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Dr. Andrew Parker

5/12/16

Dr. Parker began by showing an illustration of the ear’s anatomy.  He pointed out the tiny bones in the middle ear and the Cochlea in the inner ear.  

According to Dr. Parker 40% of the U.S. population suffers from some degree of hearing loss, but only 24% have hearing aids.  The causes of this hearing loss vary, but include: 

  • Aging
  • Loud noise
  • Genetics
  • Ear diseases
  • Medication

There are two general types of hearing loss; conductive and sensorineural (nerve loss).  Unfortunately, nerve loss can’t be remedied at this time.  The Audiogram is the basic test to determine the type and extent of hearing loss.

Dr. Parker touched on the condition known as Tinnitus.  He explained that the brain is used to a certain degree of sound and when that sound is missing due to hearing loss the brain makes up its own sound to compensate.  This is Tinnitus.  The remedy is to improve hearing to supply the brain with what it lacks.

The most common method to improve hearing is through the assistance of hearing aids.  Hearing aids make it possible to do a number of things including: 

  • Enabling earning 
  • Improve physical health
  • Improve social participation 
  • Increasing intimacy and warmth in family relationships

Yet, in spite of these benefits numbers of people that own hearing aids don’t wear them on a regular basis for various reasons including:

  • Poor benefit
  • Increased background noise
  • Poor fit
  • Negative side effects
  • Cosmetics

Many of these problems can be avoided or minimized if a person does the following:

  • Obtain hearing aids before you desperately need them
  • Avoid purchasing hearing aids in stores
  • Purchase major manufacturing brands with a good reputation rather than private label brands
  • Get the best technology you can afford
  • Don’t try to steer the ship by insisting on a certain look or type when that runs contrary to  a professional’s recommendation 

Dr. Parker stated that memory loss is one result of hearing loss.  It results from decreased brain processing center stimulation due to the sound loss.  When this occurs the body compensates by sending less nutrition and blood to the less effective areas resulting in even further loss.  Consequently, the situation becomes worse over time unless rectified.

In the same vein there is a proven correlation between hearing loss and dementia.  A significant hearing loss can result in a five time greater likelihood that a person will suffer from dementia.  On the positive side improved hearing will slow the development of dementia.

As Dr. Parker pointed out with regard to the ear’s anatomy, which is in very close proximity to the body’s balance mechanism, that the one affects the other.  Good hearing definitely is beneficial to good balance while bad hearing makes it much more likely that an affected person will suffer from falls.

Q&A

Q.  Isn’t there a connection between the inner ear and migraine headaches?

A.  Migraines result from a blood flow cut-off.  It will also cut-off hearing and balance components in the body.

Q.  Is there a source for batteries that last longer?

A.  Yes.  There is an outfit called the Battery Club that can furnish high quality batteries at a reasonable price. My office can provide contact information.

Q.  If the body compensates for blindness why doesn’t it also compensate for hearing loss?

A.  It does if the hearing loss occurs at birth or at a very early age.  But much hearing loss occurs when we are older and the body no-longer is able to compensate.

Q.  Why is the cost of hearing aids so high?

A.  Non-programmable aids are cheaper.  They help, but not as much.  Part of the cost is explained by the research and development costs of branded instruments.

Q.  Are hearing tests covered by Medicare?

A.  Yes. All tests and procedures are covered, but not the hearing aids themselves.

Q.  Are teenagers damaging their hearing with their ear buds?

A.  Yes they are.  Ear buds should only be worn for no-longer than 60 minutes at a time and shouldn’t be turned up to more than 60% capacity.

Q.  Can you treat Manure’s Disease with Valium?

A.  Valium would act as a Band-Aid, but it also shuts down the brain.  A better approach would be the use of a diuretic.

Q.  Do hearing aids have any trade-in value?

A.  No

Q.  Would you service hearing aids purchased elsewhere?

A.  Yes.  As long as they are nationally branded products.

Q.  What is on the horizon for improved hearing?

A.  Gene therapy. This may be the answer to repairing nerve damage for the first time.

Q.  How does loud noise result in hearing loss?

A.  It overloads and damages the Cochlea.  Smoking can also result in damage to the Cochlea.

Q.  Ear phones work very well in concerts and hearing speakers, why aren’t hearing aids as effective?

A.  They are if properly programmed.