Are You Hearing This?

Are You Hearing This? Frank Lin’s research ties hearing loss to dementia, with big implications for public health: Unbundled, accessible audiology services and reimbursement for audiologic rehabilitation could be key, he says, to battling cognitive decline associated with hearing loss. Haley Blum – The ASHA Leader, June 2015, Vol. 20, 50-57. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.20062015.50 VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE Spend some time listening to Frank Lin talk about dementia, and you’ll never look at hearing loss the same way. Research by Lin and his team reveals a strong association between untreated hearing loss and the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults—a link that poses big public health problems because of the aging population, says Lin, an associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, geriatric medicine, mental health, and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. As many as 5 million Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease—just one specific type of dementia—and that number will increase significantly with current population trends, according to the National Institute on Aging, unless something’s done to treat or prevent it. Lin’s work focuses on three main questions surrounding the dementia-hearing loss link: What are the consequences of hearing loss (which affects about two-thirds of everyone older than 70) for older adults? Does treating hearing loss make a difference? And how do we address the issue from a big-picture, societal perspective? Lin, who will be the opening speaker at the research symposium during the ASHA 2015 Convention, spoke with the Leader about his work, the future of hearing health care and what that all means for older adults. Do we have any insights into the association...

Seahawks Win – Fans Lose for Winning

This past Sunday evening (9/15/13) was a special evening in Seattle-town. The Seahawks overpowered their opponent while the fans succeeded in setting a record for the loudest stadium in the world. The old record was set at the Ali Sami Yen Sport Complex Turk Telekom Arena in Turkey during a soccer match in 2011 – where the crowd set a record by recording a noise level of 130.2dB. Seattle fans, not to be outdone, upped the level to 130.9dB – a truly ear-splitting record. But while the Seahawk fans, better known as the 12th Man, succeeded in making the most noise, many, if not all of them will suffer later on for their effort. Noise induced hearing loss is at epidemic levels in this country with one out of five Americans over the age of 12 having a hearing loss severe enough to cause difficulty in their communication. This incredible number, 20%, is the result of our extremely noisy society. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by our ears being exposed to noises in excess of what our ears can handle. We might believe that our attendance at events where noise prevails (stadium events, rock concerts, noisy restaurants, etc.) won’t hurt us, but the fact is that noise induced hearing loss – one of the primary components of sensorineural hearing loss category – builds up over time and is not reversible. Most people lose their hearing very slowly. So slowly in fact, that for most people, it takes almost a decade between when they begin to feel that they have a hearing loss until they decide that its time to...

Finding Quiet by Turning Up the Volume: People are Retreating into a World of Increasing Volume… Losing Their Hearing and More

Our world is filed with noises, some invited, others not. Voices of conversation, babies crying, music and the warning sounds of car horns and alarms are invited. Externally, the sounds of buses, trucks, motorcycles and the broad low frequency hum of ever present office electronics are not. Multi-speaker televisions, stereos and conveniences devices have overtaken our homes. Our entertainment has become louder without our awareness but with our permission. Digital sound has allowed movie theaters to dramatically boost sound levels without distortion. Needless to say our beloved rock concerts use extreme volume to pump up the crowd and “drive the sound into our inner being” but in doing that they have become painfully loud. Even our “quiet-little-booth-in-the-corner” restaurant is no longer quiet. It seems that we can’t escape from excessive noise, which can be problematic and distracting for anyone seeking a little quiet and solitude for concentration, creativity or rest. Where can we go to find a little quiet? Home? Library? How about the neighborhood park? Many people, it seems, have given up even looking. Instead of seeking quiet time, people are gravitating towards self-directed distraction. To block out the noise around us we plug-up our ears and turn up the volume. MP3 players, cell phones, personal video game players…. people of all ages use them, not only to keep themselves entertained, but to block out the surrounding noise. Fighting noise with our own self-chosen noise requires us to crank up the volume even louder than the noise we’re trying to avoid. In general, it takes about 13 dB of additional volume to begin to block out the outside...

Listening to Learn in a Sea of Noise: The Insidious Effects of Classroom Acoustics on Student Performance

There is no question that if a school had poorly lit classrooms that there would be an outcry and a demand to improve lighting so that children could clearly see to learn. Substandard classroom acoustics are not as obvious as the lighting analogy above although the effects of poor classroom listening may be even more significant than those caused by poor lighting. It is an assumption in education that children who are paying attention in the classroom will be able to easily hear what the teacher says, and thereby learn. For too many children, this assumption is untrue. Realities of Classroom Acoustics Appropriate acoustic treatment in classrooms costs 1%-5% of the typical construction budget of a new school – less than the landscaping. In general, providing appropriate classroom acoustics is not a considered a priority. National standards for classroom acoustics were established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 2002. Research indicates that only 10%-30% of classrooms meet these standards In a national survey of schools almost 30% of classrooms were judged to be too noisy by educators. The students who are most challenged by excessive noise and reverberation are under the age of 13, especially those in kindergarten and first grade. The auditory physiology that allows humans to effectively listen in relatively noisy conditions does not mature until secondary school, with some aspects not maturing until the end of high school. Our youngest students are also those with immature language learning and lack the words needed to expertly fill in the blanks when a new word or word ending is missed. Because adults are so much better...

A Poem on Listening Disorders by Erin Anderson

I want so badly to be here now, to grab the moment and hold on. I promise I’m doing my best as I try to silence my loud thoughts. I want nothing more than to listen, to truly conceptualize the story you are telling. I strive to capture the power of your beautiful words. I have worked tirelessly to train my wandering eyes- but my mind is a beast I have failed to tame. I want you to know how deeply I long to be here with you, to pay you the attention you deserve. But my restless brain has chosen me as her travel companion, and she does not take kindly to rejection. written by Erin Anderson – posted with permission...