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Earguru - We hear you

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  • Amrik Singh
  • April 17, 2018 09:31:25 AM

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Is hearing loss getting you down? A few simple steps will help protect your Hearing Health and put the fun back in your life. Know more about hearing aid and how hearing can be taken care of.

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Benefits of Speech Therapy for Stammering

Globally, around 10% of the children stammer, which reduces as they grow up, and only 25% of them suffer from a permanent stammer. Speech therapy for stammering is recommended for its benefits. Checkout the speech therapy exercises The post Benefits of Speech Therapy for Stammering appeared first on Ear Health...

Children at times stop mid-sentence with their mouth open searching for an elusive word. It is perfectly normal if this happens occasionally, but if this happens too often, it could be a sign of stammering or stuttering. Stammering or stuttering is a common speech-related problem among children. Around 10% of the children stammer, which reduces as they grow up, and only 25% of them suffer from a permanent stammer. Parents should be observant, and if they notice that the stammer is not reducing but is increasing, they should consult a Speech therapist or a Speech-Language Pathologist for confirmation and guidance. Speech therapy for stammering is recommended for its benefits.

Benefits of Speech Therapy for Stammering blog feature image

What Is Stammering?

Stammering is a speech disorder affecting fluency or speech communication, as it obstructs the normal flow of speech. Globally, more than 70 million people suffer from stammering or stuttering. Males are at four time’s higher risk than females.

What Are The Symptoms Of Stuttering Or Stammering?

Children suffering from stuttering or stammering display one of the following patterns

  • Repetition

There is an interruption in the speech by repetition or repeating the same sound or word again and again, for example “and…and…and I wanted to know”. Also the repetition of the same syllable as  “C..C..C…Come”.

  • Prolongation

The person suffering from stammering tends to prolong some words; for example, “Ssssssshear ssummer is beautiful.”

  • Stoppages or Blockages

In this case, the person’s mouth and facial muscles form to speak the word, but others do not hear any word or sound.

What Are The Other Symptoms of Stuttering or Stammering?

  • Additional body movements like shifting legs, body, change in posture, clenching of fists and building of muscle tension around the mouth and face as the child tries to speak. The child avoids looking directly while speaking.
  • Change in breathing; the breathing will become irregular. The child will either try to hold his breath or take a deep breath
  • Some children realise and immediately switch words or use another word
  • Twitching of the facial muscles and rapid blinking of eyes is another indicator

What Causes Stammering in Children?

Speech Disorder in Children blog post image
Speech Disorder in Children

According to Medical science, there is no single or one reason. Different reasons and situations can affect people differently as the stammering pattern for all are not the same. Let us explore some of the reasons which can cause stammering in children.

  • Is Stammering Hereditary?

Studies confirm that stammering is hereditary and genetics do play an important role. In most cases, a close family member has a stammering problem.

  • Is Stammering Connected To Delayed Speech Development?

Experts have found a strong link between stammering and other speech related problems in children. Chances of a child stammering are more if he or she also has other speech problems. In this case, it hampers the child’s verbal delivery due to the already delayed speech development. This type of stammer is also known as Developmental Stammering.

  • What Is Neurogenic Stammering?

Neurogenic Stammering means stammering or stuttering caused by defects or problems in the nervous system. The causes are as follows:

  • A stroke or a physical injury to the head affecting the brain
  • A heart attack or a blockage stopping the flow of blood to the head
  • Tumour in the region of the brain
  • Meningitis is also one of the reasons


  • Does Anxiety and Stress Cause Stammering?

At one time, medical science believed that Psychogenic factors or anxiety and stress were the primary cause. Recent studies have shown that they are not the primary cause but do play an important role and is a trigger. This is also known as Psychogenic stammering.

Recent studies have shown that in some cases, the brain processes speech in a slightly different manner than in people with do not stammer.

Though some children may stammer, but their intelligence or intellectual capabilities are not below others in any way compared to those who do not stammer. Their inability to speak fluently makes them self-conscious, withdrawn and shy fearing embarrassment.

At What Age Should You Worry About Stammering in Children?

Children normally stammer from age one to five years. Interruptions in speech can be irregular and may disappear at times. If the child does not stammer for days together and then stammers a little, it could be excitement or a new learning experience. But if on an average a child stammers more than 10%, it is advisable to consult a Speech therapist.

Is There a Cure for Stammering?

There are various methods to treat or cure stammering, however the benefits of Speech therapy for stammering are much higher than the other treatments.

The cures for stammering are:

  1. Speech Therapy for Stammering
  2. CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  3. Using Electronic Feedback Devices
  4. Medication
  5. Parent-Child Interaction

Is Speech Therapy for Stammering Effective?

Speech therapy for stammering in children is the most effective treatment. Once the diagnosis of stammering is confirmed, start regular speech therapy exercises. A speech therapist can cure stammering in children as well as adults.

Share the child’s medical history with the speech therapist to enable them to understand the case better. Once the speech therapist is familiar with the child’s medical history, he or she will start with the speech therapy exercises.

The speech therapy exercises help in strengthening the organs responsible for speech. Breathing exercises are also an important part of the therapy. The exercises help in strengthening the following parts responsible for speech:

  • The tongue
  • Jaws
  • Lips and facial muscles
  • Lungs
  • The windpipe or the trachea

What Are the Speech Therapy Exercises for Stammering?

The speech therapist will customise the exercises as all cases of stammering are not identical. Some of the common exercises are as under:

  • Strengthening Of The Tongue And Jaws

The child should keep the mouth open and roll back the tongue. The tongue should touch the roof of the mouth towards the back as close to the throat as possible.

