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May Is Better Hearing Month – Spring Into It With Less Noise, More Joy!

Ahhh, spring! As power tools whir, ball games bloom, and concerts sprout, are your ears protected from the louder sounds of the season?

Some noises pack a bigger punch than your ears should take, so for Better Hearing Month this May, we’re sharing three quick tips to keep harmful volumes at bay.


TURN DOWN THE SOUND

Planning a hearty run in the fresh air with favorite tunes in your ears? It’s tempting to crank up the beats, but MP3 players can reach an ear-splitting 105 decibels. Better bet: Enjoy the sounds but turn them down to 50 percent maximum volume or lower.

GUARD YOUR EARS

Cutting that spring grass can feel so satisfying, but the noise of a gas mower can blow past the danger threshold of 85 decibels. Hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs help soften loud sounds and can be customized to your ears, so keep them on hand when using power equipment.

LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE

Spring concerts, sports, and festivals abound, so help keep your hearing sound by wearing hearing protection and taking breaks from the festivities. Permanent hearing loss can result even from a single exposure to loud noise, making it important to give your ears a helpful rest from excess volumes.


Did you know?

  • An estimated one-third of hearing loss among children and adults worldwide is connected to noise exposure.
  • Excess noise can destroy the inner ear’s tiny, irreplaceable hair cells, which are crucial to healthy hearing.
  • Loud sounds can lead to tinnitus, a common and potentially debilitating problem of buzzing, humming, or ringing in the ears.
  • Quality hearing protection can curb noise intensity while letting music and other audio sound just as good.

As the season showers you with sound, make this the month to start protecting your hearing. Contact our caring team today to learn more about custom hearing protection for the whole family.

Good Nutrition Can Help With Tinnitus – Here Are Our 5 Favorite Recipes

Tinnitus isn’t curable, but it’s effects can be managed through treatment. Recent studies suggest that a nutritious diet can be a good place to start.

From sound-based therapies to mindfulness-based exercises, new ways to manage or reduce the sounds associated with tinnitus — a ringing, buzzing, or pulsing that has no external sound source — are being developed every day.

 
Though there’s no cure, treatment options abound. One promising option: nutrition.
 

Recipes With Tinnitus-Friendly Ingredients

A growing body of research is linking not food but nutrition with tinnitus. For example, people with Ménière’s disease-related tinnitus should keep their salt intake from fluctuating to control tinnitus symptoms. Some encouraging studies have shown that folate, B12, and certain antioxidants are linked to improved tinnitus symptoms.
 
In honor of National Nutrition Month, enjoy these recipes bursting with tinnitus-friendly nutrition!

Beef With Broccoli

Whether you serve it over chow mein or skip the noodles for a low-carb option, this hearty and healthy recipe can’t miss. Packed with B12 (flank steak), folate (spinach), and antioxidants (spinach), this is a blast of sweet and savory flavor.
 

Spaghetti With Tomato and Walnut Pesto

If you saw “pesto” in the name and thought, “Basil? No thanks…,” don’t worry — the basil takes a back seat among the delicious, complex flavors in this recipe. The ingredients are rich in antioxidants (cherry tomatoes, walnuts, basil), hearing-healthy omega-3s (anchovies, basil), and folate (cherry tomatoes).
 

Herb Garden Potatoes With Fresh Spinach and Lemon

You finally figured out how to get your windowsill herb garden to thrive. Now what? We’ve got just the thing! With this hearty salad, you can mix and match the herbs to suit your palate, while the main ingredients — tinnitus-friendly potatoes and spinach — provide a heapin’ helpin’ of antioxidants and folate.
 

Sautéed Spinach and Tomatoes

This easy, light, delicious side dish is sure to become a spring and summer staple in your home! The tart sweetness of the cherry tomatoes perfectly complements the earthy punch of the spinach, and both are overflowing with — you guessed it —antioxidants and folate.
 

Wild Blueberry Banana Spinach Power Smoothie

Looking for a great way to start the day off with a nutrition boost but really don’t like greens? Look no further than this recipe! Nestled among the berries, banana, and your choice of milk (the recipe uses almond milk), you won’t even know the spinach is there. And like the pesto dish above, this smoothie is packed with antioxidants, folate, and hearing-healthy omega-3s.

