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It Is Time To Get That Annual Hearing Evaluation

We schedule yearly physical exams and dental exams, so why not schedule annual hearing testing? Hearing loss is gradual, and it affects not only your ability to hear but your physical and mental health too. Yearly hearing evaluations should be a part of your regular healthcare routine. If you are putting off a hearing evaluation, please consider some great reasons why you should schedule that test today!

Hearing Loss Is A Gradual Process

Hearing loss typically occurs at a slow pace over the course of many years. Because of this gradual process, it is difficult to detect when your hearing is not as good as it used to be. People with hearing loss typically wait 7 to 10 years before they address the hearing loss. An annual hearing evaluation by a hearing healthcare professional will detect any hearing loss so you can act before the problem exacerbates. You should monitor your hearing as well to identify hearing loss in your daily life. Indications include the following:

  • Trouble hearing phone
  • Difficulty hearing conversations
  • Ask people to repeat themselves
  • Sounds and voices seem muffled
  • Difficulty pinpointing the direction of a sound

Early Detection Is Critical

Putting off a hearing test for 7 to 10 years is not a good idea. An annual hearing evaluation will allow you the chance to address your hearing loss early before the problem worsens. It is essential to check your hearing annually after age 55, even if you experience no problems because this is the time most people begin to experience age-related hearing loss.

Dementia And Depression

Inquiry from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NICDC) states that depression is higher among U.S. adults with hearing loss than those without a hearing loss. Although the cause of this relationship is unknown, acting now can reduce your chances of experiencing mental health symptoms that often accompany hearing loss.

Hearing Loss And Happiness

People of all ages experience hearing loss, and the chances that you will experience change in your hearing over time are high. Here are a few statistics to consider:

  • 5% of American children have permanent hearing damage from exposure to loud noise.
  • 14% of American adults between the ages of 45 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss.
  • 30-40% of American adults over the age of 65 have hearing loss.
  • 50% of American adults over the age of 75 have some hearing loss.

It is essential to take hearing loss seriously. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. Heart disease, dementia, sleep apnea, and brain shrinkage all have a connection to hearing loss.

Schedule A Hearing Evaluation Today

Hearing loss will interfere with your life much quicker than you might realize. You may find yourself having trouble at work, not hearing your loved ones, or even enjoying the sounds of nature. Do something for your hearing today. Schedule an annual hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional and protect your hearing before it is too late!

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Assistive Listening Systems and Your Hearing Prerogative

With over 48 million Americans across the country and an astounding 466 million worldwide suffering from disabling hearing loss, staying up to date with advancing technology and new laws and regulations may be the difference between accessing your right to hear in public and private settings or struggling to receive the help you’re entitled to. Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), everyone has the right to hear in public places, making sure that if public address systems are used, an assistive listening system (ALS) is available for those with hearing loss as well. With numerous types of ALS systems available, technology has made it much easier to increase your quality of life while in public settings, whether they help eliminate background noise, or are discretely hidden to aid you without needing to use and return noticeable devices.

What Type of ALS’ Are There?

Fortunately, finding venues with an ALS should be simple thanks to ADA guidelines. To abide by the ADA’s Standards for Accessible Design, venues must have signs that properly show that they utilize assistive listening systems by displaying the blue international symbol, and numerous types of systems must be made available upon request with strict standards, right down to the size of audio jacks.

1. Hearing Loops

The most widely used and preferred ALS, hearing loops are a discretely hidden wire that surrounds a seating area that plugs into an amplifier and PA system. The loop then converts sound from the PA system into an electromagnetic signal that is received and translated into sound by telecoils found in most hearing aids.

 2. WiFi Systems

Though these do not follow ADA guidelines and are not an acceptable ALS system in the eyes of the law, WiFi systems are becoming increasingly popular with the rise of smartphones and tablets. While audio is streaming, sound is delivered through a WiFi connection to an appropriate app on your smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, this requires attendants to use their own device as a receiver, failing to reach the ADA’s requirement of equal access.

3. RF Systems

Requiring a receiver that you must borrow from the venue, RF systems are becoming less popular for more convenient and user-friendly listening systems. Utilizing radio frequencies, RF systems transmit sound to receivers and earbuds like a personal radio. Though the ADA Compatibility Mandate required RF systems to be upgraded in 2012, they are still drastically lacking in technology compared to other systems.

