Are you ever roused from your sleep by the sound of tinnitus? For 1 out of 5 adults, it’s a common problem that interferes with a restful night.
A research team from the University of Oxford hypothesized the reason for this phenomenon, which may also hold the key to improving treatment options for tinnitus.
Why does Tinnitus Stir You from Your Sleep?
Researchers came up with a new model for how tinnitus interferes with sleep using current evidence.
When a person falls asleep, the brain obstructs noises that are occurring in the room. For example, this is how people can fall asleep to certain music or a TV that’s playing something. It’s uncertain how this occurs. It is also unknown how a person’s sleep patterns change when responding to internal experiences of pain or tinnitus.
There are five stages that your brain repeatedly goes through when you sleep. Non-REM sleep falls under stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. The fifth stage is REM sleep. The stages where you do not dream make up about 75% of your total sleep time. The brain produces different kinds of wave activity that gradually disperse throughout the brain during that time.
Initially, the wave activity might repress the brain signals that cause tinnitus. When the wave is less severe, tinnitus symptoms might worsen and then wake you up or interfere with a deeper rest.
Tinnitus might cause the Brain to Stay Awake
This can cause wakefulness in a resting brain, which can stop you from starting the dreaming stage known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Night terrors, which have been connected to adults with tinnitus, also occur during this transition stage.
Sleep patterns are connected to the way tinnitus develops. This information will help researchers figure out a moment when providing tinnitus treatment will be the most effective before it becomes permanent. The research will also help them find out how the quality of sleep is affected by tinnitus. This may evolve into other research about whether better rest can help repair irregular activity in the brain that is connected to tinnitus.
Tinnitus and Poor Rest
Those with tinnitus tend to be light sleepers. In a survey of over 14,000 Japanese residents between the ages of 45 and 79, roaring tinnitus nearly tripled the risk of insomnia. Even a mild case of tinnitus made it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or feel rested. Sleep apnea was another condition connected with tinnitus. It can cause snoring, sleepiness during the daytime, high blood pressure, stroke, and other health issues.
Difficulties with sleep are different for each age group. Night terrors, which are common in young boys, are connected to adults (age 20-44) with tinnitus.
Poor rest can lead to difficulty in managing tinnitus symptoms or any other chronic conditions. Women with tinnitus and bad rest are more likely to experience headaches, neck pain, or feelings of anxiousness, whereas men are more likely to experience depression.
Even though there’s no cure for tinnitus, counseling and different therapies - including sound therapy - can reduce the severity of the problem and make sleeping easier.
Tips for Better Rest
First of all, stop looking at your phone, computer, and TV screens. The blue light from your devices causes your brain to remain active.
Try listening to restful music for two hours. It’s important to only listen for two hours - after that period of time, the white noise may over-stimulate the brain.
This technique was tested on 30 patients with tinnitus by an audiology and speech specialist at Gaziantep University in Turkey.
Some patients claimed they stopped noticing their tinnitus, and others heard quieter tinnitus noises after six months. These patients’ symptoms of depression also felt eased. The objective was to help patients “fall asleep with less exposure to the disturbing effects of tinnitus”, instead of stopping them from waking up. On average the length of the first non-REM sleep cycle is 70 to 100 minutes, therefore it should only take about two hours to cover up your tinnitus.
If these techniques did not prove to be effective, try hearing aids. Hearing aids feature a tinnitus masking technology, so the symptoms won’t be noticeable as long as you are wearing them. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a hearing test and consultation from one of our providers.
You may have experienced hearing a wide range of noises from the softness of a loved one’s voice to the sirens on a fire truck, or a more soothing sound of your favorite music. These sounds are measured using a decibel. This is a ratio between power, sound pressure, and voltage.
Measuring the Intensity of Sound
Sound moves in the form of energy waves. It is measured via frequency and amplitude.
The Increase in Decibels is Exponential
A 10 dB increase indicates that the sound is 10 times louder, and a 20 dB increase indicates that the sound is 100 times louder.
A List of Decibels for Common Sounds
Simply being told a number for a decibel measurement probably doesn’t mean anything, unless you are a hearing healthcare professional or someone who frequently uses a decibel meter app.
Hearing loss can occur with decibels as low as 70 (that’s after frequent or prolonged exposure).
These noises can lead to immediate and permanent hearing loss after one exposure at close-range:
150-160 dB - A shotgun/firearm
140 dB - A jet engine as it departs a runway/fireworks
120 dB - An emergency vehicle siren/concerts
These noises can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) after regular, prolonged exposure:
110 dB - A rock concert
105-130 dB - Sports events (based on the size and style of the arena/stadium)
105 dB - Playing music through earbuds or headphones at the highest volume
100 dB - A motorcycle
90 dB - Power tools/lawn mower
80-90 dB - Heavy traffic
Anyone with untreated mild-to-moderate hearing loss tends to struggle with hearing these softer sounds:
70 dB - Vacuum cleaner
60 dB - Normal conversation with one other person
50 dB - A conversation among a group of people
20 dB - Rustling leaves
10 dB - Breathing
How are Decibels Measured?
Hearing loss is measured according to the lowest range of decibels that you can hear. A person with normal hearing can hear leaves rustling or water dripping into the sink or on the ground (~10 dB), but someone with mild hearing loss would not be able to hear that sound. Frequency and pitch are other parts of hearing loss. Loss of hearing in higher frequencies is more common than in lower frequencies. There are different combinations of decibel and frequency loss.
Normal hearing ability: 10-20 dB
Mild hearing loss: 25-40 dB
Moderate hearing loss: 40-55 dB
Moderately severe hearing loss: 55-69 dB
Severe hearing loss: 70-89 dB
Profound hearing loss: 90-120 dB
How can You tell if an Environment is too Loud?
If you are in a noisy area and concerned that you could lose your hearing, here are a few things you can do:
Be Cautious, especially if You Have Hearing Loss.
If you wear hearing aids, you need to be aware of the noise levels in your environment. Hearing aids amplify sounds, so you are still at risk of hearing loss just like everyone else. You can ask your hearing instrument specialist to program a special setting for these occasions.
Do not turn off your hearing aids as a way to try and protect your hearing. If they are not snugly fit in your ear canal, they will not be able to block out harmful sounds when switched off. Instead, you won’t be able to hear the sounds that you want/need to hear.
Work with a professional hearing instrument specialist to establish the correct hearing protection for the event that you will attend or the activity that you will be participating in.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Work plays a significant role in your social status. A general sense of achievement and self-worth is felt in us when we work. Tinnitus Hub, a group of people with tinnitus who work for the tinnitus patient community, focus on patient support and education, promote research, and raise awareness, gathered data indicating that over a third (38 percent) of employees have expressed that their symptoms had a negative impact on their work.
This doesn’t just disrupt the workflow of the employee, but it can affect their income and the economy in general. Tinnitus Talk is a worldwide online community for tinnitus patients. Volunteers who run this organization are pushing to raise awareness so that it’s taken more seriously as a problem that can impact work environments.
Tinnitus Hub Statistics from 2018
A survey with 1,800 participants asked, “Has tinnitus affected your job or work prospects?”
Difficulty with Concentration
The main effect of tinnitus on the job is the inability to focus. There’s a spectrum of how patients with tinnitus struggle. According to the survey, tinnitus affected concentration mildly (41 percent), moderately (33 percent), or severely (20 percent). Only a small percentage reported a lack of problems with concentration.
This is significantly different from the “concentration/listening fatigue” that individuals with hearing loss may encounter. In some cases, their brain needs to make an extra effort to interpret what they heard. It’s due to constantly hearing the tinnitus in their head while refocusing it to the background in order to concentrate on something else.
Anyone who struggles with tinnitus can find coping mechanisms from sound machines or hearing aids, to meditation. Patients with severe forms of tinnitus generally experience anxiety and/or insomnia, which can affect their performance at work. Most people cannot grasp the daily stress of constantly hearing a high-pitched sound.
Difficult Work Environments
There are certain jobs that frequently expose people to loud noises that can damage hearing or induce tinnitus. These include construction, manufacturing, military service, and the music industry.
Low-level exposure to sounds on a regular basis for hours at a time, like in a call center, school, or restaurant can cause some harm to a person’s hearing health. Anyone with tinnitus may notice more sensitivity to sound (hyperacusis). As a result, normal office work environments can lead to ear pain or loud instances of tinnitus.
