Tag: hearing loss

Hearing Loss Q&

Hearing Loss Q&A

Hearing Loss Q&A

Q: When someone speaks, I often miss nuances, like tone. Could this be hearing loss?

Hearing Loss Q&A: That’s an interesting question! Hearing loss shares symptoms with other conditions, though. Let’s look at what hearing loss is and consider another possible culprit.


Hearing Loss Q&A -Hearing Basics

Hearing is complex. It’s more than just your ears taking in sound. Your nerves and brain actively partner with your ear in a delicate dance to accomplish hearing. Here’s how it happens.


Hearing Loss Q&A Area 1: The ear

Your outer ear collects sound waves, which travel down your ear canal and cause your eardrum to vibrate. Your eardrum passes the vibrations to the three smallest bones in your body, in the middle ear, which amplify the vibrations and send them to your inner ear.

In your inner ear, the vibrations become waves in a fluid-filled cavity. These waves jostle tiny hair-like cells, which convert the wave information into electric impulses.


Area 2: The auditory nerve

Your auditory (hearing) nerve carries all those electrical impulses as nerve signals to the part of your brain that processes what you hear.


Area 3: The brain

Your brain does a lot of behind-the-scenes work making sense of sound information. It pinpoints where the sound is coming from, focuses on it, separates out background noise, determines whether it recognizes the sound, and identifies whether it’s speech, music, etc.


Put It All Together

As you can see, a lot happens during the process we call hearing! The delicate dance happens all day, every day, effortlessly, and there are a lot of moving parts — and a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.


Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is anything that does go wrong in that first area — your ears. Hearing problems can occur because of earwax buildup, damage to your eardrum, an ear infection, or damage to any of the tiny structures in your middle or inner ear.

A standard hearing test will determine whether you have hearing loss. Common symptoms are:

  • Trouble understanding people on the telephone
  • Difficulty following conversations with two or more people
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Turning up the TV so loud that others complain
  • Problems understanding speech in background noise
  • Thinking others mumble
  • Trouble understanding children and people with higher-pitched voices

A hearing care professional should be your first stop when trying to determine whether you have hearing loss.

They’ll get to know you, test your hearing, and check the fitness of your ear canal, ear drum, middle ear, and inner ear. If they determine you have hearing loss, they’ll make recommendations about a treatment solution. Often, the treatment includes hearing devices.

But the symptom you mentioned — missing nuances like the tone of people’s speech — is more often a symptom of something else.


Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) has a lot in common with hearing loss. All the symptoms listed above, for example.

But many (not all) people with APD pass a hearing evaluation with flying colors! What’s going on here?

This is where the third area you use for hearing, the brain, comes in. With APD, something interferes with the way your ears and brain coordinate. You might hear sounds loud and clear — your ears are doing their job — but something keeps your brain from processing the sounds effectively.

How common it is? It’s hard to even pin down an estimate, because providers use different diagnostic standards. Conversations about APD typically focus on children, but it affects adults as well.


Symptoms of APD

Certain symptoms point more strongly to APD than to hearing loss, for example:

  • Difficulty remembering directions spoken aloud
  • Mishearing words or sentences
  • Sensory overload in noisy environments
  • Problems picking up nuances in speech
  • Being easily distracted by background noise
  • Inability to appreciate music

It’s not about intelligence — someone might remember written directions very well. But if those same directions were spoken aloud instead, they might misremember them. It’s about how the sounds are received and processed.


Communication Skills Affected by APD

Someone with APD could struggle with one or all of the following four communication skills.

Auditory discrimination. Auditory discrimination lets you notice, compare, and distinguish the distinct sounds in words. Someone with auditory discrimination problems might confuse similar words (like “seventy” and “seventeen”), find learning to read challenging, and have difficulties following spoken directions even when paying close attention.

Auditory figure-ground discrimination. Auditory figure-ground discrimination allows you to pinpoint the sounds you want to hear in a noisy background. Someone struggling with auditory figure-ground discrimination has trouble filtering out the background noise of a restaurant, for example. In the case of a child, their learning potential might suffer if they can’t block out classroom sounds during a lesson.

Auditory memory. Auditory memory lets you recall what you’ve heard. It includes both short-term and long-term memory. Someone with auditory memory challenges might have difficulty remembering names, memorizing phone numbers, or following instructions with multiple steps.

Auditory sequencing. Auditory sequencing allows you to understand and recall word and sound order. Someone with auditory sequencing challenges might confuse numbers (for example, 14 and 41), lists, or sequences. A child with this problem might complete a series of tasks out of order, even if they seem to have understood the directions.


