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Future Pill for Hearing Loss?

Exposure to loud noises in the military isn’t just common, it’s a given in almost every soldier’s experience. The sound of a jet taking off, a gun firing, or any kind of explosive- these all exceed a person’s threshold for decibels of noise. Noise exposure is a major cause of hearing loss, and this places thousands of troops at risk for damage to their hearing over time in the military. However, a solution is being developed by Kathleen Campbell at the Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine to prevent further damage.

The treatment involves an element found in certain fermented cheese, yogurt, and other fermented dairy. This antioxidant, called D-methionine, neutralizes the harmful electrons that are released when the body is exposed to loud noise and inner ear cells are overstimulated. D-methionine can also produce another antioxidant that could eventually stop the electrons- also known as “free radicals”- from being released at all. By incorporating these properties into a medical treatment, hearing damage from noise could be reversed quickly after the initial exposure. To test this, Campbell has had soldiers consume D-methionine before, during, and after their participation at a shooting range. The study is still awaiting results, and in the meantime, Campbell has also tested the effects of the antioxidant on animals. She found that D-methionine especially affected chinchillas, which have a very similar hearing range to humans.

While significant in her research, Campbell is not the first to look into medicinal treatments for hearing damage. Private companies such as Sound Pharmaceuticals, as well as other research bases, have tested the effects of certain drugs on exposure to noise, with mostly positive and promising results. Some in the scientific community may not see the importance of finding such treatments quickly, but the statistics of those with hearing loss are rising. Those who would previously have been too young to show signs of hearing damage are now being harmed by loud music from their personal devices, concerts, sports arenas, and etc. A treatment for exposure to noise is needed for thousands around the world, and researchers grow closer every day to finding the solution.


Self Diagnosis- Is Your Hearing a Problem?

Hearing loss may not be an issue on everyone’s radar. It’s usually associated with aging, and younger people may think they are mostly immune to a deteriorating auditory system. However, in today’s world of concerts, loud sports games, and busy cities, young people may not realize that they are being exposed to a lot of damaging noise. In venues and areas with a lot of sound, wearing ear protection and standing away from speakers and sources of noise can be beneficial to younger people’s hearing. However, this does not always entirely prevent hearing damage, and the risk of damage for younger people increases all the time. If you notice you are experiencing any of these common signs of hearing loss, it may be a problem that you need to deal with as soon as possible. Some signs are the following:

  • Communicating and conversations are difficult, and you have to strain yourself to hear other people.
  • You experience Tinnitus (ringing in ears) now more than ever.
  • You have to ask friends and family to repeat themselves a lot.
  • You turn up the volume on your TV and audio devices way more than your friends do.
  • Phone conversations are especially difficult to hear.
  • It’s hard to make out noises in the background.
  • Those with high pitched voices, like children are harder to understand.
  • You feel the urge to avoid social situations, because it’s become difficult to participate.
  • Sounds and voices are somewhat muffled.

HearingTestPICTUREIf you find yourself experiencing any of these things, it’s important to see an audiologist or hearing instrument practitioner as soon as possible, and get your hearing checked. If you are unsure of your hearing, take our free online hearing test to decide whether a check up with one of our professional staff will benefit you. Or consult with our staff with a one-on-one online virtual consultation. Regardless of your age or lifestyle, anyone can have hearing loss, and the sooner you are able to treat it, the better. Those who begin having hearing damage early in life could only get worse as time goes on without the proper care and ear protection. You can never be too careful- have your hearing checked annually and be sure to tell your doctor about any unusual symptoms.


Ear Care: Steps To Protect Your Hearing

Caring for your ears is the first step towards keeping your hearing healthy. From overuse of ear buds to listening to music or video games to over zealous ear cleaning, there are many opportunities to damage your hearing. Follow some simple steps to keep your ears  safe and your hearing functional.

Step 1: Keep Ear Bud Use At Reasonable Levels

While hearing loss can be caused by numerous factors, it is clear that listening to music at excessive volume using ear buds will lead, over time, to a loss of hearing. Recent studies of teenagers, a prime demographic of ear bud users, notes that close to 30% of interviewees have some trouble hearing.

Ear bud users often turn up their music to levels that can be heard by others around them. A general rule of thumb is that is too loud. Experts advise that users take breaks from listening and to keep the device set at 60 dB or lower to protect the inner ear. Another option is to use noise-reducing headphones which alleviate the need to over amplify sounds when using the ear buds.

Step 2: Do Not Put Your Elbow Into Your Ear!

