What is Vertigo?

Vertigo and dizziness treatment in Portland OR Vertigo is a form of dizziness characterized by the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning, despite the lack of any actual movement. This sensation is brought on by disturbances in the inner ear or the brain.

Types of Vertigo

Peripheral Vertigo

Peripheral vertigo is associated with problems in the inner ear.

The vestibular system sends signals to the brain about the position of the head in relation to movement, enabling us to keep our balance and maintain equilibrium.

When these signals are disrupted, vertigo results. This is often caused by inflammation related to a viral infection.

Other causes of peripheral vertigo include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which occurs when tiny pieces of calcium break off and float in the tube of the inner ear, sending confusing messages to the brain, and Meniere’s disease, which involves excess pressure of the fluid in the inner ear.

Central Vertigo

Central vertigo occurs when there is a problem in the brain, usually affecting the brainstem or the cerebellum.

These parts of the brain are responsible for interactions between the visual and balance systems; any disturbance can lead to vertigo.

The most common cause of central vertigo is a migraine headache. Other less common conditions that can trigger central vertigo include stroke, tumors, acoustic neuroma, multiple sclerosis, alcohol and certain drugs.

Symptoms of Vertigo

Technically speaking, vertigo is a symptom itself. It’s characterized by the sensation that you or the room is moving or spinning. This may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Difficulty focusing or moving the eyes
  • Double vision
  • Feeling of fullness in the ear

Treatments for Vertigo

If you’re suffering from vertigo, your Portland doctor will give you a thorough physical examination and may order a CT scan or MRI.

Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of vertigo. Some forms disappear without treatment. BPPV, the most common type of vertigo, responds well to head maneuvers, while other types are successfully treated with medication. When the condition persists, physical therapy can help.

If you are tired of living with vertigo, now is the time to do something about it. Contact your local Portland ENT physician to schedule an appointment today.

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May Was Better Hearing & Speech Month

May is better hearing speech month How is it already June? With May gone in a flash, you may have missed Better Hearing & Speech Month. This month-long campaign is designed to raise awareness for hearing loss and speech problems. It was originally created in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Then, in 1986 President Reagan designated May as the official month to heighten public awareness about hearing loss and speech disorders. The goal of Better Hearing & Speech Month is to encourage people to take action if they believe there might be a problem with their hearing or speech. While last month may be over, there is no time like the present to learn about hearing loss.

Is Hearing Loss Common?

One out of three adults 65 years and older experiences some degree of hearing loss. By the age of 75, that number jumps to one out of two. Older adults are not the only ones affected by hearing loss. Children and young adults are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, especially with the increase of personal music devices and earbud-style headphones. Other factors that contribute to hearing loss include ear infections, impacted earwax and ototoxic medications.

Can You Prevent Hearing Loss?

Visiting your Portland audiologist for a hearing exam is a good start. The earlier hearing loss is discovered the more treatment options are available. Untreated hearing loss can lead to debilitating social and emotional issues including:
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive impairment
Children should also have hearing exams, as hearing is important to a child’s language and social skills development. Untreated hearing loss in children can lead to developmental delays. Early intervention is key, just like it is for adults. Heed the message of Better Hearing & Speech Month. If you or your child is showing signs of hearing loss, now is the time to act. Contact your Portland audiologist to schedule an appointment today.
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Are Cotton Swabs Dangerous?

You were taught in school about the dangers of smoking, drinking, getting in cars with strangers etcetera, etcetera. But where was the public service announcement about the dangers of sticking something soft and fluffy in your ear? That’s right, I’m talking about cotton swabs. cotton swabs eardrum perforation

Your Portland audiologist would be the first to tell you that cleaning your ears with a cotton swabs is as close as most Portlanders will come to risking life and limb. Placing a cotton swab in your ear is the most common causes of a perforated eardrum.

The Role of the Eardrum

Your eardrum is the thin membrane that separates your outer ear from your middle ear. The primary role of your eardrum is to convert the sound waves that enter the ear into vibrations, making it a vital part of the hearing process. In addition to aiding in the hearing process, your eardrum is responsible for preventing pieces of debris, bacteria and water from entering the middle ear, which can lead to infections.

The Dangers of Cotton Swabs

The pressure from placing a cotton swab inside your ear can cause eardrum to rupture. Yes, even if you place the swab in gently. A perforated eardrum can cause pain in the ear, drainage from the ear (either clear or bloody), a buzzing sound and even hearing loss.

