Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Did you know that says diabetes and hearing loss are two of the highest health concerns in America? It’s true, according to the American Diabetes Association. While it’s unlikely you connect diabetes and hearing loss, the fact is that these two conditions are closely intertwined. When you consider that 30 million people have diabetes and 34.5 million people have hearing loss, you’ll see this more clearly. Take a look at a few recent studies showing you’re twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you also have diabetes than others who don’t have this disease. 20,000 people from various continents around the world took part in the study from the United States, Asia, Brazil and Australia.

Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Although many scientists believe the correlation is related to high blood glucose levels that come with diabetes, harming the small blood vessels in the inner ear, there is still much more work to be done on this front. While studies conclusively link diabetes and hearing loss, they “why” is still unknown. Just like the glucose levels in diabetics can adversely affect your eyes, kidneys and feet, your ears are also vulnerable to attack. More research is underway to further examine the link between the two conditions; however, they seem to have ruled out old age. It’s no secret that our hearing deteriorates as we enter our older years, but this is not apparently the case with diabetics. Some think if diabetics were to better control their blood sugar levels, they could reduce their risk of hearing impairment. In regards to noisy workplaces, this too has been ruled out. That said, diabetics take medications and diuretics that essentially lower their blood pressure, so these could be to blame as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

If you’re always on the lookout for tell-tale signs and symptoms of hearing loss, you’re already ahead of the game. If you have trouble keeping track of conversations with two or more people, hear mumbling from others, can’t pick out the voices of small children or women, and must crank the volume on the TV or radio up, you could have hearing loss of some degree. Do you have trouble distinguishing words against background noise or a crowd of people? Do you pick up on muffling of sounds every day instead of clear words? Do you have to ask others to repeat themselves? Unfortunately, these are all signs of hearing loss. You wouldn’t want to have to start avoiding certain social situations so you don’t get embarrassed, do you? This is why you should visit an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment so you don’t put yourself or others at risk. If your spouse or friend says you have a hearing problem, heed that warning and go see your doctor.

Testing for Diabetes

Having your hearing tested as a diabetic is imperative because this can aid researchers in determining what the correlation is between diabetes and hearing impairment. During your routine exam, be sure to ask to be referred to a specialist – usually called an audiologist – for further testing and evaluation. Yes, diabetes brings on many other health concerns, all of which are tested for regularly, but hearing tests should never be overlooked at your regular visit.

Hearing Loops: What They Are And How They Work

Hearing loops are one of the fastest growing technologies when it comes to hearing impairment. Now, with the simple installation of one of these hearing loops, people with hearing loss can make new use of their hearing device to have much better sound quality delivered directly to them. Although this is a burgeoning technology, many people are still unsure of the basic capabilities of this device. Here we will clarify what a hearing loop is, how they work, and where they are seen in the world right now.

What Is A Hearing Loop?

A hearing loop is a two part mechanism that can help a person hear sounds in a specific area. One of the parts of this hearing loop is the individual’s hearing aid, which must be worn in order to pick up the sounds that are being put out by the hearing loop. The actual “loop” refers to a physical cable that is run throughout a room. This cable can pick up sound via a microphone and then transmit the sounds to a hearing aid that, giving the individual access to more specific sounds.

How Does This Work?

The first part of the hearing loop, the cable, was actually developed as a way to help increase the range of a telephone handset almost thirty years ago. The hearing wire typically picks up sound that is in a room through a microphone that is connected to the system. This microphone feeds the sound into the wire in the form of an electromagnetic signal. From there, the sound is fed into the room on a certain frequency that must be picked up via a telecoil, which can interpret the signal into sound.
Fortunately, most hearing aids and cochlear implants of the modern age are already made with the telecoil, and can be activated by manually turning on the t-switch. After this is completed, the hearing aid will take the information and translate it to sound that the user can hear. This also helps eliminate background noise and unwanted frequencies.

Where Are They Being Used Now?

