What to Expect at Your Hearing Exam

If the unfamiliar causes anxiety, then a trip to the hearing specialist is especially nerve-racking. While nearly all of us have experience with the family physician and the local dentist, the visit to the hearing specialist might be a first.

It certainly would be useful to have someone summarize the process upfront, wouldn’t it? Well, keep reading, because as you’ll discover, the process of getting your hearing tested is generally easy, comfortable, and pain-free — with portions that can actually be fun.

So here’s how it will go:

As soon as you arrive at the office, you will check in with a staff member at the front desk who will give you a couple of forms to fill out. Soon after filling out the forms, a hearing specialist will come with you into a room to start the hearing evaluation, which is composed of four parts:

Part 1: Case History

case history

The hearing specialist starts the process by getting to know you, your health history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Getting ready for this step is crucial, because this is where you get to describe to the hearing specialist the particulars of your hearing loss, what you expect to see from treatment, and your personalized hearing needs.

This part is all about you: what do you want to attain with healthier hearing? Do you desire to play a music instrument again? Do you want to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you desire to be more active at social gatherings? The more you can tell your hearing specialist the better.

Next comes the testing.

Part 2: Otoscopy

otoscope

The initial diagnostic test to be performed is referred to as an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually assess the ear canal and eardrum to identify if your hearing loss is correlated to infections, earwax accumulation, or obstructions. If the cause of your hearing loss is something as minor as earwax accumulation, you could potentially start hearing better within a few minutes simply from professional earwax removal.

Part 3: Tympanometry

tympanometry

The second test is termed tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A device is inserted into the ear that will vary the air pressure, calculating how your ear responds to numerous pressures.

To fully grasp this test, you have to first know that hearing loss is categorized into one of two general categories:

  1. Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most regularly occurring hearing loss. It is also described as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves injury of the nerve cells of hearing.
  2. Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from clogging or obstructions that limit sound transmission before the sound gets to the nerves of hearing.

Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to be sure that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone ailments. Conversely, Audiometry, which is outlined next, will measure sensorineural hearing loss.

Part 4: Audiometry

audiogram

The last group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are collectively known as audiometry and will evaluate your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best process to measure sensorineural hearing loss.

With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be ready to pinpoint:

  • Which frequencies you can hear well and which you have a hard time with.
  • The minimal decibel levels, at multiple frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
  • The precise measurements associated with your hearing loss (as recorded on an audiogram).
  • Your ability to grasp speech, with or without background noise.

The test on its own, from your viewpoint, will be comfortable and straightforward. You will be presented with sounds and speech through headsets and will be told to specify when you can hear the sounds by pushing a control or lifting your hand.

Reviewing results and planning treatment

After the testing is complete, your hearing specialist will analyze your results with you. If your hearing loss calls for medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for instance), your hearing specialist can make the appropriate referral.

If your hearing loss can profit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will collaborate with you to determine the ideal option for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your aesthetic considerations.

Pretty painless for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?

Exploring a Career in the Hearing Care Profession

While the majority of us stay current with our annual physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we notoriously forget to give consideration to the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does begin to worsen, it appears so gradually that we barely notice and neglect to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people want to know what the career actually entails.

And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals make up a vital part of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the correct performance of one of our vital senses — one for which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or restored.

Given that we take hearing for granted, we usually also fail to fully grasp just how priceless hearing is. With precise hearing, we can increase focus, take pleasure in the details of sound, communicate better, and strengthen family relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make certain that this key sense is functioning efficiently.

If you’d like to find out more about this interesting but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re considering joining the field yourself — read on.

Attraction to the hearing care field

Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for various reasons, but a few main motivating factors are frequently present. First, several practitioners have endured, and continue to endure, hearing troubles themselves. Due to the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the desire to return the favor for other individuals is strong.

To provide an example, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This would have produced an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is currently able to communicate normally. Knowing first-hand how healthier hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was motivated to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.

Other individuals are pulled into the hearing care field thanks to its distinctive blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In combination with learning about the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with individuals in the role of a counselor. Coping with hearing loss is a sensitive situation, and people present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to make use of the “soft skills” required to address these difficulties and must work with patients on a personalized level to defeat hearing loss.

