Today and the American Heart Association, poor sleep linked to noise disturbances affects our body’s ability to heal effectively. The study focused on hospital patients, who arguably need restful sleep the most. IV alarms, ringing phones and staff talking were the most common form of noise disturbance, often causing patients’ heart rates to spike by up to 10 beats per minute.
  3. Heart Disease. A 2014 study by the European Heart Journal looked at the “cardiovascular consequences of environmental noise.” The study found: “Acute noise exposure, in both laboratory settings where traffic noise was simulated and in real-life environments, can cause increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output, likely mediated by the release of stress hormones such as catecholamines.” In fact, the study found that 3% of heart attacks in Germany could be linked to long term exposure to loud noise levels.
  4. Damage To The Vocal Cords. If you work in a noisy environment, you’re likely going to increase the volume of your voice to be heard. Long-term shouting can result in more than just a sore throat.  A study published by the Abilene Christian University found that 50% of teachers have permanent damage to their vocal cords. Other studies have documented the higher prevalence of absenteeism in teachers with injuries to their vocal cords. In fact, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Gould Voice Research Center estimated the cost of teachers’ voice injuries at US$2.5 billion per year.

Understanding what constitutes dangerous levels of noise is the first step towards protecting your health. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) advises that “long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.”

There are simple steps that you can take to protect your hearing and increase your awareness of the noise in your environment:

  • Use hearing protection. Inexpensive earplugs are available in your local pharmacy and custom hearing protection can be made to ensure proper protection in critical applications.
  • Use a decibel (noise detection) app on your smartphone. Many free options are available.
  • When possible, sleep with your windows closed.
  • When in a noisy environment, try to give your ears a few minutes of ‘quiet time’ to detox.

At Sutton Hearing, we understand the impact that noise can have on your hearing health and wellbeing. Detecting changes to your baseline hearing is the first step towards treating NIHL. If you work or play in an around high levels of noise, let us help you come up with a plan to protect your ears from unwanted damage. Book in your hearing assessment by calling (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.

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How IFTTT Enabled Devices Can Help Your Hearing

You may already own appliances or electronics with in-built smart technology, such as your phone, TV or thermostat. Home automation technology or the Internet of things allows you to control many commonly used electronics to make them behave more efficiently or in a manner that better suits your daily lifestyle. However, you may be surprised to learn that this technology is also available in certain hearing aids. Not sure what an IFTTT enabled device is, or what the uses are? Here are some key details and benefits to help demonstrate how an IFTTT enabled device may help your hearing.

What is IFTTT?

If This Then That (IFTTT) is an online service that connects smart devices and apps through simple conditional statements. Breaking the statement down, ‘If This’ is a trigger, for example a weather app signaling rain, and ‘Then This’ is the action, which would be a notification automatically sent to your phone reminding you to take an umbrella with you. This allows you to set up automated responses and controls between multiple smart objects and online platforms, providing you have Internet connectivity.

How does this work with a hearing aid?

You may not think that a hearing aid counts as smart technology, however by choosing an IFTTT enabled device, you can sync your hearing aid with a number of devices to help with everyday tasks. Please be aware that this software only works with certain devices and apps, a list of which can be found on the IFTTT website.

What would I need to do?

Before purchasing an IFTTT enabled device, you will need to make sure that you have the required internet access, devices and apps. You will then need to create an IFTTT account and install the software or app that is required for the smart hearing aid, as well as any devices you wish to sync it with.

What can I use it for?

As long as you have access to the internet and the relevant devices, you can create a wide range of conditional statements that sync your smart hearing aid to everyday smart objects. For example, if you own a doorbell that has a qualifying app, you can set up a statement that alerts you through your hearing aid any time someone rings the doorbell. When the laundry is done, you could get a voice alert in the hearing aid telling you to go get it. With so many appliances now available with smart technology built in, you could have numerous actions set up with your TV, washing machine, central heating and more. You could even use this feature to tell you via email message if a loved ones hearing aid is running low on batteries.

Whilst smart technology has been designed to make life easier, you may still find yourself unsure as to how this can work with your hearing aid. If you wish to find out more about how an IFTTT enabled device can benefit you, give our hearing care professionals a call on (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.

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