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Interacting in Group Settings with Hearing Loss

Good Communication

If you have a friend or family member with hearing loss, you’ve probably found ways to adjust for improved one-on-one communication. Your tactics for good communication might differ depending on whether the individual is open about and/or aware of his or her hearing loss, or if you’ve just recognized it yourself.

But group settings, such as at dinner or at a family gathering, can be a little trickier for that person because he or she has to navigate multiple people speaking, sometimes at the same time, and conversation can move pretty quickly.

Tips for interacting Group Settings with Hearing Loss

  • Make sure not to talk over other people. This tends to happen when people get excited and, for the most part, it’s not too much of a problem for people with regular hearing. But for people with hearing loss, whether they wear hearing aids or not, hearing often takes some level of focus. So background noise, including multiple conversations or voices, can make hearing difficult.
  • If your friend or family member is comfortable talking about his or her hearing loss, make sure to ask that person what you can do to make things easier.
  • Speak clearly and naturally. Don’t cover your mouth with your hands and don’t eat while speaking – this can interfere with lipreading.
  • Make sure to first get the individual’s attention by saying his or her name. Maintain eye contact while speaking.
  • If you’re having a group conversation, stand by your friend and give him or her a heads up about the topic of conversation. Fill your friend in if he or she looks confused about something that was said or asked, but never answer for that person.
  • Be patient. Since hearing takes a bit of extra effort for people with hearing loss, and can in fact be tiring sometimes, be comfortable with the silence so your friend or family member has a turn to speak.
  • If it’s OK with your friend or family member, let others in the group know in advance about some ways that they can make hearing and communication easier for the individual using some of the above tips and tactics.

If you suspect your friend or loved one is suffering from hearing loss, consider helping them find and set up an appointment with an audiologist near where they live. Additionally, some people feel comforted by having a loved one accompany them to their appointment.

5 HUGE reasons you should NOT buy your hearing aids at the same place you buy bulk toilet paper.

  1. Life and Death.  OK, that’s over dramatic, but it is true that your hearing is part of your overall health.  I recently reviewed an audiogram that had been done by a warehouse store, and was alarmed that the patient hadn’t been referred on to a medical doctor – this person had the red flag signs of an acoustic neuroma (auditory tumor).  While an acoustic neuroma wont kill you, it will destroy your hearing over time.  Most “free hearing tests” will provide the tester just enough information to sell you a hearing aid.  At Hearing Consultants we complete a comprehensive evaluation and work closely with physicians when needed.  Hearing Consultants audiologists have six to eight years of schooling, and supervised clinical requirements to ensure we are trained at diagnosing all types of hearing loss, and recognizing the signs of a more serious auditory or vestibular (balance) related problem.
  2. A bargain is only a bargain when it is the same product (same warranty, etc.) at al lower price.  FACT:  The club warehouses do not sell top tier manufacturers.  Rather, they sell a company that is affiliated with a top tier manufacturer.  They are not the same.  Beware of flashy marketing, or sales people that mention the top tier name, not the actual manufacturer.  Their hearing aids cost less for a reason – the technology is less than superior.
  3. A hearing aid (at any cost) is worthless if it is not programmed correctly. A hearing aid is like a miniature computer that is programmed specifically to a patient’s hearing loss, previous amplification experience. age, and ear canal characteristics. Part of the cost of hearing aids is the expertise of the audiologist setting your instruments. I’ve recently “re-fit” several hearing aids purchased elsewhere because they were set of fit improperly. Hearing Consultants uses state of the art verification equipment to ensure you have the hearing you paid for.
  4. Physician trusted professionals.  Physicians refer their patients, family, friends, and themselves to Hearing Consultants.  They know we have all their patients’ best interest in mind.  Physicians do not refer their patients to bulk retail stores, period.
  5. Service.  Unfortunately, many new hearing aid users don’t understand how important the service part of a hearing aid purchase is.  It’s all the little things we do to go above and beyond.  At Hearing Consultants we do these things because we care, not because our corporate manager told us to.  Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.  Here’s just a few of the services we provide that you won’t find in the larger retail stores:  loaner hearing aids (for instruments in repair), trade in options, demo hearing aids and accessories, complimentary insurance coverage check, and claim submissions.