You Have A Right To Hear

Assistive listening systems are increasing the quality of life for the millions of users with hearing loss by fulfilling their right to hear. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, whether it be concert halls, transportation hubs, or places of worship, systems such as the Hearing Loop or WiFi are ensuring that hearing loss will not stop you from participating in the joyful activities of your daily life. Whether you wear hearing aids or are struggling with untreated hearing loss, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to hearing in public places.

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Feel Good Foods for Your Hearing

food and hearing health

Forefront in the media is the battle of the bulge, foods that may or may not cause disease, and what’s on the menu at the local fast food joint. We hear about the latest diet fad, the latest YouTube recipes and what the stars are eating. What we don’t often hear about foods that can affect our hearing health.
Sticking to a healthy diet is good for more than just your waistline. By increasing your intake of certain foods, you can increase your chances of healthy hearing well into your golden years. A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is sure to be better for you all around than sugary junk food. Eating a rainbow variety of foods increases the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help your body to heal and stay healthy, including your hearing.
We get much needed naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and nutrients by eating plants that take in these fuel molecules from within the soil as they grow. We either eat the plants directly or eat meat from animals that consumed the plants. This allows us the ability to meet the daily requirements needed for optimal health. The following list is key in maintaining good auditory health.
Folate
Foods such as asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, and liver are great sources of folate which provides vitamin B9. Folate, or folic acid, help to minimize the possibility of hearing loss related to the aging process. Other foods such as fortified cereals, baker’s yeast, leafy vegetables, and sunflower seeds are also good sources of folic acid. If those don’t appeal or the food prep is to time consuming, you can take a vitamin supplement such as B9 or B complex.
Magnesium 
For those who live or work in noisy environments, there is help. Magnesium has been proven to protect the sensitive hairs within our inner ears from free radical molecules that are produced by the hazardous effects of long-term loud noise. Without these tiny hairs, our ears are unable to transmit the electrical currents to the brain, which are then identified as sound. This means that we develop hearing loss.
To combat the effects of loud noise, be sure to keep up your magnesium level by eating plenty of artichokes, avocados, beans, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and even whole grains. These foods are easily added to stir fry dishes or grilled. They’ll have a protective effect on the sensitive hairs within the ear and will help to ensure you can hear for many years to come.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
For those over 50, decreased hearing becomes an increasing possibility, but it doesn’t have to. By consuming omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, you can delay or even prevent hearing loss related to aging.
Fresh fish are among the food’s rich in these beneficial fatty acids. Anchovies, herring, mackerel, oysters, salmon and sardines top this list. If you prefer more of a supplement than actually eating fish, cod liver oil might get you where you need to go. One tablespoon provides your daily recommended dosage of omega 3’s as well as vitamins A and D.
Potassium
For some people, a low potassium level plays a part in decreased hearing. By upping your intake of foods like apricots, bananas, beet greens, lima beans, milk, oranges, potatoes, and raisins, you can help maintain your ability to hear normally.
The electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain that we comprehend as sounds are affected by the amount of fluid within the inner ear. When supplied with enough potassium, we effectively give ourselves the ability to regulate the fluid within our body which ensures the proper flow of fluids to the ears. These fluid levels tend to drop as we age, and by keeping your potassium levels up, you can help to balance these levels.
Zinc
With a rise in the population for tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, it’s a good idea to keep your zinc levels up. The areas of the inner ear contain the largest amount of zinc in the entire body, and without the proper levels, there’s the likelihood of tinnitus developing over time.
To combat this detrimental decrease, be sure eat plenty of needs, legumes, seeds, and vegetables. Meats like beef, pork, and chicken with dark meat are good options, as well as dark chocolate, split peas, and oysters. With all these options, there should be plenty of opportunities to keep your zinc intake where it needs to be.
The key to meeting your body’s needs is to eat the foods you know you enjoy, then try new things to see if they’re a good fit. Prepare them in different ways to find what your preferences are, and don’t give up just because it’s not something you’d normally eat. With the boom of the internet, recipes abound, and your likely to find a dish to make just about anything palatable.
Hiding spinach in a green smoothie with bananas and peanut butter, or chickpeas and rice in a soup or stew are great ways to help you and your kids to get the variety needed to fulfill your body’s needs. Stir fry or steam some asparagus, artichokes, and black beans to top a dish of rice with slivered almonds.
Making food fun while sharing it, and the skills to prepare it, with friends and family can be the best part of the day. Knowing it’s good for them and helping them learn how and why will ensure that others become aware of the benefits to their auditory system.

