When you come to your first appointment with us, we encourage you to bring a companion, someone who spends a lot of time with you. Why is that? Because they’re able to give us a different perspective on your hearing loss. In fact, your companion probably noticed your hearing loss — and how it was […]
My Tinnitus Has a Melody — Is That Possible? You probably know someone who experiences tinnitus — a ringing, buzzing, pulsing, hissing, or humming with no external source. People often call it “ringing in the ears,” and it affects approximately 15% of the U.S. population, according to the American Tinnitus Association. But did you know […]
Hearing Care Q & A Question: Why Do You Encourage Us to Bring a Companion? Answer: The simple answer is that everyone benefits, including your audiologist. Let’s unpack some of the reasons for this: Hearing loss affects your companion, too Once someone suspects they have hearing issues, they’ll wait, on average, seven years before […]
Nothing says “Summertime, here we come!” like hitting the road, rails, trails, and friendly skies to make new memories with loved ones far and nearby. Whether having some local fun or taking a trip, here are six ways your hearing technology can help you dive in. Look for the Loop Touring a new city? Some […]
Ahhh, spring! As power tools whir, ball games bloom, and concerts sprout, are your ears protected from the louder sounds of the season?
Some noises pack a bigger punch than your ears should take, so for Better Hearing Month this May, we’re sharing three quick tips to keep harmful volumes at bay.
TURN DOWN THE SOUND
Planning a hearty run in the fresh air with favorite tunes in your ears? It’s tempting to crank up the beats, but MP3 players can reach an ear-splitting 105 decibels. Better bet: Enjoy the sounds but turn them down to 50 percent maximum volume or lower.
GUARD YOUR EARS
Cutting that spring grass can feel so satisfying, but the noise of a gas mower can blow past the danger threshold of 85 decibels. Hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs help soften loud sounds and can be customized to your ears, so keep them on hand when using power equipment.
LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE
Spring concerts, sports, and festivals abound, so help keep your hearing sound by wearing hearing protection and taking breaks from the festivities. Permanent hearing loss can result even from a single exposure to loud noise, making it important to give your ears a helpful rest from excess volumes.
When you think about eyeglasses, what do you think of? Most likely your own pair or those of loved ones. If you’re more fashion-minded, you might even think about that funky pair you saw recently on one of your favorite celebrities. You definitely don’t think of old age.
But what about when you think of hearing aids? Probably a different story.
A PR Problem
In the United States, 14 million people 12 years or older have a visual impairment. Thirty million people 12 years or older have hearing loss in both ears — that’s one out of every eight people.
Both eyeglasses and hearing aids correct a sense impairment — so why are eyeglasses a fashion statement, but it takes, on average, seven years for someone to even get their hearing tested after noticing a hearing loss?
Hearing Loss Affects All Age Groups
The idea that hearing loss is something that happens to people in their old age simply isn’t true. Significant numbers of people across all generations experience some degree of hearing loss.
2 to 3 of every 1,000 U.S. babies are born with a detectable hearing loss
1 in 5 U.S. teens has some degree of hearing loss
1 in 8 U.S. kids ages 6 to 19 has hearing loss from using earbuds to listen to music at unsafe volumes
Over 90 percent of U.S. children born with hearing loss have parents with no hearing loss>/li>
According to a World Health Organization report, 50 percent of millennials risk hearing loss because of damaging volumes via personal audio devices; 40 percent do so via noisy entertainment venues such as concerts.
About 1 in 7 U.S. adults ages 20 to 69 has hearing loss
22 percent of U.S. adults are exposed to dangerous noise levels at work
About 1 in 10 U.S. adults experiences tinnitus (a ringing, pulsing, or buzzing only they can hear)
About 90 percent of tinnitus cases have accompanying hearing loss
3 in 5 returning service members experience hearing loss
Among both active and veteran service members, hearing loss and tinnitus are the most reported health issue
50 percent of all blast-induced injuries result in permanent hearing loss
Hearing loss among service members has become a big enough problem that the Department of Defense spearheaded an interactive course that provides early and ongoing hearing loss-prevention training
Normalizing Hearing Loss
Clearly, hearing loss is even more prevalent than vision problems. And it leaves no age group untouched. But the stigma remains, such that only 1 in 5 people who could benefit from hearing technology actually uses it.
But there’s a growing online trend of people discussing their lives with hearing loss — many of them millennials or slightly older — in an attempt to remove the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids.
