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Finally, Relief from Loud TV Commercials!

Loud Commercials Worse for Hearing Aid Users

We have all experienced it: the sudden increase in loudness that some TV commercials have over the program being watched. For people with normal hearing, the change in volume is primarily annoying. For hearing aids users, that same change in loudness may be uncomfortable or even painful.

The CALM Act

Now, with new regulations recently enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), such irksome volume swells may be a thing of the past. On December 13, 2012 the FCC put into effect its Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. This legislation is intended to require commercials aired on television to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.

Most Hearing Aids have Noise Reduction Circuits

While most hearing aids manufactured in the last ten years have noise reduction circuits that prevent the hearing aid from over amplifying sudden loud sounds, the increase in the volume for commercials can still be unpleasant.  As an audiologist since 1979, this has been a common complaint of many of my hearing aid patients.

Report Violators to FCC

Hopefully, this new policy will provide relief for hearing aid wearers (and everybody else!) who have long sought relief from those blaring TV ads. If it doesn’t, the following link explains how you can report violators of the new commercial calming rules directly to the FCC:www.fcc.gov/print/node/30264.

Reed Norwood, AuD

About the Author

Reed Norwood is the owner of  Cookeville Audiology & Hearing Aids  in Cookeville, TN.  Dr. Norwood has been practicing audiology since 1979.  Dr. Norwood is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, a past member of the State of TN Communicative Disorders Licensing Board and a past president of the TN Academy of Audiology.

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Original post from The Hearing Care Blog

human-ear-listening-hearing-263654721Diabetics at Greater Risk for Hearing Loss

People with diabetes are usually aware of their increased risk of kidney, cardiovascular, and visual disorders. However, most diabetics don’t know they are more than twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without the disease. And the risk is greater among younger diabetics than older.

Younger Diabetics at Greater Risk

A recent study in Japan was published in November 2012 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Led by Chika Horikawa, the team examined data from 13 previous studies published between 1977 and 2011. Their conclusion? Not only were diabetics 2.15 times as likely as others to have hearing loss, but those under age 60 had 2.61 times the risk while those over 60 had 1.58. In a related study by the National Institutes of Health, it was shown that more than 40% of people with diabetes had some degree of hearing loss.

Link Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

The link between diabetes and hearing loss is not yet fully understood. Some think that high blood sugar levels may damage the blood vessels in the ears. Others caution that certain medications commonly used by diabetic patients, such as diuretics, may be a contributing factor. Though more research is needed in order to understand the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, according to Horikawa, “these results propose that diabetic patients are screened for hearing impairment from an earlier age compared with nondiabetics,” particularly because untreated hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of dementia and depression. For more information regarding diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website.

Gloria Boms, AuD

About the Author

Gloria Boms, AuD has been a licensed audiologist since 1978. Dr. Boms began her professional career at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, NY where she specialized in pediatric audiology. She began working in private practice serving both children and adults in 1984, and her practice has been located in Great Neck since 1997. Dr. Boms is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, a Fellow of the Academy of Dispensing Audiologists, and a member of the American Auditory Society and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Noisy Toys 2012

From the American Tinnitus Association — Hold that thought before you buy that noisy toy for your kids or grandkids this year.  The Sight and Hearing Association has released its list of the noisiest toys of 2012, and chances are that noise-maker you’re looking at could cause hearing loss. Of 20 toys tested this year,  12  sounded  off  above  100  decibels  (dB),  which  can  damage  hearing  in  less  than  15 minutes.

The noisiest toys of 2012 can cause permanent hearing loss within 15 minutes of exposure.

Walking through the toy aisle at various stores, SHA selects toys that appear to be too loud for consumers. Once brought back to their office, a hand-held sound level meter is used to measure the sound produced from the speaker and 10 inches from the speaker of the toy. This, year, Mattel’s Talking Figure Buzz Lightyear was the leader among a dozen toys that literally went from infinity and beyond when it came to producing sound, blasting out at 111 dB. According to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, exposure to decibel levels at a close distance would cause hearing damage almost immediately. Exposure to noise levels above 85 dB for no more than eight hours is the federal threshold for hearing protection. SHA reminds consumers that hearing loss is cumulative and it typically does not happen from one event; it gradually happens over time and that is why it is important to protect hearing at a young age.

