Tag: sport

Playing to Win Could Mean Hearing Loss

Contact Sports and Hearing Loss

Playing to Win Could Mean Hearing Loss

Soccer is winding down. Hockey and basketball are revving up. College and NFL football are in full swing. Must mean summer is in the rearview mirror.

It also means pickup games galore, such as basketball, flag football, and street hockey — and more debates over concussions in contact sports.

But two symptoms of concussion that don’t get much press are hearing loss and tinnitus.

 

Sports and Concussions

Sports-related concussions are not rare — 1.6 million to 3.8 million occur annually in the U.S. And in the age range 5–19 years, there were around 46,000 diagnosed concussions in 2016 and 2017 in hospital emergency departments in Canada.

A concussion is serious business. Consider its other definition: The least severe type of TBI — short for traumatic brain injury. The CDC explains TBI as “an injury that affects how the brain works.”

 

Concussions and Your Hearing System

Your hearing system’s setup makes it susceptible to damage by a concussion, especially in contact sports. The part of your brain that processes sound is located at the side of your head, about ear level. Prime real estate for an impact.

The force necessary for a concussion can damage or break any of the tiny bones in your middle ear or inner ear.

Plus, there are more nerves connecting your ear and brain than there are for your other senses. It’s a dense net traveling between your ear, brainstem, midbrain, and cortex. These nerves take quite a pounding when your head suffers an impact — the force jostles your brain, stretching, shearing, or possibly destroying your nerve fibers.

Sound processing is demanding on your nervous system. It’s also very fast — things happen in microseconds. If a concussion damages your nerve fibers or causes inflammation and bruising, your hearing suffers.

 

How Concussions Affect Your Hearing

It’s common for those with sports-related concussions to hear quiet noises just fine, but then have trouble understanding speech in a noisy environment like, at a restaurant or a game.

Other possible problems include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Hearing loss
  • Sound sensitivity
  • A feeling like your ears need to pop but can’t
  • Problems understanding speech despite passing a hearing test

 

Symptoms of Concussion

After a head injury, concussion symptoms might appear right away or not for hours or days. They usually improve over time — often you’ll feel better within a couple of weeks.

Symptoms are different for each person and might change during recovery. For example, your symptoms might be physical early on, only to become more emotional a week or two after your injury.

Common symptoms include:

  • Light or noise sensitivity
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Trouble with thinking or memory
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Mood swings

 

If You Suspect a Concussion

Unfortunately, contact sports and head injuries are a natural fit. Even a helmet or some other type of head protection only goes so far.

If you think a head injury has led to a concussion, see a physician right away. You’ll receive a neurological evaluation that measures your vision, hearing, balance, and coordination responses. You’ll also receive cognitive tests to ensure your thinking hasn’t been affected.

You might also get imaging tests such as cranial computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These identify any physical injury or bleeding inside your skull.

You need to be supervised for 24 hours, possibly in the hospital but most likely by a loved one in the comfort of your own home. This is to ensure the symptoms don’t worsen. The most common treatment for a concussion is rest and avoiding strenuous activity.

 


 

If you’ve had a concussion and suspect you’ve developed hearing loss or tinnitus, contact us to schedule a hearing consultation.

Golfers: 5 Reasons to Keep Your Hearing Health in Shape

Golfers: 5 Reasons to Keep Your Hearing Health in Shape

Why Would a Hearing Care Provider Be Writing About Golf?

If you play golf, you already know one swing of the club is a complex matter. A half-inch difference in heel placement could mean a solid shot or a ball taking a swim.

But one thing golfers depend on, even more than they realize, is their hearing. Here are five ways hearing health supports your golf game.

The Sound of the Clubhead Meeting the Ball

Anyone who has played long enough knows the sweet spot. It’s the sound of your clubhead hitting the ball just right. Distance and accuracy are all but guaranteed with that sweet-spot combination of tone and volume.

Sound is just as important, though, for recognizing when — and how — your clubhead hits the ball wrong. It gives you the information you need to adjust the next shot. This is especially important for chipping and putting, where you want finesse over power.

The Sounds of Camaraderie

A big part of the game is the people involved. Strategizing, heckling, and catching up on each other’s lives is half the enjoyment — and a big reason why many of us pick up the game in the first place.

But it doesn’t stop there. You also hear the heckles, encouragement, and laughter on the other fairways and greens. You might even get to know the people in the group in front of you — or behind you — if it’s a busy day on the links.

The Sound of Danger

Danger? On a golf course? Yes! And you need to be able to hear dangers in advance.

There are surprising dangers — like rattlesnakes and bear cubs — as well as more common ones. Even the best golfers can flub a shot, sending it sailing into another fairway or tee box. And errant, speeding golf carts abound, especially when playing a scramble and when the best shot is “just over this hill, I know it!”

“Golfers, beware,” indeed!

Sure Footing

Sometimes, hearing loss can indeed affect your balance. Every aspect of your game depends on good balance, though, from setup to follow-through. The results of mixing poor balance and golf can range from minor — a missed shot — to major, such as a thrown club, a golf cart accident, or a fall.

Keeping Your Head in the Game

Golf takes brainpower. Strategy and focus are key to a good round. Hearing loss, though, has been linked to cognitive decline. Thinking, remembering, and even your ability to keep your head in the game can suffer. In fact, in one study, seniors with hearing loss experienced cognitive issues 30% to 40% faster than their peers without hearing loss. Hearing aid use, however, may slow cognitive decline by as much as 75%.

A Note in Conclusion

Even way back in 2009, the growing popularity of thin-faced titanium drivers was cause for concern. One study compared the sound of a King Cobra club meeting the ball to a gun blast or sonic boom! If you enjoy using clubs such as the King Cobra — or if you’ve simply noticed that your club packs quite a sonic wallop — consider using hearing protection. There are many kinds available, and some, such as earplugs for musicians, allow you to enjoy conversations and ambient sounds around you but block levels that could damage your hearing.

Contact us today if you think you’d benefit from a hearing evaluation or hearing protection!