Surprising Side Effects of Hearing Loss

You may be surprised to learn that hearing loss affects more than just your ears. When you let your hearing loss go untreated, you’re putting your mental, emotional, social and even physical health at risk. Below are some of the side effects of hearing loss you may not know about.

Strained Relationshipsman putting hand up to ear

Any couples’ counselor will tell you that strong communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. When you have untreated hearing loss, your partner takes on the burden of having to repeat themselves frequently, listen to the TV at a volume that is uncomfortably loud and take on social responsibilities like answering the phone and scheduling appointments. In addition, the partner with hearing loss may feel resentful or like their struggle isn’t being taken seriously or understood. Over time, all these factors can lead to resentment and strained relationships.

Mental Health Problems

Hearing loss is a profoundly isolating experience. When you cannot hear or communicate well, you may socially withdraw and stop participating in activities you once enjoyed, like dining out, hosting dinner parties and attending religious services. Over time, this can lead to depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

Cognitive Decline

Social isolation caused by hearing loss can also lead to cognitive decline. In addition, when your brain is receiving less auditory input than it should, it loses the ability to process and understand even the sounds you still can hear, making treatment much more difficult if you’ve gone a long time without hearing well. In other words, just like your muscles, your brain loses strength when it’s not being exercised. One study by Johns Hopkins found that people with mild hearing loss are at twice the risk of developing dementia than those with normal hearing.

GI Issues

Anxiety and stomach problems go hand in hand, and it’s no different for anxiety caused by hearing loss. Many people with hearing loss report symptoms of IBS such as cramps, pain, diarrhea and constipation.

For more information about the side effects of hearing loss or to schedule a hearing test with an expert audiologist, contact Sharp Hearing today.

Learn More About Hearing Loss

What to Do When Your Hearing Aid Breaks

While hearing aids are built to be long-lasting, the rugged environment of your ear combined with very intricate technology of your devices may result in damage over time. Fortunately, in most cases, regular maintenance and repairs will help your hearing aids last until the time comes to upgrade.

Cost of Hearing Aid RepairsAudiologist helping a woman fit her hearing aids

While the cost of hearing aids can be hefty, repairs often are not, especially if they’re still under the manufacturer’s warranty or you’ve purchased insurance. The cost of your repair depends on the type and degree of damage, so talk to your audiologist for more details.

Common Hearing Aid Repairs

Your hearing aids go where you go and do what you do, so it’s no wonder they’re susceptible to damage. Some of the most common types of hearing aid repairs are associated with moisture, tubing and microphone malfunction.


Digital technology and moisture never interact well together. Water exposure and moisture buildup can affect sound quality or cause your devices to stop working altogether. Your audiologist can remove moisture from the devices to make sounds clear again, but if the circuits inside have been damaged, the device will likely need to be sent to the manufacturer for repair.

Broken Tubing

Tubing can easily be damaged or degrade over time when debris becomes lodged inside or it becomes overstretched. This kind of damage can also lead to poor sound quality. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest fixes; a hearing professional can replace tubing quickly and for little cost.

Broken Microphone

A broken microphone means you won’t be able to pick up sounds. An audiologist can either repair or replace the microphone depending on the level of damage.

Preventing Repairs

Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent having to bring your devices in for repairs. Some tips for maintaining your devices at home include:

  • Open the battery compartment at night so moisture can evaporate.
  • Purchase a dehumidifier to store your devices in in case they are exposed to moisture.
  • Clean your hearing aids with a soft cloth every day. Talk to your audiologist about purchasing a cleaning kit.
  • Use a wax guard to prevent buildup of debris.

For more tips on preventing repairs or to schedule a time to bring your devices in, call Sharp Hearing today.

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Can Meditation Help Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is that pesky ringing, buzzing, whistling or hissing in your ears with no external sound source. Tinnitus affects more than 45 million Americans, and nearly 20 million from this group experience the bothersome noise on a regular basis.

