Dr. Wright's Blog

Hearing Loss and Social Isolation

Interesting research has just been published about the risk of untreated hearing loss and social isolation in the aging population. This research was conducted at UBC Okanagan by Dr. Paul Mick, a physician and clinical assistant professor. It was recently published in the journal Ear and Hearing. A link to the published article can be found here.

Dr. Mick studied the impacts of undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss in a patient population aged 60-69 and found that for every 10 decibel drop in hearing sensitivity, the odds of social isolation increased by 52%. Among the same group of seniors, a 10 decibel drop in hearing was also associated with cognitive declines equivalent to almost 4 years of chronological aging.

This research was collected by analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States. They concluded that people in this age range would benefit from a hearing evaluation to detect those individuals that might be more susceptible to social isolation and cognitive decline as a result of declining hearing sensitivity.

Future research will examine whether interventions such as hearing aids, will help to reduce the effects of hearing loss on social isolation and cognitive decline.

Dr. Mick explains that social isolation has been shown to have similar impacts on mortality rates compared to smoking and alcohol consumption and it is something that should be investigated further.

As audiologists we have seen the effect of hearing loss on social isolation and we are strong advocates for baseline audiograms for anyone over the age of 60 years old.

For more information on obtaining a baseline audiogram please contact us.

Lia 

UBC Article Link: http://journals.lww.com/ear-hearing/Abstract/2016/05000/Is_Hearing_Loss_Associated_with_Poorer_Health_in.20.aspx

HAPPY TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

July 4, 2006 was the day the doors to Broadmead Hearing Clinic were first opened.  I remember like it was yesterday when my first client Nora came in for her hearing test and trusted in me enough to let me help her with her hearing loss.  In ten years we have had much to celebrate. 

We have seen hearing aid technology go from the first iteration of a digital hearing aid, to seamless connections of hearing aids to the internet.  The hearing aids from 2006 remind me of my very first cell phone which I also got in about 2006.  Hearing aids today are integrating technological developments from a multitude of industries with the result of better hearing and happier hearing aid users. 

Thank you to all the clients we have had over the past ten years who have told their friends about our services and who have encouraged others to seek assistance. 

Thank you to those who have been persistent and determined to have the best hearing possible.  We can only help when we understand the problems so thank you to all those good communicators.

Thank you to all of the people who have worked at Broadmead Hearing Clinic over the past ten years and created a warm and inviting atmosphere.  Especially to Doran, Devon, Cassie, Tracy, Lia and Aisling who dedicate their days to helping others.

And thank you to my mom because without her direction and guidance in encouraging me to pursue the field of Audiology, there would be no such thing as Broadmead Hearing Clinic!

Erin

 

What is a Diagnostic Audiological Evaluation?

A diagnostic audiological evaluation is a series of audiological tests performed by an audiologist to determine the health of your auditory system.

What is audiology? This is an excellent description by the Canadian Academy of Audiology https://canadianaudiology.ca/for-the-public/about-audiology/

In order for us to hear, there are several processes that take place before your brain registers that you have heard a sound. A sound wave will enter the ear canal and reach the eardrum which will vibrate. This vibration will send the ossicles (3 tiny bones in your middle ear) into mechanical motion. The last bone in this chain, called the stapes, will pump on the membrane of the cochlea. The cochlea is filled with fluid and this pumping action will send a transverse wave through the cochlea at a specific frequency. This will stimulate the outer hair cells in the cochlea and translate into a nerve impulse that travels up the auditory nerve to the brainstem and then on to the auditory cortex. It is in the auditory cortex where we “process” and “understand” sound. A complete diagnostic hearing evaluation measures the function of the outer, middle, and inner ear. It also assesses the brain’s ability to process complex sounds, such as speech. In order for audiologists to make recommendations on improving your hearing, we must first know where the problem is and whether there is any requirement for further medical investigation.

