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Sonus Hearing Care Professionals is Proud to Support the Hearing Health Foundation

As the holiday season ends, we’re reminded of all the things we’re thankful for. Not only are we grateful to support our patients with their hearing concerns, but we appreciate the opportunity to help others in need. It’s not just the immediate people around us that can benefit from generosity; you can make a difference in the world no matter where you are.
At Sonus Hearing Care Professionals, we are a proud supporter of a variety of charities and noteworthy causes. This winter, we’ve extended our reach to support the Hearing Health Foundation. We’re committed to the welfare of others and are grateful that we can encourage this fantastic organization and the important work they’re doing.
Our staff thanks you for the gift you give us daily – being able to help you with your hearing needs. It’s what makes our job truly special.
Season’s greetings!

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New Guideline Updates On What You Need To Know About Sudden Hearing Loss

As we age, we often conclude that our hearing has gotten worse over time. Age-related hearing loss is an incredibly common result of the natural aging process, and most of us understand that our hearing will depreciate as we get older. But what happens when hearing loss comes on all of a sudden without years of build-up? Sudden Hearing Loss (SHL) can be a terrifying symptom for those suffering unexpectedly. Affecting up to 27 for every 100,000 people and over 66,000 new cases in the US annually, understanding what may cause SHL, what signs to look for, and when to seek treatment can help dramatically improve your quality of life and improve hearing recovery.
For these purposes, The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) have published new updates to their SHL guidelines, hoping new information will make a difference according to Seth R. Schwartz, MD, MPH, the methodologist for this update, “Prompt recognition and management of sudden sensorineural hearing loss may improve hearing recovery and quality of life. That is the overarching objective and purpose of this guideline update.”

What Is Sudden Hearing Loss?

Defined as a “rapid-onset subjective sensation of hearing impairment in one or both ears”, SHL can manifest in three ways: Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL), Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL), or a mixture of both occurring in the same ear. CHL occurs when problems transferring sound waves through the outer ear arise, while SNHL is attributed to damaged cochlear sensory cells. Though Conductive Hearing Loss may be brought on by an abnormality in the ear canal, “eardrum”, or middle ear, both types of hearing loss can be brought on by many causes ranging from neurological disorders or infections, to head trauma or exposure to certain medications.
With many risk factors and variables involved, SHL can be a frightening condition to undertake for many patients with lifelong ramifications. If left untreated, an average of 25 to 30% of patients with SSNHL will achieve some level of spontaneous improvement, although not always back to their normal hearing level. If treatment is sought immediately, recovery rates improve to 50% or even more in some cases.

What Updates Have Been Made?

Knowing the importance of early detection and treatment, updates to the AAO-HNSF’s SHL guidelines were vital. Though the 2012 guidelines were crafted with the most current research at the time, medical science is constantly advancing, opening up room for improvement when it comes to treatment. Improvements such as addressing the need to distinguish SSNHL from CHL in patients who have shown initial signs of hearing loss, as well as clarify the need to identify “rare, nonidiopathic, sensorineural hearing loss” to help separate those patients from others who suffer from Idiopathic Sensorineural Hearing Loss (ISSNHL), a target population that this update addresses. Schwartz hopes that these updates will better suit the medical community when treating SHL, concluding “While the original guideline was a big step, this update provides an opportunity to improve diagnostic accuracy, facilitate prompt intervention, reduce unnecessary tests, and improve hearing and rehabilitative outcomes for patients.”

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Communicating Better With People Who Have Hearing Loss

You might believe that hearing aids are enough for communicating with people with hearing loss. Although hearing aids are beneficial in many circumstances, sometimes they are not enough. When talking, remember that a conversation involves two people: a speaker who sends the message, and a listener who receives the message. So, as a member of this communication pair, it is essential to communicate your message clearly to those with hearing loss. Here are a few approaches to help you do it better.

Get Their Attention

Try to gain a listener’s attention before you begin speaking. You might say the person’s name, or gently touch their arm or shoulder to gain their attention. These actions will allow the listener with hearing loss to prepare, so they do not miss the first part of your conversation.

