Father’s Day: Give Dad the Gift of Hearing

Father's DayAs Father’s Day approaches (Sunday, 16th June), now is a great time to focus on the important influence that family members have on encouraging people to take action about their hearing loss.  In a survey we conducted for Hearing Awareness Week 2011, we found that half of respondents (49%) said that encouragement from family and friends influenced their decision to seek treatment.  So, before reaching for a tie, aftershave or golf jumper this weekend, how about a gift that will really strengthen the connection between you and your father – the gift of better hearing?

While it might sound unusual, there’s probably no better gift for a dad with hearing loss.   Research has shown that untreated hearing loss leads to considerable negative, social, psychological, cognitive and health effects that go beyond hearing alone.  It can also make family time far more difficult and frustrating for your father and for the whole family.

If you suspect that your dad might have hearing loss, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does he seem to have trouble hearing on the telephone?
  • Is it more difficult for him to follow conversations?
  • Does he keep turning up the TV or radio?
  • Does he sometimes miss a telephone ring or doorbell?
  • Does he seem more irritated or tired at big family gatherings?
  • Does he ask for things to be repeated or for people to stop mumbling?

If the answer to some or all of these questions is yes, why not make a free appointment with an audiologist at the local Hidden Hearing branch?  Hearing loss can be easily diagnosed and treated yet almost 30% of people suffering with hearing loss leave it more than five years to seek treatment.  Accompanying your dad to his appointment may also help make him more open to getting his hearing tested.

Hidden Hearing offers free hearing tests at its 60 branches nationwide.  To book a test Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie. We also publish a number of reference booklets if you are like the popular Body, Heart & Mind. You can apply for a copy below.

Please send me a FREE Body, Heart & Mind Booklet.

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Tips on discussing hearing loss with a loved one

hearing_lossHearing loss is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in Ireland, with 70% of sufferers leaving it more than a year to seek treatment.  While hearing loss can be an extremely sensitive topic to bring up, families and friends are an important influence on encouraging people to take action.

You may feel like you are helping by speaking loudly, repeating yourself, and interpreting conversations for your hearing impaired loved on.  In fact, by engaging in these behaviours, you are making it easier for them to deny that there is a problem at hand.

While the discussion of hearing loss can be difficult, there are ways to bring it up in a caring and understanding way.  Here are some practical tips to encourage your loved one to get the help they need:

  • Stop repeating yourself.  This may feel a little bit like tough love, but if you eliminate this step and stop saying things twice (unless asked), it forces your loved one to say, “Excuse me?”  This simple exchange makes it easier to start the conversation about a possible need for hearing aids.
  • Don’t shout.  You may not even realise that you are doing it, but if you’re going to bed with a sore throat at the end of a day spent with your family member you are enabling them to deny the problem.
  • Be informed.  If you are reading this article, you are on the right track. Looking up local audiologists and hearing aid options prior to opening the door to this discussion will make presenting the problem easier.  Nothing goes better with a problem than a list of solutions.
  • Write it down.  Having a conversation about hearing loss might just be an exercise in frustration.  Try writing down your concerns with some reasonable suggestions for how to seek help.
  • Be sensitive.  Try to imagine how socially isolating and difficult it must be for your loved one.  Many people decide to address their hearing loss based on the concerns of their family members, but being pushy or bossy at this point will most likely have an adverse effect on your loved one.
  • Be direct.  Make sure your hearing impaired family member understands that you believe communication could be easier, and less stressful.  Make sure they understand the impact their hearing loss is having on your relationship.

It may not be an easy topic to address at first, but getting your loved one to an audiologist and on the path to improved hearing can make a world of difference as untreated hearing loss can lead to further frustration and social isolation. If someone you know could benefit from a hearing test contact your local Hidden Hearing branch for a free appointment. It may also be helpful to go along with them for support. 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.

Drinking red wine protects your hearing

stock-footage-closeup-of-senior-man-drinking-red-wine-against-dark-backgroundResveratrol, a substance found in red grapes and red wine, may have the potential to protect against hearing and cognitive decline, researchers have found.

The study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit showed that healthy rats are less likely to suffer the long-term effects of noise-induced hearing loss when given resveratrol before being exposed to loud noise for a long period of time.