Currently, hearing loops are being implemented in cities around the world, with many nations considering them necessary for the health and well-being of their hearing impaired population. For the most part, hearing loops can be found in meeting rooms, conference areas, convention centers, and areas where there is a large audience. Since these hearing loops are cheap and rather inexpensive to install, they are being considered in more areas than ever before. There is a large push right now to have them installed in mass transit vehicles such as busses and taxis for the benefit of hearing impaired individuals. It appears as though hearing loop technology will only continue to grow in the future.

The Evolution Of Hearing Aids

One of the most important inventions of the last century has been the digital hearing aid. These devices have revolutionized the world for people who suffer from hearing loss. That is why it is crucial that we continue along the endeavor towards making more functional and technologically driven devices in the future. Before we look to the horizon, though, it may be a good idea to take a step back and see where we have come from in terms of hearing aids.

The Ear Trumpet

The earliest for of hearing aids were called ear trumpets. They came in a variety of forms, but they all had a very basic concept. The individual would put the small, hollow end of a horn or metal trumpet device into their inner and then direct the flared end towards the sound that is being made. This helps the sound travel through the trumpet and to be heard by the user. While it was a valuable concept and was the source of many novel creations, it was still horribly limited by the fact that it was not mobile and could not truly amplify sound.

Carbon Form Hearing Aids

One of the developments that were made in hearing aids came about in the late 19th and early 20th century. This was called the Carbon Hearing Aid, and used a magnetic receiver, carbon microphone, and a battery in order to bolster hearing in individuals across the nation. To understand this concept simply, the user would place their ear against the diaphragm. As sound hit the carbon microphone, it would send pieces of carbon across the diaphragm, simulating that noise but also amplifying it through the microphone. The result was that louder sounds were made and the person was better able to hear them.
Of course, this early design came with plenty of flaws such as only providing low quality sound and a grainy sound at that due to the carbon movement. Also, since the battery needed was so heavy and the person had to be on a level ground to use it, this hearing aid was not mobile.

Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids

The last stop before we get to the electrical and digital ages of hearing aids comes with the vacuum tube hearing aid. This tool was used during the 1920’s and integrated many parts of the telephone at that time to become a very successful hearing aid. The device weighed seven pounds, but it was also able to amplify sound. The vacuum tube was used with a transistor to turn sound into electrical impulses, and then back into amplified sound. This allowed people to hear sounds at a much higher volume than before, and they could take it just about anywhere. The major drawback was that the batteries never lasted long enough for the device to be used all the time.

Costco vs an Audiologist – Hearing Aid Quality and Service Comparison

Have you noticed all the big box stores such as Costco and Walmart are getting into the realm of patient services more and more? With ear care facilities right on site, many customers are tempted to go there for treatment and diagnosis, when they normally would have gone to a qualified professional in an office setting. Even ear care is available at the big box stores, where you can tackle your weekly shopping first and then hit the ear care department for whatever ails you. There are several things wrong with this situation, and we will examine those reasons below. Although on the surface it looks like a convenience to get ear care from those stores, you get a lot more out of your visit when you seek out a professional audiologist instead. Mimicking the fast food model of on-the-go lifestyles, you should stay away from the big box stores when it comes to your hearing health and find a pro instead.

Professionalism

First off, you’ll always get higher professionalism when you go to an audiologist who is trained in complete auditory health. A doctor brings many years of education and experience to the table so you get comprehensive ear care, thanks to their knowledge of ear canal anatomy. They also know which treatments, if any, are the best for your unique situation. Getting at the root of the problem is their goal, while many employees at big box stores go right to the solution — hearing aids – without thorough evaluation.

Higher Quality Accessories

One of the most significant reasons you should go with an audiologist over an employee at a big box store is that the hearing aids and related products they sell and fit you with are manufactured with the best quality materials. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a hearing aid at a store and then find out it doesn’t work the way it was supposed to. This can happen in the form of poor sound quality and interference. When buying from a certified audiologist, you know the quality is the best and that the doctor will make sure you get the best possible fit when it comes to hearing aids.

Cost-Effective Measures

You may not realize it, but you’re often overpaying at the big box stores because of all the extras the employees are selling you on top of the original device. That’s their job – to sell you products. The job of an audiologist is to evaluate your complete hearing health and fit you with a quality device that works as intended. Yes, it’s true you may find there’s a higher cost initially when buying products from a doctor, but that’s what health insurance is for. Plus, you get peace of mind knowing the product is of high quality.

