How High Humidity Can Affect Hearing Aids and What You Can Do About It

Humidity means moisture, which can effect your hearing aids. Find out the signs of moisture damage and steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

One of the great things about starting your better-hearing journey is that your world is more enjoyable when you can hear all those sounds you’ve been missing.

That might also mean you’re getting outside more, possibly exposing your hearing devices to humidity. Your hearing aids are tiny computers, and just like with laptops and tablets, moisture can present a challenge.

Humidity

Let’s discuss humidity first. Simply put, humidity is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.

Hot air can hold a lot of water vapor, but cold air cannot. When hot air meets cold air, the drop in temperature means a drop in how much water vapor the air can hold.

Let’s consider a can of soda pop: When humid air makes contact with a cold can of soda pop, the air temperature around the can drops quickly. Any water vapor from the humid air that can’t fit in the cold air around the pop can has to go somewhere. That’s when condensation happens, creating the water droplets on the side of the can.

Humidity and Hearing Devices

The why

Humidity affects hearing aids in a couple of ways.

First, just like with condensation on that can of soda pop, moisture results when warm, humid air meets the cooler metal components of your hearing devices. This includes the components inside your devices.

Second, humidity makes you sweat — but humidity also makes it harder for the sweat to evaporate. Plenty of that ends up in or on your devices.

The how

How does all this condensation and perspiration cause trouble?

Moisture clogs ports and openings. It also builds up in tubing, which can affect the frequency response of your hearing technology. It can also corrode components and battery contact points or short-circuit the microphones and receivers.

In short, moisture is like kryptonite to your hearing aids. A little exposure won’t matter all that much, but prolonged exposure will do a lot of damage and affect the performance of your devices.

The what

Common signs of moisture damage include:

  • Sound is full of static or crackling
  • Sound is distorted
  • Sound cuts out during loud noises
  • Sound fades in and out
  • Device works intermittently
The fix

If you suspect you have moisture damage, do a general check first to make sure it’s not something easily solvable. Is the device turned on? Are the batteries in correctly or near the end of their life? Do the battery contacts need to be cleaned or dried? Is the tubing intact? How are the filters and ports?

If all else checks out, it could be a moisture problem. If you have in-the-ear technology, get them in your drying device ASAP, with the battery door open.

If you have behind-the-ear technology, check the earmold tubing for moisture. If at all possible, use an earmold puffer to remove the moisture. Then put your technology in your drying device ASAP, with the battery door open.

In either case, leave the devices in the dryer for a few hours, even if they look dry.

Prevention

Common, effective preventive measures include:

  • Choosing devices with nanocoating or a high IP (water resistance) rating
  • Hearing aid sweatbands that allow sound through but keep moisture out
  • Exercising during the cooler parts of the day
  • Removing your technology when exercising
  • Keeping your technology in a drying device when not in use

Contact us via email or call us now at (918) 532-6539 for a complimentary clean and check of your hearing technology.

Your Eye and Ear Health Have More in Common Than You Think!

Did you know your eye and ear health are related? We give you 4 reasons to make regular checkups for hearing & vision a regular part of your health routine.

4 Reasons to Keep Your Hearing and Vision in Check

We all know that eyes and ears play a huge role in helping people — and animals, too! — experience life’s adventures. Seeing or hearing the people, places, and moments that matter can make for wonderful, lasting memories.

But did you know that seeing and hearing have more in common than just their rock-star status? Here are four reasons to make regular checkups for hearing and vision an important part of your overall health and wellness:

  • Hearing actually enhances the sense of sight, according to a UCLA study, with both working as a team to help you perceive and participate in the world around you. In the study, which ran participants through a series of trials to correctly identify the direction in which a display of dots were moving, hearing the direction in which the dots were collectively traveling enhanced participants’ ability to see the direction of the movement.
  • Visually impaired older adults are more likely to also experience hearing loss, per a study published in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology. Researchers investigating links between age-related vision and hearing problems found that even after considering age, the two conditions are somehow linked and “have a cumulative effect on function and well-being, significantly affecting both physical and mental domains.”
  • Vision and hearing loss go hand in hand with cognitive decline, per research showing that either condition is somehow connected to reduced brain functioning over time. One study, according to an online news article, found that participants with the most profound vision impairment had the lowest average scores on cognition tests. And hearing-impaired seniors on average may experience significantly reduced cognitive function at least three years before their normal-hearing counterparts.
  • Healthy eyes and ears — along with your joints, muscles, and brain — help keep you steady on your feet, reducing your risk of falling. It’s probably pretty obvious how seeing your best helps you stay upright, but many people may not realize that the inner ear also plays an important role in maintaining balance. Conversely, untreated hearing loss could nearly triple your risk of a fall, per a Johns Hopkins study.
Hearing and vision work together to help you live your best, so remember to keep them both in top shape. Start with a hearing checkup by contacting us today!

What Does Hypertension Have to Do With Hearing? Plenty!

We’ve got a tip for your wellness checklist: Keeping your blood pressure down may help keep your hearing up!

Both hearing loss and hypertension, or high blood pressure, impact millions of people around the world, but few realize that these two chronic conditions might go hand in hand.

For your best health, here are three important things to know:

Hypertension and Hearing Loss Are Connected

Like hearing loss, which affects an estimated 466 million people worldwide, hypertension is a serious public-health challenge that can take a toll on your health and overall quality of life. It could also put you at greater risk of hearing impairment.

In one study of 274 men and women ages 45 to 64, researchers found a strong relationship between high blood pressure and age-related hearing loss, with hypertensive patients having a higher threshold below which they couldn’t hear — indicating hearing loss.

The study didn’t pinpoint the causal link between the two conditions, but suggested that hypertension may damage inner-ear blood vessels, accelerating age-related hearing loss.

High Blood Pressure Can Be Reined In

The bad news? Hypertension, often labeled a “silent killer,” can develop gradually, persist without any signs or symptoms, and lead to dangerous complications such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and more. It’s a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is also linked to hearing loss.

The good news? Detecting possible hypertension is as simple as getting blood pressure readings during regular checkups with your medical provider, and you can control the condition with lifestyle changes and medication. One high reading doesn’t necessarily indicate hypertension, so it’s important to check your blood pressure over time.

It’s also important to know the risk factors for hypertension, which can include age, race, family history, alcohol and tobacco use, stress, obesity, chronic conditions such as diabetes, and more.

Regular Hearing Checks Can Make a Difference

It’s unclear exactly how high blood pressure and hearing loss are connected in all cases, but the potential links between them offer another compelling reason to take care of your circulatory system and your hearing.

Eat a balanced diet, stay active, keep stress in check, and remember to schedule an annual hearing test. Keeping an eye on your blood pressure and catching potential hearing problems early helps ensure better health and an improved quality of life.

Do you have hypertension? Don’t delay. For a comprehensive hearing evaluation, contact our caring team at today!

How Noise Pollution Affects Your Health & How to Protect Yourself

Noise is just noise, right? You learn to tune it out and, unless it’s really loud, you don’t worry about it. You definitely wouldn’t worry about its effects on your heart — would you?

As far back as 1972, awareness of the adverse health effects of noise pollution was so strong that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed the Noise Control Act to establish “a national policy to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health and welfare.” This naturally leads to the question, “How bad can noise pollution really be?”

What Is Noise Pollution?

Noise pollution isn’t just rush-hour traffic, living near an airport, or working near a long-standing construction site. To truly understand noise pollution, let’s try a little experiment, either in real life or in your imagination:

Go to your favorite spot in nature. Keep your headphones packed away (or better yet, leave them at home). Now turn off your smartphone. Just be there, and note what you hear. Water? Bugs? Maybe your dog sniffing something “interesting”?

Odds are, the silence is almost overwhelming. You’re exposed daily to even more noise than you realize. Appliances, computers, traffic, the constant hum of the furnace or air conditioner — that’s just the environmental component. Use of headphones for video games and music as well as the din of socializing in public spaces contribute, too; so much so, in fact, that researchers consider them a separate category: social noise.