Training and preparation

Part of the allure of working in the hearing care profession is the intriguing mix of subjects included as part of the education and training. Those pursuing a career in the field master fascinating topics in numerous fields such as:

  • Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, as well as courses in hearing and balance disorders and pharmacology.
  • Physics – topics include the physics of sound, acoustics, and psychoacoustics (how the brain processes sound).
  • Engineering – topics include the development and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, along with the programming of digital hearing aids.
  • Counseling – topics include how to interview patients, how to teach coping skills, and how to train on the use of hearing aids, along with other fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
  • Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, carrying out and interpreting hearing tests, implementing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and managing a business.

Job functions

Hearing care professionals work in various kinds of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing varied tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance ailments.

Basic responsibilities include carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on selecting the best hearing treatment, often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will train the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and businesses to prevent hearing damage in high decibel work locations.

Benefits

The benefits reported most regularly by individuals in the hearing care profession center on the capacity to favorably impact people’s lives on a very personalized level. Long term friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical thanks to the personal nature of care.

When patients declare that they can hear again for the first time in years, the emotions can be overwhelming. Patients more often than not report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, together with strengthened relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.

How many vocations can claim that kind of personal impact?

Avoiding the Biggest Mistake in Treating Your Hearing Loss

Do you recall the Q-Ray Bracelets? You know, the magnetic wristbands that vowed to provide instant and significant pain relief from arthritis and other chronic conditions?

Well, you won’t find much of that advertising anymore; in 2008, the producers of the Q-Ray Bracelets were legally required to reimburse customers a maximum of $87 million as a result of deceitful and fraudulent advertising.1

The problem had to do with rendering health claims that were not supported by any scientific verification. On the contrary, strong research existed to reveal that the magnetic bracelets had NO influence on pain reduction, which did not bode well for the creator but did wonders to win the court case for the Federal Trade Commission.2

The wishful thinking fallacy

Fine, so the Q-Ray bracelets didn’t show results (beyond the placebo effect), yet they ended up selling astonishingly well. What gives?

Without diving into the depths of human psychology, the straight forward answer is that we have a strong proclivity to believe in the things that may appear to make our lives better and quite a bit easier.

On an emotional level, you’d love to believe that sporting a $50 wristband will get rid of your pain and that you don’t have to bother with high-cost medical and surgical procedures.

If, for example, you happen to suffer the pain of chronic arthritis in your knee, which decision seems more attractive?

        a. Booking surgery for a complete knee replacement

        b. Traveling to the mall to pick up a magnetized bracelet

Your instinct is to give the bracelet a shot. You already want to believe that the bracelet will work, so now all you need is a little push from the marketers and some social confirmation from witnessing other people using them.

But it is specifically this natural tendency, combined with the tendency to seek out confirming evidence, that will get you into the most trouble.

If it sounds too good to be true…

Bearing in mind the Q-Ray bracelets, let’s say you’re struggling from hearing loss; which decision sounds more attractive?

       a. Scheduling a consultation with a hearing practitioner and obtaining professionally programmed hearing aids

       b. Buying an off-the-shelf personal sound amplifier on the internet for 20 dollars

Much like the magnetic wristband seems much more appealing than a trip to the physician or surgeon, the personal sound amplifier seems to be much more appealing than a trip to the audiologist or hearing instrument specialist.

Nevertheless, as with the magnetized bracelets, personal sound amplifiers won’t cure anything, either.

The difference between hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers

Before you get the wrong impression, I’m not saying that personal sound amplifiers, also referred to as PSAPs, are fraudulent — or even that they don’t deliver results.

On the contrary, personal sound amplifiers often do give good results. Just like hearing aids, personal sound amplifiers consist of a receiver, a microphone, and an amplifier that capture sound and make it louder. Thought of on that level, personal sound amplifiers work fine — and for that matter, so does the act of cupping your hands behind your ears.

But when you ask if PSAPs work, you’re asking the wrong question. The questions you should be asking are:

  1. How well do they deliver the results?
  2. For which type of individual do they function best?

These are precisely the questions that the FDA addressed when it released its guidelines on the distinction between hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers.

