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5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Mood This Winter

Hearing health and mental health have a clear connection.

In fact, untreated hearing loss increases your risk of depression, anxiety, social isolation, and more. Winter is also a prime time for seasonal blahs. If you could use a little mental-health boost, here are some simple ways to get started.


Express Gratitude

Gratitude improves happiness, well-being, and mental health. The best-researched method is keeping a gratitude journal. Once or twice a week, choose one act or person you’re grateful for and write a few sentences detailing why. In daily life, you’ll begin to seek out the positive — rather than the negative — and writing it down allows you to really savor that positive emotion.
 

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, which relieve stress and boost your mood. You can even use small things that add more activity to your day, like skipping the elevator in favor of the stairs or taking a short, brisk walk. If you work from home, tackle chores that require you to walk to another room or — better yet — another floor. Aim for 30 minutes a day.
 

Spoil Your Senses

Use your senses to quickly find calm. For some people, it’s an uplifting song or the smell of ground coffee. For others, it’s squeezing a stress ball. Each person’s relationship to their senses is a little different, so experiment to figure out what works best to bring you back to center.
 

Lose Yourself

Doing something you love, something you know you can lose yourself in, allows you to forget about life for a while. You don’t have to be a parent, a spouse, or an employee — you can just be.
 

Find a Furry Friend

Interacting with a pet lowers cortisol — the stress hormone — and raises oxytocin — the feel-good hormone. It also lowers blood pressure and eases loneliness and depression. Don’t have a pet? Walk a friend’s dog, volunteer to cat-sit for a vacationing neighbor, or volunteer at a shelter.

Contact us to learn more about the hearing health–mental health connection!

Man in hospital bed takes care of his hearing aids

8 Hearing Aid Tips for Hospital Stays

Checking into a hospital can seem a little stressful, making it all the more important to feel empowered, alert, and engaged with the help of your hearing aids. Help protect them during your inpatient visit with these handy tips.

It can be easy to lose track of your hearing aids when getting inpatient care at a busy medical facility, so weíre sharing eight tips to help you protect your tech and continue hearing your best.

  1. Use a Container
    Keep a personally labeled container on the nightstand for your hearing aids when not in use. And remember: Hearing-aid dryers and dehumidifiers can double as storage, too!
  2. Bypass the Food Tray
    It might seem convenient to set your hearing devices on your food tray, but they can get damaged or lost that way. Better to keep them in their designated container.
  3. Take Them Out
    If staff comes to change the bedsheets and youíre unable to get out of bed, remove your hearing devices so they donít fall off in the linens and get discarded.
  4. Skip the Pockets
    Pockets seem naturally convenient for storing hearing aids, but not so fast! Your devices could become forgotten there and end up being tossed into the washing machine and damaged.
  5. Give the Batteries a Break
    Remember at night to remove the batteries from your hearing devices and leave the battery door open, helping reduce moisture and maximize battery life.
  6. Enlist Family Support
    Consider not keeping your hearing aids with you and instead having friends or family bring them when coming to visit, if thatís feasible.
  7. Share Your Concerns
    Make sure your medical team is aware if you have a significant hearing loss, and tell your doctor if youíre concerned about being able to hear just before surgery or in recovery.
  8. Think Ahead
    Inpatient facilities typically donít assume responsibility for lost hearing aids, glasses, or dentures, so provide a checklist to loved ones who can help you keep these critical items safe and sound.

Communicating on your terms means keeping your hearing technology safe, sound, and ready when you need it. For more tips on protecting or maintaining your devices, please donít wait. Contact our caring team today. Weíre here to help!

TV using streaming to hearing aids

Hear Better at Home – TV using streaming to hearing aids

You might be surprised how many small ways you can complement the better hearing you already get from your hearing aids. Read on to learn about technology that can improve communication ó and connection ó even more.

If you’re adjusting to hearing technology, you’ve no doubt noticed how many situations around the home could be improved through better hearing, especially if you’re retired, work from home, or have relatives who live far away.