Commuting to work can be a struggle for someone with hyperacusis. Traffic noises can spike tinnitus symptoms.
Potential Negative Reactions from Employers and Coworkers
Many people with tinnitus have pointed out the ignorance of employers or colleagues, along with how unwilling they are to make changes that would benefit a person with tinnitus. Some are hesitant to reveal this information for fear of discrimination.
How to Help
Every employee should be accommodated. If the tinnitus is stress-induced, the anxiety tends to pass for most people. It can take weeks, months, or even years to obtain habituation. Others may turn to permanently adjust their situation by working a less demanding job.
If you’d like to consider using hearing aids to mask tinnitus symptoms, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month: Is there a Correlation between Hearing Complications and Migraines?
June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.
Hearing loss isn’t a symptom of migraines, but tinnitus and other problems with the ears can be connected to migraines.
A migraine attack can induce a change in your vision, but a lot of people are not familiar with hearing problems or complaints about the ear.
Nearly 40 percent of patients with migraines also have bouts of vertigo and dizziness. These symptoms can develop due to an illness within the vestibular system - including the areas of the inner ears.
It is common for anyone who gets a migraine to experience more sensitivity to sound when they have a migraine attack. This is known as sonophobia or phonophobia.
Do Migraines induce Hearing Complications?
Hearing loss and problems with hearing are uncommon symptoms of migraines.
Migraines do not cause hearing loss. Some general hearing loss issues are linked to migraines, but the exact connection is unknown.
It is not evident whether one condition drives the other or if they coexist. There are cases that suggest those who have hearing loss are more prone to migraine attacks, but there aren’t enough studies for this to be conclusive.
This type of migraine stems from the inner ear and the area of the brain that helps with balance. Vestibular migraines can cause motion sickness, dizziness, and possible changes in hearing during an attack. These changes may include hypersensitivity, a loss in hearing, and tinnitus.
A Fluctuation in Hearing and Headaches Can be Caused by Pressure in the Brain
There’s a different kind of headache linked to tinnitus known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
It is caused by an overproduction of cerebrospinal fluid, which is fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension can lead to a severe headache and loss of vision.
Some have described their tinnitus as a “gushing sensation in the ear” as if they were by the ocean while waves are crashing onto the shore.
It’s a rare condition that affects 1 in 100,000 people. It’s common in women within the age range of 20 to 45, who are also obese. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, there have been 20 out of 100,000 incidents.
Migraines and Sudden Hearing Loss
If sudden hearing loss occurs in a person, migraines are usually not a primary reason for the underlying cause. It can, however, be considered something to examine. The sign of a potentially serious health problem is sudden sensorineural hearing loss. A healthcare provider would rule out other conditions like Ménière's disease, or even a clot in the veins draining from the brain that can lead to problems with hearing.
Ménière's disease occurs due to fluid buildup in the inner ears. It normally affects one ear. Migraine headaches may occur with Ménière's disease, in addition to changes in hearing, tinnitus, and hearing loss; in rare instances, it can cause sudden hearing loss.
There are variations in the symptoms of Ménière's disease. You may feel better for several months at a time, and then you may notice that your ears are feeling full again or the hearing loss has returned.
It’s rare to have sudden deafness, but the Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology revealed that people with migraines had a higher risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss than those who did not have migraines.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing hearing loss for any reason, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Tinnitus levels can vary each day for different reasons. Sometimes it’s a physiological condition within your body, your surrounding environment, or the type of tinnitus management that you practice. We’ll go over some factors that can affect the sounds of this phantom noise.
Stressors can Affect the Volume of Tinnitus
Stress is one of the primary agents of tinnitus. Tinnitus symptoms may become bothersome during a stressful moment in life, or when we’re having a stressful day.
When there’s a significant shift in life, whether it’s at home or with your job, stress lets the body react and respond mentally, emotionally, and physically. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to an imbalance which can trigger louder tinnitus on some days over other days.
Common causes of stress can include life-altering circumstances such as grieving a loved one or losing a job. A steady flow of stress that is caused by ordinary circumstances such as deadlines for work, or caring for loved ones, can worsen tinnitus symptoms. Living through these situations can make your tinnitus sound louder on some days and quieter on other days.
Conditions caused by stress are also associated with tinnitus and make the phantom noise worse. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and tinnitus have comparable structures and can bring attention to one another.
Taming Internal Stressors
Even though external stress can impact the perceived loudness of your tinnitus, the way you manage the stress (a.k.a. internal stress) is just as important. If your body is not sufficient or healthy enough to deal with external stress, tinnitus symptoms can get worse.
In order to better manage stress, you need proper nutrition, exercise, and an adquent amount of sleep that’s consistent.
Your Diet’s Influence on Stress
It’s easy to ignore the persistent messages from experts encouraging you to eat healthily, but it’s one of the crucial elements to lowering your stress levels and keeping them down in order to better manage your tinnitus.
Processed foods should be left out of your diet, as consuming them makes it harder to manage stress. These foods are often high in sugar. If there’s too much change in your blood sugar levels, the sympathetic area of the nervous system becomes stimulated. This is the area of the brain that handles our fight or flight and makes us ready to react. When this occurs, stress hormones are released which can lead to symptoms of stress. These could include anxiety, irritability, nervousness, and interruptions in sleep patterns, which can be common while experiencing symptoms of tinnitus.
A healthy and well-balanced diet also lets us replace nutrients and vitamins, which may be expended during stressful moments. For example, vitamins B complex, iron, magnesium, and zinc can help aid with stress.
Tinnitus can seem worse after consuming caffeine, alcohol, or smoking cigarettes. These tend to raise your adrenaline. It doesn’t need to be a permanent change, but it’s helpful to let your body get used to this new diet to see if it has any impact on your symptoms.
Sleepless Nights and Stress
Sleep is VERY crucial in keeping a healthy body and mind. Less sleep = more stress and louder symptoms of tinnitus.
A good night’s rest allows you to better handle stress. Giving your body a chance to recover and rest is important to properly manage stress. Poor rest can affect your mood, memory, and judgment.
Exercise to Manage Stress
Struggling to manage your stress, can make tinnitus worse. And tinnitus itself can be stressful. It’s a vicious cycle. This can trigger the sympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system. That indicates that there are more stress hormones moving throughout the body like adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline.
Try to lower these hormones by engaging in a relaxing exercise, like yoga. The more relaxed you feel the quieter tinnitus symptoms can be.
Quiet Environments and Tinnitus
Tinnitus can seem louder because of your surroundings. If your environment is too quiet, tinnitus will be more noticeable.
Lower noise levels in the background that are meant to mask tinnitus can actually make the symptoms seem louder.
Also, silence can activate a response to stress in the body which increases internal auditory sensitivity. Your hearing can become more perceptive while getting yourself ready for a possible threat. This form of hearing can make internal noises, like tinnitus, louder.
Going from a loud environment to a quieter area can make it seem like the tinnitus has gotten worse. Give yourself time to adjust. This might involve rubbing our ears, doing breathing exercises, and practicing mindfulness when we respond to symptoms of tinnitus.
Focus your attention on something else, meditate with music in the background, use a sound machine, or if you are also noticing difficulty with hearing in addition to tinnitus, try hearing aids. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and hearing trial.
Seniors are at a higher risk of a number of health problems. It’s important to take care of your overall health and make better decisions about your diet, exercise routines, and lifestyle. This can help you better manage any potential health problems that stand in the way.
Hearing and vision loss are two of the most prevalent health conditions that seniors experience. More than 42% of individuals over 50 years of age have some hearing loss, and about 71% of individuals over 70 years of age have some range of hearing loss.
There are a lot of preventative measures, treatments, and daily habits to help you live a healthier life, even with presbycusis (age-related hearing loss). With knowledge and ways to manage health concerns, you can help your condition from getting worse.
Taking precautions now can make a huge difference. Listening to music or media at a low volume can help lower your risks of hearing loss. If you are in a noisy environment for an extensive period of time, wear earbuds or, if possible, move yourself to a quieter space. Wear earbuds when using loud tools or any motor-powered devices.
With age-related hearing loss, you may notice tinnitus, you may struggle to keep up with conversations, or have memory issues. Built-up earwax can obstruct sounds and should be softened and removed by a professional, not by inserting cotton swabs in the ear canal.
