How Diabetes and Hearing Loss Relate

Due to the reasoning that many health conditions tend to affect each another, it’s no wonder that diabetes and hearing loss – the top two health concerns in the U.S. today, according to the American Diabetes Association – have been linked. Take a look at the statistics are incredible: 30 million people suffer from diabetes, while 34.5 million people have some degree of hearing loss. Recent studies have shown that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes than other people without the disease. The recent studies in question culled information from 20,000 people from various places around the globe, including the U.S., Asia, Brazil and Australia.

Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Certainly these many studies have illustrated a link between diabetes and hearing loss, but the fact remains that researchers still aren’t sure exactly why diabetes causes hearing loss or vice versa. One theory as to curbing this correlation? Diabetics should better control their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but this is not proven yet. Even though loud noises contribute hearing loss in many people, a noisy workplace has also been ruled out as a factor in the above studies. The medications and diuretics diabetics take to keep their blood pressure low may incur hearing loss rather than the actual diabetes, so that’s one factor researchers must delve into to explain the connection. Or, the prevalence could involve the fact that high blood glucose levels tends to damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, leading to hearing impairment.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Signs to look out for include if you can’t distinguish words within a large noisy crowd, if words are muffled rather than clear, and if you have others repeat themselves over and over. You don’t want this to lead to the avoiding of certain social situations just so you don’t get embarrassed, so take action and see an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment so you don’t put yourself or others at risk. Usually, your spouse, partner, friend or family member will alert you to these displays of hearing impairment. Be on alert when looking for signature signs and symptoms of hearing loss so you can get diagnosed and begin treatment immediately. You could suffer from some degree of hearing impairment if you have trouble keeping track of conversations with two or more people, constantly only hear mumbling from others, put the volume on the TV or radio way up, or can’t easily pick out the voices of small children or women.

Testing for Diabetes

Hopefully, the results of the studies outlined above will spur more doctors to test for hearing loss in their diabetic patients. This is why you should get your hearing tested at the doctor’s office during your annual diabetic checkup and alert him to the correlation you’ve heard between diabetes and hearing loss. If the results come back showing you need further evaluation, your doctor can refer you to an audiologist. Hearing tests, often overlooked at doctor’s visits for adults, should be more widespread. Hopefully, the results of these current studies will encourage more doctors to test for hearing loss in their diabetic patients.

Learn the Benefits of How Hearing Loops are Helping People Detect Clear Sound in Public

Although hearing aids are hands down the best invention the hearing impaired community has been a party of, attention needs to be paid to the many add-on devices designed to enhance the individual’s hearing experience in critical ways. Enter the hearing loop. This device helps people in group situations, such as in an important meeting, to cut through the background noise and hear what’s being said. Present in lecture halls and public transportation areas more and more, hearing loops are working in parallel with hearing aids to improve the overall experience, since hearing aids can only do so much to help the individual hear better. At some point, in public situations, background noise becomes a real problem. This is where hearing loops have become very helpful. They are able to pinpoint exact conversations for ease of use. Many people with hearing impairments don’t have to feel uncomfortable in social situations any longer, thanks to the emergence of the hearing loop.

What Are Hearing Loops?

This is a matter of fact technology involving cables that are laced through a room with signals that are detected and interpreted by individual hearing aids. Combining the technologies from hearing aids and that of cables, these loops are made possible by a cable running throughout a building or a room. They work in parallel with the hearing aids worn by hearing impaired participants, resulting in a crisper listening experience.

A Closer Look

T-switches in contemporary hearing aids and cochlear implants are an integral part of the remote telecoil technology incorporated in hearing loops. This switch, when activated, sends electromagnetic sounds to the user via the hearing loop. This results in crisp sound that you simply can’t get with a hearing aid on its own. It’s even possible to use this loop alongside a microphone when you need added amplification capabilities.
Made up of a two-part system thanks to the inspiration of telephone technology, technicians have found that if they place this loop around a room or area, sound can be transmitted through electromagnetic signals. This all came about through many years of trial and error as part of overall research. Telecoils – the very same parts of handset telephones that help them obtain better ranges and signals when off base – can then bring that sound directly to the hearing aid user.