As stated by the FDA, hearing aids are defined as “any wearable instrument or device designed for, offered for the purpose of, or represented as aiding persons with or compensating for, impaired hearing.” (21 CFR 801.420)3

On the contrary, personal sound amplifiers are “intended to amplify environmental sound for non-hearing impaired consumers. They are not intended to compensate for hearing impairment.”

Even though the distinction is transparent, it’s simple for PSAP manufacturers and sellers to circumvent the distinction by simply not pointing it out. For example, on a PSAP package, you may find the tagline “turning ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing.” This claim is obscure enough to avoid the issue completely without having to explain exactly what the catch phrase “turning ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing” even means.

You get what you pay for

As stated by the FDA, PSAPs are simplified amplification devices created for people with normal hearing. So if you have normal hearing, and you want to hear better while you are hunting, bird watching, or tuning in to remote conversations, then a $20 PSAP is perfect for you.

If you have hearing loss, however, then you’ll require professionally programmed hearing aids. While more costly, hearing aids offer the power and features necessary to address hearing loss. Listed below are a few of the reasons why hearing aids are superior to PSAPs:

  • Hearing aids amplify only the frequencies that you have difficulty hearing, while PSAPs amplify all sound indiscriminately. By amplifying all frequencies, PSAPs won’t permit you to hear conversations in the presence of background noise, like when you’re at a party or restaurant.
  • Hearing aids have built in noise reduction and canceling functions, while PSAPs do not.
  • Hearing aids are programmable and can be perfected for optimum hearing; PSAPs are not programmable.
  • Hearing aids contain numerous features that minimize background noise, allow for phone use, and provide for wireless connectivity, for example. PSAPs do not usually include any of these features.
  • Hearing aids come in a variety of styles and are custom-molded for optimum comfort and aesthetic appeal. PSAPs are in general one-size-fits-all.

Seek the help of a hearing professional

If you think that you have hearing loss, don’t be tempted by the low-priced PSAPs; rather, arrange for a visit with a hearing specialist. They will be able to precisely appraise your hearing loss and will ensure that you receive the correct hearing aid for your lifestyle and needs. So while the low-cost PSAPs are enticing, in this instance you should listen to your better judgment and seek expert assistance. Your hearing is well worth the work.

Sources

  1. Federal Trade Commission: Appeals Court Affirms Ruling in FTCs Favor in Q-Ray Bracelet Case
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of “ionized” wrist bracelets on musculoskeletal pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  3. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff: Regulatory Requirements for Hearing Aid Devices and Personal Sound Amplification Products

8 Reasons Hearing Loss is More Dangerous Than You Think

warning sign

Hearing impairment is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual over the years so gradually you hardly notice, making it easy to deny or ignore. And afterwards, when you finally recognize the signs and symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating because its true consequences are hidden.

For as much as 48 million Us citizens that report some amount of hearing loss, the consequences are much greater than simply irritation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is far more dangerous than you may assume:

1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging reveals that people with hearing loss are considerably more liable to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with those who maintain their hearing.2

While the cause for the link is ultimately unknown, scientists suppose that hearing loss and dementia may share a common pathology, or that a long time of straining the brain to hear could produce damage. Another explanation is that hearing loss frequently results in social isolation — a top risk factor for dementia.

No matter what the cause, repairing hearing might be the optimum prevention, including the use of hearing aids.

2. Depression and social isolation

Scientists from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have found a strong link between hearing loss and depression among U.S. adults of all ages and races.3

3. Not hearing alerts to danger

Car horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are created to notify you to potential hazards. If you miss out on these types of signals, you put yourself at an higher risk of injury.

4. Memory impairment and mental decline

Studies suggest that adults with hearing loss experience a 40% greater rate of decline in cognitive performance when compared to individuals with healthy hearing.4 The top author of the investigation, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, said that “going forward for the next 30 or 40 years that from a public health perspective, there’s nothing more important than cognitive decline and dementia as the population ages.” that is the reason why increasing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s highest priority.

5. Lower household income

In a review of over 40,000 households carried out by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to negatively influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, depending on the degree of hearing loss.5 Those who wore hearing aids, however, cut this impact by 50%.

The ability to communicate on the job is crucial to job performance and advancement. The fact is, communication skills are without fail ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by recruiters and the leading factor for promotion.

