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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.

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.

NOISE… An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure!

By: Bettie Borton, Au.D., FAAA
Doctor of Audiology
Doctors Hearing Clinic
7025 Halcyon Park, Suite A
Montgomery, AL 36117
(334) 396-1635
“Like” Doctors Hearing Clinic | Facebook
www.doctorshearingclinic.com

Have you ever wondered if your children or grandchildren are damaging their hearing by using personal listening devices, cell phones, or by listening to loud music that’s too loud? Most of us look at the noisy environment that envelopes young people today, and can’t help but worry about this as potentially hazardous to their hearing.

Hearing Loss in ChildrenWe often think of hearing loss as a problem affecting only older Americans. However, a stunning one in five teens has lost a little bit of hearing, and the problem has increased substantially in recent years, a new national study has found. Audiologists and hearing healthcare researchers are urging teenagers to turn down the volume on their digital music players, suggesting loud music delivered through earbuds may be to blame. Although definitive evidence is lacking about the cause, experts warn that slight hearing loss can cause problems in school and set the stage for increased hearing loss in later life.

Our hope is we can encourage people to be careful,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Gary Curhan of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Researchers here analyzed data on 12 to 19 year-olds from a nationwide health survey. They compared hearing loss in nearly 3,000 kids tested from 1988-94 to nearly 1,800 kids tested over 2005-06.

The prevalence of hearing loss increased from about 15 percent to 19.5 percent. Most of the hearing loss was “slight,” defined as inability to hear at 16 to 24 decibels – or sounds such as a whisper or rustling leaves. A teenager with slight hearing loss might not be able to hear water dripping or his mother whispering “good night.”

Extrapolating this data to the nation’s teen population, that would mean about 6.5 million young people with at least slight hearing loss. Those with slight hearing loss “will hear all of the vowel sounds clearly, but might miss some of the consonant sounds” such as t, k and s, Curhan said. “Although speech will be detectable, it might not be fully intelligible,” he said. While the researchers didn’t single out iPods or any other device for blame, they found a significant increase in high-frequency hearing loss, which they said may indicate that noise caused the problems. And they cited a 2010 Australian study that linked use of personal listening devices with a 70 percent increased risk of hearing loss in children. Theses findings recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Loud music isn’t new, of course. Each new generation of teenagers has found a new technology to blast music – from the bulky headphones of the 1960s to the handheld Sony Walkmans of the 1980s. But according to Dr. Brian Fligor, an audiologist at Harvard Medical School, today’s young people are listening longer, more than twice as long as previous generations; older technologies had limited battery life and limited music storage, he points out.  And with the Apple iPod, users can set their own volume limits, but parents can use the feature to set a maximum volume on their child’s iPod and lock it with a code.

Bettie Borton, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology AudiologistOne of Fligor’s patients, 17-year-old Matthew Brady of Foxborough, Mass., recently was diagnosed with mild hearing loss. He has trouble hearing his friends in the school cafeteria. He ends up faking comprehension. “I laugh when they laugh,” he said.

Fligor believes Brady’s muffled hearing was caused by listening to an iPod turned up too loud and for too long. After his mother had a heart attack, Brady’s pediatrician had advised him to exercise for his own health. So he cranked up the volume on his music  while walking on a treadmill at least four days a week for 30-minute stretches. One day last summer, he got off the treadmill and found he couldn’t hear anything with his left ear. His hearing gradually returned, but was never the same.

Often, young people turn their digital players up to levels that would exceed federal workplace exposure limits.  In Fligor’s own study of about 200 New York college students, more than half listened to music at 85 decibels or louder. That’s about as loud as a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner. Habitual listening at those levels can turn microscopic hair cells in the inner ear into scar tissue, and for reasons that we don’t fully understand, some people may be more predisposed to damage than others; Fligor believes Brady is one of them. And remember, once damage is inflicted, it cannot be undone.

