4 Tips When Talking to a Loved One about Hearing Loss this Holiday Season

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Attempting to talk to a loved one about their hearing loss can be a difficult task. While it may be obvious that a loved one is suffering, and should get hearing help, research shows that, on average, hearing aid wearers wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing aids.

Holidays like Thanksgiving present a good opportunity to discuss a family member’s hearing loss in a supportive, positive atmosphere.

“Holiday gatherings can be particularly problematic for people with untreated hearing loss, as many loud voices, background music and noise can make it difficult to follow, participate in and feel a part of conversations and celebrations,” says Dr. Sara Burdak, Vice President of Education and Audiology at Starkey Hearing Technologies.

Burdak offers four helpful tips on talking to your loved ones about hearing loss:

Choose the Right Time

Set the stage for a successful talk. Choose a quiet moment in a location that is comfortable and familiar to the person with hearing loss. Minimize background noises that might make it difficult for him or her to hear and understand what you’re saying. Don’t raise your voice, but speak slowly and clearly, and make sure to face your loved one so he or she can clearly follow the movement of your lips.

Be Compassionate

Keep your language compassionate, not accusatory. For example, rather than saying “you can’t hear me when I talk,” try “I’m concerned by how often you ask people to repeat themselves.” Because hearing loss is commonly perceived as an older person’s problem, talking about it can be emotional for people, and your loved one may feel that admitting to hearing loss is like admitting to becoming old and frail.

Show Benefits

Focus on the benefits of treatment and be specific. Instead of just saying “you’ll hear better,” provide real-life examples, such as “you’ll be able to hear your grandson sing in church” or “when Uncle Bill tells that joke you love, you’ll be able to hear every word.” Also explain how hearing loss can lead to other health problems like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and more. Getting a hearing test is just the first step to their overall well-being.

Offer to Schedule and Attend a Hearing Consultation with Them

We know the holidays can be a tough time for someone who is struggling to hear, but with the support from their loved ones, it doesn’t have to be. You can even offer to have your hearing tested with them! Just remind them that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeing a hearing professional. Contact a local NuEar professional today to schedule a hearing consultation!

“Hearing loss doesn’t have to dim the holidays for anyone, thanks to modern hearing aid technology,” Burdak says. “Once you start the conversation and get your loved one help, you’ll both be able to better enjoy the spirit of the season.”

Overcoming the Stigma of Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

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Chances are you know someone with hearing loss. In the United States alone, over 34 million people, roughly 1 in 10, have some level of hearing impairment. Hearing loss not only affects the individual who has hearing loss but those around them as well. Hearing loss can adversely affect your ability to interact with the world around you, leading to embarrassment, social isolation, negative workplace outcomes and relational stress.

The good news is that 95 percent of hearing losses can be treated with hearing aids. Yet fewer than 20 percent of people with hearing loss choose to do anything about it. So why don’t more people seek hearing help?

People usually suffer needlessly for several years before they look for hearing help. A study published in 2010 by Margaret I. Wallhagen, Ph.D., found that the perceived stigma associated with hearing loss negatively impacts an individual’s initial acceptance of it and whether or not they choose to wear hearing aids.

The study found that hearing loss stigma is directly related to three main factors: alteration in self-perception, ageism, and vanity. Unfortunately, just the idea of wearing hearing aids was found to negatively change self-perception for participants in the study, even before they actually tried them. The study also found that the negative associations were markedly diminished after they tried hearing aids which were discreet and unnoticeable.

The stigma associated with hearing loss and hearing aids often prevents a person from seeking hearing help. Typically, the same people that worry needlessly are pleased to find that there are many discreet, customizable options and that they greatly improve quality of life.

How can you break the stigma of hearing loss? Here are four things you can do:

  • Get your hearing tested annually and encourage your loved ones to do the same.
  • If you have a hearing loss, treat it. Contact a local professional today and they can find the best fit for your hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
  • Wear your hearing aids. Our NuEar professionals know that getting new hearing aids can be an adjustment, which is why they are here to help you every step of the way through your hearing journey.
  • Speak up about your hearing loss. Being vocal about your own hearing loss will gradually lower the stigma for others.