While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are certain tools to help you manage it. One of which is meditation.

Benefits of Meditation


There are many benefits of meditation, and relaxation is one of the most well-known. In fact, in the 1970s Dr. Herbert Benson, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after studying participants of transcendental meditation.

There are other benefits of meditation, too. These include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels

Many have also reported that meditation can help reduce symptoms of tinnitus.

How Does Meditation Reduce Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused or exacerbated by high blood pressure and poor blood circulation in the inner ears, and meditation can help reduce these symptoms. Perhaps the greater benefit, however, is that meditation reduces the stress caused by tinnitus and helps take focus away from the tinnitus symptoms.

Shari Eberts, a hearing health advocate, shared her own experience with meditation: “During the meditation sessions, the ringing in my ears would subside. Despite the silence of the meditation room, the roar of my tinnitus would fade away. This occurred subtly at first, but by the end of the week, my body seemed to anticipate what was to come. I would assume the meditation posture, begin to mindfully breathe, and the quiet would come, as welcome as a gift.”

“When I returned home, I maintained my meditation practice, and the silence stayed with me. Even my debilitating fluorescent light outbreaks are much fewer and farther between,” she continued.

How to Meditate

Meditation is simple to try, but difficult to master. There are just four simple steps when it comes to meditation:

  • Find a comfortable position. You will hold this position for the entire duration of your meditation session.
  • Close your eyes. Some people recommend using an eye mask.
  • Breathe naturally. Don’t try to control or change your breath.
  • Let go of your thoughts. Try to clear your mind. This is the most difficult step. If you have trouble thinking about nothing, focus only on your breath and how it moves through your body. If you experience negative thoughts or emotions, acknowledge them and let them go.

There are guided meditation videos available online and through apps that you can try. For more information about tinnitus management strategies, call Sharp Hearing today!

Genetics of Hearing Loss

Genetics play a major role in hearing loss for people of all ages. The genetics of hearing loss can be a complicated matter, made even more complex by the fact that inherited and acquired hearing loss can co-occur. Inherited hearing loss is the result of genetic mutations, while acquired hearing loss is caused by environmental factors.

Hearing Loss Caused by Genetic Syndromes

cells in a petri dish

Not all cases of hereditary hearing loss are caused by any specific syndrome, but many are. Doctors estimate that there over 300 genetic syndromes that are associated hearing loss. These include:

  • Alport Syndrome
  • Branchio-Oto-Renal Syndrome
  • Goldenhar’s Syndrome
  • Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome
  • Mohn-Tranebjaerg Syndrome
  • Norrie Disease
  • Pendred Syndrome
  • Stickler Syndrome
  • Treacher Collins Syndrome
  • Waardenburg Syndrome
  • Usher Syndrome

Hearing loss that is associated with another syndrome is called syndromic hearing loss.

Other Causes of Genetic Hearing Loss

Most cases of hearing loss are not associated with a syndrome; these cases are called non-syndromic. Non-syndromic hearing loss is typically caused by recessive genes, meaning both parents are carriers of the gene. Some cases are caused by dominant genes, which means only one parent is a carrier.

About 70 percent of cases of genetic hearing loss are non-syndromic, and 80 percent of these are caused by recessive genes.

Identifying Genetic Hearing Loss

Identifying genetic causes of hearing loss can be tricky and sometimes requires the team of an otolaryngologist (ENT physician), audiologist, geneticist and a genetics counselor.

The otolaryngologist may take a thorough history and physical exam, then make a referral to an audiologist for a full hearing test.

The patient may also have lab work done to test for prenatal infections that can cause hearing loss in infants. Lab work can help confirm if any syndromes are related to the hearing loss.

A geneticist and genetic counselor can help narrow down which syndromes are likely and eliminate ones that are not. Specific genes can be tested for further confirmation.