In today’s market, consumers are bombarded with so many buying decisions. While it’s smart to “shop around” for the best deal, it’s also imperative that you understand what you are losing at a big box warehouse compared to a medical based audiology clinic like Hearing Consultants.

Are Hearing Aids Expensive?

Expensive is a relative term. The cost of hearing aids has actually decreased over time, when compared to the rate of inflation.

Today, hearing aids range from approximately $1,000 to $4,000 each, depending on the technology selected. Several factors contribute to the cost of hearing aids, including: research and development costs; customization of each device to fit the needs of the wearer; manufacturing costs; and time spent with the professional who fits and services the instruments for the lifetime of the product.

Averaged over the lifetime of the instruments (3 – 5 years or more), the cost per day of a pair of highly featured, advanced instruments is about $3 – less than a large latte at your favorite java joint. And hearing aids are proven to not only help you hear better, but to actually improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss and their families.

The ability to hear clearly is to fully immerse yourself in life and to enjoy all the sounds that surround you. That’s not a dollar-and-cents consideration any more than a pair of eyeglasses comes down to dollars and sense.

Hearing is beautiful. It adds a long-lost dimension to everyday life. You hear sounds that you’ve forgotten but didn’t know you missed – until you hear them again. And when you do, you’ll understand why hearing aid myth busting is catching on.

Call the office today to discover what you’ve been missing and forget the myths. Things have changed. Really changed.

Hearing Consultants 513-489-3300

iPods and Hearing Loss

A Northwestern University audiologist and professor found more hearing loss in younger people with the use of iPods and earbud headphones that is similar to that found in aging adults.

Earbuds are placed directly in the ear and can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels. It’s enough to cause hearing loss after only about an hour and 15 minutes.

The recommendation is what the researchers call the 60 percent/60 minute rule. They recommend using the MP3 devices, including iPods, no more than about an hour a day and at levels below 60 percent of maximum volume.

To avoid permanent hearing loss in the middle ranges – the range required to hear conversation in a noisy restaurant, for example – they recommend the older style, larger headphones that rest over the ear opening.

Another option is the use of noise-canceling headphones that eliminate background noise so listeners don’t have to crank the volume so high.

Tips and tricks: hearing in noisy environments

Hearing with background noise is one of the most challenging humps to get over for people with hearing aids – and it’s even difficult for people with normal hearing. There are many hearing aid features and settings that can help you deal with loud background noise that may be distracting, but there are also strategies that will make the process easier. Wearing two hearing aids instead of one, using a directional microphone and having a hearing aid with digital processing are all great ways to ensure that you are hearing to your utmost capabilities. Here are a few strategies to consider as well:

Lip reading:

People with hearing loss use lip reading as a vital resource for communicating.

Lip reading can help you improve confidence, avoid social isolation and minimize the effect of hearing loss on your daily life. You might be thinking: How am I going to lip read? You can attend lip reading classes taught by qualified teachers in an informal setting. Teachers go over the basics of the different shapes that sounds make on the lips as well as skills that will help you fill in the gaps.

Pick a well-lit area:

When you are going out with friends and family, make sure that the area is well lit, so that you can read written text and use your lip reading skills. Since you cannot rely on your hearing capabilities, you must be able to trust your eyes to get you through a conversation. If you are at a restaurant or public gathering, make sure to ask to be seated in an area with a lot of light.

Ask for non-verbal cues:

Body language and hand gestures can guide a conversation and serve as a backup for when you cannot hear the words being spoken. For instance, if someone points to their wrist, you know they are talking about the time. Others can also use gestures to illustrate if something is large or small, tall or short, far away or close.

Consider the time and place:

If you go out to dinner at the hottest new restaurant on the scene at 7 p.m., chances are it is going to be difficult for you to hear. This is when the crowd is at its peak and the noise is possibly at its loudest. If you have trouble hearing in loud environments, make sure that you consider the time and place of your meeting. It may be best to go to a restaurant during non-peak hours, such as between the lunch and dinner rush.

