Benefits of hearing aids
The Chalfont hearing Centre is a premier independent hearing company based in Little Chalfont Bucks. Leon Cox, the lead audiologist is here to help you diagnose your hearing symptoms along with other hearing issues such as possible ear wax blocking the ear canal. Ear wax can be easily dealt with by Micro-suction that gently hoovers out the ear wax cleanly and quickly.
If you need hearing aids
Hearing aids won’t make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer, reducing the impact hearing loss has on your life.
Hearing aids can:
- help you hear everyday sounds such as the doorbell and phone
- improve your ability to hear speech
- make you feel more confident when talking to people and make it easier for you to follow conversations in different environments
- help you to enjoy listening to music and the TV, at a volume that’s comfortable for those around you
But hearing aids only help if you still have some hearing left, so don’t put off getting help if your hearing is getting worse.
To book your appointment at the Chalfont hearing centre please call reception and speak with our receptionist.
Latest digital hearing aids 2019- Bucks
Looking for information on how what hearing aids would suit you or what you need? Book an appointment with the Chalfont hearing centre and have a full spectrum hearing test done. Once the test has completed Leon Cox will sit with you and discuss the results. Once they results are know he will then go through what the different types of hearing aids (if any needed) are good for your hearing loss. There are many hearing aids available form many different manufacturers. The Chalfont hearing centre are an independent hearing centre, covering the whole of Bucks. We are not affiliated to any manufacturer so can offer you what you need rather to what we sell. We can access all the major manufactures hearing aids for you to choose from.
Chalfont Hearing News:
New Hear-it Report Documents Extraordinary Costs of Hearing Loss in EU
In the EU, untreated hearing loss costs 185 billion Euro–each year. –hear-it.org
A new scientific report, “Hearing Loss – Numbers and Costs”, concludes that untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 185 billion Euros (US$211 billion) in the EU each year. This represents 8,200 Euros (US$9335) each year per person with an untreated disabling hearing loss.
The detailed findings and conclusions in the report will be presented at a lunch debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on the March 6 in connection with the WHO World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March.
The report was carried out for the non-profit organization, hear-it AISBL, by Professor Emerita Bridget Shield with the assistance of Professor Mark Atherton at Brunel University in London. In 2006, Professor Bridget Shield compiled the first report for hear-it AISBL, “Evaluation of the Social and Economic Costs of hearing Impairment.”
How they arrived at the 185 billion Euro figure. According to the report, lower quality of life due to disabling hearing loss costs the EU 130 billion Euros (US$148 billion) each year. Lost productivity in society due to a higher unemployment among people with a disabling hearing loss costs 55 billion Euros ($63 billion) each year in the EU. In total, this is 185 billion Euros. The cost does not cover extra health care costs caused by hearing loss. A disabling hearing loss is defined by the Global Burden of Disease research group (GBD) as a hearing loss of 35 dB or greater.
In Europe as a whole—including non-EU countries—untreated, disabling hearing loss costs 216 billion Euros (US$246 billion) each year, says the researchers.
Chalfont hearing centre for all 2019 hearing aids
The report documents that the use of hearing aids and other hearing solutions improves health and increases quality of life. It also documents that people with an untreated, disabling hearing loss are at greater risk of social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia, while people who treat their hearing loss do not experience a higher risk than people without hearing loss.
There are 34.4 million people with a disabling hearing loss (35 dB or greater) in the EU. More than 22.6 million are not treated for their disabling hearing loss as only around 1 in 3 in Europe with a disabling hearing loss use hearing aids or other hearing solutions. This is more than the combined population of Austria, Finland, Ireland, and Lithuania. With a steadily aging population who live longer and with an earlier onset of hearing loss due to increased noise exposure, this growth will increase even further in the years to come, warns Hear-it.