APD in Children

Early diagnosis of APD in children is crucial, because, if not managed, it can lead to listening and learning problems. The auditory system in children doesn’t develop fully until around age 14. Early intervention, thus, helps with listening skills and the development of stronger auditory pathways.

In addition to the symptoms listed in the previous section, one classic APD symptom in children is improvements in behavior and performance in quiet settings.

If your child has trouble communicating or exhibits any of these symptoms, an audiologist can evaluate them using use a specific group of listening tests. Strategies to help your child thrive in school are determined in consultation with the audiologist and can include:

  • APD is not widely known, so sharing information about APD with school staff can help them understand how best to help children with APD.
  • Physical accommodations. These improve the listening environment and include remote microphone systems, strategic seating that reduces sound and sight distractions, and slow, deliberate speech from the teacher.
  • Individual therapies. These include computer-assisted programs, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling.


APD in Adults

If you’re an adult with APD, you may well have had it your entire life. You might have had difficulty learning to read, keeping up in class, or paying attention in noisy situations. But it all went under the radar and, thus, unaddressed.

Many adults with APD don’t even realize they’ve developed strategies to cope, choosing activities and jobs that allowed them to flourish with APD.

An audiologist diagnoses APD in adults through an APD evaluation consisting of a series of listening tasks, then develops a treatment plan that could include:

  • Speech-language therapy, especially auditory training
  • Brain-training techniques to improve processing skills
  • Computer-assisted-programs that help you learn to process language advantageously
  • Counseling or art/music therapy if depression, anxiety, or self-esteem issues are present


Causes of APD

Just like we don’t really know how common APD is, we don’t understand the causes very well, either. It does, however, tend to be linked with ADHD and dyslexia. Suspected causes include:

  • Frequent ear infections
  • Head injuries
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Genetics
  • Low birth weight


There’s No Easy Answer: Hearing Loss Q&A

As you can see from this Hearing Loss Q&A, a lot must happen for you to successfully hear and understand a sound. Your symptom — missing nuances in speech — is just one symptom to consider. It could be hearing loss. It could be APD. Or it could be something else, because other health issues also show up as a problem noticing speech nuances.

I hope this has given you food for thought and a good starting place. Feel free to contact us to get a hearing evaluation on the books today!

I Don’t Want to Hear It: 3 Steps to a Comfortable Dialogue About Hearing Loss

I Don’t Want to Hear It: 3 Steps to a Comfortable Dialogue About Hearing Loss

How to Discuss Hearing Loss With a Loved One

It could be core memories of Grandpa’s loudly beeping 1960s hearing aids. It could be the cost. There are many reasons why your loved one just doesn’t want to hear it.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30%) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16%) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.”

There’s no getting around it — there is a perceived stigma surrounding hearing aid use. Some folks may worry they’ll be judged as old or weak. These are powerful words. Hidden within the thought process of even being tested for hearing loss lies your loved one’s entire self-perception, and how they feel they will be perceived by others. These feelings shouldn’t be disregarded — they are very real and impede many people’s path to hearing improvement.

The good news is that you can help your loved one jump this hurdle.

Sometimes, all it takes to get them on the path to improving their hearing is a compassionate invite to a discussion, where everyone’s voices can be heard.

Try this three-step course of action to help send you and your loved one on a journey of acceptance that leads to better hearing and a greatly improved quality of life.



Getting them to acknowledge their hearing loss in the first place can be difficult, so a gentle and respectful approach is key. Using hearing aids is a deeply personal decision, and family dynamics are at stake.

Use words that aren’t pointed — no one wants to be told they have a hearing problem. This is especially true if, for years, your loved one has been blaming their lack of understanding on a mumbling spouse or grandkids who play “too loudly.”

Suggest that maybe Grandma isn’t mumbling; that you can hear her just fine. You could also try going along with their story — ask them, “Wouldn’t it be nice to hear Grandma without having to strain? You know how she mumbles.” Try a few roads like these and see which one helps them admit that maybe it’s time to see an audiologist.

If they wear glasses, ask them if they’d ever consider leaving their vision unchecked. Could they live without their glasses on a daily basis? That may help put the level of necessity into perspective.



This can get into sensitive territory. Again, gentility and respect are crucial. Weave your facts in over time, rather than providing one big information dump. Turning on a firehose of information can be overwhelming. They may already feel embarrassed or frustrated at the thought of even discussing hearing loss, let alone talking about how it applies to them.

Help your loved one understand that hearing loss affects more than just being able to hear people speak. Hearing loss affects other facets of their health.