If you are still having difficulty hearing in noisy environments, ask your audiologist for advice. There is a possibility that the settings on your devices are not as they should be, in which case you’re audiologist make some adjustments. She may also be able to guide you in the right direction to purchase new devices.

If You Suffer With Hearing Loss…

The main purpose for hearing is communication. We need to be able to hear and understand speech to effectively communicate. As we age, some of us experience a decline in our hearing ability. If left untreated, a hearing loss will eventually affect communication skills. We have identified Five Steps to Better Hearing. When followed, they can improve communication skills.

FIVE STEPS TO BETTER HEARING

    1. Admit you have a problem. If you have had your hearing tested by an Audiologist and have been told you have a permanent hearing loss and need hearing aids, you can accept or deny it. Denial only hurts yourself. You cannot hide a hearing loss from others. Your symptoms will give away your secret. Your hearing loss is more obvious than a pair of hearing aids. Untreated, a hearing loss can lead to a downward social spiral. You will find yourself no longer participating in activities you once enjoyed. Acknowledge the problem and that others already know you have a hearing problem.
    2. Decide to proceed with a GOOD ATTITUDE.  Your attitude will determine how successful you will be.  The hearing instruments alone cannot make you hear better.  Listening is a learned behavior.  Learning how to listen to speech and tune out background noise will take time and practice.  Be patient with getting used to hearing aids while your brain acclimates to ambient sound & noise.
    3. Educate yourself.  Learn all you can about your hearing loss.  What type of hearing loss do you have?  Learn whether it is a conductive, sensorineural (nerve) or mixed loss.  What is the degree of loss in each ear?  How has the brain been affected?  The hearing loss has probably been gradual.  Putting on hearing aids will “startle” your brain with all of the missed sounds.  It will need time to adjust.  Voices will sound unnatural until you are used to hearing the once-missed consonants (like /s/, /f/, /k/, etc.). Background noises (like fans, appliances, etc.) will be distracting until you learn to tune them out, as normal-hearing individuals do.  Understanding speech is a brain function and will take time.  It needs to be re-familiarized with sound.  This sudden improvement in hearing could cause “auditory confusion”.
    4. Set realistic expectations.  Hearing aids, while advanced in technology, are aids.They cannot replace your original hearing.  Set expectations on “better” hearing and understanding – not perfection.  Know that the aids are only a substitute for original hearing. However, without them, you would be handicapped.  It is not unusual to need to have the hearing aid remade for a better fit. They should never make your ears sore.  The electronic adjustments will be made step-by-step over several weeks. As you become more acclimated to your hearing aids the Audiologist will adjust your hearing aids with your input. Your own voice may sound strange at first, but will sound natural in time. Background noise is normal. Normal hearing people hear it too.  Background noise can be diminished by using a two microphone system. Ask about this.  It’s normal for hearing aids to need repairs from time to time.  Ear canals are very humid and contain wax. These things are harmful to electronics.  It’s best to see your Audiologist routinely for a check-up
    5. Practice + Patience = Success! One investment for success is practice. It will cost you time and patience, but will be worth it. You will need to start at a slow pace at home. Build up to wearing your hearing aids all day, every day. Wear them even when you may think you don’t need to be wearing them This will help you adjust quicker. If your hearing aids are not a part of your habit through daily use your brain will not to be able to adjust to the change. Things will always sound funny then. It is OK to stop when you are tired – just commit to not quit. Stay in contact with your Audiologist. New hearing aid users should come back 2 – 3 times during the first 30 days for adjustments, progress checks and assistance. Commit to increasing your hearing aid use by 15 or 30 minutes each day the first week. You will be wearing them all day in no time!

Better hearing will depend on (a) your commitment to make your hearing aids work in your everyday routine, (b) time spent wearing your hearing aids to become comfortable using them in different environments, (c) your patience while your brain adjusts to unfamiliar sounds.  Does this sound overwhelming?  Call us!  We’ll walk you through this process one step at a time.  We are committed to helping you hear better.

How do I know if I have hearing loss?

