Articles, Protect Your Hearing, Signs of Hearing Loss…and more

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A blood test for your hearing loss or vertigo?

I recently came across this article: Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

University of Connecticut Health physician-scientist Dr. Kourosh Parham has discovered two ear proteins that circulate in the blood whose presence and quantities correlate with ear disorders. As a result he has developed the first blood test to identify ear disorders. 

Does that mean the end of hearing tests? NOPE! This means that one day your Doctor may be able to accurately run a blood test that shows you have an ear disorder to expedite a referral to an audiologist or otolaryngologist!

So while this isn’t the end of sitting in a sound proof booth, this is scientific progress!

 

 

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Can I be frank about something?

I’ve recently had the worst summer cold ever, which started as a sore throat (for which my doctor gave me antibiotics), which worsened and then proceeded to make me bed ridden the entire long weekend +1. In this midst of all the this fun and excitement (ugh I felt like a bag of sand) both of my eardrums perforated. Ruptured. Tore.

I’ve now been without a significant portion of my hearing for 3 days. This is what’s called a conductive hearing loss.

con·duc·tive
kənˈdəktiv/
adjective
adjective: conductive
  1. having the property of conducting something (especially heat or electricity or sound).
    “to induce currents in conductive coils”
    • of or relating to conduction.

My hearing will gradually find its way back to me with the help of my Doctor’s magic drops and time, as my eardrums heal I should get my hearing back. It can take 8+ weeks to heal on its own. If it doesn’t, I need a referral to see an Otolaryngologist if my ear drums don’t heal on their own and I still have a significant hearing loss.

Here are the things that I have noticed since I’ve been for all tense and purposes placed in a sound proof bubble:

  1. Everything makes noise. My pen on the desk, my dogs’ nails on the floor. The neighbor’s car door, my car, my phone. I never really noticed how noisy the world was before – now that its gone the silence is deafening. Poof. Gone. The most bizarre sensation in the world is standing in the shower (with my ears protected from water) and not hearing the water fall. Bizarre. Like, I laughed out loud about it. I can’t hear the keys right now as I type, but I know they are making noise. So if a tree falls in a forest, it does make a sound.
  2. People suck at communication skills. I like to think that because of where I work, I may be an exception… But in general, when you tell people that you can’t hear them, they continue talking at the same volume and pitch they were speaking before, they make no greater effort for you to hear them out. i.e. my Doctor yesterday kept turning away from me when she was talking. And I would have to ask her repeat herself. Over. And Over. And Over. Look at me, because the pieces of the puzzle that I can’t hear can be filled in by my looking at your beautiful face!
  3. There’s a lot of noise in my head. Every inhale, every exhale. Every bite I chew. Every hair I comb, every time I move my head or jaw. Clearing my throat is loud. My stomach growling woke me out of a cold and sinus drug addled sleep. This is all a symptom of conductive hearing loss, and it is obnoxious that I can’t hear much that goes on on the outside of my own head. Everything on the inside… LOUD. Part of it of course is because I don’t hear anything else, its not drowning out the sound of my swallowing.
  4. I’m exhausted. Now that the general malaise is gone from my illness and it took some hearing with it, everything I do is a struggle and I’m exhausted trying to read people, struggle on the phone with all the fantastic people who call me (that’s you!) and it makes me tired. My brain is working too hard to compensate.
  5. Tinnitus is real. My particular tinnitus is pulsatile tinnitus, I can hear my heartbeat. Its not a sound that anyone else can hear, every heartbeat I hear loud and clear in my head. Every last one. Over. And Over. And Over. I wake up and its there. I try to sleep and its there. I can’t mask this with another sound, because I can’t hear that either. This will go away when my hearing comes back and I hear other things than what is happening in my head. I hope.

So that’s that. The first thing I said to Bernice and Paige when my hearing hopped a train was ‘I can’t understand why hearing aids don’t sell themselves’. So if I might be frank, this not hearing all the sounds is no joke. My hearing loss happened suddenly and traumatically so of course, I noticed all the sounds gone at once, not gradually like everyone else. None the less, this has been a real eye opener. I can’t imagine why anyone would not want to hear the sounds of life.

I’m frantic to get a piece of those sounds back. 8+ weeks seems so far away.

~melissa

 

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Protect your ears this summer

The summer season is fast upon us, and so are all the fun summer activities! We’d like to take a minute to remind you of how important it is to remember that some of the fun things you do could have an irreversible effect of your hearing.