Don’t let the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids prevent you from living life to the fullest. Investing in better hearing should be a priority! If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing difficulties, don’t wait – contact a local professional for a hearing evaluation. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to hear your very best.

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

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Did you know that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those without the disease? Experts say that one in three people with diabetes will develop hearing loss!

The cause of diabetes-related hearing loss has been debated for several decades. Researchers theorize that hearing loss results from damage to blood vessels in the inner ear. Unlike other structures in our bodies, the inner ear does not have a backup supply of blood flow, leaving it vulnerable when blood sugar levels become elevated. If the blood vessels are damaged, blood flow is reduced which can cause permanent damage to the structures in the inner ear. Elevated blood sugar levels can also damage the hair cells and nerves surrounding the inner ear.

Researchers have added diabetes to a long list of potential risk factors for developing hearing loss including genetics, aging, noise exposure and ototoxic medication. Otolaryngologist Yuri Agrawal from Johns Hopkins University explained to everydayhealth.com, “Hearing should be considered a diabetes-related complication. Our research suggests a dose-response relationship.” Diabetes-related hearing complications, however, tend to strike earlier than other risk factors.

What can you do to lower your risk?

A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a nutritious diet can keep blood sugar levels low and daily blood glucose readings within recommended ranges. Reducing the risk of diabetic-related-health complications will also minimize the risk of developing hearing loss.

Here are a few more suggestions to reduce your hearing loss risk and preserve your hearing:

  • Control your blood sugar. Gaining and maintaining tight blood sugar control could help to keep your ears sharp longer.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking speeds hearing loss on its own, but acts as a risk multiplier when combined with other hearing loss risk factors.
  • Manage loud noise. Whether you work in a loud environment or some of your hobbies involve loud sounds, make sure to protect your ears.

As the number of people living with diabetes continues to rise, it is estimated that nearly one third of the population will have diabetes by the year 2050. Individuals with diabetes should get routinely screenings of their ears and hearing, as well as the health of their eyes, kidneys and cardiovascular system. Adherence to recommended screening protocols can aid in early identification of any problems and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. Diligent management of the disease can delay or even prevent additional health complications.

If you have diabetes, it is important to get your hearing checked annually. Find a location nearest you to schedule an appointment!

 

Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss can feel like uncharted territory when you aren’t sure how or why it happened. Hearing loss can develop at any age and can be caused by many different factors. Did you know that only five percent of hearing loss in adults can be improved medically or surgically? The vast majority of American’s with hearing loss can be treated by hearing aids. Before looking into treatment options, however, it’s important to understand the different types and causes of hearing loss.

There are three categories that help define the type of hearing loss, identified by the part of the ear that been affected.

Here’s a breakdown of each:

Sensorineural – the most common type of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is easily treated with hearing aids. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear nerves are damaged and don’t send the right messages to the brain. Consequently, sounds become muffled and unclear, even when someone is speaking directly into the ear.

What can cause SNHL? Here is a quick list:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Illness
  • Ototoxic drugs
  • Head trauma
  • Malformation of the inner ear

 

Conductive: While SNHL cannot be medically or surgically treated, conductive hearing loss sometimes can. Conductive hearing loss is rarer and occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently to the eardrum and the tiny bones of the middle ear.

Possible Causes:

  • Impacted earwax
  • Fluid in the middle ear
  • Ear infection
  • Allergies
  • Infection in the ear canal
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Presence of a foreign object
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Benign tumors
  • Malformation of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear

 

Mixed: A combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss can be caused by a number of different causes and can usually be treated surgically, medically or with hearing aids.

If you or a loved one feels like they have been experiencing hearing loss, contact us today to find the location nearest you. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about your hearing.

