We often see patients who have been diagnosed with vertigo, but aren’t sure what that means for their health, or how it’s best treated. The definition of vertigo is the perception of the room spinning. Many patients, when experiencing any form of dizziness, will visit a physician. This may be a neurologist, primary care, urgent care, orthopedist, cardiologist, or even the emergency department. Dizziness can be scary. It is not uncommon for someone to visit the emergency department because they fear they are dying or having a stroke.
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, a great time to learn more about the hearing professionals you should see if you suspect you’re having problems hearing. Here’s the rundown on the importance of each professional, and how they help you hear your best.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about rechargeable hearing aids, especially a new model called BEYOND Z™ from Widex. Though this technology is state-of-the-art, it’s not for everyone. Let’s take a quick look at what you should know when considering a rechargeable hearing aid.
How Do Rechargeable Hearing Aids Work?
Rechargeable hearing aids like the BEYOND Z use rechargeable silver zinc micro-batteries. These hearing aids use the lowest amount of energy of any rechargeable. All rechargeable hearing aids can be recharged overnight, just like your phone, but in the case of the BEYOND Z, it also accepts traditional zinc-air batteries, so if you run out of charge, traditional batteries can be used as a backup power source. If you already have BEYOND hearing aids, an audiologist can retrofit them to be rechargeable by changing the battery door for a fee.
Because hearing loss impacts more than 48 million Americans, hearing aid cost poses a potential barrier to care for some patients. On the other hand, numerous studies have confirmed the connection between untreated hearing loss and increased risk for cognitive decline, memory loss, falls, depression, anxiety and social isolation. So while you might wonder if you can afford hearing aids, you also might ask if you can afford to do without them? Here’s what you can you do if you suspect you have a hearing loss, but have budget concerns:
Schedule a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation with an Audiologist
A diagnostic hearing evaluation performed by a doctoral-level audiologist can confirm whether you have a hearing loss, as well as determine the best type of treatment or hearing aid. The evaluation also provides a baseline measurement and may identify any underlying medical issues that may be contributing to your hearing loss, or that might require a referral.
Hearing aid styles and technology can be confusing, even if you have been wearing hearing aids for years. Please keep in mind that our job as doctoral-level audiologists is to guide you through this selection process, so be sure to ask questions and take notes as you weigh your options. Hearing aids are an important investment in your health and well-being.
Technology Comes in Lots of Shapes and Styles
A common misconception is that a specific hearing aid technology can be purchased only in certain styles. The technology refers to the computer chip and signal processing that you are purchasing. The style refers to the type of shell that houses the technology. That means the smallest style isn’t necessarily the most expensive or the best.
An analysis from the Centers for Disease Control suggests at least 10 million (6 percent) adults in the U.S. under age 70 - and perhaps as many as 40 million adults total (24 percent) - may have noise-induced hearing loss based on their hearing test results.
The study also found 19 percent of young adults aged 20 to 29 had hearing loss in one or both ears. This finding reinforces the fact that young adults also need to be aware of the risk of hearing loss from loud noise.
If you hear well in a quiet room, or when talking one-on-one with a friend or family member, but have problems hearing when the television is on in the background, or you’re trying to carry on a conversation in a crowded restaurant, you may actually have a condition that’s recently been described as hidden hearing loss, or HHL.
Why HHL Is So Hard to Diagnose
“As audiologists, patients often come to us because th
ey have problems hearing in noisy environments,” explained Tim Steele, Ph.D., FAAA, President, Associated Audiologists. “This may be their first symptom of hearing loss. But, sometimes when we test their hearing using an audiogram, the gold standard for hearing testing, their hearing test appears to be normal.”
Frequently, people don’t see the value in treating hearing loss early on, or sometimes even at all. But new research into the connections between wearing hearing aids and dementia is changing people’s minds, literally!
Studies have shown that older adults with untreated hearing loss have a higher incidence of fall- and accident-related death, social isolation, and dementia than those without hearing loss.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, ringing in your ears, or tinnitus, is overwhelmingly connected to some level of hearing loss. Most people develop tinnitus as a symptom of hearing loss, caused either by age, long-term hearing damage, or acute trauma to the auditory system. According to the general scientific consensus, hearing loss keeps fewer sounds from reaching the brain. In response, the brain undergoes changes in how it processes different sound frequencies. Tinnitus is the product of these changes.
If you suffer from ringing in your ears, or tinnitus, keeping stress levels down and inducing relaxation may help you cope better with your tinnitus, promote better sleep, improve your concentration ability, and reduce anxiety and tension.