Improving Communication with Your Family

Improving Communication with Your Family

With hearing loss affecting approximately 48 million people in the US alone, there is a good chance that someone in your family may be dealing with some degree of hearing damage. This is especially true if someone in your family is 65 years or older. It is estimated that one in three people over the age of 65 and half of seniors over 75 deal with some degree of hearing loss. 

Even so, hearing loss can affect you or family members at any age due to exposure to loud noise, head trauma, certain medications and infections. While it is important to take steps to protect yours and your loved one’s hearing it is not always possible. Once hearing loss occurs it cannot be reversed only treated with hearing aids.

A Strain on Relationships

Communication is affected more and more as hearing loss becomes more severe. It can be difficult to communicate important information to family members with hearing loss but just as importantly, it becomes challenging to share casual comments and inside jokes that build intimacy. You may start to feel distant from family members with hearing loss and not understand why. 

Know the Signs

Hearing loss is a progressive health issue starting slow and growing worse over time. It is common for people with hearing loss to not be aware of the condition until it progresses to the point where it’s hard to hear even in the most ideal of listening environments. 

It is often family members that recognize a hearing loss first. The sooner this condition is diagnosed the sooner treatment can begin. Untreated hearing loss has not only been connected to strain on relationships but a lack of self confidence, higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia, social isolation, and a greater risk for accidents that lead to hospitalization. 

Knowing the signs of hearing loss can allow you to diagnose yourself or a family member before relationships can start to suffer and related health conditions can progress. If you or a family member asks to repeat statements more often than not, complains about the volume of the TV or insists that others mumble, then it is a good idea to schedule a hearing test as soon as possible.

Treat Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids

The most important step for family communication is to wear your hearing aids at all hours from the time you wake up till the time you go to sleep. It is not just enough for your hearing aids when you go out in public. When your hearing aids are left unused, you are back to missing important casual conversation between family members that build intimacy and connection. 

Important Communication Strategies for Family Communication

Communication requires at least two people. If you are the speaker, it is important to get the listener’s attention first so they can be fully present to receive the information. This cannot be stressed more for family members with a hearing impairment. 

Make sure you maintain eye contact and that they have a full view of your face. This way they can rely on facial expression, body language and even lip reading to supplement for what they cannot hear. If you are the listener it is your job to let the speaker know that you understand what they are saying. When everyone in the family works together to ensure active communication hearing issues can cause less stress and strain in the family.

Clear Communication Strategies

Knowing and using communication strategies will relieve stress when speaking to people in the family with hearing loss. Make sure that the person with a hearing disability can see you before you start speaking. Avoid speaking to them from another room as this communication can be missed. Start by saying their name or lightly tapping them on the shoulder before you start speaking. Avoid yelling as this can actually distort the sound. Instead speak clearly and slowly enunciate each word. 

Make an Appointment for a Hearing Exam Today

If you suspect that you or someone in your family is dealing with even a slight amount of hearing loss make sure to set up a hearing exam as soon as possible. Hearing tests are quick and painless and can diagnose the extent of a hearing issue so the proper hearing aids can be recommended. The sooner you start wearing hearing aids, the sooner you can lower the stress level in your family, continue to build relationships and get back to enjoying life you love.

A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

A Link Between Stress and Hearing Loss

 

Today’s world is fast paced full of constant challenges. The pace of these days can be challenging and ultimately stressful if we don’t make sure to put time aside in our busy days to deal with stress. No one wants to live with stress as it can cause so many unplanned complications, including lost sleep interfering our work, and damaging relationships at home.

Negative Consequences linked to Stress

Your body deals with challenging situations by releasing chemicals into your bloodstream that give you a burst of energy or strength. While this is a natural response in our bodies that has helps us through difficult moments an excess of stress can be extremely damaging. Stress can wear us down and exhaust our bodies. Not only is stress emotionally exhausting but it is a health risk as well, weakening our immune systems, causing headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety attacks, and more.

Stress can Cause Hearing Loss

When your body responds to stress, the overproduction of adrenaline reduces blood flow to the ears, affecting hearing. The fragile hair cells in the inner ear rely on a constant flow of blood to receive the right amount of oxygen and other nutrients. When daily stress builds up day after day it can disturb blood circulation throughout the body and without a constant blood flow, the hair cells can become damaged sometimes permanently. This can lead to immediate hearing loss if you become so stressed that blood flow to the ears is stopped completely.

