Growing Evidence That Noise is Bad for Your Health

Growing Evidence That Noise is Bad for Your Health

Growing Evidence That Noise is Bad for Your Health

The effects of pollution on our environment have been well documented for decades. We understand that the emissions of industry, transportation, and even household waste have devastating effects on our waterways, atmosphere, and soil quality. The effects of these forms of pollution also can be traced to health outcomes. Those who live in areas exposed to industrial waste and toxic substances can have higher rates of cancer, asthma, and other chronic health conditions. Pollution is a danger to our bodies, minds, communities, and our planet.

Yet, did you know that noise pollution has been traced to similarly detrimental effects on individual health?

Studying Noise Pollution

The World Health Organization has been tasked with creating guidelines for the acceptable amounts of noise pollution in areas with human exposure. Stephen Stansfeld, a professor of psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London, brought together eight scientific studies of the effects of noise on our health. This metadata was contributed to the World Health Organization’s findings and recommendations.

In the past, the World Health Organization has recommended levels of noise for aircraft, rail, and roadways. For instance, prolonged exposure to road noise has been linked with increased risk of abdominal obesity and diabetes. Although these effects could be the result of confounding variables such as prolonged stress, road traffic noise has also been associated with an increased risk of a heart attack. Yet, in the most recent report and recommendation, they have added two new forms of noise pollution that have negative effects on our health: wind turbines and leisure noise.

The health evidence on wind turbines is still coming in. It is sure to cause annoyance for those who live close to them, and there is mounting evidence that they may have an effect on sleep. These effects are difficult to disentangle from the visual appearance of wind turbines, the low-frequency nature of their audio emissions, and the bias of study subjects when it comes to their opinions of wind power. In this case, some consider the positive effects of reduced carbon emissions associated with wind power along with the negative effects on the comfort of those who live nearby them.

On the other hand, the health effects of leisure noise have been demonstrated widely and significantly. Loud noise from leisure locations, such as nightclubs, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events, and concerts or live music venues, as well as listening to loud music through headphones, can have a serious effect on the individual who is exposed. It is a concern that exposure to these types of noise may bring about tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Anecdotally, many people report this experience, yet they tend to find that the ringing goes away not long after the exposure stops. Researchers are investigating links with other adverse health effects for those who constantly expose themselves to leisure noise, as well as the residents who live nearby such establishments. The connection with annoyance, frustration, and stress is undeniable; those who constantly hear loud noise through their windows report these mental symptoms. The linked health effects remain unknown.

Raising Awareness on Noise Pollution

These guidelines by the World Health Organization were prepared for Europe, but they can be extended to all parts of the globe, as well. The effects of transportation noise have long been the subject of policy interventions, requiring lower noise emissions on trains, planes, and automobiles. Noise pollution for those who live nearby major transportation hubs and thoroughfares, such as airports, train yards, and freeways, undergo constant exposure, although at a lower overall level. The addition of these two new forms of noise pollution should be taken under consideration by other countries beyond Europe, as well. Wind turbines may only cause annoyance, but the possibility of noise-related health effects remains unknown.

The other addition—leisure noise—is more troubling, because many individuals subject themselves to such noise at loud levels and repeatedly over time. Those who love live music may be piling on the cognitive and physical load of loud noise day after day. If you are someone who is exposed to leisure noise on a regular basis, it may be a cue that you should have your hearing checked. Acquiring hearing assistance and protection can help keep you from encountering further health problems in the years to come.

Visit Us at Kenwood Hearing Centers

Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Kenwood Hearing Centers has six convenient locations in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, and Fairfield, CA, providing comprehensive hearing health services. Visit us for a consultation today!

Posted in Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Causes, News, Noise Pollution, Overall Health, Research

Tips on Preventing Hearing Loss

Tips on Preventing Hearing Loss

Tips on Preventing Hearing Loss

Imagine life in a rural area before the industrial revolution. You might wake to a quiet environment including only the sounds of birds and insects. As you went about your day, you might encounter the sound of carriage wheels and a horse’s hooves against cobblestones, but even these transportation sounds might be rare. As you went about a day’s work, machines would not fill your sound environment whatsoever. In the evening you might listen to or play acoustic music for entertainment, or a family member might read a favorite text aloud.

