I live in a town 60 miles from Los Angeles. I am in the process
of being fitted for a third digital hearing aid. I went to three audiologists and a hearing aid company. Neither of them measured the difference between hearing without hearing aids and hearing with them. So far, I hear no difference between without or with hearing aids. Somehow, I think that the three audiologists I visited were scam artists who prey on patients over the age of 50. Where can I find an authentic ear-nose-and-throat (ENT) specialist who uses reliable testing and doesn’t overcharge for medical and audio evaluation and audio sessions? T.L. Upland, California, US.
Dr. Dvora Gordon, an audiologist at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, replied:
First, otolaryngologists (ear-nose-and-throat specialists) do not fit hearing aids; audiologists do. So your first attempts to have your hearing aids fitted by an audiologist were the correct approach, and you should be looking for a reliable audiologist.
Because of the complexities of digital hearing aids, it is not considered appropriate to test the effectiveness of hearing aids by performing hearing tests with and without hearing aids. Instead, a measurement should be made of the output of the hearing aid through a small tube that is placed in the ear canal along with the hearing aid. This is called Real Ear Measurements or REM.
It could be that the clinicians used this method to make sure you were receiving appropriate amplification. If not, when you seek out another audiologist, make sure that they use REM to verify their fittings.
You did not mention how severe your hearing loss is. Sometimes with mild hearing losses or with hearing loss in only the high frequencies, the difference with and without the hearing aids is not very dramatic.
Other times, the difference would only be noticeable in difficult listening situations, such as in a restaurant. Other conditions such as poor Word Recognition Scores (WRS) can also make it seem like there is little or no benefit from the hearing aids. So, if you continue to feel that the hearing aids are not helping, it might be useful to have the audiologist take another look at your hearing test to see if there might be a reason for that.
Finally, sometimes a patient might insist on a certain style of hearing aid that might not be completely appropriate for their hearing loss. Sometimes changing the style of hearing aid (for example from one that goes behind the ear to one that goes in the ear or vice versa) will help.
I’m sorry that I don’t know of an audiologist in your area, but I do hope that you find one who help you.
I read that Israel patented a blood test to check for Alzheimer’s disease. Would it be possible to have this test done by a UK resident who visits Israel. If so, do you have any idea of how this can be arranged and how much it would cost? E.K., Hailsham, East Sussex, UK.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich answers:
I have provided you with contact details of a professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv who has been involved in developing this test. The blood test is based on the principles of protective autoimmunity and nearly 20 years of award-winning research led by Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, who is president of the International Society of Neuroimmunology.
I have also given you information about NeuroQuest, an Israeli biotech company that has conducted clinical trials of the test to diagnose this most common type of dementia. The company also has offices in Skokie, Illinois.
Designed to be an inexpensive, convenient alternative to costly positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans, the NeuroQuest blood test is believed to potentially identify a pre-clinical stage of AD years before the onset of noticeable symptoms.
The company says that human trials in Israel have shown the blood test to be 87% accurate with an 85% specificity rate in detecting Alzheimer’s and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), two common neurodegenerative diseases. NeuroQuest’s director Dan Touitou says he is “cautiously optimistic” about US clinical trials. The work is still at a relatively early stage before commercialization can take place.
I am writing a book about early Middle East recipes and would like to know what are the most healthful foods. B.E., US, via email
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich answers:
The components of the Mediterranean Diet, which is still commonly consumed in Israel (when young people are tired of eating potato chips, pizza and hot dogs), is considered by most experts as being the most healthful. The diet involves eating mostly plant-based foods, such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil; using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods.
In addition, the diet includes eating fish a few times a week and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. If one insists on eating red meat, it should be as infrequently as possible.
I am a 34-year-old woman who works in a company where most people are young and are always talking about being attractive, buying clothes and having the perfect body. I am about 10 kilos overweight and feel that being around my colleagues makes me see myself as less attractive. Can you give me any advice? V.T., Los Angeles, California, US.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich replies:
This feeling of yours is not surprising – but there is something to be done to free yourself of it. A recent study conducted at the University of Waterloo in Canada has found that spending time with people who are not preoccupied with their bodies can improve your own eating habits and body image.
Kathryn Miller, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, examined how social interactions influence body image, together with clinical psychology Prof. Allison Kelly. They found that in addition to the previous findings that being around people preoccupied with their body image was detrimental, spending time with people who were non-body focused had a positive impact.
“Our research suggests that social context has a meaningful impact on how we feel about our bodies in general and on a given day. Specifically, when others around us are not focused on their body it can be helpful to our own body image.”
In the study, which was published in Body Image, an International Journal of Research, the two asked 92 female undergraduate students aged 17 to 25 to complete a daily diary over seven consecutive days and reflected on their interactions with body focused and non-body focused people. The study measured participants’ frequency of daily interactions with body focused and non-body focused others, their degree of body appreciation, meaning how much one values their body regardless of its size or shape, and body satisfaction and whether they ate intuitively in alignment with their hunger and cravings rather than fixating on their dietary and weight goals.
“Body dissatisfaction is ubiquitous and can take a huge toll on our mood, self-esteem, relationships, and even the activities we pursue,” said Kelly. “It’s important to realize that the people we spend time with actually influence our body image. If we are able to spend more time with people who are not preoccupied with their bodies, we can actually feel much better about our own bodies.”
The researchers also found that spending more time with non-body focused individuals may be advantageous in protecting against disordered eating and promoting more intuitive eating. “If more women try to focus less on their weight/shape, there may be a ripple effect shifting societal norms for women’s body image in a positive direction,” added Miller.
If you want an Israeli expert to answer your medical questions, write to Breaking Israel News health and science senior reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at email@example.com with your initials, age, gender and place of residence and details of the medical condition, if any.