Author Archives: shirley

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4 Tips to help you enjoy the holidays with hearing loss

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to celebrate with your friends and family, eat delicious dinners and attend holiday parties. It’s also a chance to dress up, decorate the house and participate in the joy and happiness that comes with the season.

However, for some, the holidays can often be a frustrating time filled with social anxiety and isolation. It’s hard to participate in the festivities and be included in the conversation if you can’t hear what’s being said. 

The loss of hearing can impact the emotional well-being of a person during any point of the year, but during the holiday season, these feelings only get worse and often make them feel left out. 

In this blog post, we’re going to explore how to improve holiday experiences if you are experiencing hearing loss, or how you can help loved ones with hearing loss. 

1. Find Other Ways To Call Home

During the holidays it’s nice to call and catch up with your friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe they’re away at varsity, moved to a different city, or perhaps you just haven’t had the time. 

Phone calls can often be a difficult option for those who are hard of hearing. This is why it’s a good idea to try other ways of calling your friends and family. 

Video chat is a great option since it allows the person who is hard of hearing to lip read and see expressions. With Facetime, Facebook video calling, Zoom, Skype and even WhatsApp, the person can amplify the sound on the device to hear what the other person is saying much easier. 

2. Be Honest

When talking to relatives and friends at parties and family gatherings, it may be tempting to nod along with everything they’re saying – even if you can’t hear them properly. 

You might find the need to laugh along with others even though you couldn’t hear the joke and react to stories in the same way as those around you. This can be risky, especially if it ends with somebody asking you a question. 

Being honest about your hearing will make your time at these events easier. 

Be brave and let the person you are conversing with know you cannot hear them well. You can also give them visual clues to help indicate that you can’t hear. For example, you could cup your ear with your hand which will help them know that they will need to speak louder. 

3. Choose Your Position Carefully 

If you’re attending a cocktail party or an event where the noise levels might be high, here are a few tips to help you with your evening: 

  • Try to find a quiet area away from the music so you can talk to people easier
  • Try to find areas with less people passing by, so you can easily lip-read 
  • Go to places with good lighting so you can lip-read and see the expressions on people’s faces
  • If the party you’re attending has multiple rooms, try to situate yourself in the quietest one and ask your friends to join you 

If you’re going to a seated dinner at your relative’s house or are invited to a dinner party, you might be worried about being heard over the table. Here are a few tips to help you go about your evening.

  • If you’d like to talk to somebody, move closer to them so you can talk 
  • Ask somebody to continue the conversation with you when you have a chance to be closer
  • Sit next to the people you would like to converse with most
  • Try to sit with the wall to your back to help drown out any background noise if you are not wearing a hearing aid
  • If you are wearing a hearing aid, place your back to the noise
  • If there’s music playing, ask the host if it can be lowered so you can hear better

4. Take A Break

Don’t be scared to take a break from the party. Your ears and mind will need a rest after a lot of conversation, so head to a quiet area or the restroom to take a moment for yourself. 

A break will help you recharge and give you the energy needed for another round of socializing so you can enjoy every moment of the party. 

We hope our list of hearing loss communication tips will help you and your loved ones with your holiday celebrations this year. Everybody deserves to enjoy the festive season and have fun with their friends and family and hearing loss shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself.

If you’re concerned about your hearing or think you might need a hearing device, get your hearing tested before the busy holiday season begins. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.


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Diabetes Awareness Month: Does diabetes put your hearing at risk?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and whiel more than 4,5 million people in South Africa* have diabetes or prediabetes today, many people aren’t aware of the impact it can have on your health, including the likelihood of developing hearing loss. As a prominent healthcare provider in the Western Cape, it’s our duty to help South Africans #EndDiabetesTogether by learning the warning signs of this condition and taking the necessary steps to prevent it.

