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What If I Have “Total Hearing Loss” In One of My Ears? (And What is a CROS System?)

As a general rule of thumb, hearing ability in the two ears should be near equal to each other. After all, your ears are the same age. If you have a history of noise exposure it was likely the same in both ears, and if you were prescribed a medicine with a side-effect that could impact hearing, it would impact both ears similarly.

­­­But, in some patients, hearing in one ear will diverge from the other. This can result from a host of otologic issues, including viral infection of the ear, physical trauma to the ear, and of unknown origin (medically diagnosed as “idiopathic hearing loss,” which is my favorite medical diagnosis because the root meaning of the phrase “idiopathic” is that the clinicians are idiots and don’t know what happened! Ha! I don’t say that to disparage any clinicians—it’s just sometimes we can’t figure out why the patient has worse hearing in one ear).

The separation of hearing levels between the two ears can sometimes be dramatic or even complete. Unfortunately, some patients have a “dead ear” (medically defined as anacusis) with normal hearing in the other ear. In other patients, there is an “asymmetric hearing loss” which implies hearing loss in one ear and even worse hearing in the other ear.

The brain was designed to hear with two ears, and it will function best with equal hearing in both ears. Binaural (two-ear) hearing has significant benefits that include increased sound localization ability (e.g. figuring out where sound is coming from in the room) and enhanced perception of speech in noisy situations. These characteristics of binaural hearing are often referred to as the “Binaural Advantage.” If you know somebody with “lopsided” hearing loss, you will notice that she always strategizes to improve the listening environment by having the speaker(s) on her better hearing side.

While the course of treatment for individuals with significantly poorer hearing in one ear is different than the patient with symmetrical hearing loss, NeuroTechnology™ can be used to significantly enhance hearing and understanding in all listening situations.

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Can Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?

photography of black hanging bells during daytime

If you hear unpleasant, incessant ringing noises in your ears, you’re not alone. You’re actually one of approximately 25 million Americans living with a condition called tinnitus. You can address the annoying sounds in your ears through tinnitus therapy, which often involves the use of hearing aids. Below, learn all about tinnitus and how hearing aids can offer relief.

Do you hear ringing or clicking? It may be tinnitus

If you have tinnitus, you may hear constant ringing, clicks, buzzes, or another type of irritating sound. Notably, tinnitus and hearing loss are independent – the former does not cause or affect the latter. That said, those suffering from tinnitus do often have trouble hearing.

What causes tinnitus?

Most patients begin experiencing symptoms due to:

  • Hearing loss. Although tinnitus does not cause or impact hearing loss, the opposite isn’t quite true, as tinnitus can indeed be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Noise exposure. Tinnitus symptoms may follow prolonged or sudden exposure to loud noises. This relationship largely explains why some people who frequently attend concerts without earplugs or work in loud, noisy settings may develop this condition. Additional noise exposure after tinnitus symptoms begin can worsen these symptoms.
  • Medication. Some medications can lead to tinnitus, though this type of tinnitus is often temporary. These medications may include cancer drugs, loop diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and malaria drugs, some of which are also ototoxic. Switching to a different medication that achieves the same goals without causing tinnitus is often enough to treat this condition if it is induced by medication.
  • COVID-19. There may be a potential correlation between COVID-19 and tinnitus, though any relationship between the two currently appears weak at best. Scientific research into this connection remains ongoing, though you can read I Love Hearing’s blog about tinnitus and COVID-19 to learn more.
  • Other causes. Less commonly, you may experience this condition due to allergies, jaw and neck issues, circulatory problems, or tumors.

What are the types of tinnitus?

Some audiologists classify types of this frustrating condition into four distinct types:

  • Subjective. Perhaps the most common type, subjective tinnitus describes buzzing, clicking, or ringing in your ears that only you can hear. Subjective tinnitus can come and go over the course of several months or years, or it may be severe and long-term.
  • Neurological. Neurological tinnitus is typically the result of disorders that alter how your brain perceives sound. Examples include the onset of tinnitus after a diagnosis of Meniere’s disease.
  • Somatic. Somatic tinnitus is tied to your sensory system (the part of your brain that receives and processes sensory stimuli). Damage to the sensory system may cause or worsen this type.
  • Objective. Objective tinnitus is extremely rare, as it generates external sounds that people other than you can hear. These external sounds usually stem from vascular deformities or involuntary muscle spasms, both of which can be treated. As you treat these problems, it’s possible that the condition may disappear.

How is tinnitus treated?

Tinnitus treatment begins with audiometric testing. During audiometric testing, a hearing care professional determines the minimum amount of decibels (dB) at which you can hear sounds of varying pitches. Your hearing test will also determine how well you can hear speech amidst background noise and how well vibrations such as sound waves pass through your ear.

After your hearing test, your audiologist will look at your results and your medical history to pinpoint the potential causes, which will help shape your course or treatment. In many cases, tinnitus therapy will be your recommended course of action. This therapy can involve in-ear maskers that emit white noise to disguise the frustrating clicking, buzzing, or other persistent sound, or it can involve hearing aids.

How do hearing aids help with tinnitus?

Hearing aids help by amplifying the outside noises that tinnitus ringing, buzzing, or clicking make more difficult to hear. While hearing these amplified outside noises, your brain has less capacity to perceive the irritating sounds created by tinnitus. This approach may prove especially beneficial if you have hearing loss of a similar frequency range in addition to tinnitus.

While wearing hearing aids, the sounds generated by your tinnitus may become less noticeable in all environments, and you may find everyday conversations easier to have. In fact, a 2007 survey of hearing care professionals found that approximately 60% of tinnitus patients found some relief with hearing aids. Another 22% of patients experienced substantial relief.