Now roll the tongue out and stretch it in the front, the tongue should come out of the mouth and try to reach the chin. Exercising daily strengthens the tongue. Keeping the mouth open for the tongue exercises also helps to strengthen the jaw muscles.

  • The Straw Speech Therapy Technique

Drinking through or sucking is a helpful speech therapy exercise. The sucking action keeps the tongue stationed throughout the sucking procedure. This helps in tongue control.

  • The Pause And Speak Speech Therapy Technique

The child should pause after every two to three words in a pre-decided manner. This gives them a better speech control and helps in reducing stammering.

  • Breathing Exercises To Reduce Stammering

Breathing Exercises for Stammering blog post image
Breathing Exercises for Stammering

Breathing exercises are very important. Proper rhythmic breathing technique helps in strengthening the lungs and draw in more oxygen which helps the brain. Use the stomach for deep breathing exercises and not the chest.

Yoga exercises are beneficial for breathing techniques and strengthening the muscles involved.

  • Vowel Pronouncing Technique

The child should pronounce all the vowels from A, E, to U loudly and clearly. This helps to exercise the tongue as well as the facial muscles.

  • Slow Speaking Exercise

Most children stammer as they tend to speak fast. The child should stand in front of the mirror and speak slowly. This helps in better coordination between the tongue and the brain due to the audio-visual feedback received by looking in the mirror.

  • The Reading Exercise Technique

The child should read aloud slowly and pronounce each word in a relaxed atmosphere. It takes away the fear and anxiety of mispronunciation. Continuous practice will improve communication skills.

  • Selection of Words

Some children stammer on particular words, and these words become a trigger for stammering. The speech therapist can help them overcome the fear of using these trigger words, or the child can avoid these words.

  • How Does CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Cure Stammering?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a treatment for many behavioural issues and not only stammering. The therapist counsels the child and changes their approach or behaviour. In the case of stammering CBT helps to lower anxiety and social phobias.

CBT is helpful if the stammer is minor and due to anxiety, stress build-up or anything psychological in nature. It does not help much if it is due to physical injuries.

  • How Do Use of Electronic Feedback Devices Cure Stammering

The Delayed Auditory Feedback device is an electronic device. It consists of a microphone, a set of headphones and the electronic device with controls. The child speaks into the microphone and hears the speech back into his ears through the headphones with a slight delay. The use of electronic DAF or Delayed Auditory Feedback device is based on the theory that if a child speaks along with others or in chorus, it helps in reducing stammer. In this case, the child speaks along with the DAF and not another person. This effect is the choral effect.

  • Do Medicines Help In Reducing Stammering?

There are no medicines formulated to cure stammering, most doctors prescribe anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs. These medicines work along with other therapy methods for curing stammering. Medicines are not a direct treatment or a cure for stammering. These drugs are only useful when stress or anxiety levels are high and are not prescribed throughout the treatment, which may last for a few months.

  • Advantages of Parent-Child Interaction in Reducing Stammering

The first step in therapy starts at home. Parents should change the way they speak to their child. Some simple changes can help the child come out of the shell and not be conscious of the speech disorder.

  • Parents should speak slowly and clearly in a pleasing tone
  • Encourage the child to speak, and parents should listen attentively
  • Make eye contact at all times while talking
  • Do not interrupt or fill in words while the child is talking , give them time to finish speaking
  • Talk and interact as much as possible. Discuss games, happenings at school or friends, stories etc.
  • Maintain a happy and relaxed family atmosphere and parents should not argue in front of the children
  • Do not correct the child or ask them to speak clearly
  • Use small sentences to communicate

What Causes Stammering in Adults?

Stammering in adults, also known as Adult Dysfluency can occur at any age. The primary reasons are:

  • Spastic Dysphonia in Adults

Adults suffering from Spastic Dysphonia have a blockage or an involuntary muscle movement of the larynx or the voice box. Spastic Dysphonia can also be caused by an injury to the larynx or a severe cold. This can also happen in the middle ages.

  • Neurogenic Stammering in Adults

Similar to the children, neurogenic stammering can happen in adults as well, most of the reasons are common.

  • A stroke or a physical injury to the head affecting the brain
  • A heart attack or a blockage stopping the flow of blood to the head
  • Tumour in the region of the brain
  • Diseases such as Parkinson’s


  • Psychogenic Stammering In Adults

Working adults too suffer from psychogenic stammering. The high levels of work stress and inability to cope with other demands in real life can be a trigger in adults.

Can Adults Benefit From Speech Therapy?

Speech Therapy for Adults blog post image
Speech Therapy for Adults

Elders and adults also benefit from speech therapy. In the case of adults, the treatment focuses on the underlying psychological reasons. Treating the underlying issues is important unless the stammer is due to a physical accident. Adults should not hesitate to start treatment as the stammer will affect their professional growth. Withdrawing from active social life due to stammer can result in depression.

Adults can also join self-help groups on popular social media platforms. Support groups are very helpful as the group members discuss practical experiences and help each other.

There is no miracle cure for stammering. Though all the above suggested therapies help, the benefits of speech therapy for stammering are universally proven. Teletherapy or Online Speech therapy for stammering is also possible within the comforts on one’s house.

The post Benefits of Speech Therapy for Stammering appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

Speech Therapy for Autism

As per the 2018 data released by WHO on Autism, 1 in every 160 children has Autism spectrum disorder. Since the major issue is with speech or verbal and non-verbal communication skills, Speech therapy for autism is highly recommended. The post Speech Therapy for Autism appeared first on Ear Health...

