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What is Ear Infection Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by a number of different factors including aging, injury, noise exposure, infection and heredity. Those factors affect the auditory nerve, causing a sensorineural hearing loss, the most common type of hearing loss. But did you know an ear infection can also cause hearing loss? Hearing loss caused by an ear infection is referred to as a conductive hearing loss. Infection in the middle ear can cause fluid to build up, obstructing the movement of the eardrum and the tiny bones attached to it.

Ear infection hearing loss is a type of conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss affects the outer or middle ear rather than the auditory nerve, the way sensorineural hearing loss does. Conductive hearing loss is commonly caused by an obstruction in the middle ear. The middle ear moves to send sounds to your auditory nerve. Any obstruction can prevent sounds from passing through the middle ear and cause hearing loss. A buildup of wax, fluid in the middle ear, or a hole in the ear drum can each cause conductive hearing loss.

“Otitis media” is the medical term for an ear infection affecting the middle ear. The infection can cause a buildup of fluid, making it difficult for the eardrum and the ossicular chain to work together to move sounds to the auditory nerve. The ossicular chain in the middle ear is made up of the three smallest bones in your body. Called the malleus, incus and stapes, each one is as small as a single grain of rice.

Ear infection hearing loss is often temporary

Hearing loss caused by an ear infection is usually temporary and subsides after treatment. Your physician may choose to treat your ear infection with antibiotics. If the antibiotics successfully treat the infection, your hearing should return to normal. If you have a history of recurrent ear infections, your physician may insert a tube in your ear drum to help the fluid drain.

Eliminating the buildup of fluid relieves the pain and pressure that often accompanies an ear infection and can prevent the eardrum from rupturing. If fluid builds up without resolution, the pressure can cause your eardrum to rupture.

A history of recurrent ear infections can also lead to tympanosclerosis, which is the thickening or scarring of the tympanic membrane. A perforated eardrum and tympanosclerosis adversely affect the mobility of the eardrum and reduce hearing acuity. If your hearing does not return to normal following treatment, your physician and hearing professional may recommend hearing aids to treat the unresolved hearing loss.

What to do if you think you have hearing loss

If you have trouble hearing, it is important to have your hearing tested by a hearing professional, so the degree and type of hearing loss can be identified. Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers will identify the type of hearing loss you have and discuss the best treatment option with you following your hearing evaluation. Click here to contact us today!


15 Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss

Unlike vision, which people typically treat as soon as it starts failing them, treating hearing loss gets pushed off — some studies suggest up to a dozen years or so.

We get it. You can’t do basic things like drive and read when your vision is compromised. Whereas with hearing impairment, it’s more gradual, can feel less detrimental, and is definitely easier to compensate for, either by turning up the volume on things, asking people to repeat themselves, or just avoiding situations where hearing is a challenge.

But years of research studies and anecdotal data confirm that untreated hearing loss is linked to numerous physical, mental and other negative quality-of-life issues — but that treating hearing loss can help minimize or eliminate these potential consequences. It’s the question everyone with hearing loss eventually asks: is letting it go untreated worth it? We don’t think so! Contact us today to set up a hearing evaluation. We can’t wait to hear from you!


Some Medications Can Cause Hearing Loss!

Numerous prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to be ototoxic, which means “poisonous to the ears.” Ototoxic drugs can cause vestibular dysfunction or damage the inner ear, which can result in hearing loss or tinnitus.

Ototoxic effects can be temporary and go away once a medication is stopped. But some effects can be long-term or even permanent.

Which types of medications are ototoxic?

Thorough scientific studies are need to determine a medication’s ototoxic capabilities. This makes it difficult to compile a complete list, especially as new ones come to market. That said, the list of known ototoxic medications includes:

  • Aspirin
  • Quinine
  • Loop diuretics (or “water pills”)
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Some anti-cancer drugs
  • Some anesthetics


Hearing screenings are a good idea

Before receiving treatment for any condition that involves known or suspected ototoxic medications (ask your doctor when any new medication is prescribed) it’s recommended you get a hearing screening with a hearing professional. Contact us today to set up an appointment!

Our hearing care providers can use this pre-treatment hearing screening as a baseline to measure against over the course of your treatment. Then, regular hearing tests throughout treatment can help detect any changes to your hearing, which should be shared with the physician treating your condition.

Please note that it’s important you don’t stop any prescribed medications without first consulting your physician.


No wires, no boundaries.

Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers is thrilled to be able to offer the world’s first custom-made wireless hearable, The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey Hearing Technologies, to its customers.

On Tuesday, Chicagoland Hearing partnered with Starkey Hearing Technologies and the Bragi team to unveil The Dash Pro. Powered by Starkey Hearing Technologies, the product release brought together technology pioneers from around the world, all eager to see the newest innovation in wearable technology.