Fast forward to our busy technologically driven lives. Alarms start the day, and the sound of grinding motors accompanies our every move. Sirens, car horns, and jackhammers are commonplace, and workplaces may include incessant machine sounds for some. Others wear headphones nearly from waking to sleeping, including all day long while working on computers. These headphones, particularly when used in already-noisy environments, can be punishingly loud. For generations our ears were accustomed to the pre-industrial sounds described above. Only in the last few centuries of human history have we been inundated with the sounds of new technology and machines. When the tiny amplifiers inside headphones are projecting sound directly into our ears, the risks are even greater.

The volume of sound is measured in decibels, and human speech tends to register around 60 decibels. Machines can deliver the auditory shock of 80 decibels or above, and a loud concert can deliver in excess of 110 decibels. Aside from the injurious noises of explosives or jet engines, our ears take a beating in the process of everyday life. With such risks around us everywhere we go, a few tips can help prevent hearing loss despite the many causes of damage.

Turn It Down

Headphones are commonplace, yet our ears are not suited to the volumes they are capable of delivering. Earbuds can easily channel 90 decibels of sound or more, and many register 100 decibels at the loudest setting. It is recommended to keep headphone use to 90 minutes per day, and even that length is best with regular breaks interspersed. If you wear headphones on public transportation, lawnmowers, or treadmills, it is easy to push the volume to the max. Invest in a set of noise-cancelling headphones to keep out the sound from the environment, enabling you to lower the volume on your mobile device or audio player. Although earbuds are convenient and easy to pop in and out, the time spent using them can add up quickly. Keep a vigilant watch on the daily time spent using headphones to preserve your hearing.

Work with Protection

The workplace can become a source of hearing injury when it includes repetitive noise or periodic loud sounds. Even workplaces that are non-industrial can have very loud sound environments, including noisy restaurants or businesses that play music throughout the day. Talk to your HR manager about assistance with hearing protection. They should be eager to help you acquire and pay for a good pair of earplugs or noise cancelling earmuffs in many instances. Custom-fitted earplugs can be very comfortable to wear and can save your ears from damage at work.

Give It A Break

Periodic breaks from sound can do wonders for protecting your hearing. When you step from a noisy urban environment into a quiet home or office, you may notice a slight ringing. If that is the case, you should not turn up the volume on a radio or television to drown it out. On the contrary, it is time to enjoy the silence for a while. You might be surprised how rejuvenating a period of quite time can be, giving your ears a break and your mind a rest from filtering out the inundation of sounds that accosts the ears. Sleeping in a quiet environment is best when it is possible. Although we can close our eyes to sleep each night, from birth to death we never blink our ears.

With these tips in mind, you can prevent hearing loss further into your later life, even if a noisy urban environment surrounds you. Although we can’t turn back the clock to rural pre-industrial days, we can work against the tide to prevent hearing loss. To learn more, contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers.

Posted in Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Prevention, Tips and Tricks

Treating Hearing Loss May Improve Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Treating Hearing Loss May Improve Alzheimer's Symptoms

Treating Hearing Loss May Improve Alzheimer's Symptoms

Did you know that September is World Alzheimer’s Month? The annual awareness campaign was launched in 2011 to raise awareness of the many stigmas and the misinformation that surrounds dementia.

Alzheimer’s is in fact the most common type of dementia. It is a degenerative brain disease that most commonly affects people’s memory. People with Alzheimer’s have difficulty remembering information that they have recently learned. As the disease progresses, Alzheimer’s can also include bouts of disorientation and increased confusion about events that are happening around a person.

