Why are hearing aids so expensive? This is a commonly asked question among people with a hearing loss. How is it possible that these medical devices cost so much? In today’s blog, we hope to address this question.
The Cost of a Hearing Aid is No More than the Cost of a Cup of Coffee a Day
While hearing aids are expensive devices, the hearing aid user must only worry about the initial cost once every three to five years. Hearing aids are warrantied by the manufacturer for at least three years and are usually covered under a three-year service plan with the clinic the patient makes the purchase with. The upfront cost may seem high; however, the cost truly only boils down to what you might pay for a cup of coffee per day… no pun intended 😊. Let us break it down further. If the out-of-pocket expense for a pair of mid-level hearing aids is around $3500, and the hearing aid user wears the hearing aids for about 5 years, the cost ends up being about $2.20 per day (which includes any post warranty maintenance fees)! Most hearing aid users replace their hearing aids in the 3-5-year mark, but some people keep them longer, reducing the overall cost per day even more. This is a low expense when the overall benefits of hearing loss to emotional, social, and cognitive health are taken into consideration.
Additionally, it is important to note that many hearing clinics (The Hearing Room included) offer various financing plans for patients who may require one, or for patients who prefer to break up payments over time.
You Might be Losing More than Your Hearing
The research on untreated hearing loss and the potential health risks to the brain and other health issues is quite staggering. Research has shown that those with untreated hearing loss have higher incidences of anxiety and depression, and also report more feelings of dependence, isolation, anger and confusion as compared to those with normal hearing. The research also seems to indicate a link between dementia and cognitive decline. Not only do those with untreated hearing loss seem to have an accelerated rate of cognitive decline compared to their normal hearing counterparts, (about a 30-40% faster decline), the risk factor increased with the severity of the untreated hearing loss. Those who have a severe untreated hearing loss are 5x more likely to develop cognitive decline or dementia as compared to their normal hearing peers.
Untreated Hearing Loss and Brain Tissue Loss
This may be surprising, but untreated hearing loss effects brain tissue and results in increased brain tissue atrophy (or brain tissue shrinkage). Research has shown that individuals with untreated hearing loss lost an additional cubic centimeter of brain tissue per year, as compared to their normal hearing counterparts. The areas of brain tissue loss were predominantly in the regions that process speech and sound. If the brain is being deprived of sound because of hearing loss, it makes sense that the areas of the brain responsible for processing speech and sound will get smaller and shrink over time due to the lack of stimulation. As the saying goes…if you don’t use it, you lose it. When it comes to auditory deprivation, hearing loss and the brain, it appears this sentiment applies all too well.
Treating your Hearing Loss can Improve your Health
Hearing aids are expensive, but research suggests we might be in greater trouble with our overall health if we choose to avoid or delay treatment of hearing loss. Newer studies have demonstrated that in addition to hearing aids attenuating the accelerated cognitive decline exhibited by those with untreated hearing loss, they also can slow dementia by 75%! That is an astonishing statistic. If you have hearing loss but feel as if hearing aids are out of your reach due to financial restraints, talk to your audiologist. Hearings aids come in many technology levels, and it is likely that your audiologist will be able to find one that accommodates both your budget and hearing loss needs.
If you have more questions or are interested in learning more, call The Hearing Room. We are always happy to help! Better hearing is waiting for you!
We know it can take some time between when someone thinks they have a hearing problem, and when they make an appointment at a hearing clinic to have their hearing assessed. With this blog, we hope to inform you about which types of hearing health care professionals you may meet at your audiological appointment. We thought we would take away some of the mystery and explain to you who will be conducting your hearing test when you do book an appointment, and what credentials they have.
“My hearing clinic has an Audiologist…what training to they have?”