These days, Brady still listens to his digital player, but at lower volumes. His sage advice…”Do not blare your iPod,” he said. “It’s only going to hurt your hearing. I learned this the hard way.”

If you or a loved ones are concerned with a teen’s hearing or listening habits, contact Advanced Hearing Care for ideas or a complete audiological evaluation.

Hearing Loss Affects About 1 in 5 Americans, Research Says

Nov. 14, 2011. About one in five Americans ages 12 and older suffer from hearing loss that’s severe enough to make communication difficult, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found.

About 30 million Americans, or 13 percent of the population, have hearing loss in both ears, and 48 million, or 20 percent, in at least one ear, according to a study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine. That exceeds previous estimates, which put the number of people with hearing loss at 21 million to 29 million, the researchers said.

The study also found that hearing loss doubled every decade of life. Deficient hearing has been linked to a greater risk of dementia, poor cognitive function and falling in the elderly, said lead study author Frank Lin, an assistant professor of otolaryngology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The impact of hearing loss on the aging isn’t “inconsequential” and should be treated, he said.

“If you have poor hearing, your brain almost has to work harder to decode and process sound,” said Lin in a Nov. 11 telephone interview. “If you brain is having to reallocate resources to hearing, it probably comes at the expense of cognition or thinking ability.”

Researchers in the study used data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys from 2001 to 2008 for all participants ages 12 and older who had their hearing tested over that period. The survey is thought to be representative of the U.S. population.

Worse With Age
For those in their 40s, about 2.8 million suffer from hearing loss in both ears and 5.6 million have the condition in at least one ear. That number jumped to 8.8 million for people in their 70s who had hearing loss in both ears and 10.8 million for those who had hearing loss in at least one ear, the study showed.

Women and black people were less likely than other groups to suffer from hearing loss, the study found. Lin said estrogen may be protective of hearing and the same cells that make skin dark may also play a role in preventing hearing loss.

Today’s study “gives us the real scope of the problem for the first time and shows us how big of a problem hearing loss really is,” Lin said in a statement.
By Nicole Ostrow

Bloomberg from PRnewswire

4 Reasons to Hear Better in 2012

SoundVoids™ can cause unnecessary frustration in visiting with your loved ones.

It’s coming.  2011 is almost over and 2012 is on its way.  As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to begin the journey toward better hearing.  Here are four great reasons to start today:

  1. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. A common phenomenon, especially among those who let their hearing loss go untreated, is called phonemic regression. Simply put, phonemic regression is when we find a loss of speech discrimination that isn’t proportional to the person’s pure tone thresholds. The most common symptom of this is being able to hear that someone is speaking but simply not being able to understand what is being said, something we call a Sound Void. This is a very frustrating situation, as the problem is not a simple matter of volume. In some cases, phonemic regression could have been prevented simply by wearing hearing aids earlier.
  2. Keep your brain sharp! In February, John’s Hopkins University released a startling study that linked untreated hearing loss to the development of dementia in elderly populations. While the exact nature of this link remains a bit of a mystery, it is well known that social isolation contributes to dementia.  One of the biggest contributing factors to this kind of isolation is the inability to hear well enough to enjoy getting out and being active.
  3. New technology provides superior sound quality and satisfaction.  The king of hearing aids is no longer that big ear plug that your father or grandfather wore (or refused to wear, as the case may have been).  There are many styles available for nearly every budget that are designed to treat nearly every type of hearing loss.  The possibilities are all but endless, and so is our ability to help people with many different kinds of hearing loss.
  4. Better hearing has never been easier!  Our ultimate goal as hearing professionals is to reintroduce you to a world of sounds that you haven’t been hearing.  Our Service Excellence Guarantee provides you with peace of mind knowing that we’ll have your back and make sure that you get the full value of your investment in better hearing.  We offer a 75-day trial period, well beyond the 30 days required by state law, with a 100% refund if you’re not completely satisfied.  We also offer extended warranties, in-office repairs and service, manufacturer repair if needed, and a wealth of knowledge to customize hearing solutions for every patient, all as part of our Service Excellence Guarantee.  We will support you every step along your journey to better hearing.