So what is noise pollution? It’s any sound that reduces your quality of life. That simple definition, however, has more packed into it than you might suspect.

How Does Noise Pollution Affect My Health?

Hearing loss

The most obvious effect is noise-induced hearing loss. Any noise above 85 decibels (dB; a measurement of sound intensity) can damage hearing. Everyday life is full of noise above 85 dB: a gas lawn mower (91 dB), hair dryer (94 dB), headphones turned too loud (100 dB), and a plane takeoff (120 dB) are just a few commonplace noise sources that can damage your hearing. At 85 dB, hearing damage occurs after about 8 hours of exposure, but at 91 dB — only a 6-dB increase — damage occurs after about 2 hours.

Reduced brainpower

It is well established that environmental noise pollution reduces learning outcomes and cognitive performance in children. The more consistently a classroom is exposed to noise from aircraft, road traffic, or trains, the poorer the children’s reading ability, memory, and standardized-testing performance compared to children not exposed to noise at school.

Cardiovascular problems

Noise pollution has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, and a recent article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology offers a suggestion as to why: Noise triggers a stress reaction that includes the fight-or-flight response of the nervous system and an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. Over time, this repeated flooding of the system with stress hormones can damage the cardiovascular system.

Sleep problems

Other than hearing damage, it’s been established that sleep disturbance is the most harmful effect of environmental noise pollution. Short-term effects of poor sleep are mood changes, daytime sleepiness, and decreased cognitive abilities. One significant long-term effect of poor sleep is cardiovascular disease.

Psychological stress
A study in the Journal of Sound and Vibration found that those in homes exposed to road traffic on one side — even at a maximum of 68 dB, about the noise level of average TV audio — experienced annoyance and a reduction in daytime relaxation and psychological well-being. But those ill effects were reduced significantly if residents moved to the side of the home not exposed to the road-traffic noise.

How Can I Protect Myself?

Hearing protection

Whether you choose inexpensive, all-purpose, drugstore disposables or custom-molded earplugs, you can find hearing protection that fits your budget or needs. Usually there is a noise-reduction ratio (NRR) number associated; the higher the number, the better the softening of sound should be. Here are some common situations for which you can find over-the-counter or custom hearing protection:

  • Sleeping
  • Shooting (range or hunting)
  • Listening to live music
  • Playing music
  • Flying
  • Kids’ safety (use earmuffs, as they are safer and easier for kids to use)

Another form of hearing protection? Simply turn down the TV or music, whether you’re listening with headphones or speakers. A general rule is to listen to your music device for no more than 60 minutes at 60 percent volume.

Personal technology solutions

Masking. Depending on the source of the noise, this could be ideal. Masking is when one sound is used to draw focus away from other, less pleasant sounds. White noise, classical music, and nature sounds — all at low volume — are just some examples of masking using headphones or speakers. Plus, there are plenty of white noise and nature-sound apps available for your smartphone.

Noise-canceling headphones. Many apps that are labeled as noise-canceling apps are actually masking apps. True noise canceling can only be achieved with a combination of a microphone, circuitry, and a speaker, so true noise canceling is only found in noise-canceling headphones. They identify problematic noise and create a sound that neutralizes the incoming, problematic sound. In essence, it truly cancels sounds. In addition, the headphones are made with more sound-absorbent materials than traditional headphones.

How Can I Reduce the Noise Pollution Around Me?

Sound waves can be absorbed — use it to your advantage! Here are just a few ideas to help you look at your home a little differently. How else could you set up your living space to soundproof it?

Floors. Do you have hard floors? Consider installing carpet — the shaggier the better. For a simpler, more affordable solution, get area rugs to put in rooms that generate a lot of noise — think TV, laundry, and exercise rooms.

Furniture. Is your furniture out in the middle of the room? Push it up against the walls to absorb the sound waves that make it through the wall. The more overstuffed your furniture, the more sound is absorbed. Add accent pillows, drape throws or blankets — anything tasteful that absorbs sound.

