Hearing Test: Preventing Damage To Your Ears

A hearing test is an excellent first step towards diagnosing noise-induced and age-related auditory loss and should be something anyone with problems in this area seeks out immediately. While there is no cure, as such, for these issues modern medical science has provided a number of aids and devices that can help tremendously when it comes to coping. You do not have to go through auditory loss without assistance. Of course, if you have not yet experienced any auditory loss, your primary focus should be on preventing damage in the future. Here are some things you can do to protect your ears.

Avoid Loud Sounds

It's easy to take noise for granted. If you bought your average person from the 1800s forward to the future, they would be appalled at the level of noise we deal with on a daily basis: cars, horns, power tools, sporting events, and so forth. All of this stuff is commonplace today. But our ears have not evolved to match the increase in noise. So, instead, we get chronic auditory loss. You can not shield yourself from typical noise such as traffic but you can take measures to avoid some of the louder sounds you hear on a regular basis. A good pair of earplugs goes a long way.

Turn Down Your Music

If you're a rocker, you may want to consider what your music will sound like when you can no longer hear it. It's always a challenge to envision a scenario that seems so unofficially right now. But it is a very real concern. Talk to anyone who has played electric guitar their own life or has grown up going to rock concerts and you're almost guaranteed to find that they have auditory problems. You do not need to stop listening to music. Just remember that listening to it at loud levels could mean ear damage. If you suspect you have already incurred damage, have a hearing test and see where you're at.

Put Down The Swabs

Not all ear damage comes from noise. The first cotton swabs-on-a-stick were never meant to clean ears with. Somehow, though, that's exactly what they came to be known for. Ear, nose, and throat doctors have been vigilant about warning patients not to use them for this purpose, but to no avail. While there's nothing wrong with swabbing the outer ear folds with a Q-tip, you should never attempt to clean the canal. Not only is this ineffective, it could result in eardrum damage. Have a hearing test if you suspect wax is blocking your ability to hear.

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Need Hearing Aid Help?

Are you in need of some hearing aid help? Your device sounding weak, distorted, or even just not working? There could have been a simple cause behind the breakdown … a simple cause with a simple fix! Before you rush to the repair shop, try a few things at home! Remember – never do anything to your aid that makes you feel uncomfortable. You do not want to damage the aid further. If you do not feel comfortable, call your professional for an appointment and additional advice!

In simple terms, your aids must be clear of obstacles, properly powered, and correctly operated to provide the clear sound quality needed on a daily basis. Simple techniques can be implemented to prevent dysfunction. Keeping the instrument cleaned and daily maintained can help you avoid equipment breakdowns due to issues like obstructions or moisture build up.

Obstructions are a common cause of dysfunction. If the erection is not too deep within the mechanics of the aid, the answer may be as simple as a quick cleaning! First gently wipe down the outside with a dry soft cloth to remove built up wax and skin. Note: water and soap are not to be used directly on the device, but may be acceptable to clean an earmold if it is removed from the hearing aid first. Using a wax pick or loop, typically provided when purchasing your hearing aids, gently pick away any wax or debris from the vents and receiver openings. Be careful not to press too deeply.

Moisture and humidity may also cause hearing aid dysfunction. To rid your hearing aid of any moisture, place the hearing aid in a dehumidifier, desiccant, or bag of dry rice. Remember to remove the battery prior to dehumidifying, as the battery will drain faster this way.

Correct voltage is necessary for the aid to have power. You may have purchased defective or weak batteries. The battery may not be the proper size or may be placed improperly. Check and replace batteries as necessary.

This last check may seem insulting, but it happens to the best of us. If your hearing aid has a power switch, is it on? Check the power button, volume wheel, and battery doors to make sure that the battery should indeed be coming on! If this is your problem, do not feel embarrassed – be thankful it was such a simple fix !!!

If you continue to have issues after checking these few things, contact your professional for advice. Do not try alternative fixes without proper instruction! Do not feel ashamed to admit you need help – that is what they are there for !!!

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What to Expect During Your Hearing Test

Are you considering seeing your doctor about scheduling a hearing test? If so, then you are probably somewhat nervous and unsure about what comes next. In general, there are a few things that generally take place both before and during the testing process. Knowing what these are and understanding how the testing process works will help you know what to expect as you get ready for your testing day.


