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Fox TV: Tips To Prevent Future Hearing Loss

Jason Carr: We just learned something about headphones during the break, and now we’re going to educate you. We’d like to block the world out sometimes, a lot of the young people do that, but we could be causing hearing loss. Joining us this morning is Dr. Skreekant Cherukuri, and he is going to elucidate on the dangers of playing your music too loud. When you and I were younger, we had discmans, and walkmans, and what I remember about those is that they has the foam outer head phones. Those have changed.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s right. Back in the day, the batteries didn’t last too long. They had to run the motor for the cassette or the CD, and they didn’t get that loud. But nowadays, with advances in technology, iPods, and other MP3 players, they can go all day. They can get up to 115 decibels, which is almost as loud as a rock concert, and some of the ear buds sit in your ear canal, much closer to the ear drum, which can get 7-9 decibels louder.

Jason Carr: We’re looking at a graphic right now. Thirty percent higher than it was in the 1980’s and 90’s. Some experts attribute this to increased use of headphones with teenagers. There’s some more interesting graphical information.

You and I both, it turns out, spent time DJ’ing in night clubs. In the DJ booth, you cue a record, I used to play records, by holding it up to your ear with your shoulder, and it had to be louder than the music in the club, so …

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s exactly right.

Jason Carr: …We both have permanent hearing loss in one of our ears.

Dr. Cherukuri: Yes, and it’s the left ear, in my case.

Jason Carr: Yeah, mine too.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s a common DJ ear if you are right handed.

Jason Carr: If you’re used to doing that. It wasn’t that long. It was just a few years.

Dr. Cherukuri: Myself as well. The challenges you mentioned is the sound of the headphone has to be louder than the ambient sound. That also applies to people commuting on a train, for example, or even just ambient city noise. For example, a kid mowing the lawn, the lawn mower is at 95 decibels, if he’s playing headphones, he’s got to be much higher than that. At 115 decibels, which is the maximum output, you can get permanent damage in as little as 8-15 minutes.

Jason Carr: Eight to 15 minutes, and permanent hearing loss for life?

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, it’s gradual, but yes, it’s permanent.

Jason Carr: Is it true that human hearing peaks at, what is it, 9 years-old? Then it starts dropping off after that?

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s correct.

Jason Carr: Why is that?

Dr. Cherukuri: I’m not sure why the etiology. It could be accumulation of noise, but yes, children and babies can hear a much higher frequency than even teenagers or adults.

Jason Carr: Wow, it’s crazy. You see the commercial here, basically extolling the virtues of spending your entire life connected, wired up, canceling the world out. How do you combat this.

Dr. Cherukuri: All right, so a couple of things. We talk about the 60/60 rule, which is play it at 60 percent of maximum volume for 60 minutes, and then take a break. Ears that get a rest, are less likely to get damaged. Two, is on our website, mdhearingaid.com, we offer both headphones that are safe for children and teens, regardless of the MP3 player, they won’t go above 85 decibels, which is the safe level.

Jason Carr: Really, that’s one way of doing it.

Dr. Cherukuri: We also have ear plugs, high fidelity ear plugs. If you go to a concert, there’s a study that showed that almost 70 percent of teens leaving a concert had temporary threshold shift, which is a precursor to permanent hearing loss.

Jason Carr: Now, we’re looking at this model right here. There’s a lot going on.

Dr. Cherukuri: The main thing is, the in the ear headphones, in the canal, sit closer to the ear drum and can get much louder. I recommend over the ear earphones, especially if they are noise canceling, so they reduce ambient environmental noise and you don’t have to turn it up louder.

Jason Carr: It cancels the noise, so you are more able to hear what you’re trying to listen to without having to jack it way up.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s exactly right.

Jason Carr: All right, what’s the website again?

Dr. Cherukuri: www.mdhearingaid.com

Jason Carr: Mdhearingaid.com if you want to purchase headphones that will keep your kids hearing intact and safe. I have a 4 year-old who is already making noise about, pun intended I guess, about having her own phone, and her own iPod and whatnot, so I want to protect her hearing. Good advice.

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah.

Jason Carr: Dr. Skreekant Cherukuri, thank you for being here this morning.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you for having us.

