Tag: health

This Mask Supports Effective Communication

This Mask Supports Effective Communication

Which Mask Can Help You Be Heard?

You probably chose your go-to masks based on safety and comfort. However, communicating while wearing a mask can be tricky — so how do you know which type of mask is best for helping others understand you?

A team at Washington University conducted a study to answer just that question. But before we look at the study, let’s try to understand why your choice of mask would even matter.

 

How Masks Affect Communication

Muffling your voice

Singing in the shower sounds different than singing in the living room. Your voice bounces off mirrors, porcelain, tile, and glass differently than it does off carpet, upholstery, electronics, and your pets’ fur.

Speaking into a mask is no different. Woven cloth interacts with the sound of your voice one way, and the material in surgical masks affects your voice in a different way.

They all, however, muffle sounds at high frequencies. You can start mistaking one word for another; “cat” sounds like “hat,” and “top” sounds like “pop.” What sets one type of mask apart from another is how often this happens.

 

Covering up nonverbal cues

Your face gives many nonverbal cues as you talk or react to what others say. But when you wear a mask, your eyes and eyebrows are the only source for these cues. One type of mask tries to solve that problem by using a large transparent panel so that others can see your mouth as you speak.

 

The Findings of the Mask Study

The study setup

The team at Washington University studied speech understanding using four kinds of masks: surgical, cloth with an inserted filter, cloth without an inserted filter, and transparent.

A researcher read sentences unmasked and then while wearing each of the four mask types. The participants, none of whom had hearing loss, wrote down what they heard and how hard they had to work to hear it. Then they heard the sentences spoken with three different levels of background noise.

 

General results

When there was no background noise, participants understood every sentence. It didn’t make a difference if the speaker wore a mask or not.

When background noise entered the picture, however, the differences between the masks were clear. Communication was easiest through a surgical mask. A cloth mask (no filter) was second-best. Tied for last place were the transparent mask and the cloth mask with a filter.

 

The unexpected result

The big surprise was the transparent mask. When background noise was at its peak, only about 30% of what was said was understood. The plastic panel affected speech more than the other mask materials. But it also obscured nonverbal cues and lip-reading — because fog developed on the panel.

In fact, the researcher who read the sentences aloud had this to say about transparent masks: “They’re super uncomfortable and wet. They’re pretty gross.”

 

The winner

The surgical mask came out on top. It provided more than 50% accuracy of understanding in loud noise, and it took less effort to achieve that level of understanding.

It should come as no surprise that surgical masks won — they’ve been used for decades in settings requiring a sterile environment and clear communication, such as operating rooms and dentist chairs.

 


 

Have you been having more trouble than usual navigating the world of mask wearers? Contact us to schedule a hearing consultation!

Eyes and Ears

We all know that eyes and ears play a huge role in helping people (and animals!) experience life’s adventures. Seeing and hearing the people, places, and moments that matter will create wonderful, lasting memories.

But did you know that seeing and hearing are connected? Here are four reasons to schedule regular checkups for hearing and vision to benefit your overall health and wellness:

  • Hearing actually enhances the sense of sight, according to a UCLA study, with both working to help you perceive and participate in the world around you. In the study, which ran participants through a series of trials to correctly identify the direction in which a display of dots was moving, hearing the direction in which the dots were traveling enhanced participants’ ability to see the direction.
  • Visually impaired older adults are more likely to also experience hearing loss, per a study published in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology. Researchers investigating links between age-related vision and hearing problems discovered, even after taking age into account, that the two conditions were linked, with “a cumulative effect on function and well-being, significantly affecting both physical and mental domains.”
  • Vision and hearing loss go hand in hand with cognitive decline, per research showing that each condition is somehow connected to reduced mental functioning over time. One study, referenced in a news article, found that participants with the most profound vision impairment had the lowest average scores on cognition tests. And seniors with hearing loss may experience significantly reduced cognitive function at least three years before their peers who do not have hearing loss.
  • Healthy eyes and ears — along with joints, muscles, and brain — help keep you steady on your feet, reducing your risk of falling. It’s pretty obvious that seeing your best helps you stay upright, but many people do not realize that the inner ear also plays an important role in maintaining balance. Conversely, untreated hearing loss may nearly triple your risk of falling, per a Johns Hopkins study.

 


Hearing and vision work together to help you live your best life, so remember to keep them both in top shape. Start with a hearing checkup by contacting us today!

Summer Noise: 4 Ways Your Hearing Aids Can Help

Turn Up Summer Fun With Hearing Aids

People don’t often think “Fun!” when they think of hearing aids. But today’s hearing aids are designed to meet your needs no matter what’s going on. Let’s check out a few ways your hearing aids can actually enhance your fun this summer.

Enjoy Group Conversations Outdoors

Most hearing aids today have a set of built-in capabilities ideal for highlighting speech in conversations. Directional microphones are designed to focus on whatever you’re facing. This is because you usually speak to someone in front of you. Some models of directional microphones do switch positions based on speech and sound cues.