Aging, hereditary, exposure to loud noise, medications, infections, or disease, can cause hearing Loss. It negatively impacts quality of life, personal relationships and, of course, the ability to communicate.  You may have a hearing loss if…

  • You hear people speaking but have trouble understanding their words.
  • You don’t laugh at jokes because you missed the punch line.
  • You frequently complain that people mumble or speak to fast.
  • You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
  • You listen to the TV or radio louder than those around you.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.  Most hearing problems do not require medical intervention.  In fact over 95% of all hearing losses are not medically or surgically treatable. However, it is very important to receive the proper diagnosis before considering amplification.  For more information or to schedule an appointment please call us.

What good are the Roses…

What good are the Roses…If you can’t hear the sweet nothings?

Valentines Day is here and therapists tell us that the best aphrodisiac in the world is effective communication. The impact of even mild hearing loss can make a partner seem remote and unresponsive, when in reality they just may not hear certain key phrases. Your spouse may feel rejected when in fact he or she very much wants to be close. The same problem often haunts couples in long-term relationships when one of them develops a hearing problem but refuses to deal with it.
It’s hard to feel romantic and attracted to someone who never seems to listen. Yet, that’s how someone with untreated hearing loss often comes across. If you or your partner has trouble hearing, hearing aids may help ensure romantic cues are picked up and whispered sweet nothings are heard.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us.

Musical Ear Syndrome

The Phantom Voices, Ethereal Music & Other Spooky Sounds Many Hard of Hearing People Secretly Experience

© 2005 by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

“My wife hears music that is not there,” Harry writes. “The first song she heard was Silent Night sung by a very good choir of mostly men. It came in quite loud. A day later it was the Vienna Waltz over and over again so clear it was like being at a musical production.”

“Late at night when I don’t have my hearing aids on,” Carolyn relates, “I am absolutely sure I hear trucks and bulldozers working right outside our bedroom windows. We are the only ones living on our little country lane. There’s no traffic of any kind outside my bedroom windows. My husband swears there are no noises at all.”

“Years ago,” Sherry remembers, “when my dad would take me flying in his little two-seater wind-knocker airplane, I used to hear strange music. The music sounded like the full Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Since I was quite young, I thought it was angels singing.”

What do these people have in common? They are all hard of hearing, and they all hear strange phantom voices, ethereal music or other spooky sounds that no one else hears. Nor are they alone. Thousands of other hard of hearing people “hear” similar phantom sounds, yet they never tell a soul because they are afraid of the dreaded “H” word. They are terrified someone will discover their “shameful” secret—that they experience auditory hallucinations.

What Are Hallucinations?

According to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, hallucinations are “the apparent, often strong, subjective perception of an object or event when no such stimulus or situation is present.” Put another way, hallucinations are phantom sensory phenomena in the absence of real external sensory stimuli.

Hallucinations may be visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), olfactory (smelling), gustatory (tasting) or tactile (feeling). Therefore, hallucinations are simply seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or feeling sights, sounds, odors, tastes, or sensations that no one else around you perceives.

Although hallucinations may occur with any of the five senses, auditory hallucinations are by far the most common kind of hallucination. A person is hearing auditory hallucinations when he or she hear noises, music, sounds or voices that no one else hears because these phantom sounds are generated in the person’s brain, not externally.

Two Kinds of Auditory Hallucinations

Most people have never heard of the kind of auditory hallucinations that thousands of hard of hearing people experience. These auditory hallucinations have nothing whatsoever to do with mental illness. You see, there are two basic “kinds” of auditory hallucinations—psychiatric auditory hallucinations and non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations. People with mental illnesses often experience the former, while hard of hearing people often experience the latter.

If you are hearing phantom voices, music or other sounds, how can you tell which kind of hallucinations you are experiencing? Here are two “rules of thumb.”

1. People who experience psychiatric auditory hallucinations generally hear voices, as opposed to music or other sounds. People who experience non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations mostly hear music or singing, rather than just plain voices.

2. The voices that people who experience psychiatric auditory hallucinations hear are generally clear and distinct. These voices almost always talk to or about the person, and may engage the person in conversation. Consequently, the content is of a meaningful personal nature. In contrast, when people who experience non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations hear voices, the voices they hear are often vague and indistinct and do not contain information of a meaningful personal nature. These voices neither talk to or about the person, nor engage them in conversation.

