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What Can A Hearing Test Do For Me?

If you suspect you suffer from hearing loss, you should consult with your physician and see an audiologist. An audiologist is a highly trained professional who can best evaluate your current situation, implement rehabilitation, and make appropriate referrals. The typical first step in this process is a hearing test that evaluates your ability to hear by measuring the ability of sound to reach the brain.

Your hearing test begins from the moment you contact the audiologist. Your medical background and other personal information are reviewed to discover the specific environments and social settings that highlight or exacerbate your hearing loss.

The physical and anatomical ear environment is examined using an otoscope. This device can peer inside the ear canal and identify any possible obstructions affecting hearing. Common buildup of earwax can lead to temporary hearing loss. In some cases, a video otoscope is used to allow you to view the inside of your ear!

Additional testing is performed as necessary. There are a variety of tests that can be used. Some common ones include:

Pure tone audiometry

Pure tone audiometry uses a machine called an audiometer to play a series of tones through head phones. The tones vary in pitch (frequency, measured in hertz) and loudness (intensity, measured in decibels). The volume of a tone is reduced until you can no longer hear it. Then the tone will get louder until you can hear it again. Each ear is tested separately and the results are recorded.

Tuning fork tests

This test assesses how well sound travels in the air. Hitting a tuning fork and placing it different areas of the head and ear can help an audiologist determine if there is an issue with the nerves themselves or with sound getting to the nerves.

Speech reception and word recognition tests

Speech reception and word recognition tests measure your ability to hear and understand normal conversation. Simple words are spoken with different degrees of loudness and results are measured to determine at what levels you can hear and repeat familiar two-syllable words.

Whispered speech test

This simple test asks you to cover the opening of one ear with your finger. Words are then whispered to you from a short distance behind you. You repeat the words that you hear. If you cannot hear the words at a soft whisper, the audiologist keeps saying the words more loudly until you can hear them. Each ear is tested separately.

The results of your tests are used to determine the type of loss. Some test results are recorded on a form called an audiogram. The audiogram reflects your hearing loss in frequencies and decibels. Any loss and how it affects your hearing will be fully explored and explained. The hearing test is the first step in improving your hearing. Once hearing loss is identified, then the most appropriate treatments can be developed and applied.

 

Your hearing test is designed to determine what you have been missing, but it’s the first step towards recovering those lost sounds and improving the quality of your life.

Types of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is emerging as a major health concern for adults. In Canada, more than one million adults report some level of a hearing-related disability. Experts also assert that hearing loss is typically underreported and that the number of affected individuals is likely much higher. Hearing loss can take many forms and understanding the underlying anatomy of the ear can help one best understand the path to treatment and therapy.

The ear is divided into the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear includes the auricle, the external auditory canal, and the lateral surface of the tympanic membrane (TM). The middle ear includes the medial surface of the TM, the ossicular chain, the eustachian tube, and the tympanic segment of the facial nerve. The inner ear includes the auditory-vestibular nerve, the cochlea and the vestibular system. Any problem with one part of the ear can adversely affect hearing.

Professionals often describe hearing loss as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Someone with mild hearing loss may have difficulty hearing soft speech sounds, whereas someone with moderate hearing loss will have a lot of difficulty hearing someone speak at all. Someone with severe hearing loss will hear no speech when someone is speaking at a normal volume, and will only hear loud sounds. An individual with profound hearing loss will not hear any speech whatsoever, and will likely only hear very loud sounds.

Hearing loss can be classified by the biomechanical cause of loss, referenced to the areas of the ear outlined earlier. These classifications can be summarized as follow:

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss and indicates that there is either a cochlear or an eighth nerve lesion. Common causes include advanced age; Meniere’s disease; ototoxic medications; immune disorders; and noise exposure. Additionally, trauma to the head region can also cause this type of hearing loss. Children who suffer infections, such as meningitis, are at risk of this type of hearing loss. Postmeningitic hearing loss is commonly related to damage to the cochlear as a result of the infection.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss is a permanent hearing impairment resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. Occupational exposure to repeated noise without protection is a primary cause of such loss. Other sources can be listening to music too loudly, overuse of earbuds or other listening devices, and any other prolonged exposure to damaging levels of noise.

Congenital Hearing Loss

Inherited hearing loss is also common. Current research has isolated some genetic causes of hearing loss; these advances have led to tools of early diagnosis and treatment. If the loss is minor, then avoidance of noise and ototoxic medications may be an appropriate treatment. Other approaches might include hearing aids or, if some cases, surgery.

In all cases, however, hearing loss is a serious issue. If you are experiencing hearing loss, seek out professional help. By being proactive you can get the earliest diagnosis and, by extension, treatment. The sooner the treatment, the more speedy your path to a world full of good sounds and better communication.

Coffee May Help Avert Tinnitus

For years, scientist have discovered the many benefits of coffee. A recent study has just added a new advantage to the popular morning drink: Coffee may be good for your hearing.

A research team in the Channing Division of Network Medicine in Brigham and Women’s Hospital studied 65,000 women, aged 30 to 44. They specifically selected women who did not have tinnitus, and then monitored them for 18 years. Over 5,000 cases of tinnitus were reported in the study group, throughout the course of the study. The researchers found that women who drank less than one and a half cups of coffee per day were 15% more likely to experience tinnitus than the women who drank more than that (roughly 4 to 6 cups).

The researchers’ findings was not able to prove the exact cause and effect. In order to reach that conclusion, a larger-scale study would need to be repeated. Because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it’s hypothesized that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear. Regardless, this study encouraging for those who were cautioned by doctors about extravagant caffeine consumption worsening their tinnitus.

