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Hearing Sensitivity; Some of The Many Causes and Remedies

 
Hearing sensitivity or hyperacusis can be extremely disturbing. Currently, there is no cure for hyperacusis and therefore, the condition has to be managed.

What is Hearing Sensitivity or Hyperacusis?

Hearing sensitivity or hyperacusis is a hearing disorder that affects one’s ability to deal with certain kinds of sounds. These sounds become unnecessarily hyped in the ear leading to discomfort even when others are unable to hear the sound. Sounds such as that of a car engine, the running tap, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other basic kitchen appliances. Loud discussions become relatively even louder in your ear.
Hyperacusis is not a common condition and affects only 1 in 50,000 people. This condition is often accompanied by another condition known as tinnitus—which is a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear. A lot of people suffering from hyperacusis also have normal hearing.
Depending on the severity of the hearing sensitivity, these sounds can have either mild or severe effects on the patient. In severe cases, the patient might suffer a loss of balance or seizures.
A person with a very good hearing of Hearing sensitivity (better than normal) below 0 dB HL can be referred to as hypersensitive. However, this case is normal and not hyperacusis. Hyperacusis is usually not associated with this kind of hypersensitivity. Therefore, there is a need to differentiate hyperacusis from normal hearing sensitivity.
There are different types of hyperacusis and for a clearer understanding of the different types, we need to focus on the following terminologies:

These four groups cover the ways hyperacusis is perceived generally. They also cover the various ways in which different people react to hyperacusis while creating a meaningful distinction among them.
While some people with hyperacusis experience these signs singly, others may experience two or more signs at a time. The perception of loud noise can be considered as a basic primary psychoacoustical response. Fear and annoyance can be referred to as personal emotional reactions to hearing sensitivity. Pain hyperacusis can be used to refer to either of the two conditions or both of them. These terminologies are used to precisely differentiate between the types of hyperacusis. Nonetheless, hyperacusis or hearing sensitivity is the general terminology used for the condition.

Types of Hyperacusis

Loudness Hyperacusis

When we talk of loudness hyperacusis, we refer to the condition whereby moderate sounds is perceived to be very loud when compared to a person with normal hearing would hear.

Annoyance Hyperacusis

When negative emotional reactions accompany sounds, this can be referred to as annoyance hyperacusis. This reaction arises from the perception of the sound as very loud though not in all cases. This kind of reaction may be related to a particular sound or different kinds of sounds. This sound is perceived to be pervasive and persistent as opposed to the normal reaction from disturbing sounds like one from a loud playing irritating music. Annoyance hyperacusis can be manifested in the form of anxiety, irritation, and tension.

Fear Hyperacusis

Fear hyperacusis refers to the aversive response to a particular sound or group of sounds. This kind of response leads to preventive response and avoidance behavior. In the case of fear hyperacusis, the individual will take steps to avoid circumstances that lead to exposure to certain kinds of sound. People also tend to avoid places where they might be exposed to certain kinds of sounds. These include places like restaurants, sporting arenas, restaurants, and even recreational centers. In some cases, they tend to avoid even normal social gatherings.

Pain Hyperacusis

When a patient with hyperacusis experiences pain when exposed to a much lower sound level, this is referred to as pain hyperacusis. This low sound level can be around 120 dB SPL. In some cases, this sound is reported as a stabbing sound in the head or the ear. The pain sometimes appears severe. Whether this pain occurs as a result of lowering of the normal hearing threshold or a different mechanism of sound processing is not clear. When discussing pain hyperacusis, care should be taken to distinguish between those with a painful ear infection and pain hyperacusis.

Causes of hyperacusis

Sounds are perceived by the ears as vibrations. In people suffering from hyperacusis, the ear confuses or amplifies certain vibrations. So even when a person with hyperacusis receives the same with a person with normal hearing, their brain has a different reaction to the sound. This is the cause of the discomfort the person with hyperacusis feel.
Normally, there is nobody born with hyperacusis. This condition is usually caused by certain health challenges or diseases. Some of the most common causes of hyperacusis include the following:

  • A head injury can lead to hyperacusis: This is most common in the case of an airbag injury or a fall.
  • Toxins and other forms of harmful medication: some medications known as ototoxic medications can cause damage to the ear. These kinds of medication can lead to hyperacusis.
  • Bell’s palsy: this is a viral infection that affects the inner ear and even the facial nerves.
  • Adisorer of the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint.
  • Migraine
  • Regular use of valium
  • Lyme disease
  • Some kinds of Epilepsy can cause hyperacusis
  • Taye-Sachs disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

 Constantly hanging around areas prone to loud noises can be a major cause of hyperacusis. Some kinds of noise, for instance, a single sharp gunshot that is loud enough can be a trigger for the condition. Prolonged use of earbuds at exceedingly high volume can lead to the condition after some time.

Influence of Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis or hearing sensitivity leads to reduced tolerance to sound. People with hyperacusis are often confined in their homes. They don’t like going out to social gatherings. Hearing sensitivity if not treated can slowly begin to affect one’s career and life generally.
In some cases, even the basic things such as using the kitchen blender, the running of the car engine, doing the lawn and even using the washing machine become very loud for the affected individual. Directly or indirectly, this will affect the way they handle those activities.

Diagnosis and the treatment of Hyperacusis


Without proper knowledge of the causes of hearing sensitivity, it becomes very difficult to provide the right remedy for it. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, various conditions can lead to hearing sensitivity. Conditions such as the ones we mentioned earlier. Therefore, a proper diagnosis must precede the treatment of hearing sensitivity.

·        Diagnosis

Have you had experienced some of the signs of hyperacusis or perhaps you feel you may be suffering from the condition? The first thing to do is to visit an ENT unit of a hospital to see a specialist in hearing problems. ENT doctors are found in most large clinics that offer ear examination as part of their services.
One of the things the doctor will enquire from you is your medical history. This will help the doctor to ascertain the best kind of test for you. He will also carry out a test on the affected ear. This test will help to ascertain whether or not the patient is truly suffering from hyperacusis.
Carrying out a test will also help identify what kind of hyperacusis the patient is suffering from. A proper test is a guide to the doctor whose duty is to ensure that you live a longer and happier life.
In the case of loudness hyperacusis Audiologists can diagnose the condition by taking measurements of loudness growth or discomfort levels of loudness by the use of pure tones. This diagnosis can also be carried out by the use of recorded environmental sounds as proposed by hearing healthcare literature studies.
Exposing patients to sound levels of 60 to 70 dB and verifying from them when the sound becomes too loud can be a valuable way to indicate if they have hyperacusis or not.

·        Treatment

Naturally, hearing sensitivity or hyperacusis that is caused by damage to the inner ear or aging cannot be cured. Once it has started, it can only be managed. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this.
Treatment of hyperacusis or hearing sensitivity depends on the causes of hearing sensitivity. For example, in the case of a loud gunshot very close to the ear. Naturally, some kinds of hyperacusis will get better on their own over time without the need for treatment. In most cases where the sensitivity is caused by an injury to the head or the ear, the person naturally gets better after the injury is treated.

  • Sound desensitization

For a hyperacusis or hearing sensitivity that does not get better on its own after some time, the doctor might recommend a treatment known as sound desensitization. You will be introduced to a specialist whose job is to teach you how to deal with sound. In short, sound desensitization involves the reintroduction of everyday sound afresh.
The patient will be made to listen to a very quiet sound daily and slowly the specialist will increase the sound to a much louder one.
This kind of treatment is mostly carried out with a device you wear on the affected ear. The sound used in this treatment is not a worrisome one. Static sounds are used. This kind of treatment can take up to 6 months or one year before the patient reaps all the benefits of the therapy.
There are other kinds of treatment used for hyperacusis which include relaxation exercise and acupuncture. However, enough research has not been carried out to determine how effective these methods of treatment are.

There is another form of experimental treatment known as Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT). This kind of treatment is usually used in autism patients.  It involves playing and listening to music at different volumes at certain periods daily.
The hearing specialist may also place you on mediation to help you cope with the stress caused by hearing sensitivity.

Most people with hyperacusis would tend to use earplugs to prevent them from loud sounds. Others might want to stay away from conditions and places with loud sounds. This may provide short term relief. However, if not treated for a long time, it will cause the condition to worsen. This is because the moment you are no longer wearing your earplugs, you will perceive sounds even much louder.

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy

This form of therapy uses special devices known as noise generators. Wearing this device frequently will gradually reduce your sensitivity to noise. This deice slowly gets your ear accustomed to barely audible white noises it produces. Slowly, the ear will also learn to ignore such noises.

  • Find someone to talk to about the symptoms you experience

Talking to someone will not directly provide a cure for hyperacusis. However, it can be a good way of dealing with other conditions associated with hearing sensitivity such as increased anxiety. In cases where there is heightened anxiety or reactions, talking to someone might be of help. You don’t just talk to anyone but rather a professional such as a psychologist or a counselor. They can work with you in identifying the factors that trigger your anxiety and help you with ways of dealing with those factors. With a good understanding that hyperacusis is not caused by a threatening disorder can be a good way to improve a patient’s tolerance to sounds considerably.
 
 

  • Remind people of your condition and tell them to avoid raising their voice

Always let people know of your condition so they can lower their voices when speaking to you. They should be fully aware that loud noise causes irritation to your ear and makes the message unclear. Lowering their voices will help you understand and cope with the conversations better.

  • Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT involves changing the way you think about things. Inversely, changing the way your hyperacusis can help reduce anxiety and help you manage your hyperacusis better.

Where can you get help for hyperacusis?

  1. Visit a General Practitioner (GP) or your family doctor

The first place to seek help during hyperacusis is with your family doctor or a general practitioner (GP). He will interview your medical history and try to find out the causes of your hearing sensitivity. In most cases, he is also in charge of treatment and providing remedies for hyperacusis. In some cases, the GP might refer you to an ENT doctor depending on his examination and findings.

  1. The Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT)

The ENT doctor specializes in the treatment of conditions associated with hearing, the nose, and the throat. His duties are to carry out further tests on a patient using special and more advanced tools. Most cases of hearing problems such as tinnitus and hyperacusis are handled by him. Once he identifies the root cause(s) of your hearing sensitivity, he can proceed with the right therapy to make you feel better.

  1. The Audiologist

The audiologist is a hearing scientist who is saddled with the responsibility of working with people with different kinds of hearing problems. He has a deeper understanding of what happens during a hearing problem. He is also responsible for providing hearing solutions such as recommending the right hearing aids and earplugs for people with hearing problems. A patient with hyperacusis will certainly get help when they visit an audiologist.

  1. Visit an association such as the tinnitus association

Different countries have special associations devoted to providing help for people with conditions such as tinnitus, hyperacusis and other such related conditions. You can get help by visiting such organizations when you notice any of the symptoms of hearing sensitivity. They can also refer you to where you can get the proper treatment for your condition. If you are lucky, you might even get a free consultation and assistance with treatment.

Hyperacusis and Tinnitus

Some patients diagnosed with hearing sensitivity also suffer from tinnitus. While these two conditions may be related, they are two different conditions. According to research carried out by Dr. Jennifer R. Melcher Ph.D. and her colleagues, an associate professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard University Medical School, patients with tinnitus when tested for loudness discomfort levels find it difficult to bear very loud sounds.
According to Dr. Jennifer Melcher, people with tinnitus have more hyperacusis or hearing sensitivity. She is also of the view that in the evaluation of patients with tinnitus, the doctor should enquire from those with tinnitus about the loudness discomfort. Again, she also encourages doctors to evaluate patients who have showed signs of hyperacusis or hearing sensitivity for tinnitus as well.
Tinnitus can also be noticed in people with hyperacusis. Some patients with tinnitus agree that loud noises tend to worsen their tinnitus. Classifying this symptom as hyperacusis is not correct. While the treatment of hyperacusis may be rooted in the management of tinnitus, the two conditions remain entirely dissimilar. In the case of tinnitus, the affected patient perceives sound even when there is no external sound or stimulus to the ear. On the other hand, hyperacusis is the overreaction to external sounds.
While in the case of tinnitus there is no sound, for hyperacusis there must be an external sound that is wrongly perceived by the ear.
Tinnitus is a hearing sensitivity that is related to suffering. In some cases, this situation can be severe enough to prevent work. When talking about tinnitus, sensitivity and suffering account for two separate aspects of the condition and must not be confused with each other.
When we talk of tinnitus sensitivity, we refer to the perception of sound when there is no sound as we earlier mentioned. This can be either subjective or objective. The objective case is a rare occurrence. It happens when there is an internal auditory stimulus in the inner ear, for instance, a tempestuous blood flow in one of the arteries near the ear. This can cause the patient to hear a pulsing sound. This sound can also be head by a doctor using a stethoscope.
In the case of subjective tinnitus, there is mostly no external auditory stimulus. Only the patient can hear the sound. Patients with subjective tinnitus will describe the sensation they hear in one of the following ways:

  • Ringing sound
  • Buzzing sound
  • Hissing sound
  • Humming sound or
  • Whistling sound

There are a lot of people with tinnitus that also suffer a hearing loss that is measurable with an audiometer. However, there are a lot of people suffering a hearing loss that do not have tinnitus.

Conclusion

While hyperacusis is not a common condition, it can be found in both adults and children. Hyperacusis can be related to many known causes and however, most cases also have no known causes. While we highlighted some of the major causes of hyperacusis in our discussion, there is still a need for further research to ascertain other causes of hyperacusis.
It is often a general practice for people with some form of hearing alteration including hyperacusis to use ear protection. While this may have some short term remedy, it is often not advisable to use ear protection all day long. When ear protections are overused, they can have a long term counter effect. They can cause lead to greater sensitivity to sound in patients with hyperacusis.
Ear protection such as earplugs should only be used when performing certain activities such as mowing the lawn or using the washing machine. Ear protection will not help in managing hyperacusis in the long run.
It is important to talk to the hearing professional from time to time for the best ways to manage your hyperacusis. It is also important to avoid the use of unsolicited drugs and self-medication in the treatment of the condition. It can be beneficial to try out some relaxation techniques to help you cope with hyperacusis. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation are recommended.

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Wax guards; different types comparison and how to use them.

 
Protecting your hearing aid from wax and moisture is very important. It is the only way to guarantee that you enjoy them for a long time. This I why wax guards are important accessories to invest in.

  

What are wax guards?

Wax guards are specially designed tiny plastics that are intended to keep hearing aids receivers safe from getting damaged by wax. There are also advanced wax guards that can protect your hearing aids from moisture and debris.
Wax and moisture are the two major reasons why your hearing aids get damaged fast. Accumulation of wax and moisture in your hearing aid will lead to a short lifespan. Hearing aid users are aware that the cost of fixing a broken hearing aid is far much expensive. It is, therefore, more important to protect your hearing aids as much as possible.
Hearing aids are big investments and therefore, they need to be treated with care. It is, therefore, important that ensure they are cleaned and dried at all times. Changing the wax guards is also important to ensure that your hearing aids keep working to optimal standards.
Daily use of the hearing aid can cause moisture and wax to continue to build up inside the tube of your hearing aid. Once this happens, the hearing aid begins to perform. This means that the hearing is partially/completely blocked off in the particular ear.
For those who use the ITE hearing aids, wax guards are very important. They will help to keep out wax and prevent your hearing aid from getting damaged. There are a variety of wax guars to choose from.
When it comes to ear wax production, this can vary from one individual to another. Therefore, it is important to constantly check the wax guards (daily if possible). Ensure you change wax guards at the right time. It is recommended that you change once the earwax is visible on the tip of the wax guard. This means that some people can go for a month without the need to change the wax guard. Other people can just go for a couple of days and a change will be required.  Don’t allow the sound from your hearing aid to go completely deem before talking of changing the wax guard. It is therefore recommended that you change the wax guard once every month. This will ensure you enjoy the best performance.
Some people complain that their wax guard gets filled up too quickly. In some cases, they have to change the wax guard daily. If you notice this kind of situation, then you should consult your doctor. This might be an indication of other health conditions the doctor might need to treat.
Using a wax guard does not mean you should ignore daily cleaning and maintenance of your hearing aids. Adhere to the recommended cleaning methods at home once a day. Also, book an appointment with your audiologist for the proper cleaning of your hearing aids.

Why are wax guards important?

Wax guards have become an essential part of the hearing aids lately. With the advent of the different types of hearing aids, there are fewer incidents of damaged hearing aids. This has also reduced the number of people running to the repair shops for repair. This means that the number of hearing aids damaged by was accumulation and moisture has drastically reduced.
An estimated 50 percent of hearing aids that go to the repair shops daily is a result of hearing ax clog. Using the wax guard and changing when required can save you the stress of visiting the audiologist frequently.
Different Types of Wax Guards
When it comes to the design of the hearing aid wax guard, two major design formats can be noticed. While some wax guards utilize the changing tool which is a straight holder with two sides for removing and replacing the used filter others utilize the round design with a port for removing and another for replacing the wax guard filter. The design is dependent on the manufacturers.
There are a lot of manufacturers who produce different kinds of wax guards. Depending on the type of hearing aid you use, the wax guard that is required is different. In order words, a wax guard that is suitable for one device may not be compatible with other designs. Below are the types of wax trap available according to hearing aids manufacturers.