6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it

In regard to the human body, “use it or lose it” is a saying to live by. As an example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical exertion and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.

The the exact same phenomenon pertains to hearing: as our hearing degrades, we get ensnared in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is identified as auditory deprivation, and a ever-increasing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can manifest with hearing loss.

7. Underlying medical conditions

Although the most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age and regular direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is occasionally the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:

  • Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
  • Ménière’s disease – a disorder of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Infections, earwax buildup, or blockages from foreign objects
  • Tumors
  • Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance issues

Due to the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is vital that any hearing loss is quickly evaluated.

8. Greater risk of falls

Research has unveiled a variety of links between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by investigators at Johns Hopkins University has found yet another disheartening link: the link between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6

The study reveals that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were approximately three times more likely to have a track record of falling. And for every extra 10-decibels of hearing loss, the probability of falling increased by 1.4 times.

Don’t wait to get your hearing tested

The optimistic side to all of this pessimistic research is the suggestion that preserving or repairing your hearing can help to diminish or eliminate these risks entirely. For those of you that now have normal hearing, it is more vital than ever to take care of it. And for the people suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the services of a hearing specialist without delay.

Sources

  1. Hearing Loss Association of America: Basic Facts About Hearing Loss
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study
  3. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: NIDCD Researchers Find Strong Link between Hearing Loss and Depression in Adults
  4. Medscape: Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline, Impairment
  5. Better Hearing Institute: The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income
  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling

Professional musicians at greater risk of developing hearing loss

Over time, extremely loud noise will cause irreversible harm to the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. They can be damaged from repeated overexposure to loud noise. Sadly, you can’t regrow these hair cells.

Popularity, wealth, and screaming fans are all part of the life of a professional musician. In spite of this, a lot of “hearing loss” or “tinnitus” can result from all that fortune and fame. The sad fact is, a musician’s hearing is what is most vulnerable to harm from the performance of their trade.

As a matter of fact, musicians are about four times more likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss compared with the average individual, as indicated by researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The scientific study also determined that professional musicians are roughly 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus — a condition connected with a recurring ringing in the ears.

How musicians, and fans, can protect their ears

Even though musicians are at greater risk for developing hearing loss or tinnitus, the threat can be substantially diminished by employing protective measures. As a result of the specialized requirements of musicians — and the importance of maintaining the debt due to the specialized requirements of musicians — and the significance of maintaining the details of sound — the initial step is to make an appointment with an audiologist.

When the below symptoms are found to exist, the harm has already been done. So, the best thing a musician can do to prevent long-term, permanent hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist before you experience symptoms.

An audiologist can recommend custom musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will give protection to your hearing without limiting your musical abilities. As a musician, you have unique needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the experts specifically trained to offer you this customized protection.

Don’t delay seeing an audiologist until you experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • A ringing or buzzing noise in the ears
  • Any pain or discomfort in the ears
  • Difficulty comprehending speech
  • Difficulty following discussions in the presence of background noise

Even concert-goers are susceptible to hearing damage. 120 decibels of hair-cell-killing volume is pumping from the loudspeakers right into your ears. Wear ear plugs and take other actions to protect your hearing each and every time.

Louder is not better

In non-technical terms, rock shows are literally ear-splittingly loud, and repeated unprotected exposure can cause some substantial damage, which, sadly, many popular musicians have recently attested to.

To properly show the problem, hearing loss starts with routine exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to calculate loudness). That may well not mean much to you, until you take into account the decibel levels connected with common actions:

    • Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
    • Common dialogue at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
    • Motorcycle: 100 dB
    • Front row at a rock show: 120 to 150 dB

Chris Martin, the lead vocalist for the band Coldplay, has suffered with Tinnitus for many years. Martin said:
“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse (touch wood). But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now we always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try and protect our ears. You CAN use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”

Guess who else has suffered from hearing loss or tinnitus? Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which express regret that they hadn’t done more to give protection to their ears through the course of their careers. Lars Ulrich from Metallica stated: “If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that’ll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn’t come back. I try to point out to younger kids … once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy.”

Take this as a warning and get your hearing checked. Wear ear plugs and do all you can to protect your precious ears, especially if you are a musician or a frequent concert goer.

