A Guide to Buying Hearing Aids

A Guide to Buying Hearing Aids

If you have been suspecting that you are having more trouble than ever before hearing the people in your life, it’s a good idea to address the issue as soon as possible. Many of us have heard the dangers to our cognitive, emotional, and physical health connected to unaddressed hearing loss. The good news is that most of these risks can be lowered or eliminated with the use of hearing aids. Of course, there are a lot of hearing aids on the market. So how do you know what the best ones for you are? Here are a few tips to make the process of finding the right hearing aids for you, a total breeze.

Identifying your hearing issues

The first step to treating your hearing is accepting that you may have a hearing issue. Once you know your hearing ability this can help eliminate a lot of options. The problem is that many people don’t know they have a hearing loss for years before it becomes severe enough to even think about treatment. We recommend that you schedule annual hearing tests to track hearing ability and catch an impairment early. A hearing test will allow us to know you’re the nature of your hearing loss. It will help us understand what kind of hearing aids will amplify your hearing the best, based on your lifestyle and hearing needs.

Understanding Your Options

When you have your hearing tested, we can identify the softest noises and pitches you can hear. We will also interview you about your lifestyle, preexisting conditions, and family history to understand more about your hearing needs. If you are an active person who enjoys rigorous exercises, it will be in your nature to pick a pair of hearing aids that are sweat-resistant and suppress background noise, such as wind. If you struggle with arthritis in your hands, then a larger pair of hearing aids will help minimize dexterity issues. 

Types of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are not all the same. Some types fit behind your ear, while others fit within the ear canal. Many people don’t want their hearing loss to be public knowledge to everyone they meet. This is why many enjoy discrete hearing aids which fit in the ear canal nearly out of sight. However, for many these tiny hearing aids can’t always produce enough power if their hearing loss is more pronounced. Ultimately, we are here to help you find a pair of hearing aids that addresses your specific type of hearing loss, which is comfortable while fitting your lifestyle and your budget.

The most common types of hearing aids are:

  • behind-the-ear (BTE)
  • in-the-canal (ITC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC)
  • in-the-ear (ITE)
  • receiver-in-canal (RIC)

We can help you find the best ones for you.

Special Features

Today’s hearing aids are more advanced and nuanced than the hearing aids of the past. Depending on your lifestyle and needs around hearing, you may enjoy the many options and features available in hearing aids today. For instance, background filtering can help people who work or play in crowded environments prioritize the sounds they want to be amplified. Other popular features include:

  • Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to wirelessly connect to your phone’s audio for media, GPS, and phone calls, as well as stereos and televisions. 
  • Battery rechargeability. Part of wearing hearing aids in the past is that you have to change the battery every couple of days. Now many offer the ability to recharge overnight, eliminating this menial task.

The Price of Healthy Hearing

Hearing aids are an investment in your mental, emotional, and physical health. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the best price possible for your hearing health. Let us know what you hope to spend on your hearing aids, and we can keep this in mind when navigating your choices. It’s important to remember that those in the workforce who struggle with unaddressed hearing loss earn significantly less than those with normal or treated health. The Better Hearing Institute found that on average those with untreated hearing loss earned 30,000 less annually. While hearing aids can range from $1,200- $6000 depending on features and quality, it’s important that ultimately this investment will save you more money than the initial cost of hearing aids. Consider this an investment in your total quality of life. Schedule an appointment today to find out more about how we can help you.

 

Subtle hearing loss while young changes brain function, study finds

Subtle hearing loss while young changes brain function, study finds

When you’re young, it’s common to feel like your health will never catch up with you. This unfortunately has led many youths to experience hearing loss at a much earlier age. Many youths enjoy the intensity of loud music on the stereo, to dance to 4 am at a loud club right next to the speaker or even just blast music into their headphones while studying. Sounds we love release endorphins and it’s tempting to want to hear more and feel more of this. However, this behavior which many participate in when they are young can lead to serious issues with hearing. Now a 2018 study has found that hearing loss in younger people affects cognitive function and development.

The Effect of Hearing Loss on a Younger Generation

A study from The Ohio State University explored the effects of hearing loss on a younger generation and found that those with even an unnoticeable hearing loss are putting more burden on their cognitive functioning which more often displayed in late-middle age.

“Hearing loss, even minor deficits, can take a toll in young people,” says lead researcher Yune Lee, an assistant professor of speech and hearing science at Ohio State. “they’re using cognitive resources that could be preserved until much later in life. Most concerning, this early hearing loss could pave the way for dementia.”

The Study

The study published in the online neuroscience journal eNeuro first set out not to identify the effects of hearing loss in the brain in young people. Instead, it was aimed to examine brain activity and speech recognition to identify cognitive changes that occur when trying to comprehend challenging sentences.

The test group for the study included recruited 35 healthy participants, of all genders between the ages of 18 and 41 years old. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to measure and map brain activity while playing the participants, sentences of varying difficulty. The sentences were delivered in sets of four with the complexity of grammar increasing, as they progressed. A sample of four sentences follows:

  • Kings with three black horses that appreciate queens are good
  • Kings that appreciate queens with three black horses are good
  • Kings with three black horses that queens appreciate are good
  • Kings that queens appreciate with three black horses are good

The study participants were asked questions about each sentence to indicate comprehension.

