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Caffeine and hearing loss: good news for coffee lovers

It is the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. Today you have the perfect excuse to treat yourself to an extra cappuccino or a straight shot of espresso. But how does caffeine affect you? In terms of your hearing health, we are pleased to share some good news. Research shows that caffeine from coffee or tea may be connected to lower risks of tinnitus in women and to living longer in healthy adults. So if you ever needed an excuse to drink more coffee, read on.

Research reveals good news for coffee and tea drinkers

According to the American Journal of Medicine1, in a study of more than 65,000 women, caffeine has positive associations with your hearing health. Specifically, over a period of 18 years, women who had higher intakes of caffeine showed lower incidence of tinnitus. In fact, those who drank less than 150 mg (approximately an 8-ounce cup of coffee) a day showed higher rates of tinnitus.

Why is this important?

Tinnitus, a ringing, buzzing or similar noise that individuals hear without anything present producing the sound, can be debilitating. Especially when it presents as a chronic issue. Although some people develop tinnitus after a trauma, for many others the cause is unknown, so preventative measures provide much-needed help.

Too much of a good thing?

But how much caffeine is too much? The study showed that the women who ingested 450 milligrams to 599 milligrams of caffeine daily were 15% less likely to experience hearing loss. Those who consumed more than 600 milligrams were 21% less likely to develop tinnitus. To put it into perspective, to meet the 450-599 mg category, a person would have to consume about four 8-ounce cups of coffee. Casual coffee drinkers are in luck.

Good for your ears – and your heart!

Benefits for coffee lovers do not end with decreased incidence of tinnitus. At a recent meeting of the European Society of Cardiology2, Spanish researchers presented the results of a 10-year study of nearly 20,000 people called the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project. The results showed that healthy people who consumed a Mediterranean diet and drank more coffee lived longer. Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, said in presentation, “In the SUN project we found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants.”

You may wonder how much coffee is helpful. Dr. Navarro told the audience that drinking four cups of coffee daily is fine for healthy people.

Good for your hearing, good for your heart

Starting tomorrow, the days will get a little bit lighter. Nevertheless, you may still enjoy a second cup of joe without regrets.

If you have concerns about tinnitus, hearing loss or hearing health, make an appointment to speak with our hearing professionals. We have plenty of tips for hearing wellness.

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Everyone Deserves Their Beauty Rest!

In 2014, researchers presented a study at a study American Thoracic Society International Conference on how sleep apnea can affect hearing. The fairly conclusive results discovered that sleep apnea negatively impacts a person’s hearing. In addition, the research showed that sleep apnea can cause both high and low frequency hearing loss.

Sleep apnea is when a person has 15 or more episodes of shallow breathing or pauses breathing completely while asleep (over the course of a 1 hour period). Due to this suppression of oxygen, scientist have noted various issues with blood flow. Since blood flow is vital for your body to function optimally, this lack of oxygen also impacts your ears and hearing. A lack of blood flow can cause damage to the ear. Such that hearing loss may occur.

“What is so important about this study?”

Researchers studied a population of more than 13,000 participants from the Hispanic Community Health Study. The participants consisted of 52% women and had an average age of 41 years old. The team chose this population to mimic an average segment of the world’s population. Amit Chopra, MD conducted the study and made sure all of the participants had prior sleep apnea testing completed in their homes. They used a standard hearing test to gauge their starting level of ability. At the onset, 10% of the total participants demonstrated sleep apnea and 29% of all the participants started with some noticeable hearing loss.

Throughout the study, Dr. Chopra discovered that the participants with sleep apnea had increased hearing loss. His results showed high frequency hearing loss in 31% of the affected patients. More striking, he found a startling 90% loss at low frequencies for those with apnea!

As a result, researchers are now looking deeper into this connection and looking to see how medication for the disorder can possibly help avoid hearing loss concerns.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

If you worry that sleep issues may have had an impact on your hearing, we can help. Contact us for a free hearing assessment to ensure you hear well – and to address any deficits.

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Is Your Hearing Loss Linked to Diabetes?