Fox News Dr. Manny Ask Dr. Sreek Cherukuri About Hearing Loss

…If you’re a music lover you know turning up some tunes can put you in a better mood. Signs shows it can also help with stress, reduce pain, and improve your overall health. But, could listening to your favorite jingle do more harm than good? We got this email from a viewer:

Jenny: Dear Dr. Manny,
I’m constantly reading how kids are damaging their hearing from listening to music too loud. My son is always listening to music on his headphones on an ear-splitting level, could this really cause hearing loss?
Thanks,
Jenny

Dr. Manny: Well Jenny, I love music as much as anyone but, when it comes to your hearing, your son should keep it in a safe sound level. In fact the World Health Organization estimates 50% of young adults are exposed to potentially unsafe levels from their personal audio devices. But for more on how to prevent future damage we checked in with an expert.

Dr. Cherukuri: The Maximum output of an MP3 player such as an iPod can get up to 115 decibels, which can cause permanent hearing damage in as little as 8 to 15 minutes. Two ways to reduce the risk: Stay away from in the ear headphones, which sit much closer to the ear drum and can get much louder, and use the 60/60 rule. No more than 60% of maximum volume for 60 minutes at a time and then take a break. Ears that get a rest are less likely to get damaged.

Dr. Manny: Thanks, Doc. Do you have a health question? Email them at drmanny at foxnews.com. Until Next time, I’m Dr. Manny.

Fox 32: Headphone Hearing Loss Now 30% Higher

Corey McPherrin: …Because they play the music just too loud, rates of hearing loss about 30% higher than it was in the ’80s and ’90s, and joining us right now is Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri to talk about why 1 in 6 teenagers at least will suffer some sort of hearing loss, and, Doctor, thanks for coming in.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thanks for having me.

Corey McPherrin: We appreciate it. I’m really curious to discover, or curious about this because I didn’t think … We listened to music really loudly back in the day but it’s much more of an issue today. Why is that?

Dr. Cherukuri: Back in the day when you listened to music loudly it was probably at a concert.

Corey McPherrin: Right, or with big speakers in your dorm room or your apartment or something like that.

Dr. Cherukuri: Big speakers.

Corey McPherrin: But not in your ear, right? Is that the difference?

Dr. Cherukuri: Right. The other thing is in the ’80s and ’90s the Walkmans and the headphones were over the ear and on this diagram for example, the receiver was here far away from the eardrum. Now the ear buds go in the ear canal much closer to the eardrum. They get much louder. The battery life of the iPhones and the iPods are much better and the decibel level they can get, the loudness, is up to 115 decibels at maximum volume, which can be hearing loss in as little as 6 to 15 minutes.

Corey McPherrin: Wow. What is your experience in terms of dealing with folks who are having issues? Do you see a lot of it or what are you seeing out there right now?

Dr. Cherukuri: We don’t see a lot of it in the clinic because it’s light or mild hearing loss but the studies have shown that compared to even 1 decade ago it’s 1 in 5 teenagers has a hearing loss.

Corey McPherrin: 1 in 5.

Dr. Cherukuri: It used to be 1 in 7 …

Corey McPherrin: Okay.

Dr. Cherukuri: … so we are seeing a significant increase in the number.

Corey McPherrin: What do you want tell, especially parents out there and they’ve got kids who listen to all kinds of music with the earpieces in? What do you want to tell them?

Dr. Cherukuri: The main thing, we call it the 60/60 rule.

Corey McPherrin: Okay.

Dr. Cherukuri: 60% of maximum volume for 60 minutes and then take a break, let your ears get a rest, and you won’t damage your hearing.

Corey McPherrin: Really?

Dr. Cherukuri: If it’s at maximum volume, if someone outside away from the headphone can hear it, there’s really a risk of permanent nerve-related hearing loss.

Corey McPherrin: Is that one test, if you can hear your kids’ music coming out of their ears over then you know it’s too loud? Is that the deal?

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s a very good rule of thumb, yes.

Corey McPherrin: It’s a good way to look at it. Right. Wow. What sort of treatments are there right now for folks who suffer from … There really isn’t much you can do, right?

