The Health Benefits of Better Hearing

Family at the beach

It’s commonly suggested that we don’t completely appreciate the things we have until they’re gone, and this appears to be specifically true of our ability to hear. Hearing loss is not only difficult to detect; it’s also hard to appreciate just how much hearing enhances our lives.

As one of our chief senses, along with vision, hearing effects our mental, social, and physical health, so when we lose our hearing, we put our overall wellness in jeopardy. But restoring our hearing can have several health benefits that we never really give much thought to.

Here are three ways restoring your ability to hear can strengthen your social, mental, and physical health.

Hearing and Relationships

The foundation of any good relationship is communication, and with hearing loss, that foundation is compromised. Miscommunication, hard-feelings, and avoidance can all occur from hearing loss and the barrier to communication it produces.

Hearing loss can be particularly disruptive to a marriage, as Julie and Charlie Kraft had to find out the hard way.

For most of Charlie’s adult life, he has had a common form of hearing loss known as high-frequency hearing loss, in which he has trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. And since the female voice is higher-pitched than the male voice, Charlie had an especially challenging time hearing his wife.

But because Charlie wasn’t conscious of his hearing loss, he thought his wife Julie just talked too quietly, which was aggravating for him. At the same time, Julie thought Charlie spoke too loudly—not to mention that she constantly had to repeat herself—which was frustrating for her.

In this way, hearing loss creates a frustrating barrier to communication where both parties harbor bad feelings towards one another.

In Charlie and Julie’s case, they had the awareness to recognize the hearing loss and to take action to deal with it. After Charlie began wearing hearing aids, he no longer had to speak so loud, and he began hearing new sounds, like the sounds of birds on the golf course. But the one perk he claimed he cherished the most was the improved communication he had with his wife.

Julie agreed, and both conveyed how much stronger their relationship is without the stress of hearing loss.

Hearing and Physical Health

Does wearing hearing aids tend to make you more active?

The answer is yes, according to a survey conducted by Hear The World Foundation, which revealed that 21 percent of those interviewed reported that they exercised more after purchasing hearing aids. Additionally, 34 percent said they regularly take part in sports at least once per week, and 69 percent believe that their hearing aids have a favorable effect on their overall health.

Hearing loss can make communication difficult to the point where people are inclined to avoid the social events and activities that they used to enjoy. With hearing aids, you can pursue these activities more confidently, resulting in more exercise and improved physical health.

Hearing and Mental Health

In a recent study, researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) discovered a strong connection between hearing loss and depression among US adults of all ages.

Other studies by Johns Hopkins University have connected hearing loss to general cognitive decline, including memory issues as well as an enhanced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Clearly, the lack of sound stimulation to the brain with hearing loss causes several negative effects, ultimately causing an increased risk of depression, social isolation, and mental decline. But the good news is, studies have also shown that using hearing aids can reverse or prevent many of these problems.

How Has Better Hearing Improved YOUR Life?

Statistics are one thing; stories of actual people enjoying the benefits of improved hearing are quite another.

If you use hearing aids, let us know in a comment below how your life, relationships, and/or physical or mental health has improved! You may find yourself inspiring someone else to take the first steps toward better hearing.

6 Encouraging Things Wearing Hearing Aids Says About You

Family at the beach

It remains a puzzle as to why wearing glasses—which improve vision impairment—is perceived as an indication of intelligence, while wearing hearing aids—which correct hearing impairment—has been perceived as a sign of old age.

Perhaps it’s about time the stigma of hearing loss is corrected, and we redefine what it means for our bodies to collaborate with technology.

The question is, when you see someone wearing a pair of hearing aids, what do you think?

Here are 6 of the positive things we think wearing hearing aids says about you.

1. You love living an active life

Most social events and activities demand healthy hearing, while hanging out alone in your home does not. Wearing hearing aids is therefore an indicator that you like to be active and social, and that you’re not going to permit hearing loss stop you from pursuing your favorite experiences.

