Hearing Aids: A Game-Changing Solution for Dementia Prevention

Hearing Aids: A Game-Changing Solution for Dementia Prevention


Did you know that hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of dementia? However, a groundbreaking study has revealed that hearing aids can protect against this risk. In this article, we’ll delve into the study’s findings, emphasizing the crucial role of hearing aids in mitigating the impact of hearing loss on cognitive decline. Discover how this cost-effective and minimally invasive treatment can potentially safeguard your brain health.

Understanding the Study: Unveiling the Connection

A large-scale study utilizing data from the UK Biobank, which involved over 400,000 individuals aged 40-69, has shed light on the relationship between hearing loss, hearing aid use, and dementia risk. The results were remarkable: people with untreated hearing loss had a staggering 42% increased risk of all-cause dementia compared to those without hearing loss. However, for individuals with hearing loss who used hearing aids, the risk of dementia was no higher than that of individuals without hearing loss.

Addressing Specifics: Hearing Aids and Dementia Risk

The positive association of hearing aid use with dementia prevention extended not only to all-cause dementia but also to cause-specific subtypes. The study estimated that hearing loss contributed to 29.6% of dementia cases. However, by utilizing hearing aids, individuals experienced a significant reduction in the risk of dementia.

Factors Contributing to Protection: Social Isolation, Loneliness, and Depressed Mood

The study also highlighted the role of hearing aids in reducing dementia risk through various mediating factors. The use of hearing aids was found to decrease social isolation by 1.5%, loneliness by 2.3%, and depressed mood by 7.1%. These factors have long been associated with cognitive decline, emphasizing the profound impact hearing aids can have on overall brain health.

The Urgency of Hearing Aid Adoption: Statistics and Recommendations

Alarmingly, among the study participants, only 11.7% of individuals with hearing loss reported using hearing aids, despite the prevalence of hearing loss increasing with age and being more common in men. As the evidence continues to build, experts warn that hearing loss may be the most impactful modifiable risk factor for dementia in mid-life. Taking action by adopting hearing aids early on can potentially prevent or delay the onset of dementia.

Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline: Past Research and Future Possibilities

The study’s findings align with previous research from 2015, which demonstrated that the use of hearing aids almost eliminated cognitive decline. Moreover, the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care in 2020 suggested that hearing loss could be linked to approximately 8% of worldwide dementia cases. These findings further reinforce the significance of prioritizing hearing health as a crucial aspect of dementia prevention.

Conclusion: Embrace the Power of Hearing Aids

The evidence is undeniable: hearing aids offer a remarkable solution to protect against the risk of dementia. By reducing social isolation, loneliness, and depressed mood, hearing aids can mitigate the impact of hearing loss on cognitive decline. With their cost-effectiveness and minimally invasive nature, hearing aids provide an accessible and proactive approach to preserving brain health.

Remember, it’s never too early to prioritize your hearing health. By using hearing aids, you can potentially safeguard yourself against the risks of dementia and enjoy a fuller, more connected life.






How Do Hearing Aids Work

How Do Hearing Aids Work

I. Introduction

Hearing loss is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Fortunately, advances in technology have led to the development of hearing aids, which can help individuals with hearing loss improve their communication abilities and participate in daily activities.

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that are designed to amplify sound and improve the wearer’s ability to hear. They come in a range of styles and sizes, from behind-the-ear models to nearly invisible in-the-ear styles. The specific features and settings of a hearing aid may vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences.

The history of hearing aids dates back several centuries, with various attempts to assist people with hearing loss. One of the earliest devices was the ear trumpet, which was made from materials like wood, animal horns, or seashells, and focused sound waves into the ear. Later, in the 19th century, the first electronic hearing aids were developed, which used carbon transmitters to amplify sound.

Today’s hearing aids are much more sophisticated and effective than their early counterparts. They are equipped with powerful processors, advanced noise reduction algorithms, and various features to improve the wearer’s listening experience. In the following sections, we’ll explore how hearing aids work in more detail and how they can benefit people with hearing loss.

II. Anatomy of a hearing aid

A hearing aid is made up of several key components that work together to amplify sound and enhance the wearer’s ability to hear. Here are the main parts of a hearing aid and how they work:

Microphone: This is the part of the hearing aid that picks up sound from the environment. The microphone converts sound waves into electrical signals, which are then processed by the hearing aid’s internal circuitry.

