Avoiding Ear Pain during the Travel Season

Now that the weather is warming up and the kids will be home for the summer we are starting to the see the beginning of the travel season. Every year, around this time in May more and more patients begin to ask me what they can do to avoid ear pain as they begin to travel and take vacations so I have decided to compile my most effective tips into this week’s post. This stretching of the eardrum can cause pain. The eardrum also cannot vibrate when it is stretched thus causing a decrease in hearing. Thus when flying whether ascending or descending you need to try to keep the pressure equalize via the eustachian tube. Ways to do this are listed below:

Swallow: Frequent swallowing causes the eustachian tube to open more frequently thus helping to keep the pressure equal.
Chewing gum or sucking: For an adult chewing gum or sucking on a hard candy causes a person to salivate and thus swallows more keeping the eustachian tube active.
For Children: With infants their eustachian tubes are narrow and flatter than adults the pressure can be more intense. Ear pain relief drops can be prescribed by a pediatrician before flight as well. Give them a bottle or pacifier to suck on especially on descent. Older children can suck on a sucker, suck through a straw or blow bubbles through a straw to help alleviate ear pain.
Valsalva Maneuver: With a mouthful of air, close your mouth and pinch your nose shut. Gently force air out until ears your ears pop. If you are sick with a cold or allergies, the Valsalva maneuver is not recommended, as it could cause a severe ear infection. Instead, try a lesser known method called the Toynbee maneuver: close your mouth and nose and swallow several times until pressure equalizes.
Do not sleep on ascent and descent
Stay Hydrated: by drinking which also results in swallowing
Earplanes: Filtered earplugs available at drugstores
Nasal Spray: The use of nasal spray and decongestant one hour before landing can be helpful to keep the mucous in the eustachian tube reduced thus the tube remains clear and open.
Head Cold: Do not fly with congestion

If hearing does not return to normal within several days post travel see your physician.

Tips for Better Hearing in honor of Better Hearing Month

Tips for Better Hearing

Even the smallest change in a listening environment of a person with hearing loss can have a huge impact.  People are generally not good communicators.  We have bad habits that we do not even realize that we exhibit when communicating with our loved ones.  Some of the things we should NOT do when communicating with people who have difficulty hearing are:

  1. Do not walk away when speaking to them.  Many people with hearing loss rely heavily on facial content.  They likely read lips more that they realize and can get a lot of information from facial expressions as well.
  2. Do not yell when speaking to them.  Speaking loudly can often actually distort the sound quality and even cause discomfort.  Speak in a regular speed just clearly annunciate your words.
  3. Do not chew gum, eat or otherwise do things that may cause your words to become unclear.
  4. Do not assume they know you are talking to them.  Get their attention before beginning the conversation.  Let them know what the conversation is about so they can look for content that makes sense for the conversation.
  5. Do not say the same thing over and over again.  If it seems like you are not being heard or understood change the words you use.  Some words are easier to lip read or are made up of sounds that carry better like vowels.
  6. Do not try to communicate in poor listening environments.  When choosing a table in a restaurant make sure they have their back to the wall so there is no competing noise coming from behind them.  Request a booth if possible.  If there are only tables request a table away from the bar or kitchen, where it is generally more noisey.
  7. Do not get frustrated and I know this is hard but please be patient with the hearing impaired they are working very hard to be a part of the conversation.

Tips for communicating with the hard of hearing person

Even the smallest change in a listening environment of a person with hearing loss can have a huge impact. People are generally not good communicators. We have bad habits that we do not even realize that we exhibit when communicating with our loved ones. Some of the things we should NOT do when communicating with people who have difficulty hearing are:
*Do not walk away when speaking to them. Many people with hearing loss rely heavily on facial content. They likely read lips more than they realize and can get a lot of information from facial expressions as well.
*Do not yell when speaking to them. Speaking loudly can often actually distort the sound quality and even cause discomfort. Speak in a regular volume and average speed just clearly enunciate your words.
*Do not chew gum, eat or otherwise do things that may cause your words to become unclear.
*Do not assume they know you are talking to them. Get their attention before beginning the conversation. Let them know what the conversation is about so they can look for content that makes sense for the conversation.
*Do not say the same thing over and over again. If it seems like you are not being heard or understood change the words you use. Some words are easier to lip read or are made up of sounds that the listener can understand better.
*Do not try to communicate in poor listening environments. When choosing a table in a restaurant make sure those with hearing loss have their back to the wall so there is no competing noise coming from behind them. Request a booth if possible. If there are only tables request a table away from the bar or kitchen, where it is generally more noisy.
*Do not get frustrated and I know this is hard but please be patient with the hearing impaired they are working very hard to be a part of the conversation.