All this said, hearing aids aren’t a cure for tinnitus, as many types of this condition have no cure. However, hearing aids may be the most effective way to manage your tinnitus, though they’re not the only way you should work to keep this condition from worsening.

How to manage your tinnitus

The first step is to minimize your alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and loud noise exposure. If you can’t avoid loud noise exposure on the job, don’t be shy about breaking out your earmuffs, earplugs, or any other noise-canceling devices that protect your ears. You can also invest in personalized hearing protection devices. Make an appointment with an audiologist to discuss your options, including hearing aids.

Manage your tinnitus with I Love Hearing

Tinnitus is certainly unpleasant, but it doesn’t have to make life unlivable – especially if you go to an audiologist for the right therapy. Here at I Love Hearing, we provide tinnitus therapy and hearing aids to patients throughout Long Island and New York City, and we’d be elated to do the same for you.

You can reach us at any of our four locations — three in Long Island, and one in Manhattan’s Upper East Side — and you can always try your hearing aids in the real world before buying them. If your hearing aids wind up just not meeting your needs, you can return to us for an additional fitting or to try another design or brand. Contact us today to learn all about tinnitus therapy and how our specialists can help your hearing.

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How to Get Fitted for Hearing Aids in Long Island

Life in Nassau County moves at a rapid pace. The sidewalks are full of loud, fast walkers, and traffic is constantly rushing by. All this background noise can make it difficult to hear someone who’s standing right next to you. If you find yourself straining to hear someone with all these noises surrounding you, there’s a possibility that you may be experiencing hearing loss. Hearing aids may help improve your ability to hear the city that never sleeps and the suburbs we call home.

How to get your hearing aids in Nassau County

Choosing hearing aids to help address your hearing loss in Long Island involves the below steps:

1. Find an audiologist.

If you need hearing aids, you’ll need to see an audiologist or hearing aid specialist (or visit a practice that has both). Some insurance plans require you to obtain a referral from your primary care doctor before seeing these specialists, so you may want to speak with your primary care physician or your insurance company first if you need your insurance to pay the hearing aids.

2. Schedule a hearing test with an audiologist.

Audiologists have extensive medical knowledge of hearing problems and the ear. They can establish a baseline for your hearing as it stands at the first visit, properly assess if you are experiencing hearing loss and the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, and offer solutions and treatment plans that can help you hear better. Your audiologist will make these distinctions through tests that distinguish damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve from blockages or damage to the middle or outer ear.

Inner ear or auditory nerve damage can lead to a diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss, which is often permanent. Middle or outer ear damage is likely due to conductive hearing loss, which may be reversible. A third type of hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, has both conductive and sensorineural characteristics. If your hearing test indicates permanent hearing loss of any type, your audiologist will schedule you for a hearing aid fitting.

3. Choose the right type of hearing aid.

Once an audiologist diagnoses you with hearing loss, you should obtain hearing aids as soon as possible. However, this task may feel overwhelming given the sheer number of hearing aids available. Your hearing aid specialist will take you through the main styles of hearing aids and help you make the best choice for your lifestyle.

The three main styles of hearing aids you should know include:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE). If your ear canal is on the small side, BTE hearing aids are a great option. Their receivers hide behind your ears, and a near-invisible tube connects the receivers to the earpiece that sits inside your ear canal.
  • In-the-ear (ITE). These devices fit entirely in the outer ear, making them as close to invisible as possible. They’re thus great for people concerned about the unfortunate stigma that still accompanies the use of listening devices. To learn more about how much invisibility you’ll get with your devices, read more about the three types of ITE hearing aids.
  • Receiver-in-canal (RIC). RIC hearing aids resemble BTE devices, but RIC hearing instruments have smaller housings than BTE hearing aids. Their receivers sit just outside your ear instead of directly inside it.

The right type of hearing aid for you depends on not just your aesthetic desires and personal comfort level, but the type of hearing loss you have and the severity of your hearing loss. The frequency of your exposure to background noise – which New Yorkers know all too well – is also an important factor.

In addition to the above options, bone-anchored hearing aids may be ideal for people with hearing loss in just one ear. However, many audiologists will still recommend a pair of hearing aids, as hearing aids work better when treating both ears. Consult an audiologist or hearing aid specialist to find the right device type for your needs.

4. Have your hearing aid specialist properly position your hearing aid.

You may experience itching, sweating, or discomfort when you first wear your hearing aids. In fact, you may need up to two months to fully adjust to your hearing aids. Ensuring that your hearing aid specialist properly positions your hearing aid on your ear can help you avoid problems in the first place. Make sure your hearing aid specialist helps you properly adjust your hearing aids for their best fit. If you’re still experiencing issues after about two months, you may want to consider a different hearing aid model.

5. Adjust and test your hearing aids.

Walking through a busy Times Square with well-fitting hearing aids can help you better hear the people around you. It’s not quite as nice when the chatter of the crowds around you is too loud in your hearing aid. That’s why your hearing aid specialist will adjust your hearing aid’s settings and retest your device so you can get a handle on how it works in different settings.

This step is especially important since audiologists and hearing aid specialists consider your most common environments when they adjust your hearing aids. For example, if you love sunny summer afternoons at Central Park, your hearing care team will adjust your hearing aids to elevate your friends’ voices over all the background clamor.

