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Category Archives: Hearing Aids

Five Unhealthy Habits That Can Harm Your Hearing

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Researchers are always discovering more connections between the ears and the health of other body systems. If you’ve been looking for one more reason to drop a bad habit consider your hearing. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back!

Smoking
You’ve known for many years that smoking is bad for you; it even says it directly on the box of cigarettes. One of the often-overlooked side effects of smoking is hearing loss. The chemicals produced by smoking a cigarette inhibit your inner ear’s ability to transmit vibrations. The more you smoke the more irreversible damage will be done. Second-hand smoke has the same effect on loved ones.

Drinking
A study in 2010 found that moderate to high alcohol intake results in brain damage that keeps the brain from being able to interpret and process sounds. The trouble is even worse for folks with alcoholism, the central auditory cortex will become damaged, which may lead to brain shrinkage. Damage to the inner ear known as ototoxicity, is also possible for excessive drinkers. High levels of alcohol in the bloodstream create a toxic environment, which damages the hair cells in the cochlea.

Obesity
Being over weight puts you at risk for a barrage of problems ranging from diabetes to circulatory trouble, to straining your heart, all of which have been linked to hearing loss. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study in 2013 that found women with a higher body mass index had a 17 percent higher risk of hearing loss. The study also found that simple physical activity, such as walking for 2 or more hours a week lowered that risk of hearing loss.

Skipping the Dentist
You may not immediately think your dental health and hearing health are connected, but they certainly are. Poor dental health allows harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, narrowing and blocking arteries that lead to the brain. This can interrupt the way the brain receives signals from the auditory nerve. Bad oral hygiene can also lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes, which have been linked to hearing loss.

Skipping the Doctor
An annual physical can detect hearing loss, but more importantly the doctor will be able to tell you if your hearing loss is caused by something other than age. An obstruction, such as earwax buildup, inflammation or tumor can be addressed and possibly get you hearing again or stop further damage.

It is true many people lose their hearing as they age, but these five bad habits can easily speed up that process. If you take care of your body, avoid these bad habits, and protect your ears you may be able to maintain your hearing. If you think you are already suffering from hearing loss, you should not put off getting tested. The longer you wait the more damage you do. The Hearing Professionals offers a free hearing test and consultation, so you have nothing to lose, except your hearing loss.

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Fighting Fires and Hearing Loss

Urgent need for hearing prevention programs, according to an American study.

Exposure to high levels of noise is common for firefighters. Daily work in the fire services includes being surrounded by noise from fire sirens, alarms, communication devices, audio equipment in cabs, engine pumps, rotary and chain saws and ventilation fans. firefighters

An American study of 425 American firefighters shows that more than 40% have signs of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) as a result of their line of work. In addition, reported use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) was only 34%.

Effective hearing loss prevention programs, better work practices and HPDs like ear muffs and ear plugs, should therefore be implemented to reduce NIHL in firefighters.

Longer exposure, worse hearing. Firefighters are exposed to harmful sources of noise in their line of work. Such exposure to high noise levels may contribute to hearing problems, like NIHL.

According to the American survey, firefighters with longer years of work in fire services demonstrate significantly worse hearing. Also, firefighters who used HPDs less were more likely to experience hearing loss.2608

Hearing protection devices (HPDs). With firefighters being exposed to harmful noise levels, they risk damaging their hearing and the risk of NIHL is severely increased.

To prevent hearing impairment among firefighters, it is recommended that effective hearing loss prevention programs are implemented as well as better work practices. Also, firefighters are urged to make better use of HPDs to ensure better hearing health.

About the study. The study was published in the medical journal “Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine’. 425 American firefighters from three states across the United States participated in the study, which was carried out by Dr. OiSaeng Hong, from the University of California.