3D Printing Revolutionizes the Hearing Aid Market

You may not have thought hearing aids could be made from the process of 3D printing, but it’s true. In fact, it’s not even a very new concept and has been in deployment for years in making custom fit hearing aids. Perhaps you know it by its alternative name: additive manufacturing. 3D printing has been garnering more and more attention thanks to the increased precision of the process whereby products like hearing aids are built up instead of cut away with tools. Its reach extends to all sorts of technologies, from manufacturing to jewelry to electronics, but it’s especially helpful in the development of custom hearing aids. This revolutionary way of manufacturing devices like these is of paramount importance because it helps so many people to hear better. And with 35 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, this is certainly a goal of the industry as a whole: to produce more efficient hearing aids that utilize the best technology has to offer.

 

How it Happens

 

Hearing aids have been created via 3D printing for years because it’s a customized way of making hearing aids fit to an individual. Everyone’s ears are unique, and this has presented a problem in the past for cookie-cutter hearing aids. With 3D printing, your hearing aid fits you and only you. When additive manufacturing is used, the end result is an improved fit and a higher comfort level for the user. Used in parallel with 3D laser scanning, it only takes a day to make a hearing aid in this way, as opposed to days and weeks prior to this technology breaking through. While there are certainly variations on the technology utilized by different companies, the basic premise is the same. The process is performed by an audiologist whose job it is to make a digital image of the ear with the help of a laser scanner. This makes what’s known as a pointcloud. When finished scanning, a quality check must be done before the actual model can be made. Out of the printer comes a shell or mold of the hearing aid in a flexible material called resin, paving the way for the addition of the proper acoustic vents, electronics and other components. Digital cameras facilitate the use of a whopping 150,000 points of reference that put the template to the mold, while many geometric patterns and combinations undergo testing before printing the final shell. The superior product that is created is so efficient and high in quality that the individual will benefit from this in the long haul. Once printed, the hearing aid benefits from the addition of the circuitry to the shell. This is basically the hearing aid’s road map to project the actual sound. Today, more than 10 million 3D printed hearing devices are in circulation, helping hearing impaired individuals to hear crystal clear. Although some may say science has taken over what was once considered an art form of sorts, you can’t second guess the speed and efficiency with which this technology has delivered.

 

Benefits of Creating 3D Printed Hearing Aids

Customization is the top benefit to this technology – an extremely important component because no two ear canals are the same. Traditional manufacturing processes never could guarantee a perfect unique fit for each user; therefore, many imperfections were present that detracted from the comfort level. The advent of 3D printing has had a big effect on the industry as a whole, propelling it to new and varied heights.

Foods that can Prevent Hearing Loss – and Hearing Aids

We all know eating healthy foods are good for your body. What many of us don’t realize is the effect certain foods have on our hearing health. Everything’s interconnected, so by treating your body right, you can actually help to prevent hearing loss. Many people suffer from this, particularly the aging population. You may know enough not to expose yourself to loud noises to protect your ears but you may not understand how important it is to eat right when it comes to your ears. More and more evidence is coming out that shows the foods you choose to eat have a direct impact on your levels of hearing loss. Check out these foods you should incorporate in your diet for optimal hearing health.

Citrus Snacks

Citrus is well known for its healing properties as a way to stave off the common cold. However, those same abilities to keep sickness at bay can also keep harmful ear infections at bay. Thanks to all the vitamin C and E present in oranges and lemons, you can use that to your advantage when it comes to fighting off infection. You never want to leave an ear infection untreated, as this can lead to chronic hearing impairments.

Sweet Snacks

By snacking on dark chocolate, you’re helping to improve your ears thanks to the loads of zinc found in this treat. You can also get your zinc – which helps guard against hearing damage – in supplements, but eating dark chocolate is so much more fun!  Of course, you can’t overindulge or your hips will show the effects, but a little bit now and then can actually help your hearing health thanks to the antioxidants present that improve your whole body’s health.