 

Ear Wax? Moisture? Don’t Sweat it – You’re Protected!

Don't sweat over water or wax

If you have ever worn hearing aids before, you know that exposure to moisture, wax, oil or perspiration can result in poor functionality in the hearing aids. We’re excited to say that those days of being worried about moisture and wax are over! Our new improved moisture repellent system now protects your hearing aids to ensure durability and dependability.

Surface™ NanoShield technology enables hearing aids to block out moisture and allows you to continue your everyday life without constantly worrying. But what can happen if your hearing aids are exposed to moisture, and how can you protect them?

 

If a hearing aid gets wet, the following can occur:

  • Performance malfunctions and physical corrosion
  • Sounds may be blocked from entering the microphones, thereby reducing the volume of the hearing aid
  • Obstruction of airflow, which compromises the function of the batteries

 

How to protect your hearing aids

Although your Surface™ NanoShield can help block moisture and oil, it’s not a waterproof guarantee. Here are a few simple ways to protect your hearing aids from water:

  • Use hearing aid storage cases
  • Remove hearing aids when showering, swimming or interacting with water
  • Invest in a hearing aid dryer

 

The Bottom Line:

Surface™ NanoShield helps protect your hearing aids, so you, literally, don’t have to sweat the small stuff.

 

Contact one of our offices today for a demonstration of this amazing technology!

Tips to Continue Hearing Your Best

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Your hearing is very delicate; losing your hearing isn’t the same as breaking a bone. Bones can often be broken and repaired multiple times. Hearing loss occurs because of damaged hair cells in your ear, and once those are hairs are damaged, they cannot be repaired – it’s permanent.

In order to preserve your hearing, it is important to take preventative steps early on and to always protect your ears whenever they are exposed to loud noises over long periods of time. Below are some tips to be able to continue hearing your best:

  1. Wear earplugs at musical concerts, both indoors and out.
  2. Wear earplugs at sporting events such as football, baseball or hockey games.
  3. Don’t listen to music through MP3 devices and earbuds at high volumes or for long periods of time.
  4. Try to limit your exposure to loud noises without hearing protection, including power tools, fireworks and airplanes.
  5. Get a hearing test every year to keep an eye on your hearing. Hearing aids can help preserve hearing and limit continued loss, so the earlier you catch hearing loss the better. Find a location near you to schedule an appointment!
  6. Bars and clubs can be very loud, so consider wearing earplugs or limiting your exposure to loud music and crowds.
  7. Wear earplugs when flying, as noise levels inside an airplane can harm your hearing.
  8. Wear hearing protection if you are hunting or shooting a gun. Our offices offer digital hearing protection for every lifestyle, contact us today for more details.
  9. If you are exposed to noise for long periods of time, take breaks and step away for some quiet. This will help your ears relax and give them a break from trying to handle all the noise.
  10. Use noise-cancelling headphones if you are going to be exposed to loud noises.
  11. Check medications for the possible side effect of hearing loss. There are about 200 medications that are potentially ototoxic, damaging to your hearing.
  12. Do your best to keep your blood pressure under control, as changes can affect the delicate inner structures of your ears.
  13. Smoking can increase the risk of hearing loss. Try to stay away from those who are smoking, or if you smoke, do your best to quit or at least cut back as much as possible.
  14. Don’t use cotton swabs to remove earwax from your ears, as they can actually push wax or debris further in. If you think you have excessive build-up, contact us today to schedule your appointment!

Keeping your hearing in tact is just as important as your physical and mental well-being. Many people take their hearing for granted and wait to get help until it’s too late; don’t let that be you. Whether you think you have hearing loss or haven’t gotten your hearing checked in a while, it is very important to get an annual hearing screening. Find a location near you to schedule your appointment.

