Know Someone with “Selective Hearing”?

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Is it really “selective hearing” or is it hearing loss? We’ve often heard the “selective hearing” excuse, so next time someone uses it, put them to the test. Literally.

A hearing test will clarify once and for all if their hearing loss is selective or real. Find a NuEar professional near you to schedule an appointment!

This cartoon and blog originally appeared on http://www.starkey.com.

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Benefits of Two Hearing Aids

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Our ears were engineered to work together to allow for the best possible hearing and understanding. Binaural listening is impaired when one experiences a hearing loss in one or both ears.

When a hearing professional finds a hearing loss in one or both of your ears, it’s always better to get two aids, even though it may be less expensive to get just one. One hearing aid alone cannot provide the same ear-to-ear experience as two and will not offer the user the same listening experience. Two hearing aids will also enable easier audibility and directional sound detection.

So what are some of the benefits to wearing two hearing aids?

  • Fuller, more natural listening experience – The world is meant to be heard in “surround sound” and two hearing aids help provide fuller and richer sound for a more natural listening experience. The brain requires input from both ears to hear the world in “surround sound” and using only one hearing aid when two are needed impairs your auditory perception of your surrounding environment.
  • Easier processing of sounds and speech through auditory and cognitive systems— Your ears are designed to work together and binaurally process sounds, and your brain’s two halves also work together to create auditory intelligence. Each ear is responsible for sending unique signals to your brain, and each signal is received differently and affects perception and understanding. In short, your ears and brain work together to create a precise definition of the sound you have just heard, and when only one ear is working to send signals, it can take longer to understand the sound or it can alter the perception of the sound itself.
  • Volume Reduction—When hearing loss occurs, many find themselves turning up the volume on the radio or TV. Wearing two hearing aids eliminates the need for loud volumes and consequently helps reduce your exposure to unsafe listening levels when enjoying radio, movies or music.
  • Tinnitus Management—Hearing aids are often recommended for helping to manage tinnitus, many are equipped with tinnitus specific technology or masking capabilities. Using one hearing aid will not help mask the ringing in the unaided ear, so it’s recommended that two hearing aids are used when tinnitus is a concern.

Discover even more benefits by contacting us today!

How the Earth is Helping Us Understand Hearing Loss

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Earth provides us with the basic needs of survival: air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and space in which to live. We know this. But what you may not know is that Earth has also provided us with key insights about hearing loss and how to achieve better hearing technologies!

How? Keep reading.

Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss doesn’t just affect humans. Whales, dolphins and bats are known for utilizing sound as not only a form of communication but also to help them move around. The Washington Post recently discussed a study that shows hearing loss and interference as a serious problem for whales. An interfering noise at the right frequency or a loss of hearing can leave whales distressed, lost and possibly even unable to hunt for food. The same goes for dolphins. Proposed seismic testing in Taranaki’s Marine Mammal Sanctuary for oil could lead to permanently damaging the hearing of whales and dolphins both within and near the sanctuary. “Because dolphins navigate with sound it would be the equivalent of blinding a human,” one source stated.

Sense of Hearing
Clues about the origin and evolution of the sense of hearing can be found in a creature from the depths of the ocean – the squid. Until recently, little was known about how well a squid could hear; whether or not they relied on hearing to navigate, to sense danger or avoid marine predators. A 2012 study on the hearing and neuroanatomy of squid showcased many similarities between the hearing systems of squid and humans.
By testing how sensitive squid are to sounds and looking at their frequency range, we are able to use squid “ears” and hair cells as models for examining human hearing.

Noise Reduction
Step back onto land, and you’ll hear the persistent chirping of the Zebra finch. Researchers have long been interested in the male songbird’s complex vocalizations used during courtship, but a recent study revealed how finch brains recognize these vocalizations in noisy environments.

The finch’s ability to respond to birdsongs and ignore everything else is similar to our own ability to recognize speech in a noisy environment. This finding led primary researcher Frédéric Theunissen, Ph.D. and graduate student Tyler Lee to generating a computer algorithm designed to help reduce noise, which could help fine-tune hearing aids to better extract speech from noise.

