Hearing loss and dizziness

Hearing loss and dizziness

Dizziness and hearing loss can at times be part of a much bigger problem. In combination, they are often connected to Meniere’s disease. This is an inner ear condition that can cause significant vertigo. Other markers include a feeling of pressure in one ear, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and hearing loss. In addition, lesser-known side effects include anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, shaking, and a cold sweat.

Hearing impairment and vertigo

When experiencing an episode, falling is common. It’s important to stay still, and definitely not drive, or do anything that will compromise your safety or others.  It’s also important to stay in a dimly lit room and find a place to fix your gaze to gain control of the spinning sensation. Moreover, consider cutting out cigarettes and alcohol, as well as lowering your salt intake. In addition, you should cut down on caffeine, chocolate, and MSG (monosodium glutamate). An attack can last from 20 minutes to a full 24 hours. These experiences are followed by extreme exhaustion. It’s essential to take some time to recover.

Causes of Meniere’s disease

Researchers believe there are a number of circumstances that can cause this disease. They include poor drainage of the ear, an autoimmune disease, migraines, allergic reactions, or a virus. Meniere’s disease also runs in families so it is believed that it can be genetic. Interestingly, it can also be brought on by stress, fatigue, or an underlying illness.

Who does it affect

This condition seems to occur more in young and middle-aged people. However, it can happen at any age and should be investigated thoroughly, as it can be a symptom of a bigger health issue.

Diagnosis

Hearing test

If you are experiencing hearing loss and dizziness, it’s important to have a hearing test. A hearing test will determine whether you are able to make out different sounds and pitches of normal speech. If there is a problem in the inner or with a nerve in the ear, this can be diagnosed with specialized testing. Doctors are then able to pinpoint whether the problem is with your inner ear or your ear nerve.

Balance tests

A balance test is necessary to test the function of your inner ear. Those suffering from Meniere’s disease will have less of a balance response in one of their ears.

Other tests

To investigate thoroughly, a series of tests are used to take a look at the brain. It’s important to rule out other possibilities such as Multiple sclerosis (MS) or brain tumors. Both of these can cause symptoms similar to Meniere’s disease. In addition, a head MRI or a cranial CT scan could be necessary to rule out MS and brain tumors.

In order to treat Meniere’s disease, medication for motion sickness is recommended to reduce the feelings of dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. A diuretic might be prescribed to reduce the amount of fluid in the body. This could impact inner ear fluid and reduce symptoms.

Dizziness and vertigo can be symptoms of a larger health issue and should be looked into further. Contact your physician if you feel dizzy and have vertigo.

Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic

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Exercise and your hearing

Hearing loss and exercise

Hearing loss and exercise

We all know that exercise can prevent many age-related problems and diseases. Did you know that it can also be a protective measure for hearing loss? Improving your cardiovascular system, reducing inflammation, and your Body Mass Index can all have a major impact on your hearing.

image: ©RichVintage, istockphoto.com

Exercise improves cardiovascular health

Exercise reduces age-related inflammation and improves cardiovascular health. The blood circulation to your body and ears increases. This rising blood flow protects you against hearing loss. It also supplies more fluid, oxygen, and energy to every part of the body and ensures everything works properly. Health issues and problems are more likely with less blood flow.

Inflammation

The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise can keep disease and other issues at bay. Chronic inflammation can cause hearing loss. It can also serve as the catalyst for diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Over a long period of time, it can lead to cancer and Chrohn’s disease.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a result of injury or distress in the body. It can be the result of prolonged stress, an irritant, or pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and other organisms). It is our body’s way of fighting off a foreign invader. Over a period of time, inflammation can cause significant damage to the body and should be controlled.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Anti-inflammatory foods include olive oil, vegetables, fruits, fish, and nuts.

BMI

A higher BMI can increase your risk of hearing loss. The reasons are related to increased damage over time to your oxygen levels and a rise in the production of free radicals due to more fat cells. Another side effect of an increased waistline (more than 88cm) is the reduced production of the protein hormone adiponectin. Adiponectin is an anti-inflammatory, which we already know reduces the risk of hearing loss.

Hearing loss and exercise

Exercise can be a risk factor for hearing loss when music is used during your workout regimen. Whether you are using air pods or listening to loud music during a pilates class, it’s important to keep it at a reasonable level.

Sounds are measured in decibels and the highest decibel for a workout should not exceed 85 decibels. Any exposure to sounds that exceed 85 dB, for over an hour, can lead to permanent, noise-induced hearing loss.