If you or someone you love is suspected of having genetic hearing loss, there are options to find out the cause as well as a variety of treatments available. To learn more, call Sharp Hearing today.

Stop the “Cycle” of Hearing Loss

Many people in Plano finish the holidays with a new year’s resolution or two. You might want to drop a few pounds by vowing to eat more veggies and enroll in a fitness class. In spite of your good intentions, joining a gym can have unintended negative consequences. Certain exercises might actually be harmful to your hearing.

Fitness Classes Can Be Noisy

spin class

One of the most popular fitness classes in Plano, and throughout Texas, is spinning. The benefits of indoor cycling are clear; you’ll get an intense cardio workout that burns up to 600 calories an hour, enough to burn off all the cookies and eggnog you consumed over the holidays. The problem with this group activity lies in the loud music that most instructors play during class. It may be a great way to motivate you to pedal harder, but it’s not doing your ears any favors.

How loud to hearing damage

Anything louder than 85 decibels (dB) causes damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, causing irreversible hearing loss. The louder the sound, the quicker damage occurs; for every 3-dB increase in volume above 85, your safe exposure time is cut in half. Volume levels in a typical spin class hover around 113 dB, enough to cause hearing damage in only 15 minutes. With the average spin class lasting 40-60 minutes, it’s obvious that pedaling your way to good health might not be worth the tradeoff.

Hearing hazards are avoidable

Hearing hazards in the gym aren’t confined to spinning. Any fitness class that incorporates loud music, such as aerobics, poses similar risks. Clanking weights, motorized treadmills, rowing machines and Stairmasters all add to the overall noisy atmosphere in any fitness center. If it’s big enough and crowded – as it inevitably will be these first few weeks of the new year while resolutions are still fresh in everybody’s minds and complacency hasn’t set in yet – you could be hurting your hearing, too.

Burning Calories Safely

Just because noisy gyms can potentially damage your hearing doesn’t give you an excuse to avoid exercise. There are too many positive health benefits to justify skipping workouts! You just have to learn how to do so safely.

If you’re taking a spinning or aerobics class and the music is too loud, ask your instructor to turn it down. Be prepared to be overruled by tossing a pair of earplugs into your gym bag. Custom silicone plugs made from impressions of your ear canals work best, but even an inexpensive pair of foam plugs from the drugstore will provide you with protection from harmful noise. If you’re not into group workouts, try going to the gym when it’s least crowded; fewer people means less noise.

For more tips on workouts that won’t damage your hearing, give your Plano audiologist a call.

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How Can I Tell if My Partner is Ignoring Me…or Can’t Hear?

Many Plano couples blame their partners for “selective hearing,” especially when it comes time to take out the garbage or clean the bathroom. When the chore doesn’t get done, an argument ensues. “But, honey,” one person will invariably say. “It’s not my fault. I didn’t hear you!” We’re going to help you spot the signs and determine when your significant other is trying to avoid work…and when they honestly might not have heard you!

Hearing Loss Signs in Texas

old couple walking hand in hand

Seven out of ten people think their partner has selective hearing, according to the results of a recent study out of Britain. In other words, they “choose” not to hear something their significant other has said—often in relation to a chore or other request. Men are the worst offenders, tuning out their partner on average just over seven times a week (388 times a year, to be precise). Women do this about six times a week, or a total of 339 times a year.

Hearing loss negatively affects relationships

This can lead to hurt feelings and arguments. But they aren’t ready to bust out the yellow pages (do people even still use those?) in search of a marriage counselor just yet; many of the respondents are quick to admit their partner might not be ignoring them. Over half suspect that a hearing problem might be to blame, and 40 percent go so far as to say they “know with certainty” that their partner is struggling to hear.

What are the risks of untreated hearing loss?

Hearing loss is a widespread concern in Texas and across the country. When untreated, it can result in physical, social and psychological health complications; the list of negative effects includes loneliness, depression, dementia and an increased risk of falling. The signs of hearing loss are often subtle; it takes an average of seven years from its onset before the typical patient seeks treatment. When a hearing impairment isn’t obvious, it’s easy to think selective hearing is at play.

