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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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Port Washington Welcomes Its Newest Audiologist: Dr. Sophia Behrmann

Dr. Sophia Behrmann, an experienced audiologist who has been helping Long Islanders with their hearing needs since 2014, recently joined the team at our Port Washington location and we could not be more thrilled to welcome her aboard! Dr. Behrmann comes to us with over 6 years of experience as the lead clinician in a well-established multi office private practice, after receiving her doctorate in Audiology from the Long Island Au.D. Consortium. She has extensive experience working with both diagnostics and expert hearing health care, including specializing in hearing aid fittings. She also specializes in conducting hearing aid workshops to help people get the most of out of their hearing aids. 

We are so thrilled to welcome Dr. Behrmann to our team and can’t wait for you to meet her as well!

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Hearing aids for tinnitus: Do they help or hurt?

Tinnitus is a common complaint among people who visit audiologists: nearly 50 million Americans — or up to 20 percent of the population — have some form of the condition. For some tinnitus cases, an audiologist may recommend hearing aids, but some people might balk at this potential solution. Hearing aids are often associated with someone who lost their hearing due to old age, and those with tinnitus may be reluctant to give them a shot. How do these devices so strongly associated with hearing loss help tinnitus?

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a symptom, rather than a cause, of an underlying condition that impacts the ears. These symptoms include incessant ringing, clicking, buzzing, or other harsh perceived sounds in your ear. These sounds may come and go, or they may be a permanent part of your everyday hearing. No matter how frequent or infrequent they are, these distracting sounds make hearing considerably more challenging.

What causes tinnitus?

Although tinnitus doesn’t cause or exaggerate hearing loss, it can certainly be a symptom of hearing loss. Instead, exposure to loud or harsh noise, whether as an occupational hazard or via frequent attendance of high-volume concerts and events, is one of the leading causes of tinnitus.

Other conditions not related to hearing loss may cause tinnitus. These conditions include:

  • An ear blockage due to infection, wax, or tumor
  • Cochlear degeneration due to aging
  • High blood pressure
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Jaw and neck issues
  • Circulatory issues
  • A head or neck injury

Is there a cure for tinnitus?

There is no currently known cure for tinnitus. Instead, hearing professionals recommend tinnitus therapy which can help manage the condition. These therapies are focused on managing the perceived sounds in your ears, helping you minimize the effects of tinnitus on your hearing and overall well-being.

What are the common forms of tinnitus therapy?

The two most common forms of tinnitus therapy are hearing aids and maskers. According to a survey of audiologists and other hearing loss specialists, 60 percent of tinnitus patients said that their hearing aids help them experience at least some relief, and another 22 percent of respondents said that their hearing aids help them experience significant relief. Other people with tinnitus prefer maskers since they emit sounds that disguise ringing, clicking, and buzzing instead of amplifying sound like hearing aids do.

Masking is one of four common sound therapies that can help address tinnitus. Masking introduces the ear to white noise of a louder volume than tinnitus ringing, and in doing so, masking distracts the ear from processing tinnitus sounds while not altering the rest of what the ear hears. Distraction, unlike masking, depends on directing the ear toward an external sound such as white noise that can help the brain to reorient its focus away from tinnitus sounds.

Another sound therapy known as habituation trains the brain to reclassify tinnitus sounds as too unimportant to register and can sometimes be achieved with notched-music and modified sound devices. The fourth common sound therapy, called neuromodulation, targets neural hyperactivity that might be the anatomical cause of tinnitus by emitting specialized sounds that minimize this phenomenon. Many combination devices are available that use more than one of these sound therapy methods to address tinnitus.

Hearing aids vs. maskers

Although hearing aids and maskers are the two most common forms of tinnitus therapy, they use completely different approaches to address tinnitus. To understand the difference between these devices, it may be helpful to know that maskers cannot address the hearing loss that often underlies tinnitus, whereas hearing aids can.

A masker works by emitting sounds that cover up annoying tinnitus sounds such as ringing, clicking, and buzzing. These sounds, which are often white noise, can at once provide a background into which tinnitus sounds blend and cover tinnitus sounds without muffling the rest of your hearing. In no way do maskers amplify noise that enters the ear.

