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August 1, 2018

The Binaural Advantage

If you have hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss), then you are most likely a candidate for two hearing aids, which is called binaural hearing aids. While a hearing healthcare professional can best determine if you are a candidate for two hearing aids, the ultimate decision-maker concerning binaural instruments is the person who will wear them. It is important that the person with the hearing loss be given the chance to experience binaural hearing aid amplification before a decision on one or two hearing aids is made. Similar to the way refractory problems in both eyes are treated with a pair of glasses, it makes sense that bilateral hearing loss should be treated with binaural hearing aids. Let me share with you why two hearing aids are better than one.

Better understanding of speech. By wearing two hearing aids rather than one, selective listening is more easily achieved. This means your brain can focus on the conversation you want to hear. Research shows that people wearing two hearing aids routinely understand speech and conversation significantly better than people wearing one hearing aid.

Better understanding in group and noisy situations. Speech intelligibility is improved in difficult listening situations when wearing two hearing aids.

Better ability to tell the direction of sound. This is called localization. In a social gathering, for example, localization allows you to hear from which direction someone is speaking to you. Also, localization helps you determine from which direction traffic is coming or where your children or grandchildren are playing. Simply put, with binaural hearing, you will better detect where sounds are coming from in every situation.

Better sound quality. When you listen to a stereo system, you use both speakers to get the smoothest, sharpest, most natural sound quality. The same can be said of hearing aids. By wearing two hearing aids, you increase your hearing range from 180 degrees reception with just one instrument, to 360 degrees. This greater range provides a better sense of balance and sound quality.

Smoother tone quality. Wearing two hearing aids generally requires less volume than one. The need for less volume results in less distortion and better reproduction of amplified sounds.

Wider hearing range. A person can hear sounds from a further distance with two ears, rather than just one. A voice that’s barely heard at 10 feet with one ear can be heard up to 40 feet with two ears.

Better sound identification. Often, with just one hearing aid, many noises and words sound alike. But with two hearing aids, as with two ears, sounds are more easily distinguishable.

Keeps both ears active resulting in potentially less hearing loss deterioration. Research has shown that when only one hearing aid is worn, the unaided ear tends to lose its ability to hear and understand. This is clinically called the auditory deprivation effect. Wearing two hearing aids keeps both ears active.

Hearing is less tiring and listening more pleasant. More binaural hearing aid wearers report that listening and participating in conversation is more enjoyable with two instruments, instead of just one. This is because they do not have to strain to hear with the better ear. Thus, binaural hearing can help make life more relaxing.

Feeling of balanced hearing. Two-eared hearing results in a feeling of balanced reception of sound, also known as the stereo effect, whereas monaural hearing creates an unusual feeling of sounds being heard in one ear.

Greater comfort when loud noises occur. A lower volume control setting is required with two hearing aids than is required with one hearing aid. The result is a better tolerance of loud sounds.

Reduced feedback and whistling. With a lower volume control setting the chances of hearing aid feedback is reduced.

Tinnitus Masking. About 50% of people with ringing in their ears report improvement when wearing hearing aids. If a person with tinnitus wears a hearing aid in only one ear, there will still be ringing in the ear that does not have a hearing aid.

Consumer preference. An overwhelming majority of consumers who have hearing loss in both ears, choose two hearing aids over one, when given the choice to hear binaurally.

Customer satisfaction. Research with more than 5,000 consumers with hearing loss in both ears demonstrated that binaurally fit subjects are more satisfied than people fit with one hearing aid.

Logically, just as you use both eyes to see clearly, you need two healthy ears to hear clearly. Before you decide on one hearing aid, try two. Your hearing healthcare professional can demonstrate to you the binaural advantage experience either through headphones (during testing), probe microphones, master hearing aids, or during your trial fitting. Decide for yourself.

 

Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. – Better Hearing Institute, Washington, DC

http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/hearing-aids/binaural-advantage


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July 19, 2018

The Link Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

By Allison Tsai

May 2018

 

Haleigh Eason/Mittera

You go to routine doctor visits for all kinds of preventive care: eye exams, A1C tests, blood pressure

checks, and more. But when was the last time you had a hearing test? If you can’t remember, it’s likely

been too long. “Anyone with diabetes should have their hearing monitored annually,” says Jackie Clark,

PhD, president of the American Academy of Audiology and clinical professor at the School of Behavioral

and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas in Dallas.

6 Signs of Hearing Loss

You have trouble hearing when there is background noise, such as at a restaurant.