2. You’re an proactive, open-minded problem solver

When you’re confronted with difficult problems or obstacles, you find ways to overcome them. You don’t wait around feeling sorry for yourself or sustain a stubborn denial of the problem—you’re broad-minded enough to admit to your hearing loss and practical enough to treat it.

3. You’re tech-savvy

Today’s digital hearing aids are like mini computers, equipped with remarkable capabilities like wireless connections, bluetooth streaming, directional microphones, and background noise reduction.

By sporting a pair of modern hearing aids, it demonstrates that you are on the leading-edge of technology, ready to enjoy the benefits that new technology has to offer.

4. You’re health conscious

Several new studies, especially from Jonhs Hopkins University, have linked hearing loss to serious medical ailments including depression, general cognitive decline, memory issues, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Wearing hearing aids shows that you value living an overall healthy lifestyle, proactively taking the steps required for a lengthy, healthy life—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. You treasure your relationships

You know that the framework for any healthy relationship is strong communication, and you’re not going to let hearing loss create a barrier between you and those you love.

Your relationships are simply too important to allow hearing loss to create occasions of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and the stress of others always needing to repeat themselves.

6. You’re self-confident

You’re not attempting to conceal the fact that you wear hearing aids—you’re proud of it. You love to live an active, sociable life and you’re proud that you’ve taken the actions to secure your own quality of life.

In fact, many hearing aid users have reported stronger performance at work, and research by the Better Hearing Institute reveals that hearing aid users reported higher household income than those with untreated hearing loss.

What do hearing aids say about you?

What did we forget? What would you include in the list?

There are numerous reasons to proudly wear hearing aids: Tell us in a comment some of the reasons you wear hearing aids so we can keep the list going.

4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids

When should I upgrade my hearing aids?

This is a frequent question we hear from our patients, and the answer demands some thought. While hearing aids ordinarily have a life-span of 3-7 years, there are several scenarios in which you may desire to upgrade sooner.

Here are 4 reasons you may want to consider a hearing aid upgrade.

1. Your hearing aids are no longer working well

If your hearing aids are not performing as effectively as they once did, the first thing to look into is cleaning or repair.

Hearing aids are exposed to earwax, humidity, and other particles, so your hearing aids may merely require a cleaning. In other cases, the electronics within the hearing aids need repair, but otherwise the hearing aids remain effective.

If your hearing aids are damaged beyond repair, on the other hand, or if they are beyond their regular life-span, you might want to upgrade to a new pair.

2. Your hearing needs are not being fulfilled

Let’s say you land a new job that necessitates a lot of speaking on the phone, which has regularly been a problem for you with your present hearing aids. You hear about a new kind of hearing aid that can stream calls wirelessly from your iPhone directly to your hearing aids, giving you clear sound that you can freely adjust. In this scenario, you may want to upgrade your hearing aids to satisfy your new hearing requirements.

It’s a smart idea to make a list of all the scenarios in which your existing hearing aids are not operating to your liking. Then, by speaking with a hearing specialist, you can discover the hearing aids that can better meet your requirements.

3. Your hearing has changed

Hearing can and does change through the years, and it’s possible that your present hearing aids, while initially sufficient, are now incapable of handling your hearing loss. If this is the situation, you will require a new hearing test and a new pair of hearing aids programmed to match your hearing loss.

4. You want to take advantage of the latest technology

Hearing aid technology is evolving rapidly; just 10 years ago it would have seemed like science-fiction to expect that you could stream music wirelessly from your iPod to your hearing aids. Every year, amazing new functionality is added to new hearing aid models, and you may find that you’d like to take advantage of the new technology.

For example, maybe you just bought a new Apple Watch and you learned that a few of the new hearing aid models are compatible. If you wish to control your hearing aids with the watch, you would need to upgrade to a appropriate model.

