Dr. Wright's Blog

What is Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss - see an Audiologist

Do you have unexplained hearing loss?

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) is a rapid loss of hearing.

It can affect 27 per 100,000 people every year.

SSNHL may present as:

  • Having no apparent cause
  • Often only in one ear
  • Usually over a timeframe of 3 days or less

If you are experiencing a sudden change in hearing, contact your physician and see an Audiologist right away.

You may also experience other symptoms

In addition to hearing loss, you may experience one or all of these symptoms. Again, if these symptoms are sudden and unusual, we cannot stress enough that you need to seek treatment right away.

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss Additional Symptoms

Causes of SSHNL

Often we don't know what causes Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss.

Known causes can include:

  1. Head trauma
  2. A viral infection such as measles, mumps, hepatitis
  3. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rhumatoid arthritis
  4. Ototoxic (harmful to the ear) medications  - especially cancer or treatment of a severe infection
  5. Poor blood circulation
  6. Neurological disorders e.g. multiple sclerosis
  7. Inner ear diseases e.g. Menieres disease
  8. Allergic reactions

Treatment and outcomes

The majority of people with SSNL may fully or partially recover from SSNHL within one or two weeks. The sooner you seek treatment, the higher your chances for recovery.

Your Audiologist can help you manage the symptoms of SSNHL.

  • Monitoring your hearing
  • Monitoring your balance
  • Prescribing hearing aids 
  • Counselling and education
  • Vestibular rehabilitation therapy
  • Tinnitus evaluation and therapy

SSNHL symptoms can affect your physical and mental health if they are not treated.

If you need to see an Audiologist about sudden hearing loss, please request an appointment online or call us right away at Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2969 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2921.

Thank you to Speech-Language & Audiology Canada for this information and promoting awareness of SSNHL.

 

New Technology Event: Introducing Oticon More

New Technology - Oticon More Hearing Aids

Hear more, with less effort.

For our spring new technology event we're featuring the new Oticon More™, a ground-breaking industry first, using artificial intelligence and a deep neural network to more effectively process sound.

Oticon More™ hearing aids have been trained with 12 million real life sound scenes and the results are exceptional speech clarity.

  • With the new Oticon More, it’s much easier for your brain to hear all of the sounds around you.
  • In fact, you will hear & understand 15% more of what’s being said.

You're invited to our new technology demonstration!

April 13th and 14th, 2021

Call now for a FREE demo appointment!

Try Oticon More Today

LIMITED SPACES so call us today.

Book online or call to schedule an appointment at the Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2969 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2921.

Diabetes & Hearing Loss: Silent Partners

Diabetes and hearing loss go hand-in-hand

Why do we call diabetes a silent partner?

Diabetes and hearing loss are two of Canada’s most widespread health concerns, with hearing loss left largely unrecognized and undertreated. Over 3 million people in Canada have diabetes, and an estimated 4.6 million Canadians aged 20 to 79 years have some degree of hearing loss.

Given the invisible nature of both, is there a link between the two?

Facts & statistics

*Studies show that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those who do not have diabetes.

*Of the 79 million Americans thought to have pre-diabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher than in those who have normal blood sugar. (It’s safe to assume similarities in Canada.)

*Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Researchers believe that over time, high blood glucose levels can damage these vessels and nerves, diminishing the ability to hear.

*Diabetes appears to affect hearing and brainstem function, making some more susceptible to falls. Hearing and balance issues can also contribute to falls. (Our Audiologists are experts on this topic.)

*Hearing tests are frequently overlooked in routine diabetes care.

Diabetes may cause hearing loss at a younger age

Research shows that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss. The data also suggests that people with diabetes may experience hearing loss at an earlier age.

That’s why it’s important that anyone with pre-diabetes symptoms or a diabetes diagnosis should have their hearing screened. It’s important to set a baseline for comparison against future hearing tests so that your Audiologist can detect changes over time.

The earlier a hearing loss is diagnosed, the earlier it can be treated. Early treatment of hearing loss will also improve communication, mental health, safety, and overall quality of life so don’t delay.

If you have any questions for an Audiologist about hearing loss and diabetes please request an appointment online or contact us at Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2969 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2921.

Photo by:

Mykenzie Johnson on Unsplash.

Meniere’s disease: symptoms, diagnosis and professional treatment

Woman with vertigo from Meniere's disease I Broadmead Hearing

What is Meniere’s disease?

Meniere’s disease is a long-term, progressive illness that damages the organs of the inner ear responsible for hearing and balance.

Symptoms of Meniere’s disease:

  • Long episodes of vertigo
  • Hearing loss
  • Pressure
  • Loud tinnitus in the affected ear

In the early stages, hearing sensitivity may recover after each episode.  As the disease progresses, hearing loss almost always reaches profound levels rendering the ear functionally deaf.

Who is most likely to get Meniere’s disease?

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults are most likely to get the disease.

  • Young-to middle-aged adulthood (40s-50s)
  • Peaks at about 60 years of age
  • Appears to affect men and women* equally

Roughly 200/100,000 (0.2%) of people in the U.S. have Meniere’s disease. While the Framingham Heart Study found that 1.48% of the US population reports a history of Meniere’s disease, it’s largely agreed that the reason for this discrepancy likely due to the tendency of primary care physicians to diagnose all cases of recurrent episodic vertigo as Meniere’s without first having ruled out other possible causes.

What causes Meniere’s disease?

In short, no one knows. That said, several theories can explain how the disease progresses and why it occurs. Researchers are approaching the root of the issue.

What is known is there is a connection between Meniere’s disease and a condition called endolymphatic hydrops; a situation in which the fluids of the inner ear get out of balance during vertigo caused by Meniere’s. The fluid imbalance is thought to cause the sensation of pressure in the ear and contributes to vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss.

 

Water cup showing imbalance associated with vertigo

 

Medical researchers at the University of Colorado believe this fluid imbalance reveals a pressure-regulation problem that decreases blood flow to the organs of the inner ear. In a young, healthy person, the blood flow is not completely interrupted because the vasculature in the ear, head, and neck are all intact. However, in older individuals with assumed vascular issues, the interruption in blood flow can be so complete that it causes a mini-stroke (similar to a transient ischemic attack, or TIA) in the inner ear.             
Re-oxygenation and recovery after this event are less successful each time, explaining the decline of function in the affected ear as the disease progresses.

How is Meniere’s disease diagnosed?

Most clinics in Canada and the US use the following criteria:

  • Two episodes of vertigo, each lasting 20 minutes or longer but not longer
    than 12 hours
  • Hearing loss verified by a hearing test
  • Tinnitus or a feeling of fullness in the affected ear
  • Exclusion of other known causes of these problems

Diagnostic procedures may include:

  • Thorough case history
  • Hearing assessment
  • Medical imaging to rule out other condition
  • A balance assessment

Treatment of Meniere’s disease

Stopping the vertigo associated with Meniere's disease

There is no true ‘cure’ for Meniere’s disease. However, physicians, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctor), Audiologists, and other health professionals on the care team have several tools available to them to help manage the symptoms of Meniere’s disease.

Different professionals may recommend the following treatments:

Primary care physicians

Managing: dizziness/vertigo

  • Motion sickness medications: reduce the spinning sensation and alleviate associated anxiety.
  • Anti-nausea medications: control nausea and vomiting during an episode of vertigo.
  • Fluid regulation medications: help manage the buildup of fluid in the inner ear. This may include a recommendation for a low salt diet.

Ear, Nose, Throat specialists

Managing: dizziness/vertigo, or preventing these symptoms from recurring

  • Middle Ear Injections, of steroids or ototoxic (toxic to the ear) antibiotics to reduce the incorrect balance messages from the inner ear so that the other ear can compensate.
  • Surgery, to decompress or even add shunts to the organs of the inner ear responsible for our sense of balance to help with fluid balance. Removal of the hearing and balance organs in a late-stage Meniere’s ear that has already lost all of its hearing ability or cutting through the vestibular nerve to preserve hearing in an affected ear are also possibilities.

Audiologists

Managing: the functional aspects of hearing

  • Hearing aids to manage the consequent hearing loss and preserve communicative function.
  • A hearing aid CROS system to provide stereo sound awareness if one of the ears is functionally deaf.

Other complementary treatments may include:

  • Vestibular rehabilitation: typically provided by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, kinesiologists, or registered athletic therapists.
  • Vestibular acupuncture: provided by acupuncturists.

If you are experiencing balance and hearing issues come and see us. Our Audiologists can evaluate and diagnose balance-related diseases and help you deal with the hearing loss associated with Meniere’s. While there isn’t a cure, treatment can reduce the frequency and severity of the vertigo.

Book online or call to schedule an appointment at the Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250.479.2969 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250.479.2921.

 

*Harris, J. P. and T. H. Alexander (2010). "Current-day prevalence of Meniere's syndrome." Audiol Neurootol 15(5): 318-322.

Hearing is An Expression of Love

Hearing is an expression of love heart

 

This story is from several years ago, but it still rings true today. It was a weekend that my mom and her sister were at our house for dinner.  My mom was talking about her experience using hearing aids to her inquiring sister.  Her sister was noticing hearing loss and was trying to get a sense from my mom of what it would be like to use hearing aids. I stood chopping veggies in the kitchen overhearing this conversation with keen interest and it was a simple statement that my mom made that gave me pause.

This is what she said….. “Wearing my hearing aids is a gift I give to the people who I am with.”

I found this interesting because many times in the clinic I hear people with unaided hearing loss tell me, “It's not a problem for me, but my spouse would say otherwise."

Hearing aids are an act of love

Using hearing aids is an act of love to the people around you. Why? Because taking steps to improve communication in a relationship is an act of kindness to the ones you love. 

To show them that what they have to say is meaningful. 

To be able to participate in conversations.

To communicate clearly with less effort.

Good communication can be a love language

Have you ever heard of the 5 Love Languages? (There's a quiz you can take to find out which is yours.)

These are different ways that we each give and express love. They are: 

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Think about how hearing plays into being able to give and receive love: the ability to hear words of affirmation, being able to enjoy quality time together. Hearing also is part of touch because couples who communicate better are also often closer physically.

Communication is a two-way street

So this Valentine's day, you can give flowers or take efforts to improve communication by accepting that if one person in a relationship is expressing a problem then it is not just her/his problem, it is a communication problem which by definition is a two-way street. 

Or, best case scenario, you can do both. Happy Valentine's Day!

If you're ready to improve your communication, please book hearing evaluation or call us at the Broadmead Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2926 or Oak Bay Hearing Clinic: 250-479-2921.

Photo by Ryan O'Niel, Unsplash.