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Your Habits Are Hurting Your Hearing

bad habits that harm hearing

We all have habits that we’d like to break, whether it’s an overindulgence in chocolate or fingernail biting. While some of our habits don’t really affect our lives, others can have serious impacts on our health. In fact, many of the most common negative habits can have a major impact on your hearing health. Here are a few:
Smoking
The research is pretty clear: smoking has a huge negative effect on our health. Smoking has been linked to everything from lung cancer to stroke and poor dental health, but did you know that it can also hurt your hearing?
While most of smoking’s negative health effects come from the innumerable chemicals and carcinogens in tobacco, nicotine is the main culprit in smoking’s effects on our ears. Nicotine actually restricts blood flow to our ears, which can cause long-term and irreversible damage to the delicate cells that we rely upon for our hearing abilities. Basically, the more you smoke, the more damage you do to your ears.
Additionally, smoking hurts the hearing health of your loved ones. In addition to harming your own hearing health, studies show that people exposed to second-hand smoke (especially adolescents) are almost twice as likely to develop low-frequency hearing loss than their peers in non-smoking households.
Vaping
Although the jury is still out on the overall negative health effects of vaping and e-cigarettes on the human body, any vaping fluid or e-juice that contains nicotine will have the same negative hearing health effects as smoking. If that wasn’t bad enough, e-juices contain hundreds of chemicals with as-of-yet unknown health impacts, one of which, propylene glycol, has been clearly linked to cases of sudden hearing loss.
Binge Drinking
While moderate and responsible alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle, binge drinking and consistent excessive drinking can do more than irreversibly damage your liver. Many of the leading health experts believe that drinking alcohol can affect your brain’s ability to interpret and understand sound.
When this happens, it’s believed that sounds at lower frequencies might create a toxic environment within the inner ear that can damage the all-important and sensitive hair cells of the cochlea. As a response, the central auditory cortex of the brain might actually shrink in binge drinkers, which means that the nerves responsible for our hearing abilities can be negatively impacted over time.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Forgetting to floss can do more than give you a cavity or two. In fact, while it might seem a bit weird to think that not brushing your teeth can hurt your hearing, when you allow your teeth and gums to become unhealthy, you allow bacteria to build up in your mouth.
Eventually, these bacteria can make it into your bloodstream, causing inflammation and a narrowing of the arteries, both of which result in poor circulation. Since adequate blood circulation is critical for healthy hearing, forgetting to floss and brush your teeth twice a day could be hurting your ears.
Letting Hearing Loss Go Untreated
All too often, people with signs and symptoms of hearing loss let it go untreated. Whether this is due to a lack of access to hearing healthcare, a dearth of financial resources, or an unwillingness to acknowledge one’s hearing difficulties, untreated hearing loss is a major concern.
When hearing loss is left untreated, one increases their risk for dementia, dangerous falls, and other negative health effects. Thus, if you or someone you know if experiencing hearing loss, the best place to start is to schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare professional today!

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The Surprising Do’s and Don'ts of Earwax Removal

removing earwax

Cleaning your ears can be an often uncomfortable experience and understandably worrying when wondering if you are removing earwax in a safe and effective way when using at-home remedies. To make matters worse, asking your doctor or healthcare provider about earwax removal is often perceived as an unpleasant or embarrassing subject, but is much more common than one might think. About 44,000 ears are syringed by health care providers to remove ear wax annually, proving that rules regarding the do’s and don’ts of ear wax removal are not widely known.