Diabetics should be attentive when taking care of their blood sugar. A healthy weight can help reduce the chances of hearing loss, along with regular exercise and eating healthily.
Immediately seek help if you begin to notice hearing loss.
Alleviating the Symptoms of Hearing Loss
To help manage your hearing loss, hearing aids can, and should, be worn. Hearing loss can deteriorate brain function because the brain is not reacting to sounds like it used to. Listening is a brain exercise that needs to be worked out on a regular basis.
Managing your hearing loss also means that you need to communicate your needs to family, friends, and coworkers so that they can better understand your situation and adapt accordingly. Maybe you’ll need to tell them to face you in a well-lit room when they speak, or they need to talk louder in certain situations. Communicating these things will help a great deal. Those with hearing loss may need to be patient with them, as they work through this new normal with you. Make a plan.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing problems with hearing, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Spring is here! If you have a green thumb and your own garden, maybe you’ll be interested in planting homegrown produce that supports healthy hearing. If you’re a local Lancastrian, did you know that our county has the most productive non-irrigated farming in the entire country? Why not try some of the bountiful produce that our county has to offer while improving your hearing health?
It takes time and patience to grow asparagus. The first harvest might take a few years, but it will be worth it! Asparagus is a great source of folate, which is great for hearing health. Folate has been found to possibly lower the risk of hearing loss in elderly men.
Blueberries are delicious on their own, in a smoothie, in pie, or scattered over pancakes. They are full of vitamin C, which when combined with magnesium and vitamins A and E, can help treat worsening symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss.
Kale is great on its own, or as an addition to lasagna, salads, or soups. This leafy green also has folate.
If you plant pumpkin seeds around late May, the pumpkins should be ready for harvesting by the summer or fall season. Fresh pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, which helps the immune system - and taking a medicated oral form may help treat symptoms of tinnitus.
Tomatoes are vine-grown fruit that is rich in potassium - which helps regulate blood and tissue fluids. This includes fluid in the inner ear, which is crucial for hearing health and balance.
If you’re trying to eat healthier for your ears, and/or overall health, try to incorporate these foods into your diet. Another way to improve your hearing health is by getting your hearing tested on a regular basis. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation at one of our office locations in Elizabethtown, Lititz, or Strasburg.
April is Stress Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the correlation between stress and hearing loss, along with how to manage it.
Stress can be harmful to your overall health. It can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity. Some tips to reduce your stress levels include regular exercise, spending time with people you love, getting an adequate amount of rest, and treatment for your hearing loss.
Anyone with hearing loss experiences daily stressors that are connected to hearing loss. It’s called listening fatigue. This is when the concentration from listening to speech, focusing on reading lips, and social cues physically and mentally exhaust you. It’s a common feeling among anyone with hearing loss, but these symptoms can be reduced by wearing hearing aids.
Stress from Tinnitus
Tinnitus is connected to stress and is usually an underlying symptom of hearing loss. People with tinnitus may experience louder and more consistent ringing sounds when feeling stressed.
A study found that 53.6 percent of patients with tinnitus reported that their symptoms worsened when they felt stressed. Another study from hearing healthcare providers revealed that nearly 60 percent of their patients had minor to significant tinnitus relief while wearing hearing aids. One out of five experienced major relief.
Stress is almost impossible to avoid, but there are techniques that can help you manage from meditation to exercise, or simply taking a moment to laugh at something.
If you or a loved one are experiencing tinnitus, hearing loss, or both please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation with one of our hearing aid providers.
We’ve discussed many work environments that can contribute to hearing loss from construction zones to gyms. Well, it should be no surprise that musicians, especially rock musicians, are also vulnerable to hearing loss. Lots of famous musicians have hearing loss, tinnitus, or both. Research suggests that they are four times more likely to have hearing problems than the general population.
1. The former Nirvana and current Foo Fighters band member, Dave Grohl, recently revealed that he has had hearing loss for years. He cannot hear out of his left ear and crowded restaurants are the worst spots for him to visit. Masks make things worse for him. He read lips for 20 years, and has to remind people that he is a rock musician, he’s deaf, and he cannot hear what others are saying.
2. Pete Townshend of The Who has been open about his hearing loss for many years. He pinpointed the problem to studio headphones, not from playing live music.
3. Another member of The Who, Roger Daltry, said that he is “very, very deaf”.
4. Danny Elfman, who scored Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and numerous other films, lost his hearing and developed tinnitus after playing frontman in his band Oingo Boingo.
5. Alice Cooper dons hearing aids after losing his hearing from being around loud rock music for 55 years.
6. Huey Lewis talked about how hearing loss and Menière’s disease cut his singing career short and recommended hearing aids.
7. Sting admitted that he has hearing loss, but still refused to get hearing aids.
8. Mick Fleetwood revealed that he has hearing loss, and played a “quiet” rock concert to raise awareness about hearing loss. The concert took place at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with 100 people in attendance. There were mixed responses. The band Eagles of Death Metal played two songs without amps. The audience listened with miniature radio receivers. Most just smiled. Later the band played three songs that were amplified through speakers, and the crowd jumped and danced around while waving their arms. The unamplified sound reached 62 decibels (dB) - which is normal - and the amplified sound reached 124 dB, which is the same noise level of a jet engine.
Fortunately, there’s more awareness about this issue today. Musicians can even wear customized earplugs that are specially designed to wear while performing at concerts.
If you are a musician, or someone who you know is a musician, with hearing loss please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Hearing loss can be frustrating, isolating, and depressing. In addition to a better diet, routine exercise, and getting help for your hearing loss, scientific studies have proven that listening to sounds of nature can be therapeutic for all living creatures.
Heal Yourself by Hearing Elements
Stress caused by work, living in a bustling city, or everyday life can take its toll on a person. The ability to go outside to breathe in the fresh air, see verdant landscapes, and hear lush waterfalls and animals feeds your mind, body, and soul.
How Nature Sounds Effect Us
In addition to the beautiful countryside, fresh scents of nature - minus the manure, if you live in Lancaster County - one part of nature has a serious effect on humans: sound. Compare the racket from a construction zone or loud music that’s blasting, to the sounds you hear while out on a hike in the forest or by the mountains. Nature sounds are much more soothing and have been proven to impact the way a human brain functions.
Published Study on Nature Sounds Impact the Brain
According to a survey from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School that was published in “Scientific Reports” in 2017, there was evidence of the positive impact of hearing natural sounds. Dr. Cassandra Gould and her team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on a test group. While the participants were presented with artificial and natural sounds, their brain activity was measured with an MRI machine. The activity of the automatic nervous system was measured through a person’s shift in heart rate. The results showed that based on the sounds that each participant heard, the activity changed in their Default Mode Network, in other words, the region of the brain that remains active when a person rests.
Nature Sounds Help with Focus and Lowers Stress
When participants heard artificial sounds, the activity in their brain signified that their attention was changing inward. Noises that sound good can be a cause for concern: inward focus is also found in individuals who have clinical depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The participants in this study actually focused their attention outward while listening to nature sounds, which indicates that they were wide awake and focused. However, at the same time, they relaxed. The sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-and-flight response was at rest, whereas the parasympathetic system, which controls metabolism, recovery, and development of the body’s resources, was activated.
Appreciate Ordinary Nature Sounds
Everyone can benefit from listening to nature sounds. You don’t need to go to a secluded part of the world or go hiking outdoors every weekend. It just takes a little bit of time spent around some fresh air. If it’s nice out, your lunch break outdoors. Notice the sounds of animals, breezes, or falling rain. You’ll feel the rewards.
If you can’t go outdoors when you want to, you can listen to sounds of nature through a CD, various streaming services, and apps. The Sea Sounds will let you create your own mix of ocean sounds. Nature Sounds give you a wider selection and offer water, fields, and forest sounds. A Soft Murmur provides noises like fire, rain, wind, and white noise. Even though white noise is not from nature, it can help if you have tinnitus.
Do You Have Hearing Loss? Listen to some Natural Sounds.
People with various types of hearing loss can also find relief with natural sounds. Please be aware that not all sounds are enjoyable for each person. One person’s relaxation sounds can induce stress in others. It’s important to find what works best for you.