For example, the National Institute on Aging published an article that details the many ways hearing loss can affect cognitive health. Let them know about findings such as, “Studies have shown that older adults with hearing loss have a greater risk of developing dementia than older adults with normal hearing.” You can follow that up with other data, like the fact that older adults with hearing loss tend to lose their cognitive abilities more rapidly (including memory and concentration) than those with no hearing loss or those who use hearing-restorative devices, like hearing aids. They may even flinch at the words “hearing aids.”

Wow them with all the new technology available. These aren’t your grandpa’s hearing aids — the latest devices not only look more sleek and subtle than they did years ago, but they can do fancy new tricks. Audio streaming via Bluetooth technology has been introduced into many hearing aids. You can pair them to a phone, your laptop, and even directly to your TV, with no extra gadgets.

Some newer hearing aids can act as built-in foreign language translators. Others include emergency sensors, or a “fall alert,” that can detect when the wearer has taken a tumble and send out an alert message to their emergency contact. This feature could be an actual lifesaver.

Another angle to use is that living with unchecked hearing loss could eventually hinder their independence. Sometimes, people who can’t hear are mistakenly thought to be (at best) confused or (at worst) unresponsive or uncooperative. The latter traits can lead to family members and medical professionals, together, revoking their ability to do enjoyable things, like drive.



Offer to drive them or just ride along to their audiology appointment. Tell them you’ll go in to see the doctor with them. Suggest that you can sit and take notes for them so they can concentrate on being examined. Come from a place of service and support. Remind them that you are here because you care.

How can you support them through the feelings surrounding the stigma of using hearing aids? Part of supporting them on this journey will include finding the words to boost their confidence and sense of self. What do they love about themselves? Do they have beautiful hair? If so, you can use that to your advantage and say something such as, “Your beautiful hair will be covering those hearing aids. How wonderful that your gorgeous coiffe is the only thing everyone is going to be staring at!” Are they proud of their striking eyes or their talent for making a joke? Assure them that those traits will outshine any hearing device.

Communicating with health insurance providers can be the most difficult part of any medical journey. Offer to do the prep work for them — call their insurance company, contact a local audiologist, get some answers, and do the math and detail exactly how much this may cost them, including giving them a range of prices for different types of technology.

Let them know you love them, care about them, and want to keep them out of danger. Untreated hearing loss creates a safety hazard for them and the people they encounter throughout their day. For example, it can affect their ability to drive safely, as honking horns and police sirens go unheard.

Having someone you love continually put in harm’s way is stressful for you and for them, especially when all they need to do is visit their local audiologist and come up with a plan to tackle their hearing challenges. Make sure they know they aren’t facing this challenge alone.

Here are some tips for broaching the subject of hearing care to a resistant person:

  • Ask how you can help. Come from a place of service.
  • Gently alert them to the downsides of not being able to hear well.
  • Laugh! Keep the conversation light.
  • Be patient. People with hearing loss may also be frustrated by their condition.
  • Stay positive and relaxed.
  • Don’t give up. It may take several conversations to get them on board.

No one likes to be the bad guy, but a few moments of awkwardness and a little risk could turn one conversation into a new lease on life and better hearing for your loved one.

Start the conversation today!

9 Hits for Your 2023 Summer List

9 Hits for Your 2023 Summer List

The Summer Reading/Watch/Listen List You Need

No summer’s complete without a good reading list, so we’re hooking you up.

From books to films to podcasts, we’ve put together some inspiring, entertaining, or thought-provoking options that have some connection to hearing loss or sound. Take a listen, watch, or read, and let us know what you think!


The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss (Book)

Humorist, actress, public speaker, and hearing loss advocate Gael Hannan takes readers on a journey of life lessons and more in this 2015 book. Her insights offer advice and inspiration not only for those with hearing loss but for their loved ones, too.


Sound of Metal* (Film)

Imagine being a musician on tour when suddenly confronted with profound hearing loss. It’s the challenge of a lifetime for heavy-metal drummer Ruben, who’s also in recovery. The deep-diving movie has garnered praise in the Deaf community and took home two Academy Awards.


The Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast (Podcast)

Everyone has a story worth hearing, and host Ahmed Khalifa sees to it. Whether talking deaf representation in pop culture, censorship in captions, or success at audiology appointments, Khalifa — a host with firsthand hearing loss experience — offers interviews and more in this candid series.


The Walking Dead>* (TV series)

You’ve probably heard of this juggernaut zombie series that wrapped up after its 11th season. But did you know recent seasons include two amazing actors — Angel Theory and Lauren Ridloff — who use American Sign Language on the show and have hearing loss in real life? Check it out!


