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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!

 

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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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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

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! 

Read more

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Thank you Essex for your Support!

It’s Food Bank day at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic!

THANK YOU Essex County for your support of our non-perishable food donations to The Essex Area Food Bank.

We had set a goal of 500lbs to collect for those in our community who are in need of our help, doing hearing tests in exchange for non-perishable food items. We are happy to report that we have SMASHED that goal with at least twice what we had hoped! You brought everything from noodles to beans, rice to corn meal and cereal and baby food.

Please call if you are in need of your annual hearing screening. For a limited time, our Doctors of Audiology will provide complimentary adult hearing screenings for a canned food donation. Call today to arrange your appointment at (519) 961-9285

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New Physician Guidelines for Treating Children’s Ear Infections

The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians released their new treatment recommendations for children who suffer from Otitis Media with Effusion or OME (commonly known as ‘fluid’ or an ear infection).

New recommendations include

  • additional information on pneumatic otoscopy and tympanometry to improve diagnostic certainty;
  • expanded information on speech and language assessment for children with OME;
  • new recommendations for managing OME in children who fail a newborn hearing screen and for evaluating at-risk children;
  • a new recommendation against using topical intranasal steroids;
  • a new recommendation against adenoidectomy for a primary indication of OME in children under 4 years of age;
  • a new recommendation for assessing OME outcomes.

Clinicians should continue to avoid antibiotics and myringotomy (tube) surgery (under aged 4).

More information can be found here.

 

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The Holidays & Hearing Loss

For many people with hearing loss, the holidays can be especially challenging. While large family gatherings offer a great chance to catch up with friends and family, holiday parties can lead to challenging listening situations for people with hearing loss.

Here are some tips for people with hearing loss to better enjoy holiday gatherings from our friends at Widex.

Holidays and hearing loss: The tips

  1. Find a quiet corner – Stand away from loudspeakers and noisy kitchens and position yourself in the quietest area of the room. This way you can hear conversation rather than noise.
  2. Pick your seat – If you’re having a sit-down dinner, pick a seat at the center of the table nearest to a close friend or relative. This way you have a better chance of hearing conversation and enjoying your meal.
  3. Pick your drink – A glass of wine can make you more relaxed – or it can confuse you and make your level of understanding worse. Be aware of what you are drinking and your own level of tolerance.
  4. Buddy up – Find a friend or relative with whom you can hang out at the party. This person can help you to feel more included in conversation and can repeat things you may not understand.

Holidays and hearing aids

If you have hearing aids, it’s important that you wear them to holiday events. You may think that with so much noise at a party or family dinner, hearing aids would just make things louder, but modern digital hearing aids aren’t simple sound amplifiers. They are designed to filter out all the unwanted noise – like the clanging of dishes in the kitchen or the background music – and help you focus on speech.

Two hearing aid features in particular are put to work in crowds:

  • The Speech Enhancer – Widex hearing aids reduce noise by using a speech enhancer. This technology works to reduce background noise and helps you focus on what you need to hear.
  • Directional Microphones – Directional microphones work to reduce the amount of noise allowed to enter your hearing aids. In noisy environments, like at a holiday party, the system will work to pick up the least amount of noise.If the noise is located behind you, your directional microphones will adapt to pick up sound from in front of you and dampen noise from behind you. According to a 2004 study, directional microphones are proven to improve speech understanding in noise.

Have the “hearing loss” conversation

Holiday gatherings are a good time to have “the conversation” with friends and loved ones. We’re talking about the conversation about hearing loss and getting hearing aids. If you think your loved one is unable to hear correctly, take out your phone or tablet and encourage them to take an online hearing test. This is a great first step to help someone realize he has a hearing loss. And don’t forget, our complimentary hearing screening continues until January 15, 2016. 

Help guests with hearing loss

You might not have hearing loss – but one of your guests might. Here are some tips on helping your guests with hearing loss enjoy your party”

  • Background music – Everyone loves a good Christmas carol, but when those carols are in the background of the conversations of 20+ people, no one can hear them anyways. Consider turning down the background music – or turning it off completely when several guests are socializing at once. People tend to speak louder to be heard over the music, so your music may in fact make the party louder.
  • Dish Duty – Hold off on cleaning the dishes until after your guests have left. For people with hearing loss, the clatter of kitchen dishes can distract from dinnertime conversation. Take time to enjoy your guests rather than worrying about the clean-up!
  • Seating – If you know that one of your guests has a hearing loss, seat that person at the center of the table closest to those with the quietest voices. It may also help if you sit next to that person, so you can help him or her to better understand the conversation.

Please note that we are OPEN every day except Christmas Eve, Closed Christmas Day and on Monday December 28 for Boxing Day. Should you need our services this holiday, please do not hesitate to come on in or call us! 

We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. ~Paige, Bernice & Melissa

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How to shop for hearing aids – the smart way!

We had the privilege of meeting a younger gentleman a while back who’s approach to hearing aid shopping was novel to us. We thought that it was ingenious – and thus, with his permission we are going to share a bit of his story with you.

Mr. X is a 12 year hearing aid wearer who called us to arrange a consultation. Not a hearing test. He simply wanted to meet our Doctors of Audiology and see our facilities. It seems that 12 years ago at his initial purchase he bought hearing aids where his family doctor was, and was never very happy with those services he received. The product he purchased and subsequent products he purchased over the years worked just fine, but the services he had received, to him, seemed lacking. He told us that he bought his hearing aids there because he felt his family doctor would be upset if he bought a set elsewhere – closer to home.

Mr. X visited us on a Tuesday, along with his wife and brought a copy of his most recent hearing test. He was open and honest that we were not the first clinic that he visited. He asked about our education, experience and what we recommended for him and his hearing loss. It would be a 25 minute drive from his home for him to visit us, but he’d been further.

Mr. X was not price shopping. He was Audiologist shopping: and we loved it. 

In Mr. X’s reasoning, only a few hundred dollars separate the costs of the hearing aids. But the quality of service is where he perceives his value. Cost and value: two very different concepts but often interchanged ideas.

COST: the price of something, the amount of money that is needed to pay for or buy something.

VALUE: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. One’s judgment of what is important.

We want to encourage each and every reader to consider shopping for an Audiologist rather than a hearing aid. The right Audiologist will very often lead you to the right hearing aid for you. This day and age, we tend to get wrapped up in the cost of things, getting a good sale etc., but we don’t think so much of the value of the services that we receive along with those products. Don’t be tempted to price shop so much as to value shop. And when all else fails; we price match.

(Don’t forget! We are once again performing complimentary hearing screenings with our Doctors of Audiology in exchange for canned food donations!  Call Melissa today to arrange your appointment! (519) 961-9285!)