Damage to your Eardrum

If you think you may have ripped a hole in your eardrum you should schedule an appointment with your audiologist as soon as possible. Once there, your audiologist will look in your ear with an otoscope, a lighted instrument, for visible signs of damage. Your audiologist may also perform a hearing test to determine if your perforated eardrum has caused hearing loss. While this may seem like a lot of damage caused by a simple cotton swab, most of these symptoms are temporary.

Perforated Eardrums

A perforated eardrum typically heals on its own and does not require treatment. To prevent an infection your audiologist will prescribe you antibiotics; over-the-counter medication may be suggested to manage the pain. If the hole is too large or the eardrum does not heal on its own surgery may be required. This simple outpatient surgery repairs the hole with a piece of your own tissue.

I hope this public service announce has explained the real danger cotton swabs pose. Next time you get out of the shower, resist the urge to reach for one. For most, a simple shower is able to wash out any debris or earwax that was trapped in your ear; no extra work needed.

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Understanding Hearing Aid Batteries

AAA or 675? Understanding Hearing Aid Batteries

The batteries used by your hearing aids are much different than the ones you are used to putting in your smoke detectors and remote controls. Understanding what makes these batteries different is essential for proper hearing aid care. Below are some common questions many Portlanders ask their audiologist when they first get their hearing aids.

What kinds of batteries do hearing aids use?

Hearing aid batteries Most hearing aids use disposable zinc-air batteries that are color- and number-coded for easy replacement. The type of battery needed depends on the style and size of your hearing aids and includes: 5 (red), 10 (yellow), 13 (orange), 312 (brown) and 675 (blue). Most pharmacies carry replacement batteries. You can also purchase them from your Portland audiologist’s office.

How do zinc-air batteries differ from other battery types?

Zinc-air batteries require oxygen to produce power. They come with a protective seal on the back; once this is removed, oxygen enters through tiny holes to activate them. You should wait at least a minute before inserting your batteries to ensure they have absorbed enough oxygen in order to work properly.

How long will hearing aid batteries last?

On average, batteries last five to seven days depending on the size and style of your hearing aids, your degree of hearing loss, the amount of time your hearing aids are used and your listening environment.

How do I know when it’s time to change the batteries?

Obviously if there is no sound coming through your hearing aids, your first suspicion should be a dead battery. Other signs include sound that is distorted or unclear and unusually low volume levels. Some hearing aids are designed to produce an audible tone warning you when batteries are low.

Are there steps I can take to extend battery life?

Store your batteries at room temperature and avoid exposing them to moist or humid environments. This includes the refrigerator – despite what you may have heard, this is not a good place to keep your batteries as temperature extremes and condensation can shorten their life. Keep batteries away from keys, coins and other metal objects that can cause them to short circuit or discharge. When removing your hearing aids, turn them off and open the battery compartment door to prevent excess moisture and battery drain.

This can all be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, your Portland audiologist is only a phone call away.
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Different Types of Hearing Loss

Are there different types of hearing loss?

Did you know there are different types of hearing loss? It turns out, in order for your Portland audiologist to create a customized treatment plan, they must determine your type and degree of hearing loss. There are three kinds of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed.
    • Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem with the outer or middle ear. This could be caused by a buildup of fluid within the middle ear, an ear infection, a perforated eardrum, impacted earwax or a malformation of the outer ear. Basically, anything that prevents a sound wave from entering the ear and reaching the inner ear is categorized as conductive hearing loss. Fortunately, this type of hearing loss is usually only temporary and can be corrected through medical or surgical means by ENT physicians in Portland, Oregon.
    • Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by an issue with the inner ear or the auditory nerve that connects the ear to the brain. Exposure to loud noises, aging and a virus or disease can cause this type of hearing loss. While this type of hearing loss is usually permanent, it can often be successfully treated with the use of a hearing aid.
    • The third type is mixed hearing loss. As you can probably gather from the name, this type of hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing and sensorineural hearing loss. This means that in one ear you have an issue with the outer or middle ear and the inner ear. Treatment for this type of hearing loss requires your Portland audiologist to address the cause of the conductive hearing loss first before moving on to treating the sensorineural loss.
    The earlier hearing loss is identified and treated, the better the outcome. If you or a loved one is showing signs of hearing loss, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your Portland audiologist.
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Hearing Loss in Your Portland Workplace

Noise-induced Hearing Loss

Some things are under our control, like deciding to order a double bacon cheeseburger instead of the salad for dinner. Unfortunately, things like extreme weather events and developing hearing loss are not. Hearing loss is caused by genetic conditions, an injury and even simply getting older.