Impossible Music (Book)

This young-adult novel follows two Australian teens navigating deafness after having been able to hear most of their lives. The coming-of-age story about change, identity, belonging, relationships, adaptation, and resilience offers another perspective on life’s twists, turns, and blessings.


See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary* (Film)

What’s it like as an entertainer with hearing loss to follow your professional dreams? This award-winning 2009 documentary offers an unflinching up-close look through the ups, downs, adventures, and triumphs of drummer Bob, comic CJ, actor and educator Robert, and singer TL.


My Deaf Friend Can Do Anything You Can Do (Book)

Misconceptions and stereotypes can get in the way of building better understanding. This children’s book offers an opportunity for the whole family to explore the experiences of those with hearing loss and gain greater appreciation for what everyone brings to the table.


Twenty Thousand Hertz (Podcast)

Cool title, right? This podcast is all about sound — as in, what it is, how it works, how beings can hear, and so on. It breaks down interesting topics such as synesthesia — dig into the January 13, 2021, episode to learn more — and serves up backstories on well-known sounds you might recognize.


Holland’s Opus* (Film)

We’re hitting the archive for a classic! A composer who takes a teaching position as a temporary job discovers life sometimes has different plans for us. An important subplot film is the relationship between the titular character and his Deaf son.

We hope you enjoy this summer list. You might come up with a few entries of your own, too! And remember, we’re here to help you get the most out of the season by hearing your best. So don’t delay. Schedule a hearing evaluation with our caring team today.

*Viewer discretion advised for language or visuals.

7 Poets With Hearing Loss

7 Poets With Hearing Loss

7 Poets With Hearing Loss

Take in Some Stanzas for National Poetry Month in April

It’s April, and that means poetry! Make it official, outspoken (#NationalPoetryMonth), or under the radar, but whatever you do, celebrate these poets with hearing loss and singular voices.


Gael Hannan

A renowned humorist, author, and passionate advocate for hearing loss issues, Gael Hannan grew up with progressive hearing loss. She teaches speechreading, holds hearing awareness workshops, and conducts sensitivity training for organizations large and small. She was honored with the Consumer Advocacy Award from Speech-Language and Audiology Canada.

Her poem “Those Things on the Side of Our Head” concludes this article featuring three other poems by authors with hearing loss, including the next person on our list!


Shanna Groves

Shanna has progressive hearing loss and is a speaker, author, and advocate for hearing loss issues. She has a popular blog, Lipreading Mom, is a finalist in the Oticon 2022 Focus on People Awards, and launched an awareness campaign, Show Me Your Ears.

Here’s that link again. This time, catch Shanna’s poem, “A Different Kind of Beauty.”


Camisha L. Jones

Camisha served as managing director of Split This Rock, a national poetry nonprofit centering social engagement, from November 2013 through August 2022. She competed at the 2013 National Poetry Slam on behalf of Slam Richmond, is co-editor of a forthcoming anthology of disability poetry, and lives with fibromyalgia and Ménière’s Disease.

Her poem “Ode to My Hearing Aids” is from her chapbook Flare, which focuses on her experiences with hearing loss and chronic pain.


Noah Baldino

Noah is a writer and editor with middle-frequency hearing loss whose poems have appeared in POETRY, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. A recipient of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize, Noah has also received support from numerous organizations, including Bread Loaf, Poetry Foundation, and The Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts.

Head here to check out Noah’s poem “Hearing Loss.”


Raymond Antrobus

Raymond Antrobus MBE FRSL is an East London-born poet, performer, and hearing aid user. His poems have appeared in magazines and literary journals, he has read and performed his poetry at prestigious festivals and universities, and he is co-curator of popular London poetry events Chill Pill and Keats House Poets.

Enjoy this spoken-word performance of his two-minute piece “The First Time I Wore Hearing Aids.”


Willard J. Madsen

Any article on poetry and hearing loss wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the classic “You Have to Be Deaf to Understand.” Willard J. Madsen’s 1971 poem became so popular it was eventually translated into seven different languages, was reprinted in numerous publications, and is considered a classic of Deaf culture. Madsen became deaf at age two because of scarlet fever and taught at Gallaudet University for almost 40 years.


Clayton Valli

Clayton Valli pioneered the concept of using a curriculum for deaf children focusing on ASL as a first language. He was also the first person to earn a doctorate in ASL poetry, from the Union Institute in Ohio. His original works of ASL poetry garnered international recognition, for example, “Dandelion,” which suggests ASL persists despite intentional efforts to weed it out.

