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How to talk to someone about their hearing loss

Hearing loss makes it harder to connect with those we love, harder to function in the workplace and tougher to take part in everyday life. It can be stressful and tiring for everyone. Every day we see clients who have suffered in silence through years of hearing loss when the solution is free – a hearing check with an audiologist.

Refusing to acknowledge a hearing loss is a common occurrence. In fact, we probably all know someone who should be doing something about their hearing. They nod and smile when you ask them a question, they mishear what you’re asking, they turn the TV up and may even tell you you’re mumbling!

Living in denial

We all want our senses to work perfectly, and it can be hard to accept that they aren’t. Because hearing problems can happen slowly, people with hearing loss are often able to cope, sometimes for years, without taking action. They lose the sounds they love gradually, so the changes are almost unnoticeable.

Often, it takes someone who cares about them to help them understand just how much they’re missing and to help them take the next step. If that’s you, we’re here to help.

Here’s how you can start talking to someone about their hearing loss:

  • Reassure them hearing loss is common and the solution is as simple as getting reading glasses.
  • If you’ve noticed specific signs of their hearing loss you can ask them how they find that situation: e.g. ‘Do you find it frustrating when…?’
  • Hearing loss often creates an unnecessary strain on your relationship. You may want to share how you feel and what you’re doing to help them cope with the sounds they’re missing. It’s possible they don’t know the impact it’s having
  • You may notice that they are missing out at work or that other people are starting to avoid chatting with them. Sharing examples of these times may help them understand that it’s time to take the next step
  • The next step is easy, and there’s no obligation. Ask them to book a free hearing check with an Advanced Hearing Audiologist.

The common signs of hearing loss

Are they turning the volume up on the TV or radio?

Are soft, high pitched voices are harder to hear?

Do they have trouble following conversations?

Are they struggling to hear in noisy environments?

Do others are comment on their hearing?

Is it time someone you know sought help?

Talk to Advanced Hearing today. Our hearing checks are free and we welcome loved ones to come to the appointment to support those struggling with hearing loss and ask any questions you may have.

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5 Things to consider before you get hearing aids

We’ve come a long way since the giant banana boat hearing aids that we associate with the 80’s and 90’s. Technology has changed, and so have our expectations. If you’re thinking about getting hearing aids or know someone who is thinking about getting them, there are a few things to consider.

1. They’re unique from person to person

Hearing aids are not a simple one-size-fits-all amplifier. Just like glasses, hearing aids are unique to the wearer and you must be tested by an audiologist to discover your own personal audiogram.

Some people experience low frequency hearing loss, while others have high frequency hearing loss, and both types affect people to varying degrees. This means that if two people switched devices, they probably wouldn’t do much good.

2. The brain needs to adjust to new input

When you get a new pair of hearing aids, your mind must go through an adjustment period. Some sounds may seem completely changed from the normal ‘unaided’ sound you were used to.  

Also, experiencing a large amount of sound that you’re not used to is overwhelming, and this can overstimulate the brain as it tries to organise the new sensory input.

The brain needs consistent stimuli to organise the signals to create words, sentences, and meaning. The brain won’t get the full benefit of the hearing aids if it is only getting sporadic exposure to sound.

Audiologists tell their patients that it is very important to wear their hearing aids consistently because in order to get the most out of hearing aids, practice makes perfect.

Those who use hearing aids every single day often report that their hearing aids become a natural extension of their hearing, because over time their brain has learned to interpret the new signals so that they sound natural.

3. Deciding to wear hearing aids is a personal choice

Some people choose to wear hearing aids, while others decide that they would rather not wear them because the negatives do not outweigh the positives, or their hearing loss is severe enough that it doesn’t allow them to benefit.  It’s always important to respect that this is a personal choice.

4. Modern hearing aids come with all kinds of assistive features

Hearing aids have made giant leaps in technological advancement – back in the 90’s many people would complain that their hearing aids sounded robotic and artificial, but these days audiologists have advanced their methods to allow a much more authentic experience of sound.

Modern hearing aids are often extremely small, and some models have the entire hearing aid hidden in the canal, so nobody would ever know you are wearing them without closer inspection.

Top-of-the-line hearing aids allow you to connect through Bluetooth to your phone or television, to allow the sound to travel directly into your hearing aids instead of losing precious detail due to it having to travel a further distance.

More environmentally friendly features have also been added in recent years. Rechargeable hearing aids are now available on the market, which removes the need to purchase expensive single-use batteries. 

5. It’s okay if getting earing aids feels like a big step

While it can be a scary decision to begin to wear hearing aids, they can make a huge difference.  

The older you get without wearing your hearing aids, the worse that your mental health will get, your anxiety creeps up, you realise you can’t hear things in social situations and you’re missing things. You need to wear your hearing aids… but you don’t want to accept that responsibility. Sound familiar?

It’s not an easy step, and you will definitely go through a lot of emotions, but it will absolutely worth it and you will never look back.

If you think you may have a hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids, we recommend that you contact a local audiologist.