A Feast for the Ears: Supporting Your Hearing Health Through Food

March is National Nutrition Month, and that makes this an especially great time to talk about hearing wellness and nutrition. Never thought about food in relation to your ears? You’re not alone. But considering food is a critical source of elements crucial to healthy skin, muscles, organs, and more, it’s no wonder that nutrition and hearing are connected.

Take children and hearing loss, for instance. Did you know that a lack of adequate nutrition early in life could mean problems with hearing later on? A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2018, for example, found that young adults who experienced poor nutrition in their preschool years had double the risk of hearing loss versus their better-nourished counterparts.

Though the research focused on a population with ongoing malnutrition issues and limited health care access, the study adds to the body of research linking nourishment — broccoli, anyone? — and hearing health.

Speaking of broccoli: Selected vitamins and minerals in your food can contribute to protecting your hearing wellness, according to HealthyHearing.com, so feast your eyes — and ears — on these examples to jump-start your healthy-hearing nutrition:
 

Clams, Cod, and Rockfish

These delights from the sea not only please a discerning palate but can provide potassium, an important mineral for regulating blood and tissue fluid levels — including in the inner ear, which plays an important role in hearing and balance.
 

Okra, Asparagus, and Spinach

Choices abound when it comes to sources of folate, which studies have linked to healthy outcomes such as decreased risk of hearing impairment among older men. Whether you’re into dark green veggies, broccoli, avocado, escarole, or edamame, you can find folate-rich foods to match your tastes.
 

Leafy Greens, Whole Grains, and — Hey — Dark Chocolate!

Yep, dark chocolate’s on our list of foods containing magnesium, which — combined with vitamins A, C, and E — can help thwart noise-induced hearing loss. Other magnesium sources include pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, chicken breast, and more.
 

Lentils, Split Peas, and Navy Beans

Serve them mashed, whole, in a soup, or in a salad bowl — whatever your delight! Lentils — along with other legumes and foods such as beef, oysters, and dark-meat chicken — offer zinc, which supports the immune system and may help fight tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
 
Healthy eating is important year-round, so keep these helpful tips in mind for National Nutrition Month and beyond. Want to learn more about hearing wellness and nutrition? Contact us! We’re happy to answer your questions.

Does Your Heart Health Affect Your Hearing Health?

Easy Ways to Boost Heart Health

The human body is complex. So complex, in fact, that some things you read about it might seem downright far-fetched. For example, your heart health affects your hearing health.

The Heart–Hearing Link

That might sound a little squirrelly, but it’s supported by more than six decades of research. How are they connected?

Your inner ear is where sound waves get translated into a language — electrical impulses — that your brain understands. Structures critical to this translation process depend on nourishment from tiny blood vessels. When your heart doesn’t work well, those structures don’t get enough blood and, therefore, don’t work like they should, leading to hearing loss.

The connection is so strong that, in the event of a heart attack, it’s recommended that you get a hearing test to catch hearing loss early. It’s also been suggested that every hearing care patient’s history include detailed information about heart health, such as history of heart disease, hypertension, heart attacks, or heart surgery due to coronary blockage.


Keep Your Heart Healthy

There are plenty of easy ways to improve your heart health. Instead of a list of don’ts, we’ll keep it positive. Here are three easy things you can do to head toward heart health.

  1. Stand up

    The scientific community is starting to recognize just how unhealthy sitting for a big portion of the day really is. Simply put, sitting for long periods is linked to heart disease. Stand up from time to time. It helps more than you realize. It’s not a matter of making sure you’re exercising enough — per Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins, “Even if you’re doing 30 minutes per day of physical activity, it matters what you do the other 23 hours of the day.” Dr. Michos finds reasons to get up and move every hour, such as going down the hall to a colleague’s office to ask a question instead of asking via email.

  2. Make every meal a rainbow

    To reduce risk of heart disease, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends 7 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit every day. Practically all of them are low in calories, fat, and sodium, and many are rich in vitamin C or beta-carotene, both of which reduce plaque buildup in your arteries. To understand what the foundation means by “serving,” here’s Health Canada’s current serving-size guide.

  3. Keep the fats — but only the healthy kind

    It’s never a good idea to cut out all fat. Your body needs certain fats. According to the American Heart Association, the heart-healthy approach is to focus on unsaturated fats (poly or mono), heavily limit saturated fats, and cut out artificial trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and tropical oils entirely.