Stress and Hypertension

Hypertension and hearing loss also share a link. Hypertension is high blood pressure that often accompanies stress, and has severe hearing repercussions. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels are damaged. This damage isn’t centered in one area of the body – your entire body is affected, including your ears. And when the blood vessels in your ears are damaged your hearing could be impaired. Chronic stress in the form of hypertension often leads to hearing loss and tinnitus. The symptoms of hearing loss due to stress include a blocked feeling in the ears, pressure or pain in the ear, or a complete loss of hearing in one or both ears.

Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Many studies have linked stress to tinnitus, both as a cause and as a symptom. Tinnitus is described as a ringing, hissing or roaring sound in the ears frequently caused by exposure to loud noise or certain medicines. It can come and go but tends to be more acute when a person is dealing with stress. A study by S. Herbert found that 53% of patients with tinnitus said their symptoms started during stressful period of their lives, or became significantly acute during a stressful time. It’s a vicious cycle, as stress causes tinnitus, which inevitably causes more stress, which in turn causes even more tinnitus.

Ways to De-Stress

If you have hearing loss due to stress, the first step is to reduce your stress levels and prevent further damage.

    • Take a moment. When you are feeling overwhelmed take a moment to decompress. Even 20 minutes away from the source of a stressor can give you perspective to help you feel less overwhelmed.

 

    • Exercise. When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Just 20 minutes daily increases blood flow to your body each day provides health benefits for both your body and mind.

 

    • Talk about it. Talk to someone who can understand what you’re going through and provide positive feedback. This could be a close friend or a professional.

 

    • Meditate. Like exercise, meditation helps the mind and body relax and focus.

 

  • Do the things you love. It’s important to make time every day to do things you love. Listen to music, go for a swim, making yourself a cup of tea, start a new hobby, read a book or watch TV – make sure you take the time to unwind.

Seek Help for Hearing Loss

If you are suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus, we can help. Visit us at Hearing Consultants to schedule a hearing test. With comprehensive hearing tests and personalized advice, we’ll work with you to find the best treatment to de-stress your life.

 

Treating Hearing Loss is an Important Part of Caring for Your Health as You Age

Treating Hearing Loss is an Important Part of Caring for Your Health as You Age

 

As you age your hearing will inevitably become more strained. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. Are you worried about your hearing loss worsening over time? Not sure if you’re experiencing hearing loss? Here are five types of exercises you can do to help boost your hearing abilities!

Solving Puzzles to Combat Hearing Loss

The brain plays major role in processing sound information our ear receives.  It’s important not to ignore it. Research shows that there are links between hearing loss and mental conditions such as anxiety and depression. This may be a result of brain atrophy, which occurs when brain cells and connections shrink. Like muscles, your brain needs a workout to stay in shape and continue pumping.

Solving a variety of puzzles such as crossword puzzles, word searches, and Sudoku throughout the week are fun exercises that get your brain working to prevent atrophy. Playing bingo with your friends, and card games such as hearts and poker, are more great ways to work out your brain and combat hearing loss.

Do Yoga to Improve Your Hearing

Yoga is widely practiced for its many health benefits. There are even yoga exercises that help with your hearing as well! The goal of these exercises is to increase circulation in your ears and your brain, since increased circulation helps improve nerve functions and forces out harmful toxins.

Yoga poses that help with circulation include the tree pose, lotus pose, cobra pose, and triangle pose. Yoga can also help with tinnitus and an overall sense of peace and calm.  There are many videos online if there are no yoga classes in your area, so take advantage of this great way to protect your hearing.

Exercise Daily to Maintain your Hearing

Keeping your body in shape is important for keeping your ears and brain healthy. Exercise every day by going out for a walk, taking a jog, or even just gardening.  You could even turn your housework into an exercise routine. Anything to get your blood pumping and circulation going strong is good for your hearing health.

Try not to exercise with headphones, earphones, or any source of loud music, because repeated exposure to loud noise can damage ear cells, which are irreplaceable. If you decide to exercise with music, keep the volume relatively quiet and comfortable. As a rule, if other people around you can ear the music playing in your headphones or earbuds, your music is too loud.