6. Schedule follow-up appointments.

Hearing aids are powerful, but they aren’t perfect. Since they can’t fully restore your lost hearing, you may find that, in the real world, you’re not hearing as well as during your fitting. That’s only natural – even the most talented hearing care providers can’t perfectly capture cars zooming by on crowded Midtown streets or subways screeching below them. But a hearing aid specialist can address your challenges in a follow-up appointment. (With some hearing aid models, you can skip the office visit entirely: Select brands support remote adjustments!)

During this appointment, be upfront about what you’re experiencing so that your hearing center team can make the appropriate adjustments. This is also the right time to have your devices adjusted for comfort if need be. And scheduling and attending your follow-up appointment should be hassle-free too – especially if you choose a hearing aid fitting facility as accessible as I Love Hearing.

Why I Love Hearing is the right choice for Long Island

I Love Hearing operates several offices throughout the Nassau County. Long Island patients residents can choose from three locations: New Hyde Park, Port Washington, and East Meadow. Each location is conveniently located near highways and major thoroughfares, with plenty of on-site parking for drivers. If you’re in Long Island and need hearing aid fitting services from some of the best professionals in the area, contact us now to book your appointment.

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How Are Hearing Loss and Diabetes Related?

Several studies have suggested that people with hearing loss may be at higher risk for other conditions. However, in the case of hearing loss and diabetes, the latter may increase one’s risk for the former instead of vice versa. Worse yet, the correlation between diabetes and hearing loss is substantially stronger than with other conditions. The good news is that diabetes doesn’t automatically mean hearing loss – learn more below.

How commonly do people with diabetes experience hearing loss?

Several studies have explored the frequency of hearing loss in people with diabetes and come to the following conclusions:

  • In a 2003 study reported in the journal Otology & Neurotology, researchers found a strong correlation between diabetes and hearing loss. The study determined that people with diabetes were more likely to have hearing loss than people of similar ages without diabetes. The study surveyed electronic medical records of 12,575 people with diabetes and 53,461 people without diabetes collected between 1989 and 2003.
  • According to a 2008 National Institutes of Health (NIH) study with 11,405 participants, adults with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss as adults without diabetes. Additionally, the study found that, among 399 adults with diabetes, 54%  experienced high-frequency hearing loss. Among a group of 4,741 adults without diabetes, only 32% experienced high-frequency hearing loss.
  • A 2012 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism study came to similar conclusions. This study found that, across 13 studies that included over 20,000 participants, people with diabetes of all ages experienced hearing loss at greater rates than those without diabetes.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also observed a correlation between prediabetes and hearing loss. According to the CDC, people with prediabetes are 30% more likely to have hearing loss than people without prediabetes.

How can diabetes cause hearing loss?

Although the correlation between diabetes and hearing loss is clear, the exact biological pathways underlying the connection remain somewhat unclear. The leading theory is that diabetes’ effects on your blood vessels also affect your ears.

Namely, diabetes – especially in people who aren’t taking steps to control their blood sugar levels – damages small blood vessels. This damage can occur in the ear’s blood vessels and restrict blood flow. As a result, the ears can’t function as properly, and your hearing diminishes.

Notably, when diabetes damages small blood vessels in other organs, these organs can typically get blood from elsewhere. However, since the ears have no alternative blood sources, diabetes-related blood vessel damage has a far stronger impact.

This explanation requires further study, but it’s plausible to many in the medical field. Another potential explanation is that the nerve damage common with diabetes may occur in the auditory nerve, which carries sound from the inner ear to your brain. This nerve damage can thus lead to hearing loss. However, more research is needed before scientists and audiologists fully accept either theory.

How to prevent hearing loss if you have diabetes

If you have diabetes, preventing hearing loss starts with typical hearing protection best practices and extends to methods unique to those with diabetes. Ways for people with diabetes to prevent hearing loss that people with other conditions need not follow include:

  • Control your blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels fall within normal ranges, damage to your small blood vessels is far less likely. In turn, your hearing should remain intact.
  • Avoid smoking. Cigarette use has long been correlated with worse cases of diabetes. It can also contribute to hearing loss. Both your current blood sugar levels and your long-term hearing improve when you stop smoking.
  • Exercise regularly. Diabetes experts have long advised that people with diabetes exercise regularly – daily if possible – to maximize blood flow and circulation. Better blood flow and circulation can decrease the potential for small blood vessel damage and thus hearing loss.
  • Eat healthy. Many medical authorities say that healthy diets can help manage factors that may contribute to risk for diabetes.

If you’re worried that your diabetes has affected your hearing, contact an audiologist to book a hearing test. These non-invasive, painless exams are simple and quick. You’ll listen to sounds or speech, and you’ll respond to what you hear as your audiologist instructs. An audiogram will display your real-time results, and you and your audiologist will discuss the extent of your hearing loss.

Chances are your audiologist will suggest hearing aids to make up for your lost hearing. With hearing aids, you can bridge the gap between full and diminished hearing better than with any other method. Plus, when you choose I Love Hearing for your hearing exam, both audiologists and hearing aid specialists are involved in your care. Together, our team boasts combined decades of experience pairing all kinds of people with the devices perfect for them.

When diabetes affects your hearing, you need help from experts who can assess the extent of your hearing loss and immediately find you solutions. This description is I Love Hearing to a tee. Visit any of our four Long Island locations to start treating your hearing loss and preventing further hearing decline. We’re happy to perform hearing exams and suggest hearing aids for anyone of any age.

That’s not all: At I Love Hearing, if someone comes with you to your hearing exam, we’ll test that person’s hearing free of charge! When you choose I Love Hearing, you protect your hearing and the hearing of your loved ones. Contact I Love Hearing now to minimize the impact of diabetes on your hearing and enjoy the sounds of life again.