Hearing aids, on the other hand, are primarily designed to amplify noise that enters the ear. In doing so, hearing aids may make up for the sounds that you can’t hear over your tinnitus. An audiologist is best qualified to determine whether hearing aids or maskers are the better devices for combating your tinnitus.

How can hearing aids help tinnitus?

Hearing aids can help tinnitus patients find relief by amplifying the volume of sound that enters the ear so strongly that the brain struggles to perceive the ringing, clicking, and buzzing sounds caused by tinnitus. To explain this concept more clearly, many hearing aid specialists compare tinnitus to a cricket chirping and a tinnitus patient wearing hearing aids to a waterfall, because against the sounds of the latter, you won’t hear the former. For some newer hearing aid models, the waterfall analogy is literal: some smartphone-compatible hearing aids will mask tinnitus with white noise and other sounds played from the connected device.

Hearing aid wearers additionally tend to experience lessened tinnitus symptoms due to hearing aids amplifying sounds aimed directly at them, such as conversational remarks. With hearing aids, your brain will prioritize processing the sounds aimed directly at you instead of your tinnitus sounds, helping to mitigate your symptoms.

Pros and cons of hearing aids for tinnitus

As with any health-based decision, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to determining whether you should buy hearing aids to address your tinnitus. Consider the following pros and cons of hearing aids for tinnitus as you make your choice, in addition to following the advice provided by a hearing professional.

Pros of hearing aids for tinnitus

  • Minimize annoying sounds. When you use hearing aids to address your tinnitus, you may experience fewer – or, sometimes, none – of the annoying ringing, clicking, and buzzing sounds you associate with tinnitus.
  • Non-invasive. You don’t need invasive procedures or bulky, unwieldy items to combat your tinnitus. Hearing aids are compact and often lie out of sight in or behind your ear. Fitting a hearing aid to your ear is a hassle-free experience that any qualified hearing aid specialist can offer you.

Cons of hearing aids for tinnitus

  • Price. Hearing aids, like any piece of cutting edge technology can have a significant price spread and are not always covered by insurance. Although you can find some hearing aids that run under $1,000 for a pair, some hearing aids can cost over $3,000 each. This is why it is crucial to consult with a trained audiology professional before making your choice.

  • Relief isn’t guaranteed. Out of the approximately 50 million cases of tinnitus in the U.S., 20 million of them are chronic, and about 2 million of them are debilitating. Sometimes, these difficult cases cannot be addressed with hearing aids. This is another reason why working with a professional is critical, and self-care can be costly.

Can I keep my tinnitus from getting worse?

Tinnitus therapy is only one part of managing your tinnitus. You also need to take extra care to not worsen your tinnitus. You can avoid exacerbating your tinnitus by steering clear of loud settings and forgoing alcohol and smoking. If your work requires you to be around loud noise, use earplugs, earmuffs, noise-canceling headphones, or other hearing protection devices to shield your ears.

You can also address your tinnitus by being upfront about it with people. If you’re struggling to hear someone over your tinnitus because the person isn’t facing you directly, kindly ask them to do so. You can also ask people to speak more loudly and clearly.

Hearing aids for tinnitus: Am I a candidate?

You might be a candidate for hearing aids for tinnitus if the volume of the clicking, ringing, and buzzing decisions in your ear is preventing you from focusing during conversations with others or completing your usual everyday tasks. That said, merely having tinnitus doesn’t mean that your case requires hearing aids to address – only audiologists have the level of knowledge about all things hearing that will allow you to decide. You may benefit from a different type of sound therapy or from a masker, depending on your specific case of tinnitus.

At I Love Hearing, our hearing professionals and audiologists have decades of experience working in tinnitus therapy using both hearing aids and maskers. We make visiting us easy – we operate multiple offices in Manhattan, Nassau County, and the greater New York metro so that you don’t have to travel far out of your way to get vital help addressing your tinnitus.

If you do want to try hearing aids to help combat tinnitus, I Love Hearing uniquely offers nearly every major hearing aid brand offered on the market in the U.S. This means you can choose from a massive array of models, designs, and features.

We know that any decisions you make toward combating your hearing loss can be deeply personal and challenging. At I Love Hearing, we believe in educating our patients so they fully understand their options, so they feel empowered to choose the best solution for them. Contact us today to book an appointment to discuss managing tinnitus symptoms with one of our specialists.

