This week, Dr. Hapka discusses the misconception that hearing devices can have a negative impact on your hearing. Have you ever wondered if hearing devices are really the best option? Are there risks? Let’s find out…
Dr. Jessee is so excited to have another pair of custom sleep plugs. They have made a world of difference when sleeping on planes. If you have a partner who snores or live in a noisy household they can help you, too!
Just like cars, hearing aids require a certain degree of routine maintenance to keep them functioning at optimal capacity. And while some maintenance items should be used only by the manufacturer or by us, there are many other preventative measures that you can complete regularly to ensure that your hearing aid is at full-functioning capacity!
Below we examine three main causes or hearing aid problems and offer cleaning and care tips to help!
Battling Ear Wax
Ear wax is often described as the hearing aid’s worst enemy, and rightfully so as the most common cause for hearing aid repairs across the industry. While ear wax is a healthy, normal occurrence in the ear canal, it can create a number of problems for a hearing aid. The ear canal contains not only the solid or soft components of ear wax but also vapor that can migrate deep into the hearing aid where it can become solid and settle on critical mechanical components.
What you can do:
- Clean your hearing aids every morning: In order to prevent wax from clogging critical components of your hearing aids, such as the microphones or receivers, it is important to wipe off the hearing aid each morning. Tissues should not be used if they contain aloe or lotions, and cleaning cloths should be cleaned regularly to avoid re-depositing of wax or other debris. It is best to wipe hearing aids in the morning when the wax has had the opportunity to dry and will be easier to remove.
- Don’t wipe onto the microphone ports: Be careful to not wipe debris onto the microphone ports from another part of the aid.
- Take care of your hearing aid tubing: When hearing aids are fit with either a thin tube or standard-sized earmold tubing, often times you will receive a tool used to clean the tubing when it is removed from the hearing aid itself. This cleaning should be performed regularly in order to prevent wax buildup within the tubing.
Any exposure to water, humidity, condensation or perspiration can cause serious damage to a hearing aid. Our hearing aids use Surface™ Nanoshield moisture and wax repellant to help repel water, oils and debris. But as with any technology, nothing is 100 percent safe. If your hearing aids are accidentally exposed to large amounts of moisture, contact your hearing professional right away.
While accidental immersion in a bath or swimming pool can happen, preventative measures can help guard from moisture buildup within the device during normal usage.
- Avoid accidental exposure to water: Remove hearing aids when planning to swim or when planning to interact with large bodies of water. Store hearing aids in their storage case and keep somewhere cool and shady to avoid condensation and overheating.
- Keep a routine: Try to adhere to a routine when it comes to your hearing aids to help avoid accidents. For example, if you typically shower first thing in the morning, always leave your hearing aids in their storage case in the same place every time (not in the bathroom) in order to avoid forgetting to take them out before bathing or accidentally knocking them into the sink or toilet.
- Remove condensation in tubing: Moisture can collect on the inside of earmold tubing through condensation as warm moist air from the ear canal migrates out to the cooler tubing walls exposed to the environment. If moisture is noted in the tubing of a standard BTE hearing aid, a tube blower may be used to force the moisture out of the tubing after removing the tubing from the earhook.
- Open battery doors at night: At night, hearing aid battery doors should be left open to allow air to flow through the device; this has the added benefit of preserving battery life. Ideally, hearing aids should be stored in a dehumidifying container. These serve not only as a safe nighttime storage container but also act as a moisture absorbing environment to help draw moisture from the devices into moisture absorbing crystals or packs. NOTE: follow proper use and maintenance instructions of dehumidifying devices as some may require reactivation or replacement parts after a certain amount of usage.
Avoiding Physical Damage
To prevent damage, hearing aids should be stored in a consistent, safe manner whenever they’re not in use. They should be placed out of the reach of small children and pets, as animals tend to be drawn to the devices due to the lingering human scent.
When damage occurs, gather all components of the hearing device and schedule an appointment with your professional as soon as possible.
If there is damage to the casing, the devices should not be worn as sharp edges may cause irritation or abrasion to the ear and surrounding areas.
Damage to the tubing, either tears or pinches, should be addressed as soon as possible as such damages can have severe effects on the sound quality of the hearing device
Make sure to utilize these tips to get the most out of your hearing aids and to keep them in optimal working condition. If you have any questions on the best ways to maintain and keep your hearing aids clean please do not hesitate to contact us or stop in at one of our three offices!
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
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 that 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 speed just clearly annunciate 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 carry better like vowels.
- 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.
- 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.
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!