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

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

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


TURN DOWN THE SOUND

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

GUARD YOUR EARS

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

LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE

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


Did you know?

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

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

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.

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!

Are Portable Music Players Putting Your Ears at Risk?

Turn the Music Up, Dude — But Not Past 85 Decibels

You probably use your tablet or smartphone often to stream music, TV shows, or movies. In fact, many websites these days auto-play videos regardless of whether you want them to.

Smartphones, tablets, and other types of portable music players (PMPs) are now commonplace, as are earbuds and headphones. But if your PMP is turned up too loud while wearing earbuds or headphones, you can damage your hearing quickly. Let’s look at why.

NIHL

This isn’t some new sports league — NIHL stands for noise-induced hearing loss, and it’s the second-largest cause of hearing loss worldwide.

You’re able to hear because of hair cells in your inner ear. These cells convert sound signals to electrical signals and send them to your brain, where they’re interpreted as sounds. But loud sounds can actually damage or destroy your hair cells.

Every time a hair cell gets damaged, you lose a little bit of your ability to hear, and that damage can’t be repaired. The result is NIHL.

How Headphones Hurt Your Hearing

Navigating noise is all about the decibels (a measure of sound pressure). You’re safe if the sound in question stays below 85 decibels (dB); above that, you’re in the action zone — protect your ears or risk hearing damage.

For comparison:

  • A clothes dryer = 60 dB
    No need for hearing protection
  • A gas lawn mower = 91 dB
    Exposure can damage hearing in 2 hours
  • A tractor =100 dB
    Exposure can damage hearing in 15 minutes
  • A chain saw = 112 dB
    Exposure can damage hearing in less than 1 minute

Some PMPs can generate 112 dB — in other words, if you like to listen to your PMP at full volume, you’re likely pumping a chain saw’s worth of noise at your ears from centimeters away.

Why Protecting Your Hearing Matters

Hearing loss is connected to overall health in surprising ways. It’s been linked to depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, dementia, and other health concerns.

But it’s not just a concern for later in life: One study found that any degree of hearing loss early in life increases a child’s risk for language and learning problems.

Considering that one study of PMP use in 9-to 11-year-olds reported that 9 in 10 children and teens use some form of audio-streaming device for education or recreation, PMPs pose a considerable hearing health risk at all ages.

Indeed, that same study found that 14 percent of the children had measurable hearing loss. In addition, if a child listened to their PMP only once or twice a week, it doubled their chances of hearing loss compared to children who didn’t use a PMP.

What You Can Do

  • Enforce the 60/60 rule. Don’t turn the volume of your PMPs up past 60 percent of full volume, and turn the device off completely after listening for 60 minutes so your ears can have a break.
  • Use headphones instead of earbuds. With earbuds, you pick up background noise, which often leads to turning up the volume on the PMP to hear the audio better. Headphones that surround the ear keep the background noise to a minimum, allowing you to leave the volume at or below 60 percent. Even better, invest in noise-canceling headphones.
  • If you must use earbuds, make them in-ear earbuds. With these earbuds, the earpiece sits inside the ear canal, rather than just outside it. The sleeve around the speaker blocks out background noise and keeps your audio from escaping the ear canal.
  • Use the sound limiter built into the PMP. Many devices allow you to limit how loud the volume goes, or the device has a built-in alert telling you you’re risking hearing damage by pushing the volume higher.
  • For kids, get volume-limiting headphones. Though there are many child-friendly options for headphones that will keep the volume from going over 85, it’s best to read up on whichever pair you choose to buy. Research by Wirecutter found that, of more than 30 brands tested, almost half were not effective at keeping the volume below 85 dB.

How High Humidity Can Affect Hearing Aids and What You Can Do About It

Humidity means moisture, which can effect your hearing aids. Find out the signs of moisture damage and steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

One of the great things about starting your better-hearing journey is that your world is more enjoyable when you can hear all those sounds you’ve been missing.

That might also mean you’re getting outside more, possibly exposing your hearing devices to humidity. Your hearing aids are tiny computers, and just like with laptops and tablets, moisture can present a challenge.

Humidity

Let’s discuss humidity first. Simply put, humidity is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.

Hot air can hold a lot of water vapor, but cold air cannot. When hot air meets cold air, the drop in temperature means a drop in how much water vapor the air can hold.

Let’s consider a can of soda pop: When humid air makes contact with a cold can of soda pop, the air temperature around the can drops quickly. Any water vapor from the humid air that can’t fit in the cold air around the pop can has to go somewhere. That’s when condensation happens, creating the water droplets on the side of the can.

Humidity and Hearing Devices

The why

Humidity affects hearing aids in a couple of ways.

First, just like with condensation on that can of soda pop, moisture results when warm, humid air meets the cooler metal components of your hearing devices. This includes the components inside your devices.

Second, humidity makes you sweat — but humidity also makes it harder for the sweat to evaporate. Plenty of that ends up in or on your devices.

The how

How does all this condensation and perspiration cause trouble?

Moisture clogs ports and openings. It also builds up in tubing, which can affect the frequency response of your hearing technology. It can also corrode components and battery contact points or short-circuit the microphones and receivers.

In short, moisture is like kryptonite to your hearing aids. A little exposure won’t matter all that much, but prolonged exposure will do a lot of damage and affect the performance of your devices.

The what

Common signs of moisture damage include:

  • Sound is full of static or crackling
  • Sound is distorted
  • Sound cuts out during loud noises
  • Sound fades in and out
  • Device works intermittently
The fix

If you suspect you have moisture damage, do a general check first to make sure it’s not something easily solvable. Is the device turned on? Are the batteries in correctly or near the end of their life? Do the battery contacts need to be cleaned or dried? Is the tubing intact? How are the filters and ports?

If all else checks out, it could be a moisture problem. If you have in-the-ear technology, get them in your drying device ASAP, with the battery door open.

If you have behind-the-ear technology, check the earmold tubing for moisture. If at all possible, use an earmold puffer to remove the moisture. Then put your technology in your drying device ASAP, with the battery door open.

In either case, leave the devices in the dryer for a few hours, even if they look dry.

Prevention

Common, effective preventive measures include:

  • Choosing devices with nanocoating or a high IP (water resistance) rating
  • Hearing aid sweatbands that allow sound through but keep moisture out
  • Exercising during the cooler parts of the day
  • Removing your technology when exercising
  • Keeping your technology in a drying device when not in use

Contact us via email or call us now at (918) 532-6539 for a complimentary clean and check of your hearing technology.