Today’s hearing aids are tiny computers, which means they can take advantage of the latest in computer technology ó and you can take charge of your hearing.
 

Captions

For those with hearing loss ó with or without hearing devices ó closed captions improve speech understanding. But if you’re on a video call with loved ones in a different state, or you work from home, is that even possible? Turns out, it is.

Video calling platforms
For personal use, such as video calls with loved ones, Skype and Google Hangouts offer closed captions. For businesses, Microsoft Teams now offers captions only in meetings, and Zoom doesn’t have a built-in capability, but captions can be generated by a third-party service.

Apps
You can also download mobile apps to create closed-captioning for phone and video calls. Google Live Transcribe (Android), Rogervoice (iOS and Android), and Otter (iOS and Android) transcribe your calls in real time. Google Duo, which works on both iOS and Android, is a video-calling app that will soon offer captioning.
 

Streaming

Streamers
Did you know there are devices that allow your TV, stereo, or other sound source to “talk” to your hearing aids wirelessly? In other words, with these devices, your hearing aids become wireless headphones. The process is called streaming, and the devices are called streamers.

There are streamers to handle any kind of input. Some use a microphone to capture soundwaves in the air, others are plugged directly into the sound source, still others can receive a traditional Bluetooth wireless signal. But all of them use an FM signal or electromagnetic field to “talk” to your hearing aids.

What does this look like in action?

  • Are you watching TV with one or more people? With a TV or media streamer, you can control the volume in your hearing aids, while the others in the room listen at a different volume.
  • It’s the big game, but you need to head to the kitchen. No problem ó with a TV or media streamer, the sound travels with you in your hearing aids, allowing you to hear the sportscasters’ play-by-play.
  • Need to take the trash out but your favorite song just came on the radio? With a media streamer, you can still groove to the music in your hearing aids as you quickly pop into the backyard.
  • Hard to hear the other end of the table during weeknight family dinner? Use your tabletop or clip-on microphone to stream the conversation right to your hearing devices.

There are also mini-remote controls available that allow you to discreetly adjust your hearing aid settings or volume from your pocket or purse!

Made-for-smartphone
Hearing aid batteries are not strong or long-lasting enough to support traditional Bluetooth technology. That’s why most streamers use an FM signal or electromagnetic field to talk to your hearing devices.

But some newer hearing aid models are equipped with a newer, low-energy version of Bluetooth. These hearing aids can stream the sound directly from your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices ó no streamer needed! You can even use your smartphone to discreetly adjust your volume or settings.

This same streaming technology lets you use your phone as a microphone. Simply place your phone where you want to pick up conversations, music, or other audio and activate Live Listen (built into iOS) or Headset Remote (an Android app). Whatever sounds your phone picks up will be streamed to your hearing devices.
 

There is a vast array of options for making your hearing even better around the house ó contact us today to learn more!

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Get in the Loop | Hearing Loops & How To Utilize Them

Have you — or has someone you know — ever gone to a play, seminar, house of worship, or musical performance, optimized your hearing device settings, and still had trouble hearing?

Why does this happen?


Hearing in Public Spaces

When you listen to a live speech, classroom lesson, classical guitarist, or clergyperson, your hearing device uses a built-in microphone to capture the sound waves in the room. The sound is processed according to how your devices are programmed and then sent to your ear.

No matter how well your hearing device matches your hearing needs, however, other things in the room impact the sound waves before they reach your hearing device — for example, any background noise and the acoustics of the room.

What if there was a way to avoid all that impact?

There is.
 

The Hearing Loop

More and more organizations are installing something called a hearing loop into their performance halls, seminar rooms, and worship spaces. In addition to the usual sound system, these venues use a hearing loop to generate sound information using a magnetic field.