The decision to upgrade your hearing aids in the end comes down to answering two questions:

  1. Are my current hearing aids fulfilling all of my listening needs?
  2. Is there new technology or functionality that I would like to benefit from?

Hearing aid technology is advancing rapidly, and most of our patients are surprised to find out what the new hearing aid models are capable of. And the fact is, you can’t really answer the second question without knowing what’s available.

If you would like to know what some of your options are, give us a call today and we’ll explain to you all the available technology and how it could make your life better and easier. You might be surprised at what you discover.

10 Cool Ways to Control Your Hearing Aids With the Apple Watch

Apple Watch
By Joho345 (Own work) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine being able to fine-tune the volume, treble, and bass on your hearing aids as discretely and effortlessly as checking the time on your wrist. Or picture fine-tuning your hearing aids for any listening environment without ever having to touch your hearing aids.

Sound too good to be true? A couple of years ago, it was; but with the Apple Watch, hearing aid owners are changing the way they engage with their hearing aids.

With Apple’s most personal device to date, you can now leave behind your hearing aid remote control at home, your cell phone in your pocket, and your fingers out of your ears. All hearing aid adjustments and settings can be easily accessed from a software program within the watch—meaning you’ll never have to touch your hearing aids or constantly fumble through your phone again.

Here are 10 cool things you can do with your Apple Watch and compatible hearing aids.

1. Abandon the hearing aid remote control

The dilemma with modern hearing aids is that as they become smaller, more powerful, and loaded with more capabilities, they become more difficult to handle. This makes a remote control a must, but who wants to lug around yet another device?

Even utilizing your cell phone as the remote control can get monotonous, but with the Apple Watch, if you want to adjust a setting, you just raise your wrist. It can’t get any easier than that.

2. Effortlessly adjust the volume, treble, and bass

Need the hearing aid volume adjusted? No problem, just inconspicuously lift your wrist, tap the hearing aid app on the watch, and swipe your finger to adjust the volume control slider. You can also quickly fine-tune the treble and bass to build the perfect sound quality in any hearing scenario.

3. Mute your hearing aids

Scenarios arise when you don’t want to amplify sound, and with the Apple Watch, you can turn off the hearing aids with the push of a button.

Although we don’t endorse using this functionality on your spouse.

4. Create and save custom sound settings

Having a conversation in a busy restaurant is very different than having one at home; that’s why hearing aids have what are called “environmental presets,” or settings that enhance sounds according to the environment.

With the Apple Watch, you can conveniently access and switch among presets, adjusting settings on the fly depending on where you are. And as you render your modifications, if there is a unique setting that works particularly well, you can save the setting, name it, and access it later.

5. Stream music and phone calls

You’re out for a walk and you want to listen to your favorite album. That would generally call for you to take out your hearing aids, but with Apple Watch, you can stream music wirelessly from the watch to your hearing aids. In this way, your hearing aids have the dual purpose of a sound amplification device and a set of high-quality earphones.

Additionally, you can easily answer or forward phone calls right from the watch, as the audio is delivered wirelessly to your hearing aids just like the music.

6. Find your misplaced hearing aids

We all lose important things, like our car keys, and we waste a lot of time trying to find them. But when we misplace our hearing aids, it’s not only inconvenient—we risk harming the mechanism that links us to sound, which can be scary.

With the Apple Watch, if you lose your hearing aids, you can expediently track them down as the watch can detect their location and render it on a map.

7. Concentrate on speech and filter background noise

Most digital hearing aids include directional microphones and other background-noise eliminating capability. With the Apple Watch, you have access to these features on the fly, with the capacity to narrow the focus in a busy room, for instance, by listening to the person you’re conversing with while filtering the background noise.

8. View your battery and connection status

You no longer have to worry about running out of battery power and being stuck without sound. You can effortlessly keep tabs on your hearing aid battery life right on the Apple Watch.

