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The National Campaign for Better Hearing

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Tips on When to Get a Hearing Aid

Do You Really Need A Hearing Aid?

After being diagnosed with hearing loss, many individuals will wait months, if not years, before finally getting a hearing aid. There are many reasons that people delay getting a hearing aid, including denial, appearance and cost.

Individuals with hearing loss may also feel that their hearing is still acceptable, and therefore justify delaying getting a hearing aid. But ‘acceptable’ hearing may still be improved upon with the help of a hearing aid.

When Should You Get A Hearing Aid?

According to the MarkeTrak VIII survey on hearing impairment in the US, conducted in 2009 by the American hearing expert, Sergei Kochkin, 55.4% of Americans cited ‘my hearing loss has worsened’ as the reason for them deciding to get their first hearing aid.

There are a number of indicators that your hearing loss may be impacting your quality of life. Some of the more common symptoms can include:

  • Your friends and family tell you that you need to get your hearing checked
  • You struggle to hear in social situations with multiple people talking at once
  • You prefer the TV or radio at a higher volume than you used to
  • You often complain that people are mumbling
  • You have trouble understanding people when they are not looking directly at you
  • Your hearing loss has reduced your confidence
  • Conversations feel they they require your full effort and attention
  • You ask people to repeat themselves and often say “what?”
  • You prefer to use closed captions when watching television
  • You prefer to use the speakerphone feature during phone calls
  • You miss calls because you no longer hear the phone ringing
  • You no longer participate in social activities because of your difficulty hearing

The Benefits Of A Hearing Aid

There are many reasons that people will delay getting a hearing aid, but there are even better reasons to get one!

  1. Improved hearing! Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. Increased confidence. When you can hear clearly, you’ll be more self-assured in restaurants, on the job, and in social and public settings.
  2. Improved relationships. Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship. Hearing clearly can facilitate communication and improve your relationships.
  3. Reduced risk of memory loss or dementia. Recent studies have shown a link between hearing loss and memory loss or dementia, as the brain is lacking the stimulation that comes from hearing. Hearing aids can help to mitigate this.
  4. More energy! Struggling to hear all day takes a great deal of energy for your brain. Hearing aids can help to reduce this mental fatigue, leaving you feel more energized throughout the day.
  5. Improved quality of life. 70% of respondents to a study in Germany identified that digital hearing aids improved their overall quality of life.
  6. Avoid impacting your earning potential. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your earning potential. Don’t let your wallet take the hit, when hearing aids can help!
  7. Improved safety. Avoid missing out on emergency sounds such as fire alarms or calls for help.

If you’re ready to speak to a hearing care professional about how a hearing aid can improve your quality of life, contact us at (212) 786-5741 today. At Sutton Hearing & Balance, we want to help you enjoy a fuller life through better hearing. Request your free hearing assessment now.

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Protecting Yourself from Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear, or “otitis externa”, is a painful type of ear infection that involves the ear canal and typically occurs when water gets trapped inside the ear. Because the ear canal is dark and warm, normally present bacteria (or fungi) can easily multiply and cause an infection.

Anyone is susceptible, but children are particularly prone to this type of infection since their ear canals are narrower. We hope that by explaining the causes and symptoms you can avoid the discomfort of swimmer’s ear, or seek prompt treatment when needed.

What causes swimmer’s ear?

Swimmer’s ear has a few primary causes:

  • Trapped moisture from bathing/showering, trips to the pond/lake/beach/swimming pool or from moist or humid environments.
  • Contact with excessive bacteria present in hot tubs or polluted water.
  • Scratches or cuts within the ear i.e. from aggressive cleaning.
  • Damage to the skin of the ear canal i.e from skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or seborrhea.
  • Contact with certain chemicals such as hairspray or hair dye.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear

Initial symptoms of swimmer’s ear are usually mild. However, if an infection goes untreated, symptoms may progressively worsen. Symptoms will often first appear as itching and redness, resulting in the ear then becoming inflamed and painful. Pain can become severe, and is often worsened when the ear is touched or moved, i.e. when chewing or lying on a pillow. It is common to have jaw pain, as there are lots of nerves linking the base of the brain through the ear canal, the jaw, and down to the diaphragm. Other symptoms include:

  • A stuffy or plugged-up feeling in the affected ear.
  • Fluid draining from the affected ear.
  • Decreased or muffled hearing.
  • Fever and swollen lymph nodes can occur in severe cases.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

The aim is to keep your ears as dry as possible. Consider wearing ear plugs and a bathing cap/wetsuit hood when you are in the water. After swimming or washing, turn your head side to side and pull the earlobes in different directions to help any excess water drain out. After draining, gently dry your ears with a towel. Do not try to clean your ears by inserting a foreign object like a cotton swab.

Treating Swimmer’s Ear

See a doctor as soon as you can if you suspect swimmer’s ear. A fluid sample may be taken when you are seen. You will likely be given antibiotic ear drops, as these reduce inflammation and inhibit bacterial/fungal growth.

If after a few days symptoms do not improve, return to your doctor. There could be a blockage preventing the medication working or oral antibiotics may be needed.

Please note, without treatment, infection can continue. This can cause recurring ear infections (chronic otitis externa). Diabetics and older adults are also at higher risk of dangerous complications. Infection can spread to the base of your skull, brain, or cranial nerves, causing bone and cartilage damage (malignant otitis externa).