  1. Your balance is a bit off when you stand up.
  2. You can’t hear beeps or alarms.
  3. You have difficulty following conversations
  4. You can’t hear when a person’s back is turned.
  5. You regularly turn up the volume on your TV or cell phone.

The Stats

People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without diabetes.

People with prediabetes have a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss than those without the disease.

SOURCES: 2009 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; Annals of Internal Medicine, July 2008

The Theories

The effect of diabetes on the ear is a bit of a mystery. Here’s what scientists think might be happening.

Flying High. Chronic high blood glucose can damage blood vessels, disrupting blood flow. The cochlea, a

small organ responsible for our hearing, is dependent on good blood flow.

Roller Coaster Ride. Damage to the blood vessels in the ear may be a result of blood glucose swings—

from high highs to low lows.

Under Pressure. The cochlea may become inflamed, from chronic high blood glucose or rapid swings in

glucose, and the resulting swelling damages the tissue and blood vessels.

The Risks

Diabetes itself is a risk factor for hearing loss, but there are other factors at play. You may be at greater

risk if you are…

  • 65 or older
  • Regularly exposed to loud noises
  • Genetically predisposed to hearing loss
  • Male
  • Non-hispanic white
  • Experiencing other ear-related diseases or infections
  • Living with heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Not hitting your blood glucose targets
  • Taking medications (such as for chemotherapy) that can damage the inner

The Treatment

Unfortunately, once the inner ear becomes damaged, you can’t restore hearing. If you’ve noticed signs of

hearing loss, here are your next steps:

Discuss your hearing loss with your primary care provider. He or she may refer you to an otolaryngologist

(a doctor who specializes in diseases of the ear, nose, and throat), as well as an audiologist, who will

conduct a hearing test. Medicare may cover the test if your doctor ordered it to diagnose a medical

condition, but some plans don’t cover routine hearing tests. Private insurance plans often do, but check to

make sure.

Devices that can help you hear better include hearing aids and amplifiers for your phone. Cochlear

implants—small devices that are surgically implanted into the inner ear to create a sense of sound—are

another option and, in certain circumstances, are covered by Medicare. You may decide to work with an

audiologist, who can teach you strategies such as lip reading.

Type 1 Talk

Research on diabetes and hearing loss has, historically, focused on people with type 2. Because of that,

there is a lot less known about the effects of type 1 on hearing loss, says Catherine Cowie, PhD, senior

advisor for the diabetes epidemiology program at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and

Kidney Diseases. But hearing checks are still a must.

Balancing Act

Your inner ear is responsible for more than just hearing. It also helps orient the brain to your center of

gravity. If the vestibular system (the part of the ear involved in balance) is also damaged, your ability to

balance and walk may be affected. That can increase falls.

Plugged In

Want to bask in the bliss of a live concert? You can, with some protection. Foam earplugs are one of the

best, and cheapest, ways to protect your hearing, says Clark, but most people aren’t using them correctly.

Get the best plug protection with this step-by-step guide:

1. Place the foam earplug lengthwise between your forefinger, middle finger, and thumb, and roll it

until the earplug is about one-quarter its original size.

2. Once it’s small enough, quickly stick the entire length of the earplug in your ear canal.

3. Hold the earplug in your ear and let it expand.

4. Push the outside edges back into the ear as the plug expands.


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June 11, 2018

Hearing loss can be something that happens suddenly if you’re exposed to a loud sound or bang. It can also happen slowly over a long period of time, which is often the case with age-related hearing loss. Understanding hearing loss is an important first step towards doing something about it.

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss means you have lost the ability to hear certain sounds.  Maybe you can no longer hear high-pitched tones, like the voices of women or children. Or maybe you can’t pick out a single voice if there is a lot of conversation in the background.
Sometimes hearing loss is temporary, like a ringing in your ears after a noisy concert. Most often, it is permanent because the mechanisms that help you hear have been damaged.

Levels of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be divided into four categories depending on the level of hearing loss*: mild, moderate, severe and profound. Watch the video to understand these four levels better.

*World Health Organization, 2016

Get a feel for what’s it like to live with a hearing loss

Click below to hear what everyday situations such as going to the restaurant and listening to music sounds like with different levels of hearing loss.

Click here to take our free online ReSound hearing loss test.

What is an audiogram?

When your specialist describes your hearing loss, he or she will always refer to the severity of the loss and its “configuration”, which means the pitches or frequencies you are unable to hear.
These tones will be placed on a graph called an audiogram.
An audiogram shows which frequencies you are able to hear, and at what volume. The audiogram gives your hearing professional a good idea of how severe your hearing loss is, and helps your professional select the best treatment options for you.