Before we suggest Speech therapy for Autism, we should understand what is Autism? A little understanding of this disorder can help us understand the child’s behaviour and constructively interact with the child. As per the 2018 data released by WHO on Autism, 1 in every 160 children has Autism spectrum disorder. Data from other reputed institutes show that boys have four times higher chances of Autism than girls. It is also observed that 33% of the children who have Autism are non-verbal. Since the primary issue is with speech or verbal and non-verbal communication skills, Speech therapy for Autism is highly recommended.

Speech Therapy for Autism blog feature image

What Is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly known as Autism, is a neurological developmental disability. It’s a complex condition which affects the child’s communication skills, lack of concentration, limits their interests, and resists change and displays repetitive behaviour.  The symptoms of this developmental disorder show up from a few months after birth to the age of 3.

What Are The Symptoms Of Autism?

Every child with Autism is unique. They do not display common symptoms or behaviour. Some children may have only communication disability while some may have also had problems in motor skills like walking or writing.

Parents should be alert and should seek professional help if they notice the following signs. Some babies show symptoms of Autism as early as 1 to 3 months, but mostly the signs are prominent by the age of 3 years.

Given below are the commonly observed behavioural signs of Autism

Signs of Autism in Babies before the Age of 6 Months

  • Very limited or total lack of eye contact with the mother
  • Does not smile much, occasional expression of joy

Signs of Autism in Babies before the Age of 12 Months

  • Not making baby sounds or babbling on its own
  • Does not imitate baby sounds made by parents and others
  • No aggressive hand movements like pointing, grabbing, reaching out or waving
  • Very rarely responds to name

Signs of Autism in Babies before the Age of 24 Months

  • Picks up very few words for their age
  • Rarely repeats words after the parents
  • Does not use two words at a time

General Symptoms of Autism at Higher Age

  • Difficulty in communication skills like eye contact while conversing
  • Repeating words others are saying
  • A Problem in understanding conversation
  • Limited use of language or vocabulary
  • Throwing tantrums or yelling
  • Will not play with others and share toys
  • Interact and develop closeness with the same friends
  • Repetitive activities like playing with the same toy, eating the same food or watching the same TV show
  • Has limited interests and likes
  • Difficulty in speech, reading or writing skills

What Are The Causes of Autism?

  • Hereditary is one of the primary reasons for Autism. The child inherits it from one of the parents or any close relative in the family.
  • Genetic disorders or mutation is also a major cause of Autism. Fragile X syndrome is an inherited disease which results in learning disabilities.
  • Viral infections at birth are also responsible for Autism
  • Preterm babies carry a higher risk of Autism. (Only in extreme cases)
  • Parents age is also one of the reasons, children of older parents are at a higher risk of Autism
  • Environmental pollution, consuming food or water containing heavy metals like lead and mercury

Does Speech Therapy Work For Autism?

Speech therapy for Autism is the preferred therapy. As mentioned above, 33%of the children who have Autism are non-verbal, and almost all children with Autism have communication issues. Even if the child is verbal, speech therapy for Autism is necessary as they are unable to use words in proper communication. Non-verbal children can learn sign language or alternate means of communication.

Is Speech Therapy For Autism At Home Possible?

If your child is reluctant to attend a particular special school or visit the speech therapist clinic, it is advisable to call the speech therapist home. This approach is preferable to a delay or neglect in the starting of therapy. At times a particular special school or the therapist is far, and travelling might be an issue. In this case, parents can opt for speech therapy at home or teletherapy. The speech therapist can conduct the sessions remotely with the help of internet. All children who have Autism are not the same; the therapy or exercises are specifically selected after examining the child’s abilities. It is advisable to consult the therapist, whether teletherapy or remote speech therapy is advisable.

Playing with an Autistic Child blog image

How Can I Do Speech Therapy for Autism At Home?

The speech therapist may not conduct therapy sessions daily. Parents should learn about simple speech therapy exercises as they are with the child throughout.

Many special schools and therapists compulsorily involve parents during the therapy sessions as the parents interact with the child in day to day situations which the therapist might not come across. Nobody knows the child better than the parents. In fact, the parents are the child’s first teacher.

It is easy for them to practice simple speech therapy activities with the child. The activities will help the child to improve faster rather than depending totally on the few sessions conducted by the therapist.

What are the Speech Therapy Activities for Autism At Home?

Parents should remember that every autistic child is different or unique. Exercises recommended for one child cannot be blindly used for the other autistic children unless the speech therapist particularly approves the activities.

  • The first step in home therapy should be to make the autistic child comfortable. Establish a functional relationship, and communication should not be awkward. The child should be able to convey his essential needs. The child should not be hesitant in asking for food or water or other basic communication.
  • Since verbal communication is not very fluent, parents should encourage play therapy. Note the toys the child likes and make games or situations around the toys to involve the child. Leaving the child alone with the toys is not enough; parents have to come down to the child’s level and enjoy playing with the toys as much as the child does.

Play therapy encourages the child to think, create situations which force the child to think and act. If the child is playing with a toy car, block the path of the toy car to make the child think and go around the block.

  • It is very common for the child to get addicted to the screen. Reduce TV and computer screen time to minimal unless the child is playing an interactive game. Specially designed Interactive games as per the child’s age are acceptable.
  • Parents should use picture playbooks compared to PCs and laptops. Pictures make great tools to help the child learn
  • Encourage communication by imitating your child. The child will enjoy it and make more sounds. This will help the child to vocalise. Make the right sounds and encourage the child to imitate. While playing with a toy car, make sounds of a car moving.