The Invisible Disability and Me is written by a woman with a cochlear implant who hopes to raise awareness of and support those who’ve experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
Cosmopolitan magazine’s brand connection to millennial women is so strong that it launched a Cosmo Millennial Advisory Board staffed with millennials who are experts in their fields; Cosmopolitan regularly features articles about life with hearing loss, covering topics from dating with hearing loss to becoming a NASA engineer despite having been born profoundly deaf.
The Twitter page Normalize Hearing Loss is “on a mission to normalize hearing loss and hearing aids and other tech the way we’ve normalized glasses,” and encourages users to include @NormalizeHL or #NormalizeHearingLoss in their tweets.
Hearing Tech for Today’s Connected Culture
What’s more, the hearing technology of today is a far cry from the hearing aids of 50 years ago. The digital tech of today is sleek and discreet, minimizes background noise, improves speech clarity in complicated sound environments, and focuses on what’s in front of you rather than taking in and amplifying all sounds equally.
Plus, hearing devices are becoming as connected as everything else. You can stream audio wirelessly from your mobile device to your hearing aids, geotag the hearing aid settings for your favorite locations, even hear a phone call in both ears simultaneously — and control it all on the sly with a smartphone app!
We’re Talking Hearing Tech Powered With Artificial Intelligence
When thinking about the conveniences artificial intelligence can bring, innovations such as Netflix — a film- and TV-streaming service that can learn and make recommendations based on individual viewing preferences — might come to mind. Other machine-learning offerings such as adaptive thermostats, self-driving cars, voice-operated virtual assistants, and automated music platforms may fit the bill, too.
But who could have guessed that artificial intelligence, or AI, would come to hearing technology? We could!
Hearing aids have come a long way, with state-of-the-art clarity, sound directionality, near invisibility, and even smartphone and Bluetooth compatibility. Breakthrough ideas are always in the queue, so we’re excited to share this AI-enhanced AGX® Hearing device that might be for you!
Boost your hearing and overall fitness with the AGXS liv AI. This cutting-edge hearing tech not only offers robust sound, speech clarity in noisy situations, and audio streaming from your smartphone — including phone calls, music, and messages — but can also track your brain and body health to help you achieve your wellness goals.
It’s pretty amazing. The hearing aid, which contains sensors to detect your activities and gestures, works in tandem with the Thrive Hearing Control mobile app to:
Track data such as physical activity, hearing aid use, social engagement, and active listening to provide body, brain, and overall wellness scores that can help you make informed decisions about your health and fitness.
Let you easily converse — through the built-in translation capabilities — with people who speak other languages, breaking down barriers and empowering your communication.
Automatically detect a fall and alert your preselected contacts, helping provide you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Enable remote communication between you and our caring team, so we can fine-tune your device without an in-person appointment — potentially saving you a trip.
With the app, you can even ask questions about your hearing aid and accessories — for example, “How do I adjust the volume?” — for instant help from the voice-controlled assistant.
Ready for a closer look at our groundbreaking AI-powered hearing technology? Call us today to schedule a personal test-drive. Discover the joy of hearing help that’s customized to your life.
In 2011 a landmark study by Frank Lin and colleagues clearly linked hearing loss and dementia. Since then, study results have been mixed regarding the effect of hearing technology on cognitive decline.
But now, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society makes a strong case: It reports that hearing technology slows down age-related memory loss by 75 percent.
In this longitudinal study, researchers used data from the Health and Retirement Survey, an ongoing study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, to analyze 18 years’ worth of memory-related data for 2,040 participants during the period from 1996 to 2014. Each participant was 50 years or older with no dementia or hearing aids at the start of the study.
The memory scores were used to determine how fast each participant was losing memory. The rate of memory loss before adopting hearing aids was compared to the rate after adopting hearing aids, and the rate of decline had slowed by up to 75 percent with the adoption of hearing aids.
The study’s results are robust and important because it followed the same people over 18 years, rather than comparing a group with no hearing loss to a different group with hearing loss. Also, the study was based on the general population and not, for example, only hospital patients or only people in one specific occupation.
A Promising Result
So what does all that mean?
First things first: The cognitive decline in question is a natural result of aging. Hearing aids can’t stop or reverse memory loss. But they can allow you to maintain stronger memory over a longer time than if you hadn’t treated your hearing loss.
It means treating your hearing loss can keep you connected to loved ones more strongly and for a longer time, as well as allow you the ability to maintain independence longer.