Before your hearing test ever takes place, you will meet with your doctor to discuss whatever problems you might be experiencing. At this point, you will describe the various issues are that led you to schedule the appointment in the first place. Be sure to be very specific during this discussion so that your doctor has a clear idea as to what, precisely, you are experiencing. The more information he or she has the better care you will receive. It is also important for you to come prepared with a list of questions that you might have. If there is anything that you would like more information about, anything at all, the consultation is your opportunity to find it out.

Sound Exam

When you have your hearing test, it will likely begin with a sound exam. During this exam, the doctor will fit you with a pair of headphones that emit tones at various frequencies. The doctor will then ask you whether or not you hear the tones and how high or low a pitch they seem to you. This will allow the doctor to gain an understanding of how your ears are processing the sounds that they receive.

Physical Exam

After the sound exam, the next step in the hearing test is a physical exam. Your doctor will examine the physical features of your ears in order to determine whether any physical abnormalities may be contributing to your auditory problems. If your doctor finds any physical issues, she will likely prescribe other tests in order to determine the extent to which these are hindering your auditory capabilities.

After the hearing test is over, your doctor should be able to give you a comprehensive diagnosis as to the cause of the problems that you are experiencing. Be sure to ask lots of questions during your post-exam meeting with your doctor so that you can be sure to get as much information as possible about your various treatment options. At this point, information is your largest asset as you continue on your journey towards better hearing.

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Signs You Need to Take a Hearing Test

If you find or suspect that you are having some problems with your hearing, you may want to have it checked out. There is nothing worse than walking around trying to have conversations with your friends, family and colleagues, only to get frustrated because you are having trouble understanding what is being said. Not to mention the frustrations and concerns that may be gathering in the minds of those who care about you. There are a few symptoms of imminent hearing loss that will cause anyone to pause for concern. If you know what to be on the lookout for, the better your chances are for discovery and treatment.

Persistent ringing in the ears is not normal. From time to time, you may have an instance where you hear a slight ringing in your ears. Those times could be due to changes in the atmosphere, altitude or even water in your ears. You should not be too concerned if you hear ring after events that involve those factors. However, if you hear a ringing in your ears on a semi to regular basis, you need to go take a hearing test.

If you are around people and you start to have trouble making out what they are saying because it sounds distorted or muffled, you have a problem with your hearing. This can cause you to withdraw and avoid conversations and socializing. Many people who are having difficulties with hearing loss tend to end up depressed. Usually it is the friends and family of those who are suffering that notice that something is wrong.

Persistent bouts of vertigo could be a sign of hearing loss and even more serious health conditions like Ménière's disease, acoustic neuroma, or labyrinthitis. Since your sense of balance is tied directly to your inner ear, any damage or infections can cause you to be in a state of always being off balance. It is normal to experience vertigo when you have gone from one altitude to another, which often occurs in travelers. But if you find that no matter what you do, you still feel a bit tipsy all of the time, you need to go in for a hearing test.

Pain, injury and leakage from the ears are all very serious and need to be addressed right away. Anytime you sustain an injury to the eardrums, which can be caused by constant exposure to loud noises and sticking things in the ear canal; you are actually at risk of losing your hearing permanently. It is important to avoid if you can sustain any damage or injuries to your ears. This means you should wear protective earmuffs and headphones when necessary. Injuries to your eardrums can cause other health concerns to develop.

Sometimes, a person may experience no symptoms and a rapid onset of hearing loss happens. To find out the status of your hearing and get treatment, schedule an appointment at your nearest audiology center for a hearing test.

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Why You Need a Hearing Test

A hearing test is a procedure in which a variety of screenings will provide information about whether or not you have any loss of ability to hear. Even if you never had a problem in the past with the inability to hear properly, it may still be a factor as you get older. Individuals who are otherwise healthy may not need to have this testing process done often, but it is in your best interest to have a screening of some sort done at least one time a year after age 45.

What's Changing?

