Tag Archives: hearing

Hearing – Use it Or Lose It!


Hearing – Use It or Lose It!

Use it or lose itCatching a hearing problem early will help keep you hearing your best!  Even a slight difficulty understanding in social groups can impact how your brain receives sounds.

For example, consider that you’re starting to miss some of the speech sounds that may be “out of your range”.  This makes it harder to understand others, especially in background noise.

The brain becomes used to these “gaps” of sound and eventually “forgets” that these sounds exist.  Over time, the nerves weaken from lack of stimulation.  Eventually the nerves atrophy from disuse and the brain is unable to recognize these sounds or give them meaning.

It is important to keep your ears and brain stimulated with the entire range of sounds. You may not know if you have a reduction in a particular hearing range, but a baseline hearing check will tell you exactly how you hear. Catch it early and preserve what you have!  “Hear Well for Life”™.

Dr. Anita Carroll is a licensed Audiologist and owner of Hearing Solutions in the Triangle, PLLC with over 25 years of experience. Have a few questions – she can be contacted here.   If you’re looking to check your hearing range or improve listening skills visit our online scheduling here.


The hEARt of Hearing


Your heart and hearing are connected!  A healthy heart can have a positive effect on hearing.

The inner ear is sensitive to blood flow.  It needs a rich blood supply for proper function.  One tiny artery provides the blood to the inner ear.  Consistent blood flow is critical to keep hearing healthy.  Any blockage or blood flow issues can cause permanent damage to the ear.  It reduces oxygen and nutrients to the inner ear.

Good cardiovascular health is important for hearing ability.  High blood pressure can accelerate hearing loss.  As blood pressure increases, hearing decreases from the damaged artery walls.  High cholesterol also affects your hearing.  As your diet increases in cholesterol, so does your chance of having hearing loss.  Smoking restricts blood vessels and can also impact hearing.

February is American Heart Month! Your heart, your health and your hearing are all connected. Keep your hearing and your overall health in top shape with diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.  Get a baseline hearing check to be sure it is in good condition and stays that way! hearing heart

Dr. Anita Carroll is a licensed Audiologist who will review your health history and explain how it relates to your hearing health!  If you’re looking to maintain current hearing, contact her for nutrition that supports hearing health.


Why We Love Loud Music


Most of us LOVE loud music. Loud music can mean high energy, fun and excitement.  Cranking up the volume stimulates the brain in the pleasure center.   It raises the intensity of the experience – whether it is on the dance floor, working out or at a concert.  Here’s why:

loud music

Loud music

Loud music is a stimulant.  Loud music increases the heart rate and body temperature just like caffeine, exercise and alcohol.  Studies show that loud music improves exercise performance by increasing endurance, power and strength.   Look at everyone in the gym with earbuds!

Loud music relieves stress.  Listening to music is a form of “de-stressor”.   A small organ in the inner ear links directly to the pleasure centers in the brain.  Loud music stimulates the release of endorphins from this connection.  This tiny ear organ (called the sacculus) is responsible for our enjoyment of music!



  Music evokes emotions.  There are strong connections in the brain between our emotions and the interpretation of sound.  Our brains release dopamine at peak moments in songs.  When we listen to a song we already know, the anticipation of favorite passages also releases dopamine.  This is why we get emotional with the songs you love!

Loud music “drowns out” the world.  Blocking out the world can feel necessary sometimes.  Loud music masks other sounds in the immediate surroundings. Loud music overwhelms the other senses similar to alcohol or drugs and changes our state of mind.  Our focus changes.  We focus less on other things when listening to loud music.  This allows us to enjoy “the moment” and the emotions of the music!

We like loud music because it changes our mood and behavior.  Excess produces hearing damage.  Moderation is best to prevent hearing disability.

For thoughts on social consequences of hearing disability, contact our Audiologist , Dr. Anita Carroll.

Smoke Alarms and Hearing: Will You Wake Up?


Smoke alarms can usually be heard while we are awake.  But will it wake you up when you are sleeping?