The disease also affects people’s moods, and it can include behavioral changes—oftentimes people experiencing Alzheimer’s disease have a sense of suspicion and paranoia about friends, loved ones, and coworkers.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease frequently affects people who are over the age of 65 and the signs and symptoms of the disease can become more intense and worsen as people age. This is not only a disease that affects older people, however. The Alzheimer’s Association also reports that early onset Alzheimer’s affects approximately 200,000 people in the United States who are under the age of 65. The disease can occur as the result of genetics as well as health, environmental, and lifestyle reasons. Scientists have been exploring the relationships between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular conditions, stroke, and blood pressure. They have explored the links between the disease and diabetes and obesity.

Scientists have also been investigating the relationships between Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss. A 2011 study conducted at Johns Hopkins tracked almost 2,000 older people— the average age was 77—to understand how hearing loss and cognitive decline may be connected. They tracked these people for between 12 and 18 years and paid particular attention to those who developed Alzheimer’s, and spent time understanding how quickly the disease progressed in their research subjects. As they write, “In one study, people with hearing loss were 24% more likely to have Alzheimer’s. In another, they found that the worse the hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia.”

Their study came to similar conclusions as other studies investigating the relationships between hearing loss and cognitive decline. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at Johns Hopkins determined that people with hearing loss experienced declines in cognitive skills faster than those without it. Almost 2,000 volunteers over the age of 70 were studied for 6 years, and the people with hearing loss had poorer scores on a test assessing cognitive impairment, called the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. Where researchers estimated that people with normal hearing would take around 11 years to develop cognitive impairment, older adults with hearing loss were estimated to develop cognitive impairment in under 8 years.

Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

People who are experiencing untreated hearing loss are in fact at a greater risk for developing a whole host of cognitive issues, and scientists have discovered links between untreated hearing loss and dementia, which is an umbrella category for a variety of cognitive disorders. When a person is experiencing hearing loss, their brain does a lot of work in order to compensate for the loss. The areas of your brain that are devoted to other senses such as sight and touch are reorganized so that your brain can deal with your hearing loss.

While there is not a definitive causal link between hearing loss and cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease, the relationships between the two are important to note. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are ways to protect one’s hearing to ensure greater mental health in the long run. The first step is to notice the signs of Alzheimer’s, which include memory loss that interrupts daily life, difficulty planning or solving problems, and completing familiar tasks. Taking steps to develop relationships with your family doctor and hearing health professionals will ensure that that trained professionals give you the tools to understand the scope of cognitive abilities in you or your loved one.

Hearing Health

You can also practice safe hearing no matter your hearing or cognitive abilities by doing things such as using ear plugs in loud spaces and limiting the use and volume of in-ear headphones. Taking these steps will go a long way to protect the hearing you currently have and to ensure future loss from loud noise exposure is at a minimum. Periodic hearing tests are an important part of hearing health as well. To schedule your appointment and consultation, contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers today.

Posted in Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Mental Health, Research

Help Delay and Even Prevent Cognitive Decline

In order to help delay and even prevent cognitive decline, it is important to understand more about your own hearing and determine if interventions are necessary. In fact, a study* conducted at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that older adults whose evaluation revealed the need for hearing aids performed significantly better on cognitive tests than those who needed, but did not use, a hearing aid.

http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2016/04/25/hearing-aid-use-associated-improved-cognitive-function-hearing-impaired-elderly/  

What To Do

  • Have your hearing evaluated regularly after the age of 50. The sooner you address the issue, the less likely you are to suffer
    cognitive disadvantages. Auditory processing can become more difficult with age and/or untreated hearing loss. It is important
    to identify hearing problems early on in order to keep the brain pathways strong.
  • Protect your ears. Even if you don’t need hearing aids, there are many ways to keep your ears protected from loud sounds.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle. Be wise about your overall health. According to Weill Cornell Medical School, it is important to
    prevent low blood flow, which can harm your inner ear. Exercising, eating well, getting a massage, checking the side effects of your medications, and ceasing to smoke are all steps you can take that can increase health and well being.
Posted in Health & Lifestyle, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Tips, Hearing Protection

The Link Between Hearing and Brain Function

Hearing loss is often viewed as a stand-alone medical issue. However, there are additional health concerns associated with hearing loss that shouldn’t be ignored. Studies are beginning to show that memory and brain function can both be negatively impacted as a result of hearing loss.