Meditate to Improve Your Hearing

Meditate in your backyard or a park, or anywhere you will be surrounded by gentle sounds. As you meditate, take deep breaths to help blood circulation and increase oxygen in your body. Focus on each sound around you and try to locate where each sound is coming from. This exercise will relax you, and also help you concentrate on deciphering sounds in noisy environments by determining the location of each sound.

Practice Focusing on and Locating Sounds to Sharpen your Hearing

Hearing exercises can help you hone in on where sounds are coming from and who or what is making the sounds. There are exercises you can do with a friend or loved one to improve your hearing health.  Place a Bluetooth speaker or radio in one area of the room, and play music at a comfortable volume. Place another sound source in a different area of the room, and turn up the volume until the combination of the two sounds creates a noisy environment.

Have someone move around the room while reading sentences from a book or newspaper. Close your eyes, repeat the sentence back to them, and try to locate where the person is standing in the room.

Hearing Consultants

It is normal for hearing to decline with age, but with some of these daily exercises you can practice harm reduction to slow this process.  These are only a few of the  exercises that can keep your hearing and brain in shape. If you’ve noticed any recent changes to your hearing health, visit us today at Hearing Consultants for a hearing test.

Great Things to Hear This Holiday Season in Cincinnati

Great Things to Hear This Holiday Season in Cincinnati

Take some time during the hustle and bustle of the holidays to meet with family and friends and enjoy the season. Its not all about presents – its about making lovely memories. At Hearing Consultants, we want you to stay connected to family, friends and the sights and sounds of the season – which is the reason you should take care of your hearing health. Here are some of our favorite activities to consider this holiday season.

Santaland – Holiday in Lights

various performances and events – Dec. 1 – Dec. 23
Sharon Woods/Sharon Centre
First, there’s more than a mile of spectacular holiday lights including 120 moving holiday themed figures from Jolly Saint Nick to depictions of the 12 days of Christmas. Drop in to the Sharon Centre where Santa’s elves have created a winter wonderland including lots of family friendly entertainment, a holiday train display, sweets, a selfie holiday photo-op area and, of course, gift options. Check out Everette Green, the talking Christmas tree, enjoy performances of the Dickens Carolers and there will also be performances of Ebenezer Scrooge.

PNC Festival of Lights

Dec. 1- Jan. 1
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Voted Best Zoo Lights in the USA, this year the zoo tries to outdo last year’s set up. Enjoy the “Wild Wonderland” which includes 3 million (yes, you read that right – 3 million) LED lights, and a black-light puppet show. There’s a Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake, you can ride the BB&T Toyland Express Train Ride, hear a story from Mrs. Claus, write Santa a letter at the Holiday Post office and find the hidden fairies in Fairyland. All this in addition to the 22 larger than life Animal Lanterns throughout the zoo AND the new indoor Gorilla World exhibit is open!

The Nutcracker

Dec. 13 – 24
Music Hall
Recognized by the community as one of Cincinnati’s favorite traditions, the Cincinnati Ballet once again presents the charming Christmas tale set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved musical score. Take a journey with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince to the Land of Sweets where the Sugar Plum fairy will shower you with treats and celebrations. Gorgeous sets, memorable costumes and a chance for photo opportunities with the Snow Queen and Nutcracker 35 minutes prior to the start of each evening show in Corbett Tower.

A Christmas Carol

Dec. 13 – 29
Marx Theatre
Hundreds of costumes and thrilling special effects make this one of the Playhouse’s most popular productions. A Christmas Carol is the story of ultimate redemption. Four ghosts show Ebenezer Scrooge its never too late to change your miserly ways – just in time for Christmas.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!)

Dec. 14 – 30
The Otto Budig Theater
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company brings back their holiday smash hit by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald and john K. Alvarez. Directed by Jeremy Dubin, this begins as an annual production of “A Christmas Carol” and evolves – or devolves as the case may be – into an irreverent look at all the beloved holiday classics including “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas.”

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Dec. 14
US Bank Arena
Here’s to a rock ‘n roll holiday. Enjoy this production which revolves around a runaway who finds shelter in an abandoned theater on Christmas Eve. She experiences ghostly musical performances from the theater’s past. Powerful storytelling interlaced with presentations of Christmas favorites including “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “O Holy Night” along with some original Christmas songs.