It’s estimated that 50 million people on the U.S. suffer from tinnitus. Symptoms are described as hearing a ringing, clicking, or hissing sound within the ear. Tinnitus tends to come and go, but a doctor should be notified if it interferes with your daily routine, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

BC Tinnitus Treatment

Any feelings of buzzing, hissing, or ringing in the ear is called tinnitus. These noises can be constant or sporadic, but it is often worse when background sounds are low, such as at night when you are trying to fall asleep. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss; however, it does not cause hearing loss nor does hearing loss contribute to tinnitus. Tinnitus is commonly caused by excessive exposure to loud noises.

A Few Causes of Tinnitus

• Blockages of the ear
• Ear infections
• Consuming large amounts of alcohol or caffeinated beverages
• Dental problems
• Injuries to the inner ear following surgery
• Blood flow and nerve problems

Two Types of Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is when you hear the sounds of your muscle contractions or pulse. It’s caused by the sounds created by muscle movements in the ear; changes in the ear canal; or vascular problems in the face or neck.

Nonpulsatile tinnitus sounds as if it’s coming from your head. It’s caused by problems inside the hearing nerves.
Most of the time tinnitus comes and goes and does not require medical treatment. If your tinnitus does not get better, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, then a visit with your doctor is the best option. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are a variety of choices to help you cope with it.
 
Tinnitus has emerged as a serious health issue for millions of people. Despite its ubiquitous nature, a cure is elusive and treatment is costly. For example, in the United States, tinnitus now costs about $1.7 billion a year.

Is there a Cure?

While a cure is unavailable, the medical community uses a variety of established and emerging methods to manage the symptoms of tinnitus. In recent news, Dr. Michael D. Seidman, director of Otologic/Neurotologic at Henry Ford Hospital, just introduced two new options for tinnitus relief:

  • The first option is vagal nerve stimulation; a small device is surgically implanted under the skin near the collarbone and uses electrical impulses to send signals along the vagus nerve to the brainstem.
  • The second option uses a gel injection that may lessen the excessive signaling to the brain that occurs with tinnitus.

Other tinnitus treatments?

Tinnitus sufferers would welcome any new treatments. Up to 4 percent of tinnitus patients are so affected by their tinnitus that it significantly affects their life. Seidman’s commitment is to improving the quality of life for these sufferers. He states, “That’s why we continue to work to find new treatment options for patients with tinnitus, to provide them with relief from their tinnitus and a better quality of life.”

In related news, Dr. Seidman also co-authored a scientific paper with Susan Bowyer, Ph.D., senior bioscientific researcher at Henry Ford Hospital. Their study used an imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) to determine the site of perception of tinnitus in the brain. MEG has the potential to allow physicians to target the area with electrical or chemical therapies to lessen symptoms.

The future of tinnitus?

While the physiological cause of tinnitus is difficult to define, there are techniques to lessen the triggers for tinnitus. Additionally, the medical community now has a growing range of options to offer patients to help manage symptoms with possible new treatments on the horizon.

SourceScience Daily

British Columbia Tinnitus Treatment

Any feelings of buzzing, hissing, or ringing in ears is called tinnitus. These noises can be constant or sporadic, but it is often worse when background sounds are low, such as at night when you are trying to fall asleep. Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss; however, it does not cause hearing loss nor does hearing loss contribute to tinnitus. British Columbia Tinnitus is commonly caused by excessive exposure to loud noises.

A Few Causes of Tinnitus

• Blockages of the ear

• Ear infections

• Consuming large amounts of alcohol or caffeinated beverages

• Dental problems

• Injuries to the inner ear following surgery

• Blood flow and nerve problems

Two Types of Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is when you hear the sounds of your muscle contractions or pulse. It’s caused by the sounds created by muscle movements in the ear; changes in the ear canal; or vascular problems in the face or neck.

Nonpulsatile tinnitus sounds as if it’s coming from your head. It’s caused by problems inside the hearing nerves. Most of the time tinnitus comes and goes and does not require medical treatment. If your tinnitus does not get better, or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, then a visit with your doctor is the best option. There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are a variety of choices to help you cope with it.

Tinnitus has emerged as a serious health issue for millions of people. Despite its ubiquitous nature, a cure is elusive and treatment is costly. For example, in the United States, tinnitus now costs about $1.7 billion a year.

While a cure is unavailable, the medical community has been testing emerging methods to manage the symptoms of tinnitus. In recent news, Dr. Michael D. Seidman, director of Otologic/Neurotologic at Henry Ford Hospital, just introduced two new options for tinnitus relief:

  • The first test is vagal nerve stimulation; a small device is surgically implanted under the skin near the collarbone and uses electrical impulses to send signals along the vagus nerve to the brainstem.
  • The second test uses a gel injection that may lessen the excessive signaling to the brain that occurs with tinnitus.

Other tinnitus treatments? 

Tinnitus sufferers would welcome any new treatments. Up to 4 percent of tinnitus patients are so affected by their tinnitus that it significantly affects their life. Seidman’s commitment is to improving the quality of life for these sufferers. He states, “That’s why we continue to work to find new treatment options for patients with tinnitus, to provide them with relief from their tinnitus and a better quality of life.”

In related news, Dr. Seidman also co-authored a scientific paper with Susan Bowyer, Ph.D., senior bioscientific researcher at Henry Ford Hospital. Their study used an imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) to determine the site of perception of tinnitus in the brain. MEG has the potential to allow physicians to target the area with electrical or chemical therapies to lessen symptoms.

The future of tinnitus? 

While the physiological cause of tinnitus is difficult to define, there are techniques and new  tinnitus studies that may lessen the triggers for tinnitus. Additionally, the medical community now has a growing range of options (that are still being tested) to offer patients some kind of help to manage symptoms with possible new treatments on the horizon.

Source: Science Daily