What you may not realize is that as you get older, the function of some of your organs will change. This is why you get wrinkles in your skin and you notice your body slowing down in its physical ability to move. The same thing happens to each of the organs in your body. Things will just slow down. However, with the ears, the complications can result in the loss of the ability to hear. Specifically, the fibers, tissues and hairs located in the ear canal that work as receptors to convey sounds to the brain, stop working as well. They simply do not function as they used to. When this happens, it can lead to complications related to your ability to hear some types of sounds. Over time, this can worsen significantly.

When to Get a Test

There are many times when it is a good idea to get a hearing test. If you already have any type of limited ability to hear well, it is a good idea to constantly monitor your abilities to ensure you can react to them when there is a problem. In addition, most people should have a specialist look at their ears' structure as well as screen for any loss or limitations. This can be done every other year or so after you reach age 45 but once you reach age 65, you should be having it done more often. Those who already have some loss should monitor more often.

When you have a hearing test, you can learn if there is any decrease in your ability. That's why it is important to have testing like this on a consistent basis. Doctors are watching for any change in the pattern as this can indicate a change in your ability is occurring. When that does happen the doctor can then recommend the appropriate treatment for your needs. This may not be necessary at all. In other situations, you may benefit from having a device that can make sounds louder for you. In most cases, it is a good idea to find out if your ears are healthy and working the way they need to be.

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Wi Series of Hearing Aids From Starkey

The Wi Series of hearing aids from Starkey provides a very significant benefit. It truly gains and improves upon the spatial sound performance of hearing aids.

This has been a significant problem with many other devices and Starkey offers tremendous advantages and benefits in this area. So let's explore more about this innovative and exciting product.

The device offers Starkey's proprietary and advanced noise suppression and speech preservation features. This means that it allows you to discern normal conversations in noisy environments.

This has been a significant challenge for most hearing aids and the Wi Series overcomes many of the challenges present in these environments. It lets you hear what you were meant to hear-conversation and not just noise.

The on board and integrated wireless solutions allow you to connect the Wi hearing devices to a variety of wireless devices. For example you can listen comfortably to the TV, MP3 players, or even your cell phone without hanging on the external speakers from these devices.

This means that you can listen to this device in comfort along with other people. Each of you can listen to the device at levels right for your hearing. You do not have to hear the complaints from other family members to cut down on the volume!

And with the unique wireless ear to ear communication, your Wi series hearing devices can automatically adjust each hearing aid for sound levels appropriate for the particular listening experience.

You simply do not have to manually adjust settings for different situations. And as said earlier, it helps to greatly improve the stereo experience of everyday listening.

And with Starkey's Pure Wave eliminator you can stop unwanted feedback noise. So the whistling, buzzing or screeching is largely gone in most instances. Do not worry about brushing your hair or getting a noise when you hug someone. It's gone so you do not have to sweat it.

The unit is also well protected from environmental challenges like sweat, moisture and dirt due to a proprietary coating and protection system. So when you sweat, you do not need to worry about contamination and corrosion. It's well protected.

The unit is available in several different models and can be customized for a perfect and comfortable fit. It is a very flexible solution which incorporates state of the art technology and features into products, which helps to bring a natural and fully satisfying listening experience to you every day.

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What Cell Phones Work Best With a Hearing Aid?

Thanks to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), cell phone makers and service providers are required to make some hearing aid compatible cell phones. But how do you find the one for you? This article will provide you with some ideas of what to look for when you start comparing phones to make sure you make an educated purchasing decision.


Cell phones meeting the FCC regulations for being Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) will be labeled as such. If the label is not there, or HAC is not included in the features listed in the user's manual, the phone is simply not compatible.

Once you have verified the phone is HAC, find the microphone rating (M rating) of the phone. You are looking for a minimum M3 or M4 rating. This means the phone is compatible with the aid in the microphone position. The higher the number rating, the more the phone promises to sound clearer with hearing aid usage.

While you are rating the phone, find the rating on your aid itself. The rating is similar to the M rating and ranges typically from 1-4. In telecoil mode, the rating is T1-T4. After you've found one of these two ratings, add the number it to the phone's rating. If the total is between 4 and 6, the phone and the hearing aid will work well together. And just as with the phone's M rating, the higher the number, the better.

Special Features

Some features you may find useful on your phone are related to your own personal usage. If you are a frequent cell user, for example, you may benefit from an aid with an automatic telecoil or automatic microphone telephone program.

