Hearing and Eyesight

Hearing and eyesight are crucial to understanding and navigating the world around us. Even though they are separate senses, their links affect how we perceive and react to our environment.

Visual Signals Support Auditory Perception

The use of visual signals to support auditory perception is one of the primary connections between hearing and sight. What we see can affect what we hear, and our brains can employ visual information to understand sound. We are more likely to comprehend what someone is saying, for instance, if we see them speaking and their mouth gestures match the sounds we hear. It is especially crucial for those with trouble hearing because they can use it to compensate for hearing impairments.

On the other hand, listening to a speech with a visual distraction may hamper our comprehension. For instance, this could occur if there is a lot of background noise, or the speaker is not immediately in front of us. When this happens, it may be advantageous to comprehend the speaker using visual signals like lip reading or facial expressions.

Shared Brain Processing

Shared brain processing is another way that hearing and eyesight are connected. Several overlaps exist between the neurological pathways that process hearing and eyesight information. In other words, the brain may combine data from both senses to develop a more thorough knowledge of the surroundings. The midbrain’s superior colliculus, for instance, aids in the integration of information from the two senses and is involved in processing both visual and aural stimuli.

The brain combines sensory data to generate a complete picture of our environment. It can be difficult for the brain to absorb information from other sensory systems, including vision, when one sensory system is damaged, such as hearing loss.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Eye and Ear Health

To maintain good eye health, it’s important to guarantee that visual cues are as clear and helpful as possible. This can involve getting routine eye exams, using corrective lenses when appropriate, and taking precautions to avoid eye injuries and diseases.

Some evidence also supports the idea that addressing hearing loss can improve eyesight. According to research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, hearing aid-wearing older persons with hearing loss had better visual acuity than hearing aid-free older adults. This may be because treating hearing loss lessens the cognitive load on the brain, enabling it to interpret visual data more effectively.

Hearing and Eyesight Health

Despite being distinct senses, the connections between hearing and vision affect how we perceive and move through our environment. Understanding and leveraging these linkages can significantly enhance auditory perception and general quality of life for people with hearing loss.

Contact Sam and the team at Summertown Audiology today for more top tips and to discuss your hearing health needs Contact us today

 

Experts from Public Health England and The Association of Public Health Observatories predict around 5.5 million people in the UK will develop diabetes by 2030. In this prediction, there is no distinction between Type I and Type II diabetes, but researchers have confirmed hearing loss as a minor complication of the widespread metabolic disorder.

How Diabetes Can Cause Hearing Loss

Researchers have not discovered how diabetes directly causes hearing loss, but they have formed two theories based on well-established facts:

  1. Theory one blames the problem on blood vessel damage, which uncontrolled diabetes is known to cause all over the body, including in the ears.
  2. Nerve damage is the other suspected cause of diabetes-related hearing loss. When the nerves inside the ear are significantly impaired, the brain can no longer receive auditory signals effectively, making it hard to hear.

The Role of an Audiologist 

An audiologist is a healthcare professional specialising in hearing and balance disorders. They treat patients to care for their ears and fit them with hearing aids, assistive listening tools, and other ear-protective devices.

People with diabetes and potential hearing loss can benefit from an audiologist’s expertise. The first office visit usually starts with the patient’s personal and family history, followed by an outer ear exam using an otoscope.

Among many others, two standard tests also performed by an audiologist are tympanometry, which measures movement and pressure in the eardrum, and pure tone testing, which determines the extent of the hearing damage.

After performing all the necessary tests, your audiologist will recommend appropriate treatment, often including using hearing aids and making healthy lifestyle changes.

Holistic Management of Diabetes-Related Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, hearing loss from diabetes is irreversible, but there are steps to protect your ears from further damage. Aside from seeing an audiologist regularly, here are five practical ways to protect hearing among people with diabetes:

1. Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

While diabetes-related hearing loss is permanent, maintaining a healthy blood glucose level can prevent further damage.

2. Avoid Known Causes of Hearing Loss

People with diabetic-hearing loss can prevent more damage by avoiding common causes of hearing loss, such as loud noises and earwax buildup.

3. Eat Hearing-Healthy Foods & Exercise Often 

Certain foods such as fish, legumes, and whole grains protect our hearing. Regular exercise also helps promote blood flow in the ears and encourages optimal auditory functions.

4. Meditate Daily

Meditation helps the hard of hearing by increasing their sensitivity to sound.

5. Get Enough Sleep

Constant sleep deprivation can diminish brain function, particularly central auditory processing. Studies show the body needs at least seven to eight hours of sleep to work optimally.