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Dec. 21 – 23
Xavier University – Gallagher Student Center Theater
Music, miracles and some mischief all come together in the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Christmas chamber opera Amal and the Night Visitors. This is the tale of the shepherd boy Amahl, his mother and their life-changing encounter with the Three Wise Men. We’ve got opera singers, Pones Inc. dancers, Madcap puppet and a full choir.

Winterfest

Dec. 1 – 31
Kings Island
Holiday shows, carolers in traditional costumes, shops with holiday gifts and decorations. The park is transformed into a land of enchanting productions and events including ice skating on the Royal Fountain, the transformation of the Eiffel Tower into a truly magical 314 foot Christmas tree, millions of lights and dozens of holiday characters including Jack Frost, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Candy Cane. Listen to Blitzen’s Brass Band, go to a Build-A-Bear workshop, check out the Peanuts characters in Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town and attend one of the performances of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular. It’s an upbeat Broadway style show that is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Visit us at Hearing Consultants

We wish you a happy and joyous holiday season. Enjoy your time with family and friends and make some spectacular memories. And don’t miss a minute of the sights and sounds – we’re here for you so schedule your hearing evaluation and stay connected to the sounds of the holidays.

 

Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Enjoying the Holidays with Hearing Loss

Here we are, right in the midst of the holiday season! One highlight of this time of year is the opportunity to spend time with family and friends at big parties, small get-togethers, and even getting some quality time with our immediate families. The preparation for these events can’t be forgotten either. Although the tasks can feel endless at times, they are also fun aren’t they? Buying groceries and cooking for a big event can test our culinary skills indeed. Running errands around town can be chaotic with holiday traffic everywhere we turn, but the hustle and bustle also puts a buzz of excited energy in the air. Cleaning up the house for a gathering may seem mundane until you remember the connections with our loved ones that are maintained through these annual events. Those of us who have to travel across the country to meet up with our loved ones have a difficult task, as well, but the travel to see our loved ones has an underlying tone of anticipation.

Through all of these holiday activities, both attending gatherings and preparing for them, we can’t forget to include our loved ones with hearing loss in the process. A few simple tips can help us incorporate these family members into everything we do without overwhelming or stressing them out.

Preparing for the Holidays

Although you might worry that the process could be stressful or overwhelming, why not invite your family members with hearing loss along with you while you prepare for the holidays? They can join you for all of these preparatory tasks with just a few accommodations made. First of all, make sure that your family members with hearing loss are driving safely. If they do not have hearing aids, you might want to start a discussion about the dangers of driving with impaired hearing. For those who do have hearing aids, make sure to remind them how important it is to have assisted hearing on the road. While you go together shopping or running errands, be sure to stay within eyeshot as much as possible. If your loved one gets separated from the group, they may not be able to hear you calling their name. If noisy locations are a part of your preparation process, stand close by your loved one to communicate, looking them straight in the eye to assist communication.

Holiday Gatherings

When the time finally comes for a holiday party or gathering, it’s your time to really shine! Make sure that your loved one with hearing loss is able to do the same. A few simple tips will help make any gathering easier on your family member with hearing loss. First of all, it can help to speak more loudly, but take care with your tone. Raising your voice can often come with a feeling of annoyance or even anger. Be careful to keep your voice easy and gentle even when you raise the volume.

If you find your loved one in an awkward placement at a table or other arrangement, take the initiative to help them move to the middle of the group. Some subtle acts of translation can be helpful, as well. If you know that a person is speaking too quietly or is to far away to be understood, fill in the details for your loved one with hearing loss; context clues are very helpful. Don’t simply repeat the same thing over and over if your loved one cannot hear what you say. Instead, rephrase slightly, offering new context clues to help aid in the process of understanding. Reducing the background noise can be quite helpful, as well. Some music in the background is a surefire way to get any party in the festive mood, but make sure that it doesn’t simply make people raise their voices to compete for volume. If so, turn the background music down a few notches and watch as the group speaks more quietly.

These are just a few of the ways that you can consider the needs of your hearing-impaired family member at the gathering, but the most important thing is to make sure they feel included and like an essential part of the group.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

If you believe you have a hearing loss, why not give yourself the gift of hearing this holiday? Hearing loss affects you – and your loved ones. Difficulties with speech recognition could make communication a struggle, especially during the busy holiday season. Contact us at Hearing Consultants to schedule an appointment for a hearing test today.