The old axiom holds true. Digging around in your ear with a cotton tip is not necessary to keep your ears clean. Ear wax is a natural body product produced to keep the ear safe. It can be cleaned out of the ear once it migrates outside the ear canal.

Step 3: Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear emerges when bacteria gets into the ear and starts an infection. While swimmer’s ear is hard to protect against, experts recommend making sure your ears are clean prior to swimming.

Step 4: Limited Ear Piercings

Piercing the ear lobe is okay, but as piercings move up the ear, they encounter more cartilage. These areas, unlike the lobe, have poor blood supply and, therefore, are subject more serious infections. Additionally, piercings up the curve of the ear tend to dissuade people from using sunscreen on their ears which are actually very sensitive to sun and need to be protected.

Step 5: Prepare For Air Travel

Pressure equalization is an important factor to consider when flying. Barotis, or the failure for pressures to equalize in the ears, leads to pain, bleeding, and even perforation of the eardrum. Techniques to move the pressure include yawning, swallowing, and chewing gun. Young kids can use their pacifiers or sip water.

Follow these steps to ensure your ears are cared for and that your hearing is not prematurely damaged. Check Mainland’s special Hearing Protective Devices- sleepers, musician plugs and swim molds.

Have My Parents Lost Their Hearing?

It’s common for sons and daughters to suspect their parents of hearing loss but sometimes it’s hard to be sure if hearing aids are the right solution. Some changes affect our loved ones so slowly that we aren’t sure what’s happening to them or why.

The aging process affects people in various ways. Older parents might lose their eyesight, strength, vitality and/or hearing abilities. Older parents may begin displaying unexplainable and odd behavior that doesn’t seem “like them” at all.


So how can you tell if your parents need hearing aids?

There are several signs and situations you should watch out for. However, every aging parent expresses their hearing loss in different ways. Here are some common general behaviors.

Some parents with hearing loss listen to radio, TV, music, or other entertainment/news at an unnecessary and uncomfortable volume and claim that it sounds “perfectly fine.” This is often an early indication that your parent might be losing their hearing.

Changes in personality are another common occurrence among those with hearing loss. Individuals who were once open and sociable may start to isolate themselves from friends and family. Studies by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) have found a strong link between hearing loss, depression, and emotional instability. If you notice self-isolation and extreme emotional despondency in your parents, you and your parent(s) should deeply consider hearing aids as an option.

General unresponsiveness to the environment can also occur. Parents may not answer calls or their door simply because they can’t hear the phone in the other room or a knock on the door. This can be extremely dangerous in the case of a fire or other emergency.

Hearing loss can drastically decrease an individual’s standard of living due to its effect on emotional, social, and physical health. Seeing an audiologist or hearing instrument practitioner and getting a hearing test can profoundly improve a parent’s life and can give them a new sense of freedom. Contact a hearing care professional today to learn more.

New Hearing Aid Technology – Sleeker Designs

Hearing is one of our most important capabilities. We use our hearing to stay safe, maintain our social lives, and to hear life’s moments. Without our hearing, our quality of life decreases.

Going to the movies, having group discussions, having a one-on-one dinner conversation, or even talking on the phone without being able to hear can be extremely frustrating. Due to this frustration, many people with hearing loss stay away from social activities and entertainment because they feel lost and unimportant. This can wreak havoc on an individual’s emotional stability.

Many people with hearing loss avoid getting hearing aids because they worry about how the devices will look and what society may think about them. Luckily, these people no longer have to suffer a lower quality of life.

Hearing aids have changed a great deal over the past couple of decades. 30 years ago, hearing aids were large and bulky because the technology back then was not as advanced as it is now. Modern hearing aid technology provides sleek designs that are considerably more slim and unnoticeable. There are several low-profile and sleek options now available on the market.

The cost of hearing aids is an understandable concern for individuals with hearing loss. Insurance coverage does not always cover hearing aids and hearing aids can cost anywhere around $2,000. Fortunately, companies like Mainland Hearing are making hearing aids more affordable and accessible.

Mainland offers the Lease to Hear program – a program that allows you to lease hearing aids for as low as $59 per month. The Lease to Hear program includes free battery replacements and even free repairs. Offers like these are great because they allow you to improve your hearing capability and quality of life while maintaining your budget!

Contact your hearing care professional to find out more information and schedule a hearing test. No one should have to suffer a lower quality of life just because of their worries about how they look.

Hearing Loss & Lifestyle

People of all ages can suffer from hearing loss. Unfortunately, social stigmas surrounding hearing aids leads to delayed diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, people with active lifestyles avoid getting help for fear of having to use an aid that hinders certain activities. Recent technological advances in hearing aid design and function make getting help easier than ever.

