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Hearing Loss

Protect your hearing in the cold of winter

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Hearing Assessment

Why bring someone to a hearing test?

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Protect your hearing in the cold of winter

With snow and cold temperatures upon us with the start of the winter season, people who suffer from hearing loss need to take precaution.

The same as we’re more susceptible to colds and viruses in winter, the weather has an impact on hearing.

Cold temperatures restrict blood circulation in the ear, meaning the more time you spend outside in cold weather, the more likely you are to develop an ear infection.

Recurring ear infections can result in exotosis, also called surfer’s ear, which is caused by regular exposure to cold, wet weather. Exotosis leads to a bony growth outwards from inside the ear.

You can prevent the onset of exotosis by covering the ears with ear muffs or a hat and also not spending too much time outdoors in cold weather.

Another thing to watch out for: the noise of a snow plow or snow blower. Both have become more readily available with the costs of each having come down over the years. They don’t require as much from you in terms of physical effort, but you need to protect your ears from the noise, which can approach or even surpass 100 decibels, basically the level of noise of a rock concert.

One last tidbit: if you wear hearing aids, you know already that cold weather is not good for batteries. Hearing-aid batteries can be prone to moisture damage, so be mindful when outside in cold temperatures of condensation building up in your aids.

The issue with condensation can become more pronounced when you move indoors to warmer temperatures after an extended period outside in the cold.

It is recommended that you use a dehumidifier to keep hearing aids dry.

How Hearing Healthcare of Virginia can help

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, hearing loss is the third most common health condition among adults. Our experts can help you stay connected and thrive in daily life. Understand where your strengths and areas of weakness lie so you can take steps toward improvement. Learn what to expect on your first visit with our experienced and reliable experts.

Hearing healthcare is vital to your well-being. Find out if you are a candidate for hearing aids with our free hearing assessment*.

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Ten signs of hearing loss you can’t afford to miss

If you had hearing loss, would you know it? Not necessarily. Hearing loss often starts subtly and symptoms can take decades to manifest themselves as it progresses slowly over time. The most common type of hearing loss, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), can shift so gradually that you may not realize how much you are missing. In fact, as hearing worsens, you may subconsciously adjust everyday activities and social interactions to cope with hearing difficulties. In time, you might not notice how gradually hearing loss has diminished your ability to live your life to its fullest. Luckily, you can do things to improve this situation and re-engage with loved ones.

Knowing the signs of hearing loss is key to success

There are many signs of hearing loss. It starts with everyday annoyances. Some are blatant, others are subtle. If you or a loved one are showing these signs, we encourage you to make an appointment for a complimentary hearing assessment.*

  1. “People are mumbling” – This could indicate hearing loss.

    You may notice that certain words are difficult to understand. People, especially women and children, may seem to be talking too softly or not enunciating their words. Chances are you find yourself saying, “What did you say?” all the time. If this sounds like you, you may be experiencing hearing loss.

  2. Are restaurants too loud?

    Restaurants are among the hardest places to navigate for people with untreated hearing loss. Background noises, such as clinking dishes, people speaking loudly at other tables and loud music all make it exceptionally challenging to follow a conversation.

  3. Social gatherings aren’t fun anymore

    People talking passionately, music, laughter and other competing sounds can make it harder to take part in get-togethers with family and friends. Perhaps you find yourself “sitting out” of the fun or heading home early. There is good news. You don’t have to. The professionals at Hearing Healthcare of Virginia can help you with ways to cope with hearing loss so you can enjoy the holidays with this simple guide to enjoying social events with hearing loss.

  4. Conversations take too much effort

    Are you exhausted at the end of the day, or a end of the meeting at work? The stress of straining to hear what others are saying can take its toll on your wellness.

  5. Telephone conversations are a struggle

    Telephone, and especially cell phone, transmission is not perfect. Most people can fill in the gaps. Hearing loss compounds the problem and you may struggle to take in the information. This may lead you to avoid phone calls and resort to texting.

  6. Hearing loss affects you and your loved ones

    Hearing loss can take an emotional toll on you and your loved ones. If one or more of these descriptions ring true to you, hearing loss may be the culprit.

  7. High volume is a sign of hearing loss

    Even if you think the volume is fine, if your family and friends complain that you turn up the volume too loud when you watch television or listen to music, you may be experiencing a well-known sign of hearing loss. Are you tired of the constant battle to enjoy TV with family or friends at a sound level that makes everyone happy? It might be worth it to check your hearing, if only to make your family happy.

