Tag: Comorbidity

How Prevalent Really is Hearing Loss Among Americans and Canadians?

How many people in your life have hearing difficulties? One person? Two people? A handful? No one? The actual number is quite possibly more than you think, because hearing loss — the inability or reduced ability to perceive sounds that enter the ear — is much more common than many realize.

In the United States and Canada together, for example, millions of people live with hearing loss. Numbers may vary per organization, government agency, or study, but:

In both countries, hearing loss also represents one of the top chronic physical conditions — even, in the case of the United States, ahead of diabetes or cancer. It’s a growing concern affecting children and adults, including approximately 34 million youth worldwide. In fact, it’s one of the most common birth defects in Canada and possibly the most common one in the U.S.
 

The good news?

Most hearing loss can be effectively managed with solutions such as hearing aids, helping you stay connected to the people, places, and experiences that matter most.
 

The bad news?

Only a fraction of those who could benefit from hearing help actually seek or receive it, making hearing loss an undertreated issue.
 
Even worse, hearing loss not only impacts communication but can go hand in hand with other problems such as social isolation, depression, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and risk of falls.


FEBRUARY IS HEART MONTH

Did you know? Like hearing loss, cardiovascular disease — including heart disease and stroke — is a global public-health challenge. It’s the No. 1 killer worldwide, with nearly 18 million deaths annually per World Health Organization estimates, and is linked to hearing loss.

Precisely how cardiovascular disease and hearing loss are connected isn’t yet conclusive in all cases, but researchers have found, for example, that those with heart disease are 54 percent more likely to experience a hearing loss — even more so if they’ve suffered a heart attack.

Some risk factors such as age, gender, and family history can’t be helped, but healthy choices such as the following can make a difference in helping prevent either condition:

  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Following a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting regular hearing and overall checkups

Take it to heart, and spread the word!

No Bones About It: Osteoporosis May Nearly Double Risk of Sudden Hearing Loss

What does osteoporosis, a potentially debilitating disease affecting some 10 million Americans and 2 million Canadians, have in common with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, dementia, and other selected conditions? It can go hand in hand with hearing loss.

More specifically, at least one study links osteoporosis to a nearly doubled risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss, a disease that can touch people of all ages around the globe but primarily affects those in their 50s and 60s.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by weakened bones that are more vulnerable to breakage. It occurs when the normal process of old bone being replaced by new bone slows down, putting the person at greater risk of serious problems such as hip, wrist, and spine fractures.

Though some osteoporosis risk factors such as gender, age, race, and family history canít be helped, a few preventive tactics can make a difference in keeping bones healthy, strong, and more resistant to becoming fragile, weak, and brittle:

  • Avoid tobacco use and excess drinking.
  • Adopt a regular exercise regimen approved by your doctor.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight, steering clear of too few or too many calories.
  • Eat healthfully, being sure to include protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients in your diet.

Does Osteoporosis Cause Sudden Hearing Loss?

Scientists arenít necessarily ready to say that osteoporosis actually causes sudden sensorineural hearing loss, but studies have long reported a relationship between the two. More recently, researchers in Taiwan sought to quantify the risk of sudden hearing loss in osteoporotic patients. They published their results in the June 2015 edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The investigators, who studied a random representative sample of 1 million participants in Taiwanís National Health Insurance program, found that those with osteoporosis had a 1.76-fold risk of experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Patients at seemingly greatest risk: adults 50 and older, women, and ó possibly ó those with hypertension and osteoporosis.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT SUDDEN SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS

  • Relatively common and typically referred to as ìsudden deafnessî or ìSSHLî
  • Involves rapid hearing loss in an instant or over several days
  • Usually develops in one ear rather than both
  • May occur together with dizziness or ringing in the ears
  • Requires immediate help for greatest effectiveness of treatment
  • Common treatment includes steroid therapy, but some cases resolve on their own
  • Often has unknown cause, but common culprits include head injury, ototoxic drugs, infectious disease, circulation problems, thyroid disorders, and other selected conditions

What Can You Do?

Take good care of your bones ó and your ears. A causal relationship between osteoporosis and sudden sensorineural hearing loss might not yet be conclusive, but one thing is clear: If you or a loved one has osteoporosis or is experiencing listening difficulties, itís important to get a hearing check.

So donít wait. To stay atop your hearing health and help catch any potential changes or problems early, contact us to schedule a hearing evaluation today. Our caring team is here to help with all your listening needs!

Is Weight Connected to Hearing Loss? Studies Say There’s a Connection

Is Weight Connected to Hearing Loss?