Exercise does play a role in every aspect of your health and hearing is no exception. Health experts recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise a week which translates into 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Do what you love and have a workout buddy that will help motivate you. The payoff is big and long-lasting!

 

Source: Harvard Health

Tinnitus symptoms

Tinnitus Symptoms

Tinnitus symptoms can be overwhelming and are all-consuming for some sufferers. It is a very serious condition that can create feelings of hopelessness in patients. This condition consists of ongoing phantom auditory noises that are not dependant on the surrounding environment. These background sounds can include buzzing, chirping, whistling, ringing, grinding, clicking, humming, hissing, and roaring. In addition, tinnitus can also be more noticeable at night when there is no background sound to conceal it.

In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart (pulsatile tinnitus)

-WebMD

In 95% of cases, the noises in the head or ear are only detected by the individual.

In contrast, objective tinnitus occurs when the perception of sounds is generated by sources within the body that are transmitted to the ear and can sometimes be heard by an examiner during auscultation (i.e., listening to sounds from the heart, lungs and other organs)

-Statistics Canada

Tinnitus symptoms are different for everyone

People often have different experiences with tinnitus. Some cases are very serious with background sounds being loud and constant. However, there are also cases in which it is in one or both ears, from a distance, or entirely in their head. In less severe instances it may operate at a lower volume and come and go. Alternatively, it can be an ongoing loud, constant background noise.

Approximately 37% or 9.2 million Canadians have experienced tinnitus.

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus is caused by hearing loss, earwax blockage, long-term exposure to loud noises via listening devices, and working in loud environments. Surprisingly, it is also be caused by teeth grinding, neck tension, jaw clenching, depression, and ear bone changes. Also, medications such as aspirin, antidepressants, antibiotics, cancer drug treatments, tricyclic antidepressants, antimalarial drugs, and anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroidal can cause tinnitus when taken in high dosages. In some instances, tinnitus goes away once the medication is stopped.

Hearing loss

There is also a strong relationship between hearing loss and tinnitus. This is one of the main reasons that tinnitus is more common in people over the age of 55 who are more likely to have age-related hearing loss. For instance, 90% of people with tinnitus have a noise-induced hearing loss of some kind. Specifically, with hearing loss, there are fewer sounds reaching the brain from the environment. In response, the brain tends to go through neuroplastic changes and begins to change how it perceives certain sounds. The end result is tinnitus.

Medical conditions

A number of medical conditions can cause tinnitus including high blood pressure, circulatory disease, autoimmune disease, allergies, anemia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and an underactive thyroid gland. It is important to monitor your health on an annual basis.

Tinnitus is also connected to stress, depression, anxiety, irritation, and insomnia. Unfortunately, there is also a relationship between tinnitus and suicide.

If you do have tinnitus it is important to have a healthy lifestyle that can keep your symptoms in check. Be aware that this condition escalates with alcohol consumption and smoking.

Tinnitus Symptom Treatment

There is no cure for tinnitus. Therefore, it is important to focus on your health, including both your mental and physical states. Tinnitus is managed through hearing loss management (hearing aids), sound therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy. Book your appointment with a physician and Doctor of Audiology if you are experience tinnitus.

 

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Sources: Mayo Clinic, Stats Canada

Coronavirus and hearing loss

 Coronavirus and hearing loss

Recent research has found that people who have battled coronavirus may be left with a hearing loss. In fact, in some cases, hearing loss could be one of the only symptoms of the virus.

A study looked at COVID-19 patients from 20-50 years of age. None of the participants in the study had a history of hearing loss. What they found was that all subjects had difficulty with high-frequency pure-tone thresholds, and compromised transient evoked otoacoustic emissions in the aftermath of the virus. Otoacoustic emissions or OAEs examine how the inner ear (cochlea) responds to sound.

In another study examining the virus, participants experienced vertigo and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). All participants also had a hearing loss that was usually more prominent on one side after recovery.

The studies that have looked at the connection between COVID-19 and hearing loss are small and limited. However, we are still discovering so much about this virus on an ongoing basis, and it seems clear that this will continue for a while.

Viruses

We do not know enough about COVID-19 at this point. We do know that other viruses can have an effect on hearing. Viruses that are known to contribute to ear-related problems include measles, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the herpes simplex virus. Viruses also have a reputation for being unpredictable.

What else could cause hearing loss?

Could treatments for COVID-19 be the source of hearing loss? Surprisingly, medications that are used to treat the severe respiratory symptoms that are a hallmark of COVID-19 could also be the culprit.