Win Whittaker is a passionate mountaineering guide, movie maker, and musician. However, some years ago he and his loved ones began to notice deterioration in his hearing ability. Win avoided immediate help, fearful that hearing aids might over-amplify wind sounds on his expeditions or negatively alter his ability to create music.

Although Whittaker had visited an audiologist and knew that he needed help, he remained hesitant. He needed a device that he could easily control. Recently, Whittaker discovered the power of new hearing aid technologies with a device called ReSound LiNX2. Using advanced technologies this device can be controlled by apps on his phone or watch! The aid also allows him to receive phone calls and listen to music.

Whittaker’s fear of hearing aids has vanished. In fact, he is passionate about their ability to improve the quality of one’s life. Even when faced with howling mountain winds, he is able to turn down the aid with a tap of his watch. The emergence of technologically-sophisticated hearing aids is opening up the market to folks previously stigmatized by the thought of using a clunky, hard-to-control device.

Win Whittaker is a poster child for companies looking to sway people suffering from hearing loss towards a life-changing device. He stills climbs the world’s biggest peaks, makes awesome documentary movies about his family and his love of climbing, and he still is able to both listen to and make music. Taking steps to improve his hearing has added value to all of his life-long pursuits.

Nasal Balloons Help Treat ‘Glue Ear’ in Children

Otitis media with effusion (OME – colloquially known as “glue ear”) is a condition common in children between 6 months and 3 years of age in which fluid builds up in the middle ear. A new study indicates that autoinflation – a medical technique in which the Eustachian tube is reopened by nasal balloons – might be the first evidence-based, non-surgical treatment option available for OME.

The Eustachian tube is a tube inside the head that connects the ear to the back of the throat. The Eustachian tube’s main purpose is to drain fluid from the ear into the throat to stop bacteria from collecting in the ear.

When the Eustachian tube is underdeveloped (as in children) or is inflamed, bacteria and fluid can build up, causing hearing loss and ear infections. The fluid blocks sound from entering the ear which can make sounds fuzzy or muffled.

Dr. Ian Williamson led the research team at the University of Southampton in England. In the study, 320 children ages 4 to 11 with OME were treated with either nasal balloons 3 times a day with usual care or with usual care alone.

After 3 months, 49.6% of the balloon-treated children indicated improvements in their hearing tests (tympanograms) whereas only 38.3% of the control group (children who were not treated with the balloons) showed improvements in their hearing tests. Williamson and his team also reported that there was a strong but insignificant trend toward improvement at 1 month in those that were treated with autoinflation.

Dr. Williamson and his team concluded that the balloon procedure (autoinflation) has been proven to be effective in treating otitis media with effusion in children ages 4 – 11 years and is “effective both in clearing effusions and improving symptoms and ear-related child and parent quality of life.” With each balloon costing approximately $15 USD, the treatment is relatively affordable.




Why Hearing Loss Should Matter More than You Know

Hearing loss is more damaging to an individual’s life than you may realize because it affects more than just your ability to hear. Losing your hearing can completely alter your life in ways that you may not have thought possible.

Losing your hearing can profoundly damage your social and mental health, harm your emotional stability, and put you in physical danger. In some cases, hearing loss doesn’t just affect the individual, but the family as well.

Hearing care professionals often see the same scenarios in their patients and their families. The individual with hearing loss may turn the television or radio volume up to uncomfortable and painful levels, not answer the door after it rings, or accuse others of mumbling. These scenarios do not cause immediate harm but they can cause long-term devastation if they are not treated quickly.

An individual with hearing loss often avoids conversations and social events because they feel lost and isolated. Asking others to repeat themselves can be irritating and even embarrassing.

A recent study conducted by Professor Arthur Wingfield at Brandeis University found that hearing-impaired participants have less gray matter in the auditory cortex (the part of the brain that processes speech) compared to participants with normal hearing. Not being able to process other people’s speech can lead to self-induced isolation and feelings of loneliness.

Professor Wingfield also discovered that senior citizens with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia than those with treated hearing loss or than peers with normal hearing.

Not being able to hear can also put you in serious physical danger. If you cannot hear a simple doorbell ring, then your ability to respond to the environment in the case of an emergency may be decreased. This can put you and your family at serious risk.

Fortunately, hearing loss can be treated. Hearing aid devices allow you to rebuild your social, emotional, mental, and physical health. Contacting your audiologist for a hearing test is the first step to regain control of your life.