Dr. Cherukuri: It’s permanent hearing loss and so traditionally as they get older and into the 30s, 40s, 50s, they might notice hearing loss at work or in the home. Traditionally the only treatment is a hearing aid. Hearing aids we traditionally think of as big bulky things behind the ear.

Corey McPherrin: Sure.

Dr. Cherukuri: Here at MD Hearing Aid, which is a company I started, we have developed much more cost-effective and high-tech hearing aids.

Corey McPherrin: Okay. That’s good to know. Then one more thing I want to ask you too, I suppose sometimes people have a hard time discerning how much hearing loss they’ve suffered so are there certain giveaways, or how do you know for sure aside from going in and having it tested?

Dr. Cherukuri: Really it’s the family members or the colleagues that will be able to tell first.

Corey McPherrin: Yeah.

Dr. Cherukuri: It’s subtle. You might notice lip reading or people asking, “What did you say?”

Corey McPherrin: Over and over and again, right.

Dr. Cherukuri: Over and over again so really we would always empower the family members. If someone’s asking to repeat a lot of the TV’s too loud, get them in to a doctor, get a hearing test.

Corey McPherrin: Right.

Dr. Cherukuri: The sooner you treat the better the result, that’s for sure.

Corey McPherrin: Okay. If people want more information about hearing loss and the kind of projects you’re working on, where do they find more information?

Dr. Cherukuri: The can go to www.MDHearingAid.com for a lot of real good information about hearing loss.

Corey McPherrin: Doctor, thanks for coming in.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thanks for having me.

Corey McPherrin: Appreciate it, good information. All right, we’re going to take a quick …

Chicagoland TV Asks Dr Cherukuri About Today’s Hearing Issues

Monica Schneider: To think about if you haven’t already, headphones causing hearing loss? Well, new numbers suggest that teenagers today are at a truly great risk. Dr. Sreek Cherukuri is joining us here on set to discuss this. Headphones, how big of a problem are we talking about?

Dr. Cherukuri: Compared to just a few, a decade or two ago, there’s a 30% increase in hearing loss in kids under the age of 20.

Monica Schneider: What kind of headphones are we talking about, the full blast or earbuds?

Dr. Cherukuri: What happened is, back in my teenage days, the Walkman used to have an over the ear foam headphone and didn’t get that loud and play that long, so the batteries died. Now the MP3 players, the iPods, that they can get up to 115 decibels and go for hours on end. At that volume, in as little as 15 minutes you can cause permanent noise-related hearing loss.

Monica Schneider: You have some information in terms of statistical and we have a graphic with some of those numbers. Now, 1 in 6 teens is showing symptoms.

Dr. Cherukuri: 1 in 6 teens has some slight or mild level of hearing loss.

Monica Schneider: Also, some of these other numbers that you’ve supplied us with. That’s a lot of teens that are using headphones, 81%?

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, oh yeah. I mean, most kids now, it’s very common in the media to see the athletes and celebrities wearing the headphones.

cltv-behind-scenesMonica Schneider: And it’s going up.

Dr. Cherukuri: The rates of not only headphone use but the hearing loss, are going up.

Monica Schneider: You brought this model along of sort of the ear canal and whatever, so explain what’s happening. We’re basically bombarding the inside of our heads with too much noise?

Dr. Cherukuri: It’s exactly right. Here’s the ear, kind of a blown-up model. When we wear an in the ear earbud, the actual receiver is sitting closer to the eardrum and it can get much louder than an over the ear headphone. Again, using it for too long at too loud can cause permanent noise-related hearing loss at the nerve level. Nose-related hearing loss is the only preventable type of hearing loss that we know of. What we call it is the 60/60 rule. Wear it at 60% maximum volume for 60 minutes or less, and then take a break, because if your ears get a break from the noise, it’s less likely to cause any damage.

Monica Schneider: Really? If you’re doing this for an hour or less with your favorite earbuds no matter what you’re using, or your headphones, there’s a chance that you’re going to save yourself by just taking a break?

Dr. Cherukuri: Absolutely, but it has to be 60% of the maximum volume. It shouldn’t be at the-

Monica Schneider: Max full volume.