In 2009, we tested the effects of noise reduction using an algorithm similar to Theunisssen and Lee’s and found an unexpected benefit. While noise reduction doesn’t make speech more understandable, it does reduce the brainpower required to process it. For someone who has trouble hearing in noisy environments, this finding can mean the difference between being part of the conversation or checking out of it.

Hearing Aid Technologies
Earth also provides us with natural elements to model our hearing aid technologies after.

On a lotus plant, water droplets form spheres and completely roll off the leaves, carrying dirt with them. Known as the Lotus Effect, this self-cleaning practice is the model for the protective hearing aid coatings, HydraShield 2 and Surface NanoShield on our NuEar hearing aids. Exposure to moisture, wax, oil and other liquids is one of the most common problems hearing aids face. Used on the receivers, battery doors and microphone covers of our hearing aids, these coatings provide resistance against these substances to help prolong hearing aid performance and help reduce hearing aid repairs.

With clues about the origin of the sense of hearing, animals who help us better understand how noise reduction works and natural elements that we can look to for innovation, Earth is helping achieve better hearing every day. It gives us the tools and resources we need to manufacture and deliver advanced hearing solutions, bring people together and ultimately enrich the lives of individuals with hearing loss.

6 Quick Tips for Traveling with Hearing Loss

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You booked a spring getaway to escape the stresses of everyday life, not trade them in for new ones. Follow these quick tips to keep your vacation memorable and your hearing loss the last of your worries.

1. Select your destination carefully

Consider activities available, population, nightlife and average traffic. A busy city with a 2 a.m. bedtime or constant taxi honking can create undesirable stress during your trip. If you are an iNOW user, consider using SoundSpace within your TruLink Control app. You can easily adjust sound settings to specific environments and save it as a TruLink memory. This way, you can enjoy hearing in any environment.

2. Do your research

Does the hotel provide auxiliary aids, telephones that are compatible with hearing aids or visual alarm clocks? Think about what you need for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hotels and motels must be accessible to individuals with hearing loss. The ADA applies to all inns, hotels, motels or other places of lodging.

3. Sign up for travel notifications

Make your reservations online and sign up for email or text confirmations and alerts. By doing so, you will have easy access to your itinerary, and you won’t miss important announcements about delays or cancellations. If you prefer to work with a travel agency, request an agent who specializes in working with the deaf or hard of hearing, and ask them for emailed confirmations of all arrangements.

4. When in doubt, pack it

Make a checklist of everything you need to keep your hearing aids functional, clean and protected. Pack necessary supplies such as batteries, a storage case, cleaning tools, extra tubing, and remotes and chargers for any other devices. Don’t forget a voltage converter if you’re traveling internationally or drying equipment if you’re visiting a humid location. To reduce the risk of loss or damage, be sure to pack these items in your carry-on. If you need any of additional items for your trip, contact one of our local NuEar professionals and they’d be happy to help!

5. Communicate persistently

After identifying your needs for a stress-free vacation, communicate them with the people around you – your travel companions, airport security officers, flight attendants and hotel staff, among others. When passing through airport security, you are not required to remove your hearing aids, but TSA recommends that you inform the security officer before the screening process begins. You may also provide them with a TSA notification card. Don’t hesitate to notify your flight attendants or your seat partner of your hearing loss so they will alert you about any announcements.

6. Protect your hearing aids

Remember to keep your hearing aids clean as you move from place to place as they can gather bacteria on airplanes and at heavily-populated tourist locations. Store your hearing aids in their appropriate case in the same safe location every night.

Still have questions about traveling with hearing loss? Contact one of our local NuEar professionals today!

8 Things Untreated Hearing Loss Can Impact

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Hearing loss is as unique to each person as a fingerprint. No one person has the same type of loss in each ear, nor do people get hearing loss the same way. But, what everyone with hearing has in common are the 8 possible things that hearing loss can indirectly or directly affect.

  1. Vocabulary

With untreated hearing loss, various sounds and letters lose frequencies. Each letter and verbal sound corresponds to a unique frequency range, and when one loses the ability to hear that range, two things happen. First, all the sounds, letters and words that involve those frequencies are more difficult to hear and exceptionally harder to understand or identify. Secondly, when hearing loss is left untreated as time goes on, the sounds associated with those frequencies begin to lose their crispness. Some may notice they skip over S’s, leaving out “ing” endings or even stumbling over an entire word itself. The ears and brain communicate together to help produce words clearly, and if certain sounds are no longer heard, the brain’s ability to produce the words clearly and accurately is impaired.