Preventing Hearing Loss for Baby Boomers

For a long time, it was commonly believed that hearing loss would be extremely prevalent in the Baby Boomer generation – the generation of people born between 1946 and 1964 – due to the excessive amounts of loud rock ‘n’ roll and metal music they listened to in their youth. However, a recent study performed by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine reveals that the prevalence of hearing loss in the Baby Boomers may not be as bad as once thought.

The study was comprised of over 5,000 adults born in the early- and mid-1900s. This age group includes the parents of the Baby Boomers as well as the Baby Boomers themselves, allowing us to analyze the progress of healthy hearing across generations.

Surprisingly, the study found that the Baby Boomer generation (adults born between 1946 and 1964) showed less hearing loss than their parents did (adults born between 1930 and 1935). There was nearly a 21% decrease in the rate of hearing impairment across generations: 58.1%  of the pre-Baby Boomer generation indicated signs of hearing impairment whereas only 36.4% of all adults in the Baby Boomer generation showed signs of hearing loss. Stricter rules about workplace noise, fewer people in loud workplaces, reduced smoking, and better health care are all possible explanations for these results .

The older generation of adults involved in this study was also involved in the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study – a study funded by the National Institute on Aging that has tracked hearing loss in volunteers from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, since 1993. This study combined with the University of Wisconsin study provides critical evidence that age-related hearing loss is not inevitable.

Dr. Wen Chen of the NIA Division of Neuro science hopes that these findings will “spark future research to help us better understand the factors that favor preservation of hearing function, and … [will lead to the] development of strategies to prevent hearing loss and the associated functional declines in older adults.”

According to the studies, if the Baby Boomer generation lost the hearing at the same rate as their parents, we would have nearly 65.5 million people who have a hearing impairment by 2030. However, the study points out that by 2030, we will actually see 50.9 million people with hearing impairment. Although the number is decreasing, there will still be a large number of people with hearing loss in America.

It is important to increase awareness about hearing loss issues and how they affect the individual because it will help prevent others from being affected. There are a number of simple ways we can protect and preserve our hearing: always listen to your media players on low volumes, wear earplugs when operating loud machinery or when attending loud events such as concerts, listen to music for less than an hour a day, quit smoking, eat foods with anti-oxidants, and have your hearing checked by a hearing care professional.

If you suspect you are showing signs of hearing loss, contact your health care professional for a hearing test. Getting hearing aids is a safe way to prevent hearing loss from further damaging your health.

Signs of Hearing Loss – What to Look For

Unlike vision loss where people tend to promptly seek assistance by wearing glasses, hearing loss tends to be ignored, become rationalized by age, or is blamed on others for not speaking clearly enough.

According to the Stats Canada Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), 6% of adults over the age of 55 report limitations as a result of hearing loss and this number increases to nearly 36% of adults aged 75 and older. In total, this works out to roughly 966,000 Canadians who are willing to report awareness of hearing loss (and that’s not considering those who are possibly in denial).

Many people are simply unaware of signs and symptoms of hearing loss, the benefits of early detection and intervention, and what resources are available.  In order to reduce the likelihood of a hearing loss going undetected, being ignored and left untreated, here is what you can watch for:

  1. Is there a problem?: The most common signs of hearing loss are needing repetition, turning the volume up on the television, difficulty hearing on the telephone, difficulty hearing clearly, difficulty hearing in background noise, and failing to hear common household sounds like the doorbell.
  2. Schedule a hearing test: Annual hearing testing is recommended for adults over the age of 55, even if they do not suspect a hearing loss. Hearing test results are medical records and, as such, are kept on file for 7 years. These results can be used as a baseline to compare with any future hearing evaluations. The best thing is that hearing testing is complimentary and does not require a referral from your family doctor or ENT specialist.
  3. Investigate available resources: While hearing aids are often recommended to treat hearing loss, there are other helpful devices that you may not have considered. For example, amplified telephones boost the volume of incoming calls and can often be adjusted for tone and customized for your hearing loss. TV devices, amplified alarm clocks, and alerting systems for doorbells and smoke detectors are also available.

If you believe that your parents, grandparents or friends are suffering from a hearing loss, the best thing you can do for them is to speak up and, if necessary, help them choose a hearing care provider to work with them on their individual needs. For more information on hearing loss and available resources, or to take a free online hearing test, visit

Written by Dr. Susan Marynewich, Au.D., RAUD, RHIP – Owner of Clinic Locations in Vancouver West Broadway & New Westminster of Mainland Hearing.

Doctor of Audiology, Certified Audiologist by SAC & Registered Hearing Instrument Practitioner by the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC.