Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic health conditions in the United States, yet it is treatable with the advanced technology offered through Community Healthcare System’s Audiology Services.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 5 men and 1 out of 6 women reports at least some trouble hearing. Hearing loss could lead to depression, increased fall risk and hospitalization.
“It is common to develop hearing loss as we age,” said Tricia O'Halloran, MA, CCC-A, F-AAA, a licensed audiologist and director of Audiology Services for Community Healthcare System. “The key is to get an evaluation to determine type and degree of the loss in order to provide best recommendations for treatment options.”
Listen to the experts
Hearing problems may be serious, which is why it is important to seek the advice of a health care provider.
A recent Johns Hopkins study found that the severity of hearing loss is associated with a higher incidence of developing dementia. More specifically, untreated hearing loss can increase the rate of cognitive decline in aging adult.
Noise-induced hearing loss is another factor to consider. Sound is likely causing hearing damage if you have to shout over noise to be heard, the sound is painful to your ears, your ears begin to ring or you feel that you have decreased or muffled hearing after exposure.
“Noise-induced hearing loss may occur from impulse sounds or sounds longer in duration, such as music or a concert,” said Natalie Cowan, AuD, clinical specialist, Community Healthcare System. “The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time you can be around it without causing damage.”
Cowan recommends wearing ear protection when near noises greater than 85 decibels. Earmuffs and earplugs are great options. However, they must be worn appropriately to work.
Protect little ears
Hearing protection is even more important for small children.
“Babies and young children have smaller ear canals; therefore, a larger sound pressure is delivered to their ears,” Cowan said. “In other words, noises are louder to babies and small children compared to adults. It is very important to ensure children have appropriate ear protection when necessary.”
Hear about latest technology
If needed, the Audiology team at Community Healthcare System provides state-of-the-art hearing aid technology.
“Hearing aids are incredible. Today’s technology goes beyond amplification to make speech and sounds audible for patients.” O'Halloran said. “Hearing aids change automatically with each environment. This allows you to engage effortlessly in conversation even in the most difficult listening situations.”
Hearing aids provide comfort and clarity, especially in noisy environments. They also offer Bluetooth connectivity, which makes it easy to stay connected with the world around you. Hearing aids allow audio streaming of your phone calls, music and favorite shows.
Smartphones now are able to be your remote control, allowing you to adjust your volume or settings via an intuitive app. You are able to make adjustments simply and discreetly from your iPhone or Android without touching your hearing aids. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to locate your lost hearing aids.
Hearing aids have the option of using rechargeable batteries to keep you listening with no interruption and no battery replacement. Hearing aids even come with portable charging cases for on-the-go users.
Hearing aids also have the option of including tinnitus-masking features. This is sound therapy built into the devices.
“The assessment and treatment of tinnitus needs to be specialized for each patient as tinnitus can range from being mildly bothersome to debilitating,” O'Halloran said. “Key components to treatment may include education, counseling with a focus on relaxation and stress management, lifestyle changes, amplification, and sound therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy may also be recommended.”
If a person is not ready to use hearing aids, many amplifying and listening devices still provide benefits to improve hearing in difficult listening environments. These devices all have different capabilities and outcomes, so choosing a provider is important.
At Community Healthcare System, your health is important to us. If you have symptoms of hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or vestibular dysfunction, talk with your healthcare provider and get treatment before it negatively affects your quality of life.
Need a screening?
Community Healthcare System Audiology Services offers six clinic locations across Northwest Indiana. For more information, visit COMHS.org/services/audiology or call to schedule an appointment, 219-703-2460.