“Our latest study focuses on resveratrol and its effect on bioinflammation, the body’s response to injury and something that is believed to be the cause of many health problems including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, aging and hearing loss,” said study lead author Michael D Seidman, director of the Division of Otologic/Neurotologic Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.

“Resveratrol is a very powerful chemical that seems to protect against the body’s inflammatory process as it relates to aging, cognition and hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss not only impacts a person’s ability to hear, it can cause difficulties with sleep and communication, and even raises the risk for heart disease by increasing a person’s blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar.

Dr. Seidman and his colleagues have published multiple papers exploring noise-induced hearing loss, as well as the use of resveratrol, a grape constituent noted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The latest study focuses the inflammatory process as it relates to aging, cognition and hearing loss.

It was designed to identify the potential protective mechanism of resveratrol following noise exposure by measuring its effect on cyclooxygenase-2 (or COX-2, key to the inflammatory process) protein expression and formation of reactive oxygen species, which plays an important role in cell signaling and homeostasis.

The study found that acoustic overstimulation causes a time-depended, up-regulation of COX-2 protein expression. And, resveratrol significantly reduces reactive oxygen species formation, inhibits COX-2 expression and reduces noise-induced hearing loss following noise exposure in rats.

“We’ve shown that by giving animals resveratrol, we can reduce the amount of hearing and cognitive decline,” notes Dr. Seidman.

Ultimately, these findings suggest that resveratrol may exert a protective effect from noise-induced hearing loss by the inhibition of COX-2 expression and reactive oxygen species formation, although other mechanism may also be involved.

The study is published online this week ahead of print in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

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.

What is age related hearing loss?

Hearing loss can affect people from all walks of life, but seniors are at a higher risk as most hearing loss is age-related.

Our ability to hear, see and smell is based on a mechanism that allows the capture of triggers that are than translated by the brain. When the journey of these triggers is interrupted at any point sensory impairment can occur.

In the case of hearing, these triggers take the from of waves of sound and vibrations at different frequencies that travel through the air before making their way to the brain by means of the auditory nerve. Their journey takes them through three parts of the ear; the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The inner ear consists of a shell like spiral organ called the Cochlea. The Cochlea contains over 15,000 tiny haircells that are tasked with capturing sounds and converting these into nerve pulses that make their way to the brain.

As the body matures these tiny haircells dwindle or deteriorate in quality and hearing loss can occur. It is a natural process that can happen from an early age, though more common in the over 65’s. As the body is unable to regrow the tiny haircells the condition will not improve on its own.

Symptoms Of Age-Related Hearing Loss

The level of hearing loss may vary from one person to the next based on medical conditions, exposure to loud noise over the years (noise-induced hearing loss), family history and the amount and severity of degrading haircells within the Cochlea.

Symptoms can include difficulty in hearing people around you within noisy environments. Background noise may seem far too loud compared to the actual speech.

You may also notice:

●    Sounds seem less clear
●    Not being able to hear the telephone of door bell ring when others can
●    Other people may sound mumbled or slurred
●    Inability to hear high-pitched sounds such as “s” and “th”
●    Often having to ask people to repeat themselves
●    Having the television or radio turned up much higher than other family members
●    Feeling tired after participating in a conversation held within background noise

If left unmanaged, age-related hearing loss can lead to:

  • Social exclusion and reduced interaction with others
  • Feelings of anxiety and worry
  • Depression and adjustment disorder
  • Feelings of shame, humiliation, and inadequacy
  • Loss of confidence
  • Reduced quality of life

Hearing loss should not be left unmanaged and there is no reason to just ‘live with it’. Solutions are based around means to manage the condition so are seen as management solutions rather than as a ‘cure’.

Managing Age-Related Hearing Loss

As with any medical condition, your first point of call is to seek medical diagnosis from a health provider. In this case it will take the shape of a hearing test. The test will normally take the shape of pure tone based test and may include a speech-in-noise check that uses different types of background noise. A hearing test is available to book from your local hearing center and from your family doctor (in its basic form). Once the precise cause and level of hearing loss is determined you will be offered a number of options that work on the principal of managing the condition using modern digital means.

If you have any questions about hearing loss or anything to do with hearing contact Hidden Hearing.