Hearing aid manufacturers and their hearing aids

  • Unitron Cerustop
  • Beltone—Waxguard C Grid, HF 4 Pro Red/Blue, Waxguard Mini RIC
  • Bernafon— Waxguard Prowax Minifit and Waxguard Prowax Turtle
  • EargoHF 5 Pro Red/Blue
  • GN Resound Waxguard Cerustop
  • Oticon—Waxguard Prowax Minifit and Waxguard Prowax Turtle
  • Phonak—Cerustop and CeruShield TM Disk
  • Signia (Siemens)–Waxguard C Grid, HF 4 Pro Red/Blue, Waxguard Mini RIC
  • Starkey—HearClear Wax Guard

Phonak CeruSTOP™ wax guard for Widex hearing aids


The CeruSTOPTM wax guard consists of a holder, a removal hook and a wax guard. On one end of the holder is a tiny hook that is used to remove the used wax guard. On the other end of the holder is mounted on the bottom end of the holder.
The CeruSTOPTM wax guard comes in a carrying case of eight sticks. They are designed for convenience and easy use. In most cases, your Phonak hearing aids come equipped with The CeruSTOPTM wax guards.

How to remove and replace The CeruSTOPTM  wax guard

Changing your CeruSTOPTM wax guard involves some important steps. It involves a few easy steps. First, take out your hearing aid and wipe out any visible wax from the hearing aid. Take out the holder and using the side with the hook, insert it into the used hearing wax guard. Do this gently and ensure the shaft of the holder is touching the edge of the wax guard. Gently pull it out. ensure you pull straight out. avoid twisting or prying the wax guard when pulling it out from the bushing.
Once you have pulled out the used hearing wax guard, turn the holder over to the other end holding the new wax guard. When inserting the new wax guard, the same level of precaution is required. Push the wax guard gently straight into the opening of the receiver. Do not apply too much force when inserting the wax guard to avoid causing damage to your device. When you insert, ensure that the outer ring of the wax guard is well positioned on the opening of the hearing aid receiver. Once inserted, pull the holder gently out in a straight motion. As usual, avoid twisting or prying the wax guard holder when pulling it out. the new wax guard if properly inserted will remain in place while the holder pulls apart.
After successfully inserting the new wax guard, discard the holder with the used wax guard properly. Do not reuse a wax guard. It is important to check the wax guard after insertion. If it fits loosely, removes and discard and insert a new one.
In case your wax guard falls into the ear, it is important to visit a doctor immediately. Do not attempt a home remedy on your own.

Phonak CeruShield Disk

The Phonk CeruShield Disk is the more current design of the wax guard. It is much easier to use than the previous wax guard.
The CeruShield Disk is designed in disk form and consists of 8 CeruShield filters. There are also 8 different disposal positions to make changing easy.
When it comes to wax related issues, the CeruShield filter is designed to protect the hearer for a longer time. They are designed for use with the SDS 4.0 receiver.
The CeruShield filter is designed for longer wear before a change is required. The CeruShield disk is designed for easy handling and maintenance cost is also easy.
CeruShield filters are designed to fit with custom earpieces and also offer double wax protection.

How to Use the Use the Cerushield Disk

Step 1: Turn the cover of the CeruShield disk till an empty spot shows under the delete icon and a new filter can be seen under the number 2.
Step 2: to remove the filter from the receiver, put the receiver opening facing the delete icon of the disc facing downward.
Step 3: press the receiver hard until you hear a tiny click sound. Lift the receiver straight. You should see the used wax guard inside the CeruShield Disk.
Step 4: To replace the wax guard turn the disc cover until a new wax guard can be seen in the number 2. Repeat the process you did when removing the used wax guard. Place the receiver opening facing the number 2.
Step 5: press the receiver firmly until you feel the click sound again.
Step 6: the new CeruShield filter will be well-positioned in the hearing aid by now. You can now remove it. The hearing aid is now ready to use.

HearClear Wax Guard

Hear clear wax guards are designed for the Starkey hearing aid brands. They consist of disposable wax guards that are designed to keep earwax out of your hearing aid. Hear Clear wax guards are designed to be used with application sticks.
Before you use, note that this device is designed for use with only the Starkey brand. It is not compatible for use with other hearing aid brands.
This hearing aid wax guard is beautifully designed and they come in packs of 8 and 48. Therefore, depending on your budget, you can enjoy the privileges of buying the same product according to the strength of your pocket.

How to remove and replace HearClear Wax Guards

There are two ends to the hearing aid application stick. One is used for pulling out the used wax guard while the other is used for replacing a new one.
The empty end of the application stick is used for pulling out used wax guards. Insert it into the used HearClear wax guard. Ensure you maintain a straight motion and do the insertion very gently. Do not twist the application stick when inserting it in—there is no need for that.
Once the application stick is properly inserted, there next thing to do is pull gently. As soon as it is out, flip the applicator stick to the opposite side. This end contains a new wax guard for your hearing aid. Push this wax guard gently into the hole of your hearing aid.
Ensure that the wax guard is properly fitted before pulling out your applicator stick. Your hearing aid is once more safe to use. Once every day, ensure to examine your wax guard holders in case of any wax and debris and replace them when the need arises.

   HF 5 Pro Red/Blue Wax Guard


This wax guard is the updated version of the HF 4 and HF 3. The HF 5 is specially designed for the Eargo hearing aids. The HF 5 is designed for better fitting and comfort with the hearing aid.
They are very reliable when it comes to keeping out earwax and debris from your hearing aid. Like other wax guards, they are inserted at the tip of the hearing aid for long-lasting protection.
There are some crucial benefits associated with using this hearing aid wax guard. These includes:

  • They are very easy to use
  • They offer good value for your money
  • They are healthy
  • They are maintenance-free devices
  • Designed to ensure that sound remains accurate and undistorted
  • In case a muffling sound is heard, it is an indication that a change is required.

The HF 5 comes in a round-shaped dispenser of 14 blue and red wax guards. The colors are used to differentiate between the left and the right hearing aids. The integrated changing tools make it easy to change the wax guards at any time.

Removing and Replacing the used Wax Guard

Removing and replacing the used wax guard can be done in the following steps using the changing tool:
Step 1: the changing tool that comes with the filter has a threaded side which is used for removing the used filter. Insert it into the used wax guard in your hearing aid and screw gently for up to 1 mm. stop as soon as you notice a resistance. Pull the changing tool out vertically to extract the used wax guard.
Step 2: getting rid of the used wax guard filter. Take your changing tool that has the used wax guard filter on it and insert it into the center of the dispenser. Push your changing tool sideways to the end of the slot then pull out your changing tool vertically. This will get rid of the used wax guard filer from the changing tool.
Step 3: rotate the adjustable wheel of the wax guard until you have an open chamber. Flip the changing tool over to the edgy side and push it into the wax guard filter. You should feel a clipping sound. Pull the changing tool out vertically, the new wax guard filter should be attached to it.
Step 4: Push the new wax guard into the opening of the hearing aid. Ensure it sits properly in the chamber. Bend the changing tool to one side to release the wax guard.
Step 5: return the changing tool to its original position and your device is ready for use.

Oticon Wax Guards

There are a variety of Oticon wax guards that are available in the market. They are specially designed for the Oticon range of hearing aids (ITE and RITE hearing aids). Both kinds of hearing aids have a lot of similarities. The Oticon wax guard features the round shape for most of the cases.

How to remove and replace the Oticon wax guards

Step 1: Take your Oticon wax guard and take out the tool from the shell. The tool consists of a semicircular tool with two pins at the end. On one side is an empty pin for removing used hearing wax guard while the other contains a new hearing aid wax guard.
Step 2: Insert the empty side of the pin into the used hearing aid wax guard and pull it out vertically. Once the old wax guard is out, turn the other end and insert the new wax guard into the hearing aid receiver. Roll it to help the wax guard come off. Once the new wax guard is in place, your hearing aid is good to use. Discard the replacement tool properly.
 
Comparing Between the Two Major Designs of the hearing aid wax guard
It is important to note that while one type of hearing aid wax guard may be more convenient to use than the other. However, they both serve the same purpose of ensuring that your hearing device does not get destroyed by wax and moisture.

Is it easier to use the conventional design or the round design?

There are quite many reasons while some people will want to choose the round hearing aids over the conventional. It is, therefore, important to compare both kinds of hearing aid wax guard for a better understanding of how each works.

Conventional design of the wax guard The round design of the wax guard
Consists of a handle with two sides, one for removing the used hearing wax guard while the other for replacing it with a new one. Consists of round design and a rotating top and two holes, one for removing the used hearing wax guard and the other containing the new ones for replacement
Removal and replacement of used up hearing aid wax guard is done manually and requires a lot of precision and understanding. Removal and replacement are semi-automatic and required only understanding of how the process works to replaced used up wax guards.
The new wax guard can easily get damaged if not replaced with care. The rate of damage is usually very low since the individual is not required to do very much but just a little.
Sometimes, the number of sticks is limited to 8 or even less which can go for only 8 weeks or less. As much as 14 wax guards are contained in a single disk of hearing aid guard wax. This means you have more time to use your wax guard before purchasing a new pack.

 
How to use wax guards
In most cases when you purchase your first hearing aid, it may likely come with a wax guard at the tip. now what if it gets muddy with wax, what is the next solution?  Wax guards are designed for temporal use. Therefore, they are to be discarded once they get dirty. The best way to determine whether a wax guard is due for change is by watching out for the visible presence of wax on the filter.
Once the wax is visible, it is advisable to get rid of the wax guard and replace it with a new one. Most hearing wax guards are also accompanied with a manual on how to replace used up wax guards with new ones. It is important to always check with your hearing aid professional before purchasing a wax guard. They are in the best position to guide you with the right wax guard for your device.
If you already have some pre-existing health conditions such as a hole in the ear tube or you use gel, it is advisable to inform your hearing aid professional. Such conditions may not permit you to use the wax guard.
Like we mentioned earlier, it is important to note that even with the wax guard, the hearing aid still requires regular cleaning. Therefore, investing in the right cleaning tools for your hearing aid is very important.
Finding the right cleaning kits may be a bit difficult. This is why it is important to also talk to your hearing aid professional to guide you with purchasing the right tools.
 
 
 

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Presbycusis—How the cumulative effect progresses

 
There are a lot of factors that can lead to these multiple conditions which occur over many years. This results in the gradual loss of hearing both progressively and symmetrically.
Doctor’s and hearing professionals use the term presbycusis when referring to age-related hearing loss. It is the cumulated result caused by aging to hearing. This condition can even grow worse due to other factors which include exposure to loud noise, harmful medication and other forms of disease conditions.
In the early stage of presbycusis, high-frequency hearing loss is experienced. Gradually, even the ability to hear low-frequency noise is lost. As the condition worsens, speech discrimination and auditory processing become difficult. Presbycusis can be experienced very early in life and it continues to progress as you age. Even very young adults sometimes begin to experience a hearing loss of high-frequency sounds of above 15 to 16 kHz.  Estimated 30 to 35 percent of adult aged between 65 to 75 experience some degree of hearing loss in the speech frequencies. In adults above 75, the prevalence increases to about 40 to 50 percent. Conversely, this condition affects one out of three people aged 65 to 75 and one out of two in people aged over 75 years.
Presbycusis is accompanied by tinnitus most of the time. Presbycusis is more predominant in males than in females. Hearing loss has been identified as the major cause of tinnitus. In a study carried out on a hearing loss, it was found that about 11% of people with presbycusis are also experiencing tinnitus.
When it comes to old age disease rating, presbycusis has being rated as the second most common illness after arthritis.

Some of the factors that cause presbycusis

It is important to understand that hearing loss is uncertainly connected with aging. A study of industrial and non-industrial societies shows that people retain their hearing ability even at very advanced ages.  According to results obtained from the Framingham cohort, only 10 percent of the inconsistency of hearing with age can be associated and described as being related to functional degeneration as a result of aging.
In other words, other factors are more prevailing when discussing age-related hearing loss.
There are 3 distinctive components of the aging process. These include Functional degeneration, extrinsic damage (nosocusis) and intrinsic damage (sociocusis).  These factors are superimposed on a genetic substrate. In some cases, they are surpassed by the general vulnerability to disease and other medical disorders that are caused by advancement in age.

Nosocusis  

These are factors that are associated with gradual hearing loss that do not have any connection with exposure to loud noise. They are also distinct from pure presbycusis and they include the following factors:

  • Hereditary factors: this can contribute to how early the cochlea ages as well as its vulnerability to damage by harmful drugs.
  • Atherosclerosis: This is a health condition characterized by the reduced supply of blood and oxygen to the cochlea. When this occurs, the sensitive hair nerves in the ear that need constant replenishment of blood and oxygen begin to die off gradually.
  • The consumption of saturated fat: this can lead to an acceleration of atherosclerosis causing the hearing loss to progress even faster.
  • Smoking: this has a lot of health effects which includes damage to the ear. One way in which smoking affects your hearing is by heightening the effect of atherosclerosis and increases the progression of presbycusis.
  • Diabetes: Diabetic patients are more vulnerable to presbycusis. This is because diabetes leads to a reduced supply of blood to the cochlea. When the supply of blood to the cochlea is reduced, the hair nerves in the ear are left in danger of gradually getting damaged.
  • The effect of hypertension: Just like diabetes, hypertension can also affect the supply of blood and oxygen to the cochlea which also results in gradual damage of hearing over an extended period.
  • Ototoxic medication: ototoxic medications are harmful to the nerves involved in hearing and maintaining balance. There are drugs out there that clearly states ototoxic as one of its adverse effects. These kinds of drugs can hasten the progression of presbycusis. It is therefore advisable to stay off such medications.
  • Oxidative stress: presbycusis has also been associated with oxidative stress.
  • General inflammatory conditions: other disease conditions can lead to gradual hearing loss.

Sociocusis

This is a form of presbycusis that is associated with continuous exposure to loud noise. These kinds of noises are often background noises that are unrelated to working environments. This includes continuous noise from traffic, noises from the use of home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, blenders, personal sound systems, television, etc. when these sounds accumulate over years, it can lead to conditions that are related to pure presbycusis.

Symptoms of presbycusis

There are quite a number of symptoms associated with presbycusis. These symptoms are classified into primary and secondary symptoms.

Primary symptoms of presbycusis

  • The gradual degeneration of sound and speech which is characterized by dull speech and sounds. Speech and sound can be stifled or weakened making it difficult to communicate freely.
  • The need for higher volumes on appliances such as televisions, sound systems, and radios becomes relatively increased.
  • Using the phone becomes a bit more difficult.
  • Identifying the direction of sound also becomes difficult.
  • There is an increased difficulty of speech understanding, this is most noticeable in women and children.
  • Cocktail party experience. This refers to the condition whereby it becomes difficult to differentiate between a conversation and a background noise.

Secondary symptoms of presbycusis

  • Hyperacusis: the increased sensitivity to specific volumes and sound frequencies as a result of “recruitment”.
  • Tinnitus: This is very common and characterized by buzzing sound, hissing, ringing and even whistling sound when there is no external sound present.

These secondary symptoms usually occur in persons over the age of 50. Nonetheless, hearing deterioration has been discovered to start very early in life. For some, it is as early as 18 years. According to the ISO standard 7029, there are expected threshold changes that occur strictly as a result of age. This is for the carefully screened populace which excludes those with one form of ear problem or the other and those exposed to loud noise.
Despite the age-related consequences, even young adults can lose the hearing ability of higher frequencies that will only become reasonably noticeable as they grow older.

The six types of Presbycusis

Some changes occur during presbycusis. These changes are often microscopic with the common being the degeneration of the cochlea and the giant stereocillary. Four pathological phenotypes have been identified to be associated with presbycusis. These are:

  • Sensory presbycusis: this is characterized by the degeneration of the spiral organ which is the organ responsible for hearing. The spiral organ is located inside the scala media and it contains hair cells with stereocilia. This stereocilium extends to the tectorial membrane. The outer hair of the organ is very important as they are responsible for the amplification of sound. They are also very sensitive to both internal and external factors and once damaged, they do not regenerate. This leads to a gradual loss of hearing sensitivity. This also leads to the subnormal sounds heard in regards to the tonotopic spectrum caused by the damaged hairs.

This kind of hearing loss usually begins at the base of the cochlea and gradually progresses to the inner tip of the cochlea. Sensory presbycusis leads to a sharp drop in the ear perceives high-frequency sounds. In this situation, the ability of the individual to understand speech remains moderately good. The process of degeneration starts around mid-life of later at an advanced age.

  • Neural presbycusis: this kind of presbycusis is characterized by the degeneration of the spiral cochlear. It is the atrophy of the nerve cells. That affected areas are usually the cochlea and auditory pathways that lead to the brain. According to studies, about 2,100 out of 35,500 becomes damaged after every decade of life. when 50 percent or more of the cochlea neurons are lost, this is referred to as neural presbycusis. The loss is usually something that is gradually and begins early in life. in some cases, this loss can be due to genetic factors. The effect of this loss is hardly noticeable until the person reaches an advanced age. People suffering from neural presbycusis have an excessive decrease in their perception of speech when likened to their level of hearing loss.
  • Metabolic/ Strial presbycusis: An atrophy of the Stria Vascularis leads to metabolic or stria presbycusis. The stria vascularis is responsible for the supply of blood to the inner ear. It is also responsible for the maintenance of the chemical and bioelectric balance of the cochlea. When atrophy of the stria occurs, it leads to a hearing loss that is represented by a flat curve. This means that the different frequencies are affected in equal amounts (high and low frequencies). Since the entire cochlea is affected by this kind of hearing loss, it does not affect speech discrimination. This process is most likely to occur within the last two to three decades of life. the progress of this kind of presbycusis is slow and can also be hereditary.

 

  • Mechanical/ Cochlea conductive presbycusis: this is as a result of the stiffening of the basilar membrane. This, in turn, affects its movement. Nonetheless, this type of pathology remains unverified as one of the contributing factors of presbycusis. The basilar membrane provides support to the organ of Corti in the ear and is responsible for aiding the translation of sound vibrations into electrical signals. Mechanical/ cochlea conductive hearing loss associates with a progressively slanting high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. The progress remains reasonably slow and the level of speech discrimination is equal to the individual’s level of hearing loss.

There are two other types. While these types are relatively uncommon, it is also important that we understand them as well.

  • Indeterminate presbycusis: this term is used to refer to the situation in which presbycusis does not show any of the above characteristics. According to studies, about 25 percent of all the presbycusis cases do not show any of the above-mentioned characteristics of the 4 kinds of presbycusis.
  • Mixed presbycusis: when there is a combination of two or more of the presbycusis mentioned above, this can be referred to as mixed presbycusis.

While presbycusis occurs in different forms and can be categorized, it is still, however, difficult to differentiate one type from the other. However, we also understand that presbycusis no matter which one it remains the common cause of hearing loss in advanced adults.

Diagnosis of presbycusis

Hearing loss is classified according to severity. Doctors classify hearing loss into three different categories which are mild, moderate and severe (profound).
The diagnosis of presbycusis is done with the use of pure-tone audiometry to conduct the hearing threshold at different Hz. The doctor starts at 250 and continues to double it. That is, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 Hz. This is the traditional method for classifying the degree of hearing loss in specific ears.
The standard hearing threshold is placed at 25 dB sensitivity. However, recent research has proposed 15 dB as the right threshold claiming that 25 dB is too high. When we talk of mild hearing loss, we refer to hearing loss within 25-45 dB. Moderate presbycusis falls within the range of 45-65 dB while the severe hearing loss falls within 65-85 dB. Doctors in some cases will use the profound hearing loss to refer to hearing loss that goes above 85 dB threshold.
When tinnitus occurs in only one ear, the healthcare professional should conduct further tests and etiologies. When the presence of a pulse-synchronous whoosh sound is heard, additional imaging may be required to eliminate the vascular disorder.
There are various kinds of tests that are used to identify and monitor the progress of presbycusis. Let us look at some of them below.

1.    Otoscopy

This is the examination of the external auditory canal and the tympanic membrane. This kind of test is usually carried out by an audiologist, a medical doctor or an otolaryngologist. The major tool for this examination is an otoscope. An otoscope is a visual instrument that is inserted into the ear to help the doctor ascertain the condition of the middle ear through the transparent membrane known as the tympanic membrane.

2.    Tympanometry

In this kind of ear test, the doctor, audiologist or otolaryngologist examines the tympanic membrane and the function of the middle ear using an instrument known as the tympanometer. This device is a sound wave/ air pressure device that is inserted into the ear canal. The result obtained from this test is referred to as tympanogram and it shows the ear canal volume, the compliances of the middle ear pressure and the eardrum. A normal middle ear function which is referred to as type A tympanogram with a hearing loss can be a sign of presbycusis. Type B and Type C tympanogram show an aberration inside the auditory canal. This can have an increased effect on a person’s hearing ability.

3.    Laboratory test

A laboratory test may require a blood or other sera test. Here, the doctor checks for inflammatory markers such as those that are responsible for autoinflammatory diseases.

4.    Audiometry

This kind of test is usually conducted at the ENT unit by a professional. Here, the use of pure tone audiometry and speech recognition are employed. This test aims to ascertain the level and the nature of the hearing loss. Audiometry is also used to differentiate presbycusis from other kinds of hearing loss. The use of otoacoustic emission and evoked response testing may be employed for the testing of audio neuropathy.
Audiometry remains one of the best ways to identify the existence of a sensorineural hearing loss. This identifies significant hearing loss without the “air-bone gap” which is one of the major characteristics of a conductive hearing issue. In simple terms, when we talk of conduction, we refer to bone conduction. During audiometry, people suffering from cochlea shortfall do not pass the otoacoustic emission test. On the other hand, patients with 8th cranial nerve (vestibulocochlear nerve) shortfalls will not pass the auditory brainstem response examination.

5.    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

While this kind of test is not commonly used except in rare cases, it can also be one of the methods of diagnosis for presbycusis. This test can be used to determine vascular anomalies, structural problems such as enlarged mastoids and tumor in the ear. Nonetheless, using an MRI or other kind of test will not directly identify or even measure age-related hearing loss. This is one reason why MRI is not often used as a form of diagnosis.

Treatment of presbycusis

It is important to understand that presbycusis which is primarily sensorineural does not have a cure and also cannot be prevented. Therefore, the treatment for presbycusis falls within the categories of management, surgical and pharmacology. So far, there are no specifically approved pharmaceutical treatments recommended for presbycusis. Treatment methods for presbycusis include the following;

The use of cochlea implants

When a hearing loss is identified as severe/profound, a cochlea implant is used to correct the problem. The cochlea implant is a small electronic device that is designed to replace the damaged cochlea in the inner ear. This process involves inserting electrodes through the round window of the cochlea which goes into the fluid-filled scala tympani. This process aims to stimulate the peripheral axons of the primary auditory neurons. These neurons, therefore, send information to the brain through the auditory nerves.

 

The use of Middle ear implants

The middle ear implant is a surgically implanted hearing aid. They are implanted directly into the middle ear and they aim to directly vibrate the ossicles. These kinds of implants are very discreet and suitable for those who don’t love the idea of wearing a hearing aid.

The use of hearing aids and aural rehabilitation to manage presbycusis

The hearing aid: Hearing aids are a very useful device for the management of presbycusis and other forms of hearing loss. Over the past decades, a lot of efforts have been put into the research and improvement of hearing aids. Thanks to these researches, one can now tune the hearing aid a specific frequency and hearing loss range.
Aural rehabilitation: this is very important for persons whose speech patterns have been relatively affected by presbycusis. Some of the important tips you need to understand during aural rehabilitation include the following:

  • Ensure that the room is properly lighted
  • Face the affected person squarely
  • Ensure you use a noise-free area and utilize contextual tools to recover comprehension.
  • Use proper pronunciation to improve speech.

Conclusion
Over the years, hearing loss has been seen as a disease of the elderly. However, it is important to understand that while the signs become relatively noticeable at old age, the process starts as early as 18 years. As one advance in age, the deterioration continues.
There are also some factors that can hasten the effect of presbycusis over the years which includes diet, environmental factors and even drug habits.
Damaged ear cells like we looked at it are not replaceable and do not regenerate when they are damaged. This is why it is important to take anything about your ear health very seriously. It is therefore important to go for hearing check once you notice abnormal signs in the ear. Your health professional may refer you to an audiologist or an ENT hearing professional.
During a hearing test, the audiologist or healthcare professional might request your previous health records as well as ask about your private life which includes habits, working and living environment, lifestyle and preferences. This will enable him to understand more about your conditions, help you make adjustments where necessary to the various habits that may be further affecting your hearing.
The doctor, ENT professional or the audiologist is in the best position to recommend treatment for hearing loss. OTC medication is strongly discouraged for patients experiencing a hearing loss.
 
 
 
 

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Is there a link between obesity and Hearing Loss?

The risk of a hearing loss problem is more likely among the aging population. However, obesity and poor diet, have been pointed out as factors that can increase the chances of a hearing loss as age advances. 

It is important to note that, obesity is not a causative factor of hearing loss. However, it does increase your chances of developing a hearing loss. This is because it is linked to other health conditions that are directly linked to a hearing loss such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
You might be aware that excess weight is not good for you, but you probably did not know that obesity and hearing loss are closely related.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, obesity and excessive weight gain can constitute serious health issues. This can include your hearing health. Obesity remains a threat in our society today and doctors have found a link between this ear.
According to research, hearing loss ranks as the third most common chronic physical conditions affecting people in the United States today. Since it has been linked to obesity, there is a growing concern about the number of obese people which has continued to grow over the past decades. This number includes teenagers and young adults below the age of 40.
The process of losing the hearing ability is usually slow and therefore, most people do not notice it until it completely goes bad. Damaged hearing ability at a young age can lead to exacerbated hearing loss as the person grows older.
Data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that the occurrence of Hearing Loss among adolescents in the United States aged 12 to 19 years has relatively been on the increase from 1994-2006. This is for both the high-frequency and low-frequency hearing losses.
Other health challenges that are associated with obesity at a young age include diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) depression, diseases, and nonalcoholic fatty liver.

Relationship between Obesity and the hearing ability

The inner ear is a very sensitive and complex organ. There are thousands of tiny hair cells (stereocilia) in the inner ear that respond to sound by bending in response to the sound vibrations it receives. The movement of those hair creates the sensation of sound in your ear. Once this happens, the nerve cells then collect the sound and send them to the brain. While these tiny ear hairs are very sensitive to sound, they are also very delicate. They require a healthy supply of blood flow and oxygen to function properly.
Like the other parts of the body that require a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to function properly, your ear is not an exception. This means that, when vascular issues occur in your body as a result of obesity, this also directly affect your hearing ability. Obesity puts a lot of pressure on the heart—this means that the heart requires more energy to pump blood. When this happens, the tiny hair cells located in the inner ear is left vulnerable. This can lead to a condition known as vasoconstriction which is a condition that puts stress on the capillary walls located in the inner ear. If not controlled over time, this can slowly damage your hearing ability.  This condition is irreversible since once these tiny hairs in the inner ear are broken, they can’t grow back by treatment.
Hearing loss caused by obesity usually affects high frequency sounds first. This claim can be found in a report from a 2013 study that is found in the 2013 American Journal of medicine. This research was carried out on 68,000 women and continued for over 20 years. At the end of the research, it was found that women who maintained lower BMI that also engaged in a high level of exercise and physical activities were 17% less susceptible to develop a hearing loss later in life. for those with were obese or showed signs of obesity, their chances of developing a hearing loss later in life are 27% – this figure is dependent on how severe the weight concerns were.
A person suffering from obesity has a strained circulatory system. This leads to increased blood pressure, poor cell oxygenation and blood circulation become relatively reduced. All these factors can be a contributory factor that in turn damages the hairs of the inner ear. This can lead to various forms of hearing problems which can range from tinnitus and severe hearing loss.
Obese people are most likely to become diabetic even at a very tender age. This makes their chances of suffering from a hearing loss twice as high as those with normal BMI. Therefore, we must look to take some time to look at the effect of diabetes on your hearing ability.

Diabetes—what does it mean?

Diabetes is a medical condition that inhibits the production and proper management of insulin by the body. This leads to the buildup of glucose in the bloodstream instead of the normal process of feeding hungry cells. In the last decade, the number of people diagnosed with this medical condition has almost doubled (According to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation).
The impact of diabetes on the blood flow is also felt by the cells in the inner ear. There are three types of diabetes. Each one is identified by its characteristics.

  • Type 1 diabetes: this type of diabetes occurs as a result of the body’s inability to produce the insulin required to move glucose into cells. This is as a result of an autoimmune situation in which the beta cells that produce hormones are attached by the body.
  • Type 2 diabetes: in this case, the body is capable of producing its insulin. However, the production is in a very low quantity and as such not sufficient of very effective in moving glucose into the cells.
  • Gestational diabetes: this kind of diabetes is not very common and is mostly noticed in pregnant women. In this case, the hormones make the body more resistant to insulin. This kind of diabetes does not last beyond the period of the pregnancy and will naturally disappear with the birth of the baby.

In all the cases of diabetes, the result remains the increase in blood sugar levels that must be managed. Kidney failure, blindness, amputation, stroke, and heart failure are all linked to diabetes. In recent years, diabetes has also been linked with hearing loss. The question now is how does diabetes link to hearing loss? The next subheading will examine the relationship between the two.

What is the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss?

With the rise of hearing loss problems in recent years, 2 separate pieces of research have examined the relationship between hearing loss and diabetes.
The first research carried out in 2008 by the National Institute of Health showed that diabetic patients are at a higher risk of suffering mild to moderate hearing loss. There was a 54% prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss in diabetic patients and about 32% in people that are not diabetic.
Another study carried out in 2012 and was published in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism supported the previous report by NIH. This research studied and analyzed the results collected from 13 studies. These studies involved over 20,000 participants and the result was, same as the above; diabetic patients are more likely to suffer a hearing loss than healthy patients irrespective of their age.
While there are no sure facts as to why diabetes cause hearing loss, scientist suspect that high blood glucose levels affect the small blood vessels in the inner ear negatively. Damage to these cells can lead to sensorineural hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss can be corrected with the use of a hearing aid.
Hearing evaluations are used to determine the level of hearing loss and what kind of hearing device is required to correct it. However, it is also important to know that any damage to hearing cannot be reversed but only managed.

Do you have diabetes? These are ways you can keep you safe from a hearing loss

While the damage caused to your hearing as a result of sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible, it is possible to protect your remaining hearing ability before you lose them completely. The following ways are ways to protect your hearing from getting completely damaged.

  • Ensure to always keep the volume on your personal electronics device low, this includes televisions and car stereos. Use headphones or invest in disposable earplugs to reduce the amount of sound entering the ear. Also, protect your ears from noisy environments and jobs that are associated with a high level of noise.
  • Make exercise a part of your daily routine. The appropriate amount of exercise will help improve blood circulation around the body and even in the ear. Visit a doctor, discuss the best types of exercises you need to engage in to help you keep fit.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. By doing so, you are reducing your chances of suffering from a hearing loss.

 How to protect your ears and keep your hearing safe


Since the focus is on obesity and how it affects your hearing, the key points here are how to stay fit and reduce your chances of obesity thereby reducing your chances of a hearing loss. It’s a good thing that obesity is not a permanent condition. It can always be reversed. All that is required is a strong determination on the part of the obese person, a good strategy and the right motivations. Results can be achieved.
When it comes to protecting your ears and keeping your hearing safe, below are some of the things you need to do.

1.  Watch your diet

Diet is the first thing to put into consideration if you want to stay healthy. Sticking to a healthy diet is the first step to maintaining good health, staying fit and dealing with obesity. Ensure that your diet comprises more of high-fiber, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins. Maintain a low level of carbohydrates and sugar.
Before starting a diet plan, it is always advisable to visit a nutritionist or dietician for the best guide. He is a well trained professional with the right skills and knowledge to guide you.

2.  Improve your exercise routine

Exercise is as important as a good diet. There are a lot of reasons why you need to improve your exercise if you wish to fight obesity and keep your ears safe from hearing loss. Some of the reasons:

  • Exercise improves blood circulation: The best way to improve blood circulation and strengthen your heart is through exercise. Exercise can also lower blood pressure and reduces your chances of developing chronic heart disease.
  • Exercise helps to improve your metabolism: when you engage in regular exercises, your metabolism is improved. Your body is better conditioned to burn excess calories which can lead to obesity if not controlled.
  • Exercise lowers your chances of falling ill: for those who love to stay fit and reduce their chances of falling ill, exercise is very important. exercising regularly will also keep you safe from some of the conditions associated with obesity such as diabetes—which is also linked to hearing loss, chronic heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.
  • Exercising is a good way to improve your mood throughout the day: exercising can help increase your energy level and make you feel better. During exercise, the brain releases chemicals known as endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain which reduces how you perceive pain. This means you’re more likely to have a positive feeling during the day’s activities. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily can help you stay fit and keep you in a good mood throughout the day. The brain also releases dopamine and serotonin that lasts for a couple of hours after exercise. These chemicals also help you to be happy and stay positive throughout the day. People tend to eat more when they are angry and depressed. Research carried out on obese people show that a large percentage of obsessed people eat more when they are depressed.

It is important to understand that before you start an exercise routine, you need to consult your doctor for advice. He is in the best position to examine and advise you on what best you need. This is most important in the case of older adults.
Remember, when you engage in exercise, the goal is to stay fit. Know when you have overdone it. Do not go over your max—most people make the mistake of overdoing it. This is a result of the wrong belief that the more you do the better the results.
If you are new to exercises, it is important to start with low impact exercises such as yoga, aerobics, and walking exercises.