Let’s see how it works:

  • A sound source, such as the headset used by a performer or seminar speaker, sends sounds to an amplifier.
  • The amplifier sends a current through wires that surround the room along the floor, ceiling, or both.
  • The wires generate a magnetic field (rather than sound waves).
  • Your hearing aid picks up the magnetic signal using a tiny wire called a telecoil — most hearing aids and cochlear implants today have one already, and if not, it can likely be programmed into your devices.
  • Your device processes the signal from the telecoil and converts it to sound.
  • The sound is sent to your ear canal.

 

Benefits of a Hearing Loop

Knowing how a loop works doesn’t reveal much about why you would want to use one, though. Here are just some of the benefits:

Sound quality. By far the greatest benefit is sound quality. The magnetic signal received by the telecoil isn’t affected by things such as background noise and the acoustics of the room, so speech and music sound clearer.

Ease of use. To enjoy improved sound quality, simply switch your hearing device’s setting so it’s using the telecoil rather than the microphone to receive sound. You don’t have to build extra time into your schedule to pick up and return special equipment.

Versatility. Enjoy seamless hearing capabilities across an array of environments, such as theaters, places of worship, classrooms, and even businesses like pharmacies.

Discretion. Taking advantage of loop technology is inconspicuous, which encourages participation and inclusion, increasing the likelihood of adoption on a more widespread scale.
 

Using a Hearing Loop

Now you know about hearing loops, and perhaps you’re even a little excited by the idea — so what’s next?

Visit your hearing care provider. Though turning on the telecoil setting of your device is simple, you need to be prepared before exploring looped venues. Your provider will need to ensure the telecoil programming matches your regular programming as closely as possible. They’ll also need to show you how to switch to and from the telecoil setting. Different manufacturers — and even different models from the same manufacturer — handle the telecoil differently.

Identifying looped venues. Venues equipped with loop technology prominently display an internationally recognized symbol — a deep blue background emblazoned with a white ear, a diagonal white bar, and a capital letter T in the lower right corner. Hearing loops are the internationally accepted standard for hearing accommodation. The symbol assures people with hearing loss that their needs will be met.
Hearing Loop

Ensure everything works. Sometimes venues are set up for looping, but the equipment isn’t turned on. If you saw the telecoil symbol somewhere in the building, you’ve turned your device to the telecoil setting, and nothing seems to be working, seek out management to see if the equipment needs to be turned on.
 

Spread the Word About Hearing Loops

Once you’ve successfully used a hearing loop, consider mentioning them to the management of the places you frequent. Many businesses have never heard of a hearing loop but would gladly consider installing one to ensure their business is more accessible and comfortable for those with hearing loss.

The more hearing loops become commonplace, the more likely you are to see them pop up in places like grocery stores, shopping malls, and even homes.

Hearing Loss & Accidental Injury: More Connected Than You May Think

From slips and spills to collisions, machine mishaps and more, accidents befall us all, but did you know that hearing loss might contribute to the risk of injury? In fact, one investigation found that those with hearing difficulties may have a doubled chance of suffering an accidental injury at work or play.

The study, published in a 2018 edition of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and involving data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, noted that the greater the degree of self-perceived hearing difficulty, the greater the overall accidental-injury risk.

This dovetails with other research that points to links between hearing loss and the increased risk of falling, for example. One study even showed that people with mild hearing loss had a tripled chance of reporting a fall in the prior year, and every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss further raised the odds.

The good news? Addressing hearing loss head-on could cut down on the risk of problems such as falling. Research from the University of Michigan published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, for instance, showed a 13% reduced chance “of being treated for fall-related injuries” among newly diagnosed hearing-impaired seniors fitted with hearing aids.

It’s not necessarily conclusive why hearing loss goes hand in hand with a higher risk of accidental injury or even other issues such as dementia and depression, but one thing’s for sure: Early intervention on hearing problems can go a long way toward supporting your hearing health and overall wellness.


Has it been a while since your last hearing checkup?
Do the sounds coming through your hearing technology seem less clear than they used to be?
Are you ready for some increased connectivity between your hearing aids and the other smart devices that help you run your world?

Don’t wait!

