Avoid a Frustrating Holiday Season

March 30, 2015

Being able to communicate with our loved ones is truly one of life’s greatest joys. When the family comes together during the holiday season, being able to hear and understand clearly becomes even more treasured. Everyone wants to enjoy the banter around the Thanksgiving dinner table and to delight in the grand kids’ squeals as they open their presents on Christmas morning and find just what they asked Santa for. These are the memories that are most cherished.

But what if you have a hearing loss?

Hearing loss can make the holiday season very frustrating, for you and your family both. The joy and laughter that permeates family get-togethers is what memories are made of. But if you have a hearing loss, the noise of laughter and multiple conversations happening at the same time can actually be isolating. What should be a happy time can in reality become one of great sadness instead. If you can’t hear the conversation well enough to fully participate in the conversations and festivities, you may decide that it’s just easier to sit on the outskirts of the conversation, causing you to become a spectator instead of a participant, an outsider instead of a contributor. At times like these, a hearing loss can be devastating.

Avoid a Frustrating Holiday Season

But it doesn’t have to be that way. A simple hearing test can determine what kind of hearing loss you have. Then, working alongside your hearing healthcare provider, you can find a solution to help you avoid the frustrations that hearing loss can cause during the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season. There are many choices in hearing aid technology and there is sure to be one to fit your hearing loss as well as your budget. Taking the time now to make sure that you can hear for the holidays is a great gift to yourself and an even better gift for your family and friends. Make sure that this year, you don’t miss a thing.

Call our office today to make an appointment for your hearing evaluation and free consultation. We’ll make sure you don’t miss out on the joy, laughter and conversation during this year’s holiday celebrations.

The Importance of Child Hearing Screening

March 23, 2015

Did you know that hearing loss is the number one birth defect in the US? Did you know that more than 90% of children with permanent hearing loss are born to “hearing” parents? Hearing loss occurs in 3 of every 1000 live births. It happens often enough that newborn hearing screening is standard protocol in most major hospitals.

The majority of hospitals offer newborn hearing screening as part of their discharge protocol. Infants who fail the screening are then referred on to private clinics or the Children’s hospital for diagnostic assessment with an audiologist. Once a hearing loss is identified, a team of experts will work alongside the parents to determine the best course of action. Intervention will commonly include the pediatrician, audiologist, speech-language pathologist, otolaryngologist, deaf education teachers and other educational and medical personnel. For those children whom the hearing loss cannot be medically treated (e.g., a surgical procedure), hearing aids are a common solution. The goal of the medical team is to work with families to find appropriate treatment options for their child based on family goals, desires and expectations. This will be an on-going process throughout their child’s development.

Whether the hearing loss is congenital (genetic) or an acquired hearing loss, the consequences of hearing loss can be devastating if left untreated. Even if the child’s hearing loss is “only mild,” studies show that these children can have speech and language delays that are considered to be educationally significant. In other words, the hearing loss is significant enough to have an impact on the child’s development. These children can have emotional difficulties, perform poorly in school and can suffer from personal-social maladjustments.

Many schools provide hearing screening programs for their students as hearing loss can also be acquired later in childhood, whether it is from ear infections, genetics, disease, medicine or trauma, for example. So, even if a child passed a hearing screening at birth, they may not be completely free and clear. With annual hearing screenings, parents can rest assured that their child’s hearing health is being monitored.

The good news is that Federal law mandates that all school districts provide specialized education to children who are diagnosed with hearing loss. Now that more of these children are identified early on in life, the hope is that, with appropriate intervention, the adverse consequences of hearing loss will be diminished significantly.

If you feel that your child has a hearing problem, talk to your pediatrician. You know your child best and you are his best advocate. We’d also be happy to help. If you have questions, feel free to call our office to speak with one of our audiologists. Or, check our website for more information on childhood hearing tests and on language development throughout the childhood years.

Facts and Myths about Hearing Loss

March 16, 2015

Do you know that over 32 million Americans suffer from hearing loss? Do you know that only a small percentage of those with hearing loss actually do something about it? The first step is having a hearing test. People often express that they feel intimidated or that they are worried by the thought of having to “take the test.” Having a hearing test is really pretty easy, though. In fact, it’s not a “test” at all. You can’t be “wrong” when you have your hearing checked. You either hear or you don’t. In fact, if you think about it, it’s really your hearing healthcare provider’s test. He or she has to figure out how you are hearing…or not hearing in some cases. All you will need to do is indicate when you are hearing something. Then, leave it up to your provider to figure out what you are hearing and what you aren’t. A hearing test is the first step toward improving your quality of life. And that’s a fact.

There are several other common misconceptions besides the idea that a hearing test is difficult that prevent people from taking that first step and making an appointment for a hearing test.

Myth #1:  If I had a hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me.

Fact: Your doctor is concerned about all of the working systems of your body. However, if you happen to be seeing your doctor for a specific ailment, it’s unlikely that your hearing will come up in conversation. It’s also true that most people hear fairly well in a small, well-lit and quiet room. Your doctor may not recognize that you are having difficulty with your hearing. So, in many cases, if the fact that you aren’t hearing well isn’t brought up by you, it’s unlikely that your doctor will recognize that you are having difficulty hearing in other situations (like groups or restaurant situations). If you feel that you are having difficulty hearing, ask your doctor to refer you to a hearing healthcare provider to have your hearing checked. He or she will then report back to your doctor with the findings.