Whether poetry or K-pop, we’d love to help you hear your passion better — contact us today to schedule a hearing consultation!

Erectile Dysfunction and Hearing Loss

Erectile Dysfunction and Hearing Loss

Quality of life is something that’s on everyone’s minds these days. How to live better, feel better, and make the most of the relationships and activities we enjoy. It’s no secret that health concerns can present challenges that affect our quality of life, and hearing loss and erectile dysfunction are two of them. These conditions are relatively easy to treat, but few people realize they’re linked.


What the research says

A study conducted by the Department of Otolaryngology at Taipei Medical University Hospital found that men who experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) were about twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction as their peers with normal hearing. This held true across different age groups. No conclusions have been drawn about the reason behind the correlation, but researchers strongly suspect it may be of a vascular nature, as subjects with hypertension and chronic renal disease were found to be at an even greater risk of ED. Hearing loss is also known to be exacerbated by vascular diseases.

SSHL is defined as a partial or total hearing loss that occurs rapidly over the course of hours or days. This is considered a medical emergency and should be investigated by a doctor right away. Only a small percentage of diagnosed cases of SSHL have an identifiable cause, but the most common triggers include:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Trauma, such as a head injury
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Cogan’s syndrome
  • Ototoxic drugs (drugs that harm the sensory cells in the inner ear)
  • Blood circulation problems
  • A tumor on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain
  • Neurologic diseases and disorders, such as multiple sclerosis
  • Disorders of the inner ear, such as Ménière’s disease

Men living with a hearing loss that occurred suddenly should be aware that they have an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction.


The effects of ED medication on hearing

Unfortunately, the connection between sudden hearing loss and erectile dysfunction also goes in the other direction. Sometimes ED precedes SSHL, and it’s the medications used to treat the former that lead to the latter.

In the United States, the FDA relabeled phosphodiesterase Type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor erectile-dysfunction drugs after finding over 30 reports of sudden hearing loss in male patients taking Viagra. Since then, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered that men over 40 taking PDE5 drugs (which include Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra) have double the risk of developing hearing loss compared to men who do not.

The FDA reports that some incidents of sudden hearing loss also included vestibular problems such as tinnitus, vertigo, or dizziness, and that the hearing loss was temporary in about a third of cases. There is some evidence that cessation of ototoxic medications can reverse the hearing damage they cause, but patients are advised to consult their doctor before stopping a medication. Click here for more information about ototoxicity and what to do if you experience it.

If you or someone you love is currently being treated for erectile dysfunction, be on the lookout for hearing issues and contact an audiologist or ENT for an evaluation!



Hsu, Hsin-Te, et al. Increased Risk of Erectile Dysfunction in Patients with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Otology & Neurotology. https://journals.lww.com/otology-neurotology/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2013&issue=07000&article=00014&type.  Accessed November 2, 2022.

McGwin, Gerald Jr. Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor use and hearing impairment. Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20479381/. Accessed November 4, 2022.

Medical News Today. FDA Reports Hearing Loss Linked To Viagra And Other PDE5 Inhibitors. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/86215. Accessed November 8, 2022.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Sudden Deafness. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/sudden-deafness. Accessed November 8, 2022.

How Loud Is It?

How Loud Is It?

How Loud Is It?

When Breaking Out the Power Tools, Protect Your Ears

Since childhood, you’ve probably heard the warnings about loud noises and hearing loss. Maybe you’ve even experienced the sensation of ear pain, ringing in the ears, a headache, or a moment of hearing difficulty after the piercing bang of a firecracker, a blast from an MP3 player on high volume, or an ice-crushing blender whirring at the fastest speed.

But how loud is too loud? As power tools get pulled out of storage for spring projects, let’s take a look at the level of noise they generate and what you can do. After all, hearing is one of the most important senses. Understanding the dangers of excess noise exposure — and how you can protect your ears — can go a long way toward preserving your hearing.


What’s the Problem?

It’s rather fascinating that sound can affect your health, but it’s also a fact. Your ears and brain work together to perceive and process sound. The cochlea, an organ within the inner ear, contains tiny hair cells that detect sound and send signals to the brain through the auditory nerve. Excess noise can damage the hair cells, leading to temporary or even permanent hearing loss.

Hearing loss not only might impact communication but can also:

  • Lead to withdrawal from social situations
  • Play a role in increased risk of balance issues and falls
  • Go hand in hand with dementia and other cognitive problems
  • Appear alongside tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears or head)


When Is It Too Loud?