Signs of Hearing Loss

Your Plano audiologist says to pay attention to possible signs of hearing loss. These include:

  • Frequently say “huh?” or “what?”
  • Ask others to speak more clearly, slowly and loudly
  • Complain that others mumble when they speak
  • Have trouble following conversations over noisy backgrounds
  • Struggle with certain consonant sounds (e.g., “s” and “f”)
  • Have difficulty with high-pitched sounds (doorbells, telephones)
  • Turn up the volume on the television or radio
  • Withdraw from social activities

Help yourself or your loved one

If you or your significant other is experiencing any of these (and the garage still hasn’t been cleaned, even after repeated requests!), contact an audiologist in Plano for a hearing exam. This is the best way to know for certain whether your partner is tuning out, or actually can’t hear you, and today’s varied hearing aid options can treat any degree of hearing loss.

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Studies Show Untreated Hearing Loss Leads to Loneliness

Hearing loss has profound effects on the daily lives of thousands of Plano residents. It’s linked to a variety of physical, social and psychological issues; new research shows that people with hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness—especially if they don’t treat their condition.

Barriers to Treatment in Plano

barrier in front of a door

Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans of all ages, making it one of the most common chronic health conditions in Texas and across the country. Only arthritis and heart disease rank higher. Given the large number of patients and the availability of a treatment solution that benefits 90 percent of those afflicted, you would think that most people take steps to improve their quality of life.

But surprisingly, only about one out of every five older adults with hearing loss wears hearing aids. This leaves 23 million people with untreated hearing loss. According to JAMA Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, over a ten-year period the likelihood of developing additional conditions goes up.

How often does untreated hearing loss cause other problems after 10 years?

  • Are 50 percent more likely to experience dementia
  • Are 40 percent more likely to experience depression
  • Are 30 percent more likely to sustain falls

Why do people choose not to get hearing aids?

Why are so many people forgoing hearing aids? There are several reasons, starting with the fact that it’s possible many of them don’t even know they have a hearing impairment.

Hearing loss usually develops gradually; as it does, the brain is quite adept at filling in the blanks by diverting resources from key cognitive areas, such as memory and concentration, to assist in hearing. This makes recognizing the signs difficult.

Even when aware of their condition, many choose to skip a visit to the audiologist. Some fear there is a stigma associated with hearing aid use, others don’t think hearing aids will make much of a difference in their lives. Cost is an issue for many; few health plans cover the costs associated with hearing treatment, including Medicare.

Does hearing loss go away on its own?

Unfortunately, ignoring your condition won’t do you any favors. In fact, it increases your risk of experiencing many related health problems. Because following conversations can cause strain and listening fatigue, many people with hearing loss end up withdrawing from social activities.

This leads to isolation and loneliness; a recent Dutch study showed that for people under the age of 70, every decibel drop in hearing perception was associated with a seven percent increase in the likelihood of severe loneliness.

The worse hearing loss gets, the greater the complications.

The more profound the hearing loss, the more severe loneliness becomes. This can trigger other health issues such as stress, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, increasing the risks of developing dementia by 40 percent and premature death by 26 percent. This has prompted some health experts to call social isolation as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Why does hearing loss increase dementia risks?

The close connection between hearing loss, loneliness and dementia is well-established if not quite understood. Loneliness is known to increase stress hormones and inflammation, factors that can lead to dementia.

Compounding the problem? The lack of brain stimulation associated with isolation can speed up cognitive impairment.

Research by Johns Hopkins University is currently underway to determine whether treatment for hearing loss can delay or prevent cognitive decline and reduce loneliness. Upon completion of the study in 2022, doctors are hopeful that new treatment solutions will be available for hearing-impaired patients.

If you suspect hearing loss, schedule a visit today.

