By W.L. “Hunter” Huntley, III, HAS, BC-HIS –
Causes of Hearing Loss
Hearing and hearing loss is a subject two-thirds of adults will suffer from sooner or later. Hearing problems can come from birth defects, earaches and infections, high fevers, blows to the head, noise exposure and heredity. Circulatory problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke also lead to hearing loss. There are also many prescription and over-the-counter medications that cause permanent hearing impairment. Some surgical procedures can cause hearing loss as well. These are afflictions that affect children and young adults, as well as senior citizens. Women that are pregnant produce more calcium while lactating, sometimes causing calcium deposits to build up in the middle ear. This will cause the three bones in the middle ear (hammer, anvil and stirrup) to be restricted from free movement to transfer sound to the inner ear. This causes a conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing problems may benefit from surgery or hearing devices, depending on the individual.
Hearing Loss Linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Hearing loss generally happens gradually over-time, many times the person with the affliction is unaware of the beginning of their decline in hearing acuity. Generally, someone else close to the person will notice the first warning signs including: turning up the T.V., asking questions, statements or directions to be repeated; or having difficulty understanding words over the telephone. The first thing an individual should do is have a hearing evaluation to determine if there is hearing loss present. Like most health issues, early detection is the key to overcoming many health related problems. Small problems are a lot easier to fix then big ones. Recent studies by Johns Hopkins Medical School and the National Institute on Aging have confirmed untreated hearing loss leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with mild hearing problems are twice as likely to get the aforementioned maladies. Those with severe hearing impairment are five times as likely to suffer.
We Hear With Our Brains, Not Our Ears!
When an individual has untreated hearing problems, the part of the brain that interprets speech does not receive “proper” stimulation, causing that part of the brain to atrophy and lose function. We hear with our brains, not our ears! If you don’t use it, you lose it!
Fortunately, most hearing and understanding problems can be overcome with hearing instruments. Digital technology now enables the vast majority of people to obtain hearing solutions. Digital hearing devices are “prescription fit” for hearing problems similar to eyeglasses, using computer chips to pick out what frequencies to boost and by how much. When the hearing impaired person loses additional hearing in the future, the computer chips in the digital devices can be reprogrammed, without having to buy a stronger units.
Multi-memory is a feature that allows the hearing device wearer to push a “button” on the instrument to either turn the units up or down, depending on the listener’s environment. Directional microphones allow the wearer to pick up voices in front of them, without picking up any noises from behind the hearing device user.
Another feature is called ATR (automatic telephone response) allowing the individual to hear comfortably on the telephone without the annoying “squeal” of hearing devices in the past.
Free Hearing Evaluation
According to the National Hearing Institute, an annual hearing evaluation is recommended after the age of 55 or sooner if a problem is suspected.
Finally, the most important thing a person can do for themselves or a loved one is schedule a hearing evaluation to be sure that your hearing is up to par. If you, or a loved one, or someone you know suspects they might be having difficulty hearing, please call Leonardi Hearing Center at 239-997-8288 for a FREE hearing evaluation, or visit our website at www.leonardihearing.com.
Leonardi Hearing Center