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Ear Wax And Hearing Aids

Ear wax may seem insignificant, but there are indeed times when your hearing will benefit substantially from removal. In these cases, you might be tempted to search the internet for home remedies or visit the drug store for over-the-counter solutions, but professional medical help may be necessary if the buildup is significant.

What exactly is ear wax?

Ear wax, medically known as cerumen, is essential to keeping your ear canals clean. It’s a substance that begins as the fatty secretions that your ear naturally produces. As these secretions move through your ear canal, they pick up dead skin cells and debris and thus become ear wax. Although ear wax is natural, if it picks up too much debris or dead skin cells, it can lead to excess buildup that can block the ear canal and affect your hearing.

Is ear wax good or bad?

Ear wax plays an important role in protecting the most sensitive parts of your ear. Your body produces ear wax to clear your ear of debris and some bacterial or fungal pathogens. In pushing out these agents, your ears protect your eardrum, which is perhaps the most vital part of the inner ear. Additionally, without any ear wax at all, you’d likely have some unpleasant itching in your ears.

Given the above, ear wax is a healthy bodily secretion – well, up to a certain limit. Removal of excess may be necessary if you’re showing certain symptoms.

How do you know you have excessive ear wax?

You may have excess ear wax buildup or a blockage if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Earaches
  • Dizziness
  • Discharge from the ears
  • Cough
  • An unpleasant feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing loss

How does ear wax affect hearing aids?

Naturally, ear wax can make its way onto and into your hearing aids – after all, these devices are in contact with the inside of your ear. This may muffle or distort the sounds your hearing aids emit.

The good news is that most hearing aids come with a brush and wax pick for properly removing ear wax. If you don’t have these items, don’t use household items such as cotton swabs and pen caps. Any and all tools not approved for cleaning hearing aids can damage your devices.

What are the best and worst methods of wax removal?

Some of the first ways you might think of to approach ear wax removal are among the most dangerous. Removal methods to avoid are:

  • Cotton swabs. Believe it or not, this commonplace method of ear wax removal is ill-advised. The tip of a cotton swab can push this substance deeper into your ear, thus leading to more buildup that’s harder to reach and extract. Pushing ear wax too deep into your ear can also puncture the eardrum. If you’re especially aggressive, you could even scratch your ear canal and expose it to bacteria or fungi. Ear infections can result.
  • Ear candling. This highly dangerous approach involves inserting a burning candle in your ear. The idea underlying this method is that the burning of the candle creates a small amount of suction or melts the wax. However, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery says that ear candling is both ineffective and dangerous given the potential for burns.

Several effective removal alternatives exist. These approaches include:

  • Mineral oil. Some doctors recommend inserting a small amount of mineral oil and warm water into the ear canal to loosen blockages. Once you’ve added this solution to your ear, keep your head tilted and let the solution sit in your ear for 10 to 15 minutes. Note that this approach can be dangerous if you have an ear infection or a perforated inner ear.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. A warm solution of hydrogen peroxide and water can be used in place of the mineral oil mixture described above. The same instructions and precautions apply.
  • Water irrigation. This method involves using a bulb syringe to gently stream warm water into the ear (using cold water can lead to intense dizziness or vertigo). As with mineral oil, this approach is unsuitable if your ear is infected or perforated. It can also lead to problems if ear tubes have been surgically placed inside your ears.
  • Over-the-counter ear wax drops. In addition to the above home ear wax remedies, some doctors may recommend over-the-counter drops to soften the wax. These drops work similarly to the above solutions, but each brand may have different instructions for its product. Always follow only the instructions on your box’s packaging or ask your doctor if you have questions.

Although ear wax typically won’t cause problems in your everyday life, they may cause issues for your hearing aids. Cleaning ear wax from your hearing aids ensures that they continue to work properly for years to come. If you have questions about maintaining your hearing aids, the audiologists at I Love Hearing can answer your questions. Book an appointment now at any of our three Long Island locations.

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How Are Hearing Loss and Depression Related?

Picture this: You’re at a party, and you’re running into all kinds of people you haven’t seen in ages. However, you can’t hear what these folks are saying over the music and surrounding chatter. You keep trying to hear them, but after enough times saying “What?” or asking people to speak louder, you give up. You head home from the party early while feeling frustrated and upset, and you worry this all will happen again at the next party. So why even go?

This example shows how hearing loss can push people toward the social isolation associated with depression. This clinical disorder describes such an intense loss in one’s usual favorite activities that they experience significant impairment in their everyday life. Several studies have also correlated it with hearing loss. This correlation may seem scary, but think of it like this: Protecting your hearing means protecting your mental health.

How can hearing loss accelerate depression?

Several studies have identified a potential correlation, though not quite a cause-and-effect relationship, between hearing loss and depression:

1. JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery

A 2014 study of 18,000 adults reported in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery found that nearly twice as many people with hearing loss reported depression than those with unaltered hearing. This study is perhaps the most comprehensive to date on the correlation between hearing loss and depression.

The JAMA study found that the correlation between hearing loss and depression was stronger for those under 70 years old and women of all ages. The study suggested that the correlation is stronger for women since, after age 65, they lose hearing at higher sound frequencies than men. When hearing at these higher frequencies is lost, it becomes more difficult to distinguish environmental noise from the conversation directly in front of you.

The study also found that more severe hearing loss was correlated with more severe depression. Researchers took additional steps to account for other conditions sometimes associated with hearing loss, such as vision loss[LK1] , and found that their findings remained unchanged.