Dr. Cherukuri: Max full volume.

Monica Schneider: Okay, max full volume, of course-

Dr. Cherukuri: Again, full volume as little as 15 minutes can cause permanent damage.

Monica Schneider: It’s preventable if you do the right thing, but once it happens and the hearing loss is there, then what?

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s the problem. What you may notice in your 30’s to 40’s is you’re having trouble hearing colleagues at work, or the spouse, or the family members. You know, we used to think of hearing loss as an elderly problem. Actually, as of today’s statistics, the majority of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65.

Monica Schneider: No way.

Dr. Cherukuri: Many of them are still in the workplace and interacting at a very high level.

Monica Schneider: When you think your colleagues are ignoring you or don’t like you, it could be just that they didn’t hear you.

Dr. Cherukuri: It could be they didn’t hear you.

Monica Schneider: Hearing aids, you know nobody wants to think about wearing those either. They can be expensive. You have some other ideas in that regard?

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, so typically hearing aids cost up to $5,000 each and Medicare and most insurance companies don’t cover them. When we think hearing aid, we think big, bulky product that’s a little bit not appealing visually.

Monica Schneider: Some options, hearing aid-wise?

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah. We have some new technology. My company is called MDHearingAid and we provide medical grade, FDA registered hearing aids at up to 90% less cost. Our newest one is called-

Monica Schneider: How can you do that?

Dr. Cherukuri: Well, we manufacture our own and we just put the most necessary features and leave out some of the expensive features…

Monica Schneider: They still work, huh?

Dr. Cherukuri: They work great. I mean, we have a very high…

Monica Schneider: You brought an example along which really, it’s kind of in there and you don’t really see it.

fitDr. Cherukuri: Yes, so our latest model is call the MDHearingAid FIT. It’s designed like an in-ear music monitor or a custom hearing aid. It’s more of the wearable or hearable form factor, which is kind of the buzzword lately. You just slip it in your ear and within a minute you’re hearing better. It looks unlike any other hearing aid on the market.

Monica Schneider: Does it get rid of that thing that hearing aid users complain about sometimes? That they’re not hearing things, they’re hearing extraneous noise and it just gets confusing, so they pull them out?

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, so there’s a lot of background noise, or whistling, and things like that. This MDHearingAid FIT has the highest level, most advanced technology, with regards to those things.

Monica Schneider: Not that I want to be doing a commercial for you, but this thing sounds pretty cool.

Dr. Cherukuri: You know what? I have hearing loss from being a DJ, in my left ear.

Monica Schneider: Really, a doctor and a DJ? Okay.

Dr. Cherukuri: It is starting to impact me, and so when I need a hearing aid, MDHearingAid FIT, without a doubt.

Monica Schneider: Well, Dr. Cherukuri, thank you so much for coming out today. Some important information. It’s like pull back on the headphones.

Dr. Cherukuri: Absolutely.

Monica Schneider: Doctor, thank you.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you for your time.

Monica Schneider: We’re going to take a break, take a look at weather, and be back with more news.

Art Norman of NBC Interviews Dr. Cherukuri on Hearing Loss

Art Norman: Good morning. Going to tell you about some brand new cutting edge technology to help your hearing. You’ve got a young person wearing headphones all day long. They could be hurting themselves. Our special guest is Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, ear, nose and throat specialist. You know all about hearing.

[Read more…]

Why Your Headphones Are Too Loud

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Link to this infographic:

Ever since the Walkman burst onto the scene, it seems as though teenagers have been listening to their music too loudly. Currently, 81% of teenagers listen to music with earphones, whether they’re listening to the latest Taylor Swift or more classic tunes from The Beatles. Teens tend to listen to their music at a high volume, which makes it easier to miss the warning signs linking headphone use to hearing loss.

Today, the rate of hearing loss among teenagers is about 30% higher than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Some experts attribute this to teens’ increased use of headphones. However, teens aren’t buying it — studies show that only 8% of adolescents believe that hearing loss is a major health concern, yet 1 in 6 teens report that they experience hearing loss symptoms often or all of the time. Among all Americans, approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have noise induced hearing loss — the same number of people who use the Great Lakes for drinking water! Hearing loss is also consistently one of the most commonly reported injuries among U.S. Veterans, thanks to intense exposure to explosions and gunfire.