To start your journey toward better hearing, call us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.  Through our 4-step process, we’ll learn about you and your better hearing goals, examine your ears for any defects or blockages, diagnose your hearing loss, and show you what we can do to help you hear better.  Don’t wait to hear what you’ve been missing!  Early treatment can make all the difference!

In observance of New Year’s Day, Advanced Hearing Care will be closed on Friday, December 31. We will return for normal office hours on Monday, January 2. Have a safe and happy New Year!

The Noisiest Toys of 2011

Christmas time is here again, and this is arguably the busiest season for toy makers.  As most parents and grandparents know, some of the hottest toys of the season are also the ones that make the most noise.  And every year, with the commencement of the Christmas shopping season, the Sight and Hearing Association releases a list of the most dangerously loud toys available.

The Loudest Toys of the Year

The Noisiest Toys of 2011

The toy that gets this year’s dubious honor as the loudest is the Disney Cars 2 Shake ‘n Go! Racer, Finn Missile made by Fisher-Price, Inc.  This toy puts out 124 decibels of sound when held close to the ear and 99.5 decibels of sound when held 10 inches away from the ear.  Other toys on the list are the Sesame Street Let’s Rock Elmo Guitar made by Hasbro, the Tonka Toughest Minis Fire and Police vehicles by Funrise Toy Corp., and the Dora Tunes Microphone by Fisher-Price, Inc.  The entire list is now available for download.

Giving Perspective to the Numbers

How loud are everyday sounds? (Click for full-size image.)

To most people, 124 decibels is just a number.  But the Finn Missile Racer, when held close to the ear, is as loud as most rock-and-roll concerts.  When held 10 inches away from the ear, the same toy is still as loud as a motorcycle.  Both levels of sound are dangerous to human hearing.  Prolonged exposure to noise levels of 85 decibels and higher can result in permanent hearing loss.  At 120 decibels, damage can happen after less than 10 seconds of exposure.  At 100 decibels, it only takes 15 minutes of exposure for damage to occur.

Why the Current Standard Doesn’t Work

As of 2009, toy manufacturers were required to follow sound level guidelines for all toys. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) (ASTM F963-08) states the sound-pressure level produced by all toys except close-to-the-ear toys shall not exceed 85 decibels when held 50 centimeters (roughly 18 inches) from the surface of the toy.

Decibel-limiting headphones are an ideal hearing prevention measure for children and teenagers.

However, most kids play with their toys by holding them or sitting right next to them, not from a distance of 18 inches.  For the past 14 years, the Sight and Hearing Association has tested toys at distances simulating how a child might hold the toy – directly near the ear (0 inches) and at arm’s length (10 inches). A sound-proof acoustic chamber is used to ensure accurate measurements.

How to Protect Your Child’s Hearing

The most important thing a parent or grandparent can do to protect a child’s hearing is to listen to the toy themselves before they buy it.  If it sounds too loud in the store and through the packaging, it is too loud for a child.  You can put masking tape or packing tape over the speaker of loud toys to restrict their sound output.  Limiting the time a child can play with a loud toy is also advisable.  For older children, find sound-limiting ear buds or headphones to use with portable music players or hand-held game consoles.  Some of these devices have parental controls that allow you to control the maximum loudness that they will generate.

Good hearing is a precious and integral part of how children and people of all ages interact with the world around us. Hearing protection a relatively simple matter, especially when compared to the process of treating hearing loss. When it comes to your hearing, a good adage to live by is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Press Release: Patient Satisfaction and Hearing Technology

Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life, Empower People with Hearing Loss to Stay Socially Active, New Study by Better Hearing Institute Finds

Patient Satisfaction is an important factor in a successful fitting.