2. Ear and Hearing

Prior to the above JAMA study, a smaller 2009 Ear and Hearingstudy came to similar conclusions. The study, which surveyed 1,511 participants, found that for every 1 decibel (dB) by which a person’s signal-to-noise decreases, their likelihood of depression increased by five percent. In simpler terms, the more loudly a person with hearing loss must ask a person to speak in noisy environments, the more likely they are to develop depression.

3. Dovepress and Medicine

Most recently, in 2019, a peer-reviewed study reported in the open-access journal Dovepressfound that one in five people with hearing loss also has clinical depression symptoms. This study cited another study reported in Medicine in 2016, in which those with hearing loss experienced higher rates of depression over a 12-year period.

The Medicine study agreed with the JAMA study that the correlation between hearing loss and depression weakens after age 70. Nevertheless, the above studies all provide ample reason to protect your hearing now – and, by extension, your long-term mental health.

How to protect your hearing and avert potential depression

Many, if not most, people will experience a small amount of hearing loss over time. Keeping that amount as small as possible through hearing protection can be key to warding off depression. You can preserve your hearing through the following methods:

  • Protective devices. Earplugs work great when you’re at a concert or event and the music is so loud it’s literally hurting your ears. For work with power tools and other loud devices, high-quality soundproof earmuffs are necessary. Alternatively, you can consult the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Buy Quiet list to find less noisy equipment.
  • Lower volume levels. Yes, it’s nice to hear your favorite songs in full detail, but high volume levels can damage your ear canal’s hair cells. This damage is a primary cause of hearing loss, so keep the volume down when you’re listening to music or watching TV. This lower volume is important when using speakers and absolutely crucial when using headphones.
  • Breaks. The easiest way to protect your hearing is to simply remove yourself from environments with loud sounds. That means taking breaks when you’re working with power tools. It can also mean stepping outside for a few minutes at the club or during a concert. If you’re left with muffled hearing or ringing ears after loud noise exposure, you should spend 12 to 16 hours avoiding sounds louder than conversation.

How to address hearing loss and depression

If you’re concerned about how your hearing can affect your mental health, there’s never a bad time to schedule a hearing test with an audiologist. Hearing tests are painless and non-invasive, not to mention brief and easy. All you’ll do is listen to speech or sound, then follow your audiologist’s instructions on how to respond. You’ll see your results on an audiogram, which shows the degree of hearing loss you may or may not have.

If your test uncovers hearing loss, your audiologist will recommend hearing aids. These devices restore your hearing to its former levels more than any other method available. No, they can’t cure or reverse hearing loss – nothing can – but they come closer than anything else. Plus, here at I Love Hearing, we’re experts in hearing aid use and pairing those with hearing loss to the devices best for them.

Contact I Love Hearing about hearing loss and depression

Whether you’re acting early to preserve your mental health or have already noticed your hearing declining, I Love Hearing is here to help you hear. Our hearing exams and hearing aids can be part of your treatment and prevention plans, and you can get both at our four Long Island locations.

Our audiologists are happy to conduct hearing tests for people of all ages. If we observe hearing loss, we’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan you can follow without issue. Plus, if you book an appointment for yourself and bring someone with you, that person gets a free hearing test too!

Contact I Love Hearing now to protect your hearing today and your mental health in the long run. Aging into depression can seem worrisome, but with our help, you’ll hear the world in all its glory and experience its joys through even your oldest years. Schedule your appointment today.

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How Are Hearing and Your Risk of Falls Related?

Your ears are just as important as your brain, muscles, nerves, and eyes in maintaining your balance. An inner ear structure called the vestibular system, or labyrinth, tells your brain your head is rotating or that you’re standing, sitting, lying down, or moving. Without these vestibular system functions, you’d struggle to control your balance and posture. It’s no surprise, then, that inner ear damage can lead to balance issues. (If you’ve heard of vertigo, you may be surprised to learn that this condition is actually an inner ear disorder.)

When signals from these inner ear structures are sent improperly, your brain may think you’re spinning or moving when you’re immobile. You might also feel like you’re tipping over when you’re walking normally. These improper signals can be a result of head injuries, aging, ear infections, and some other causes. Theoretically, they can also result from hearing loss. Learn more below about how your hearing health affects your sense of balance and your risk of falls.

Can hearing loss worsen your sense of balance?

In theory, sensorineural hearing loss – which stems from damage to the hair cells in your ear canal and middle ear – can affect your balance. These hair cells receive the sound waves that your inner ear eventually converts to electrical signals that your brain understands as sound. However, the high amplitude of loud sounds can destroy these cells, which your body can’t regrow. The result is hearing loss.

However, balance is a function of the inner ear, not the ear canal and middle ear. The vestibular system has its own hair cells, and the inner ear does amplify sounds that the ear canal’s hair cells pick up. As such, the same loud sounds that damage the hair cells in your ear canal can theoretically harm the hair cells in your inner ear. Extensions of these inner ear hair cells called stereocilia are responsible for signaling motion and balance to your brain.

Through this anatomical pathway, it’s possible for hearing loss to worsen your sense of balance and increase your risk of falls. In fact, most audiologists have worked with many people experiencing both hearing loss and balance issues. However, most audiologists would likely point to other aural issues as the main culprits of balance problems.

What causes the most common balance disorders?