9. Make your hearing aids invisible

You can’t really make your hearing aids invisible with the Apple Watch, but with the right hearing aid, it will look that way to those around you. The Apple Watch, along with a completely-in-the-ear-canal hearing aid, will be entirely out of view. And when you’re modifying your hearing aid settings on your watch, people will think you’re checking the time.

10. Manage your tinnitus

Sound therapy in the form of music, white noise, or nature sounds can be streamed wirelessly to your hearing aids, and the sounds can be modified to match the frequency of your tinnitus—all from the Apple Watch.

Individualize your hearing experience

While the Apple Watch is not compatible with all types of hearing aid, a number of hearing aid models currently are, and we expect additional models to be designed in the near future. The Apple Watch is the ultimate solution to many of the problems conveyed by our patients and allows for a level of interaction and control like never before.

Give us a call today to find out more about this phenomenal technology.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Do you use it to control your hearing aids? Tell us about your experience in a comment.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss

We all procrastinate, regularly talking ourselves out of complex or unpleasant activities in favor of something more pleasing or fun. Distractions abound as we tell ourselves that we will some day get around to whatever we’re currently working to avoid.

Sometimes, procrastination is relatively harmless. We might plan to clear out the basement, for instance, by throwing out or donating the items we seldom use. A clean basement sounds good, but the work of actually hauling things to the donation center is not so satisfying. In the interest of short-term pleasure, it’s very easy to find myriad alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.

Other times, procrastination is not so benign, and when it comes to hearing loss, it could be downright hazardous. While no one’s idea of a good time is getting a hearing test, recent research reveals that neglected hearing loss has serious physical, mental, and social consequences.

To understand why, you need to start with the impact of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a popular analogy: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you know what happens just after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle size and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t repeatedly use your muscles, they get weaker.

The same occurs with your brain. If you under-utilize the part of your brain that processes sounds, your capacity to process auditory information grows weaker. Researchers even have a term for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”

Returning to the broken leg example. Let’s say you took the cast off your leg but persisted to not make use of the muscles, relying on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get increasingly weaker. The same happens with your brain; the longer you go with hearing loss, the a smaller amount of sound stimulation your brain gets, and the worse your hearing gets.

That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which creates a host of additional disorders present research is continuing to unearth. For instance, a study directed by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those with hearing loss encounter a 40% decrease in cognitive function compared to those with normal hearing, as well as an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Generalized cognitive decline also triggers significant mental and social consequences. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) revealed that those with neglected hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to participate in social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.

So what begins as an inconvenience—not having the capability hear people clearly—leads to a downward spiral that affects all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss leads to auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which leads to psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which ultimately leads to social isolation, strained relationships, and an increased risk of developing serious medical issues.

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

So that was the bad news. The good news is equally encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg illustration one last time. Just after the cast comes off, you start exercising and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recover your muscle mass and strength.

The same process once again applies to hearing. If you enhance the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can regain your brain’s ability to process and understand sound. This leads to better communication, better psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, as reported by The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in almost every area of their lives.

Are you ready to accomplish the same improvement?

How Insects are Revolutionizing Hearing Aids

Today’s hearing aids have come a long way; present models are highly effective and feature exceptional digital capabilities, such as wireless connectivity, that drastically enhance a person’s ability to hear along with their overall quality of life.

But there is still room for improvement.

Specifically, in some instances hearing aids have some challenges with two things:

  1. Locating the source of sound
  2. Eliminating background noise

But that may soon change, as the most current research in hearing aid design is being guided from a surprising source: the world of insects.

Why insects hold the key to better hearing aids

Both mammals and insects have the equivalent problem in terms of hearing: the conversion and amplification of sound waves into information the brain can use. What scientists are discovering is that the method insects use to solve this problem is in ways more powerful than our own.

The internal organs of hearing in an insect are smaller and more sensitive to a greater range of frequencies, enabling the insect to identify sounds humans cannot hear. Insects also can recognize the directionality and distance of sound in ways more exact than the human ear.