As a measure of loudness, decibels play a critical role. Your own perception also matters, but sometimes unsafe volumes aren’t perceived to be as loud as they truly are. If you already have hearing loss, the sounds may not seem as loud but can still do damage. Generally, sounds that are 85 decibels or higher can be especially harmful. The louder the sound and the longer it lasts, the more dangerous it can be for your ears.

Consider these decibel estimates for some common power tools as well as other familiar sounds:

  • Whisper — 30 decibels
  • Typical conversations — 65 to 80 decibels
  • Lawnmowers — 80 to 100 decibels
  • Gas leaf blower — over 100 decibels
  • Sports games — 94 to 110 decibels
  • Hand drill — 98 decibels
  • Personal listening devices at highest volumes — 105 to 110 decibels
  • Chain saw — 110 decibels
  • Jet at takeoff — 140 decibels
  • Fireworks — 140 to 160 decibels


What Can You Do?

Power tools can be hard on the ears, making it all the more important to take control of your listening environment. Where to start? Look for equipment that’s rated for being quieter while still ticking all the performance boxes. With no power parts, reel mowers can do the job with a lot less noise, but electric, battery-operated, and even some quieter gas mowers might fit the bill, too.

Lowering the “volume” on your equipment can make a difference as well. You won’t find a volume knob, but a reduced speed setting — when appropriate for the job — might bring the noise level down. In addition, the user manual may provide options on limiting noise. And remember to take periodic breaks from using the equipment altogether, giving your ears a breather.

Steering clear of excess noise isn’t always possible, but hearing protection has your back. Earmolds with a variety of filter systems that help keep louder sounds at a safer, more reasonable level can help you tackle spring projects with confidence. The best part? They can be customized to the contours of your ear for an effective, snug, and comfortable fit.


Measuring Noise: Easy App

Did you know? The free NIOSH Sound Level Meter app, compatible with iOS-based mobile devices, can measure the sound level in your environment — at home, work, or play.

Using your phone or tablet’s built-in microphone, the easy-to-use app offers an instant decibel rating. It doesn’t replace professional instruments or expert opinion, but it can help approximate noise.

Check it out!

Count on us to help you seize the season. Have questions about noise-induced hearing loss or options for hearing protection? Reach out to our knowledgeable team today!

Celebrating Black History Month: 10 Notables With Hearing Loss

Celebrating Black History Month: 10 Notables With Hearing Loss

Time to Get Inspired

With more than 1.5 billion people touched by hearing loss – including some 3.6 million in Canada
alone – many icons in pop culture, politics, academics, and beyond have experienced this issue in their own lives. For Black History Month, we’re showcasing 10 inspiring people with hearing loss.


1. Nakia Smith

Every culture has language, and Canadian TikTok influencer Nakia Smith is helping ensure Black American Sign Language (BASL) is acknowledged and amplified. Developed during segregation when Black students were barred from attending the first U.S. school for deaf people, BASL is an expressive source of community and connection that Smith is working to share with more people in the world.


2. Whoopi Goldberg

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


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. “In the classroom, kids could make fun of me for being different,” wrote Catchings in a
2011 ESPN profile. “On the soccer field (my first sport) and eventually the basketball court, they couldn’t. I outworked them, plain and simple.”


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, was one of many pioneering moments for Foster, who then earned two master’s 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 Berry’s hearing loss, but the Oscar-winning actress, activist, beauty brand partner, and X-Men megastar didn’t let that setback torpedo her goals. Berry, also a producer, has around 60 movie and television acting roles under her belt and debuted as a director in 2021 with the film Bruised.


6. will.i.am

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


7. Jenelle Rouse

A Canadian educator, applied linguistics researcher, consultant, and professional dancer, Dr. Jenelle Rouse brings a firsthand experience with deafness to her work. The sought-after speaker not only advocates for greater empowerment among deaf citizens but is also leading a team investigating the lack of documented information about the lives of Black Deaf Canadians.


8. 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 to not only reportedly become the first Black and deaf female attorney in the U.S. but also to help enforce the rights of those with disabilities, as she worked as a lawyer in the executive branch under former President Barack Obama.


9. Connie Briscoe

A New York Times bestselling author, Briscoe, who has a cochlear implant, was born with a hearing loss, but she never let it slow her down. The Money Can’t Buy Love and Big Girls Don’t Cry writer has sold more than 600,000 hardcover and paperback copies of her first novel, Sisters and Lovers, per an onlinebio, and credits tackling hearing loss with helping her grow “stronger, more resilient and more determined to reach [her] goals.”