Processor: The processor is the “brain” of the hearing aid. It takes the electrical signals from the microphone and converts them into digital signals that can be amplified and manipulated to enhance sound quality.

Amplifier: The amplifier is responsible for increasing the volume of the sound signals that have been processed by the processor. It can amplify specific frequencies or adjust the overall volume of the sound, depending on the wearer’s needs.

Speaker: The speaker, also known as the receiver, is the part of the hearing aid that sends the amplified sound signals into the ear canal. The sound vibrations are converted back into sound waves that the wearer can hear.

All of these parts work together to create a customized listening experience for the wearer. The microphone picks up sound from the environment, which is processed by the internal circuitry, amplified by the amplifier, and then delivered to the ear through the speaker. The result is enhanced sound quality and improved hearing for individuals with hearing loss.

III. How sound is processed in a hearing aid

Modern hearing aids use digital signal processing (DSP) technology to analyze and enhance sound based on the wearer’s hearing needs. Here’s how it works:

Analog to digital conversion: The microphone picks up sound waves, which are then converted into digital signals that can be processed by the hearing aid’s internal circuitry.

Sound analysis: The digital signals are analyzed by the DSP chip, which identifies specific sound frequencies and adjusts them to meet the wearer’s hearing needs. This may involve amplifying certain frequencies or reducing background noise.

Sound enhancement: After the sound has been analyzed, the DSP chip applies advanced algorithms to enhance the sound quality. For example, it may use noise reduction technology to reduce unwanted background noise, or directional microphones to help the wearer focus on sounds coming from a specific direction.

Amplification: Once the sound has been analyzed and enhanced, it is amplified by the hearing aid’s

These processing steps can be customized based on the wearer’s specific hearing needs. For example, a hearing aid may be programmed to amplify certain frequencies that the wearer has difficulty hearing, or to adjust the overall volume of the sound. Additionally, many modern hearing aids include additional features such as wireless connectivity and automatic program switching, which can further improve the listening experience.

Overall, the digital signal processing technology used in modern hearing aids allows for a more customized and effective hearing experience for individuals with hearing loss.

IV. Types of hearing aids

There are several different types of hearing aids available on the market today, each with its own unique set of features and benefits. Here’s an overview of the most common types of hearing aids:

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids: BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear and are connected to an earpiece that fits inside the ear canal. They are often the largest and most visible type of hearing aid, but are also the most powerful and versatile.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids: ITE hearing aids are custom-molded to fit inside the ear canal, making them more discreet than BTE models. However, they are generally less powerful and may not be suitable for more severe hearing loss.

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids: ITC hearing aids are similar to ITE models, but sit deeper inside the ear canal for even greater discretion. However, they may be more difficult to adjust and can be susceptible to earwax buildup.

Extended wear hearing aids: Extended wear hearing aids are a type of hearing device that can be worn continuously for several months at a time. These devices are designed to provide a discreet and convenient solution for individuals with hearing loss.

Each type of hearing aid has its own set of pros and cons, and the best type of hearing aid for you will depend on your specific hearing needs and lifestyle preferences. For example, if you have a more active lifestyle, you may prefer a BTE hearing aid with features like water resistance or noise reduction. If you want a more discreet option, an ITE, ITC or Extended wear hearing aid may be a better choice.

Additionally, many modern hearing aids offer additional features such as rechargeability and wireless connectivity, which can make them more convenient and user-friendly. When selecting a hearing aid, it’s important to work with a qualified audiologist or hearing healthcare professional who can help you choose the best option for your needs.

V. Features and settings of hearing aids

Modern hearing aids offer a wide range of features and settings designed to enhance the listening experience for individuals with hearing loss. Here’s an overview of some of the most common features found in hearing aids:

Volume control: Most hearing aids allow the wearer to adjust the volume to a comfortable level.

Program settings: Many hearing aids offer multiple program settings for different listening environments, such as a noisy restaurant or a quiet room.

Feedback suppression: This feature helps prevent the whistling or buzzing sounds that can sometimes occur when using a hearing aid.

Bluetooth connectivity: Some hearing aids can connect wirelessly to smartphones, TVs, and other devices, allowing for streaming of audio directly to the hearing aids.

Tinnitus masking: Certain hearing aids offer built-in sounds or white noise to help alleviate tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Adjusting and customizing hearing aid settings is an important part of maximizing their performance. Depending on the specific hearing aid model, settings may be adjusted using buttons on the device, a remote control, or a smartphone app. It’s important to work with a qualified hearing healthcare professional to ensure that your hearing aid settings are optimized for your individual hearing needs.