Perhaps you need to be hands-free, especially if you expect to be using your phone while driving. There are hearing aids that can be synced with a Bluetooth compatible phone. In such cases, you can receive a cell phone call directly into your hearing aid with your phone up to 30 feet away.

Similar to the Bluetooth phones, those with an in-the-ear aid can get what is essentially “earbuds” similar to ones used with iPods. The device connects to an amplifier and microphone that then attaches to the aid.

Some manufacturers have developed a neckloop or earhooks for hearing aids that have a telecoil. These neckloops and earhooks include a microphone and plug into the cell phone to make it easier to hear.

Before You Buy

The best suggestion is to shop around to make sure you are happy with the phone you are selecting. Do not be afraid to speak with your audiologist when you are considering a new cell phone. He or she will be most familiar with the model of your aid and can give you personal recommendations for cell phones other patients have had success with in the past.

For more information on hearing aids, contact a doctor nearest you. If you are in Georgia, Atlanta hearing aids can help you find solutions.

Atlanta Hearing Institute

Atlanta, Georgia


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How to Tell If You Need a Hearing Test?

The auditory sense is one of the most important senses that humans have. This being the case, it is important to recognize when one is showing signs of experiencing deterioration in hearing. There are a few signs to look for, however, that will help you to determine whether or not you might need to have a hearing test.

Do You Hear Ambient Noise?

For many people, perceiving ambient noises is an indication that a hearing test might be needed. Often times, these noises will be perceived as a humming or buzzing sound that has not apparent source. Sometimes it is described as a “ringing” in the ears. These types of noises are commonly occurring in people who are consistently exposed to high decibel environments over long periods of time. If you are experiencing perceptions of ambient noise, then it is a good idea to see a doctor about testing.

Do You Have Difficulty Differentiating Sounds?

Another sign that you should have a hearing test is that you have a difficult time differentiating sounds. In simple cases, this could mean that you have a harder time than most understanding a speaker in a conversation that is set in a noisy environment. In more extreme cases, this could be something as severe as having difficulty matching the noises that you hear with their sources. This sort of auditory trouble can make normal conversation as well as everyday activities vastly more difficult, and you should see a doctor if you are experiencing these more pronounced symptoms.

Do Others Seem to Be Mumbling or Talking Indistinctly?

Another good indicator that you might need a hearing test is that you often think others are mumbling or talking under their breath. If during the course of a conversation under normal conditions, you feel as though most of your interlocutors are talking softly or failing to enunciate properly, this might be an indication that you need testing. Of course, people often do actually mumble and talk indistinctly, but if this is a persistent problem that you experience when talking with a large majority of the people that you converse with, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor in order to seek a professional opinion regarding your problem

A hearing test is a commonly needed service among adults. If you have a history of experiences that could be potentially damaging to your ability to hear, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, then it would be well worth your while to get yourself tested and to discuss your treatment options with your doctor.

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What to Expect From a Hearing Aid Provider

Realizing you do not hear as well as you once did is often very troubling. Hearing loss can occur so slowly over a long period of time that we do not always feel it happening. You may start to notice that you have to ask people to repeat themselves several times or that you often misunderstood what someone says. Maybe you always shut the television volume at eight and now you need it at twelve in order to hear your favorite show.

Hearing loss happens to thousands of people each year for a wide variety of reasons. There is no shame in experiencing hearing loss or in need to wear hearing aids. The days of large, embarrassing and uncomfortable hearing aids are long gone. Modern hearing devices feature advanced technological features and are so small and discrete that no one even has to know you're wearing them.

The first step you need to take if you suspect hearing loss is to make an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing test. Your primary care physician or insurance provider can give you a list of hearing specialists in your area. The test and exam are quick, easy and painless. If hearing loss is confirmed, a treatment plan will be devised. This means a recommendation of hearing aids for most people.

The hearing aid provider will help you pick the right device for your unique situation and needs. There are dozens of hearing device brands on the market and each brand has a long list of models. You may want a unit that is invisible, wireless, digital or water-resistant. The provider will go over the advantages and challenges associated with each model and help you find the unit you are most comfortable with.

