Tinnitus is the sound of buzzing or ringing in the ears or head that other people cannot hear. Tinnitus is experienced by 15% of the population but only about 15% of them seek medical help. For this small section of the population, tinnitus can be debilitating.
Tinnitus is not a disease but rather a symptom. Rarely, it can be a symptom of something serious so it is important to have medical and audiological consults.
80% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Other risk factors include increasing age and male gender. Tinnitus is often associated with sudden hearing loss, noise trauma and ototoxic medications.
Patients with tinnitus and hearing loss often report psychological problems such as frustration, distress, irritability , anxiety, depression, insomnia and poor concentration.
Although tinnitus cannot be cured it can be managed through symptom reduction. Components of tinnitus management include amplification through hearing aids, masking, habituation, education, relaxation techniques, targeted cognitive behavior therapy, altering diet and medications such as antidepressants and sedatives are all tools which can be used.
Patients should not be told to “learn to live with it.” Help is available!
There are many applications available for smart phones and tablets that can help with your hearing and with using your hearing aids.
In this talk, Sean will walk you through a variety of different applications that you can download to a smart phone or tablet and how they can benefit you.
Today I would like to continue talking about our health by addressing the very
important health issue of diabetes. One aspect of diabetes, often overlooked is
its silent partner, hearing loss.
Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes than those without.
The data suggests that diabetics may experience hearing loss at an
earlier age. Diabetics between the ages of of 40 and 69 years have a 67%
incidence of high frequency hearing loss.
The most likely cause of hearing loss is poor blood flow to the cochlea or
auditory pathways in the brain. Researchers believe that over time, high blood
glucose levels can damage the small blood vessels and nerves of the auditory
system causing hearing loss. Poor blood flow also causes eye and
kidney problems, often associated with diabetes.
It is strongly recommended that all diabetics have their hearing tested
annually, along with their vision. Earlier diagnosis of hearing loss can lead to
earlier intervention, improving patients’ communication, safety and overall
quality of life.
I promise to stop blogging about hearing loss and health very soon. However,
it’s such an important topic and we audiologists want to get the message out
there that more people need to get their hearing tested!
Many people never think about the fact that certain medications can damage the
ear resulting in hearing loss, tinnitus and vestibular (balance) disorders.
These drugs are ototoxic.
Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) is often the first sign of damage to
the auditory system.
Medication induced hearing loss ranges from mild to profound and can be
temporary or permanent.
Up to 33% of adult patients have been reported to experience Ototoxicity while
taking amino glycoside antibiotics, with a 3% chance of the damage being
There is a strong link between cancer treatments and hearing loss. Certain
chemotherapy medications can cause hearing loss. The chemotherapy agent,
cisplatin, for example causes Ototoxicity in as a many as 50% of patients.
Approximately 60% of children receiving platinum based chemotherapy
experience hearing loss.
Obviously, life saving medications are necessary. However, the ototoxic effects
can be minimized. A baseline hearing test should be performed before starting
potential ototoxic medications. Monitoring during treatment can let physicians
know at the first sign of damage and if appropriate the medication or its dosage
can be modified before damage is permanent.
In cases where the damage is permanent, the audiologist can propose treatment
plans to manage the hearing loss and/or tinnitus. Audiologists should be an
integral member of the team helping to improve the quality of life during and
People with hearing loss are more prone to falls. This is a serious public
health concern especially for seniors. Even a mild hearing loss triples the
risk of falls. As amount of hearing loss increases so does the risk of falling.
There are 3 factors at play here.
1. The vestibular system, which helps us keep our balance is connected to the
cochlea, the inner ear. Many factors that cause damage to the inner ear may cause damage to the
vestibular system as well.
2. Another idea is that our hearing helps us know where we are in space. As we walk
through a room, we hear our footsteps and that helps us know where the floor is! As
we walk through a doorway or near a wall the sounds we make change and tell us that
something is nearby. When we put our coffee cup down, that little clunk tells our
brain that the table is right in front of us. It all helps us orient ourselves in
our environment. Decreased hearing limits our access to these auditory cues.certain
warning signals may not be heard making tripping and falling more likely.
3. People with hearing loss may have a greater risk of falling due to an increase
in cognitive load needed for listening. This means that people with hearing loss are
using so much brain power just trying to figure out what someone is saying that they
have little energy left over to maintain balance. (See my blog “Help Me, I’m in a
Snowstorm! for more discussion on this topic.)
The good news! Studies show that people with normal hearing have better balance
and walk faster on a treadmill than people with hearing loss. However, after
fitting these hearing impaired subjects with hearing aids and after an acclimatization period
their walking speed and balance improved. Wow! Who knew that wearing hearing
aids helps our balance!
The Hear the World Foundation advocates for equal opportunities and improved quality of life for people with hearing loss around the world. The foundation’s aim is to create a world in which each person has the chance of good hearing.
Come out and hear about some of the work they are doing to raise awareness about hearing loss and how they assist children with hearing loss around the world.
The talk will commence at 2:00 pm. Light refreshments served following including tea, coffee, and snacks.
Please join us and bring a friend or family member.
Everyone is Welcome
On May 12 we will have a special Mother’s Day event. What better gift can we give our mothers than taking care of her hearing health? If your mother is having some hearing concerns, please bring her in for a hearing test. Even if she doesn’t have concerns but has never had her hearing tested, she should have a baseline test. Everyone over 50 years should have their hearing tested.
We launched our 2000 Ears Campaign to raise awareness about the importance of hearing screening for hearing health. We aim to test 1000 people (that’s 2000 ears!) in 2017. So please come in on Friday, May 12, and bring your mother!
A healthy heart is associated with healthy ears. Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system has a positive effect on hearing. The inner ear is very sensitive to blood flow. Inadequate blood flow in the inner ear contributes to hearing loss. However, poor blood circulation can also cause damage to the central auditory pathways in the brain.
Some patients with heart disease or vascular problems also hear pulsatile tinnitus (rythmic pulsing in time with the heartbeat.)
High blood pressure can also cause damage to the inner ear leading to hearing loss.
The good news is there are several things we can all do to stay healthy. Eat right and exercise are very important! Don’t smoke. The risk of hearing loss increases by 15% in persistent smokers. If you do have heart issues, have your hearing tested and monitor your hearing over time. If you have never had a hearing test, get a baseline by age 50 years.