Implementation

This elevated emphasis on the effectiveness of hearing loops has benefited the hearing impaired community tremendously. In fact, you may have seen the emergence of this capability in city halls, conference rooms and in public transportation areas like subways, airports and train stations. This next leap for technology will help people with hearing loss enjoy an easier way to focus on directed conversation.

Evolution of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are one of the most impressive technologies that have ever been produced. With them people are able to regain parts or the entirety of their hearing back with a simple device. Of course, they have come with limitations, but the future is looking even better than ever before. That is why we should take a look back and see all of the things that we have done to make this technology possible. This includes looking at some of the midpoints and designs that seem archaic, but were turning points in hearing history.

Ear Trumpets

One of the first hearing devices that were ever thought of in the past was the ear trumpet. This device was not very complex. Essentially, one end of the hearing device was pressed against the ear, and the other end was help towards the sound that you wanted to hear. This was done by having a larger end in the shape of a trumpet pointed towards the sound and the smaller end placed into the ear. The person could hear more specific sound, but would not have the sound amplified. These were used for hundreds of years at least, and showed the world that we needed to do more to promote proper hearing.

Carbon Hearing Aids

The carbon hearing aid was an incredibly complex piece of work that did not live up to its needs, but was still valuable. This piece had sound travel into a microphone and then sends carbon across a magnetic piece and into a diaphragm that would make the sound louder than it was at the start. This helped people to hear the sound because it was louder, but the sound quality was so poor that people often decided to dispense with the machine. It was expensive, could not be taken out of the house, and had to be kept in a very flat environment, but it was still considered an important stepping stone towards modern hearing aids.

Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids

Before the newest forms of electric hearing aids were made, the vacuum tube hearing aid made its debut. These devices were rather simple in the fact that they had many recycled parts from other machines, but also showed the need for specific hearing aids to be designed. They would have sound captured by a speaker piece, turned into an electric signal, amplify that sound, and then have it come out of the receiver. The end result was a seven pound device that could be taken anywhere, and had the best chance at amplification. However, the best function that this had was to convince researchers to look for new ways to help people with hearing loss.

 

Costco vs an Audiologist – Hearing Aid Quality and Service Comparison

Have you noticed all the big box stores such as Costco and Walmart are getting into the realm of patient services more and more? With ear care facilities right on site, many customers are tempted to go there for treatment and diagnosis, when they normally would have gone to a qualified professional in an office setting. Even ear care is available at the big box stores, where you can tackle your weekly shopping first and then hit the ear care department for whatever ails you. There are several things wrong with this situation, and we will examine those reasons below. Although on the surface it looks like a convenience to get ear care from those stores, you get a lot more out of your visit when you seek out a professional audiologist instead. Mimicking the fast food model of on-the-go lifestyles, you should stay away from the big box stores when it comes to your hearing health and find a pro instead.

Professionalism

First off, you’ll always get higher professionalism when you go to an audiologist who is trained in complete auditory health. A doctor brings many years of education and experience to the table so you get comprehensive ear care, thanks to their knowledge of ear canal anatomy. They also know which treatments, if any, are the best for your unique situation. Getting at the root of the problem is their goal, while many employees at big box stores go right to the solution — hearing aids – without thorough evaluation.

Higher Quality Accessories

One of the most significant reasons you should go with an audiologist over an employee at a big box store is that the hearing aids and related products they sell and fit you with are manufactured with the best quality materials. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a hearing aid at a store and then find out it doesn’t work the way it was supposed to. This can happen in the form of poor sound quality and interference. When buying from a certified audiologist, you know the quality is the best and that the doctor will make sure you get the best possible fit when it comes to hearing aids.

Cost-Effective Measures

You may not realize it, but you’re often overpaying at the big box stores because of all the extras the employees are selling you on top of the original device. That’s their job – to sell you products. The job of an audiologist is to evaluate your complete hearing health and fit you with a quality device that works as intended. Yes, it’s true you may find there’s a higher cost initially when buying products from a doctor, but that’s what health insurance is for. Plus, you get peace of mind knowing the product is of high quality.