When we think of hearing, our first thought is generally our ears, but in reality, it is the brain that hears. Understanding the brain’s role in quality hearing is key to understanding hearing loss.

Oftentimes, the additional effort dedicated to listening when there is a decrease in hearing ability can cause stress, which in turn may result in decreased memory resources. In essence, one’s brain becomes so taxed from the mere effort of listening, that there is no energy left to remember the information that was taken in.

Here is the core issue: we actually hear with our brain, and not our ears. Our brain’s ability to analyze information heard is impacted by the effort the brain must put forth in order to first decode the actual words heard.

The link between hearing and brain function also suggests connections between hearing loss and dementia. According to multiple John Hopkins studies1, the use of properly fitted hearing aids can help in preventing dementia. In fact, hearing loss can have a greater impact on potential dementia than other health conditions or even genetic diseases.

Additionally, studies2 have shown that those who use effective hearing aids are more socially engaged and possess a more positive outlook on life. The relationships one engages in once hearing loss is treated can be yet another preventative measure when it comes to cognitive abilities, memory, and dementia. A recent study by the Journal of the American Geriatric Society3 shows that there is a greater chance of cognitive decline for those with hearing difficulties who do not use hearing aids. This is largely due to the natural tendency to withdraw from social activities when listening becomes difficult.

One of the best things you can do to preserve your memory and cognitive abilities is to get a hearing test. Be proactive about your hearing. Many hearing evaluations are covered by Medicare or insurance and can help identify any hearing difficulties you may be experiencing.

 


1 “Hearing Loss Linked to Accelerated Brain Tissue Loss – 01/22/2014.” Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, John Hopkins Medicine, 22
Jan. 2014, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_accelerated_brain_tissue_loss_.
2 “The National Council on the Aging.” Seniors Research Group, May 1999, pp. 1–12.
3 Amieva, Hélène, et al. “Self-Reported Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids, and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-Year Study.” Journal of the
American Geriatrics Society, vol. 63, no. 10, 2015, pp. 2099–2104., doi:10.1111/jgs.13649
• https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_accelerated_brain_tissue_loss_
• https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/NCOA-Study-1999.pdf

Posted in Health & Lifestyle, Hearing Health

Protect Your Hearing This Summer Festival Season

Protect Your Hearing This Summer Festival Season

Summer is in full swing and so are the outdoor festivals. Throughout history, humans have loved coming together as a community through festival celebration. The word festival was actually derived from Latin roots in the fourteenth century, and stems from the word “feast” dating back to the twelfth century. Historically, a festival was a way for a community to highlight or acclaim a specific aspect of their culture, religion, folklore, or agricultural processes.

While varied in geography and purpose, most historical festivals shared a commonality: music and dancing. The same is true today. Festivals, regardless of type, tend to be places of jubilant celebration and loud music. While these festivals and their associated noises can bring attendees a lot of joy, they also come with a bit of a dark side: their ability to damage your hearing.

Are festivals really that loud?

Not all festivals are created equal in their noise levels and potential for hearing damage. As one would expect, music festivals are the loudest – and are therefore the most likely to cause damage. In fact, a recent study published in Noise and Health, found that the average outdoor concertgoer was exposed to sounds at 95dBA, and 8% of participants were exposed to sounds at 100dBA or higher (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10710843_The_sound_exposure_of_the_audience_at_a_music_festival). Combine the fact that a sound level at 95dBA has the potential to cause damage in only about 1 hour, and most outdoor musical festivals last all day if not multiple days, it is easy to see how quickly these festivals can damage one’s hearing.

Ok, but only young people attend these concerts, and young people don’t experience hearing loss, right?