Toys are required to meet the acoustic standard set by the American Society of Testing and Materials, which states that the sound-pressure level produced by toys shall not exceed 85 dB at 50 cm from the surface of the toy. “The problem with this standard is 50 cm is longer than the average arm length of an adult. We test toys based on how a child would play with them, not how an adult would play with them. If you watch a child playing with a noise-producing toy, you will see them hold it close to their ears or within their arms length, which is closer to 10 inches (25 cm)”, explains Kathy Webb, executive director of SHA.

Parents can do a few things to make it a little quieter this holiday season. SHA recommends testing the toy before you buy it. Webb says, “push buttons and rattle toys as you walk through the toy aisle and if a toy is too loud for you, it will be too loud for your child. Look for toys that have volume controls and if you must buy a noisy toy, or your child receives a noisy toy from a well-meaning family member, place clear packing tape over the speaker, it will reduce the sound level enough to make the toy ear-safe.” The University of Minnesota/Department of Otolaryngology confirmed in a study that was released in August 2012, that covering noise- producing toys with tape or glue will significantly reduce the noise level of a toy, making it safer for children.

Founded in 1939, Minnesota-based Sight & Hearing Association is dedicated to enabling lifetime learning by identifying preventable loss of vision and hearing. If consumers have a noisy toy to report, they can contact SHA at  reportatoy@sightandhearing.org.

Hearing Loss is More Common than You Think

From the Hearing Care Blog

SpeakerCraft TV Speaker with tv no grille
Is your TV so loud that your neighbors are getting the benefit of your new satellite dish?! Hearing loss is a very common health concern in the United States today – in fact, it’s the 3rd most prevalent chronic health condition in our country, ranking only behind arthritis and high blood pressure. So, if this health care concern is so prevalent, will your primary care physician recommend a screening? Chances are, no.  Amazingly, only 13% of primary care physicians routinely send their patients for hearing evaluations or screenings – which means that almost 90% of patients are not directed to evaluate their hearing, and may be overlooking a healthcare concern that has big consequences.

Hearing loss is no laughing matter.

Failure to regularly assess hearing is a costly error for patients, their families, and for society at large. We now have a great deal of research available regarding the consequences of untreated hearing loss (isolation, fall risk, relationship to cognitive problems, quality of life, and even links to reduced income level and failure to find or keep your employment). Each year, unaddressed hearing loss costs the US economy alone billions (yes, I said billions) of dollars in employee/business/health care related issues.

The resistance factor.

So, physician referral aside, why don’t more folks seek out hearing screenings, or appropriate hearing devices to address hearing loss on their own? If you know someone who is beginning to develop hearing loss, perhaps you’ve run up against this challenge. Suddenly, the person you know and love becomes accusatory (“you’re mumbling”), demanding (“don’t talk to me with your back turned”), and irritable (“you don’t have to shout at me!”).  We all giggle about spouses with “selective hearing”, but it’s important to remember that in couples where one person has unaddressed hearing loss and the other does not, this one-sided deficit can take a terrible toll on the relationship itself. Did you know that the divorce rate is actually significantly higher in those marriages? Again, not really very funny.

Why do people postpone getting a simple, painless, hearing test?

Well, consider that in most cases, hearing loss develops very gradually. The change can be so subtle that the person with hearing loss actually loses their frame of reference for normal loudness. While their communicative counterpart is frustrated to the max, the person with hearing loss may be blissfully unaware of what they’re missing. Additionally, in our youth oriented culture, hearing loss is often equated to aging, and sometimes people struggle with accepting that time is passing (and they are aging!). But in actuality, this is not a fair assessment. The fact is that today, noise exposure has replaced aging as the number one cause of hearing, and we live in a very noisy world. Just because you didn’t work in a noisy factory or serve in the military doesn’t mean you haven’t been exposed to damaging noise. Hair dryers, jet skis, yard equipment, and loud music are culprits for causing hearing loss, too.

Sometimes people worry about the cost of hearing devices themselves, which is a legitimate concern. Hearing devices can be costly, but given the amount of use (7 days a week, at least 8-10 hours a day), the cost is relatively modest as compared to the overall communication benefit, and the costs of say, an automobile. Those with hearing loss will likely use their hearing devices many more hours than their car.

Since hearing devices often represent a significant investment in healthcare, choose your hearing healthcare provider carefully.