    What does that mean, exactly? Easy ways to load up on the good stuff are adding fish and avocado to your diet, eating nuts in moderation, and steering toward oils that are low in saturated fat, such as avocado, grapeseed, olive, and sesame oils.

How Prevalent Really is Hearing Loss Among Americans and Canadians?

How many people in your life have hearing difficulties? One person? Two people? A handful? No one? The actual number is quite possibly more than you think, because hearing loss — the inability or reduced ability to perceive sounds that enter the ear — is much more common than many realize.

In the United States and Canada together, for example, millions of people live with hearing loss. Numbers may vary per organization, government agency, or study, but:

In both countries, hearing loss also represents one of the top chronic physical conditions — even, in the case of the United States, ahead of diabetes or cancer. It’s a growing concern affecting children and adults, including approximately 34 million youth worldwide. In fact, it’s one of the most common birth defects in Canada and possibly the most common one in the U.S.
 

The good news?

Most hearing loss can be effectively managed with solutions such as hearing aids, helping you stay connected to the people, places, and experiences that matter most.
 

The bad news?

Only a fraction of those who could benefit from hearing help actually seek or receive it, making hearing loss an undertreated issue.
 
Even worse, hearing loss not only impacts communication but can go hand in hand with other problems such as social isolation, depression, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and risk of falls.


FEBRUARY IS HEART MONTH

Did you know? Like hearing loss, cardiovascular disease — including heart disease and stroke — is a global public-health challenge. It’s the No. 1 killer worldwide, with nearly 18 million deaths annually per World Health Organization estimates, and is linked to hearing loss.

Precisely how cardiovascular disease and hearing loss are connected isn’t yet conclusive in all cases, but researchers have found, for example, that those with heart disease are 54 percent more likely to experience a hearing loss — even more so if they’ve suffered a heart attack.

Some risk factors such as age, gender, and family history can’t be helped, but healthy choices such as the following can make a difference in helping prevent either condition:

  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Following a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting regular hearing and overall checkups

Take it to heart, and spread the word!

Hearing Aids: 5 Fun Facts on What These Powerful Devices Can Do

Some individuals might not realize how far technology has come to make communication easier than ever. We’ll provide you with some facts about hearing aids.

Did you know? Fewer than one out of three adults 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids actually uses them, per the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and the rate plunges to just 16 percent among those 20 to 69.

The reasons for these stark statistics may vary, but what’s clear is that disabling hearing loss — a serious public health issue affecting approximately 466 million people worldwide — is undertreated on a global scale.

Some individuals who need hearing help might not realize how far technology has advanced to make communication easier and more empowering than ever, even in some of the most challenging listening situations.

Check out these five fun facts you may not have known about hearing devices:

  1. Like Elephants, They “Remember”

    Want the same great listening experience at your favorite — but noisy — food spot every time you get together with family and friends? Options vary across different product lines, but some AGX® Hearing devices offer a “restaurant” setting that cuts background noise, or you can create your own geotagged “memory” with sound settings tailored to specific locations for a consistent experience.

  2. Built-In Mics Put You in Control

    When a room or other venue contains competing sounds, you need a way to focus on the audio you actually want to hear. You can use your AGX hearing aid’s directionality function to focus the device’s microphones on the conversation in front of you, for example, versus the noise or other sounds behind you.

  3. They Play Well With Other Devices

    Hearing impairment can make it difficult to track who’s saying what in group discussions — for instance, a brainstorming session at work. A wireless Bluetooth® microphone, set in a central spot during the conversation, can send speech directly to your hearing aid! During more personal gatherings, your conversation companions can take turns placing the mic on their lapel while speaking.

  4. You Can Stream Like a Champ

    Speaking of playing well with other devices: Many hearing aids today let you transmit audio from your television, stereo, or smartphone to your hearing tech — whether streaming directly or with the help of a wireless accessory called a “streamer” that clips to your collar. Laugh along with your favorite TV comedy series, enjoy the latest tunes, or video chat on your smartphone with clarity and confidence.

  5. They Make Good Fitness Buddies

    Some cutting-edge hearing aids not only offer great sound, speech clarity in noise, and audio streaming from your smartphone but also track brain and body health using artificial intelligence. With the AGXs liv, for example, you control your programs, settings, and streaming while the Thrive™ Hearing app records your health data and provides three wellness scores, helping you track your fitness goals.