Chalfont hearing centre for all 2019 hearing aids
A meta study. The report, “Hearing Loss–Numbers and Costs”, is a meta study which has analyzed and compared hundreds of scientific studies and papers in the last two decades about the prevalence and the consequences of hearing loss and the use and benefits of hearing aids, according to the organization.
“The scientific report clearly demonstrates that untreated hearing loss is a major health issue and that untreated hearing loss has a huge economic and social impact on our society,” said Secretary General Kim Ruberg, hear-it AISBL, on the organization’s website. “It also documents that checking your hearing and treating hearing loss pays, both for the individual and for society.”
Check your hearing. World Hearing Day is held by the WHO on the 3rd of March each year to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2019 is “Check your hearing”.
Chalfont hearing centre for all 2019 hearing aids
“If you think you might have a hearing loss, my best advice is to get your hearing checked,” says Ruberg. “You can start by checking your hearing using the WHO “Check your hearing” app, or test your hearing online at www.hear-it.org. But if you suspect that you have hearing problems my best advice is that you get a real hearing test carried out by a hearing professional,” says Ruberg.
Hearing tests Chalfont, Bucks
Hearing tests in Bucks are available at the Chalfont Hearing Centre. Covering the the whole of Buckinghamshire and offers the very latest in hearing tests and other hearing related services such as ear wax removal using Microsuction and the traditional water irrigation technique (sometimes referred as ear syringing).
Chalfont hearing centre ear wax removal
The latest digital hearing aids would be offered after a comprehensive hearing test. These can be discussed after the test depending what your hearing loss (if any) are needed. Small in the ear digital hearing aids to the more powerful over the ear hearing aids are all available.
Chalfont hearing News:
Hearing aids have been getting a lot better over the years thanks to the tiny electronic hardware that can be packed inside and smart algorithms that produce great sound.
Henley hearing tests
Eargois a company that’s trying to introduce new features to hearing aids to make them more comfortable, easier to use, and cheaper to afford, an important issue in this field.
Henley hearing aids
The new Eargo Neo hearing aids are almost invisible when inside the ears. They have tiny “Flexi Palms” soft tips that keep the hearing aids inside the ear comfortably while optimizing the sound quality. They have a 16 hour battery life per charge, but a recharge case can be used to refresh the Neos on the go. Something useful when taking a plane ride.
Best hearing test in Bucks
Hearing aids and ear wax at the Chalfont hearing centre
Ear wax can be a debilitating condition if not treated. Your hearing will suffer and you maybe become less involved in your surroundings. Not being able to hear properly really can be a pain in the ear in more ways than one. At the Chalfont hearing centre we can asses your ears, if there is ear wax to be removed then we can do this painlessly and very quickly using Micro-Suction. You don’t feel anything at all and it can be done very very quickly by Leon Cox the lead audiologist at the Chalfont hearing centre.
Ear wax removal
Book an appointment and we can soon sort out any hearing issues or ear wax issues. Todays hearing aids/instruments really are breathtaking on how they have evolved in the last 5 years. These digital hearing aids are something else when it comes to connectivity. They will connect to your iPhone, Android phone and wearable digital watches. Ask us to give you more information.
Ear wax removal for the Buckinghamshire area and beyond.
Chalfont hearing centre News:
Phonak Launches Marvel with Universal Binaural Streaming and New Level of Sound Quality
New levels of binaural sound quality and universality. One key feature that immediately jumps out in Audéo M is its sound quality. For real audiophiles and others accustomed to hi-fi systems, the sound quality in today’s hearing aids is very good, but can still prompt them to ask why the devices can’t sound like stereo headphones. Of course, the problem—which has been around even before made-for-iPhone (MFi) systems became available—stems primarily from the venting of the aid for real-life environmental speech and sounds. This provides the important natural sound benefits associated with open-fit aids, but has required a trade-off in streamed sound quality. With the Audéo M, Phonak has reinserted a clear richer sound into streamed music, TV, or other devices via hearing aids—and demonstrated fairly dramatic differences in a paired comparison test. The system features AutoSense OS 3.0 which reportedly classifies streamed media for optimized listening.