Typically, the voices many hard of hearing people hear sound vaguely like a radio broadcast playing in another room. For example, Ruby explained, “I get Red Barber calling the game. I can’t distinguish the words—but I’m sure that’s who is talking.” Catherine described her auditory hallucinations as “what sounded like the voice of a radio announcer on a badly tuned radio station.”

Characteristics of Auditory Hallucinations

Non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations (hereinafter referred to simply as “auditory hallucinations”) comprise a wide range of sounds, ranging from simple to complex. Simple sounds are single, unmodulated sounds such as the various tinnitus sounds (ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, rumbling, etc.) millions of people hear. In fact, tinnitus is the most common kind of auditory hallucination.

In contrast, complex sounds include multiple, modulated sounds such as tunes, singing, music and voices. These are the kinds of sounds that people have traditionally considered auditory hallucinations. Many people have mistakenly called these sounds “musical tinnitus.”

Depending on their clarity, phantom sounds may be either “unformed” or “formed.” Unformed auditory hallucinations consist of hearing distorted music, sounds, or voices. These sounds are vague, “fuzzy” and indistinct. For example, Jane described her unformed auditory hallucinations as “like the wind blowing, but with a musical quality, as if someone off in the distance was singing without words.” Rachel explains, “The words are never distinct—it’s like they are several rooms away.” Sarah relates, “I sometimes hear phantom “radio broadcasts” that I can’t quite make out.”

In contrast, formed auditory hallucinations are where speech, music or singing is so clear and recognizable that people hearing it can identify the various voices and musical instruments. For example, James explains, “For the past 3 to 4 months I have had the most calming and repetitive choruses and wind ensembles, usually led by a bass sax and a baritone playing and singing in a low octave, the older Christian hymns and a few oldies from the forties such as, Near the Cross, Amazing Grace, His Eye Is on the Sparrow and The Star Spangled Banner.”

The Fear Factor

Few people have the courage to admit they are hearing auditory hallucinations for fear of being thought crazy. Cheryl says, “I was afraid I was going nuts. I never said one word to anyone about the strange music I was hearing because I didn’t want them to think I was crazy.” Sharing with family members often elicits a similar response. Anna declares, “All my family believe I am nuts because I told them I hear music every waking moment.”

Because of this fear factor, many people describe their auditory hallucinations in terms such as musical tinnitus to avoid using the word “hallucinations.” Obviously, there is a real need for a new name to describe non-psychiatric auditory hallucinations—a name that has no “bad press” associated with it and that does not include the word “hallucinations.” Since the vast majority of people who experience auditory hallucinations hear some sort of phantom music, I have named this condition Musical Ear syndrome.

“Musical Ear Syndrome (MES): Hearing phantom sounds (auditory hallucinations) of a non-psychiatric nature, often musical, but also including voices and other associated sounds, commonly found in, but not limited to, elderly, hard of hearing people with tinnitus who lack adequate sound stimulation.”

I am hoping that by using this name, which has no negative connotations (and even sounds like it might be something good to have), that the stigma of hearing non-psychiatric phantom sounds will fade away.

Musical Ear Syndrome Symptoms

Musical Ear syndrome (MES), as its name implies, is comprised of a number of symptoms, which, when taken together, form a syndrome. Typically, but not always, there is a constellation of five symptoms that seem to predispose people to hearing such phantom sounds.

1. Often the person is elderly.

2. Generally, the person is hard of hearing.

3. Often the person lacks adequate auditory stimulation.

4. Almost always the person has tinnitus.

5. Often the person is either anxious, stressed or depressed.

A person does not have to exhibit all five symptoms in order to have Musical Ear syndrome, but many people with MES exhibit three or more of the above symptoms. For as yet unknown reasons, there are people that prove to be exceptions to this rule. Perhaps, in the future, researchers will discover why.

How Common Is Musical Ear Syndrome?

Musical Ear syndrome affects significant numbers of hard of hearing people. However, because few people are willing to admit to hearing these phantom sounds, it is difficult to obtain accurate figures. The best estimates suggest that in excess of 10% of hard of hearing people experience these phantom sounds at one time or another.