Halo 2 Slide

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Muse Slide

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What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

90% of all hearing loss is sensorineural (pronounced “sensory-neural”), which is hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathway from the inner ear to the brain.  Below are the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss.

  • Aging: As you age, hearing loss is pretty much inevitable.
  • Noise Exposure: Firearms, heavy machinery, music… if it hurts your ears, it’s probably hurting your hearing.
  • Head Trauma: Falls, concussions, sports injuries… when your head gets jolted, your hearing “system” can suffer.
  • Virus or Disease: Diseases that spike fevers, like measles, meningitis, and mumps, can lead to hearing loss.
  • Genetics: Good looks and goofy jokes aren’t the only things moms and dads pass down.
  • Ototoxicity: Believe it or not, medications like aspirin, certain antibiotics, and some anti-cancer drugs can cause hearing loss.

If you have sensorineural hearing loss – no matter the cause – there is a good chance you can benefit from wearing hearing aids.  Call one of our offices to schedule an appointment today. Together we will improve your quality of life by finding the hearing aid that will work best with your budget and lifestyle.

The Truth About Hearing Aid Repairs and Maintenance

It is not uncommon for hearing aids to require some degree of service each year, which is why they are sold with warranties and repair coverage.

But just how often each person’s hearing aids will need repair is difficult to predict. 

That’s because variables like usage, care, and even your lifestyle come into play. Are you active? Do you work in an office, or at a job that’s outside or is physically demanding? Do you live in a warm, wet or humid climate? Do you store your hearing aids in their case every night? Use a drying case? Throw them in the bottom of your purse when you aren’t wearing them? Diligently remove them before every shower or when you go out in the pouring rain? You get the idea. 

And because hearing aids sit inside or behind your ear, they are exposed to elements that are not exactly ideal. Humidity, earwax, moisture and debris can each affect hearing aid performance and longevity. By far, the majority of repairs that clinics and manufacturers see are simply to remove wax and debris.

Hearing aids are built to be worn every day and can handle a lot. But they are small, sophisticated electronic devices, and need to be treated as such. So while it’s impossible to know how often your hearing aids will need to be repaired, I can tell you that regular cleaning, routine maintenance and diligent care will go a long way to keeping them on your ears and out of the repair shop.

Regular cleanings are included in your purchase price with Good Sound Audiology (if you purchased your hearing aids elsewhere, there will be a small fee). There is no appointment necessary. Stop in to one of our offices today!

3 Reasons to Upgrade

“Immediate difference in clarity.”

“The quality and performance is really beyond anything I’ve seen.”

“Patients have experienced a significant improvement in sound quality when comparing hearing aids, even to recent technology.”

“Patients have noticed improvement when listening to music and improvement for clarity of softer voices.”

The above are just a few things current hearing aid wearers and hearing professionals have said after trying the latest hearing advancements in the newly released “Made for Life” hearing aids built with Synergy technology.

The latest release of new products (Muse, Halo 2, the Muse CROS System and SoundLens Synergy) represent years of research and clinical trials all aimed at providing better audibility and speech understanding as well as comfort.

Built with Starkey’s brand-new Synergy platform, all our new products are designed so that you can hear all the subtleties of life. Understand the subtle tone or accent in a loved one’s voice and enjoy nuances in the notes of your favorite song.

With new and exciting technological advancements current hearing aid wearers often ask when they should consider upgrading to new technology.

Each person’s need for an upgrade is different, but here are three reasons you may want to consider an upgrade:

  • To accommodate a change in hearing: Updating to new technology may be necessary to accommodate a significant change in hearing. If you begin to notice more difficulty understanding speech, TV, or hearing in noise, your hearing may have changed. Keep in mind that age-related hearing loss does change over time. Changes in hearing are expected and hearing acuity often diminishes over time. Upgrading to more sophisticated technology can help compensate for these changes.
  • To accommodate a change in lifestyle: Changes in occupational requirements, living situations, and outside interests often require better or different performance from your hearing aids. Conference calls, meetings, or an increase in social activities may require more advanced technology. An active lifestyle can take you from one difficult listening situation to another. Recent advancements in mechanical algorithms help tackle one of the biggest challenges hearing aid wearers face: hearing and understanding speech well in noise. Treating your hearing loss with the most sophisticated technology available will allow you to hear well in a number of challenging environments.
  • To improve overall listening performance: Experienced hearing aid wearers often develop specific listening preferences. New advancements give listeners more control over hearing aid settings and functionality. For example, with Halo 2 and the TruLink Hearing Control App, unique listening preferences for specific environments such as a favorite restaurant or coffee shop can be saved and easily accessed as geotagged memories. Changes in wireless technology allows you to seamlessly stream audio from your phone or other media devices directly to your hearing aids. The newest technologies even feature a specific prescription designed uniquely for music for a high-definition audio experience. Ear-to-ear technology also allows your hearing aids to make environmental decisions by communicating with each other, making listening in difficult environments more comfortable. Starkey’s industry-leading feedback technology provides stable gain without whistling, while their Surface Nano Shield technology protects hearing aids from water and oil, reducing the need for repairs.

