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5 Reasons to Love Earwax | Three Cheers for Earwax!

Let’s talk earwax. From its texture to its appearance, it gets a bad name. We suspect the yellow-brown goo might be down a friend or two, so we want to give credit where credit is due.

Here are five reasons we think you should give earwax a second chance.


  1. Earwax Protects Your Ear Canal and Eardrum

  2. Like many things that seem pointless (eyelashes and nose hair, for example), earwax is actually important. It keeps dust, bacteria, and other microorganisms out of your body. A natural antimicrobial, earwax also keeps infection at bay should your ear canal sustain a scrape. Finally, it keeps your ear canal lubricated so it doesn’t become dry and itchy.
     

  3. Earwax Is Self-Cleaning

  4. Your ear canal has a slight incline. Your jaw’s motion during chewing and talking keeps your earwax from settling into your skin. Put the two together, and you have the perfect self-cleaning system: Your earwax slowly travels down your ear canal, where you can gently wipe it from your outer ear if necessary.
     

  5. Earwax Isn’t Even Wax

  6. The technical term for earwax is cerumen. It comprises a few different things: Secretions from two glands combine to line the inside of your ear canal; then dead hair, skin cells, dust, and the already mentioned microorganisms become trapped in this mixture. All of it together is cerumen.
     

  7. Earwax Is a Good Sign

  8. In general, having earwax is not the sign of poor hygiene some people think it is. Everyone produces earwax, and it serves several important purposes. You will know if your earwax becomes a problem, because you’ll experience hearing loss or develop discomfort in your ear canal.
     

  9. Cotton Swabs Are Not the Answer

  10. You can revel in crossing one more thing off your daily hygiene list: cotton swabs. Again, the ears are self-cleaning. On the rare occasion you suspect you have too much earwax, don’t stick anything hard in your ear, and don’t use ear candles. There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies that are as simple as a drop or two of a solution to break up the earwax, followed by flushing your ear canal gently with water. Regular use of cotton swabs strips your ear canal of important protection and can lead to impacted earwax.

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.

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:

  • If you are feeling under the weather or are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, we would ask that you call and reschedule your appointment so as not to put other patients at risk. You could also see if a healthy loved one could bring your hearing aids to the office for a cleaning. We recommend reviewing guidelines from the CDC on preventing illness.
  • Dropping in can create a crowd in our waiting rooms. If an underlying condition or your age makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19, we urge you to avoid dropping in and instead call to schedule a time to get your hearing aids cleaned and checked. We will do our absolute best to get you on the schedule as soon as possible. You could also see if a healthy loved one could bring your hearing aids to the office for a cleaning.
  • We have instructed providers and staff to stay home if they are sick. If your provider becomes ill, we will ask them to stay home, and we sincerely apologize if this means we need to reschedule your appointment!
  • If you need additional accommodations, please don’t hesitate to call our office to discuss.
  • 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.

    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!

    Q&A: Live Speech Mapping – 3 Things You Should Know

    Q: What is live speech mapping, and how can it help me?

    A: Excellent question! Live speech mapping is a mechanism for fine‑tuning hearing aids to the specific pitch and volume of your loved one’s voice and other important sounds. The procedure has been around a while, but many people have likely never heard of it. Let’s take a closer look at three things: who might need live speech mapping, how it works, and why it matters.


    WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

    Hearing technology has made a world of difference in helping people of all ages communicate their best, but some patients who use hearing devices might still experience difficulty understanding the one voice that matters most to them — typically a spouse or other close relation. In our experience, many people in that situation have found that live speech mapping improves their ability to understand critical speech.
     

    HOW IT WORKS

    During the mapping process, a skinny tube with a tiny probe microphone is placed in your ear canal along with the hearing device — don’t worry, it’s painless! Your spouse or another familiar voice that you want to hear then reads a paragraph aloud. The microphone allows us to precisely measure:

    • The sounds your hearing aids are producing at your eardrum
    • The way your device’s current settings are processing speech

    We then see on the computer monitor exactly where the speech is falling within your audible range and can adjust your devices accordingly.
     

