Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

REPOST: Hearing loss an oft-overlooked problem for hospice patients

As your elderly loved one’s hearing weakens, so does his ability to partake in his daily personal care routines. Hearing loss prevents hospice patients from enjoying life during their final days, insinuating the need for hearing programs and tools designed specifically for their vulnerable state. The problem of hearing loss remains an overlooked problem in palliative care and the article below reveals the reason behind such observation.

Image Source:

Among dying hospice patients, hearing problems are often overlooked, but shouldn’t be, experts say.Families and physicians frequently mistake hearing loss for dementia among the elderly and terminally ill, said Barbara Weinstein, a professor of audiology at the City University of New York.

The Institute of Medicine’s recent report, Dying in America, outlined core components of quality end-of-life care, many of which are tied to patients’ ability to listen and communicate: patient counseling; distress management; attention to social, cultural and religious needs and assessment of physical and emotional well-being.

But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of Americans age 85 and older have hearing impairments. And Medicare and the Medicare Hospice Benefit do not cover hearing aids, which can cost between $1600 and $3500 each.

Image Source:

Hospices might be able to work “with resources in the community if there was a patient with a need for hearing aids,” said Judi Lund Person, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Athens, Ohio-based audiologist Bethany Gonczy started one such community program within her Diles Hearing Center to loan hearing aids to hospice patients. She saw a need after treating cancer patients who lost hearing due to chemotherapy or pain regimens.

“They can have relationships with their family,” Gonczy said. “Those relationships at the end of life are more important than ever. They are able to communicate with their kids and grandkids.”
When a patient dies, the family returns the hearing aid for reuse.

“For people we have helped, it has made a huge difference in their life,” she said.

Steven Murphy, Executive Director of Hearing Charities of America, said too few community resources like Gonczy’s exist. His organization maintains a list of philanthropic programs that help those who cannot afford hearing aids. In 2014, Hearing Charities backed the launch of the “New Jersey Hearing Aid Project,” which donated one hundred hearing aids in its first year.

“The impact is significant,” Murphy said. He would like physicians treating older patients to encourage screening earlier. If hearing loss is not recognized until the final stages of illness, it is often too late to receive help.

“This problem will not be solved by any one organization,” he said. “It will require input by government, the industry and other charities.”

Lise Hamlin, the Director of Public Policy for the Hearing Loss Association of America, said the problem will linger as long as Medicare coverage excludes hearing devices. She points out that federal employees may choose insurance plans with hearing coverage, and she said all Americans should enjoy the same luxury.

Image Source:

“We would like to see better solutions,” Hamlin said.
In the meantime, Weinstein advises, caregivers should frequently inquire if a patient hears what was said.

Most hard-of-hearing patients can be engaged in conversation with a personal sound amplifier and stereo headset that costs a little more than a hundred dollars, Weinstein said. She advises doctors, particularly palliative care specialists, to keep such a device in their pocket.

“A lot of people at the end of life have been marginalized” because they can’t hear, Weinstein said. “They may appear confused or cognitively deprived, but it is because they have not been included in the conversation.”

“It’s easier not to communicate with someone with hearing loss, especially at that stage,” said Weinstein. “But it is not justifiable, especially when there are options.”

AccuQuest can help improve your hearing. Visit this website to set up an appointment with an audiology expert or to explore AccuQuest’s different types of devices and solutions suitable for your hearing care needs.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

60% of 26 million people with hearing loss in U.S. are male

Published: June 13, 2012 

Males urged to get tested since they are more likely to hold noisy jobs.

When left untreated, hearing loss can disrupt family life, strain relationships and increase the likelihood of depression and other psychological problems.

Yet, millions of men with hearing loss never have even had a hearing test, either because of denial or lack of awareness that the symptoms they are experiencing are the result of hearing impairment. It’s no wonder that a hearing examination recently was labeled as the “most neglected health test for men” by MSN Health.

Sixty percent of the 36 million people with hearing loss in the United States are male, with a majority not seeking treatment for their hearing problems.

Despite the strong associations with many chronic conditions and diseases, most primary care doctors (more than 75 percent in surveys) do not typically ask their patients if they have hearing problems and often do not include a hearing exam as part of a routine physical.

Conditions that afflict millions of American men, such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, are associated with increased risk of hearing loss. Research also ties hearing loss to a three-fold risk of falling among working-aged people (ages 40 to 69), depression/anxiety, cognitive decline and reduced earnings.