If you’ve never had your hearing evaluated, seeing an audiologist who can determine whether or not your hearing loss needs medical treatment is very important. Also, if you have budget limitations, it becomes paramount to get the most value for monies expended. In other words, you want to be certain you purchase the right product for  you, and a Board Certified Audiologist can be a tremendous advocate in that regard.

So if the TV in your house is consistently louder than it should be, make sure that you and your family have your hearing evaluated by an audiologist, and follow their recommendations for improving your hearing health. You (Bettie Bortin Au.D, F.A.A.A.and you neighbors and family members) will be glad you did!

About the Author

Bettie Borton, Au.D., F.A.A.A

Dr. Bettie B. Borton is a licensed audiologist in Alabama, and was the first audiologist in Montgomery to hold certification by the American Board of Audiology, and is the only audiologist with such certification in private practice in this area.

Overcoming the Social Stigma of Hearing Loss

From the Hearing Care Blog:

The social stigma of hearing loss

Its been with us since the beginning of time

The stigma associated with hearing loss can be a big obstacle for individuals who need help to hear better. Some individuals are afraid to take the next step because of how they think their friends, family, or acquaintances may view them. Negative stereotypes and prejudices have followed hearing loss for years, and it surprises me how many people still associate those misperceptions to hearing loss. In the past, perceptions of hearing loss were associated with “old age”, poor communicators, social awkwardness, low cognition, etc. The truth is hearing loss has been around since the beginning of time and as education and research has become more abundant, the negative stigma associated with hearing loss is starting to change.

Hearing loss does not only affect those individuals who are “older” in age; it affects infants, children, teens and adults in all age ranges. Technological advancements have helped to identify newborns with hearing loss within hours of being born. In the past, you would never see a toddler walking around with hearing aids, now they are.

Allowing the old stigma of hearing loss to influence the acceptance of help can be very detrimental to a person who needs it. Hearing loss is an invisible impairment that individuals try to conceal from others. When hearing loss is concealed, individuals can become increasingly withdrawn from social interaction with friends and family. It can also lead them on a path to depression. Most individuals who have a hearing loss will feel alone and isolated unless they confront it by getting help. Truth is, once someone has a hearing loss and uses hearing aids, they not only realize how much they were missing, but they start to notice how many other people wear them.

Overcoming the stigma associated with hearing loss can be very difficult, especially for someone who has been diagnosed with a hearing loss. If you are affected by the stigma associated with hearing loss, try to observe how the hearing loss is affecting you at home, work or in leisure time. Weigh the pros and cons of hearing better vs. missing out on conversation. Identify the main emotion that holds you back from getting help and address it. Hearing aids are continuing to shrink in size because of desire for invisibility.  Get involved with organization such as the Hearing Loss Association of AmericaHearing Like Me and local support groups. Nobody should feel alone with his or her hearing loss.

If you feel that you are having trouble hearing or accepting a hearing loss diagnosis, ask your audiologist for information on support groups, organizations or websites that can help. We are here to help and support you with all of your hearing needs.

This article re-distributed with permission from The Hearing Rehab Center blog. Visit their site to learn more about hearing care services in the Denver, CO area.

Two Great New Informational Resources

One of the biggest obstacles between people with hearing loss and their better hearing is finding accurate, relevant information about hearing technology, audiological services and other issues that fall under the umbrella of better hearing. Two new websites are available to help fill in those information gaps. They are hearingloss.com and agxhearing.com:

Hearingloss.com is a great tool for finding information on hearing loss, better hearing health, audiological services, and other hearing issues such as tinnitus and dizziness.  This site utilizes informational videos as well as text posts to enhance the user’s experience.

AGXHearing.com is a brand new website that offers a wealth of information on the AGX brand hearing technology.  You can look up the different styles and models of the hearing aids, as well as read patient testimonials and find a local AGX provider.

If you need even more accurate and relevant information about the journey to better hearing, call us today for an audiological evaluation.  Our 4-Step Process helps you identify and communicate when, where and how you want to hear and our experienced hearing professionals can test your hearing and make a recommendation of the most appropriate solution for your unique needs.  For most patients, we can fit you with a pair of demo instruments in the office during your hearing aid evaluation so that you can experience first-hand the difference that hearing technology can make.  With the holidays approaching, there is no better time to hear what you’ve been missing and our 75-day trial on all instruments means that you can hear with confidence at those important family gatherings.  Don’t miss this opportunity to reintroduce yourself to the world of sound!

