Hearing Tips

Professional musicians at greater risk of developing hearing loss

By: Hearing Aid Healthcare : February 28, 2015

Celebrity, fortune, and screaming fans — these are some of the terms and phrases you’d use to describe the life of a professional musician. however, what you almost certainly wouldn’t think about is “hearing loss” or “tinnitus,” the not-so-pleasant side-effects of all that stardom, wealth, and screaming. The sad paradox is, a musician’s hearing is exactly what is most sensitive to damage from the performance of their art.

As a matter of fact, musicians are close to four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss in comparison with the average individual, as stated by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The research also reported that professional musicians are roughly 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus — an ailment associated with a relentless ringing in the ears.

The cause: recurring exposure to deafening sound. Over the years, loud noise will irreparably destroy the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for sending sound to the brain. Like an abundant area of grass worn out from repeated trampling, the hair cells can similarly be wiped out from repeated overexposure to loud noise – the major difference, of course, being that you can’t grow brand new hair cells.

Just how loud are rock concerts?

To explain the issue, hearing loss begins with recurrent exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to gauge loudness). That might not mean very much to you, until you have a look at the decibel levels associated with common events:

  • Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
  • Common dialogue at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
  • Motorcycle: 100 dB
  • Front row at a rock show: 120 to 150 dB

In non-technical terms, rock shows are literally ear-splittingly loud, and repetitive unguarded exposure can cause some considerable harm, which, regrettably, many popular musicians have recently attested to.

Chris Martin, the lead singer for the music group Coldplay, has struggled with Tinnitus for a decade. Martin said::

“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse (touch wood). But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now we always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try and protect our ears. You CAN use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”

Other noteworthy musicians that suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus include Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which voice regret that they hadn’t done more to give protection to their ears during their careers. According to Lars Ulrich from Metallica:

“If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that’ll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn’t come back. I try to point out to younger kids … once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy.”

How musicians can protect their ears with custom ear plugs

Although musicians are at greater risk for developing hearing loss or tinnitus, the risk can be greatly diminished by utilizing protective measures. Considering the specialized needs of musicians — and the importance of maintaining the detBecause of the unique needs of musicians — and the significance of conserving the fine details of sound — the initial step is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist.

Here’s a classic error: musicians will regularly wait to see an audiologist until they experience one or more of these signs or symptoms:

  • A ringing or buzzing noise in the ears
  • Any pain or discomfort in the ears
  • Difficulty comprehending speech
  • Difficulty following conversations in the presence of background noise

The problem is, when these symptoms are found to exist, the damage has already been done. Therefore, the most important thing a musician can do to prevent long-term, permanent hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist before symptoms are present.

If you’re a musician, an audiologist can recommend custom musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will protect your hearing without diminishing your musical abilities. As a musician, you have distinctive needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the specialists specifically trained to provide this custom protection.

Also bear in mind that it’s not only musicians at risk: concert-goers are just as vulnerable. So the next time you’re front row at a rock show, know that 120 decibels of hair-cell-killing volume is pumping right from the speakers right into your ears.

 





Preventing work related hearing loss with high fidelity, custom-fit ear plugs

By: Hearing Aid Healthcare : February 21, 2015

85 decibels. That’s the noise measure at which repetitive exposure can bring on severe hearing damage.

100 decibels. That’s the sound measure reached by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for performers or live concert goers.

It’s also part of a greater problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as much as 30 million people in the U.S. are subjected to to dangerous noise volumes, representing one of the top occupational risks over the prior 25 years.

And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels associated with everyday work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newsprint press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a jet plane takeoff 150. performers, manufacturing plant workers, construction workers, airport staff, emergency workers, plumbers, and carpenters are all at risk of developing significant hearing loss and tinnitus.

Work-related hearing loss affects countless numbers

Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England understands all too well about the occupational perils of noise. Twigg worked on evaluating and correcting police car sirens — which reach between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.

After retirement, Twigg began to suffer intense tinnitus in addition to substantial hearing loss that mandated the use of hearing aids. Having failed to adopt the protective measures that would minimize the sound levels, Twigg’s employer was found responsible in court, losing a case in which Twigg would gain a large settlement.

This is a experience that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 alone there were 21,000 occurrences of occupational hearing loss reported.

How to protect your ears at work

So here’s the problem: the world needs performers, craftsmen, and emergency and construction workers, but you can’t really make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.