Unexpected Findings

Lee’s team expected to see activity and changes in the left hemisphere of the brain as participants deciphered these sentences. Before the fMRI tests, the researchers tested the participants hearing to make sure it would not interfere with the study. However, for those with just mild hearing loss, the scientists did not believe it would keep them from engaging equally in the study.

However, the results of the fMRI found that those with subtle hearing loss showed an increased cognitive demand when deciphering speech. It caused a higher cognitive load, forcing those with hearing loss to work harder to understand the progression of sentences.

Instead of affecting the left side of the brain, the right frontal cortex was used to compensate for the hearing loss. This is remarkable for most the use of the right frontal cortex is generally seen in older people as cognitive decline is more common.

The Implications

What is significant about these findings is that those who were using this modified cognitive functioning were people whose hearing loss was so mild that most wouldn’t even consider it as an issue. At first, it didn’t even seem noticeable to the researchers conducting the study.

“Previous research shows that people with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to have dementia. And those with moderate to severe hearing loss have three to five times the risk, “said Lee. The surprising finding of this study illuminated the serious risk of hearing loss to a younger generation. Even if it doesn’t seem like it is immediately affecting your health and your communications, it is.

Treating Hearing Loss

There are numerous causes of hearing loss and they can all affect your hearing and cognitive health, no matter your age. However, it’s important to understand that treating your hearing loss with hearing aids can improve comprehension and significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The first step is to schedule a hearing test with us before it becomes a bigger issue in the future. Contact us today to learn more!

October is Protect Your Hearing Month

October is Protect Your Hearing Month

While you may be seeing Halloween costumes in the drugstores and candy in supermarkets, October is also a month where we celebrate an important month. 

 

October is “Protect Your Hearing” Month, an annual campaign held by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to raise awareness around the importance of detecting and protecting yourself from noise.

 

Who does Hearing loss affect?

Commonly associated with the elderly, hearing loss can affect anyone of any age. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is caused by changes to the ears as we age and is the most common type of hearing loss. It affects 1 in 3 people over 65 and half of those over 75. However, hearing loss has been found to affect 10% of millennials and 17% of Generation Z. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of generation Z. What are the biggest causes of hearing loss in these younger generations, and what does it mean for the future of hearing health?

 

Noise-induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

When sound reaches a certain threshold, it becomes loud enough to damage our hearing. It causes the inside of our ear to vibrate violently enough to cause damage to tiny cells responsible for sending sound from our ears to our brain. This can start slowly, so many of us are not aware we even have hearing issues, but slowly they can affect our relationships, our performance at work and even cause us to score lower on cognitive tests. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 40 million people ages 20 to 69 have hearing damage from everyday noise, which means it’s a big enough problem for a younger generation that must be addressed.

 

What are the Sources of NIHL?

The sources of NIHL could come from many unexpected places. The level of sound is measured in decibels and any decibel level over 85dB can start to damage sound. For many, NIHL occurs in the workplace. Worldwide, occupational noise exposure is responsible for 16% of cases of disabling hearing loss in adults. It is not just the level of exposure, but the length. When we are exposed to 85dB for 8 hours or more, hearing damage starts to occur. Over years, this can turn into a significant hearing loss which can not be reversed. However, the CDC reports that “The decibel scale is logarithmic, which means that loudness is not directly proportional to sound intensity. The intensity of a sound grows quickly. This means that a sound at 20 dB is 10 times more intense than a sound at 10dB.”

Where are Younger Generations Being Exposed?

Of those exposed to NIHL, only half report working in noisy jobs. This means that much of the damage to the ears of a younger generation occurs at home and during recreation. Many believe younger adults are sustaining damage to hearing from attending concerts and shows and participating in dances where music and sounds are loud. Sporting events are also suspected to contribute to NIHL.

Personal Listening Devices

Many suspect that millennials and Generation Z employees have hearing loss caused by using headphones. Personal listening devices can reach levels of 100 – 110 dB, which can cause damage quickly. 100dB can cause damage in about 15 minutes while at levels of 110dB, the same amount of damage can occur in just one minute! This is why it is important to stress safe listening habits with personal listening devices. Always turn the level of your player to no more than 60% of its potential volume and take listening breaks. This can give your ears a chance to rest and recover.

 

Protect Your Hearing

Practice safe listening habits now to protect your hearing for the future. Know the levels of sound you are exposed to daily. Using a free app on your smartphone will allow you to detect the level of sound in the places you frequent most. If the sound is too loud in your environment, wear hearing protection.  Earplugs and protective headphones can lower the level of sound by 15-33dB. Take listening breaks when you can and if a sound is too loud, step away. Hearing loss is permanent, so if you do suspect that you have a hearing loss, it’s important to have it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Use this October as a call to action and schedule a hearing test with us today.