  • Leave gaps in your talk. Encourage the child to fill the gaps with the right sound or the right word
  • For children who are non-verbal, use expressions as well as body language. Make more use of eyes, facial expressions as well as hand gestures to convey the message. Encourage the child to do the same. Parents can make use of assistive learning devices like picture cards and AAC or Augmentated and Alternative Communication
  • As the child grows, teach the child sign language. Parents should also learn sign language so they can help the child learn. Encourage the child to use sign language in everyday situations. This will add to the teachings of the speech therapist. Use simple single or two-word phrases and also convey the same through sign language until the child identifies the word to the hand sign. Reward the child once he uses the right sign.
  • An autistic child is not socially ready to meet people or to make friends. You have to teach the child the basic social norms like how to say hello to a person they are meeting for the first time. How to introduce himself, how to and how far they should stand from the person. Parents can use role-play at home to teach the child, one of the parents can play the role of a guest.
  • Make use of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA). It is widely used in therapy for Autism. Though parents are not trained in Applied Behavioural Analysis, but they can use the basic principles and apply them in their situations. The analysis allows parents to set simple task with goals and reward the child if the task is successfully completed.

Is Autism Curable?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Autism. It is best to detect early and start therapy. Besides speech therapy, an autistic child may also require some help from the following therapists.

  • Physiotherapist
  • Occupational therapist

The post Speech Therapy for Autism appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

Noise: How Much Is Too Much?

The post Noise: How Much Is Too Much? appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

The health of your hearing and preventing hearing loss often depends on how much you protect your hearing from loud environments. The problem is it’s not always easy to know when you’re in an area that has too much noise. If you don’t know when something is too loud you can’t do anything to appropriately protect your hearing.

Prolonged exposure to noisy environments is one of the biggest cause of hearing loss, so being proactive about keeping your hearing safe is important. There are some things you can do to protect your hearing, like leaving a noisy environment as soon as possible. You can also keep simple daily sounds in mind as ways to gauge your noise level.

It’s understandable to wonder about when a noise or environment is too loud. Sometimes you can even adjust to volume levels that are harmful to your hearing because they’re just part of your everyday life. (Think of a noisy city with lots of traffic, for example.)

If you are already experiencing hearing loss and need to buy a hearing aid, protecting your ears can be even more important. You just need to be aware of when the noise going on around you is potentially too much noise. Awareness and prevention are key steps in keeping your hearing health in the forefront of your mind.

How Much Noise Is Too Much?

Sound is measured in decibels which is often too abstract to measure out in your daily life. There are apps you can use on your mobile device to measure decibels but even that isn’t always a handy way to measure what’s going on around  you. Some apps aren’t reliable and sometimes there just isn’t always a handy way to pull out your phone and start running an app.

It’s easier to use some normal sounds you’re used to, to gauge what’s going on and when it’s time to protect your hearing. Most professionals agree that anything below around 70 decibels is safe for your hearing. It’s fairly easy to figure out what 70 decibels would be if you keep in mind that an average conversation with another person is about 60 decibels.

An average conversation would mean no one is yelling or whispering. There’s no noise to talk over and everyone involved in the conversation is easily heard. If anyone has to raise the volume of their voice you’re now getting closer to the 70-decibel area. Just keep in mind an average conversation as a good rule of thumb for how to measure the sounds around you.

For a way to realize what’s possibly damaging to your hearing think about headphones on a max setting plugged into a phone or other device. At max volume, stock headphones and a phone is around 100 decibels. This is far above the 70-decibel limit and it’s a common everyday example you can use to realize when your hearing is at risk.

If you keep in mind a normal level of noise (talking) and noise that’s too loud (headphones at a max volume setting) that gives you a range of acceptable noise that’s easily referenced. You can use these references to start thinking about the noises you hear daily and if you need to do more to protect your hearing.

Using general frames of reference like these can help you take steps to keep your hearing health safer than it might be right now. Something like a TV at a loud setting might be a noise you’re used to but it could also be too loud to listen to for a long period. Paying a little extra attention could help you prevent hearing loss or further hearing damage.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Hearing?

There are some things you can do to make sure your hearing is protected. Remember, you have a frame of reference now to help you figure out when you need to take extra precautions. You’re already aware that hearing damage, for the most part, occurs over time. It’s not just the level of noise but how long you’re exposed to it that matters.

If you start realizing your daily life has some potentially harmful noise levels then it’s time to take steps to reduce your risk of hearing damage. If the noise level that’s too loud is something unavoidable, like a work environment, you can use earplugs or protective covers to keep your hearing safe. It may not be comfortable but it will make a big difference.

If the noises you’re experiencing are due to an environment you can control or leave, take steps to make adjustments. Leave the area as soon as possible or turn down a TV that’s too loud. Whatever adjustments you can reasonably make to protect your hearing are important adjustments to make.

Again, it’s not only the volume itself that’s an issue but the length of time you’re exposed to that noise level. It’s too important to forget that fact. Just because you’re in a noisy environment every day doesn’t mean all is lost. Protecting your hearing from now on can prevent hearing loss or further damage of you are already experiencing some hearing loss.

You can also reduce the volume on any personal electronic devices you may be using. Keep in mind that example you’ve already learned about. If you’re listening to something using headphones the volume should be reduced significantly to keep your hearing safe. If you need to increase the volume consistently it’s time to talk to your doctor and have your hearing tested.

Why Is Protecting Your Hearing So Important?

The most immediate and pressing reason to protect your hearing is to prevent experiencing potential hearing loss. There are a lot of complications that come with hearing loss that can affect all aspects of your daily life. Reducing your risks of damaging your hearing is a key step to preventing as much damage as possible.

There are also other health benefits associated with making your hearing health a priority. Studies have linked prolonged exposure to loud noises to higher risks of having hypertension and high cholesterol. Doctors have related these higher risks to the stress your body is experiencing while exposed to loud noise consistently.

