A recent article on healthyhearing.com drew some interesting parallels between hearing loss and rare health disorders. By one estimate, as many as 30 million Americans currently live with a disease that is considered rare (there are about 7,000 of these diseases). Many of them are autoimmune or linked to genetic causes.
What’s really interesting is that over 400 of these diseases are associated with hearing loss as well.
Some of these disorders with a hearing loss component include:
- Mondini dysplasia – babies with this disorder have one and a half coils in the cochlea instead of the normal two and as a result have profound hearing loss. This could be the case in one ear or both.
- KID syndrome, Donnai-Barrow syndrome, and Wildervanck syndrome – also feature hearing loss in infants.
- Krabbe disease – babies can hear fine right out of the womb, but usually develop hearing loss in the first six months.
- Alport syndrome – takes longer to affect the hearing, as long as late childhood or early adolescence.
- Usher syndrome – can lead to three different types of hearing loss, depending on the onset and severity of symptoms. It is also accompanied by vision loss and balance issues.
- Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder – involves a failure to transmit signals from the inner ear to the brain, resulting in, among other things, mild to severe hearing loss.
- Waardenburg syndrome – features hearing loss in 80+% of patients.
- Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease – causes inflammation of melanocytes which are present in the inner ear, leading to mild to severe hearing loss.
- Cogan’s syndrome – another autoimmune disorder that can affect the structure of the inner ear and lead to hearing loss.
Occasionally, it will be the discovery of hearing loss that tips parents off to the presence of the other disorder. But more frequently, hearing loss may go unnoticed while parents are dealing with a more obvious and rare disorder.
It’s not a given that these disorders will affect hearing from birth. So, a baby could pass its hearing screening at birth, only to have its hearing deteriorate later on. Parents of children with a rare disorder should do regular hearing tests because even when dealing with a serious disorders, something as simple as correcting one’s hearing could have a dramatic impact on the patient’s quality of life.
If you have a friend or loved one who suffers from one of these disorders and you suspect they might be experiencing hearing loss, get in touch with us to schedule a hearing test!
Hearing aid technology has certainly come a long way over the past few years. Hearing aids are smaller, more foolproof, and work significantly better than they did in the recent past.
But there’s another very exciting development — the integration of hearing aids with the very powerful technologies available in the mobile devices we carry around with us every day.
And we’re not talking about just using the bluetooth functionality to make a phone call and put it through to your hearing aid, as helpful as that is. The integration of these devices can also collect data from the user on an ongoing basis and has much promise for learning more about how hearing correction works, what environments it faces, and how it can be better.
Think about it this way: Self-driving cars have recently gone from science fiction to a definite reality. To perfect their algorithm, self-driving cars continuously collect data from the environment. All the different situations a certain car faces can be used to improve its operation in the future, and this happens on an ongoing basis. Data is even shared between cars so that every electric car can learn from situations that one car has been in.
The same thing may soon be happening with hearing aids. Indeed, Apple recently announced that it will be adding hearing aid integrations to its HealthKit ecosystem of apps. Apple has been taking steps to add more and more integrations to HealthKit, calling it “modern storage for high-frequency health data types” and “how to bring an entire new dimension of health to your users with new support for hearing health”.
How exactly this will take shape is not certain, but the gist of it is that very valuable data about a hearing aid wearer’s experience will now be stored so that the patient and his or her audiologist can benefit from analyzing it. Sometimes, in cases like this, it’s not even certain where the data might lead—it’s necessary to collect it first, then process it and see what comes out of it on the other end.
Some of these integrations have already existed via apps by the hearing aid manufacturers. For example, with some hearing aids audiologists are already able to download data about their functionality. However, the game changer here is the ubiquity of the Apple HealthKit system, and just how many adopters there are likely to be.
It’s uncertain where all this will go, but it’s virtually guaranteed that hearing patients everywhere will reap the benefits.
Hearing loss has been decidedly linked to developmental delays in children. Because children usually aren’t aware enough to notice the hearing loss and alert their parents, parents need to be vigilant for some of the classic signs of hearing loss in their children and test them as soon as they notice something might be off.