What you need to know about diabetes

Diabetes, a condition that makes your body incapable of producing sufficient amounts of insulin, is a serious health epidemic that affects more than 4,5 million people across South Africa. It can cause serious health complications for those affected, and can make living a normal and healthy life an everyday battle. Of those living with diabetes, 90% have Type 2 diabetes. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 diabetes develops more slowly and often appears in adulthood. Symptoms for Type 2 diabetes can easily be missed which is why it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and take preventative steps to protect your health. 


What are the health risks?

When diabetes is left untreated or not proactively managed, the high blood sugar levels that your body experiences can damage your blood vessels. This has a detrimental effect on your nerves and organs, and eventually can stop them from functioning properly. Some of the complications related to diabetes include:

– Heart attacks
– Strokes
– Kidney disease

Research supports a strong link between diabetes and hearing loss. The organs, blood vessels, and nerves in your inner ear can be impacted by your body’s inability to produce insulin, making the likelihood of experiencing hearing loss much greater for diabetics. In fact, research done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown that individuals with diabetes have a 30% higher chance of experiencing hearing loss compared to those who don’t have the disease.


How you can prevent it

Type 2 diabetes, like Type 1, can have a severe impact on an individual’s health, however Type 2 can be prevented. Ways to help prevent Type 2 diabetes include:

– Eating a healthy diet
– Increasing your physical activity
– Maintaining a healthy weight

Due to the link between diabetes and hearing loss, prioritizing your hearing health is an important step in diabetes prevention. While there is still a lot to learn about how exactly diabetes might affect your hearing, what we do know is that hearing loss won’t improve on it’s own. With the NIH’s study finding that hearing loss due to diabetes can start as early as 30 years of age, it’s important to be proactive. 


How do you prioritize your hearing health? 

The easiest way to start is by getting your hearing tested. This will provide you with the information you need to approach hearing loss with confidence. By being proactive, your hearing professionals will have the chance to catch the early signs of hearing loss as soon as possible, helping you to stay connected and engaged with your lifestyle as you actively age. 

Let’s #EndDiabetesTogether

As a prominent healthcare provider in the Western Cape, it’s our duty to help South Africans prioritize their hearing and overall health to have the best possible chance to live a long and diabetes-free life. That’s why we’re encouraging you to take action against diabetes this month by learning the warning signs, understanding the risks, and taking the necessary steps to prevention. Getting your hearing checked is a great place to start. A simple hearing test will provide you with important information you need to take action and stay connected to the sounds that matter to you most. 

Take control of your hearing health today by booking an appointment at your local Advanced Hearing outlet. 

References:

* https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/health/2019-11-14-diabetes-rates-soar-in-sa/


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7 Magnificent Features of Modern Hearing Aids

Wireless connectivity, remote controls, and synchronization. Does this sound like a new computer? No, it’s a new hearing aid. Modern technology has taken hearing devices out of the dark ages and equipped them with state-of-the-art features. If you think that your hearing loss will leave you with a bulky amplifier that is one generation away from an ear trumpet, it is time for another look. Or should we say, another listen?

Wireless Technology
Modern hearing aids now have wireless capabilities which enable hearing aids to communicate with each other. So if you make adjustments to one, the other will automatically adjust. If one adjusts to a changing sound environment, the other will follow suit. Would you like to connect to a mobile phone, tablet, or another Bluetooth-enabled device? An audiologist can recommend appropriate hearing aids and a compatible streamer.

Open-ear devices
In the past, it was common for audiologists to take impressions of patients’ outer ear canals to custom-fit a hearing aid. Today, technology has now made possible the development of devices that can leave the ear canal open. These discreet units fit behind the ear and leave the canal unobstructed. Open-ear devices are available in numerous designs much like ear jewellery.

Wind Noise Reduction
If you love being outside, you will certainly appreciate this new feature. Maybe your hobbies such as golfing, fishing, and boating have suffered due to excessive wind noise? This hearing technology can detect the presence of wind blowing across the hearing aid microphones. It then can either avoid or reduce the amplification of it.