Balance disorders that are related to healthy aural function include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). If you’ve ever felt dizzy upon bending down or hitting your head, you’ve experienced BPPV. This condition is the result of a substance called otoconia flowing into the vestibular system from other inner ear structures. This otoconia flow can affect the parts of the vestibular system responsible for balance and thus lead to temporary vertigo. Although BPPV episodes are typically intense, they rarely last long, and as their name suggests, they’re benign.
  • Ménière’s Disease. This inner ear condition, with which 615,000 Americans – primarily between ages 40 and 60 – are diagnosed, can cause severe vertigo. For some people, this vertigo can be intense enough to cause a complete loss of balance that leads to a fall. These intense bouts of vertigo often follow periods of tinnitus or muffled hearing.
  • Labyrinthitis. As its name suggests, this condition describes an inflammation of the labyrinth (vestibular system). With the system inflamed, its organs cannot function properly, leading to balance issues. This inflammation typically stems from an upper respiratory infection and may subside once the infection resolves.
  • Vestibular neuronitis. Like labyrinthitis, vestibular neuronitis is the result of an infection or inflammation. Unlike labyrinthitis, vestibular neuronitis only affects the vestibular nerve, not the whole labyrinth. However, since the vestibular nerve connects the labyrinth to the brain, any problems with it can lead to balance issues that increase your fall risk.
  • Perilymph fistula. This condition describes the movement of fluid from the inner ear into the middle ear. This fluid displacement can alter your sense of balance, and it often stems from head injuries, ear infections, physical exertions, or anything that might make your ears pop. However, some people are born with this condition and must work with audiologists and vestibular therapists to make living with it possible.

How to address poor balance caused by inner ear problems

Audiologists often take the following steps to address the vestibular system issues underlying poor balance:

  • The Epley maneuver. Your audiologists may walk you through these movements, which are intended to dislodge otoconia from your vestibular system if you have persistent BPPV. Often, one appointment with an audiologist solves this problem. In other cases, repeat visits may be necessary.
  • Diet and lifestyle changes. Most audiologists recommend that those with balance issues, especially if caused by Ménière’s Disease, eat healthier and quit smoking. These changes can correct your inner ear’s operation and help improve your balance.
  • Medication. If the anatomical cause of your vertigo isn’t fully clear, audiologists may prescribe medications to treat your symptoms in a non-invasive way. These medications generally include anti-nausea drugs, corticosteroids, or anti-vertigo drugs.
  • Ear surgery or vestibular therapy. In severe cases of balance loss, audiologists may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon or a vestibular therapist. Surgery is, of course, an invasive option best left as a last resort. Vestibular therapy is non-invasive, but it’s also a substantial commitment that should only be taken after nothing else works. No matter what, see an audiologist first.

Contact I Love Hearing about balance issues

Whether you go through long days of in-and-out dizziness or just occasionally feel like you’re about to fall, audiologists are uniquely qualified to help. And here at I Love Hearing, our audiologists have decades of experience working with the inner ear and figuring out how its dysfunction is affecting your life. That, of course, includes balance issues.

Addressing balance issues is far from our only expertise. We also specialize in treating hearing loss and finding the right hearing aids for anyone with diminished hearing. In fact, if you bring someone with you to your balance appointment, we’ll test their hearing free of charge! This way, when you come in for one problem, you help someone you care about potentially identify another issue before it becomes a huge burden.

Contact I Love Hearing now to schedule an appointment for your balance problems. Feeling like you’re spinning or about to fall isn’t pleasant, but at I Love Hearing, we can help you make it livable.

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How To Fit a Hearing Aid

If a hearing professional has diagnosed you with hearing loss, selecting a hearing aid is just the first step in your journey. You’ll also need to schedule an appointment for a hearing aid fitting to make sure your devices work as needed and sit comfortably on your ears. Without a proper fitting, you’re more likely to give up on your devices before you have a chance to adjust to them. If you’re wondering what your hearing aid fitting appointment will entail, keep reading to learn all about how hearing aid fitting appointments work.

How hearing aid fitting appointments work

The hearing aid fitting process typically follows the below steps:

1. Reach out to an audiologist.

Experts generally recommend that you contact an audiologist if:

  • You’re experiencing challenges hearing in some or all environments. Although hearing loss is often seen as an inability to hear all but loud sounds, the signs of a hearing problem are far more everyday and mundane. For example, if you hear well most of the time but struggle to discern conversation in crowded spaces, you could have hearing loss.
  • You hear ringing in your ears. This phenomenon is known as tinnitus, and although it isn’t a cause of hearing loss, you can wear hearing aids to address this condition.

After you bring these concerns to an audiologist, they should conduct a hearing test. These tests determine whether permanent or temporary ear damage or blockages are behind your hearing loss. If permanent, irreversible hearing loss is detected, a more thorough hearing care plan involving a hearing aid fitting appointment will be necessary.

2. Choosing the appropriate hearing aid.

Before a hearing aid specialist adjusts your devices, you’ll need to know which types of hearing aid might be best for you. A hearing aid specialist at your audiologist’s office should counsel you on which type might be best for your needs. The key factors to consider include the type of help your hearing needs and the device’s visibility while wearing them.

The three primary hearing aid types include:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE). BTE hearing aid receivers fit snugly out of sight behind your ears. They run a virtually invisible thin tube attached to a receiver that sits like an earbud into your ear canal, so they’re ideal for hearing aid users with small ear canals.
  • In-the-ear (ITE). ITE hearing aids are even more invisible than BTE devices since no part of this device sits outside your ears. The ITE hearing family comprises three types of ITE hearing aids that each have their own distinct properties.
  • Receiver-in-canal (RIC). Like BTE hearing aids, RIC devices fit their housing snugly behind your ear. RIC hearing aids, though, have smaller housings and may thus be more comfortable. Additionally, their receivers float above your ear canal instead of lying directly inside it.