Studies about weight often concern its relation to overall health. Common connections include weight and the risk for or prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea, to name a few. One topic that doesn’t get as much attention is the connection between weight and risk for hearing loss. But is there a connection?

To understand how weight affects hearing, you need to know about something tiny but important in your inner ear: the hair cell.

The Hair Cell

Your brain doesn’t understand sound waves. Tiny, hair-like structures in your inner ear, called hair cells, translate sound waves into a language — electrical signals — your brain understands. It sends those signals to your brain through the auditory nerve, and your brain interprets the signals as sound information.

Care and Feeding of Your Hair Cells

Hair cells need plenty of oxygen, which they get from strong, rich blood flow. If you have poor circulation, your hair cells don’t get sufficient nourishment. This leads to cell damage or death. Your body can’t repair hair cells — the damage is done, leaving fewer opportunities for sound information to reach your brain. Hearing loss due to damaged or destroyed hair cells is permanent.

Weight and Blood Flow

The more fat tissue in the body, the harder the heart has to work to get blood where it needs to go. Despite the extra work and increased blood pressure, the blood doesn’t actually move through the body as easily. It’s harder for the blood to reach areas farther away from the heart, such as the tiny blood vessels in your inner ear. Again, the poorer the blood flow, the less nourishment for your hair cells.

Is the Belly the Culprit?

Results from a John Hopkins School of Medicine study reported that improvement in blood flow is directly related to a reduction in excess belly fat. How? As belly fat is lost, the arteries regain their ability to expand, allowing blood to flow freely. The greater the reduction of belly fat, the stronger the recovery of healthy blood flow.

So it stands to reason that reducing belly fat would lead to better hearing. And results from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study support that reasoning: They found a direct correlation between amount of belly fat and risk of hearing loss. They also found that exercise protected against hearing loss.


If you suspect you might have hearing loss, contact us today to schedule an appointment!

How Are Smoking and Hearing Loss Related?

Smoking can damage your hearing. If you’re one of the 40 million U.S. adults who smokes cigarettes find out why it may be time to get a hearing test.

The connection between smoking and heart disease, cancer, and respiratory problems gets all the attention, but the effects of smoking on hearing have long been known. If you’re one of the 40 million U.S. adults who smokes cigarettes — or someone who lives with a smoker — read on to find out how smoking is linked to hearing loss.

Some Facts

How does smoking affect hearing?

  • Compared to nonsmokers, smokers have a 70% greater chance of developing hearing loss.
  • Nonsmokers are twice as likely to develop hearing loss if they live with a smoker.
  • The greater your daily average of cigarettes, the greater your risk of developing hearing loss.
  • Mothers who smoke during pregnancy increase their child’s risk for developing speech-language problems.
  • If you work around high levels of occupational noise, smoking increases your risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop hearing loss — and they usually aren’t even aware of it.

Some Culprits

Different studies have reported different suggestions for how smoking damages hearing. Here are some common culprits.

Eustachian tube

Your eustachian tube runs from your middle ear to the back of your throat. It equalizes the pressure in your ears, and it drains the mucous created by the lining of your middle ear. Smoking leads to problems — and even blockages — in the eustachian tube, causing pressure buildup and hearing loss.

Blood Pressure

Smoking impacts your blood pressure. What does that have to do with your hearing? The structures in your inner ear depend on good, sturdy blood flow. When your blood pressure changes, your inner ear has difficulty processing sound. In pregnant women, smoking restricts blood flow — and, therefore, the oxygen supply — to the fetus. The developing inner ear doesn’t get enough oxygen, so it develops more slowly and could lead to speech-language problems later.

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are messengers that carry information between the cells in your body. Nicotine interferes with how your body regulates a key neurotransmitter — one that is crucial for transporting sound information from your inner ear to your brain. This means your brain isn’t getting enough sound input, so it has a harder time making sense of the sounds you hear.

Central nervous system

The parts of your central nervous system that create your ability to hear are still developing in late adolescence. This system is easily damaged by toxins — such as nicotine — during its development, which could explain the prevalence among adolescents of hearing loss due to secondhand smoke.


Though hearing loss caused by smoking can’t be reversed, it’s never too late to quit smoking to avoid further damage to your hearing. Contact us to schedule an appointment to get your hearing tested!
 
 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking & Tobacco Use: Data and Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/index.htm. Accessed July 31, 2018. Cruickshanks KJ, et al. Cigarette Smoking and Hearing Loss: The Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study. JAMA. 1998;279(21):1715–1719. Katbamna B. Effects of Smoking on the Auditory System. Audiology Online. October 2008, article 899. https://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/effects-smoking-on-auditory-system-899. Tao L, et al. Effect of Cigarette Smoking on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Workers Exposed to Occupational Noise in China. Noise Health. 2013;15(62):67–72. Pezzoli M, et al. Effects of Smoking on Eustachian Tube and Hearing. Int Tinnitus J. 2017;21(2):98–103.

