Improving Family Communication with Hearing Loss

Improving Family Communication with Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss can be an isolating condition, especially if it is not addressed. As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things, but deafness separates people from people.” The same might be said of hearing loss, which interferes with our ability to communicate with the people in our lives.

With hearing loss, speech recognition might become challenging. Some of the early signs of hearing loss include asking people to repeat themselves or believing that everyone around you is “mumbling.” For some forms of hearing loss, higher-frequency sounds are difficult to register, and thus, some people struggle with hearing higher-pitched voices.

It’s been said that hearing loss affects not just the person who has it – but the entire family. If you – or a loved one – experiences hearing loss, read on for ways to improve communication in the family.

Treat Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids

Here’s the most important thing to keep in mind about hearing loss: it is 100% treatable. Though there is no cure for hearing loss, it is treatable with the use of hearing aids. In treating hearing loss, you are already taking steps toward significantly improving hearing loss with your family members.

There are a number of negative consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated. For one, communication with your loved ones will suffer. Hearing loss interferes with how we recognize and process speech, and when this process is hindered, it could lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. When communication is the foundation of all healthy relationships, hearing loss could seriously undermine that.

If you or a family member exhibits signs of hearing loss, it is important to seek treatment. At Hearing Consultants, we will provide you with a comprehensive hearing test and fully customized hearing aid fitting.

Two Simple Rules for Family Communication

From Hearing Health, a leading organization on hearing loss, writer Suzanne Jones offers two simple rules for family communication: “If you are the speaker, it is your job to be sure what you’re saying is being heard and understood. If it isn’t, you need to fix it. If you are the listener, it’s your job to let the speaker know whether you’ve heard and understood.”

And – Jones adds – “Be nice to each other!” Hearing loss can be a frustrating condition, especially when we don’t feel heard. Keep in mind that no one is setting out to hurt anyone’s feelings – it’s just a matter of making sure that conversations and intentions are clear.

General Tips for Communication

For most of us with normal hearing, communication is woven so seamlessly into our daily activities that we may not stop to think twice or analyze about what happens in social interactions. Think for a moment about non-verbal ways we acknowledge that other people are listening to us and understanding what we’re saying. There’s nods, or sustained eye contact, or even verbal cues like, “Mm-hm” or “yeah.”

Pay attention when you’re communicating with a family member with hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss, especially, have learned ways to “fake it” in conversations and social interactions. Just to make sure you’re on the same page, do a little check in: “So – just to recap – you’re going to pick up the dog at the vet, and I’ll grab the dog food on my way home.”

Another important thing is to make sure you’ve got their attention first before you start speaking. It’s easy to shout from across the house or just start talking while you’re in the same room, but the person with hearing loss might not be listening at that moment. You could gently touch their arm or shoulder to get their attention and make eye contact before you begin speaking.

When it comes to speaking, there are several different scenarios. People who have treated their hearing loss with hearing aids have a much easier time with conversation, thanks to advanced technological features that analyze and process speech sounds. If you’re communicating with a loved one using hearing aids, it’s just important to remember to speak clearly at your normal volume of voice. There’s no need to speak more loudly than usual. If you’re a fast speaker, take a few pauses so they can catch up.

For family members who may have untreated hearing loss, communication becomes more difficult. Again, the most important thing to do in this instance is to sit down with your loved one and have a frank discussion about seeking treatment for hearing loss. “Faking it” in conversations only goes so far – and hearing loss is a degenerative condition, meaning it worsens over time.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Our team at Hearing Consultants is committed to reconnecting you to the sounds of your life and the voices of your loved ones. If you or a loved one has been experiencing changes in hearing, schedule a consultation with us today.

Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Did you know that nearly 20% of Americans have hearing loss? Hearing loss can be caused by the natural aging process as well as by injury, illness, or infection. However, one of the leading causes of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss, or hearing loss from being exposed to far too many loud noises.

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

Each and every day, we’re exposed to excessive noise, from noisy workplaces to traffic noise and even household noises like appliances, the vacuum cleaner, or the TV. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is hearing loss caused by over exposure to all these loud noises in our environment. Hold on. Your appliances aren’t that loud; surely, they’re not causing hearing loss? It’s true that on their own these sounds aren’t loud enough to damage your hearing, but when you’re constantly exposed to so many loud sounds in your environment, your ears can’t handle the noise, and you’ll be damaging your hearing.