Contact our expert team for an appointment today. Together, let’s make sure you’re hearing and communicating your best!

Home Safety for People With Hearing Loss | Safety Alert Devices

Home Safety for People With Hearing Loss

So many things around the house are designed to alert you using noise. But what if a hearing loss means you miss when the smoke detector or alarm clock sounds?
 
The following alerting devices are ideal methods for helping your home — or the home of a loved one — feel even safer.


Smoke Alarms

A smoke alarm-based alert uses a bright, blinking light to indicate the smoke alarm is going off. You can buy an adapter for your existing smoke alarm, or you can buy a whole new battery-powered or hardwired smoke alarm with an alert built right in. When paired with a central alert system, you can also include a vibrating shaker to put under your pillow.
 

Doorbells

A doorbell alert sends a signal to a receiver that flashes a light, increases the volume of the doorbell, activates a shaker under your pillow or couch cushion, or all three. Often, you can buy extra receivers as well, so you could have one in your living room, bedroom, and kitchen. Some work up to 20 feet, others up to 1,000 feet. They are available in either battery operated or hardwired to your electrical system.
 

Weather Alerts

The NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio offers a simple text readout and visual or vibrating alarm features. Third-party vendors offer adapters that color code the warning lights and make the display more readable.
 

Baby Monitors

These are available in everything from simple to complex. The simplest style has an audio monitor for baby’s room that triggers a vibrating shaker under your pillow. You can also find systems, however, that use multiple monitors, video, lights, and sound. You can even turn your smartphone into a video monitor that triggers an under-pillow vibrating shaker.
 

Alarm Clocks

There are alarm clocks tailored to those with hearing loss, and there are accessories you can use with your existing alarm clock as well. Just like the doorbell alerts, alarm clock alerts increase the alarm volume, use a shaker placed under your pillow, use flashing lights, or all three. Still others have outlets — plug in any bedside lamp, and it turns on and off as the alarm sounds.

Do you use your cell phone or smartphone as an alarm clock? There are shakers you can place under your pillow that are triggered by a smartphone app when your phone alarm goes off.
 

Landline Phones

You can get traditional phones tailored to those with hearing loss or purchase accessories to use with your existing phone. A louder ring, flashing lights, a vibrating shaker under the pillow, or all three are available. There are even phones with outlets — plug in any available lamp, and it turns on and off as the phone rings.


Contact us to learn more about home safety or to schedule a hearing evaluation!

5 Tips to Keep Your Better – Hearing Resolution Going Strong

From spending more time with family and friends to taking classes at the local gym, almost everyone makes at least one New Year’s resolution. The catch? Just 8% of resolvers stick to their goals, per a Forbes story referencing University of Scranton research.

No worries: If you’re aiming to hear your best in 2020, we’re sharing five tips to help boost your stick‑to‑itiveness for the new year and beyond!


  1. BE REALISTIC

  2. Though hearing loss can be permanent — some cases caused by noise exposure, for example, can be irreversible, hence the importance of hearing protection — nearly all types can be effectively managed with solutions such as today’s sophisticated hearing aids. Understanding the power of hearing technology, including what it can and cannot do, can go a long way toward shaping attainable goals.
     

  3. WRITE IT DOWN

  4. With the potential ability of hearing loss to take a heavy toll on relationships, self-esteem, social engagement, brain health, and so much more, it may seem surprising that a written reminder is in order. When it comes to self-care, however, it’s not uncommon for people to put themselves last. Put your better-hearing goal in writing — even setting a weekly electronic reminder — to help stay on track.
     

  5. VISUALIZE SUCCESS

  6. Did you know? Improved hearing is associated with lower odds of depression, a reduced chance of dementia, a greater sense of independence, and other important facets of quality living. What counts even more, however, are the reasons better hearing matters to you. Visualize a world — at home, work, and play — in which you hear the sounds that mean the most, and keep that motivation top of mind.
     