Bookcases. Put bookcases against walls that get a lot of noise exposure. The bookcase absorbs sound like a second wall, and the paper from the books absorbs plenty as well.

Curtains. Even thin curtains will absorb sound. Already have curtains on all the windows? Swap them out for heavier ones to add extra absorption on sides of the house that get more outside noise.

Appliances. If possible, close the door when running loads of laundry. Start the dishwasher when you won’t be in the kitchen for the rest of the evening. If larger appliances are in unfinished areas — think laundry in an unfinished basement — hang old blankets, towels, or clothes on the walls to act as sound absorbers.

Contact us today to schedule a hearing-protection consultation!

Better Hearing & Speech Month: 7 Accessories to Turn Up Your Tech

Better Hearing & Speech Month: 7 Accessories to Turn Up Your Tech

Have you heard? Weíre celebrating Better Hearing & Speech Month in May!

In honor of the theme, ìCommunication for All,î here are seven hearing aid accessories to make sure youíre communicating and connecting your best with the people, places, and moments that matter in your life.

  1. Wireless Mic

    Conversations rock when everybody around the table can join in, but background noise at restaurants and other spaces can make that a tall order. Whether youíre having a one-on-one chat or hanging with a crowd, an extra microphone can help. A wireless BluetoothÆ microphone worn on your companionís lapel can send speech directly to your hearing aid, or place the mic in a central spot for group conversations.

  2. Phone Clip

    Does talking on the telephone seem harder than it used to be? Try using a phone clip. The ReSound Phone Clip+, for example, lets you stream phone calls, music, and other audio straight to your hearing device from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. Itís hands-free ó simply clip it to your clothing ó and easily mutes background noise for clearer communication.

  3. Captioned Calls

    Speaking of easier phone chats: You may qualify for a caption telephone that shows the spoken words of the person youíre talking to. This landline device is free if a qualified hearing care professional certifies your hearing loss and need for the phone ó and it works with hearing aids. All you need is a standard phone line, a broadband internet connection, and electrical power.

  4. Audio Loop

    Audio loops or audio induction loops ó installed in homes, museums, theaters, churches, classrooms, medical offices, and other venues ó allow sound to be broadcast directly to individuals within the loop who have telecoils or T-coils, which can be embedded in hearing aids and cochlear implants. You could even install an audio loop in a vehicle, switch on your hearing aidís T-coil setting, and voila!

  5. Remote Control

    Who says remote controllers are just for TVs, DVRs, car alarms, and drones? With remotes designed for hearing aids, you can change your deviceís volume and program settings, switch the source of the audio youíre streaming, set ambient and streamed audio at different sound levels, and keep an eye on battery levels. Boom!

  6. TV Streamer

    When it comes to family time with a favorite TV show, setting the volume to everyoneís taste is no small feat. And with hearing loss, it can be even more challenging. Innovations such as the ReSound TV Streamer 2 ó a small tabletop device ó let you stream audio from your TV, stereo, or PC straight to your hearing aid at a level thatís customized to your needs without changing the volume for everyone else.

  7. Batteries

    It may seem pretty basic, but we had to throw this in: Getting the most out of hearing aids takes power, so be sure to keep extra batteries on hand. Batteries can last from a few days to a couple weeks ó depending on variables such as size, care, usage, and environmental conditions ó but our hearing experts can help you find the right match.

Interested in the latest hearing tech and accessories? Contact our caring team to learn more tips or to schedule a complimentary technology demonstration today!
 

Celebrate Better Hearing With Our 5 Ways to Support Your Hearing Health

The whir of a hummingbird. The warning of an approaching ambulance. The round of laughter after your deviously funny ó and deftly delivered ó wedding toast. That sublime guitar riff or soulful crescendo in your favorite song.

As we celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month in May ó and the theme, ìCommunication for Allî ó itís a great time to remember the many ways hearing makes a difference in your life. And to help you maintain those connections that matter, weíre sharing five easy tips for hearing your best.

