Tinnitus Myths That Don’t Ring True

Image of woman, possibly with tinnitus.Although tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is a common problem experienced by one in five people, there are many misconceptions about the issue and its treatment.

Audiology & Hearing Aid Center in Scottsdale, Arizona hopes to clear up the many myths surrounding tinnitus, which is a symptom of another condition such as age- or noise-related hearing loss, injury to the ear or a circulatory system disorder.

Here are some common misconceptions (and truths) about tinnitus:

  1. It means hearing loss is imminent: Because the perceived ringing or buzzing in the ears can make it difficult to hear other sounds, tinnitus is considered a form of hearing loss. However, this doesn’t mean it leads to hearing loss – although it may be a warning sign of problems.
  2. It’s a disease: Tinnitus isn’t actually a condition or a disease at all – it’s simply a symptom of another condition. Possible conditions causing the noise include excessive noise exposure, diabetes, high blood pressure or even depression.
  3. Diet causes tinnitus: Although some people may find that preservatives, caffeine or other substances in one’s diet worsen tinnitus, there is not scientific evidence suggesting it’s directly tied to it. Nicotine can make it worse because smoking can narrow the blood vessels in the ear, creating an increase in perceived noise.
  4. I don’t hear ringing, so it’s not tinnitus: Although ringing is the most common sound associated with tinnitus, it can also sound like static, buzzing, humming, or whirring, such as a blender noise.
  5. It’s impossible to know the cause: Although the exact cause of your tinnitus may be difficult to determine, audiologists are sometimes able to figure out simple explanations. It could be a buildup of earwax, for example. Excessive wax build-up can be effectively and safely removed by a health care professional.
  6. Hearing aids can’t improve it: Modern hearing devices not only treat hearing loss – they can also minimize the impact of tinnitus. Some hearing aids play a sound that eventually cause you to not notice tinnitus, while they can also make it easier to hear conversation, the TV and other sounds over the ringing in your ears.

Depending on its severity, tinnitus can be a significant inconvenience. If you have tinnitus, contact us online or at one of our three Scottsdale locations.

Your Brain Can Be Trained To Hear Better

Image of two women talking.People living with hearing loss don’t have to be subjected to a lifetime of poor listening experiences.

In addition to treating hearing loss with hearing aids or cochlear implants, auditory training is a “brain training” technique for the ears that can boost listening ability. The formal listening program helps increase one’s perception of speech by “training” the brain to listen more effectively, even in noisy environments.

Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona in Scottsdale offers the following information about auditory training and how it can improve listening experiences for those with hearing aids.

These formal listening programs are generally recommended for those individuals who have become accustomed to their hearing aids, having reached a plateau in their listening abilities. This form of “brain training” is often used by those who have recently experienced a change in their ability to hear.

Although auditory training was not historically utilized in clinical situations, it has grown in popularity due to advancements in several areas, including:

  1. Brain studies: Research shows the brain’s malleable tendencies allows auditory stimuli to create changes in the body’s central nervous system.
  2. Cochlear implants (CI) and hearing aids: The sounds CI and hearing aid users experience is so different from what they’ve become accustomed to that they can benefit from proper training on how to best comprehend their new listening experiences.
  3. The rise of the internet: Online technology has made it much more reasonable for clinicians to use auditory training with patients, who can perform some of the sessions at home.

It should be noted that auditory training isn’t a casual exercise. The more time put into them, the better the results. Home-based programs such as the following are receiving high marks:

Those with Cochlear Implants may find these listening programs helpful:

For more information on services at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona, contact us online or call one of our three locations in Scottsdale.

Best Gifts For Those With Hearing Loss

Image of little girl surprising her hearing aid wearing grandmother with a christmas present.

Finding just the right gift for someone can be stressful.

We want to pick out something that shows we truly appreciate the person, know what they’re into and took the time to select a gift that will improve their life in some fashion.

Pretty ambitious stuff, right?

Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona offers the following suggestions on the best gifts to buy for loved ones with hearing loss.