Hearing aid design has customarily been directed by the way humans hear, and hearing aids have tended to offer straightforward amplification of incoming sound and transmission to the middle ear. But researchers are now asking a completely different question.

Borrowing inspiration from the natural world, they’re questioning how nature—and its hundreds of millions of years of evolution—has attempted to solve the problem of detecting and perceiving sound. By analyzing the hearing mechanism of assorted insects, such as flies, grasshoppers, and butterflies, researchers can borrow the best from each to produce a brand new mechanism that can be put to use in the design of new and improved miniature microphones.

Insect-inspired miniature directional microphones

Researchers from University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and the MRC/CSO Institute for Hearing Research (IHR) at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, will be testing hearing aids outfitted with a unique kind of miniature microphone inspired by insects.

The hope is that the new hearing aids will accomplish three things:

  1. More energy-efficient microphones and electronics that will ultimately result in smaller hearing aids, lower power usage, and extended battery life.
  2. The ability to more accurately locate the source and distance of sound.
  3. The ability to focus on specific sounds while reducing background noise.

Researchers will also be trying out 3D printing techniques to improve the design and ergonomics of the new hearing aids.

The future of hearing aids

For the majority of their history, hearing aids have been designed with the human hearing mechanism in mind, in an effort to replicate the normal human hearing experience. Now, by asking a different set of questions, researchers are building a new set of goals. Instead of attempting to RESTORE normal human hearing, perhaps they can AUGMENT it.

6 Ways Your Brain Transforms Sound Into Emotion

It has long been known that there are strong connections among sound, music, emotion, and memory, and that our personal experiences and preferences determine the type and intensity of emotional reaction we have to various sounds.

For example, research has revealed these prevalent associations between certain sounds and emotions:

  • The sound of a thunderstorm evokes a feeling of either relaxation or anxiety, depending on the individual
  • Wind chimes commonly provoke a restless feeling
  • Rain evokes a feeling of relaxation
  • Fireworks evoke a feeling of nostalgia and pleasurable memories
  • The vibrations of a cell phone are often perceived as irritating

Other sounds have a more universal identity. UCLA researchers have observed that the sound of laughter is universally identified as a positive sound signifying enjoyment, while other sounds are globally associated with fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise.

So why are we susceptible to particular emotional responses in the presence of certain sounds? And why does the response tend to differ between individuals?

Although the answer is still effectively a mystery, current research by Sweden’s Lund University provides some fascinating insights into how sound and sound environments can affect humans on personal, emotional, and psychological levels.

Here are six psychological mechanisms through which sound may stir up emotions:

1. Brain-Stem Reflex

You’re seated quietly in your office when all of a sudden you hear a loud, sudden crash. What’s your response? If you’re like most, you become emotionally aroused and compelled to investigate. This kind of impulse is subconscious and hard-wired into your brain to warn you to possibly critical or life-threatening sounds.

2. Evaluative Conditioning

People frequently associate sounds with selected emotions based on the context in which the sound was heard. For example, hearing a song previously played on your wedding day may produce feelings of joy, while the same song first heard by someone during a bad breakup may create the opposing feelings of sadness.

3. Emotional Contagion

When someone smiles or starts laughing, it’s difficult to not start smiling and laughing yourself. Research carried out in the 1990s revealed that the brain may contain what are referred to as “mirror neurons” that are active both when you are carrying out a task AND when you are observing someone else perform the task. When we hear someone speaking while crying, for example, it can be challenging to not also experience the corresponding feelings of sadness.

4. Visual Imagery

Let’s say you love listening to CDs that contain exclusively the sounds of nature. Why do you like it? Presumably because it evokes a positive emotional experience, and, taking that even further, it most likely evokes some robust visual images of the natural surroundings in which the sounds are heard. Case in point, try listening to the sounds of waves crashing and NOT visualizing yourself relaxing at the beach.