In addition to these common features, many hearing aids offer additional settings and features to further enhance the listening experience. These may include directionality settings, noise reduction algorithms, and automatic feedback cancellation. By taking advantage of these advanced features and working closely with a hearing healthcare professional, individuals with hearing loss can enjoy a more natural and comfortable listening experience.

VI. Choosing the right hearing aid

Choosing the right hearing aid is a critical step in improving communication and quality of life for individuals with hearing loss. Here are some important considerations when Choosing a hearing aid:

Type and degree of hearing loss: The type and severity of hearing loss will play a key role in determining which type of hearing aid is best suited for an individual.

Lifestyle needs: Individuals with an active lifestyle or frequent exposure to noisy environments may need a hearing aid with specific features like noise reduction or water resistance.

Budget: Hearing aids can range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, so it’s important to consider budget constraints when selecting a hearing aid.

Working with a qualified hearing healthcare professional is crucial when selecting a hearing aid. They can perform a comprehensive hearing evaluation, make recommendations based on individual hearing needs, and provide guidance throughout the hearing aid fitting process. During the fitting process, the hearing healthcare professional will adjust the settings of the hearing aid to ensure optimal performance and comfort.

It’s important to note that adjusting to using a hearing aid can take time and patience. It may take several weeks or even months to fully adjust to wearing a hearing aid, and some individuals may require additional adjustments to the settings to achieve optimal performance. With the right guidance and support, however, individuals with hearing loss can greatly improve their quality of life with the use of a hearing aid.

VII. Maintaining and caring for hearing aids

Proper maintenance and care of hearing aids is essential for optimal performance and longevity. Here are some tips on how to care for your hearing aids:

Clean your hearing aids regularly: Use a soft, dry cloth or a specialized cleaning brush to remove any debris or earwax from the hearing aid. Avoid using water or cleaning solutions, as they may damage the hearing aid.

Store hearing aids properly: When not in use, store hearing aids in a dry, cool place. Avoid exposing them to heat, humidity, or direct sunlight.

Check the batteries: Make sure the batteries are properly inserted and charged. Replace the batteries as needed, and dispose of them properly.

Handle hearing aids with care: Avoid dropping or mishandling hearing aids, as they may become damaged or malfunction.

In addition to proper maintenance, it’s important to be aware of common issues that may arise with hearing aids, such as feedback or reduced volume. Troubleshooting steps may include adjusting the volume or settings, replacing the batteries, or checking for debris or earwax in the hearing aid.

Regular check-ups with a hearing healthcare professional are also important for maintaining the performance of hearing aids. They can perform routine maintenance and address any issues or concerns that may arise. By following proper maintenance and care techniques and staying proactive about addressing issues, individuals with hearing aids can ensure optimal performance and longevity of their devices.

VIII. Conclusion

In conclusion, we have discussed how hearing aids work, the different types of hearing aids available, and the importance of proper maintenance and care for hearing aids. We’ve also highlighted the role of hearing healthcare professionals in providing guidance and support for those with hearing loss.

If you are experiencing hearing loss or considering getting hearing aids, we encourage you to seek professional guidance and support. A hearing healthcare professional can help you determine the best type of hearing aid for your needs, fit and adjust the device, and provide ongoing care and support.

Remember, hearing aids can greatly improve communication and quality of life for individuals with hearing loss. By staying informed and proactive about your hearing health, you can continue to live life to the fullest.

First experience with a hearing aid

First experience with a hearing aid

First experience with a hearing aid

What is the first experience with a hearing aid like?

Most people won’t realise how bad their hearing is until they wear their first hearing aid, which can be a very exciting yet confronting experience. Fear of the unknown often holds us back from a better life for ourselves, so we’ve written a quick list of what to expect when you wear a hearing aid for the first time.

Things will sound different

Over the course of your life, your brain will develop an auditory memory of sound. When you experience hearing loss, that memory becomes distorted from reality but will sound ‘normal’ to you. When you start wearing hearing aids, you are forcing your brain to reshape that distorted auditory memory back to the reality of what it sounds like. This can be an overwhelming experience, as sounds that you thought you knew well are slightly or even totally different to what you remember! For instance, your best friend’s voice may seem more squeaky than usual, or the fan humming in the kitchen may be louder than you remember. All of these changes are part of the adaptation process. The good news is that all of these sounds will become ‘normal’ as your brain adapts and establishes new auditory connections.