As you go about your day to day life, keeping the things you’ve read here in mind can help you make better decisions about your hearing health. Remember the safe volume range you’ve learned about and use it as a guide for when to take extra steps to protect your hearing. It’s not always the most exciting part of your day but it is a routine that will result in significant health benefits.

If you’re already experiencing signs of hearing loss like being unable to hear normal conversations or needing to have the TV at an increasingly louder volume, it’s time to head to the doctor. Early detection of hearing loss can help you take steps to prevent further and more devastating hearing loss in the future.

No one wants to lose their hearing entirely. The steps you can take to keep your hearing safe are ones that will start to feel more natural after you make them a habit. Once you’ve changed a few things you’ll be glad you made your hearing health a priority. Your body and your ears will both thank you for making them a top priority in your life.

The post Noise: How Much Is Too Much? appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

The post Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

Getting your hearing checked and being in communication with your hearing health professional on a regular basis is part of ensuring your overall health and well-being. If you find yourself asking friends and family to repeat themselves many times a day—even though the results of your last hearing exam were good—you may have a hidden hearing impairment.

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss Blog feature image

Scientists have done great work in understanding what hidden hearing loss is and its causes since its initial description less than six years ago. Researchers at the University of Michigan reported a new, unexpected cause for the auditory neuropathy, a step in the direction of treating it, in the publication Nature Communications.

“If people can have hidden hearing loss for different reasons, having the ability to make the right diagnosis of the pathogenesis will be critical,” says author Gabriel Corfas, Ph.D., director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute at Michigan Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

The Research

Corfas published the study with co-author Guoqiang Wan, now with Nanjing University in China, and together they used mice to discover that disruption in the Schwann cells responsible for making myelin, which insulates the neuronal axons in the ear, leads to hidden hearing loss. Therefore, hidden hearing loss could be responsible for auditory deficits present in acute demyelinating disorders like Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can be brought on by Zika virus.

To model Guillain-Barré syndrome, Corfas and Wan induced loss of myelin in the auditory nerve of mice through the use of genetic tools. Though the myelin regenerated in a few weeks’ time, the mice developed a permanent hidden hearing loss and damage to a nerve structure called the heminode remained.

The synapses connecting hair cells with the neurons of the inner ear are lost over time when the ear is exposed to prolonged loud noise. It has previously been shown that the loss of these synapses is a mechanism that can lead to hidden hearing loss.

Only a few of the synapses are needed to identify sounds in the quiet testing room of an audiologist. On a busy street, however, the ear must activate specific synapses to sift through environmental sounds. If the synapses are not all present and working, it can be hard to discern noise from speech. This is hidden hearing impairment, Corfas says.

“Exposure to noise is increasing in our society, and children are exposing themselves to high levels of noise very early in life,” he adds. “It’s clear that being exposed to high levels of sound might contribute to increases in hidden hearing loss.”

The deficiency in Schwann cells, the newly identified cause, could occur in people who are already living with noise exposure-driven hidden hearing loss. “Both forms of hidden hearing loss, noise exposure and loss of myelin, can occur in the same individual for an additive effect,” Corfas says.

Corfas’ group has previously succeeded in regenerating the synapses in mice with hidden hearing loss, which, in turn, offers the possibility of treatment. During this work, Corfas began to investigate other cells in the ear, which led to uncovering the new mechanism.

Difficulties with Communication

 If you find that you have to ask people to repeat themselves often, even after having your hearing examined and receiving good results, ask your audiologist if you could be experiencing a hidden hearing loss.

Unfortunately, no cure yet exists for hidden hearing loss. As scientists and researchers become more familiar with the condition, however, they hope to develop medication to treat it. In the meantime, researchers like Corfas and Wen are navigating this new terrain with inspiring results.

“Our findings should influence the way hidden hearing loss is diagnosed and drive the future of clinical trials searching for a treatment,” Corfas says. “The first step is to know whether a person’s hidden hearing loss is due to synapse loss or myelin/heminode damage.”

Treatment for Hearing Loss

The good news: hearing loss is a treatable condition. With the use of hearing aids, people with hearing loss are reconnected to their loved ones, their favorite activities, and their community. Hearing aids help with speech recognition and allow wearers to process and focus on the sounds they want to hear in their environment.

Check with your hearing health care professional to see if you should be tested for hidden hearing loss. As research and technology are fast-progressing in the world of hearing health, treatments could be available sooner than you think.

About the Author

Stephen Yontz is Founder and President of FitHearing – a new-patient referral service for local practices with a focus on maintaining and valuing professional Audiology and hearing care, while serving an emerging market for price-shopping, informed hearing aid consumers. He is Co-Owner and Director of Operations for an Audiology practice in Nashville, TN, and shortly after assuming this role, he recognized a need for the support of those patients that are not willing to pay the “seemingly” high price for traditional hearing care – those that inevitably seek alternative solutions that do not meet the basic needs of a person suffering from hearing loss.

The post Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

How Hearing Loss Can Be Treated

In most of the cases Hearing loss is not reversible. In some cases it is reversible provided the persons consults an ENT Doctor in time. Know about the cases where Hearing loss can be treated and reversed The post How Hearing Loss Can Be Treated appeared first on Ear Health...

Hearing Loss is very common, the ever-increasing noise pollution has affected people as young as 30 to 40 years of age. Normal Hearing loss occurs as you age, around one-third of the people in India who are between the ages of 60-70 have some problem of hearing loss. For people older than 70, the number is much more. Broadly there are 3 types of Hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss
Please Speak loudly. cannot hear, hearing loss, human ear
Please Speak loudly

The problem with Sensorineural Hearing Loss and to some extent, Mixed hearing loss is that you cannot reverse it. However, Conductive Hearing Loss is reversible if one seeks medical advice in time. After proper diagnosis, the Doctor will recommend hearing loss surgery. It is advisable to undergo the surgical procedure to overcome the hearing problem and improve your hearing.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hearing Loss?