Wrong on both counts. Actually, the type of hearing loss that can be experience after noisy events such as outdoor music festivals is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL can affect anyone, at any age. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that over a billion young people aged 12-35 are at risk for developing noise induced hearing loss because of their noisy recreational activities. In terms of average age of festival attendees, about 16% of attendees were 35 or older according to a recent survey. Some newer festivals are actually specifically targeted for an older crowd, such as Desert Trip, which has been dubbed “Coachella for older people” or “Oldchella” (https://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/04/entertainment/desert-trip-coachella-old-people/index.html).

Regardless of these facts, it is very important that all of us – no matter what our age – are aware of the dangers of excessive noise exposure and how to protect ourselves from it.

How do I protect my hearing at an outdoor festival?

You don’t have to stay home in order to protect your hearing at outdoor music fests. There are some simple rules you can follow to help protect your hearing and still enjoy the vibes.

  1. Wear hearing protection. This one is by far the most important. If you do nothing else on this list, please use hearing protection at your festivals. If you attend concerts regularly, it might we a wise investment to purchase custom-fit hearing protection that is specifically targeted towards music-lovers. These types of earplugs are very comfortable because they are form-fitted to your ears, and also are specially crafted to ensure you hear the music the way it was intended. If custom plugs are not an option, disposable earplugs can also do the trick and can be purchased at almost any drug store and are very inexpensive.
  2. Choose a good spot. This doesn’t mean be front row! Take a minute to scan the venue setup. Most often, speakers are located on the sides of the stage. If this is the case, find a spot towards the middle or back of the audience. Even if you are standing further back, if you are in direct line of the speakers, you can still experience quite a blast.
  3. Take mini noise retreats. Noise induced hearing loss is cumulative, meaning the more often you expose yourself to noise, the more likely you are to experience loss. It is important to take mini breaks during a festival where you find a quiet place to give your ears a break. You’re not going to love each and every artist at the event – so find some time to decompress between sets. Also, take a day before or after your festival to have a day of quiet. Put down the personal listening device, turn off the TV and instead read a book or simply experience the beautiful peace of nature. Your ears will thank you!

Visit Us at Kenwood Hearing Centers

Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Do you want to learn more about hearing health? Our team at Kenwood Hearing Centers is here to help. Contact us today for a consultation.

Posted in Hearing Health, Hearing Protection, Tips and Tricks

Untreated Hearing Loss May Make You Accident-Prone

Untreated Hearing Loss May Make You Accident-Prone

Many people think that leaving hearing loss untreated isn’t a big deal, but, in actuality, failing to treat hearing loss can have big repercussions for you and your health.  Hearing loss doesn’t just affect the way you hear, it fundamentally changes how your brain functions and more and more researchers are finding that it can leave your body overtaxed and more accident-prone.

 

Hearing Loss and Cognition

While most hearing loss originates in the ear, it quickly affects other parts of the body and brain. Most often hearing loss is caused by permanent damage in the inner ear where fragile hair cells detect sound waves and transmit the signal to our brain. Hair cells are incredibly small and sensitive and they lack the ability to repair themselves so that when they are damaged, the cell never recovers its ability to function normally.

When damaged hair cells are no longer sending sound signals to the brain, it creates a gap in our hearing. When many hair cells are not working, significant hearing loss results. The sound signal being sent to the brain is incomplete, with missing sound information.

Receiving incomplete information provokes several responses in the brain. First, the mind has to use more resources to process less information. Often, trying to hear with hearing loss, especially in loud or confusing noise situations, strains cognitive abilities. Focus is redirected from other cognitive tasks, such as balance and coordination, and used to piece together auditory information.

At the same time, the familiar neural pathways that the auditory cortex has traditionally used for hearing begin to atrophy. Our brain slowly adapts to a new way of hearing, working hard to compensate for hearing loss. By rerouting the way our hearing works, the infrastructure of our ability to hear is changed. The more time it has to change, the more challenging it can be to recover our sense of hearing when treatment is sought. It’s never too late to think about your hearing health but the sooner you confront hearing issues, the easier it is to adjust to treating them!

 

Cognition and Accidents

Hearing loss pulls from our cognitive resources and redistributes our focus and attention, prioritizing auditory deciphering. This rearrangement of cognitive functioning has several results, all of which can increase the incidence of accidents and falling injuries.

