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Have Hearing loss? Try This Home Technology

If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss, especially if it’s a recent diagnosis, you may be wondering how it will change your day-to-day life. The good news is that as the number of people diagnosed with hearing loss has grown and technology has advanced, the options available to support those with hearing loss have grown. This means, with the right tools on hand, especially at home, navigating your day may be easier than ever.
Hearing loss becomes more common
According to the Hearing Health Foundation, an estimated 48 million Americans of all ages report trouble hearing. When experts break that down, it means:

  • Almost 50% of people ages 75+
  • Nearly 33% of people between ages 65-74
  • Almost 15% of people between ages 45 and 64
  • 8 million people between ages 18 and 44

That means millions of Americans, many with previously normal hearing, now diagnosed with hearing loss and living in a world that is designed for the hearing.
Thankfully, simple changes in the home can help those with hearing loss adapt and thrive.
Home technology for hearing loss
While there are numerous options now to support individuals with hearing loss, including advanced hearing aids, assistive listening devices and even apps for everything under the sun, tools like these are an important consideration for the home:

  • Specialized alarm clocks – If you follow your hearing health care professional’s recommendations, you’ll remove and clean your hearing aids before bed, then leave them out and open to allow any built-up moisture to escape. That’s a smart strategy to maintain your hearing aid and hearing aid batteries, but if you need to hear an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, then what? Opt for a specialized alarm clock that uses light, a vibration of the bed or a watch on the wrist, extra loud sound or even a particularly strong smell to wake you up.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for the hearing impaired – Similar to alarm clocks, these specialized detectors use alternative notifications to keep you safe. These include strobe light alerts, vibration, increased volume or varying tones. Many of these options can also be connected to in-home alert systems that notify you of emergencies such as severe weather as well as fire.
  • Doorbells that connect – Doorbell technology has moved well beyond the simple old buzzers. That’s true for everyone, not just those with hearing loss. There are now plenty of WiFi-connected options that connect to other devices in the home. They can notify with an extra loud sound, lights and even screens around the house showing that someone is at the door or approaching your home. Prefer something that’s not so connected? Simple doorbells that flash or use higher volume are also available for those with hearing loss.
  • Telephones – Whether it’s a traditional landline or your cellphone, consider options such a captioning phone or captioning app to help you maintain communication with hearing loss. Speech-to-text apps are another option. Many of today’s hearing aids also connect directly with phones via Bluetooth to make phone conversations more comfortable than ever.

Outfit your home to support your hearing loss with technology like this to make your everyday life easier.
If you have questions or believe you may need hearing aids to treat hearing loss, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

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Here Are Some Important Things You Should Know If You Sleep with Earplugs

If you’ve ever had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to noise, you may have considered using earplugs – or you might be using them already. Earplugs are a simple and effective way to block out noise, which can help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.
In fact, research has shown that using earplugs, along with eye masks, can help increase REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the deepest form of sleep, and it is responsible for supporting a number of your body and brain’s important processes, including memory consolidation. Furthermore, earplugs can help increase melatonin levels in your body. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Earplugs are a great option for enhancing sleep, especially because they are easy to use and are very affordable. They also have few side effects, which is a benefit for many people who want to avoid the potential side effects of over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids and pills. Using earplugs is helpful for people who are light sleepers, who live in noisy environments or neighborhoods, or who want to sleep in public areas.
As it turns out, getting enough sleep is critical to your health. Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk for several serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. In addition to increasing the risks to your health in the long run, a lack of sleep can also lead to immediate consequences. These may include:

  • Problems focusing
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory difficulties
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Reduced strength

Earplugs are a simple way to help you get more sleep and avoid these negative effects. You can use earplugs on a regular basis, often with no side effects or problems.
There are two main types of earplugs: expandable foam earplugs and cone earplugs. To wear expandable foam earplugs, roll the earplug into a tight cylinder, and then insert it about halfway into the ear canal. It will expand to fit your ear. Cone earplugs do not expand; simply insert the smaller end into the ear canal and gently press it in to tighten the fit. You’ll know your earplugs are properly inserted if they significantly reduce noise and are comfortable enough to sleep with.
While using earplugs is very straightforward, it is not completely without risks. The most common issue encountered by earplug wearers is a buildup of earwax. Earwax (cerumen) is a waxy substance in the ears. Its purpose is to protect the ear canal from bacteria, water, dead skin, and other debris. However, if you are repeatedly blocking the ear canal by regularly wearing earplugs, it may result in a buildup of earwax. Common signs of earwax buildup include:

  • Tinnitus (ringing noise in the ears)
  • Dizziness
  • Itching and discomfort in the ear
  • Cough
  • Hearing difficulties

If you have earwax buildup, your hearing health care professional may recommend medical eardrops or removal of the earwax.
In some cases, regularly using earplugs may result in an ear infection. This is due to bacteria in the ear canal, whether it is from the earplug itself or a buildup of earwax. Symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Itching and discomfort in the ear

If you believe that you may have an ear infection or a buildup of earwax, we encourage you to contact your audiologist or general physician. Bacterial ear infections can be cleared up with the use of an antibiotic.
While using earplugs has a few associated risks, for many people, the benefits far outweigh the risks. To learn more about how using earplugs can help you get better sleep, or if you have questions about the proper use of earplugs, please contact our audiology practice today.

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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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Choose These Foods for Better Hearing Health

food and hearing health

“The fork is your most powerful tool to change your health and the planet; food is the most powerful medicine to heal chronic illness.”
-Mark Hyman, M.D.
Food and nutrition are at the forefront of the health conversation these days and for a good reason. The link between what we eat and risk of so many conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes has been shown in research again and again. People around the world are looking to food for health benefits, but did you know that your diet could also impact your hearing health?
Supporting your hearing health, one forkful at a time may be easier than you think!
Fill your plate with these foods
While certain foods, vitamins and minerals have been connected to better hearing health, an overall healthy diet provides a crucial foundation. Studies like this indicate that it may rank right up there with noise exposure in importance and studies like this underline how a healthy diet can reduce the risk of hearing loss.
In general, fill your plate with:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy fats in recommended amounts

These types of foods can support overall health by supporting the cardiovascular system and reducing inflammation throughout the body, but there’s more you can do when it comes to eating for healthy hearing.
Focus on these foods for hearing health
While it’s smart to follow a healthy total diet, some of the newest research points to particular nutrients that are especially powerful in supporting hearing health (and reducing the risk of hearing loss). While more studies are needed, it’s hard to find a downside in adding vitamins, minerals and foods like these to your diet to boost hearing health:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids – While it’s unclear the exact link, in the Blue Mountains Hearing study, researchers identified a connection between how much fatty fish individuals ate and their risk of hearing impairment. The more salmon, mackerel, herring, black walnuts, flaxseed oil and similar omega 3-rich foods people ate, the lower their risk of hearing loss.
  • Folate – Found in dark leafy greens (think spinach and arugula), artichokes, fortified breakfast cereal, beans and other legumes, studies have found that skimping on folate can negatively impact blood flow to the inner ear increasing the risk of hearing loss.
  • Magnesium + Vitamins A, C, E – Combine this mineral and these vitamins, and you’ve got a powerhouse for hearing health according to a recent study. Working together, these vitamins and mineral may help protect against loud noises by reducing the free radicals that begin circulating after noise exposure. Those are the same free radicals that can damage the inner ear. Getting more is as easy as adding avocados, nuts and seeds, whole grains, tofu, red sweet peppers, salmon, eggs, sweet potato, guavas, and even dark chocolate to your meals, to name a few.
  • Potassium – This mineral works in harmony with sodium to help regulate fluid within the body. That includes the fluid of the inner ear. Without this important fluid, electrical impulses cannot be transmitted, and hearing is impaired. To make sure you’re getting enough potassium, add foods such as potatoes, chard and white beans to your diet.

Take steps to support your hearing health today by adding foods like these to your diet.
If you’d like to learn more ways to help protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss, contact our office. We can work with you to schedule a hearing evaluation, treat any hearing loss, and give you ideas to support your hearing.

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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!