NIHL can be sudden or gradual. When you’re exposed to loud sounds all day every day, this chips away at your hearing over time, and you’ll be far more likely to develop hearing loss than people who are in quiet environments every day. Hearing loss can also happen in a just a few minutes. If a noise is very loud, like a gunshot right by your ear, it only takes a second for your hearing to be permanently damaged.

Decibel Levels and Hearing loss

So how loud is too loud? To answer this question, we need to talk about decibel levels. Decibels (dB) are a way to measure volume, and find out what sounds are damaging to our hearing health. Sounds under 85 dB are considered safe. Things like normal conversation, the hum of the refrigerator, listening to the TV at a quiet volume are all safe sounds. However, once you’re exposed to sounds over 85 dB, the delicate structures of your inner ear face permanent damage, and your hearing health will be affected.

What Sounds Cause Noise Induced Hearing Loss?

NIHL can be caused by all sorts of sounds. The louder the sound, the greater your chances of developing hearing loss, and the less exposure you’ll be able to handle before your hearing suffers. If you’re at the shooting range or using firearms without hearing protection, you’ll be damaging your hearing, since these sounds can be up to 150 dB! Other recreational activities like snowmobiling, boating, or setting off fireworks are all very dangerous to your hearing health. Some tools you use around the house, like the lawnmower or leaf blower, can be around 100-110 dB, so be sure you’re wearing hearing protection.

Have you ever left a concert or a bar feeling a ringing or buzzing in your ears, or feeling like all the sounds around you are muffled? This is a clear sign that the sounds have been too loud, and you need to wear hearing protection, and step outside every now and then to give your ears a break. Concerts are notoriously loud, and can damage your hearing within an hour, or even in just a few minutes.

Who’s at Risk from NIHL?

Unfortunately, we’re all at risk from noise induced hearing loss. Anyone working in a noisy sector like construction, manufacturing, or farming, risks hearing loss. Even neighborhood noise can put you at risk for NIHL. Seniors often suffer from noise induced hearing loss from years of working in noise without proper hearing protection. Even young people face NIHL! Around 17% of children and teens have NIHL due to unsafe listening practices. How often have you noticed your teen sitting on the couch with earbuds in, blasting music? While they don’t realize they’re doing anything other than enjoying their favorite band, in reality they are damaging their hearing, creating a lifetime of hearing problems. Make sure they turn the volume down, and tell them about the dangers of NIHL.

Treating Noise Induced Hearing Loss

If you have noise induced hearing loss, its time to do something about it. Hearing loss is about more than just straining to hear. You’ll struggle to follow conversations, have difficulty understanding your grandkids, and find yourself feeling isolated and alone, missing out on so many of the important sounds around you. Take the first step and visit us at Hearing Consultants for a hearing test. We’ll help you find the perfect pair of hearing aids that will get you back to hearing, whatever the cause of your hearing loss.

Tips for Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Hearing Consultants - Tips for Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Looking forward to the holiday season, we anticipate big gatherings, much to catch up with in lively conversations, and celebratory music. For your family members who experience hearing loss, the holidays prove to be a challenging hearing environment with all the sounds of festivities. There are ways you can support your family members during this time, to make sure that they feel connected and included. If you experience hearing loss yourself, there are also a few things you can do to make your holiday experience more enjoyable.

Understanding the Basics of Hearing Loss

For those of us who do not experience hearing loss, it’s important to understand a few things about the condition. With hearing loss, certain frequencies and sounds are difficult to understand, such as the voices of women and children. With hearing loss, speech recognition becomes difficult, especially in cross conversation against a lot of background noise. Another difficulty with hearing loss is competing noise. Hearing loss makes it difficult for people to discern and focus on specific sounds in challenging noise situations.

Good communication is key among family members during the holidays. Feel free to ask your family members who experience hearing loss how you can make their holiday seasons joyous and relaxing. If you experience a hearing loss, communicate your accommodation needs to your loved ones in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Catching Up: Conversations & Speech Recognition

Holidays are a great time to catch up with our loved ones. When speaking to your loved one, make sure it is face-to-face and try to speak one person at a time – even though it might be difficult because everyone is excited to see one another! Speak at a pace that is even and normal – not unnaturally slow, of course – and speak clearly at a good volume, without running words together. People with hearing loss may hear muddled speech, so the clearer your diction, the better.