Tips for Students with Hearing Loss

Tips for Students with Hearing Loss

 

Help your child, or your college-bound student do the best they can in an educational setting by reviewing some of these tips. At Hearing Consultants, we are always happy to help you with issues that might come up during the busy back-to-school time. Remember, the best thing you can do for your student is to have an up-to-date hearing test!

Back to school

There are more than 70,000 children in the public school system that receive services to help with hearing loss issues, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. These services are critical for your child because children learn to talk and set up sentence structure by listening to others talk. Children with hearing loss can find it difficult to learn vocabulary, grammar, word order and other components of verbal communication.

Let everyone know what is going on

Help your child, if he or she is old enough, to talk to teachers and fellow students about their hearing loss. A confident matter-of-fact approach will make other students approach the hearing loss the same way. It sends a message it isn’t a disability or something weird, just an issue that needs to be dealt with – like some children need glasses, some need hearing aids, some are allergic to peanuts or bee stings.

Make sure to explain to bus drivers, aides that might ride the bus as well as school monitors that they need to speak clearly to your child and it is best to stand in front of them and talk to them.

Remind your child it is perfectly fine to ask questions during class, at the appropriate time, if they don’t understand something or they can approach the teacher after class.

Set up an IEP

An Individualized Education Plan is a legally binding program that sets up a common understanding between you, your child, the teacher and the school on how your child will be taught including accommodations to deal with hearing issues.

Public schools, by law, must adhere to the IEP. It’s a basic guide on what essentials are needed to help your child succeed. It’s a good idea to review it every year and get a new one if your child moves to a different school.

Get the proper tools in place

Some children have an easier time listening in class if they have a personal listening device like an FM system. Teachers wear the device around their neck to amplify their voices in your child’s hearing aids. Your child will have to expend a lot less energy listening and focusing if they are hearing at a level they find comfortable.

If you child struggles taking notes and keeping up because there is some extra sound processing time that is needed, you can ask for a note-taker. Some schools just hire someone to take notes and others pick a student that is a good note-taker and have them duplicate their notes.

After school activities

After a hard day of listening, sports or musical after school activities will help them keep being a kid. A short chat with a coach or music teacher about hearing loss and your child and let them blow off some steam.

University students and hearing loss

By law, public universities – and any facility that is financed by public funds – needs to make allowances for the hearing impaired. College lecture halls can have poor acoustics, so some universities employ sing-language interpreters. Very often even non-academic functions have sign language interpreters available.

Professional note-takers are also sometimes utilized, and lecture notes are uploaded directly to the web. Some universities have a screens with text displays of the lectures. Professors also use personal listening devices during lectures to make sure if they are facing a blackboard or white board, everyone can hear what is being said.
Prior to the start of the school year, you should find out what student services are available for the hearing impaired and where the student services office is located. Communicate via e-mail with your instructors about your hearing loss and what needs you must be successful. Plan for safety at your residence hall by taking to the residence hall director about emergency exits as well as a personal alert device.

Find a hearing health provider

Hearing Consultants will help you out with what you need before you leave for school and if you need to find a closer provider, we can help with that. Remember to have an undated hearing test before you start school in case your hearing aids need to be adjusted.

 

Meditation Could Help Alleviate Tinnitus

Meditation Could Help Alleviate Tinnitus

Tinnitus, the medical term for a ringing in the ears, is a condition with no known cure. There’s no question – chronic tinnitus can be frustrating. A persistent ringing in the ears can dominate your thoughts and detract from focus. While there isn’t a cure for tinnitus, there are tinnitus treatment options to manage the condition to help make it less prominent in your mind. Among possible solutions, many people are turning towards meditation techniques to provide relief for their tinnitus symptoms.

Recognizing Tinnitus

There are many factors that can contribute to tinnitus, and most involve some damage or restriction in the auditory system. Tinnitus is a malfunctioning of the auditory system, triggering the brain to hear sound where no sound exists. Often these sounds are tonal or ringing, but tinnitus can also take the form of other sorts of sounds such as buzzing and clicking noises.

If you have hearing loss, the occurrence of tinnitus may be especially distracting for you. While other, actual sounds may be muffled or softer, tinnitus noise can dominate your hearing by being the clearest and prominent sound. The best course of action once you’ve recognized it is to pursue treatment that can help you manage tinnitus.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation aspires to help you recognize and accept the subtle sensations of your body and mind. There are many online resources to help you get started with mindfulness meditation, to begin you will simply need a quiet space and a comfortable sitting position.