Hearables 

These wireless devices resembling earbuds can help users hear better, connecting to smart devices and phones to aid in the listening of music, phone calls, telecoils, FM loops and more. Not necessarily marketed to those with hearing loss, hearables nonetheless can be extremely useful to the hearing impaired. They also monitor the wearer’s biometric data, heart rate, and activity tracking. A couple of models worth checking out include the Jabra Sport Pulse and the Bragi Dash.

Wifi Digital Doorbell

Products such as this model from Vesafesma notify you via your phone whenever your doorbell is pushed. The video aspect lets you clearly see the person at your door, while the two-way audio feature lets you speak with them before you answer the door.

TV listening devices

Because watching television with hearing loss can an exercise in frustration, products such as these wireless headsets from TV Ears are a game-changer. The person with hearing loss can adjust the volume for themselves without interfering with the experience of others in the room.

TV sound bar

Because many TV speakers are small and not of the highest quality, someone with hearing loss can have a significantly better listening experience when using a soundbar. Models such as this one from ZVOX also include hearing aid technology that can provide clearer dialogue, even at low volumes.

Vibrating or light alarm clocks

If your loved one has trouble waking up on time, try an alarm clock that awakens them using senses other than hearing. Vibrating clocks such as this model or a product such as this model using colored sunrise simulation may do the trick.

For more information on services available at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center, contact us online.

Dealing With The Emotional Effects Of Hearing Loss

Image of adults at a dinner party

People with hearing loss are certainly aware of it. People without hearing loss may not be able to fully understand it.

The “it” is that there is a definite emotional effect or cost to hearing loss. Even with hearing aids, not being able to truly feel a part of things that our friends and family without hearing loss take for granted can leave us feeling isolated, sad or even depressed. These feelings can hit those with hearing loss particularly hard during the holidays.

Sometimes, hearing “Never mind, I’ll tell you later” after we ask for clarification – perhaps repeatedly – feels like the most isolating thing someone could say to us.

Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona offers the following suggestions for those dealing with this aspect of hearing loss around the holidays – or helping your loved one with hearing loss better deal with it.

  1. Use interests to connect with people: Hearing loss can feel like a big obstacle to connecting with new people in life. If you can develop relationships and make connections based on your hobbies and interests, your hearing loss won’t seem to matter as much.
  2. Arrive early: Meeting new people at a party or going to a new group? Arrive early to talk with the group leader – particularly if you will not have a companion or interpreter with you.
  3. Use technology: Try using “App My Ear” on your smartphone to transcribe speech into text or the Phonak Roger Pen to serve as a microphone and improve your ability to read lips. These tools can be useful to supplement your hearing aids and provide a better listening experience.
  4. Raise your hand: In small group settings, ask people to raise their hand before speaking so you know who’s speaking.
  5. Sit up front: If you’re at a speaking engagement, sit up front or as close as possible to see the speaker. At holiday gatherings, try to be near the center of the action so you can see faces more clearly and pick up more of the dialogue.
  6. Simple summaries: After a conversation or group of thoughts are expressed, offer your summary of what you understood. Ask for clarification on thoughts you didn’t quite get.

For more information about how services at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona can help your hearing, contact us online or call one of our three Scottsdale locations.

Hearing Aids That Take Technology To The Next Level

Image of Widex Evoke hearing aid with smartphone app.The science of hearing is constantly improving, being made better by technological advances used by many hearing aid manufacturers.

Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona would like to highlight some of the remarkable Bluetooth capabilities made by hearing aid manufacturers we carry.

Oticon

The Opn is one of the world’s most popular hearing aids, and for good reason. Fast enough to keep up with your brain’s ability to hear, the Opn improves your ability to understand speech by up to 30 percent as it processes sound in a 360-degree soundscape. Its Tinnitus SoundSupport helps manage the ringing and buzzing sounds while you’re able to concentrate on the sounds you want to hear. The ConnectClip accessory allows both iPhone and Android users to turn their Opn hearing aids into a wireless stereo headset, able to stream music and make hands-free phone calls. The ConnectClip can also be used as a hearing aid remote control.

Widex

The Widex EVOKE is a smart hearing aid that helps you shape your listening experience by analyzing the sound environment and automatically adjusting to help you hear better, wherever you are. Widex makes the device even smarter by collecting users’ input from around the world to improve upon the SoundSense Learn feature – EVOKE learns from the data you provide and applies it to similar situations, even if you’re in a new location. If you’d rather not guide your own listening experience, these hearing aids have a Universal program that does the work for you.

