Hearing Aids: A Potential Solution for Slowing Cognitive Decline in At Risk Individuals

Quick Take

Wearing hearing aids may slow down cognitive decline by nearly 50% in three years for seniors at a higher risk of dementia.

Addressing hearing loss might be a promising approach to reduce dementia risks in susceptible groups.

In the face of rising dementia concerns, a recent revelation has stirred hope: individuals at a heightened risk who wore hearing aids experienced a significant reduction (almost 50%) in cognitive decline over a span of three years. With an aging global population, and increasing numbers grappling with cognitive impairments, the call for effective and affordable interventions has never been more pressing.

A correlation between hearing impairment and onset of dementia in the elderly has been noted by numerous studies. Moreover, there’s growing evidence to suggest that employing hearing aids as a remedial measure for hearing loss can potentially stall the progression of cognitive issues. However, a comprehensive, randomized trial to verify these claims was yet to be undertaken.

Dr. Frank Lin from Johns Hopkins University, supported by NIH, helmed such an investigation. The team brought on board almost 1,000 seniors, aged between 70 and 84, to examine the difference in cognitive decline rates over three years, contingent on the usage of hearing aids.

Participants, primarily with severe hearing loss, were sourced from two distinct cohorts. The first comprised 250 elderly individuals involved in a longstanding heart health study across four U.S locations. The latter group of 739 participants was freshly enrolled from neighboring communities of these sites. Intriguingly, those from the heart-health study displayed an escalated dementia risk, evidenced by advanced age and faster cognitive decline rates.

Participants were divided into two groups: one received hearing aids along with guidance on their usage, while the other was enrolled in a health education regime focusing on holistic aging. Both factions underwent bi-annual check-ins for enhanced training reinforcement.

Standardized cognitive function tests were administered annually for three years. The findings, shared in ‘The Lancet’ on July 17, 2023, revealed that individuals equipped with hearing aids observed marked enhancements in communication skills throughout the research. Predictably, the health education group didn’t report any improvements in auditory or communication abilities.

Although a broad analysis didn’t showcase significant cognitive function alterations between the two groups, a deeper dive into the heart-health study subgroup (with elevated dementia risks) painted a different picture. Here, the advantages of hearing aids were pronounced, with wearers witnessing an almost 50% drop in cognitive decline rates compared to their counterparts.

Dr. Lin emphasized the feasibility of addressing hearing issues in senior years, marking it as a pivotal strategy in dementia prevention. As the study marches forward, the team’s focus remains on tracing cognitive shifts over an extended period, alongside delving into brain imaging and social interaction data. This is aimed at getting a clearer picture of how safeguarding auditory health might shield our elderly from cognitive degradation.

Dr. Lin’s parting advice? “For holistic health and contentment, we urge seniors to periodically assess their hearing and ensure any issues are aptly addressed.”

Discover the full study results in The Lancet.

Reference:

Lin, et al. Effects of hearing intervention on cognitive decline: Results of the Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) randomized trial.

New Medicare Rebates for Hearing Tests: Bridging the Gap in Hearing Care 

New Medicare Rebates for Hearing Tests: Bridging the Gap in Hearing Care 

Policy Shift Empowers Audiologists to Address Hearing Care Inequalities 

In a proactive move to tackle hearing care disparities prevalent in Australia, the government has initiated major adjustments to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) with a focus on audiology items. This bold move, kicking in from 1st March 2023, is borne from the Australian Government’s dedication to implementing the suggestions formulated by the MBS Review Taskforce. Let’s explore these critical advancements: 

Breaking New Ground in Hearing Care Accessibility 

Highlighted by Dr Moh Dadafarin, the Principal Audiologist at Ear and Hearing Australia, this policy transformation represents a significant step towards universal accessibility to hearing healthcare within Australia. This innovative approach is predicted to nurture stronger relationships between audiologists and GPs, ensuring a larger segment of the Australian population has access to premium services. Following the advice of the MBS Review Taskforce Clinical Committee from 14th December 2020, the Australian Government is setting a robust groundwork for a broader and more inclusive healthcare setting. 

Broadening Access to Medicare and Audiology Rebates for Hearing Services 

In the past, securing a Medicare rebate for hearing evaluations necessitated a referral from either an ENT specialist or a neurologist. The recent changes have considerably expanded the referral channels, making it possible to claim Medicare and audiology rebates for hearing services with just a reference from a GP. 

Although these rebates don’t cover the entire expense of the hearing tests, since the services are not bulk billed, they do alleviate the financial stress commonly associated with such assessments. A GP referral, listing the relevant MBS items, is essential for each session to qualify for the rebate. It is vital to note that availing services without a GP referral would mean relinquishing the Medicare and audiology rebate, which could significantly mitigate the cost of the consultation. 

Pioneering Affordable Hearing Care Solutions for Diverse Age Groups 

This renewed strategy enables pensioners and seniors to be proactive in attending to their hearing health, markedly lowering the out-of-pocket expenses. Consequently, it encourages quicker actions to address hearing issues, circumventing potential complications linked with untreated hearing problems. 