Eye Contact

Please face the person with hearing loss and make eye contact. It is your facial expressions and body language that provide critical information to the message you are delivering. It is easy to see excitement, joy, confusion, and frustration on a person’s face.

Keep Hands Away From Face

When you are speaking, try to keep your hands away from your face. Doing this will allow you to deliver a more explicit speech while allowing your listener to pick up on visual clues by watching your mouth and face. Remember that speechreading depends on a listener being able to see your face, which improves their perception of the message.

Use Natural Speech

Try to keep your speech distinct, but do not exaggerate. There is no need for shouting, as it will only distort the message. Avoid mumbling and speak at a reasonable rate. Use pauses instead of slow speech, which will give the listener time to process your speech. Try to provide clues when you are changing subjects or state that you are changing topics.

Rephrase Instead Of Repeating

If your message is not clear, repeat it one time. If your listener is still having difficulty understanding what you are saying, try to rephrase your message differently. Make use of different words that have the same meaning. You may also ask your listener what part of the message they did not understand and repeat only that phrase or word.

Avoid Background Noise

Please try to reduce environmental noise as much as possible when communicating. Turn off the radio and television and move to a quiet place. When going out to a restaurant, request a table away from the kitchen, server station, or large groups of people.

Lighting

Good lighting on your face is essential for a person who is speechreading. When you are at a social gathering, sit where the light is good, and your face is visible. Poor lighting causes shadows on your face, and intense lighting from behind may cause difficulty from the bright light.

Consider An App For Translation

Several apps are now available that will allow you to speak into a smartphone and have your words appear on the screen for the person with hearing loss to read. Texting is another useful tool for communication.

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Is the Media’s Portrayal of Hearing Loss Accurate?

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.”
Tom Stoppard
Every day we are bombarded with information from the media. World events, politics, human interest stories and more flood our newspapers, televisions, radios, Internet browsers and email boxes. The media tells the stories of the day, and it’s hard to argue that they are top influencers in this day and age.
One of the stories the media has begun to tell more and more often is that of hearing loss. With an estimated 48 million Americans of all ages now reporting trouble hearing, it is a topic that is becoming more and more relevant to audiences. But, is the media’s portrayal of hearing loss accurate?
Researchers recently dug in to find the answer, at least in print media, studying how the media portrays hearing loss. The findings offered insight into how that portrayal affects people with hearing loss and their decisions about their hearing health.  It also highlighted what the information could mean for hearing healthcare providers as they adapt to serve an ever-growing and more educated group of patients better.
Hearing loss in the media
There is no question that the media educates and influences us every day through their stories, but what does that look like when we’re talking about hearing loss and hearing aids?
In a recent study out of Lamar University in Texas, researchers looked at the themes in how newspapers portrayed hearing loss and hearing aids. The team focused on U.S. publications between 1990 and 2017 and how topics around hearing health changed over time.
Researchers found that overall, newspapers “provide a wide and realistic portrayal of hearing loss and hearing aids.” Household name publications such as The Washington Post, U.S. Federal News Service, the Chicago Tribune, Targeted News Service, and the U.S. Federal News Service led the pack on the total number of articles on hearing loss and hearing aids. Several associated topics that came up frequently in the more recent reporting such as “cognitive hearing science” and “signal processing,” surprised the team.
Researchers also noted that between the years of 1990 and 2017, the number of articles on these topics increased. Not surprising considering the rising number of people diagnosed with hearing loss eager for more information.
The implications
These findings aren’t just interesting to consider. They offer hearing healthcare providers valuable information on what consumers with hearing loss may be looking for.  The results can help guide these providers on how to better serve these individuals to diagnose and treat their hearing loss.
Without a doubt, providers have an opportunity to educate people on hearing loss, picking up the conversation where media leaves off. This conversation includes in-depth and usable information on what hearing loss is, how to manage it and the importance of treating it for overall health.
If you believe you have hearing loss and are looking for more information, contact our office to schedule an appointment. We can help you diagnose and treat your hearing loss, discuss hearing aid options and answer your questions.

