Volume 14, Issue 3, Winter 2020. Now available as PDF. Download here (1.2MB PDF)
Dining Out? Dish on the Noise With SoundPrint
RESOURCE ALERT: Enjoy Dinner Out and Hear the Convo
Do restaurants seem to be getting noisier? If you think so, you’re not alone. And, what’s more, researchers have reported a connection between hearing loud music and choosing more calorie-heavy menu options. No joke!
We’ve found an app that can help you take your power back.
Meet SoundPrint, which lets the online community weigh in on noise levels at various venues, so you can better decide where you want to enjoy a night out — without sacrificing your hearing health.
SoundPrint, compatible with Android and iOS phones, takes noise measurement to another level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. You can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound ratings.
The app lets you measure the noise level while at a restaurant, add comments like “quieter during lunch,” then upload that data to SoundPrint. Anyone with the app can view SoundPrint’s database of noise levels and user comments, then make an informed decision about which restaurants might pose a problem.
Though SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.
Oh, and about that research linking noise and food selections? The study, “Ambient Music and Food Choices: Can Music Volume Level Nudge Healthier Choices?” involved a series of field and lab investigations that turned up some interesting findings:
- Lower-volume music, which can have a relaxing effect, leads to healthier food choices such as salad.
- Higher-volume sounds, which can induce excitement and stress, inspire less wholesome picks like burgers and fries.
Who knew that curbing the volume could support not only your better-hearing goals but healthy eating too?
Just like their people parents, these furry members of the family can experience hearing difficulties too. Read on to learn what you can do.
AVOID EXCESS NOISE
As one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss in humans, loud sounds can also be a problem for the beloved pets in your household. Excess noise can go hand in hand with hearing damage, anxiety, fear, and even trauma. Limiting noise exposure helps support their hearing health and overall wellness.
CONSIDER HEARING PROTECTION
If hightailing it to a quieter space isn’t an option for Rover and Pepper during fireworks or other super-loud situations, hearing protection is another approach that could help. Earplugs and earmuffs made especially for pets help deaden intrusive sounds.
KNOW THE SIGNS
If your pooch or kitty doesn’t react in the usual way to your voice, squeaky toys, the doorbell, or other sounds, hearing loss may be the culprit. Behaviors such as reduced activity, excess barking, loud meowing, and sound sleeping even through the loudest noises may also indicate a problem.
SCHEDULE REGULAR CHECKUPS
Comprehensive vet exams may include not only a check of your pet’s eyes, nose, mouth, legs, heart, skin, weight, and joints but also their ears. It’s a good time to discuss any changes you’ve noticed in their response to commands or other sounds and gain tips on proper nutrition for optimal hearing health.
ADDRESS PROBLEMS EARLY
Early intervention on a suspected hearing condition could make the difference in your fur baby’s quality of life. Not all hearing loss is preventable — for example, a congenital problem, irreversible damage from injury, or another challenge — but working with your veterinarian may help moderate the problem.
When It Comes to Hearing Wellness for the Whole Family, Don’t Fur-Get Your Pets!
We’re taking precautions to help minimize the spread of Coronavirus. You can find more information about what we’re doing on our website here.
There is no higher priority for Advanced Hearing Care than the health and well-being of our patients and employees. We are closely following guidance on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the https://www.ok.gov/health/ to stay on top of all developments. We fully recognize that many of the population we serve are among the most vulnerable to diseases like COVID-19 and the flu.
In accordance with interim guidance from the CDC, we are also taking the following additional measures to further strengthen our protocols and safeguard our patients’ health:
We understand the importance of hearing at your best, especially in this time, when communication is so critical. If there are any updates, we will post on our website and social media.
If you are having problems with your hearing aids and feel you cannot come in right away, please call and we’ll see whether we can help you over the phone. Please feel free to call with any questions — we are always happy to hear from our patients.
Do Cats Enjoy Cat Music?
The answer is yes, cats do enjoy cat music! Read on for details and to learn more quirky facts about hearing in the animal kingdom.
But not so fast: If you were knee high to a long-horn grasshopper, the type known as a katydid, you would not see human ears perched on tiny katydid kneecaps. But the “ears” used by one type of katydid (Copiphora gorgonensis) are remarkably similar to ours.
In our case, an internal eardrum captures sound waves, causing faint vibrations. This makes three tiny bones in the inner ear vibrate strongly. The result is waves in the fluid of the cochlea, and these waves are turned into neural impulses for the brain to interpret.
Similarly, the katydid’s external eardrum captures sound waves, causing faint vibrations. This makes a tiny plate vibrate strongly. The result is waves in the fluid of something much like our cochlea, and these waves are turned into neural impulses and interpreted as sound.