Having your hearing checked annually and discussing any changes with your hearing professional can help you determine when an update might be necessary. Professionals understand the available hearing aid options and can work with you to find the right technology for your hearing and your lifestyle.

Hearing Loss Isn’t So Invisible

Hearing loss is commonly referred to as an invisible health condition, and early warning signs are often overlooked. Unlike other medical conditions, you can’t physically see the signs of hearing loss. Often the most difficult step in improving your hearing is recognizing you need help.

Hearing loss can develop at any age and can be caused by a number of different factors. Individuals with hearing loss often have difficulty following conversations and understanding the voices of women and children. Most complain that people mumble or talk too fast and many also experience tinnitus, a high-pitched ringing in the ears.

Less than 5 percent of hearing loss in adults can be treated medically or surgically, which means 95 percent of adults with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids are high-tech devices that help compensate for a loss of frequency by amplifying sounds and helping replace inaudible high-frequency sounds by replicating them with audible low-frequency sounds. Hearing aids today are small and incredibly powerful, available in a variety of options from invisible solutions that fit deep inside your ear to wireless Behind-The-Ear options that stream audio directly from your television, radio or telephone.

If you’ve noticed a change in your own hearing or the hearing of a loved one, the next step is to schedule a complete hearing evaluation with our Doctors of Audiology.

You may be wondering why it’s important to see a Doctor of Audiology when there are other options to purchase hearing aids online or at a big box store. You may also consult with friends, read online reviews, sort through detailed product descriptions, or ask for input on social media sites. Consumer data is just a click away on your smartphone or tablet. Who you see for your hearing healthcare is an important decision.

Audiologists are experts with the training and equipment necessary to inspect your ear, determine the degree and type of hearing loss, assess your unique listening needs, and prescribe hearing solutions to fit your lifestyle and budget. No person’s hearing loss is identical to another, and each person’s physical ear configuration is unique.

Only a Doctor of Audiology can help you accomplish the following accurately:

  • Give accurate hearing examinations and safe ear cleanings
  • Determine your degree and type of hearing loss along with possible causes
  • Help identify the most appropriate hearing solution for your hearing loss and lifestyle needs
  • Work with you to ensure your hearing aid settings are working for your lifestyle, help with repair and maintenance, and help track your hearing loss for any signs of decline throughout the year

 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the appointment.

At your appointment, the results of your hearing test will be explained to you by your doctor. Your Audiologist will ask about your lifestyle and the types of listening environments you frequent to determine the technology and product features that would be most beneficial. You will be able to see the different types of hearing aids and discuss your preference for size, color and invisibility. Your Audiologist will help you narrow down your choice of hearing instruments based on the degree and type of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, the investment you are comfortable making. Insurance coverage and payment plan options will also be discussed.

Good Sound Audiology also provides ongoing support and care for your hearing and your hearing aids. The biggest reason to see a Doctor of Audiology is to ensure that your hearing aids are personally customized for your unique lifestyle and hearing needs. Our doctors are invested in your success and your hearing journey, so you should always be open and honest about what you do and don’t like during fitting and adjustment appointments.

Finally, once you have your hearing aids, your Audiologist will walk you through proper care and maintenance. Hearing aids are advanced technological devices akin to a computer but in a very compact package. After your initial fitting, you will probably see your Audiologist for updated programming, repairs and cleanings as you adjust to and use your hearing aids more several times per year. This type of personalized care is not available if your hearing aids are purchased online.

Recognizing, diagnosing and treating hearing loss can profoundly improve quality of life. Acknowledging the presence of hearing loss is the first step toward improving communication with your family and friends. Take the next step to restore your hearing by contacting us  at Good Sound Audiology today!

 

Strategies For Telling Others You Have A Hearing Loss

“It’s noisy in here.”
“The wind is really strong.”
“Your phone keeps breaking up and dropping your voice.”
“Can you stop mumbling please?”