The sooner hearing loss is detected, the better your odds of avoiding long-term health complications. Your Plano audiologist recommends regular hearing screenings to help catch any problems early.

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Hearing Aids Reduce Health Risks in Seniors

Hearing loss is common as we age. Many older adults in Plano experience the negative effects of impaired hearing, including difficulty following conversations and trouble filtering out background noise. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to social isolation and declines in mental and physical health. Fortunately, research shows that hearing aids can help reduce those risks and improve overall quality of life.

Age-Related Hearing Loss

senior couple sitting on a bench

Known as presbycusis, age-related hearing loss is a widespread condition affecting many people in Texas. It can occur due to the cumulative effects of a lifetime of noise exposure and is associated with factors such as genetics, medications, trauma and disease. One-third of people over the age of 65 develop hearing loss in Plano. By age 75, that figure is around 50 percent.

Do hearing aids help with symptoms of age-related hearing loss?

A study published in the September 4 edition of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people 66 and older who were treated with hearing aids upon being diagnosed with hearing loss had a lower risk of dementia, depression, anxiety and fall-related injuries over the following three years, compared to patients who did not start wearing hearing aids right away.

What benefits do hearing aids provide?

Specifically, the patients who wore hearing aids experienced the following benefits.

  • The risk of being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s was 18 percent lower
  • The risk of a depression or anxiety diagnosis was 11 percent lower
  • The risk of receiving treatment for a fall-related injury was 13 percent lower

Does every eligible person choose to wear a hearing aid?

Elham Mahmoudi, a University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine health economist and study leader, summed up the results thusly: “Hearing loss is a potentially modifiable risk factor. A simpler system of hearing care, insurance coverage and more educational outreach on potential benefits of using hearing aids is needed.” Those benefits include a higher quality of life and lower healthcare costs because there are fewer chronic conditions or falls that require treatment.

The downside? Just 12 percent of seniors diagnosed with hearing loss decide to wear hearing aids, even when their health insurance helps cover at least part of the costs.

Barriers to Wearing Hearing Aids

Hearing loss usually develops gradually; this helps explain why it takes the average person seven years from the onset of their condition to seek treatment. There are other barriers to wearing hearing aids, as well. Cost is a factor, though it tends to be a minor one. There is a stigma to wearing hearing aids, with many people afraid the devices will make them appear older. There are also concerns about comfort and convenience.

Do men or women wear hearing aids more often?

Dr. Mahmoudi’s study showed that men are more likely to wear hearing aids; 13.3 percent of males and 11.3 percent of females in the study chose to wear them. Racial/ethnic makeup and geography also played a role. Latinos were the least likely to wear hearing aids while whites were more apt to choose them, and people living in the North Central region had much higher rates of hearing aid use compared to those living in the Desert Southwest.

As compelling as the study is, it leaves some unanswered questions. Despite the large sample size and lengthy follow-up period, it’s unknown how the degree of the patients’ hearing loss factored in or how often they used their hearing aids. Also unknown: whether hearing aids were responsible for the delay in health risks or merely associated with them. The National Institute on Aging is funding a new multi-year randomized study to help determine answers to those questions.

Contact us to learn more about treating hearing loss

There is no doubt that hearing aids provide benefit to a majority of individuals in Plano who have hearing loss. If you or a loved one are experiencing a decline in hearing, schedule a visit with an audiologist to learn about treatment options. Doing so will help offset your long-term health risks.

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Hearing Aids Are Getting Smarter

Advances in technology, fueled by AI and other digital breakthroughs, have led to a wide range of smart devices.

Consumers in Plano can buy smart lightbulbs, thermostats, security cameras and more. Fans of “The Terminator” might view these modern devices with trepidation, but we’re all in favor of things that make life easier and more convenient. Hearing aids are already benefiting from new technology.