There is one type of hearing loss, called noise-induced hearing loss, that you can do something about.

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by continuous exposure to loud noises or a one-time exposure to an extremely loud noise, like an explosion.

Sound is measured in decibels; anything measuring over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. To put this in perspective:
  • 20 decibels – ticking of a watch
  • 60 decibels – normal conversation
  • 85 decibels – heavy Portland traffic
  • 95 decibels – motorcycle
  • 120 decibels – police car siren
  • 150 decibels – jet engine taking off

Tips to Prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss

The simplest way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to wear earplugs. Sounds easy enough! If you are going to be in a loud environment, like a concert, your Portland audiologist recommends purchasing the proper ear protection beforehand. While worn during the event, your ears will be protected from the dangerously loud sounds.

Another way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to monitor how loudly you are listening to music on your personal music player. Your Portland audiologist recommends investing in over-ear headphones, instead of the in-the-ear style, which can help block out background noise so you can listen to your music at a lower volume. You should also start listening to your music with the volume at the lowest level. Simply turn it up until you can hear your music and then stop.

Common Jobs That Can Cause Hearing Loss

The workplace is one of the most common environments where people are exposed to dangerously loud noises. In fact, about 30 million workers in Portland and around the country are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Common jobs that can cause hearing loss are construction worker, ambulance driver, air traffic controller and garbage collector.

The good news is that you do not have to figure out how to protect your ears all on your own. If your workplace puts you in loud situations, they are required by law to provide you with hearing protection. If they do not adequately equip you with proper protection you should contact your supervisor or human resources representative. An unsafe work environment is not something you have to put up with.

If you are unsure if your workplace is putting your ears in harm’s way, contact your Portland audiologist. Your audiologist can help you understand which sounds are safe and which sounds require additional protection.
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Hearing Aid Fitting

Fitting Involves Programming Your Hearing Aids

Hearing aid fitting Portland What a long road it has been. After years of your family telling (and then begging) you to get your hearing checked, you finally made an appointment. You showed up, had your hearing tested and your Portland audiologist confirmed what you already knew – you have hearing loss.

There was no time to dwell on this realization (and no time for your family members to gloat that they were right), as you and your audiologist worked together to determine the best hearing aid for your type and degree of hearing loss. Once determined, the device was ordered. And that’s that! Or so you may think.

While the bulk of the work has been done, you are only just starting down the road toward better hearing. Next comes the fitting and counseling. The fitting appointment involves programming your hearing aids and making adjustments to provide the correct levels of amplification for your particular hearing loss. The counseling appointment is a necessary step to ensure you have realistic expectations, and is crucial for long-term success.

An important part of the hearing aid process is preparing you for the change in your lifestyle. While hearing aids will improve your communication abilities, it is important to understand they are not a cure for hearing loss. Unfortunately, they do have some limitations. Learning what to expect beforehand will help you achieve the maximum benefit from your devices.

Next comes the fitting appointment, which is necessary to make sure your devices are programmed to the optimum settings for your specific hearing needs.

Your Portland audiologist will check the physical fit to make sure they are comfortable. The hearing aids will then be programmed and adjusted based on your hearing loss and lifestyle needs. The hearing aids will be placed in your ears and turned on, allowing your audiologist to measure the volume levels to ensure that you are hearing the full range of sounds properly.

Your audiologist will then discuss care and maintenance of your hearing aids. You will learn how to use them correctly and make adjustments for different hearing environments, insert and remove them, change the batteries and clean and care for them properly. You will also learn tips and strategies for better communication.

The final step of the fitting process is scheduling the first of many follow-up visits. Your first visit will be scheduled a few weeks after your initial fitting. During this appointment, your Portland audiologist will fine-tune and adjust your hearing aids as needed and answer any questions you may have. Since it usually takes a little while to adjust your hearing aids to their maximum effectiveness, additional fitting appointments may be needed.
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Wireless Technology

Wireless technology in hearing aids

New Hearing Aid Wireless Technology

Sometimes I still cannot wrap my mind around my smartphone. With a tap of the screen I can have food delivered, order some shoes or even have a car pick me up. Who knew when cellphones first came out (and they were the size of a brick) that they would soon be able to fit in your pocket and have more power than a computer? The same thing is true with hearing aids. The hearing aids that led the way, even a few years ago, cannot compare to the level of technology available in the current models. This is especially true with the improvements made in wireless technology.

