How to Talk to a Loved One About Hearing Loss

Hearing loss impacts people of all age groups but tends to worsen over time with age. Untreated hearing loss can further contribute to cognitive issues such as depression and isolation, an increased risk of falling, and reduced communication skills. Hearing loss can even be a sign of some health-related issues, specifically, heart-related issues. When hearing loss impacts a loved one, it can be challenging to approach the subject, so here are our tips on how to bring up the issue comfortably.

Know the Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss

Make sure when discussing the matter with a loved one, you are aware of the risks of untreated hearing loss. Chances are the person you’re speaking with is avoiding or unaware of this issue. The potential dangers include physical damage to the body, such as increased risks of falling or car accidents. The emotional and mental damage can range from depression, dementia, or increased anger issues. Discussing the physical, emotional, and mental risks of untreated hearing loss can help your loved one understand the importance of getting help.

Language and ToneTwo people having a conversation at a table in front or large glass windows

Your language and tone are essential for conveying your concerns. It’s important to discuss the subject with firm understanding as well as a calm and collected tone of voice. In a private and quiet place, explain to them why you’re concerned about their hearing loss and the reasons to get tested. If they’re concerned about the appearance of a hearing aid, explain to them that there are many hearing device options, including invisible devices, that can offer more discretion. You can also offer to take your loved one to receive a hearing test and get tested with them. Listen to them communicate how they are feeling in a respectful and empathetic way while maintaining a strict resolve to show that you care about their health and want them to get the help they need.

The audiologist will assist in directing them to an appropriate hearing device, based on their hearing capabilities, their lifestyle, and their wants and needs from the hearing aid(s).

Know the Options

While there are many different hearing device-related treatment options for hearing loss, introducing and carefully explaining treatment options to your loved one may help them feel less overwhelmed during their decision-making process. Talk to your loved one about what would work best for them.

With a wealth of combined award-winning experience, Associated Hearing Professionals wants to help you or your loved one improve quality of life through better hearing. Contact us today at 314-696-6244 to schedule a consultation. Our offices are open in St. Louis and Chesterfield, MO, and we are practicing the recommended CDC guidelines for health and safety.

Hearing Tests: Why Are They Important, and What Can Patients Expect?

Periodic hearing tests are the best way to screen for and identify hearing loss and other aural problems. By examining a patient’s ears and interpreting their ability to respond to different tones and speech signals, audiologists can complete an audiogram, which illustrates that patient’s hearing threshold. Here’s a look at why these hearing tests are so important, and what patients can expect when they go in for a test.

The Importance of Hearing Tests

A hearing professional speaking to a patient

Hearing tests are essential to understanding one’s hearing ability and addressing any limitations or problems that may exist. Everyone should have a baseline hearing test. Undergoing periodic hearing tests is especially important for people who work in loud settings or frequently inhabit noisy environments, such as concert halls, construction sites, factories and plants, and aerospace sites. While signs of hearing loss or other problems may not always be obvious, a hearing test from an experienced audiologist can detect subtle issues that may need to be treated.

What Do Hearing Tests Measure?

Hearing tests check a patient’s ability to hear various volumes, pitches, and speech patterns. They primarily determine whether hearing loss exists, either as the result of sensorineural or conductive reasons, or both. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the inner ear or the nerve that allows a person to hear; such problems can either be present from birth or develop later in life. Conductive hearing loss is caused by problems in the outer or middle ear, such as some kind of blockage from fluid or earwax, a hole in the eardrum, or problems with the middle ear bones, called the ossicles. Conductive hearing loss can often be treated by an ear physician.

What Patients Can Expect

Hearing tests are quick, simple, and painless. They begin with an audiologist using a special light to examine the ear canals and eardrums to check for visible blockages and damage. A patient then will wear headphones or ear inserts to listen and respond to sounds at various pitches and volumes, as well as speech patterns. Results will be analyzed and used to determine whether further tests or treatments will be needed.

Having regular hearing tests from an experienced audiologist is a critical way to identify, assess, and, if needed, treat hearing loss and other aural problems. At Associated Hearing Professionals, our team provides comprehensive hearing tests and services to the St. Louis, MO metro area, as well as screenings, hearing aid fittings, and repairs. Fill out our online form or call 314-725-2686 to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.

