Exploring the Link Between Hearing and Cognitive Decline

Nancy was aware of her father’s lack of socialization during family gatherings. He would go in the living room and sit in his favorite chair alone and turn up the TV volume to a level that would interrupt the family conversations. He became forgetful, leaving his personal belongings in odd places and had trouble following conversations.
Ray noticed a change in his mother over the course of a few years; she was constantly upset with family and friends for not speaking up and would abruptly leave in the middle of a conversation, finding solace in the familiar silence of her room. If these examples seem familiar to you, you are not alone. The most common chronic health issue affecting older adults is hearing loss, yet less than 75% of adults with hearing loss who would benefit from hearing devices actually use them. A recent study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics shows a strong link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, finding two times the risk of dementia for those with mild hearing loss, three times for those with moderate hearing loss and five times with severe hearing loss. When hearing loss is left untreated, cognitive decline accelerates. This accelerated cognitive decline is believed to be related to the lack of social interaction and participation in cognitively stimulating events due to hearing loss. We live in dynamic and complex listening environments where sound changes moment to moment. Our ears detect the sounds, but the signal is sent to the brain where cognitive function must make sense of it. In other words, listening is where the brain meets the ears! The brain is designed to receive certain details of sound in order to understand it. When it doesn’t get the correct details, our listening efforts are increased and our brains must work harder to focus on what is important and separate relevant sounds from competing noise. At the end of the day, this can be exhausting! How can we be proactive about our hearing health? Receiving an annual hearing evaluation is the most effective way to monitor changes in hearing and provide appropriate treatment to improve communication function. This enables us to keep active with friends and family and continue to participate in the activities we enjoy. Annual hearing examinations are covered by Medicare and should be an integral part of all other health screenings. If you currently have hearing devices that you are not using, see your provider to review how they may provide the solutions you need. Technology has certainly progressed over the years with wireless Bluetooth technology and very small and discreet sizes as well, so there really is something for everyone! To learn more or to schedule an annual hearing evaluation, call Conejo Hearing Center at 818.991.3800 or visit ConejoHearingCenter.com. Conejo Hearing Center is located at 5655 Lindero Canyon Road, Suite 506 in Westlake Village.

Christine E. Wilson has been a licensed audiologist since 1999 and holds a B.S. in Business Administration, an M.S. in Communication Disorders and Sciences (Audiology) and a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the owner of Conejo Hearing Center.

Summer Heat and Humidity


With temperatures rising and the humidity currently feeling like Miami in August, it is likely that moisture may become an enemy to your hearing devices. The best way to protect them is with the Dri-Aid Hearing Aid Dehumidifier. This simple system helps to maintain the life of your hearing devices. Dri-Aid comes in 2 sizes – large for $20 and small for $15 and is available at our office. Just place your hearing aids overnight in the little jar and the moisture-absorbing pellets will do the rest.

Simple and effective!

Hearing Loss, Tinnitus & Your Medications

There are some medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) that have been known to cause hearing loss or tinnitus in some people or exacerbate an existing hearing problem.  Usually this results from exceeding the recommended dosage.  Here are some of the most common medications that can contribute to tinnitus or hearing loss:
  • Some antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy agents
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Loop diuretics http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-prescription-medication-pharmacy-pill-vials-cascading-out-orange-isolated-white-image48808646
  • Salicylates such as aspirin
  • Legatrin used for night cramps
Be sure to consult with your medical professional as well as our office if you are experiencing any changes in your hearing while taking any new medications.

Can We Prevent Hearing Loss?

Many people ask if there is something they can do to prevent hearing loss.  Our genes play a major role in how early and how quickly we lose our hearing, but noise is the number one contributor to a declinfree-hearing-test-vaughane in hearing.  Listening to sounds that are too long and too loud can damage our ears. These excessively loud environments can include rock concerts, music at the gym, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, firecrackers, motorcycles, gun ranges, car radios and the use of headphones and earbuds.  Experts suggest a 60/60 rule when using our personal listening devices.  This means limiting the volume to 60% of the full range and listening time to 60 minutes per session.  Limiting our time exposed to noise and using ear protection when we are exposed to sounds over 85db intensity levels is practicing good hearing loss prevention.  Ask us about custom ear molds that are made to fit your own ears.  They come in a variety of styles and colors and are very easy to use.  They are also great for swimming and anyone who has chronic ear infections. You can visit www.westone.com for more information on the variety of custom ear protection available.

Sticker Shock: Why are hearing devices so expensive?

Starkey_Wireless-CIC-ITC-ITE-RIC312-RIC13_cmykThis is an ongoing question and concern that is laced with a plethora of confusing information and misleading links to various types of technology.  Some clarification is greatly needed, as this tends to deter people who are in dire need of hearing devices. First of all, hearing devices that we provide here at Conejo Hearing Center are not just amplification.  These are medical devices that are programmed specifically for the individual.  Everyone has a “thumbprint” of their hearing and through the medical diagnostic testing, we can pinpoint exactly what your thumbprint is. Secondly, each device is backed by the ongoing service and support we provide our patients; office visits, programming, batteries and other supplies, clean and checks, repairs, and the manufacturer warranties that come with the devices. Our office is staffed with knowledgeable people who take care of your hearing needs as you step into your journey of experiencing these devices.  

Warning of Scam Alert

Warning! If it’s too good to be true….

There have been several websites springing up lately offering the latest hearing technology for incredibly low rates. This has caused some concern among Audiologists, not because of the low rates, but because most of these are counterfeit devices, also known on the streets as “knock-offs.” Hearing aids are medical devices and each legal device is given a serial number that is now being documented by the FDA. Counterfeits obviously will have false serial numbers which will not be legally recognized by the manufacturers and backed properly with valid warranties. So, if you purchase one of these counterfeit devices (and trust us, it will break down), you will not be able to get it repaired. Warning of Scam Alert When you purchase a hearing device from a certified Audiologist, you are not only paying for the device, but the customized programming (according to your diagnostic test), warranties (for repairs, loss and damage), service and ongoing professional support. It’s unfortunate that there are unscrupulous people out there, but we are staying vigilant in order to keep our community safe and informed. If you have any questions or concerns about this situation, please feel free to call us. We are here to provide you with the proper information and the best in hearing technology.