They will then go over the operation, care and maintenance of your new hearing aids with you. Hearing aids are electronic devices, so it is important that you understand how to make them work to your full advantage and care for them in a way that will extend their life and bring the highest level of performance.

You'll need to pick up a few supplies and accessories for your hearing device. Your hearing provider will likely have them available for purchase at the office. They are also available at most drugstores and major retail chains.

A case to keep hearing aids in when they are not in use will keep them safe. Extra batteries are important to keep on hand. Cleaning kits are available with all the supplies needed to keep hearing aids clean and sanitary. Ear lotion is often recommended to prevent dryness and irritation.

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What Happens After the Hearing Test?

So, you have just had a hearing test, and you are wondering what comes next. There are a few things that you can expect after your exam. In many cases, what to expect will depend greatly on the diagnosis that your doctor gives you, but there are a few things that apply more generally.

The Diagnosis

After your doctor has had a chance to study the results of your hearing test, she will discuss with you her professional opinion regarding your results. Sense deterioration is something that occurs in degrees, so it is illegally that your doctor will tell you definitively that you have this or that condition. Instead, what is more likely is that your doctor will inform you that you have met certain baseline requirements and that your sense loss is at a specific level, and this level will either fall below or above the required levels for certain treatments.

Treatment for Mild Cases

If your hearing test shows that the sense has been finished only slowly, then your doctor probably will not be able to recommend much treatment. This is not to say that the problems that you are experiencing are not real. Rather, it is to say that they are not enough enough to warrant further treatment. Instead, your doctor will likely provide you with a set of exercises that you can do to help you learn to focus well enough that your finished ability will not prove to be any kind of hindrance to your normal, everyday life.

Treatment for Severe Cases

If your hearing test shows that the sense has gone to sufficient degree, then your doctor will discuss a variety of treatments with you. The most common of these, of course, will be a hearing aid. Hearing aids are electronic devices that are inserted into the ear that serve to amplify sound to a degree that it is capable to make up for the loss of capability that you have experienced. The technology involved in these devices has improved substantively in recent years, and many of them are quite small and easy to wear and maintain.

In all, then, what goes on after your hearing test will depend heavily on your diagnosis. If your doctor determines that your loss of capacity is reliably minor, then your treatment after the exam will be minimal. However, if she determines that it is more intense, then she will discuss a variety of options for your future treatment, and you will have the opportunity to decide which will best suit your lifestyle.

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The Benefits of a Hearing Test

Individuals who have auditory difficulties often fear having a hearing test. They worry that the test will confirm their worst fears and that they will have to wear a bulky, electronic aid after the exam is completed. However, there are a variety of benefits that such an exam can have, and these far outweigh any perceived negative consequences.

Peace of Mind

In many cases, a hearing test can serve to give a patient peace of mind. There is nothing more nerve wacking than sitting around worrying that there might be something wrong with your body. In many cases, though, people who put off having their ears examined are forced to live with this worry. Undergoing the exam can give a definitive answer as to whether or not there is actually auditory deterioration taking place. This answer, even if it is negative, can go a long way in reducing the stress associated with not knowing.


One obvious benefit of a hearing test is that it might, in fact, disconfirm the patient's worries. A patient may go into the exam totally convinced that he or she is experiencing severe sensory loss, but the exam itself may prove otherwise. If this is the case, then the patient can go on living his or her life free from worry. This disconfirmation may also serve to inconvenience a different source of the difficulties that a patient is experiencing which is also a helpful benefit.

Improved Quality of Life

Most importantly, a hearing test will allow a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis of a patient's condition. Once this happens, steps can be taken to help improve the patient's condition. Improvement audit capabilities translate to an improved quality of life in almost all cases. Imagine suddenly being able to hear things that were once fuzzy and indistinct. Improving hearing allows one to experience the world in a different, more viable way, and this is a dramatic improvement over a life of poor auditory sense.

In all, then, there is very little reason to worry about taking a hearing test. To the contrary, a patient who decides to undergo such an exam stands to gain peace of mind as a result of that decision. Moreover, he or she will have the opportunity to have fears about the exam disconfirmed. Most importantly, though, treatment for auditory deficiency will dramatically improve one's quality of life in a real and important way.