  1. Yard Work: A well groomed yard shouldn’t lead to hearing loss as you age. Protect your hearing from lawn mowers, weed whippers, chain saws and leaf blowers!
  2. Fireworks: The beautiful displays of fireworks can damage your hearing. Ringing in at up to 125dB, that’s enough to permanently cause a threshold shift. Remember your children’s ears as well at fireworks time.
  3. Sporting Events & Concerts: The loud cheers at your favorite ballpark (Go Tigers!) and summer concerts can last up to 3 hours. On average, the sound levels can reach 95dB+. That duration and intensity of sound may result in tinnitus the next day – that’s your ears’ way of telling you they were overexposed to sound.
  4. Boats and Motorcycles: Its not just the engine noise that can harm your hearing – wind noise can be the culprit! Consult our audiologists for custom hearing protection that will still allow you to hear the important sounds around you while riding and boating safely.

Make sure you get outside and enjoy all of the super activities that are part of summer traditions, but please – PROTECT THOSE EARS! If you are experiencing ringing, buzzing or fullness in your ears this summer, consult our Doctors of Audiology, Audiologists!

 

Paige Pierozynski

If Kate Spade and Tom Ford made hearing aids…

Would you want them? Would you wear them?

I’m typing this blog post looking through my Coach glasses in my comfy Michael Kors sweater feeling a little… miffed. I think miffed is the right word. (Miffed: put into an irritable mood, especially by an offending incident.) I feel like what I get up and do every day, what I love to do – isn’t cool.  

Welcome to 2016. A profound era where everything and everyone is trying to make us feel inadequate at every turn. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s we had fads of course, i.e. Starter Jackets, Reebok Pump and HyperColor Shirts. But we didn’t have The Kardashian’s telling us what’s cool and what’s not.

This got me thinking. If Tom Ford had his own brand of hearing aid, would it be cool to have them? Would hearing aids becomes sexy then?

If Apple created an iHear hearing aid, would you sleep outside my office to be the first of your friends to have one?

I get this profound feeling that YES! People would actually want to do something about their hearing loss and wear a hearing aid. I wouldn’t have to try to convince you that your quality of life would be improved significantly by hearing your loved ones loud and clear. You would want to wear hearing aids because its cool. Its trendy. Your friend Jill already has them and wears them at the gym, and they sync with her iPhone and let her know her heart rate.

Those with hearing loss would seek them out and that those without hearing loss would want to wear them anyways (just like its fun, personal and stylish to wear designer eyeglass frames without a need for vision correction).

Many people are under the understanding that hearing aids are the big squealing ugly beige machines that their grandpa keeps in the kitchen junk drawer. Hearing aids may just be the last ‘un-cool’ piece of technology out there. And there’s no reason for that really. Hearing loss is something that happens to a great many people, many of whom are infants, children, teenagers, young adults. Yet when you think of how hearing aids are perceived in our society, you think of Alma in the Sister Act movies (a la ‘Hey Alma! Check your battery!’). Hearing aids are a pain in the butt. I mean, you actually have to put them in your ears and that’s such a hassle. Ugh, the tiny batteries need to be changed once a week – who has time to do that when you also have to plug in your phone every night?

A quick Google search on simply ‘Hearing Aids’ brings us the webpages of AARP and The Mayo Clinic. Do another Google Search for eyeglasses and this comes up:

See what I’m talking about there? Vision correction is stylish, fashionable. There is no perceived stigma associated with vision correction anymore like Steve Urkel on Family Matters. It’s personalized. Hearing correction? It’s certainly not perceived that way – YET! The numbers are kind of astounding: 60% of the population has a treatable vision loss, while 20% of the population admits freely to hearing difficulty.

However, there’s another stat in here that you can’t see: The average person who has a hearing loss waits 7 years to treat it, i.e. those with hearing loss who are in denial and pretending to hear perfectly well are not a part of the aforementioned 20%. Grandpa, that’s you. I don’t mumble at all!

Again, the question begs… what do eyeglasses have that hearing aids do not? Why do Oakley, Nike and Calvin Klein not have a piece of the hearing aid pie? (Other than because there’s a technology involved, and an adjustment period to hearing aids at the brain level)

Because (despite it being very untrue) hearing aids are for old people and no one wants to accept that they are aging. Hearing aids are a nuisance. Hearing aids are ugly. Hearing loss carries a ‘less than’ stigma. No one deemed ‘cool’ by society wears hearing aids and if they do, they are beige and blend in, because – for shame! other people should see them!

Well, hear this! A Denmark based company with a Canadian presence called GN Resound is going where no hearing aid manufacturer has gone before. They’re trying to cap into that ‘allure’ of technology with the Linx²… they work with your iPhone and have an app, they are nano-coated and water resistant. The product is cool and hip and stylish. Except it isn’t. Because its still taking people 7 years to admit to their hearing loss and come in to see for themselves how the technology has improved.