“We have the first classifier that also operates on the streamed signal,” said Christine Jones, AuD, Phonak US vice-president of Audiology and director of the Phonak Audiology Research Center (PARC) in Warrenville during a presentation at the media event. “Some of the early work we did highlighted that there was an opportunity with streaming—as with the unique listening environments that can also be encountered by patients—where someone’s preferences may be very different than when listening to streamed speech, or dialog in media, movies, etc. Listening goals can be different, and sound quality preferences can be different. So, now we are not only classifying the environmental sounds, but we can also classify those streamed sounds to deliver the best possible experience under all listening conditions.”
Although the advanced design of the previous Audéo B-Direct model is award-winning, it does not feature binaural streaming. With the new Audéo M, wearers can now binaurally stream audio content, including smartphone calls, music, eBooks, and more, to both ears from any Bluetooth device.
Phonak points out that iPhones account for only 13% of smartphone use worldwide compared to 86% for the Android OS, and wearers’ choices have been limited primarily to hearing aids that utilize the MFi protocol. Additionally, even with IOS-compatible devices, some forms of MFi hearing aid streaming (eg, streaming from MacBooks and iMacs) were unavailable until now. SWORD 3.0 is capable of running Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth LE, AirStream Technology (for TV), and Binaural VoiceStream Technology for high-speed data transmission between the two hearing aids in a binaural fitting. The new system even works with Siri and LiveListen. (Phonak’s proprietary Roger 2.4 GHz signal will also have direct streaming capabilities to the hearing aid next fall.)
“This means we now have universal binaural wireless connectivity,” said Dr Jones. “In order to have the best access to speech on the phone, it’s best to hear well with both ears. And, beyond that, we are the only product that now connects to not just Apple and Android, but any Bluetooth device. This opens up a new world of connectivity for people because of its universal nature…What this means is, that in those cases where something is not accessible through the Apple iPhone or device, it should be accessible through the hearing aid.”
Jones explained that Phonak has also created a sophisticated system called “Environmental Balance” that controls how users hear the streaming in addition to how they hear the surrounding environment, both of which can still be adjusted via the basic volume control. All of this has the potential to open up even more of the popular streaming applications.
Better processing and noise reduction, reducing cognitive load.Additionally, the enhanced SWORD OS incorporates Binaural VoiceStream Technology™ into Marvel hearing aids, a technology most recently employedin Advanced Bionics’ Naida CI sound processor. This four-microphone technology is reportedly capable of improving speech understanding by up to 60% in noisy places like restaurants, while simultaneously reducing the amount of effort by 19% required to listen and understand.1,2
“Audiology is at the heart of everything we do at Phonak,” said Sonova Group VP Martin Grieder in a press statement. “That’s why Marvel is such a game-changer for our industry. Marvel technology empowers people and provides a true ‘love at first sound’ experience. We believe the sound quality is second to none, and it begins the moment the person puts the hearing aids on.”
Lithium-ion rechargeable technology for “a full day of streaming.” While no reliable statistics exist on the market penetration of rechargeable hearing aids, most experts estimate that about 17-20% of all hearing aids now feature rechargeability. Phonak has been a pioneer in rechargeable hearing aid technology, creating in 2016 the first lithium-ion hearing aids—a technology that appears to be gaining ground with hearing aid manufacturers.
According to Phonak, Marvel hearing aid wearers can enjoy a full day of hearing aid use—including streaming— on a single charge. The Audéo M rechargeable hearing aid also offers new features, automatically turning on or off when taken out or being placed into the charger. The system includes new LED lights and a new mini charger.