3.  Learn to protect your ears every time

Obesity already puts your ears at a very high risk of damage. You, therefore, would not want to further expose your ears to noises that will increase the chances of your ear getting damaged.  This is why you need to take precautions to ensure your hearing is protected. Ensure to wear hearing protections which include earplugs, and earmuffs when you’re in environments with loud noises. It is also important to understand that we get exposed to noises in many ways daily. This includes using the earpiece with a very high volume, lawn mowing, noise from traffic, blenders, etc. be conversant with all these various kinds of noise pollution and know when to protect your ear from one.

4.  Seek the help of an audiologist

When it comes to caring for your hearing, it is very important to always talk to your audiologist from time to time. the professional will help carry out a thorough examination on you and determine when you start losing your hearing. He will walk you through a series of treatment processes to identify the best treatment procedure for your hearing loss.
There is a lot of audiologists who are attached to hospitals. It is, therefore, a good move to request for recommendation from your doctor when looking for an audiologist.

Maintain a healthy body and enjoy a better hearing

When it comes to maintaining a healthy body, eating well and engaging actively in exercises are the key factors you need to adhere to. Haven understood the link between a hearing loss and obesity, there is even a greater reason to stay healthy. According to results obtained from professional researches carried out in regards to obesity and its link to hearing loss, we have seen that it is important to stay healthy always to help you maintain a healthy hearing for long.
Gaining weight is something that takes time to happen. Therefore, do not also expect to lose weight overnight. It takes long weeks of exercises, and diets to get back in shape when you are obese. Sometimes, it even takes years to return to a normal BMI.
Cardio exercises which include running and jogging are very important in increasing the blood flow to the cochlea auditory nerves. This also prevents plaque buildup from affecting the blood flow. Why trying to stay fit generally, it is also important to work on your hearing—keep a good relationship with your hearing professional. He will monitor regularly and ensure that your hearing is okay. He also monitors and takes note of the changes in your hearing pattern and recommends a treatment where necessary.
Changes can also occur during exercises for obesity and therefore the hearing professional must monitor those changes to ensure they are safe.

Conclusion

Obesity has continued to pose a great risk to our society today. With more people engaging less in physical activities, the number of obese people is even bound to increase in the coming decades. Today, there are a lot of obese young children not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. This also means that the number of people with one hearing loss problem or the other is bound to increase with time. Therefore, there is a need for a more decisive action to be taken to control this trend.
While it is true that obesity will not directly cause a hearing loss, it is also important to understand that obesity makes you more susceptible to suffering a hearing loss. We have carefully looked at the following ways in which obesity is linked to hearing loss directly and indirectly.
As people age their hearing capability gradually reduces, the risk is even further increased as a result of obesity. Obese teenagers stand a very high risk of losing their hearing ability at a much younger age.
We also looked at the relationship between obesity and increased chances of diabetes which is more closely related to hearing loss than obesity.
Some of the things that can be done to reduce hearing loss at a younger are to create awareness on why people should stay healthy, fight obesity and stick to healthier diets. A lot of people do not even take enough time to watch out for their health especially when it comes to knowing their BMI. They feel it’s just okay to hit the bathroom scale and be fine with the results without visiting a professional to help determine if you are of the proper weight.
A lot more people need to be sensitized and properly motivated to engage more in physical exercises. They need to understand that it is okay and more beneficial to walk if the distance is one you can walk. Stay off junk foods as much as possible and stick to healthy vegetables and fruits.
Besides protecting your ears from hearing loss, preventing obesity can help increase your confidence. Most obese people are not confident with their looks. this is one reason they are mostly found depressed and unhappy. The more you work on your physical posture, the bolder you will be to properly face the activities of the day.
 

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How to get water out of Ear

One of the major times water gets trapped in the ear is after swimming. However, water can also get trapped in the ear at any time of the year. This water naturally drains on its own. However, when this natural process fails to occur, you might develop an ear infection known as Otitis Externa.
 

If you are a regular swimmer, chances are that you have gotten water into your ears once or twice. While swimmers are the most affected, non-swimmers can also get water trapped inside their ears through exposure.
We all love to enjoy a good swim with friends and family during the summer. While is it fun to cool off and splash around in the water during the summer, there is also a good chance of water getting into the ear and getting trapped.
Generally, water trapped in the ear is expected to drain out naturally after some time. When this water does not drain out, it can lead to an infection of the external auditory canal known as the Otitis Externa or Swimmer’s Ear.
When water gets trapped in the ear, you might experience the following:

  • Tickling sensation in affected ear that is often also felt in the throat and jawline.
  • Muffled sound or difficulty in hearing.
  • The ear feels full and in some cases, you can also feel the physical movement of water in the ear.

Water in the ear can be very discomforting. However, getting water out of the ear is something not so difficult to do. It is possible to achieve it at home without having to visit the doctor. Sometimes, all it takes to get water out of the ear is simply tilting the affected ear to the side to get the water drained.
It is important to avoid inserting all kinds of objects in the ear such as swabs, pen tips, bobby pins or even the finger in an attempt to get rid of this water. Doing this can damage the subtle lining of the auditory canal thereby increasing the risk of an ear infection. There are steps you can take to remove water from the ear which is safe to use.

What are the reasons why water gets trapped in the ear after a swim?

There are a few reasons why water can enter and stay trapped in the ear. These include a narrow ear canal, excessive ear wax in the ear or even as a result of the presence of another foreign object in the ear. No matter what the reasons are, what comes in mind when this occurs is how to get the water out.

Which people are most likely to get water trapped in their ear?

While anybody can get water trapped in their ear, children and adults who love to swim a lot are most likely to have water trapped inside their ear. This can occur at any time you go under the water while swimming. Other times when you invert yourself in the water doing a handstand or a flip, you can easily get water into your ear.

Why is it dangerous to have water trapped in the ear?

Often, the ear secrets cerumen or ear wax which is a water-repellant waxy substance which can help to get rid of water trapped in the ear naturally. When this process fails to occur naturally, then it becomes risky. It can lead to other health conditions such as swimmer’s ear.
Water in the ear creates an enabling ground for bacteria to thrive. Some of the things that makes it easy for bacterial to grow and thrive in the ear include humid and wet conditions, a cut or a scratch in the ear canal. Certain allergic reactions of skin conditions can also lead to the swimmer’s ear infection or Otitis Externa.

What is Swimmer’s Ear or Otitis Externa?

Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa is defined as the infection of the outer ear canal. Otitis externa is mostly developed in ears that are exposed to moisture. It is most prevalent in people who enjoy a lot of diving or swimming time. There are more cases of otitis externa in the summer. This is because people engage in more swimming activities in this period.
This infection can also affect the ear pinna or the tympanic membrane. Swimmer’s ear can either be a fungus or bacterial infection. According to Clinical Practice Guidelines, nearly all the cases of swimmer’s ear (98%) in North America are caused by bacterial. The most common bacterial include Pseudomonas aeruginosa with 20%-60% prevalence and Staphylococcus aureus which has a 10%-70% prevalence. Other gram-negative pathogens can cause swimmer’s ear other than Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, these pathogens are responsible for about 2% to 3% of otitis externa in large clinical series.
There are two major types of Otitis externa the Acute Otitis Externa (AOE) and the Chronic Otitis Externa (COE). The involvement of fungi in AOE is very much uncommon, however, it can be commonplace in COE. Fungal involvement can also occur after the treatment of AOE with less often systemic or topical antibiotics.
Treating swimmer’s ear or otitis externa with topical antibiotics can be very effective for AOE when compared to oral antibiotics. In other words, oral antibiotics are less effective for the treatment of swimmer’s ear. Notwithstanding, about 20%-40% of AOE patients are treated with oral antibiotics without a simultaneous administration of the topical antibiotics. In most cases, these oral antibiotics are less effective or even ineffective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus and may lead to a lot of unwanted side effects. This is because they are distributed around the body.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Several symptoms are associated with the swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear symptoms are often mild at the inception of the infection. These symptoms can become worse if the infection is not managed on time.
The disease can also spread progressively without proper care. Otitis externa is classified according to the phase of progression by doctors. These phases include mild, moderate and advanced phases. One of the major symptoms is severe pain in the ear that worsens over time. The pain becomes more severe when the outer ear is pulled or pressed.
Redness of the outer ear may be noticed and in severe cases, swelling. AOE can lead to the inflammation and enlargement of the lymph nodes around the outer ear. Pus may also gather in the ear canal and be discharged through the ear opening. This pus is usually yellowish-green in color. The collection of pus or swelling in the affected ear can cause hearing difficulty in the affected ear.
Symptoms of the mild phase of Swimmer’s ear.
The mild signs of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Mild itching in the auditory canal
  • Slight redness may be noticed inside the auditory canal.
  • Slight redness of the eye on the affected side of the face.
  • Increased pain can be worsened by pulling the auricle or pressing the tragus.
  • Clear odorless fluid can be noticed in the affected ear.

Symptoms of the moderate phase.

  • There is increased itching of the ear canal
  • The pain increases progressively
  • The inflammation in the ear becomes more visible and large
  • Fluid drainage increases
  • Feeling of partial blockage in the ear and increased hearing difficulty.

Symptoms of the advanced phase of Swimmer’s ear

  • Pain becomes excessively severe. This pain can radiate on the face, side of the head or neck
  • The ear becomes completely blocked at this stage
  • The outer ear now becomes very swollen or red.
  • The lymph nodes in the neck become swollen.
  • Feeling of dizziness and fever.

How to prevent water from getting into the ear and getting trapped

Figure 2: Swimmer ear plugs culled from the internet
If you find water getting trapped in your ear now and then when you swim or take a bath, you can either use OTC earplugs to keep water from entering the ear canal. You can also talk to your doctor for specifications and recommendations of special earplugs designed for the major purpose of protecting the ear from water. Most people tend to shy away from these recommended earplugs because of their costs. However, these earplugs are customizable to specific ear needs which is a huge advantage over the OTC earplugs. In most cases, recommended earplugs are of high-quality, they can be washed when they are dirty and reusable.
You may also want to use a swim cap or a shower cap to prevent water from getting into the ear. Also, you can use a dry towel to clean the ear after a good swim or bath. Shaking the head from side to side after you get out of the water is also a good way to get rid of water from the ear.
For those who are very sweaty, it is advisable to remove earbuds to prevent moisture from building up in the ear naturally. Before going to the bath, get a cotton ball and cover it in petroleum jelly. Slip this cotton balls into your outer ear, it can help keep out water from entering your ear.
Always block the outer ear with a cotton ball when using beauty products such as hair dye or hair spray.
Visit your doctor once in a while to have your ear scooped and ear wax removed. For those with a problem of was the build-up, it is advisable to see the doctor. While the earwax is a good thing and plays some important functions, too much wax in the ear can trap water in the ear canal. This is why it is important to visit the doctor. The doctor might suggest the use of a 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration to clean the ear. This process cannot be performed on people with tubes in their ear and therefore, it is important to see the doctor first before proceeding.
Using the ear dropper, put half of the ear dropper-full into the ear and allow to bubble for some seconds. Turn your head to the side and pull the top of the ear gently. This will allow the ear to drain getting rid of the excess ear wax.

How to get rid of water trapped in the ear canal

If for any reason you get water trapped in your ear, there are a couple of home remedies you can try that can get rid of the water and provide some relief. These home remedies include:

·        Wiggling the earlobes

If you are lucky enough, this first method might just get the water out of the ear right away. Tilt your head to the side with the affected ear facing down towards your shoulder and gently wiggle or tug the earlobe. Shaking the head from side to side while facing the downward position can also help to get rid of the water.
What if the water refuses to come out after doing this? Don’t worry, there are other methods to try out right there in the home.

·        Utilize the power of gravity to get rid of trapped water in the ear

This is a very easy step that requires less action. Utilizing the power of gravity can help drain the trapped water from the ear. All you are simply required to do is lie down with the affected ear placed on a dry clean towel and wait there for a couple of minutes. Naturally, the water may slowly find its way out of the ear.

·        The blow dryer can be of help in getting rid of trapped water in the ear

Using the blow dryer can be an effective way to get rid of trapped water in the ear. The heat from the blow dryer can be effective, however, this method must be carried out with care.

  1. Turn the blow dryer on and set it to the lowest heat.
  2. Hold the blow dryer facing the affected ear about a foot away and move slowly forth and back while it is on.
  3. Gently tug the earlobe downward to allow the warm air to blow into the ear canal.

·        Creating a vacuum in the ear can be a useful technique

Creating a vacuum in the ear can help draw out trapped water from the ear. This method involves the following processes:

  1. Cup your palm over the affected ear and tilt it sideways facing down to the shoulder. Ensure that you create a tight seal with your palm.
  2. With the cupped palm, gently create a rapid back and forth movement flatting and cupping as you move forth and back respectively.
  3. Remember to keep the affected ear facing downward as you perform this exercise to enable the water to flow out easily.

·        The mixture of alcohol and vinegar ear drop is also effective in getting rid of trapped water in the ear

One may begin to ask why alcohol and vinegar? The little secret here is, alcohol is effective in evaporating trapped water in your ear.it can also help to prevent the growth of infection-causing bacteria in the ear. In cases where the trapped water is as a result of earwax build-up, vinegar is effective in dissolving the wax and getting rid of the water. This process involves the following steps:

  1. Combine equal amounts of vinegar and alcohol to make an eardrop.
  2. Get a sterile dropper and apply three to four drops of the mixture to the affected ear.
  3. Rub the outside of the affected ear gently for about 30 seconds before tilting the head sideways facing the shoulder. Allow the solution to drain.

While this process is effective in getting rid of trapped water in the ear, it is also not advisable to use it if you are already experiencing one of the following conditions:

  1. You are suffering from an infection of the outer ear
  2. Your eardrum is perforated
  3. You have ear tubes

·        Water trapped in the ear can be removed with the use of hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has remained one of the medically proven effective ways of getting rid of earwax and debris in the ear that can lead to water getting trapped in the ear. There are a couple of ear drops that can be easily purchased online that effectively use the combination of hydrogen peroxide and urea to clear earwax. These kinds of ear drops are referred to as carbamide peroxide solution.
Avoid using this method if you are already experiencing the following conditions:

  1. An infection of the outer ear
  2. Your eardrum is perforated
  3. You have ear tubes (tympanostomy tubes).

·        Use olive oil to get rid of water in the ear

Besides the use of olive oil to get rid of water from the ear, it is also effective in the prevention of ear infection. Use olive oil in the following steps:

  1. Put some olive oil in a small bowl and heat till it becomes warm.
  2. Using a sterile dropper takes some drops and put it into the affected ear.
  3. Lay down on your side for some minutes (up to 10 minutes). Sit up and then tilt the affected ear downward facing the shoulder. This will allow the water and the oil to drain out.

 

·        Try using more water to get rid of water in the ear

While this technique may sound illogical or unreasonable, however, it works. This method can help draw the trapped water out of the ear. Do this on the following steps:

  1. Lay down on your side with the affected ear facing up. Take a sterile dropper and fill the affected ear with water.
  2. Wait for about five seconds and turn over with the affected ear now facing down.
  3. This should draw the trapped water out of the ear.

 

·        You can also rely on some over the counter (OTC) ear drops to get rid of trapped water in the ear

There are a lot of OTC ear drops that comprise of alcohol that are effective in getting rid of moisture in the ear. They are also effective in taking care of bacteria in the ear canal as well as earwax and other debris.

Things not to do when trying to get rid of water from the ear.

Have you tried all the above-mentioned remedies and they seem not to be working? Perhaps you should consider visiting the doctor for further examination. On no account should you try the following methods as they can be counter-effective and harmful to your ear.
Do not use cotton swabs to try to get rid of water: this method can further push ear wax and debris into your ear canal. Using this method to get rid of water can leave you at the risk of ear infection. Cotton swabs can also affect the normal ear wax that protects the ear from an ear infection as well as cause irritation to the skin of the ear canal.
Avoid sticking your fingers or your fingernails into your ears: putting your fingers or fingernails into your ear is the easiest way to scratch the skin of your ear canal. This leaves you easily exposed to an ear infection.
Use hydrogen peroxide with care: while hydrogen peroxide is an effective way of getting rid of trapped water in the ear it is also important to use it with care and caution. Do not use hydrogen peroxide if you already have a cracked eardrum. Also, do not use hydrogen peroxide if you have ear tubes.  

Endeavor to monitor your

ear health

—report any anomalies to the healthcare professional

Make your hearing health a priority and not an option. This is the only way to ensure you enjoy all the sounds all year round. Endeavor to fix appointments with your hearing professional for a hearing evaluation. When you’re diagnosed with any form of infection or hearing loss problem ensure to stick to the prescription provided by your hearing aid professional.
Trapped water in the ear usually drains naturally within three days. If you have water trapped in your ear for more than three days, you should see a doctor. If you also notice any signs of infection due to the trapped water in the ear, it is important to visit a doctor to have the ear properly examined.
 

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Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

Definition, causes and effect to the victim

What is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)?