Medications can be ototoxic, which means they can impact hearing health. Ototoxicity means toxic to or may damage the ear. The list of drugs that are potentially ototoxic includes chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, remdesivir, favipiravir, and lopinavir. – Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes Contributor

Coronavirus and mental health

People dealing with undiagnosed hearing loss are typically already dealing with mental health issues.

The anxiety related to trying to hear in a crowded room, and the stress of possibly being embarrassed by misinterpreting what is said, is already challenging enough. Add the additional apprehension we all feel during the COVID-19 pandemic and anxiety levels can skyrocket.

There are also other difficulties including ongoing fatigue that is a direct result of trying to lip read. This is why it’s essential to pay particular attention to family members and friends who are dealing with hearing loss issues, especially those who are undiagnosed or in denial.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms

We are learning more and more about this virus every day and the list of symptoms appears to be growing. We do know that symptoms include: shortness of breath, a temperature equal to or over 38˚C, chills, new or worsening cough, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of smell or taste, and headache. Of course, any changes to your hearing warrants a visit to your Doctor of Audiology as well. While the connection between hearing loss and coronavirus needs more research, we are discovering that there may also be an association.

Coronavirus and hearing loss

Even when you have been fortunate enough to avoid the virus, you may find other challenges if you currently have a hearing loss. Wearing masks are important to keep the virus in check as much as possible. However, if you have a hearing loss, masks can be a major communication barrier. Many people with hearing loss depend on lip-reading to communicate so wearing a mask has created an obstacle to their ability to socialize. Adding more difficulty is the muffling of voices when people speak through the mask barrier. One of the best ways to get over this hurdle is to get a mask with a window so that lip reading can continue.

Signs of depression

Depression and anxiety have been on the rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. General instability in many areas of life brought on by the coronavirus is responsible for this ongoing trend. It is so important to monitor loved ones in light of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus. The signs of depression can include many symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty with decision-making, and a sense of hopelessness. Other features include changes in sleeping patterns, restlessness, irritability, overeating or eating less, digestive issues, and persistent anxiety. A sense of feeling numb, sadness, memory problems, and suicidal thoughts are also common.

Coronavirus has forced all of us to adapt to a very different reality. We are finding out new information on a regular basis. This virus can impact lives not only during the illness but long after recovery. Knowledge is power and crucial to coming through this as intact as possible. Please wear a mask and contact your healthcare provider if you suspect that you may have the virus.

Coronavirus Update

A new study found that COVID can impact the brain more than original thought and age the gray matter by approximately 10 years. The virus seemed to significantly affect brain volume. What was even more peculiar about these findings is that it appeared that those who experienced mild symptoms, or no symptoms, appeared more likely to experience this side effect.

COVID can cause a range of different symptoms with wide fluctuations in terms of intensity and the length of time that symptoms persist. 86% of people exposed to COVID have experienced a loss of smell. While a smaller percentage of people go on to experience ongoing fatigue, brain fog, and impaired cognitive functioning. The lingering symptoms can last a few months to over a year.

More research is needed to understand the long-term effects of COVID in general, and more specifically on the brain.

source: Forbes

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Sources: Government Canada, Public Health, WebMD, Mayo Clinic

Hearing loss and mental health

Hearing Loss and Mental Health

Hearing loss can create a number of challenges in our lives, with mental health being one of the most significant. Most people do not make the connection between loss of hearing and the onset of anxiety and depression. However, research suggests that the connection is not only there, it’s strong. Loved ones and friends are typically the first to recognize subtle changes in the personality of those suffering from hearing loss.

Hearing loss

We often don’t realize the significance of our hearing and the role it plays in making and maintaining connections. Helen Keller said that her deafness was more serious than her blindness, which is difficult for most people to comprehend. As she put it, her blindness was a barrier between her and physical objects, while her deafness was a barrier between her and people.

Helen Keller said that her deafness was more serious than her blindness, which is difficult for most people to comprehend. As she put it, her blindness was a barrier between her and physical objects, while her deafness was a barrier between her and people.

Hearing loss affects an individual’s relationships with a spouse and children, with friends and co-workers. But it’s a two-way street: an individual’s personality has a significant impact on how he or she will adapt to hearing loss.

It’s important to consider the possibility of hearing loss when you notice a change in behaviour, or difficulties experienced by loved ones in every age group.