Preventing work related hearing loss with high fidelity, custom-fit ear plugs

85 decibels: the sound measure at which repetitive exposure can result in significant hearing damage.
100 decibels: the sound degree reached by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for performers or live concert goers.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are significantly better than standard foam

Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are a level above foam ear plugs.

1. Conservation of sound quality

Standard foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By decreasing noise largely in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also cut sound by 30-40 decibels, which is unnecessary for the prevention of hearing damage.

Custom-fit ear plugs will decrease sound more uniformly across frequencies while reducing sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby preserving the natural quality of speech and music.

2. Avoidance of the “Occlusion Effect”

With foam ear plugs, the user will notice a hollowed out or boomy sound in their speech when speaking, singing, or playing an instrument. This frustrating sound is referred as the “occlusion effect.”

Custom-fit ear plugs are molded to the ear, forming a deep seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.

3. Cost & convenience

Custom ear plugs can keep working up to four years, typically at a cost of well under $100.

Let’s do some calculations on the throw-away foam plugs:
$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair
$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60
With custom-fit ear plugs, you will certainly save money in the long run and will prevent all of those trips to the store. No one enjoys purchasing ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist seems like a burden, in the long run you will also save yourself time.

4. Preserving the environment

Throw-away ear plugs generate a lot of waste:
5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs tossed out every year.

A Look at the Numbers

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 30 million individuals in the U.S. are subjected to unsafe sound levels, representing one of the major occupational dangers over the past 25 years.
Alarmingly, here are some decibel volumes linked with general work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting show 105, and a jet takeoff 150. music players, manufacturing workers, construction workers, airport staff, emergency staff, plumbers, and carpenters are all at risk of suffering from serious hearing loss and tinnitus.

Occupational hearing loss affects so many

This next story is a narrative that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 there were 21,000 occurrences of work-related hearing loss documented.

Meet Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England, who is intimately knowledgeable of the occupational dangers of sound. Twigg worked on analyzing and fixing law enforcement car sirens — which reach between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
Twigg began to suffer severe tinnitus in addition to significant hearing loss that necessitated the use of hearing aids after retirement. Having failed to adopt the appropriate actions that would minimize the sound levels, Twigg’s employer was found responsible in court, losing a case in which Twigg would secure a large settlement.

How to protect your ears at work

The optimum method requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, sometimes referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing consultant can individualize specifically to you, your profession, and your preferences.

There’s a problem though: the world requires performers, craftsmen, and emergency and construction staff, but you can’t make power saws and police sirens any quieter.

The remedy? Reduce the level of noise that makes its way into your ear. Simple, right? Well…not so fast.
You could simply travel to the neighborhood store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but there’s a higher quality alternative: a custom fit.

Schedule a consultation and give protection to your ears

Take a look at the benefits of custom-fit ear plugs.
If you work in a job that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you participate in rowdy concerts or sporting events, schedule an consultation with a hearing specialist today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also conserve the quality of sound. Call your audiologist today!

A Brief History of Hearing Aids

It’s unbelievable how many millions of people wear hearing aids in this country, all thanks to 200 years of research and history. The growth of technology has manifested itself in a variety of shapes, sizes, capabilities and colors of devices designed for young and old. Check out this brief history of hearing aids and just how much these devices have improved. Compared with the devices of two centuries ago, which were very large and uncomfortable, today’s hearing aids only weigh a few ounces. It’s this unparalleled versatility that lends itself to better comfort for the hearing impaired individual.

What we Have Today

To put it into perspective, 90 percent of today’s hearing impaired people wear digital devices. It’s necessary to go back a bit to the more primitive modern iterations that started in 1964 when Zenith Radio made the first behind-the-ear models. Through recent decades, inventions brought to light digital signal-processing chips, hybrid analog-digital models and fully digital models by the end of the 1990s. The new million witnessed the emergence of programmable hearing aids for better flexibility, customization and comfort. Today’s hearing aids can seamlessly connect to Bluetooth technology as well as filter out annoying background noise.