In a 2010 study, researchers at the Better Hearing Institute found that people with untreated hearing loss may lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. The use of hearing aids, however, was shown to dramatically reduce the risk of unemployment and income loss.
Prevention is key.

Because men are more likely to have noisy jobs and hobbies, preserving hearing is critical to preventing problems in the future. Consistent use of hearing protection when in the presence of loud noise is an important part of maintaining a health auditory system.

Despite reluctance to do so, it’s important that men pay attention to their health. Diagnosis and treatment of a hearing loss may not only result in better hearing, but has the potential to significantly improve the quality of a person’s life.

The first step in treatment is a hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist.
Have more questions about hearing loss? Go to and click the “Hearing Resources” tab. A free interactive hearing check is also available to consumers online at, which is a service of the nonprofit Better Hearing Institute.
-- Kevin Liebe is an audiologist at Columbia Basin Hearing Center.

Facts about hearing loss
  • Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States
  • Approximately one in 10 Americans, or 36 million people have some degree of hearing loss.
  • More than half of the people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. Many of these people are still in the workforce
  • Fewer than 15 percent of physicians today ask patients if they have any hearing problems.
  • People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and less likely to participate in organized activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
  • The vast majority of people who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids report significant improvements in their quality of life at home, work and in social settings.

Facts on men's health
  • A higher percentage of men have no health care coverage compared to women.
  • Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22 percent more likely to have neglected their cholesterol tests.
  • Men make 1/2 as many physician visits for preventative care, compared to women.
  • Men are 28 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
  • Men are 24 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for pneumonia that could have been prevented by getting an immunization.
  • Men are 32 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes and are more than twice as likely than women to have a leg or foot amputated due to complications related to diabetes.

Article Source:

Sources: Department of Health & Human Services; Men's Health Network,
Better Hearing Institute; American Academy of Audiology

Read more here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

After years of loud music, are baby boomers losing hearing?


Randy Pepper, owner of The Guitar Attic, caught some memorable concerts in his younger days such as the Ramones, the Who and Ozzy Osbourne -- to name a few. 

But the 50-year-old musician has paid a price for his love of rock. His hearing has gradually declined, and he has a permanent ringing in his ears after a particularly loud gig with his band three years ago in DeLand. 

Guitarist Randy Pepper, 50, plays some licks recently at his shop The Guitar Attic in Holly Hill. Pepper has paid a price for his love of rock music: his hearing has declined and he suffers from tinnitus. (N-J | Peter Bauer)

"I took my ears over the limit," the shoulder-length, black- and blond-haired guitarist admitted from behind the counter of his shop in Holly Hill. 

Pepper is just one of the estimated 77 million baby boomers -- born between 1946 and 1964 -- who came of age during the rock 'n' roll eras of the 1960s and '70s. But baby boomers aren't the only ones who likely cranked up the volume. Twenty-six million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises such as music or those found on the job, according to the National Institute and Deafness and Communication Disorders. 

Pepper went to a hearing specialist who diagnosed him with tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears caused by exposure to extremely loud noise. There are few treatment options for his condition, Pepper said. In order to fall asleep at night, he keeps the TV on to drown out the ringing. But despite his hearing loss, Pepper isn't ready for hearing aids yet, he said. He also can't bring himself to wear earplugs when he performs because he said it prevents him from fully hearing his music. 

"If it progresses to a point where I can't hear at all, then I'll get hearing aids," he said. 

The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration says habitual exposure to noise above 85 decibels causes gradual hearing loss in a significant number of individuals. Louder noises will accelerate the damage. A person may risk permanent damage to their hearing if they experience noise levels of 140 decibels or higher, even from short-term exposure and with hearing protection. According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, rock concerts can exceed 120 decibels, motorcycles can reach 100 decibels and a jet engine can hit 140. 

"If you went to a rock concert and walked away with ringing in your ears, you did permanent damage to your ears," said Larry Smith, owner of the Advance Hearing Center of Florida's Ormond Beach and Palm Coast branches. "The ringing may subside but later in life you will have problems with your ears." 

While technological improvements have made hearing aids more discreet and better at picking up sound, for boomers, wearing them often evokes images of old age. Smith said that's one of the most common reasons that people delay getting a hearing test. 

"There is a very unfortunate stigma that a hearing aid makes you an old person," Smith said.

"But let me tell you what makes you old: Walking around saying: 'huh, what?' "
Even if someone isn't ready for a hearing aid, a hearing test showing even the slightest impairment can help the patient take steps to remedy the condition, said Dr. Michael Branch, an ears, nose and throat specialist with Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City. 