Hearing loss in children

Although hearing loss does not necessarily lead to emotional difficulties in children, the literature indicates increased incidences of behavioral problems including:

  • Hyperactivity and aggression
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Introversion

When treating children experiencing hearing loss, researchers suggest;

  • Involve parents even more than usual
  • Encourage self-expression
  • Play a role and assist with peers and social groups
  • Parents should also develop their own support systems to help them deal with their own concerns and feelings

Hearing loss in adults

The situation is very different for people who develop hearing loss in adulthood. Adults have a personality and identity unrelated to hearing loss. They often feel a sense of grief and substantial loss when hearing declines. Some research suggests that acceptance is more difficult for men than women.

The person in denial typically will refuse to have a hearing test. – Brampton Audiology

Researchers use Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief to discuss the adjustment to loss: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

At the denial stage, people become withdrawn and refuse help. It’s not uncommon for them to deny the hearing loss and they will often say “I could hear fine if people didn’t mumble”. This person will typically refuse to have a hearing test.

It is often difficult for people to assess their own hearing because hearing loss is typically a very gradual process. It also affects only certain frequencies, making it very difficult to notice the difference over the years.

Hearing aids and mental health

Personality and psychological factors affect an individual’s adjustment to cochlear implant and hearing aids. In a society that values physical perfection and beauty, there is a prejudice about physical imperfection and disability, which may be transferred to hearing aids.

These attitudes may present as fear and shame about the loss of vitality and wholeness, and fear of aging. You will often hear people say “I would never use hearing aids. I’m not old enough”. The truth is, hearing loss is affecting younger and younger age groups. However, there is still a belief that this is mainly an older person’s problem. For many people, their feelings and reactions to hearing loss present a greater challenge than the hearing loss itself, even as hearing loss creates barriers in relationships with family and friends. Knowledge is power. Let loved ones know the serious repercussions of hearing loss in all aspects of their lives, including mental health.

 

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Source: The Psychology of Hearing Loss. Kaland, M. and Salvatore, K. ASHA Leader, Hearing Healthcare News

Radiation effects on hearing and balance

Radiation effects on hearing and balance

There are many medical treatments that can cause problems with hearing and balance. Those treatments include ototoxic medications for the treatment of bacterial infections (including many of the aminoglycosides) and cancer (cisplatin), and radiation used to treat patients with brain tumors and head and neck cancers.

Radiation to the head and neck area, including the middle and inner ear, can be problematic for hearing. There are two types of hearing loss that can be caused by this treatment, including conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Many patients who undergo radiation in the head and neck region will develop hearing loss post-treatment. -Audiology HealthCare News

Patients treated with radiation

A number of studies have reported that about one-third of patients treated with radiation in the middle/inner ear area will have sensorineural hearing loss. The loss usually develops three to five years following radiation, is greater in the higher frequencies, and is irreversible.

A study investigated 141 patients with head and neck tumors who underwent radiotherapy, with another 141 patients as an age-matched control group. Hearing was tested two to 29 years post-treatment. Of those who received radiation, 72% had hearing loss. In the control group, 49% had hearing loss.

Radiation in the ear region

Radiation in the ear region can also affect the external or middle ear systems, leading to conductive hearing loss in about 40% of patients. Effects include skin reactions (ulceration, atrophy, otitis externa), reduction in cerumen production (ear wax), otitis media, and eustachian tube dysfunction.

The most important risk factors for damage to hearing and balance are tumor location and the amount of radiation. If radiation is accompanied by cisplatin-based chemotherapy, the risk of hearing loss increases.

This suggests that patients receiving radiation alone or radiation with cisplatin-based chemotherapy receive a baseline hearing test before treatment, following treatment, and every six months thereafter for at least five years.

Prevention and treatment

Preventative treatment for those exposed to cisplatin has yielded encouraging results.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expediting the development and approval of Pedmark, a “breakthrough therapy” that treats hearing loss in children receiving cisplatin (ASHA Leader, July 2018).

Staying on top of hearing health can be difficult when treating patients for serious medical conditions. Although the change in treatment may not be an option, early detection of changes in hearing allows the individual and family to prepare and cope with increased communication problems.

 

Source: Audiology HealthCare News

 

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Hearing loss and dementia

Research shows a connection between hearing loss and dementia. A study of more than 2000 older adults also found that cognitive decline was significantly reduced in subjects who used hearing aids.

The 18-year long study included 2,040 adults. Those included in the study were 50 years of age and older, had no dementia at the beginning of the study, and began using hearing aids during the 18-year period. Cognitive function was assessed using a list of short term delayed recall of cards (10 words). The researchers chose assessments that were associated with age-related cognitive abilities, such as episodic memory.