The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey isn’t just a set of headphones, but a truly wireless ear computer!

The Dash Pro allows you to listen to music, podcasts and more via seamless streaming Bluetooth audio. You can leave your phone at home and store up to 1,000 songs or podcasts on 4GB of internal storage. The Dash Pro enables you to make or receive phone calls, and has up to five hours of battery life and 30 hours on-the-go.

Another key feature is that you can go hands-free with the 4-D menu and access core features with just head gestures and audio commands. You can even enjoy a swim, run or bike ride with auto activity tracking. The device will recognize the activity and adjust measurements like heart rate, RPM’s and distance accordingly.

Additionally, it allows you to hear what you want to hear with audio transparency that lets you block out sound, or let it all in. The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey is now compatible with iTranslate, allowing you to carry on conversations in multiple languages.

Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers is excited to be at the forefront of this innovation.

We look forward to fitting you for this state-of-the-art custom-made wireless hearable. Please contact our offices at (847) 213-9424 to set up your custom fitting today or to learn more about The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey.

We are very excited about this new technology and we know you will be too! Can’t wait to hear from you!

 


Hearing Aids May Improve Balance

A study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that enhancing hearing improved the balance of older adults with hearing loss. In the study, subjects who wore hearing aids performed better on balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on vs. when they were off.

The study’s author attributed the results to more than just improved alertness. Professor of otolaryngology, Timothy Hullar, MD, posited that, just as we use our sight to tell where we are in space (and sway more when it’s dark or our eyes are closed), we use sound as “auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance.” When that is compromised, balance can suffer.

Coming shortly after a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study linking hearing loss to a three-fold risk of falling, the results suggest that treating hearing loss with hearing aids can help reduce the risk of falls in older people.

Help prevent one of the leading causes of injuries for older Americans by treating your hearing loss. Contact us Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers to schedule your first hearing exam today!


11 Reasons You Should Go Get a Hearing Test

Hearing loss happens. It’s the third most common health problem in the U.S., according to WebMD. Hearing loss is also very treatable – even more so when detected early. If you suspect you have hearing loss, why not find out for sure?

  1. It’s free, painless and takes less than an hour.
  2. Hearing loss has been known to foreshadow cardiovascular events.
  3. When it comes back negative for hearing loss, you can tell your friends to get off your back.
  4. The Mayo Clinic recommends every adult get a baseline hearing test.
  5. Untreated hearing loss is known to contribute to dementia.
  6. People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to fall.
  7. Most hearing clinics serve free cookies and coffee.
  8. Treating hearing loss by wearing hearing aids is proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  9. Untreated hearing loss is known to contribute to depression and social isolation.
  10. Hearing loss treatment has been shown to improve earning power.
  11. Because you’re proactive about your health and care about your quality of life.

Think you may have hearing loss? Find out for sure by scheduling a hearing test with us today. You’ve got nothing to lose and your quality of life to gain.


Wireless Hearing Aids and SurfLink Accessories Let You Live Life the Way You Want

Our newest wireless hearing aids — A4 and Invisibel [Synergy] — are our most advanced hearing aids ever. Thanks to an all-new operating system and updated technology, they’re designed to make music sound more natural than ever, and speech sound crisp and clear no matter how crowded or how loud the environment that you’re in is.

But to really enjoy all the benefits of our wireless hearing aids, be sure to pair them to one, or all, of our SurfLink accessories.

SurfLink accessories are small and compact. Designed to fit in your pocket or plug into your TV, they provide everything you need to enjoy TV, music, media, and more when paired to your A4 or Invisibel [Synergy] hearing aids.

Here are some of the cool things you can do with our SurfLink accessories:

1. Enjoy ear-to-ear phone streaming: Your hearing aids become the phone microphone and receiver when used with SurfLink Mobile 2. So once you answer the call, go ahead and talk to your spouse while lifting weights — you don’t need your hands after all.

2. Watch your favorite show in surround sound: Missed out on the epic season six of Game of Thrones? No worries. Watch new episodes and old with SurfLink Media 2. It plugs into your TV or stereo and streams the audio directly to both your hearing aids so you can hear every sword fight, sound effect and line of dialogue as if you are wearing headphones.

3. Listen to the football game while your wife naps on the couch next to you: Because SurfLink Media 2 streams TV audio directly to your hearing aids, you can decide the volume you want to listen to whatever you’re watching — while actually muting the sound for the rest of the room, or at least playing it at a volume they find comfortable.