In hearing, sound travels into the ear and vibrates through various passageways, eventually rippling across the inner ear’s hair cells, sending electrical impulses which the brain recognizes as sound. Hearing loss from excessive noise is largely related to these hair cells in the inner ear. Long term exposure to sounds over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, and noise-induced hearing loss can also be caused by a one-time exposure to an intensely loud noise.

Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, a board-certified otolaryngologist based in Chicago, notes that teens need to realize that we only have a set number of inner ear hair cells. “They do not grow back. Listening to loud music right now may not seem like a big deal but hair cells are still dying. As teens get older, they may experience accelerated hearing loss in middle age caused by activities when they were teenagers.”

Not sure what 85 decibels sounds like? It’s the volume of heavy city traffic. A motorcycle engine clocks in at 95 decibels, and a police car, ambulance, or fire siren is around 120 decibels. Fireworks, meanwhile, are about 150 decibels. But an MP3 player turned up to maximum volume? That’s 115 decibels — barely softer than a siren.

When listened to at maximum volume, MP3 players and other digital music devices make as much noise as a live rock concert. However, while 89% of headphone users turn up the volume to combat ambient noise on the street, Dr. Cherukuri advises that listeners keep it at a volume where they can hear someone speak at a conversational level from three feet away; if you can’t do that, the music is too loud. And adjust your volume quickly; studies have shown that at very high volumes, hearing loss can occur after just eight minutes of listening!

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind? The 60/60 Rule — listen for no more than 60 minutes a day at no more than 60% volume, and take a break.

If you use earbud headphones, keep in mind that they have the potential to cause more damage to hearing than traditional over-the-ear headphones. This is because they’re worn directly in the ear canal and can produce 7-9 decibels higher sound. Earbuds also filter less ambient noise, contributing to the tendency to turn volume up in situations where you may already be at high-risk for hearing loss.

Dr. Cherukuri personally prefers over-the-ear headphones for his listening pleasure, so that the sound pressure level in the ear isn’t increased as quickly as in-the-ear headphones. He also advocates the use of one of the many available apps that prevent the volume from exceeding a preset decibel level to protect your ears.

So the next time you’ve got your headphones in, and you’re jamming out to your secret guilty pleasure song, double-check your decibel levels to make sure you’re able to hear that song clearly for the rest of your life!

The MDHearingAid AIR Featured In Research

The MDHearingAid AIR was the focus of research presented at the Combined Section Meeting of the Triological Society Jan 22-24, 2015, San Diego, CA.. Dr. Seilesh Babu, nationally known neurotologist, presented original research conducted on the AIR entitled “Can a Low-Cost Digital Hearing Aid Help Unaided Patients with Typical Hearing Losses?”

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Can a Low-Cost Digital Hearing Aid Help Unaided Patients with Typical Hearing Losses?

by Seilesh Babu, MD – Michigan Ear Institute & Providence Hospital, Southfield, MI

INTRODUCTION
Hearing loss affects approximately 34 million people in the United States, but hearing aid adoption rates have historically remained low at 24%1. One major factor for this finding is that the average cost of a single hearing aid stands at $19042, and insurance coverage for hearing aids is approximately 30% (excluding VA fittings)1. Numerous medical studies have linked untreated hearing loss in the elderly with a higher risk of social isolation, depression, anxiety, and symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s dementia3-6.

PURPOSE
Outcome Objective: To analyze the technical specifications of a low-cost (<$400) digital hearing aid and to determine if it can achieve adequate user satisfaction scores for those with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
The MDHearingAid AIR was evaluated using a Fonix 6500c Hearing Aid Analyzer, measured according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) S3.22-1996 hearing aid specification standard (ANSI, 1996). The measurements included saturated sound pressure level curve, high-frequency average full-on gain, frequency response, total harmonic distortion, equivalent input noise level, and input-output curve.

A retrospective study was then conducted over a 6 month period on patients with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss from a private practice setting. Satisfaction surveys were sent to patients using this hearing device. They were asked to wear the device for a minimum of 30 days and complete 2 self-reported surveys: International Outcome Inventory – Hearing Aids (IOI-HA)7 and Satisfaction with Amplification in Daily Living (SADL)8.