This meditation involves sitting still and silent and allowing the sensations of the body to come and go. This means not indulging the urge to scratch an itch or shift your seating as well as not allowing your mind to fixate on any single thought. For tinnitus sufferers, the urge to try to alleviate your tinnitus through movement or introducing other sounds may seem overwhelming at first. Don’t worry- over time this meditation can allow you to rest with your tinnitus, observing it for what it is and releasing stress your body carries from tinnitus.

While it is often recommended that you meditate with your eyes closed, many people with tinnitus suggest beginning with your eyes open. Visual observation can help downplay the dominance of tinnitus sound and make you more relaxed throughout the process. By passively observing the tinnitus sounds, even surrendering to them, your body is better able to combat their intrusiveness. Many people have found that mindfulness meditation, though initially challenging, changes the role tinnitus plays in their life and helps them better manage their hearing. Organizations, such as the British Tinnitus Foundation, have even developed mindfulness programs specifically built around tinnitus management.

Guided Meditation

Another form of meditation is guided meditation where the meditation session is led by verbal guidance and soothing sounds to help you pay attention to different aspects of your life and experience. Guided meditation can be used to help focus on a certain element or goal as well as directly reinforce new thought patterns and strategies.

Many people who cope with tinnitus find solace in using guided meditation to help redirect their thoughts and focus. Guided meditation can provide more cues and reminders to help you redirect your mind from fixating on intrusive sounds or disabling thought patterns. A guided meditation path can also help your body find rest and relaxation strategies that you can carry into everyday stressful situations. Using soothing sounds to accompany your meditation may provide the most comfortable path for you, similar to working with white noise patterns to neutralize the tinnitus.

Other Treatments

It usually takes some trial and error to learn what works best for your personal tinnitus. Meditation can help deconstruct stress and relax your mind, helping to make tinnitus more manageable. This may work by itself, or meditation may be one of multiple strategies you employ to cope with tinnitus.

Using a sound generator to reduce the tinnitus you focus on is one of the most popular tinnitus therapies. Many hearing aids can be equipped with personal tinnitus management therapies, including white noise sounds, simple harmonic tones and customizable sound palettes to create your own sound relief. Whatever course of action you pursue, with some trial and error you can find what helps you relieve tinnitus and helps you function every day.

Many cases of tinnitus are linked to hearing loss. To learn more and to schedule a consultation and hearing exam, contact us at Hearing Consultants today.

Invest in Better Headphones to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

Invest in Better Headphones to Help Prevent Hearing Loss

 

Hearing loss isn’t just something that affects the aging. The way that our culture has so quickly adapted to personal technology devices and the dependence upon headphones or earbuds has greatly impacted the way hearing loss is appearing in much younger people.

Noise induced hearing loss

The classification of noise induced hearing loss is when too loud sounds irrevocably damage the delicate cells of the inner ear. These cells function as the receivers of sound information and once damage occurs, healthy hearing begins to decline.

Its presentation can be slow and subtle, with the loss first of frequencies rather than an overall lowering or eradicating of volume. This is, of course, the case with noise induced hearing loss that occurs because of too loud noise environments and prolonged exposure over a long period of time. Some instances of of noise induced hearing loss can occur quite suddenly, such as a loud explosion or crash, in which hearing faculties are irreversible and considerably damaged in an instant.

No regulation in sight

Before, we might have warned folks working in certain industries about the way their jobs might result in eventual noise induced hearing loss if proper precautions weren’t taken. The loudest fields remain agriculture, military, construction and manufacturing. Because of the very real danger of potential hearing loss, those industries were heavily regulated to protect the hearing health of workers. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) imposes strict limits on the types of sound workers can be exposed to and the duration of time that exposure can last.

Today, though, no one is regulating the noise exposure produced by the constant use of cell phones and personal devices.

The real danger of heavy listening

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global warning on unsafe use of personal audio devices, stating that more than a billion teenagers and young adults were at risk of hearing loss. They classified unsafe exposure to be noise in excess of 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes. To put things into perspective, a rock concert typically measures around 100 to 120 decibels. Real hearing damage can be done in about two minutes with exposure to sound measuring 110 decibels, so it’s nothing to take lightly. iPhones in Europe have a maximum volume of around 100 decibels, which is only slightly higher in the United States, at around 100 to 115 decibels.