5. Episodic Memory

Sounds can stimulate emotionally powerful memories, both good and bad. The sounds of rain can stir up memories of a pleasurable day spent at home, while the sound of thunder may lead to memories affiliated with combat experience, as seen in post-traumatic stress disorder.

6. Music Expectancy

Music has been depicted as the universal language, which seems logical the more you consider it. Music is, after all, simply a random assortment of sounds, and is pleasing only because the brain imposes order to the sounds and interprets the order in a specified way. It is, in fact, your expectations about the rhythm and melody of the music that trigger an emotional response.

Sound, Emotion, and Hearing Loss

Irrespective of your specific responses to different sounds, what is certain is that your emotions are directly involved. With hearing loss, you not only lose the capacity to hear particular sounds, you also lose the emotional impact tied to the sounds you can either no longer hear or can no longer hear well.

With hearing loss, for instance, nature walks become less pleasant when you can no longer hear the faint sounds of running water; music loses its emotional punch when you can’t differentiate specific instruments; and you place yourself at greater risk when you can’t hear fire alarms or other alerts to danger.

The truth is that hearing is more vital to our lives—and to our emotional lives—than we most likely realize. It also indicates that treating your hearing loss will probably have a greater impact than you realize, too.

What are some of your favorite sounds? What emotions do they evoke?

Are there any particular sounds or songs that make you feel happy, angry, annoyed, sad, or excited? Let us know in a comment.

6 Ways to Lose Your Hearing

The strange part of hearing loss is that we don’t seem to start appreciating our favorite sounds until after we’ve lost the capability to clearly hear them. We don’t pause to contemplate, for instance, how much we enjoy a good conversation with a close friend until we have to recurrently ask them to repeat themselves.

Whether it’s your favorite Mozart album or the sounds of a Bluejay first thing in the morning, your total well being is directly tied to your ability to hear—whether you realize it or not. And if you wait until after you’ve lost your hearing to come to this awareness, you’re going to dedicate a good deal of time and effort working to get it back.

So how can you conserve your ability to hear?

Here are 6 ways you could lose your hearing and what you can do about it.

1. Genetics and aging

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that slowly and gradually occurs as we grow old. Combined with presbycusis, there is also some evidence indicating that genetics plays a role, and that some of us are more prone to hearing loss than others.

While there’s not much you can do to prevent the process of getting older or adjust your genetics, you can protect against noise-induced hearing loss from the other causes mentioned below. And keep in mind that age-related hearing loss is significantly more difficult to treat if made worse by avoidable damage.

2. Traveling

Regular exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can result in permanent hearing loss, which is not-so-good news if you happen to drive a convertible. New research shows that driving a convertible with the top down at excessive speeds generates an average sound volume level of 90 decibels. Motorcyclists experience even higher sounds and those who use the subway are at risk as well.

So does everybody either have to forego travel or live with permanent earplugs? Not exactly, but you should look for ways to reduce your collective noise exposure during travel. If you drive a convertible, roll up your windows and drive a little slower; if you own a motorcycle, put on a helmet and consider earplugs; and if you use the subway, consider buying noise-canceling headphones.

3. Going to work

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 22 million employees in the US are subjected to potentially harmful noise volumes on the job. The highest risk careers are in manufacturing, farming, construction, the military, and the music industry.

The last thing you need is to spend your entire work life accumulating hearing loss that will prevent you from enjoying your retirement. Check with your employer about its hearing protection plan, and if they do not have one, consult with your local hearing specialist for personalized solutions.

4. Taking drugs and smoking

Smoking impedes blood flow, among other things, which could enhance your risk of developing hearing loss—if you really required another reason to stop smoking. Antibiotics, strong pain medications, and a significant number of other drugs are “ototoxic,” or toxic to the cells of hearing. In fact, there are more than 200 known ototoxic medications.

The bottom line: avoid taking ototoxic drugs or medications unless completely necessary. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions.

