New study findings: Hearing impairment ‘shrinks brain faster’

BrainWe know that as we age our brain becomes smaller but the results of a recent study from the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland now suggests that older adults who suffer from hearing loss are more likely to experience a higher level of brain shrinkage at a faster rate.

For the study, Dr. Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues analyzed 126 participants aged between 56 and 86 years for up to a 10-year period. The study participants underwent yearly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for their brain changes to be tracked plus physical examinations, including hearing tests. At this point, 71 participants had normal hearing, while 51 had impaired hearing with a minimum loss of 25 decibels. The participants with impaired hearing also lost at least an extra cubic centimeter more of brain tissue every year, compared with those who had normal hearing.

Address hearing loss ‘sooner rather than later’

Dr.Lin says it is not surprising that these particular brain structures were affected. He explains that because people with hearing loss tend to use speech and sound less, brain structures linked to these processes are more likely to shrink due to lack of stimulation.

He also says their findings emphasize the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible, adding: “Our results suggest that hearing loss could be another ‘hit’ on the brain in many ways.If you want to address hearing loss well, you want to do it sooner rather than later. If hearing loss is potentially contributing to these differences we’re seeing on MRI, you want to treat it before these brain structural changes take place.” Dr. Lin and his colleagues say they plan to eventually examine whether treating hearing loss early can reduce the risk of associated health problems.

You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 882884 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

 

Movember at Hidden Hearing Ireland

Stone&MoustacheHidden Hearing, Ireland’s premiere hearing healthcare company is delighted to take part in this year’s annual “Movember” campaign.

Movember, in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society, is funding ground-breaking and innovative programmes in Ireland that will see country-wide collaboration of the best minds in prostate cancer to accelerate breakthroughs in cancer research.

Every November, “Movember” is responsible for the sprouting of hundreds of moustaches around Ireland. This collective growth of facial hair raises awareness about male-specific cancers and health issues, in the aim of reducing preventable death, increasing early detection and removing the stigma that surround men’s health issues.

Hidden Hearing's first Movember volunteer!

Hidden Hearing’s first Movember volunteer!

Next month, Hidden Hearing’s male volunteers (from the senior management, administration to audiology teams) will publicly “Grow a Mo” for this very worthy cause in effort to raise funds for the Movember Foundation.

Hearing problems, like so many other health issues is often ignored, stigmatized and considered difficult to talk about. Hearing loss can be brought about by certain types of cancer and by chemo and radio-therapy treatment so cancer prevention and early detection is crucial to all aspects healthcare.

Movember focuses awareness and education on men’s health issues – so join our “Mo Bro’s” to highlight and de-stigmatize men’s physical and mental health issues and donate to this good cause.

Subscribe to our Hidden Hearing blog, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on Hidden Hearing’s Movember volunteers and for information on how and where to donate.

 

 

Farmers urged to protect hearing from farm noise

100_3869An estimated one-third  farmers have some level of hearing loss caused by their inner ears’ daily bombardment from sounds that can rival a rock concert’s impact. Even farmers still in their 20s can end up with the muffled hearing of someone in middle age if they fail to protect their hearing.

“You just can’t get away from the machinery. We’re driving tractors and they’re  loud,” said Tom  a 55-year-old dairy farmer with partial hearing loss he attributes to farm noises he was exposed to in his youth.

Design changes in farm machinery, such as tractors, has made some equipment run quieter, but many still use older, noisier models. And livestock — such as pigs and chickens — still produce the same cacophony of noises; a squealing pig, for example, can be as loud as a running chainsaw.

“That was just normal when you were a kid. That was just life,” he said. He is certain now those noises are the cause of his partial hearing loss.

“Sometimes you’ll get a piece of equipment that’s louder than it ought to be. It’s a blast compared to what most people are used to,” he said. “When it’s loud we either stay a little farther away, or add to our hearing protection.”

Manufacturers have started making quieter tractors and machinery. Tractors makers, have added sound-dampening panels to the roofs of their tractor cabs and incorporated sound-absorbing laminated glass and other features.

Dolores Madden a spokesperson for Hidden Hearing said repeated exposure to noises in excess of 85 decibels — comparable to the sound of heavy traffic — damages tiny nerve endings called hair cells inside the cochlea, the inner ear’s pea-sized hearing organ. “This is all cumulative, not just one day, but the next day adds more, the day after that adds even more. And farm activities tend to be repetitive.  Younger farmers, the ones who were going to take over the farm, realise how significant a hearing loss they could face by working without ear protections.”

