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Hearing Loss Prevention Practices to Start in the New Year

protecting ears in winter

At this point, we all know to wear a helmet to protect our heads when riding a bike. It’s common sense, just like wearing eye protection when working with tools or the proper outer garments to guard against frigid temperatures. For some reason, though, the idea of protecting our ears does not seem like a priority.
Even with the World Health Organization stating that 360 million people worldwide are affected by hearing loss and 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 are projected to suffer from hearing loss in the coming decades, adoption of preventative hearing practices is not taking hold.
What Are Good Hearing Loss Prevention Practices?
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, it’s probably too late to repair the damage. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent hearing loss from taking hold in the first place.

  • Be aware of the noise levels in your daily life. A decibel level of 85 is not damaging for short exposures but can be damaging with long-term exposure. Most people don’t realize that a noisy office can reach 85 decibels. Eight hours in that office may negatively impact your hearing health.
  • Take frequent hearing breaks. If we read a book and our eyes tire, we put the book down for a bit. Do the same for your ears. Our ears are not as good at letting us know when they’re fatigued, so take no-noise breaks often during your day.
  • Use hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs if you know you will be exposed to high noise levels or long-term noise. Typical noises in the danger range are motorcycles, concerts, chainsaws, and shouted conversations.
  • Limit your use of earbuds. This one will be tough for many people, but turn the music down and get those buds out of your ears. Earbuds rest near the eardrum and are damaging when used at high volumes.

Damage From Unexpected Places
These tips are ridiculously easy to apply for most people, but what if your livelihood depends on being in a noisy environment? Most of us will immediately think of a construction or industrial zone when we think of high-noise jobs. A recent study evaluated the noise impact on another group of employees exposed to constant loud noises: professional musicians.
Decibels are decibels. It doesn’t matter if it’s a jackhammer or an instrument. The study found that musicians were impacted, not only in full orchestra sessions but, when practicing alone at home, as well. As expected, percussionists were found to be the most affected, along with flutists. Cellists and musicians in the bass section were the least affected due to the softer sounds produced by their instruments.
The solution for musicians? It’s the same as the solution for all of us: use ear protection. Part of the issue with ear protection may be that it dulls our hearing and that can feel uncomfortable. When we use eye protection it doesn’t impact our vision. Regardless of the reasons for a lack of adoption, hearing protection should be used often and encouraged by all hearing healthcare providers. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss how to protect your hearing and to set up a hearing care plan.

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Keeping Seniors Safe With a Hearing Aid

Keeping seniors safe with hearing aid

You probably know that a hearing aid can improve your ability to hear, but did you also know it can keep you safe? Although a hearing aid may take some getting used to, it can improve your overall quality of life. Now, current research is suggesting that hearing aids may keep seniors out of the hospital. According to the study, seniors who use their hearing aid are less likely to endure emergency room visits or spend time in the hospital. The research team also found that the seniors in the study who used their hearing aids were more inclined to see a doctor than those who are not using their hearing aids. Hearing aids improve your total health and can keep you out of trouble. If you are a senior, now is a great time to have your hearing checked. Your safety may depend on it.

Reasons Seniors Do Not Use A Hearing Aid

Although a hearing loss can have significant repercussions such as increased emergency room visits and hospital stays, only 20 percent of seniors with a hearing loss use a hearing aid. The reasons given are many and include:

  • Association with age
  • Difficulty adapting
  • Cosmetic reasons
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Cost

Although these reasons are sound, they do not outweigh the benefits associated with using a hearing aid. Furthermore, these reasons are not more important than a senior’s safety. Hearing aids not only improve a senior’s impaired hearing, but they also promote balance and alertness.

Lowering The Risk Of Falls By Improving Balance

When the brain is forced to expend extra energy to hear, it decreases one’s ability to focus on their balance and gait. Research from Johns Hopkins University suggests that people with a mild hearing loss have a higher likelihood of having falls than those who do not have a hearing loss. Balance and gait place a significant demand on the brain as does the impaired hearing. A hearing aid lessens the need caused by inadequate hearing to allow the user to properly focus on balance and gait thereby reducing the danger of falls.

Increased Alertness

Without question, the most important way a hearing aid can help a senior or anyone for that matter is to increase their alertness to the sounds of danger. An oncoming car, an oven timer going off, an emergency alarm, the list is endless. Without one’s senses fully intact, these everyday occurrences can quickly become hazardous situations. A hearing aid has the potential to save a life just by making hearing the sounds possible.

Get Your Hearing Tested

If you are neglecting to get a hearing exam or wearing hearing aids, now is the time to change your thinking. There are many reasons for wearing a hearing aid, and your safety should rank right near the top of the list. Schedule a consultation with a hearing healthcare professional today for a hearing exam. It will be one of the most important decisions you can make for your hearing as well as your safety.