  8. Are your ears ringing?

    Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is often the first sign of hearing loss. Tinnitus impacts people of all ages, and may be attributed to trauma, exposure to loud noise or illness. It might be a slight annoyance or make it difficult for you to concentrate, sleep, work and even maintain relationships. According to the American Tinnitus Association, 56% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss.[i]

  9. You are out of balance – loss of balance is a sign of hearing loss

    Hearing loss may be a sign of an underlying condition that is also impairing your balance. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Universityii found that even a mild degree of hearing loss tripled the risk of an accidental fall.

  10. You are opting out of engaging with people

Is hearing loss putting you in solitary confinement? Have you noticed that you are embarrassed to meet new people? Perhaps you are afraid to join in because you may not understand what is being said. Perhaps you withdraw if it is easier to live without straining to hear people.

Other signs of hearing loss – You are not yourself

Have you felt depressed, distracted or unengaged? Hearing loss has been linked to dementia, depression and other brain-related ailments, including stroke.

Take the first step to better hearing

Perhaps you’ve avoided getting treatment because you are afraid of the stigma that some people associate with hearing aids. That’s old-school thinking. Besides, today’s hearing aids are minicomputers that subtly fit your ears – and your lifestyle.

To get started, we encourage you to come in for a professional hearing assessment. Book an appointment to speak with a professional about addressing your hearing loss.*

ihttps://www.ata.org/understanding-facts/related-conditions. Accessed December 6, 2018.

iihttps://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling. Accessed December 6, 2018.

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Why bring someone to a hearing test?

Recently, I made an appointment for my father’s hearing assessment with a local audiologist. The woman who confirmed the appointment reminded me that he needed to bring someone to the hearing test. It may seem like an unusual request, but bringing someone to a hearing test can help ensure a higher-quality outcome. It’s best to bring the person who speaks with him most to take part in the familiar voice test. So, last Thursday I joined my dad at the audiologist’s office and I’m so glad I went.

Helping Dad hear better means helping myself

Before I even called, Dad was already a bit reluctant to address his hearing loss. He had a lot of denial about how much he was missing. At 93 years old, he had survived a lifetime without hearing aids, but as his daughter I was tired of constantly having to repeat things, and explain what doctors, friends and even my kids say. Finally, I insisted that he get a free hearing assessment* and eventually he agreed to see what the audiologist had to say.

A hearing assessment starts with a conversation with the audiologist

As expected, the hearing assessment began with the audiologist asking routine questions about Dad’s health. He asked about how well Dad hears in various situations. It seemed the audiologist was not only trying to learn what his needs may be, but also how well Dad could follow along a discussion in a quiet space. 

In the booth

After our talk, the audiologist invited Dad to sit in a booth and listen to tones at different frequencies and volumes. Dad was asked to indicate when he heard something. From my vantage point (outside the booth), I could see the audiologist press buttons, which my Dad didn’t hear. As soon as it was finished, the audiologist explained what the audiogram indicated. As with many older seniors, Dad had below-normal hearing across all frequencies, but he had the most difficulty with higher-pitched sounds. Dad was a bit disappointed to see the results, but I don’t think he was surprised.

The audiologist explained the audiogram key to explain the results. The audiogram showed the conclusions of both the air conduction and bone conduction hearing tests. 

My part in a familiar voice hearing test

A familiar voice hearing test is the main reason to bring someone to a hearing test. It provides a chance for a hearing care provider to see how well an individual understands words spoken by someone close to them. This was when the family member or close friend takes a more active role in the appointment. The audiologist asked me to step into the hallway, about eight feet from where my Dad was sitting. 

Can you hear me now?

As I stood a short distance away, the audiologist asked me to read a list of high-frequency words and have my Dad repeat them.

I said, “pail.”

Dad said, “nail.”

I said, “face.” 

Dad said, “late.”

And so on. It was quite fun to see what I had suspected. His score wasn’t great. Without a hearing aid, Dad only heard three out of ten words correctly. When he heard the outcome, Dad was even more disappointed than with the audiogram. He couldn’t deny it. He couldn’t hear me speaking to him only a few steps away. The audiologist, my Dad and I all witnessed it. 