How Technology is Improving Hearing Aids

smart woman wearing glasses

Few would argue that hearing aids improve the lives of patients with hearing loss in Plano and across the U.S. They enable people to hear more easily and communicate more effectively, allowing them to participate in social activities and enjoy their favorite pastimes.

In addition, hearing aid help prevent some of the health complications associated with untreated hearing loss—a list that includes depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment and physical conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.

Hearing aids have changed drastically over the years as analog gave way to digital technology—and every year, they improve even more.

Recent hearing aid innovations

The biggest innovations in hearing aid technology in recent years include:

  • Audio streaming. Wireless technology has made it possible to connect Bluetooth®-enabled devices like smartphones and TVs directly to your hearing aids, allowing you to stream audio to one or both hearing aids. Sound is controlled through a phone app, enabling you to operate your hearing aids easily and conveniently. Multiple devices can be connected, ensuring you won’t miss a phone call while listening to music or watching television.
  • Smart home connectivity. Hearing aids are joining the list of smart home devices thanks to a software platform called IFTTT, which takes advantage of a wireless connection to sync internet-enabled devices, automating many everyday functions. Smart hearing aids allow sounds such as spoken notifications or chimes to be delivered directly to the wearer—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hearing aids can be synced with devices such as bedroom lights and coffeemakers, enabling the user to turn these devices on or off whenever their hearing aids are powered up.
  • AI health monitoring. Artificial intelligence is seeping its way into many aspects of our daily lives, and hearing aids are no exception. Some manufacturers are integrating sensors and AI into their products, enabling them to monitor the user’s physical and mental health. Apps can track different aspects of your health such as daily steps, social engagement, and active listening to deliver an overall wellness score. These sensors may also be able to detect when you have fallen, and automatically alert emergency contacts that have been programmed. Additional measurements, such as heart rate monitoring, will be available in the near future.

Contact a Plano audiologist to learn more about how hearing aids can help improve your quality of life.

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Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Can Hearing Aids Save Your Marriage?

The physical, mental and psychological effects of hearing loss in Plano are well-documented. Rarely discussed is the toll a hearing impairment can take on your marriage. Many a Texas couple has fought over accusations that their partner doesn’t listen to them, but in reality, it’s possible they simply can’t hear them!

Is it Hearing Loss or a Deeper Rift?

wedding photo

Hearing loss is a widespread condition not only in Plano, but across the country, affecting an estimated 48 million Americans. It’s the third most common chronic physical health condition, trailing only arthritis and heart disease. The belief that hearing impairment is confined to the elderly is a misconception; it can strike people of all ages and is often the result of exposure to noise. Even if your spouse is a decade or two away from qualifying for an AARP membership, it’s very possible that they are having trouble hearing you – and they might not even realize it! Because hearing loss develops gradually and the brain automatically compensates, the condition often goes unrecognized for years.

To determine whether your better half isn’t really your “better” half or if they may be suffering from impaired hearing, the following signs indicate you shouldn’t be quite so eager to banish them to the proverbial doghouse just yet:

  • They frequently asking you to repeat yourself
  • They complain that other people mumble when they speak
  • They find holding a conversation when background noise is present to be difficult
  • They watch TV or listen to music with the volume turned up uncomfortably high

If you suspect your partner is suffering from hearing loss, quit looking for a divorce lawyer and make an appointment with an audiologist in Plano instead. The sooner their condition is diagnosed, the more likely you two are to be celebrating that silver wedding anniversary together!

The key to your long-term marriage success just might be hearing aids. These devices are a boon to couples everywhere who feel ignored – and, of course, they help improve the quality of life for the vast majority of patients with hearing loss! Studies indicate the biggest benefit appears to be in the users’ social lives – this includes relationships! No marriage is perfect, but when hearing loss is contributing to your relationship woes, hearing aids might just be the solution to keep you together for the long haul.

For more information on hearing loss in Plano, or to discuss options for hearing aids, schedule an appointment with your local audiologist as soon as possible.

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Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943