If you experience a hearing loss, position yourself in a way that makes it easier to have a conversation. Try to have a conversation off to the side in a small group – this is easier than being in big conversation. When seated at the dining table, try to get a seat with your back to a wall. If you sit at one of the ends, it may be easier to see everyone’s face, allowing you to read nonverbal cues.

Turn Down the Music

Who doesn’t love holiday music? Often times, we want music on to create a festive ambiance. Keep in mind that music blaring from speakers may hinder conversations your loved ones may have, and dial the volume down to a reasonable level. If the space is noisy, make sure you’ve got your family member’s attention before you speak; it could be as simple as a touch on the shoulder or elbow. With a lot of background noise, people who experience hearing loss may not be able to focus on all of the sounds in their environment, and may not hear you if you are behind them or off to the side.

If you experience hearing loss, ask your host to keep the volume down on the music. You could also suggest that they turn the speakers away from the guests, which still allows for those festive tunes but in a less direct and obtrusive way!

Streamlining Travel Plans

If your family member is hard of hearing and is planning to travel to see you, be prepared in advance and know their plans. Public transportation hubs and airports are particularly challenging noise environments for people who experience hearing loss, due to the large cavernous structures of transportation hubs as well as constant noise from vehicles, other travelers, and announcements on PA systems. Make sure you are in touch via text message, or that you have a clear plan for picking them up as they arrive, in case they cannot hear you on the phone.

If you experience a hearing loss, simple steps in preparation could make your travel plans so much easier. Make sure you have all of the supplies you need for your hearing devices, set your flight plans to text alert (just in case you cannot hear the schedule changes over the PA), and have everything printed up in hard copy.

Accommodating Family Activities

What’s better than gathering after a big dinner to play games, listen to music, or watch a movie as a family? If your family member treats their hearing loss with a hearing aid, ask them about the wireless connectivity capabilities of their devices. There are options for assistive listening devices (ALD) to amplify sound; if your family members are hard of hearing and visit you often, consider an ALD for the family room to assist with their listening experience.

If you have a hearing loss, your hearing aids may offer wireless connectivity options. Most hearing aids can be connected to home entertainment systems and electronic devices via Bluetooth, which delivers clear sound of media to the ears. If you are unsure, ask your hearing specialist at Hearing Consultants.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

In anticipation of the busy holiday season, schedule an appointment with us at Hearing Consultants. If you experience a hearing loss and use hearing aids, we’ll give your hearing aids a tune-up so you’re ready for the upcoming festivities. If you have been experiencing changes in your hearing, we’ll work with you to find a solution.

Adjusting to Your New Hearing Aids

Hearing Consultants - Adjusting to Your New Hearing Aids

If you’ve been living with untreated hearing loss, getting hearing aids can be a big step. Adjusting to your new devices can seem strange and uncomfortable at first. Part of the process of adapting to hearing aids is reintroducing your brain to hearing which can take a little time and practice. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started with wearing new hearing aids.

Ramp Up Your Hearing Aid Time

Adjusting to the feel of a hearing aid may take a little getting used to, but wearing them consistently is key to rehabilitating your hearing. If your hearing aid isn’t comfortable to you at first, begin by only wearing your devices for a few hours each day. After three days of minimal use, start keeping them in for an additional hour each day. Ramp up over the course of two weeks or so, from wearing them 2-3 hours a day to wearing them full-time, during all your waking hours. The gradual approach lets your ears ease into the way a hearing aid feels and how it rests on the ear.

Tune In On Small Noises

When you first get hearing aids you’re going to have to re-teach yourself how to hear sounds and place them in an environment. As you begin to adjust to your hearing aids give yourself some hearing practice time in a quiet space. Concentrate on hearing small and soft sounds within the space and try to figure out the source of the sound. Listening to small sounds reacquaints you with a nuanced sound range that will help you sort out the complexities of sound in busier environments. Being able to place sounds is an essential part of following conversation and prioritizing sounds in an environment.