Headphones to the rescue?

So why would the very thing that is causing so much damage end up being the solution to unnecessary early hearing loss? Well, how we listen is as important as our listening behavior. With a pair of standard headphones, which freely allow outside noise to disrupt the listening experience, you’re tempted to crank up the volume on your phone call or music streaming session. This can result in damaging volumes. However, noise canceling headphones tune out that background noise so that your device’s volume can remain lower and still retain a quality listening experience. In essence, you hear what you want to hear and tune out the rest.

A really good pair of noise canceling headphones is an investment that can set you back between $50 and up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the quality of the product you choose. However, it’s really an investment in your listening experience and your long term hearing health. In fact, the 2015 WHO report specifically suggested noise canceling headphones as one of three ways to protect your ears.

Other ways to protect your ears

In addition to noise canceling headphones, you can take other precautions to protect healthy hearing function. For starters, begin to notice the volumes on your devices. Try taking it down to the lowest setting that still allows you to hear clearly. Note where the volume level is and try to maintain it, despite an urge to raise it if your environment becomes noisier or if you just really love that song.

Take listening breaks from your personal devices throughout the day. It’s easy to just stay plugged in, but every four hours or so give your ears twenty minutes to remember the sound of silence.

Visit Us at Hearing Consultants

Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Our team at Hearing Consultants provides comprehensive hearing services, including hearing testing and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

This Fourth of July, Protect Your Family’s Hearing

This Fourth of July, Protect Your Family’s Hearing

 

It’s almost time to celebrate the red, white and blue! The Fourth of July is a wonderful time for us in the United States. It’s a time for us to honor those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence we enjoy today. July fourth is also an opportunity for us to gather with friends and family to enjoy pool time, sunshine, barbeque, and of course, awesome fireworks.

The festive, fun, and patriotic celebration of Independence Day also brings with it a real danger – one most of us likely have not considered. This danger is noise induced hearing loss, and those wonderful fireworks we look forward to each year may be to blame. Before the celebration this year, it is important to take some time to consider how you can protect your family’s hearing to enjoy a safe and healthy holiday.

How can fireworks cause hearing loss?

Excess exposure to any noise, regardless of its source, has the potential to cause hearing loss. This type of impairment is called Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and can affect anyone at any age. In fact, it is estimated that about one in four young adults aged 20-69 do have an identifiable hearing loss and this number is only set to grow. Rates of noise induced hearing loss have been on the rise for quite some time, with an estimated 1.1 billion youth between the ages of 12-35 being at risk for developing a noise induced hearing impairment caused by recreational activities (http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss). Once acquired, noise induced hearing loss is rarely temporary and cannot be reinstated or cured. Once your hearing has been damaged by noise and is gone, its gone. This is why it is so important to remain educated about common dangers to your hearing, and how you can protect it.

Are fireworks really that loud?

Yes. Surprisingly enough, fireworks really are loud enough to cause damage to hearing, especially fireworks purchased for home use. When fired nearby, fireworks can ring in at a deafening 150-175 decibels – which is loud enough to cause instant hearing damage (https://www.boystownhospital.org/knowledgeCenter/articles/hearing/Pages/Fireworks.aspx). As perspective, an ambulance siren driving past rings in at only 120 decibels – quite a bit quieter than nearby fireworks. Fireworks are not only a sight for sore eyes, but can also be a sound to cause sore ears, too!

How do I protect my family’s hearing?

Just because fireworks have the potential to damage hearing, doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t participate in all the fun. There are some very easy and inexpensive steps you can take to ensure your family enjoys the festivities and protects their hearing.

 

Make plans for hearing protection.

There are many options when it comes to protecting your hearing. The best and most effective choice is custom-made earplugs designed for the purpose, however, these are not readily available to everyone. Disposable earplugs can also be effective. Disposable earplugs should have a clearly marked Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), which will indicate how many decibels of sound are blocked by the plugs. It may be smart to purchase your family’s earplugs in advance to allow everyone an opportunity to test them for comfort. Smaller children’s earplugs can improve comfort for the littlest ears amongst us. Pack enough earplugs for the whole family (not just the kids!) and be sure to include a few extras.

 

Take location into consideration.