Hearing and Diabetes: Prevention and Maintenance

Those with diabetes can seek professional help and adhere to prescribed treatments to prevent hearing damage. Whether it’s using technology, natural methods or both, you can protect your hearing as one of the five vital senses of the body.

Contact Sam and the team at Summertown Audiology today for more top tips and to discuss your hearing health needs Contact us today

 

Experts have been studying the association between hearing loss and dementia for decades. In more recent research, experts found convincing proof that the two are connected. A study led by John Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.C., PhD, established that people with hearing loss could be up to five times more likely to develop dementia.  

That doesn’t mean that if you have hearing loss you also have dementia, the sooner you get your hearing checked the sooner you can work with your residual hearing.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia

Scientists believe there could be two ways hearing loss can cause dementia. One is through a person’s thinking and memory systems as the brain works harder to cope with the hearing disability. Another is by fast-tracking the shrinkage of the ageing brain as its auditory centre becomes less engaged.

Despite the connection, not everyone who is hard of hearing will develop dementia. Studies only show the increased possibility, but mental decline from hearing loss can be delayed or mitigated.

Hearing Aids Help to Fight Dementia 

Since scientists started investigating the relationship between hearing loss and dementia, research into the impact of hearing aids on a patient’s cognitive decline has also been studied. This includes an investigation by Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), which found that while hearing loss can lead to dementia, people wearing hearing aids are spared from that risk.

Hearing-assistive devices cannot stop ageing-related memory loss, but they can reduce the rate of mental deterioration, especially when coupled with a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for Improving Your Hearing and Memory

Hearing aids significantly affect hearing loss management, but lifestyle changes can offer holistic benefits. Here are five ways to improve your hearing and memory:

1. Meditate

Meditation relaxes the body and increases blood flow to the brain. This increases a person’s sensitivity to sounds around them that may otherwise evade their attention.

2. Stop Smoking

Running from the middle ear to the back of the throat, the eustachian tube neutralises ear pressure and drains mucus. Prolonged exposure to tobacco chemicals can create pressure buildup in the tube and damage hearing.

3. Receive Hearing & Ear Checkups

Hearing loss can be caused by accumulated and hardened earwax. Removing the earwax yourself can introduce auditory risks, so it’s crucial to have a professional perform the removal procedure. Ask Sam and the team today about our Ear Wax removal services.

4. Seek Quiet Spaces & Activities

Maintaining good hearing can be as simple as avoiding sounds louder than 80 decibels. If this isn’t possible, wear ear protection to prevent hearing damage.

5. Implement a Healthy Diet & Regular Exercise 

Regular exercise and a high intake of folic acid, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium have been linked to better hearing. See a doctor before making significant diet and physical activity changes.

Fight Back Against Hearing-Related Dementia

Dementia is one of the best-known consequences of auditory impairment. However, with appropriate technology and lifestyle changes, hearing-related cognitive decline in the elderly can be effectively managed.

Contact Sam and the team at Summertown Audiology today for more top tips and to discuss your hearing health needs Contact us today

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, there’s a good chance you’re struggling with headaches too. In fact, studies have shown a direct link between changes in your auditory system and an increase in chronic migraines.

Headaches, no matter what kind, are uncomfortable and inconvenient. They never come at a good time and can be difficult to relieve. Thankfully, there are a few ways to relieve the discomfort. Here are the top 5 home headache remedies to help you manage the pain.

1. Peppermint Oil

If you would rather use natural methods before (or in place of) medication, try peppermint oil. Peppermint oil has menthol which allows muscles to relax and helps ease the ache. You can use the oil or peppermint in a couple of ways to relieve pain.

  • Apply diluted peppermint oil to your temples
  • Add a few drops into your bathwater
  • Mix some peppermint oil with your massage oil
  • Sip a cup of peppermint tea

Do not apply the oil to your skin without diluting it first. Undiluted oil can cause skin rashes or irritation. And never apply oil to the skin of infants or young children.

2. Get checked for Ear Wax

Sometimes your headache may be caused by added pressure to your eardrum. If you notice frequent headaches and you’re turning up the volume more often, it may be time to clean out your ears.

Once the pressure is relieved your headaches should stop and you’ll likely notice an improvement in your hearing.  Never put anything in your ear other than your elbow!

Seek help from Sam and the team today – do not try to rectify this yourself you could cause irreparable damage.

3. Head Massage

You can either give yourself a head massage, ask someone you know to give you one, or book a professional head massage.

4. Take Pain Medication

This is the remedy most people use first, and there are a lot of different pain-relieving medications. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches, talk with your doctor about pain management options. Be sure to follow the prescribed dosage and drink a lot of water.

5. Deep Breathing or Yoga

Consistent deep breathing or yoga helps alleviate pain and reduce stress. The postures and breathing cause you to let go of tension, opening the neck, shoulders, and spine. This results in better blood flow to your head.