How To Recognize Speech

An early experiment with vocal recognition software famously interpreted the phrase “How to recognize speech” as “How to wreck a nice beach”. The software really can’t be blamed – interpreting speech is indeed complicated and subtle. Rather than running the risk of wrecking a nice beach yourself, you may want to develop a practice routine with your new hearing aids to help you hear speech and conversation better.

A great way to practice this is by linking the words you hear with words you read. If you enjoy watching television shows, start turning on closed captioning so you can read the dialogue as you hear it. Another way to practice this is to listen to an audiobook as you simultaneously read it. Some radio programs make transcripts available online where you can simultaneously read and listen to an interview or report. You can also simply curl up in your favorite reading spot and read out loud to yourself.  Whatever technique you use, tethering sounds to their written meaning helps smooth the connections required for comprehending speech. 

Get To Know Your Device

Be sure you know how to keep your hearing aids clean and powered up. Have your hearing specialist walk you through how to wear and maintain your hearing aids. If your device has a volume control or if it integrates with your smart phone, take time to learn how it works and when to use special features.  Don’t mess around with volume settings much as you are adjusting to a new device. Wait until you are comfortable hearing with hearing aids to do any major volume changes.

In the adjustment period you should also be keeping track of noises that may sound annoying or off. If you start a list of these sounds when you first begin wearing new hearing aids, go over the list again once you feel comfortable with your devices. Many people often find the noises that were startling or confusing at the start have become normalized and unobtrusive as your hearing adapts. If any noises continue to be problematic, speak to your hearing specialist about potential adjustments.

Hearing Consultants Is Here For You

If you are having questions about your hearing aids, or if you’ve noticed any changes to your hearing, let Hearing Consultants help. We specialize in personalized hearing solutions alongside comprehensive testing and follow-up. Our expert hearing staff is here for your hearing heath, whenever you need assistance.

What to Expect at a Hearing Test

What to Expect at a Hearing Test

 

If you’ve recently scheduled an appointment for a hearing test at Hearing Consultants, congratulations! You’ve decided to take the first step toward improving your hearing health, which leads to significant benefits to your overall health and well-being.

You may find yourself feeling nervous about your upcoming hearing test, but there is no need to worry: a hearing test is painless and non-invasive, and it is a simple procedure from start to finish. Hearing tests are designed to gauge your abilities to receive and process sound. If a hearing loss is detected, they are also designed to determine the type of hearing loss you are experiencing, as well as the degree to which you experience it.

Here’s what to expect at a hearing test.

Consultation with Your Audiologist

When you go to meet your audiologist, you will answer a series of questions about your own medical history as well as your families. Your audiologist will ask if you are currently on any medication, if you’ve recently had a cold or ear infection, and if you were recently exposed to high volumes of noise.

You’ll also provide your audiologist with information about your job, daily life, and activities. Keep in mind the more you can share with audiologist, the more information they will have to assist you in treating your hearing needs.

Physical Examination

Following this chat, your audiologist will examine your ears with an otoscope, an instrument that allows them to look inside your ear canal toward your eardrum. This step helps your audiologist determine if there are any injuries to your eardrum, as well as any blockage within your ear canal (such as earwax). After this examination, your hearing specialist will ask you to remove your hearing aids and/or glasses for the next portions of the hearing test.

Hearing Tests

At Hearing Consultants, we administer three different hearing tests:

Diagnostic Auditory Evaluation

You will be asked to sit in a soundproof booth and you will be asked to wear a pair of headphones through which sound will play. Your audiologist will send a series of tones of varied pitch and loudness to your ears, one at a time. They may raise the volume on each sound until you can hear it, at which point you will push a button to indicate you have heard the sound. This test provides your audiologist with information on the type, degree, and severity of hearing loss, if it is present.

Tympanometry

This test looks closely at your middle ear, eardrum, bones of the middle ear, and Eustachian tubes. Your audiologist uses this test to determine if there are issues with the middle ear. For this test, your audiologist will use a tympanometer, which will briefly change your ear pressure for a few seconds for your audiologist to take measurements. It is painless.

Acoustic Reflex Thresholds

This final test is used to measure the contraction of your stapedius muscle (a muscle that protects our ears from loud sounds). In this test, there will be an air tight seal in your ear and a series of beeps will play. As the sounds get louder, your audiologist will measure the contraction of your stapedius muscle. Again, this test is painless and will last just a few seconds per ear.

