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The Importance of Back to School Hearing Assessments

It’s back to school time! That means more than new sneakers and stationary, it means its time to have your child’s hearing tested with our Doctors of Audiology!

As you know, hearing loss and auditory processing problems are not uncommon in children and these issues can greatly affect a child’s ability to learn and participate in classroom activities.

Reports that undiagnosed hearing loss can lead to a longer learning curve, speech and language delays, and even behavioral problems due to the child not hearing or understanding instructions.

Children are also susceptible to chronic ear infections which can potentially lead to hearing loss. If your child suffers from frequent ear infections, it is important to monitor his or her hearing thresholds.

Before the school year begins, it may be a good idea to:

  1. Schedule a full diagnostic hearing test before the school year starts
  2. Monitor your child’s learning progress and look for signs of hearing loss. Not sure what to look for? Does your child turn up the volume of the TV excessively highRespond inappropriately to questions you ask? Not reply when you call him/her? Watch others to copy what they are doing? Have articulation problems or speech/language delays? Have problems academically? Complain of earaches, ear pain or head noises? Have difficulty understanding what people are saying? Seem to speak differently from other children his or her age?
  3. If your child wears a hearing instrument or has any special hearing needs, notify the child’s teacher before school starts. Provide the teacher with extra batteries for hearing devices if needed an outline any special needs the child may have to ensure they are able to participate in classroom activities.
  4. Remember to check volume limits on toys, video games, iPads and computers. Even an hour a day of volume over 80dB can cause permanent damage to your child’s little ears and noise induced hearing loss is on the rise.

By Scheduling a hearing test prior to the start of classes, parents can avoid potential learning setbacks. As always, we’re here to help. If you would like to book a hearing test for your child, please call our Doctors of Audiology today at (519) 961-9285.

 

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

Hearing Loss linked to Dementia in the Elderly

As if we needed ANOTHER reason to have a hearing test, new studies have come to show that the social isolation and lack of stimulation to the brain that stem from untreated hearing loss accelerate the onset and progression of Dementia.

Out of 639 participants, researchers found that those with hearing loss at the beginning of the study were significantly more likely to develop dementia by the end. In fact, the risk of developing dementia over time was believed to increase by as much as five-fold.

Read the whole article here: http://www.free-alzheimers-support.com/wordpress/hearing-loss-can-lead-to-dementia/

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Do your ears make you a dangerous driver?

Think for a minute about all the things that we hear as drivers that make us better prepared for the road… we hear a vehicle rounding a corner before we see it, we hear sirens before we see an accident site, we hear the sounds of children playing and tires squealing. We hear the sounds of our car asking for servicing.

Are you in denial about a hearing loss? (Yes we’re talking to you!) Studies show your hearing loss does in fact affect your driving skill, particularly, adults with hearing loss had greater difficulty driving safely in the presence of distractions than older adults with normal hearing.  Because distractions such as conversation, reading street signs, listening to the radio, using a mobile phone or navigation system are a present day reality for all drivers..  This study, which references similar studies of adults with hearing loss suggests that the additional effort of listening to a degraded auditory signal detracts one’s resources from other cognitive tasks, making it more difficult to attend safely to the road.

As you get older, the Ministry of Transportation makes it essential that a hearing test is performed before renewing a drivers licence, and amplifying if there is need. This is never a bad idea for the safety of all drivers on the road. 

If you or a loved one are struggling to hear road noises and you believe its affecting safety, come in for a hearing test. One hour of your time could mean safer roadways for everyone. Call us to arrange an appointment. Remember, May is Better Hearing Month, your hearing test only costs a canned food donation for The Essex Area Food Bank! (519) 961-9285.

 

 

 

 

Make a hearing test part of your health routine!

Many Canadians have their eyesight tested every 2-3 years, and yet Statistics Canada reveals that about 70% of adults with measured hearing loss did not report any diagnosis by a health care professional. That is, they noticed they had a hearing loss, but didn’t see an Audiologist or Physician about their problem.

Our Doctors of Audiology recommend a hearing test before the age of 40 for a “baseline“, and a hearing test every 2-3 years after to monitor changes.

Other factors that may affect your hearing: obesity, exposure to loud noise (industrial or leisure), diabetes, kidney disease. Are you a smoker? The chemicals in cigarettes are ototoxic (that is, they can impair your hearing, cause tinnitus or affect your balance).