Sleeping family

Sleeping family

When we are sleeping, sounds need to be louder to startle us awake and respond.  In fact – it needs to be as much as 40 dB louder for a person to wake up! Eventually, it may awaken you – but will it be in time to respond and exit safely in an emergency?

As we age, the ability to hear high-pitched sounds decreases.  While this may not impair your daily communication, it slows down your arousal and response for you to safely exit.   Smoke alarm signals are in this high-pitched range of hearing that decreases with age.

While  you may hear the smoke alarm – you will not be STARTLED to awaken from a sound sleep.   Combined with the TWO minute timeline for a fire to overtake a home, this illustrates the danger for those with hearing loss, sound sleepers and sleep apnea machines.  By the time you awaken from a “far away” sound, the fire may have progressed too far for a safe exit.

Here are the facts:

  • It’s about fast AWAKENING and having enough time to escape!
  • Majority of residential fire fatalities occur between 11 pm and 7 am when mosts people are sleeping.
  • 50% of adults with even Mild hearing loss DO NOT wake up to a smoke alarm.
  • Children, handicapped individuals, and heavy sleepers are slower to awaken and also impacted.
  • A lower frequency 520 Hz smoke alarm signal is the most effective signal for waking adults with hearing loss, heavy sleepers and handicapped individuals – waking 92%.  

This is about SAFETY and important for everyone to consider!  Contact our Audiologist for recommendations on smoke alarm options for those with apnea, decreased hearing, and sound sleepers.

Accents and Hearing


Why Can’t I Understand Accents?

Accents can affect hearing and understanding conversations.  Do you avoid conversations with someone who has an accent?  Do you struggle with understanding regional or foreign accents?  Many blame the accent but it may just be your hearing!!     

Accents and hearing

Accents and hearing

Miscommunication is easy within any region or language.  Especially with those who have a different manner of speaking.  Understanding accents is difficult for all but can be more problematic when you have even a mild hearing loss.  Your brain works harder to fill in the gaps because your ears are not sending complete information to the brain.

We all use our native, childhood language to help us “fill in the blank” for a missed word.  This includes intonation, cadence and grammar.  Typically, the conversation proceeds without a hitch!  But when you have even a slight hearing loss, accents send more gaps of unfamiliar information to your brain – and is unable to make sense of what you hear.

Someone who has an accent may be speaking your language but use different sentence structure.  The cadence and inflection may be different and unfamiliar.  As a result, your brain is unable to “decode” what is being said.  Add a slight hearing loss and this creates more gaps -making it more difficult to follow conversations.

Accents place additional stress on a weakened area of hearing.  You may have a reduced region of hearing that compounds the problem for your brain.

What to do?:

  1.  Verify and Clarify:  “Just to be clear, you said that I leave from gate #25?”
  2. Practice:  Listen to movies, podcasts, radio, TV that include accented speech.  This will help your brain acclimate to different intonation and grammar patterns.
  3. Don’t pretend to understand:  Say, “I am having trouble understanding you.  Please slow down a bit so I can get it correctly.”
  4. Don’t hurry the conversation so it will end quickly.  This is rude to the speaker.

Contact us for more suggestions or to schedule an appointment for your hearing check!

Right Ear, Left Ear – What’s the Difference?


Right Ear Best for Speech – Left Ear Best for Music!

Each ear has a function! Each side of the brain handle functions differently.  In fact the right and left ears process and

Right ear,Left Ear:  What's the Difference?

Right Ear, Left Ear: What’s the Difference?

handle types of sound differently.  The right ear is generally better for interpreting speech, while the left ear is better for interpreting music.

It has to do with how our brains process information. Although the left and right sides of the brain are similar, they have different functions. Sounds that enter into our RIGHT ear cross over to the left side of the brain which is the analytical part of the brain.  It is better at following rapid rhythms of speech.

The LEFT ear dominates in following prolonged tones such as in music. Sounds that enter into our left ear cross over to the right brain – which is the creative and emotional side of the brain. This is why music often evokes an emotional response.

Can’t comprehend someone in a crowded room?  Lean in with your RIGHT ear!  It sends messages to your left brain which is better at analyzing speech patterns.

Want to pick out the lyrics of a new song:?  Listen with your LEFT ear!  It sends messages to your right brain which is better at analyzing music.

Bottom line:  Use your RIGHT ear for voices and your LEFT ear for music.

Want to dig deeper into how your brain hears?  Contact our Audiologist who coaches individuals for accurate hearing in their careers at meetings, group conferences and noisy restaurants.


Listeners: 4 Types


4 Types of Listeners:  What are you?

  1.  People-oriented:  Focus on feelings of others and the importance of relationships.  They enjoy humor and examples.
  2.  Action-oriented:  Focus on task as hand and what needs to happen.  They are problem solvers and focus on who, what, when and where it will get done.
  3.  Time-oriented:  Focus on efficiency and facts.  They just want the important details to make it clear and concise.
  4.  Content-oriented:  Focus carefully on content from different viewpoints.  They want evidence to back up the facts.

    What type of listener are you?

Listening allows you to correctly interpret what you hear.  Listening skills can degrade as your hearing declines.  Practice focused listening for short time intervals each day to strengthen these skills.  Good listening skills will help if you have reduced hearing!

Restaurant Noise Review – Kitchen, Chapel Hill, NC


Kitchen, Chapel Hill, NC, Tuesday, April 26, 2015, 7:30 pm

Restaurant Noise Decibel Reading:  78 dB     Sound Equivalent:  Washing Machine

Conversation:  Raised Voices Necessary

Rating:     speaker-red   speaker-red   speaker-red

Comments:     Initially, restaurant noise did not interfere.  We were able to chat easily since we arrived early at this cozy French Bistro. But as the evening progressed, there was much more restaurant noise – and much more difficulty following conversationsKITCHEN-CHAPEL-HILL sm.  Contributing to this noisy competition were the closely set tables and high ceilings that created a noisy interference with your neighbor.  I would suggest coming to this delightful restaurant at an earlier time with less interference and enjoy your dining with easier conversations!  Choose your table wisely!




Listen Happy – Feel Happy!

YES – anything you listen to will affect your mood.  The music you listen to can change your state of mind – both positively and negatively.  So, re-think what you are listening to if you are “down in the dumps”.

Studies have shown that mental health is linked to what you are listening to on a particular day. Brain receptors behave differently depending on what an individual was listening to – whether it was gloomy or upbeat.  Those who listened to slow, sad music often reported feelings of loneliness and/or depression.  Those who listened to upbeat, cheerful music were more excited about their day.

Want to change the way you feel today?  Switch from slow, sad music to something upbeat that you enjoy and has a “catchy” beat.  Want to relax?  Listen to white noise, such as a waterfall or ocean.  It is a great alternative to music toocean surf help you relax.  Want a new way to impact your day? Find some interesting podcasts to listen to rather than sad music.  What you listen to can most definitely change your outlook on the day!


Restaurant Noise Review: Lucia, Durham, NC


Lucia Bar Italiano, Durham, NC, Saturday, November 7, 2015, 7:30 pm

Decibel Reading:  79 dB     Sound Equivalent:  City Traffic

Conversation:  Raised Voices Necessary

Rating:  speaker-red  speaker-red  speaker-red

Comments: Restaurant noise interferes with conversation. Lucia’s is a delightful open area restaurant with very high ceilings and wide expanse of windows reflecting on mirrors – all of which create poor acoustics for conversation.  The open bar created additional noise that echoed throughout the dining area.  When asked for a quiet location, we were seated in a corner booth away from the bar and center tables.  Yet, even though we were in a corner booth, it was difficult to hear each other.  Frequent repetitions were necessary along with raised voices. We were there to celebrate an event, yet could not engage each other in meaningful conversation. Enjoyed the food but would recommend going at a less busy time if you desire conversation.   

Lucia sm