If you are interested in noise protection or have any questions about hearing contact Hidden Hearing 1800 370 000 or apply for a FREE information pack.

Consider Hearing Aid Grant Before Possible Budget Cuts

BudgetAs the 2014 Government Budget fast approaches, audiologists from Hidden Hearing are urging the hard of hearing to avail of the generous Government grants available for digital hearing aids while they still can.  Keith Ross, audiologist with Hidden Hearing, believes that the social welfare grant system may be affected in the October given the anticipated budget cuts to the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

The Treatment Benefit Scheme is currently available to all insured workers and retired people who have the required number of PRSI Contributions.  The grant subsidises 50% of the purchase price of a hearing aid up to a maximum of €1,000, and is available to both non-medical card and medical card holders when obtaining a hearing aid privately.

Audiologist Keith Ross advises, “The Government grant has afforded thousands of people across the country the opportunity to benefit from digital hearing aid technology that may otherwise have been out of their reach.  The Budget will be announced in mid-October and I would urge anyone who may be experiencing problems with their hearing not to delay and make an appointment in their local Hidden Hearing clinic to learn more about the grant while it is still available.”

To get more information about the government grant and how you can benefit apply for our information pack:  Click Here

In order to simplify the process, Hidden Hearing can complete all the necessary application forms and process the grant on behalf of its customers.  In addition to this grant, Hidden Hearing is currently offering a limited number of free sample aids so as to allow people the opportunity to experience the life changing benefits of digital hearing aid technology.  To claim a free working hearing aid sample Freephone 1800 370 000 or Click Here.

When Shingles Leads to Hearing Loss

Hearing-LossShingles is a nervous system disease caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox; it is not a rash or skin infection. The virus can lie dormant in the body’s nerve cells for years in those who’ve had chickenpox; when it reactivates, it spreads down the nerves into the skin.

Hearing loss most often accompanies shingles when the rash forms on the head and face around the ear. About one-third of people who have the shingles rash and blisters near an ear will have a hearing problem due to the infection.  The hearing loss can be temporary, permanent, or even result in deafness.  Typically only one ear is affected.

The two most common conditions that connect hearing loss and shingles are:

 

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt syndrome occurs when a shingles infection affects the facial nerve near one of your ears.

Symptoms of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

  • Painful rash on the eardrum, ear canal, earlobe, tongue, roof of the mouth (palate) on the same side as weakness of the face
  • Hearing loss on one side
  • Sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning (vertigo)
  • Weakness on one side of the face
  • Paralysis of one side of the face

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear.  The inner ear houses the organs of balance and hearing.  Shingles can cause labyrinthitis either through direct viral infection or by subsequent bacterial infection that occurs as the blisters begin to heal.

Symptoms of Shingles-Related Hearing Loss

  • Decreased hearing or deafness
  • Intense and severe ear pain
  • Tinnitus (ringing or other strange noises in your ear)
  • Sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning (vertigo)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

You are more likely to have fewer long-term side effects from shingles if you begin receiving treatment within a few days of your first symptoms. About 70 percent of those with shingles make a full recovery if they’re treated early.

If you delay getting to the doctor, your chances of not suffering any long term side effects falls to about 50 percent. In some cases, the hearing loss will be permanent due to damage to the nerves or to the structures of the inner ear.  If you are experiencing symptoms associated with shingles don’t wait to seek medical attention.

 

 

With over 25 years’ experience in hearing healthcare, Hidden Hearing is committed to providing the most professional hearing healthcare service to its customers. Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

 

Summer can be harmful to hearing

the_week_in_pictures_18-slide-27With summer in full swing, many people across the country are enjoying the warmer weather.  Summer conjures up images of long sunny evenings, splashing around at the beach and music festivals.  It can however, be one of the noisiest seasons and many summertime activities can pose a threat to your hearing health.  Here at Hidden Hearing we’ve put together some top hearing health tips to protect your ears during the sunny season:

 

Weed out bad habits in the garden

Gardening is a big activity at this time of year and power tools are one of the most prevalent devices.  They’re also hazardous to hearing health.  Lawn mowers have a sound of above 90 decibels whereas a power saw can produce a sound exceeding 110 decibels.  Whatever power tools you are using be sure to wear proper ear protection when using them.