Furthermore, this move marks a significant step in presenting affordable and prompt hearing care solutions for children and their families. It creates a supportive space where children’s hearing difficulties can be handled without the familiar financial pressures that have been a barrier in the past. 

Embarking on Your Journey to Better Hearing 

For a comprehensive insight into hearing tests and the financial benefits accompanied by the new Medicare and audiology rebates, feel free to get in touch with Ear and Hearing Australia. Our team stands ready to assist you on your journey to better hearing health, guiding you through the newly enhanced avenues for quality hearing care in Australia. 

Contact Ear and Hearing Australia For More Information

For further details, please visit our Medicare Rebate for Hearing Tests page. If you have questions regarding any of the following topics:

  • Does medicare australia cover hearing tests?
  • Does Medicare Australia cover annual hearing tests?
  • How often does Medicare Australia cover hearing tests?
  • How much does Medicare Australia reimburse for hearing tests?
  • Are hearing aids covered by Medicare Australia?

Feel free to reach out to Ear and Hearing Australia at 1300 761 667, or schedule an appointment for more information on hearing tests and the financial assistance available through new Medicare rebates.

New Research Emerges: Can Treating Hearing Loss Lead to Cognitive Improvement?

New Research Emerges: Can Treating Hearing Loss Lead to Cognitive Improvement?

Recent findings suggest that addressing hearing loss with well-adjusted hearing aids can potentially halt or reduce cognitive decline. Intriguingly, some studies indicate the possibility of cognitive recovery. This report, presented by Hamilton® CapTel®, delves into:

  • The latest studies on preventing cognitive decline and promoting recovery.
  • The potential benefits of other hearing assistance devices on cognitive well-being.
  • The significance of cognitive assessment tests.
  • The debate on making cognitive tests a routine for hearing health specialists.

For more detailed information and to access the full report, visit Hamilton CapTel’s Cognitive Rebound Brief PDF.

Questions About Hearing Loss? We’re Here to Help! 🎧

If you or a loved one has concerns about hearing loss, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team of experts is ready to assist and provide guidance. Book a consultation or simply drop us a message to get started.

#HearingLoss #HearingCare #HearingAids

Reference:

Hamilton CapTel. (2023). New Data Emerges: Can treating hearing loss result in cognitive improvement? Hamilton Relay.

Discover the Power of Independence: Choose an Independent Audiologist

Discover the Power of Independence: Choose an Independent Audiologist

At Ear and Hearing Australia, we believe in providing the highest quality audiology services based on independence, unbiased advice, and patient-centered care. In this blog post, we want to shed light on why independence matters in the field of audiology and how it can greatly benefit you as a patient. By not being aligned with hearing aid manufacturers and focusing solely on your needs, we ensure that you receive the best possible outcomes when it comes to your hearing health. So let’s dive in and explore why independence is crucial in audiology.

Unbiased Advice

One of the primary reasons why independence matters in audiology is the ability to provide unbiased advice. Unlike audiology clinics that have ties to specific hearing aid manufacturers, our independence allows us to offer recommendations without any underlying financial motivations. This means we can provide you with a wide range of options, considering different brands, technologies, and price points, based solely on what will benefit you the most.

Freedom of Choice

At Ear and Hearing Australia, we understand that every patient is unique, and their hearing needs and preferences may vary. As independent audiologists in Australia, we can provide you with a diverse selection of hearing aids and assistive listening devices from various manufacturers. This freedom of choice ensures that you have access to the latest advancements in technology and can select the solution that best suits your lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences.

Patient-Centered Care

Independence allows us to prioritize patient-centered care, where your needs and concerns take center stage. Our audiologists focus on building a strong relationship with you, taking the time to understand your lifestyle, communication challenges, and hearing goals. By having a comprehensive understanding of your specific circumstances, we can tailor our services to meet your individual needs effectively. This personalized approach to care ensures that you receive the best possible outcomes in terms of improved hearing and overall well-being.

Best Outcomes

Ultimately, the goal of our independence is to achieve the best outcomes for you as our patient. We are committed to providing evidence-based practice and utilizing the latest advancements in audiology to optimize your hearing health. By offering unbiased advice, a wide range of options, and personalized care, we strive to help you find the perfect hearing solution that will enhance your quality of life, communication, and social interactions.

Conclusion

Choosing an independent audiology service, like Ear and Hearing Australia, empowers you to make informed decisions about your hearing health. Our commitment to independence ensures that you receive unbiased advice, a variety of choices, and patient-centered care, resulting in the best possible outcomes for your hearing needs. Don’t let hearing loss hold you back. Take advantage of the benefits of independence and embark on your journey to better hearing with Ear and Hearing Australia.

Remember, your hearing health matters to us, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and experience the difference that independence can make in your audiological care.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with a qualified audiologist or healthcare professional for personalized recommendations regarding your hearing health.