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What Does Hypertension Have to Do With Hearing? Plenty!

We’ve got a tip for your wellness checklist: Keeping your blood pressure down may help keep your hearing up!

Both hearing loss and hypertension, or high blood pressure, impact millions of people around the world, but few realize that these two chronic conditions might go hand in hand.

For your best health, here are three important things to know:

Hypertension and Hearing Loss Are Connected

Like hearing loss, which affects an estimated 466 million people worldwide, hypertension is a serious public-health challenge that can take a toll on your health and overall quality of life. It could also put you at greater risk of hearing impairment.

In one study of 274 men and women ages 45 to 64, researchers found a strong relationship between high blood pressure and age-related hearing loss, with hypertensive patients having a higher threshold below which they couldn’t hear — indicating hearing loss.

The study didn’t pinpoint the causal link between the two conditions, but suggested that hypertension may damage inner-ear blood vessels, accelerating age-related hearing loss.

High Blood Pressure Can Be Reined In

The bad news? Hypertension, often labeled a “silent killer,” can develop gradually, persist without any signs or symptoms, and lead to dangerous complications such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and more. It’s a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is also linked to hearing loss.

The good news? Detecting possible hypertension is as simple as getting blood pressure readings during regular checkups with your medical provider, and you can control the condition with lifestyle changes and medication. One high reading doesn’t necessarily indicate hypertension, so it’s important to check your blood pressure over time.

It’s also important to know the risk factors for hypertension, which can include age, race, family history, alcohol and tobacco use, stress, obesity, chronic conditions such as diabetes, and more.

Regular Hearing Checks Can Make a Difference

It’s unclear exactly how high blood pressure and hearing loss are connected in all cases, but the potential links between them offer another compelling reason to take care of your circulatory system and your hearing.

Eat a balanced diet, stay active, keep stress in check, and remember to schedule an annual hearing test. Keeping an eye on your blood pressure and catching potential hearing problems early helps ensure better health and an improved quality of life.

Do you have hypertension? Don’t delay. For a comprehensive hearing evaluation, contact our caring team at today!

Diabetes & Hearing Loss: What’s the Deal?

Diabetes & Hearing Loss: What’s the Deal?

Are hearing impairment and diabetes connected? More than you might think.

Hearing loss ó which affects an estimated one of every five Americans ó is twice as common among people living with diabetes, making healthy habits and regular hearing checkups all the more important for overall wellness.

Some 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, a chronic metabolic disease that isn’t yet curable but can be managed. Controlling blood sugar is crucial to managing the condition, which, if uncontrolled, can lead over time to other problems such as cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and hearing loss.

Much like age-related hearing loss, diabetes-related hearing issues commonly take a toll on higher-frequency hearing. In addition, people with diabetes can have a harder time hearing speech in noisy environments such as restaurants and parties.

What’s the link between the two conditions?

It’s not yet known all the ways in which diabetes and hearing impairment ó two global public-health challenges ó are connected, but research has identified poor blood flow to the cochlea as the main culprit in hearing loss among diabetic patients.

Diabetes-associated hearing loss could affect one or both ears, may occur suddenly or gradually, and could appear with or without balance problems of the inner ear, but routine hearing checks can help catch potential issues early.

As evidence of links between hearing loss and diabetes continues to grow, researchers recommend that annual hearing evaluations be a standard part of the health care regimen for individuals with diabetes.

FIGHT BACK

Diabetes may play a role in hearing loss, but you can fight back by helping reduce your overall risk of hearing impairment. Some prevention tips:

  • Manage your diabetes if you have the disease, using strategies created with your medical doctor.
  • Reduce exposure to excess noise, one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet, which contributes to better ear functioning.
  • Avoid tobacco use, a risk factor for cancer, hearing loss, and many other problems.
  • Stay physically active, because excess weight not only ups the risk of diabetes but can tax your hearing.

If you have diabetes or listening difficulties, don’t wait. Contact us today to have your hearing evaluated by a licensed hearing professional. Early testing, detection, and treatment can make a difference in your quality of life.

Cognitive Decline is a Real Risk With Hearing Loss

Dementia a Real Risk With Hearing Loss

If you think of hearing loss as just an inconsequential part of getting older, you’re not alone.

The truth is, however, that the condition can strike even the youngest among us ó more than one in 1,000 babies screened has some form of hearing impairment, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data ó and it can trigger other health problems, too.

Take cognitive decline, for example, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Research has long pointed to links between hearing loss and reduced brain functioning over time, but the statistics may surprise you.