Fish like Salmon

Salmon and other types of fish are notorious for their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in the improvement of your blood flow. Getting your blood pumping at healthy levels is imperative to a healthy lifestyle, not to mention the effect improved blood flow has on your ears. As you age, it becomes more and more important to keep fatty acids, such as those in salmon, an integral part of your diet.

Banana Bonanza

If you love bananas for their great taste and healthful properties, here’s another reason to love them: they work to curb hearing damage. This is due to the large amounts of magnesium, which can reverse the damaging effects of hearing damage brought on by external environmental influences like loud noises. Bananas are great alone or on your favorite breakfast cereal, so it’s easy to keep this food in your diet.

Beneficial Broccoli

This super veggie, as well as with other similar cruciferous veggies, improves your hearing health because it’s so chock full of vitamin and minerals. These vitamins and minerals work to stave off the damage to ear tissue brought on by free radicals. Preventing hearing loss is easy when you regularly eat veggies like broccoli. Bonus: your skin and hair will glow with radiance.

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

It turns out that people have even more reasons than ever before to watch out for hearing loss. According to a recent study that was done by the Institute for Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, hearing loss can result in depression. This study was recently compiled and released so that everyone could view it. In this article, we will take a closer look at the study, the way that hearing loss causes depression, as well as how you can prevent hearing loss from occurring.

How To Prevent Hearing Loss

Before we take a look at the study, it is important to realize that there are many ways that people can go about saving their hearing health. The very first thing that you can do is to avoid taking unneeded risks with your hearing health. This means that you should not spend a great deal of time in loud areas without having some form of hearing protection. That is one of the other most important aspects of maintaining hearing health: using hearing protection when you are in excessively loud areas. With both of these tips in mind, you will be much less likely to incur hearing damage throughout your life.

How Hearing Loss Causes Depression

The mechanism behind hearing loss causing depression is rather simple. Rather than having a direct result through brain damage, another route that is being explored, hearing loss affects depression by virtue of depriving people of their most fun and worthwhile tasks. Not being able to take part in familiar hobbies can harm individual’s self esteem as well as their sense of fun. Also, if you cannot hold a conversation with loved ones, it also has a negative impact. Combined, these two factors can cause a person to become more withdrawn than ever before, resulting in depression.

The Study And Results

The study itself was completed by 18,000 volunteers under the guidance of specialists at the Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders. They all had their hearing levels tested, self reported under the age of 70 and tested in a lab over 70, and were then given an assessment to determine if they had depression. While this was a rather simple process, the results were absolutely incredible. As it turns out, people under the age of 70 who had hearing loss had an 11% chance of having depression, compared to just 4% of the population at large.

The people over the age of 70 did not have this occurrence, despite having hearing loss at higher levels; a confounding factor. The bottom line is that hearing loss and depression are irrevocably connected. Further research is going to look at this phenomenon for more information.

The Connection Between Music and Mood

It’s commonly held that not only does music up your energy level, but that it helps you heal more quickly and significantly improves your mood. In fact, studies now show that music can either improve or reinforce your mood–which gives you a better quality of life.

University of Missouri researchers found that upbeat music is sometimes all it takes to boost a person’s mood. Their study showed that participants, who were told to improve their mood, felt happier after listening to the upbeat music of Copeland, as opposed to the more morose songs of Stravinsky. Interestingly, other participants who weren’t told to impove their mood did not experience a boost in happiness while listening to music. Summed up by one researcher, “People could focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey towards happiness and not get hung up on the destination.” Happy or sad music even affects how we interpret neutral faces, according to the results of a recent study.

We can usually tell if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. Our brains actually respond differently to the happy and sad music, making the process much more subjective. The length of the piece of music is irrelevant. During the study, people were more likely to project happy or sad moods onto the neutral faces to match the short piece of music they were listening to. This also occurred with other facial expressions, but it happened most often with those that were more neutral.

Music doesn’t just affect our ability to read expressions: music such as ambient noise can improve creativity. Some people love loud music in the background while they organize their days, deciding what to do and when. But if you’re doing creative work, you may reconsider the loud music as background noise. In fact, creative tasks such as writing, painting, or building something are best set to music at a moderate noise level. Actually, even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently enhances creativity and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise do. This is because moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty, which in turn promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle (but not too much) to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches. This is because loud noise overwhelms us and makes it too difficult to approach anything creatively–or at all.