Remote fine-tuning and live voice-to-text transcription apps. With Marvel hearing aids comes the introduction of a suite of convenient smart apps. The myPhonak app allows wearers to have their hearing aids adjusted in real-time, in any situation, anywhere via videocall by the hearing care professional. It also gives consumers the ability to rate their hearing aid satisfaction in various environments and directly send this feedback to their hearing care professional.
The myCall-to-Text app reportedly provides live transcription of phone calls from the other party in more than 80 languages. This provides an extremely useful option for hearing aid users in noisy environments, or for people who prefer additional visual captions when using the phone.
New marketing campaign and rollout. A suite of marketing materials has been developed to promote the Marvel launch. Phonak US Vice-president of Marketing Barb VanSomeren explained that the marketing surrounding Marvel emphasizes its multifunctionality, providing consumers with access to the world of sound that we all want via enhanced sound quality, a constellation of devices and streaming options, and phone calls. The new marketing assets highlight Phonak technology, audiology leadership, and Marvel’s diverse capabilities, and includes a video series that features two women exploring all the different ways Marvel can be used in a contemporary format (eg, the women’s dialog resembles the TV show Grace and Frankie) .
The rechargeable Audéo M-R will be available in November along with the zinc air Audéo M-312, and Phonak will add the Audéo M-312T and Audéo M-13T in February 2019. A rechargeable version of Marvel with T-Coil (Audéo M-RT) and RogerDirect functionality will be available as a firmware upgrade in Fall 2019.
Hearing loss in Bucks
The Chalfont hearing centre for hearing issues, is a private hearing company based in Chalfont, Buckinghamshire. Leon Cox, the lead audiologist can help with all matters relating to hearing issues & ear wax removal, also the latest hearing instruments (Hearing aids) and conducts hearing tests. Book ahead for a comprehensive hearing test and discussion on your hearing heath after the hearing test result.
If you are suffering with hearing loss and suspect that ear wax maybe the issue, Leon Cox will conduct either Micro-suction or use the traditional water ear irrigation technique. Microsuction is painless and is the latest way to remove stubborn ear wax from your ear canal.
News originaly taken from the Hearing Review
Hearing Technology Manufacturers Call for EU Response to Hearing Loss
The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) works closely with its European counterpart the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), and has supported their recent efforts to raise awareness of hearing loss with EU policymakers, the trade association announced. EHIMA submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission in July, which has recently received a response from ministers.
The question, which was signed by the Austrian MEP Heinz K. Becker, can be read in full here. The question points to a widening gap between people that self-report hearing loss and the smaller proportion that receive treatment and/or wear devices; this “suboptimal use” of devices is estimated to cost the EU over EUR 500 billion (about USD $583.73 billion) annually. Citing the European Pillar of Social Rights—principles 16 and 17 which cover health care and the inclusion of people with disabilities—the question asks how the Commission can support best practices like early screenings, community education about the benefits of hearing devices, and research related to prevention and treatment strategies for hearing loss.
The European Commission published its answer on August 24, pointing to its efforts to develop the Best Practice Portal, a website described as a “one-stop shop” for best practices in a number of public health initiatives related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations. In particular, the website aims to meet goal 3.4, “to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being, by one-third.” Additionally, the Commission’s 7th Framework Program for Research (FP7) as well as Horizon 2020—an EU research and innovation program—have funded research on the auditory system, screening standards, hearing devices, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss-related diseases, and sign language. Further, the Commission states they have proposed a EUR 7.7 billion (USD about $9 billion) health budget for Horizon Europe 2020, focusing on initiatives related to lifelong health, rare diseases, and health care technologies, among other things. To further facilitate hearing-related funding, the Commission said, “Horizon Europe will be open to research proposals on hearing loss, including prevention and rehabilitation and innovative treatments.”
According to BIHIMA’s announcement, the Commission’s response is considered a positive exchange of information. Further, they state, BIHIMA’s European hearing manufacturing partners are encouraged that a greater understanding of hearing loss is being fostered among European policymakers.