    WHY IT MATTERS

    Maximizing your hearing devices involves tailoring them to your specific listening needs. Live speech mapping can play an important role in that, helping you more clearly perceive and understand the critical voices in your everyday life. As a practice committed to empowered communication, helping you hear on your terms is important to us. We want you to hear your best so you can live your best.
     

    If you haven’t experienced live speech mapping and want to hear your loved one better, we highly recommend a visit to see how this valuable diagnostic procedure might support your listening goals. So don’t wait. Contact our caring team today. We’re here to help!

    10 Tips for Managing Hearing Loss | Hearing Loss Do’s & Don’ts

    Hearing loss can seem daunting, with its ability to affect relationships, self‑confidence, physical health, and more. Taking charge of it, however, can go a long way toward keeping you feeling empowered and engaged.


    Start with these 10 helpful do’s and don’ts:

    Do’s

    1. DO know that you’re not alone. Hearing loss is a growing public-health challenge — the third most chronic condition in the U.S. and Canada. Science is always on the case, however, and effective solutions are available right now.
    2. DO stay atop your hearing health with regular checkups — just as you would for your eyes and teeth. Early intervention with the help of a licensed hearing care provider can make a big difference in your quality of life.
    3. DO maintain your hearing aids, which are powerful but require care. DIY cleaning, storage, wax-guard changing, and battery-charging are easy tasks. Bring your devices in periodically for professional clean and checks, too!
    4. DO explore your devices. Some of today’s hearing aids not only stream phone calls and other audio directly to your ears but can interact with innovative apps, handle remote fine-tuning, loop into venue sound systems, and more.
    5. DO try to optimize your communication environment with steps such as facing your conversation partner, sitting away from noise, choosing spots with good lighting (for lip-reading), and giving helpful feedback — including nonverbal cues or words of encouragement — to the person speaking.

    Don’ts

    1. DON’T ignore hearing issues. Hearing acuity can change over time — or due to injury, medication, or infection — making it important to seek help if listening clearly or understanding certain sounds seems harder than it used to be.
    2. DON’T forget the importance of good nutrition, which can play a role in ear and hearing health. A recent Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, for example, found that certain dietary practices may help curb the risk of hearing impairment by 30% or more.
    3. DON’T tolerate excess noise, which can lead to hearing loss or worsen an existing hearing problem. Loud sounds are among the most common and preventable causes, so limit your exposure and keep quality hearing protection on hand.
    4. DON’T hide hearing loss from loved ones. Family members — also affected when someone has a hearing issue — report improvements in relationships, social life, and more when the problem is addressed. Consider tackling it together.
    5. DON’T deny yourself compassion and patience. Adjusting to new hearing technology can take time and some fine-tuning, so expect adjustments and know that it’s all about ensuring you’re hearing — and living — your best.

    Have questions about managing hearing loss? We can help. Contact us today

    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.

    Unclogged: Getting to the Bottom of Ear Congestion

    Unclogged: Getting to the Bottom of Ear Congestion

    Q: Why Do My Ears Feel So Congested?

    

    A: Good question! When folks talk about congestion, most people naturally think about nasal passageways, but ears can feel pretty plugged up, too. Let’s talk about what might be going on when ears seem clogged, how it can affect your hearing, and how you can get some relief.

    The sensation of plugged-up ears essentially means a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears — as if something is partially or completely filling the space within your ear canal. It can feel fairly innocuous, somewhat annoying, or even downright painful. It can also make sounds seem rather faint or make it difficult to hear altogether.

    Any number of conditions can cause this sensation of fullness.
    One possibility involves altitude-related air-pressure changes, which can produce symptoms such as clicking or popping in the ears, ear pain or blockage, and even temporary hearing loss.

    Normally the eustachian tube, a narrow passageway from the ear to the back of the throat, helps keep pressure in the ear relatively equal. When external pressure changes quickly, however — like in air travel — your body might need a little extra help to get the ears back on track.