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Top Five Signs You Might Need a Hearing Test

Have you ever been at a social event where everyone is gathered around telling stories and having a good time, but one member of the group keep asking everyone to repeat what was just said? If not, then you are likely the person asking others to repeat themselves. It can be frustrating not to be able to hear what is being said, but it can also be detrimental to your everyday life in various ways. There are five distinct signs that you might need to have a hearing test.

5) You laugh only when others are laughing.

Most everyone has been in a situation in which they have missed a funny joke that their friends find hilarious. However, if you find that you only laugh when others are laughing, then it might be time for a hearing test. Be sure to rule out the possibility that you just do not understand most jokes first, though.

4) You have accidently agreed to something.

Have you ever agreed to something outrageously simply because you did not hear a question? Do you often find yourself helping friends move or picking up graveyard shifts for coworkers every time their dog needs to have some quality time? Is “yeah,” your general response when you're not entirely sure what someone has said? If so, then it might be time to get your ears checked.

3) Your loved ones are often upset with you.

Do your friends and family find you insensitive and uncaring? Do they only think this because you find that phrases like, “Do I look ugly in this dress?” sound too much like, “Are you hungry for breakfast?” If so, then you might need a hearing test.

2) You are often the victim of road rage.

Does the ringing in your ears sound eerily like police sirens? Do you often find yourself slowing down and pulling over in traffic only to realize that there is not emergency vehicle in sight? Do other drivers often shout obscenities at you or send vulgar gestures your way? If you answered “yes” to any of these, then you definitely need a hearing test.

1) You do not have any idea what this article is about because someone is reading it aloud to you.

If this is the case, the schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.

As you can see, there are a number of telltale signs that you might need a hearing test. If any of these apply to you, then you should schedule your exam right away.

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Hearing Test: 3 Reasons to Get One Today

There are many reasons to get a hearing test as soon as possible. You should learn why this is important, and then schedule this kind of screening at a local clinic. You will find that most health professionals recommend that you take this course of action quickly.

One of the best reasons to get a hearing test today is that you could have issues with your ears without even knowing it. You may be able to hear most noises, but if there is even one that you can not hear well, your life may be in danger. For example, if you are driving and can not hear sirens or horns near you, warning you to move out of the way, you may get into a car accident. It is possible to have a problem with your ears without being aware of it, but an exam can let you know before you are hurt because of this issue.

In addition, when you get a hearing test, you may become aware of other issues. For instance, your results may show evidence of an underlying problem that you never knew you had. If the health practitioners give you the screening think you have some symptoms of an issue that affects the ears and other parts of the body, you will likely get a referral to a doctor, who can check out the problem. This way, you can find out about a health issue you may have had for years without knowing it. Since some problems become worse over time without treatment, you should schedule the exam as soon as possible for best results.

Finally, know that you can often get a hearing test for free, so do not let a lack of money get in the way of taking the exam. There should be clinics near you that offer this for free, but if there are not any, your insurance probably lets you have one at no cost. After all, this is a type of preventive care, which can actually save your insurance provider money since it may stop the issue from getting worse. In this way, you should not let concerns about finances stop you from getting a hearing test, since it should not cost you anything.

If you are ready to get this type of screening, start looking at clinics nearby. Many should offer this service free of charge, and they should have an experienced staff available, ready to let you know the problem. Take advantage of this offering as soon as possible.

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Hearing Loss And How to Prevent It

Over 36 million Americans face high hearing aid costs, and the problem is likely to get worse in coming years. Hearing aid prices continue to rise, and the incidence of hearing loss is steadily increasing.

There are a couple broad reasons for this trend. First, the population is aging. Around half of Americans with hearing loss are 60 or younger – but it's still true that all else equal, an aging population will suffer a greater degree of loss. This age-related degradation is called presbycusis, and its incidence increases with age.

Second, hearing loss is becoming more prevalent within each individual age range. The leading cause of preventable hearing loss is prolonged exposure to loud noises. The ubiquity of iPods and in-ear headphones means that large portions of the population listen to volumes of 100 dB for prolonged periods of time. As the “iPod generation” ages, all expectations are that it will suffer greater hearing loss, at younger ages, than generations before them. But of course, iPods are not just for young people, and older generations are at just as much risk.