“BIHIMA stand fully behind our European partners, EHIMA, in their effort to draw much-needed attention to hearing loss and we applaud this initiative to influence EU decision-making,” said Chairman Paul Surridge.
BIHIMA and EHIMA are together committed to the work of improving the lives of people with hearing loss through promoting greater access to hearing technology.
Source: BIHIMA, EHIMA, European Commission
Hearing aids, Bucks
New hearing aids are being launched al the time. Here at the Chalfont hearing centre, We keep an eye on what is new and what is exciting to report back. Today we are telling you of a very exciting new addition to the Starkey hearing aid line up for 2018.
Starkey has announced a very large update to there premier hearing aid line up:
Starkey Launches Livio AI Hearing Aid with Integrated Sensors and Artificial Intelligence
Starkey® Hearing Technologies is said to have “reinvented both the hearing experience and the hearing aid” with Livio AI. Livio AI is reportedly “the world’s first” Healthable™ hearing aid to utilize integrated sensors and artificial intelligence and the first device to track physical activity and cognitive health as measured by hearing aid use in social situations, Starkey announced.
The launch also includes a brand-new mobile app—Thrive™ Hearing—and three new wireless accessories, the Starkey Hearing Technologies TV, the Remote, and the Remote Microphone +. With the Remote Micorophone+, Livio AI is also the first hearing aid to feature Amazon® Alexa connectivity.
“First and foremost, Livio AI is the best performing and best sounding hearing aid we have ever made,” said Starkey Hearing Technologies President Brandon Sawalich. “What makes today a pivotal moment in the hearing industry, is that with Livio AI, we have transformed a single-use device into the world’s first multi-purpose hearing aid, a Healthable with integrated sensors and artificial intelligence. Livio AI is so much more than just a hearing aid, it is a gateway to better health and wellness.”
According to Starkey, the new Hearing Reality™ technology is said to provide an average 50% reduction in noisy environments, significant reduced listening effort, and newly enhanced clarity of speech, while the use of artificial intelligence and integrated sensors enables it to help optimize the hearing experience.
Artificial intelligence and advancements in hearing technology enabled Livio AI to provide the following unique features and benefits, according to Starkey’s announcement:
- Understand and see the real-time health benefits of using hearing aids
- Overall health and wellness tracking through the app’s combined brain and body health score (Thrive Wellness Score)
- Integration of the physical activity data measured by inertial sensors of the hearing aids with Apple Health and Google Fit apps
- Personalized Control for customizable adjustments to sound and programs
- Remote programming by users’ hearing professionals to put hearing healthcare in the hands of the users
- Natural user interface with tap control
- Unprecedented, natural listening, and speech clarity in the noisiest environments with the new Hearing Reality technology
- Integrated language translation
- Dual-radio wireless platform: 2.4GHz radio for streaming of phone calls, music, media, apps, and connecting with various devices including TVs and Amazon Alexa; near-field magnetic induction technology for true ear-to-ear communication and binaural noise reduction
- Fall detection with inertial sensors integrated within the hearing aids (App support coming soon)
Bucks hearing centre
Designed to help users live their healthiest life, Livio AI is available as a RIC 312 and BTE 13 in a variety of colors. In addition to the above features, Livio AI also includes Starkey’s feedback cancellation, high-definition music prescription, Multiflex Tinnitus Technology, and Surface™ NanoShield pioneering water, wax, and moisture repellant system to help protect and ensure durability and dependability.
How integrated sensors and AI helped Starkey transform the hearing aid
“Artificial intelligence, coupled with advanced sensing devices, is rapidly changing the world around us,” Starkey Hearing Technologies Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering Achin Bhowmik said. “We are proud to introduce these transformational technologies into the world of hearing aids to both optimize the users’ hearing experiences and enable them to continuously monitor and improve their overall health besides treating hearing loss, reducing the associated risks of dementia, anxiety, and social isolation.”
