Hearing loss can affect well-being, if untreated
Greg Wales of Wales Hearing is pictured testifying about the hearing health care industry at the state Capitol. Wales has worked to raise the level of professionalism of its caregivers and was instrumental in establishing a law that gives patients a 45-day money-back return of any hearing aid. Contributed photos
More than 40 million Americans suffer from various degrees of hearing loss. For more than 40 years, Greg Wales of Wales Hearing Centers has been working to improve the hearing health care industry on a variety of fronts.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Wales worked to raise the professionalism of its caregivers through his involvement in the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). He testified at legislative health care subcommitte hearings and served by governor’s appointment on the MDH Minnesota Hearing Instrument Dispensers Advisory Council. He was re-elected several times, serving as President of the Minnesota Hearing Healthcare Providers, the Minnesota chapter of the International Hearing Society.
“I worked hard to raise the requirements of professionalism in the industry,” said Wales.
Wales is also proud of his part in establishing a law that allows a patient to return newly fit hearing aids for a refund within 45 days of purchase.
Of the 40 millions Americans suffering from hearing loss, the highest concentration of hearing loss per capita occurs in the 65+ population, although there are more people with hearing loss under the age of 60 than there are above age 60. Wales wants everyone to be aware of this statistic.
Max Stanley Chartrand, Ph.D., recently released the following information on hearing loss:
“Hearing loss occurs as a result of congenital stressors, delayed development, and early ear infections, acoustic trauma, medications, environmental toxicity, and chronic diseases such as diabetes, neuropathy, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease. What’s even lesser known is that when hearing loss is corrected remarkable improvements are likewise noted. Children perform better in school, possess more in control of emotions, sleep better, and develop faster. Those of working age are more productive, make higher wages, and are promoted more often. Older adults with optimal hearing are healthier, take fewer medications, and retain memory and mental acuity. This monograph summarizes recent research findings in hearing loss effects on health, cognition, and quality of life. For those in denial, the cat’s out of the bag: Better hearing means a better you in every way!”
Dr. Chartrand explained that humans are a “4000 Hz Species” and when that frequency is lost, it affects their
Greg Wales gives an ear exam to a patient at Wales Hearing Center in Alexandria. Contributed photo
“The most important frequency in human hearing is the high pitch tone of 4000 Hz. Healthy humans hear at that frequency better than any other species. When they lose their high frequency range of hearing: the heart’s pericardial sac becomes stressed, blood pressure elevates, and sleep disorders occur at varying levels of concern. Tinnitus, or that noise described as a “high pitch ring” heard by millions of people, invariably means the degeneration of the frequencies around 4000 Hz. It just happens that that is also the same pitch as your heart’s sinus node tone. It is usually caused by an advancing high frequency loss that needs attention, without which the irritating noise just gets louder and more bothersome as other health problems increase. Also, without hearing at 4000 Hz, one cannot hear the consonant speech sounds well in noise or at a certain distances, and many psychological and psychosocial tendencies set in place. Consequently, it is vital that the correction of high frequency loss through amplification be
considered important for your lifestyle and communicative well-being.”
Dr. Chartrand said recent research shows hearing loss sufferers show the following tendencies:
• Utilize medical services five times as much as normal hearing individuals (DigiCare, 2008; VA 1997, 2004).
• Suffer cardiovascular events and hypertension from two to three times as often as their normal hearing counterparts (Various sources).
• 92 percent of older adults that were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease also had uncorrected hearing loss (University of Pittsburgh, 1999).
• Mild hearing loss increases Alzheimer’s risk 2x, moderate hearing loss 3x, and severe loss 5x (Johns Hopkins, 2011)
• Uncorrected hearing loss causes the brain to shrink over time, bringing dementias and memory loss (Johns Hopkins, 2014)
Other studies showed the following:
• Brandeis University Study (2006) in a PETT scan/glucose study on short-term memory found that hearing loss causes the brain of hearing-impaired individuals to burn so much glucose that simple tasks like responding in conversation or in classrooms become challenging.
• Better Hearing Institute Study (2012) found that working-age hearing loss sufferers make an average of $12,000 less in annual wages than workers with normal hearing in the United States.
• Brandeis University Study (2012) on tinnitus found that serious tinnitus can burn as much brain glucose during sleep as reading a book while awake, causing chronic fatigue syndrome-like symptoms.
Dr. Chartrand recommends the following remediation and treatment for hearing loss:
Here are some guidelines for remediation and treatment of hearing loss:
• Tell your doctor about your hearing loss, so that possible medical issues such as ongoing disease, infections, injuries, impactions, and/or medication toxicity can be remedied.
• Have your hearing tested annually, starting with a baseline audiogram.
• If your hearing loss is quite significant, inquire about assistive technologies and coping strategies that can assist in critical and large area listening situations.
• If you develop ringing of the ears (tinnitus), inquire about available solutions, such as special digital hearing aid programming, dietary and medication changes, and necessary ear protection to try to make the tinnitus softer and less bothersome.
• Do not accept a mental health diagnosis for Alzheimer’s/dementia as conclusive without addressing possible hearing loss first.
• Locate a reputable hearing health clinic that knows you and respects your need to maintain your best hearing health and stick with them!
“I encourage those who believe they have a hearing loss to meet with a hearing professional, like myself,” said Wales. “It’s up to us to take an active role in informing not just our patients but also the larger population as a whole that hearing health is a critical part of overall well-being and how to practice good hearing health. We need to be the ones on the forefront ensuring that the public is getting an education on hearing health and that it is an accurate education. That is why I wanted to present this information from Dr. Chartrand to the readers of the Sr. Perspective.
Wales Hearing Center has locations in Alexandria and Fergus Falls and can help provide better living through better hearing, all starting with a consultation and hearing test. Wales has provider status with all insurance companies, as well as Minnesota Care policies available through the counties. To inquire about insurance benefits have your insurance card available and call Wales Hearing Center at 320-762-2505 or scan the card and email it to wales firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wales Hearing Center in Alexandria is located at 1501 Broadway Street, and their phone number is 320-762-2505. The Wales Hearing Center in Fergus Falls is located at 1304 West Lincoln Ave., Suite A, and their phone number is 218-998-2757.
Dr. Max Stanley Chartrand, P.h.D, is a part of the DigiCare Behavioral Research group.