10. Tank

Grammy- and Soul Train Music-nominated R&B singer Tank, known for his solo work and acclaim in former supergroup TGT, announced in 2021 that he had hearing loss. The songwriter and producer with several acting credits under his name didn’t let that stop him. He crafted the 17-trackR&B Money, released in August 2022. Though Tank says it’s his final album as acting roles become more of a focus, don’t count this American Music Award nominee out.

Don’t let hearing loss get in the way of reaching your dreams – 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 a clean and check of your hearing aids today.



  • American Sign Language (ASL), widely used in Canada, is among the federally recognized primary languages in the country, along with Quebec Sign Language and Indigenous sign languages.
  • Though not federally recognized, Black American Sign Language – an ASL relative – is also used, and some citizens would like to see it further researched as well as officially acknowledged.
  • Advocates, such as Black Deaf Canada, are emerging to help foster community and close the representation
    gap experienced by Black, deaf citizens when it comes to accessibility.
Tips to Help You Live Longer With Hearing Loss

Tips to Help You Live Longer With Hearing Loss

It’s Not Just About Hearing

Hearing loss can affect not only your well-being but your overall quality of life as well. If you have hearing loss, read on for ways to be the happiest, healthiest you.


Hearing Loss and Falls Are Linked

Research backs up the connection between hearing loss and falls. In one study, those with at least a mild hearing loss fell more often than those with healthy hearing. In fact, the odds of a fall increased as hearing loss worsened — falls were 1.4 times more likely for each 10-decibel increase in hearing loss.

One possible cause is that hearing loss robs your brain of resources. As more brainpower becomes devoted to hearing, less is available for postural control, which increases the risk of falling.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA):

  • Falling is the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans.
  • Falls threaten safety and independence, and they generate enormous economic and personal costs.
  • Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations.


Hearing Technology Can Help

In a study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, participants with hearing loss had better balance when using hearing aids than when they didn’t. Senior author Timothy E. Hullar explained they seemed to use “the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance.”


Lifestyle and Hearing Are Linked

A study done by Age and Ageing looked at hearing loss alongside disability and mortality in older men. The study found that, compared with those with no hearing loss, those with hearing loss have a greater risk of mobility problems and difficulties when performing daily activities. It also found that men with hearing loss have a greater risk of dying of any cause.

In a different study, it was reported that hearing loss is 5.5 times more prevalent in men than in women. In particular, those with high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as smokers of more than 20 years, are more likely to have a hearing loss.


Hearing Technology Can Help

study done by the National Council on Aging found that people who used hearing aids reported an increased sense of independence and safety, as well as improvements in depression, anxiety, and social isolation compared with the time before they treated their hearing loss.


Nutrition Affects Your Hearing

Nutrients are a great first-line defense against hearing loss, especially folate and omega-3 fatty acids.

Folate, a B vitamin, helps prevent age-related hearing loss. It does this by regulating the amount of homocysteine (an amino acid) in your system. A lack of homocysteine reduces blood flow to the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss. Good sources of folate include broccoli, leafy green vegetables, pulses, and liver.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a building block of your cell membranes. They fight inflammation, too. These are two properties that make omega-3 fatty acids ideal protectors of hearing health, and research backs this up. It’s well established that omega-3 fatty acids do, indeed, prevent age-related hearing loss. Good sources of this nutrient are fish, nuts, seeds, plant oils, and fortified foods.


Hearing Technology Can Help

If you do have age-related hearing loss, it’s easy to miss out on children laughing in another room, birds chirping, or your sweetheart’s whispered “I love you.” It’s these little moments that make life so rich. But hearing technology is now so advanced that you can adjust your settings to your surroundings.


Don’t miss another moment — contact us today!

Playing to Win Could Mean Hearing Loss

Contact Sports and Hearing Loss

Playing to Win Could Mean Hearing Loss

Soccer is winding down. Hockey and basketball are revving up. College and NFL football are in full swing. Must mean summer is in the rearview mirror.

It also means pickup games galore, such as basketball, flag football, and street hockey — and more debates over concussions in contact sports.

But two symptoms of concussion that don’t get much press are hearing loss and tinnitus.


Sports and Concussions

Sports-related concussions are not rare — 1.6 million to 3.8 million occur annually in the U.S. And in the age range 5–19 years, there were around 46,000 diagnosed concussions in 2016 and 2017 in hospital emergency departments in Canada.

A concussion is serious business. Consider its other definition: The least severe type of TBI — short for traumatic brain injury. The CDC explains TBI as “an injury that affects how the brain works.”


