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How Important Is Hearing Health Care?

Before I began working in the hearing industry, I have to admit that hearing health care wasn’t really on my radar. Strange since I always went for physicals and yearly eye exams. I could also remember regularly having my hearing checked in school as a child, but it wasn’t something I thought about much. I didn’t notice ads for hearing aids or think about whether my music might be too loud. I didn’t wonder whether or not my family members were getting their annual hearing exams either. However, after meeting and interacting with patients and others in the hearing health field, my whole perspective has changed.

First, I’ve realized that early detection is paramount. I’ve seen the difference in levels of understanding between patients who caught and corrected their hearing loss early and those who may have been unaware or waited to take steps for five, ten, sometimes fifteen years. Our ears are simply devices that send signals to our brain. Over time, our brain can forget how to translate those signals if it’s not getting them regularly. If you have a hearing loss and you wait too long to do something about it, you may never get some of that understanding back.

Second, I’ve seen the way it effects communication—with strangers, with family, in business. Try reading only every third word of this article. Did you get much out of it that way? Can you imagine if that’s all you could hear when others were speaking to you? It becomes so incredibly frustrating for both the people with the hearing loss and their loved ones. Sometimes, those with hearing loss even begin to withdraw and become distant because communication is just too difficult.

Even after getting hearing aids, it’s still extremely important to have regular visits to your hearing specialist to insure your instruments are set to the appropriate prescription for you. We recently had a patient and his wife come in for a follow-up visit who were a perfect example of this. One of our Patient Care Coordinators noted the difficulty he had hearing her, his wife, and others in the waiting room. During his time with our Hearing Instrument Specialist, she made a significant adjustment to the settings on his hearing instruments. When he came back through the waiting room just twenty minutes later, the difference was remarkable. He was communicating easily with others in the waiting room. Our PCC commented to his wife on the immediate difference, and she said, “I know. He’s not yelling anymore!” Did you ever think that twenty minutes of your time could make that big of a difference in how you interact with others? I know I hadn’t before.

Finally, I now consider how hearing health could affect my family in the future. My dad was at my house one day, and my dog suddenly took off running to the kitchen. “Where’s she going?” he asked. I said, “Didn’t you hear that? The cat jumped through the cat door and the bell on his collar jingled.” My dad hadn’t heard it. That was a high frequency sound. If he has a mild high frequency loss now, what sounds might he miss later if it’s not corrected? Could he miss my baby boy’s soft toddler chatter in a few years? Could he miss him whispering “I love you” or telling his favorite story by heart? Will all of my family be able to participate and enjoy conversation at big Sunday dinners? Will we get to appreciate and fully enjoy all of the precious moments we have together? I don’t want my family to miss any of those moments. Nor do I want to miss them myself—now or in the future when I may have my own grandchildren’s sweet words to hear.

So, now I know the real importance of hearing health care. I will get my yearly hearing exams, and I will push and prod my family to do so as well if necessary. I will make sure we get to appreciate all the amazing sounds in our lives. Will you do the same?

-Allie

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How Does Your Ear Work?

Do you know how your ears really work? The human ear is divided into three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear is what we all think of as our ear; it is what we see on the side of our heads. This is known as the auricle. The ear drum is the dividing line of the outer and middle ear. The middle ear is a cavity which contains the three smallest bones in our body. They are the malleus, incus, and the stapes. The inner ear is where we find the cochlea. The cochlea is a seashell shaped structure that houses over 30,000 hair cells which are responsible for different frequencies or pitch. These hair cells are surrounded by fluid.

As acoustic sound happens around us, our outer ear picks up the sound whether it is speech or noise. It then acts as a funnel and directs the sound to our eardrum. The sound makes our eardrum vibrate. As it vibrates the middle ear, the three tiny bones are put into a rocking motion. The last bone called the stapes then works as a plunger and creates a wave in the inner ear which allows the many hair cells to sway in the fluid. As the hair cells sway, an electrical signal from a part on the cochlea is sent to the brain. When this electrical signal reaches the brain, the brain perceives it and hopefully understands it as sound or speech.