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss might include:

  • Difficulty In Understanding Words, When There Is Noise Or In A Crowd

This is the first sign of hearing loss, the start is very gradual. It may not be very obvious in a one to one conversation but is very obvious in a conversation in a crowded place like a restaurant or at a party.

  • Asking Others To Speak Slowly, Loudly And Clearly

People with hearing loss feel that others are not speaking clearly. They generally request others to repeat and speak clearly.

  • Withdrawal From Conversations

Once the person realizes that having a conversation is difficult, they tend to withdraw from conversations to avoid embarrassment. This is very dangerous. We have to ensure that our parents and elders should attend to their hearing loss. Withdrawing from active life leads to depression and in some cases also leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Avoidance Of Social Settings

The next step after withdrawing from conversations is to stop attending social functions. It gets all the more difficult to pick up a conversation in a noisy surrounding. One should avoid this situation at all costs.

  • Need To Turn Up The Volume Of The Television

This is another important indicator. Other people in the house should observe that the volume is louder than normal. The person with hearing loss will not realize.

  • Muffling Of Speech

People with hearing loss have low speech discrimination, though they can hear, the words are not very clear.

What Are The Causes Of Hearing Loss?

Causes of hearing loss can include:

  • Damage To The Inner Ear

Exposure to loud noises and ageing can lead to hearing loss. Our nerves become weak and cannot carry the sound signal efficiently.  Our Inner ear has thousands of small and delicate hair cells. These hair cells die due to damage caused by loud sounds and some diseases. These hair cells convert the sound energy to electric pulses which reach the brain. When the nerve and cells get damaged electric signals are not transmitted effectively as they should and hearing loss will occur.

  • The Buildup Of Earwax

Earwax can block the ear canal and it can prevent the conduction of sound waves. Earwax removal can help to restore the hearing.

  • Ear Infection In The Outer Ear

If there is an infection, it can cause hearing loss. The infection can cause permanent damage if it is not treated in time. Visit your ENT Doctor and take treatment. Self-treatment by buying over the counter medicines is dangerous.

  • Ruptured Eardrum

Loud noises, sudden changes in the pressure, poking your eardrum with sharp metallic instruments can rupture the eardrum. Protect your ears from loud explosions and deep water swimming as it can rupture the eardrum.

Prevention Of Hearing Loss

The following steps can help you to prevent hearing loss:

  • Protect your Ears: The duration and intensity of the exposure to the noise can limit the hearing loss. This will be the best protection for hearing loss. In the workplace, Soft silicone earplugs can help to protect your ears from damaging noise.
  • Get your Hearing Tested: You should consider a regular hearing test if you work in a noisy environment. If your report indicates a slight hearing loss, consult a Hearing professional and take some steps to prevent further loss.

Hearing Loss Diagnosis

Ear testing by an Audiologist
Ear testing by an Audiologist

Tests to diagnose hearing loss can include:

  • Physical Examination: Your doctor will look in your ear for the possible causes of hearing loss like earwax or inflammation due to an infection. The doctor will also look for any structural causes of hearing loss.
  • Screening Tests: The doctor may use the whisper test, asking you to cover one ear at a time to see how well you can hear spoken words.
  • App-based Hearing Test: There are various mobile apps available which would help in the hearing test. You can use these apps by yourself to check your hearing problem. However, this type of test is more of a screening process. An Audiometry is a must for diagnostic testing.
  • Audiometry Tests: During these tests which are specifically conducted by an Audiologist. You have to wear headphones in a soundproof room. Sounds of different frequencies produced by the testing equipment (Audiometer) reach the ears. Each sound produced starts from faint and keeps getting louder. This is to find the quietest sound you can hear.

Hearing Loss Treatment

If you are suffering from hearing problems, then treatment is available. The treatment will depend on the cause of the problem and the severity. The treatment options include:

  • Removing wax blockage: Earwax blockage is a reversible cause of hearing loss. The doctor can remove the earwax using the suction or with the help of a small tool with a loop in the end.
  • Surgical procedures: Some types of hearing loss can be treated with the help of surgery, which includes abnormalities of the eardrum. If you have had repeated infections with persistent fluid build-up, the doctor may include small tubes which help to drain your ear.
  • Hearing Aids: If your hearing loss is due to damage in the inner ear then hearing aid can be helpful. An audiologist will tell you about the benefits and Types of Hearing Aids. Open fit aids are currently most popular due to the fit and the features that they offered.
  • Cochlear implants: If your hearing loss is severe and hearing aids are not helping you, then you can go for Cochlear Implants. Unlike a hearing aid that amplifies sounds and directs it to your ear canal. A cochlear implant bypasses the damaged parts of the middle ear and inner ear and it directly stimulates the hair cells in the Cochlea. This provides signals to the Auditory nerve. An ENT specialist will do this task with no problem at all.

You should consult your doctor as soon as possible. If you will delay the surgery, then it can lead to a permanent problem for you. It could lead to permanent damage to your ear leading to disability and problems in day to day life. You should go and consult an ENT doctor quickly without wasting any time.

The post How Hearing Loss Can Be Treated appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

Teletherapy – 18 Advantages of Speech Therapy at Home

The spread of the internet and advancement in technology has opened a new avenue in medical treatment known as Telemedicine or Teletherapy. Speech Therapy in the comforts of the Child's home has many advantages over regular visits to the Clinic and special schools. The post Teletherapy – 18 Advantages of Speech Therapy at Home appeared first on Ear Health...