A Breakdown of the Common Types of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Modern models come in a range of shapes and sizes to address various degrees of hearing loss and different aesthetic preferences. Many devices offer cutting-edge technological features, like Bluetooth connectivity and active noise cancellation. Reviewing the different types of hearing aids that are on the market can help patients make informed decisions that will improve their quality of life.

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

A group of older people sitting at an outdoor table

Commonly known as BTE aids, behind-the-ear models feature a casing behind the ear that holds the controls, directional microphones, and a battery that’s disposable or rechargeable. The casing connects to the earmold with a clear tube. BTE hearing aids are a smart choice for children who have hearing loss because parents can keep the same casing while upgrading the earmold as their child gets older. Many people who choose a BTE aid appreciate that they can change its color to match their skin tone or make a fashion statement. These versatile hearing aids are appropriate for individuals who have mild to profound hearing loss.

Receiver-in-Canal Hearing Aids

With receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids, the receiver goes inside the ear canal rather than behind the ear. A very thin wire inside a clear tube runs from this receiver to a smaller casing behind the ear for a more discreet experience than with a BTE hearing aid. These aids, which are also available in a range of colors, can be used to aid mild to severe hearing loss.

In-the-Canal Hearing Aids

Individuals who have moderate to severe hearing loss can benefit from this nearly invisible type of hearing aid. As the name suggests, the in-the-canal (ITC) aid fits entirely within the ear canal. All of the components are housed in a custom, lightweight plastic casing. An even smaller version, a completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid, can be used to aid mild to moderate hearing loss.

At Associated Hearing Professionals, we provide comprehensive audiology services for patients who have hearing loss in the St. Louis area. We offer hearing tests to evaluate your current level of hearing and recommend the best type of hearing aid for your needs. To schedule an appointment at one of our two locations, call 636-778-9232 today.

Four Tips for Communicating With People With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is challenging for the people who suffer from it as well as those who want to communicate with them. Fortunately, by using a few simple techniques, it’s possible to have clearer, more understandable conversations with hearing-impaired friends, relatives, and co-workers. Here are four tips for communicating with people who have hearing loss.

Get Their Attention First

A group of older people sitting at an outdoor table

If a hearing-impaired person doesn’t realize that you’ve started to speak to them, they may miss the entire beginning of the conversation. You can avoid this by making sure you have their attention before starting to speak. Saying their name, gesturing, or touching them lightly on the arm or shoulder can accomplish this.

Maintain Eye Contact

People with hearing loss often rely on your facial movements and expressions to understand what you’re saying. Therefore, it’s essential to remain face-to-face with them and maintain eye contact throughout your conversation. This tip will also help you to read their expressions and to see when they may be confused.

Speak Clearly and Evenly

You can also help a person with hearing loss understand you by speaking clearly, evenly, and with enunciation. It may be helpful to raise your voice slightly and, if the listener has one, to speak into their better-hearing ear. Shouting is unnecessary, however, as it can distort the way your mouth moves and make reading your lips impossible.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Even people without hearing loss can struggle to have clear, meaningful conversations in loud environments. When speaking to a hearing-impaired person, consider the noise level of your surroundings. If there are too many auditory or even visual distractions, you may want to move the conversation to a quieter setting.

Hearing loss presents many challenges to those affected by it and their friends, family members, and co-workers, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we offer St. Louis-area patients a range of hearing loss treatments and services, including several different types of hearing aids. To learn more about how we can improve your hearing or schedule an appointment, contact us today at 314-725-2686.

What Causes Ear Infections?

An ear infection is a common cause of distress in young children and can also affect adults. This condition can lead to hearing loss and necessitates surgery if not diagnosed and treated early. Review the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of ear infections.

What Causes Ear Infections?

A patient having her ear examined by a hearing professional

Ear infections are caused by swelling or blockage of the eustachian tube, often referred to as Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. This tube runs from the middle ear to the back of the throat and plays a significant role in ensuring the ear stays dry and clean. The eustachian tube can sometimes become dysfunctional due to colds, excess mucus, allergies, smoking, changes in air pressure, and swollen adenoids. This then inhibits proper air circulation in the ear and may cause fluid accumulation behind the eardrum. The moisture from accumulated fluids and warmth creates a suitable breeding ground for bacteria and viruses, which may lead to an ear infection.

