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Hearing & Empowered: Embrace the Season With Gusto

Embrace summer with gusto. Whether having some local fun or taking a trip, here are six ways your hearing technology can help you dive in.

Nothing says “Summertime, here we come!” like hitting the road, rails, trails, and friendly skies to make new memories with loved ones far and nearby. Whether having some local fun or taking a trip, here are six ways your hearing technology can help you dive in.


Look for the Loop

Touring a new city? Some sites — museums, theaters, houses of worship, and more — may have installed a hearing loop, letting you receive enhanced audio by wirelessly connecting through the T-coil setting on your hearing aid, if it has been enabled. Look for the hearing-loop logo at participating spots.

Discover AGXchange

If you’re traveling well beyond your local area and are one of our patients, check with us to find an AudigyCertifiedTM practice near your destination. With the AGXchange Program, you get the same quality hearing care you’ve come to expect from us. Now, that’s peace of mind.

“Cache” Up on AI

The future is here with artificial intelligence at your ears! You can monitor your physical and mental well-being with the AGXS liv and its Thrive app. Some devices and apps even have a translation feature, letting you communicate with others even if you don’t know their local language.

Charge Into Some Fun

What’s worse than dead batteries? Not having spares when in need. Rather than worry about keeping extras on hand, consider the convenience of rechargeability. With many manufacturers offering rechargeable technology, you can live it up with the confidence of all-day hearing aid power.

Tune Up for Tunes

Hearing tech is optimized for speech, but if live music is on your mind, we can nudge your settings to help you enjoy tunes without compromising how you hear speech. With some hearing aids, we can even make minor adjustments remotely via the AGXR Attune app’s Audigy Assist feature or the Thrive app!

Bookmark Your Faves

Through selected apps, you can “bookmark” or geotag your hearing aid settings to your favorite locations — a happy-hour hangout, the gym, or a golfing spot, for example — so that the app automatically adjusts your technology to your listening preferences for that venue.


Make it a summer to remember with hearing technology that has your back every step of the way. For more on optimizing your devices or to experience a demo of the latest hearing aids, schedule a consultation with our expert team today!

Destigmatizing Hearing Loss: It Affects People of All Ages

Hearing Loss Affects People of All Ages

When you think about eyeglasses, what do you think of? Most likely your own pair or those of loved ones. If you’re more fashion-minded, you might even think about that funky pair you saw recently on one of your favorite celebrities. You definitely don’t think of old age.

But what about when you think of hearing aids? Probably a different story.
 

A PR Problem

In the United States, 14 million people 12 years or older have a visual impairment. Thirty million people 12 years or older have hearing loss in both ears — that’s one out of every eight people.

Both eyeglasses and hearing aids correct a sense impairment — so why are eyeglasses a fashion statement, but it takes, on average, seven years for someone to even get their hearing tested after noticing a hearing loss?
 

Hearing Loss Affects All Age Groups

The idea that hearing loss is something that happens to people in their old age simply isn’t true. Significant numbers of people across all generations experience some degree of hearing loss.
 

Children
  • 2 to 3 of every 1,000 U.S. babies are born with a detectable hearing loss
  • 1 in 5 U.S. teens has some degree of hearing loss
  • 1 in 8 U.S. kids ages 6 to 19 has hearing loss from using earbuds to listen to music at unsafe volumes
  • Over 90 percent of U.S. children born with hearing loss have parents with no hearing loss>/li>
Young adults

According to a World Health Organization report, 50 percent of millennials risk hearing loss because of damaging volumes via personal audio devices; 40 percent do so via noisy entertainment venues such as concerts.

Adults
  • About 1 in 7 U.S. adults ages 20 to 69 has hearing loss
  • 22 percent of U.S. adults are exposed to dangerous noise levels at work
  • About 1 in 10 U.S. adults experiences tinnitus (a ringing, pulsing, or buzzing only they can hear)
  • About 90 percent of tinnitus cases have accompanying hearing loss
Service members
  • 3 in 5 returning service members experience hearing loss
  • Among both active and veteran service members, hearing loss and tinnitus are the most reported health issue
  • 50 percent of all blast-induced injuries result in permanent hearing loss
  • Hearing loss among service members has become a big enough problem that the Department of Defense spearheaded an interactive course that provides early and ongoing hearing loss-prevention training

 

Normalizing Hearing Loss

Clearly, hearing loss is even more prevalent than vision problems. And it leaves no age group untouched. But the stigma remains, such that only 1 in 5 people who could benefit from hearing technology actually uses it.

But there’s a growing online trend of people discussing their lives with hearing loss — many of them millennials or slightly older — in an attempt to remove the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids.

  • Living With Hearing Loss is written by Shari Eberts, who was recognized as a HearStrong Champion for her tireless work to change the stigma surrounding hearing loss.
  • The Invisible Disability and Me is written by a woman with a cochlear implant who hopes to raise awareness of and support those who’ve experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Cosmopolitan magazine’s brand connection to millennial women is so strong that it launched a Cosmo Millennial Advisory Board staffed with millennials who are experts in their fields; Cosmopolitan regularly features articles about life with hearing loss, covering topics from dating with hearing loss to becoming a NASA engineer despite having been born profoundly deaf.
  • The Twitter page Normalize Hearing Loss is “on a mission to normalize hearing loss and hearing aids and other tech the way we’ve normalized glasses,” and encourages users to include @NormalizeHL or #NormalizeHearingLoss in their tweets.

 

Hearing Tech for Today’s Connected Culture

What’s more, the hearing technology of today is a far cry from the hearing aids of 50 years ago. The digital tech of today is sleek and discreet, minimizes background noise, improves speech clarity in complicated sound environments, and focuses on what’s in front of you rather than taking in and amplifying all sounds equally.

Plus, hearing devices are becoming as connected as everything else. You can stream audio wirelessly from your mobile device to your hearing aids, geotag the hearing aid settings for your favorite locations, even hear a phone call in both ears simultaneously — and control it all on the sly with a smartphone app!


Sources:
Fang Ko et al. Prevalence of Nonrefractive Visual Impairment in U.S. Adults and Associated Risk Factors, 1999-2002 and 2005-2008. JAMA: 2012;308(22): 2361–2386. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Quick Statistics About Hearing. Accessed March 6, 2019. Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Facts and Statistics. Accessed March 6, 2019. Hearing Health Foundation. Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Statistics. Accessed March 6, 2019.

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!