Where it all Started

When the 19th century came about, electrical technologies emerged spurred on by the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Thomas Edison was inspired by this invention and came up with the carbon transmitter for the telephone in 1878. This was designed to boost the basics of the telephone as well as the electrical signal to improve hearing. The 17th and 18th centuries produced devices that offered only limited amplification qualities. The phone invention acted as a starting point for advancement leading to electrical transmission of speech.

Cumbersome Vacuum Devices

These kinds of vacuums are different than what you’re used to. Vacuum tubes, made by Western Electric Co. in 1920 in NYC, utilized technology taken from Lee De Forest’s discovery of the three-component tube previously. The result was far better amplification as well as better frequency, but the comfort level was very low because the items were quite large and impractical. Still, they got smaller as the years passed and indeed served a purpose.

Devices Worn on the Ear

In the 1930s, hearing aids could finally be worn on the ear with relative comfort, produced by a Chicago electronics manufacturer. World War II saw the introduction of more compact models that were reliable thanks to the prevalence of printed circuit boards. These early devices were characterized by a thin wire connecting an earpiece to a receiver, but the wearer had to strap a battery pack to his leg.

Comfort levels and adaptability have certainly come a long way!

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hearing Aids

The last 200 years have seen many advancements in hearing aids, hinging on growing technology that seems to result from the hard work of committed scientists who have a hearing impaired loved one in their life. Take Alexander Graham Bell, for instance. His mom had hearing loss, as did his wife who was deaf. Here we give you some other little-known facts when it comes to hearing aids.

1. Hearing aids used to come in just one color: beige. This helped the hearing aid blend into the ear better. While practical and discrete, today’s young hearing aid wearers are seeking out the bold and beautiful, with devices that come in a rainbow of bright colors. This is one way people can embrace their devices and feel proud.

2. Digital hearing aids have only come out in the last 20 years or so. Their emergence has helped reduce the feedback, echoes, and background noises that can be distracting to users. These annoyances were considered an unfortunate side effect of the older technologies, contributing to the difficult time picking up sound.

3. Hearing aids and wireless devices go hand in hand today, thanks to state of the art technology like Bluetooth. This technology sends direct signals from anything from a smart phone to an MP3 player to a TV.

4. Hearing aids are the smallest and most compact they’re ever looked. This is a relief from the large, cumbersome and uncomfortable hearing aids of years past that weighed several pounds. The earliest versions couldn’t even be worn solely on the ear because there were so many components to it. Their sound amplification abilities left a lot to be desired as well. Users can now enjoy smaller and more light weight versions that weigh in at just a few ounces.

5. Simple sound amplification is not enough for modern hearing aids to be effective. That’s why they now have the capability of enhancing and clarifying sound for a much better listening experience.

6. Did you know there’s such a thing as water resistant and waterproof hearing aids? With your active lifestyle, you will appreciate that water resistant hearing aids can withstand low levels of humidity and moisture, and waterproof hearing aids can withstand moisture that may occur as a result of a shower or a dip in the swimming pool.

7. Induction loops were invented to help people hear better in crowds. They can more accurately pick up announcements in crowded places or in corporate meeting conferences, minus all that background noise and frequency distortion. This can be helpful in airports, stadiums, and other public transportation areas.

8. Many hearing aids, now manufactured with rechargeable technology to better manage upkeep costs, allow the user to forget about having to replace so many batteries all the time.

9. Don’t think you can just buy a hearing aid at the big box store and bring it home. A big part of the process is the programming that must take place by a certified audiologist. This helps the hearing aid to automatically revert to the most comfortable settings that the user enjoys, based on previous use and interaction with the surroundings.

10. Hearing aids don’t just concentrate on the amplification of sound. They often times have special components like tinnitus therapy for much-needed relief for users who suffer from constant ear ringing.
These interesting facts hopefully have enlightened you about hearing aids and the technology that comes with them.

How Ibuprofen Can Lead to Hearing Loss

Did you know you can stop taking certain medications so you can avoid further hearing loss? It’s true, thanks to a new study. Ibuprofen is a pain killer that can hurt your hearing, so be careful when taking it. Hearing loss is a common side effect for those getting on in years, but you don’t have to fall victim to it. Now, avoiding certain medications can help you protect your hearing health as you age. Of course, you should still stay away from noisy situations such as concerts and long-term noise exposure such as those found in clubs.