Get the Facts Before Buying that Hearing Aid!

Watch out For Deceptive Hearing Aid Advertising

If you are over the age of 55, your mailbox has probably been flooded with ads for the latest “life changing” hearing technology or perhaps; “You have been hand selected to participate in a field trial of the latest hearing solution”.

Open the paper…”You are invited to a lunch presented by the nation’s top authority on hearing aids,” or “You triple the risk of dementia if you do not treat your hearing loss.” Another fraudulent type of advertising called the “loss leader”, or “bait and switch”, is when a company advertises extremely cheap products with little or no intention of actually selling them, e.g., the $495 to $895 hearing aid.

These are all examples of deceptive advertising currently being used by some businesses and manufacturers of hearing aids to generate hearing aid sales by preying on those with hearing loss.

The facts are that some hearing aids are extremely sophisticated medical devices which were created only after hundreds of millions of dollars of research, development and testing was invested into their creation; while others are simply older hearing technologies, repackaged as new. People interested in hearing aids become confused with the abundance of misleading advertising which ultimately creates an atmosphere of distrust and lack of confidence in all providers of hearing aids.

Do Your Research Before You Purchase

We want to take this opportunity to provide a reality check and provide information to help you make educated decisions about you or your loved one’s hearing difficulties in today’s confusing market. There are three things that are critically important to investigate before investing in hearing aids.

1. The lowest price is rarely the best value

Hearing aids are a significant investment for everyone, regardless of income level. When hearing aids are recommended, the primary focus must be to find the right technology that will enable patients to succeed in the environments they live, socialize and work in. This is a process that needs to include a dedicated professional to ensure a patient’s ultimate satisfaction with the investment that is made in hearing devices.

2. Service – Research has proven that first time hearing aid users top two desires are invisibility and price

However, the same study also shows that the next time people purchase hearing aids; the number one requirement is service. Research has also shown that professional services before, during and after the initial fitting are vital to the success of the patient. Unfortunately, many suppliers of hearing aids do not provide these services; it is simply treated as any other retail product. In addition, many people do not realize that countless professional services needed to maintain optimal hearing levels may not be included in the initial cost of the hearing aid. This is fairly common practice when purchasing hearing aids from online retailers, physician offices and in hospital based clinics. Paying for these services after the initial purchase and/or original warranty expiration can lead to significant future expenses vital to a patient’s success with the hearing aids. Additionally, some dispensers do not retain the software necessary to readjust the hearing aids after a period of time, forcing replacement of the devices in as little as two to three years. This scenario is most common in big box stores and other retailers of hearing aids. The facts are that regularly maintained hearing aids can last between four to five years, if not longer. This is a time frame that allows return from your investment.

3. Get the Doctor’s opinion

In nearly all states in America, the only necessary degree for dispensing hearing aids is a high school diploma or GED. Some require a technical two year degree which focuses primarily on dispensing hearing aids. Doctors of Audiology (Au.D.) are the most qualified, educated and uniquely trained professionals in hearing diagnosis, rehabilitation, counseling and treatment; especially in the science of fitting digital hearing instruments and managing the psychosocial aspects of hearing loss. Each person is unique, requiring personalized solutions for their specific hearing needs. We understand that all people cannot be fitted with one type, style or brand of hearing aid. What’s best for your friend or relative may not be what works best for you.

About the Authors

Neil and Shannon AielloDr. Neil & Shannon Aiello, Au.D., CCC-A, F.A.A.A

The Columbia Basin Hearing Center Doctors of Audiology advocate a patient-centered, research based rehabilitation model; which is significantly more successful than a retail sales or medical model, for appropriate diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of hearing loss.

Earwax – It Deserves a Better Reputation!

By: Crystal L. Chalmers, Au.D.
North State Audiological Services
Chico, CA 95928

www.nsaudiology.com

Audiologist & Ear Doctor, Dr. Crystal Chalmers, Chico, California
Crystal Chalmers, Au.D., is an AudigyCertified™ Doctor of Audiology, the owner of North State Audiological Services in Chico, and a member of AudigyGroup, the nation’s largest member-owned association of independent hearing care professionals.

Though its medical name is cerumen, most of us refer to it as “Earwax”.