RESULTS
The low cost hearing aid met gain and output targets previously described in the literature9. 230 respondents completed the surveys. The device exceeded the mean score for all 7 items in the IOI-HA and met or exceeded the mean scores for all 5 categories of SADL.

DISCUSSION
Despite significant evidence supporting medical, social, financial, and emotional benefit of wearing hearing aids, adoption has been historically low. 76% of non-users point to financial constraints as a primary cause. Prior studies have shown that inexpensive hearing aids can provide similar self-reported benefit scores to expensive, conventional hearing aids10. Parving found a lack of difference in benefit and satisfaction scores between low-cost hearing aids and higher cost digital hearing aids in a study with 14,325 respondents11.

The MDHearingAid resulted in a favorable technical specifications and user satisfaction scores in a cohort of patients with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss. Affordable hearing devices provide a potential opportunity for greater numbers of persons with hearing loss to access amplification and reap the medical, social, and emotional benefits from improved communicative abilities.

CONCLUSIONS
Conclusion: A low-cost hearing aid was found to be electroacoustically adequate and a reasonable solution to meet the needs of those value- and cost-conscious patients who were not using amplification via a custom hearing device due to cost.

References:
1 MarkeTrak VIII, Sergei Kochkin, PhD
2 The HR 2006 Dispenser Survey by Karl E. Strom
3 The National Council on the Aging survey, May 1999
4 Lin, FR, et al. Hearing Loss and Incident Dementia Arch Neurol. 68(2):214-220, Feb 2011
5 Mick P, Kawachi I, Lin FR. The association between hearing loss and social isolation in older adults. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014 Mar;150(3):378-84
6 Mener DJ, Betz J, Genther DJ, Chen D, Lin FR. Hearing loss and depression in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013 Sep;61(9):1627-9
7 Cox RM, Alexander GC, Beyer CM. Norms for the international outcome inventory for hearing aids. J Am Acad Audiol. 2003 Oct;14(8):403-13
8 Cox, R, Alexander, G. Validation of the SADL Questionnaire. Ear & Hearing 22(2):151-160, April 2001
9 Callaway, SL , Punch, JL. An electoacousitc analysis of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids. Am J Aud. 17:(14-24, June 2008
10 McPherson B, Wong, ET. Effectiveness of an affordable hearing aid with elderly persons. Disability and Rehabilitation 27, 601-609, June 2005
11 Parving A. The hearing aid revolution: Fact or fiction? Acta Otolaryngologica, 123, 245-248, Jan 2003

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The Link Between Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Disease

Hearing and memory loss have long been considered inescapable side effects of aging, but could hearing loss actually predict Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia?

Alzheimers hearing loss
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Over time, researchers have noticed a positive correlation between early Alzheimer’s Disease and hearing loss. A recent longitudinal study at Johns Hopkins suggests, that for those over 60 over one-third of the risk of developing dementia (including Alzheimer’s) could be attributable to hearing loss, if a causal link could be found.

To fully understand how hearing loss and Alzheimer’s are related, it’s necessary to take a look at each individually. Hearing loss, which the World Health Organization defines as not being able to hear sounds of 25 decibels or less in the speech frequencies, affects 48 million people in the United States – a number that jumps to one out of every three people once you hit age 65. Hearing loss especially affects veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (60% of these veterans experience hearing loss upon return), and men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women. As people age, they become more likely to experience hearing loss.

Alzheimer ‘s Disease, meanwhile, is a form of dementia that disrupts memory, thinking, cognition, and behavior. Symptoms develop slowly and gradually worsen. Alzheimer’s is by far the most common type of dementia (accounting for 60-80% of all cases), and it affects more than five million Americans.

Hearing loss and Alzheimer’s share many overlapping symptoms. Those suffering from hearing loss or Alzheimer’s may also feel depression, anxiety, and an increased paranoia. They may respond inappropriately to social cues or feel isolated. They typically experience problems talking or understanding what is being said, and they score lower on mental function tests. They are often in denial, acting defensive and showing negative feelings.

