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.

Ireland’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing ‘Heroes’ Honoured at National Awards

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Legendary singer Daniel O’Donnell presented the 2013 Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards Ireland’s annual awards to highlight the achievements and accomplishments of those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

An all-Ireland joint initiative between Hidden Hearing and the Irish Deaf Society, the Awards honour those who are Deaf or hard of hearing and have made a significant contribution to Irish society, their community, workplace, family or through sporting excellence.

Members of the public nominated their ‘hero’ who they felt deserved to be recognised for an award. The winners included Maura Buckley, the first Deaf woman to become a qualified teacher (teaching for 32 years) and the first Deaf vice principal at St. Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, and Deaflympian footballer Stuart Foy, the most capped Deaf football player in Irish history.

CMC0906-10Congratulating the winners, Daniel O’Donnell said: “I would like to congratulate each of our six award winners here today as they are true examples of real heroes in Irish society. Each person has shown great determination to reach their goals and they have proven that all obstacles can be overcome.  Their achievements and successes deserve to be honoured and brought to the attention of the Irish public.”

Applauding the winners, Stephen Leddy, Managing Director, Hidden Hearing said: The ‘Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards’ is the only awards initiative to focus on the achievements of the Deaf and hard of hearing community in Ireland.  The judging panel had some extremely tough decisions to make this year, with some really high calibre nominees. All of the winners demonstrated that being Deaf or hard of hearing does not have to hold you back in life.”

Discussing the Awards, Kevin Mulqueen, Chairperson of the Irish Deaf Society said: “Over the last three years the Heroes Awards has proven an excellent platform for creating awareness about the Deaf and hard of hearing community in Ireland and of its role in Irish society.  We are delighted to be partnering with Hidden Hearing in celebrating the success and triumphs of those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.”

If you’re worried about you or your hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

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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.

 

Reality TV show Big Brother’s first deaf winner celebrates victory

Sam Evans was crowned the champion of Channel 5’s reality TV show Big Brother last night, and celebrated becoming the first winner who has hearing loss.

SamEvansBigBrother2013_largeA UK hearing loss charity has called for the victory to emphasise to businesses and organisations their duty to ensure that they meet the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

 

The production company behind the 10 week television show, Endemol, has described the modifications and changes created through their work with charity Action on Hearing Loss which ensured Sam Evans had a true experience of being a Big Brother housemate.

 

Katherine Hancock, Action on Hearing Loss senior access consultant said: ‘’We worked together with Endemol prior to Sam entering the Big Brother House to ensure that all his access and communication needs were considered and met.

“Changes were then made to the Big Brother House to ensure that Sam had the same equality of access as other housemates, with Endemol taking on our recommendations to ensure that Sam had the same chance of winning.

“We were in constant communication during the course of the show, discussing products and assistive technologies that could benefit Sam and people with hearing loss, while also helping the production company to be accessible to its staff and customers with a hearing loss on a long term basis. We urge organisations to take Endemol’s lead.”

A spokesman from Endemol said: “Sam has been a brilliant housemate and is a deserving winner. Working with the team at Action for Hearing Loss has been a good experience and was invaluable in allowing us to make sure Sam had everything he needed during the his time in the Big Brother House.”

After making Big Brother staff and contestants deaf aware, Action on Hearing Loss is now urging more organisations to mark their commitment to hearing loss by signing up to their Louder than Words charter.

The best practice charter aims to help and celebrate organisations who are striving to offer excellent levels of service and accessibility for customers of employees who are deaf or hard of hearing.

If you’re worried about you or your hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

For more information visit: http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/

 

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2

How your mobile phone can cause acne, saggy jaw and hearing problems

Unknown-1Most people admit that they cannot go a day without their mobile phone but now a new study has found that your daily companion could be causing harm to your body.

From ruining your eyes, causing spots and damaging your hearing, the dailymail.co.uk contacted several professionals to investigate the effects that our favourite gadgets have on our bodies.

Damage to eyesight

Dr. Allon Barsam, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Luton & Dunstable University Hospital told the website that focusing on your phone screen for hours could lead near-sightedness in the future.

‘Presbyopia, or the inability to focus on close objects, usually develops in your mid-to-late-40s, which is why everyone after a certain age needs reading glasses,’ Barsam said.

‘People only notice this when they can’t read a newspaper, but we tend to hold phones far closer to our eyes than papers — around 10in away as opposed to 16in — so it’s becoming a problem sooner.’

Jawline

The way you hold your phone could also change the definition of your jawline. ‘I’ve seen an increase in the number of women in their 30s concerned about weakness in the lower third of their face,’ cosmetic dermatologist, Dr Sam Bunting was quoted saying.

‘As we age, our skin’s elasticity decreases and it’s feasible that bending our neck forward for hours on end to look at smartphones and tablets may mean there is more of a downwards tug on the delicate skin.’

To avoid this, Bunting advised holding your phone or tablet straight out in front of you, rather than below chest level.

Acne

According to a recent study, our cellphones have more germs on them than the flush handle in a men’s toilet. The constant pressure and contact of the cell phone along with the bacteria found on the surface of phones can aggravate the skin, and add to acne breakouts.

So be sure to keep your phone a good wipe, now and again.

Damaging your hearing

‘Playing music through headphones too loud can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which can make it difficult to hear speech, especially when there’s background noise,’  Dolores Madden from Hidden Hearing commented.

Solution: Always keep sound levels as low as you can and don’t listen for too long.

If you’re worried about you or your hearing contact your local Hidden Hearing branch.  Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide. To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit http://www.hiddenhearing.ie.

We have a handy information booklet on how we hear if you are interested apply below and we will send you a FREE copy.howdowehear2