Consider these startling findings:

  • On average, seniors with hearing loss experience significantly reduced cognitive function 3.2 years before their normal-hearing counterparts.
  • Hearing-impaired seniors experience thinking and memory problems 30 to 40 percent faster than their normal-hearing counterparts.
  • Older adults with a hearing disability may lose over a cubic centimeter of brain tissue annually beyond normal shrinkage.
  • Those with hearing loss are two, three, or nearly five times as likely to develop dementia, depending on the severity of the hearing impairment.

So what’s the connection between hearing impairment and cognitive decline? It’s not completely clear how hearing loss, which is also associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other common public-health challenges, contributes to development of dementia.

What is clear, however, is the importance of regular hearing checkups to help stave off the threat of cognitive impairment. Tackling risk factors such as hearing loss earlier on could cut dementia cases by a third, according to a research collaborative led by UK psychiatry professor Gill Livingston and involving the Alzheimer’s Society, Alzheimer’s Research UK, and other individuals, institutions, and organizations.

As one of your most crucial senses for communication and perception, hearing not only helps you stay connected to the world but helps keep your brain sharp. Give your hearing health and overall wellness a hand by staying active, eating a diet rich in important nutrients, avoiding excess noise, and scheduling regular hearing checkups.


Munch to Better Hearing

Hearing power is brainpower, and some key foods can help! Certain vitamins and minerals can go a long way toward supporting your hearing wellness, according to HealthyHearing.com. In honor of National Nutrition Month in March, check out these examples:

  • Bananas

    These reliable delights are rich in potassium, an important mineral for regulating blood and tissue fluid levels ó including in the inner ear, which plays an important role in hearing and balance.

  • Broccoli

    This versatile vegetable with an edible stalk and green flowering head provides folate, which studies have linked to healthy outcomes such as decreased risk of hearing impairment among older men.

  • Tomatoes

    These juicy fruits ó easy to grow and delicious cooked in a sauce or served raw ó offer magnesium, which, combined with vitamins A, C, and E, help thwart noise-induced hearing loss.

  • Dark-Meat Chicken

    This flavorful part of the bird ó along with other foods such as beef, oysters, and legumes ó delivers zinc, which supports the immune system and may help fight tinnitus or ringing in the ears.


Sources:
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Accelerates Brain Function Decline in Older Adults. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_accelerates_brain_function_decline_in_older_adults. Accessed Feb. 5, 2018.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_accelerated_brain_tissue_loss_. Accessed Feb. 5, 2018.
The JAMA Network | JAMA Neurology. Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/802291. Accessed Feb. 5, 2018.
U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health. A Prospective Study of Vitamin Intake and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2853884/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2018.
U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health. Free Radical Scavengers Vitamins A, C, and E Plus Magnesium Reduce Noise Trauma. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1950331/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2018.
U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health. The Role of Zinc in the Treatment of Tinnitus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12544035. Accessed Feb. 5, 2018.

Rheumatoid Arthritis’ Connection to Hearing Loss

What does rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have to do with hearing loss? Quite a bit, according to a new study released by the Open Rheumatology Journal.

Hearing loss has been linked to a decrease in overall mental and physical health. Research has proven connections with age, smoking, cognitive decline, heart health, and a diminished quality of life — and now rheumatoid arthritis.

This is the first study of hearing impairment in RA. The study’s conclusion: Those with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of hearing impairment over the course of the disease. In addition, the study suggests it’s obvious that hearing impairment in RA is a multi-factorial disease because environmental factors like smoking, disease characteristics like rheumatoid nodules, and patient characteristics like age can affect it. However, it’s still unclear if these factors affect one another both directly and indirectly.

One environmental factor found in this study to increase chances of both RA and hearing loss was smoking. Researchers stated, “there is a strong correlation between smoking and rheumatoid nodules in RA.” They recognized that passive smokers as well as active smokers are at a higher risk of hearing impairment.

Though more investigation is needed to determine a consensus regarding the management of hearing impairment in patients with RA, researchers stated, “… regular audiometric test and [otoacoustic emission test] is advisable and can diagnose hearing loss at an early stage.”

An estimated 48 million Americans — about one in five people — have some form of hearing loss, according to a Johns Hopkins study. It’s a chronic public-health challenge that, if left untreated, can have far-reaching consequences for physical, mental, social, and even financial health.

Hearing loss especially affects older adults, many of whom don’t seek hearing help. Only 30 percent of adults ages 70 or older who could benefit from hearing aids use them, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

If you believe you or a loved one could benefit from a hearing test, contact us today to schedule a hearing screening. We can help get you on a path to better hearing and better health.