3. Physically fitting your hearing aid.

After you choose and obtain your devices, your hearing aid specialist will adjust your device’s positioning on your ears. This step may involve your specialist asking you many questions to determine whether your devices are comfortable and properly fitted.

Your hearing aid specialist may ask you a lot of questions during this adjustment, but they are important to answer as thoroughly and as honestly as you can. Answering these questions now can help you avoid pain and discomfort later.

4. Adjusting your hearing aid’s settings.

In the device choice stage, you and your hearing care team likely discussed factors such as the environments and situations in which you most frequently find yourself. These questions should emerge again during your hearing aid fitting. That’s because no hearing aid comes perfectly adjusted for these environments out of the box. Instead, your hearing aid specialist will need to adjust your device’s settings to best suit these situations.

5. Testing your newly fitted hearing aids.

You should never leave a hearing aid fitting appointment without having your new fit thoroughly tested. This step is especially important, as even the most theoretically perfect settings can falter somewhat in execution.

Testing your hearing aid should involve a procedure called real ear measures. Through this procedure, your hearing aid specialist can determine the exact extent to which sounds in your ear canal are amplified. With this testing, you can minimize the chances of an improper fit once you leave the office.

6. Learning how to clean your hearing aids.

You’ll presumably use your hearing aids every day, and with more use comes dirt, dust, and earwax buildup. The thing is, improperly cleaning your hearing aids can undo all the hard work your hearing care team has put into properly fitting your devices. That’s why learning how to clean your hearing aids is a standard part of every hearing aid fitting appointment. Learn more about hearing aid care via the I Love Hearing hearing aids FAQ page.

7. Learning all your hearing aid’s features.

Hearing aids are advanced devices with many features — they are not a “set and forget” thing. Accidentally activating or deactivating a feature can mess with the overall settings and make your devices harder to use. To combat this challenge, your hearing aid specialists will teach you about all your device’s features so you know what’s being utilized and how to fix it in the event of an accidental change.

8. Scheduling a follow-up appointment.

Adjusting to hearing aids is rarely a challenge-free process. That’s why your hearing care team will schedule a follow-up appointment for you even if they’re fully confident in your hearing aid’s fit. You can also move up your appointment if you experience pain, itching, or discomfort. And if you choose I Love Hearing for your hearing care, you can travel to any one of our four locations for your fit – and this convenience is paramount if you urgently need changes.

Choose I Love Hearing for an ideal hearing aid fit

Here at I Love Hearing, our audiologists and hearing aid specialists bring decades of experience to hearing aid users throughout New York and Long Island. Not only do we have four offices in the area, but we always let you try your hearing aids in the real world before you spend any money on them. And during our fitting process, we map your speech live so you can see your devices’ effect on your hearing in real-time. We also make booking your testing, fitting, and follow-up appointments super easy. Just contact us now to get started!

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Are Hearing Loss and Vision Loss Related?

Take a second to imagine your grandparents or some of your oldest relatives. You’re probably filled with love at the thought of seeing them and interacting with them, but the challenges of speaking with them may also come to mind. Namely, our oldest family members often can’t hear or see as well as we can.

In fact, many older people experience both hearing and vision loss. This concurrence has led some scientists to investigate whether these two types of sensory loss are related. Certain syndromes can indeed cause this simultaneous sensory loss, and both hearing and vision loss can have similar consequences. Learn more with the below guide to how hearing and vision loss do and don’t overlap.

How are vision loss and hearing loss similar?

Hearing loss and vision loss are similar in that roughly one in every five adults age 75 or older experiences both. Hearing loss and vision loss may also lead to two similar types of life changes if you’re experiencing them:

  1. Decreased ability to socialize. Seeing and hearing difficulties are known to make those experiencing them less social, as conversations are challenging if you can’t hear what’s being said or perceive body language. Additionally, vision loss can be especially devastating if you have hearing loss and rely on lip-reading. Without full vision, you may struggle to accurately read lips and understand conversations.
  2. Increased risk of dementia. The lack of brain stimulation that accompanies withdrawal from social life is also a risk factor for dementia. This correlation makes both hearing loss and vision loss potential dementia causes. It could also mean that hearing and vision loss can lead to other types of cognitive decline. However, research points more strongly to hearing than vision as related to cognitive decline.

Hearing loss and vision loss have similar consequences. But are they related?

Although hearing loss and vision loss can have a similar impact on your life or the life of your loved one, there’s no scientific evidence suggesting that one can cause the other. However, certain genetic conditions can cause deaf-blindness. The vision loss associated with these conditions does not cause the hearing loss associated with them or vice versa.

Which genetic conditions cause combined hearing and vision loss?

The genetic condition that most commonly causes simultaneous hearing and vision loss is Usher syndrome. This condition causes roughly half of all genetic deaf-blindless cases. It usually manifests as moderate to profound hearing loss at birth (it does not typically develop in adulthood). Its initial visual symptoms include night blindness and, over time, the loss of peripheral vision. Eventually, only central vision will remain, resulting in a narrow field of sight.

Fortunately, Usher syndrome isn’t common. Experts estimate its prevalence as at most 17 in every 100,000 people, or 0.017 percent of the population. Other deaf-blindness genetic disorders, all of which are less prevalent than Usher syndrome, include congenital rubella syndrome, CHARGE syndrome, retinopathy of prematurity, and Norrie disease.