Symptoms of an Ear Infection

Symptoms of ear infections can either occur periodically or persistently. A double infection (infection in both ears) may cause more severe symptoms compared to an infection in one ear. Some of the symptoms include draining fluids from the ear, pain, and hearing trouble. Infants and young children suffering from this condition can experience additional symptoms: tugging at an ear, loss of balance, fussiness, fever, headache, trouble sleeping, and/or appetite loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Seeking medical attention after exhibiting the signs of an infected ear can help to prevent extensive damage to parts of the ear. A physician examines the ear(s) and eardrum by looking for air bubbles, pus-like fluid, and a perforated, bulging, or collapsed eardrum.

If an ear infection is suspected, it is common practice to evaluate the patient’s hearing. Typically, fluid behind the eardrum will cause hearing loss that is not permanent, called conductive hearing loss. It is important to note that fluid can be present behind the eardrum but not be infected. When it is determined that the fluid is infected, this is called an ear infection and requires treatment with antibiotics as well as possibly a decongestant that is prescribed by a physician.

It is important to seek medical intervention for fluid in the ear and/or ear infections because left untreated, fluid can wreak havoc on the structures of the ear. A patient may undergo a CT scan to assess the extent of the infection if it is left untreated for an extended period of time or if the infection is chronic and will not go away with treatment.

Seeking specialized care when experiencing the symptoms of an infected ear can alleviate the condition and bring comfort. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we provide specialized hearing health services aimed at maintaining ear health. Call us to book an appointment and learn more about our compassionate and comprehensive care.

Four Ways to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Although hearing loss can naturally occur with age, taking steps to protect the ears from loud noises can help preserve hearing. These are the most important actions to take if you want to keep your hearing sharp and prevent damage caused by sound exposure.

Know the Risks

A pair of Apple AirPods sitting on a light grey surface

It can be difficult to determine when a sound is loud enough to damage your hearing. The U.S. Department of Health reports that sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. In general, avoid situations where it is difficult to hear for a few hours after leaving the environment when a ringing or buzzing sound impacts hearing, when the ears actually hurt, or when conversation is difficult even with a person at the same table.

Turn Down the Volume

Listening to streaming audio such as music or movies through earbuds can damage the ears if you’re not careful. Keeping the volume as low as possible can protect hearing when using headphones. Take frequent breaks to give the ears a rest. If you already wear hearing aids, pay attention to volume control to prevent further damage to the ears.

Wear Ear Protection

If you can’t avoid loud noises, use effective ear protection in those situations, whether it’s at work or for fun. For casual use, such as at a rock concert, rubber or foam earplugs fit into the ear canal to reduce noise by up to 30 decibels. Over-the-counter earplugs are available, and an audiologist can make custom-fit earplugs for musicians and others who require noise exposure. Earmuffs, another option, fit tightly over the ears to block up to 30 decibels of sound.

Choose Quiet Products

Many manufacturers offer quieter versions of loud appliances like blenders, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. If you use these items frequently, you may want to swap a noisy product for a more subdued model. You can also use earplugs at home when using loud appliances.

If you live in St. Louis and have difficulty hearing, see the team at Associated Hearing Professionals for a comprehensive evaluation. Call 636-778-9232 or complete our online form to schedule a hearing test at one of our two convenient locations.

How Can Genetics Impact Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can result from environmental factors, genetic factors, or both. Research suggests that age-related hearing loss is genetic for 35-55% of people. Below is an explanation of two types of genetic hearing loss.

Syndromic and Non-Syndromic Hearing Loss

A woman and two children playing with wooden blocks

Genes are components of the DNA that make people biologically unique. Various genes influence a person’s ability to hear. If not formed in the required manner, certain genetic mutations can lead to hearing impairment.

Syndromic hearing loss refers to a hearing impairment that is present at birth and can be accompanied by other medical issues. Approximately 30% of the gene mutations that cause hearing loss also lead to other health complications. A child can suffer from syndromic hearing loss if they inherit a gene that causes hearing loss. Non-syndromic hearing loss is also present at birth but has no accompanying symptoms because it results from damage to the structures in the inner ear.

How Is Hearing Loss Inherited?

Human beings inherit two copies of genes known as alleles from each biological parent. Dominant alleles are expressed regardless of the traits in the other allele. In contrast, recessive alleles are only expressed in the absence of a dominant gene. For a recessive gene to cause hearing loss, it has to come from both parents. On the other hand, a dominant gene that causes hearing loss will transfer this condition to a child even when only one parent is a carrier.