A complete diagnostic audiological evaluation involves the following tests. Otoscopy is an examination of the ear canal with an otoscope. It allows us to check for wax or debris in your ear canal and to determine the health of your eardrum. Tympanometry usually comes next and is a measure of the middle ear function. We send air pressure into your ear canal to measure the movement of your eardrum to rule out fluid in the middle ear or a perforation in the eardrum. Air conduction testing involves listening to pure tones at specific frequencies. These are the “beeps” that you are likely familiar with if you have had a hearing screening in the past. These beeps translate into specific speech sounds and helps us determine how clearly you are hearing speech. We will also do some speech testing to determine your brain’s ability to process complex sounds. We also do bone-conduction testing which involves listening to the same pure tone beeps but you will be wearing a headband that directly sends the sound to your cochlea. This will help us determine if your hearing loss is coming from the outer/middle ear or the inner ear. We will sometimes measure acoustic reflexes, which are measurable reflexes to loud sounds to determine the integrity of your auditory nerve function.

An initial diagnostic hearing evaluation should include these tests. However, a particular test may be excluded if it is not necessary or contra-indicated.

When you see one of us for a diagnostic hearing evaluation, we will explain each of these tests as we conduct them. We will also provide a thorough explanation of your results after the test is complete. If there is an audiological red flag in your audiogram we will refer you for further medical investigation and send a complete report to your family physician.

It is recommended that anyone over the age of 60 years old have a baseline audiological evaluation.

If you have any questions about having a diagnostic audiological evaluation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Lia

 

The Use of Communication Strategies to Enhance Hearing

Hearing aids will help you hear better than without hearing aids, however certain situations are more challenging than others and there are things that we can do to optimize listening situations. 

For example,

  1. Face the person you are speaking with
  2. Have good lighting
  3. Reduce the amount of background noise; for example, turn off the radio or TV in the background.
  4. Speak clearly, not louder.
  5. Get the person’s attention before you start speaking to them; say their name or tap their shoulder.
  6. Reduce the distance between you and the listener.
  7. Pause between sentences.

Communication breakdowns leave both listener and speaker frustrated. If the speaker is talking to you from another room, turning away while they are speaking, or speaking before asking for your attention the listener might reply with “what? speak up.”  This breakdown in communication interrupts the natural flow of the conversation and often ends in frustration, or the worst response to say to someone with hearing loss: never mind. 

Remember that hearing loss is an invisible disability that already makes social situations stressful and can leave the listener feeling embarrassed or left out of the conversation. 

Be empathic, be kind, have compassion for the one with hearing loss.

The New Oticon Opn Hearing Aid

Lia Best with Tomas Behrens and Kris Hewitt from Oticon

(photo above is Thomas Behrens an Oticon engineer, Lia Best, Audiologist and Kris Hewitt from Oticon)

Broadmead Hearing Clinic's Audiologist Lia Best recently joined more than 400 Audiologists at a professional conference in Toronto that introduced Oticon Opn.  Opn expertly manages multiple speech and noise sources so people don’t have to work as hard to understand speech, even in challenging listening situations like restaurants or social gatherings. 

What Lia learned is that preliminary testing shows that Opn increases speech understanding, the parameter most important to hearing aid wearers, by 30%. People who wear Opn also experience 20% less listening effort when trying to understand speech.

The small, discreet hearing aid is a powerhouse of innovative technology.  Opn is powered by the high speed Velox platform – 50 times faster than previous technology – that scans, analyzes and reacts to sounds in the environments more than 100 times per second.  Opn allows wearers to enjoy an open sound experience where surrounding sounds are available but not intrusive. They can easily follow the sounds they want to hear and quickly shift their attention when desired. 

Opn offers easy wireless connectivity to a variety of smartphones and other iOS and Android devices.  Audio is streamed directly to the hearing aids using Bluetooth technology developed especially for hearing aids that uses significantly less battery power when streaming. 

With the free, downloadable Oticon OPN App, wearers can control volume, program or device selection and other functions with just a tap of their smartphone.

This new hearing aid is available for shipping starting today, June 6, 2016. 

We are very excited about this shift away from traditional directionality and are curious to see if our patients will prefer this approach.  If you are interested in being one of our first to try this new hearing aid please give our office a call and we can arrange a free 3 week trial.

Pages

Hearing Fact

More than 8 million Canadians have some type of hearing problem. Hearing difficulties are often unrecognized by the person involved. Children and teenagers seldom complain about the symptoms of hearing loss, and adults may lose their hearing so gradually they do not realize it is happening.

The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.