5. Listening to music

85 is turning out to be quite an inconvenient number. Many of our favorite activities yield decibel levels just above this threshold, and any sound over 85 decibels can result in hearing loss. If the threshold were just slightly higher, say 100 decibels, we wouldn’t have to worry about it so much.

But 85 it is. And portable music players at full volume reach more than 100 decibels while rock shows reach more than 110. The solution is straight forward: turn down your iPod, wear earplugs at concerts, and minimize your exposure time to the music.

6. Getting sick or injured

Selected ailments, such as diabetes, along with any traumatic head injuries, places you at greater risk of developing hearing loss. If you have diabetes, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and consistent tracking of glucose levels is critical. And if you ride a motorcycle, wearing a helmet will help protect against traumatic head injuries.

Talk to Your Hearing Specialist

While there are several ways to lose your hearing, a few simple lifestyle alterations can help you safeguard your hearing for life. Keep in mind: the minimal hassle of wearing custom earplugs, driving with the windows up, or turning down your iPod are insignificant in comparison to the substantial inconvenience of hearing loss later in life.

Ready to take your hearing health seriously? Give us a call today.

Why Choose a Local Hearing Care Provider?

The hearing healthcare industry has two barriers that prevent people from achieving healthier hearing:

  1. The inability to detect hearing loss in the first place (because of its slow onset), and
  2. The temptation to find a quick, easy, and inexpensive solution.

Regrettably, countless people who have overcome the first barrier have been lured into the apparently “cheaper and easier” methods of correcting their hearing loss, whether it be through the purchase of hearing aids on the web, the purchase of personal sound amplifiers, or by heading to the big box stores that are much more concerned with profitability than with patient care.

Despite the lure of these quick remedies, the truth is that local hearing care providers are your best option for better hearing, and here are the reasons why.

Local hearing care providers choose to use a customer-centric business model

National chain stores are profitable for one primary reason: they sell a high volume of discounted goods and services at low prices in the name of higher revenues. National chains are focused on efficiency, which is a nice way of saying “get as many people in and out the door as quickly as possible.”

Granted, this profit-centric model works great with most purchases, because you probably don’t require professional, personalized care to help choose your undershirts and bath soap. Consumer support simply doesn’t factor in.

However, problems result when this business model is extended to services that do demand expert, customized care—such as the correction of hearing loss. National chains are not focused on patient outcomes because they can’t be; it’s too time consuming and flies in the face of the high volume “see as many patients as possible” business model.

Local hearing care providers are completely different. They’re not preoccupied with short-term profits because they don’t have a board of directors to answer to. The success of a local practice is influenced by on patient outcomes and quality of care, which leads to satisfied patients who remain faithful to the practice and spread the positive word-of-mouth advertising that leads to more referrals.

Local practices, for that reason, thrive on delivering quality care, which is beneficial both the patient and the practice. By comparison, what occurs if a national chain can’t deliver quality care and satisfied patients? Simple, they use national advertising to get a continuous flow of new patients, vowing the same “quick and cheap fix” that enticed in the original customers.

Local hearing care providers have more experience

Hearing is complex, and like our fingerprints, is unique to everybody, so the frequencies I may have difficulty hearing are distinct from the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. In other words, you can’t just take surrounding sound, make it all louder, and push it into your ears and count on good results. But this is essentially what personal sound amplifiers, along with the cheaper hearing aid models, accomplish.

The truth is, the sounds your hearing aids amplify—AND the sounds they don’t—HAVE to match the way you, and only you, hear. That’s only going to come about by:

  • Having your hearing professionally tested so you know the EXACT characteristics of your hearing loss, and…
  • Having your hearing aids professionally programmed to intensify the sounds you have difficulty hearing while distinguishing and suppressing the sounds you don’t want to hear (such as low-frequency background sound).