The spread of the internet has greatly improved communication. Distance is no more a deciding factor in keeping relations alive.  People prefer video calls over voice calls for better interaction. The advancement in technology has opened a new avenue in medical treatment known as Telemedicine. Telemedicine and Teletherapy is basically medical consultation or therapy using the internet. You can connect with your Doctor or Therapist over a video call and discuss your case and undergo therapy as you would have done in person. Let us find out if Teletherapy or online Speech Therapy is beneficial at home.

Teletherapy 18 advantages feature image of article

What is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy is the use of telecommunication technology to connect the therapist with the patient. In the case of Speech Therapy, the therapist can conduct a proper therapy session. Both the therapist and the patient need a computer with a webcam and a good internet signal. With Teletherapy the distance between the patient and the therapist is immaterial. It could be a few kilometres or a few thousand kilometres.

What Are The Advantages Of Teletherapy or Online Speech Therapy?

The volume of searches on Google for Speech Therapy near me or Speech Therapy Centre near me and Speech Therapy at home indicate that people are interested in a Speech Therapist close by. Teletherapy or Online Speech Therapy has many other advantages as given below.

1. Can We Take Appointments Online for Teletherapy?

Yes, we can certainly connect to the Speech Therapist or their office online. No sitting for hours in the clinic waiting room. It is difficult if the child becomes impatient and refuses to cooperate. Small children are generally scared of new places as well as Doctors and Therapists in white coats. Online consultation also eliminates the chances of forgetting old case papers or reports at home. This needs another appointment and visit.

2. Does Online Speech Therapy Reduce Travel Expenses?

Regular physical visits to the clinic of the therapist can be expensive. In most cases the child cannot use public transport, one has to drive down or use a taxi. Depending on the case and severity of the problem, the Speech Therapist may need to conduct more than one session a week. Over a period of time, petrol and taxi bills can be substantial. Teletherapy or Online Speech Therapy can cut these costs totally.

3. Can Online Speech Therapy Prevent Social Stigma?

Many parents do not want others to know that their child is undergoing Speech Therapy. Parents prefer not to be open about it due to the social stigma and the fear of their child getting bullied by their friends. Regular travelling to the clinic and back will not keep this fact hidden.

4. How Does Anonymity Help Online Speech Therapy?

People find the internet less threatening. Parents open up about their children’s issues and share more details compared to a face to face meeting. Communicating over the internet gives a feeling of anonymity, protection and comfort. This is one reason why people end up giving their personal details to strangers on Social Apps.

5. How Does Online Speech Therapy Increase Consistency And Regularity?

Dropping children to the Speech Therapist and picking them up is a time-consuming task. Working parents divide the responsibilities among themselves. At times office meetings and commitments do not allow them time to drop and pick up the child. In these circumstances, the child misses the therapy session.

Reasons like extreme weather conditions, small ailments like cold and cough, vehicle breakdown can result in cancellation of Speech Therapy sessions. Online Speech Therapy eliminates absenteeism in all the above cases.

6. How Can Online Speech Therapy Keep The Child from Falling Sick?

Children with a delayed speech disorder may have other health issues. Children with low immunity are prone to infections. These children are best kept isolated from others so they do not fall sick repeatedly. Online Speech Therapy eliminates the chance of catching infections. A weak child may get tired travelling to and fro to the clinic or special school every day. Tiredness will reduce the attention of the child.

7. How Does Online Therapy Maintain Good Health?

Mothers provide food and snacks to the child travelling to the Speech Therapy clinic or special school. It is not possible to carry a full hot meal. The child has to eat cold food which is not good for their health. With Teletherapy the child can have freshly cooked hot food within the comforts of the house.

8. Can Online Speech Therapy Result in More Sessions?

Online Speech Therapy totally eliminates travel time and transport worries. The child and the parent do not suffer from travel fatigue and exhaustion. This additional time can be best used to schedule more sessions. The advantage of flexible timings helps in accommodating a higher number of sessions. Speech Therapy Sessions can be conveniently scheduled on weekends, holidays and late evenings as per the availability of the Speech Therapist. More Speech Therapy sessions will result in improved results.

9. Will Teletherapy Gives Us A Wider Choice Of Speech Therapists?

In the case of Teletherapy, one does not have to depend on the locally available Speech Therapist. You have heard of a Speech Therapist who is magical with children, but have not approached as her clinic is far away. With Teletherapy, you can approach the therapist of your choice. Distance is not important for Online Speech Therapy. Give your child the best possible therapy.

10. Is Remote Location A Disadvantage for Speech Therapy?

Teletherapy or Speech Therapy diagram
How Teletherapy works

You are staying away from the city in a small town. There are no Speech Therapists close by or the only one has no free time slots to offer. The neglect and delay in starting therapy are unfair to your child. With Online Speech Therapy, your remote location is as good as the location of the person in the City. You can connect to the Therapist in the City, all you need to ensure is a good internet signal. Signal strength should not be a worry as telecom companies have penetrated the remotest of areas.

11. Can Online Speech Therapy Show Better Results?

In selected cases, Teletherapy can show better results. Some children are very shy and introverts. These timid children do not interact well with the Speech Therapist or other students in person. In these cases, the psychological comfort of the house and the presence of the parents will result in better performance.

12. Is Online Speech Therapy Advisable For Restless & Attention Deficit Children?

Another advantage of Teletherapy is that there are fewer distractions. The child will not concentrate if easily distracted by other students. The child is generally attracted to the screen and the headphones. In the absence of distractions, the child’s progress is better.

13. Does Teletherapy Offer More Resources?

The Speech Therapist has access to the best teaching resources from all over the world. The internet offers more resource material compared to what a Therapist can provide at the clinic. Selection of teaching resources can be on the basis of likes and preference of the student. This enables increased interest and participation from the student. All the therapist has to do is to use or buy the resource material offered by others in the field. More resource material helps the child to progress.