Getting a different result: a familiar voice hearing test with hearing aids

I have to admit I was feeling a bit vindicated. I’ve been complaining that my father can’t hear me for years. The audiologist popped fresh batteries in a pair of behind-the-ear hearing aids and had him try them on. They were light and comfortable, and a slightly beige color that matched my dad’s coloring. The audiologist asked me to go back into the hallway and repeat the test. 

I said, “cup.”

Dad said, “cup.”

I said, “peach.” 

Dad said, “peach.”

I said, “pew.”

Dad said, “few.”

This time, Dad heard 7 out of 10 words. It was a vast improvement. He was very pleased. 

Another familiar voice hearing test…

With my dad still wearing the hearing aids, the audiologist asked me to walk down the hallway, about 15 or 20 feet away. The audiologist turned off the hearing aids. He asked me to speak in a normal volume and talk about what we were planning to have for dinner. Dad didn’t notice that I’d said anything at all. Once he turned the hearing aids back on, I repeated that I was planning go to the grocery store, and then we would have chicken for dinner. This time Dad heard and repeated every word.  

Why bring someone to a hearing test? Because hearing loved ones matters

My dad lives with me. He is accustomed to the cadence of my voice. Without even thinking about it, he knows that my vowels sound a certain way. Across the United States, we have a variety of regional accents. Even people who grow up in the same town may use different intonations. With familiar voice testing, it is easier for the individual to understand speech in a familiar voice test. 

Next steps: getting a hearing aid and getting used to it

Even experiencing firsthand how well hearing aids improved his ability to understand a conversation and hear people speaking from afar, my 93 year old is very set in his ways. So, I gave a gentle push. 

Improving a senior’s quality of life

For 93 years old, Dad is in incredible shape. He has many activities where hearing well would improve his quality of life. He enjoys playing piano, eating in restaurants, watching Perry Mason and NOVA on TV, and, of course, spending time with family. All of these things would be easier if he could hear better. It wasn’t until I mentioned that he should be able to hear the announcer during soccer matches that he finally agreed that hearing aids would improve his quality of life.

I can’t wait until his new hearing aids arrive. After years of watching him miss a lot of the conversation at family dinners, I’m pleased he’s finally taking the opportunity to hear better. At 93, it might be an big adjustment for him, but after a few weeks he may wonder how he survived decades without hearing aids.

It might be time to book their appointment. Then you can enjoy it when they are asked to bring someone to their free hearing assessment.*

Remember: The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness to determine if the patient(s) may benefit from using hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Test conclusion may not be a medical diagnosis. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Testing is to evaluate your hearing wellness, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.

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The National Campaign for Better Hearing

Encouraging all Americans to get their free hearing assessment* and help others address their hearing health and wellness.

We are pleased to sponsor the National Campaign for Better Hearing—an initiative with the simple but lofty goal of providing a FREE hearing assessment* to EVERY American aged 60 and over. The reason is clear: Research shows significant connections between hearing loss and other serious health problems like depression, mental fatigue, even increased risk of developing dementia.1 Plus, hearing loss is associated with social withdrawal and isolation.2

We are committed to improving community wellness through addressing hearing healthcare needs. The Campaign for Better Hearing gives us an excellent opportunity to join partners across the country in providing access to free hearing healthcare.

How can you take part in the Campaign?

Focus on your hearing: Early detection means improved outcomes

Early detection might not prevent hearing loss, but it may reduce some of its lasting impacts. Together, we can make a difference for the 48 million Americans1 who suffer from hearing loss.

Bring a friend to a hearing appointment

Most hearing assessments* include “familiar voice testing.” A family member or friend reads certain words to the individual, so they can see how well he or she understands a loved one’s speech.

Share your story

As hearing professionals, we have already helped so many, but don’t take our word for it. If you or a loved one has experienced the difference hearing well can make in your life, we’d like to share your story. Tell us about your successful journey to better hearing.

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Do you know the facts?

Studies show2 that untreated hearing loss can negatively affect relationships with friends and family, causing feelings of isolation and making communication difficult.

  • Older adults who use hearing aids show reduced depression symptoms and improved quality of life.1
  • Only 3 in 10 adults who had a physical exam in the last year say it included a hearing screening.3
  • Nearly 50% of adults ages 60-69 have hearing loss.4

Are you one of the nearly 50 million Americans1 with some degree of hearing loss? (If you aren’t sure, then it might be time for a hearing assessment.*)

Get started today by calling: 888-208-5148

1Hearing Health Foundation

2HEARing Cooperative Research Centre

3betterhearing.org

4National Institutes of Health

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