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory is the ability to recall how someone felt at a certain time and place, as well as other details related to memory (livescience.com. )

Examples of episodic memory include:

  • Your skiing vacation last winter
  • The first time you traveled by airplane
  • Your first day at a new job
  • Attending a relative’s birthday party
  • The movie you saw on your first date with your wife/husband

(Kim Ann Zimmermann, Episodic Memory: Definition and Examples, livescience.com)

When evaluating memory within the study, researchers felt that episodic memory was the best measurement.

“The researchers chose to study tasks of episoic memory because they are more age sensitive than other cognitive measures and have a strong association with dementia” – Audiology HealthCare News

Dementia

Dementia is a major health problem worldwide. A recent study suggested that treating risk factors could prevent or minimize 35% of dementia cases. One of the strongest treatable factors is untreated hearing loss.

Dementia and Hearing Aids

On average, participants in the study began using hearing aids at 62 years of age. Clinicians found that episodic memory declined with age, but the rate of decline slowed down considerably after the use of hearing aids. Scores on memory tasks did not stop the decline completely after the use of hearing aids, but the decline did slow down.

Other studies have also found a relationship between untreated hearing loss and cognitive function in older adults. Researchers believe there are two possible causes; that hearing loss and dementia are caused by an age-related decline in the central nervous system, and the decline can be due to auditory deprivation which results from less social engagement and increases in anxiety and depression.

Researchers argue that their findings suggest that auditory deprivation, less social engagement, and increases in anxiety and depression could be key.

“Increased access to quality hearing healthcare might delay the onset of cognitive impairment (and help) reduce the impending dementia epidemic” – Longitudental Relationship Between Hearing Aid Use, and Cognitive Function. Maharani, et al. J. American Geriatrics Society, April 2018.

 

Source: Hearing Health Care News

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Playing music could be good for your hearing

Playing music could be good for your hearing

Research suggests that playing music, within a reasonable range could be good for your hearing. The key is that the music is playing at reasonable levels. This could help your brain in the long run. The more you practice distinguishing between competing noises the easier it is for your brain to separate someone talking to you over the background noise as you get older. It seems that listening to varying sounds in music that can compete for your attention may make areas of the brain stronger.

Less background noise is a problem

Surprisingly, less background noise throughout a person’s life can lead to problems. The reason behind this is the under-stimulation of the central auditory system. Here are a few hearing healthcare facts related to reduced long-term exposure to competing noise.

Speech recognition goes down

The ability of the auditory neural system to process complex signals may decline through lack of stimulation. Those complex systems help to recognize speech. The ability for speech recognition to decline is possible. For example, individuals with bilateral hearing loss who use only one hearing aid tend to find a decline in speech recognition ability in the unaided ear.

Timing is everything

Another issue related to less hearing stimulation is the length of time it takes for people experiencing hearing loss to treat the condition with hearing aids. The longer a person with hearing loss delays getting hearing aids, the more difficult it is to adjust to the new, loud noises they can now hear. The adjustment to amplification is harder due to the ongoing lack of stimulation.

This is why it is crucial to address your hearing loss. The longer you live with lower levels of hearing, the harder it is to adjust to better hearing with the use of hearing aids. It is possible that without the stimulation within the auditory system, hearing levels that could once be somewhat maintained with hearing aids are permanently lost.

 

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Source: Audiology HealthCare News, Summer 2019

Celebrity Hearing Challenges

Celebrity Hearing Challenges

Celebrity hearing challenges are more common than you think. Those with hearing loss often feel socially isolated and alone. It is difficult to imagine anyone else going through the daily challenges that hearing loss can present. However, it is important for people to understand that hearing loss affects everyone, celebrities included. Many famous people have talked about dealing with the daily challenges of tinnitus or hearing loss. We have included a list of some of the most well-known celebrities that have adjusted to living with these conditions.

Will.i.am

Will.i.am, a Grammy Award-winning artist has been dealing with the challenges of tinnitus for years. Tinnitus causes a ringing or other repeating sounds in the ear. There is no cure for tinnitus, but it can be managed. There is also a strong connection between tinnitus and hearing loss. The 45-year-old has said that his hearing loss is comparable to someone a lot older. He believes his hearing loss is related to years of loud environments in the music industry. Will.i.am is one of the most successful composers, producers, and recording artists in music history. He is also the founder and leader of The Black Eyed Peas.