At hearing clinics in Ontario, you will meet one of two hearing care professionals. The first is an audiologist. An audiologist can hold a two- or three-year Master’s degree of Clinical Science, or of Science, in Audiology, under the umbrella of Communication Disorders. An audiologist who has trained in the United States, or who has furthered their education following their Master’s degree may hold a Doctor of Audiology degree. Requirement for entry into the Audiology program is an undergraduate university degree (typically 4 years) prior to beginning the Master’s program or four-year Doctor of Audiology degree available in the United States. They are able to work at hearing clinics that see adults and children. Conducting hearing tests as well as prescribing and fitting hearing aids are very different procedures on adults versus children of different ages. Audiologists may also work in hearing clinics of other sub-specialties such as tinnitus management or vestibular (balance) disorders. In order to practice in Ontario, audiologists must be registered with a regulatory body to protect the public. The regulatory body in Ontario is called the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario, or CASLPO for short. Other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, nurses, and physicians also have regulatory bodies to ensure best practice protocols are in place and that the public is protected. They must meet strict criteria every year to maintain their status as a working, regulated audiologist. CASLPO also provides an online list of registered Audiologists, including the name/location/phone number of the hearing clinic(s) they work at.
“My hearing clinic has Hearing Instrument Specialist …how is that different?”
The second hearing care professional you could see at a hearing clinic is a Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS). An HIS holds a two- year college diploma, that focuses on testing hearing and recommending and fitting hearing aids on adults only. While audiologists can prescribe hearing aids, hearing instrument specialists can only recommend hearing aids, and must have an audiologist or physician sign off on their prescription in order to proceed with the fitting and dispensing. Requirement for entry into the program is a high-school diploma. The scope of practice is narrower than an audiologist; however, they are able to be the sole clinician at a hearing clinic that services hearing aids, and offers assessment and basic hearing aid services. Hearing instrument specialists do not have a regulatory college that protects the public, and must only be members of an association.
Who you will meet at The Hearing Room
The three clinicians at The Hearing Room are all audiologists, with Masters of Clinical Science in Audiology. No matter what hearing clinic you start your hearing healthcare journey with, make sure you are comfortable with the professional there, as you will be working together for years to come!
Almost anything can be done online in today’s digital age. It is no surprise that people have been using the internet, or a variety of apps or online tests to determine the status of their hearing. As audiologists, it is important to evaluate how accurate these tests are for patients.
The biggest challenge with hearing tests conducted outside of a hearing clinic is that many variables cannot be controlled. The reason these hearing tests might not be the most accurate is that variables like extraneous noise in the room, ear anatomy and proper sound levels coming out of the speakers are not taken into consideration.
Consider Noise When Conducting your Online Hearing Test
Noise is everywhere. If you have ever visited a hearing clinic, you would have seen a large, metal, soundproof room (also called a sound booth) with a small window where an audiologist conducts hearing tests. In case you have not been to a hearing clinic before, the audiologist has the patient sit in the sound proof room, and performs a variety of tests to determine if there is hearing loss and determines where in auditory system the hearing loss originates. To find your hearing thresholds, or the softest sounds you can hear, the audiologist will place a foam tip into your ear and play tones or beeps at different pitches. The audiologist will ask you to identify if you have heard the sound, even when it is extremely soft or a beep that sounds far away. The sound booth at the hearing clinic, along with the foam tips used to conduct the test, helps with soundproofing and determining the softest sounds you can hear at different pitches. Proper equipment found at your hearing clinic, and an extensive battery of tests helps determine if there is hearing loss present or not. If you are using a pair of headphones or the speakers on your computer and your neighbor is outside mowing his lawn nearby, it is more than likely that your hearing test is not accurate. An accurate hearing test can only be obtained at a hearing clinic, when conducted by a professional.
Not all Speakers are Made Equal
Speaking of speakers or headphones, another issue in question is the sound level and quality emanating from the devices. Not all speaker units are made equal, and it is hard to know how loud those devices are across a range of pitches or frequencies. When you visit your audiologist, you can be guaranteed the inserts used to test hearing are calibrated and the sound levels measured are accurate.
Your Ears are Unique
In the same way that not all speakers are made equal, all ears are not the same either. The shape of our ears, as well as what’s inside of our ears can affect our hearing. While online tests are a good start, they do not provide the entire picture of our hearing health. A hearing test with an audiologist at a hearing clinic can determine if we have wax or fluid-buildup, as well as inform whether a wax or fluid build-up is causing a temporary hearing loss. Hearing tests at a hearing clinic can actually by-pass the outer and middle portion of the ear, and test the organ of hearing directly, letting us know if the outer and middle part of our ears are preventing sound from coming through. Some people are born with a condition called atresia, where they have very narrow, or no ear canals. Despite this condition, an accurate hearing test is still possible if you go to your audiologist at the local hearing clinic.