 

Music Matters

Summer music festivals and concert tours swing into action as the weather heats up.  That means sweet sounds but also stress of the ears.  Take precautions before you head to the venue.  These include carrying earplugs and noise-dampening headphones, as well as avoiding standing next to the loud speakers at the side of the stage.

 

The plane truth

Up to one in three airline passengers suffers throbbing pain in the middle ear, a dullness of hearing, or a feeling of ‘fullness’ in the ear canal on takeoff or landing. Most ear pain when flying results from changes in cabin pressure.   For a comfortable trip suck on a sweet, yawn to keep your Eustachian tube open, stay hydrated and avoid falling asleep.

 

Don’t let swimmer’s ear dampen your summer fun

Swimmer’s ear is a common but painful summertime ailment.  Before taking the plunge remember these simple steps: wear a swimming hat to cover your ears and make sure ear canals are clear of water after swimming, bathing and showering by drying your ears with a towel or tilting your head to each side to allow water to escape.

 

Be proactive about hearing health

Avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide.  You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide.  Freephone 1800 370 000 or www.hiddenhearing.ie

 

 

Keeping those tag rugby injuries at bay

tag_rugby_2012_week_8_0044_okKeeping those tag rugby injuries at bay

By Alison Quinn

I’m thinking of taking up tag rugby as a fun way to keep fit and also meet people. But I’m a little worried about picking up injuries. I’m never really played team sports before. Any advice?
Susan

 

Tag rugby is now one of the biggest participation sports in Ireland and with mixed teams and a social element also attached; it has become very popular with both men and women, young and old, regardless of their interest in rugby.

For the uninitiated, tag Rugby is a non-contact sports with players wearing velcro shorts, to which are attached two ‘tags’, when one of these is pulled off you have been tackled and have to stop!

Great fun and great exercise.

However, despite being a non-contact sport tag rugby, like any sport, is not without injury-risk for the players. Certainly injuries of the shoulder, neck and back would be less common than in contact sports but that is not to say that injuries do not occur.

With a lot of running and quick changes of movement comes the risk of twisted ankles, twisted knees and muscle strains. The ‘tag’ element of the game, which replaces the contact of full rugby, ironically introduces its own specific range of hand and finger injuries. The range of injuries is quite broad with regard to tag rugby and this is the same for all sports involving running with a lot of twisting and turning.

Tag rugby includes quick starts and stops so there is always a risk of straining muscles particularly the hamstrings. The hamstring acts as a brake when slowing down from a fast run. This type of injury may occur suddenly and be felt as a sharp pain in the back of the thigh usually requiring the player to come off the field. Alternatively it may occur over a period of time from fatigue. In this case the player may be able to play on but they notice that their speed isn’t what it used to be.

Players can also experience cramping in their calf muscles which can be a result of a number of factors; from a lack of proper hydration to simply inflexible calf muscles.

Injuries that are specific to tag rugby include wrist and finger injuries. If the ‘tag’ is not pulled firmly there is a danger of one of the fingers, usually the little finger, catching against the clothing of the opposition and causing a sprain or even a fracture. If the ‘tag’ is missed, a player can fall on an outstretched hand which can result in a wrist sprain or fracture.

As with all sports, some injuries are due to bad luck and cannot be avoided but there are some handy tips to keep your injuries to a minimum during your season.

Most players have been sitting at a desk before they play their match, so ensure you warm up before play to increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare the body for activity.

Muscle strains and joint sprains can occur when the body has cooled down and then has to increase activity quickly. Jog a few laps of the pitch before the game and very importantly before the next round of matches. Injury can occur when there is a bit of fatigue from a previous game coupled with a cool-down period. A warm-up as described above is generally better before exercise than a stretching regime.

Stretch at the end of your tag rugby evening to improve the range of motion in the joints and muscles. The type of stretches needed depends on what muscles tend to be tight and varies from person to person. You should only stretch until you feel a slight pull in the muscle. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat one to three times.

As for grabbing hold of those elusive ‘tags’, try to take a firm grip of the ‘tag’ in order to minimise getting some of your fingers caught in the opposition’s clothing.

Finally, if you are going into a tag rugby season with an old injury that has not resolved or you are aware of a recurring weakness, it is worth getting the area assessed by a chartered physiotherapist who will guide you through appropriate rehabilitation in order that you get the most out of your game.

Enjoy!

Alison Quinn is Head of Physiotherapy at the Sports Surgery Clinic

You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 882884 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.