Phonak

The Phonak CROS B Rechargeable provides one day of hearing on a single charge so you don’t have to remember to carry spare batteries with you. These hearing aids can zero in on a single voice while reducing background noise, and helps you understand passengers in the car, streaming to your good ear to improve understanding. CROS B also automatically adjusts to the best setting for whatever situation you are in.

For more information on services available at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona, call one of our locations in Scottsdale or contact us online.

How Allergies Affect Hearing

Image of woman sneezing around flowers.Allergies don’t only make your eyes itchy and nose run – they can also hamper your hearing.

When your body is confronted with allergens such as pollen, drugs, some foods, grass or fur, the immune system produces antibodies that release histamine, which can cause allergic reactions. Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona reminds you that these reactions can affect the outer, middle and inner ear.

The outer ear may itch or become red, while a fluid build-up in the middle ear can create earaches, and the inner ear reactions may include dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or even deafness, particularly for individuals with Meniere’s disease.

Eustachian Tube

The Eustachian tube is part of the middle ear that releases pressure, but allergies can hurt its ability to drain properly by causing swelling or mucus buildup. This can cause sounds to be dampened or a feeling of fullness in your ears, a condition known as conductive hearing loss. Because the tube also has a part in maintaining balance, an allergic reaction can cause the individual to feel dizzy.

Further, children are more susceptible to a middle ear infection known as otitis media, caused when fluid in the ear becomes infected. When this occurs, your audiologist may suggest getting an allergy test.

Autoimmune inner ear disease

The immune system’s reaction to an allergen can be an allergic reaction to itself – when the immune system attacks the inner ear, it’s known as autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED). Although the cause of AIED is unknown, about a third of cases are in individuals who also display Meniere’s disease symptoms.

Hearing aids and allergies

Because allergens can clog up your hearing aids, it’s important to clean them regularly or replace the microphone port covers as needed. If you feel like you’re having an allergic reaction to your hearing aid, it could be due to moisture, a poor fit, or wax accumulation. Talk to your audiologist if you notice this.

Allergy treatments

Most allergy sufferers can use over-the-counter medicines including decongestants and antihistamines to help with symptoms in the ears, nose or eyes. Fortunately, the hearing problems and discomfort are typically temporary and subside when the allergy season is over.

For more information on services at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona, contact us at one of our three locations in Scottsdale.

Get to Know the Oticon Opn

Image of Oticon Opn Hearing Aid in audiologist's hand.Oticon is the oldest hearing aid manufacturer in the world, but don’t let that fool you – its Opn models continue to be at the forefront of improving listening experiences in the 21st century.

More than one million Opn hearing aids have been sold across the globe, in large part due to the brand’s innovative technology that has reshaped what is possible in living with hearing loss. The reviews are staggering: 96% of Opn users say they hear better with the hearing aids, while 81% say they also hear with less effort than they did previously.

The Opn is available in three styles and performance levels, all made for iPhone®:

  • miniRITE: This hearing aid – Oticon’s smallest behind-the-ear model – for mild to severe hearing loss combines telecoil functionality with a double-push button, able to control volume and listening programs. Telecoil capability can be used in loop systems, delivering sound directly into your devices.
  • miniRITE-T: A discreet device that sits behind the ear, the miniRITE-T has a tiny speaker in the ear that’s attached to a nearly invisible wire. Its double-push button controls volume and programs and features a telecoil for improved listening experiences in room with looping systems. This style is also for mild to severe hearing loss.
  • BTE13 Plus Power: This robust unit – for severe-to-profound hearing loss – features a speaker in the small casing located behind the ear. Like the others, features a telecoil for improved hearing in churches, theaters or public places with looping systems. An LED indicator provides a status for caregivers and parents.

Helping the Brain Hear Better

Studies show there is a higher risk of cognitive decline and brain atrophy in people with hearing loss who do not seek treatment for the issue. Oticon has aggressively and carefully researched this topic and developed a number of technologies that can slow down this decline in brain activity.

Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology is based on the evidence showing that understanding speech is a cognitive process that works best when the brain is open to sense and organize all sounds around it. Traditional hearing aids can center in on certain sounds, a function that does not provide the brain with the stimuli it needs. Opn’s use BrainHearing provides access to a 360-degree soundscape that allows the brain to pay attention to multiple speakers.

Wearers report experiencing a 20% reduction in listening effort, a 20% better recall of speech, and 30% better speech understanding.

Hearing care professionals are also supporters of Oticon, giving it number-one rankings in a Hearing Tracker/UBS Survey in three of the four areas audiologists use when recommending hearing aids: sound quality; value for the money; and ease of use.

Contact us for more information on how Audiology and Hearing Aid Center Arizona can help you discover Opn hearing aids.

Make hearing appointments a family affair

Image of man having his hearing evaluated with his wife by his side.

Hearing loss affects not only the person having trouble with sounds – it can have a significant impact on family members as well.

Consider these ways having relatives at your appointment could prove beneficial to all parties.

Better insight into the problem

A relative can point out that you have increasingly been turning up the volume on the television, for example. You may not be conscious of this tendency, but knowing this information can help your audiologist assess what environments cause the most problems and adjust your treatment accordingly.

Maybe you’re missing more communication with your family than you realize. Your loved one can explain these difficulties to the audiologist, making it easier for them to do their job.

This dialogue can help you better hear the TV and conversations, your family being more comfortable while watching and communicating with you and your audiologist providing better service to you as a result of more fully understanding your hearing loss.

Support system

Medical appointments can seem overwhelming due to the amount of information provided. Having a family member there can help not only soothe your nerves, but help you retain the suggestions made for you by the audiologist.

A team approach to decisions

If you’re a candidate for hearing aids, a loved one can help you process the information provided by the hearing healthcare professional and help you decide which devices are right for you.

Contact Audiology & Hearing Aid Center Arizona to schedule an appointment at one of our three Scottsdale locations or learn more about our services.

Eat Healthy, Hear Healthy

Your diet can affect your hearing, and your hearing can affect your diet.  Really!  Foods that are high I folic acid, magnesium, and zinc can help promote healthy hearing and prevent hearing loss.  Great foods include any dark leafy green – spinach, kale and brussel sprouts.

Magnesium

Magnesium improves the oxygen flow throughout blood vessels, and assists in inner ear functions.  Patients with a high magnesium diet expressed decreased tinnitus symptoms than those who consumed less in a recent study.

Folic Acid

Folic Acid is essential for cell regeneration and improving circulation, both of which are necessary for hearing functions.  Studies have shown connections between poor vitamin B-12 and folate intake and age-related with auditory issues.

Zinc

Did you know: Zinc has been known to strengthen the immune system and increase healthy cell production.  The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of zinc have been found to lessen tinnitus symptoms.

How does it all circle back? There is a nerve in your ear that actually connects to the taste buds in your tongue.  If you have some damage to your ear, it can, in fact, affect the way you perceive certain tastes!  So even if you’re not a huge fan of greens, eat them now so you can taste the foods you really enjoy longer!

Schedule an appointment with the understanding professionals at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center to learn more about your personal hearing health needs

Causes of Tinnitus

Do you spend your weekends going to sporting events or listening to live music?   The loudspeakers at these events can exceed 120 decibels. At that level, you can increase the risk of hearing loss and Tinnitus in less than a minute.  Tinnitus is the frequent ringing in the ears, and if you do experience it, you’re not alone – 50 million people in the United States are affected by it.

How To Prevent Tinnitus

A great way to deter the damages from the loud venues is to wear earplugs.  However, not all earplugs are created equal.  If your weekend hobbies include live music or sporting events, let us know.   Audiology & Hearing Aid Center can help you find the right ear protection to meet your needs to enjoy these events more safely.

We encourage everyone to get a baseline hearing assessment, whether you think you have hearing loss or not.  If you do find that you start to develop any hearing issues, you’ll have received information to help you identify it. With that information, you can be proactive with issues if/when they develop.

Schedule an appointment with the professionals at Audiology & Hearing Aid Center to learn more about your personal hearing health needs.