Advanced Hearing offers initial hearing screenings for free. Booking a free hearing check is a great first step to learn more about your hearing, and an opportunity to discuss which hearing aids would be best for you.  

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5 Tips for driving with hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common condition in South Africa, especially among older people – but with proper care and treatment, it does not hinder one’s active lifestyle. Most hearing specialists recommend an annual hearing test, as you would take an annual eye exam or have a physical with your doctor. Annual hearing tests are encouraged, as they monitor your hearing abilities. We’ll be able to identify if there have been changes in your hearing – which means we’ll be able to catch and treat hearing loss early.

Treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids comes with many benefits – from improving the quality of your interpersonal relationships to ensuring your safety. Personal safety is often compromised with hearing loss, as a diminished sense of hearing could put you in harm’s way.

This is especially apparent when it comes to driving, when all of your senses must be alert in order to keep you connected to your environment. Here are a few driving tips for those with hearing loss.

1. Get your hearing checked

Your hearing keeps you safe in many ways – from connecting you to the world around you to improving your balance.

Your sense of hearing is an invisible one, which means you may not immediately notice if there are changes. Many people spend an average of seven years living with untreated hearing loss – before they decide to seek treatment. If you’ve noticed that people are mumbling, or that you’ve been turning the volume up frequently on the TV or radio, you may be experiencing a hearing loss.

Here at Advanced Hearing, we provided comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings with a certified audiologist. Our hearing tests are simple and painless – and quick! If you take a hearing test annually, then we’ll be able to keep an eye on your hearing abilities and recommend treatment as soon as a hearing loss is detected.

That being said, while you’re driving with hearing loss, it is important to eliminate any sounds that may be distracting. Turn down the volume on your car speakers, and try to limit the conversations you have.

2. Get your eyesight checked

Vision is obviously one of the most important elements of driving. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it is important to get your eyes checked every year. Your optometrist will also be able to identify if other problems, such as cataracts, arise.

The use of polarized sunglasses or anti-reflective lenses could be very useful if you are driving in the daytime. If you have poor vision, you may want to limit your driving during the evening. While driving, adjust your car seat so that you can see comfortably at least 10 feet in front of you on the road.

3. Check your medications

If you are taking medication for different medical conditions, be sure to check the side effects. In some cases, medications could make you drowsy or light-headed, which would interfere with your ability to drive safely.

Additionally, some medications could affect your vision or hearing. If you’ve noticed changes in these senses, talk to your physician.

4. Pay attention to your reaction times

As we get older, our reaction time and attention span may change. As you drive, pay attention to your reaction times; avoid slamming on the brakes and leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Sometimes, traffic can be overwhelming. If you’re driving in familiar areas, try to avoid certain routes that are high in traffic and find quieter roads. Be sure to scan the road regularly so that you can anticipate any adjustments you need to make.

5. Make adjustments for your physical comfort

If you’re driving long distances, consider that stiffness could make driving uncomfortable. Adjust your seats and mirrors accordingly to accommodate any physical challenges that may arise. You may also replace mirrors in your car with larger ones. Talk to your car dealership about power steering and equipment to help with braking and operating your car’s pedals. These could help make your driving experience more comfortable.

Visit us at advanced hearing

There are many devices and accessories available to make your hearing experience easier as you drive. Visit us at Advanced Hearing for your annual hearing exam and contact us if you need to make adjustments to your hearing aids. We’re here to help!

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Diseases associated with hearing loss

We tend to associate hearing loss with ageing or something caused by genetic predisposition. Disease can however also lead to hearing loss. In fact, anything that leads to damage of the complicated structure of the ear can lead to deafness.

1. Otosclerosis

What it is: Otosclerosis refers to abnormal bone growth in the ears. It is often genetic and can cause a gradual onset of hearing loss. This is a relatively common cause of hearing loss. 

Symptoms: Symptoms can include dizziness, a ringing in one or both ears and gradual hearing loss. 

How it leads to hearing loss: The abnormal growth of bone within the inner ear interferes with the movement of the bones and makes it difficult for sound waves to be transmitted.

Treatment: There are a couple of methods doctors use for otosclerosis. A surgical procedure called stapedectomy, as well as a cochlear implant may help reverse hearing loss. 

2. Ménière’s disease

What it is: Ménière’s disease is an illness that interferes with the flow of fluid in the inner ear.

Symptoms: A loss of balance, a feeling of fullness in one or both ears, dizziness, nausea and ringing in the ear.

How it leads to hearing loss: Hearing loss is caused by an extreme buildup of fluid in the ear. The buildup occurs in the part of the ear that is called the labyrinth – leading to disturbed balance and distorted sound waves.

Treatment: Doctors may prescribe medication such as prochlorperazine and antihistamines to help control symptoms.

3. Usher’s syndrome  

What it is: Usher’s syndrome is a genetic disease that can cause both hearing and vision loss. 

Symptoms: Usher’s syndrome is divided into three types – children with type 1 are born deaf; children with type 2 are born with moderate hearing loss; and children with type 3 are born with normal hearing, which however decreases gradually over a period of time.

