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Hearing Loss

Are Heart Health and Hearing Health Connected?

Unhealthy behaviors can affect both

The cochlea, the inner-ear organ responsible for hearing, is extraordinarily delicate and is sensitive to subtle changes in your overall system. Because the cochlea is so small, the veins and arteries that carry blood through the cochlea are among the tiniest in the body; protecting them protects your healthy hearing. Many of the same unhealthy patterns of behavior that affect the heart — and, therefore, blood flow — might also affect the most delicate organs in the body, like the cochlea.

Heart health and hearing health correlation

Research has shown a strong correlation between hearing loss and heart disease. Many researchers believe the ears might offer a glimpse into overall heart health: Because the inner ear is so sensitive to circulation and heart disease causes hardening of the arteries, it’s possible that hardened arteries may be responsible for hearing loss — the cochlea aren’t receiving the oxygen they need. And though heart disease is a serious condition, those with cardiovascular issues may also want to consider seeing an audiologist to learn more about the links between hearing loss and cognitive disease — as well as the bevy of other conditions hearing loss may cause in otherwise healthy individuals.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Dizzy in Bed? You May Have BPPV

If you have trouble sleeping or often feel dizzy when turning your head, you may be suffering from benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, or BPPV.

What is BPPV?

While vertigo is often associated with the dizziness experienced at great heights, it also refers to spinning sensations experienced during head movements. BPPV is a specific type of vertigo, both paroxysmal (sudden in onset) and positional (rotational movement-based), that is the result of a dysregulation in the vestibular system of the inner ear. The symptoms of BPPV include:

  • Nausea/feeling faint
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slight imbalance
  • Spinning dizziness with quick onset and short duration
  • Involuntary eye movements, also known as nystagmus

People with BPPV are often able to replicate the exact head movements that make them feel vertigo. This also makes BPPV easy to diagnose via head-positioning maneuvers that trigger nystagmus.

The cause of BPPV

Normally, the body’s sense of balance is determined by several factors, including proprioception (the body’s ability to sense its movements), visual stimuli, and vestibular (balance-related) stimuli. When any one of these systems is compromised, balance is affected in a very noticeable way.The vestibule, located in the inner ear, is part of the same structure that houses the cochlea. It is comprised of the labyrinth, which includes the utricle, saccule, and the three vestibular canals.

Whenever someone turns their head, the fluid endolymph in the vestibular canals is displaced because of inertia and exerts pressure against the cupula at the base of each canal. This pressure is then registered as rotational movement by the brain.

In BPPV, ear rocks (i.e., otoconia, or calcium carbonate crystals) from the utricle become displaced and lodge inside one or more of the vestibular canals. This causes specific rotational head movements to be registered by the brain improperly because the dislodged otoconia affect the displacement of the fluid endolymph. These types of false signals cause both vertigo and nystagmus.

BPPV treatment

More than 20% of all diagnoses by physicians who specialize in dizziness are due to BPPV, making it the most common vestibular disorder. People under 50 may have BPPV without knowing it after suffering a head injury like a concussion. For people over 50, BPPV is much more pervasive, and is the cause of up to 50% of all dizziness-related diagnoses among older individuals. Fortunately, there are many non-invasive treatments for the condition.

The most common type of BPPV, accounting for 90% of all cases, is single-sided canalithiasis (i.e., otoconia dislodgment) in the posterior semicircular canal. Single-sided BPPV can be treated with a number of head repositioning procedures, including canalith repositioning procedure (CRP) for right-sided and left-sided BPPV.

Demonstration of CRP for right-sided BPPV

STEP ONE

The patient lies down from a seated position.

STEP TWO

The head is turned 45 degrees in the direction of the affected ear, and the position is held for 15–20 seconds.

STEP THREE

The head is turned 90 degrees in the opposite direction, so that the unaffected ear is facing down. The patient then turns her body to follow her head so that she is lying on her side. The position is held for 15–20 seconds.

STEP FOUR

The patient returns to a seated position.

This right-sided CRP treatment is intended for posterior canal BPPV; there are different repositioning treatments for horizontal canal BPPV and anterior canal BPPV.

All cases of BPPV can be diagnosed by an audiologist, who can demonstrate correct repositioning treatments that encourage the otoconia to migrate back into the utricle. If repositioning treatments do not produce results, other options for BPPV treatment include medication, such as antihistamines and benzodiazapines that treat drowsiness. Individuals with BPPV are encouraged to avoid quick head movements and should not sleep on their affected side.

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Hearing Aids

Introducing AGXsp™ the Made for iPhone® Hearing Aids

TruLink for iPhone®

The strides made in the hearing care realm over the last several decades have made improved hearing a reality for many. Through research and development, accessing hearing technology that makes a difference in the lives of the hearing impaired has never been easier—and neither has using the technology itself. Now they’re also more convenient than ever before for iPhone® users with the release of the new TruLink personal hearing control for the iPhone.

Immerse yourself in hearing aid technology

For several years now, Bluetooth technology has been available on many hearing aids. This is a great feature that makes it easy to answer phone calls and stream sound from televisions, stereos, computers, and other sources directly to your hearing aids. Some hearing aids even offer a remote that makes for quick volume adjustments when needed. But the TruLink takes it several steps further, allowing users to actively immerse themselves in their hearing technology and the world around them.

TruLink offers increased convenience

What’s exciting to hearing care providers about the possibilities with TruLink is the increase in convenience for patients. Often, patients comment to me that they wish they could make slight tonal adjustments for environmental variations; conversing in a coffee shop or restaurant might yield different results than conversing at home would, especially if one of those areas is busier than another. Most current hearing technology allows for preprogrammed settings for a few specific areas that the user must switch to. But how much more convenient would your life be if your hearing aids changed their responsiveness automatically when you went to specific locations?

Program settings for favorite places

Two of my favorite aspects of the TruLink technology are the SoundSpace adjustments and TruLink Memories and how they work together. With SoundSpace, the user can make tonal adjustments to their hearing aids to make them work best for the environment that they’re currently in and save those adjustments using TruLink Memories. If you create a programmed setting for your favorite restaurant, your hearing aids use the built-in GPS on your iPhone® to sense when you’re approaching that specific location, and it will automatically change the settings on your hearing aids based on the adjustments you already made—for up to 20 locations.

Never again lose your hearing aids

Another unique feature that I’m excited to see my patients use is the live microphone, which allows you to use your iPhone as an extra advantage during conversations, or use it to record audio moments that you can replay and enjoy later, as many times as you’d like. And I’ll never again hear that my patients who use TruLink have misplaced a hearing aid: Your iPhone knows where they are and will help you find them. There is no end to the level of convenience and effectiveness this extraordinary technology can offer you on your journey to hearing your best.