The further you are from where the fireworks are launched, the lower the noise level will be. Finding a spot that is a little bit away from the heart of the action can help to protect your family’s hearing. Being “away from it all” may also be a breath of fresh air, allowing you the room and peace to really enjoy the time with your loved ones.

 

Make adjustments as needed.

Even with hearing protection and location in mind, it is important to still be cognizant of how the sounds are affecting you and your family. If at any time you notice yourself or one of your family members covering their ears, or expressing ear pain or buzzing or ringing in the ears, it’s a sign the environment is too loud. It may be time to find a spot even more set apart or maybe even enjoy the view from indoors.

Chances are, your family won’t lose their hearing over one night of fireworks, though it is important to teach healthy hearing habits as early as possible. From our family to yours, we truly wish you a very happy, safe, fun and healthy Independence Day this year!

Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Hearing Aids

Hearing Consultants - Summer Maintenance Tips for Your Hearing Aids

Welcome Summer! While the chilly weather can present come challenges to hearing aid wearers, so can the warm weather. Remember, Hearing Consultants maintains an extensive supply of parts, cleaning tools, and specialized equipment for your hearing aid repair and maintenance needs. But we want you to enjoy the summer so here are some tips for keeping your hearing device in tip-top shape no matter what the temperature or activity you want to be involved in.

Sound issues?

With the change in temperature there can be moisture and perspiration issues with your hearing aids. If you think the quality of sound is changing and there are issues with how they are functioning with other devices – give us a call and bring them in for a check-up. Most times a simple cleaning or perhaps a little bit of an equipment change is the answer.

Avoid water damage

If you are an avid swimmer or enjoy activities near the water, it is best to remove your hearing aids. Salt water especially is dangerous. When salt water dries, it can leave crystals on your hearing aids and they can cause permanent damage. Avoid areas near the pool where you can be splashed, like near the diving board, if your hearing aids are still in. Keep your hearing aids in a waterproof case if you are lying on the beach or near the pool to avoid water damage.

Golf, tennis, gardening, mowing the lawn, attending a barbecue – all great summer activities. But participating in these activities will likely mean a little bit of perspiration. Perspiration can lead to moisture build up on your hearing aids. This moisture can damage microphones, receivers and corrode battery contact points. High constant humidity can also wreak havoc on hearing aids just like perspiration.

If you hearing aids don’t have nano coating which repels dirt and moisture, that might be something to think about for a future purchase. If you are planning on hitting the pool or the beach for some serious swim time – see us about custom swim molds tailored for your hearing devices. Another great investment is a dehumidifying unit, which helps your hearing aids stay dry and moisture-free.

Prevent clogging

Keep your hearing aids away from any form of debris. Sand, sun screen, bug spray, tanning lotion, conditioning spray you put on your hair while outside and all forms of allergens can damage hearing aids. Greasy, sticky parts of spray or lotion can clog the microphones, tubing and other important parts of your hearing devices. Bits of seeds, pollen and vegetation floating around outside will do the same thing.  Pollen and tiny plant cells needed to fertilize plants float around in the air and can clog microphone parts as can mold spores. Ragweed can also clog hearing aid parts and cause the devices to start to malfunction.

Never touch your hearing aids if your hands are sandy or have lotion or spray on them. Remove your devices before applying lotion or spray. Don’t wear them if you are lying on a sandy beach. Sure, you may be absolutely positive you aren’t going to touch them, but you have no control over a breeze kicking up the sand.

Clean the microphone parts with a soft dry cloth to avoid clogs or damage to your devices. If there are still sound quality issues, clogged parts can be cleaned or replaced at Hearing Consultants.

Heat is not your friend

Keep your hearing aids away from extreme heat. This means if you remove them to go swimming or lay on the beach, they need to go in the shade – not a hot vehicle! The plastic casing on your hearing devices can melt under direct sunlight. Heat will also damage the batteries and can cause shorting out or even battery failure. Always store your aids in a cool, dry space.

Protect your hearing aids

Soft, hard and/or waterproof cases are available for your specific type of hearing devices from the manufacturer and we can help you order what you need. Remember if you start to notice a drop in sound quality from your hearing aids and you’ve cleaned them, they should be serviced right away. Leaving grit or grease on areas you can see will continue to damage them. Cleaning, maintenance, extra batteries, Hearing Consultants can help with all those things, so you can keep enjoying your summer activities.