Dolphins are well known for using echolocation to hear underwater. Using the cavity just below their blowhole, dolphins create whistles, clicks, and other noises. These sounds echo back, and dolphins use the information they get from the echo to learn about the seafloor, water depth, obstacles, prey, predators, and other dolphins.
What isn’t so well known is this: The returning sound waves produce pulses in the dolphin’s teeth and jawbone, and then surrounding fats conduct these pulses to the middle ear. In other words, a dolphin’s teeth, jawbone, and surrounding fatty tissue serve the same purpose as our visible outer ear, ear canal, and eardrum!
Elephants Can Talk to Each Other 6 Miles Apart — And You Can’t Hear It
One of the first things you think of when pondering pachyderms is their loud, trombone-like call. But did you know most of their communication among themselves happens using notes at such a low pitch, we can’t hear them?
Known as infrasound, these low-frequency noises can be heard by other elephants more than 6 miles away. What do they use infrasound for? Everything from guiding a herd’s movement to warning away competing males during mating season to keeping tabs on a separated calf.
Researchers in 2012 finally determined how they accomplish this. Rather than tensing and releasing the muscles in their large voice box, similar to purring, they force air through their voice box, just like we do when we talk or sing.
Can music be used to influence the behavior of cats? Three researchers thought so and developed a theory: Cats naturally communicate using a specific range of frequencies (that is, notes or pitches) and certain tempos. If you played cats some music composed using these frequencies and tempos, they should enjoy it.
The researchers composed two cat songs, then sought out cats to play them for. In total, they went to 47 households with cats and played them the two cat songs as well as two classical songs. The cats showed a strong preference for the cat songs, even moving toward or rubbing against the speaker when a cat song was playing.
How would your cat react? It probably depends on its age: The young and old cats reacted with the most enthusiasm. The middle-aged cats were more likely to be indifferent.
Contact us today if you need to schedule a hearing evaluation!
title: Four Fun Facts About Animals: Hearing Edition
meta: It may be surprising to learn the different ways that animals hear. Discover four quirky facts about hearing in the animal kingdom.
alt: Illustration of a black cat with perked ears on a background of other kitties frolicking
tag: animal ears, do animals have ears, cat facts, animal facts, echolocation, low-frequency noises, infrasound, fun facts,
Together, let’s make hearing and balance care more available to all.
We’d love to have your support for the proposed Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act (MAASA)! This groundbreaking bipartisan legislation in Congress could make it easier for community members to access the quality hearing care they need, and you can help.
Did you know?
An estimated one-third of adults over age 65 live with disabling hearing loss, per the World Health Organization, yet only a fraction of those who could benefit from solutions such as hearing aids actually use them.
Does lack of access play a role in some cases?
Possibly. The good news is that MAASA — which builds on a prior proposal, the Audiology Patient Choice Act, considered in 2018 — may open needed hearing and balance evaluation and treatment to more people nationwide, helping folks improve not only their communication and vestibular health but overall wellness and quality of life.
The proposal involves two identical bills in the House and Senate — H.R. 4056 and S. 2446, respectively. In a joint statement from Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, Republican Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) noted, “Seniors who suffer from hearing conditions shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to see their preferred audiologist. [MAASA] cuts through the red tape to help Medicare patients access quality, affordable care.”
Specifically, the proposed law:
- Facilitates direct access for audiology services, eliminating the requirement for a physician order
- Allows audiologists to be paid for all services — including treatment — rather than just diagnostics
- Changes the status of audiologists within Medicare from “supplier” to “practitioner”
Why does it matter?
Typically anyone can seek an audiologist’s care without a physician order, but such an order is required for Medicare Part B participants. This creates a potential barrier for people 65 and older who need professional hearing and balance help.
If enacted, the legislation would remove this hurdle, empowering patients with more choice in finding and selecting qualified, licensed professionals for Medicare-covered audiology services. Medicare Part B participants would be able to walk through our doors just as their privately insured peers — and those with Medicare Advantage or VA benefits — can.
You can help widen access to hearing care for yourself and your loved ones by supporting this important legislation.
The Academy of Doctors of Audiology’s letter campaign makes it quick and easy to make your voice heard with just a few clicks on your keyboard. So don’t wait. Please join us in this critical effort today!
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!
WRITE IT DOWN
TELL A FRIEND
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.”
“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!
Several online or app-based home hearing tests have been developed. Researchers have been studying how well work compared to a professional hearing test.
From blood-pressure kiosks in retail stores and vision exams online to home kits that test for HIV, blood-sugar levels, colon cancer, and more, the do-it-yourself approach to health screening continues to expand as the demand for greater convenience and consumer empowerment grows. Even online hearing tests are a part of the DIY mix, but do they work? What role can they play in ensuring your optimal hearing health?