September 2, 2011 — According to a comprehensive research study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), today’s technically advanced, sleekly designed hearing aids are helping people with hearing loss regain their quality of life and remain socially involved. In fact, eight out of ten hearing aid users say they are satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids. And 82 percent of hearing aid users would recommend hearing aids to their friends.

The findings of this nationally representative survey are both timely and encouraging—particularly given that an increasing number of Americans are suffering from noise-induced hearing loss at increasingly younger ages, oftentimes many years before retirement and even as early as their teens.

“This survey clearly reveals how dramatically people’s lives can improve with the use of hearing aids,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “In this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing aid users, we looked at 14 specific quality-of-life issues and found that today’s hearing aids are a tremendous asset to people with even mild hearing loss who want to remain active and socially engaged throughout their lives.”

The improvements that people saw in their quality of life as a result of their use of hearings aids were broad and varied. Nearly 70 percent of hearing aid users said their ability to communicate effectively in most situations improved because of their hearing aid. A little more than half said their hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social life, and their ability to join in groups. And roughly forty percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence, and work relationships. Between 25 and 33 percent of hearing aid users said they even saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, cognitive skills, and mental, emotional, and physical health.

According to Kochkin, outdated notions about hearing aids pose a significant barrier that inhibits people from addressing their hearing loss. All told, public perception of hearing aids hasn’t kept pace with the new technologies and discreet designs of today’s modern devices. And unfortunately, these misperceptions are holding people back from improving their quality of life by addressing their hearing loss.

The BHI study bears out that 79 percent of people who do seek help and use hearing aids are satisfied with them, and 86 percent are satisfied with the benefit they derive from hearing aid usage.

What’s more, as hearing aid technologies advance, individuals are becoming even more satisfied. Consumers, for example, are more satisfied with mini-BTEs than ever before and report superior sound quality, cosmetics, and functionality in more listening situations. In fact, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids because they have become miniaturized and nearly invisible due to the fact that an ear-mold is no longer necessary.

Ninety-one percent of all hearing aid users surveyed are satisfied with the ability of their hearing aids to improve communication in one-on-one situations. And more than three in four are satisfied in small groups (85%), while watching television (80%), outdoors (78%), during leisure activities (78%), while shopping (77%), and while riding in a car (77%).
“Today’s hearing aids are about staying young, not growing old,” Kochkin explains. “People want to hold onto their vitality as they enter and move through middle-age. But when someone ignores a hearing loss—which oftentimes has progressed gradually over time as a result of repeated noise exposure—that individual unwittingly begins losing the very vitality they treasure. What this research shows, however, is that those who do face their hearing loss and use hearing aids are experiencing significant and satisfying improvements in their quality of life.”

Another important take-away from the study is that benefit received from the hearing aid, and quality of life improvements, were highly related to the quality of care provided by the hearing healthcare professional. Ideally, hearing health professionals will include testing in a sound booth; use probe microphones to verify the hearing aid fit; use an array of counseling tools to help people hear better and adapt to their hearing aids; and validate improvement in hearing associated with hearing aid use. To help consumers in purchasing hearing aids, and to guide them in what to look for in quality hearing healthcare, BHI has published a comprehensive publication entitled, “Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids,” which is available at www.betterhearing.org, within the “Hearing Loss Treatments” section under hearing aids.

The four-part BHI survey used the National Family Opinion Panel to assess consumer perceptions of the functionality of modern hearing aids; compared the new invisible mini-BTE hearing aids to traditional style hearing aids; asked respondents to share how their lives changed as a result of their hearing aids; and evaluated the role the hearing healthcare professional had on consumer success with hearing aids.

“If you want to keep your mind sharp and life complete, don’t leave hearing loss unaddressed,” Kochkin advises. “Protect your vitality and quality of life before they silently slip away and you find yourself isolated from the human experience.  The first step to preserving your future enjoyment in life is to make an appointment with a hearing health professional and get your hearing checked. Our research shows that millions are glad they did.”