Source: National Institute of Health

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May is Better Hearing Month

Back in 1927, the month of May was designated as Better Hearing and Speech Month to raise awareness about the causes and treatments of hearing loss and speech impediments. And, on May 21, 1986, President Ronald Regan issues a formal proclamation designating May is the official month to “heighten public awareness about hearing loss and speech disorders.”

President Regan’s proclamation is as follows:

 NOW, THEREFORE, I RONALD REGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of May as Better Hearing and Speech Month, and I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies and activities. (Proclamation 5486, May 21, 1986)

Hearing is one of our most vital senses. It enables you to process everyday sounds to communicate and safely interact in your daily environment. Better hearing gives us a better quality of life.

As hearing diminishes, everyday sounds once taken for granted become less and less apparent until they can no longer be detected at all. When hearing loss goes unrecognized or untreated, more serious consequences can occur not only to the individual’s physical and mental health, but to the communities as well.

Consider a potential automobile accident caused by a driver failing to hear warning signals like sirens, screams or screeching. This puts the hearing impaired driver and the public at risk. There are also the potential dangers of not hearing telephones, doorbells, security alarms or smoke detectors.

Currently in the United States, an estimated 30 million people suffer from varying degrees of hearing impairment. Approximately only 5 million of them wear hearing instruments. Most people with hearing damage deny that they have enough damage to seek help. As America’s baby boomers age, hearing loss has become increasingly prevalent. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, hearing impairment is the third most common problem affecting the baby boom generation.

For most people, hearing loss can start to weaken at 30 years old. Hearing deterioration can be caused from a number of reasons including aging, a virus, high cholesterol, diet, medications, repeated environmental situations such as loud concerts or amplified music or operating loud equipment without proper ear protection.

Hearing loss is becoming increasingly popular at younger age due to the advancement of equipment and amplifications experienced daily. The time exposed to high levels of sound impairs hearing temporarily, but permanently with continued exposure.

Noise Level Exposure Limit Activity
90 dB 8 Hours Lawn Mower, Shop Tools
100 dB 2 Hours Pneumatic Drill, Chainsaw
110 dB 30 Minutes Woodworking, Motorcycle
115 dB 15 Minutes Sandblaster
120 dB Under 15 Minutes Ambulance Siren, Rock Concert
130 dB Immediately Jackhammer
140 dB Immediately Jet Engine at Takeoff
150 dB Immediately Most Firearms

The good news is that most hearing losses can be effectively treated with amplification. The key for effective treatment and rehabilitation is to identify a hearing loss in the early stages. The best way to identify early signs of hearing loss is to have your haring checked regularly be a professional especially after the age of 50.

Because the onset of hearing loss tends to be gradual, The Hearing Professionals has developed a series of questions to help identify possible indicators:

  1. Do you tend to favor one ear over the other?
  2. Have you been told to turn down the TV (because it is too loud for everyone but yourself)?
  3. Do you have difficulty following conversations in large groups or noisy places such as restaurants?
  4. Do you often ask others to repeat themselves, especially young children and women?
  5. Do you have trouble hearing at a distance, such as in church or movie theaters?
  6. Have friends or family members commented on your inability to hear?
  7. Are you over the age of 50 and it has been over one year since you last had your hearing checked?

If you answered yes to one or more of the previous questions, you need a complete hearing evaluation. If you suspect you have hearing loss, you may be pleased to learn that it is just wax build up that can be removed.

During the Month of May, The Hearing Professionals will be celebrating Better Hearing Month. If you suspect that you or someone you know suffers from hearing loss, we urge you to have them come in on May 13 and 14 for a free hearing screening. The screening will tell you if you have a hearing loss or not. Call the location nearest you to set up an appointment.