Swimmer’s ear is a very common but preventable infection. Following treatment, hearing should return to normal. To further protect yourself make sure you have regular check ups and evaluations with your hearing specialist. Contact us today if you suspect that you may have swimmer’s ear, or to learn more information.

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How Can Hearing Loss Impact Your Earning Potential?

Hearing loss affects multiple aspects of life. Not only does hearing loss affect a person’s ability to communicate easily with people in their social circle, studies have indicated that the impact of hearing loss even extends to an individual’s earning potential. According to a 2012 study published in Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, adults with hearing loss are more likely to be unemployed, as well as earning lower wages.

The Better Hearing Institute Study

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) set out to identify to what extent a working adults earning potential can be impacted by untreated hearing loss in their study entitled, ‘The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income.

The BHI  began by mailing a brief screening survey to 80,000 households across the US. Respondents helped identify approximately 16,000 individuals with hearing loss.

Using the list of 16,000 individuals with hearing loss, more extensive surveys were sent to a random sample of 3,000 people with hearing loss that currently own hearing aids, and a random sample of 3,000 people with hearing loss that do not presently own hearing aids.

The 7-page survey included questions about demographics, the use of hearing aids, hearing loss, career information, and long-term plans. Respondents were also asked questions about the severity of their hearing loss, allowing researchers to categorize them into one of our categories, ranging from mild to profound. Using the collected data, researchers were able to compare the earned income to the extent of hearing loss, and to compare the earned income between those who used hearing aids, and those who did not.

The Results

Across the studies, one underlying fact resonated. Individuals who suffer with hearing loss, particularly untreated hearing loss, were more likely to experience economic hardship, either as the result of low income or unemployment.

The researchers found that the impact of the hearing loss extends far beyond the individual, and has a significant impact on our society as a whole. According to the study, the calculated cost of lost earnings caused by untreated hearing loss in the United States is $122 billion, which results in an estimated $18 billion of uncollected federal taxes.

Most importantly, the study identified that the use of hearing aids mitigated the negative earning potential as a result of hearing loss by up to 50 percent. Don’t let hearing loss negatively impact your earning potential. Book a consultation with our audiologist today, or contact us on (212) 786-5741.

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Information for Alzheimer’s Caregivers about Hearing Loss & Alzheimer’s

Every 65 seconds someone in the US develops Alzheimer’s. About 5.7 million Americans are living with the disease today, and that figure is expected to nearly triple by 2050.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming and stressful. During Alzheimer’s month, we hope to shed some light on what it is like for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients and how hearing loss can play an essential role for their loved ones.

Alzheimer’s Caregivers

The majority of help provided (83%) to older adults in the US is provided by family, friends, or other unpaid caregivers. Nearly half of this elder care is for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Added to this is the burden of those in a “sandwich generation” – caregivers who care for an aging parent as well as children under the age of 18.

This bridging takes a significant toll on the caregiver, with twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicating experiences of substantial emotional, financial, and physical stress and difficulty. In 2018, Alzheimer’s will cost the US approximately $277 billion, and it is one of the costliest conditions in American society. About 70% of the lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia is carried by their family, including out-of-pocket health care expenses or unpaid care.

Alzheimer’s and Hearing Loss

Difficulty hearing hampers social activity, but it can also put the person at risk for accidents and injury. For an individual with Alzheimer’s, the additional disorientation and confusion often experienced can make their safety a major concern.

The auditory system’s activity helps to stimulate the brain, not only ensuring it better-processes information about the world around us, but also flexing memory skills. Clearer hearing for everyone (including Alzheimer’s patients) provides improved auditory stimulation to the brain. It also offers the person a chance to have better conversations and social interactions.

Aging and Hearing Loss

As our relatives get older, hearing loss is an expected and normal part of their aging process. Hearing loss can also make the daily struggles of dealing with early dementia much more difficult. For those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the challenges resulting from hearing loss can often be confused with the conditions of the disease. If your loved one is having trouble understanding what is happening in a social interaction, it is important to know whether they are having difficulty due to their hearing, or if they are confused as a result of their condition.

Early diagnosis of hearing loss makes it much easier for a patient to become successful with a hearing treatment plan. Learning how to use a hearing aid, or learning any new task, is much harder as dementia advances. Many families of dementia patients end up having to return the hearing aids because their loved one is simply overwhelmed by the task of learning new habits involved in using hearing aids. It is best for the patient to develop the skills to manage their devices independently, so that they do not have to rely on anyone else for help when they are in a more impaired state of mind.

Difficulty hearing or understanding speech is a common sign of hearing loss. It may be more noticeable in noisy environments, like restaurants or parties. Or it may be noticeable in your loved ones need to increase the volume on the TV or radio at home. Asking for people to repeat themselves or frequent requests for clarification (What? Huh?) are sure signs of early hearing loss. Conversations with them may start to feel challenging or irritating, and you may observe them relying on lip reading or repetition to put the pieces together.

For aging adults it is very important to address the effects of age-related hearing loss early. Consider taking your loved one for a hearing test and learning more about hearing aids. A small change today could provide them with a profound experience tomorrow.

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