Your hearing is important to us!
If you suffer from hearing loss, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans—fathers, mothers, friends, children, grandparents, teachers, doctors, husbands, wives, lawyers, musicians – are also affected by some degree of hearing loss.
The good news is there are effective ways to manage hearing loss. People with hearing loss live active, fulfilling lives. It doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you love or enjoying the company of people you love.
The secret is taking the first step.
Acknowledge that you might have a hearing problem. Click the link above or call us to schedule and appointment with a hearing professional at Victoria Hearing Center, and you’ll be on your way to addressing your hearing loss. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be.
Tinnitus (literally “ringing” in Latin) is characterized by ringing, buzzing, or noises that originate in the ear or the head, when non-external noise is present.
Though this condition is usually not dangerous, it can be a symptom of another health problem or underlying condition. Tinnitus can cause so many stressful side effects, including fatigue, sleep problems, concentration difficulty, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Though it’s not necessarily serious, it can be quite debilitating.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus may have several underlying causes. Your doctor may begin investigating the condition by first finding out what kind of tinnitus you suffer from. There are two general types of tinnitus: subjective and objective tinnitus.
Subjective tinnitus means that only you can hear the noise or ringing in your ears. Objective tinnitus means that it may be possible for your physician to also hear the noise or ringing while performing an exam.
Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things from certain medications to a variety of health problems. Your physician will take a detailed history of your health and medications, perform a thorough examination, and possibly order a hearing test or or conduct other tests of the auditory system.
Possible causes of tinnitus include:
Age-related hearing loss
Exposure to loud noise
Obstruction in the middle ear
Stress and depression
Head or neck injuries
Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
In some cases, the exact cause of the tinnitus may not be found but serious underlying conditions can be ruled out.
What Treatments are Available?
Depending on the cause of your tinnitus and other factors, several treatments are available, including medical options as well as alternative therapies.
A common treatment is acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy makes use of sounds to help the brain re-focus and diminish the emotional impact of the tinnitus.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
It is important to note that there is not one treatment that will work for each individual.
Sound therapy is an option that can help lessen the severity of tinnitus. Sound therapy involves the use of a sound-generating device as part of an overall program designed by an audiologist that includes informational counseling and other activities to help ease the stress of tinnitus. Sound therapy includes an individual regimen of listening to specific sounds such as soothing tones or customized music through headphones or ear-level worn device to help re-focus the auditory system.
In general, tinnitus treatments may not make the tinnitus disappear completely, but but they may make it less noticeable and ease your stress and anxiety from it. Speak with your hearing specialist about the best tinnitus treatment option for you.
Treating the Cause
Tinnitus can be caused by many things, and is usually a symptom of an underlying condition. The treatment for your particular tinnitus will depend on the condition that is causing it, the severity, any accompanying issues such as hearing loss, and the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Common causes of tinnitus include:
Stress and depression
Exposure to loud noises
Earwax buildup or blockages
Abnormal bone growth in the ear
Head or neck injuries
Benign tumor of the cranial nerve
In order to find out the root cause of your tinnitus, your physician or hearing specialist will conduct a complete medical history, as well as a complete examination.
Myths about Hearing
Hearing loss affects only “old people” and is merely a sign of aging.
Only 35% of people with hearing loss are older than age 64. There are close to six million people in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 44 with hearing loss, and more than one million are school age. Hearing loss affects all age groups.
If I had hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me.
Not true! Only 14% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical. Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor’s office, it can be virtually impossible for your physician to recognize the extent of your problem. Without special training, and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for your doctor to even realize that you have a hearing problem.
My hearing loss cannot be helped.
In the past, many people with hearing loss in one ear, with a high frequency hearing loss, or with nerve damage have all been told they cannot be helped, often by their family practice physician. This might have been true many years ago, but with modern advances in technology, nearly 95% of people with a sensorineural hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids.
The consequences of hiding hearing loss are better than wearing hearing aids.
What price are you paying for vanity? Untreated hearing loss is far more noticeable than hearing aids. If you miss a punch line to a joke, or respond inappropriately in conversation, people may have concerns about your mental acuity, your attention span or your ability to communicate effectively. The personal consequences of vanity can be life altering. At a simplistic level, untreated hearing loss means giving up some of the pleasant sounds you used to enjoy. At a deeper level, vanity could severely reduce the quality of your life.
Hearing aids will make me look “older” and “handicapped.”
Looking older is clearly more affected by almost all other factors besides hearing aids. It is not the hearing aids that make one look older, it is what one may believe they imply. If hearing aids help you function like a normal hearing person, for all intents and purposes, the stigma is removed. Hearing aid manufacturers are well aware that cosmetics is an issue to many people, and that’s why today we have hearing aids that fit totally in the ear canal. This CIC style of hearing aid has enough power and special features to satisfy most individuals with hearing impairment. But more importantly, keep in mind that “an untreated hearing loss is more obvious than a hearing aid.” Smiling and nodding your head when you don’t understand what’s being said, makes your condition more apparent than the largest hearing aid.