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Six Tips for Using Hearing Aids For Family Zoom Gatherings

This year, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays will be like none before. With the COVID-19 pandemic still a prominent part of everyday American life, many holiday celebrations will take place not in person as usual, but over videoconference. While this can be sad for the average person, it can be actively challenging for people with hearing loss.

For starters, device speakers usually distort sound and speech, making videoconferencing conversations harder to follow for people with hearing loss. Then there are the inevitable audio and video transmission lags – needless to say, a safe family gathering can come at the cost of accessibility. However, if you have hearing loss, you can more easily enjoy your holiday videoconference celebrations by following the below six tips.

1. Ask videoconference participants to speak differently

Since videoconference sessions can make it difficult to properly hear and follow conversations, ask your friends and family to speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and introduce the topic to be discussed before the conversation begins. For example, if your cousin is telling you about their new baby, have them slowly and clearly say, “I’m telling everyone about my baby now” before actually doing so. With this background information and slow, clear speech, you’ll have an easier time deciphering words and filling in blanks.

2. Sit near your WiFi router

Audiovisual disruptions that make it harder to understand videoconferencing conversations, such as lagging video or audio, may occur less frequently if you sit near your WiFi router. The closer you are to your router, the more stable your device’s connection to your video call. This stability means fewer instances of slowed, distorted speech, plus clearer visuals for easier lip reading.

3. Louder isn’t always better

If you’re struggling to hear the people speaking on your videoconference, you might be tempted to raise your device’s volume. This is often a mistake. Increasing the volume can further distort speech, so instead of loud, clear audio, you might get loud, distorted audio – and that will only prove worse for your hearing.

4. Use your hearing aid’s Bluetooth connectivity

If your hearing aid has Bluetooth® capabilities, you can connect it directly to smartphones, laptops, and other devices. With this connection, you’ll have your videoconference’s audio transmitted directly into your ear, increasing the chances that you’ll hear everything clearly. And it’s not just about your hearing aid: Your video device likely includes accessibility features that can help improve your comprehension as well.

5. If you don’t have Bluetooth, optimize your location

Not all hearing aids are equipped with Bluetooth. If that’s the case for your hearing aids, choosing an appropriate room for your call – and a proper location within that room – can make hearing easier. Choose a quiet room lacking background noise like a TV or a fan, and make space for yourself in a corner to improve your acoustics. Since walls and ceilings guide sound waves to corners, you may hear better seated in your room’s corner than in its center or along an edge.

6. Prepare your hearing aids and software

Both your videoconferencing device and, if Bluetooth-equipped, your hearing aid may need software updates. Check whether this is the case a few days before your call, and update your devices as needed. You can seek assistance from a professional if you have questions.

You can also get professional assistance with another two important pre-videoconferencing tasks for your hearing aids: cleaning and adjusting. Check whether your hearing aids are in warranty, and then contact your audiologist or hearing aid specialist – such as us here at I Love Hearing – to book an appointment.

Prepare for your holiday videoconferences with I Love Hearing

Even if your hearing aids are NOT in warranty, you can make an appointment with I Love Hearing to update your device software and clean and adjust your hearing aids – and that’s not all. We can also set your hearing aids to better equip you to understand speech impeded by a mask, and we’re offering risk-free take home trials on new hearing aids as well.

If you’re interested in starting your trial before your holiday videoconferences, visit I Love Hearing for an initial appointment, fitting, and tuning. Try your new hearing aids in different situations, and then, after your trial run, return to our offices to tell us how your trial went and make additional adjustments. Book your appointment now at the I Love Hearing location most convenient for you – whether East Meadow, New Hyde Park, Port Washington, or Manhattan’s Upper East Side – to ensure a crystal-clear, memorable holiday season.

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Step by step instructions for cleaning hearing aids

Instructions for how to clean hearing aids

With these step by step instructions for cleaning hearing aids, you’ll be prepared to safely clean your hearing aids, no matter which type of hearing aid model you wear. The instructions differ depending on whether you wear ITE (in-the-ear) hearing aids or BTE (behind-the-ear) hearing aids. Read on to learn how to clean either hearing aid type.

Steps for cleaning your ITE hearing aids

1. Remove your hearing aids and place them on a paper towel, paper plate, or other surface that can catch debris.

2. Using your brush, clear your hearing aids’ openings, including the microphone port, of earwax and other blockages. You should hold the opening that you’re cleaning facing downward so that, as you brush your hearing aid, the blockage falls out instead of getting further lodged in.