Much of this correlation can be traced back to how brain activity and hearing operate. The temporal cortex, occipital cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and brain stem all contribute to our ability to hear a sound and judge its location, and they’re also very close to the area of the brain that Alzheimer’s first damages. When we hear, the sound travels into the ear and stimulates small sensory hair cells in the cochlea (the inner ear), whose vibrations trigger electrical impulses to move along nerves to the brain stem. Once in the brain stem, the electrical impulses travel to the temporal lobe, which is located just above the ear.

Researchers have also found that mild hearing loss doubles dementia risk, and the risk of dementia rises as hearing loss also rises. The specific connection between hearing loss and brain activity can be traced back to the hair cells in the cochlea. Cochlear hair cells can be damaged as a results of age or exposure to loud noises for a long period of time (as in the case of war veterans), and the less hair cells there are, the harder it is to capture a sound.

An active, healthy brain is a great defense against the symptoms of both hearing loss and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Whether you or a loved one are concerned about either symptoms of hearing loss or dementia, a good first step is to talk to your doctor about getting tested for hearing loss. By getting treatment for hearing loss early, you can address many of the symptoms of both hearing loss and Alzheimer’s while maintaining high cognitive function. Many studies have shown that getting fitted with hearing aids greatly improve Alzheimer’s patients’ ability to understand and communicate, prolonging a higher quality of life.

Better Hearing without Spending Thousands

Mail-Order_Aids_Higher_Satisfaction_Table (1)

A recently published study has some good news for hard of hearing consumers on a budget. The Better Hearing Institute reports that direct-to-consumer (mail order) hearing aids are just as beneficial as traditional, expensive hearing aids, yet the consumer enjoys an 80% cost savings with mail order hearing aids.

The study also found that mail order hearing aid consumers are empowered to adjust the fit and settings of their hearing aids. Overall, these users achieve higher overall satisfaction rates and are more likely to recommend their hearing aid brand to others than those who purchase traditionally dispensed aids.

The Better Hearing Institute’s report came as no surprise to Dr. Sreek Cherukuri, founder of MDHearingAid, Inc., one of the largest direct-to-consumer hearing aid companies. “When we started out in 2009, there was some uncertainty in the marketplace, but I was determined to help my patients who couldn’t afford the thousands of dollars that traditional hearing aids cost.”

“It is gratifying to see a scientific study confirm what we and over 100,000 of our satisfied customers have known for some time – it is possible to enjoy better hearing without spending thousands of dollars.”

*Data in table sourced from:  Kochkin, S. A comparison of consumer satisfaction, subjective benefit, and quality of life changes  associated with traditional and direct-mail hearing aid use. Hearing Review. 2014;21(1):16-26.

What is Cookie Bite Hearing Loss?

A person with sensorineural hearing loss can have an audiogram curve that looks like a cookie that has a bite taken out of it. This loss pattern is called “cookie bite hearing loss”.

Other names for cookie bite hearing loss are pool hearing loss, soup plate hearing loss or U-shaped hearing loss.  A person with this pattern is unable to hear mid-frequency sounds while still being able to hear high and low frequency sounds. Fortunately, this hearing loss pattern is relatively rare

With this condition, a person might be able to hear something like a door slamming, but have a hard time following a conversation.

For the majority of people with cookie bite hearing loss, the reason is genetic rather than from aging, being exposed to loud noises, or illnesses/injuries. Although a person is born with this predisposition, he may not notice a problem for many years.

The symptoms are often slow to appear, with the more serious problems occurring after a person reaches 30 years of age. Many times people are not even aware of the problem until they are between 30 and 40.

Because this is a type of sensorineaural hearing loss, it can’t be cured or avoided. Anyone with this type of problem would require a hearing aid. For this type of condition a specific type of hearing aid is needed. Users need a hearing aid that focuses on amplifying mid-frequency range sounds.

Hearing aids will not be able to restore normal hearing but they will help manage the condition. Cookie bite hearing loss can get worse over time, so the sooner one begins using a hearing aid, the better. It will take a little while to get used to, but proper use of hearing aids will lead someone with cookie bite hearing loss to a better quality of life in the long run.