While I agree that neither term sounds very attractive, I will argue that earwax has gotten an undeserved bad reputation as something equivalent to dirt that we need to remove from our bodies.

So before reaching for the cotton swabs, you should know that earwax performs several important functions for our ears and hearing system.

That’s right.   Earwax – unless it is in excess and blocking our ear canal(s) or has plugged and disrupted the proper functioning of hearing technology – is a good thing.

Here are some positive functions of earwax:

●  It provides a protective barrier to the skin of the ear canal

●  Assists in lubricating and cleaning the outer portion of the ear canal.

●  Provides protection against insects (it is a natural insecticide), fungi, and bacteria – all of which like to dwell in dark, moist places … just like the ear canal!

So don’t be so quick to want to remove all of your earwax.  Oftentimes, excess earwax will work its way to the outer portion of the ear canal and simply fall out on its own.  To clean your ears, NEVER use cotton swabs as these can push the wax down further into the ear canal.  Simply rinse your ears with warm water while showering and/or use a damp cloth with mild soap to gently wash the exterior of the ear.  In cases where earwax is excessive, it should only be removed by a medical doctor as this is a delicate procedure.  In fact the ear canal is the only place on the body where skin is in direct contact with bone, so improper cleaning of this area could result in infection with serious consequences.

 

Men, take charge of your hearing health!

Originally posted at the Hearing Care Blog:

By: Dr. Kevin M. Liebe, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA
Doctor of Audiology
Columbia Basin Hearing & Balance Center

Dr. Kevin M. Liebe, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA

This Father’s Day, and throughout the week leading up to it—National Men’s Health Week— men are encouraged to be proactive with their health, including their hearing health.

When left untreated, hearing loss can disrupt family life, strain relationships and increase the likelihood of depression and other psychological problems. Yet, millions of men with hearing loss have never even had a hearing test, either due to denial or lack of awareness that the symptoms they are experiencing are the result of hearing impairment. It’s no wonder that a hearing examination was recently labeled as the “most neglected health test for men” by MSN Health.

Sixty percent of the 36 million people with hearing loss in the United States are male, with a majority not seeking treatment for their hearing problems.

Despite the strong associations with many chronic conditions and diseases, most primary care doctors (over 75% in surveys) do not typically ask their patients if they have hearing problems and often do not include a hearing exam as part of a routine physical.

Conditions that afflict millions of American men, such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, are all associated with increased risk of hearing loss. Research also ties hearing loss to a three-fold risk of falling among working-aged people (40 to 69), depression/anxiety, cognitive decline, and reduced earnings.

In a 2010 study, researchers at the Better Hearing Institute found that people with untreated hearing loss may lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. The use of hearing aids, however, was shown to dramatically reduce the risk of unemployment and income loss.

Prevention is key.

Because men are more likely to have noisy jobs and hobbies, preserving hearing is critical to preventing problems in the future. Consistent use of hearing protection when in the presence of loud noise is an important part of maintaining a health auditory system.

Despite reluctance to do so, it’s important that men pay attention to their health. Diagnosis and treatment of a hearing loss may not only result in better hearing, but has the potential to significantly improve the overall quality of a person’s life.

The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist.

Have more questions about hearing loss? Check our Hearing FAQ page.

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Eye-Opening Facts about Hearing Loss

  • Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States
  • Approximately one in 10 Americans, or 36 million people have some degree of hearing loss.
  • More than half of the people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. Many of these people are still in the workforce
  • Fewer than 15 percent of physicians today ask patients if they have any hearing problems.
  • People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia and less likely to participate in organized activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
  • The vast majority of people who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids report significant improvements in their quality of life at home, work and in social settings.
National Men's Health Week is June 11-17.

Facts on Men’s Health:

  • A higher percentage of men have no healthcare coverage compared to women.
  • Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22 percent more likely to have neglected their cholesterol tests.
  • Men make 1/2 as many physician visits for preventative care, compared to women.
  • Men are 28 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
  • Men are 24 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for pneumonia that could have been prevented by getting an immunization.
  • Men are 32 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes and are more than twice as likely than women to have a leg or foot amputated due to complications related to diabetes.

Source: Department of Health & Human Services; Men’s Health Network

About National Men’s Health Week
National Men’s Health Week is celebrated each year the week leading up to and including Father’s Day, which is June 11-17 in 2012. During this week, individuals, families, communities, and others work to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.