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Anything Can Be Bought On The Internet … Including Hearing Aids

For years there have been websites selling inexpensive hearing aids, but today there are far more including those being sold by insurance companies. For those who may not otherwise be able to purchase hearing aids due to financial concerns, this may sound like a great opportunity. However, in order to protect yourself I strongly recommend that you consider this: Can a thorough hearing evaluation and ear exam to rule out medical concerns be done online? And, how can you get custom fit hearing instruments without accurate ear impressions for one’s hearing loss and lifestyle when no verification testing can be done in the office? There are other considerations that include providing the right size receiver wire and dome fit, for example, on open-ear style, a popular hearing aid often requested by patients in my practice.

These are just a few issues that raise a red flag when it comes to purchasing hearing aids online. What if your hearing aid needs repair? How easy is that going to be to send it in and have no back up loaner provided when needed? Wearing your hearing aids continuously is part of the rehabilitation process, so why disrupt that waiting on a repair when indeed most repairs can be done in our lab?

When working with The Hearing Professionals, we are trained to assess potential medical concerns of your ears, make appropriate medical referrals when necessary and properly fit hearing devices optimal performance is vitally important. Since my first office in 1996 and fitting literally thousands of patients, I can honestly say there is no substitute for personalized attention and care when it comes to fitting and maintaining your hearing aids.

Before you make a decision to purchase hearing aids over the internet, consult with one of us at The Hearing Professionals. Today there are leading hearing aid manufacturers who will work with us to provide high quality digital hearing technology at very economical prices when needed. We’ve always strived to provide what’s best for our patients without compromising professional services. Purchasing hearing aids online compromises that service and may very well cost you more in the long run.

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Getting a Free Second Opinion

Throughout the week I see patients who are confused about all they hear and read about the different hearing instrument being promoted. Do I need Bluetooth? Do I need a remote control? Should the hearing aids that are rechargeable rather than having to change the batteries? What about all the new open-ear technology and which is best?

When I first started in the hearing healthcare industry, all hearing aids were analog and thus the choices were limited. In the late 90s, digital technology became available. Today, with all the digital advances, there are many excellent possibilities to improve hearing.Confused-man-wearing-glasses1

Recently, a new patient came to see me who was very frustrated with her hearing aids. She first went to an office and they gave her way too many brochures of different hearing aids that she became overwhelmed and did not go back. Next, she chose someone who gave her only one choice, and the choice was not even appropriate for her lifestyle or hearing. When she came to me, we discussed her needs, where she wanted to hear better and compared and tested hearing systems that met her needs. We fit her with a new pair of hearing aids and today she’s hearing better than she has in years.

Hearing instruments are a big investment in cost, your time and the end result of better hearing. Choose the professional who is the most qualified to provide you with the solutions to your unique hearing needs. Don’t hesitate to obtain a second or even a third opinion. Anyone who is looking for a first, second or even third opinion, we will be happy to schedule that appointment at no charge. Your hearing is a precious gift to you and those with whom you communicate. Always obtain the best professional care for your hearing.

If you feel you need a second (or third) opinion, please take the time to come in for a complimentary screening and let us evaluate your situation. Please give us a call and we will schedule an appointment right away.

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What An Audiogram Says About Your Hearing Loss

An audiogram provides a visual picture of how your individual hearing loss impacts access to sound, and can serve as an important tool in developing your hearing loss strategy. Here’s how they are created.

A hearing care professional (an audiologist or hearing instrument dispenser) will determine your degree of hearing loss by asking you to listen to a hearing-chartseries of sounds during an audiometric hearing test. The results of that test will then be charted on a graph – called an audiogram — that shows which sounds you can hear well, and which ones you can’t. The horizontal axis on the audiogram indicates sound frequency or the pitch, and the vertical axis indicates loudness.

The different loudness and frequencies of where the sounds of speech fall on the audiogram can be seen in a banana-shaped pattern, which is often called the “speech banana.” Typically, if your hearing is in the normal range, you will easily have access to all of those speech sounds. People with good hearing usually have results well above the banana portion of the graph. Conversely, if results fall within or underneath the banana, the person may have trouble hearing and understanding speech.