Now, all that Resound needs is a George Clooney walking the red carpet with an Ocean Blue (see what I did there?) piece of technology sitting snugly behind his ears for all the word to see. For an Anderson Cooper to declare the Linx² the greatest in all the land. For a Taylor Swift to state unequivocally that hers were the inspiration for writing a new hit song.

Until that happens: You don’t want hearing aids. Heck – you don’t need them. You’re perfectly fine with society telling you that hearing loss makes you look old, feel old, that you lack in something because your hearing isn’t perfect. You don’t need to see the audiologist because you already know what he or she will say and you don’t think hearing aids can help you.

May is Better Speech & Hearing Month. Don’t be the statistic who waits 7 years to look seek improved communication with your loved ones. Come visit our Doctors of Audiology and finally turn that TV down. Imagine all the experiences that you’ll miss out on in those 7 years. It’s a long time. You wouldn’t go 7 years without seeing your loved ones properly, would you?

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Why choose Audiology?

May is “Better Speech & Hearing Month”. Throughout the month of May, audiologists put in extra effort to highlight the importance of hearing health within our communities. Every year, thousands of professionals involved with the treatment of speech, language and hearing disorders come together to participate in a public awareness campaign that encourages early detection and prevention of communication disorders, and seeks to increase the public’s sensitivity to the challenges faced by individuals experiencing them.

Have questions about your hearing or speech? We’re happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about your hearing. Contact us today to arrange a consultation or your annual hearing test with our Doctor of Audiology! (519) 961-9285.

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A day to celebrate Ontario’s fabulous Doctors!

May 1st and 2nd we are celebrating “Doctor’s Day” in Ontario!

In 2011, Doctors’ Day was recognized as the official day of appreciation for Ontario’s medical profession. The date of May 1st was chosen as Doctors’ Day to mark the birthday of Canada’s first female physician, Dr. Emily Stowe.

Doctors work hard every day to save lives and put patients first. Doctors are leaders in evolving the health care system to improve access to care and ensure that our system is effective, efficient and sustainable for the future. Doctors’ Day is a great opportunity for patients and colleagues to take a minute to celebrate!

On Sunday, May 1st and Monday, May 2nd, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) and health-care organizations across the province will be recognizing the extraordinary contributions made by Ontario doctors in the health care system.

All Ontarians can recognize doctors via social media by tweeting using the hashtags #DocsRock2016 or #PatientsFirst.

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Hearing is important, but is it THAT important?

Hearing empowers us and enriches our lives. Hearing enables us to socialize, work, interact, communicate and even relax. Good hearing also helps to keep us safe, warning us of potential danger or alerting us to someone else’s distress.

Hearing is essential for us to be able to live and participate in life more fully. Problems with our hearing may lead to feelings of isolation and even depression. Our hearing provides us with an enormous source of information, some of it obvious and some we barely notice but when combined, this information forms the bridge between the world and how we interact with it.

Hearing helps us lead our everyday lives without limitations.

Hearing is important…

… at work

  • Participating in group meetings.
  • Talking on the telephone.
  • Following a conversation in a busy office.

… at social occasions

  • Chatting to friends.
  • Participating in dinner conversation at a restaurant.
  • Interacting with grandchildren.
  • Talking on the telephone.
  • Watching TV together with others.

… for our own safety

  • When walking near busy roads.
  • To be able to hear sounds that alert us to danger like sirens and other traffic signals.
  • So we can be alert to a cry for help.

… when we learn

  • Allowing us to maintain a high level of concentration with little effort.
  • So we are able to communicate with instructors.
  • So we are able to register information accurately.

Read more: here

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Hearing Loss: No, it’s not just you.

You’re experiencing hearing loss, and you assume it’s just you. But it’s not just you. One out of every nine of us have hearing loss, that’s nearly 4 million Canadians.

That’s important for you to know if you are experiencing hearing issues. It can help to know that you are not alone. 

Hearing loss occurs naturally as people get older, but it’s not just seniors who are affected. Changes to your hearing can begin to occur for many when they reach their 20s, 30s and 40s, and while approximately 30 percent of people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss, more than 65 percent of those who experience hearing loss do so before retirement age.

About 15 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 41-59) and 7 percent of Generation Xers (ages 29-34) already have significant issues with their hearing.

Because hearing loss occurs gradually, its effects are sometimes not immediately obvious, especially when it comes to recognizing a change in one’s own hearing. Often it’s a friend, family member or co-worker that points it out, and even then it can be hard to believe that it’s happening to you.