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Surprising Ways To Lose Your Hearing Aids

lost hearing aids

With all of our various gadgets, devices, and wearable tech, it’s no wonder that Americans spend an average of 2.5 whole days each and every year looking for their lost belongings. As you might imagine, the smaller things are, the easier it is to lose them, which doesn’t bode well for important, yet tiny, medical devices, such as hearing aids.
Thanks to modern technology, our hearing aids have gotten smaller and smaller, which is awesome for those of us who like to rock the latest in invisible in-the-ear hearing aids, but not-so-great when we accidentally misplace our hearing devices. Especially when we consider the high cost of hearing aids, losing them is more than a minor inconvenience.
Avoid Misplacing Your Hearing Aids
One of the main reasons why people misplace their hearing aids is because they don’t have a set hearing aid routine, which can help people be more responsible hearing aid owners. A good way to avoid losing your hearing aids is to wear them whenever you’re awake since it’s pretty difficult to lose your hearing aids when they’re in your ears.
Additionally, it’s important to develop good hearing aid habits, such as always placing your hearing aids in their carrying case or in their charging station when you’re not wearing them. By putting your hearing aids in the same place every time, you’re less likely to lose them or misplace them.
That being said, sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially if you’re tired and just want to take a nap on the couch, it can be tempting to set your hearing aids down on the coffee table. But, when you wake up and walk over to the kitchen to make a snack, you’ll likely forget where you placed your hearing aids, creating some unnecessary panic for your day.
Additionally, it can be helpful to keep a hearing aid carrying case on you at all times. If you carry around a handbag, laptop case, or a small backpack with you to work or on your travels, leaving a small hearing aid case in one of the pockets can be a great way to keep track of where your hearing aids are if you need to take them out.
Odd Places To Lose Your Hearing Aids
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our hearing aids can get away from us. In fact, people have had their small in-the-ear hearing aids fall out of their ears in some strange places, such as in a parking lot, or even at the bottom of a dishwasher.
The most common reason hearing aids seem to disappear, you ask? Your family dog. While young Fido might be a great pup, he might also be your prime suspect when your hearing aids go missing. Dogs have been known to use hearing aids as their personal chew toys, which is a huge financial loss, as well as a medical concern for your pup.
Oh, and don’t forget about your batteries, either. Hearing aid batteries are, for better or for worse, quite small and shiny, so they’re a prime choking hazard for young children. Keep your hearing aids and your batteries in a protective case and out of reach of your children and your pets at all times.
How To Deal With Lost Hearing Aids
If, despite your best efforts, you manage to lose your hearing aids, you’ll want to get in contact with your hearing health care provider right away. Sometimes, your hearing healthcare provider will have loaner pairs that they can lend to you while you file a warranty claim or wait for a new pair to arrive.
Although replacing a lost pair of hearing aids is a major financial investment, it’s important to do so as soon as possible. Going without your hearing aids for too long can be detrimental to your health, so if you’ve lost or damaged your hearing aids, be sure to get them replaced right away!

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Job Hunting With A Hearing Loss

job hunting with hearing loss

If you have a hearing loss and are job seeking, you may be wondering what you need to do to land the job successfully. When seeking a job, it is essential to put the hearing loss to the side and realize that to get hired you must be the best candidate for the position. Despite being hearing impaired, you must do what the other candidates are doing to prepare for the job. You will need the right tools in place as well as an understanding of your hearing loss. It is essential to understand what work accommodations will work for you and how to go about getting them. Here is advice to help you with your next job hunt.

Filling Out The Application

When applying for jobs, make sure you pick ones for which you are qualified. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes discrimination against any qualified employee with disabilities unlawful. Ask yourself if you can perform the essential functions of the job and if your experience qualifies you for the work. A job announcement will probably list the crucial tasks of a job, or it will come up in the job interview discussion. If not, ask! What skills does the job require? Be sure you have the expertise to perform the essential functions. Check out www.ada.gov for multiple resources to help you.