Hearing Tests are Best when Conducted by your Audiologist
In short, online hearing tests are a great start as they allow you to start thinking about your hearing and overall hearing health. However, online hearing tests will not provide an accurate representation of your thresholds, or give you a thorough understanding of the health of your hearing system. If you’re curious about your hearing, a trip to your local hearing clinic to see an audiologist won’t hurt (literally and figuratively), and the appointments are often complimentary or have a nominal fee.
Call your local audiologist, or The Hearing Room if you have any questions or concerns about your hearing! We have two hearing aid clinics located in Oshawa and Stouffville to serve you better.
Your annual physical has either happened or is on its way, and your physician will likely ask for routine blood work, check your blood pressure, and will review your general health overall. It is more than likely that your hearing health will not be part of this annual check-up, and recent research indicates that hearing and untreated hearing loss is a valuable item missing from that list.
A report released in December 2017 stated that “An increase in childhood education and exercise, maintaining social engagements, reducing or stopping smoking, and management of hearing loss, depression, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity could all contribute to prevention or delay of dementia,” with hearing loss shown as being one of the largest modifiable risk factors in mid-life. The question remains, why aren’t physicians asking about hearing and hearing loss?
It is only in the recent past that untreated hearing loss has been investigated with respect to how it affects overall health and brain health. While hearing happens in the ear and in the periphery, it’s easy to forget that the brain is doing all of the work processing the sounds a person hears, and making those sounds make sense. When hearing loss is present, other parts of the brain need to be accessed, increasing cognitive load. Some researchers believe this could play a role in the effects untreated hearing loss has to brain health over time.
The take home message here is, if you think you might be struggling with hearing loss, a baseline hearing test is a good idea! The tests are sometimes complimentary or a nominal amount and the information gained is invaluable. Try our online hearing loss questionnaire: https://thehearingroom.ca/hearing-loss-questionnaire/ or click on the online hearing test on our homepage: https://thehearingroom.ca/ and see how you do.
Call your local audiologist for a hearing test today, or swing by The Hearing Room for more information!
Oshawa (P): 905-571-1999
Stouffville (P): 905-640-8999
Campbell et. Al., Compensatory changes in cortical resource allocation in adults with hearing loss. Front Syst Neurosci. 2013; 7: 71. Published online 2013 Oct 25. Prepublished online 2013 Sep 11.doi: 3389/fnsys.2013.00071
Livingston,G., Sommerlad, A., Orgeta, V., et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet Commissions. 2017; 390: 2673–2734 .
This summer in southern Ontario has been hot and humid! Hearing aids are quite resilient devices but they could certainly use some extra care in this hot, hot heat.
Here are some important tips to help keep your hearing aids in good shape during the warm summer months.
Keep your hearing aids reasonably dry and reasonably cool
Similar to other electronic devices, hearing aids work best if they do not over heat. Avoid storing your hearing aids in a glove box or leaving them in a hot vehicle overnight. While most newer hearing aids are water resistant and dust proof, older hearing aid models are less resilient. If you plan on exercising outside, it is best to partake in physical activity during the cooler hours of the day. Also, do not forget to use a dry aid jar to draw out any residual moisture that might have accumulated.
Check your ears before diving in!
Hearing aids have never been more comfortable! It has become more and more common to hear of patients forgetting to remove their hearing aids prior to showering or swimming. If you’ve accidentally forgotten to remove your hearing aids and jumped in headfirst, and happen to be reading this right now, do not panic! Most newer hearing aids have Ingress Protection (IP) ratings which place them in the water-resistant category; as a result, it is unlikely that a quick dip will affect the hearing aid’s functionality once it has fully dried off. If you have accidently immersed your hearing aid in water or you have been caught in a torrential summer downpour, dry off your hearing aid, remove the battery, and place the hearing aid in a dry aid jar. If you are stuck without a dry aid jar, a container full of rice will also work to remove the built-up moisture.