3D Printing Revolutionizes the Hearing Aid Market

You may recognize 3D printing and its related processes by its more technical term, additive manufacturing. This essentially means layer upon layer is added to a prototype rather than taken away with tools such as lathes. This is a boon  to the $2 billion a year hearing aid industry that is touted to grow three percent by 2016. Years ago, this would have been impossible without the use of 3D printing and laser scanning, which all synchronize to automate the process, as well as reduce time of manufacture and create a customized product. Several more benefits can be had for the growing technology called 3D printing. It has been around for a decade now, especially in the use of making hearing aids, but also in electronics, jewelry and art.

Digitized Processes

 

The digitized processes inherent in 3D printing lead to fewer mistakes, reduced manufacture times and increased precision for each product. Back when traditional manufacturing processes were used, the hearing aid wearer may have been uncomfortable wearing the device because it didn’t fit snug in the ear. Maybe it wiggled, or maybe it was too tight. Whatever the case, hearing aids weren’t designed as an exact match to fit the individual as they are today with 3D printing. This has led to a big boost in comfort and precision with little to no margin for error. Combining computers and laser scanners offers a crucial combination, so that what used to be a time-consuming nine-step process now takes just a day thanks to the scientific application of 3D printing. Before, this was a highly involved method that took many technicians and artisans a week to complete. Now, there are just three steps involved with 3D printing: scan, model and print. This decreases time to manufacture, but it still takes some intense precision to get the process exactly right. This growing technology is certainly making the medical and hearing impaired communities stand up and take notice.

 

Lasers Make an Impression

Special lasers using up to 150,000 points of reference can create an impression of the ear, allowing 3D printing and laser scanning to work seamlessly together to automate the process. This also cuts down on the time of manufacture and develops a customized unit. Digital cameras aid in the process to send the images to the technician, who can apply the scan to various geometric shapes and templates and form a mold. Several combinations and geometric patterns are chosen to ensure the best fit. The result? A resin shell that is printed and fitted with all the proper acoustic vents, electronics and other circuitry that can amplify sound. Within 90 minutes, nearly 70 shells or 50 molds can be created by the printers. This offers such a great increase in speed and efficiency that accuracy is not compromised. Each device is thus personalized for a more precise prototype and manufactured product.

Foods that can Prevent Hearing Loss – and Hearing Aids

We all know eating healthy foods are good for your body. What many of us don’t realize is the effect certain foods have on our hearing health. Everything’s interconnected, so by treating your body right, you can actually help to prevent hearing loss. Many people suffer from this, particularly the aging population. You may know enough not to expose yourself to loud noises to protect your ears but you may not understand how important it is to eat right when it comes to your ears. More and more evidence is coming out that shows the foods you choose to eat have a direct impact on your levels of hearing loss. Check out these foods you should incorporate in your diet for optimal hearing health.

Citrus Snacks

Citrus is well known for its healing properties as a way to stave off the common cold. However, those same abilities to keep sickness at bay can also keep harmful ear infections at bay. Thanks to all the vitamin C and E present in oranges and lemons, you can use that to your advantage when it comes to fighting off infection. You never want to leave an ear infection untreated, as this can lead to chronic hearing impairments.

Sweet Snacks

By snacking on dark chocolate, you’re helping to improve your ears thanks to the loads of zinc found in this treat. You can also get your zinc – which helps guard against hearing damage – in supplements, but eating dark chocolate is so much more fun!  Of course, you can’t overindulge or your hips will show the effects, but a little bit now and then can actually help your hearing health thanks to the antioxidants present that improve your whole body’s health.

Fish like Salmon

Salmon and other types of fish are notorious for their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in the improvement of your blood flow. Getting your blood pumping at healthy levels is imperative to a healthy lifestyle, not to mention the effect improved blood flow has on your ears. As you age, it becomes more and more important to keep fatty acids, such as those in salmon, an integral part of your diet.

Banana Bonanza

If you love bananas for their great taste and healthful properties, here’s another reason to love them: they work to curb hearing damage. This is due to the large amounts of magnesium, which can reverse the damaging effects of hearing damage brought on by external environmental influences like loud noises. Bananas are great alone or on your favorite breakfast cereal, so it’s easy to keep this food in your diet.

Beneficial Broccoli

This super veggie, as well as with other similar cruciferous veggies, improves your hearing health because it’s so chock full of vitamin and minerals. These vitamins and minerals work to stave off the damage to ear tissue brought on by free radicals. Preventing hearing loss is easy when you regularly eat veggies like broccoli. Bonus: your skin and hair will glow with radiance.