  7. TELL A FRIEND

  8. Sometimes it’s a little easier to feel accountable to someone else, so consider sharing your better-hearing goal with a friend, relative, or other confidant who’s willing to back you with reminders, encouragement, and check-ins. Knowing that someone else wants you to succeed may be just the push you need. You could even take them to your appointments for support and additional perspective.
     

  9. SET BENCHMARKS

  10. You’ve heard the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” (Full disclosure: We don’t eat elephants here!) Your better-hearing goal can work the same way. Break your resolution into small bites set to reasonable deadlines — for example, writing it down, listing the benefits, telling a friend, making a hearing‑check appointment — and reward yourself with each milestone accomplished.

 

No matter your new-year goals, we’re committed to helping you reach them with the power of better hearing. So don’t delay. Contact our caring team for help that’s tailored to your communication needs today!

Early Hearing Testing: 6 Reasons It Matters

Early Hearing Testing: 6 Reasons It Matters

There’s an old saying that “Knowing is half the battle,” and that adage couldn’t be truer when it comes to your hearing and quality of life. Hearing loss affects more than your ability to communicate, so we’re sharing six reasons to have your hearing tested sooner rather than later.

  1. FALLS — Untreated hearing impairment is linked to falling, which is more common among people with hearing loss. In a 2012-published study of 2,017 adults ages 40 to 69 and led by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers, those with mild hearing loss were nearly three times as likely to have reported a fall. Ears play an important role in helping maintain balance, making it important to identify and address hearing problems early.
  2. BRAIN HEALTH — Hearing loss can potentially take a toll on the brain, which may have to work harder to process sound. In addition, an ever-growing body of research connects hearing loss to other problems such as faster brain atrophy, earlier onset of major cognitive decline, and up to five times’ higher risk of dementia. With hearing aid use, however, age-related cognitive decline could slow as much as 75%.
  3. DEPRESSION — Research supports a link between hearing loss and depression. Older adults with hearing loss, for example, have a 57% greater risk of experiencing deep depression than those without it, per a Johns Hopkins investigation. With hearing aid use, however, the odds of depression may be lower, according to another study.
  4. FINANCES — Did you know? Research suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher medical costs, with older adults paying some 46% more — about $22,434 — than their normal-hearing peers in a 10-year span. In addition, annual household earnings can take a hit of as much as $30,000 with a hearing loss, but treatment with hearing aids could reduce that risk by up to 100%.
  5. CHILD DEVELOPMENT — The impact of hearing loss on children reaches beyond the physical and emotional effects, with implications for their academic-, social-, and communication-related development. For example, 25% to 35% of kids with hearing loss in even just one ear may risk failing a grade level. Early intervention, which could make a big difference in a child’s quality of life, starts with testing.
  6. RELATIONSHIPS — Adults with unaddressed hearing loss report reduced social engagement, more emotional turmoil, and other challenges that could affect their relationships and more. The good news? Not only do adults treated with hearing aids report significant improvements in their social lives and relationships with families, but their loved ones do too, per research from the National Council on Aging.

Some 466 million children and adults around the globe have experienced disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, but only a fraction receive care. Empowerment starts with answers, so don’t wait. Stay atop your hearing health by scheduling a comprehensive hearing evaluation with our caring team today. It’s easy, painless, and helps you stay on the path of better hearing and improved overall wellness.

The Power of Better Hearing — Micah’s Story

Treating your hearing loss benefits your life in so many ways, from building stronger relationships to advancing your career to discovering your passions and making your dreams attainable. For people born with hearing loss, these achievements are a lifelong testament to the exceptional care and support of their audiologists, as well as the importance of continually investing in better hearing.


From Diagnosis to Acceptance

At a very young age, Micah was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome Type 2A, which is a rare genetic mutation that causes mild to severe hearing loss as well as progressive vision loss. He is going blind from retinitis pigmentosa and has worn hearing aids as long as he can remember.