 


Want a closer look at what today’s modern technology can do for your hearing health and enjoyment? Contact us to schedule your FREE demonstration today! Our caring team can’t wait to show you how far hearing aids have come.
 

How Hearing Aids Work

If you or someone you know has hearing technology, you understand how life-changing it can be, leading to even stronger connections to loved ones and a renewed vigor for life. But have you ever stopped to wonder just how those amazing little life-changers work?

It might surprise you to know that the basics haven’t changed over the last several hundred years. Let’s start with the ear trumpet.

The Ear Trumpet

All things considered, the ear trumpet was a decent alternative to hearing loss. How did it work? It:

  • Collected sound waves
  • Amplified the sound waves by making them more orderly and concentrated
  • Funneled the amplified sound waves into your ear canal

After that, the amplified sound waves traveled to the eardrum and beyond, where hearing happened. How does that compare to today’s hearing aids?

The Modern Hearing Aid

Today’s hearing aids work on the same principles. Just like the ear trumpet, today’s hearing aid:

  • Collects sound waves
  • Amplifies the sound waves
  • Funnels the amplified sound into your ear canal

After that, the amplified sound waves travel to your eardrum and beyond, where hearing happens.
 

There are two major differences, however, between the ear trumpet and today’s hearing aids: digital technology and the expertise of an experienced provider. Let’s take a look.

  • Directional microphones

    Many modern hearing aids have directional microphones, which means they determine — in the moment — which sounds belong to your conversation partner and focus on those sounds, rather than all the other background noise.

  • Digital processor

    Many hearing devices come with a digital chip that optimizes the sound quality by, for example, reducing background noise, canceling feedback, and reducing the noise caused by wind blowing across your hearing device.

  • Multichannel amplifier

    Today’s amplifiers can analyze incoming sound based on your specific hearing needs and then amplify (or reduce) the volume accordingly. For example, it can boost the volume of your child’s voice while leaving the sound of your neighbor’s truck engine as is. In many ways, it’s like the equalizer channels on a stereo, only more sophisticated!

  • Binaural processing

    This is a fancy way to say your hearing aids communicate with each other. This keeps them working in sync, and it means you can stream audio from one hearing aid to the other (for example, you can hear a phone call from your smartphone in both ears at the same time).

  • Remote, discreet adjustments

    Many hearing devices today can pair with an app on your smartphone. Depending on the make and model of hearing tech, you can use the app to control volume and settings, set program preferences for favorite locations, and even stream audio from your smartphone directly to your hearing devices.

  • Experienced provider

    At every step in your better-hearing journey, your provider takes into account your hearing lifestyle. Do you go to concerts? Or do you spend a lot of time in the library? Each lifestyle requires a specific technology with deft, nuanced programming considerations. Your provider ensures everything is in order and meets your ever-evolving hearing needs.


Same Ol’ Story

As you can see, the more hearing care stays the same, the more it changes. No matter the method we use at each step, tech will only get more sophisticated as the years go by. What might hearing technology look like in the year 2060?

Get That Gym Workout — Without Hurting Your Ears | Protecting Your Hearing

Making Moves — and Protecting Your Hearing, Too! Planning to bust some moves at the gym as part of your 2019 goals? You’re not alone. Excess noise and good hearing health don’t mix. Read on for four easy tips.

Planning to bust some moves at the gym as part of your 2019 goals? You’re not alone. As a tried-and-true strategy for losing weight, feeling more fit, or simply stepping up physical activity for overall wellness, working out is a perennially popular New Year’s resolution, and exercise classes can be a fun way to fit the bill.

The catch? Whether it’s cycling, kickboxing, step aerobics, dance, or another high-energy track, these classes often crank up the music to harmful levels — well above the danger threshold of 85 decibels — giving your ears a workout you didn’t bargain for. It can lead to instant or gradual hearing loss that could be permanent.

To protect your hearing while getting into the exercise groove, here are four things you can do:

Speak Up

Turning down the volume in the first place goes a long way toward reducing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. If the music seems too loud, consider asking the instructor before class begins or during a cool-down break to lower the volume. Better yet, explore different gyms and fitness studios and their approach to noise management before choosing the facility for your needs.