If you or a loved one experiences hearing loss and/or tinnitus, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
What happens during Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS)?
You have most likely experienced this after leaving a concert: the noises you hear sound muffled, you notice feelings of fullness in your ears, and you might even hear tinnitus. The tiny hair cells in your ears came in contact with very powerful sound waves. This is known as temporary threshold shift (TTS). Hearing is usually recovered in these cases, and tinnitus goes away.
If you have symptoms of clogged ears or tinnitus, this could mean that your hearing is damaged. If you have recurrent episodes of TTS, permanent hearing loss could ensue.
How does the Ear become Damaged from Loud Noise?
Loud noises, whether it’s from a concert, earbuds with high volume settings, or a work environment, can seriously damage your hearing health. To better understand this, let’s go over how hearing works.
Essentially, sound travels into the ear and then stimulates the fluid located in the inner ear (A.K.A. the cochlea). The fluid produces waves across microscopic rows of hair cells. Every single hair cell is arranged in a tonotopic (tuned) manner to a particular frequency. This provides the best transmission of the sounds you hear.
There is Damage in Your Ear’s Cells
When loud sounds come in contact with your ears, the hair cells become distressed by becoming permanently bent over. This occurs even if there’s no noise. As a result, you may notice tinnitus, feelings of fullness in the ears, and temporary hearing loss.
High sound frequencies are affected when TTS occurs. This impacts the way you hear consonant sounds. In the English language, you may not be able to hear the difference between certain words, like “car” or “far”. This is an example of being able to hear, but not understand.
When it comes to TTS, your hearing threshold will recover to normal after a brief period.
Is TTS Serious?
The answer to this question isn’t clear-cut, because it’s a short-term symptom and for some people, things may seem normal for a while.
Even if the hearing loss is temporary, it’s not an excuse to regularly attend concerts, work environments, or loud recreational activities without protecting your hearing. If you experience too many instances of TTS, it may turn into a permanent threshold shift (PTS).
If you only experience TTS once, you probably won’t have permanent damage to your hearing.
Why does TTS Happen?
Overexposure to loud noises causes TTS. Concerts are a major culprit. Being near the speakers at a concert can endanger your ears to 110 decibels (dB).
It only takes over 70 dB to induce hearing loss. TTS is a type of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), but its impact is fleeting.
Other circumstances that can cause TTS are exposure to loud noises, like listening to music through earbuds/headphones, fireworks or an explosion that goes off near you, a gas-powered lawnmower, or an ambulance/police car siren.
How long can TTS Last?
TTS is a temporary symptom that can last anywhere from a couple of hours, a few days, or maybe several weeks.
The longer and more intense the exposure is, the stronger and longer-lasting the TTS could be.
Other influences could make an impact, such as an individual’s age, sex, history of noise exposure, frequented environmental settings, smoking, or diabetes.
How do You know when an Area is Too Loud?
Preventative Measures for TTS
It is unlikely that TTS will occur unexpectedly. The only cause is exposure to loud noise, so avoid these loud areas or be prepared to protect yourself.
It sounds simple but in the modern world, you may encounter many unexpected situations that could be a danger to your hearing. Loud machines or movie theaters can reach anywhere between 74 to 104 dB. You can still enjoy the movies by wearing earplugs that tune out most, but not all noises.
For earplugs that cancel out almost all noises, get earplugs that feature the highest noise reduction rating (NRR). If you are going to watch a movie in the theater, you can try earplugs that are designed for musicians.
If you are noticing hearing loss and need a hearing test, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
The sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids is meant to lower the cost of hearing aids, which sounds like a good way to make sure that everyone who needs hearing aids will be able to afford them. But a salesperson who is promoting OTC hearing devices does not have the knowledge and expertise of a hearing instrument specialist. Receiving a proper fitting, professional experience, and long-term care for the devices is crucial in getting the most out of your hearing aids. Investing in a local business, like Pure Sound Hearing, ensures quality service. Here are six reasons why you should work with a hearing instrument specialist.
Hearing instrument specialists are licensed to sell hearing aids. They know the technology, are versed in proper care, repairs, and maintenance. Problems regarding feedback noise, corroded batteries, or anything else can be resolved with their help.
2. The Fit
Comfort and performance are important factors in hearing aid usage. Standard hearing aid domes or a customized hearing aid that fits the contours of your ear ensures that you are not only hearing at your best but are also wearing devices that are securely fit. A secure fitting also ensures that feedback noises (the whistling sounds) are not blaring from the hearing aids. Customized programming for the hearing aids is also done by a hearing instrument specialist. They will base the programming on your preferences, lifestyle, and the environments that you frequent.
Monitoring your progress, while making adjustments as needed can ensure that you’ll get the most out of your hearing aids. After receiving a new pair of hearing aids, you may notice discomfort, or feel like the hearing aids aren’t working. It’s important to remember this: adapting to hearing aids takes time.
3. Your Relationship with Your Provider
Hearing loss is complicated. There are many types and causes, along with comorbidities that are connected to hearing loss. It can initially be difficult to become accustomed to hearing aids. Our providers at Pure Sound will be here to guide you and answer your questions along the way.
Hearing loss and tinnitus (the constant ringing, clicking, or whistling sound) often, but not always, go hand in hand. Ongoing research is helping professionals in the hearing healthcare world understand more about it. Providing support and solutions through hearing aids can help patients make their tinnitus symptoms more manageable.
Other than receiving the best support from a hearing instrument specialist, there is evidence that programming hearing aids on your own, or selecting a one-size-fits-all device (basically an amplifier) can cause more damage to your hearing. At Pure Sound Hearing, a series of tests will be performed to assess your hearing loss and make sure that the hearing aids provided will be tailored for your range of hearing loss. Too much amplification can do more damage to your hearing, and a poorly-fit hearing aid can lead to earwax build-up.
6. Hearing Aids are an Investment
Even though OTC hearing aids may save you money at first, over time, the poor quality of the technology and services (or lack thereof) will become evident. A hearing instrument specialist will provide warranty protection, professional hearing aid cleanings, advice on upgrades, and any advice you need on hearing aid care and maintenance.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
There is still much to learn about the impact of menopause on hearing health. This is also the case with hormone therapy (HT). Research on mice and early human studies have suggested that taking estrogen can help protect your hearing. However, a different study with the current biggest data pool found the opposite to be true.
If you currently do not experience hearing loss, taking HT may increase your risk. This may occur whether it’s in pill or patch form and for formulas that contain estrogen on its own or when mixed with progesterone.
When the researchers studied data for over 47,000 female nurses over the course of 22 years, they determined that a course of HT for five to 10 years raised the risk of hearing loss in women by 15 percent compared to a woman who did not take HT.
There was a higher risk, the longer a woman continued taking HT. The study indicated that women who went through menopause later in life had an increased risk of hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus during Menopause
It is possible that your hearing abilities might change, or you might develop tinnitus as you reach menopause.
This happens when estrogen creates menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Estrogen has an important role in your bones, brain, heart, muscles, and reproductive system. Estrogen receptors are located in hair cells and auditory pathways in the ear, but researchers are still learning how estrogen impacts hearing health.
Sex hormones become altered during a menstrual cycle and during menstruation, so your hearing abilities may become less sensitive. In the perimenopause phase - the years before the ovaries stop releasing eggs and your menstrual cycle ends - your ovaries slowly produce less and less estrogen. During the last year or second to last year of perimenopause, the drop in estrogen becomes more and more rapid. After your period ends, normally after you reach 45 years of age, the ovaries will produce only a small amount of estrogen, but you still receive some from your adrenal glands and fat tissue.
Low levels of estrogen can lead to hearing loss due to changes in blood flow to the cochlea - the hollow tube located in the inner ear. Another study measured hearing and blood levels of estradiol (a form of estrogen) in 1,830 postmenopausal women. In this research, it was found that the test subjects with less estradiol were more prone to experience hearing loss.
Does the Age of Onset Menopause Impact Your Hearing?
The connection between low estrogen levels and hearing loss indicates that women who enter menopause later, at age 50 or more - 51 is the average age of menopause in the U.S. - may have lower risks of hearing loss.
The data in 81,000 nurses showed that women with late natural menopause had a 10 percent higher risk of developing hearing loss. It’s uncertain as to why this occurs.