When I speak to groups of hard of hearing people, I sometimes ask how many have heard such auditory hallucinations, and since they feel “safe” with me, invariably 10% to 30% of the people present feel brave enough to put up their hands.

Interestingly enough, typically the people reporting hearing such sounds are women. However, this does not mean that more women than men experience Musical Ear syndrome. In my experience, MES does not favor either gender. It is just that more women than men are willing to speak up and seek help.

Causes of Musical Ear Syndrome

There are a number of things that are thought to cause MES. The primary contender is lack of adequate auditory stimulation. The theory is that when your world becomes too quiet, your brain manufactures its own sounds. This is why MES is so common among elderly, hard of hearing people. First, they often have significant hearing losses. Second, they typically live in quiet environments. Third, they generally live alone after the death of a spouse.

In addition, because of their hearing losses, hard of hearing people tend to withdraw from social situations and thus do not have much social interaction. This just further compounds their world of silence. At the same time, hard of hearing people may feel depressed over their hearing losses and anxious about what is happening to them. This just exacerbates their phantom sounds.

Another cause of auditory hallucinations is drugs and medications. Elderly people tend to take more and more medications as they age. Unfortunately, numerous drugs can cause auditory hallucinations.

In rare cases, brain abnormalities (tumors, infections) can cause auditory hallucinations. Have a neurologist check you out-especially if you do not fit the common profile of being elderly, hard of hearing and living in a quiet environment.

Controlling Musical Ear Syndrome

There are a number of things you can do to bring your auditory hallucinations under control. Here are a few of the main ones.

First, enrich your environment with sounds. This gives your brain real sounds to listen to so it won’t feel the need to generate its own phantom noises. Second, eliminate any medications (with your doctor’s permission of course) that may be causing your auditory hallucinations. Third, don’t fixate on your phantom sounds. Instead, concentrate on the loves of your life and you will not notice them as much.

Finally, if you are hard of hearing and have MES, look on the bright side. Hearing auditory hallucinations isn’t all bad. Many people actually find them pleasant. Where else can you hear beautiful music without hearing aids, assistive devices, players, headphones or other paraphernalia?

 

8 Signs You Might Need a New Hearing Aid

Remember when you first got hearing aids? All the wonderful sounds you could hear again, including speech that was much easier to understand? If you have had your hearing aids for a while, are you sure you’re still hearing at your best?

Here are 8 issues to consider when deciding whether it’s time for a new hearing aid. If one or more ring true, schedule an appointment to talk to me about your options.

1. The age of your current hearing aids

Most hearing aids last 5 years. Repairs on hearing aids over 5 years old are only 6 months long instead of 1 year. The cost of repairing a 5-year-old hearing aid is significantly more than a hearing aid less than 5 years old. Manufactures usually stop making parts for hearing aids soon after that time. The older the hearing aid, the less likely it’s performing as well as it should.

2. A change in health or dexterity

If you are unable to hold or change the battery in your current hearing aids because of dexterity or vision problems, you may want to consider a hearing aid that takes a larger or rechargeable battery.

If you would prefer things to be as simple as possible, maybe a hearing aid that intuitively adjusts to your environment so you don’t have to remember which button to push. Some of my patients prefer a devices that says: “battery low” rather than beeps when a new battery is needed.

3. Your hearing has worsened

I often have patients complaining their hearing aids don’t work as well as they used to, but after testing we discover the devices are fine- it’s their hearing that has dropped a few frequencies. Usually the solution involves a one-hour test/re-program appointment, but if your hearing has dropped significantly, you may need to consider a stronger or high fidelity device.

4. A new job or office

If you have a hearing loss, a new job may be just as stress-filled as it is exciting. Work with your human resources manager to see what the company can do to help. Pretax dollars set aside in an HSA (health savings account) and/or flexible benefit spending accounts are usable to purchase hearing aids.

5. Different hobbies or lifestyle

What do woodworking, snorkeling, and horseback riding all have in common? They all can wreak havoc on hearing aids. Thankfully, today’s hearing aids are often water-dust, and shockproof. Plus they are available at all technology levels or price points to be consistent with how active your lifestyle is.