3. After you brush your hearing aids, examine the openings you’ve attempted to clear for any remaining wax or blockages. If you find any remaining debris, use your wax pick to gently wrestle this blockage free from your hearing aids.

4. Complete your hearing aid cleaning by wiping your hearing aid with an approved cloth. Make sure the cloth is dry so that you don’t expose your hearing aid to damaging moisture.

Steps for cleaning your BTE hearing aids

1. Remove your hearing aids and place them on a paper towel, paper plate, or other surface that can catch debris.

2. Remove your BTE hearing aid’s earmold from its hook to clean both pieces separately.

3. Begin cleaning your BTE hearing aids with a gentle cloth wipe-down.

4. Use an approved brush to remove wax.

5. Unlike with ITE hearing aids, a BTE earmold can handle warm, soapy water once per week. Soak your BTE hearing aids’ earmolds in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. (Never use rubbing alcohol or other household cleaning solutions on your hearing aids.)

6. Dry your earmolds completely overnight.

7. Use a bulb blower to push water out of your BTE hearing aid’s tubing. Let the tubing dry overnight.

8. Once all components are dry, reassemble your hearing aids.

NOTE: Before using water or any liquid-based cleaner, you should check with a hearing aid professional or audiologist.

In our next post, we’ll talk about some of the most popular hearing aid brands and some tips for cleaning them.

Learn more about hearing aid care with I Love Hearing

Cleaning your hearing aids is only a small part of ensuring that your devices are working properly and will last for years. At I Love Hearing, our leadership team has in-depth experience working hands-on with all major hearing aid brands, so we can advise you on cleaning and maintenance best practices.

Unlike many hearing aid providers that only sell and repair one brand, we carry and repair nearly every hearing aid brand available in the U.S., and particularly in New York City and Long Island. We offer hearing aid fitting, hearing aid repair, ear wax management, and other services that can help you to keep your hearing aids working like they’re brand new year after year. Our team of licensed audiologists and hearing aid specialists operates from offices located throughout the greater New York metro area: in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and throughout Long Island, including Port Washington, New Hyde Park, East Meadow, and Great Neck. If you have more questions about hearing aid fitting or hearing aid repair, visit the I Love Hearing FAQ page about hearing aids. And if you still have questions, we’d love to help you:  Contact us to book an appointment and start your hearing aid journey.

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Covid-19 Safety Protocols

We are committed to keeping our patients healthy and continue to monitor the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation daily.  The safety of our patients and staff has always been, and will always be, our number one priority.

Even before this outbreak it has been our practice to wipe down all surfaces and equipment between patients and clean our office and sanitize our tools regularly. Now, we are adding the following changes to our clinic sanitation plan:

– Per company policy, masks are REQUIRED upon entry – we have disposable masks available if you do not have one.

– If you choose not to wear a face covering, we are still offering Curbside Service for you from the safety of your own vehicle.

– Rearranging our office so that social distancing can be maintained throughout your visit.

– Added signage and markers to keep you informed and safe.

– We schedule our appointments to limit the number of patients in the facility at any given time.

– We have removed unnecessary objects and paper products.

– We have Personal Protective Equipment for our staff to keep you and our team safe.

– We utilize curb side services and virtual connections are available when booking an appointment.

We are following local, national and international authorities to stay informed of all applicable guidelines. These authorities include various local governments, the United States Center for Disease Control and  the World Health Organization.  We encourage everyone to take a few simple steps to better avoid the spread of this virus, including:

– Handle your own hearing aids and avoid others touching them as much as possible.

– Sanitize your hearing aids regularly.

– Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.

– Avoid unnecessary contact with others.

– Practice social distancing.

– Avoid touching your face, eyes and mouth.

– Cleaning all common surfaces including your phone/tablet regularly.

We are proud to serve you and the entire community with better hearing and look forward to continuing the work of helping to connect you to those you love. There has never been a more important time to be able to hear and connect to those around you.

If you would like to schedule an in-person or virtual appointment, please visit our contact page or call the Long Island or Manhattan location that is closest to you.

Upper East Side: 212-433-2723 | Port Washington: 516-588-6471 | New Hyde Park: 516-588-6742 | East Meadow: 516-260-5950