Cognitive attention is fundamental to keeping us out of harm’s way as we move through the world. When focus is diverted towards keeping up with what we hear, other cognitive tasks often come up short. When it comes to coordination and balance, the result can be quite serious and put a person in danger of serious injury. The less mental space we have for maintaining our physical movements, the more likely accidents become.

Keeping up with conversation or navigating a complicated sound environment with hearing loss can easily become quite exhausting. To properly give our attention to the audio information coming in, the brain works extra hard in ways that it often has to improvise. The resulting fatigue can leave us feeling drained and further affect our ability to coordinate our actions and avoid obstacles.

 

 Finding Solutions

Luckily, there’s a solution for untreated hearing loss – treating it! Most hearing loss can be effectively treated with hearing aids, helping to curtail the cognitive burden hearing loss places on the brain. Modern hearing aids offer better sound recovery than ever before in a range of discreet and powerful designs to fit every lifestyle. When we treat hearing loss, we give our body and brain  the gift of relief from cognitive strain.

 

Kenwood Hearing Centers

If it is time to treat your hearing issues, it’s time to make an appointment with Kenwood Hearing Centers. Our hearing specialists offer personalized care and comprehensive audiological testing. We listen to your needs to match you with the ideal hearing solution for your lifestyle, programmed specifically to best recover the areas of your hearing where you need it most. Hearing aids can help you recover your hearing health, and change your overall health as well, so get in touch with Kenwood Hearing Centers today!

Posted in Health & Lifestyle, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, News, Research

Communication Tips for the Whole Family

Communication Tips for the Whole Family

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! For the past 91 years, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has been working tirelessly to promote health and wellbeing for all Americans by raising awareness of communication and language disorders. This includes hearing loss.

Better Speech and Hearing Month is a time to recognize the negative health outcomes of living with hearing loss and bring awareness to prevention and treatment options. This year’s theme is Communication for All, and Kenwood Hearing Centers is here to help you communicate.

 

Don’t Underestimate Communication

Communication is a fundamental part of being human. We start talking when we’re very young, and we never stop. We communicate with our family and friends, the girl who takes our coffee order, and the man who pumps our gas. But if you’re not hearing clearly, communicating can become a real challenge.

Understanding conversations can be a frustrating experience or may leave you feeling embarrassed that you misheard or answered inappropriately. Many people living with untreated hearing loss face isolation, and studies have linked hearing loss to depression. You might feel ignored by your loved ones or are worried you’re not as close as you once were. If you want to keep communicating, the first thing you’ll have to do is admit that you have trouble hearing. The next step is to talk to your family about ways to help you hear.

 

Turn It Down

When your family is trying to communicate, one of the simplest things to do is turn down the volume on the TV or turn off the radio. All that background sound will make it harder for you to focus on what’s being said. Turning it down can be an easy way to catch far more of what’s being said.

 

Face to Face is Always Best

To facilitate communication, make a rule with your family that you always have to be face to face when you talk. If someone yells at you from across the room, you probably won’t hear what’s been said. If you’re sitting on the couch, ask your family to come sit down with you. If you’re both focused on communicating, you’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll hear. Seeing someone’s face while they’re speaking is also important, as it allows you to read facial cues, and catch more of the meaning behind the words.

 

Speak at a Normal Volume

Ask your family to stop yelling at you; it’s actually not helping you hear. Yelling can distort sounds, making it harder to understand. In fact, the only thing you might understand is that they’re frustrated at you for not hearing. Speak at a normal volume and with a normal speed but add a few pauses in speech at the end of a sentence or thought. This will give you time to process what’s been said and get ready for the next thought.

 

Rephrasing

If you’re not understanding what someone is saying, another way they can help you hear is by rephrasing rather than just repeating the same words. When the sentence is rephrased, you’ll have a better chance of catching what’s being said. It’s also better to use a few more words. While you might be used to a simple “yes”, ask your family to use a few more words, such as “yes, that sounds good”. It won’t take any more time to say a couple more words, but it could give your ears and brain the extra time they need to understand what’s been said.