Myth #2:  Hearing loss only affects people who work in noisy conditions or those over 65.

Fact:  Hearing loss is the most common birth defect. In fact, 3 children in every 1000 born in the US have an “educationally significant” hearing loss. There are many different causes of hearing loss besides prolonged noise exposure and the aging process. Hearing loss can really occur at any age. In fact, according to the Better Hearing Institute, 65% of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65. So, you’re not alone! Hearing loss is a common problem that has many possible solutions. Have your hearing checked today and your hearing healthcare provider will be able to tell you whether or not you have a hearing loss and whether your hearing loss requires some assistance.

Myth #3:  My hearing loss is too severe to be treated.

Fact:  With the rapid advancement in hearing technology, very few individuals will be unable to find a solution for improving communication. More and more people with severe and profound hearing losses are finding that there is an array of available options for assistance and amplification available today that can be of benefit. Never give up! Hearing is vital to an active and fulfilling lifestyle. Give us a call if you are curious about what’s available. We’ll be glad to help.

The best way to treat your hearing loss or help someone suffering from hearing loss is to take the first step and make an appointment for a hearing test.

Is My Hearing Loss Due to Noise Exposure?

March 9, 2015

Logically, it makes sense: those who have worked around high noise levels for many years and have trouble hearing must have a hearing loss that is caused strictly by noise exposure at work, right?

In actuality, other factors can play a role in how much hearing loss a person will have over the course of their lifetime. For example, certain health factors can make one person more susceptible to injurious noise than another. Smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, for instance, can increase the amount of hearing loss suffered from over exposure to noise. The accumulation of birthdays, a.k.a, getting older, can also be a factor in the amount of hearing loss a person may have. Genetics can also play a part. So, the cause of one person’s hearing loss will depend on many different factors. This is also why two people can work in the same company for the same length of time doing similar jobs and have very different hearing losses.

When hearing loss is due to an over-exposure to noise, a very predictable pattern of hearing loss as well as a predictable degree of hearing loss will emerge. The amount of loss a person will experience is based on how loud the noise was during the actual exposure itself and how long the exposure lasted. Long- term studies have been completed with the help of individuals who experienced up to 40 years of sustained noise exposure and with varying levels of noise exposure. The people involved with the studies had a hearing test every year. The results provided a means of determining the pattern, type and severity of hearing loss that is typical of long-term noise exposure based on the number of years that noise was experienced and the loudness of the noise itself. Researchers found that hearing loss from over exposure to noise causes a predictable and progressive loss of hearing as long as the person continued to be exposed to that noise without the protection that proper earplugs or ear muffs provide.

Interestingly, once someone stops working around noise, the progression of the hearing loss can stop all together. If hearing loss keeps progressing after a person leaves the noisy job, the change is not from the past noise exposure, it’s from the other factors of health and lifestyle.

If you think you have hearing loss due to noise exposure, there are two things to do right away: First, make sure to invest in good ear protection. Using ear protection in any instance of loud noise will make sure that you do not experience more hearing loss due to noise exposure. Second, make an appointment for a hearing evaluation. Because hearing loss due to noise exposure can progress over time, you may be unaware of how much you may be missing. We’ll be glad to test your hearing and make suggestions on how to best protect your ears from further damage and make suggestions for better hearing, too.

Stop the TV Wars – How to improve your hearing at home

March 2, 2015

Most people who have hearing loss can attest to the fact that it affects how well they hear in a restaurant, or surrounded by the background noise of a crowd. What spouses and family members often mention are the more annoying side effects of hearing loss…the things they notice at home. One common complaint is “the TV is turned up SO LOUD!”

Without realizing it, the person with hearing loss will try to make speech more clear by turning up the volume on the TV. The problem with this is that it doesn’t resolve the problem. The majority of hearing losses are high frequency in nature, which is perfect for men: their hearing loss is right in the range of their wife’s voice! The high frequencies are responsible for the majority of the clarity in speech. So, when he says, “Honey, you’re mumbling,” he’s right. To his ears, if the high frequencies are missing or degraded, it does sound like speech is garbled or unclear. The low frequencies, on the other hand, carry the power of speech. They are responsible for the feeling of volume. So, when someone is trying to improve clarity by increasing the volume, they are   inadvertently increasing the noise as well. So begins the nasty cycle of turning up the volume to improve clarity, but the volume then becomes so great that it overpowers the nuances of speech. Thus begins the TV War. It goes something like this:

Henry: “I can’t hear the announcer. Did you hear what the score was?”
Mary: “It’s tied 2-2.”
Henry: “What? It’s not clear. Are they mumbling?”
Mary: “I can hear them just fine.”
Henry: “I’m going to turn it up a bit. Do you mind?”
Mary rolls her eyes and shrugs. After two innings and putting up with the commercials, which are loud enough to wake the dead, Mary has had enough.
Mary: “Henry, could you please turn the TV down a bit? It’s a little on the loud side.”
Henry: “What? I couldn’t hear you, the TV is so loud.”

So, what’s the solution?

Stay tuned! In the next several posts you’ll discover several different solutions for stopping the TV wars, including:

•    TV listening accessories that connect to hearing aids
•    FM and Infrared systems
•    Loop systems