The major characteristics f this condition is brief recurrent episodes of vertigo. This vertigo is triggered off by the way the patient places hisorchis or her head  during sleep.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is the major cause of recurrent vertigo. BPPV is characterized by the feeling of recurrent episodes of vertigos—a false feeling of spinning in the head. The main cause of this condition is the abnormal arousal of the cupula by free-floating otoliths (canalolithiasis). This condition can also occur when otoliths adhere (hang up) to the cupula (cupulolithiasis) surrounded by any of the three semicircular canals. These can also be referred to as the two types of BPPV.
 
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is not life threatening and can be easily treated in the doctor’s office. This condition occurs in sudden bursts and the effect also lasts for a short time. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is mainly triggered by positioning the head is such a way that the affected semicircular canal of the ear is spatially erect in such a way that it aligns to gravity.
 
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo is very common and forms the major cause of dizziness. About 90% of positional vertigo have been ascribed to BPPV. There are situations where the vertigo can be serious however, this situation is rare. However, the more severe the condition, the greater your chances of falling.
 

During a BPPV incident what really happens?

BPPV can be referred to a mechanical problem that occurs in the inner ear. This problem occurs when some of the calcium carbonate crystals known as the otoconia which are normally contained in the utericle gel dislodges and makes its way into one of the 3 semicircular canals filled with fluid.
Accumulation of these crystals in one of the canals will lead to an interference in the normal fluid movement that enables these canals to measure the movements of the head. This causes the inner ear to falsely alert the brain on movement. Normally, the fluids in the semicircular canal of the ear do not react to gravity. On the other hand, the crystals move with gravity. This crystal movement will cause the fluid to move when normally it is supposed to be still. This movement will arouse the nerve ending which sends a false signal of head movement to the brain.
The problem arises because the false information is only sensed by one ear alone and does not correspond with what the other ear is sensing, it also does not correspond with the vision as well as what the muscles and joints are perceiving. As a result of this mismatch, the brain perceives the false information as a spiral sensation of the head (vertigo). Vertigo normally last only about a minute and often without symptoms. However, others may feel a slight sensation of imbalance or instability.
It is important to keep in mind that BPPV will not affect your hearing in any way or cause you dizziness that is not affected by the change in position. BPPV will also not cause you to feel headaches of a fainting sensation or even neurological signs such as numbness, poor movement coordination or speech problems. Therefore, in case you notice any of these signs, it is important to report it to your doctor. Perhaps you may be suffering from a more severe condition that has been wrongly diagnosed as BPPV.
Informing your doctor on other conditions that you are experiencing alongside your vertigo will help the doctor re-evaluate your situation. This can help determine whether you are suffering from other underlying medical conditions.

Who is mostly affected by BPPV?

BPPV has an estimated occurrence in 107 per 100,000 people per year and a lifetime occurrence of about 2.4 percent making it a fairly common condition. BPPV is rarely found in children however, it is common if adults of any age but more common in those of advanced age.
In most cases, BPPV have been found to occur for no specific reason. Most people who experienced BPPV simply agree to the fact that they try to get out of bed one morning and the room suddenly begins to spin. Nonetheless, research have found out that vertigo can occur as a result of conditions such as an ear infection, trauma, migraine, diabetes, osteoporosis, reduced blood flow and intubation (which may be as a result of lying in bed for too long). Vertigo can also have a connection with one’s preferred sleeping side.

What are the common triggers of BPPV?

There are a number of activities that can trigger BPPV. These include:

  • The way you get in and out of bed
  • Rolling in bed
  • Bending over
  • Sudden quick head movements
  • Tipping the head backwards

Moving in the above mentioned ways can trigger vertigo. If you notice any form of dizziness or develop a feeling of the room spinning after performing any of the above movements then you might be suffering from BPPV.
Nystagmus (rhythmic eye movements) usually accompany BPPV and in most cases, that is what the doctor will be watching out for.

What is the next step to take if you notice any signs of vertigo?

If you notice that you are experiencing dizziness that usually comes suddenly and goes off in a short time for over a period of one week, it is important to talk to the doctor. There are however, certain steps you can take at home to determine which of your ears is affected before going to see the doctor. Do the following:

  • Sit on your bed in such a way that your head hangs over the edge when you lie down.
  • Rotate your head quickly to the right and lie down quickly.
  • Wait for a minute. Did you feel dizzy? If the answer is yes then the right ear is affected.
  • If you did not feel dizzy, you need to sit up again, wait for about 5 minutes before repeating the exercise with the left ear.
  • If you noticed that you felt dizzy when you repeated the exercise on the left ear then the left ear is affected.

Once you have noticed any of the common signs of BPPV, it is important to see your family doctor. While some doctors are familiar with the testing process for BPPV, others may not be familiar with it and therefore, your family doctor will refer you to a medical professional who is trained to handle vestibular conditions. This may be a vestibular rehabilitation therapist (this person is specially trained physical therapist. Other times, it might be an audiologist or an occupational therapist) or ENT (ear, nose and throat specialist). They can be found in most hospitals and a lot of them specialize in vestibular disorder.
It is sad enough to say that some doctors are still not aware that there are very effective treatments for vertigo. They wrongly advice their patients to lie with the condition with the hope that they get better naturally. This however, is not in line with best practice.

Carrying out diagnoses for vertigo

Carrying out diagnosis for BPPV requires placing the head in some specific positions and watching out for specific eye movements known as nystagmus. The use of normal medical imaging is less effective in diagnosing BPPV. This is due to the fact that normal medical imaging like MRI will not show the crystals in the semi-circular canal.
The first thing most doctors will generally do is to ask about your general medical history and the current symptoms you are experiencing. The doctor may request you to lie down with your head tilted backwards.
The head tilt method of diagnosis is very effective because the eye muscles and the inner ear are closely connected allowing us to focus on the environment when our head is moving. When the head is tilted, the dislodged crystals move causing the brain to think that the head is moving. This will cause the eyes to move as well. This is the major reason why the room feels like it is spinning. The eye movement is one way to identify that there is a mechanical problem causing the inner ear fluid in the inner ear canal to move when it is not supposed to moving.
There are different characteristics of nystagmus that will allow the professional to recognize the ear in which the dislodged crystals are and the specific canals they have moved into. The Dix-Hallpike test or the Roll Test can be used to identify the specific canal the crystals have moved into. This test involves moving the head in different specific orientations that will cause gravity to move the dislodged crystals thereby triggering vertigo while the trained practitioner takes note of the eye movements.
This test can determine what kind of BPPV you are suffering from. In the case of canalithiasis, the crystals will generally stop moving in less than one minute causing the nystgmus and vertigo to stop. In the case of cupulolithiasis, the stuck crystals will cause the vertigo and nystagmus to last much longer. In most cases, the head have to be moved out of the offending position before the nystagmus or vertigo will stop. Identifying the exact type of BPPV is very important because the treatment for both types are not the same.

Treatment of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

There are no evidences that the use of medication for the treatment of BPPV is effective. However, a lot of people are given medication when they experience BPPV. There are extreme rare cases in which surgery may be required for the correction of BPPV.
Most professionals rely on mechanical method to correct BPPV. Once the healthcare professional identifies the kind of BPPV and the canal(s) the crystals are in, they can choose the appropriate treatment procedure. The mechanical process makes use of gravity to guide the crystals back to their proper chamber through very precise head movements known as the Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers (CRM).
When it comes to cupulolithiasis, the doctor would first try to dislodge the ‘hung up’ crystals through swift head movements in the plane of the affected ear canal. This process is known as the Liberatory Maneuver. Once this is successful, the CRM will then be performed.
There is another kind of maneuver that is effective for the most common location and the different kinds of BPPV. This type of maneuver is called the Epley maneuver.
There are cases where people attempted a self-maneuver at home without success. Therefore, self-maneuver is highly discouraged because often times, it is discovered that the wrong kind of maneuver was used by the patient. It is therefore important that any kind of maneuver should be diagnosed and performed by a professional who is well trained to handle BPPV cases with full knowledge of how to apply each kind of maneuver.
Before proceeding with treatment for BPPV, it is important to first perform a careful neurological scan and carefully evaluate the neck of the patient. Other investigations in regards to the procedure should also be carried out to ascertain whether some basics elements of the process needs to be altered or be left out entirely. This is one of the reasons why self-maneuver or treatment by a nonprofessional is strongly discouraged.

Rehabilitation

Sometimes, the repositioning maneuver might fail or other times, patients will not be able to tolerate the repositioning maneuver, the Bandt-Daroff exercise will be attempted. This exercise can be repeated continuously until the symptom is resolved.

Surgical procedure

In some cases though rare, even with CRMs and Bandt-Daroff exercise, the patient might suffer from continuous spells of disabling positioning Vertigo or the frequent reoccurrence that are noncompliant to repositioning maneuver. When this case occurs, the only option to be considered will be a surgical procedure.
Transection of the posterior ampullary nerve innervating the posterior canal (singular neurectomy) or the occlusion of the semicircular canal (canal plugging) have been done for intractable PC-BPPV.
Gacek in 1974 described singular neurectomy as an active technique that was designed to regulate the symptoms of intractable BPPV which harbors the acceptable risk of a hearing loss. Canal occlusion and canal plugging are also very effective techniques and also shows lower risk of hearing loss.
Using surgical procedures should always come last. CRM and Bandt-Daroff exercise must have been attempted and failed before a surgical procedure will be recommended.

Managing BPPV Medically

The use of antihistamine and benzodiazepine (vestibular suppressants) are not suggested for BPPV patients. There are two major reasons why medication may be prescribed by clinicians.

  • To suppress the spinning sensation of vertigo
  • Lessen the symptoms of motion sickness that accompanies vertigo.

Notwithstanding, none of the vestibular suppressants are as effective as the CRM when it comes to the treatment of BPPV. Vestibular suppressants can therefore not be used as a replacement for CRM.
Antivertiginous drugs can be prescribed to reduce the symptomatic relief of nausea and dizziness before proceeding to carry out a CRM.

Recurrence and Projection

There is often the recurrence of vertigo in BPPV with the reported rates of about 15-37% after the effective administration of CRM. According to more recent studies, the recurrent mean rate is 50% for a period of 10 years. These recurrences (80%) are often within the first year after treatment.
Some of the factors that lead to higher recurrent rates includes the presence of a trauma, factors such as being female, labyrinthitis and endolymphatic hydrops. The presence of osteopenia or osteoporosis and HC-BPPV can also be a cause of recurrence.
On the other hand, someone with a history of three or more BPPV attacks before treatment is more likely to experience a reoccurrence.

Risk Factors of BPPV

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is mostly noticed among adults of advanced ages (50 and above). Women are at greater risk of suffering from the condition than their male counterpart. An injury to the head or other kinds of infection or problem that affects the balance organs of the ear can put you at greater risk of suffering from BPPV.

Complications

Benign paroxysmal Posotional Vertigo (BPPV) can be very uncomfortable. BPPV can cause dizziness which greatly puts you at the risk of falling. Nonetheless, there are rarely any complications that can occur as a result of BPPV.

What home remedies can I take after the treatment of BPPV?

It is important to understand that even after you have successfully treated BPPV, there can always be a reoccurrence. This is why it is important to follow these home remedies to ensure a reoccurrence does not happen.

  • Know that your chances of falling are high after a BPPV treatment.
  • Learn to sit down whenever you feel dizzy.
  • Always ensure you use good lighting in your room when you wake up at night.

What if your BPPV reoccurs, there are various steps you can take to help remedy the symptoms while you wait to see your doctor.

  • Don’t sleep on the affected side of the ear.
  • Join two or three pillows together under your head when going to bed.
  • Avoid getting up immediately you wake up. Learn to sit up slowly and relax on the side of the bed for a while before standing up.
  • Be careful of the way you bend over to pick up things from the floor. It is more advisable to avoid it completely.

In some cases, the doctor might also teach you some maneuver you can practice at home to help ensure move the crystals back in place.

Conclusion

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is not something new to us. It is common and we will see more of this condition as our population continues to grow older.  The influence of this condition can range from a mild irritation to a highly unbearable condition. This can have some implications on safety, function and the risk of a fall.
The symptoms of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo tend to be less severe due to the fact that after some times, the brains begins to slowly adjust to the irregular signals it receives. In other cases, the condition might spontaneously get resolved without requiring any form of treatment.
Nonetheless, patients who were treated by professionals who are trained to handle BPPV cases are glad to have received treatment from hem. They recover faster. They are pleased that their condition was resolved faster than they expected.
 
 

References

Lee, Seung-Han & Kim, Ji. (2010). Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Journal of clinical neurology (Seoul, Korea). 6. 51-63. 10.3988/jcn.2010.6.2.51.
Froehling DA, Silverstein MD, Mohr DN, et al. Benign positional vertigo: incidence and prognosis in a population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clin Proc 1991;66:596–601.
Bhattacharyya N et al. Clinical practice guideline: benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 139(5 Suppl 4):S47-81, 2008.
Fife TD, et al. Practice Parameter: Therapies for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (an evidence-based review): Report on the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology 2008;70:2067-74.
von Brevern M, Radtke A, Lezius F, et al. Epidemiology of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: a population based study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2007;78:710–5.

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Swimmer’s ear or Otitis Externa: Causes, Symptoms, and Effect

 

What is Swimmers Ear?

Swimmer’s ear or otitis externa is defined as the infection of the outer ear canal. Otitis externa is mostly developed in ears that are exposed to moisture. It is most prevalent in people who enjoy a lot of diving or swimming time. There are more cases of otitis externa in the summer. This is due to the fact that people engage in more swimming activities in this period.
This infection can also affect the ear pinna or the tympanic membrane. Swimmer’s ear can either be a fungus or bacterial infection. According to Clinical Practice Guidelines, nearly all the cases of swimmer’s ear (98%) in North America are caused by bacterial. The most common bacterial include Pseudomonas aeruginosa with 20%-60% prevalence and Staphylococcus aureus which has a 10%-70% prevalence. There are other gram-negative pathogens that can cause swimmer’s ear other than Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, these pathogens are responsible for about 2% to 3% of otitis externa in large clinical series.
There are two major types of Otitis externa the Acute Otitis Externa (AOE) and the Chronic Otitis Externa (COE). The involvement of fungi in AOE is very much uncommon, however, it can be a commonplace in COE. Fungal involvement can also occur after the treatment of AOE with less often systemic or topical antibiotics.
Treating swimmer’s ear or otitis externa with topical antibiotics can be very effective for AOE when compared to oral antibiotics. In other words, oral antibiotics are less effective for the treatment of swimmer’s ear. Notwithstanding, about 20%-40% of AOE patients are treated with oral antibiotics without a simultaneous administration of the topical antibiotics. In most cases, these oral antibiotics are less effective or even ineffective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus and may lead to a lot of unwanted side effects. This is due to the fact that they are distributed around the body.

Causes of Swimmer’s Ear

The major cause of this infection is too much exposure of the ear to moisture. Swimming or diving activities can bring the germs that cause otitis externa directly into the auricular duct. While cases of swimmer’s ear might be more prevalent in those who are constantly exposed to water, there are also cases in people who do not swim. Cleaning the ear canal too frequently mostly with cotton swabs or sharp objects can cause otitis externa in non-swimmers.
Cleaning the ear canal too frequently can lead to the removal of cerumen from the ear. Cerumen is very important in the prevention of moisture from the ear. This substance creates a slightly acidic pH in the ear that inhibits the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the ear which is the major cause of the swimmer’s ear. Additional causes of the swimmer’s ear may include the use of alkaline eardrops and soapy deposits in the ear.
Other causes of Otitis externa include local trauma caused to the ear as a result of the self-cleaning attempt, excessive wearing of hearing aids and ear irrigation. Fragments from dermatological conditions can also boost the growth of this infection.
AOE is mostly prevalent in regions where the climate is warmer with increased humidity and contact with water through swimming. Most researches also link AOE to the quality of water in terms of bacterial load. Nonetheless, this is not always true for all cases.
The pathogens that cause AOE however, are present in most swimming pools and hot tubs. Even pools and tubs that maintain high-quality water standards may also contain the pathogens that cause AOE.
It is also important to note that the organisms that cause AOE are present in the healthy outer ear canal. Thus, the outer ear canal can also be a cause of this infection. Individuals with type A blood group tend to be more susceptible to this infection. There may be some differences between the subspecies of Pseudomonas causing AOE and other Pseudomonas infections.

Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa)

There are quite a number of symptoms that are associated with swimmer’s ear. Swimmer’s ear symptoms are often mild at the inception of the infection. These symptoms can become worse if the infection is not managed on time.
The disease can also spread progressively without proper care. Otitis externa is classified according to the phase of progression by doctors. These phases include mild, moderate and advanced phases. One of the major symptoms is severe pain in the ear that worsens over time. The pain becomes more severe when the outer ear is pulled or pressed.
Redness of the outer ear may be noticed and in severe cases, swelling. AOE can lead to the inflammation and enlargement of the lymph nodes around the outer ear. Pus may also gather in the ear canal and be discharged through the ear opening. This pus is usually yellowish-green in color. The collection of pus or swelling in the affected ear can cause hearing difficulty in the affected ear.
Symptoms of the mild phase of Swimmer’s ear.
The mild signs of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Mild itching in the auditory canal
  • Slight redness may be noticed inside the auditory canal.
  • Slight redness of the eye on the affected side of the face.
  • Increased pain can be worsened by pulling the auricle or pressing the tragus.
  • Clear odorless fluid can be noticed in the affected ear.