The integrated 3D motion sensors inside Livio AI enable the hearing aids to detect movement, track activities, and recognize gestures. The hearing aids communicate with each other and compatible mobile accessories to deliver meaningful, real-time feedback about users’ overall body and cognitive health and fitness.
This technology may allow people to take a proactive and personal approach to treating hearing loss, which has been linked to various health issues including dementia, cognitive decline, anxiety, stress, social isolation, and an increased risk of falling.
Livio AI is reportedly the first device utilizing the ears to help users better understand not only how to improve their overall health and wellness, but also the deep connection between treating hearing loss and reducing health risks. This helps to improve key areas of wellbeing by reconnecting users to the people, places, and activities they love.
Livio AI is available in the United States and Canada at this time, with a global rollout to more than 20 countries in 2019. For more information about Livio AI hearing aids, the Thrive mobile app, and new Starkey Hearing Technologies accessories, visit www.starkey.com.
Also see Hearing Review’s follow-up article detailing Starkey’s launch of Livio AI.
GN Hearing and Google Partner to Enable Direct Streaming from Android Devices to Hearing Aids
GN Hearing and Google have announced a new technology partnership that will reportedly make GN Hearing the first manufacturer to enable a full spectrum of direct audio streaming from Android devices to hearing aids. In a future Android release, direct streaming may also become available for ReSound LiNX Quattro™ and Beltone Amaze™ hearing aid users.
“According to the World Health Organization, around 466 million peopleworldwide have disabling hearing loss,” said Seang Chau, vice president of engineering at Google. “This number is expected to increase to 900 million people by the year 2050. Google is working with GN Hearing to create a new open specification for hearing aid streaming support on future versions of Android devices.”
According to the joint announcement, users will be able to connect and monitor their hearing aids without using an intermediate device for streaming from Android phones and tablets to their hearing aids.
“We are honored to partner with Google for this important development, which will enable direct streaming for even more hearing aid users through their Android devices,” said Anders Hedegaard, CEO, GN Hearing. “This is another example of how GN Hearing relentlessly strives to drive innovation forward by developing new products and solutions with unique benefits for hearing aid users and audiologists around the world.”
Google has published the new hearing aid specification for Android smartphones available here: Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels.
The Chalfont hearing centre is the place where you will find the very latest in digital hearing tech. If you need hearing aids, streaming devices or ear wax removal we do it all. Hearing loss in no longer a condition that is not treatable.
Source: GN Hearing, Google
The best hearing tests in Bucks is at the Chalfont hearing centre.
The latest news from the Chalfont hearing centre, Bucks:
Original story by The Hearing Review
Phonak Wins Three Red Dot Product Design Awards
Phonak, a global provider of hearing aids and wireless communication solutions, has been honored with three international Red Dot Awards for excellence in product design, the company announced. The product award winners include: Virto B-Titanium, said to be “the world’s first” mainstream titanium custom hearing aid; Audéo B-Direct, a Bluetooth®* hearing aid that is designed to directly connect to both a cell phone** and TV; and EasyView Otoblock, a product for hearing care professionals that is designed to allow for deeper ear impressions. The winners were celebrated at the Red Dot Gala earlier this month in Essen, Germany.
“Three Red Dot Award winners in one year is proof of what happens when you combine Phonak’s dedication to superior product design with a neverending quest to push the limits of innovation,” said Thomas Lang, senior vice president at Phonak. “Receiving honors for the Virto B-Titanium and EasyView Otoblock is a tribute to the amount of research and development Phonak devotes to producing the most cosmetically appealing and highest quality custom products on the market. Meanwhile, the awards for the revolutionary Audéo B-Direct keep on adding up!”
According to Phonak, the Virto B-Titanium is “the world’s first mainstream” custom hearing aid made of premium medical-grade titanium. It was designed to combine the benefits of titanium including superior strength and an extra light weight with the latest in 3D printing technology.