The solution? minimize the level of sound that enters your ear. Easy, right? Well…not so fast.

You could just travel to the community store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more suitable alternative.

The ideal alternative requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, sometimes referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing specialist can individualize specifically to you, your job, and your needs.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are significantly better than the off-the-shelf foam variety

Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.

  1. conservation of sound quality

Standard foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By decreasing noise principally in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and indecipherable. Foam ear plugs also decrease sound by 30-40 decibels, which is unnecessary for the prevention of hearing damage.

Custom-fit ear plugs will lower sound more smoothly across frequencies while reducing sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby maintaining the organic quality of speech and music.

  1. avoidance of the “Occlusion Effect”

With foam ear plugs, the user will hear a hollowed out or boomy sound in their voice when speaking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This bothersome sound is referred as the “occlusion effect.”

Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, creating a deep seal that prevents this distracting sound.

  1. cost & convenience

Custom ear plugs can keep working up to four years, in most cases at a price of well under $100.

Let’s do some math on the disposable foam plugs:

$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair

$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60

With custom-fit ear plugs, you will save cash in the long run and will avoid all of those visits to the store. No one looks forward to picking out ear plugs, so while the first visit to the audiologist seems like a pain, in the long run you will also save yourself time.

  1. preserving the environment

Throw-away ear plugs generate a lot of waste:

5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs thrown out every single year.

 

Schedule an appointment and give protection to your ears

The many advantages of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.

If you work in a job that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you attend noisy shows or sporting events, schedule an appointment with a hearing consultant today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also preserve the quality of sound.

 





A Brief History of Hearing Aids

By: Hearing Aid Healthcare : February 14, 2015

Today, countless individuals utilize hearing aids every day to be able to hear better. This is nothing new, even though the technology has undeniably evolved quite a bit. Readily available in numerous shapes, sizes, and even colors, today’s hearing aids only weigh a few ounces when they used to weigh several pounds! They’re not only more convenient these days, but they give the user several more advantages, such as the capability to link up to Bluetooth and even filter out background noise. Here we present a concise history of hearing aids and just how far they have come.

Original Advancements

Back in the 17th century, something termed the ear trumpet was created. ear trumpets were most helpful to those who only had limited hearing problems. They were large, awkward and only functioned to amplify sound in the immediate environment. Think of an outdated phonograph with the conical sphere and you’ll understand what they looked like. They were more common as the calendar spilled over to the 18th century, with numerous variants designed for the very wealthy, such as the Reynolds Trumpet especially designed for the famous painter Joshua Reynolds. This horn-shaped device basically just funneled sound into the inner ear.

New Possibilities

The hearing devices of the 17th and 18th centuries supplied only limited amplification qualities. When the 19th century rolled around, additional possibilities materialized with electrical technologies. In fact, it was the development of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 that introduced the advancement leading to electrical transmission of speech. Spurred by this invention, Thomas Edison invented the carbon transmitter for the telephone in 1878 which improved upon the basics of the telephone and actually boosted the electrical signal to greatly enhance hearing.

 

Vacuum Tubes

Next up were vacuum tubes, released by Western Electric Co., in New York City in 1920. This company built upon the technology found in Lee De Forest’s discovery of the three-component tube just a few years earlier. These devices offered not only better amplification but also better frequency. The early models were quite big, but the size was reduced to the size of a small box attached to a receiver not many years later. It was still very inconvenient and didn’t offer the versatility and convenience of the hearing aids to come.

First Wearable Products

The first hearing aids that could actually be worn semi-comfortably were developed by a Chicago electronics manufacturer in the late 1930s. The hearing aids featured a thin wire fastened to an earpiece and receiver, along with a battery pack which connected to the user’s leg. More compact models were introduced during World War II which presented a more secure service to the user thanks to printed circuit boards.

Modern Models

Behind-the-ear hearing aids became available in 1964 by Zenith Radio; digital signal-processing chips, hybrid analog-digital models, and finally fully digital models entered the market in 1996. By the 21st century, programmable hearing aids were all the craze, providing for extended flexibility, customization and comfort. Today, 90 percent of all hearing aids are digital, and that number is only expected to grow. What will be the next development?