6. A boost in finances

If in the past you needed to choose a more economical option, consider an upgrade if your financial situation takes a turn for the better. Also, it is not a waste of money to have an extra set when you can afford it- it’s prudent. Use your new set daily and keep the old set for a backup. The older units can be used when you do something dusty or around water, as well as taken with you as a back up when you travel.

7. You want to hear “your best” instead of just “better”

Most people get new hearing aids every 5 years. Although some hearing aids may last longer than that, technology significantly jumps about every 3-4 years. If your goal is to give your brain the most precise information available so it can interpret sounds better, then consider an upgrade.

8. A new attitude about hearing aids

Many of my patients are reluctant about getting their first set of hearing aids. Along with discussing sound quality and becoming dependant on their hearing aids, most take extra time to talk about size, and how to camouflage their hearing aids. But when they are ready for their second set, things have changed. They are more open about their hearing loss and their hearing aids, and they even encourage others to be more active in helping their hearing. For them, fidelity, clarity and options are more important than invisibility. I often say that if 4 people come into my office with the same level of hearing loss, each will end up with a different set of hearing aids. One may need an easy to handle device, another patient requests a rechargeable battery, the 3rd person wants a waterproof device, and the 4th is looking for the most affordable device for his budget. That is why we work with 4 different manufactures, to help you choose what’s best for you. If you think it may be time to discuss new hearing devices, call the office and schedule an appointment to talk about your concerns and options.

 

Resolve to Hear Better This Year

It is the beginning of another year and the resolutions that accompany it.  Is one or your resolutions to do something about your hearing?  Communication is the key to all human activities. One of the hardest things about having a hearing loss is that other people just don’t understand.  They can’t figure out why sometimes you seem to hear fine, and other times, not at all.

Quality, well-fit hearing aids are part of the solution. The selection of your hearing aids is based on a number of factors: degree of hearing loss, lifestyle needs, cost and appearance. By working with several manufacturers, and not just one brand, we are able to match the proper hearing device to each patient on an individual basis.

Take the first step to hearing better this year by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test with our licensed audiologist.

I tried hearing aids once before and they didn’t work out. I’m ready to try again. What can I do differently this time to make it work?

To gain full benefit from hearing aids, you must be informed, have realistic expectations and patience.

Seek help from a professional with whom you have confidence and trust. Ask questions. Identify environments where you have the most difficulty hearing. Your audiologist will recommend instruments most appropriate for your hearing loss and lifestyle. Be realistic.

Remember that it takes time to get use to hearing aids. Allow the brain to “rewire” itself to adapt to hearing in a new way. Keep a positive attitude while adjusting to new sounds and always remember your audiologist is your advocate.  Follow the instructions you are given during the initial stages of adjustment.

Be patient with yourself.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 513.489.3300.

Protect Your Hearing When Around Loud Sounds

Loudness is measured in decibels (dB). As decibel level increases the length of time that you can safely hear without ear protection decreases. For example, sounds that are 90 dB can be dangerous to your ears if you are exposed to them for 8 hours or more. As the dB level increases by 5 the length of time decreases by half. A noise, which is 95dB, is only safe for 4 hours and so on.

A rock concert can average between 110 and 120 dB. The maximum length of exposure for those levels is around 15 minutes, but the average concert is two hours in length. Permanent hearing loss can occur instantly from sounds like firearms (150 dB) and impact tools.

Repeated exposure to loud noise will damage your hearing permanently.

For more information on protective hearing products, please call us at 513.489.3300.

Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act

Academy Announces Introduction of Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act in U.S. Senate

Yesterday, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced S. 1694, the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act. This legislation provides a tax credit of up to $500 per device toward the purchase of a hearing aid, available once every five years.

The American Academy of Audiology enthusiastically supports this measure and will continue efforts to assist in passage of the legislation. You can help to gain support for this initiative by visiting the Legislative Action Center on the Academy’s Web site. Here you can locate your member of Congress and send an editable form letter urging support for S. 1694.

For more information visit: American Academy of Audiology

Become a “HEAR-O”

Just as eyeglasses are donated, so are hearing aids. Recycling old or no longer used hearing aids may seem like a small thing, but those hearing aids are very valuable to the Hear Now Foundation. All hearing aids regardless of make, model, age or condition can be recycled. All donations are tax deductible.