Hearing loss can really have a major impact on the entire life of a child. First of all, hearing loss leads to delayed language and expression. This, in turn, almost universally leads to lower academic achievement. Lower communication skills also lead to social isolation. The combination of low academic and social achievement usually leads to poorer career choices, and this could determine the trajectory of a person’s life even if the hearing loss is eventually discovered and treated.
There are a number of deleterious effects to hearing loss, according to ASHA. Here are just a few of them:
- Vocabulary develops more slowly in children who have a hearing loss.
- Children with a hearing loss learn concrete words like cat, jump, five, and red more easily than abstract words like before, after, equal to, and jealous. They also have difficulty with function words like the, an, are, and a.
- The gap in vocabulary between children with normal hearing and those with a hearing loss widens with age. Children with a hearing loss do not catch up without intervention.
- Children with a hearing loss have difficulty understanding words with multiple meanings. For example, the word bank can mean the edge of a stream or a place where we put money.
- Children with a hearing loss understand and create shorter and simpler sentences than children with normal hearing.
Poor Sentence Structure
- Children with a hearing loss often have difficulty understanding and writing complex sentences, such as those with relative clauses (“The teacher, whom I have for math, was sick today”) or in the passive voice (“The ball was thrown by Mary”).
- Children with a hearing loss often cannot hear word endings such as -s or -ed. This leads to misunderstandings and misuse of verb tense, pluralization, and possessives, as well as non-agreement of subjects and verbs.
- Children with hearing loss have more simple sentence structure and are not as complex
Difficulties with Speech
- Children with a hearing loss often cannot hear quiet speech sounds such as “s,” “sh,” “f,” “t,” and “k” and therefore do not include them in their speech. Thus, speech may be difficult to understand. As the hearing loss severity increases, speech intelligibility decreases.
- Children with a hearing loss may not hear their own voice when they speak. They may speak too loudly or not loud enough. They may have a speaking pitch that is too high. They may sound like they are mumbling because of poor stress, poor inflection, or poor rate of speaking.
Lower Academic Achievement
- Children with a hearing loss have difficulty with all areas of academic achievement, especially reading and mathematical skills.
- Children with mild to moderate hearing loss, achieve one to four grade levels lower, on average, than
- their peers with normal hearing, unless appropriate management occurs.
- Children with a severe to profound hearing loss usually achieve skills no higher than the third- or fourth-grade level, unless appropriate educational intervention occurs early.
- The difference in academic achievement between children with normal hearing and those with a hearing loss usually widens as they progress through school.
- The level of achievement is related to parental involvement and the quantity, quality, and timing of the support services children receive.
Difficulties with Social Functioning
Children with a hearing loss often report feeling alone, without friends, and unhappy in school, particularly when their socialization with other children with a hearing loss is limited.
With this laundry list of potential issues, parents should really play it safe and bring their children in for a hearing test if they have even an inkling that there might be hearing loss. Early detection and intervention can negate some of these hearing loss issues. Don’t wait, schedule an appointment with us now!
We spend most of our time discussing how treating hearing loss can improve overall quality of life and also help the patient feel more connected to their friends and community. For example, recently there have also been an increasing number of articles linking hearing loss to early onset of dementia, and showing how hearing aids can help to delay the onset of mental deterioration.
However, hearing aids also have a much more practical and immediate benefit—they can help the patient avoid the potential for physical injury that comes with hearing loss.
It’s easy to underestimate the important part our hearing plays in our day-to-day safety. Hearing can help us sense danger before it happens so we can get out of the way. The hearing apparatus in our ear also plays a major role in our sense of balance and orientation.
People with hearing loss are at an increased risk of falling, which could easily lead to broken bones (especially in the elderly), traumatic brain injury, or worse. Hearing is also extremely important in being able to go through life confidently and safely when doing things like driving, crossing the street, or riding the elevator.
In addition to this, trying to hear things when suffering from hearing loss puts a lot of strain on the brain of the individual. This could lead to decreased performance on other important brain tasks, such as orientation and balance. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids lowers the cognitive load of the patient, freeing up more mental energy for those other crucial tasks.