Taking care of your hearing is your responsibility. It’s up to you to be alert to the signs and have your hearing checked if you suspect that your hearing may be changing.

These signs may include: Turning the TV louder, requiring others to repeat themselves, thinking that others are mumbling, having ringing (tinnitus) in your ears, feeling tired or exhausted after strenuous listening activities or have a family history of hearing loss.

For a limited time, there is no cost to have your hearing assessed by our Doctors of Audiology if you are an adult aged 18+. We simply ask for a donation to the Essex Area Food Bank. A hearing assessment takes but an hour and will help alleviate your concerns. We are able to arrange an appointment for you Monday through Friday, from 9am until 5pm. Call today to arrange your appointment! (519) 961-9285.

BPPV Testing and Management

Vertigo and “Ear Crystals”

We have a large number of patients who call us to inform us that their Doctor has told them that they have “Ear Crystals” and that they should come to see us; that we may be able to help them. Everyone has ear crystals, but when they migrate or move away from where they are supposed to be, most often, YES, we can help them! But how?

Trouble with “Ear Crystals’ is another way of describing BPPV, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Benign: the condition almost always goes away with proper treatment Paroxysmal: the condition may return causing vertigo without warning Positional: it is brought on by specific type of head movement Vertigo: the sensation is that of spinning that may be mild or violent.

These crystals normally lie in a gel layer inside the utricle in our vestibular systems. A common symptom of migrated crystals is that there is dizziness or vertigo when you wake up, nausea and vomiting. The vertigo may stop when the position of your head is held still. The common reasons that these crystals migrate can be: head injury, aging, or idiopathic (the cause is not known). Some studies show there may be a correlation between allergies and respiratory infections and BPPV.

Whatever the reason that caused those crystals to migrate, the treatment is same: Particle or crystal re-positioning – getting those crystals back into the utricle. Our Doctors of Audiology are well versed in this. We often hear that people have tried these maneuvers at home, without success – we do not recommend this, as if completed improperly may cause more harm than good.

So what should you expect of your appointment with us? Well, we always ask you to fill out a case history and those documents will be reviewed with the audiologist. Then a few very precise head and body maneuvers will determine if you could be helped by the crystal re-positioning. The entire appointment takes but 1 hour and symptoms may disappear entirely with one treatment.

If you are tired of feeling dizzy or imbalanced when changing positions, simply call us to arrange an appointment with the audiologist at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic.

BPPV Testing and Management

Startling Statistics About BPPV

At The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic, we understand how debilitating BPPV or  Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo can be.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the most common form of positional vertigo and is probably the most common disorder involving vertigo. It’s an affliction of the inner ear. In the most common clinical scenario, when the patient changes the position of the head, he or she feels that the room is spinning. The person may experience significant nausea as well.┘

According to The University of California, BPPV will affect nearly 40 percent of people over 40 at least once in their lifetime.

The good news about BPPV is that in most cases, it is entirely treatable.

The bad news about BPPV is that studies show, it can take an absurdly very long time from presentation of symptoms to treatment.

 

Two recent studies explored the time period from initial presentation of symptoms of BPPV to correct diagnosis. Fife and Fitzgerald report that in the United Kingdom, the mean wait time from initial presentation to correct diagnosis was 92 weeks. A more recent study out of China found the delay to be longer than 70 months.

We have witnessed this very same phenomenon in our practice, when people have seen multiple specialties and undergone several tests over the course of months and even years. Patients have altered their lives to accommodate their BPPV, changed their habits, disturbed their activities, family lives and working responsibilities. BPPV is easily diagnosed and easily treated.

In both studies mentioned above, the subjects were treated with Canalith repositioning (CRP) once the diagnosis of BPPV was made. In the Chinese study over 80% were successfully treated with one CRP, while the Fife and Fitzgerald study reports 85% were successfully treated.

Perhaps this is the most disturbing reality of these studies. 8/10 people who had suffered for years from Vertigo were cured of their BPPV in one treatment. Just one. 

At least 85% of cases had classical symptoms of BPPV and could have been easily identified by Primary Care Physicians at first referral, had they been trained to recognize and diagnose the condition.┌

It’s amazing to me that once someone is affected by BPPV and they tell their family and friends about it, they are shocked to realize how many people they know have experienced the very same thing! Further, they are shocked at just how easy it is to treat.

We are happy to test and manage your BPPV for you and your loved ones right in the heart of Essex County. If you have questions or concerns in regards to who we are and how we can help, please never hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

Don’t be a statistic! 

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