Advice on Hearing Health and Hormone Therapy
If you start hormone therapy, you should monitor your hearing and take HT only as necessary. Some women have had sudden hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo as a result of HT. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if this happens to you.
How can Women Protect Their Hearing Health?
Engage in exercise, have a healthy diet, and keep a healthy weight. People who followed these diets have had significantly lower risks of hearing loss. A Mediterranean diet of fish, vegetables, and whole grains - while reducing meat and snack foods - is recommended.
Be aware of medications that can induce hearing loss, and make sure you reduce your exposure to dangerous noise levels by wearing hearing protection or avoiding loud areas altogether. For a complimentary hearing test and consultation, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing.
Stress Factors that Impact Auditory Processing
Can experiencing stress early in life impact the way children interpret what they hear? A grant of $2.3 million was awarded by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health, which will be used by Northeast Ohio Medical University to research this subject.
Included in the study will be an examination of how stress that occurs early in life, impacts auditory processing. It would also focus on children with conductive hearing loss. This research will help analysts concentrate on potential experiments to determine the best way to reduce these emotional issues in children.
On Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
There are some chemotherapy drugs that can save a patient’s life, but they can also damage the ears. A U.S. National Cancer Institute grant of $5.7 million will be used to investigate and research this topic. The study will focus on surveying “long-term health outcomes for cancer patients who receive platinum-based chemotherapies”. This will help determine whether certain cancer treatments cause or worsen hearing loss or tinnitus. Not only will identifying the potential risks be determined but how to reduce those risks will also be determined.
Hearing Health and Effects from COVID-19
There have been more and more reports of possible connections between COVID-19 and hearing loss. The University of Manchester in the U.K. is doing a more thorough study on this. The school’s Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness is analyzing the long-term impact of COVID on an adult’s hearing abilities. Over 10% of test subjects who were treated for COVID-19 had reported tinnitus or worsened hearing in a previous study by the same analysts. The conclusion to these studies has yet to be made public, but they will hopefully offer better solutions for protecting and preserving hearing health.
If you or a loved one are having trouble with hearing or experience tinnitus, please get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing for a solution.
Hearing loss can happen suddenly or gradually and remain undetected until you or others need to repeat themselves around you.
How can you determine whether you have hearing loss? The symptoms are based on the type of hearing loss and its severity.
1. Are you having trouble with hearing consonant sounds?
Symptoms of presbycusis (age-related hearing loss), may include the inability to hear high frequencies. The sounds of F, K, P, S, Sh, Th, V are the usual consonant sounds that become tricky to hear. These are crucial sounds that help distinguish the differences between words that sound similar like “keep” and “sheep” or “fan” and “van”.
You may misunderstand important information during a conversation or a medical-related appointment, or other people sound like they’re mumbling. You may be experiencing the ability to hear, but not understand.
2. Nature and other sounds are on mute
When was the last time you heard birds, crickets, or other critters? Are you aware of the sound of your car’s turn signal when it’s blinking on? Is it difficult to hear women and children when they speak?
Higher pitched sounds and voices reach 2,000 Hz or more. Anyone with high-frequency hearing loss tend to have a hard time hearing these ranges of noise.
3. Do you have difficulty with following along during conversations when there’s too much background noise?
Another sign of high-frequency hearing loss is not being able to separate speech sounds in a noisy environment. You might turn down get-togethers and socializing with others because it takes too much energy to focus on conversations.
4. Listening fatigue can lead to depleted energy, so you might avoid going out altogether.
Conversations may resemble a low-volume stereo that’s slowly breaking down or a poor phone line where some of the words in the conversation are missing.
Hearing is a signal that is read by your brain. When your auditory system isn’t working properly, your brain uses more energy so that it can process sound from the inner ear. Basically, having hearing loss is a broken signal that isn’t transferring all of the sounds to the brain. Untreated hearing loss can lead to auditory pathways to the brain becoming atrophied. As a result, dementia can begin to set in.
5. Ringing ears
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated that over 50 million people have some range of tinnitus. This makes it one of the most prevalent health issues in the U.S.
Age-related and noise-induced hearing loss can lead to tinnitus. Researchers on this subject believe that tinnitus could be the brain’s way of replacing missing frequencies that it is not receiving from the auditory system.
High-frequency hearing loss is generally a form of sensorineural hearing loss. This indicates damage to the tiny hair cells located in the inner ear. These hair cells turn sounds into signals that are sent through the auditory nerve to the brain so that they can be interpreted. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by exposure to noise, disease, infection, or genetics.
There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss, but hearing aids can treat it.
Contact one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation. Whether you have hearing loss, tinnitus, or both, our providers will help you find a solution that is suitable for you.
When you have disruptive tinnitus, the added stress from traveling can make it worse.
Traveling by air, land, or sea can aggravate symptoms of tinnitus. Whether it’s jet lag, various airplane engine sounds, airplane cabin pressure, or unhealthy food and drink options (over salty snacks, sugary drinks, or alcohol), tinnitus might be an extra thing that you need to worry about.
You can plan ahead of time and avoid the most common problems with tinnitus when traveling.
10 Tips for Traveling with Tinnitus
1. Make sure you have a plan to help you manage tinnitus symptoms.
Problems that may arise while traveling can cause stress, which can lead to distracting episodes of tinnitus. That can ruin your vacation or business trip.
Planning for these scenarios can help. Worsening tinnitus - whether it becomes louder, becomes more intense, or creates an emotional reaction - can occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes tinnitus spikes can be identified easily, other times it can be too vague to pinpoint. Tinnitus spikes are some of the more problematic scenarios that just about everyone with tinnitus suffers from each day.
What are tinnitus spikes?
This occurs when the ringing sound abruptly changes or worsens.
Causes of tinnitus spikes can include:
It can feel almost impossible to fight against an emotional reaction that is caused by a very bad case of tinnitus. Your anxiety and fear can set in, making the way you usually manage symptoms ineffective.
Understand what triggers your tinnitus, and then immediately implement a coping mechanism if the symptoms arise while traveling. You can ask for help from fellow traveling companions so they can help you reduce the spikes as soon as possible.
Even though you cannot turn down the volume of the tinnitus spike, you can calm yourself down by getting as comfortable as possible. If you wear hearing aids, you can ask your hearing instrument specialist to program your devices to mask the noise. Or, you can even listen to a meditation. Sooner or later the spike will pass.
2. Reduce the impact of jet lag
Jet lag eventually goes away, but it can still create stress for a few days. Your body has a circadian rhythm, which adapts to a day to night cycle. So if travel from one time zone to another, your circadian rhythm is still following the previous time zone. This leads to temporary insomnia, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, changes in mood, stomach problems, and a general feeling of ailment. Symptoms of jet lag can worsen tinnitus, making it harder to manage.
One way to reduce the effects of jet lag is to take melatonin. This will reset your sleep/circadian rhythm. Just like with any medication or supplement, discuss using it with your doctor.
Melatonin is a hormone that discharges from the brain that signals to your body that it is nighttime and it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is available in pill form as an over-the-counter (or prescription) sleep aid in many countries, including the U.S. If you take it at your usual bedtime and then at a different time to adapt to your new time zone, it can help you sleep easier and also relieve jet lag by syncing up your circadian rhythm to the new time zone at a faster pace.
3. Pressure-equalizing earplugs can be worn during flights and drives that take place in higher elevations
Everyone who has ever been in an aircraft that ascended into the sky or drove up any mountain has noticed that a quick change in elevation can impact your ears.
The pressure levels in airplane cabins can reach from about 6,000 - 8,000 feet above sea level, and mountainous terrain can reach even higher levels. Based on the level of elevation that you start off on, this can equal a significant rapid change.
Feelings of fullness, pain, and popping in the ear are normal experiences when there’s a quick pressure change. The pressure that occurs in your middle ear cannot change as quickly as the air pressure in the environment. As a result, the eardrum winds up swelling inwards or outwards.
This doesn’t happen to everyone. If your ears are susceptible to elevation shifts, barometric pressure, or even changes in weather, it can negatively impact your tinnitus.
A solution is wearing pressure-equalizing earplugs. You can find an affordable pair that uses filters to steadily equalize the pressure. Check out EarPlanes® or Mack’s FlightGuard Aviation Earplugs.