4. Let everyone choose their own settings: Have more than one person with wireless hearing aids? No problem! Multiple people can connect to a single SurfLink Media 2 device at the same time and choose the volume they each prefer!

5. Quickly, easily change volume and hearing aid memories without touching your ears: The SurfLink Remote fits in the palm of your hand and lets you change memories, adjust volume and more without lifting a finger to your devices.

6. Nail that dream job interview: You can use SurfLink Mobile 2 as a lightweight, discreet microphone that can be worn by your conversation partner to help one-on- one conversations be the best they can be.

Call us today to learn more about the Surflink and to schedule a FREE hearing evaluation today!

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com.


How to Properly Clean Your Ears

Q: What do your ears and your oven have in common?

A: They are both self cleaning

It’s true! Your ears can clean themselves with the help of cerumen. Cerumen, the medical term for earwax, forms in the outer one-third of your ear canal, naturally migrating out of your ear with jaw movements, such as talking or chewing, to naturally clean your ears. Earwax is also thought to have protective, antibacterial and lubricant properties. Wax protects the ear by keeping debris away from the eardrum. Inserting ear cleaning or wax-removal tools can potentially push the wax further down the canal, thereby causing harm to the wall of your ear canal or eardrum. Removing ear wax can also make your ear canal feel dry and itchy because of the natural lubrication it provides.

Is it ever okay to clean your ears?

Despite the wide array of removal tools sold over the counter, the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) believes that under ideal circumstances your ears will never need to be cleaned: “Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that earwax should be routinely removed for personal hygiene. This is not so. In fact, attempting to remove ear wax with cotton-tipped swabs, bobby pins, or other probing devices can result in damage to the ear including trauma, impaction of the earwax, and changes in hearing. These objects only push wax in deeper, and can block the ear canal entirely.”

How to help avoid earwax build up:

If your ears tend to produce a great deal of earwax, you can help prevent build up and impaction by using a softening agent once a week. Drops like Debrox and Murine are sold over the counter and can soften wax by allowing it to come out on its own more easily. If you feel most comfortable leaving removal to the professionals, you can schedule wax removal every 6 to 12 months with your doctor or hearing professional.

NOTE: If you have tubes in your ears, a hole in your ear, diabetes, or a weakened immune system you should contact your physician before attempting to remove wax on your own.

Signs of an impaction (earwax buildup):

An excess build-up of earwax can lead to impaction and other unpleasant symptoms including pain, infection, decrease in hearing, itching and more.

– If you notice pain, fullness, or a plugged sensation in your ear you should see a professional to rule out wax impaction.

– If wax blocks your ear canal you may notice a decrease in hearing, ringing, itching, odor, or an increase in coughing.

A professional trained in earwax extraction can use suction, a curette, microscope or irrigation for removal. Manual removal may be used if the ear canal is narrow, the eardrum has a hole in it, or there is a tube in the ear drum. Individuals with diabetes or weakened immune systems should be especially careful about wax removal.

Hearing aids and earwax

Earwax can wreak havoc on hearing aids. Some hearing aid wearers report an increase in earwax production when they begin wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids can stimulate the glands in the ear canal to produce more wax and block the normal migration of wax from the ear canal. More importantly, earwax can clog a hearing aid’s microphones and receivers, impairing quality and performance. This is why cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids is so important. Your hearing care professional will demonstrate how to properly clean and maintain your hearing aids.

Call us today to set up an appointment!

Sources:

This Will Make You Never, Ever Want to Clean Your Ears Again: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/dont-clean- ear-qtip_n_5600401.html

Ear Wax and Care: http://www.entnet.org/content/earwax-and- care

The truth about cleaning your ears with cotton swabs: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/01/29/truth-about- cleaning-your- ears-with- cotton-swabs.html

You’ll Never Clean the Inside of Your Ears Again After Reading This: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/27/ear-cleaning.aspx#!

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com by Dr. Beth McCormick.


What is Holding You Back?

Hearing loss is common in older age. It affects one in three people ages 65 or older, and two out of three people ages 75 or older. The condition leaves people struggling to keep up with conversations or simply hear the phone or TV, which can lead to serious problems. “Hearing loss can make a person less likely to engage with friends and family, which can be associated with depression,” says Dr. David Jung, an otologist (ear specialist) with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Common excuses

People put off getting their hearing checked for a variety of reasons. Understanding the realities of your concerns will help you make a better decision about whether you should seek help. Among the most common excuses:

“My hearing isn’t that bad.” You might feel it’s not your hearing that’s to blame for missing conversations, and that other people are aren’t speaking clearly. “That’s a very common complaint. The husband says he’s fine, and the wife says he can’t hear her,” says Dr. Jung. Another clue: your partner complains you keep the TV volume too loud.

