Monday, October 23, 2017

Hearing loss & the brain

Ever notice how some adults get distracted or tired easily? It may have to do with changes in their brains that are related to hearing loss. Here's a peek inside the brain of someone with hearing loss.

How does hearing affect the brain in the first place?

Crystal Clear Hearing

First we should look at how the brain processes sound in adults. Researchers have studied and continue to study how and where sounds are processed and perceived by the brain. They've found that there's a link between hearing and cognition-the brain's process of perceiving and understanding.

Thanks to magnetic imaging, scientists are able to watch the brain and see how it activates in response to certain sounds. They've discovered that we don't hear with just one part of our brain. The process of hearing also stimulates other brain areas.

For example, when a researcher said a simple word, it activated the auditory cortex. The auditory cortex was where that word was technically heard. But a few other areas of the brain also lit up in the cerebral cortex. Those areas were where that word was understood, perceived  or cognitively connected.

Crystal Clear Brain Hearing

Scientists believe there's a dual-track association between hearing and cognition. Sound activates the auditory cortex, the cerebral cortex and cognitive processes influence how we hear.

We rely on cognitive elements of the brain, like working memory and life experiences, to understand a conversation in a noisy place. Surprisingly, only 10% of understanding speech in a noisy environment is by the actual hearing capacity.

So what happens to the brain when hearing is impaired?

Because there is a decline in sound stimuli and sensory deprivation, hearing loss can lead to  structural and functional changes in the brain. There can be reduced connectivity, brain signal decline, deterioration of the auditory cortex (which is the part of the brain that hears) and a reduction in overall brain volume. These structural and functional changes can affect the brain's capacity to process and perceive sounds and may contribute to cognitive decline.

The brain is forced to compensate for these losses by activating alternative circuits. It enlists accessory neuron networks and that means increased cognitive effort is needed to weed out irrelevant sounds, like background noise, and more concentration is needed for hearing.

Distracted hearing and fatigue

A high cognitive effort reduces the amount of brain resources available to process everything else. So things like concentration, memory and planning may be affected. It's easier to get distracted. And constantly decoding and processing sounds can take up a lot of mental resources and can be tiring.

How can this type of cognitive decline be prevented?

Treatment of hearing loss can help keep the brain functioning at an ideal level and can contribute to a good quality of life. There are many hearing solutions and are they are highly effective. In fact, 95% of people with hearing loss can be helped by hearing aids.

It's important to identify and treat hearing loss early. The longer treatment is neglected, the more challenging it can be for the brain to relearn and repair itself. Like physical therapy after a surgery, consistent use of hearing aids is essential in a successful treatment plan.

Certain portions of this article were taken from a blog at Amplifon

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Preventing Painful Accidents—I Didn’t hear it coming!

“I was walking in a parking lot, didn’t hear a car backing up and it missed me by inches.”
hearing problems

Many people would argue the fact that hearing aids are not that important for mild to moderate hearing loss until they realize hearing loss can put a person at high risk of nearly being hit by a car, not heeding the warning from a person behind them, not hearing their window at home being opened by a burglar and many other life-threats that good hearing warns us about.

I have also had several patient’s who had balance issues and have taken terrible falls until they began wearing hearing aids. After all, our balance which is located in the ‘semicircular canals’ is connected right next to our cochlea, which is our main organ that distinguishes sounds and distributes them to the brain. (We really hear with our brain…the ears just “transmit” sound to the brain).

Brain hearing
I have mentioned to many people the fact that if correcting their hearing deficiencies could prevent even one fall and prevent a hospital visit, the price of a hearing aid would seem much smaller; especially if it would save a broken bone or hip replacement in the future.

Seniors falling down
It’s not that treating hearing loss with hearing aids will guarantee normal balance and always prevent falls, but they have been added to the long list of health benefits like better balance; and  the very common onset of dementia…persons who don’t treat their hearing loss have a five times greater chance of developing dementia and cognitive decline along with other health issues; like the annoying ringing in the ears (Tinnitus) that has proven to diminish healthy and enjoyable living.

Personally, wearing hearing aids have reduced my overall tension and fatigue by more than seventy percent. Since wearing hearing aids allows us to hear details and sentences without straining, there’s much less stress from people being upset with us for having to repeat themselves…and your brain will be under a lot less strain throughout the day since you won't have to lean in and squint your eyes to read people's lips.

Now that I enjoy stress-free hearing, I have been able to get up earlier in the morning and stay up later at night; and I rarely get tension-headaches anymore. I can also engage in conversations at family gatherings and restaurants without nodding my head in agreement, when I really didn’t hear what they were saying.