Today’s hearing aids also do a very good job filtering out background noise. You can devote your energy to your conversation, not on cutting through clatter. It’s also becoming more and more feasible to use your smartphone as a microphone. For example: You place your smartphone on the picnic table, it picks up what everyone is saying, and it streams the audio to your hearing devices. It’s almost like you’re wearing conversation-enhancing headphones!

Muzzle Fireworks

Many of today’s digital hearing aids have a function called transient-noise suppression, impulse-noise reduction, or something similar. It’s a fancy way of saying that the hearing aid will lower the volume of sudden, brief noises — like dishes being dropped. You can still enjoy fireworks, but at a safe listening level. Check your hearing aid’s instructions, or check with your provider to find out if you have this functionality.

Change Settings Automatically

Many hearing aids now use a smartphone app. From controlling the volume to nudging the settings on your hearing aids, you can do a lot by utilizing these apps. One exciting capability is geotagging, or assigning a geographical “bookmark” to your favorite spots. Simply optimize your hearing aids for a location (for example, a park, baseball diamond, or your favorite restaurant), and apply a geotag. When you return to that spot, your settings will switch automatically!

Banish Wind Noise

Hearing aid microphones are placed just outside your ear canal or behind your ear. This means they may pick up a lot of wind noise. But ReSound has developed a breakthrough with the ReSound ONE device, which allows an extra microphone to be placed inside your ear canal, where the wind can’t reach it.

Contact us today to learn more about the built-in ways your hearing aids can boost your summer fun!

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.

8 Notable African Americans With Hearing Loss | Black History Month

With an estimated one in five Americans directly touched by hearing loss ó a common chronic condition that spans race, gender, age, and socioeconomic status ó some icons in pop culture and beyond have experienced this challenge in their own lives.

As the nation celebrates Black History Month this February, take a look at these eight African-American notables who triumphed over hearing impairment to bring their dreams to life.

  1. Whoopi Goldberg

    Oscar-winning actress, comedienne, activist, writer, and The View moderator Goldberg cites longtime exposure to loud music for her hearing loss, according to published reports. The Sister Act and Ghost icon, who has collaborated with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, wears hearing aids and has advised others to take care of their hearing health.

  2. Derrick Coleman

    As the NFLís first legally deaf offensive player, Falcons fullback Coleman began tackling adversity at an early age ó just 3 years old when he lost his hearing ó to eventually not only make it in the NFL but to win a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2014. He launched the nonprofit Derrick L. Coleman Jr. No Excuse Foundation to give back to hearing-impaired kids, teens, and adults in need.

  3. Tamika Catchings

    The four-time Olympic gold medalist and retired WNBA great of Indiana Fever fame was born with a hearing loss, using the experience to help fuel her drive to win. ìIn the classroom, kids could make fun of me for being different,î wrote Catchings in a 2011 ESPN profile. ìOn the soccer field (my first sport) and eventually the basketball court, they couldnít. I outworked them, plain and simple.î

  4. Andrew Foster

    Being the first African-American to hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gallaudet University, the renowned school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, is one of many firsts for Foster, who then earned two masterís degrees at other institutions and eventually launched more than 30 schools for the deaf in over a dozen African nations.

  5. Halle Berry

    An alleged domestic-violence incident led to Berryís hearing loss, but the Oscar-winning actress, activist, beauty-brand spokesperson, and X-Men megastar didnít let that setback torpedo her goals. Berry, also a producer, has some 50 or so film and television acting roles under her belt and continues a robust career.

  6. Will.i.am

    This Emmy- and Grammy-winning recording artist, tech visionary, producer, DJ, and designer is known worldwide for his Black Eyed Peas hits. Many may not know that the global entertainer experiences tinnitus, which he describes as a constant ringing in his ears.

  7. Claudia Gordon

    After losing her hearing at age 8 and migrating to the United States from Jamaica with her mother at age 11, Gordon defied the naysayers and earlier experiences of discrimination to not only reportedly become the first deaf black female attorney but to help enforce the rights of the disabled as a lawyer in the federal executive branch under former Pres. Barack Obama.

  8. Connie Briscoe

    New York Times best-selling author Briscoe was born with a hearing loss, but she never let it slow her down. The Money Canít Buy Love and Big Girls Donít Cry writer has sold more than 600,000 hardcover and paperback copies of her first novel alone, according to her website, and she gives back by helping ìother writers craft their novels so they can reach their writing goals and dreams.î


DID YOU KNOW?

  • Non-Hispanic African-Americans ìhave the lowest prevalence of hearing loss among adults aged 20ñ69,î per the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
  • Some 48% of hearing-impaired people overall had jobs in 2014, per a 2016 report by the National Deaf Center, but only 40.6% of hearing-impaired African-Americans are in the labor force.
  • Since 1982, the nonprofit National Black Deaf Advocates ó along with more than 30 local chapters ó has worked with parents, professionals, organizations, and others to help ensure representation of deaf community members in public policy, leadership, economic opportunity, and more.