4. Pack different types of hearing protection so you’re ready for any noisy environment
Everyone, no matter how good their hearing is, should be prepared to protect their hearing from loud noises. It’s even more important to do so if you have tinnitus. Dangerous noise levels can destroy your hearing and permanently worsen symptoms of tinnitus. Even if there isn’t permanent damage, just about everyone who has tinnitus has noticed spikes in symptoms when exposed to loud noises. If you know that your environment will be loud, remember to pack earplugs. There may be loud environments that where you were not anticipating to be in when traveling.
To avoid potential hearing loss, always have two sets of earplugs that are easily accessible when traveling: a pair of regular foam or silicone earplugs (these are helpful in very loud settings) and another pair of high-fidelity musician’s earplugs (these reduce volume levels, but you can still hear music and other people’s voices when they speak to you).
Customized earplugs that are perfectly contoured to your ears can also be made. You can talk to our hearing instrument specialists about getting them made.
5. Pack your own food and snacks
The selection that is available for food at most airports and rest stops are generally fast food or junk food that is high in salt and sugar. If your tinnitus tends to worsen after consuming salt, sugar, or caffeinated drinks, it would be best to pack foods that are healthier for you. Even if these things do not trigger your tinnitus, consuming unhealthy foods can take its toll on your body and add unnecessary stress during your trip.
You are allowed to bring your own food through airport security checkpoints. There are regulations when it comes to international travel - laws are different in each country, so you might not be able to carry on certain fruits and vegetables.
6. Shop in a local grocery store
When you make it to your destination, go to a local grocery store. They’ll have healthy options for food and drinks that are less expensive than the stash that’s available in the hotel or their minifridge.
7. Preview restaurant menus
It’s tempting to simply go to a fast-food restaurant, or picking just any restaurant if you’re really hungry. Following a low-sodium diet is going to be difficult in these places, which can add stress.
Prior to each trip, do a little research and look at restaurant menus that will cater to your diet. You can even book a reservation so you know that you’ll have a place and time set aside.
If you decide to rent a home or an Airbnb, you can simply cook your own meals and control the amount of salt and sugar that goes into your meals instead of worrying about what restaurants will serve you.
8. Give yourself some R&R
While traveling, your health habits and daily routines may go out the window. Your sleep schedule will probably be disrupted. This could create stress, and stress usually equals spikes in tinnitus. Always make time for self-care. Rest and relax when possible.
9. Keep track of your medications and hearing aids
So many things can go awry while traveling. Your bags get lost, plane delays, or a change in plans. Always keep important medications and devices with you, NOT in a checked bag or inaccessible suitcase. Make sure your hearing aids are fully charged or you have extra batteries with you. If you get stuck in a location, they’ll be easier to locate.
10. Proper sleep can go a long way
Insomnia is a common cause of tinnitus spikes. Tinnitus can make sleeping difficult, which generates a vicious cycle.
It’s not always easy to fall asleep, especially in unfamiliar places. Research indicates that the left side of your brain stays on alert during the first night, and possibly into the second night if you are in a new space.
You can prioritize and protect your sleep routines by going to bed and waking up during normal hours. Use any means necessary to make sure you get enough sleep. You might want to use a sleep mask, sound machine, earplugs, or meditate before going to sleep. You might even want to bring your own pillow if it’s easy to store during your travels.
If you have tinnitus and/or hearing loss, hearing aids could be a solution to get control of your tinnitus so that it’s more manageable. Get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
The symptoms of tinnitus include the buzzing, clicking, ringing, roaring, or whooshing noises that are heard when there are no external sound sources. It can cause distress and distract you from your daily life. It’s important to seek help and monitor your hearing health before it worsens.
Nearly 15-20% of Americans have experienced tinnitus at least one time. While it can happen to anyone, it’s pervasive among adults and seniors. There is currently no definite cure for tinnitus, so taking preventative cautions is crucial.
What are the signs of tinnitus?
As previously mentioned a buzzing, clicking, ringing, roaring, or whooshing noise may only be heard by you. There are various frequencies and tones to the noise. If you notice tinnitus, write down what you are experiencing. Keep a journal to record when you started hearing these noises, in what situations/environments you notice the sounds and anything else you feel is worth noting. Bring this information with you when you talk to your hearing instrument specialist about treatment options.
Discuss the sounds you are hearing with the people around you, who can provide accurate assessments if you think you are experiencing tinnitus.
What causes tinnitus?
The main causes of tinnitus are due to underlying conditions, such as injuries to the ears or poor blood circulation. Think about possible reasons that brought about the symptoms. This will help your hearing healthcare provider give you proper treatment options.
Frequent exposure to loud noises, or even just one exposure to a very loud noise, can induce tinnitus symptoms. The tiny hair cells in the inner ear can become damaged from the sounds, which leads to false impulses that are transmitted to the brain. This is what causes tinnitus.
Aging, and the hearing health problems related to aging, can cause tinnitus. Diabetes, unhealthy blood vessels, autoimmune diseases, changes in bone growth throughout the ears, muscle spasms, ear infections or obstructions, head, neck, or ear injuries could also cause tinnitus. Like with any health condition, detecting the problem early will lead to earlier treatment, which may help reduce any serious impacts.
Tinnitus is common in men, the older population, regular smokers, and alcoholics who are regularly exposed to loud noises. Take your job environment into consideration, and wear ear protection when working under loud conditions. Any underlying health conditions such as arthritis and obesity should be carefully monitored.
What are the impacts of tinnitus?
The frequency of tinnitus is different for everyone. Most people who experience tinnitus find it to be distressing and bothersome. They may suffer from fatigue, headaches, depression, stress, an inability to focus, problems with accomplishing tasks, and disruption in their sleep routines.
What preventative measures should be taken?
Always carry around small earplugs or noise-canceling earmuffs if you are going to work in a noisy area. For example, if you are employed in an industrial workplace that has loud machinery make sure you are wearing earplugs. Your employer should also be able to provide the proper ear protection in these situations.
Avoid overconsumption of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Make sure you are exercising and following a healthy diet. This will help with your overall health, which will help your hearing health.
Listen to music and media at lower volumes. If you need to turn the volume up, to the point where others complain about the level you should seek help for your hearing.
What treatment options are available?
Hearing aids that feature a masking option may be used to treat your tinnitus and hearing loss. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing to set up an appointment for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
We’re kicking off Tinnitus Awareness Week, which is recognized during the first full week of February. This year, it spans from February 7th to the 13th.
The purpose of this week is to inform the public about what the symptoms of tinnitus sound like and how it impacts people on a day-to-day basis. Tinnitus is the perception of noise when there is no environmental or physical source of the sound. It may manifest as a buzzing, chirping, clicking, hissing, humming, ringing, or roaring noise in the ear. About 15 to 20 percent of people experience it. It isn’t an actual condition, but it is a symptom of an underlying illness. Some of it may be caused by age, hearing loss, an injury to the ear, or a circulatory system disorder.
A Brief History Lesson on Tinnitus
Ancient Egyptians called it the bewitched ear or humming in the ear. Treatments were used with the hope of a cure. Infusions of frankincense, herbs, oil, soil, or tree sap were applied to the outer ear by using the stalk of a reed. Egyptian art, known as “ear stelae”, portrayed each ear with images of devout worshipers. They would pray to gods and ask for their symptoms to be cured.
4th Century B.C.E.
Early Greco-Romans were the first to consider treating tinnitus as a symptom, and not as a condition in and of itself. Based on how the tinnitus started, different treatments would be implemented. If it was caused by a cold, the ear would be cleaned out and they’d hold their breath for as long as they could. If it started from the head, exercise, rubbing, and gargling was recommended as a remedy. Aristotle and Hippocrates utilized masking, which suppressed the noises from their tinnitus by listening to something else.
Other experimental methods were used during the Middle Ages. Different liquids were drained into the ear of those who were afflicted. They would also toss dampened pieces of wood onto a fire so that the crackling noises from the blaze would cover up the tinnitus until they fell asleep. Another method was ear candling. This is when liquified wax from a burning candle is drained into the ear, and once solidified is pulled out of the ear canal to draw out wax and debris. This is method is not recommended by any hearing healthcare professionals.