Millie Bobby Brown

You may know 16-year-old Mille Bobby Brown from the popular Stranger Things series. On the show, Brown takes on the beloved role of Eleven. Brown was born with partial deafness in one ear and later lost her hearing entirely in that ear. She has said that it can make it difficult at times to hear the “action” cue from the Stranger Things director, Shawn Levy. However, it hasn’t stopped her from taking on new projects and she has now added singing to her talents.

Millicent Simmonds

Millicent Simmonds made her debut in the film Wonderstruck and later took on a role in the all-silent film A Quiet Place. The 17-year-old lost her hearing as an infant due to an overdose of medication. She is able to hear some sounds with the help of a cochlear implant. Her goal is to demonstrate that deafness is not an obstacle.

Whoopi Goldberg, Actor

Whoopi Goldberg is a longtime comedian and actor who openly discusses her hearing loss. Goldberg wears hearing aids in both ears and believes her hearing was damaged through listening to loud music for many years. She has become very involved in educating younger generations about the dangers of listening to music at high volume levels on their portable listening devices.

Gerard Butler, Actor

Gerard Butler is a well-known actor who has starred in films such as Angel Has Fallen, Olympus Has Fallen, and 300. Butler suffers from tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear largely due to surgery he had as a child.

Halle Berry, Actress

Halle Berry lost 80 percent of hearing in one ear due to domestic violence. She now advocates for domestic abuse victims.

There are many actors, musicians, and historically prominent figures who have struggled with hearing loss. They include actors Rob Lowe, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Thomas, and actresses Marlee Matlin and Halle Berry. Other well-known figures include musicians Les Paul, Peter Townsend (The Who), Brian Love (Beach Boys), inventor Thomas Edison, and, of course, Beethoven.

Celebrity hearing challenges with tinnitus

Many people in the entertainment world find that tinnitus has a major impact on their daily lives. Tinnitus is the hissing, ringing, or other sounds that are not actually present in the environment. There are instances in which the sounds are in unison with a heartbeat or blood flow.

Celebrities that have struggled with tinnitus include Will.i.am, Steve Martin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, William Shatner, and Leonard Nimoy.

Hearing loss and tinnitus are often connected. Not surprisingly, it is quite common with musicians. In fact, hearing loss and tinnitus are so common in the rock music world that the Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R) was created. It provides information and helpful suggestions to minimize ear damage that can be caused by exposure to loud sounds, including music.

Politicians and hearing loss

Former American president Ronald Reagan brought a lot of attention to the challenges that hearing loss can create. When President Reagan began using hearing aids, the media attention motivated many people to acknowledge their own hearing loss and to get help.

Another former American President, Bill Clinton, started using hearing aids in 1997 while in office. He attributed some of his hearing loss to playing in rock bands when he was young.

 

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Challenging Places to hear

Here are the top 3 challenging places to hear…

We often take for granted the ability to feel comfortable and to understand others in any environment. However, this ability does not come easily for those who are dealing with the challenges of hearing loss. Even a slight hearing loss can erode self-confidence. Can you guess the environments where people often complain about having difficulty hearing and understanding?

  1. Movies
  2. Television
  3. Noisy Restaurants
  4. All of the above

The answer is (4), all of the above. And these hearing complaints are from people with normal hearing!

Two of the settings have something in common. Movie films and television broadcasts use the various recording, processing, transmitting, and amplifying techniques that can make understanding more difficult for anyone.
Movie theatres use loudness expansion to make loud sounds louder than normal (especially during coming attractions). This is the opposite of what people with hearing loss need. Most people with hearing loss are more sensitive to loud sounds than people with normal hearing.
In addition, film directors often use several microphones to record speech from several people and locations at the same time. They also like to include background noise to make the scene more realistic. Add some background music and you have created a very difficult listening situation.

What about television?

Most television sets have relatively small speakers. The quality and clarity of the recorded, processed, transmitted and amplified speech is usually good enough for people with normal hearing. But it is not the same quality as live, face-to-face speech, and it is often not good enough for people with hearing loss. In addition, speech clarity and loudness will vary from channel to channel, from program to program, and from speaker to speaker.

The clarity of speech that has been recorded, processed, and transmitted through cable or over the air, is simply not as good as when you hear it face-to-face. For people with hearing loss, the difference is enough to make understanding speech in movies or on television more difficult.

And those noisy restaurants? That’s a topic for another post.

Note: Almost all television sets have captioning already built-in. The written text can be turned on using the remote control.

 

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