Why Hearing Aid Wireless Technology Helps You

  • Control

    Wireless technology ensures you can control your hearing aids from remotes, or apps on your smartphones. You are able to change the program or adjust the volume, all without touching the device. This also enables manufacturers to create hearing aids with fewer buttons, freeing up room for additional features.
  • Connectivity

    Probably the most obvious use of wireless technology is your ability to pair all of your other devices with your hearing aid. You will be able to answer phone calls, listen to music and even hear directions from your phone’s GPS. You will also be able to utilize hearing loops, FM and infrared systems to help you hear better in large conference centers or small classrooms.
  • Localization

    One thing those with a hearing loss miss when using their hearing aids is the binaural hearing they were used to. We have two ears for a reason; the brain is able to quickly analyze the timing and level differences of the sounds it hears to figure out which side of the head the sounds are coming from. But until recently, those who needed two hearing aids had to go without, as traditional hearing aids worked independently of each other. Now, hearing aids are able to communicate with each other. The devices are able to actually compare the timing and level differences of sounds received in the microphone and provide the brain with correct information.
  • Sound Quality

    Wireless technology has enabled those with hearing loss who use two hearing aids to have an improved experience. New hearing aids are able to communicate with each other. This means they are able to digitally process sound and both switch to the correct mode in only nanoseconds. This drastically improves the sound quality.
No time like the present to speak to your Portland audiologist. Your hearing expert will help choose the right hearing aid for you, depending on your type and degree of hearing loss.
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Hearing loss: where do you even start?

Hearing loss: Where to start?

What is an Audiologist?

If you feel sick you make an appointment with your primary care physicians. If you are beginning to experiencing hearing loss, what do you do?

There are medical professionals for just about anything; did you know there is actually one that treats your hearing? The medical professionals in Portland, Oregon responsible for taking care of your hearing health are called audiologists.

Audiology is the study of hearing, balance and related conditions. An audiologist must hold a doctorate degree (Au.D., Ph.D. or Sc.D.), complete an internship and pass a national competency exam in order to become licensed.

Once licensed, a Portland audiologist can work in a number of settings. They can be found hospitals, educational facilities or private practice clinics. Often times, audiologists will work hand in hand with other medical specialists such as speech-language pathologists, ENT physicians and technicians.

Do You Need a Hearing Aid?

A major role of Portland audiologists is to identify, diagnose and treat hearing loss. If they have determined that your type and degree of hearing loss can benefit from the use of a hearing aid, they will help you through this complicated process.

Choosing a hearing aid in Portland is complicated; there are countless styles and manufactures to choose from. Not to mention the never-ending list of additional features and hearing aid accessories that can help make your hearing aid experiencing even better.

Your audiologist is able to determine your listening lifestyle, which ranges from private to dynamic. Determining your lifestyle helps your audiologist figure out which level of technology you need. Your Portland audiologist wants your hearing aid to keep up with you, regardless of your speed.
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Should You Upgrade Your Hearing Aid?

Hanging onto old things is just our nature; you never know when you might need a piece of string! You don’t want to be the chump who has to buy a whole new spool. But, what if I told you that brand new string is better and stronger than that old piece you have been using time and time again? This is exactly how you should think about your hearing aids. Sure, the ones you have had since the start of the new millennium are technically working, but they are nowhere near as good as the ones currently on the market.

hearing aid technology

If you have not upgraded your hearing aid in the last three to five years, now is the time. For those in Portland with hearing loss, your hearing aids are your gateway to the world. They enhance your ability to communicate effectively and can improve your overall quality of life.

Benefits of Upgraded Hearing Aids

Newer devices contain features like Bluetooth® compatibility for added versatility and ease of use. They are also more compact and comfortable than ever before. Adaptive dual microphones offer outstanding directionality and sound localization, and advanced digital sound processing and ear-to-ear internal communications allow the devices to make automatic adjustments based on the environment.

Today’s modern devices are able to analyze the type of sound being received and use advanced algorithms to accurately apply and balance amplification. Important sounds are amplified, and background noise becomes more manageable. This makes it easier for you to understand speech in noisy environments, substantially reduces feedback and creates a more natural listening experience overall.

Does that sound like anything your current hearing aids can do? Probably not. If you are interested in seeing how a new hearing aid can change your listening lifestyle, contact your Portland audiologist at PDX ENT. They will work you through every step of the hearing aid selection process, thus ensuring you get the best hearing aid for your type and degree of hearing loss.

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