Invest in Dry Aid Jar or a UV-Dryer
You might see a pattern in today’s blog post; dry aid jars are a hearing aid’s best friend in warm summer months. Whether we like to admit it or not, perspiration increases in the summer, and this, combined with increased humidity, likely means increased moisture accumulation in your hearing aid. You might be thinking “hey, wait a minute, I thought my hearing aids are water resistant!” While this is true, older hearing aids may not have an IP rating indicating water-resistance. Another thing to consider is that depending on the style of hearing, some parts and pieces might not have water resistant qualities. This means it is vital to dry them out to ensure continued optimal functionality. Dry aid jars are often under $20 and can dramatically decrease in-office repair issues and increase the life of your hearing aid. Another great add-on is a UV dryer. The device includes an electronic dryer which makes it more thorough as a dehumidifier and it also has sanitizing properties from UV light. This might be included with higher end models or can be a worthy add-on.
See your audiologist for a thorough cleaning
So, your children thought it might be entertaining to bury your hearing aid in sand at the beach? Perhaps it is time to see your audiologist. Most hearing aid clinics have advanced equipment to help thoroughly clean your hearing device and also have spare parts like receiver wires that can be changed quickly and easily in-house. Your audiologist can also determine whether or not a manufacturer repair is warranted if an in-office repair does not suffice.
Have fun in the sun and take care of those hearing aids! Call your local audiologist, or The Hearing Room if you have any more questions or concerns!
Hearing loss has a significant effect on a person’s cognitive, social, and emotional well-being. Untreated hearing loss can lead to many comorbidities, including depression, dementia, cognitive decline, and falls.
Did you know that untreated hearing loss can have impact on your income?
Research conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, examining the impact of untreated hearing loss on an individual’s household income revealed some interesting findings.
Did you know people with untreated hearing loss can lose up to $30,000 a year annually in income?
This is an astounding amount when considering this annually, over one’s employment career. The research also found that individuals with hearing loss who pursued hearing aids as a treatment option reduced their income loss by 65 to 100%. The percentage depended on the severity and degree of hearing loss. Furthermore, The Better Hearing Institute found that those with untreated hearing loss who had decided not to pursue hearing aids had double the unemployment rate compared to those individuals who wore hearing aids.
In order to effectively communicate at work, hearing is critical! Hearing is important to properly engage with customers, employers, the public, and to ensure overall safety while working. Individuals with untreated hearing loss are more at risk for making errors while at their place of employment, and have difficulties communicating, resulting in losses in compensation due to underemployment. We also know that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression, anxiety, social isolation, and difficulties with emotional health, all of which impact job performance in a negative manner.
Treat your Hearing Loss and Improve Your Performance at Work!
As audiologists and hearing health care professionals, we are cognizant of the fact that people with hearing loss often delay treatment while working for fear of being stigmatized by their co-workers and employers. While it seems worthwhile to keep a hearing loss “hidden” from your employers, the negative results are never hidden and the results can be quite tragic over someone’s life time when considering lost compensation/wages, lost employment opportunities, lost promotions, and an overall lower income upon retirement.
If these aren’t reasons enough to come in for a baseline hearing assessment, call The Hearing Room and we are happy to chat with you about the many reasons why it’s important to monitor hearing health, especially after the age of 60.
Call The Hearing Room today for information on hearing loss, booking a hearing test, and hearing aid options.
What hearing aid technology level should I select?
This is one of the most common questions we hear as audiologists at The Hearing Room. The decision on which technology level to select is determined by the type of hearing loss you have, what type of results you are hoping to achieve with your hearing aids, the environments you are in, and what your personal desires are when it comes to advancements in technology. Higher end hearing aid technology has more advanced features within the processing chip to help the end user extract speech out of background noise in a greater variety of environmental situations. As you move down in technology levels, some features that help a user understand speech in noise are not present and therefore, the user might have a more difficult time in some challenging listening environments (e.g restaurants or busy sporting events). Please be advised that this explanation is oversimplified as hearing aids are quite complicated devices. Your audiologist will be able to describe feature breakdowns between hearing aid brands or even within the same brand in a if you are interested in learning more. If finances are not a concern, the majority of patients would perform significantly better if they chose a high-end hearing aid. If financial constraints exist, audiologists believe that “something is always better than nothing” and a suitable hearing aid within the patient’s budget can still be selected and prescribed.