Concussions and Your Hearing System

Your hearing system’s setup makes it susceptible to damage by a concussion, especially in contact sports. The part of your brain that processes sound is located at the side of your head, about ear level. Prime real estate for an impact.

The force necessary for a concussion can damage or break any of the tiny bones in your middle ear or inner ear.

Plus, there are more nerves connecting your ear and brain than there are for your other senses. It’s a dense net traveling between your ear, brainstem, midbrain, and cortex. These nerves take quite a pounding when your head suffers an impact — the force jostles your brain, stretching, shearing, or possibly destroying your nerve fibers.

Sound processing is demanding on your nervous system. It’s also very fast — things happen in microseconds. If a concussion damages your nerve fibers or causes inflammation and bruising, your hearing suffers.


How Concussions Affect Your Hearing

It’s common for those with sports-related concussions to hear quiet noises just fine, but then have trouble understanding speech in a noisy environment like, at a restaurant or a game.

Other possible problems include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Hearing loss
  • Sound sensitivity
  • A feeling like your ears need to pop but can’t
  • Problems understanding speech despite passing a hearing test


Symptoms of Concussion

After a head injury, concussion symptoms might appear right away or not for hours or days. They usually improve over time — often you’ll feel better within a couple of weeks.

Symptoms are different for each person and might change during recovery. For example, your symptoms might be physical early on, only to become more emotional a week or two after your injury.

Common symptoms include:

  • Light or noise sensitivity
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Trouble with thinking or memory
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Mood swings


If You Suspect a Concussion

Unfortunately, contact sports and head injuries are a natural fit. Even a helmet or some other type of head protection only goes so far.

If you think a head injury has led to a concussion, see a physician right away. You’ll receive a neurological evaluation that measures your vision, hearing, balance, and coordination responses. You’ll also receive cognitive tests to ensure your thinking hasn’t been affected.

You might also get imaging tests such as cranial computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These identify any physical injury or bleeding inside your skull.

You need to be supervised for 24 hours, possibly in the hospital but most likely by a loved one in the comfort of your own home. This is to ensure the symptoms don’t worsen. The most common treatment for a concussion is rest and avoiding strenuous activity.



If you’ve had a concussion and suspect you’ve developed hearing loss or tinnitus, contact us to schedule a hearing consultation.

Allergies and Hearing Loss

Allergies and Hearing Loss — What’s the Connection?

A: This is a great question! Let’s start with some allergy basics.



An allergy is when your body’s defenses overreact to something that is not typically harmful. These are called allergens, and common ones include latex, pet dander, and peanuts.

When you come across an allergen, your immune system goes into defensive mode. Chemicals called histamines flood your body and where you encountered the allergen.


The Allergic Response

Histamines are like security guards — once released, they do what’s needed to remove the allergen. Reactions such as inflammation, itchiness, and excess mucus production result. But how does this cause hearing loss?


Seasonal Allergies and Hearing Loss

Because the allergic reactions leading to hearing loss so often involve seasonal allergies, that’s where we’ll focus. Other allergies, such as those triggered by mold or pets, would also work as examples.


The outer ear

Let’s use pollen as our allergen example. We’ll begin with the effects on the outer ear:

  • Pollen lands in or near your ear canal
  • Histamines kick into high gear and try to remove the allergen
  • Inflammation, itching, and possibly swelling begin
  • A strong enough reaction blocks sound trying to get to your eardrum
  • Hearing loss is the result


The middle ear

Continuing with pollen as our allergen example, let’s look at the effects on the middle ear:

  • Pollen lands in your nostril or nasal passage
  • Histamines kick into high gear and try to remove the allergen
  • Inflammation and excessive mucus production begin
  • Mucus builds up in your middle ear
  • Your Eustachian tube, which drains excess mucus from your middle ear, becomes blocked (from inflammation or mucus)
  • Discomfort, hearing loss, or an infection result


The inner ear

Finally, continuing with pollen, the effects of allergies on the inner ear are:

  • Pollen lands in your nostril or nasal passage
  • Histamines kick into high gear and try to remove the allergen
  • Inflammation and excessive mucus production begin
  • These have been known to worsen symptoms of other ear-related problems, such as Ménière’s disease, which includes symptoms such as hearing loss, balance issues, and tinnitus


As you can see, it’s simple cause and effect — and the cause is usually inflammation, mucus, or a combination of both in the tiny passageways in your ears.


Contact us today if you think your hearing issue could be more than the temporary effects of seasonal allergies!