This is the order of how our ears work. The importance of this is to know that the outer ear works as a funnel, while the middle and inner parts are transducers which send a signal to the brain. The final result is that we actually hear with our brain and not with our ears. That is why most people with hearing loss say they can hear they just don’t understand what someone is saying. They aren’t getting the right signals to the brain.

When a person has a degree of hearing loss, it is important that we send the correct signal to the brain. It’s also vital to begin doing so as quickly as possible so the brain doesn’t “forget” certain sounds over time. This is just one reason that having an annual hearing exam is very important!

 

Tim

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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The Care and Keeping of Hearing Aids

hearing aids repairsHearing loss is a common affliction, often caused by earwax buildup, head injury, ear infection, or ruptured eardrums. Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the cochlea due to illness, genetics, or exposure to loud noises. A damaged cochlea is unable to transmit signals to the brain properly. Many people who experience hearing loss wear hearing aids for treatment, but, as with any technology, hearing aids require regular maintenance and repair to ensure they work properly.

Hearing technology has come a long way in the past few years. With so many different types of hearing aids for adults to choose from, finding one that fits your lifestyle is easier than ever. Of course, there are general maintenance guidelines to prevent the necessity of hearing aids repairs. To prolong the life of your hearing aid, it should be turned off when not in use. All hearing aids should be protected from water and stored in a cool, dry location. Do not wear your hearing aid while swimming, bathing, showering, or when using spray hair products.

Regular cleaning can prevent the need for many common hearing aids repairs. Wax buildup can cause distorted sound or no sound at all. Changing wax filters, cleaning batteries and contacts, and brushing out the microphone opening are all easy fixes to keep your hearing aid working smoothly.

Because 60% of people with hearing loss are in educational settings or the work force, it is important that they are able to hear clearly. Diligently changing hearing aid batteries ensures that they will not experience sudden hearing loss or distorted sound due to dead or dying batteries.

When buying a hearing aid, you are making an investment in your hearing and quality of life. Keeping your hearing aid in good condition and making appropriate hearing aids repairs will ensure that you are able to keep doing all the activities you love. Don’t let your hearing loss slow you down.

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What to Expect When Shopping for a Hearing Aid

Buying a hearing aidWhile three out of every 10 people over age 60 have hearing loss, 65% of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65. Treating hearing loss is important to the patient’s state of mind as well as their ears. According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, people with untreated hearing loss are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than people without hearing loss. Buying a hearing aid is one of the easiest ways to combat the effects of hearing loss.

If you want to look into buying a hearing aid, your first stop should be your doctor’s office for a medical exam. Your doctor can clear out ear wax in preparation for your hearing test, as well as checking for tumors and infections that may be causing your hearing loss.

Once you have received your physician exam, it is time to shop for hearing aids. Your audiologist or hearing aid specialist will first have you take a hearing screening test. While screening for hearing loss, he or she may have you listen to a variety of words and tones through headphones, repeat words spoken while reading the tester’s lips and when they are covered, or discerning speech while a loud recording plays in the background. Be sure to tell the tester if you spend a lot of time on the phone or in loud environments, such as restaurants, as they may not think to ask.

There are several different types of hearing aids for adults, and you will want to ask questions to make sure you choose the right one to fit your needs. Battery life and cost, warranties, and return policies are all things you should ask about. When you pick up your hearing aids, test them out in the store. Practice putting them in and taking them out, adjusting volume, changing batteries, and talking on the phone.

While you may be thrilled with your new hearing aid, be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with the audiologist. While wearing your hearing aid, take note of any issues you may have in certain environments, and if it turns out to not be the right hearing aid after all, remember to return it for repairs or exchanges.

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Which Hearing Aid is Right for You?

hearing aids for adults

Hearing loss affects people of all ages and all walks of life, although men are more likely to report hearing loss than women. The causes of hearing loss are many and varied, and can include exposure to loud noise, impacted earwax, allergies, or head trauma. Some illnesses that affect hearing include otosclerosis and Meniere’s disease. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the cochlea is damaged by illness, loud noise, genetics, or other trauma and cannot transmit signals to the brain.