Data Logging
Hearing aids that have memories! Data logging is an advanced feature that stores data about the multiple environments in which you may use your hearing aids. At a follow-up appointment, an audiologist can use the information regarding volume levels to further customize your hearing aids for you.

Learning Ability
The smart hearing aids. These hearing aids can learn and apply your personal preferences. These intelligent devices log volume and program preferences for certain environments and then automatically adjust when the situation is detected. This feature reduces the hassle the wearer experiences when making manual adjustments.

Directional Microphones
This feature improves speech understanding in background noise. These directional specific devices are designed to boost sounds that come in from the front of the hearing aid wearer and reduce sounds coming from other directions. The result is improved speech recognition and reduced ambient noise.

Remote Control
Some hearing devices operate via remote control. These controls can also function as a Bluetooth streaming device. These controls can be beneficial to those who need to make adjustments without actually touching the hearing aids. Although automatic controls have decreased the need for remote control devices, some users will still find them to be beneficial.

Thanks to the advances in modern technology, hearing aids are continuing to grow in comfort, style, and available features.


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Cancers and Cancer Treatments May Cause Hearing Problems.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and so, we thought it important to know that some cancers and cancer treatments may cause hearing problems such as:

  • Hearing loss. This can be mild, severe, or in between.
  • Ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is the medical term for this condition.

Hearing loss and tinnitus can happen alone or together. They might go away after some time, or they might be lifelong.

Hearing problems can affect your quality of life. Tell your health care team about any hearing changes during or after treatment. It is important to relieve these side effects and any others you have. Treating side effects may be called palliative care or supportive care.

Types of hearing problems

Your ear has 3 main parts: the outer ear that you see and the middle and inner parts that you do not. Hearing problems start when 1 or more parts of your ear are damaged.

There are 2 main types of hearing loss.

  • Conductive hearing loss. This is when something blocks your outer ear or middle ear. This stops sound from reaching your inner ear, where you “hear” it with your brain. The outer or middle ear might be blocked by earwax or an ear infection. Medical treatment can often fix this type of hearing loss.
  • Sensory nerve hearing loss. Something damages your inner ear or the nerve that connects your ear to your brain. This nerve is called the auditory nerve. Damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve is often lifelong.

There are 2 main types of tinnitus.

  • Subjective tinnitus. This means only you hear the tinnitus sounds. These can be in the form of ringing, whooshing, humming, buzzing, clicking, hissing, or other sounds. They come from damage to any part of the ear or the hearing nerves.
  • Objective tinnitus. Your doctor can hear the sounds you hear inside your ears. Several different health conditions can cause this rare form of tinnitus. These conditions include problems with a heart valve or your blood vessels, and muscle tightening.

Causes of hearing problems

Causes of hearing problems can include the following.

Chemotherapy. Some types of chemotherapy can damage your inner ear. These include platinum-based drugs such as cisplatin (Platinol) and carboplatin (Paraplatin). Tinnitus is often the first sign of this type of damage. You might also lose hearing when the drug damages the inner ear cells. Hearing problems from chemotherapy usually happen in both ears.

Radiation therapy. High doses of radiation therapy to the head, ear, or brain can damage the inner ear. Radiation therapy can also cause middle and outer ear problems. These may include inflammation, earwax blocking the ear, fluid building up, and stiff ear bones. All these can affect your hearing. You might have this hearing loss in 1 ear or both. This depends on the area being treated.

Surgery. Surgery on the brain, ear, or auditory nerve can cause hearing problems.