The Do’s

  1. It’s important to first understand that earwax is completely healthy and an important defense mechanism for your ear’s overall health. Earwax, also known as Cerumen, shields the ear from bacteria, microorganisms, and foreign particles, protecting you from ear damage and infections. With over 22 million visits to physicians each year in the United States for ear infections, keeping earwax levels healthy is important, but how much is too much?
  2. Understanding the symptoms of excessive earwax buildup is the second step to making sure your ear health is up to code. Impacted earwax is when earwax has built up in the ear canal to an extensive degree, showing symptoms that something isn’t quite correct. Ringing in the ears known as Tinnitus, impaired hearing, ear fullness, an unpleasant odor or discharge, and changes to hearing aid effectiveness or functionality are all signs that it’s time for a cleaning.
  3. Seek out the advice or help from a medical professional if you notice hearing impairment, ringing, or if infections have occurred, as they may be signs of an underlying condition. It is also important to seek out medical advice before attempting any at-home remedies for earwax removal, as some medical conditions can make those remedies unsafe.

The Don’ts

  1. Amazingly, our ears are designed to clean themselves, as old earwax is moved outside of the ear canal by jaw movements such as chewing or talking and flakes off, but sometimes this earwax requires some outside assistance being removed. With that in mind, it’s important to only clean your ears when necessary, as overcleaning can lead to irritation, infection, or even more wax buildup in the ear canal, making wax removal counterproductive.
  2. If you must clean your ears at home, avoid using cotton swabs or sharp objects such as pins or paper clips to clean or scratch your ears. These objects are far too small and can reach fragile parts of your ear canal, cutting or even puncturing your eardrum. Damaged or ruptured eardrums can lead to a host of complications, including hearing impairment, middle ear infections, and cholesteatoma, a formed cyst that can damage bones in your middle ear.
  3. Do not forget to clean hearings aids properly according to your health care providers instructions. Dirty or ill-fitting hearing aids can aid in the creation of earwax by introducing outside bacteria into the ear canal in which earwax is created as a defense mechanism to protect against.
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Learning From Couples With Hearing Loss

Couples dealing with sensory loss

Coping with sensory loss isn’t easy. Those who can talk to a peer for support have more success dealing with feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as other fallout from their loss. Peers dealing with the same issues can provide help, advice, and share common experiences.
While mechanisms such as talk therapy, support groups, and others have been around for some time, little research has been dedicated to discovering the long term benefits of peer support from the peer’s point of view.
Two studies were conducted that canvased the feedback of ordinary people and their partners or other support peers living with sensory loss. They were asked, “What advice would you give to other couples who are living with sensory loss?”
In the first study, people between ages 50 and 85, revealed some keen advice for people who find themselves in similar situations. They talked about how vital seeking support from peer organizations is, as well as gaining support from partners and healthcare professionals. Patient-led groups were at the top of the list for the kind of support participants suggested people seek. They highlighted key traits partners should have to support their loved ones adequately: honesty, patience, understanding, unity, acceptance, respect, compassion, positivity, and respect for independence.
The second study consisted of participants in a younger age category, but the results were similar. They focused on the importance of being compassionate, mutually supportive, patience, and understanding. Here are some quotes from the study:
“Talk to each about the difficulties; not only big issues but also the little frustrations in everyday life… Comfort and support each other when you face frustrations related to the sensory loss.”
– hard-of-hearing partner
“If you can, try to laugh about any mishaps – my partner laughs and lovingly calls me ‘silly lady’ whenever I keep bumping into things (that I don’t see) or misunderstand stuff he said. That takes the edge off and lets me laugh as well. Be intimate.”
– deafblind partner
Feeling supported was linked to showing understanding, patience, and acceptance. Thus, similar to the first study, these were also recommended by the participants of the second study:
“Find out what works best for you. Not everyone adapts the same. Be patient and tolerant of the partner’s frustration when simple ideas become obstacles because of misunderstandings.”
– deafblind partner
Professional Support
While participants highly encouraged the support of peers, they did not forget to emphasize the qualities of professional help as well. Many participants mentioned the benefits of counseling, online groups, healthcare professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and technical experts. In this way, peers and professionals can work together to provide a comprehensive network of support for those who are adjusting to or maintaining a full life living with hearing loss.
If you or a loved one is dealing with hearing loss, there are plenty of support waiting for you. Whether you need professional help or the friendship of a peer, reach out to one of our professionals today. We can help you find the support you need.