Reviewing Your Audiogram & Next Steps

Following these tests, the results will be recorded on an audiogram, a visualization of your hearing abilities (shown individually by ear). Your hearing ability in terms of frequency and loudness, as well as brain response, will be graphed, while the speech recognition is generally recorded in the form of a percentage.

Your audiologist will explain your results and the next course of action based on the findings. These results are divided into normal hearing (no hearing loss), or varying degrees of hearing loss. Feel free to ask questions.

If a hearing loss is detected, your audiologist will present a series of treatment options to move forward. Based on your previous conversations, your audiologist will have a better sense of your lifestyle needs and will make recommendations accordingly. Our friendly team at Hearing Consultants will assist you in determining the next steps to best treat your hearing.

Life in Harmony: Musical Ear Syndrome

Life in Harmony: Musical Ear Syndrome

Really, what sounds lovelier than a constant serenade of sound, even when it’s not physically present? For some people, it may not be so lovely, especially when an unending melodic soundtrack is their reality. And while hearing the Vienna Waltz over and over again as one man reported his wife experiencing could be delightful, that isn’t always the case. Another woman who experiences this phenomenon of hearing sounds that aren’t there describes her presentation of the condition differently as she was “absolutely sure I could hear trucks and bulldozers working right outside our bedroom windows,” despite living on a quiet country lane.

Let’s explore the condition of Musical Ear Syndrome, an oftentimes frustrating condition.

Auditory hallucinations

These experiences are in fact auditory hallucinations, in which one experiences phantom sensory stimulation in the absence of real sensory stimuli. Of all the sensory hallucinations that humans can experience (sight, smell, taste, visual or feeling), auditory is the most common.

Auditory hallucinations are so common because of the very reason that Musical Ear Syndrome develops. It is a result of hearing loss, where the brain notices a lack of auditory stimulation and reacts by “filling in the blanks,” or providing stimuli where there is none.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States. Moreover, it affects the elderly in more substantial percentages. Older folks with hearing loss tend to live quieter lives, in which auditory stimulation is sharply absent. Of course, another contributing factor may be certain types of medications, which are also disproportionately used by the aged.

Common, but underreported

For fear of being deemed mad, Musical Ear Syndrome is a condition that is hugely underreported. One person suffering from Musical Ear Syndrome reports her fear of telling others of her experience, saying “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.” However, it is also a common condition experienced by approximately 10% of those with hearing loss.

It’s almost always directly linked to tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing sound heard but not present. This is a more culturally acceptable form of hearing phantom sounds, which is why the number of those afflicted might be more representative. Current data reports that 50 million Americans live with tinnitus.

You’re not “hearing voices”

There’s a quick rule of thumb to rule out psychiatric auditory hallucinations and diagnose Musical Ear Syndrome: psychiatric hallucinations classically present as hearing voices. This means that a clear voice speaks to or about you and can be engaged in conversation. What’s more, the topics or focus of the voice tend to be personally meaningful.

Comparatively, Musical Ear Syndrome sufferers tend to hear music or singing. If a spoken voice is heard, it is usually indistinct and vague.

Sound it out

One way to alleviate the burden of Musical Ear Syndrome is to expose one’s self to increased audio information. If your brain is dead set on providing you auditory sensory, then you might as well give it what it wants. That means turning up the radio or television, or better yet, socializing with others in conversation. This benefit is twofold as it attacks the silence and also gets the afflicted out of their isolating patterns. Reclusion in the elderly and particularly those with hearing loss is a powerful contributor to feelings of depression.

Speak with your doctor about your current medications if you think they might be a contributing factor in your auditory hallucinations. With their guidance, you can begin to eliminate obvious choices and pay attention to whether your Musical Ear Syndrome seems to be less present.

Be mindful

Another and potentially more difficult way to treat Musical Ear Syndrome is by training the brain to ignore the phantom sounds. This could be as old school as wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you begin to hear what isn’t there. Immediately turn on the radio or another audio device and concentrate instead on real sounds that are present.

You might also take a new school approach and begin a meditation practice. Though thought of as new school, meditation is actually an ancient art practiced in many cultures for thousands of years. A steady practice results in more focused control of the brain and its thoughts, thereby teaching you strategies for ignoring the mind’s grand productions.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

If you’ve been experiencing issues with hearing, schedule a hearing test with us at Hearing Consultants. Our experienced audiologists will work with you to find a solution for your hearing needs.

Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss

Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is not difficult to diagnose, but many people live with hearing loss for years before receiving a diagnosis and pursuing treatment such as hearing aids. In fact, it takes an average of seven years for someone to seek treatment for their hearing loss, from the time they first notice it. There are many reasons for this delay, from fear of looking old to disbelief that hearing aids can help. Hearing loss also occurs gradually in most cases, so it is not uncommon for a person to fail to recognize the loss until it has become more significant.

Numerous studies have shown that the earlier hearing loss is treated, the better. Hearing aids not only make it easier to communicate–they also help to preserve one’s general health and well-being, quality of life, relationships with loved ones, and cognitive function. That’s why it is critical to recognize the early symptoms of hearing loss and seek treatment right away. If you think you or your loved one might be suffering from hearing loss, read on to learn more about the symptoms and signs.

 

Social Signs of Hearing Loss

You may have a hearing loss if you have experienced these problems in social situations:

• You commonly need people to repeat themselves.
• You have a difficult time following conversation with more than two people.
• You often feel that other people are mumbling or that their voices sound muffled.
• You have difficulty understanding women and children (who have higher-pitched voices).
• You struggle to understand speech in noisy situations such as crowded public places, restaurants and malls.
• You and your family members have arguments because you turn the TV up too loud.
• You often respond to questions inappropriately.
• You have a hard time understanding others when you can’t see their faces.
• You have started to watch people’s faces more intently when they talk to you.
• You find that telephone conversations have become more difficult.
• You can hear speech but are not able to understand every word in a conversation.
• You have been told that you speak too loudly.

 

Emotional Signs of Hearing Loss

If you are suffering from hearing loss, it is not uncommon to experience some or all of these feelings:

• Stress and exhaustion from the effort of trying to understand speech all day.
• Annoyance at others because you have trouble understanding them.
• Embarrassment due to misunderstandings in conversations; hesitation or embarrassment about meeting new people.
• Anxiety about not being able to understand other people.
• Withdrawal from social situations that you once loved because of your hearing problems.
• Increasing distance between you and your loved ones because of difficulty communicating.

 

Medical Signs of Hearing Loss

Although there are commonly no obvious physical symptoms of hearing loss, here are a few things to watch out for:

• A ringing in the ears that comes and goes. This could be tinnitus, a very common side effect of hearing loss.
• A family history of hearing loss. (This may make you more predisposed for hearing loss.)
• A history of taking medications that are “ototoxic” (medications that can harm the hearing).
• A history of diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems.
• Previous exposure to very loud noises over a long period or one exposure to explosive noise.

 

Things to Keep in Mind about Hearing Loss

In most cases, hearing loss worsens over time. The symptoms may be difficult to recognize initially.

It is not unusual for people with hearing loss to first blame their hearing problems on the way others talk. They might remark that they would hear better if others wouldn’t mumble so much, or that people talked more clearly when they were younger.

A person’s friends and family often recognize the hearing loss before they do. Sometimes they recognize the signs long before, and need to convince the hard of hearing person to have their hearing tested.

People with hearing loss often don’t realize what they don’t hear, such as soft household noises or the chirping of birds. They may only be aware that they don’t understand speech as well as they used to, saying “I hear you but I don’t understand you.”

If you think you might have a hearing loss, the first step is easy. Visit us at Hearing Consultants for a consultation and hearing test today.

5 Tips for Protecting Your Hearing This Summer

protect your hearing this summer (1)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),  1.1 billion teenagers and young adults, ages 12 to 35, are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to damaging levels of sound at various noisy entertainment venues and the unsafe use of personal audio devices such as iPods, car and home radio systems. Along with this, repeated exposure to loud noise, over an extended period of time, also presents serious risks to hearing health.

Here’s a quick hearing tip: If you have to shout over the noise to be heard by someone who is within arm’s length, the noise is in the dangerous range.

Here are the warning signs of dangerous noise levels:
Pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area
Ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise
You have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise

Summer is in full swing and is full of fun, but is also full of noise. In the summer, there’s several outdoor and indoor concerts, fireworks shows, noisy parties, and other various events that present high levels of dangerous noise.