How to address hearing loss and vision loss

Ophthalmologists are best qualified to address vision loss, whereas audiologists like us at I Love Hearing are your go-to for hearing loss. We always recommend that, if you’re concerned about hearing loss, you contact one of our audiologists for a hearing test. You won’t experience any pain, as hearing tests are non-invasive, fast, and straightforward. You’ll simply listen to sounds and speech, then respond accordingly.

If we detect hearing loss, we’ll recommend that you get professionally-fitted hearing aids, as they’re the best way to bridge the gap that hearing loss leaves behind. Plus, at I Love Hearing, we’re not just a team of audiologists happy to test your hearing no matter your age. We’re home to hearing aid specialists who have decades of experience finding exactly the right hearing aids for anyone’s needs.

Here at I Love Hearing, we’re experts in building and sticking to a thorough treatment plan no matter the extent of your hearing loss. We’ll also test and fit your hearing aids so your hearing is restored from the get-go. Plus, if you bring someone with you to your appointment, we’ll offer a free hearing test for that person too!

Contact the New York audiologists at I Love Hearing to schedule a hearing exam and keep your ears sharp no matter your age. In our hands, your hearing loss will have minimal impact on your life – and with your hearing restored, you can move onto addressing your vision loss too.

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How Are Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline Related?

Cognitive decline, which includes memory loss, dementia, and other types of impaired brain functioning, impacts millions of adults in the U.S. each year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1 in 9 adults in the U.S. self-report subjective cognitive decline. That’s when someone notices confusion or memory loss in themselves. That doesn’t include the caregivers and loved ones who notice cognitive decline among their friends and family members.

Hearing loss, which one in every eight people experiences, can accelerate or worsen cognitive decline. To be clear, hearing loss doesn’t trigger cognitive decline – it’s only accurate to say that a correlation exists between the two. This correlation may be strong enough that protecting your hearing now can also help maintain your brain functioning later in life. Here’s everything you should know about hearing loss, cognitive decline, and preventing both.

How can hearing loss accelerate cognitive decline?

A wide body of scientific research has shown that those with hearing loss are more likely to experience cognitive decline than those with unaltered hearing. Additionally, people who either don’t know they have hearing loss or neglect to treat it complain of memory loss more frequently than do people with full hearing.

The below four scientific studies shine an especially strong light on the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline:

  • A 2013 study reported in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine examined the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline in a sample of 2,000 seniors. The study concluded that seniors with hearing loss experienced faster rates of cognitive decline than those with full hearing.
  • A 2019 study reported in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, which is the official scientific journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, surveyed 10,000 men aged 62 and older over eight years. Among these men, the likelihood of complaints about memory function increased as hearing loss accelerated.
  • A similar six-year study that Johns Hopkins University reported in 2013 reported similar findings. Among 1,984 men and women between the ages of 75 and 84, cognition in those with hearing loss declined 30 to 40 percent more than those with no hearing loss. Participants with hearing loss experienced substantial cognitive decline 3.2 years sooner than other participants.
  • A 2014 Otology & Neurotology study found that, among a group of 4,500 seniors without dementia, 16.3 percent of participants with hearing loss developed dementia within a decade. On the other hand, 12.1 percent of participants with full hearing developed hearing loss within 12 years.

How to protect your hearing and delay cognitive decline

Some amount of cognitive decline is inevitable as we age. However, protecting your hearing can forestall your cognitive decline or lessen its pace. Some easy ways to protect your hearing now and prevent hearing loss tomorrow include:

  • Using protective devices. In more common loud sound situations such as concerts or parties, earplugs should do the trick. If you regularly work with power tools or other loud objects, earmuffs designed for hearing protection may be necessary. You can also replace your current tools with those from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Buy Quiet list.
  • Keep the volume down. When you expose yourself to quieter but still audible sounds, you minimize damage to the hair cells in your ears. Over the long term, the result is less hearing loss. To achieve this goal, keep your TV’s volume as low as possible while watching shows or movies. Same goes for listening to music, especially if you’re using headphones or earbuds in place of speakers.
  • Take breaks from loud noise exposure. Even if you’re only rarely exposed to loud noise, your infrequent exposure can still affect your hearing. That’s why you should step outside occasionally during loud events or work tasks. If your ears are ringing or your hearing is muffled after loud noise exposure, you should avoid sounds louder than conversation for 12 to 16 hours.

How to address hearing loss and cognitive decline

If the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline concerns you, then contact an audiologist for a hearing test. These pain-free, non-invasive exams are easy and quick. During your test, you’ll listen to sounds or speech, then respond as instructed. An audiogram will display your results, which will show the extent of any hearing loss you might have.

If hearing loss is detected, hearing aids will be your best solution for bridging the gap. They can also lead to a later onset of cognitive decline. A 2019 Journal of the American Geriatrics Societystudy made this observation based on data from hundreds of thousands of participants. Hearing aids may thus be your best solution for both conditions, which aren’t curable but can absolutely be lived with. And here at I Love Hearing, we have decades of experience providing exactly the right hearing aids to those who need them.

Contact I Love Hearing about cognitive decline and hearing loss

Whether you’re being proactive about a family history of cognitive decline or already feel your memory becoming weaker, it’s never too soon (or late) to take action. Hearing exams and hearing aids should be part of your solution, and at I Love Hearing, we offer both services in our four Long Island offices.

Our audiologists will perform hearing tests for anyone of any age. If we identify hearing loss, we’ll help you create and follow a robust treatment plan. Plus, if you make an appointment for yourself, we’ll perform a free additional hearing test for whoever accompanies you!

Book an appointment with I Love Hearing now to start protecting your hearing and cognition. The idea of losing your memory with time can seem scary, but in our hands, you’ll be better prepared to keep your mind sharp forever.