hearing health

How Alzheimer’s and Depression are Linked to Hearing Loss

Posted on February 16, 2017. Filed under: health, Hear the World, hearing education, hearing health, hearing loss, news | Tags: , , , , , |

Senior Woman Comforting Depressed Husband Sitting On Bench

There are at least 38 million people who suffer from hearing loss throughout America. Many senior citizens expect to lose their hearing over time but few know that it could increase the chances for depression and even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, hearing loss can influence every aspect of an individual’s life ranging from decreased social interaction to the unwanted symptoms of depression over a period of time.

However, dedicated scientists at Johns Hopkins University noticed patterns and similar traits from these conditions and wanted to take a closer look to examine how Alzheimer’s, depression and hearing loss are associated.

These scientists have determined that symptoms of these three conditions overlap and negatively influence one another. Essentially, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia very closely mimic the symptoms of hearing loss, which can further the symptoms of depression felt by sufferers. When an individual suffers from hearing loss, they are more susceptible to social isolation, a decline in thinking skills and even cognitive impairment.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

It has been proven that processing auditory information, like speech, uses a large portion of the brain as sound sends signals to the primary auditory cortex of the brain. When an individual suffers from hearing loss, the brain activity gradually lessens, which causes a reduction of gray matter over time. As such, the brain begins to shrink when certain parts are not used much like how muscles react if they are not used on a regular basis.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered that the more severe the hearing loss is in an individual, the more likely they were to develop dementia. The amount of hearing loss an individual suffers from can actually cause an increase in dementia because the brain is not stimulated enough. When you combine the amount of time an individual suffers from each of these symptoms, this can cause a real change in an individual’s life.

How Hearing Loss and Dementia Influence Depression

Hearing loss can cause depression due to isolation, withdrawal from social activities and negatively impact the way individuals process auditory information. The combination of hearing loss and dementia increases the amount of mental confusion experienced from day to day. In fact, the symptoms of hearing loss and dementia are often overlooked, which leads to deeper episodes of stress and depression.

Researchers were also able to observe and identify how closely hearing loss is related to depression. As time goes on, individuals may suffer from longer periods of depression and loss of communication, which negatively effects normal brain stimulation. What is most disturbing about how these conditions are associated is that mild cognitive problems and hearing loss is becoming increasingly accepted over time.

Without further observation, symptoms of all conditions may grow worse over time. The studies on these three conditions shows that without adequate brain stimulation, an individual is more prone to feel hopeless and isolated. Not only is hearing one of our most valued senses but without being able to hear and communicate effectively, the brain becomes weaker and unable to function optimally.

If you seem to be losing your hearing or have a loved one suffering from hearing loss, don’t hesitate to contact New Generation Hearing. Dr. Joseph K. Durán and Yvette Durán Someillán empathize with their patients and understand how hearing loss, when untreated, can lead to other health related problems. Give them a call today at (305) 551-7222.

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Pickleball – A Great Exercise for Seniors

Posted on October 20, 2016. Filed under: hearing health |

PickleballDo you miss team sports, but find that age-related problems like arthritis, injuries, or loss of strength are stopping you from getting involved in the local tennis or basketball scene? Are you looking for an exercise that is fun, social, and not too hard on your body?

Pickleball might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Pickleball is supposedly America’s fastest growing sport – doubling in player numbers from 2013 through 2015 and still gaining rapidly. Once you find out what it is, it’s easy to see the attraction: it’s a racquet sport like tennis, but with the strength component removed. Instead, players hit a soft waffle ball with paddles on a small court, and the key to success is having fast reflexes rather than powerful arms. Some players compare it to tossing a water balloon: you have to be gentle – and accurate.

It’s competitive, and there’s enough moving and sweating to offer a strong cardio component, but because the ball must be hit softly and kept in a small, low area of the court, it’s something almost anybody can get good at, even if they’re very young, very old, or suffer from joint problems or injuries. Also, pickleball can be played year-round, indoors or outdoors, and can be adapted to work on most tennis courts.

Of course, like any paddle or racquet sport, pickleball can still lead to injuries. The most common pickleball injury is a broken wrist, caused by falling on one’s hands after losing one’s balance during play. Nevertheless, pickleball is still considered much more low-impact than other, similar sports, like tennis and racquetball.

The game’s appeal to seniors, who are often looking for a low-impact way to exercise, has really helped its popularity, with pickleball courts popping up all over the country, especially in the Sun Belt: California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

People looking for Miami pickleball should check out the South Florida Pickleball Meetup, which currently has about 110 members who meet up to play. According to them, there are 15 locations in Miami-Dade and Broward county alone where pickleball can be played.

 

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1 in 10 Americans Suffer From Tinnitus

Posted on September 23, 2016. Filed under: hearing health |

photo-tinnitus-3.pngIf the new study out of the University of California is correct, you probably know somebody who suffers from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition where people perceive a “ringing in the ears”, or hear other noises (like buzzing, hissing or roaring), in the absence of actual sound.  According to the new study, about 1 in every 10 Americans suffers from this annoying condition, which has no cure and can actually cause depression, anxiety and other problems.

Tinnitus is not considered a disease by medical professionals. Instead, it is treated like a symptom of something else. For instance, tinnitus is often the first sign of hearing loss in the elderly. It is also a common side effect of many medications. It can be caused by something as simple as earwax blocking the ear canal, or by sinus infections, ear infections, heart disease, Ménière’s disease, thyroid problems, hormonal changes or (rarely) brain tumors. Most often, though, it is the result of exposure to loud noises, especially occupational exposure. Construction workers, military service members, musicians, and other people who work in a loud environment all frequently suffer from tinnitus.