We don’t think of the dangers that can rise from hearing loss until we or someone we know has a bad experience related to it.  From Dementia to almost being hit by a car, to frustrated loved ones that are tired of us blasting the T.V., hearing loss can cause havoc in our lives; especially with loved ones who have to constantly share the burden.

hearing betterAnd the old stigma of bulky/ugly hearing aids are over! So are the batteries! The new hearing aids are not only smaller, smarter, deliver more natural sound like a human ear, but they are now rechargeable. Just plug them in like a cell phone at bedtime and the charge lasts all day and into the night.

Today’s modern hearing aids are so beyond the old negative reputation they had, they now live up to the expectations that modern digital devices feature. So much so that we’re certain you’ve seen dozens of people in public and on T.V. shows who wear hearing aids without noticing them, and without realizing they have significant hearing losses. No one knows I’m wearing them until I point them out.

BLUETOOTH has also entered into the modern hearing aid, so you can stream just about anything to them: Your T.V., Smartphone, Music and more! No more cranking up the television that was annoying your loved ones. Your family and friends can listen to the T.V. at their preferred volume and you have your own separate volume streaming right into your hearing aids. Phone calls are streamed into your hearing aids for hands-free conversations and music has never sounded so good!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hearing Loss and Dementia: Are you at Risk?

Are you at risk for dementia?
Click here to read a larger poster of this article.

Crystal Clear Hearing AidsCan hearing aids help decrease the risk of developing dementia, alzheimers, memory loss and cognitive decline?

Yes. While there's no guarantee hearing aids will prevent mental health issues, treating hearing loss with professionally recommended hearing aids can significantly reduce your risk of these and other health problems.

We know eating a balanced diet and getting enough exercise reduces all sorts of potential health risks; Treating your eyes usually reduces headaches and unnecessary stress; and now it's time people realize the importance of also treating their hearing loss to complete their healthy lifestyles because your ears are just as important as your other critical organs.

Mental health disease
But more than that, I can personally testify how my hearing aids have reduced a lot of stress, since I no longer have to strain to hear was similar to the strain my eyes endured before I finally broke down and purchased my first set of reading glasses. 

Many of my patients have thanked me for the same type of relief after their two-week hearing aid check up. My father-in-law no longer walks with his cane since hearing aids helped his balance issues.

Since opening our office in Anaheim Hills, we have become more dedicated to not only helping people hear better, but to also inform them of many 'hidden' health risks. Learn more on our website:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

NEW rechargeable Hearing Aids are here!

My first question was, how do they sound? It's nice that we can do away with batteries, but that would be pointless unless they sound good. And what about charge time? I only have to charge my cell phone once a long can a small hearing aid charge actually last? And finally, what if I'm camping, out of town and forget my charger or flying on a plane for an extended time? Do I have to loose my hearing ability until I get to my charger? And then wait until it charges up?

To my surprise, the new rechargeables sounded many times better than their battery counterparts! And being a professional audio engineer for over 35 years (owning and operating a recording studio) I'm hard to please with audio and I have a very particular opinion about sound quality.

Evidently, Uniton made a wise decision to perform several new feats of technological advancements when they released their new Moxi Fit R. (R for rechargeable of course).

First, they greatly improved the sound by upgrading the chip. (The chip processes the sound and has everything to do with the quality of hearing). I was astonished when I heard the new Moxi Fit R's since I'm a hearing aid wearer and I've tried many of the top brand premium hearing aids for myself. The Moxi Fit R's sounded more natural, clearer and much smoother than anything I've ever heard.

They still have the life-saving tinnitus masker, which eliminates the annoying ringing in my ears; that was developed from years of mixing loud music for my recording studio clients. (I think seeing Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and dozens of other loud rock concerts didn't help either).

The next bonus was the charging time. They stay charged all day and into the night, so I just plug them in right next to my cell phone for charging once a day!

But there's another really cool feature: these tiny marvels of technology actually take batteries too! That surprised me since almost nothing that's rechargeable can also independently take standard (hearing aid) batteries.

Other rechargeable brands have lost the edge by being too large (to hold the recharging electronics) and I haven't seen any others that can additionally take standard batteries either. Unitron advertises they are the smallest rechargeable hearing aids in the world and that's important to everyone. Every time I show my hearing aids to a potential patient, they are quite surprised that I was even wearing them. I always get a kick out of speaking with them for at least five to ten minutes before I show them off...that way they know first hand how these nearly-invisible hearing aids are usually only detectable if you tell someone you have them on.

Uniton has certainly created a game-changer in the hearing aid industry by developing a great sounding hearing aid, easy recharging ability and all the other features such as optional T.V. & smart phone streaming and lots more.

Click here for a FREE week trial: