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All Posts in Category: General

Hearing Loss Prevention

shutterstock_168526799Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is a very common condition that affects up to a third of people over 65, and up to half of people over the age of 75. It affects both ears equally, gets worse gradually over time, and affects high frequencies more than low frequencies. Hearing loss can be incredibly frustrating, as it makes conversation more difficult and poses an impediment to certain activities of daily living, such as socializing, talking on the phone, listening to music, or watching television.

Age-related hearing loss is the result of a variety of degenerative processes in the body. Cells and tissue structures in the inner ear become weakened, atrophied, less numerous, or stiffened with age; as a result, sensitivity to sound is decreased, making it more difficult to understand speech, hear music, or detect other sounds. For people with age-related hearing loss, high-frequency sounds, as well as the sounds of consonants in speech, are usually the most difficult to hear.

Although a certain amount of wear-and-tear on the structures of the inner ear is an inevitable part of the aging process, there are certain things that can exacerbate the condition. In order to help prevent or ameliorate age-related hearing loss, there are a number of steps that can be taken. Avoiding frequent exposure to loud noises is a good place to start, as noise-related hearing loss, although technically a separate condition from presbycusis, is a very common reason for hearing loss. Certain lifestyle factors, like smoking and eating a diet high in saturated fats, have also been shown to increase the incidence of hearing loss. Medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes can also exacerbate the risk. Certain medications, like aspirin, can also contribute to age-related hearing loss. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, making sure underlying medical conditions are well controlled, avoiding excessive use of certain medications, and limiting exposure to loud noises are all good steps in preventing or slowing age-related hearing loss.

Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for hearing problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.

General Home Care New York

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Treatments for Hearing Loss

shutterstock_130449017Many Americans, particularly older adults, struggle with hearing loss. It is an extremely common problem in people over 65, and is often the result of a combination of factors. Simple wear-and-tear on the delicate mechanisms of the inner ear over time, in addition to sustained exposure to loud noises, certain medications, and some illnesses, can all contribute to hearing loss.

Hearing loss can be extremely frustrating, as it involves the gradual loss of a sense on which most people have depended throughout their lives. People with hearing loss often find it difficult to follow conversations, and may have to ask others to repeat themselves many times. To people with hearing loss, it may seem as though other people are not speaking clearly. It is frequently difficult for people experiencing hearing loss to hear in environments with lots of ambient noise, such as restaurants and other public places. For these reasons, many people with hearing loss have a tendency to become socially isolated, as trying to interact with others becomes too exasperating. Being unable to hear smoke alarms, verbal warnings, and the sounds of motor vehicles or other potential threats can pose additional risks.

Because of the potential hazards faced by those with hearing loss, as well as its general impact on quality of life, it’s important for people experiencing hearing loss to seek help right away. Hearing aids are a common, and often effective, treatment for hearing loss. A hearing aid is a small device that is placed in the ear and amplifies sound. For people with more profound hearing loss, a tiny electronic device called a cochlear implant is often helpful. This device is implanted in the inner ear by a surgeon, allowing the patient to regain some hearing. Other interventions include assistive listening devices that amplify sounds from the telephone, as well as smart phone and tablet apps, and hearing-loop systems in theaters and other public venues. Finally, the low-tech option of lip-reading is extremely effective for some people who suffer from hearing loss. Special training from a lip-reading coach or teacher can enable people with hearing loss to understand speech and participate in conversations with more comfort and ease.

Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for hearing problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.

General Home Care New York

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The Symptoms of Hearing Loss

shutterstock_262437857Hearing loss is one of the most common health complaints in the United States. Older Americans, in particular, are at risk, with more than 30% of people aged between 64 and 74 suffering from hearing loss; after age 75, almost 50% of the population is affected. There are many possible sources of hearing loss, among them age, genetics, and long-term exposure to loud noises. People in certain occupations, such as musicians, carpenters, miners, and others who work in noisy environments, are at greater risk for hearing loss. Additionally, certain medications can contribute to hearing problems: some antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, among others, can have a detrimental effect on hearing.

The symptoms of hearing loss can be subtle and easy to miss, especially at first. Social withdrawal is a common symptom of hearing loss, as a person who has difficulty hearing and following conversations may find social interactions frustrating, and more trouble than they’re worth. Since many people become less social as they age, anyway, many older adults and their loved ones may not recognize social withdrawal as a symptom of hearing loss. Another key indicator of hearing loss is trouble hearing consonants: while vowel sounds may still be easy to detect, the consonants that give shape and meaning to words may fade. For people with hearing loss, speech and other sounds may seem muffled or indistinct. Needing to turn the volume up on the radio or television to ever-increasing levels is a symptom of hearing loss, as is consistently asking others to speak more loudly and slowly.

Hearing loss is often apparent, especially at first, in settings with a lot of background noise: people in the early stages of hearing loss may have trouble picking out certain words, or understanding the gist of a conversation, in a crowded setting, or one with lots of ambient noise. Hearing loss is a frustrating, though very common, part of aging. Although it can pose challenges in everyday life, new treatment technologies can help people with hearing loss to live full, satisfying lives with minimal impediment.

Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for hearing problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.

General Home Care New York

 

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Treatments for Sleep Apnea: Surgical Procedures

shutterstock_246741289For people who suffer from sleep apnea, a poor night’s sleep can be just the beginning. Although they may not remember instances of waking, most people with sleep apnea wake up several times an hour when their breathing is interrupted. In mild to moderate sleep apnea, breathing cessation, and its associated waking or change in sleep, may occur five or more times an hour. In severe sleep apnea, the affected person may wake more than thirty times every hour. This constant interruption in sleep can have far-reaching health consequences: people with sleep apnea are likely to suffer from daytime fatigue, which can result in mood disorders, on-the-job injuries, motor vehicle crashes, and a generally lower quality of life. Additionally, people with sleep apnea are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Because of the potentially serious health problems that can result from untreated sleep apnea, it is essential for people with this disorder to seek help.

For some people with sleep apnea, lifestyle changes, like losing weight, quitting smoking, or reducing alcohol consumption can dramatically improve their symptoms, or even cure the disorder. For others, lifestyle changes are insufficient; in these cases, special dental appliances, pillows and supports, or even assisted breathing devices like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines are necessary to control sleep apnea.

When other treatments fail, surgery might be indicated as a last-resort option for sleep apnea treatment. Tissue removal is sometimes successful in relieving symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring. In this procedure, soft tissue is removed from the back of the mouth and throat, widening the airway and reducing the vibration that causes snoring. However, this treatment isn’t always successful at treating the root cause of sleep apnea, as tissues deeper in the throat may still block the airway. For people with mild sleep apnea, the implantation of plastic rods into the soft tissues of the throat can help to stabilize the airway. A more radical option is jaw repositioning, which moves the jaw forward and creates more space in the airway, decreasing the likelihood of obstruction. Finally, for people with extremely severe, life-threatening sleep apnea, tracheostomy, in which a tube is inserted through the neck into the trachea, effectively creating a new airway, is sometimes used.

Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for sleeping problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.

General Home Care New York

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Treatments for Sleep Apnea: Breathing Machines

shutterstock_259717121Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of Americans from all walks of life. Despite the fact that it is so prevalent, it is widely misunderstood, and often goes untreated. Sleep apnea occurs when breathing is interrupted during sleep. The most common kind, obstructive sleep apnea, is due to blockage of the airway by soft tissue in the throat. Certain health factors, like smoking and obesity, increase the risk for this type of apnea (though not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea is a smoker or overweight). Much rarer is central sleep apnea, a condition in which signaling errors in the parts of the brain that control breathing cause breathing to momentarily stop during sleep.

Left untreated, both kinds of sleep apnea can cause serious long-term health problems, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes, as well as chronic daytime fatigue and associated problems. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, can be helpful, but are not always enough to cure sleep apnea.

For moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea that are resistant to lifestyle changes and other kinds of treatment, assisted breathing machines and other devices can be very helpful. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines work by blowing slightly pressurized air through a mask fitted over the mouth and nose, just enough to keep the airway open and prevent obstruction. This treatment is indicated for patients with obstructive sleep apnea. BPAP (Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure) and ASV (Adaptive Servo Ventilation) machines work in a similar way, but provide different levels of pressure (more pressure on the inhale, less on the exhale) to tailor the machine to individual needs, and is particularly helpful for patients with central sleep apnea. Although they are often very effective at treating sleep apnea, many patients find the CPAP and BPAP devices uncomfortable. An alternative is EPAP (Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure). With EPAP, a small, single-use device covers each nostril; a valve in the device lets air move in easily, but forces air on the exhale through small holes, creating pressure that keeps the airway open.

Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for sleeping problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.

General Home Care New York

 

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