In addition to its widespread prevalence, the study found that about 27% of people with tinnitus had symptoms for more than 15 years, and about 36% had symptoms almost all the time. Fortunately, only 7% of tinnitus sufferers reported it as a major problem in their lives, while 41.6% said that it was only a small problem. In fact, only 49.4% had discussed their symptoms with their doctor. This could be a good thing or a bad thing – it might be that tinnitus sufferers don’t feel like the problem warrants treatment because it isn’t so bad. On the other hand, it could be that tinnitus sufferers don’t seek treatment because they don’t believe anything can help.

While it’s true that there is no cure for tinnitus, it’s not true that nothing can help with the symptoms. Hearing aids, sound generators, cochlear implants, acoustic neural stimulation, medications and even counseling are government-recommended treatments that have been shown to help (to varying degrees) with the symptoms of tinnitus. If you think you have tinnitus, your first step should be to contact your doctor. Your primary care physician will be able to help determine if anything simple is causing your problem – like a blocked ear canal or a medication side effect. If they can’t find the cause, they may refer you to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or an audiologist. Both specialize in hearing disorders, and may be able to measure and treat your symptoms.

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Treating Hearing Loss May Slow Down Decline in Cognitive Functioning

Posted on June 17, 2016. Filed under: hearing health, news | Tags: |

Hearing loss and dementia

Several recent studies have suggested that hearing loss is tied to cognitive decline. For instance, a 2013 study conducted by Frank Lin, an otologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, showed that adults with moderate hearing loss (severe enough to interfere with conversation) were 24% more likely than adults with normal hearing to see their cognitive abilities decline over the span of 6 years. In that study, the average age of the participant was 77, and the cognitive abilities measured included concentration, memory and the ability to plan.

Another study, completed in 2015 at the University of Bordeaux in France, tracked the hearing loss and cognitive functioning of 3,777 adults over a span of 25 years. Those adults who self-reported hearing loss at the beginning of the study were significantly more likely to start the program with lower cognitive functioning scores, and showed greater decline in cognitive abilities over the 25-year span than those with normal hearing.

The majority of older adults have some degree of hearing loss, so this might sound like bad news for a lot of people. Estimates vary, but in general, it’s thought that more than half of adults over 75 have hearing loss, and that rate goes up with age. But there is a bright side to all these studies – they also found that treating hearing loss might be able to slow down cognitive decline.

One very recent study from Columbia University Medical Center found that adults between the ages of 80 and 99 scored higher on tests of cognitive function if they used hearing aids when compared to adults who did not use hearing aids. They also found that overall cognitive functioning was tied to hearing ability, even if the participant did not use a hearing aid.

This finding is in agreement with the University of Bordeaux study mentioned earlier, which found that the level of cognitive decline in subjects who used a hearing aid was the same as the level of decline in subjects who had no hearing problems at all.

Since only about 15% of adults with hearing problems wear hearing aids, this means that there are lots of people who could potentially slow down their age-related loss of cognitive ability simply by treating their hearing loss.

Although scientists don’t totally understand why there is a link between hearing loss and mental functioning, there are a couple of possible explanations that researchers are considering. One explanation is that if your brain is spending up its resources just to comprehend what you are hearing, then it has less resources available for other tasks, like planning or remembering things. Another possible explanation is being hard of hearing tends to lead to social isolation: people who can’t hear conversations well can’t take part in them actively. Social isolation has been known for a long time to lead to increased likelihood of dementia, since interaction with others helps stimulate the brain.

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Why School Hearing Tests Are Important

Posted on May 31, 2016. Filed under: hearing health |

School hearing tests

Penn State

While many parents may find school hearing exams on their children pointless, they are actually a really important barometer of health. If your child has an issue with his or her hearing, it may not be immediately noticeable in the home (for example, if your child has unilateral hearing loss versus bilateral) so it’s important to have a professional periodically check their hearing, even if nothing appears to be wrong. Especially since passing schools screenings once doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Some common hearing defects can be present at birth without being noticed and others can develop with time due to listening to loud music or because of other external factors.

Early detection in hearing loss is so important to a child’s schooling and overall development, as even a partial difficulty in hearing can affect your child’s speech and language development. It can delay their reading, spelling, problem-solving, and math skills, as well as lower grades than they would have otherwise scored in IQ exams.

This is not to mention the possible social effects your child may be feeling as a result of hearing loss (even if it’s only a small difference in their hearing) like feelings of isolation, embarrassment, hard time participating in group activities, and lower social maturity than their classmates. No parent wants their child to suffer this way and it’s sad that things like as simple as a skipped hearing screening can lead to something like this being missed.

We’d also like to emphasize that a hearing screening at school is nothing to worry about. The school exam itself is easy enough; all your child will need to do is raise their hand as they hear different sounds in either ear. The tester will explain it thoroughly to your child and it will only take a few minutes out of their school day.

Plus, not passing a screening and getting a referral for a full hearing examination does not mean that there is a significant problem, it just means that the audiologist wants to get a more in depth look at your child’s ears. If there is an issue, they’ll then go from there to help determine whether it could be one of the 4 different kinds of hearing loss. With the current technology no available there are many options that will help your child hear better without making him or her feel uncomfortable.

So, now that you know a few things about school hearing tests, do you feel at ease? Don’t be afraid if your child didn’t pass the test. If you live in Miami, FL we at New Generation Hearing Centers can personally see to your child’s next examination. Plus, we offer free consultations! Check out or contact page for more information. We’ll see you soon.

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