The French physician Jean Marie Gaspard Itard, made progress in studies on tinnitus during the 19th century. Itard linked tinnitus to hearing loss and gave detailed descriptions of early reports on objective and subjective tinnitus. He made attempts at creating methods for masking the noise with little results but eventually, new improvements on tinnitus research became available. Even though tinnitus has become more manageable with treatments like meditation, vitamin intake, tinnitus noise-masking apps, and hearing aids with tinnitus masking programs, there is still more research that is needed to better understand it.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing tinnitus or hearing loss, please get in touch with one of our hearing aid providers for a complimentary consultation.
In a survey conducted by the British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association, the topic of tinnitus awareness was discussed.
Approximately 82% of hearing aid providers from the panel revealed that their patients are informed about the connection between hearing loss and tinnitus, leaving 18% who said that their patients are not aware of this association.
One out of 8 people experiences tinnitus. Two-thirds of individuals who have tinnitus, also experience hearing loss. In most instances, hearing loss may be the source of the tinnitus. There are numerous people who, unfortunately, are unaware that they have both symptoms.
The Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Combo
Finding out that you have tinnitus is similar to finding out that you have hearing loss. If you have difficulty hearing high frequencies, the tinnitus usually sounds like a high-pitched beeping, ringing, or hissing sound.
Some individuals who have hearing loss may be able to recognize tinnitus more easily. This is due to their inability to hear as many sounds in their environment that could mask the noises.
Wearing a hearing aid might help with hearing loss and tinnitus. Many digital hearing aids can be programmed to cover up tinnitus by making other sounds slightly louder.
People frequently mistake their tinnitus as the main problem, when it’s the hearing loss that’s causing their frustration. So it’s important to educate and raise awareness about the affiliation between hearing loss and tinnitus. This will help to prevent some of the hardships that may arise and provide the proper resources to help them.
If you or a loved one believe you may be experiencing tinnitus and hearing loss, or only hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Are You a Hearing Aid User with an Active Lifestyle? Here are some Tips for Keeping Your Hearing Aids and Hearing Health in Shape.
Exercise is an important part of maintaining your overall health. If you’re a hearing aid user who practices physical exercises regularly, it’s advised that you wear your devices during workout sessions.
3 Reasons why Hearing Aids should be used during Exercise Routines
Be prepared by bringing Hearing Aid Gear during Workouts
To get the most out of your workout, reduce distractions and feel confident while wearing your hearing aids by being prepared. Here’s a suggestion of supplies you should keep with you.
How to take care of Your Hearing Aids after Your Workout
If you frequently work out, be cautious about wear and tear. This will help your hearing aids last longer, after each workout session.
Keep up an Active Lifestyle
According to the Hear the World Foundation, 70 percent of hearing aid users have said that they wear their hearing aids while participating in sports and did not experience any problems. About 37 percent of users said they enjoy participating in sports more when wearing them. So if you aren’t already wearing hearing aids while playing sports, try it out.
Be aware of Dangerous Noise Levels in the Gym
Gyms are well-known for blasting music too loudly during workout sessions. This can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus. If you lift very heavy weights, while holding your breath, this can also cause hearing loss and tinnitus. It’s important to protect your ears from lesser-known risks to hearing health. Special settings can be programmed into your hearing aids for all sorts of environments, like gyms.
Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing and talk to one of our hearing instrument specialists about programming a customized setting in your hearing aids before your next visit to the gym, or workout session from home.
Temporary hearing loss can be caused by so many different factors, including infections, impacted earwax, or exposure to loud noises. In many instances, this type of hearing loss is mild and it goes away very quickly. In other cases, consistent or severe hearing loss that suddenly progresses should always be addressed by your hearing healthcare provider. Here’s a list of the most common causes of temporary hearing loss.
5 causes of Temporary Hearing Loss
1. Middle Ear Infections
If the region behind the eardrum fills up with bacterial fluid, there’s a good chance that an infection will develop. It’s important to note that the middle ear has a passageway that leads to the back of the throat, so an ear infection can spread due to the flu or virus. These infections are usually found in children, and they may briefly affect their hearing abilities. Typically, only one ear is affected.
An infection in the middle ear can cause fluid build-up as the body tries to fight against the infection. Ear pressure caused by the fluids can affect the middle ear bones, which are used in hearing. In some instances, these fluids create a lot of pressure to the point where the eardrum can become punctured and discharge blood and pus from the ear. A ruptured eardrum can be painful, but it can usually heal itself when the infection is gone.
You can use antibiotics to treat these infections. If you are given an antibiotic for your ear infection, do not stop taking them because you are feeling better. It’s important to continue taking the medication until the infection is gone to make sure the infection is completely gone. Please be aware that some antibiotics can cause hearing loss. Talk to a hearing healthcare provider when considering treatment options.
2. Swimmer’s Ear
If you have recently gone swimming and now have itchy ears, pain, or feelings of fullness in the ears, you might have swimmer’s ear. This is an outer ear infection that occurs in the outer canal when water stays in your ear after being submerged in a body of water. It can infect one or both ears, and it can cause ear pain.
Did you scratch your ears and can’t hear? Swimmer’s ear can also occur as a result of an abrasion or a scratch on your ear canal from using cotton swabs, hairpins, or your finger to clean your ear canal. Please refrain from placing anything small inside your ear canal. This can damage your eardrum.
Again, you can use antibiotics to treat this infection. Your hearing can go back to normal with the proper treatment. Take preventative measures by making sure you get rid of any water that gets trapped inside your ear canal.
3. Loud Noises
Any exposure to very loud noises - whether you’re at a concert, or using power tools without ear protection - can cause temporary hearing loss.
What causes this to happen? The inner ears feature tiny hair cells that gather and transmit sound waves to the brain. These hair cells can become damaged due to very loud noise exposure. It normally affects both ears, although the severity of hearing damage can be worse in the ear that was exposed to more noise. There is usually no pain. Noise-induced hearing loss is sometimes permanent.
As soon as you realize your ears have been damaged, rest your ears immediately. If possible, refrain from being exposed to any more noise by using earplugs or covering your ears with your hands.
In most cases involving exposure to loud noises, the hearing should return in a short amount of time. There may be some permanent damage to the ear’s hair cells. If your hearing does not get better in a day or so, seek professional help.
Remember to carry earbuds or earmuffs that help block out loud noises, if you’re going to be in a loud environment.
A combination of continuous muffled hearing and ringing ears is a sign of tinnitus, which can be caused by exposure to loud noises. Be mindful of the volume, and turn it down on your devices. Where hearing protection.
4. Earwax Buildup
Earwax helps trap dust and other tiny particles that enter your ears before they reach your eardrums. Earwax naturally falls out of your ear canals, but sometimes the wax becomes impacted and obstructs the ear canals. This blockage can lead to sudden hearing loss in one or both ears, which can interfere with sound waves as they make their way through the ear canal and towards the eardrum. A malfunctioning eardrum can lead to poor hearing. It can affect one or both ears and usually doesn’t cause pain.
5. Side Effects from Medication
Some easily accessible drugs, like aspirin, have been connected to hearing loss and tinnitus in both ears. If you notice anything different about your hearing after taking a new medication, inform your healthcare provider. You may be advised to switch medications. This form of hearing loss is typically temporary, but there are some instances - particularly if another medication isn’t available for serious conditions - when hearing loss can become permanent.
Don’t ignore hearing loss, whether it’s temporary or you have been experiencing it for a while now. Untreated hearing loss can worsen and cause additional problems other than the inability to hear.
Get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation with one of our hearing aid providers.
We’ve discussed the effects of caffeine on hearing health in this blog.
Caffeine itself doesn’t appear to have any negative impact on hearing health. But it’s the lack of sleep that caffeine causes which can negatively impact your hearing health, and overall health. Your safest bet is to drink it early in the morning and never after noontime or later.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that is naturally found in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans. It’s also added to many energy drinks, common cold and allergy medications, and pain relievers. It helps to stimulate your central nervous system, which helps with blood circulation and the ability to concentrate. It also helps us stay alert after a poor night’s rest. Some studies have even suggested that caffeine might lower the risks of certain types of cancer (liver, mouth, and throat), along with type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
The impact of Caffeine on Hearing Health
Overall, the average consumption of caffeine (2 cups per day, or less) does not have a serious long-term influence on your hearing health. Blood vessels do become constricted and there is a change in blood pressure levels when caffeine is consumed. Remember, healthy blood flow is important for your hearing health and your overall health. A South Korean study determined there was no connection. They actually found that their test subjects who drank coffee had lower rates of hearing loss compared to those who did not drink coffee.