An individual who inherits a recessive mutated gene can pass it on to their offspring. If the other parent is also a carrier, the child may suffer from hearing loss. Research indicates that being a carrier of a mutated gene is a factor that can predispose adults to hearing loss later in life. Adult carriers may experience progressive hearing loss if they are exposed to certain medications, ear infections, loud noises, injuries, or other factors that cause damage to the auditory system.

Early diagnosis of hearing loss can enable you to acquire treatment or obtain a hearing aid to improve your ability to communicate. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we build relationships with patients and families with genetic hearing loss and treat them through the years. Our audiologists offer comprehensive hearing tests, customized hearing aids, and other communication devices to patients in the St. Louis area. We provide personalized care to help improve your quality of life. To schedule an appointment at one of our two locations, contact us today.

The Impacts of Untreated Hearing Loss

Audiologist evaluating a patient's ear canal for hearing loss

If left untreated, hearing loss can cause severe social and emotional problems for an individual. Studies indicate that 17% of the adult population in the U.S. suffers from various forms of hearing difficulties caused by multiple issues. Sadly, only 20% of this population seeks early medical attention for their conditions since most tend to postpone treatment until they suffer serious hearing problems. Here are some consequences of failure to treat hearing loss.

Effects of Hearing Loss on Your Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Occasionally, individuals postpone and ignore treating hearing loss because they assume that they can get along without treatment or using a hearing aid. Unfortunately, failure to tend to a hearing problem may result in the loss of the ability to hear, which eventually affects your mental, emotional, and physical health. Also, surveys indicate that individuals who have hearing loss but do not wear hearing aids experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss on Your Social Life

Individuals with decreased hearing ability tend to experience social withdrawal and declined relationships with other people if the condition remains untreated. Furthermore, a survey of 1500 persons with hearing loss indicated that 44% of them admitted that their relationships with their friends, partners, and family were affected by their condition. Furthermore, reduced hearing leads to frustrations with most of the affected elderly individuals, which sets them apart from other people due to the perception that people get angry at them for no reason.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Other Conditions

Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University identified a significant relationship between various degrees of hearing impairment with the possibility of developing dementia. Researchers found that if you have minor hearing loss, you are twice as likely to develop dementia. If you have a severe hearing impairment, you are five times more likely to suffer from dementia as compared to people with no hearing problems.

Untreated hearing loss often leads to social, physical, and emotional consequences on an individual and the people around them. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we provide a wide range of hearing solutions to patients suffering from various degrees and types of hearing loss. Also, we ensure that our patients receive instruments that go along with their budget and physical needs. Call us today to get in touch with a hearing professional.

How Often Should You Get Your Hearing Checked?

Audiologist performing a hearing test with a patientUnfortunately, not everyone gets their hearing checked regularly. Eventually, they may visit the doctor’s office once they experience pain or ringing in their ears, only to realize they have developed severe hearing issues. This scenario can occur when ear health isn’t prioritized. Learn more about what you can do to help prevent hearing loss.

What’s the Difference Between Hearing Screenings and Hearing Tests?

Both procedures aim at detecting a patient’s hearing ability before developing measures to help prevent extensive ear damage. The purpose of a hearing screening is to determine one’s ability to hear different sounds presented at a certain level and can be completed during an annual check-up. This helps the physician determine if the patient suffers from hearing loss.

A hearing test is performed if the patient fails the initial screening or if indicated based on history, symptoms, or complaints. The hearing test is performed by an audiologist and will help determine the cause of hearing loss.

How Often Should You Get Your Hearing Checked?

It’s recommended that you schedule a screening to help detect potential hearing problems before they permanently affect your hearing ability. Hospitals screen newborns to determine if they need further treatment and observation before discharging them. All toddlers should take a hearing test, especially if they have speech development delays. Once children are enrolled in school, parents should ensure that they get screened at least once during their elementary years.

Audiologists recommend that adults get their hearing tested every other year during their annual physical exam or more often, depending on their medical history or symptoms. Once you reach the age of 50, you should schedule yearly screenings.

Schedule a Hearing Evaluation Today

Scheduling a hearing screening regularly and looking out for any signs of ear infections or tinnitus can help prevent hearing loss. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we offer comprehensive hearing healthcare services like exams for anyone above the age of four, pre-employment examinations, and hearing evaluations. Call us or complete our online form to learn more about our services.