Which hearing aid style is right for me?
Hearing aid technology has advanced significantly over the last decade. When the time comes to choose a style of hearing aid, almost all of them can accommodate the majority of hearing losses. There are essentially two types of hearing aid styles: custom hearing aids and behind-the-ear hearing aids. The receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) type or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) style are very popular and compose approximately 80% of the market. They can accommodate almost all degrees of hearing losses, they are small, and extremely comfortable. Most people become accustomed to the RIC/RITE more readily than custom hearing aids. This is because custom hearing aids are generally made of acrylic material, resulting in the patient being able to “feel” it more while it is in the ear canal.
However, there are certainly reasons to select a custom hearing aid. If dexterity is a concern, then a custom hearing aid is often a suitable choice. Custom hearing aids are composed of just one piece that is easy to insert in the ear and can be made large enough for arthritic fingers to grasp. One important thing to note is that style does not dictate price! This is an important myth that should be debunked. A very discrete hearing aid can be purchased for the same price as a large hearing aid as it is the technology on the inside that counts, and determines how well the hearing aid will work in a variety of different environments.
What about rechargeable hearing aids?
Rechargeable hearing aids can be a great option for those who do not want to change hearing aid batteries. Currently, rechargeable hearing aids are only available in the RIC/RITE behind-the-ear hearing aid described above. Dexterity issues could make changing batteries a challenge, and if you are capable of putting on a behind-the-ear hearing aid, then this might be a great option for you. Whether you choose disposable hearing aid batteries or rechargeable, it is important to note that the cost usually evens out over time. While you will pay initially more upfront for a rechargeable hearing aid, the cost of purchasing batteries over the life of the hearing aid will add up to the same amount. Of course, there exist variations in this as battery life is dependent on the amount of time the hearing aids are worn, how much the user streams audio with hearing aids, the amount of hearing loss the patient has, and if the patient uses the aids while sleeping to address tinnitus concerns. The majority of rechargeable hearing aids provide 12-30 hours on a full charge. Click on the rechargeable hearing aids tab to learn more about this topic.
Accessories, Bluetooth and Made for iPhone… what do I need to know?
The add-on accessories available for hearing aids are bountiful and can be very helpful once you are comfortable with using them. They are typically easy to use and involve streaming the sound from your TV, phone, and so on, to the hearing aid accessory and then, into the hearing aids. This improves the overall comprehension of the streamed signal as it is being relayed directly into the user’s hearing aids. The usual add-on accessories include TV devices, remote microphone options and phone devices for both landlines and cell phones. Typically these add-ons connect with some sort of Bluetooth connection or a wireless signal.
Made for iPhone hearing aids are quite are an excellent option due to their ability to connect directly to TV devices, iPhones, iPads, and remote microphones. If you are an Android user, many manufacturers have released a small and discreet clip to allow streaming phone calls. If the accessory options sound overwhelming, a demonstration in the clinic might help as overall, the devices are designed to be user-friendly. Your local audiologist will be happy to help!
Do I really need hearing aid accessories?
Hearing aid accessories can be very helpful and if used correctly, can vastly improve a person’s hearing and quality of life. The amount of hearing loss and how much a user struggles in certain environments can help determine the need for a hearing aid accessory. Your local audiologist would be a good person to walk you through the various options if you are considering any of the add-ons discussed above.
Hopefully this brief overview of the hearing aid selection process was helpful. If you have more detailed questions, call The Hearing Room. Audiologists, Irene Nicholaou and Natasha Manji, would be happy to assist!
Hearing loss can be a large barrier to everyday life. Expressing your feelings, needs, wants, or simply having a conversation with a loved one or grandchild when you have a hearing loss can be difficult or impossible. It is easy to take your hearing for granted until it is impaired and a hearing loss is acquired. Feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, frustration, and loneliness are very common in those who have a hearing loss. While the effects of hearing loss can be devastating to a person’s overall social, cognitive, and emotional well being, it is important to remember the positive: there are treatment options to address hearing loss, including communication strategies and hearing aids. Taking the first step to accepting your hearing loss and then proceeding with treatment options can significantly improve your quality of life.