It only takes one hour to have your hearing tested with our Doctors of Audiology. What better time to have your hearing tested than Better Hearing Month? Call to arrange an appointment at (519) 961-9285.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/more/wellness/1283596-hearing-tests-part-of-%E2%80%98overall-health-routine%E2%80%99

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Winter is Ear Infection Season!

Acute ear infections occur most often in the winter. You cannot catch an ear infection from someone else, but a cold may spread among children and cause some of them to get ear infections.

Risk factors for acute ear infections include:

  • Children Attending daycare
  • Changes in altitude or climate
  • Cold climate
  • Exposure to smoke
  • Genetic factors (susceptibility to infection may run in families)
  • Not being breastfed
  • Pacifier use
  • Recent or Previous ear infection
  • Recent illness of any type (lowers resistance of the body to infection)

We like these tips to help prevent ear infections, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ear-infections/basics/prevention/con-20014260

See your Doctor if you are experiencing any pain in your ears for more than a day, if the pain is severe or if there is any discharge from the ears.

While its common to experience some mild hearing loss or a feeling of wearing ear plugs while the ear infection is active, once treated, the hearing should return to normal. Chronic ear infections can lead to permanent hearing loss. Its important to keep those ears healthy!

If you or your child experience recurrent ear infections, call our Doctors of Audiology to arrange a hearing test!

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Hearing Aids May Improve Balance

Hearing Aids May Improve Balance
by Julia Evangelou Strait

Timothy Hullar, MD, (right) and medical student Miranda Colletta help patient Audrey Miller prepare for a balance test. Older adults with hearing loss appeared to perform better on balance tests with both hearing aids on, according to Hullar’s research. Credit: Robert Boston

Enhancing hearing appears to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on compared with when they were off.

The small study, which appears in the journal The Laryngoscope, involved only 14 people ages 65 to 91 but is the first to demonstrate that sound information, separate from the balance system of the inner ear, contributes to maintaining the body’s stability. The study lends support to the idea that improving hearing through hearing aids or cochlear implants may help reduce the risk of falls in older people.

“We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert,” said senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit—more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”
All participants served as their own controls, performing the balance tests with and without their hearing aids turned on. Since the researchers were interested in examining the effect of hearing, all tests were conducted in the presence of a sound source producing white noise, similar to the sound of radio static.
In one test, subjects’ eyes were covered as they stood with their feet together on a thick foam pad. In a second, more difficult task, patients stood on the floor with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, also with no visual cues for balance. Patients were timed to see how long they could stand in these positions without moving their arms or feet, or requiring the aid of another person to maintain balance.
Several of the participants could maintain stability on the foam pad for at least 30 seconds (which is the considered normal), whether their hearing aids were on or not. But those having more difficulty with balance in this test performed better when their hearing aids were on. And the improvement in performance was even more apparent in the more challenging balance test.
“We wanted to see if we could detect an improvement even in people who did very well on the foam test,” Hullar said. “And we found, indeed, their balance improved during the harder test with their hearing aids on.”

For the foam pad test, patients maintained balance an average of 17 seconds with hearing aids off. With hearing aids on, this average increased to almost 26 seconds. And in the more difficult heel-to-toe test, patients remained stable an average of 5 seconds with hearing aids off. With them on, this time increased to an average of 10 seconds. Even with the small number of patients in the trial, both time differences were statistically significant.
Although patients could tell whether their hearing aids were on or off, the researchers randomized the order of the conditions in which each patient performed these tests, so that some performed the tests with hearing aids on first and some started with them off.
Hullar pointed out that many of the study patients did not report being consciously aware that they had performed better on these tests when their hearing aids were working. But he said he has heard anecdotal evidence that some people notice a difference.
“Many of my patients say their balance is better when they’re wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants,” Hullar said. “We wanted to find out if improved hearing really has a measurable effect on balance. And the metric that we use—how many seconds can you stand on a piece of foam—has a well-documented relationship to risk of falling.
“This is a small study,” Hullar added. “Obviously it needs to be repeated in a much larger study, and we’re seeking funding to do that.”

More information: “The effect of hearing aids on postural stability.” Laryngoscope. 2014 Oct 24. DOI: 10.1002/lary.24974. [Epub ahead of print]
Journal reference: Laryngoscope
Provided by Washington University in St. Louis