Symptoms of the moderate phase.

  • There is increased itching of the ear canal
  • The pain increases progressively
  • The inflammation in the ear becomes more visible and large
  • Fluid drainage increases
  • Feeling of partial blockage in the ear and increased hearing difficulty.

Symptoms of the advanced phase of Swimmer’s ear

  • Pain becomes excessively severe. This pain can radiate on the face, side of the head or neck
  • The ear becomes completely blocked at this stage
  • The outer ear now becomes very swollen or red.
  • The lymph nodes in the neck become swollen.
  • Feeling of dizziness and fever.

Risk Factors of Swimmer’s Ear

There are a couple of factors that can increase your risk of getting infected by swimmer’s ear. These factors include:

  • Swimming: this can increase your chances of getting infected. The pathogens that cause swimmer’s ear are mainly found in pools and tubs. If you are a frequent swimmer you are at higher risk of contracting the infection.
  • Allowing water with a high level of bacterial enter the ear: the higher the bacterial level in the water, the greater your chances of getting infected by swimmer’s ear.
  • Cleaning of the ear canal in a hostile way with cotton swabs and other sharp objects: Aggressively cleaning the ear with cotton swabs and other sharp objects can lead to breakage in the ear canal. This can make it easy for the pathogens that cause swimmer’s ear to easily attack the ear.
  •  Extended use of devices such as hearing aids and earbuds can increase your chance: suing devices such as the hearing aid and ear buds can increase your chances of infection. These devices can cause local tension in the ear and the disruption of the normal pH leading to increased chances of infection.
  • Skin sensitivities or irritation caused by hair spray, and hair dyes: Care products such as hair spray and hair dyes coming in contact with the ear can disrupt the normal pH of the ear thereby increasing your chances of getting infected.
  • People with small ear canal are more likely to contact infection: small ear canals are more likely to retain water and moisture which increases your chances of been infected.
  • Some skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne: these skin conditions also constitute risk factors of the swimmer’s ear.
  • Using swim cap, excessive accumulation of earwax: Using swim caps for long periods can lead to the buildup of moisture in the ear. This increases the chances of the pathogens that cause swimmer’s ear to grow. Excessive accumulation of ear wax can cause water to stay trapped inside the ear. This can also increase your chances of getting infected.

Diagnosis of Swimmer’s Ear

Once you notice any of the symptoms even the mildest, it is advisable to visit your doctor. An examination of the ear is carried out using an otoscope (a handheld device for ear examination). Some of the signs the doctor will be checking for includes:

  • Redness and inflammation of the outer ear.
  • Scaly or flaky skin in and around the auditory canal.
  • Examination to ascertain if there is any damage to the eardrum.

During an examination, the doctor will also request for information concerning the following:

  • Your Personal medical history.
  • The kind of symptoms you are experiencing.
  • Your recent activities include how often you cleaned the ear, inserting, flushing and even swimming. He might also want to know your cotton swab use habits.

In cases where the auditory canal is blocked, the doctor might consider scraping with the use of a special device called the ear curette. The curette is specially designed for scrapping away debris from the auditory canal. A suction device can also be used to clear the auditory canal.
In cases where damage has already occurred to the eardrum, the doctor will refer the patient to an ENT specialist for further examination of the cause and damage done to the ear by the infection.
In rare cases where there is little or no improvement to the ear after administration of treatment, the doctor might consider taking samples of the debris from the ear for further testing. This will help to determine the root cause of the problem and provide the best solution for it.
The use of x-rays and blood tests may be used but are, however, rarely required. This is due to the fact that it can be easily diagnosed through physical examination.
 
For persons over the age of 50 with ear pain visiting the doctor, it is most likely for doctors to rule out temporal arteritis or malignancy. This condition leads to damaged or inflamed arteries.

Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear

The treatment for swimmers ear does not involve complex procedures. It is usually a direct procedure. Some of the treatment options include the following:

  • The use of painkillers: Painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) amongst others can be used to relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Doctors can also prescribe ear drops for the treatment of swimmer’s ear: The prescribed ear drops typically contain acidic acid or an astringent, an antibiotic treatment, and anti-fungal formulation or a compound of all of them.
  • The use of micro-suction: In some cases, the ear specialist uses a micro-suction to clear the ear canal to make treatment with ear drops more effective.
  • The use of the ear wick can be employed for an effective administration of treatment: The ear wick is a soft gauze plunge manufactured from cotton that is inserted into the ear. This plunge is covered with medication. This ensures that medication is administered directly into the ear.

In the case of moderate to advanced otitis, other kinds of treatment may be considered as well. In the case of moderate otitis caused by skin allergy or other skin issues, the doctor will consider treating the skin condition first before prescribing treatment for otitis.
Eardrops or ear spray may be administered for a period of 7 days. Eardrops and spray contain corticosteroids and acetic acid respectively. Where these prove ineffective, the use of anti-fungal ear drops will be prescribed.
For advanced otitis, the pus-filled inflammation will usually burst and heal in a few days without the need for treatment.
Where the symptoms remain prevalent for more than a week, the doctor may consider prescribing antibiotics. In situations where there is severe pain and the inflammation refuses to burst on its own, the doctor can consider draining it manually. He can also prescribe painkillers to reduce pain.

Home remedies for prevention and treatment Swimmer’s Ear

Ø Treatment

There are couple of ways to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear or otitis externa at home. These home remedies include the following:

  • Ensuring the ear is dry at all times: The use of shower caps when bathing and staying out of the water can help ensure that the affected ear heals faster.
  • Getting rid of debris and discharge in the ear gently: this process is best performed by a doctor or under the supervision of a doctor. Cotton wool can be used to clean the outer ear alone. Avoid pushing cotton wool or swabs deep into the ear.
  • You can use a warm compress to relieve pain: get a warm towel and place it over the ear, this can help reduce pain.
  • Avoid the use of ear devices when you notice symptoms: discontinue the use of earplugs, hearing aids and any other device that causes allergic reactions to the ear the moment symptoms are noticed.
  • Check for side effects from the use of ear drops: the use of eardrops that contain propylene glycol or neomycin can trigger allergic reactions. Watch out for them and discontinue use.

Ø Prevention  

It is more important to prevent an ear infection from occurring in the first place. The best way to prevent the infection is by ensuring that the ear is kept as dry as possible. Minimize the number of times you swim and most of all stay away from dirty and polluted waters.

  • Ensure you dry the ears after a swim. According to the Merck Manual, mixing a solution of alcohol and vinegar in equal portions and putting two drops in both ears after a swim can be very helpful. Alcohol will help get rid of any water trapped in the ear after a swim. While vinegar will help to prevent any growth of bacterial by changing the pH of the ear.

 

  • Make sure you dry the outer ear with cotton wool or towel after swimming. You can tilt the head to one side and pull the earlobes in different directions to get rid of any water trapped in the ear.

 

  • You can use a hairdryer to dry out the ear. However, the dryer must be used with caution. It must be placed at least1ft away and set to low.

 

  • Invest in the right size of earplugs and also wear swim caps that cover the ears properly.

 
 

  • After swimming in a chlorine-treated pool, it is very important to rinse the ears again with clean water.

 

  • Avoid the use of cotton swabs and other sharp objects to clean the ear. These can force debris deeper into the auditory canal and cause infection. Cotton swabs should only be used in cleaning the outer ear. Wax naturally flow out to the outer ear. When wax build up in the inner auditory canal, it should be taken care of by the ear professional.

 

  • You should be careful about the way you use products such as hair sprays and dyes. These products have been reported to cause irritation that leads to otitis externa. To prevent these products from coming in contact with the ears, it is advisable to place cotton balls carefully on the ears before using these beauty products.

 

Is it Advisable to Use OTC drugs to Treat Swimmer’s Ear?

A good number of people will opt for OTC drugs and eardrops the moment they notice the symptoms of Swimmer’s ear. This approach is not advisable and therefore, must be discouraged. This is due to the fact that there are different causative pathogens for swimmer’s ear infection. It is, therefore, the duty of the healthcare professionals to ascertain the actual cause (whether fungi or bacterial) of swimmer’s ear, in order to determine the right treatment for it.
OTC pain medications such as Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin have been found useful for the treatment of the swimmer’s ear, but, they only serve as remedy for pain and not treatment.
However, it is important to avoid the use of nonprescription ear drops for the treatment of swimmer’s ear. It is very important to see a doctor and obtain proper prescriptions when you notice any symptoms of swimmer’s ear.
Desist from attempting to treat ear infections at home. Self-medication can worsen the condition and make it difficult to heal. Just like other parts of the body, treating ear infection such as swimmer’s ear must also be taken seriously.
Famous names like Richard Thomas whose role in the TV series The Waltons is one of the famous people at the fore of the fight against deafness and raising awareness in a lot of other issues concerning hearing health. This includes the awareness about the swimmer’s ear.
It is definitely not surprising to see Richard Thomas playing such an important role. He is one among the many that have suffered a partial hearing loss as a result of cochlear otosclerosis. While his case was detected in time and treatment began, the condition had already done a reasonable amount of damage to his hearing.
In his speech, he encourages people to take quick action when they notice that a hearing loss is setting in. Expedite action can save you a lifetime of regret. Richard Thomas remains a strong advocate for hearing health and offers his services as the national chairman of the “Better Hearing Institute (BHI)).
It is important to understand that there are no small ear infections. No matter how insignificant the symptoms may seem, it is important to seek proper medical attention.

Swimmer’s ear complications

This condition is not always very serious and complications are of often rare the moment treatment commences. When treatment fails to commence as at when due, the infection may affect the deep tissues. This can lead to severe complications. Some of the complications that can arise from the non-treatment of Otitis externa includes the following:
Abscess: This is usually filled with pus and located in or around the affected area.
Cellulitis: this is a more serious condition and it occurs when bacteria enters the deep layer of the skin.
Stenosis: This situation happens as a result of dry skin accumulation in the auditory canal. This can lead to partial or total hearing loss in the affected ear.
Otomycosis: A complication of otitis externa can lead to a fungal infection known as Otomycosis.  

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Does Hearing Loss Really Increase the Risk of Accidental Injuries?


 
Untreated hearing loss is capable of causing lots of social and emotional problems and it could also be hazardous for your all-round health. You might feel that your hearing loss is only about missing some parts of conversations. But, actually, it also makes accidental injuries a lot more likely. Studies have shown that some adults who are experiencing hearing loss might wait for as much as 10years before they get treatment. That is why it is turning progressively common, with 15% of all US citizens who are more than 18years old having some challenges hearing. Unluckily, many individuals just accept it as a component of aging.
 
You Are at Risk
If you are suffering from hearing loss, then you might be at greater risk of experiencing an accidental injury either at play or at work, says a recent study. The study, utilized data from the National Health Interview Survey that was conducted between 2007 and 2015 to closely analyze accidental injuries among a wide array of adults. The survey showed accidental injuries to have been reported by 2.8% of adults interviewed over three months, and the odds of having such injuries were two times as likely amongst people who had hearing problems. The study showed that an estimated 16% of people in the United States were affected by hearing loss.
 
Why It Matters
Accidental injuries are among the foremost causes of mortality and morbidity in the world. If hearing loss plays a key role in the increased risk of experiencing the injuries, then having it treated could help to decrease them. This isn’t the only study that has established a link between a significantly increased risk of injuries, falls, or safety concerns and hearing loss. In 2017, a study which was titled “Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States” was published by the John Hopkins University. In the specific study, objective auditory assessments were utilized in determining the hearing capabilities of participants. Then, the findings were coupled with vestibular function which is a measure of an individual’s balance and his ability to orientate himself in spatial environments. The study eventually had astounding results. What the researchers discovered was that even hearing loss of a truly mild degree tripled the risk of falling in a participant. As the degree of hearing loss worsens, the risk of a participant rose by 1.40% for every 10 decibels of hearing loss.
 
How Hearing Loss Could Lead To Accidents
Even though you might think that accidents and hearing loss aren’t closely linked at all, the ability to hear plays a huge role in your safety. An expert at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Neil Bhattacharyya says, “Hearing is a special sense that plays a very crucial role in getting us warned of danger within our surroundings”. How many times have you missed your stove’s alarm or gotten something accidentally burnt in the kitchen just because you could not hear the timer? Do you fail to hear your doorbell, or miss the ringing of the phone? If you have challenges hearing any of these sounds, then you might not hear your smoke detector in your kitchen or even the fire alarm that is in the building.
 
Also, hearing loss is dangerous outside the home. If you do not hear the honking of the car when you step out intending to cross the street, or you do not hear the shout of the kid whose ball is about rolling out in front of your car, then you are surely putting yourself and even others at risk. If you do not hear the emergency siren that is just about coming round the corner or you fail to notice the ding that’s coming from the railroad crossing, your chances of being injured or having an accident are then quite high. Also, a link has been established between hearing loss and a much greater chance of falls. This is as the ears play a huge role in your balance. When you happen to be living with untreated hearing loss, then you are much more likely to feel unbalanced, thus significantly increasing your risk of being injured or falling.
 
Increased Risk of Accidents
Individuals who have even mild hearing loss problems are at a significantly increased risk for varying accidents. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in a nationwide study that it conducted in 2007, studied over 232million adults and over 15% of the subjects reported hearing issues. Through three months of studies, 2.8% of the subjects reported that they had gotten injured. Their injuries were related to work, sports, and leisure activities.
 
For the three classifications – work, sports, and leisure – the risk of injury steadily increased with the rise of hearing loss acuteness. And the adults with hearing loss were compared to those to reported not having hearing loss. Those that reported minor hearing loss were 60% more probable to be injured, those that reported moderate hearing loss were 70% more probable, and those who admitted to having ‘a lot’ of hearing loss were 90% more probable to have some accident.
 
“When biking, I never wear headphones as not being able to hear warning signs could put one in harm’s way” is the comment that was added by one among the authors of the study. Hearing loss isn’t only a social problem, but it could also get you predisposed to injuries. Individuals with hearing loss that admitted to having injuries in both John Hopkins and the CDCP studies said that they were most frequently experiencing injuries and falls during their leisure activities.
 
Driving Problems
Missing something while driving is among the most obvious issues with hearing loss. Can you hear horns, your blinkers, police sirens, and screeching tires? If you are focused on your GPS or hearing your radio, will you also hear somebody who is yelling outside? If kids were playing outside while you are driving, will you be distracted if they suddenly begin to make noise? If you get yourself injured in a vehicle accident, you are probably going to be ticketed and face some hard problems as regards whether you will be allowed to retain your license or not.
 
Activities Outdoors
If you happen to be outside either enjoying a fun leisurely activity or working, will you hear somebody who is calling out to you? Will you hear when that person is telling you to duck because a Frisbee or ball is headed your way? Will you hear and step aside if a cyclist is coming up behind you on some walking path? Will you hear a bee you might even be allergic to when it’s buzzing around your head? You certainly will if you had hearing aids on.
 
An issue of injury and hearing loss that is not so obvious is falling. According to varying studies, even a mild hearing loss could bring about falling and balance issues as you aren’t completely cognitive of your immediate surroundings. Here is the problem – a direct correlation has been verified to exist between falling and an individual who compensates for hearing loss as a result of sensory overload. The auditory nerve has to work overtime before it can process sound for the brain, and the brain has to keep putting in extra effort to process and interpret the sounds. This means that you will be using more of your brain in trying to hear and that leaves significantly less brainpower available for use in being aware of your surroundings and maintaining your balance.
 
A study that studied individuals who were between the ages of 49 and 69 who all admitted that they were hard of hearing, revealed that they had much more cases of injuries as a result of falls. Unluckily, as the age rises, so does the instances of requiring hospitalization, and sometimes even prolonged hospitalization, as a result of falls.
 
In The Home
Issues with balance and hearing loss could also bring about a consequence of falls in the home. Other problems with hearing loss within the home could also end in injury. Are you capable of hearing the carbon monoxide alarms or smoke alarm irrespective of where you might be within the house? Are you capable of clearly hearing the phone when it starts ringing? These are some of the questions that could help in highlighting hearing loss problems within the home.
 
Leisure Activities and the Risk of Injury
With senior years and retirement comes more time to be used for social and leisure activities. That only makes it doubly unfortunate that accidental injury risks that involve leisure activities are much higher as regards people who have untreated hearing loss. Hearing loss could be a part of aging, but that does not mean that it should not be treated. Also, aging brings about some mobility problems, add that to accidental injury and hearing loss, and you will surely have a double whammy. You should surely be enjoying yourself during your senior years – and risk-free at that. All of the enjoyable activities could turn risky if you are suffering from untreated hearing loss. If you are out enjoying a leisurely walk, will you hear the person who is coming up behind you and expecting you to move over? Will you be capable of enjoying any walk with a friend if you cannot hear them?
 