One question that arises is: Why is depression more common in those with an untreated hearing loss?
Feelings of depression are higher in those who have untreated hearing loss. When communicating with loved ones becomes challenging and your hearing loss creates an obstacle, people with hearing loss have a tendency to isolate themselves and choose to participate less socially and conversationally. Communication becomes frustrating for all parties involved. The person with a hearing loss can feel frustrated with himself or herself, knowing that they are frustrating those they are trying to communicate with. Overtime, these feelings of defeat and frustration can build up and it becomes easier for a person with hearing loss to detach themselves from social activities and conversation. This can sometimes lead to depression.
Accepting hearing loss can help you to take charge and improve your quality of life.
The first step to improving your quality of life is acceptance of your hearing loss. It is absolutely okay to admit you have a hearing loss! Admitting you have a hearing loss is the first step to improving your overall quality of life. Admitting your hearing loss to friends and family will help them communicate with you better. There are several communication strategies that can be used in order to make conversation easier. Family members and friends can be taught some of these strategies if they aware of the hearing loss and know that you have accepted it and would like help. Acceptance will also bring you one step closer to seeking help from your audiologist.
What are my options?
When you have a hearing loss, there are many options available when it comes to amplification. The first step is addressing your hearing loss, and while this is a big step, please be assured it is a positive one. Your local audiologist will be able to thoroughly assess your hearing and locate where in the hearing system the problem exists. Most hearing losses are permanent, and arise from issues in the inner ear. Based on your hearing test and your lifestyle needs, your audiologist will help you make a decision regarding the best course of action to treat your hearing loss. If your hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids are likely the best treatment option as no other medical intervention is available except in rare cases. An audiologist can help you with selecting a hearing aid, ensuring successful outcomes with hearing devices, as well as providing communication strategies. Hearing aids have come a long way and satisfaction with hearing aids is over 80% for devices purchased in the past 3 years according to recent studies (1). With guidance and care, your journey to better hearing will be a gratifying one!
Would you like to learn more? Call or email The Hearing Room today, they would be happy to help!
The Hearing Room was interested in trialing out new hearing aid technology in the very environment patients with a hearing loss mention struggling in the most -a restaurant environment. Ninety eight percent of participants in the study noted that they struggled most with their hearing loss when immersed in a ‘crowd’ type setting.
How did the Hearing Aid Field-Study Work?
Participants with a hearing loss were asked to fill out a questionnaire during the trial. Information regarding hearing aid technology, aesthetics of hearing aid technology, the importance of connectivity to other devices, the importance of a rechargeable hearing aid option, and the motivation of the participant to improve their hearing health was collected via the questionnaire.
Current research dictates that motivation to use hearing aids and improve hearing health is one of the key elements determining hearing aid success. One hypothesis for this subjective study was: does an increased motivation for hearing health affect the overall outcome in hearing aid benefit?
What was the Outcome?
In this subjective field trial, of the participants that completed the trial, 70% said they were extremely motivated to improve their hearing. Of those 70%, the average improvement in noise for participants wearing the trialed hearing aid technology was 90%; or participants felt they heard ‘satisfactory’ 90% of the time according to the validation questionnaire. The average improvement for those highly motivated hearing aid wearers in a quiet, one-to-one type setting, was an 88% improvement. When this was compared to less motivated hearing loss participants, results for hearing ‘satisfactory’ in noise was 88% on average and 87% in quiet situations. The difference here is slight and likely not significant; therefore in this subjective field trial, motivation to hear better did not drastically affect the perceived benefit of hearing aids. This is likely due to the fact that hearing aids are performing better than they ever have due to the advancements in hearing aid digital chip technology, and participants with hearing loss did not realize how much they were missing until trying hearing aids.
Industry research derived in 2015 indicates that 91%1 of people were satisfied with hearing aid technology purchased within one year of being surveyed, and 77%1 report high satisfaction ratings with hearing aids purchased 2-3 years prior. If hearing the desired speaker in noise is a primary complaint of hearing aid users, and digital hearing aid technology is constantly improving, it is hypothesized that participants would have high satisfaction ratings in noisy environments when wearing hearing aids versus in the same environment, without hearing aids. On average, participants in this trial reported hearing ‘much better’ using their hearing aids in a noisy environment and on average, reported hearing ‘satisfactory’ 90% of the time with hearing aids on versus hearing aids off in noisy situations. While 90% seems very high, this value coincides with industry research.