The Hearing Consultants would like to encourage people of all ages to pack up your earplugs along with that sunscreen and to follow these 5 tips for protecting your hearing this summer.

1) Plug your ears and walk away.

If a loud noise takes you by surprise, quickly plug your ears with your fingers and quickly walk away. Increasing the distance between you and the source of the sound will help reduce the intensity (or decibels) at which the sound is reaching your ears.

2) Use earplugs.

When you know you’ll be around loud sounds, use earplugs. Disposable earplugs, made of foam or silicone, are often available at local pharmacies. They’re practical because you can still hear music and conversation when they’re in your ears. But when they fit snugly, they’re effective in adequately blocking out dangerously loud sounds.

3) Limit your time in noisy environments.

Do all you can to limit the length of time you spend in a noisy environment. When you do participate in noisy activities, alternate them with periods of quiet. And remember to use ear protection.

4) Turn it down.

When listening to smartphones and other electronics, keep them at a low volume. Importantly, limit your use of headphones and ear buds. Remember, it’s not just the volume that matters. It’s also the duration of time spent listening.

5) Get a Hearing Test.

Visit a local hearing healthcare professional like the Hearing Consultants for custom-fitted ear protection and a hearing test. A hearing healthcare professional can provide a hearing test to determine your baseline hearing level and determine if you have any hearing loss that should be addressed. Hearing care professionals also can provide custom ear protection to ensure a proper fit.

Protecting your hearing is very important. For more information on hearing loss and to take the first step to better hearing, Request a Consultation with the Hearing Consultants.

7 High-Tech Reasons You Should Finally Deal with Your Hearing Loss

Finally Deal with Your Hearing Loss!

Lifting your mood, boosting your energy, protecting your earnings, super-charging your social life — and even keeping your mind sharp: These are just some of the many spoils that come with facing and dealing with a noise-induced hearing loss that has been slowly but persistently creeping up on you.

The quality-of-life and feel-good benefits of treating even just mild hearing loss brought on by years of loud music, power tools, high-volume headphones, motor-sport engines, crowded night clubs and bars, noisy restaurants, and raucous sporting events are plenty. But in this digital age of smart phones and wearable technologies, the draw for many solution-minded consumers may be in the technology itself. Super-smart, super-sleek, super-convenient, and super-sophisticated — today’s hearing aids give you a multitude of reasons to address that hearing loss you’ve been trying so hard to ignore.
Consider these inspiring facts about today’s highly functional, high-powered hearing aids. They just may get you to finally do something about your hearing loss and make your life easier.

1. They’re cool, sleek, discreet and virtually invisible.

New technologies are all about function, style, and effortless living. The latest hearing aids offer all three. The designs are incredibly attractive with smooth, modern contours. And they’re much smaller than even conventional Bluetooth earpieces. Many of the latest hearing aids are so tiny, they sit discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal, out of sight. You might say that aesthetically, hearing aids have had a complete makeover.

2. They cut out background noise so you hear what you want to hear.

Even with the best of hearing, it’s tough to hear people when it’s noisy. But many state-of-the-art hearing aids not only reduce unwanted noise, they also scan the listening environment and automatically adapt to it — even in wind. There are hearing aids that can actually “geo-tag” a location. So if it’s convenient for you to network at a certain coffee shop, your hearing aids will know when you’re there and adjust themselves accordingly. For the record, it’s not by chance that the latest state-of-the-art hearing aids are so adaptable to changing noise scenarios. Recordings of virtually every imaginable listening situation have been used to create algorithms and “train” these amazing mini-computers for your ears.

3. They capture the natural richness and variation of speech, so it’s easier to follow the conversation wherever you are.

Let’s face it, one of the most pesky aspects of not hearing as well as you once did is not catching everything people are saying. New technologies not only help you decipher speech details in music and noise, but they better preserve and clarify the more subtle sounds of language — like the consonants B, S, F, T, and Z — so you can really follow what someone is saying. No faking.

4. You can hear from all directions — even when scoping out what’s in the fridge.

Advanced directional microphone technology lets you hear from the back and side — something really important when driving a car. But it also makes it easier to hear voices more clearly in other everyday settings — like when your head is in the fridge and your significant other is talking at your back. Yes, that’s one great feature.