Genetics play a role – age-related hearing presbycus tends to run in families. But many other common causes are avoidable. Here are a few tips for avoiding preventable causes of hearing loss:

  • Stop smoking. In addition to facing numerous other health problems, smokers are more likely to develop hearing loss
  • Get your hearing tested. Periodic hearing tests are the only way to measure changes in hearing ability over time.
  • Keep music at a moderate volume. A good rule of thumb is that you should still be able to hear someone talking from a few feet away. This is especially important as iPods and other MP3 players can produce sounds up to 100dB, which can cause damage over extended listening periods.
  • Invest in sound-isolating or noise-cancelling headphones. A common issue is that headphone listeners turn up the volume in noisy environments to achieve the same “effective volume” and drown out background noise – but this is hard on your ears! Using noise cancelling headphones that block out ambient noise, rather than simply increasing the volume of your music, lowers your absolute noise exposure.
  • Avoid loud noises. Jackhammers, lawnmowers, etc. can be damaging to your ears, especially with repeated exposure. A rule of thumb supported by OSHA is that sounds over 85dB should be avoided.
  • Give your ears a rest. Listening to your iPod at 90dB for a few minutes may be fine, but hours on end is likely to cause damage over long periods of time
  • Respect your genes. You can not do much to alter your genetic tendency for hearing loss – but if you it runs in the family, you may benefit from taking extra precautions to protect your hearing
  • Consider Hearing Aids. While hearing aids can not prevent hearing loss, they can measurably improve quality of life.

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Your Hearing Evaluation

Suspect hearing loss and having a hearing evaluation performed? What can you expect? Each evaluation can be different based on the testing performed. Tests are chosen as needed to determine the presence, type, and degree of hearing loss.

An evaluation can be completed in as little as 30 minutes and as long as 90 minutes! If your hearing is being assessed as part of an evaluation for other, possibly connected issues (eg, balance disorders); specific tests not typical to a regular evaluation may need to be completed.

All hearing evaluations should begin with a thorough review of your related medical and hearing health history. Questions concerning decreased hearing sensitivity, specifics about the decrease and other pertinent medical questions may be asked.

Do not be surprised if questions regarding medications or medical conditions arise. A variety of medical issues can be associated with hearing impairment, and some medications are even known to cause hearing loss! Any and all information regarding your hearing you can provide will be helpful for the professional to determine what assessments will be necessary to evaluate your hearing fully.

Otoscopy is also typically a standard of hearing assessment. Otoscopy is simply the visualization of the outer ear through a lighted magnifier called an otoscope. The ear canal will be evaluated to see if it is clear of any debris or blockage, and the ear drum will be examined for any abnormalities or presence of possible fluid or infection in the middle ear.

Many hearing healthcare professionals assess tympanometry. Tympanometry is a pressure test of the middle ear system (ie, the space behind the ear drum, containing the middle ear bones [anvil, hammer, and stirrup]). Results will help determine the presence of any middle ear dysfunction, including: middle ear fluid or infection, perforations of the ear drum, or other issues of the middle ear.

Related to tympanometry measures, other emitting measures may also be completed to evaluate the reflex of an acoustic muscle, thought to prevent damage to the ear from loud sounds. These measures may not be standard in many professionals test protocols, but can provide valuable information in many cases.

Otoacoustic emissions evaluations may also be completed. This is a test of the inner ear functioning, more specifically of the outer hair sensory cells of the cochlea (organ of hearing). Damage to these cells leads to a particular type of hearing loss called sensory, cochlear, or sensorineural hearing loss. This test may or may not be completed at the time of your evaluation.

Air and bone conducture pure-tone evaluations are most likely to be part of a typical assessment. These behavioral tests require the patient to respond to sounds at the lowest levels they can be heard. Results of these evaluations are plotted on an audiogram, and are typically used to explain the type and degree of hearing loss found during assessment.

Speech testing may also be completed to help determine your functional use of hearing. In most cases, patients are asked to repeat words or sentences in a quiet setting or in a background of noise. Speech testing may assist the professional in determining your hearing aid candidacy.

Each evaluation is carefully determined to fully assess that patient's hearing loss and candidacy for hearing aids.

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