*Myths about Hearing provided by BETTER HEARING INSTITUTE.
Protect Your Hearing
The ability to hear is a gift. It’s something to value and protect.
While many things outside our control can cause hearing loss, one thing over which we do have some control is noise.
Noise causes hearing loss. Yet, every day you can protect your hearing by keeping down the volume—on smartphones, MP3 players, stereos, televisions, and other audio devices. Also, take care to limit the duration and volume when using earbuds and headphones. When you do know you’ll be around loud noise, wear ear protection, and get into the habit of using your fingers to quickly plug your ears when an unexpected loud sound, like a siren, suddenly bombards you.
Noise threatens our hearing because we hear sound when delicate hair cells in our inner ears vibrate. This creates nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. If we overload these delicate hair cells with exposure to loud noises, we damage them. This results in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus—or “ringing in the ears.” The hair cells that vibrate most quickly—and that allow us to hear higher-frequency sounds like birds singing and children speaking—usually become damaged, dying first.
In addition to excessive noise — from construction, rock music, or gunfire, for example — the main causes of hearing loss are:
Infections (otitis media)
Injury to the head or ear
Birth defects or genetics (e.g., otosclerosis)
Ototoxic reaction to drugs or cancer treatment (e.g., antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation)
For more information on the causes of hearing loss and prevention, visit the professionals at Victoria Hearing Center.
*Protect Your Hearing Facts provided by BETTER HEARING INSTITUTE
Hearing Aid Facts
While the sound processing involved in modern hearing aids is complex, and computer programming is required to make some of the adjustments, the basic components that make them work has not changed. The basic function of a hearing aid is as follows:
Sound waves enter through the microphone, which converts acoustic signals into electrical signals.
The amplifier increases the strength of the electrical signal.
From the amplifier, the signal is then transformed back to an acoustic signal by the receiver (a miniature loud speaker).
From the receiver the signal is channeled intro the ear canal, either through a small tube or through an ear mold.
A battery is required to power the hearing aid and enable the amplification process.
Many hearing aids also have user controls e.g. toggle switch, volume control wheel, push button, or remote control) that enable the wearer to adjust a variety of hearing aid parameters, including:
Turning the hearing aid “on” or “off”
Changing the volume
Switching to the telecoil
Switching between omni- and directional-microphone settings
Switching to a different pre-programmed memory
Styles of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids have been available in four styles: body, eyeglass, behind-the-ear (BTE), and in-the-ear (ITE). Included in the category of ITE hearing aids are in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles (all shown in the figures below). While body and eyeglass style hearing aids were regularly used 40-50 years ago, they comprise only about 1% of all hearing aids marketed today. Instead, most individuals choose ITE (approximately 80%) or BTE (approximately 20%) style hearing aids. This transition in style, use, and preference is occurring for a number of reasons, including the reduction in the size of the components, durability, and cosmetic concerns on the part of the consumer.
The ITE style hearing aid fits directly into the external ear. The circuitry is housed primarily in the concha (external) portion of the ear. Due to the miniaturization of the component parts (including the microphone, receiver and battery), it is possible to make hearing aids small enough to fill only a portion of the concha (ITC) or fit deeply into the ear canal (CIC). All three of these styles have typically been considered to be more modern and cosmetically appealing. However, modern BTE hearing aids have become smaller and at times are less noticeable than some ITC hearing aids. Other features of in-the-ear instruments are as follows:
More secure fit, and easier insertion and removal than with BTEs.
Improved cosmetic benefits with smaller styles (CIC, ITC).
Less wind noise in the smaller styles than with BTEs.
Directional microphone technology available for most styles, excluding CICs.
Deep microphone and receiver placement with CICs may result in increased battery life and high frequency amplification compared with other styles.
All components are integrated into a one-piece shell, which may be easier to handle and operate than for BTE styles.
The BTE style hearing aid is housed in a small curved case which fits behind the ear and is attached to a custom earpiece molded to the shape of your outer ear. Some BTE models do not use a custom earpiece; instead the rubber tubing is inserted directly into the ear. The case is typically flesh colored, but can be obtained in many colors and/or patterns. Other features include:
BTEs may be the most appropriate choice for young children, as only the earmold needs to be replaced periodically as the child grows and the ear changes in dimension.
Typically, BTEs are the most powerful hearing aid style available, and may be the best option for persons with severe-to-profound hearing loss.
FM and direct auditory input is routinely available as an optional or standard feature.
Telecoil circuitry is often more powerful than with ITEs.
Non-occluding earmolds may be used with BTE hearing aids, if a medical condition exists or if the patient reports a “plugged” sensation when wearing other hearing aid styles.