    In this case, yawning, swallowing, chewing gum, or sucking on your favorite hard candy before the plane ascends or descends can help the eustachian tube equalize air pressure inside the ear. Holding your nose, closing your mouth, and softly blowing without exhaling air may also help — as long as you don’t have a sinus infection.

    Other possible causes of ear congestion can include ear infection, head trauma, or a case of the common cold. Conditions such as Ménière’s disease are also potential contributors, making it important to seek a complete ear evaluation if you experience any fullness in one or both ears lasting more than a couple days or accompanied by ear pain, discharge, or ringing; balance issues; dizziness; or headaches.

    Our caring experts can help you keep your hearing health in top shape, so don’t wait. Contact us to schedule a full examination, get answers to your questions, or discuss your hearing-health concerns today. We’re here to help!

    Have Yourself a Hearable Holiday | Our List of the Best Wearables

    Wearables are commonplace now, from fitness trackers to smart watches. Theyíre more than just technology you can wear, though: A wearable usually has Bluetooth connectivity as well as sensors that track step count, heart rate, and other biometric data. But in the last few years, wearables have migrated ó to the ear and to the wish list.

    The Hearable

    Thatís right, you can now wear smart technology in your ears. This kind of device is called a hearable. The market is too broad for any one definition to fully describe what a hearable is, but a good working definition is a wireless in-ear micro-computer.

    Some hearables are as simple as earbuds that enhance your music-listening experience. Others are hearing aids that double as sophisticated wellness trackers. Below are features youíll commonly find in different hearables.

    • Connectivity. Sync to a smartphone, tablet, or smart home device.
    • Biometric tracking. Track your steps, your heart rate, or even your running pace with sensors embedded in the hearable.
    • Improved sound quality. Drawing on technology used in todayís hearing aids, you can enjoy noise-canceling capabilities or choose how much environmental sound you want. For example, you can allow just enough noise to ensure you remain aware of traffic.
    • Translation. Have a foreign language translated to your native language in real time.

    Notable Hearables

    What does all this look like in action? Letís check out some of the hearables currently on the market.

    Jabra Sport Pace.
    Listen to music, talk on the phone, and switch between the two seamlessly during your running workout with these wireless earbuds that connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone. Theyíre sweat and weather resistant and, with the Jabra Sport Life app, you can monitor your pace. These wireless earbuds last up to five hours on one charge, or you can use the rapid-charge feature for when youíre on the go: 15 minutes of charging gives you an hour of battery life.

    The Pilot.
    These wireless earbuds connect via Bluetooth to your mobile device and allow you to listen to music and phone calls ó and they translate spoken language in real time! The Pilot translates 15 languages and 42 dialects in natural-sounding male and female voices, provides on-screen transcripts, and offers quick access to a dictionary as well as a phrasebook. Plus, they last up to 20 hours on one charge with the portable charger.

    Jabra Elite Sport.
    Unlike the Jabra Sport Pace, this one is built for professional athletic training. You can still listen to music, talk on the phone, and switch between the two seamlessly, but the Elite Sport also features better moisture resistance, a heart rate monitor, step count, rep count, VO2 measurement, and hear through, which allows you to determine how much environmental noise to filter out. Plus, with the Jabra Sport Life App, you get personalized audio coaching in real time.

    AGXs liv AI.
    This product is intended for those with a diagnosed hearing loss. These hearing aids stream phone calls, music, and more directly from your mobile devices and offer a rechargeable option. If that werenít enough, they use integrated sensors to monitor brain and body health. The Thriveô app tracks it all, provides wellness scores, transcribes conversations so you can read them, and even translates 27 spoken languages. To top it all off, the devices can detect if youíve fallen and will alert chosen contacts.