 

Wear Your Hearing Aids

If you struggle with hearing loss and know your communication is suffering, make sure to always wear your hearing aids! They’re designed to help you hear in every listening environment and have many features that help you separate background noise from speech sounds, focus on what you want to hear, and be able to hear all the important sounds to help you communicate.

If you have been struggling with communication, visit us at Kenwood Hearing Centers, where our team of hearing specialists will help you find the perfect hearing device. Starting with a complete hearing assessment, we’ll be able to give you the best advice when it comes to picking the right hearing aid for your lifestyle and hearing needs.

Posted in Communication, Family & Relationships, Health & Lifestyle, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Tips, Tips and Tricks

Hearing Loss Could Restrict Mobility & Quality of Life

Hearing Loss Could Restrict Mobility & Quality of Life

 

When you have hearing loss it doesn’t just affect your ears, it affects your entire life. Hearing loss can cause issues that ripple through our health and quality of life. A recent study coming out of Finland has found that hearing loss has an impact on our mobility. Following over 800 seniors with and without hearing loss, the researchers found that those with hearing impairments often had a more constricted travel from their homes as well as more limited social circles.

 

Hearing Loss and Mobility

Hearing loss has many ways of limiting your mobility and can influence how you approach the world, in both unfamiliar and familiar settings. Often, hearing loss makes it hard to navigate noisy spaces. It limits the ability to both comprehend speech and locate the sources of sounds.

With these limitations, traveling to unfamiliar locations can produce anxiety and frustration. Spaces with many different noises like restaurants, stadiums and museums can make it hard for people with hearing loss to feel comfortable and makes participating in conversation challenging. Places that are hubs for transportation like airports and train stations can become difficult, especially when critical announcements are given verbally over and announcement system.

A person with hearing loss can easily feel like they are “bad at traveling” when really they are simply traveling with the extra burden of trying to compensate for things they are not hearing. The feeling of discomfort in these places and while traveling makes its mark however by gradually changing behavior patterns.

What once seemed like an interesting trip to a new movie theater now seems like too much hassle. A distaste for traveling far from home- even to familiar destinations- can also develop, constricting the radius a person moves through in their life.

 

Mobility and Social Isolation

A lack of mobility in the world can exacerbate social isolation. As more locations become out of reach to a person with hearing loss, the social connections associated with those locations also constricts. When we stop attending parties, religious services or family dinners we can easily lose the connections with friends and loved ones that we once found in these places.

Those who have hearing loss often experience a slow drift away from social situations they once engaged in. On a subtle level, hearing impairment makes these spaces seem less enjoyable. For someone who may not be acknowledging their hearing issues, this creates a convenient excuse for participating in social spaces – being part of social activities is no longer pleasurable. In such a way, social isolation can increase for an individual, perhaps without them even being able to see the root cause.

 

Mobility Research

In the past several years, Finnish researchers at the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Tampere have helped put together the ramifications of hearing loss on mobility. Through studying a population of 75-90 year old people and their day-today activities, the university team found a remarkable difference between people with hearing loss and those without. Hearing loss meant it was twice as likely that the person’s life was restricted to their immediate local area.

Researchers followed study participants for two years and found that hearing loss led to a dramatic decrease in how far a person was comfortable and able to travel from their home. The Finnish study also charted various quality of life markers throughout the study period and found that people with hearing loss experienced a lower quality of life on average.

Treating hearing loss can help restore mobility and restore social connections. When we can hear better, it is immediately easier to find our way through spaces, engage in conversations and enjoy living. When hearing problems arise, seeking treatment is the most straightforward and effective way to regain confidence and retain mobility.

 

Kenwood Hearing Centers

If there’s been a recent change in your hearing, the time to see a hearing specialist is now. Here at Kenwood Hearing Centers, we help you understand your hearing and connect you with the best hearing solutions. We’re with you from your first visit to answer questions and give you options to hear your best. Our thorough audiological testing and expert knowledge of top performing hearing aids and assistive devices makes Kenwood Hearing Centers your first choice for hearing health.