When To Tell A Prospective Employer Of Your Hearing Loss

An employer is not allowed to ask you about medical conditions or make your employment contingent upon passing a medical exam. It is your decision when to discuss your hearing loss with an employer. Please understand that an employer can ask if you can perform the job duties with or without accommodation. When you do decide to speak to the employer, here are a few tips that may help you:

  • If you are involved in a telephone interview and use phone captioning, tell the prospective employer about possible response delays.
  • You will need to disclose your hearing loss if you require CART or a sign language interpreter.
  • If you believe you will need accommodations for the job to participate in meetings, phone calls, or other work tasks, inform the employer at the job interview.
  • Having a positive attitude and being comfortable with your hearing loss may give you an advantage during an interview as you display a can-do attitude which employers value.

Use Your Strengths

If you have a hearing loss, try to avoid any job that may emphasize your limitations. Even if an employer will make reasonable accommodations, try to find jobs that need minimal accommodations. Does the job require functioning as a team? If this is the situation, try to locate work where all team members are in one place as opposed to using teleconferences. Avoid those jobs that are carried out in noisy environments unless it will benefit your job performance.
Don’t make an apology for your hearing loss and don’t dwell on it. Instead, keep the focus on what you can do for the employer and how you can be a tremendous asset to their company. Remember, the employer is trying to imagine you as a part of their work team. It is up to you to make sure they see you and your talents and not your hearing loss.

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What is Normal Hearing?

What is normal hearing

Have you ever wondered about hearing loss and what is considered “normal” hearing? You’re not alone. With so many people now living with a diagnosis of hearing, it’s no surprise that many wonder just what exactly “normal” is. Scientists determined the standard many years ago and with the help of many, many people.
How hearing works
Before we discuss how science determined normal levels of hearing, it’s important to understand just how your hearing works. It all starts with a sound that is captured by your outer ear. These sounds (sound waves) are funneled into your ear canal. From there, sound waves hit the eardrum. As they vibrate the eardrum, which is the beginning of the middle ear, the eardrum moves three small bones called ossicles to varying degrees depending on the pitch of the sound. It doesn’t end there, though.
As the ossicles move, signals are sent to the inner ear and the cochlea. The fluid within the cochlea begins to move, moving the hair-like cells within it. This minute movement is then translated to the brain as sound by way of the auditory nerve. In many cases, it is damage to the small hair-like structures of the inner ear, due to aging or exposure to loud noise, that result in hearing loss.
Hearing and hearing loss
As long as there have been humans there has been hearing loss. There is evidence of hearing loss in 10,000 year old skeletal remains from the Middle East, writings on the subject from Plato and Aristotle and the first electronic hearing aids were developed in 1940. It’s no wonder that science wanted to find common ground and global standards for hearing and hearing loss.
The core of that standard is “audiometric zero.” Audiometric zero is the frequency range detectable by someone with normal hearing. Generally, that range is from 0 dBHL (Decibel Hearing Level) to approximately 20 dBHL. It took a unique approach to determine this range, though. Researchers tested the hearing of thousands of attendees at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Once they were done, they determined an average for the lowest level those people could hear at certain frequencies. The resulting information became audiometric zero.
What does that mean?
Those with hearing loss are those who only hear louder sounds, those over 20 dBHL. They are unable to hear within the audiometric zero range.
Individuals can have varying degrees of hearing loss as determined by a hearing evaluation:

  • Hearing loss of 20 to 40 decibels = mild hearing loss
  • Hearing loss of 41 to 60 decibels = moderate hearing loss
  • Hearing loss of 61 to 80 decibels = severe hearing loss
  • Hearing loss of more than 81 decibels = profound hearing loss

Any loss over 40 decibels is considered a hearing impairment.
To give you a better idea of what these decibel levels mean, here are some common sounds and where they measure in decibels:
Quiet countryside: 20 dB
Conversation: 60 dB
Traffic: 80 dB
Jet engine: 140 dB
Sustained exposure to noises over 90 dB can lead to hearing loss.
Our hearing is delicate and easily damaged. It is important to protect it with hearing protection and regular hearing evaluations. These screenings can help determine if you have a hearing loss and how best to manage it to protect further loss.