Commonly used medications.
Many common medications you may take along with your cancer treatment can damage the inner ear. Using several of these medications together can raise your risk for hearing loss and tinnitus. This is especially likely if you take large doses for a long time. Common medications that can damage your inner ear include:

  • Certain antibiotics. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the antibiotics they prescribe could cause hearing loss. Antibiotics that can include erythromycin, neomycin, gentamicin, streptomycin, and tobramycin. All of these have many different brand names, so checking with your doctor or pharmacist is very important.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). “NSAIDS” is another name for these types of drugs.
    • Aspirin taken in large amounts.
    • Certain diuretics (water pills), such as furosemide (Lasix) and ethacrynic acid (Edecrin)
    • Some heart and blood pressure medications, such asmetoprolol (Lopressor)
    • Some anti-nausea medications, such as promethazine (Phenergan)

Conditions that are not cancer. Many health conditions, including benign ear tumors, ears that are shaped differently than normal, head trauma, viruses, and allergies can cause hearing loss or tinnitus. Getting older and being around a lot of loud noise can also cause these problems.

Who is at risk for developing hearing problems from cancer treatment?

You might be at risk of developing hearing problems if you:

  • Had treatments that can cause ear damage when you were under 4 years old.
  • Had hearing problems, or a high risk of them, before the cancer.
  • Received high doses of the chemotherapy drugs cisplatin or carboplatin.
  • Received a combination of treatments that may cause ear damage, such as cisplatin and radiation therapy to the brain.
  • Received high doses of radiation to the ear, brain, nose, sinuses, throat, or the area behind the cheekbones.
  • Had kidney problems and received cancer treatment that can cause ear damage.
  • Had a tumor, surgery, or infection of your brain, ear, or auditory (hearing) nerve.

Symptoms of hearing problems

You might have some of these symptoms if you have a hearing problem:

  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vertigo, which is the feeling that you are spinning or off balance.
  • Hearing sounds inside your ear sometimes or all the time.
  • Noticing that people’s voices sound different or quieter than normal.
  • Having difficulty hearing because of background noise.
  • Being unable to hear someone on the phone.
  • Needing the TV, radio, or other device volume turned up very high.
  • Avoiding people and activities because of hearing problems.

Talk with your health care team if you have any of these symptoms. Also tell them about any change in your symptoms. If cancer treatment is the cause, your doctor may be able to change your treatment or give less intense treatment.

Diagnosing hearing problems

Your health care team might do tests to find the cause of hearing problems during cancer treatment. You might see a specialist, such as an otologist. This is a medical doctor who specializes in ear problems. You might also see an audiologist. This is a health care professional who does tests for hearing problems.

You might have 1 or more of the following tests:

  • Physical examination. Your doctor will look in your ears for problems such as a blockage or infection. They might also test your nerves, because hearing is part of your nervous system. Testing your nerves might include looking in your eyes, testing your strength and reflexes, and checking your balance.
  • Audiogram. Anaudiologist will ask you to listen and respond to different sounds. This helps tell your doctor if you have lost any hearing, how much, and which sounds are difficult for you to hear.
  • Brainstem auditory evoked response, or BAER. You might have this test if you cannot follow the instructions for an audiogram. It measures how your brain reacts to certain sounds.
  • Imaging tests. You might have a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to look for problems. These tests create pictures of the inside of the body.

Treating and managing hearing problems

If something is blocking your hearing, medical treatment such as ear drops, ear wax removal, or surgery often helps. These treatments might also help tinnitus. But so far, there is no cure for tinnitus. Hearing loss related to your nerves is often permanent, too. But there are ways to manage hearing problems effectively during and after cancer treatment.

Tips for managing hearing problems

The following can help you manage hearing problems:

  • Ask your health care team if you should avoid alcohol, tobacco products, and caffeine, which can make tinnitus worse.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Getting dehydrated can also make tinnitus worse.
  • Ask friends, family members, and co-workers to speak clearly without yelling. Yelling or shouting can make it harder to hear. It can also damage your ears more.
  • Practice relaxation techniques and get lots of sleep. Being stressed or tired can make tinnitus worse.
  • Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause hearing problems.
  • Ask your doctor about medications for nausea or dizziness if you have these problems.
  • Protect your ears from loud noises. Loud noise can make hearing problems caused by chemotherapy or other drugs worse.