Take it slow

Your audiologist will usually ask you to wear your hearing aids fulltime from the day you receive them, but that doesn’t mean we expect you to throw yourself into a noisy bar with your friends on the same night! Start your hearing aid journey by spending more time in familiar environments. This may be your home or workplace where sounds are predictable and familiar. This is the best way to start ‘relearning’ what sounds are meant to be like. Once you feel more comfortable and confident with your hearing aids you can really take them for a spin in noisy areas.

Be Patient with Yourself

Hearing aids are foreign to almost everyone when they first start using them. There is lots to learn including inserting them properly, changing batteries, cleaning and connecting them to your phone. Don’t be discouraged if you mess these things up or forget how to do them – no one expects you to become an expert overnight! Keeping your audiologist in the loop is extremely important especially across your first year with your hearing aids where you may need more help. Your audiologist will be there to address any of your concerns, teach you how to handle your devices and help with any troubleshooting.

Want to experience hearing aids for yourself?

At Ear and Hearing Australia we offer a 4 weeks trial period on all our devices so you can experience better hearing for yourself. If you would like to take the next step, then call up for an appointment with one of our qualified audiologists on 1300 761 667.

How To Convince a Family Member to Wear a Hearing Aid

How To Convince a Family Member to Wear a Hearing Aid

How To Convince a Family Member to Wear a Hearing Aid

Convincing a family member to try wearing a hearing aid can be tough. The conversation is often fraught with emotion and tends to lead nowhere as both parties butt heads. Trying a softer approach may yield better results and our tips below can help you guide your loved one onto the right path for better hearing.

#1 Take time to listen first

Although the solution to poor hearing may seem straightforward to you, there are many reasons your loved one may be resistant to trying hearing aids. For some, they’re worried about the way the hearing aid looks and how they will be perceived (eg, getting old). Others may be influenced by the negative stories of their hearing aid wearing peers who are dissatisfied with their experience. Don’t make assumptions and take the time to really listen. Oftentimes it’s not just a case of being stubborn, but rather justifiable concerns that have simple solutions. You don’t have to have all the answers – that’s where an audiologist comes in! – but it is important that your loved one knows you’re on their side and want to work with them.

#2 Focus on the positives!

Using fear as a motivator can cause your loved one to experience unnecessary anxiety and confusion about their choices, leading to further inaction. Try to talk to your loved one about the benefits they can expect to gain from wearing hearing aids rather than the negatives of not doing so. For example, instead of saying “If you don’t wear hearing aids you’re going to miss out on everything that’s said at the party next week”, try saying, “If you wear hearing aids, you’ll be able to really enjoy the speeches made at the party next week”. By framing the use of hearing aids around the potential benefit and reward they can expect, your loved one will be more motivated to use them. The more specific you can be with names, places and events that are important to your loved one, the easier it will be for them to imagine a life where hearing aids provide those benefits.

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#3 Be willing to provide support

Hearing loss can be an extremely isolating experience as it hampers communication and separates people from their loved ones. Yet, many individuals with hearing loss will go through their hearing journey alone, without attendance of loved ones at their appointments and with minimal support at home. Be willing to take that extra step and assure your loved one that you will be there with them throughout the journey. Attend their appointments and provide a different perspective on their experience, learn how to manage their hearing aids along with them and provide support at home when they struggle with handling their devices. Audiologists love when family members attend appointments so don’tfeel shy to come along and ask as many questions as needed to help you understand the situation.

Studies show that people with hearing problems who did not wear a hearing aid were more likely to report sadness and depression, anxiety, paranoia, emotional problems, insecurity, and reduced social activities.

Ready for the Next Step?

If you have been able to convince a family member to try hearing aids or have their hearing tested, then call up for an appointment with one of our qualified audiologists on 1300 761 667.


Tinnitus: Will the Ringing Ever Stop?

Tinnitus: Will the Ringing Ever Stop?

Tinnitus: Will the Ringing Ever Stop?

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a very common condition affecting approximately 1 in 4 Australians. Tinnitus can present in multiple forms such as ringing, chirping, buzzing, humming and many more. Technically speaking, tinnitus means perceiving sound when no external sound is present. Tinnitus often comes as a result of an underlying condition such as hearing loss, ear injuries, or problems with the circulatory system and often can be managed or helped with the treatment of the underlying condition.