  1. Voice

For some people with untreated hearing loss, their auditory loss may actually influence and change the way their voice sounds all together — to themselves and to others. For example, when I meet new people, the first thing they say is, “You have an accent. Where are you from?” This has been going on for nearly six years. I have a running tally of countries that people guess, and so far England and Australia are the top contenders, although I get some outliers such as Poland, Finland and most recently South Africa.

The other way untreated hearing loss can influence someone’s voice is the perceived volume at which they talk. With untreated hearing loss, even someone’s own voice sounds soft, and as they speak louder and louder to compensate for it, the “inside voice” becomes the “outside voice.” In short, shouting is now speaking. This is something many may not realize they are doing, and for many it takes hearing aids to realize just how loud they’ve been talking.

  1. Enjoying Music and Movies

With untreated hearing loss, closed captions become a necessity for many as hearing loss begins to take away the ability to understand speech and sounds in movies, especially those where the actors aren’t facing the audience, the dialogue is spoken in romantic soft whispers, the environment is dark, the actors have facial hair or wear masks, there are loud explosions, rushing waters or roaring fires and crashing cars. Essentially, if  watching a drama, action, romance or comedy, ones ears might be making enjoyment impossible.

So much time is being spent trying to understand what is said that eventually people lose track of what’s going on, and might decide to give up and stare at the screen blankly. I do that about 20 minutes in, and if it’s a comedy, I mask my being lost by laughing when the audience does. It’s not so great when I start anticipating laughter, laugh myself and then it’s dead silent as everyone stares at me.

  1. Parties, Bars and Restaurants

Two words: Too Loud! Step into any loud, noisy environment and try to hold a conversation with someone, or, even worse, a group of people. Even for people without hearing loss, this can be hard. For those with untreated hearing loss, the clanging dishes, thumping music, hundreds of conversations going on at once, and the hardwood floors often found in such environments, these situations make listening impossible. When loud ambient noises overwhelm the ears, they cannot focus on speech, even if it’s nearby.

For situations like this, our hearing aids have a Voice iQ feature that allows for noise control. Another feature, Speech ID, helps ensure that speech is protected and enhanced while background noise is lowered. With Halo hearing aids, people can also create auto-adjustable programs for various locations so that they never have to worry about an environment being too distracting or that it’ll take 15 minutes to re-set their hearing aids the way they want them.

  1. Work Performance

A study by Sergei Kochkin in 2010 found a $14,000 income difference between adults with mild and severe untreated hearing loss. The study also found that people with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 annually. As the age of retirement extends past 65, so too does the number of employees with hearing loss. Hearing loss can hurt work performance in a variety of ways including difficulty hearing at important meetings or on calls, trouble interacting with employees at work through conversation and missing important auditory announcements. Untreated hearing loss can also lead to listening fatigue at work, affect ability to focus and retain information, and impact attitude as stress and lack of energy become overwhelming, all of which can be detrimental to overall production.

  1. Love and Friendships

Relationships with untreated hearing loss can be challenging as conversations and social outings are not conductive to understanding speech. Restaurants, bars and other loud, group environments make it difficult not only to hear but also to understand what is being said and who is speaking. Untreated hearing loss can thus become a stressful issue for not only the one with untreated hearing loss but for that person’s friends and loved ones. Over time, this may even lead to the person with untreated hearing loss to become isolated and avoid social events.

  1. Cognitive Health

Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s and overall declines in cognitive capabilities. A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins released in 2013 found that those with a hearing impairment experience a 30-to-40-percent greater decline in cognitive abilities when compared to their counterparts without hearing loss. That same study also found adults with hearing loss develop significant impairments to their cognitive abilities 3.2 years earlier than adults with normal hearing. Another study from 2011 found that adults with untreated hearing loss were two, three or five times more likely to develop dementia depending on the severity of their hearing loss.