Wave Goodbye to Hearing Loss Headaches

You don’t have to live with the pain that comes from hearing loss headaches. Next time you feel that familiar throbbing coming on, try these home treatments and see how quickly they can reduce the tension. You could try these alongside seeing Sam and the team but always seek professional advice first to be certain.  We would love to hear from you.

Contact Sam and the team today

 

SAMANTHA GODKIN, CLINICAL AUDIOLOGIST AND TINNITUS ADVISER

Choosing a hearing system involves a lot of decisions by you and your Audiologist, who will set out what is achievable, possible, or clinically advised based on your assessment and testing. This journey only starts with an Audiogram (chart with the results of a hearing test plotted on it) it needs to be more. In addition to a full hearing test when looking specifically at dispensing a hearing aid we also do speech in noise testing, tympanogram (tests the way your eardrum is working and is similar to the puff test for Glaucoma when you visit the opticians).

We need to know expectations, ability, and environment you want it to work in, medical history, lifestyle and have an honest conversation about it all. Only with all the information, can the right choice or options be placed in front of you for consideration.

A demonstration of the hearing system will be available where possible and here at Summertown Audiology, is always needed and advised. We also advise that you bring someone with you and not because you can’t make a solo decision but because they can give you a basis to compare performance on. The person you choose is known to you so you can more easily tell if there is a benefit. They can also inform on what you don’t hear.

You can’t know what you don’t know has been said. You also don’t know if you have misheard or guessed wrong all of the time and other people are just being polite. Support at a hearing assessment is always advised and strongly encouraged.

My aim is while going through the assessment process we can together choose the best solution for your lifestyle, level of hearing (your prescription if you will), you ability and your budget. An honest conversation that is open and comprehensive. You get to know me as well and see if I am the right person to help you. I am a bit of a nag, especially if you don’t wear your aids (and yes they do log the amount of time you wear them) I am firm but fair. If I feel something isn’t right for you I will tell you but will always be honest and give reasons for that decision. You need to be sure you feel you’ve got the right person and can work with me to get the best out of the system. Be under no illusion, it takes some getting used to and work to hear better. It’s a brain thing so give it time. Adjustments can be made, and fine tuning done. Rehabilitation is arguably the most important part of any hearing aid fitting. No two people are the same, they don’t have the same experience, they don’t live in the same sound scape, they all don’t like the same sounds, music, get annoyed by the same sounds. This all needs to be taken into consideration and allowing the time to do so is what coming to Summertown Audiology is all about.

I have chosen to work collaboratively with my colleagues at Summertown Clinic to offer additional help with conditions such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), a kind of dizziness disorder. I have access to a Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist for expert medical advice and whom I refer patients to for care when needed. I also can refer those in need to specialist vestibular physiotherapists for prolonged issues with dizziness. There is a whole team here with a wide range of treatments to help the whole person.

PATIENT CENTRED CARE

In the unlikely event you cannot see me (Samantha), I have also chosen carefully who looks after my patients and clients when I am on leave or not able to attend a clinic (something that has proven very much needed in a post COVID world) I have a network of locum Audiologists that I trust and who are experts too, with proven clinical experience and knowledge. They know all my equipment and all of the treatment protocols. I In December I will be joined by my new business partner Elena and I look forward to introducing her in a future blog. She is simply marvellous too.

We learn from each other, and it makes us better.

I do offer home visits but please if you can come into the clinic do. I try and keep this limited resource for those that really cannot get into see me. These visits also take longer and travel and set up time is also needed. There is a call out charge for these appointments. Please ask for details when you book. Home visits can only be booked via the clinic and not on the website as the logistics can be more difficult.

Any questions about your hearing at all, please get in touch.

Hearing and Feet

There is a significant link between hearing and the well-being of your feet. The likelihood of hearing and foot-related accidents rises as we age. According to the National Institute on Aging, a moderate hearing loss of 25 to 40 decibels (dB) increases the risk of falling in people aged 40 to 69 by three times compared to those with normal hearing, and a hearing loss of 10 dB increases the risk of falling by 1.4 times.

Considering the danger, let’s review the connection between hearing and feet.

The Mechanics of Our Hearing and Feet

The nerves that run from our ears to our feet make the relationship between our hearing and feet possible. Issues in one area can impact the other since our nervous system connects them.

The nerves in our feet influence communication, with our brain determining our balance and spatial orientation. We can stand upright and keep our equilibrium thanks to these signals. Similarly, sound information is communicated to the brain by the nerves in our ears. Balance and coordination issues arise when these nerves are harmed or weakened.