What to Do

Scientists don’t really know for sure why medicines like naproxen don’t affect hearing loss while ibuprofen does. Get your doctor’s OK before taking ibuprofen so you’re aware of the potential side effects regarding hearing loss. Read all labels beforehand, as you’ll find ibuprofen in several cold and sinus medications found over the counter. You can still take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen for your pain relief needs but if you’re concerned about hearing loss, talk to your doctor. Or, you could use a different kind of medicine like naproxen.

Causes

It’s good to know you can better your hearing if you stop taking certain medications. Consult with your doctor to find out what’s best for your particular situation. So how do pain relievers such as ibuprofen cause hearing loss? They restrict blood flow to the inner ear’s cochlea so that it doesn’t work like it should. When you take acetaminophen, especially, you can really damage the ear structures that are there to protect your cochlea. Tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo can all be worsened by ibuprofen, which has been proven by other studies. Certain analgesics can hurt your kidneys as well as your ears, leading to ototoxicity. While researchers have already connected this link with ibuprofen and hearing loss in men thanks to previous studies, this new study has proven the same happens in females. Those who take Ibuprofen for pain relief may also experience fuzzy and unclear sounds if they have a cochlear implant.

Conclusive Findings

Recent findings thanks to the American Journal of Advanced Epidemiology, we now know over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can bring on hearing loss in women. The study showcase about 60,000 women over a period of 14 years. The conclusion was that a quarter of those women who ingested ibuprofen and acetaminophen several times a week found a lowering of their hearing ability.

More Research

More research must be done. Other factors that affect hearing loss include hormones, diet and alcohol consumption along with ibuprofen. You can also increase your chances if you exposure yourself to loud noises over a long period of time. To answer this call, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is studying 150,000 women across the nation to determine all the factors that can contribute to hearing loss.

How Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Holiday Gatherings

Everyone loves to get together at the holidays. However, for the hearing impaired, this could pose a challenge. While many around the country will gather together and have a harmonious time in one another’s company, people who suffer from hearing loss will not have such an easy time with one another. Hearing loss can truly affect many aspects of a person’s overall happiness and health. Let’s check out the effects of hearing loss on social happiness, how to manage hearing loss, and also how to help people who suffer from hearing loss.

What Can We Do About Hearing Loss In The Holidays?

You may be at a loss as to how to treat someone with a hearing impairment. Bring them over and make sure that everyone completely understands their situation. Break the ice any way you can and build the room’s conversations around them in order to build their confidence. Also, you can be sure to help people with hearing loss by making sure that you are speaking to them loudly and slowly depending on their overall preferences. Take a person-first approach to their needs.

The first thing you can do is work through the basic barrier of isolation that these people with hearing loss put up. You can invite your hard of hearing family members to events and make them incredible welcome in your home. While the hearing loss can have a huge impact on the way that people approach and celebrate the holidays, there are ways that you can do something about it.

Another way that you can combat hearing loss is by consulting a hearing specialist. These specialized medical professionals can work to the advantage of their patients by giving them the ability to examine possible hearing solutions available to them. After all the best way to help integrate family and friends with a more active community is being sure that they can actually hear conversations as they are happening. A hearing specialist will typically offer two great ways to go about helping your hearing- surgical options and device solutions. Surgery can repair the physical structures of the ear that have been harmed throughout your life. For hearing devices, there have been many advances in technology that have allowed hearing aid devices to give an incredible amount of hearing back to the patients. With all of these means, hearing specialists are able to help people with their overall hearing health and with making the most out of the holidays.

Hearing Loss Problems

The side effects of hearing loss are largely social. This is significant in terms of hearing loss during the holidays because, more than anything else, the holidays are a time to gather with your close family and friends. If you cannot communicate with these people that you love, it can cause some significant effects on your overall sense of well-being. For example, people who suffer from hearing loss are much more likely to have issues with depression as well as anxiety. After all, not being able to take part in the holiday festivities is enough to get anyone feeling the holiday blues. This is only compounded by the fact that hearing loss may stop people from even going out and participating in any form of family activity in the first place. This social isolation will result in other problems in life as well, and can show themselves in health problems such as brain damage and even dementia later on.

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