So stick to moderate levels when you’re looking for heightened creativity, and choose more upbeat music to improve your mood–it truly works.

What Consumers Should Know About Hearing Aids Made for iPhone

Among smartphones, the iPhone stands out as an innovation leader. The latest innovation is a result of collaborations with several hearing aid manufacturers to create hearing aids and apps that are intended to work together. These are known as made for iPhone hearing aids. With a made for iPhone hearing aid, users can simply use an app to adjust the device. In addition, the iPhone delivers incoming audio such as phone calls and music or Siri’s responses right to the user’s hearing aid. Set up is easy as well – just treat the device like any other Bluetooth device. As Apple instructs, “In Settings, go to General, then Accessibility, then Hearing Aids, and iOS will automatically search for and recognize your device. Once your hearing aid is paired, it’s available to you as an audio source whenever you need it.” For users who have trouble hearing a conversation in a noisy area, Live Listen is a great iPhone feature that works with made for iPhone hearing aids. With Live Listen, one can use the phone’s microphone to hear the person speaking loud and clear.

The made for iPhone hearing aids available now include Audibel’s A3i, Audigy’s AGXsp, Beltone’s Beltone First, MicroTech’s Kinnect, NuEar’s iSDS, ReSound’s ReSound LiNX, and Starkey’s Halo. Choosing the right made for iPhone hearing aid can take some research and the assistance of a hearing care specialist. Each device has its own unique abilities and features. For example, Audibel’s A3i’s boasts “advanced noise reduction technology and a precise directional microphone”. If you’re the forgetful type, Audigy’s AGXsp boasts a GPS feature to help you find your hearing aids. The MicroTech’s Kinnect is compatible with your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices and easily streams music, Facetime phone calls, and much more. NuEar’s iSDS’s “patented technology replicates high-frequency sounds (like women’s and children’s voices) in lower frequencies where they’re easier to hear and understand.” Lastly, Starkey’s Halo’s “industry-leading feedback canceller provides feedback-free and comfortable listening all day long.”

Your hearing care specialist can help you sort through the options to find the perfect one for you.

Understanding the Basics of Echoes

If you’ve ever been inside a large canyon, you’ve probably observed the wonder of echoes firsthand-but how do they work? The echo occurs when a sound repeats itself, fading from loud to soft in seconds. The echo occurs because some of the sound waves in your shout reflect off of a surface (either the water at the bottom of the well or the canyon wall on the far side) and travel back to your ears. For a place to be able to produce echoes, it must have certain features. For one, the size of the obstacle/reflector must be large compared to the wavelength of the incident sound (for reflection of sound to take place). For another, the distance between the source of sound and the reflector should be at least 66 feet (so that the echo is heard distinctly after the original sound is over). Lastly, the intensity or loudness of the sound has to be sufficient for the reflected sound reaching the ear to be audible. The original sound should be of short duration.

The farther away the surface is, the longer it will take for the echo to come back to you. One could theoretically tell how far away an object is and how fast it is moving by an echo.For example, bats can tell the location and movement of moths using echolocation. The bat sends a sharp click or chirping sound, then hears and processes any echoes off other objects in the area. Bats have large ears that are very sensitive to sounds in certain wavelengths. Their brains also help by processing the distance from and the size of the object as well as how fast it is moving and where to. Using this echolocation, the bat finds moths easily in the pitch dark.

The dolphin is another mammal who uses echolocation. With what are called “phonic lips,” a dolphin makes clicking sounds. Almost all other mammals produce sounds by using their vocal cords–but not the dolphin. It instead uses its phonic lips to emit clicking sounds. The lips evolved from what was once the dolphin’s nose. The dolphin forces pressurized air through its phonic lips, and the air vibrates and comes out sounding like clicking. When the clicks bounce off of the object the dolphin is interested in (that is, when the echo occurs) the dolphin then gets a mental picture of that object.

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