This year, donít let hearing loss get in the way of reaching your own dreams ó not even a little bit! Be a hero to the people who count on you by keeping your hearing in top shape. Contact us to schedule a hearing exam or clean and check of your hearing aids today.

January is National Soup Month! Celebrate with 5 healthy-hearing recipes

January Is National Soup Month ó 5 Healthy-Hearing Soup Recipes to Get You in the Spirit

Nutrition is a great way to prevent hearing loss. Read on for great soup recipes that will get your hearing health on sure footing for the coming year.

Itís National Soup Month! What better way to kick it off than with an old Italian proverb?

ìSoup does seven things: It takes away hunger, takes away thirst, fills the stomach, cleans the teeth, makes you sleep, makes you slim, and puts color in your cheeks.î

Not enough reason to ladle out some of the good stuff? Hereís another: Many ingredients that go great in soup are great for hearing health!

Soup Recipes for Maintaining Hearing Health

Savor the taste and the hearing health with these five soups that are rich in folate and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients ensure your cochlea ó the part of your inner ear where sound is converted to signals that get sent to your brain ó is nourished with healthy blood flow.

1. Salmon Chowder

Nothing says ìheart of winterî like a steaming bowl of chowder! This easy-to-make recipe calls for both clam juice and salmon, which has more than three times the hearing-healthy omega-3 content of clam. You still get the familiar hint of clam, but you also get to enjoy the nutrition and taste of salmon.

2. Beef and Cabbage Stew

OK, you caught us ó this is a stew, not a soup. But how can you go wrong with beef and cabbage stew? Itís a hearty bowl of warm winter goodness! Plus, this recipe has three strong sources of folate: cabbage, carrots, and celery. Itíll warm your heart and keep your cochlea happy.

3. Four-Bean Chili

Just when you thought there were no new chilis on the horizon, along comes this little four-bean wonder. No matter where you land in the debate about whether chili is a kind of soup, youíll agree this is a little bowl of heaven. We wonít tell you the secret (youíll have to check out the recipe to find out), but this four-bean chili is a folate fountain with its pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans.

4. Easy Fish Stew

Thereís just no stopping the flavor or nutrition in this rich stew. From more traditional fare like celery and carrots to the zesty bouquet garni, youíll be pleasantly surprised at all this Mediterranean fish stew has to offer. And if that isnít enough reason to try it out, itís rich in both folate (celery, carrots, tomatoes) and omega-3 fatty acids (anchovies, white-fleshed fish). Your cochlea wonít know what hit it!

5. Squash Soup

Donít let the uninspiring name fool you. This butternut squash soup is unassuming but mighty! The ginger, nutmeg, and honey provide just the right balance to the hearty squash foundation. Plus, squash is a good source of folate ó hearing health never tasted so delicious!

Did you know? Exercise can also help prevent hearing impairment

Making Moves for Hearing Health

Search Top 10 New Years resolutionsî and what are you sure to find? Lists that often start with ìfitnessî or exercise. With benefits from better skin and stronger bones to weight loss, improved mental health, and more, itís no wonder that exercise pops up as a perennial New Yearís resolution favorite!

But did you know? Exercise can also help prevent hearing impairment.

So if you or your loved ones are kicking off the new year with physical fitness goals in sight, keep in mind these four tips for better hearing health:

1. Exercise May Delay Age-Related Hearing Loss

An estimated one of every three adults between ages 65 and 74 lives with hearing impairment, per the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, making it a common health challenge among seniors. Research, however, shows that exercise can stave off age-related hearing loss (AHL). One relatively recent study using mice, for example, found that ìregular exercise slowed AHLî and deterioration of the cochlea, the part of the inner ear that detects sound.

2. What Helps Your Heart Helps Your Ears

People with heart disease, a leading cause of death worldwide, are 54 percent more likely to experience hearing loss. Research shows, however, that individuals entering their 50s with good cardiovascular health have better hearing than their counterparts with poor cardiovascular fitness. Just ì30 minutes a day, five times a weekî of moderate or vigorous exercise can help cut the risk of heart disease, per the American Heart Association, and it doesnít have to be hard: ìThe simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking.

3. Brainpower Is Hearing Power

Ears are vital to hearing, but the brain does the heavy lifting ó recognizing sound, using ears to help orient the body, and separating desired sounds from competing noise. Studies show that exercise supports brain health. Wrote Harvard Health Blogís executive editor: ìThe benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors ó chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

4. Less Noise Makes a Big Difference

Whether kickboxing to the latest beats at the gym or hitting the walking trail with your MP3 player, getting the most out of a hearing-healthy workout includes protecting your ears from excess noise ó the most preventable cause of hearing loss. Wear quality earplugs and keep a good distance from speakers in group exercise classes, where music volumes can reach well above the danger threshold of 85 decibels. If using an MP3 player or other personal music device, remember to turn it at least halfway down or lower from full volume.


What are your goals for better hearing and wellness this year? At [practice-name], weíre here to help you achieve them! Contact us to schedule a hearing exam or a clean and check of your hearing aids today