Parts of the ear and hearing loss types

The ear is made up of three parts:

  • the outer ear
  • the middle ear
  • the inner ear

Knowing how the ear works is important for understanding hearing loss. Hearing loss can be divided into three types depending on which part of the ear is affected.

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March 8, 2018

Here’s more evidence that regular exercise really is the best medicine: avid cyclists as old as 79 had healthy muscle and immune function as good as people 30 years younger who did not exercise.

British researchers tested the muscles and immune systems of a group of middle-aged and elderly cyclists and compared them to younger people who do not exercise regularly.

The cyclists were healthier, both in terms of their muscles and their immune systems, than middle-aged couchpotatoes. That’s no surprise.But they also looked as healthy, biologically, as a group of people aged 20 to 36 who did not exercise, the team reported in the journal Aging Cell.

By some measures, their bodies had not aged at all.

“It really tells us that staying physically active all of your adult life can prevent much of what we think of as aging, including immune aging,” said Janet Lord, who directs the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.

The team did two experiments taking muscle samples from their volunteers and also analyzing their immune systems at a very detailed level.

They worked with a group of 125 male and female cyclists aged 55 to 79, who regularly cycled long distances — 35 to 60 miles in a day at a fairly rapid clip.

They compared them to 75 people their own age who did not exercise and also to 55 young adults aged 20 to 36 who didn’t exercise.

The older cyclists did not lose muscle mass, their cholesterol levels stayed healthy, they did not gain as much body fat as the inactive adults and their immune systems looked 30 or more years younger, the team found.

Usually people start losing some immune function by the time they are 20. But the cyclists had not lost any at all.

“What we predict is that our cyclists should be able to respond really well to their annual flu vaccination and have a lower incidence of infections,” Lord said.

The study suggests that what has come to be an expected loss of immune protection may be caused by a lack of exercise, not by simply getting older.

“We conclude that maintained physical activity in to middle and old age protects against many aspects of immune aging which are in large part lifestyle-driven,” the researchers wrote.

“Our findings debunk the assumption that aging automatically makes us more frail,” Lord said in a statement.

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February 14, 2018

Cancer represents a major worldwide burden, with 14.1 million new cases diagnosed in 2012. According to the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, about a third of the most common neoplasms could be avoided by changing lifestyle and dietary habits in developed countries. Therefore, reaching a balanced and diversified diet (along with avoidance of tobacco use and reduction in alcohol intake) should be considered one of the most important modifiable risk factors in the primary prevention of cancer.

At the same time, during the past decades, diets in many countries have shifted towards a dramatic increase in consumption of ultra-processed foods. After undergoing multiple physical, biological, and/or chemical processes, these food products are conceived to be microbiologically safe, convenient, highly palatable, and affordable. Several surveys (in Europe, the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Brazil) assessing individual food intake, household food expenses, or supermarket sales have suggested that ultra-processed food products contribute to between 25% and 50% of total daily energy intake.

This dietary trend may be concerning and deserves investigation. Several characteristics of ultra-processed foods may be involved in causing disease, particularly cancer. Firstly, ultra-processed foods often have a higher content of total fat, saturated fat, and added sugar and salt, along with a lower fibre and vitamin density. Beyond nutritional composition, neoformed contaminants, some of which have carcinogenic properties (such as acrylamide, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), are present in heat treated processed food products as a result of the Maillard reaction. Secondly, the packaging of ultra-processed foods may contain some materials in contact with food for which carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor properties have been postulated, such as bisphenol Finally, ultra-processed foods contain authorised, but controversial, food additives such as sodium nitrite in processed meat or titanium dioxide (TiO2, white food pigment), for which carcinogenicity has been suggested in animal or cellular models.

Studying potential effects on health of ultra-processed foods is a very recent field of research, facilitated by the development of the NOVA classification of products according to their degree of food processing. Nevertheless, epidemiological evidence linking intake of ultra-processed food to risk of disease is still very scarce and mostly based on cross sectional and ecological studies. The few studies performed observed that ultra-processed food intake was associated with a higher incidence of dyslipidaemia in Brazilian children and higher risks of overweight, obesity, and hypertension in a prospective cohort of Spanish university students.

To our knowledge, this prospective study was the first to evaluate the association between the consumption of ultra-processed food products and the incidence of cancer, based on a large cohort study with detailed and up to date assessment of dietary intake.

 

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