Branch experiences the same symptoms that many of his patients suffer from. The 58-year-old doctor has been a musician since he was a teenager, and exposure to loud concerts resulted in him not being able to hear higher frequencies in one ear. 

Early symptoms of hearing loss include the feeling of one's ears being clogged or stopped up, Branch said. The first thing people can do is accept the fact that they are losing their hearing and get tested. The longer people wait the more inclined they are to feel disengaged and have personal relationships suffer, he said.
As to whether baby boomers will suffer increased hearing loss due to increased exposure to loud music, Branch pointed to a 2010 study by the University of Wisconsin showing that hearing impairment rates were 31 percent lower in baby boomers than their parents. The study tracked 5,275 adults born between 1902 and 1962. One reason for the lower impairment rates could be stricter OSHA regulations that have lowered noise levels in the workplace. 

But more studies are needed to determine whether baby boomers will have higher rates of hearing loss as they get older, Branch cautioned. 

"We need more time to see how things will play out," he said. "The number of people experiencing hearing loss is going to be quite high over the next 10 years." 

It's never too late, however, to take steps to prevent hearing loss, Branch said. He recommends wearing earplugs at concerts and turning the volume down when using headphones. 

"Once your hearing is gone, it's gone," he said. "There is no way to really recover it."

Come Again?
Signs you might need your hearing tested:
You frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
- You have a hard time understanding softer voices such as women or children.
- Family members complain the volume is too loud when you watch TV or listen to music.
- You have trouble hearing on the phone.
- Family members are often annoyed when you misunderstand what they say.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NFL's Larry Fitzgerald Visits Malaysia With Starkey Hearing Foundation

June 7, 2012

Starkey Hearing Foundation wrapped up its hearing mission in Penang, Malaysia last month with the help of Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, who assisted in fitting more than 2,600 children and adults with hearing aids throughout the course of the mission.

This marks Fitzgerald’s 10th mission with the Foundation.

Over five days, Starkey Hearing Foundation delivered the gift of hearing to patients with the help of the Foundation’s team of audiologists and staff, fitting each of the recipients with their own custom-made, hearing device.

“Starkey Hearing Foundation has promoted hearing care awareness through its support of research, education and the distribution of hearings aids to those in need all over the world, and it’s been our good fortune to have the loyal support of committed, Hearing Angels like Larry Fitzgerald, who helped us change lives in Malaysia by reconnecting people to their families and communities through the gift of hearing.” stated Bill Austin, Founder, Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Malaysia hearing mission is one of dozens of missions conducted each year by the Foundation both domestically and internationally. Hearing missions are the primary way Starkey Hearing Foundation realizes its goal – So the World May Hear. In turn, the Foundation fit more than 110,000 hearing aids to individuals in need in 2011 alone, and as a member of President Clinton's Global Initiative, it has pledge to fit 1 million by the end of this decade.

According to Starkey Hearing Foundation, hearing loss is pervasive, affecting 34 million Americans – or one in 10. Yet, with the help of a hearing device, hearing loss can often be corrected in a majority cases, giving an individual the opportunity to better connect with their family, the community, and the world around them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top 10 things to know about hearing!

May 18, 2012 10:00 am

BLOOMINGTON — Here are the top 10 things that Deborah Pitcher wants people to know about hearing:

Have children evaluated
Pediatric hearing loss merits a full audiological evaluation and treatment plan. Good hearing is critical for speech, language and educational development.

Sudden loss needs attention
A significant, sudden (within two days) decline in hearing should be addressed immediately. If an infection is responsible, medicine may be prescribed. Untreated hearing loss could become permanent.

Most hearing loss is gradual
Hearing loss related to noise exposure usually occurs over years. By the time a person notices hearing difficulties, much of the damage is done.

Ear plugs have improved
Excuses to not wear ear plugs because of comfort or sound quality are no longer relevant. There are more than 100 styles of ear plugs, including plugs specially made for musicians, shooters, machine operators and children.

Give ears a break
The intensity and duration of exposure to noise — from iPods, concerts, motorcycles, car races, etc. — are what causes hearing loss. Taking breaks from noise can rest the ears.

Use it or lose it
If you experience hearing loss, get evaluated for a hearing aid. The longer the hearing system is “down,” the harder it is to get up and going.

Don’t live with ringing
If you experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears), an audiologist with tinnitus experience may offer solutions.