The Hear Now Foundation sells these instruments for the value of their component parts. All funds generated help to underwrite the cost of new aids provided by the programs efforts. Hearing Consultants is proud to be a collection site for the Hear Now Foundation. Every unit we collect is individually labeled with the donor’s name and address for a personalized acknowledgment letter. Across the nation over 50,000 hearing aids were donated to the program in 2012.

Please drop off your no longer needed hearing instruments any time during normal business hours.

Special Gifts for Special People

The holiday season is just around the corner. We go to parties, family gatherings and other special events. Your hearing aids help you enjoy these special holiday events, even if these get-togethers are often noisy.

Gift ideas for those who wear hearing aids or are hearing impaired begin at just $4.50 such as:

  • a supply of hearing aid batteries
  • an amplified telephone, either a speakerphone or one that is hearing aid compatible.
  • A wireless TV listening system
  • A vibrating or flashing alarm clock
  • A Dry and Store hearing aid conditioning system; an electronic device which removes moisture and sanitizes your hearing instruments, destroying microorganisms that can cause itching and external ear infections

Call or stop in to the office for a free Assistive Listening Device catalog

Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s

Strong evidence exists that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults. Unmanaged hearing loss can interrupt the processing of spoken language, exhaust cognitive reserve, and lead to social isolation. When an individual has both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer’s, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the hearing loss had been addressed.

Research has shown that the use of hearing aids has helped to reduce Alzheimer’s patients’ symptoms of depression, negativism, disorientation, anxiety, loss of independence and general cognitive decline.

A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any Alzheimer’s diagnosis and any hearing loss should be addressed. Most hearing loss can be managed with hearing aids. These individual’s — and their families and caregivers — face many challenges. Untreated hearing loss shouldn’t have to be one of them.

Hearing Helper

One of the most aggravating aspects of living with an individual with hearing loss, who is in denial (everyone mumbles they say), is constantly repeating yourself, speaking louder, or interpreting the world for them.

Here is one very clever intervention. Explain to your loved one in a calm, loving voice:

The family has had a talk. We believe you have a hearing loss and in the past we have helped you by repeating ourselves, or interpreting what other people have said. We love you very much and want you to get help for your hearing loss. For the next few weeks we will continue to help you but we will preface our help with the words “Hearing Helper”. We think in a short period of time you will realize how many times you seek our help in hearing.”

A little bit of tough love, but this method does work.

Take the self hearing test

A “yes” response to an item is awarded 4 points; “sometimes”, 2 points;
and a “no”, 0 points.

  1. Does a hearing problem cause you to feel embarrassed when meeting new people?
  2. Does a hearing problem cause you to feel frustrated when talking to members of your family?
  3. Do you have difficulty hearing when someone speaks in a whisper?
  4. Do you feel handicapped by a hearing problem?
  5. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
  6. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty at movies, the theatre, or religious services?
  7. Does a hearing problem cause you to have arguments with family members?
  8. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when listening to TV?
  9. Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits or hampers your personal or social life?
  10. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when in a restaurant with relatives or friends?

A score in excess of 10 suggests a need for referral to an audiologist for a complete hearing evaluation.

 

Three Stages of Hearing Loss

Most people who suffer from hearing loss pass though three stages of impairment: mild, moderate and severe, each one characterized by its own set of symptoms.

The most transient stage, mild hearing loss, is the stage where resistance to hearing help begins, but the individual must be encouraged to have a hearing test and receive amplification and/or intervention. Studies show that when a loss is corrected at this early stage, basic hearing functions remain within the normal range.

During the second stage, when moderate hearing loss occurs, people can experience growing frustration. The emotional feelings of insecurity may lead to a gradual withdrawal from social relationships and activities.

The third phase, the severe hearing loss, can isolate them from their families, friends and social networks, and plunge them into depression. They may feel trapped in a hostile world, fending against what they perceive as disrespect and ridicule.

When people start to realize how critical the sense of hearing is to one’s quality of life, they will begin to take advantage of the wonderful hearing solutions awaiting them. Then, their lives can be enjoyed to the fullest.