With the Audéo B-Direct, hearing aid wearers can answer or reject a phone call and talk completely hands-free by pressing the push button on their hearing aid. Meanwhile, the optional TV Connector uses proprietary AirStream™ technology to help connect wearers to their favorite TV programming for an immersive audio experience.
The EasyView Otoblock is designed to give hearing care professionals the ability to take deeper ear impressions by allowing “full visualization” of the eardrum, according to the company. Made from the seal of a Phonak Lyric™, the EasyView Otoblock attaches to existing otoscopes and speculas and is designed to provide better vision and light during Otoblock placement. It’s compatible with standard impression-making materials and stays on the impression during the scanning process, according to the company’s announcement. This may result in an average of 6mm more canal length information.
“I want to congratulate the award winners sincerely on their wonderful success in the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2018,” said Professor Dr Peter Zec, founder and CEO of the Red Dot Award. “Success in the competition is proof of the good design quality of the products and once again shows that companies are on the right path. When I speak about good design, I am referring to more than just an attractive product. All of the products are characterized by outstanding functionality. This demonstrates that the designers have understood their clients and their needs.”
For an inside look into the people behind Phonak’s Red Dot Award-winning products, visit:
* Bluetooth is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc; Android™ is a trademark owned by Google, Inc
** with Bluetooth® 4.2 wireless technology and most older Bluetooth phones.
Depression and Hearing Loss
Depression and its connection to hearing loss seems pretty logical and self-evident, especially if you’re a dispensing professional who experiences daily the difference that amplification can make in a person’s life. In fact, many clinicians find themselves explaining the connection as follows: a person’s hearing loss and related communication problems can lead to gaffes and social faux pas; leading to embarrassment, anxiety, and loss of self-esteem; leading to gradual withdrawal from social situations and physical activity; leading to social isolation and loneliness; and eventually bringing them down the path to depression.
While this is probably an adequate description for some cases, a recent webinar1 by Victor Bray, PhD, associate professor and former dean of Salus University’s Osborne College of Audiology, points to more recent scientific literature that paints a far more complex picture of hearing loss and its association with depression—one we all should be aware of. The utility of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive devices is made no less important by this complexity; however, it’s vital to understand who might be most at risk for depression in your patient population, how best to administer simple screening tools (ie, the PHQ-2 or PHQ-9), and why it’s important to refer patients to a medical doctor or psychologist, when indicated.
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is present in 5-10% of the general population (up to 40% in some groups), and is a serious medical illness that negatively affects feelings, thoughts, and actions. The primary risk factors for depression are co-morbid chronic medical conditions (hearing loss is a pervasive chronic condition, especially among seniors) and recent stressful events. And, as with cognitive decline and dementia—the subject of my editorial last month—the stakes in treating depression are high for society and healthcare professionals. As Hsu and colleagues (2016) pointed out:
Depression is a common mental disorder, which affects 350 million people in the world. Unipolar depressive disorders and adult-onset hearing loss, the most common neuropsychiatric conditions, and sense organ disorder, respectively, are the first and second leading nonfatal causes of year loss due to disability among adults in high-income countries.2
Several of the studies reviewed by Dr Bray tend to suggest that the odds ratio for acquiring depression increases by a factor of about two if you have untreated hearing loss. However, a lot of the studies also show that a variety of chronic illnesses—ranging from cirrhosis to diabetes mellitus—can be associated with depression, so there could be some underlying neurophysiological common cause in hearing loss and other health problems that hasn’t been discovered yet. Dr Bray also looks at some very intriguing research about how dual-sensory loss (ie, hearing and vision loss) and sudden sensorineural hearing loss (particularly among young people) can greatly increase the risk for depression, as well as studies that are shedding light on how treated hearing loss might positively affect those suffering from anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
As Dr Bray explains, the linkage of hearing loss to depression could come from both a social (downstream) effect, as described at the beginning of this article, and a biological/neurological (upstream) effect, as proposed in a model by Rutherford et al.3 If that were the case, an effective treatment plan could involve therapy and/or medication from a psychologist, in coordination with a hearing device and/or auditory and cognitive retraining from a hearing care professional.