It also means that you or a loved one getting a hearing test at the earliest signs of dementia could preserve countless hours of connection you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Spring cleaning is more than an activity — it’s a mindset. Beyond the dusting, de-cobwebbing, and cleaning behind furniture, what else could benefit from a deep dive? Your hearing technology.
The holidays and long winter months can throw even the best of us off our routines. Use that spring-cleaning urge to your advantage and include your hearing technology in your yearly cleaning binge. Here are five ways to get started.
Replace the Wax Filter
Your wax filter can only work well for so long. Eventually it develops a buildup of wax and debris. Once that happens, sound quality starts to suffer, and it’s time to replace the filter. Every style of hearing device is a little different; check out the instructions for yours (and the tools that came with it), check for buildup, and, if needed, replace the filter.
Replace the Dome and Tubing on RIC Devices
Receiver-in-Canal devices not only have wax filters, they also have a dome and tube that can develop wax or debris buildup. As with the wax filter, once buildup develops in the dome or tube, sound quality suffers. Get the tools that came with your devices, check your instructions for how to clean the dome and tubing, and, if necessary, replace them.
Check Your Dehumidifier
A dehumidifier is a cleaning system for your hearing devices. The most basic models remove moisture and dry out wax; other models also disinfect and deodorize your devices.
If you have a dehumidifier that uses a desiccant — a liner, pebble, disc, or brick that absorbs moisture — it also has an expiration or best-by date, beyond which it no longer has sufficient drying power. Check the date, replace the desiccant if needed, and jot down the nearest expiration date somewhere you’re sure to see it.
If you aren’t using a dehumidifier, you should be, especially if you live in a particularly humid environment. Your hearing devices — which are basically small computers — sit in or on your ear all day collecting oils, moisture, and wax. Like all electronic devices, moisture can corrode or degrade the components in your hearing devices. Dehumidifiers remove all that harmful moisture while you sleep!
Update Your Routine
The best way to make hearing aid spring cleaning quick and easy is by keeping up a daily cleaning routine year-round.
When you take your devices out for the night, wipe them free of moisture, oils, and earwax with a soft, dry cloth — don’t use water or cleaning agents such as alcohol. Be sure not to deposit debris into, for example, the microphone ports. Then use the brush that came with your devices to remove debris from the ports and openings, taking care not to insert the bristles into the sound outlet — you could damage the microphone.
Once a month, clean the battery contacts with a dry cotton swab, taking care not to bend the battery contacts. Also check the wax filter to make sure it’s still in good shape.
Clean & Check
No matter how diligent you are about cleaning your devices, the small ports and tubing will eventually trap wax and debris, leading to poor sound quality. That’s why our warranties include complimentary clean and checks every few months — we want your devices working as well as possible for as long as possible. It’s also a great opportunity to get pointers, tips, and tricks if you’re running into problems in your daily cleaning routine!
Q: I’ve heard that my hearing and sense of balance are interconnected. How is that possible?
A: It might seem surprising, but it’s true — your ears and balance go somewhat hand in hand, providing another reason to take care of your hearing wellness. Let’s take a closer look.
Your inner ear includes the cochlea and the vestibular, or balance system. The cochlea is where sound signals are captured, converted to electrical signals, and sent to the brain to be interpreted. The vestibular system, which comprises three bony canals and two pouches, tells your brain where your head is in space and when and how it’s moving.
Both hearing and balance depend heavily on the status of your inner ear, so it makes sense that what affects one may affect the other. Though not all hearing issues involve balance problems and not all balance disorders involve hearing-related conditions, they can intersect.
Take Ménière’s disease, for example, an inner-ear disorder that impacts both balance and hearing. Those living with the condition, which affects about 12 out of 1,000 people worldwide per the Hearing Health Foundation, experience sudden symptoms that can last for hours at a time and severely impact quality of life:
Extreme dizziness, vertigo, or the feeling of spinning
Progressive hearing loss that can become permanent
Ringing, humming, or buzzing in the ears, called “tinnitus”
A fullness or pressure sensation in the ear
Ménière’s disease remains a mystery regarding its exact cause, and diagnosing it can prove challenging due to fluctuations in symptoms. It can, however, be potentially controlled or managed through approaches such as medication, diet, devices, or cognitive therapy. Some patients might even improve on their own. Some might require surgery for severe vertigo.
Like other systems within the body, hearing and balance help reflect the many ways in which various functions are interconnected and potentially interdependent. It’s one of the reasons taking care of your hearing health supports your overall wellness.
If you’re concerned about a hearing or balance problem — yours or a loved one’s — contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’re here to help!