Devices to help with hearing problems

Your doctor may suggest using one of the following devices:

Hearing aids. These small devices make sounds louder. You wear them in your ear or behind it. They can also make tinnitus less noticeable when you increase the background noise level using the device.

Sound generators. These devices create sounds that cover up the sounds of tinnitus, so it bothers you less. You can get one that includes a hearing aid.

Devices for your home or office.
These devices also create sounds that cover up the sounds of tinnitus, but you put them nearby instead of wearing them. Examples include “white noise” machines and apps that play music or nature sounds.

Auditory (hearing) trainers. A device you wear in a room where one person is speaking, such as a classroom. The speaker wears a microphone and you wear a small device that makes their voice easier to hear.

Cochlear (inner ear) implants. This is an electronic medical device that a doctor implants in your inner ear. It works like the natural inner ear to help people with serious hearing loss hear again.

Watching for hearing problems after treatment

If your cancer treatment raises your risk of hearing problems, have your hearing tested at least once after treatment ends. Your health care team may recommend testing more often. How often you need testing depends on the type of cancer treatment you received. 


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The History of Audiology

When did audiology begin?

Well, it depends on who you ask. But it is clear that audiology as a profession really began taking off in the 1920’s when technology was advanced enough to design the first audiometers to measure hearing, though the term “audiology” wasn’t used until 1946. Yet even thousands of years ago, people began investigating hearing, hearing loss and its causes.

Here’s a timeline of important events in audiological history:

  • 1550 BC – There are writings from a famous medical scroll – Ebers – that, among various other medical topics, discuss “treatments” for hearing loss. Historians believe that this document is based on even older writings, but they can only speculate.
  • 4th century BC – Sometime between the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Hippocrates – that most famous Greek doctor and philosopher, whose legacy and impact on medicine is still apparent in the Hippocratic Oath – made his mark on the study of hearing loss. He was the first in written history to use clinical research to attempt to find a cause for hearing loss, which he thought was related to the direction of winds, weather changes and also tinnitus. He also believed that hearing loss could be related to skull trauma.
  • 50 – 25 BC – Aulus Cornelius Celsus was the first to differentiate between various hearing disorders, and some of Celsus’s treatments are still in use today in their most minimal form, including those dealing with foreign bodies in the ear, ulcers and ear wax blocking the ear canal.
  • 1st century AD – Roman physician Arhigenes used loud sound to stimulate the auditory system, believing (incorrectly) that this could stimulate hearing in those with hearing loss.
  • 4th century AD – Physician Alexander of Tralles used herbs to treat hearing loss, as well as the auditory stimulation method by blowing a trumpet directly into the ear canal.
  • Middle Ages – Other interesting rehabilitation methods were used by well-meaning ear doctors to stimulate hearing in patients with hearing loss, including speaking softly and using a small silver or gold tube to suction the eardrum.

Real Progress

No major progress was made in the understanding of hearing and how the ear works until the Renaissance, and big steps were not taken in audiology until the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Here are some of the biggest moments in modern audiology:

  • 1898 – Miller Reese Hutchison invents the first electronic hearing aid, called the Akouphone. 
  • 1920s – The audiometer is designed and invented to measure hearing loss and pave the way for new hearing loss research and innovations.
  • 1940s – Soldiers return from World War II with noise-induced hearing loss due to advanced warfare technology.
  • 1946 – The first appearances in print of the word “audiology” are in the Journal of Speech Disorders and the Volta Review.
  • 1948 – Meniere’s disease is differentiated from acoustic tumors.
  • 1950s – The use of physiologic measurements to test hearing are routine now.
  • 1961 – Doreen Kilmura and Brenda Milner discover the right ear’s advantage in processing language.
  • 1977 – The Academy of Doctors of Audiology is founded.
  • 1978 – ASHA is founded.
  • 1988 – American Academy of Audiology is founded.
  • 2007 – The Au.D. degree (doctor of audiology) degree becomes required for all new professionals entering the field. Practicing individuals become grandfathered in. 

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