One recent study out of Washington University in St. Louis found that patients who had hearing loss and had hearing aids had measurably better balance than those with hearing loss and without hearing aids. The study showed that sound information we receive from the environment contributes to maintaining our stability completely separately from the balance system of the inner ear.
Another significant study, published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, looked into whether hearing played a role for the 6.6 million U.S. adults who experienced accidental injuries annually between 2007 and 2015. The study found that compared to those with normal hearing, those with “a little trouble” hearing were 60 percent more likely to have been injured, those with “moderate trouble” were 70 percent more likely, and those with “a lot of trouble” hearing were 90 percent more likely to have been injured.
These numbers are remarkable, and should worry anyone who has loved ones who they suspect may have hearing loss and have not been treated. If you suspect your loved one may be suffering from hearing loss, the best thing you can do is get their hearing tested and corrected. That way, you’ll be able to avoid the extra risk of these types of physical injuries. Have a question? Contact us today!
Because of the costs associated with hearing aids, many patients who wear them don’t consider replacing them until something goes wrong. But your hearing is a dynamic sense and your needs may change over time—and this can happen before your current hearing aids wear out.
Here are five ways to know it may be time to replace your hearing aids.
1. They don’t work reliably.
Your hearing aids may work OK most of the time, but occasionally go in and out or make strange noises. If this is happening, you’ll have to decide when it’s a significant enough problem to address by either getting them professional repaired or (more likely) replacing them with a newer pair. Another thing you may notice is that you are not hearing as well. You or your loved ones may notice you are asking them to repeat more often. You may also notice you are straining to hear more than before. This could be a sign that the hearing aids are not working at their full potential.
2. They no longer suit your needs.
Your hearing aids might be working just fine, but you might be noticing that you just can’t hear things as well as when you first got them from your audiologist. If that’s the case, it could very well be that your hearing needs have changed. You could ask your audiologist to readjust your hearing aids, but that may or may not solve the problem. If adjustments aren’t enough, you may need a new pair that will better suit your unique hearing loss.
3. They don’t fit with your lifestyle.
Say you got a new mobile phone that your old hearing aids can’t pair with. There comes a time when that’s inconvenient enough to warrant upgrading to a different style or technology of hearing aid. Or, if you decide that you want to exercise more and your hearing aids aren’t staying in place while you’re on the move, maybe you want to get a pair that better suits your lifestyle.
4. You want to switch aesthetics.
Hearing aid design has come a long way in the past few years, and it’s possible that you’ll spot a set of hearing aids that looks a lot “cooler” than your current ones. Depending on what your budget looks like, you may want to consider upgrading in order to get a model you find more visually appealing. After all, you wear your hearing aids all day, every day.
5. Your batteries are causing your problems.
Are you finding yourself switching batteries too often or randomly running out of power in the middle of the day? Like any other electronic device, hearing aids suffer from rechargeable batteries that lose their effectiveness over time. There are now many choices for rechargeable hearing aids and hearing aid batteries and t it may be worth considering the cost of a new hearing aid, especially if you’re also experiencing any of the other 4 issues above.
Are you on the fence about whether you need new hearing aids or not? Let’s talk about it. Reach out to us to schedule an appointment!
Need to Save Money on Your Hearing Aids? Learn About Our Unbundled Service Plan and Custom Built Service Plan
When looking at getting hearing aids and going to most traditional practices, the audiologist services are bundled into the cost of the hearing aids. These services may be for a certain period of time or for the life of the hearing aid. At Chicago Hearing Services, in order to give our patients the best possible deal on services, we offer a few custom plans that unbundle some of our services that we provide. This allows the patient to save money up front without compromising on the technology they need. You also won’t be overpaying for services you may never use. We hope this brief overview of our plans will help you begin thinking about which one may be right for you.
Our basic plan includes our most cost-effective hearing aid technology. It also comes with our standard hearing aid fitting and counseling, as well as 3 follow-up visits.
Our standard plan gives you a step up in hearing aid technology, our patient-approved fitting and counseling, 3 follow-up visits, as well as 1 year warranty and loss and damage insurance.
Our advanced plan includes hearing aids with even more features, fitting & counseling, 3 follow-up visits, and 2 whole years of warranty and loss and damage insurance.