Growing up with this diagnosis was not easy. “I came to know the difference between the other kids and me when they pushed me down, imitated my slurred speech, and laughed,” he says. “The idea that my impairment signified me as ‘wrong’ rang out in the silence of everything else.”
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But with comprehensive hearing care at the hands of an empathetic provider who truly understood the isolation and social difficulties sensory deprivation can cause, Micah’s condition became manageable.

“I know a world of sound because of an audiologist and her team who were devoted to me for over 20 years — the team that fit me, gave me batteries, reminded me of appointments, cleaned my hearing aids, sent them off for repairs, and knew me as an individual. They have given me courage, confidence, and success. I owe them more than the world.”


From Acceptance to Success

Treating multidimensional sensory loss is not only challenging but requires a dedicated provider willing to work closely with their patient. In Micah’s case, this personal investment in helping him live with his unique diagnosis has allowed a formerly isolated child to blossom into a dynamic and fearless person who faces challenges head-on.

“Growing up empowered to become who I wanted to be, and to experience the world as it should be, had requirements that far exceeded the ‘cheapest available option,’” he says. “Amplification alone is not medical treatment. As my situation worsens, I will place my trust in those with the genuine interest in my situation and well-being, and the confidence to rise to the challenge.”

Micah credits his hearing care team with helping him develop the confidence and social skills necessary to pursue his passions and goals, which include music, poetry, and giving back to the hearing care community.

“I’ve been gifted the opportunity to be a musician, and the reality of everything that I have been gifted, in life and loss, has driven me to give all that I can back to the industry that cares for me,” says Micah. “Today I work hand in hand with private-practice providers around the country to deliver the utmost to each and every patient.”
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“Quite honestly, it took me 20 years to stand up straight to my condition, look it in the eyes, and call it my own. It is my hope that this story will […] act as a reminder of the cause hearing health care strives for.”


Contact us today to share your own experience with better hearing and let us know how it has improved your life!

Hand Dryers: For Kids, Beware the Noise

It’s no secret that hand dryers installed in public bathrooms can seem rather loud, but we were blown away by a young scientist’s findings when she put the volume levels of 44 automated machines to the test in restrooms across Alberta, Canada.

Turns out some of those volumes can do a number on kids’ ears — which are more susceptible to noise-induced hearing problems — by reaching sound levels well beyond the danger zone of 85 decibels. Several of the various brands measured above 100 decibels when in actual use for hand-drying, and one was even greater than 120.

The study, by then-9-year-old Nora Keegan, has captured international attention, with coverage by the New York Times, CNN, Canada’s CBC, and other media outlets. Now 13, Keegan is likely one of the youngest researchers to have her work published in the journal Pediatrics & Child Health.

Per an NPR story, the Calgary student was inspired by the ringing in her ears and other kids’ reactions to hand-dryer noise to get to the bottom of just how loud the dryers — a common presence in public washrooms around the world — can be and whether they might negatively impact hearing ability.

Her research, published this past summer after an approximately 15-month investigation, interestingly noted that some of the automated machines’ higher readings surpassed the legal limit of 100 decibels for peak loudness of children’s toys in Canada.

A few other notable findings from this timely research:

  • “Not all hand dryers are equal in their hearing safety.”
  • Various dryers are potentially louder than some manufacturers’ claims.
  • Dryer noise is “much louder at children’s heights than at adult height.”

According to Keegan, the study’s “results can be used to guide regulators, builders, and landlords in making decisions about which dryers to install in public facilities.” The investigation also highlights “the importance of measuring dryer loudness at the location of children’s ears” — versus that of adults, who are typically taller.


What’s the big deal?

Noise exposure, one of the most preventable risk factors, is a leading cause of hearing impairment — second only to aging. Over a billion children and adults are vulnerable to recreational noise-related hearing impairment alone, per the World Health Organization, making it essential to keep the volume down.

One of the most effective actions you can take is to prevent or limit your child’s exposure to excessively loud noise. Keeping hearing protection on hand — including custom earplugs, headphones, or earmuffs to help temper loud sounds, can also go a long way toward preserving your child’s hearing.