Wear Earplugs

Keeping earplugs in your car or gym bag helps ensure you’ll have a pair on hand. They’re small enough to fit in your ear but effective enough to help soften the loudest sounds while still allowing you to hear. Inexpensive varieties are available at most pharmacies. Consider a customized set from your local audiologist to help ensure a secure fit during high-intensity exercise.

Keep Your Distance

The closer you are to the sound source, the bigger the burden on your ears, so try to pick a spot as far away from the speakers as possible. That can be harder to do in a smaller room — especially if speakers are along the wall and the ceiling, too — but every bit of space between you and the epicenter of the noise can make a difference.

Take a Break

Keeping your noise exposure to 15 minutes or less amid 100-plus decibel levels and no more than a minute amid 110-plus decibel levels — per public-health recommendations — might seem a tall order during your favorite aerobics session. Frequent or prolonged noise exposure, however, increases the chance of lifelong hearing damage, so consider leaving class for a water break or an alternate activity during the loudest moments.

We’re here to support you in your wellness goals. For custom hearing protection or more tips on keeping your hearing safe while working out, contact our caring team today!

Online Hearing Tests: Can They Help?

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.

Some Pros

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.

Some Cons

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.

Self-Fitting Hearing Aids: Reasons to Consult a Hearing Care Professional

Self-Fitting Hearing Aids: Key Reasons to Consult a Hearing Care Professional Instead

Self-Fitting Hearing Aids are new to the market, but they still have a ways to go in matching the effectiveness of clinician-fitted hearing devices.

Have you heard of self-fitting hearing aids (SFHAs)? Can they help if you have a hearing loss? What exactly are they, and how do they differ from traditional hearing devices fitted by a hearing care expert? What’s the best action to take if you need hearing help?

With hearing loss posing a serious public-health challenge worldwide — it’s a chronic problem affecting millions of women, men, and children — technology continues evolving to improve sound clarity, expand compatibility with other smart devices, and increase accessibility to a wider reach of people.

So where do self-fitting hearing aids fit into the equation of better-hearing options? Let’s take a look.

What Are Self-Fitting Hearing Aids?

Definitions of SFHAs can vary slightly across experts. In the simplest terms, they’re sound-amplifying devices designed to let the user measure their own hearing loss, appropriately install the devices in their ears, and program them for optimal hearing in various listening environments without the prescription or assistance of an audiologist, medical doctor, or other specially trained hearing expert.

Can These Self-Fitting Devices Help Me?

As a relatively newer product category, self-fitting hearing aids may ultimately prove a welcome addition to the range of treatment options. They still have a ways to go, however, in matching the effectiveness and satisfaction of clinician-fitted hearing devices.

One recent study, “Outcomes With a Self-Fitting Hearing Aid,” compared user-driven and provider-driven fittings of a single self-fitting product. Researchers uncovered no significant hearing-aid-performance differences between the two groups but saw that cognition plays a big role. Those “with poorer cognitive function consistently exhibited more difficulty in handling the” self-fitting devices, wrote the study’s authors.

It’s important to note that self-fitting hearing aids require access to, familiarity with, and the ability to understand how to operate and adjust the devices, which could prove challenging for some patients struggling with manual dexterity, visual acuity, cognitive issues, or inability to navigate or access computers or apps. Seeking professional assistance could make all the difference in user satisfaction.

Passage of the federal Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 will eventually bring even more self-treating options to the market, but when it comes to addressing the full spectrum of hearing loss and integrating environmental variables such as background noise, FDA-approved, provider-fit hearing aids are the recommended approach.

What Should I Do if I’m Having Hearing Difficulty?

Did you know? An estimated 466 million children and adults around the globe live with disabling hearing loss, per the World Health Organization, but the good news is that nearly all hearing impairment can be effectively managed to keep you communicating your best.

An important first step is recognizing some of the potential signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • The perception that everyone seems to be mumbling
  • Trouble understanding speech in noisy environments
  • Frequent need to turn up the TV or have words repeated
  • Tinnitus — a buzzing, ringing, clicking, or humming in the ears
  • Difficulty conversing on the phone or understanding women’s and children’s voices

Untreated hearing loss has been linked to numerous other health complications such as cognitive decline, diabetes, depression, hypertension, social withdrawal, and more, making early treatment important to improving quality of life.


If you are experiencing listening problems or it’s been a while since your last hearing test, don’t wait. Schedule an evaluation with our expert team today. We’re here to help!