Types and Causes of Hearing Loss

August 2016 Blog Image

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.

 

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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

June2016 Blog Image

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.

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.

10724-16 NuEar March 2016 Blog Image

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.

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!

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.

 

Patients Give Thanks, As Do We

Thanksgiving is a special time of year for all of us as we get to take a break from our Untitled design (4)busy schedules to share gratitude with those we are close to. Yet, at NuEar we thrive off of thankfulness all year long. Very often do we hear about the notes of praise from happy patients using our hearing aid technology and their appreciation for gaining better hearing. In turn, this inspires all of us to work harder and create better hearing outcomes for more in need.

As you can see in the photos included, numerous patients and new hearing aid technology users are eager to share their unique hearing success stories. There is nothing that our engineers and support staff are more thankful for than receiving these patient stories. It not only helps make the work more meaningful to know how much of an impact is being made with real individuals everyday but also helps drive our passion to improve the technology for better performance in the future.

With holidays and family gatherings coming up make sure you or a loved one are not missing out on the many precious moments due to hearing loss. We know our hearing aid technology and dedicated hearing professional specialists can make a huge difference for you or a loved one as well. To get started with a free consultation simply find the nearest provider to you on our website locator.

Hearing Independence Goes Around the World

lowell2At NuEar, helping others reach their own potential for happiness and success through better hearing defines our mission of hearing independence. For our nation-wide network of dedicated hearing professionals and staff, this mission has gone beyond a passion to become our everyday purpose. Yet, did you know that several NuEar affiliates and staff members have been able to share this gift of hearing independence across the globe this year? Below, we spotlight a few of the many efforts made in support of the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s domestic and international hearing missions.

China, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and many more distant destinations have been the landing spot for many NuEar network members this year so far to help in providing thousands in need of the gift of hearing. As you can see in the images above and below, these trips are no vacation. retYet, the countless hours spent each week in caring for and tending to the hearing needs of people at all ages is far more rewarding than a day on the beach. One long-standing supporter of these hearing mission efforts, Ret Templet of California Hearing Aid Center, shared his perspective on his commitment by stating, “It’s an incredible opportunity to reach those in need both locally and internationally to share the gift of hearing to those who couldn’t get it otherwise. It helps us truly appreciate the privilege we have to care for others and help improve their lives”. Pictured left, Ret is one of many NuEar partners that have continuously dedicated his time and resources to partake in several hearing missions.

The NuEar support staff has been able to share in these incredible efforts as well. NuEar Sales Manager, Jason Horowitz, eloquently described his experiences in Ethiopia in a three-part blog series, sharing the range of emotions that went into each patient fitting. Of those he helped hear for the first time he expressed “when a fitting goes exceptionally well you see a person light up like a jolt of electricity shot through their bodies. It starts with the eyes, and travels to their mouths in the form of a smile. Jason1There is no other feeling like it in the world.” As displayed in his photo above, the young boy whom he helped to hear is smiling from ear-to-ear with his new-found ability and hearing independence.

As you can see we believe the concept of hearing independence and the ability for one to pursue their own passions with the help of better hearing is something that all deserve. While our network of NuEar hearing professionals have dedicated themselves to helping as many individuals as possible in the communities they serve, this greater purpose has been able to bring them around the world to share that same compassion with so many in need. If you or a loved one could benefit from better hearing as well don’t hesitate to reach out to one our many dedicated hearing professionals across the country. Simply go to our Professional Locator page and enter your zip code to find the nearest provider to you. We look forward to creating an empowered life through hearing independence for you or a loved one as well!

When Pigs Flew & NuEar’s Patient-First Approach

NuEar July 17

At NuEar, our nation-wide network of hearing professionals is carefully selected to ensure dedication to our patient-first approach to hearing healthcare. All too often we hear stories about hearing practices aiming to see more patients each week by shortening appointments and omitting post-purchase counseling. We believe, however, this quantity over quality of care is not conducive to helping one get the full benefits of better hearing through hearing aid technology.

One NuEar hearing care provider, Belinda Gonzales of NuSound Hearing in Topeka, KS, proved how holding this patient-focus approach as core value provides success for both the many patients she has helps and her business as a result. A few years back, Belinda decided to leave her hearing specialist position to start her own hearing practice, driven by her agenda for greater emphasis on patient care and counseling. Unfortunately, in hearing of Belinda’s ambition and the different approach to hearing care that she wished to employ, many in her life didn’t offer much encouragement. Rather, in knowing the challenges of running a business, several in her world cynically remarked that she would be successful “When pigs fly!” Yet, this skepticism didn’t thwart Belinda’s ambition at all to operate her practice with patient-first values and provide the best hearing outcomes possible.Belinda 1

Over the course of her first year, Belinda stayed true to her values and noticed the extreme delight from each patient that she worked tirelessly to help. As the months passed, she noticed that more people were coming to visit her by referrals from her current patients. At the end of her first year she wanted to recognize the community of delighted patients that have contributed so greatly in her practice’s budding success. To celebrate the anniversary, Belinda and her staff decided to have a bit of harmless fun in honor of the words of discouragement she received by hosting a patient appreciation pig roast event!

As shown in the photo from this event, she celebrated her patients as the primary reason for her practice’s success. Clearly her patient-focused approach to hearing care and providing hearing aid technology proved beneficial to the many individuals enjoying better hearing as a result of her work as well as the success in her business’s growth. This serves as a perfect example for how partnering NuEar hearing practices aim to operate across the United States. We encourage you or anyone you know that may be hesitant to seek hearing care to take advantage of a free hearing consultation at any of our nation-wide network of locations. Simply click on this link and enter your zip code in to find a provider nearest to you. We look forward to hearing your better hearing success story!

The NuEar Pilgrimage

USMap_50transparentHow many times have you heard of someone moving from the sunny beaches of California to the arctic splendor of Minnesota? Probably not often, but for the NuEar network, that northern migration path has led to many incredible opportunities to become leaders in providing premium hearing aid technology across the country. Learn how NuEar’s humble beginnings have evolved into numerous successes in providing better hearing to thousands of individuals every year.

The NuEar story begins nearly 40 years ago in sunny San Diego as a hearing aid manufacturer. NuEar’s products were gaining traction in the 1980s but didn’t take off until the company was purchased by fellow hearing aid manufacturer, Starkey Laboratories. Based out of the Minneapolis, MN area, Starkey Laboratories, and the company’s CEO William F. Austin, saw the potential to grow successes in providing superior hearing products to a larger portion of the United States. With the acquisition of NuEar came the loyalty of many dedicated hearing professionals. Over time this group of hearing professionals grew rapidly into one of the largest nationwide networks of hearing care professionals in the country!

In the late 2000’s opportunity struck again to relocate NuEar under the same roof as it’s parent company Starkey Hearing Technologies, formerly Starkey Laboratories. This move came with little hesitation as it presented new opportunity to incorporate industry-leading hearing aid technology into patient offerings. This leap forward easily justified the relocation, as it allowed for greater patient outcomes and hearing benefits.

The NuEar pilgrimage, from the southwestern United States to northern, is not at all a backwards move. Rather, it was a forward progression into providing the best possible hearing care to many individuals in need. The NuEar Nework of hearing professionals continues to grow stronger together each year, trading a more tropical annual training destination for greater successes in patient care. That is a trade we would all make every time we would have to choose.