Fortunately, technology has made many advancements in hearing technology, so buying a hearing aid to fit your needs is much easier than in the past. Because of increases in digital technology, designing a new hearing aid from concept to manufacturing to market can cost between $85 million and $200 million. Currently, there are five different types of hearing aids for adults, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

The first type of hearing aid is the behind-the-ear aid that most people picture when talking about hearing loss. The earpiece is connected by clear tubing to a plastic case that rests behind the ear and contains most of the parts. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are a popular choice for seniors and children with hearing loss, as they are durable, easy to clean, and can accommodate a variety of earmold types.

If you are concerned about appearance or comfort, you may opt for a mini behind-the-ear hearing aid. Made in a similar fashion as a regular behind-the-ear aid, the mini is smaller, the tube is thinner, and offers a choice between a traditional earmold and an “open fit” ear piece, which is inserted into the ear.

In-the-ear hearing aids are made of a small shell that contains all of the hearing aid parts, and fits in the outer part of the ear. While they are smaller than behind-the-ear aids, in-the-ear hearing aids are larger than the last two types of hearing aids for adults, which may make them easier to handle and adjust.

The last two types of hearing aids for adults are in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC). Similar to in-the-ear, ITC and CIC hearing aids contain all of their parts in a tiny shell. The shell is then inserted either partially or completely into the ear canal, depending on type. ITC and CIC hearing aids can be difficult to handle due to their small size, so they may not be the best choice for everyone.

Buying a hearing aid can be a long process, similar to purchasing eyeglasses. Don’t worry if the first few you try on aren’t perfect. Everyone has differently-shaped ears, so no hearing aid will fit every person. Talking to your audiologist about your specific needs will help you narrow down the choices and find the right hearing aid for you.

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New Year, New Ears!

3 reasons why better hearing should be a top priority for you, your health, and your life this New Year and every year.

Reason 1: Family and Friends.

Of the 5 senses God gave us, only hearing and the changes that come with hearing loss affect everyone in our life as much or more than they affect us personally. When hearing loss is denied or ignored, it sets the stage for frustration, avoidance of things, people, and places that enrich our lives.  Simply stated, what appears as a little problem begins to rob us of quality of life and the joys we enjoyed, and it hurts those we care about.

Reason 2: Quality of life.

Helen Keller, the noted blind and deaf hero who overcame so much to become a beacon of light and hope to the world said that if she were given the choice between sight and hearing she would chose hearing. Why? Because “when you lose your vision, you lose contact with things; when you lose your hearing, you lose contact with people.” When you have hearing loss, many times the simple pleasures of entertainment and drama from TV and movies become impossible to follow and enjoy. Conversations in noisy places become difficult; people sound as if they mumble. It’s interaction with people that brings and keeps the warmth, care, and love in our lives, and when that is diminished so is your quality of life.

Reason 3: Your health.

Years ago when you had surgery, the doctors kept you in bed for weeks to heal. Now days immediately after surgery, they have you moving non-stop. Why?

Your body is not a compilation of parts, but a whole unit functioning together and controlled by a fantastic computer called the brain. A recent study by John Hopkins University found that those with untreated hearing loss were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s than those who didn’t. You can find and read the study here. While the exact links are yet to be defined and further studies underway, it appears that defective signals from the ears to the brain may cause confusion and instability. Years ago, our generation had a statement we used for food, computers, personal knowledge and many other things. “Garbage in, garbage out”. It appears that is still true today in more ways than we ever considered.

In summary, our three reasons to make Better Hearing a critical priority this year are:

    1. Family, friends, and yourself.

    2. Quality of life

    3.  Your Health

Contact us today to start the journey to recovery and retention of your hearing and all the benefits that come with it.

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Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia

Can getting a hearing aid help prevent memory loss?

Download a recent study about the connection between hearing loss and memory loss by filling out the form below!

To download the study

just fill out the form below and you'll be redirected to a page to download all the information you'll need.
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