We’ve all used these excuses before, and we’ve all learned that down the line, they really don’t do us any good. Admitting you have a hearing loss shouldn’t be embarrassing, but for many it is, and telling others that you can’t hear well can be difficult. And just like you would speak differently to your boss than you would to your significant other, telling a person you have a hearing loss can vary based on what that the person means to you.
Here are some tips for telling the people in your life that you have hearing loss and how you can work together to make the most out of your relationships.

Family and friends

The people that you are closest to can be the most difficult to admit a problem to, but they are also going to be the ones who will notice it before anyone else. In fact, your friends and family will probably be the ones who identify your hearing loss before you do. The problem with this group is that they may be acting as advocates, pushing you to the doctor’s office or to try hearing aids before you are ready. Maybe you need hearing aids, maybe you don’t. The point is that you are the one who has to wear them and you have to live with them. So in the end, all that matters is that you have to be the one who is ready.
Calmly explain to them that yes, you have difficulty hearing but that you need to be the one to ask for help. If you are not ready for hearing aids, suggest ways they can help make it easier for you to hear and understand them. If you are ready to consider hearing aids, then ask someone to accompany you when you go to your hearing care professional’s office. That person will be a great pillar of support and will actually help you and your provider get the best overall picture of how your hearing loss affects your lifestyle.

Significant other
When you are in a relationship with someone, whether the relationship is brand new or going on thirty years, hearing loss can significantly impact how you communicate, express feelings, deal with difficult situations and even affect romance. Being open and honest with your significant other is key to keeping the peace in your relationship. If your partner also suffers from a hearing loss, it may be easier to explain your own loss and you may even bond over your shared difficulties. If your partner has normal hearing, it is best to tell him or her as soon as possible.
Go to a quiet restaurant, have a movie night at home or just take a walk in a quiet park and explain to your partner what sounds are hard to hear, what environments are difficult to hear in, what sounds or noises make understanding speech difficult and what he or she can do to help make it easier. While you may be initially embarrassed to tell your partner of your hearing loss, doing so will make him or her more conscious of your hearing and feelings, and you will be less likely to encounter conflict resulting from you missing a word or phrase.

Coworkers/boss
You probably spend more time at work than you do at home, so making sure your coworkers and boss are aware of your hearing loss is key to your job performance and at-work interactions. Pull your boss aside for 10-20 minutes or schedule a coffee together one morning. Make sure you have his or her full attention and explain how your hearing loss affects your job and what you do and others can do to help.
• Suggest that you are always facing the main speaker during a meeting or that someone is always in charge of sending post-meeting summary notes.
• Ask if your office number could be your cell if you have hearing aids that stream calls directly to your phone.
Taking the time to sit down and tell your boss the difficulties you could face and making suggestions to overcome them will make your job easier and will prevent you from accidentally getting in trouble because you may have missed an important point in a meeting.
Your coworkers quickly become your friends, so it is often best to tell them once you begin to work with them. You will interact on a daily basis and will need to rely on and trust in each other to accomplish key tasks and assignments. Explain to them what sounds and words are hard for you to understand and what environments are difficult to hear in.
• Ask them to email or speak with you in person before calling.
• If they forget you have a hearing loss, politely remind them that you have an easier time understanding them when they are facing you directly.

Strangers

This group can be the easiest or hardest to explain your hearing loss to.
If the individual is a “work” stranger, it’s best to tell them of your hearing loss immediately, especially if this is the only time you will be speaking face to face. If you are not comfortable doing so, consider asking your boss before meeting this person to explain to him or her that you have trouble hearing and to suggest ways to accommodate you best. Work-related strangers could be clients or executives, and while they are typically people you don’t see often, their words are often the most important to hear. It is better to be upfront about your hearing loss so that you can have the best chance at understanding what they say and not feel like you’re on a different page or struggling to keep up with everyone else.
If the stranger is someone you meet at a bar, party, at school or in an otherwise non-office situation, it is really up to you whether or not you tell him or her of your hearing loss. You may not feel comfortable around the stranger and not want to share, and that’s OK. If a friend or family member you trust is with you, ask them to help mediate the conversation between you and the stranger. This way you don’t miss anything and you don’t have to explain your hearing loss yet. If you feel comfortable telling the stranger, simply explain to them that you have hearing loss and may have to ask them to repeat things every so often. They will be understanding of your situation and respect you for your honesty.

Ultimately, hearing aids can help you interact better with each of the above groups. They are not perfect, and it is still a good idea to be openly honest about your hearing loss, but hearing aids can help you hear better in both quiet and noisy environments, pick up on sounds you might otherwise miss and give you a much more enjoyable social experience where you aren’t struggling to understand important speech or sound.

Schedule your appointment with our office today to discuss other strategies that may be helpful for communicating with hearing loss.