Increased Danger of Falling
The dangers of falling increase as the proportion of hearing loss also increases, which then puts you at risk if you love embarking on rock climbing, hiking, or any other outdoor activities on your own. Your brain is an amazing creation, but it has only so much processing abilities at any given time. The study about compensating for hearing loss that was earlier mentioned shows that you are much more likely to lose your balance or slip if your brain happens to be compensating for hearing loss. A lot of the enjoyment that you could get from outdoor activities involves the unique and amazing sounds that are found in nature. The sound of crickets, the creek, and songbirds – all of these contribute to the amazing experience of the outdoors.
 
Home and Driving Problems
Driving comprises much more multi-tasking and hearing is quite crucial to avoiding accidents. Can you hear the GPS, a friend who is talking to you, the radio, and a siren that is coming from an emergency automobile such as an ambulance, which is behind you? Can you hear another driver who is honking his car’s horn either behind, beside, or in front of you? Even the answer ‘most of the time’, though it might seem okay with some people, is not good enough. Being given a traffic ticket as a result of a hearing problem could mean losing not just your license but also your independence.
 
If your brain happens to be compensating for hearing loss at home, then you are at risk of falls and there are even some other varying home safety concerns. Will you be able to hear the carbon monoxide or smoke detector? Will you hear your microwave’s ‘finish’ alert? Will you hear the timer of your oven in the kitchen? These are all questions you should try to answer when it comes to home and driving hearing loss risks.
 
How Common Are These Accidents?
You might be thinking that accidents are not quite common at all. Well, an accident is an accident after all, right? Nevertheless, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that in the year 2013, accidental injuries brought about a whopping 28 million visits to the emergency room. Surely, accidents are a key concern, and they lead to several deaths every single year. One of the most common causes that bring about accidents is sensory impairments. Individuals who have challenges with hearing, seeing, or smelling are at a much higher risk of experiencing accidents and injuries than people whose senses are sharp.
 
Can Hearing Aids Help?
The precise reasons why falls and hearing impairments are linked are, for now, not known. But doctors and scientists all believe that a couple of factors certainly play a role. First of all, people who have hearing impairment feature a significantly decreased awareness of their surrounding environment as they are unable to hear subtle sounds. One other contributing factor is their significantly decreased spatial awareness (or simply the awareness of where their body happens to be within a space relative to other people and objects). The third factor that is known is their cognitive overload which occurs whenever a hearing loss occurs. If your brain has to consistently strain before it can hear and understand, then there could be a lack of cognitive energy for other varying activities like balance.
 
Hearing aids can help to decrease the risk of all of the factors that have been mentioned. With hearing aids comes an environmental awareness that is greatly increased. With hearing aids, all of the more subtle and softer sounds are a lot more likely to be heard and falls become a lot more likely to be prevented. Also, it has been proven by studies that hearing aids are capable of effectively decreasing the mental strain that is put on the brain. When your brain happens not to be pouring all of its cognitive energy into your efforts at trying to hear clearly and understand, then it will be capable of also taking care of other varying factors and activities like an increased balance as well as the awareness of varying safety issues.
 
How Hearing Aids Can Help
All of the teams that have researched the relationship or link between hearing loss and accidental injuries believe that some aspects of the accidents are quite preventable, and anybody who has concerns as regards his hearing should have it tested and be fitted with hearing aids if that is possible.
 
Studies have shown that hearing aids do not only make conversations a lot easier and improve social interactions greatly, both they also help in keeping you much safer, both in and out in the world as well as at home. In a study that was carried out by Eurotrak in 2015, half of all of the respondents reported that they felt safer and a lot more independent while they were wearing their hearing aids. When an individual’s hearing is improved, it is capable of making it a lot easier to remain safe in any bustling city by having him fully alerted to sounds of traffic as well as other varying noises. Also, the aids help the person to become capable of deciphering and locating where all of such sounds are coming from. Inside the home, hearing aids surely make it a lot easier to hear oven timers, the varying residential alarms, the phone, and even any call for assistance or help that could be coming from somebody within the neighborhood.
 
In addition to getting you alerted to danger, hearing aids also feature the capability of helping you to balance. A study that was undertaken by the Washington University School of Medicine discovered that the ability to perceive sound is quite crucial to maintaining your balance. The University’s study involved having the balance of individuals who were users of hearing aids tested, some with their aids on while some were without their aids. The participants who had their hearing aids displayed a significantly improved balance, in comparison to those who were not wearing theirs.
 
The National Institute on Ageing has also discovered that individuals who had mild hearing loss were 3 times more probable to fall than those who do not have hearing loss. And, the potential risk of falling rises by as much as 1.4% with every 10-decibel rise in hearing loss. This is surely a balance problem too. The researchers all believe that the brain is significantly strained by struggling to hear, which then leaves significantly fewer resources to be used in balancing the body. Wearing hearing aids decrease the cognitive load that’s put on your brain thus enabling the brain to concentrate more on the maintenance of balance, which then significantly decreases the chances of experiencing a fall.
 
Tips for Avoiding Accidents If You Have Hearing Loss

  1. Check to make sure that your hearing aids are functioning most appropriately and that the levels of sounds are set accordingly. Make sure that you always wear your aids.
  2. Be fully aware of your hearing, always observe any changes that occur within your surrounding environment. Make sure that you are always paying attention; take note if you happen to be missing any calls, or if somebody should mention that you are not hearing everything that is being said to you.
  3. Take constant breaks and rest in a much quieter place. This will help to enable your ears as well as your brain to take a needed rest. Loudspeakers, engines, crowds, music, as well as enthusiastic teammates can all turn out truly noisy as well as tiring.
  4. Be quite open, let somebody know all about your hearing impairment and such a person might just be capable of noticing something and acting even before you do. This helps in ensuring that everyone remains safe and has fun.

 
In conclusion, hearing tests are easy and quick, and the fitting of hearing aids is a breeze, thus getting your hearing tested or checked is among the simplest means of protecting both you as well as your loved ones, and also preventing accidents, thus avoiding accidental injuries. You must never fall for the trap of considering your hearing loss to not be a big deal. Experts have verified via research studies that several adults all believe that hearing loss, especially as a result of aging, is ‘normal’ and thus of negligible consequence other than, maybe social challenges.
 
The goal of this article has been to inform you that hearing problem can be real health and safety risks. Improving your hearing does not only decrease your risk of accidental falls and injuries but it also greatly improves your relationships and the quality of your life. So, if you feel you might have hearing loss, find a hearing healthcare professional near you to examine you, and recommend the most appropriate hearing aids for you.

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Hearing Aids Not Working – Troubleshoot Common Hearing Aid Problems

Hearing Aids Not Working – Troubleshoot Common Hearing Aid Problems

Within even their miniature structures, hearing aids comprise several advanced technological components that are susceptible to damage from the presence of ear wax, dirt, as well as moisture – all of which appear to always come near the ears of users of the devices. To make sure that the problems and repairs of these amazing devices remain an utmost minimum, it becomes quite crucial to make sure that you always clean them consistently, removing any buildup or debris and ensuring that they remain as dry as possible. Even at that, there are certain times that your hearing aids will malfunction.
 
When you have taken the most appropriate steps for making sure that hearing loss doesn’t impact on your everyday life by buying hearing aids, it becomes not surprising then that you can easily become frustrated when things do not go quite as you planned them. Well, you do not have to stress anymore. This article offers a couple of troubleshooting tips which, if you can follow them, will help you to effectively determine whether your hearing aid problem is something that you will be capable of fixing yourself or something that will need to be dealt with by a specialist of hearing instruments.
 

  1. If Your Hearing Aid Is Not Producing Any Sound At All

If your hearing aid happens not to be producing any sound, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you do not panic. Usually, it could be a result of a wide range of varying reasons all of which do not even imply that the hearing aid is faulty. Some of the things you can do are;

  • Make Sure That It Is Turned On: In the majority of instances, you power hearing aids by closing their batter door. If the battery door will not close easily, then that means that you might have the battery upside down. If that is the case, take out the battery, flip it over then have it reinserted. If you have placed it in properly, then the cover will close quite easily.
  • Make Sure That You Did Not Set the Sound to ‘mute’: The issue your hearing aid is having might be that you have set the controls to the ‘mute’ position. Try to use the manual control to turn the volume up. If being on ‘mute’ is the problem, then it will be solved.
  • Check to See Whether Wax Is Blocking the Aid’s Sound: Sometimes, ear wax is deposited where the sound of your aid comes out from as you keep wearing it over time. So, you should visually inspect it to see for yourself whether or not the sound outlet has been blocked by wax. The most probable occurrence is that the wax will be on the sound outlet or the microphone opening. If it is there, just wipe the debris away and your problem will be easily solved.
  • Your Battery Might Be Dead: The battery of your device might probably be dead. If you own a tester for hearing aid batteries, check the old battery’s voltage to make sure that it is dead before you insert a new one. If you just change the battery without first checking, then it can be more confusing when you eventually discover that the battery was not the problem.
  • Ensure That You Are Not On The Wrong Setting: You could have your hearing aid set to a completely wrong setting. What you have to do is a toggle between varying memories or programs. If your device features a button for changing settings, press it then go on to listen to see whether or not it makes any difference.
  • If It Is BTE (behind-the-ear) Style, the Tubing Might Have Signs of Wear: If your device happens to be behind-the-ear style, then you have to check whether the tubing is showing any signs of wear. The tubing that is found on BTE style hearing aids is capable of wearing out and getting damaged, thus having their effective functions compromised. If you notice any signs of wear on the tubing of your device, then you will need to immediately visit a hearing instrument specialist. The professional will be able to fix or replace your device’s tubing right there in his office.
  • There Could Be Visible Dislodged Tubing, Holes, Cracks Or Other Varying Damages: If you have tried all of the steps that have been listed in this section and your hearing aid is still not functioning as it should, then you will need to inspect IT for any other signs of damage such as holes, cracks, or gaps – just anything that can bring about malfunction. The majority of these basic problems can be handled right there inside the office of your hearing instrument specialist, while other problems that happen to be a bit more serious might need to be repaired by the manufacturer, or the manufacturer might even have to replace the entire device.

If you try all of these listed tips after discovering that your hearing aid isn’t producing any sound at all and the problem is still persistent, then it is time for you to call a professional in. It is time to contact your area or locality’s hearing center for further help. Such centers might have same-day appointments or walk-in hours for troubleshooting and repair of hearing aids. Depending on the make or brand of your hearing aids, getting them to a center for repair could provide you with an additional year-long warranty.
 

  1. If Your Hearing Aid Is Not Loud Enough

Usually, there is always a simple explanation for the problem when your hearing aid is not loud enough. So, you should read through the explanations given below and try out the offered pointers – your device should then be up and running within no time at all.

  • You Should First Check The Volume: The first reason that might be responsible for your hearing aid not being loud enough is that; it could simply be that you have the volume turned completely down. If this is so, all that you need to do is crank it up a bit if you have manual control.
  • It Could Again Be Wax That Is Responsible: Here again, it could be wax that is the culprit that is responsible for the problem you are having. All you have to do is take out the hearing aids and have a look. If you notice any wax on the sound outlet or microphone opening, all you need do is just wipe it away. On the other hand, if your hearing aid features tubing and an earmold, take a look at them to ensure that there is no crack, bead of moisture, or blockage on any of them. (FYI: If you see that anything is not right with the tubing of your hearing aid, then make sure that you contact your area or locality’s hearing center immediately).
  • You Are Probably On A Wrong Setting: Being in the wrong setting can potentially prevent your hearing device from being loud enough. Here, you have to check to see that you are in the right settings. You could have accidentally switched your device to a different program.
  • It Is Possible That Your Ear’s Hearing Might Have Changed: If your hearing aid appears not to be loud enough, then it could be that your hearing has changed from how you used to know it to be. If it has been long since you went for your last hearing evaluation, then you might need to schedule another check-up with your area or locality’s hearing practitioner – in the majority of instances, the professional will be able to have your hearing aid adjusted to save you from having to incur the expense of purchasing new ones.

 

  1. If the Sound of Your Hearing Aid Appears To Be Distorted

In ninety-nine out of a hundred instances, this problem can be effectively dealt with using a simple flick of a switch. If you have this kind of problem with your hearing aid, you can try any among the following troubleshooting solutions to get immediate relief.

  • Check to See Whether Your Batteries Are Corroded: If the sound of your hearing appears to be distorted, it could be that your batteries have been corroded. If they happen to be, all that you have to do is replace them with new ones. After you have replaced them, the sound of your hearing aid will return loud and clear.
  • You Might Have Another Different Problem With The Battery: If your hearing aid features distorted sound, then it is quite possible that the contacts of the battery, which happen to be the tiny metal prongs that connect with the battery whenever the cover is closed, are also corroded. If you verify and find that they are, then you should open the battery compartment and close it several times so that the contacts can be cleaned. Then, you should go on to finally replace the battery to see whether or not the sound of your hearing aid has improved. Also, if you do not have any technical experience and so cannot be able to clean your battery’s contacts, then your area or locality’s hearing care professional can do it for you very effectively. Do the contacts appear to make full contact with the battery? If they are appropriately oriented, you could feel a little drag when you open the battery cover or you could even notice scratches on the surface if it is a used battery.
  • Your Hearing Aid Might Potentially Be On The Wrong Setting: Also, if your hearing aid is giving off distorted sounds, it is quite probable that you have accidentally switched it to the telecoil setting. This is certainly the wrong setting. So, if that is the case, then all that you have to do is manually change your settings to the most appropriate settings.
  • The Hearing Aid Or Device Might Be Damaged: If your hearing aid features distorted sound, then it could be that it has been damaged. If you happen not to be a professional audiologist, then you should leave the task of checking it which is necessary here, to a real expert. This is because if you attempt doing it yourself and aren’t a professional, then you could even further damage your device. Same-day or walk-in hour appointments are always available for you whenever it might be that you need them.

 

  1. If Your Hearing Aid Is Producing Feedback or ‘Whistling

If your hearing aid happens to be whistling or producing feedback, it can turn out to be truly annoying for you. What you can do is try one or more of the following three remedies so you can stop it right now.

  • Make Sure That You Have Inserted Them Properly: If your hearing aids happen to be whistling while they are inside your ears, then you should take them out and try reinserting them. That should probably get the trick done as not inserting them properly is responsible for this problem in the majority of cases.
  • You Might Have Turned Them Up Just One Notch Too High: If your hearing aids are whistling or giving off feedback, then you might probably have turned them up just a notch too high. If you have them inserted properly and they cease to whistle when you get the volume turned down, then, there might have been just too much sound leaking out around the device’s earmold or via the vent. If you turn the volume down and the problem persists, then you might need to see a hearing care professional so he can have the fit adjusted to fit you properly.
  • You Could Have Just Too Much Wax Inside Your Ears: Sometimes, when your hearing aid is whistling or giving off feedback, then it could be because you have just a little bit too much wax in your ears. If you feel that your ear canals might have been blocked by ear wax, then you should visit your physician or hearing care professional to have your ears thoroughly cleaned. The blockage could be the culprit that is causing the feedback in two ways: You get the volume of your device turned higher than usual so that you will be able to hear through the ear wax, thus leaking out more sound than is normal, and sound can surely bounce off any kind of blockage that inside your ear canal and then go on to leak back out.

 

  1. If the Hearing Aids Are Uncomfortable

Also, soreness inside your ear canal could be a matter of fit. You should ask whether you can test-drive your device before you buy it. This is so you can be sure that they remained comfortable for over a couple of minutes. If you happen to have a customized hearing aid, your audiologist might be able to effect some adjustments to it by utilizing special tools according to the foremost experts. Sometimes, your hearing aids have to be ‘remade’ so that they can accommodate the sensitive spots that are found in the ear canal.
 

  1. If It Seems You Can’t Become Used To the Sounds

If you haven’t heard well in a long time and are new to hearing aids, the sudden background sounds amplification can be distracting especially within the higher frequencies. The longer you wait between losing your hearing and getting your device, the more challenging it is for you to adjust to this amplification, as you are already used to living in a much quieter world.
 
Caring For Your Hearing Aids
Effectively maintaining your hearing aids via regular service and everyday cleaning is very crucial. The environment in which in-the-air hearing aids are used is warm and moist with a relative humidity of between 40% and 70% together with a consistent temperature of 98 degrees. Ear wax, which happens to be a mix of corrosive body acid and salt, could accumulate inside the ears as well as on the hearing device. Unsurprisingly, these conditions can turn out to be damaging for electronics. Proper care of hearing aids helps the retention of optimum hearing conditions, significantly extends your hearing aid’s life, and helps to ensure healthy hygiene for your ears.
 