You get what you pay for
Free offers may not be the best route for persons with hearing loss. Patients should be sure that their hearing health care is being administered by an audiologist. In Illinois, audiologists must be licensed and have either a doctoral or master’s degree in audiology.

Aids are better
Today’s hearing aids — which range from $1,000 to $3,000 — are digital, computer programmable and discreet in size. Many interface with cell phones and televisions via Bluetooth technology. Some are waterproof. Others operate with rechargeable batteries that can last for more than a year.

Appreciate hearing
Like most things of value, we don’t appreciate our hearing until it’s diminished. Hearing connects us to family, friends and environment and alerts us to emergencies. Preserving it and restoring it is important.

Click here to visit original link:
Top 10 things to know about hearing : | Central Illinois

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hearing Experts From University Hospitals Case Medical Center Offer Tips for Lifetime of Enjoying Conversation, Music and All The Pleasures of Hearing Well

Great Tips From University Hospitals Case Medical Center!

Cleveland, Ohio (PRWEB) May 10, 2012 

Lifestyle choices can help protect your hearing. When hearing problems do develop, prompt diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve quality of life. Older adults who seek out treatment for hearing loss are less likely to experience depression, anxiety and social isolation than those who remain untreated.

When President Ronald Reagan appeared in public wearing a hearing aid in 1983, people noticed. He was a high-profile example of a powerful, active older adult using a tool to function at his best. 

“Hearing aid sales increased dramatically in the U.S. that year,” says Maroun Semaan, MD, Co-Director, University Hospitals Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, Ear, Hearing & Balance Center and Cochlear Implant Surgery, and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Age-related hearing loss is very common,” Dr. Semaan says. It affects one in three adults older than 60 and half of people older than 75. 

But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Lifestyle choices can help protect your hearing. When hearing problems do develop, prompt diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve quality of life. Older adults who seek out treatment for hearing loss are less likely to experience depression, anxiety and social isolation than those who remain untreated. 

Click the link below to read the rest of these tips

Falls Linked to Hearing Loss

Posted on Wednesday, May 09, 2012 | People Hearing Better

In a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins and funded by the National Institute of Health, . Even people with mild hearing loss were shown to have a greater chance of losing their balance. This correlation has surprised some people and confused others. So how is hearing related to balance and what are some of the reasons for the greater likelihood of falling because of hearing loss?

There are three main sections of the ear--outer, middle, and inner. These divisions work in conjunction with the brain to decipher signals and determine the position of the head. Balance is a complicated process involving other parts of the body, but one of the most crucial parts is the one found within the inner ear. The vestibular systems within the inner ear keeps track of the movements of the head and reports them to the brain. So when there is a problem with fluid in the ears, like with Meniere's disease, balance can be affected as well as hearing. Knowing this it might seem obvious why people who have hearing loss are more likely to fall, but surprisingly the results of the study held true even when problems with vestibular functions were excluded from the study. So what might be the other reasons for this increased likelihood of falls?

Another reason hearing loss might increase the risk of falls is cognitive load, in which the brain is overwhelmed with demands on its limited resources. Co-author of study, Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins

Cognitive overload is a condition in which a person with untreated hearing loss is mentally fatigued through the extra effort needed to concentrate and pay attention to speech in their everyday environment. “Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding,” Lin says. “If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait.” This inability to focus on balance and gait is not something that happens when an individual is physically fatigued. The cognitive exhaustion or listening lethargy can happen relatively quickly if a person is in a demanding listening environment. Demanding listening environments include those with high background noise or poor acoustics.

Lack of awareness of environment can cause misperceptions in spatial reasoning.

According to Healthy, "Sound arrives at one ear a split second before it reaches the other ear on the other side of your head. The split second sound delivery time enables the hearing centers of the brain to determine the location of source of the sound--a throwback to our prehistoric ancestors who needed to know the location of the dangers around them." Dr. Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist, says among the possible explanations for the link is that people who can’t hear well might not have good awareness of their overall environment, making tripping and falling more likely.