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Make This Holiday Season A Little Bit Quieter

noisy toys and hearing loss

The excitement of the holiday season is here, and children everywhere are thrilled. The kiddos are counting the days until Santa brings lots of fun things. One problem with all this fun is the noise these toys may bring with them! Excessive noise is harmful to a child’s hearing. The American Academy of Otolaryngology believes that three million children under the age of 18 may have a problem hearing. So as the holidays arrive, take the time to help protect your child’s hearing.

The Impact Of Noise

A noise-induced hearing loss doesn’t just affect one’s ability to hear. For children, it also affects a child’s speech, language, cognitive, social, and emotional behavior. The viral video and computer games on the market today can reach sound levels of 135 decibels. For comparison, this sound level is equal to that of a jackhammer. Music players are no better. When a child listens to their favorite music through earbuds, they may be enduring 110 decibels. Prolonged listening to music at this level will likely produce a hearing loss of some degree.

No Warnings

A significant problem with all of the noisy toys that are available this holiday season is that manufacturers do not warn parents of the potential dangers these toys pose to their children’s hearing. Thankfully, groups are working to change this policy. The Sight & Hearing Association (SHA) tests toys and alerts parents to potential dangers associated with the noisemakers. This organization tests toys at distances that children typically play with them, unlike the intervals that manufacturers use. For this holiday season, the group is offering the following tips to help protect your child’s hearing:

  • Always check the sound level of a toy before you purchase it.
  • If a toy is earsplitting report it to the Consumer Product Safety Commision or the Sight & Hearing Association.
  • Try applying masking or packing tape over the speaker of a toy to reduce the volume.
  • Only purchase toys that have volume controls.

Toys With Less Noise

For the sake of your child’s hearing, it is vital that you as a parent provide an atmosphere for your child that is quiet. Try to minimize the noise and provide time for reading, talking, and listening. There are great gifts that don’t damage hearing. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Books. Books are not only quiet, but they also help children develop reading skills.
  • Educational toys. Shop for computer games with educational themes.
  • These gifts are quiet and fun for the whole family.
  • Construction sets. Building blocks are quiet and develop diverse skills in your child.
  • Card games. These noiseless games are not only fun but help your child with math and language skills.

Make this holiday special this year by reducing the noise that is cumulative and detrimental to your child’s hearing. The damage is irreversible, so it is wise to protect children early. Keep an eye on their activities, listen to their toys volume, and spend good times with your child doing quiet activities. Happy holidays!

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Understanding Hearing Loss With Virtual Reality

Understanding hearing loss with virtual reality

Virtual worlds that people live in have long been a product of Hollywood. Science fiction films depicting people who spend their lives working and playing in digital environments are great entertainment. Video games are now able to put gamers into fantastic worlds to interact with other players. Now, thanks to technology, we are getting closer to making virtual reality a reality. Virtual technology is playing a role in helping people function in the world in which they live. How is this new technological world going to affect people with hearing loss?

Virtual Technology For Everyone

The people who create these virtual worlds are including those who are hearing impaired. Because virtual reality includes sound and sight, real-time speech captions allow hearing-impaired users to interact with others in a virtual environment. Developers of this technology are also working with the sense of touch and the use of vibrations to allow people with hearing loss to enjoy the full benefits of the multi-sensory experience that is virtual reality. There are even special gloves that mimic the movements of sign language as well as virtual sign language interpreters.

Virtual Reality And Hearing Loss Research

Virtual reality may benefit hearing loss research. Researchers at the Boys Town National Research Hospital are studying hearing loss and its impact on children in school. Researching in a real classroom does not allow experimental control, so the investigators are using virtual reality. The virtual class immerses students in a real classroom setting without making them feel uncomfortable. The result is accurate testing of the students hearing in noisy situations.

Experiencing Hearing Loss As A Child

The isolation that accompanies hearing loss is difficult to comprehend. However, virtual reality is now making it possible to experience life as a child with a hearing problem. The project intends to simulate what the world sounds like to a child with and without hearing aids. The virtual reality simulation begins on the playground, where the user experiences muffled environmental sounds. The user then moves to the classroom where a teacher asks a question that can’t be understood.

Better Understanding Through Virtual Simulation

The goal is to support parents in the understanding of their child’s hearing loss and to realize better the importance of early intervention for hearing loss. The group hopes that the simulator will find use with other schools and government agencies. Virtual reality allows the researchers to have a level of experimental control that is not possible in a clinical environment. The research helps to identify why children with mild hearing loss react the way they do in noisy environments and hopefully help the team understand what accommodations will benefit their learning environment.

Simulating A Better Future For Children With Hearing Loss

Virtual reality technology is impacting the way educators view their strategies for educating children with hearing loss. The researchers believe that this technology will go beyond simulating hearing research and include balance and visual studies in the years to come. Virtual reality is simulating a bright future for those who are hearing impaired.