    Why Do My Ears Itch? | Causes of Ear Itching

    Next to pain, itching is probably the most uncomfortable physical sensation we experience. It is annoying, distracting, and in some cases, absolutely maddening. When that itching occurs in a place we can’t reach, it can be difficult to find relief. Our ear canals are the most common place unreachable itching occurs, but most of us don’t give it much thought. Fortunately, most causes of deep ear itching are understood, and there are things we can do to alleviate or even prevent it.


    What Causes Itching Sensations in the Ear?

    DRY SKIN
    In the outer ear, itching is rarely a notable issue, since we can easily rub or scratch that itch away. It is usually caused by dry skin or irritants that come into contact with the skin. It is no different than itching on any other exposed part of the body, but if it becomes a habitual nuisance, applying a bit of mineral oil or Vaseline to the affected area with a cotton swab can help rehydrate the skin and protect it from further irritation.

    SKIN CONDITIONS
    In addition to the superficial irritation of substances you come into contact with, two of the most common benign skin diseases, eczema and psoriasis, can also affect your ears. If scaling of the skin is present, one of these conditions will be suspected as the cause of your itching. Your hearing care provider and dermatologist can provide solutions.

    ALLERGIES
    In the inner parts of the ear, causes of itching become a little more complex. One of the most common culprits is allergies. The same histamine response that causes itchy hives on the skin, watery eyes, and sneezing can also cause the eustachian tube (the pathway that connects the ear to the throat) to become inflamed. Most of us will press on our tragus (that small flap of cartilaginous skin near the ear’s opening) and wiggle it vigorously to relieve this sensation, but the best home remedy is to take an antihistamine.

    INFECTION
    Almost everyone has suffered an ear infection at some point in our lives, and when we think back on this experience, it is usually the pain that we remember the most, but itching can also be an important indicator of bacterial buildup in the middle ear. If the itching you feel is persistent and intense, or is accompanied by a throbbing sensation or feeling of fullness, schedule an appointment with your audiologist or ENT to find out if infection is present. Treating it at this stage can save you from further discomfort down the road.

    ANXIETY
    You may be surprised to learn this, but simply being nervous, stressed, or feeling “on edge” can cause the ears to itch!


    What Can I Do to Relieve Itching?

    As mentioned above, medication is usually the best method to relieve persistent itching deep in the ear, but there are also some over-the-counter remedies you can try. Commercial ear drops that dissolve wax can clear the ear of buildup and debris and relieve itching. Taking a hot shower or sipping a hot cup of tea may also help, as the heat dilates blood vessels and improves circulation to the ears. An added benefit of this approach is that it is likely to relax you, which will reduce nervous itching.

    Another useful remedy is placing a few drops of 70% rubbing alcohol in the ear. If this causes a burning sensation, that’s another sign of fungal or bacterial infection, which means a visit to your hearing care provider is in order. Even if an infection is not present, your provider may prescribe steroid drops to bring you relief.


    Can I Prevent Itchy Ears?

    The best way to prevent itching in any part of the ear is to practice good ear hygiene. While we are all tempted to clean our ears at home, this often does more harm than good. No foreign object should ever be inserted into the ear (this means cotton swabs, too!), because this pushes wax deeper into the canal, which can cause everything from painful blockages to that persistent itching we’re trying to avoid. Wax is actually a very important component of ear health; it keeps the inner ear waterproof and resistant to microbes. Gently washing the outer ear with a soft washcloth and warm water will rinse away any excess wax or debris and help keep dermatitis at bay.

    If you wear earrings, make sure they are made of a hypoallergenic metal such as pure gold, sterling silver, or titanium, as some other metals (chiefly nickel) can react with the skin and cause itching.
    Avoid getting excess water in your ears whenever possible. Swim with your head above the surface and consider wearing a shower cap while bathing. Additionally, switching to a shampoo formulated for sensitive skin can cut down on ear irritation.

    When inserting hearing aids or earbuds, or any other device that fits into the ear, do so gently and carefully. It may seem like a small gesture, but anytime we place anything in or near the ear canal, we are potentially disrupting the ear’s natural defenses against invaders.