14. Does Teletherapy Make Children Tech Savvy?

Children are good learners. Their ability to grasp new technology is faster than grownups. Small kids become good video gamers and can operate new gadgets effortlessly. Exposing children to gadgets like a PC, iPad or a tablet will help in their overall development. Exposing them to online games increases their mental and physical agility as well as logical reasoning.

15. Can Online Speech Therapy Help In Language Preferences?

There are a number of languages and dialects spoken all over the world. People migrate from one Country to another to work or for a better life. Children of migrants requiring Speech Therapy may not be comfortable with the foreign language. As the spoken language at home is the native tongue. Teletherapy can help in connecting to Speech Therapists in their native Country for better results.

This is very much relevant in Countries where the immigrant population is high. Or in Countries like India where language and dialects change from one State to another.

16. Does Family Participation Help In Faster Improvement In The Child?

Family Participating in Child's Teletherapy Session image
Family Participating in Child’s Teletherapy Session

The Speech Therapist devotes a few hours to the child at the clinic or at the School. The child spends the majority of the time in the company of the parents. Most Speech Therapists involve the parents in the therapy. Parents should continue Speech Therapy exercises at home. This brings about faster improvement in the child.

During the Online Speech Therapy session, all the family members can take part in the session. The learnings from therapy will empower the family as they will be well informed and can help the child overcome the abnormalities.

17. Does Online Speech Therapy Define Goals Better?

With the participation of the parents, the goals become more defined. The parents and the family members can see the improvement for themselves. Speech Therapists regularly hear parents say that the child talks in the clinic or special school but does not talk at home. At home, the parents can feel the joy of seeing their children talk and converse with the family members.

18. Can Teletherapy Help Also The Elderly?

Speech Therapy is not only for children. Many elderly people also undergo Speech Therapy. The Speech Therapists is also an expert in handling issues related to swallowing of food or swallowing disorders. Swallowing disorder is also known as Dysphagia. A paralytic stroke or an accident which affects the muscles of the face prevents the person from chewing and swallowing food. We do come across paralytic patients who need help to feed.

Online Speech Therapy is ideal for patients recovering from paralysis. These patients are unable to travel and need a nurse or an assistant to move around. Such patients can greatly benefit from Teletherapy as it reduces travel inconvenience.

Do I Need To Buy Expensive Software For Teletherapy?

One does not need to buy any software, the Teletherapy software runs through the browser. All you need is the right browser, your Speech Therapist will advise which one you should use depending on the therapy platform.  Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox are some of the common ones.

Which Equipment Do I Need To Start Teletherapy For My Child?

Equipment needed for Teletherapy image of PC monitor with headphones and webcam
Equipment needed for Teletherapy

One does not need any sophisticated or high tech equipment to start Teletherapy lessons. These days most homes have all the equipment needed. You will need the following equipment.

  • A Personal Computer

You will need a PC. It can be a Desktop Computer, a laptop or a tablet. Ideally one should prefer a Desktop or a laptop as the larger screen size is advisable. The PC should have a new version of the browser. Please check the minimum operating system requirements with your Speech Therapist.

  • A Webcam

A webcam or a web camera is necessary. The web camera enables the Therapist to see the person who is undergoing Speech Therapy. This is as good as the Speech Therapist seeing you in person.

Normally a laptop has a built-in webcam, you can go to the settings and activate it. In case you have a desktop, you should buy an external webcam. A webcam sits on top of the monitor, it is flexible and you should rotate it to focus on the person.

  • Headphones

You need a good pair of comfortable over the ears headphones. Though most PC’s come with a pair of speakers, it is preferable to have headphones. Do not select the “in the ear” types or earbuds, buy an “over the ears” type. Over the ear, types are comfortable for long sessions.

Headphones to be used for Teletherapy image
Headphones for Teletherapy, always use Over the Ears Headphones
  • Internet Connection

A good internet connection is necessary. Good internet speed and signal strength offer live streaming without lag or interruption. Please consult the Speech Therapist on the data speed requirements. The speed requirement will depend on the Teletherapy platform used. Approach your internet provider for a higher data speed package if the current speed is low.

What Other Factors Should I Keep In Mind For Teletherapy?

With the basic technical requirements taken care of, we should look into the following factors as well.

  • Comfortable Seating Arrangement

A comfortable chair is very important as the session normally lasts about an hour. If the child is not comfortable, he or she will be fidgety and will not concentrate on the session.

  • Table Height

The table with the laptop or the monitor should be of the right height. The person undergoing Speech Therapy should have a straight view of the screen. Having to look at the screen from an uncomfortable angle for a long period can result in neck pain.

  • Location of the Computer

Please ensure that the room window if any should be behind the Computer. If the window is behind the person, the daylight glare will not allow the webcam to capture the persons face. The Speech Therapist at the other end will not get a clear view of the facial features. The same rule applies for bright lights in the room. The lights should light up the persons face and not point at the webcam.

Teletherapy is a win-win situation for the therapist and the patient. Over a period of time more Online Speech Therapy sessions will be preferred. The advantages of Speech Therapy at home are more than regular visits to the clinic.

However, there will be some cases which require a visit to the clinic and are not conducted online.

Want to know more about Teletherapy? Talk to a senior Speech Therapist.

Mention your contact details in the comments section below or visit the Helpline. You will receive a call from the Speech Therapist.

Note: Your contact details will not be made public.

The post Teletherapy – 18 Advantages of Speech Therapy at Home appeared first on Ear Health Blog-EarGuru.

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