 

What Causes Tinnitus: 8 factors that can trigger tinnitus

What Causes Tinnitus: 8 factors that can trigger tinnitus

Introduction

Welcome to our comprehensive blog on tinnitus, where we will dive deep into the intricate factors that contribute to the development of this auditory phenomenon. As audiologists, our mission is to provide you with a thorough understanding of tinnitus causes, empowering you to make informed decisions about your hearing health. Let’s embark on this enlightening journey together!

Section 1: Excessive Noise Exposure

Excessive noise exposure is a leading cause of tinnitus. Prolonged exposure to loud sounds, such as machinery, concerts, or headphones set at high volumes, can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear. This damage can lead to sensorineural hearing loss and trigger the perception of tinnitus. To protect your hearing, it is essential to limit exposure to loud noises, use hearing protection in noisy environments, and take regular breaks from loud activities.

Section 2: Aging and Hearing Health

As we age, changes occur in the auditory system that can contribute to the development of tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, affects the sensitivity of the inner ear, particularly to high-frequency sounds. This age-related hearing loss can be accompanied by tinnitus, as the brain compensates for the reduced auditory input. Regular hearing evaluations and the use of hearing aids, when necessary, can help manage age-related hearing loss and potentially alleviate associated tinnitus symptoms.

Section 3: The Waxy Intruder: Earwax Buildup

Earwax, or cerumen, plays a protective role in the ear canal. However, excessive earwax buildup can lead to tinnitus. When earwax accumulates and becomes impacted, it can cause blockages that interfere with sound transmission. This can result in the perception of tinnitus. It is important to avoid inserting objects into the ear canal to remove earwax, as this can push the wax further and cause more harm. Instead, consult with a healthcare professional or audiologist who can safely remove the excess earwax and provide guidance on maintaining proper ear hygiene.

Section 4: Medications: Unwanted Side Effects

Certain medications can have side effects that include tinnitus. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, high doses of aspirin, and some chemotherapy drugs are known to potentially induce tinnitus. The exact mechanisms behind these medication-induced tinnitus cases are not fully understood. If you suspect that your medication is causing or worsening your tinnitus, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your medication regimen and explore alternative options if necessary.

Section 5: Beyond the Ringing: Underlying Medical Conditions

Tinnitus can be a symptom of various underlying medical conditions. Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder characterized by vertigo and hearing loss, is often accompanied by tinnitus. Otosclerosis, a condition where the bones of the middle ear harden, can also cause tinnitus. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, affecting the jaw joint, and acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor on the nerve responsible for hearing, can both be associated with tinnitus. Proper diagnosis and treatment of these underlying conditions are essential to effectively manage tinnitus symptoms.

Section 6: Stress and Anxiety: A Symphonic Duo

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms. While stress does not directly cause tinnitus, it can make the perception of tinnitus more bothersome and intrusive. The exact relationship between stress, anxiety, and tinnitus is complex and can vary from person to person. However, stress management techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, and counseling, can help individuals cope with stress and reduce the impact it has on their tinnitus experience.

Section 7: Unveiling Trauma: Head and Neck Injuries

Head and neck injuries, such as concussions, whiplash, or direct trauma to the ear, can damage the auditory pathways and lead to tinnitus. The exact mechanisms through which these injuries cause tinnitus are still being studied. If you have experienced head or neck trauma and are experiencing tinnitus, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. Comprehensive evaluations by audiologists or healthcare professionals specialized in ear and hearing disorders can help determine the extent of the injury and develop appropriate treatment plans to address both the underlying injury and the associated tinnitus symptoms.

Section 8: Nutrition and Lifestyle: Keys to Quieting Tinnitus

While there is no specific diet or lifestyle that can completely cure tinnitus, certain nutritional and lifestyle factors may play a role in managing tinnitus symptoms. Some individuals report that reducing their intake of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can help alleviate tinnitus. Additionally, adopting a healthy and balanced diet that includes essential nutrients like vitamins B12, magnesium, and zinc may support overall hearing health. It is important to note that these adjustments may have varying effects on different individuals, and consulting with a healthcare professional or audiologist is recommended to determine the most suitable approach for your specific situation.

Conclusion

By gaining a deeper understanding of the various causes of tinnitus, you are better equipped to address the specific factors contributing to your individual experience. Remember, our team of dedicated audiologists is here to provide expert evaluation, personalized treatment plans, and ongoing support on your tinnitus journey. We are committed to helping you find relief and regain a sense of harmony in your auditory experiences.

Reach out to us to schedule a consultation and explore the comprehensive services we offer to individuals experiencing tinnitus. Together, we can navigate the enigma of tinnitus, support one another, and pave the way for a life where tinnitus is effectively managed, allowing you to focus on the joy of sound.

#TinnitusAwareness #UnderstandingTinnitus #Audiology #Tinnitus #HearingHealth #TinnitusManagement #KnowledgeIsPower