How to Effectively Clean Your Hearing Aids
Choose the style of hearing aid you are going to use after going through the many varying resources that are available online which, help you to determine the suitability and to also understand how to properly clean your device. The following are the foremost tips for effectively cleaning your hearing aid;

  • Take Out Ear Wax: You must always remove ear wax from your hearing aids to avoid permanent damage or even temporary malfunction. When you buy any hearing aids, you should be given cleaning tools which should include small loops or picks as well as a soft brush. You must always make sure that you adhere completely to the instructions of the manufacturer whenever you are cleaning your hearing aids. If you cannot get all of the ear wax taken out, then the hearing instrument professional can certainly help you out.
  • Wipe Your Aids Dry Using A Soft Dry Cloth Whenever You Remove Them At Night: You must never use water, cleaning solvents, or alcohol swabs whenever you are cleaning your hearing aids. This is because all of these mentioned materials can ultimately damage or break down your hearing aids.

 
Never Drop Your Hearing Aids
Letting your hearing aids drop onto hard surfaces is capable of getting the amazing instruments damaged. When you are still learning how you should correctly remove or even place the hearing aids, make sure that you always do it while in a seated position, and you should also make sure that you have a pillow or towel on your lap while you are doing so.
 
Proper Storage of Your Hearing Aids
Certainly, there is a proper way to store your hearing aids. Not storing them most appropriately could make them fail or even break down completely. So, follow these tips to make sure that you always store your hearing aids most appropriately.

  • Whenever you are not using your hearing aids, make sure that they are kept away from moisture and heat, and that they are stored in a place that is cool and completely dry. Ask your area or locality’s hearing specialist concerning a dehumidifying box that can be used for proper storage. Dehumidifying storage boxes are designed to effectively and safely take out moisture that is capable of corroding sensitive circuitry.
  • When storing your hearing aid, even if it is just for a short period; i.e. a couple of days, you should always make sure that you leave the device’s battery open to preserve the battery power when the device is not being used.

 
When You Should Not Wear Your Hearing Aids
Even though the majority of modern hearing aids are designed to be water-resistant, you should make sure that you do not wear them when;

  • You are taking your bath in the shower or are relaxing in a sauna.
  • When you happen to be swimming whether it is in a swimming pool, lake, river, or the ocean.
  • When you happen to be using a hairdryer whether it is your private one at home or you have gone out to your area or locality’s salon to have your hair done.
  • When you happen to be applying hair spray or even any other type of spray-on products. You should always apply your hair products first before you then go on to insert your hearing aids after you are done with the hair product application.

 
Your hearing aids are your gateway to the enjoyment of a more engaging, fuller life, thus if you begin having issues with them, it is only proper that you have them sorted out immediately. After all, devices that were designed to boost comfort must never bring about too much stress.
 
If you happen to resonate with anyone among the varying problems that have been listed in this article, have tried the basic easy-to-fix solutions that have also been offered in the article and the problem remains persistent, then it is time for you to seek help from your audiologist.
 
Taking excellent care of your device and following these easy-to-use troubleshooting tips could help you to avoid costly repairs as a result of improper handling or outright negligence and unwanted visits to experts’ offices. In particular, the quicker and easier you can troubleshoot your hearing aid, the sooner you will have it fixed and be returned to hearing as well and excellently as ever before.

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Ear Pressure Causes and Remedies

All You Need To Know About Ear Pressure Causes and Remedies
 
We all at one time in our lives felt pressure in the ears. The sensation can be quite uncomfortable and it can seem as if one or both of your ears are clogged or plugged up. There are several and varying possible causes of pressure in the ears, including altitude changes, the buildup of earwax, and even a sinus infection. This article discusses what causes pressure in the ears, how you can relieve the pressure, and when it might be time that you see your doctor.
See here for information about swimmer’s ear.
 
Why You Feel Pressure in the Ears
You feel pressure in your ears when the pressure inside your middle ear area varies from that of the outside environment. Some affected individuals have described it as a feeling of stuffiness, discomfort, or even fullness. Tiny tubes which are called Eustachian tubes, and which are components of the ear, function to regulate the pressure that is in your middle ear. You have one of these tubes on each side of the head.
 
Typically, the tubes are opened when you perform everyday actions like yawning or swallowing. Their action getting opened is what naturally equalizes the pressure that is in your middle ear. When these tubes become blocked or narrowed for whatever reasons, either as a result of a condition or disease, then you might begin to feel ear pressure which does not go away on its own.
 
Diagnosis of Ear Pressure
In the majority of instances, the symptoms of ear pressure would clear up before you even see your doctor. Nevertheless, if your pain is severe or constantly reoccurring, or you are bleeding or have fluid leakage from the ear, then you must see your doctor immediately. The doctor will demand to know when the symptoms happened to see whether they relate to changes in water or air pressure. He will then check you for any ear infections and also examine your eardrum as well as the inner part of your external ear canal to seek any signs of ear pressure.
 
If your eardrum appears pushed out or in, it could be an indication of ear pressure. Your doctor checks this by applying a tiny burst of air into your ear to seek blood or fluid buildup behind your eardrum. In certain instances, the condition shows no physical evidence. After the examination, your doctor discusses the best treatment options as well as the next steps.
 
The Most Common Causes of Ear Pressure
There is a wide range of varying possible causes for ear pressure. Here is an explanation of some of the most common ones.
 

  1. Change in Altitude

When you change altitude, the Eustachian tubes might not have the needed time to appropriately adapt to the correspondent change in pressure. Excellent instances of when this could occur include while riding up the elevator in a tall high-rise building, driving through the mountains, or even when flying in an areophane. Also, divers might go through ear pressure while they are descending. The pressure from the water that is surrounding them pushes on their middle ear. This is why divers are always taught how to descend slowly and also equalize the pressure in their middle ear by ventilating or breathing via their Eustachian tubes.
 

  1. Sinusitis

Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses, which happen to be the hollow spaces that are on your face, are inflamed. Often, this happens as a result of a viral infection, even though in some certain instances, bacteria could also bring it about. When your sinuses become swollen, you might also feel fullness or pressure in the ears. This shows that sinusitis could bring about ear pressure.
 

  1. Ear Infections

Also, an ear infection could end in, ear pressure.

  • Otitis Media: This is an infection of the middle ear which, happens when the Eustachian tube is not draining fluids as properly as it should. The resultant buildup of fluid could then end up promoting the growth of bacteria or viruses that are capable of bringing about an infection. If that happens, then it can put pressure on your ears.
  • Swimmer’s Ear: This is an infection that occurs to the outer part of your ear. It is usually brought about by a kind of bacteria that is found in water. Even though the infection affects your outer ear, individuals who are suffering from swimmer’s ear might also feel pressure on the ears as a result of the buildup of fluid as well as swelling.

 

  1. Colds

The nasal congestion and nasal inflammation that accompanies a cold could also end up affecting your Eustachian tubes. This then goes on to prevent them from equalizing the pressure that is within your middle ear as properly as they should. Once they are unable to equalize the pressure, you then feel ear pressure.
 

  1. Allergies

A condition that is known as allergic rhinitis could occur in individuals who are allergic to molds, pollen, or even pet dander. This is capable of bringing about the buildup of mucus and inflammation of the person’s nasal passages. Just like it is with colds, this is also capable of affecting your Eustachian tubes too. And once it has affected them and negatively influenced their function of equalizing your middle ear’s pressure, you end up with pressure in the ears.
 

  1. The Buildup of Earwax

Earwax is naturally produced by the human body and it is meant to safeguard the inner parts of the ear. Typically, earwax moves through the ear canal to reach the outer ear where it then flakes off eventually. A buildup of too much earwax could end in the ear canal being blocked. And, it is a fact that once the canal is blocked, then there will surely be pressure on the ears.
 

  1. Foreign Objects

Also, having any foreign object stuck inside the ear could bring about the occurrence of ear pressure and pain. This particular cause could be a bit more common in small kids, who are likely to sometimes put foreign objects into their ears, mouth, or nose. This is as they are always playing with varying objects which, as kids, they might not understand could end up being stuck in their ears.
 

  1. SSHL – Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss

This condition occurs quite infrequently: just 1 in between 10,000 and 15,000 individuals gets affected by this condition. Typically, it takes just between a few minutes and days to appear and has to be taken as a medical emergency. Frequently, the sudden loss of hearing is preceded by a ‘pop’ and the patient then goes on to notice dizziness, a fullness of the ears, or tinnitus. There are more than 1000 possible causes of this condition, and the sooner that the patient seeks expert medical attention, the better the chances he has for fully recovering lost hearing.
 
The Uncommon Causes of Pressure in the Ears
There are also some causes of pressure in the ears which are not quite common. Here is an explanation of the foremost ones among them.
 

  1. Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a health condition that typically affects a person’s inner ear. It is brought about by fluid buildup inside the person’s inner ear. This could end up affecting things such as how the sounds that you hear can send signals to your brain and your balance. Typically, the condition affects just one of the two ears. When a person has the condition, then the symptoms could include severe dizziness, ear pressure, or even hearing loss.
 

  1. Cholesteatoma

This condition comes about whenever skin happens to grow abnormally inside a person’s middle ear. It could happen to be present right from birth, or due to ear infections occurring too frequently in the same person. Apart from ear pressure, other possible symptoms that the condition could show include;

  • Drainage that gives off a foul smell.
  • Hearing loss.

 

  1. Acoustic Neuroma

This is a benign tumor that settles on a person’s eighth cranial nerve. The eighth cranial nerve is the nerve that is accountable for transmitting signals that involve hearing and balance to your brain. The condition is quite rare but it is not unseen. One of the major symptoms of the condition is hearing loss in the ear that has been affected, nevertheless, ear ringing and ear pressure in the person’s ears could also occur.
 

  1. Fungal Ear Infection

Fungal infections that occur to the ear are also known as otomycosis. The condition could occur in even healthy individuals. Nevertheless having an underlying condition like diabetes or an immune system that’s weakened is capable of putting you at significantly higher risk. One of the foremost symptoms of the condition is feeling as if your ear is blocked. Other symptoms include discharge, pain, and itching.
 

  1. Chronic Otitis Media

Chronic otitis media occurs when an infection that has affected the middle ear keeps coming back or it does not resolve. The condition could be accompanied by things such as a persistence of the occurrence of fluid in the affected person’s middle ear, the presence of cholesteatomas, or even a ruptured eardrum. Complications that could probably arise from this condition include;

  • Damage to the affected person’s facial nerves.
  • Hearing loss.
  • An infection of the bone that is also known as mastoiditis.

 

  1. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders

The TMJ is what connects the jaw to the skull. When TMJ disorders occur in a person, they affect this joint negatively. The actual cause of several disorders is not clear, nevertheless, some could be brought about by damages that occur to the joint or the cartilage that surrounds it. The major symptom shown by TMJ disorders is discomfort or pain, either in the face, jaw or even around the ears. Also, the person can end up with pain inside the ear.
 
How to Relieve Yourself of the Ear Pressure
The treatment that will work for your ear pressure will be dependent on which of the listed causes is bringing it about. Let us take a look at some of the ways for treating the most common causes of the condition.
 

  1. Changes in Altitude

Swallowing or yawning could help to get your Eustachian tubes opened and the pressure of your middle ear equalized. Also, you might want to take OTC (over the counter) decongestant spray for the nose into consideration. Nevertheless, you should ensure that you steer clear of utilizing decongestants for your children.
 

  1. The Buildup of Earwax

Earwax could be taken out of the ears by utilizing solutions like hydrogen peroxide or mineral oil to dissolve any earwax that has accumulated inside the ear canal. Also, some specialized tools could be used in removing the earwax manually, nevertheless, this should be undertaken only under the supervision of a qualified professional doctor.
 

  1. Sinus Congestion

To obtain relief from sinus congestion, you could utilize OTC decongestants which can either be sprayed into your nose or taken orally. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) are capable of helping to relieve swelling or pain. Also, it might also help if you use a neti pot to perform nasal irrigation.
 

  1. Ear Infections

Some of the ear infections that cause ear pressure could even resolve themselves without any antibiotic treatment being used. Eardrops or OTC pain medications might be recommended to help in easing the pain. If it is suspected that you have a bacterial infection, then antibiotics that are made to be taken orally or those that are made to be given in the form of eardrops could be prescribed.
 

  1. Allergies

Over the counter corticosteroid, nasal sprays (Nasonex, Flonase) or antihistamines (like Zyrtec or Claritin) are capable of helping in relieving the symptoms of allergy. Also, you might also want to take using a neti pot for nasal irrigation into consideration.
 

  1. Blockage As A Result Of Foreign Objects

If you have any foreign object in your ear that’s causing you ear pressure, then you can perform any or a combination of the following things at home. Remember, these are only first aid measures;

  • Have your head tilted to the side so that you can utilize gravity to get the object to come out.
  • If the object’s in your ear is visible, then you can utilize tweezers to take it out very gently.
  • You can also try to get the object washed or flushed out by utilizing a tiny syringe together with warm water to get your ear canal gently irrigated.

 

  1. The Buildup of Fluid

Conditions such as colds and allergies are capable of affecting your Eustachian tubes, thus bring about fluid buildup in the middle of your ear. Also, this fluid could end up being infected too, thus bring about otitis media. Getting the condition that is responsible for the buildup of fluid cured, should help in having the buildup drain. Nevertheless, in instances in which there is a prolonged buildup of fluid in a person’s ears, it might then become necessary to undergo a surgical procedure to have it help in draining the fluid and decreasing the pressure that is on the ear.
 
Surgical Procedures for Treating Chronic Ear Pressure
If you have ear pressure issues too frequently, your doctor might have to recommend a surgical treatment and procedure. Let us now explore some of the possible options of that.
 

  1. Myringotomy

During this surgical procedure, the doctor makes a tiny incision inside the eardrum. The fluid that has accumulated inside the middle of the ear is then taken out quite carefully. Typically, the incision that has been made is left to remain open until the blockage or swelling that has occurred to the Eustachian tubes eventually goes away. You can undergo this surgery procedure with ear tubes or without them.
 

  1. Ear Tubes

The placement of tubes into the middle ear is quite similar to the myringotomy surgery procedure except that after the incision has been made and the fluid drained, a small plastic or metal tube is then inserted into the patient’s eardrum. The tube could be kept steadily in place so it helps to relieve pressure and also prevent the buildup of fluid.
 
Even though both of these procedures do help in relieving ear pressure, they also feature their downsides. In some certain instances, the incision that has been made in the eardrum might refuse to heal, thus having to eventually be surgically repaired. Also, individuals who have tubes inside their ears must ensure that they keep water out of the ears. They do this by utilizing cotton balls or earplugs while they are bathing or swimming.
 
How You Can Know If You Have Ruptured an Eardrum
A ruptured eardrum has occurred when you have a tear in the eardrum. The eardrum is the piece of thin tissue that functions to separate the ear canal from the middle of the ear. A wide variety of different things can cause the rupture of the eardrum, including foreign objects, ear infections, and stress from the differences in pressure between the outside environment and the middle ear.
 
You have to make sure that you contact your doctor if you happen to be experiencing any of the varying symptoms of an eardrum that has been ruptured. Some of the foremost symptoms you should always look out for include;

  • Hearing loss. Hearing Aids can help for this.
  • Feeling of dizziness (vertigo) or a sensation of spinning.
  • Ear pain which comes on and then goes away again quite quickly.
  • Drainage coming out from the ear, which could be clear, bloody, or even contains pus.
  • Having the sensation of ringing inside your ears.

 
Prevention of Ear Pressure
There are certain things you can do to help in the prevention of the occurrence of ear pressure. If have any kind of congestion from allergies or even a cold, then you might want to consider delaying scuba diving, swimming or flying in an airplane. Or, you could take medications like antihistamines or decongestants. This might help in getting your ears to equalize more easily and in preventing ear pressure. There are some certain methods you can use in an attempt to get your Eustachian tubes opened during any changes in altitude you might be experiencing, and they include;

  • Closing your mouth, pinching your nose, and then going on to act as if you are going to breathe out via your nostrils.
  • Utilizing specialized earplugs whenever you are going to be flying in an airplane.
  • Frequent swallowing.
  • Chewing candy or gum.

Ventilation tubes are one other option for some individuals whose Eustachian tubes do not function properly, or for individuals who have to fly quite often. Also, the tubes could greatly benefit you if you require hyperbaric oxygen therapy for healing wounds. A professional and expert surgeon gets the tubes placed in your eardrum, and they’re able to effectively help in preventing the occurrence of any future differences in pressure (the tubes will not be able to prevent ear pressure that is caused by diving).
 
When You Should See a Doctor
There are some instances in which your ear pressure might have gone so far that the best option for you would be to see your doctor. You should ensure that you schedule an appointment to see your doctor if, you are experiencing ear pressure which;

  • It comes accompanied by symptoms such as fever, bleeding from the ear, severe pain, or even dizziness.
  • Goes on for a prolonged period or becomes worse despite some at-home treatments you have tried.
  • It is happening as a result of a foreign object which can’t be taken out by using any of the techniques for at-home first aid.

 
In conclusion, feeling ear pressure is somewhat common. It occurs as a result of things like colds, altitude changes, and allergies. Typically, you can treat its causes at home via yawning or swallowing to ‘pop’ the ears, or by taking over-the-counter medications. Nevertheless, if you discover the symptoms persisting or becoming worse, with at-home treatment, then see a doctor to hold a discussion as regards the condition. It is hoped that this article has helped you to better understand ear pressure.