Caffeine has been shown to possibly exacerbate temporary hearing loss after noise exposure.
Have you ever left a very noisy environment and noticed your hearing abilities were different or muffled? You probably experienced something called, temporary threshold shift (TTS). This indicates that the hair cells found in your inner ears have been exhausted. Remember listening fatigue? Under normal circumstances, your hearing should return to normal in a few days, or sooner. Cutting down, or completely cutting out caffeine until your hearing goes back to normal may help.
Cancer patients should be careful.
If you, or a loved one, are a cancer patient who takes the drug cisplatin, be careful about taking it with caffeine. Cisplatin can cause hearing loss and tinnitus in chemotherapy patients. This is known as cisplatin-induced hearing loss. A study from 2019 showed lab rats that were given caffeine raised the risks of hearing loss. The researchers concluded that there was a possible drug interaction between caffeine and cisplatin for ototoxicity. They suggested that cancer patients should be careful with their caffeine consumption when taking cisplatin.
Caffeine consumption and Tinnitus
According to research, there’s no need to completely stop consuming caffeine if you experience tinnitus. Some patients with tinnitus have reported improvement in their symptoms when they cut down on their caffeine consumption. Official research has not shown that cutting back will lower tinnitus symptoms. One study found lower rates of tinnitus for women who consumed a lot of coffee.
A similar study found that completely abstaining from caffeine was not an effective method of treating tinnitus. The symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine may actually induce distress.
Ménière's disease and its association with Caffeine
Anyone who has Ménière's disease may have been advised to reduce their alcohol, caffeine, and sodium intake to reduce their symptoms. Changes in diet can be beneficial for some people, particularly low sodium diets. There’s still little proof on this subject, especially for caffeine and alcohol consumption.
There is some evidence that caffeine and alcohol consumption can lead to constricted blood vessels - known as vasoconstriction. When the blood vessels become constricted, the blood flow to the ear reduces, which can worsen symptoms. A change in diet is the easier and cheaper option.
But the evidence is not overwhelming. Yes, a simple change in diet is helpful but also getting more effective treatments, like using hearing aids, can reduce the progressive impact of hearing loss.
So remember, if you enjoy coffee, soda, or energy drinks and are in a healthy state, the latest research suggests that you don’t have to stop consuming them (perhaps a limit on them can be beneficial). You can monitor your hearing health and overall health when consuming caffeine and see how you feel when reducing your caffeine intake. Again, only drink it in the morning and not in the afternoon or evening. This will make it very difficult to fall asleep and have a restful night, which can affect your hearing health.
If you or a loved one experiences hearing loss, tinnitus, or Ménière's disease, please get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing for a hearing test and consultation.
Hearing aids have come a long way, in regards to their technology. Just about every modern hearing aid is Bluetooth®-connected to your smartphone. Here is our compilation of articles for recommended apps that can be used to have an optimal experience with your hearing aids.
If you, or a loved one, would like a free hearing test and consultation with one of our hearing instrument specialists, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Our providers will patiently work with you to ensure the best possible listening experience.
It should be no surprise that whether you are listening to music or media, a long length of time spent listening plus a high volume level can eventually lead to hearing loss.
This can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time.
Across the globe, children, teens, and young adults spend time listening to music for several hours each day. The volumes often surpass the recommended limits for each person. Awareness of this issue, and actions taken against it, is the best way to practice self-care.
The previous threshold for listening was 85 decibels (dB), but that has currently been lowered to 70 dB by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 50 percent of people between the ages of 12 to 35 are susceptible to hearing loss after long and disproportionate exposure to powerful sounds from music playing through earbuds or headphones.
It’s important to remind readers that serious levels of hearing loss are not signs of normal aging. It’s a result of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
It’s similar to how many falsely believe that large wrinkles and dark spots of skin are signs of normal aging. They are the result of harmful exposure to solar and UV rays.
Important Hearing Statistics
Anyone who frequently uses a personal listening device, along with earbuds or headphones, is damaging their hearing health.
The younger population tends to have listening devices that come with earbuds or headphones. While others can’t hear their chosen media, they are doing serious harm to their hearing.
Many of these young people will begin to notice difficulty with their hearing by the time they reach their mid-40s. They will struggle with hearing just as much as their grandparents, who are at least in their 70s.
Hearing loss not only impacts your ability to hear and communicate but as frequently mentioned in this blog, cognitive decline and risks of dementia become more serious.
In a study from 2011, people with hearing loss had a higher chance of having dementia symptoms if:
Research indicates that anyone who does not receive treatment for their hearing loss promptly is at higher risk of dementia.
There have been studies that showed hearing loss that was treated with hearing aids reduced risks of cognitive decline and dementia.
Even though this information is important, the key to healthy hearing is preventative care. General health habits like diet and exercise help your overall health, which can impact your hearing health.
Follow Healthy Limits to Noise
As frequently mentioned in this blog, hearing loss from noise can occur instantly or gradually over time.
Some people live in bustling cities or work in loud environments, causing recurring exposure to unsafe levels of noise which could impact long-term health.
Here are tips on how to keep your hearing health safe:
Hearing health in children and teens is particularly important. Their bodies are still developing. They need to hear to learn and acquire social skills. Hearing loss impedes that process for social development and education, which can negatively impact work performance and income.
Sound Level Meter App
You may use a free or inexpensive sound level meter app to measure noise levels in any environment and determine whether you should leave the area for a quieter space.
Detect Warning Signs of Hearing Loss
It’s important to know what the warning signs of hearing loss are so that you can immediately seek help. Oftentimes, it’s family members, friends, or co-workers who notice your hearing loss before you do. Here are some common signs:
This rounds up our work of raising awareness for Protect Your Hearing Month.
If you are noticing hearing loss, or if you haven’t had your hearing checked in a long time, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aids and some assistive listening devices for a wide range of hearing loss.
Have you ever wondered if you heard a real noise, or if it was all in your head?
If you are hearing a beeping, buzzing, ringing, or whistling sound that nobody else around you hears, there’s a possibility that it is tinnitus. You should get it checked immediately by a hearing healthcare professional. After going over your medical history with them, they will examine your ear canal with an otoscope and check for earwax build-up. After carefully cleaning out the earwax, your hearing may be restored. If it’s not caused by earwax obstruction, a hearing test will be conducted.
If there is an obstruction or tinnitus, you may be referred to a physician. If there are no other obstructions present, i.e. a foreign object, and no other possible causes are found, you may have hearing loss. Tinnitus and hearing loss usually go hand-in-hand. If you are experiencing tinnitus, chances are that hearing loss is inevitable. Nearly 90% of individuals who have tinnitus, also have some range of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Tinnitus Assessments from a Hearing Healthcare Professional
At Pure Sound Hearing, our hearing care providers may conduct a pure tone audiometry test. This test would have a high chance of being administered if your tinnitus is single-sided (unilateral) or if you also experience hearing loss. The pure tone audiometry test will play a range of frequencies at different volume levels. Even if you cannot detect any difference in your hearing, this test can show areas where your hearing has weakened. Remember, hearing loss occurs gradually over time and you might not notice the loss until it becomes very severe. Catching your hearing problems early can potentially slow down the loss. You may be asked to repeat words back to your hearing healthcare provider so that they can hear how accurately a patient repeats these words.
Tinnitus is the perceived noise that a person hears, which cannot be heard by anyone else. Our specialists will use sound matching to determine what the patient experiences. This practice involves playing audio clips to recognize which sound is closest to the sound that the person hears internally.
Our hearing instrument specialists may use a minimal level of masking to conclude whether a patient experiences tinnitus. This will also determine how loud a sound is conveyed. Our providers will play an audio clip at gradually increasing volume levels until the patient indicates that the external noises completely cover up the phantom sounds.
Your Experiences with Tinnitus
By discussing your tinnitus with our hearing instrument specialists, they will be able to help you understand how your symptoms are negatively affecting your daily life and overall well-being.
Tinnitus is not a disease, but the symptom of an underlying health condition. If you are noticing a beeping, buzzing, ringing, or whistling sound, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing to talk about the problems you are experiencing and we'll help you find a solution.