For the hearing care provider, this is no straight forward task. It requires a lot of training and patient care experience to have the ability to perform a hearing test, help patients pick the right hearing aid, skillfully program the hearing aids, and give the patient training and aftercare necessary for optimal hearing. There are no shortcuts to dispensing comprehensive hearing care—but the results are worth the time and energy.

Make your choice

So, who do you want to leave your hearing to? To someone who views you as a transaction, as a customer, and as a means to attaining sales goals? Or to an experienced local professional that cares about the same thing you do—helping you attain the best hearing possible, which, by the way, is the lifeblood of the local practice.

As a general rule, we recommend that you avoid purchasing your hearing aids anywhere you see a sign that reads “10 items or less.” As local, experienced hearing professionals, we provide comprehensive hearing healthcare and the best hearing technology to match your specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Still have questions? Give us a call today.

The Right Way to Clean Your Ears

Anatomy of the ear staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”.

That there is a right way to clean your ears implies that there is a wrong way, and in fact, there is a very wrong way. The wrong way is customary, and it violates the very first rule of cleaning your ears: don’t insert foreign objects into your ear canal. That includes cotton swabs and any other object that will most likely only push the earwax up against the eardrum, potentially causing irritation, temporary hearing loss, or eardrum injury.

So what should you be doing to clean your ears under normal conditions? In a word: nothing (I hope you weren’t expecting something more profound). Your ears are made to be self-cleansing, and the regular motions of your jaw drive earwax from the canal to the outer ear. If you try to remove it, your ear just produces more wax.

And earwax is essential, as it contains protective, lubricating, and antibacterial properties. In fact, over-cleaning the ears brings about dry, itchy, irritated skin within the ear canal. Therefore, for most people most of the time, nothing is needed other than normal washing to clean the outer ear.

But notice that we said MOST of the time, because there are scenarios in which people do produce an excessive amount of earwax or excess earwax impacts the eardrum. In scenarios like these, you will need to clean your ears. Here’s how:

Cleaning your ears at home

We will say it once again: don’t insert any foreign objects into your ear canal. You can irritate the sensitive skin of the canal and can end up perforating your eardrum. This means no cotton swabs and positively no ear candles. (Speaking of ear candles, in 2010, the FDA released a warning against using them, reporting that no scientific evidence supports their effectiveness and that their use can lead to major injuries.)

To correctly clean your ears at home, take the following measures:

  1. Purchase earwax softening solution at the drugstore or make some at home. Instructions for making the solution can be found on the internet, and the solution often includes the use of hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, and glycerin.
  2. Pour the solution into your ears from the container or by using a plastic or bulb syringe. Tilt your head to the side and let the solution to work for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Empty the fluid out of your ear by tilting your head gradually over a container or the sink, or you can use a cotton ball pushed against the outside of the ear. (I know it’s tempting, but again, don’t force the cotton ball into your ear.)
  4. Flush out your ears with lukewarm water using a bulb syringe to dislodge any loosened earwax.

When not to clean your ears at home

Cleaning your ears at home could be harmful in the presence of an ear infection or a perforated eardrum. If you experience any symptoms such as fever, dizziness, ear pain, or ear discharge, it’s best to see your doctor or hearing specialist. Also, repeated attempts at self cleaning that are unsuccessful may indicate a more severe congestion that will require professional cleaning.

Medical doctors and hearing specialists utilize a variety of medicines and devices to quickly, thoroughly, and safely remove excess earwax. The solutions tend to be stronger than the homemade versions, and tools called curettes can be inserted into the ear to manually remove the wax.

When in doubt, leave it to the professionals. You’ll get the peace of mind that you’re not harming your ears, and symptoms can subside within minutes of a professional cleaning. In addition, underlying issues or hearing loss can be identified and corrected by a professional.

If you have any additional questions or want to schedule an appointment, give us a call today! And keep in mind, if you’re a hearing aid user, you’ll want to get a routine professional checkup every 6 months.

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