Let’s take a closer look, including the pros, the cons, and the bottom line for keeping your hearing in top shape.
Imagine being able to accomplish anything and everything from the comfort of your own home. Sounds pretty convenient, right? We’re not quite there on a global scale, but quality online hearing tests could help you take a first step toward better hearing health without even leaving the house.
People take an average seven years to make a provider appointment after suspecting they may have a hearing loss, so imagine how much sooner they might seek professional help if they could make that first move — a hearing test — at home. It’s simple, free, discreet, relatively quick, and can potentially estimate your current hearing ability.
Several online or app-based home hearing tests have been developed, and researchers have been studying how well they compare to similar tests given in a hearing-care professional’s sound booth. Results have varied, depending on factors such as the specific DIY platform tested.
Even the most reliable online hearing test — one that potentially could determine your basic hearing threshold and indicate your degree of hearing loss — can be misinterpreted without the expertise to understand what the findings mean or how and why you have the potential impairment.
For example, a hearing loss could be caused by something as simple as a foreign object in your ear canal, or it could be a sign of issues in the areas of your brain that process sound. In either case, you may be unaware of the underlying problem, but heading to a big-box retailer to buy hearing aids won’t solve it.
Online testing also doesn’t provide the comprehensive evaluation you need for a more complete look at your hearing wellness:
- Some online hearing screenings may use the pure-tone air-conduction threshold test, for instance, in which each ear is played a series of sounds through earphones, and you indicate whether you can hear each respective tone. The test measures the quietest sound you can reliably hear at least 50 percent of the time — the threshold. This important data, however, only scratches the surface. It doesn’t explain how well you hear speech, how well you understand it, or whether the hearing loss is due to an injury in your ear.
- In addition to a battery of important tests that measure elements such as pure-tone air and bone conduction, speech and word recognition, tympanometry and acoustic reflexes, comfortable listening levels, the threshold of discomfort, and more, professional examinations include an inspection of your ears and an intake of your medical and hearing-health history.
The Bottom Line
A reliable home hearing test can serve as an important wake-up call in your hearing health. If you’re on the fence about hearing care, it’s an easy way to find out whether you potentially have hearing loss, which is best addressed by a trained, licensed professional.
Keep in mind, however, that a home hearing test shows you a symptom — it doesn’t pinpoint the underlying problem or provide solutions for your unique needs. An audiologic evaluation gathers nuanced data about not only your auditory system but ways to improve your specific hearing difficulties.
Your auditory system is complex, and so is the combination of people and environments that creates your unique listening lifestyle. If you’re noticing difficulty communicating in your everyday activities or took an online test that indicated potential hearing loss, don’t wait. Contact our caring team for a comprehensive evaluation today.
A new study conducted by the University of Michigan indicates that seniors who use hearing aids may see a reduction in Medicare spending and ER visits.
Putting Off That Hearing Test? Here’s Another Reason to Hear Your Best!
It’s no surprise that getting hearing help can make communicating and connecting with the world around you so much easier, but did you know that using hearing aids might also have a hand in cutting down emergency-room visits and hospital stays?
In a study published earlier this year in the medical journal JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, University of Michigan researchers investigating connections among hearing technology, health care consumption, and spending linked seniors’ self-reported use of hearing aids to changes such as the following:
- Reduced ER visits and hospitalizations — each by 2 percentage points
- Decreases in overnight hospital stays by about 0.46 nights
- A reduction in Medicare spending — by approximately $71
So … less hospital food? Add that to the ever-growing list of better-hearing benefits. (Just kidding; some hospitals bring their A-game to patient meals!)
An estimated 466 million children and adults around the globe live with disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, with about a third of older adults affected. It’s one of the top chronic public-health challenges — potentially curbing the ability to thrive physically, socially, mentally, and financially.
Most hearing problems can be effectively treated with today’s advanced hearing technology. Even so, only a fraction of those who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them, making awareness, access, and encouragement an important part of boosting treatment rates.
With past research already connecting hearing loss to a greater chance of hospitalizations, extended illnesses, or injuries among hearing-impaired adults, the above-mentioned study, “Association Between Hearing Aid Use and Health Care Use and Cost Among Older Adults With Hearing Loss,” points to another crucial difference life-changing hearing devices can make.
Hearing better keeps you in touch with the people, places, and experiences that matter most in your life. It might also help keep you out of the ER. If you’ve noticed a change in your listening ability, or it’s been a while since your last hearing checkup, contact our caring team to schedule a consultation today!