  1. Know the Signs

    More than 466 million children and adults have disabling hearing impairment, according to the World Health Organization, but nearly all hearing loss can be treated. One of the first steps is recognizing the potential signs. If you experience muffled speech sounds, difficulty hearing on the phone or in a crowd, trouble understanding womenís or childrenís voices, or complaints from loved ones about your TV or radio volume, consider a professional hearing test.

  2. Curb the Noise

    Did you know? Noise-induced hearing loss ó a largely preventable public-health problem ó affects children and adults and is on the rise, according to the Hearing Health Foundation. Whether rocking out at a summer concert, enjoying New Year fireworks, or using power tools, consider limiting the duration of your noise exposure and wearing quality hearing protection.

  3. Hold the Swabs

    If you like the feeling of a cotton swab rubbed in your ear, youíre not alone. Itís a common habit but, oh, so dangerous. Sticking objects in your ear can cause injury and push earwax farther into the ear canal. To remove excess cerumen, use a warm soft cloth after washing or showering, or soften the wax with drops of warmed olive oil, water, or a commercial solution ó as long as you donít have a perforated eardrum. In cases of persistent ear pain, hearing loss, or blockage of the ear canal, contact us for a professional evaluation.

  4. Bring on the Bananas

    Healthy eating offers endless benefits, including better hearing wellness, so consider selected fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other key foods that can make a difference. Bananas, for example, pack potassium, which plays a role in regulating the inner-ear fluid crucial to healthy hearing. Look for foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as A, C, E, folate, magnesium, and zinc, too.

  5. Schedule Regular Checkups

    Itís easy to make better hearing a family affair by scheduling hearing evaluations for the whole household. How often? At least once a year, just as you would for your eyes or teeth. Staying atop your hearing health helps catch any potential changes or problems early, which is important for overall wellness.

At [practice-name], weíre here to help you and your loved ones hear your best during Better Hearing & Speech Month and beyond. Keep our five easy tips in mind, and contact our caring team for your next hearing check!

5 Tips to Keep Your Technology Going Strong

Does my hearing technology call for ongoing professional upkeep? Can I handle any needed maintenance at home? How can I tell whether my devices are damaged? Where can I take them for replacement or repair?

Much like today’s tablets and cell phones, hearing aids are powered by complex technology that may require professional attention in certain circumstances, but a little DIY maintenance can go a long way in keeping your devices in top shape. Read on for five simple tips to maximize your tech’s longevity.

Keep ‘Em Dry and Sanitized
Water is kryptonite to hearing aids, so remember to
remove them before showering or swimming, and use a hearing aid dryer or dehumidifier not only to reduce moisture but to sanitize and store your technology at the same time.

Wipe Off the Wax
Earwax (also called cerumen) naturally accumulates
in the ear and on your hearing aid, but gently wiping your devices each night with a soft, dry cloth and clearing the part of the device that goes into your ear canal with the provided brush will make quick work of the buildup.

Check the Batteries
Batteries typically can last from a few days to a
couple weeks depending on the technology, usage, and other factors, but a constantly beeping hearing aid may mean the batteries need changing. Always keep spares on hand, and remember to remove and store batteries at room temperature apart from your hearing aids when not wearing them.

Replace the Wax Guard
Put your hearing aid’s wax guard — which helps
protect against the damaging accumulation of wax, skin particles, and debris — on a monthly change schedule. Also, if your technology isn’t functioning properly even with fresh batteries, it may be time to change the wax guard.

Skip the Pockets
Pockets seem naturally convenient for carrying
loose hearing aids and batteries while on the go, but not so fast! Keep your devices in their case to avoid losing or getting debris on them, and place batteries where they won’t come into contact with keys, coins, and other metals, which can cause battery discharge and other problems.

Self-care of your hearing aids is an important part of keeping them performing their best, and periodic clean and checks with our caring professionals will identify and address any damage or other problems that might otherwise be hard to spot. Contact us to schedule a complimentary clean and check today!