  1. Safety

Most alarms and safety-related products have both auditory and visual elements, just not always together. For those with untreated hearing loss, not being able to hear a fire alarm or tornado siren at the right time can be dangerous. The same can be said of carbon monoxide indicators and other emergency signals. Untreated hearing loss can significantly impair one’s ability to respond and process through an emergent situation.

Take a proactive approach to your health today and contact one of our local NuEar professionals today!

Hearing Health Resolutions for 2017

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With the New Year fast approaching, it’s a time for reflection and goal-setting. This year, make resolutions to protect and improve your hearing for better overall health and happiness. Here are four great starting points:

  1. Listen carefully. Always be conscious of how loud you’re listening to your television and music. Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or wind and back away from the noise source when watching TV.
  2. Protect your hearing. At sports venues, hunting, shooting, concerts, or other events and activities that are loud, make sure you’re using proper hearing protection. As little as 10 seconds at a loud stadium or concert can cause permanent hearing damage. There are several different hearing protection options available, including In-the-Canal earplugs, Behind-the-Ear protection and custom-fit products. Contact a local NuEar professional today and they will find a solution that best fits your needs.
  3. Tend to your overall health. Your hearing health has a direct effect on your overall health. Hearing loss has been linked to numerous medical issues, including viruses, bacteria, heart conditions or strokes, head injuries, tumors and certain medicines.
    • Heart health: Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system – a person’s heart, arteries and veins – has a positive effect on hearing. Inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
    • Hypertension: There is a significant association between high blood pressure and untreated hearing loss. Hypertension can be an accelerating factor of hearing loss in older adults.
    • Smoking: Current smokers have a 70 percent higher risk of having hearing loss than non-smokers.
    • Obesity: Higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are associated with increased risk of hearing loss in women.
    • Diabetes: Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those without. Adults whose blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, have a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss compared to those with normal blood sugar.
    • Ototoxicity: There are more than 200 medications (prescription and over-the-counter) on the market today that are known to be ototoxic or “poisonous to the ears.” Some known ototoxic drugs are: Aspirin, Quinine, Loop diuretics (or “water pills”), certain antibiotics, and some environmental chemicals.
  1. Consult a professional. If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of hearing loss, call one of our local NuEar professionals and they’d be happy to help you through your hearing journey. The sooner you take action, the sooner you put a stop to the negative effects of hearing loss, and the sooner you begin to regain sharpness, confidence and control.

Contact a local NuEar professional today to start your hearing health resolutions for 2017!

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.”

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.

 

The Best New Year’s Resolution: Helping your loved one hear again

Hearing loss doesn’t just affect the person who has it. It also affects spouses, family members and friends. From frustration with having to repeat things over and over to heartbreak at seeing someone you care about isolate themselves from the people and activities they love, the negative effects of hearing loss cast a wide net. Convincing a loved one to seek help is the right thing to do, but it’s not always easy.shutterstock_159924050

Left untreated, hearing loss can affect a person’s quality of life in many ways. Yet without even realizing it, you may be making it easier for someone not to seek help.

Well-intentioned efforts such as repeating yourself or “translating” what others are saying may be preventing your loved one from realizing how much communication they fail to understand or miss completely. So what you can do? Here are some tips:

  • Talk to your loved one about their hearing concerns
  • Gently remind them of their loss every time you “translate” or repeat something for them
  • Recommend they visit a hearing professional or websites like ours to do more research and get their questions answered
  • Offer to schedule and attend a hearing consultation with them
  • Remind them they have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain by seeing a hearing professional

Unlike eyesight, when hearing goes, people are in less of a hurry to do something about it — with many waiting five to seven years before finally seeking treatment. Be prepared for pushback with these responses.

  • My family doctor would have told me if I have hearing loss. Not true — less than 20 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during physicals.
  • Wearing a hearing aid will make my hearing loss obvious. Today’s hearing aids are sleek and stylish or even invisible and certainly less noticeable than if you constantly ask people to repeat themselves, inappropriately respond, or don’t respond at all.
  • A little hearing loss is no big deal. The fact is, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to stress, depression, social rejection, increased risk to personal safety, reduced earning power and more.

Remember, you truly can make a difference in helping your loved one reconnect with the world around them. Hearing again can make 2016 the best year yet! For more ideas on how to help, call us today to speak with our hearing professionals.