Dr Bray’s webinar was sponsored by Hamilton CapTel, and the company also sponsored an exceptionally interesting and well-viewed webinar last year about hearing loss and associated co-morbidities (including depression) by Harvey Abrams, PhD.4,5 When viewed together, they put an exclamation point on the fact that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears, it’s about health, the brain, quality of life, healthy aging, and so much more—while underscoring the crucial role of the hearing care professional in general healthcare.
To see Dr Bray’s webinar, visit https://bit.ly/2Lpt4AW.
Citation for this article: Strom KE. Depression and hearing loss. Hearing Review. 2018;25(8):6.
1. Bray V. Depression, hearing loss, and treatment with hearing aids [Webinar]. July 13, 2018. Available at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2018/07/new-webinar-depression-hearing-loss-treatment-hearing-aids
2. Hsu W-T, Hsu C-C, Wen M-H, et al. Increased risk of depression in patients with acquired sensory hearing loss: A 12-year follow-up study. Medicine. 2016;95(44):e5312.
3. Rutherford BR, Brewster K, Golub JS, Kim AH, Roose SP. Sensation and psychiatry: Linking age-related hearing loss to late-life depression and cognitive decline. Am J Psychiatry. 2017;175(3):215-224.
4. Abrams H. Hearing loss and associated comorbidities: What do we know [Webinar]? May 31, 2017. Available at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/05/new-webinar-hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-know/
5. Abrams H. Hearing loss and associated comorbidities: What do we know? Hearing Review. 2017;24(12):32-35. Available at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/11/hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-know/
Heading a Football May Be Linked to Increase in Balance Problems
“Soccer headers are repetitive subconcussive head impacts that may be associated with problems with thinking and memory skills and structural changes in the white matter of the brain,” said study author John Jeka, PhD, of the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. “But the effect of headers on balance control has not been studied.”
For the study, 20 soccer players recruited from the community in Newark took a balance test where they walked along a foam walkway with their eyes closed under two conditions: with galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) and without GVS. For GVS, electrodes placed behind each ear stimulate the nerves that send messages from the balance system in the inner ear to the brain. So the stimulator can make you feel like you are moving when you are not. In this case, it made participants feel like they were falling sideways.
The soccer players, who had an average age of 22, also completed questionnaires about how many times they had headed the ball during the past year. The number of headers over a year for each participant ranged from 16 to 2,100, with an average of 451 headers. Those numbers were calculated by asking participants for the average number of headers during a practice and game, the average number of practices and games per week, and the average number of months per year that the player participated.
The study found that the players with the largest number of headers had the largest balance responses to GVS in both foot placement and hip adduction during the walking test, which indicated that they had vestibular processing and balance recovery problems. Researchers found for every 500 headers, foot placement response increased about 9 millimeters and hip adduction response increased about 0.2 degrees.
“Soccer players must have good balance to play the game well, yet our research suggests that headers may be undermining balance, which is key to all movement, and yet another problem now linked to headers,” said study author Fernando V. Santos, PT, of the University of Delaware. “It is important that additional research be done to look more closely at this possible link with balance and to confirm our findings in larger groups of people.”
A limitation of the study was that participants relied on memory when reporting how many times they headed the ball. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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To learn more about the AAN’s Sports Concussion Guideline and access resources, visit https://www.aan.com/concussion.
Original Paper: Santos FV, Caccese JB, Gongora M, et al. Greater exposure to repetitive subconcussive head impacts is associated with vestibular dysfunction and balance impairments during walking. Paper presented at: 2018 AAN Sports Concussion Conference; Indianapolis, IN. https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/GetDigitalAsset/12757
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