If you suffer from this tinnitus, it is quite normal to feel tense, irritable, or even frustrated. It can affect your concentration, sleep, and even exacerbate depression and anxiety. If you have been struggling with tinnitus and it has affected your everyday life, it may be time to reach out. Audiologists, otherwise known as hearing professionals, are here to help. We are trained to evaluate your hearing and provide treatment options and/or recommend further referral if required.

Tinnitus can be caused by a number of things (see below), but the two most common causes are hearing loss and noise exposure.

  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Ear diseases and disorders
  • Extreme stress or trauma
  • Degeneration of the hair cells in the cochlear
  • Ear problems, such as otosclerosis (fixation of the tiny stirrup bone in the middle ear)
  • Meniere’s disease (swelling of a duct in the ear)
  • Some medications.
  • Head trauma
  • Large doses of certain drugs such as aspirin (always check with your doctor whether the medication they are prescribing has a side effect of causing or exacerbating the condition)
  • Compacted ear wax
  • Middle ear infections
  • Jaw misalignment (specifically, dysfunction of the joint connecting the jaw to the bone under the ear)
  • Perilymph fistula (a hole in the inner ear, allowing fluid to escape)
  • Certain types of tumours
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Thyroid disorders

Now that we know some conditions which can cause tinnitus, it’s important to know what can make it worse and how to avoid them. The three major factors that can exacerbate tinnitus are loud noise exposure, stress and fatigue, and use of some medications.

Noise Exposure

Working in noisy surroundings, listening to loud music (both at concerts and through headphones), playing musical instruments, and exposure to other loud noises without using special protective equipment increases the risk of developing tinnitus as well as hearing loss. Even a single incident of exposure to an extremely loud noise (such as fireworks or other explosions, or a gunshot fired close to the ear) can result in tinnitus or hearing loss.

Earplugs or other hearing protection often prevent tinnitus that may otherwise be caused by excessive noise. You should always wear hearing protection in noisy environments, even if you do not find the noise uncomfortable. Hearing loss at higher frequencies is often painless, and the most common result is tinnitus.

Stress & Fatigue

There is some evidence that stress makes tinnitus worse. Although stress is part of everyday life, you can take steps to reduce stress levels by using relaxation and stress management techniques that help you stay calm, think positively, and focus your energies outward and away from the tinnitus.

Hypnotherapy can help with relaxation and cognitive behavioural therapy, offered by clinical psychologists, can help you to change the way you think about the condition, learn ways to focus your attention away from your tinnitus, and control the stress associated with the condition.

Medications & Other Substances

It is essential to tell your family doctor about your tinnitus; some common medications may cause it as a side effect or make your existing condition worse. Take special care with medications for arthritis, rheumatic diseases, some antibiotics, and anti-depressants. Excessive use of aspirin can also create issues; ask your doctor about alternatives if this is a concern.

Some foods and substances are also suspected of making tinnitus worse, although this has not been scientifically proven. While you don’t have to avoid them altogether, try easing off caffeine, quinine (tonic water), and alcohol as they can temporarily worsen tinnitus for some people. Carbohydrate-rich meals, like pasta, can have a calming or sedating effect, which can be helpful. However, give yourself time to digest your meal before you go to bed to avoid disturbed sleep.

Is There a Cure?

Even though there is currently no definitive cure for tinnitus, it is important to recognise that tinnitus does not have to affect your quality of life. This being said, there are techniques, management strategies, and treatments which can help reduce its effects on your life. Treatment options like Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, Surgery, Medications, and Hearing aids can help.

Regardless of the cause, it is important to speak with a professional about your worries and symptoms. Speak with your family doctor, audiologist/hearing professional or ear specialist to begin your journey towards overcoming tinnitus.

For more information, visit earandhearing.com.au or make an appointment to see one of our qualified audiologists.

Oticon’s NEW SmartCharger

Oticon’s NEW SmartCharger

Oticon’s new SmartCharger finally provides a portable charging solution for Oticon More hearing aids. Packing around 3 extra charges for your hearing aids, they are a perfect companion for anyone who loves travelling, camping or just someone who needs a backup battery in a pinch.

Features and Drawbacks

The Oticon SmartCharger sports a robust case and strong magnets to hold the hearing aids in place. Its large size makes it easy to insert and handle however it isn’t as pocketable as other options on the market. Now we’re out of lockdown if you’re looking for an extra accessory to make travelling easier. Pick this up today!

For more information on the Oticon More Hearing Aids, please see our full review here.

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