The Hearing Room would like to thank everyone who participated, we appreciate your help!
Are you interested in this technology or in a complimentary hearing assessment?
Call The Hearing Room for more details: 905-571-1999
Tinnitus is often characterized as the perception of a ringing, chirping, whooshing or humming sound in the ear. It can be a constant sound in someone’s ear or it can be intermittent. Tinnitus is a sound that originates from the brain, but stems from a problem in the inner ear. When the tiny cells inside the inner ear are damaged, a person may begin to notice this ringing or humming sound. Tinnitus can be quite bothersome for many individuals and may often cause feelings of stress, anxiety and frustration.
While many people find tinnitus annoying or bothersome, it is often not indicative of any serious or dangerous medical condition. It is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, such as hearing loss, exposure to noise, or injuries to the ear. Although tinnitus can worsen with age, many people find relief or improvement with different treatment options currently available. For example, if the underlying condition causing the tinnitus is hearing loss, treating the hearing loss with hearing aids can offer improvements with the perception of tinnitus and minimize these annoying sounds. This is accomplished through the brain’s newfound focus on processing real sounds once again instead of paying attention to the tinnitus.
On January 18, 2018, Dr. Raj Bhardwaj provided an extremely informative tinnitus lesson on CBC radio to all their listeners. He explained why tinnitus is related to both the ear and the brain, and the importance of treating it. Ten to fifteen percent of all Canadians suffer from tinnitus, with this number growing daily as the population ages. Dr. Bhardwaj describes common causes of tinnitus, including age-related hearing loss, and explains clearly how hearing aids can compensate for this loss and allow our brains to pay attention and process real sounds instead of focusing on the random electrical impulses it may be receiving causing the perception of tinnitus for so many individuals. If interested, we encourage you to take a listen to his interview at the following link:
Other treatments for tinnitus, apart from hearing aids, include masking the bothersome noise, which can make the tinnitus less noticeable for the patient. This can be accomplished by using a white noise masker at night, or anytime where the tinnitus is especially perceptible. Another option available is to use the masking function present in certain hearing aids. Certain hearing aid brands and technologies contain a tinnitus masker feature, allowing the patient to control the type of masking tone as well as the volume of the masker to their individual preferences.
Lastly, certain types of food as well as our overall psychological health can also influence the perception of tinnitus. Here are some tips relating to these categories that you may find helpful:
1. Avoid salty foods. For some people, salty foods can increase the tinnitus sounds. This is because salty foods change the fluid concentration in our bodies as well as in the ear, resulting in an increased perception of the tinnitus.
2. For some individuals, caffeine can increase tinnitus sounds. Caffeine is a diuretic and can change the fluid concentration in our bodies as well as in our ears. This may result in the tinnitus sounding louder to the person afflicted. Caffeine can also increase anxiety and stress hormones, causing the tinnitus to seem louder for certain individuals.
Note: New evidence has shown that caffeine may in fact have positive effects on tinnitus. If you are unsure on how caffeine affects your tinnitus, it might help to keep a tinnitus log and monitor caffeine intake and tinnitus severity to determine any correlation.
3. Alcohol. For some people, alcohol can make tinnitus sound louder as it changes the fluid concentration in our bodies as well as in the ear. Conversely, for some people, alcohol has no negative effect on tinnitus. If you are unsure whether alcohol is affecting your tinnitus, we recommend keeping a log of alcohol consumption and tinnitus severity to determine any correlation.
4. Decrease Anxiety. Anxiety can cause the tinnitus sounds to be perceived louder because they trigger our stress hormones. For some people, meditation or exercise can be helpful to reduce anxiety and as a result, decrease overall tinnitus perception.
If tinnitus is affecting your life and you would like more information on how to treat your tinnitus symptoms, do not hesitate to call your local audiologist for more help. The first step in determining any treatments or solutions for tinnitus is to have a diagnostic hearing test performed.