What to Expect at Your Hearing Care Appointment

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The most difficult step to improving your hearing is the first one: recognizing you need to find out more about your hearing loss and improving your situation. The next step is to schedule a complete hearing consultation. It is very important to see someone who specializes in hearing issues. This is where we can help! We have the training and equipment needed to inspect your ear canal, accurately measure your hearing loss, assess your unique needs and prescribe solutions to best fit those needs. Simply contact us today to find a hearing professional near you and schedule an initial hearing consultation. To better understand what exactly happens at a hearing care appointment, we’ve listed out the four steps that most appointments consist of:

  1. Hearing Test

Your ears will be visually examined and you’ll be tested with the latest standard-of-care methods and technology to determine the type of hearing loss you have. Your results will be illustrated in an audiogram that the hearing professional will walk you through. An impression of your ear anatomy may also be made with putty to determine if certain styles (like invisible hearing aids) are appropriate.

  1. Lifestyle Discussion

You will be asked about the types of places and listening environments you frequent to determine the range of sound settings and technological features appropriate for your lifestyle.

  1. Hearing Aid Options

You will see the different hearing aids that are designed for your level of hearing loss as well as your preferences for size, color and invisibility.

  1. Budget Discussion

Your hearing professional will help you narrow down your choice of hearing instruments based on the investment you are comfortable making. You will also discuss insurance and/or financing options.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions while you are at your appointment. Here are some examples of questions to ask during your appointment:

  • How bad is my hearing loss?
  • Is it medically treatable?
  • Are there specific frequencies or types of sounds I have more trouble with than others?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Would hearing aids help me?
  • Can you tell me what’s new in hearing aid technology?
  • What’s the difference between non-wireless and wireless hearing aids?
  • Can I prevent further hearing loss?
  • Is there anything I can do on my own to hear better?

If you’re ready to get started, contact us today to find a professional in your area!

New NuEar Hearable and Wearable Solutions

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We are excited to announce the release of some of our most advanced hearing solutions to date. Powered by the all-new Synergy platform and Acuity™ OS operating system, our launch includes the next generation of Made of iPhone hearing aids, iNOW; a wireless Invisible-In-the-Canal hearing aid, Miniscopic Synergy and a new family of 900sync™ hearing aids – NOW.

NOW, iNOW and Miniscopic Synergy are packed with best-in-class performance features including next-generation feedback cancellation, adaptive noise management and directionality, Surface™ Nanoshield moisture and wax repellent, Multiflex Tinnitus Technology and more.

Synergy Platform and Acuity OS
The new Synergy platform features quad core twin compressor technology and works with Acuity OS to binaurally process, classify and adapt multiple sounds simultaneously, so that speech is crisp, ambient sound is natural and music is rich and immersive. Synergy features five times the processing power of previous platforms, an expanded dynamic range and channel processing with up to 24 channel adjustment.

Synergy also features a unique music prescription with input from both professional musicians and current hearing aid wearers. Designed to accommodate music’s dynamic acoustics and spectral characteristics, these new features ensure musical listening is clear, crisp and enjoyable.

iNOW Made for iPhone
Powered by TruLink™ 2.4 GHz wireless hearing technology, iNOW Made for iPhone hearing aids enable connectivity with iPhone, iPad®, iPod touch®, Apple Watch®, and select Android™ devices, providing ultra high-definition audio experiences and allowing patients stay connected to the people and things they love most.

iNOW’s release is accompanied by the latest version of the TruLink Hearing Control app, TruLink 3.0. With TruLink and iNOW hearing aids, patients can wirelessly stream* phone calls, music, media and more, control hearing aid volume and memories, create personalized and geotagged hearing aid memories, adjust sound settings in any environment and locate lost or misplaced iNOW devices. Additionally, two features are new to TruLink Hearing Control 3.0:

  • NEW Tinnitus Treatment: Integrated controls allow users to control the volume and modulation rate of the Multiflex Tinnitus Technology.
  • NEW Real-Time Notifications: Lets users hear email, calendar, message and social notifications directly through their iNOW hearing aids.*

(*Only with Apple® devices)

NOW Hearing Aids
Using the 900sync technology, the Miniscopic Synergy Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids provide patients with wireless connectivity through their phone or any other Bluetooth™ device.