Every year about 33 million Americans are injured badly enough to require medical attention, and the most common cause of nonfatal injury in every age group is falling down. Nicholas Bakalar, Hurt at Home, And Fall is Likely to Blame, The New York Times

According to the CDC, "In 2000, the direct medical cost of fatal fall injuries totaled $179 million. On average, the hospitalization cost for each fall injury is $18,000." Untreated hearing loss costs millions each year, and falls add to these rising costs. Obviously not all of these incidents could be prevented by use of a hearing aid, but treating hearing loss does benefit some of the areas thought to cause falls. Hearing aids have been shown to help with cognitive overload, increasing attention and brain functions. Today's hearing aids also incorporate spatial and locational technologies to give wearers the same organic awareness of environment as natural hearing, and also have the ability to eliminate background noise.

Today's evidence consistently points to the need for all people to take their hearing health seriously. Not only has hearing loss been tied to an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's but it also results in greater strain on parts of the brain that are atrophying from loss of hearing. This stress leads to a greater likelihood of distraction, attention problems, and might be one reason for falls. If you have hearing loss, know someone with hearing loss, or suspect you have hearing loss, don't delay in getting help. The sooner you improve your hearing, the sooner you improve your quality of life and lessen the risks associated with untreated hearing loss.

View original article posting by clicking the link below. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BHI: Hearing Loss - Online Hearing Test from

Across America Hearing Check Challenge


Almost 35 million people in the U.S. know they can't hear as well as they once did. Yet half of them have never had their hearing professionally tested. 

The truth is, untreated hearing loss interferes with virtually every aspect of a person's life-both personally and professionally. When ignored and left unaddressed, hearing loss can lead to impaired memory; difficulty in learning new tasks; reduced alertness; increased risk to personal safety; irritability; negativism; anger; fatigue; tension; stress; depression; isolation; withdrawal; and diminished psychological and overall health..Simply, when you choose to ignore your hearing loss, you are choosing a dramatic loss in your quality of life. For the vast majority of people, it is not a conscious choice.

To help people understand the serious impact that hearing loss can have on their lives, the Better Hearing Institute has developed and validated a simple 15-item online test that individuals can take in the privacy and comfort of their own home. The test is designed to help people better understand just how serious their hearing loss is, and to determine whether or not they need further help.

The following online hearing check lets you quickly assess your need for an objective hearing test by a hearing health professional and consultation on possible solutions to your hearing problem (such as hearing aids).

This hearing check is based on the Revised American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) five-minute hearing check. In a 2010 Better Hearing Institute study of 11,000 people with hearing loss, this online hearing check was shown to be related to:
  • real measures (objective) of hearing loss using audiological equipment
  • self and family evaluations of hearing loss (subjective)
  • impact of hearing loss on quality of life based on ratings by people with hearing loss
In step #1 You will be asked to respond to 15 questions about your hearing. They will be presented to you one at a time. Please understand that your responses are confidential. The Better Hearing Institute does not ask anything about your identity. 
In step #2 The computer will score your test. It will compare your responses to 11,000 people with hearing loss and produce a personalized evaluation of your hearing. These results are for your eyes only. But if you choose, you may share it with your family members, physician or a hearing health professional.

Please realize that this online hearing check is not equivalent to a professional hearing test performed by a hearing health professional. It is meant to help you assess whether or not you should see a hearing health professional. If, for any reason, you feel you are suffering from hearing loss that needs to be addressed, consult your family doctor, an ear-nose-throat physician, or a hearing health professional (audiologist or hearing instrument specialist)

Click on the link below to take the FREE online hearing Test

Transitioning the Patient with Severe Hearing Loss to New Hearing Aids

Convery, E., & Keidser, G. (2011). Transitioning hearing aid users with severe and profound loss to a new gain/frequency response: benefit, perception and acceptance. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. 22, 168-180.

This editorial discusses the clinical implications of an independent research study. The original work was not associated with Starkey Hearing Technologies. This editorial does not represent the opinions of the original authors. 

Many individuals with severe-to-profound hearing loss are full-time, long-term hearing aid users. Because they rely heavily on their hearing aids for everyday communication, they are often reluctant to try new technology. It is common to see patients with severe hearing loss keep a set of hearing aids longer than those with mild-to-moderate losses. These older hearing aids offered less effective feedback suppression and a narrower frequency range than those available today now. The result was that many severely-impaired hearing aid users were fitted with inadequate high-frequency gain and compensatory increases in low-mid frequency amplification.  Having adapted to this frequency response, they may reject new hearing aids with increased high-frequency gain, stating that they sound too tinny or unnatural. Similarly, those who have adjusted to linear amplification may reject wide-dynamic-range compression (WDRC) as too soft, even though it the strategy may provide some benefits when compared to their linear hearing aids.

View full blog post at by clicking the link below.

Google+ Badge