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

There are more reasons than ever to be concerned about your hearing health. From the Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders comes the news that people who suffer from hearing loss have a correlative relationship with people who have depression. Hearing loss and depression have a very distinct relationship; one which we will explore in depth in this article along with how to treat this form of depression and how hearing loss can cause depression.

The Research

One of the first things that the individuals at the institute wanted to do was to make sure that they had an adequate sample size in order to make sure that their research stuck. They used 18,000 people from all over the United States in order to conduct this study. They were between the ages of 18 and 80, all of whom were asked to report their hearing loss or have it tested for them. Once the test was completed, the people were all given a test to take that would reveal any depressive tendencies of theirs.

The results of the examination were very surprising because it showed that people of all ages were suffering from more hearing loss than ever before. The people between 18 and 70 had high levels of hearing loss as well as an 11% incidence rate of depression to go with it. Such high levels were not seen in older individuals, something that is still being looked into.

How Does This Happen?

The mechanism by which hearing loss can inflict depression is not as complicated as some people would believe. The simple loss of the ability to interact and have fun with people in your age group or to participate in activities due to hearing loss is more than enough to cause people to become more withdrawn. With this sense of being singled out of the fun, people are very likely to become depressed to some degree. Another way that hearing loss is conjectured to result in depression is through brain damage which has been noted to occur in people with hearing loss.

Treatment

There are many different treatments for both depression and hearing loss. People with depression are usually put on medication and have to go through therapy. While this can be helpful, it is better to treat the cause of the depression in people with hearing loss rather than the symptoms. That is why the best treatments are either surgery to repair the part of the ear causing the impairment, if possible, or to fit the person with a hearing aid. This will allow them to re-engage in conversations and other areas of their lives for the betterment of their mental state.

Earwax Removal – How you’re doing it wrong

The only person who should be cleaning out your ears is a professional audiologist. If you do it yourself, you’re risking severe harm to your precious ear canals. Although ear wax can look and feel gross when it gets out of control, the worst thing you can do is try to remove it with cotton swabs, tissues and pinky fingers. Leaving your ear wax alone will help preserve its natural function, which is to protect the ear canal. If it does build up, causing a degree of hearing loss, you can have it removed – just have it done by a professional. Let’s examine why these three  cleaning techniques are hurting your ears and why you should therefore see a professional for cleanings.

Cotton Swabs

Far and away the most common technique people use to clean out their ears after a good long shower is the cotton swab. When you do this, you’re damaging your sensitive ear canal no matter how clean and refreshing it may feel. You’re not only harming your ears, you’re also setting yourself up for discomfort in the future. Although the use of a cotton swab can get rid of that first layer of wax, the rest of the wax simply gets pushed into the ear, causing impaction. You can also cause hearing loss when you use a swab in this manner.

Ear Drops

Available at any store, ear drops can seem harmless, but you may want to think twice about them. Although they’ve been known to keep earwax from getting out of control, each person is different. That variation in ear canal composition means you won’t always get the results you’re promised on the box. This involves dripping the liquid into each ear, waiting for the liquid and earwax to come out when you tilt your head to the side. Everyone has a different sized ear canal, so what works for one person won’t for another.

Ear Candle

Ear candling is just what it sounds like, and it can have disastrous results, such as burning your clothes, hair or skin. The candles are actually made of wax-coated fabric with a long wick that you light and then use to lure out the melted earwax. Ideally, a vacuum is created in the ear through the heat coming off the flame but usually there’s not enough suction to be as effective as it should be. You may be able to draw out some amount of wax in this manner, the risk of burns is too great.

An Audiologist for Ear Care

A professional audiologist is who you should see when it comes to regular cleaning of your ears. They can remove impacted earwax with special tools, using the expertise and know-how they have accumulated over the years to provide an effective solution. You’ll feel cleaner and hear better as a result. The professional can also provide a complete eardrum exam to inspect for any damage. Make regular appointments so you can stay on top of your ear health.

How Noisy Workplaces are Causing Hearing Loss

While going to work each day can feel fulfilling, one of the growing work injuries suffered by people who do them involves hearing loss from performing in a noisy environment consistently. Whether you settle lawsuits or fix machines that transport materials for a living, there’s always a positive element that comes from working. Just be aware that there are dangers to your health when it comes to your ears, so check out these noisiest jobs so that you can understand the impact they have on your ears, along with how you can avoid permanent damage.