NOW is a full line of hearing aids that offers an ultra high-definition audio experience and Surflink connectivity. Providing patients with the most natural and coordinated hearing experience yet, NOW also offers custom and standard styles.

Offering our patients the best possible hearing technology is our goal, and we are hopeful that with the variety of new products, that anyone with hearing loss will find something right for their lifestyle and hearing needs. Contact us today for a FREE demonstration of these exciting new products.

How We Hear

March2016 Blog ImageAs one of the five senses, hearing is one of the human body’s most extraordinary processes. It is a complex system made up of delicate and synchronous parts. Read this blog to learn more about our ears and how they help us to hear.

Sound begins with a vibration in the atmosphere. When a sound is made (whether from wind, a bell or a voice), it moves the air particles around it. Those air particles, in turn, move the air particles around them, carrying the energy of the vibration through the air as a sound wave. That’s where your ear comes in.

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Sound waves are collected by the outer ear and directed along the ear canal to the eardrum. Did you know, the shape of your outer ear is just as unique as you are? It plays an important role in how you hear. Called the pinna, its funnel-like shape and curvy design enable you to determine the direction the sound is coming from.

When the sound waves hit the eardrum, the impact creates more vibrations, which, cause the three bones of the middle ear to move. The smallest of these bones, the stirrup, fits into the oval window between the middle and inner ear.

When the oval window moves, fluid in the inner ear moves, carrying the energy through a delicate, snail-shaped structure called the cochlea.

In the inner ear, thousands of microscopic hair cells are bent by the wave-like action of the fluid inside the cochlea. The bending of these hairs sets off nerve impulses, which are then passed through the auditory nerve to the hearing center of the brain. This center translates the impulses into sounds the brain can recognize, like words, music or laughter, for instance.

If any part of this delicate system breaks down, hearing loss can be the result. If you have any questions about your hearing or a loved one’s hearing, give us a call today.

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Charge Up Your Knowledge on Batteries

Batteries play a very important role in the life of a hearing aid. Batteries must provide a constant power supply for the hearing aids to operate efficiently and effectively. Read this blog to learn more about hearing aid batteries and how they work.Feb2016 Blog Image

Zinc air batteries are the most common type of battery for hearing aids on the market today. These batteries need air to activate and provide power.

Once you remove the tab on the battery, you should let it sit for one minute before installing it in your hearing aid. This “rest” time allows air to reach the materials inside the battery and activate them. Batteries may appear dead or under-powered if they are inserted immediately in the hearing aid and not given time to activate. If this happens, remove the battery and allow it to sit for one minute before reinstalling in your hearing aid.

One of the most common questions asked about batteries is, “how long will each battery last?” There are a number of factors that affect how long a hearing aid battery will last:

  • Individual’s hearing loss – As the severity of the hearing loss increases, increased amplification is required. This increase generally results in shorter battery life.
  • Hearing aid usage – The length and frequency you wear your hearing aid affects the life of your batteries.
  • Hearing aid technology – More advanced hearing aids and those with more features require more power.
  • Environment – Humid environments can cause swelling or leakage, while low humidity may dry out batteries. Both extremes can result in reduced battery life. In addition, high altitude may cause the battery to reach its endpoint sooner due to reduced oxygen in the environment.
  • Temperature – Exposure to low temperatures may reduce battery voltage and life expectancy.

It is important for each wearer to know their hearing aid’s battery life. How do you do so? Track it – it’s simple. Here’s how! On the battery package, record the date you install the battery and the date you remove it. Once all the batteries in the pack are used, you should see a pattern and get a reasonable estimate on how long your batteries will last.

It is recommended to purchase hearing aid batteries from your hearing professional to ensure optimal performance and battery life.

Contact us today if you are in need of a pack of batteries or if you have any questions!