Take Care of Your Feet

Taking good care of your feet might help you avoid balance and coordination issues. Take care of your feet by:

  • Using supportive footwear such as orthopaedic shoes. Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels because they aggravate foot discomfort and deformities like bunions.
  • Maintaining proper foot cleanliness. Trim your toenails regularly but don’t cut them too short. Consider changing your socks frequently to avoid fungal infections.
  • Exercising your feet regularly. Start by stretching your feet and toes to keep them flexible. Try rolling a tennis ball under your feet for additional foot exercises.

Take Care of Your Hearing

Protecting your hearing is essential because you might already be suffering some degree of hearing loss. Steps you can take to care for your hearing include:

  • Receiving regular hearing tests. A hearing exam may be required once every one to two years for people who suffer from hearing loss or have other risk factors, such as a history of noise exposure or a family history of hearing loss.
  • Limiting exposure to loud noises. Individuals with hearing loss should avoid prolonged exposure to sounds louder than 80 decibels (dB). Avoiding areas with heavy traffic or loud music will help you achieve this.
  • Wearing a hearing aid (if necessary and advised by your audiologist). Additionally, ensure to clean your hearing aids routinely and have a professional inspect them if they are damaged.

Hearing and Feet: An Unlikely Combo

Those who are hard of hearing may rely more on their sense of balance to get around, which means that issues with their feet can significantly influence their hearing ability. For our general well-being, it is essential to take care of our feet and ears.

 

“I have been an Audiologist for over 29 years working in both the Public and Private sector. I must admit I like working for but felt my place was within the private sector as so much more can be achieved but more importantly so much more can be done to support the individual patient.

I have always had an interest in hearing, and it goes back to when I was very small. When I was two and a half, my Dad was very ill, and my Mum went out to work.  In those days you had neighbours rather than child minders! I was passed over the back fence each morning to Mrs McIntyre.  She was amazing and I loved her very much. She and her husband were both profoundly deaf or what they used to call deaf and dumb.  

I hate this term as she was anything but and one of the most wonderful, caring and clever women I have ever known.  She cared for me until I was around 5 years old and by then I had both spoken language and British Sign Language (BSL). At the age of 5, I would often ‘translate’ for her if she was having difficulty with lipreading.  

To this day it is my biggest regret losing my BSL (I can still understand more than I can sign and can make myself understood with spelling things out). I only ‘lost’ it as I moved away from Scotland when I was 7 and spent the next 21 years in Hong Kong where my Dad was a civil servant.

My Father has been hearing impaired since a diving accident in his 30’s, (diving with an ear infection is not recommended!).  He wears a Widex Moment 440 in the left ear and has now worn hearing aids since I became an Audiologist after two stapedectomies failed.

When I came back to UK, I was a medical PA and then started my nursing course doing my surgical training in ENT. Unfortunately, that came to an abrupt end after a road traffic accident.  This meant that I would have to ‘do’ something else. Call it kismet or destiny but I found a two line advert about training to be an Audiologist in my local Job Centre, I applied, qualified and became fully registered in 1994.  I even remember fitting body worn aids to people, it was so long ago!  Fate had this career in mind for me from the beginning and I haven’t looked back.

“I love what I do. Making people hear again is really rather awesome!”

I have worked for all sizes of high street companies but always wanted to start my own clinic where I could decide how I wanted to serve the people I care for.  

I have invested heavily in the latest, state of the art testing equipment and verification systems for my patients. I have video otoscopy for keeping images on patient files and I have a Tympanometer for measuring pressures, which is not something commonly done in private clinics. 

I am independent of any manufacturer so I can help guide individuals to the best possible solution for their needs and lifestyle. 

I have been a manager of a flagship branch in Harley Street, London, working with ENT surgeons and in small town branches serving rural Scotland, even going to the islands to run clinics. I have in the past been an audiology trainer helping new graduates and existing audiologists with anything from clinical technique and learning to patient centred care training.

I have always had a love of learning and am currently in the last year of my Master’s Degree in Audiology.  Having passed all my modules, I am just researching topics for my thesis. This will be on one of the following subjects, Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, Susacs Syndrome or testing protocols for patients with dementia.

I have additional qualifications and training in Ear Wax Removal using microsuction and a PDip in Pathology of the Ear and ENT Emergencies. I have also been trained by the British Tinnitus Association in tinnitus assessment, care and advice. I continue to study throughout the year to maintain my registration with the HCPC as it is mandated, we do CPD. I own a ridiculously large reference library that keeps growing! I am not safe around a book shop! I read all the ENT journals and follow all the latest research.

Not being content with a large reference library I also collect old reference material and have an extensive collection of antique hearing trumpets and aids going back to 1817. Click here to view our collection of hearing aids.