Posted in Health & Lifestyle, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss

Why Are Restaurants So Loud?

Why Are Restaurants So Loud?

For people with hearing loss, speech recognition poses a challenge. Dining in a restaurant means you are competing with background noise to hear. If you experience a hearing loss, you may find that dining in noisy restaurants makes conversation difficult. The noise levels in restaurants certainly don’t help!

Have you wondered recently if restaurants are louder than ever? If so, you’ve noticed something that food critics and business journals have commented on in recent years. Across the country, as new restaurants open and standard favorites are renovated, the trend toward more modern design has changed the acoustics of restaurants – which may alienate those who are hard of hearing.

Here, we take a look at this new phenomenon of loud restaurants and give you some tips for an enjoyable dining experience.

 

Sleek Interior Design Results in Louder Acoustics

Gone are the tablecloths and carpeted floors of fine-dining. These days, restaurants tend to occupy former warehouses or loft spaces, with a modern industrial-chic aesthetic. Restaurant designs now boast exposed brick, wood, iron, and concrete. According to The Wall Street Journal, these interiors add to the rise in volume in restaurants. Architect Dirk Denison, who has designed the interior of many high-end restaurants, says that restaurants resemble “a big square box – the worst-case scenario. Parallel walls cause noise to ping back and forth.”

In the past, carpeting and linens helped to muffle the sounds of the restaurant. Now, with mostly hard surfaces, the acoustics of restaurants are not absorbed. Luckily, there are acoustics experts who install decorations to buffer these loud sounds.

 

Open Kitchens Create More Clatter

With the popularity of chefs in the media, the people preparing your food have become celebrities and the art of cooking is a performance. Many newer restaurants feature the open kitchen design, some which even offer diners a front row seat to watch chefs prepare the meal.

Open kitchen designs add to the noise level in a restaurant, with the clatter of pots and pans and the chatter of chefs and cooks. If you experience a hearing loss, request a seat away from the open kitchen.

 

A Lively Restaurant is a Loud Restaurant

Music and ambiance is a huge part of popular restaurants. People no longer want to eat in quiet, with whispers. Nowadays, loud music and chatter add to the vibe of the place. Bon Appetit Magazine writes that loud restaurants “are perceived as lively and vibrant. Very few people want to eat in a silent room.”

From New York Magazine’s Grubstreet: “Most restaurant scholars will tell you that the Great Noise Boom began in the late nineties, when Mario Batali had the genius idea of taking the kind of music he and his kitchen-slave compatriots listened to while rolling their pastas and stirring their offal-rich ragus and blasting it over the heads of the startled patrons in the staid dining room at Babbo…Sound systems were cranked up and suddenly noise became the hallmark of a successful New York restaurant.”

Unfortunately, this leads to the Lombard effect: as the music gets louder, we raise our voices in an attempt to hear each other over the tunes and other diners. If possible, ask for a seat away from the speakers and near the perimeter of the room. If the restaurant offers a booth, request to sit in one, as this configuration is the best seating for seeing and hearing your dining companions!

 

How Hearing Aids Help Your Dining Experience

For people who are hard of hearing, don’t lose your appetite quite yet! With the use of hearing aids, you’ll still be able to enjoy dinner in these loud restaurants with your friends and loved ones.

Advanced hearing aids are equipped with fast and smart features such as noise reduction,; multiple microphones that scan the environment and focuses on the sounds you want to hear; and processing platforms that adjust automatically to provide a natural listening experience in any environment. Some hearing aid models offer features to soften sharp sounds, which helps when there are forks scraping against plates and clatter rising from the kitchen. Overall, hearing aids can provide you with a comfortable listening experience that allows you to focus on great conversation and great food.

If you are experiencing a hearing loss, contact us at Kenwood Hearing Centers. For a comprehensive hearing test and hearing aid fitting.

Posted in Hearing Health, Noise Pollution