Farming

Agriculture, possibly one of the most gratifying jobs in the world, requires the frequent use of loud machines that can easily reach 85 decibels of sound and beyond. While farmers may derive satisfaction from feeding people and selling products grown with their own two hands, they can fall victim to hearing loss.

General Construction

Contractors are constantly hearing loud noises on the job, between the rapping of hammers on walls and the insistent puff of air from a nail gun, there are many ways construction workers expose themselves to a great amount of acute noise trauma daily. This is why many contractors decide to wear ear plugs or noise dampening headphones for their own safety.

Mining

Mining is a dangerous job but it is a very valuable one to everyone on the planet, providing us with crucial raw materials and fuel that we need to do other jobs. The roar of heavy equipment underground and in small spots compounds the effect on the hearing of all workers. As such, many individuals in this line of work end up with hearing loss.

Working in a Club

You may not pay it much mind, but the people who work in nightclubs don’t have as much fun as you do. Between the adults and teens screaming and the pulse-pounding music, this fun pastime on the weekend for the rest of us actually causes hearing loss in club workers. DJs, bouncers, bartenders and waitresses all risk their hearing health when taking jobs in these types of establishments.

Military

Boasting some of the noisiest work environments possible, the military blends elements of construction with the sounds of explosives and artillery, providing several ways people in the armed forces can suffer from hearing loss. This risk is compounded when you add in frequent weapons training and exposure to heavy machines such as tanks. This is why so many returning veterans have lasting acoustic trauma.

Ground Workers at Airports

Airports are loud places even if you’re not working outside on the ground. So you can imagine that ground worker has perhaps the noisiest job there is. Individuals are regularly exposed to jumbo jet noise on the runway, which is actually double the amount of decibels needed to trigger hearing loss. You’re at an even greater risk when working in commercial and military plane services. Think of that the next time you see those workers wearing noise-dampening ear pieces.

Closed-Captioning Glasses allow people with hearing loss to enjoy the the movies!

Most people who frequent movie theaters for the latest releases tend to take it for granted that they can enjoy the movie immediately with no extra effort to interpret it. Compare this to the thousands of people who are deaf or hearing impaired – they really can’t enjoy the movies until they are released with the captions added. However, that is all about to change, thanks to new closed-captioning glasses available at movie theaters now. This allows everyone to enjoy the films together. Let’s explore this new technology and where you can expect to find the glasses.

The Ins and Outs

Called Access Glasses,these provide many advantages to those who suffer from hearing loss, with the unique ability to be customized for brightness based upon the individual user. You can therefore see the captions best in optimal lighting. Adjustments can be made to fit your seat in the movie theater, allowing you to see the film and captions better. Initial trial places the middle of the theater as the best seat in the house when it comes to perspective.

Once configured to your face, the movie begins and you are treated to a cinematic delight. This is when sensors on either side of your head pick up on the captions via a data transmitter, with a display that shows right in front of you. You’ll appreciate that the captioning text appears to be floating about 10 feet before your face so you can read it comfortably while enjoying the whole movie experience. This is a big leap forward for those who are hearing impaired, with more implementation at more locations at future dates.

Concept and Design

The closed-caption glasses, developed by a joint partnership between Sony and Regal Cinemas, are officially known as Sony Entertainment Access Glasses. They are the end result of a lifelong dream of the chief administrative officer of Regal Cinemas, Randy Smith. It took years and years of testing, but Sony has now released the glasses with availability at over 6,000 screens by the close of summer.

A Seamless Design

Boasting an interesting design great for people of all shapes and sizes, these glasses resemble an oversized pair of glasses with two detectors on either side. They’re able to fit over most pairs of glasses that you own already, and are designed with your comfort in mind so you’re not tired by the end of the experience.

Where are they Found?

Right now the plan is to make the glasses available on a trial run at Regal Cinema theaters peppered across the United States. While it’s not known yet how long the testing phase of this project will last or even if expansion is planned for additional screens, it’s generally believed that the success of this new technology will rely on how many people they are able to draw into the theaters.