Hearing loss affects approximately 34.5 million Americans, and approximately 30 million people have diabetes. These statistics make them two of the most prevalent health concerns in America. Beyond these numbers, the overlap of these populations is growing. Research continues on the potential connection between hearing loss and diabetes.

In her 2008 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, Kathleen Bainbridge, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, drew a number of conclusions from national survey data. She concluded that hearing loss is more than twice as common in diabetes patients than in the general population. In addition, 21% exhibited both hearing loss and diabetes, compared to 9% of those surveyed who had some form of hearing impairment but no diabetes. Finally, of the 86 million Americans with prediabetes, rates of hearing loss are 30% higher than adults with normal blood glucose levels. Perhaps, this final group is the most alarming number.

More research?

Current studies show evidence to support a noticeable overlap between the illnesses. Beyond primarily impacting older populations, medical practitioners have several theories as to how the two might be related. The current body of research linking hearing loss and diabetes is still fairly limited. So, we need more research to connect the two health concerns definitively.

What links the conditions?

Diabetes patients have sustained elevated blood glucose levels. This results in damage to many of the fine blood vessels that supply the inner ear. A network of vasculature supplies the cochlea. When patients fail to manage their illness or it goes uncontrolled for too long, it negatively impacts the the inner ear tissue and nerves. This leads to impaired hearing.

Take the Appropriate Course of Action for your hearing loss

Talk to your primary care physician or an endocrinologist to address your diabetes. Our professionals at Audiology Associates of Georgia can counsel you on your hearing loss. You may need to visit a specialist for a full hearing assessment*. If so, we can work with you decide which treatments suit your needs best. For more information on hearing loss and links to other illnesses, make an appointment or make for a free hearing assessment*.

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Research Links Stroke to Sudden Hearing Loss

The onset of Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL) can be a frightening experience. Since it is unpredictable and develops rapidly, it is especially alarming. Most incidents of SSNHL develop within three days and are usually unilateral – affecting only one ear. Individuals may wake up to discover hearing loss, or they may notice it occurring over the course of several days. Sudden sensorineural hearing loss is defined as a hearing impairment of at least 30 dB in three sequential frequencies.

Vascular occlusion and hearing

While medical practitioners can’t say definitively what provokes an episode of SSNHL, sometimes the vascular system seems to play a role. Besides vascular occlusion, other causes may include:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Ruptured inner ear membranes
  • Tumors
  • Autoimmune diseases

Researchers have focused on understanding the role that the vascular system plays in sudden hearing loss, including strokes. A stroke is brain damage that results from an obstruction in its blood supply. A stroke that occurs in the outer part of the brain stem can impact hearing.

Risk of Stroke Development among SSNHL Patients

Published in 2008 in Stroke, a study based in Taiwan sought to determine whether there was a link between SSNHL episodes and an increased risk of stroke. The study, conducted by Herng-Ching Lin, Pin-Zhir Chao and Hsin-Chien Lee, evaluated 7,115 patients over the course of five years after hospitalization. Of these 7,115 patients, 1,423 of them were hospitalized right after sudden hearing loss. The researchers used the remaining 5,692 appendectomy patients as a control group.

At the conclusion of the five-year study, 621 patients of the entire sample population had experienced a stroke – 180 of whom were SSNHL patients. After the researchers adjusted for gender, income, medical background and other relevant factors, the data indicated that the hazard for having a stroke was 1.64 times greater – more than a 150% increased chance – for SSNHL patients than the control group appendectomy patients. For the first time this study demonstrated that sudden hearing loss may serve as an early warning sign for a stroke.

What Should Patients who have Experienced Sudden Hearing Loss do Next?

Since approximately 40 – 65% of SSNHL cases result in spontaneous recovery, there is hope. However, anyone who has experienced sudden hearing loss should monitor their health and look for signs of impending stroke. According to the 2008 study, the average time between initial SSNHL hospitalization and the onset of stroke was 804 days. Most strokes occurred within the first two years.

After you or a loved one has experienced sudden hearing loss, it’s important to undergo a comprehensive neurological exam and schedule routine follow-ups, even years after the initial event. For more information on hearing and audiological effects of stroke, make an appointment for our free hearing assessment*.

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