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'hearing loss' posts

How to manage tinnitus (when your ears are ringing)

Almost all individuals experience ”transient ear noises” which is the intermittent sensation of ringing (lasting less than 5 minutes), typically in one ear. At times this sensation is accompanied by a sensation of fullness or a momentary change in hearing. When this change is brief, it is a normal phenomenon.  If it lasts longer than 5 minutes twice week, you should be evaluated for tinnitus.

What should I do when my ear(s) start ringing? 

The first step is a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist.  Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of auditory disorders and a complete audiology evaluation will confirm and/or rule out many of these conditions.  Pending the hearing test results, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist (sometimes referred to as an ENT or an Ear, Nose and Throat physician) or other health care providers.  The otolaryngologist will further investigate your tinnitus for possible medical causes. 

It is normal for tinnitus to occasionally change in the pitch and intensity; however, significant and prolonged changes in tinnitus (increased loudness or tinnitus that is one-sided) should be (re)evaluated.   Tinnitus that is present in one ear (unilateral) or pulsatile will always require an otolaryngology evaluation after the hearing evaluation.  Tinnitus that is accompanied by a sudden hearing loss is considered an emergent condition and individuals should be evaluated by an audiologist and otolaryngologist as soon as possible.

How can I manage my tinnitus?

Tinnitus can evoke ...

Why do hearing aids cost so much?

Some may be reluctant to pursue amplification based on comments from friends and relatives reporting that hearing aids are “expensive”.  These statements can be misleading.  The costs associated with amplification upon the initial fitting can sound intimidating, but it is important to consider that the average life expectancy of a pair of hearing aids is 5 to 7 years.  Breaking down the cost of amplification over this period is often comparable to a monthly cell phone or cable television bill. 

The costs associated with a hearing aid fitting include not only the device itself but also the professional skills and time associated with appropriately fitting the device through verification and follow-up. Verification refers to measurements made to determine that the hearing aids meet a set of standards which includes volume, output, cosmetic appeal, and physical comfort. Using evidence-based practices, real-ear measurements are obtained using a small microphone placed in the ear with the hearing aid to ensure that appropriate volume is provided for different signals (such as speech). If earmolds or custom hearing aids are ordered, it is necessary to ensure that their characteristics (type of tubing, venting, style and material) are appropriate for the degree of hearing loss and physical characteristics of the ear.

Hearing aids are available in a wide range of makes and models, and a hearing aid solution that works for one person may not work for another.  Additional costs include ...

12th Man Fans: Protect your voice and hearing!

The infectious energy of Seahawks fans is part of what makes the team one of the most exciting to watch in the NFL.  This team spirit has caught the attention of Guinness world record officials who are verifying that the “12th Man” fans are the loudest in the NFL.  You can show your support and enjoy being a part of the “12th Man” while taking a few precautions to protect your hearing and your voice during and after the game. 

Swedish Otolaryngology cheers on the Seahawks.

Here are a few tips:

  • Wear hearing protection during the game. 

High levels of noise can result in tinnitus in the hours and days following the game.  This ringing in the ears can be a sign of permanent damage from excessive noise exposure.  Anything from large headphones to simple foam plugs are adequate for hearing protection.  The roar of the crowd will still be audible, but the dampening will protect your ears and ....

Signs of Hearing Loss for Babies and Children

Early identification and intervention of childhood hearing loss is linked to improved outcomes in communication and learning. Most newborns receive a hearing screening before being discharged from the hospital. However, some children may experience hearing loss sometime after that initial screening. Childhood hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors including family history, health problems at birth, syndromes, persistent middle ear fluid, chronic ear infections, and exposure to loud noise or head trauma. Children with normal hearing typically demonstrate similar listening and vocalization behaviors. If your child does not display these behaviors, it may be a sign of possible hearing loss or other problems.

Does your baby…

 

Birth – 3 months

  • Wake or startle in response to a sudden noise?
  • Seem to be soothed by your voice?

4-6 months

  • Move ...

Sudden Hearing Loss - What causes it, and what you should know

Sudden hearing loss is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. As the name suggests, there is typically no warning, nor is there any way to predict who is at risk. Sudden hearing loss affects about 4000 new cases per year in the United States. It can affect one or both ears. Tinnitus and a feeling of fullness in the ear(s) often accompany the hearing loss.

In all cases, each patient needs to be seen by both an Audiologist and an ENT/Otologist. After taking a history and looking in the patient’s ears to assure that there is no wax causing the problem; a battery of audiometric tests is performed. The purpose of the testing is to determine the degree of the hearing loss and also to determine whether the sudden loss is due to malfunction of the hearing nerve or a problem in the middle ear. Hearing loss due to a problem in the hearing nerve or cochlea is called “sensorineural” and a loss that is caused by a problem in the middle ear is called “conductive.” You can also have a combination of the two, which is called a “mixed loss”. Different medical treatments are used for each of these types of hearing loss.

 

After the hearing testing is completed, and it is determined that the patient has sensorineural hearing loss, the patient is seen by the Physician for assessment and a treatment plan. Treatment often involves steroids, either taken orally or via an injection through the eardrum or both. This treatment is often repeated. During that time, it is important to have serial audiograms to follow any possible changes in hearing thresholds and/or speech discrimination ability.

What is the cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL)?

It can be caused ....

What you should know about your risk of falling if you have hearing loss

According to studies in Archives of Internal Medicine, the risk of falling is increased by 40% with every 10dB loss of hearing. Although this information has been researched and speculated for some time, it becomes crucial for us to consider this trend when we know people with hearing loss. This is especially important for our seniors.

How does hearing impact our balance?

It is speculated that our nervous system (specifically, the brain’s pathways) interact in such a way that one may experience “incident falls.” There are pathways which are believed to be responsible for encoding auditory and spatial information for our environmental awareness. Also, it is believed that there are pathways which incorporate auditory input into cognition and attention. To put it another way; hearing loss reduces our ability to take advantage of the auditory cues needed for knowing critical information about our surroundings. Therefore, we may fall and/or stumble more often.

As a result of a ...

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a master’s or doctoral level trained professional who evaluates, treats and manages hearing and balance disorders in children and adults. Audiologist work in a variety of settings such as medical centers, private practice clinics, universities, schools, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physician clinics, Veteran’s Administration and military settings.

At Swedish, you will find caring and talented audiologists with a wealth of clinical experiences. The audiologists at Swedish have experience with infant through geriatric diagnostic hearing evaluations, auditory evoked potentials, vestibular evaluations, tinnitus management and the selection and fitting of hearing aids. Additionally, audiologists work closely with surgeons to complete the fitting and programming of osseo-integrated devices, cochlear implants and brainstem implants following surgery.

Because most hearing issues are not medically treatable, most individuals with hearing loss work...

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