How it leads to hearing loss: Usher’s disease causes abnormalities in the ears, which leads to hearing loss.

Treatment: Unfortunately there is currently no treatment for Usher’s syndrome. Treatment for hearing loss includes hearing aids and cochlear implants.

4. Acoustic neuroma

What it is: Acoustic neuroma is a rare disease that involves a non-cancerous tumour, growing directly on the nerve responsible for hearing and balance. It is caused by regular exposure to loud noise or radiation in the facial area.

Symptoms: Symptoms usually include hearing loss and a feeling of fullness in one ear, dizziness, a loss of balance, headaches and facial numbness or tingling.

How it leads to hearing loss: The tumour grows right on the eighth cranial nerve.

Treatment: In severe cases brain surgery is required to remove the tumour.

5. Mumps

What it is: Mumps is a viral infection, especially common in children. This disease causes the salivary glands to become inflamed, leading to swollen cheeks.

Symptoms: Besides the swollen glands and cheeks, other symptoms include a fever, headaches and a general feeling of discomfort.  

How it leads to hearing loss: Hearing loss is one of the side-effects caused by mumps. The mumps virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. This part of the ear contains the hair cells which turn sound vibrations into nerve impulses that the brain reads as sound. Hearing loss because of mumps is fortunately rare. 

Treatment: There are no drugs available to treat the mumps virus itself, but mumps can be prevented by vaccination. Treatment is symptomatic. Hearing aids or cochlear implants can help mild hearing loss.

6. German measles

What it is: German measles, caused by the rubella virus, is a common childhood illness can also occur in adults.

Symptoms: Although it is possible to have German measles without showing any symptoms, a pinkish raised rash is often present. Other symptoms include a fever, aching joints, swollen lymph nodes and conjunctivitis.

How it leads to hearing loss: German measles in early pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with abnormalities, especially deafness as a result of nerve damage.

Treatment: There is no specific cure for German measles and treatment is symptomatic. If you’re pregnant, you should be extra careful of German measles and should take note of any outbreak in your area for the sake of your unborn baby. You can be vaccinated against German measles and there is a booster shot available if you wish to fall pregnant. 

7. Paget’s disease 

What it is: According to a previous Health24 article, Paget’s disease is a localised disease where there is an increase in bone resorption followed by abundant new bone formation. This new bone has a weak structure. 

Symptoms: The weakened bone structure causes problems such as bone deformities and easy fractures. In some cases there are no symptoms, but symptoms can include bone pain and stiff joints.

How it leads to hearing loss: While the prognosis for Paget’s disease is good and it can be kept under control, hearing loss can be a side-effect. There are several reasons for hearing loss; examples are destruction of the hair cells that transmit sound, and the stretching of the auditory nerve. 

Treatment: Paget’s disease is treated with anti-inflammatories. 

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3 Ways hearing aids can help improve your life

Getting hearing aids might not be something that you’re particularly excited about. In fact, you might be reluctant to wear them, even though you know that they can improve your hearing. Maybe you feel like you’re too young to wear hearing aids or you don’t like the thought of admitting that you need to use an assistive device. But hearing aids can improve your life exponentially. If you have been having difficulty hearing, wearing hearing aids will immediately boost your quality of life in several ways.

If you’re uncertain, take a look at these three ways hearing aids can benefit you:

1. They make it easier to socialise

Talking to other people can be tough when you have hearing difficulties. You might struggle to hear others talking or even strain to hear yourself. This isn’t just an annoyance; it can also affect your ability to socialize and your relationships in different areas of your life. It can make it harder to get along at work and to speak to your family and friends. Getting hearing aids can help you with this issue so that you can talk to people more easily. Your hearing aids can automatically adjust to filter out background noise and focus on speech. You can also sometimes choose from different preset programs and select the best one for noisy environments.

2. They keep you safe

Wearing hearing aids can also keep you safe. When you can’t hear everything, you can miss warning sounds and indications of danger. For example, you might not hear someone saying your name or perhaps you might miss the beeping of a faulty smoke alarm. Or you might misunderstand an instruction someone gives you, leading to a dangerous mistake. If you wear hearing aids, you should be more aware of the world around you. There’s less chance of you missing something important. Your hearing is also linked to your balance, and being able to hear better can help to prevent falls, especially for older people.

3. Stay healthy and alert

Did you know that hearing loss has been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s? When you can’t hear properly, your brain has to put in a lot of effort to try and hear things, which can be exhausting. The loss of everyday noises may also have an effect on your brain, although it’s not exactly clear why. Using hearing aids helps to make you happier and healthier. You can be more alert and get more enjoyment from the everyday noises around you. Your brain will be more active and engaged, and not wasting so much energy on trying to hear. You can also stay healthy by being more active. If you can’t hear well, you might feel less confident when it comes to being active or even leaving the house. Improved hearing can help you to get your confidence back.

Make sure you see an audiologist for a hearing test if you think you might need hearing aids. They can test your hearing and help you choose the right hearing aids if you need them.

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