“I don’t want a hearing aid.” Getting your hearing checked doesn’t mean you’ll need a hearing aid. An underlying condition may be causing hearing loss, such as fluid in the ear from a cold, or earwax buildup, or—in rare cases—a tumor. “Sometimes people have had hearing loss for months, and it’s just wax buildup. You clean it out and they’re fine,” says Dr. Jung.

“Hearing aids don’t work.” Hearing aids amplify sound, but they don’t make the sound clearer. “People tell me they have friends who didn’t have luck with a hearing aid, but maybe the friend had trouble understanding words, not detecting sounds. We can test for that,” says Dr. Jung.

“Hearing aids are ugly and make you look old.” Today’s hearing aids are smaller than the ones worn by your parents, and they are available in many different styles, such as in-the-ear and over-the-ear. “They’re a lot less noticeable than they used to be,” says Dr. Jung.

What you should do

It’s easy to overlook evidence that you have hearing loss. The symptoms can be subtle. Perhaps people around you always seem to be mumbling. Perhaps you have a hard time carrying on a conversation in a noisy environment.

If you recognize these symptoms, talk to your primary care doctor. He or she may order a hearing test directly or refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist).

A visit will likely involve an ear exam, an evaluation of your medical history and how it may be affecting your hearing, and a hearing test by an audiologist. Your team will determine if a hearing aid will help you.

If you can hear the sound of a voice well but have trouble distinguishing the words being spoken, first try some simple tricks. Stand closer to people when they talk. Talk in well-lighted areas so you can see the face of the person you’re talking with. Sit closer to a stage if you’re at a performance.

Call us today with questions about your hearing health!


The Gift of Hearing

What?!!?

Can you repeat that please? This question gets a better response by the way.

Hearing is something we all tend to take for granted. And the longer you live, the more likely you will develop hearing loss. It’s a fact of nature.

Many people don’t seek treatment for several reasons. They don’t realize they have hearing loss, they don’t want to wear hearing aids, or they don’t have the money to buy a hearing device.

If left untreated, hearing loss is linked to health issues such as depression, dementia, and chronic stress. You are also at higher risk for falling. The World Health Organization (WHO) had identified hearing loss as one of the world’s major health problems.

My hearing loss only affects my left side and it’s because of a primary brain tumor … an acoustic neuroma (also known as a vestibular schwanomma). This is a thankfully benign, yet rare, slow-growing tumor that is between the acoustic (hearing) nerve, facial nerve, and balance (vestibular) nerve.

Without going into all the details, the tumor was found because we (me and the doctors) were looking for something else in 2009. This was a shocker.

Cyberknife treatment was decided on after a lot of research and soul searching. The treatment is stereotactic targeted radiation. This route minimized my hearing loss and no facial paralysis. The side affects lasted about a year. But was all worth it because the tumor shrunk and is basically “dead.”

Over the past 18 months, I noticed my hearing was diminishing and seemed to be yelling at everybody to repeat themselves. My frustration built up because I couldn’t communicate “normally.” I didn’t want to go out in public much to minimize the annoyance. This is not like me.

Typical Symptoms of Hearing Loss:

  • Difficulty understanding everyday conversation. Check.
  • A feeling of being able to hear but not understand. Check.
  • Having to turn up the TV or radio. Check.
  • Asking others to repeat often. Check.
  • Avoidance of social situations that were once enjoyable. Check.
  • Increased difficulty communicating in noisy situations like restaurants, lively family gatherings, in the car or in group meetings. Check.
  • Tinnitus, or ringing and/or buzzing sounds in the ears. Check.

 

So I had another hearing test done in December. The hearing on the left was worse but the right was the same. In this situation, you can hear but can’t tell where sounds are coming from. This can drive you nuts and make you crabby.

It was recommend that I try a hearing aid on the left side. It’s not guaranteed to help my situation. So I took the plunge, met with an audiologist and bought a fitted hearing aid for the left ear. Merry Christmas Brigitte! Ka-ching.

I am thankful we have health insurance that covers the hearing test. But hearing aids aren’t covered; it’s out-of-pocket. This shit is expensive. I now understand why less than 20% of people with hearing loss actually seek treatment and get hearing aids.

My fitted hearing aid was gradually ramped up to the audio level to match my right ear. This was done over 3 visits. It’s best to have the brain get used to sound coming from both sides in smaller steps. Too much at once can cause headaches.

So far so good. When wearing the aid at first I thought I was yelling. My family said that wasn’t the case. I just wasn’t used to hearing myself.

The hearing aid was worth the investment. Actually, the gift of hearing is priceless.

Thanks for listening to Brigitte’s story!

Contact Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers to set up your FREE hearing consultation!