 





10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hearing Aids

By: Hearing Aid Healthcare : February 5, 2015

Hearing aids have gone through plenty of iterations in their 200-plus year history. The technology that is used in hearing aids has historically been developed due to a devoted scientist who is either impacted by hearing loss or has a loved one impacted by hearing loss. For example, Alexander Graham Bell’s mother had profound hearing loss and his wife was deaf.

Here are 10 other little-known facts about hearing aids:

  1. Hearing aids can be synced up with wireless gadgets through cutting-edge technology like Bluetooth, so users can enjoy direct signals from their smart phone, MP3 player, TV, and other electronics.
  2. Hearing aids are not one size fits all – as a matter of fact, they can and should be programmable. This indicates they have the potential to recall the most comfortable configurations for the user, often readjusting in real time to the surrounding environment.
  3. Digital hearing aids – a recent innovation — have dramatically limited the prevalence of irritating feedback, echoes, and background noises. These were par for the course as part of earlier technologies, and they made concentrating much more challenging.
  4. Hearing aids have the capacity for enhancing and clarifying sound, in combination with making it louder for the user.
  5. When used in connection with special induction or hearing loops, hearing aid users can more clearly hear notifications in public areas, conferences, airports, stadiums, and other populated environments. This technology enhances sounds and minimizes all the background noise.
  6. It used to be that hearing aids were only manufactured in beige and similar colors to fit in with people’s skin color, so that they were not easily recognizable. Today, users are welcoming their hearing aid technology, exhibiting a range of colors and patterns to flash their devices and stick out in a crowd.
  7. In the same vein, hearing aids are smaller in size than at any other time. They used to be large, cumbersome contraptions that weighed several pounds and barely amplified sound. Today, hearing aids only weigh a few ounces and provide far superior sound quality.
  8. Today, you can pick up water resistant and waterproof hearing aids to better fit in with your lifestyle. Water resistant hearing aids can withstand low levels of humidity and moisture, while waterproof hearing aids can tolerate higher levels of moisture during showering and even swimming.
  9. Many hearing aids are now made with rechargeable technology; instead of having to frequently replace batteries, hearing aids can simply be recharged, thereby avoiding maintenance costs and hassle.
  10. Hearing aids are not only for the hard of hearing — individuals suffering from tinnitus can often obtain relief from the constant ringing with the special tinnitus therapy components contained in many hearing aids.

 

Now that you learned some interesting tidbits about hearing aids and their associated technology, you can better understand what they have to offer the young and the old alike.

 





How Ibuprofen Can Lead to Hearing Loss

By: Hearing Aid Healthcare : January 28, 2015

Every time you pick up a medicine bottle for your headache, you may be doing significant harm to your hearing loss. According to recent studies, ibuprofen is capable of inducing hearing loss in those people that use it for significant periods of time. We will look at the medical causes behind this and see what other important information has been released on this subject.

Conclusive Findings

There was a massive study that looked to find a suspected link between human hearing loss and the medications ibuprofen and acetaminophen. People who took these medications, women only, were followed for fourteen years to see if there was a pattern of hearing loss. A quarter of the 60,000 participants came away with some level of hearing loss according to the report that was filed with the American Journal for Advanced Epidemiology that was recently released.

Causes

For those people that have hearing loss as a result of medication, it is important to realize that is happens as a result of two different mechanisms. The first is that the chemicals in the ibuprofen can lead to a clogging at the hearing binder reception sites within the cochlea of the ear. This causes less sound to be interpreted by the brain, and lower levels of sound. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen also cause a restriction of blood into the structures of the ear that are needed for hearing, and this can cause damage over time that does not heal and will result in permanent hearing loss. Most researchers believe that the findings will be the same for men as well as women, and that the best thing that you can do is to moderate the amount of medication that you take for aches and pains throughout your life.

More Research

Even more research is being done to look into other areas of women’s health that could be affecting their hearing loss of accelerating it through the use of medication. Some of the factors that are being examined in the latest study are the role that alcohol consumption as well as medicine plays in creating an environment that is right for hearing loss to occur.

What to Do

It is important to keep in mind that ibuprofen is not only used as a pain medicine in its own right. It is also used to help fight pain and inflammation in drugs that are used to treat cold and flu symptoms, so you need to be aware of what the label is telling you. There are other things that you can do for your hearing loss are to find new drugs to take for your pain that do not include any of the active ingredients that we have looked at in this article. If you need help to discover better pain medicine options, you should take a trip to your doctor.