About BHI

Founded in 1973, BHI conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org. To take the BHI Quick Hearing Check, visit at www.hearingcheck.org.

Advanced Hearing Care’s Continuing Commitment to Patient Satisfaction

At Advanced Hearing, we believe that this study is important and encouraging news. We firmly believe that it is our job to make sure that our patients are not just satisfied but absolutely delighted in their choice to invest in their better hearing. Don’t wait to hear what you’ve been missing! Call us today for an appointment and reintroduce yourself to a world of sound!

Protect Your Good Hearing With Custom HPDs

The world is an increasingly noisy place, which means that it’s getting more and more dangerous for healthy hearing. Any noise that’s louder than 85 decibels is dangerous to a person’s hearing with prolonged exposure. The louder the noise, the more dangerous it is, the less exposure time is necessary for permanent damage to occur. The common rock concert usually sees sound levels of 120 decibels, a level that causes damage after only about 7.5 minutes of exposure. A shotgun is loud enough that even one shot can cause instantaneous permanent damage.

So what’s a person to do to preserve their hearing in this loud world? The best way to protect your hearing is to use any of a number of different Hearing Protection Devices. These can be as simple as foam earplugs or as sophisticated as a pair of electronic ear pieces.

Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR)

When looking at the different options for any hearing protection device, it’s important to look for that device’s Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR. The higher the number of the NRR, the more attenuation or noise reduction the device can offer. Earmuffs with an NRR of 20dB are better for use with your lawn mower than a pair of foam earplugs with an NRR of 18dB. If you were to use the foam earplugs underneath the earmuffs, the total NRR would add up to about 28dB.

Solid Custom Earplugs

Solid Custom Earplugs

The best protection available in custom earplugs is a solid plug, usually made of silicone or vinyl. These can attenuate up to 40dB, depending on the materials used to make them, and most offer an average NRR of 29dB. These kinds of plugs are ideal for extremely noisy situations, like shooting ranges, factories with heavy machinery, or construction sites.

Electronic Earplugs

Some custom earplugs can almost be classified as hearing aids. They have most of the electronic components found in a hearing aid, and use one of the most important hearing aid features, compression, to reduce random and sudden bursts of very loud noise. Because they use electronic compression, they can be used in situations where the random and sudden noises are a more sustained burst. They do fill the ear, but since they contain the microphone and amplifier components found in hearing aids, they do allow the wearer to hear what’s going on around them with clarity.

Filtered Earplugs

Filtered Earplugs

This type of hearing protection employs a filter to allow the wearer to hear sounds accurately but at a reduced level. On some types of devices, such as Musician’s Filters, several different levels of noise reduction are available by using interchangeable filters. The average NRR of these devices ranges from 9dB to 25dB. These types of earplugs are excellent for protecting your hearing while allowing you to hear naturally at a reduced volume.

Sonic Valve Earplugs

Other types of devices employ a Sonic Valve, rather than electronic compression, to clamp down on sudden and random bursts of very loud noises. Commonly called Hunter’s Plugs, these devices only have an NRR of 6dB with the valve open. The valve closes with the impact of a gun shot pressure wave and gives an average attenuation of about 17dB. The low open NRR allows the hunter to hear important environmental sounds.

Sonic Valve Earplugs

Other Custom Products

There is wide variety of custom earplugs available for other specific uses. Some of these are swimmer’s molds to keep ears dry while in the pool, sleep molds to block out a partner’s snoring, and motor sports molds to manage wind noise levels. Custom recreational earphones or even custom in-ear monitors for professional musicians are also available. These kinds of devices are great for delivering high fidelity sound while managing that sound level to reduce the risk of damage to the wearer’s hearing.

As the world gets louder, it becomes more dangerous to your good hearing. Simple steps can help ensure that you have good hearing for a lifetime. For more information on the various hearing protection devices available, call Advanced Hearing Care today.