For those who want the most fully-featured hearing aids, as well as fitting & counseling, 3 follow-up visits, and 3 years of warranty and loss and damage insurance.
Extra: Rechargeable Hearing Aids. If you want rechargeable battery functionality, the standard, advanced, and premium plans include this option for a $500 fee.
Of course, if you need to come up with a combination of services that isn’t a part of one of the above plans, we are happy to work out a truly customized plan that will serve you best. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
At Chicago Hearing Services, one of the things we pride ourselves on is our commitment to treating each patient’s unique needs. Here’s a look at just some of the questions we ask our patients in order to find out more about them and set them up with the perfect hearing solution.
Do you currently have hearing aids, and if so, how satisfied are you with their performance?
We want to learn about your history, because it helps us fit you with the best hearing aids for you. If you’ve already had experience with hearing aids, this can be particularly valuable feedback, because we know what’s worked for you and what hasn’t.
What difficulties are you having with your hearing?
We will do a full hearing test, but it’s also important to gain the patient’s own perspective on what they’re experiencing. A big part of hearing loss can be the subjective aspect—what the patient is feeling that cannot be detected by a hearing test.
What kind of lifestyle do you lead?
Correcting your hearing is done most effectively when we know the types of situations you’re likely to get yourself into. For example, if you spend time in loud environments such as sports venues, this might require a different kind of hearing aid than if you spend your time in places like lecture halls, where clarity is of the utmost importance.
What are the financial considerations?
To set you up with the right hearing aid, we need to know what is of higher priority for you: keeping costs down or getting the most fully-featured hearing aid possible.We also want to know if you want a worry free service plan where there are no costs after you receive the hearing aids or would you rather pay as you go for the audiologists services.
What are you looking for when it comes to fit and appearance?
The type of hearing correction you need will determine the type of hearing aid you need—over the ear, in-canal, or even invisible in-canal. Sometimes, you may have some options on which style to do with and that’s when personal preference comes into the picture. Most people prefer to err on the side of something more discreet. However, there may be other special considerations that may affect the kind of hearing aid you go with. For example, if you lead a very active lifestyle, you may need a hearing aid model that’s better at staying in place during strenuous activity.
Do you have any mobile devices you need to hearing aid to integrate with?
Almost every patient asks about integration features these days.. Depending on the kind of mobile device you use, we can recommend a hearing aid that pairs well with it.
If you have an appointment with us coming up, we hope these questions will get you thinking about your hearing loss and what you want from your hearing aid. Of course, you should also make a list of all the questions you have for us, and we’ll be happy to answer them!
When it comes time to choose a hearing aid, the prices you see may make it tempting to choose a model that’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum. But the patient also needs to understand what they’re giving up when they decide to go with a cheaper hearing aid, because with hearing aids you really do get what you pay for.
While expense in and of itself is not a sign of quality, it does tend to be correlated with better build quality and more features. Here are just a few of the differences you may spot between cheap hearing aids and their pricier counterparts:
1. Cheaper hearing aids have fewer adjustment options.
Want your hearing aid dialed in perfectly? If so, you may want to opt for one with more features. After all, you’re going to be wearing it all day, every day.
2. Cheaper hearing aids sound less natural.
A hearing aid is basically an amplifier, but a lot of the technology goes into deciding what sounds to amplify and what to leave alone. A hearing aid that amplifies everything equally would create way too much noise to be comfortable to wear. New types of hearing aids even have different settings that you can turn on based on new environments such as a loud sports event or a theater performance.
3. Cheaper hearing aids have fewer integrations.
Want to connect your hearing aid to your mobile phone? Cheaper hearing aids tend to cut costs on these kinds of features, so you will likely have to move up in price point to get the integration you want.
REMEMBER: The cost of a hearing aid is amortized across the life of the aid.
Right now, you might be tempted to save a few hundred dollars on the hearing aid, but when you think about the aid’s average lifespan, it becomes clear that what you’re talking about is something like $50 extra per year of wear. With essentials such as your hearing, many find that it’s worth to spend a little more to be fully satisfied with the functionality of your hearing aid. Ultimately, it does come down to a quality of life issue—while you don’t have to overspend on features you don’t need, it’s very much worth it to get a high-quality hearing aid that has adjustments for the kinds of situations you use it in and that can integrate seamlessly with your mobile device.