Generally, people with normal hearing are able to hear all of the ranges shown on the chart. This is usually classified in the range of -10 to 25 db HL.

Those with mild hearing loss (26 to 40 db HL) usually cannot hear soft noises, making it difficult for them to understand speech in loud places (e.g. restaurants) or feel that people may be mumbling at times

People living with moderate and moderately severe hearing loss (41 to 70 db HL) find soft or moderately loud sounds or speech difficult to impossible to hear. This means that they usually have trouble communicating with someone if the person they are talking to is slightly further away from them, or if there is any background noise in the area (like air conditioning units or televisions)

People with severe hearing loss (71 to 90 db HL) generally cannot make out anything that’s softer than 70 decibels, which means that in order to communicate in any way, you need to increase your volume to a shouting level. This makes any type of conversation nearly impossible without the use of some form of amplification.

Profound hearing loss (+91 db HL) means that only very loud sounds can be heard. This makes communication extremely difficult and may require a variety of communication methods, including speech reading or sign language in addition to amplification devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants.

hearing-chart2Understanding Your Audiogram

Here are some quick tidbits that may help you decipher your personalized audiogram results:

  • Results for each ear will be included, usually an “X” for your left ear, and an “O” for your right. A line representing each will then be plotted across the audiogram as a series of connected X or O’s.
  • Sounds located above the plotted line on the chart are not heard at all, while sounds that occur below are heard.
  • Results plotted on the audiogram will give you an idea of the sounds and frequencies that you are not hearing. The example below indicates a bi-lateral, high-frequency hearing loss. The person with this kind of loss would not be able to hear birds chirping or leaves rustling.

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12% Of Children Between Ages 6-19 Have Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Does your child or teen spend house “plugged in” to an iPod? Tuning our may be doing more than irritating parents. It is estimated that almost 12 percent of all children between the ages of 6-19 have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), according to the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association. NIHL has become a widespread and serious public health issue, which can occur at any age.

Although construction workers and military personnel are routinely exposed to excessive noise levels that cause hearing loss, recent research suggests that listening to music through an iPod or other device at certain sound levels may also be hazardous to hearing. Given that many children and adolescents spend many hours “plugged in” to their devices, some precaution should be used to prevent hearing loss.

The outer ear receives sound waves and funnels them down the ear canal to the eardrum and then to the inner ear. In the inner ear is a snail-shell-like organ, called the cochlea. Inside of the cochlea, there are thousands of hair cells which are actually responsible for our hearing because they transmit sounds up to the brain. Scientists believe that NIHL damages hair cells in the inner ear, causing loss of the ability to transmit sound. NIHL is gradual and painless, but eventually is permanent. Once damaged, the tiny hair cells in the inner ear cannot grow back.

Sound is measured in decibels. For example, normal conversation speech is typically measured at 60 decibels; hair dryers and lawnmowers are 90 decibels; rock concerts and car races can reach 110 decibels; and firearms and firecrackers often exceed 140 decibels. Any sound over 85 decibels is loud enough to damage your hearing. However, much like sun damage, the more intense the sound is, the shorter the amount of time you can be exposed to it before damage occurs.IQT_06-01-2012_NEWS_03_IPOD05B_t460

What can you do to prevent hearing loss?

  • Wear hearing protection: To eliminate unwanted noise, several options are available, such as ear muffs and ear plugs. Hearing protection can be custom-made or individually molded and are available through offices such as The Hearing Professionals. Putting cotton in your ears does not work.
  • Limit listening time: Take listening breaks from your iPod or other device to give your ears some recovery time.
  • Walk Away: The further you are from the noise, the less damage it will cause.
  • Turn down the volume: A simple rule of thumb is, if a person wearing earphones cannot hear what you’re saying, the volume is up too loud.

In general, the standard ear-bud-style headphones that come with your iPod are slightly louder than the over-the-counter-style headphones. For additional information about the prevention of hearing loss, visit or call The Hearing Professionals today!

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