Directional microphone technology available with most BTE styles and models.
Larger battery sizes used in BTEs may be easier to handle than smaller styles for those with limited manual dexterity or vision deficits.
*Hearing Aid Facts provided by BETTER HEARING INSTITUTE
Hearing Loss 101
Signs of Hearing Loss
The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or early signs of hearing loss can be significant and come about suddenly. Either way, there are common indications and hearing impaired signs. You should suspect hearing loss if you experience any of the signs below.
require frequent repetition.
have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
think that other people sound muffled or like they’re mumbling.
have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
have trouble hearing children and women.
have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
have ringing in your ears.
read lips or more intently watch people’s faces when they speak with you.
feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
feel annoyed at other people because you can’t hear or understand them.
feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.
have a family history of hearing loss.
take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).
have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems.
have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.
Types of Hearing Loss
A comprehensive audiologic evaluation must be completed in order to determine the types and severity of hearing loss to make appropriate recommendations for each patient. Audiologic data from testing provides a clinical foundation for recommendations on hearing aids and other assistive devices suitable for treating the types of hearing impairments listed below.
In general terms, there are two types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural. A combination of both is also seen as a mixed hearing loss. Each is discussed below.
Conductive Hearing Loss:
Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that impedes the conveyance of sound in its mechanical form through the middle ear cavity to the inner ear. A conductive hearing loss can be the result of a blockage in the external ear canal or can be caused by any disorder that unfavorably effects the middle ear’s ability to transmit the mechanical energy to the stapes footplate. This results in reduction of one of the physical attributes of sound called intensity (loudness), so the energy reaching the inner ear is lower or less intense than that in the original stimulus. Therefore, more energy is needed for the individual with a conductive hearing loss to hear sound, but once it’s loud enough and the mechanical impediment is overcome, that ear works in a normal way. Generally, the cause of conductive hearing loss can be identified and treated resulting in a complete or partial improvement in hearing. Following the completion of medical treatment for cause of the conductive hearing loss, hearing aids are effective in correcting the remaining hearing loss.
The audiometric profile that indicates a conductive hearing loss is the presence of air-bone gaps (better hearing by bone conduction than by air conduction), excellent word recognition at a comfortable listening level, and evidence of a middle ear dysfunction on immittance. For situations where a blockage is noted in the external ear canal, hearing testing is deferred until the canal is cleared.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss:
The second type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. This word can be divided into its two components – sensory and neural – to allow us more clarity in specifying the type of hearing loss. The comprehensive audiometric assessment and supplemental tests can yield the information needed to differentiate between a sensory and a neural hearing loss, although they can co-exist in the same ear. Neural hearing loss is another name for retrocochlear hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction. The sensory component may be from damage to the organ of Corti or an inability of the hair cells to stimulate the nerves of hearing or a metabolic problem in the fluids of the inner ear. The neural or retrocochlear component can be the result of severe damage to the organ of Corti that causes the nerves of hearing to degenerate or it can be an inability of the hearing nerves themselves to convey neurochemical information through the central auditory pathways.
The reason for sensorineural hearing loss sometimes cannot be determined, it does not typically respond favorably to medical treatment, and it is typically described as an irreversible, permanent condition. Like conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss reduces the intensity of sound, but it might also introduce an element of distortion into what is heard resulting in sounds being unclear even when they are loud enough. Once any medically treatable conditions have been ruled out, the treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through hearing aids.
Mixed Hearing Loss:
A mixed hearing loss can be thought of as a sensorineural hearing loss with a conductive component overlaying all or part of the audiometric range tested. So, in addition to some irreversible hearing loss caused by an inner ear or auditory nerve disorder, there is also a dysfunction of the middle ear mechanism that makes the hearing worse than the sensorineural loss alone. The conductive component may be amenable to medical treatment and reversal of the associated hearing loss, but the sensorineural component will most likely be permanent. Hearing aids can be beneficial for persons with a mixed hearing loss, but caution must be exercised by the hearing care professional and patient if the conductive component is due to an active ear infection.
*Hearing Loss 101 provided by BETTER HEARING INSTITUTE
If two or more of these statements apply, you may have a hearing loss and should schedule a hearing evaluation with Victoria Hearing Center. Just click the button above to book an appointment or call (361) 573-4832.
I have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time.
Many people I talk to seem to mumble (or do not speak clearly)
I have trouble understanding TV or conversations on the telephone.
I frequently ask people to repeat themselves.
I have trouble understanding conversations in a noisy background, such as restaurants.
I sometimes misunderstand what others are saying and make inappropriate responses.
I especially have trouble understanding the speech of women and children.
People get annoyed because I misunderstand what they say.
I avoid social gatherings, such as church, because I cannot hear well.
Family members and friends have told me they think I may have a hearing loss.