After the quality of your hearing aid, the next most important component is the quality of service you receive. At Chicago Hearing Services, we’re here to set you up with the perfect hearing aid for your lifestyle. Get in touch with us today to schedule your appointment!
Over the past few years, we’ve seen staggering innovations in the hearing aid market. Usually, CES is one of the places where exciting new technologies are announced, and this year’s show was no different. Here are just a few of the devices that have gained some attention recently.
Hearing aids have gotten increasingly integrated with other tech, and Oticon’s KAIZN is the newest iteration of this. Billed as a “personal AI assistant for your ears”, this hearing aid processes data in real time and learns from the kinds of situations the user is in so it can then make adjustments and suggestions on how to improve the hearing experience.
And this isn’t just marketing talk. Oticon has the tech to back this up. The KAIZN received the 2019 CES best of innovation award in the “Software and Mobile Apps” category, and was named a CES innovation honoree in the category “Tech for a Better World”.
ReSound LiNX Quattro
ReSound’s newest hearing aid sets itself by focusing on sound quality and ease of integration. According to the company, “In a direct comparison, where hearing aid users were asked to listen to music and rate the sound, the ultimate test of sound quality, 95% of respondents preferred ReSound LiNX Quattro compared to other premium hearing aids.”
Resound also has a feature called Siri AI, which allows the hearing aid to pair with Apple’s Siri assistant. The hearing aid learns user preferences over time and can eventually begin to automatically adjust settings based on the listening environment. The user can also use voice commands like, “Siri, turn up the volume in my left ear”.
Nuheara IQbuds MAX
Using three different microphones, the IQBuds are a pair of headphones with next level noise-cancelling ability. Touting five times more digital signal processing power than the company’s BOOST line of products, these headphones should be on the list of tech-savvy audiophiles everywhere.
Tired of hearing aid batteries, whether replaceable or rechargeable? Say hello to the first “battery free” hearing aids. Using a fuel cell (the same tech that’s used in electric cars), the hearing aids can be recharged in 20 seconds and then function for a full 24 hours. This earned the device a honoree spot at the CES 2019 Innovation Awards in the “Fitness, Sports, and Biotech” product category.
Have a question about any of these products or a certain feature you may be looking for? We’re here to help set you up with the ideal hearing aid for your lifestyle. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.
Tinnitus, also known as persistent ringing in the ears, is one of the most commonly occuring hearing issues in the United States. The CDC estimates that 15% of the population, 50 million Americans have experienced some tinnitus, 20 million have chronic tinnitus, and 2 million have cases that seriously impact their quality of life.
Unfortunately, tinnitus is one of the symptoms and diseases that don’t have a known cure. There are, however, treatment options that can reduce symptoms and allow those suffering from the condition to get on with their lives.
For one, there are things that are known to exacerbate symptoms of tinnitus in some patients. This isn’t true for everyone, but if they make your symptoms worse, you should try to reduce or avoid them:
- Sleep deprivation or lack of appropriate rest
- Anxiety and stress
- Stimulants such as coffee, tobacco
- Certain foods, like foods high in MSG
Many patients find hearing aids helpful in the treatment of their tinnitus, particularly if the tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss.. By amplifying external sounds, these hearing devices can help patients focus less on the internal sounds as well as providing necessary amplification to aid the hearing loss. These function on the same basis as other “masking” devices such as noise machines, etc. Even playing music at a low volume can help to take your mind off the tinnitus. It’s in the empty spaces between external sounds that tinnitus usually lives.
Finally, the value of mental exercises can’t be overstated. Stress management, relaxation techniques, yoga, and meditations have all been proven to help many patients with tinnitus symptoms.
Another important thing to remember is that any approaches you use to treat your tinnitus should be viewed as a long-term solution and be attempted for at least a year. Tinnitus is typically the result of long-term hearing damage, and patients shouldn’t expect the symptoms to be reversed overnight either.
If you are experiencing tinnitus, contact us for a hearing evaluation. Dr. Marie Vetter will diagnose and help you find a solution to manage your tinnitus.