5. Digital, Bluetooth, and wireless capabilities keep you connected when it counts.

Digital hearing aids are the now the norm. That means many new technologies let you stream sound directly into your hearing aids — at the perfect volume — from your smartphone, laptop, conference-room speakerphone, home entertainment system, and other Bluetooth devices. Music, phone calls, podcasts, videos, whatever you listen to through your iPhone (or iPad and iPod for that matter), you can listen to through many hearing aids. Some even let you control the volume and other personalized sound settings with an app on your smartphone. Several types of wireless accessories give you a listening boost by bridging the gap between you and the speaker, making it easier to hear in loud or large places. Using a wireless mini-microphone — with cool, contoured designs, some even looking like a pen— placed on the restaurant or conference-room table, or near anyone you want to hear, makes it feel like they’re speaking directly and clearly into your ears, no matter how noisy the setting. You adjust the volume.

6. State-of-the-art comfort and convenience mean you’ll always want to use them.

Super-small, super-light, customized, functional, and ergonomically designed, hearing aids today are more comfy than ever — yet tough enough to withstand real life. For most of the newest hearing aids, there’s virtually no feedback or whistling thanks to advances in digital technologies. And most are hypoallergenic with nanotechnology coating to keep them clean and dry. Some are even fully waterproof, so you can swim and shower in them, no problem. Plus, today’s greater-than-ever audio-processing goes hand-in-hand with less battery usage. Some hearing aids are even rechargeable, eliminating the need to change batteries altogether. But the convenience and comfort don’t end there. Some brands let you set up reminders for things like appointments or taking medicine. Perhaps the most “peace-of-mind-preserving” life hack, though, is leading-edge technology that helps sooth the ringing in your ears (tinnitus) in a way that suits you.

7. There are even more disruptive hearing technologies on the horizon.

Totally out-of-sight, semi-permanent hearing aids that stay in for two to three months let you shower and sleep in them, no fuss. Perhaps the most futuristic glimpse of hearing aids is tied to recent ground-breaking studies revealing a significant link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. Hearing aid manufacturers are deep in the trenches working to create future break-through technologies that will make it as easy as possible for the brain to decode speech and other sounds. Reducing cognitive load — that is, drawing fewer resources from the brain just to “hear” — is a very good thing. After all, we really do hear with our brains and not with our ears. Some hearing aids with these technologies are already available. Yes, leading-edge hearing aids are here to help you keep your mind sharp and your life easier by hearing your best at every age — starting today.

4 Factors in a Successful Hearing Aid Fitting

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Not everyone does well with their hearing devices, not all hearing aids are created equally. Here are 4 factors which influence the success or failure of wearing hearing aids.

First, how severe is the hearing loss? Some hearing losses are fairly simple and straight forward to fit using today’s improved hearing aid technology. Mild high frequency sensorineural losses come to mind. Other losses can be severe to profound, causing distortion of sound—even with state of the art technology. The brain may no longer be able to process what is being said clearly. Often I’ve heard; “I can hear, I just can’t understand”.

The second issue facing a successful hearing aid fitting is: what product will you decide to invest in? I have told patients for years; “You get what you pay for”. There are wonderful hearing aids on the market right now that folks actually enjoy wearing. These products come from our leading manufactures that have proven over time to produce high quality sound processing as well as reliable durable products which do not need constant repair. These products are not cheap, nor do they come from the internet or big box stores. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Third, who is your person? An audiologist has a minimum of 6-8 years of college training. They have your best interest in mind. An audiologist will work with several brands of devices, ask questions, and listen to your needs to provide you with the best solution for your individual situation instead of assuming one size fits all. A hearing instrument specialist has a minimum of a high school education and basic training, typically based on how to close the sale.

Finally, the most important factor to a successful hearing aid fitting is you. Are you motivated? Do you genuinely want to hear well? Can you put behind you the idea of wearing a device in each ear that people may see? How you look with an untreated hearing loss is much more visible than any hearing aid will ever be.

When it is time for you or a loved one to consider hearing aids remember these factors. You may not be able to control your hearing loss (although you can take steps) but you can seek the advice of a local audiologist who deals with several manufacturers. Take the audiologist’s recommendations—that is why you made the appointment. Decide to accept your hearing loss and move ahead with a positive attitude.