January 9th, 2012 by qcurrie
A recent study published in the medical journal “Archives of Neurology” by researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland gives even more evidence for the need to identify and address hearing difficulties at their earliest stage. The researchers reported that individuals with untreated hearing loss had higher risk of dementia and that, not surprisingly, the risk increased as their hearing loss increased. For every 10dB of hearing loss the individual risk of developing dementia increased by 20%. So strong was the link that the researchers further commented in an interview with the Globe & Mail that “about 1/3 of dementia risk can be explained by hearing loss even though the connection is rarely considered.”
So why would hearing loss be linked to dementia? Well, hearing loss has already been shown to contribute to social and physical isolation and to cognitive decline. The researchers further speculate that hearing loss puts stress on the “cognitive reserve”. Think of the cognitive reserve as the computing power of your brain. The authors speculate that the brain has to devote more resources to handle the poor quality information coming from the ears which reduces its ability to function well. Because you need to use more to hear, less is available for things like working memory.
So what can be done?
Firstly, have your hearing checked by a certified Audiologist. It’s painless, takes no time at all and will be a permanent starting point against which to measure any future changes in your
hearing. Secondly, if you do have a hearing loss, consider hearing instruments to improve the quality of what you’re hearing and to allow you to stay active and alert. Thirdly, if you already have hearing aids, have them checked regularly to ensure they’re working well, that they’re programmed for your hearing (which will change over time) and that the best
technology available is working daily to keep you independent and enjoying life.
If you would like to read the study itself or the Globe and Mail article, please click on the links below:
December 14th, 2011 by qcurrie
In that mad rush to purchase toys for our children, we parents often do a pretty good job of keeping safety in mind. Long gone are the wood burning kits, pellet guns and chemistry sets of my own childhood. While I don’t advocate we secure our children in bubble wrap, or ban balls from the playground, there is one safety concern largely neglected even today…hearing loss. Good hearing is a basic human necessity. The spoken word is one of the most complex and nuanced sounds we ever hear but we master it at a young age due largely to an acute and finely tuned sense of hearing. Protecting a child’s hearing is not difficult but we’re not given any help by toy manufacturers or regulators.
For a toy to be sold in Canada, the maximum allowable noise level is 100dB and yet industrial workers are required to be protected at levels at or above 85dB. In addition to toys, portable entertainment devices are often the gift of choice for young children. These are potentially hazardous for several reasons: their output can well exceed 100dB, they can be worn for extended periods of time, and they are often turned up to hazardous levels to be heard over background noises such as in noisy cars, buses, airplanes or crowded areas. Standards also do not take into account that toys are often held directly to the ear by children or that very young children may not have the capacity to move away from loud toys laid next to them.
While, the long-term effects of hazardous noise on a young ear are not well documented, permanent hearing loss rates among teenagers are clearly sky rocketing. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported incidents of hearing loss in teens at 19.5%, almost 30% higher than was reported just 10 years earlier. Another recent study by the University of Florida found 25% of freshmen tested had hearing loss. These are tragic numbers given that noise induced hearing loss is irreversible and 100% preventable!
So what can parents do? First of all, simply keep safe sound levels in mind. Just because a toy is marketed to children, doesn’t mean it’s sounds are safe. Find a quiet corner of the store and listen to the toy. Toys are made louder than necessary so they can be heard over the noise of a crowded department store and attract the attention of children and their parents. If a toy sounds loud, don’t buy it. Remember not only will you be saving your child’s hearing but you’ll save yourself the headache of listing to it over and over again as it wails away in your living room. If a toy you already own is too loud, some duct tape placed over the speaker will muffle the sound so it can still be enjoyed.
For headphones a good rule of thumb is you must be able to carry on a normal conversation with someone 4 feet away. If you can’t, it’s too loud. To be certain, put a set of safe headphones under the tree, they’re inexpensive and have built-in limits which ensure safe enjoyment of iPods and MP3 players. If your child reports any difficulty hearing or reports ringing, buzzing or funny sounds in their ears have their hearing tested by an Audiologist to see if they’ve done any damage. By avoiding hearing loss this year you’ll be helping them enjoy the sounds of Christmas for a lifetime.
December 5th, 2011 by qcurrie
Thanks to everyone who turned out to the opening of the new office. It’s a good thing so many people showed up or Colleen and I would have been eating finger sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks! Thanks also to Snap magazine for attending and taking these great photos of some of our guests http://snapd.at/eebc2g