Hearing Aids

High-Tech Solutions for Hearing Loss

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Is hearing loss like vision loss?

Why do we pay more attention to our vision than our hearing?

Both are very important senses, and both cause us great difficulties if they don’t work effectively. But due to the way we use them, their loss affects us in different ways. Many adults get their vision checked regularly, so why do so many people ignore their ears?

Addressing vision loss

When you go to an optician, you look at a letter chart. If you have a loss of vision, you may not be able to read the lower lines of smaller letters, because they become blurry. Your eyes can’t focus on them.

Another way to understand vision loss is to think of how we age. Over time the eyes gradually lose their ability to focus so close objects become blurry. If you are farsighted you know that seeing things close to you – like reading – become more difficult. This loss of sensitivity to nearby objects does not vary; it is uniform.

Comparing to hearing loss

Like vision, our ears often gradually lose the ability to hear high frequencies, both through damage and aging. However, unlike with vision loss, the actual effects of this are not uniform.

Speech is made up of many different frequencies and tones. If we can’t hear high pitched sounds, we find it hard to understand specific letters such as f, s and t. This is because they contain high frequencies. Such letters can also be drowned out by louder, low-pitched vowels like a, o and u.

In contrast to vision loss where we miss chunks of vision (such as the lower rows on a vision chart), the loss of hearing sensitivity affects many different parts of speech that are scattered throughout the conversation, so random bits of conversation get lost.

Are there similarities with vision and hearing loss

There are clear differences between hearing loss and vision loss. But there are many similarities too:

  • Healthcare professionals offer solutions for both
  • Both have stylish and discreet options
  • Treatment makes it possible to live life fully
  • The consequences of not treating the problem are similar for both, including tiredness, mental decline and social isolation

Vision aids (glasses) versus hearing aids

When people struggle to see, they wear glasses. These “vision aids” help a broad range of people. Whether you wear them for distance, computers, reading or a combination, they work best when an optometrist or ophthalmologist checks your vision, writes a prescription and a professional, such as an optician orders lenses specifically addressing your individual needs – whether you are near-sighted, far-sighted, have astigmatism or a combination of challenges.

The same holds true with solutions for hearing. Since modern hearing aid designs are discreet and stylish – and come in a range of subtle colors – many people find any stigmas to be silly. That’s why our hearing aid wearers are happy that today’s technology-packed aids are cool. Besides, if you hear and see well, your entire world is brighter.

Getting a hearing assessment* is as easy as a vision test. And no drops in your eyes. Plus, with us, it’s free. Contact us and make an appointment to get started.

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Tinnitus: what you need to know

Keys to understanding that ringing, hissing, chirping and whooshing.

Often referred to as ‘ringing in the ears’, tinnitus can be many different types of sound such as hissing, chirping or whooshing. This is because it is a symptom of damage or dysfunction inside the hearing system. There are many possible causes, one of which is exposure to loud noise.

Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss

More than 80% of people with tinnitus also experience some degree of hearing loss. However, many sufferers are often unaware that they likely have issues with their hearing, even if they notice symptoms such as buzzing. Fortunately, experts can treat both conditions.

Why do our brains ‘invent’ noises that aren’t there?

Experts don’t know exactly what causes us to hear sound these phantom sounds. Many suspect that it happens when the auditory system reacts to damage by trying to compensate for missing signals. However, some people who experience tinnitus don’t have hearing loss indicating additional causes of tinnitus.

Although there is no known cure for tinnitus, these tips can bring relief:

  • Ensure auditory stimulation—Make sure you can hear well by adopting hearing aids if necessary. This can help to minimize the appearance of your tinnitus symptoms.
  • Get quality sleep—If you don’t get enough sleep, your blood circulation can be reduced, which affects both hearing loss and tinnitus. In addition, using an extra pillow to keep your head raised can reduce congestion, which can help.
  • Eat and drink healthily—Alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) may all negatively contribute to hearing loss.

Importantly, how you feel has a big effect on how annoying you find tinnitus. Reducing the impact is therefore often about reducing how much you notice it.

The best first step you can take is to visit a hearing care expert.

Get effective tinnitus treatment

There are several ways to reduce your symptoms, although there is no actual cure. Some people play white noise (sound that has no discernible features) as a first step toward relief. This background noise helps to mask the phantom sounds, helping distract the brain while they fall asleep.

Increasingly, hearing aids are incorporating such technologies. Hearing care experts can program newer models to match your tinnitus symptoms, giving you a range of relief sounds to choose from whenever you need them.

Talking with experts: How can I explain my symptoms?

We know, it’s not easy to describe noises that only you can hear. But before you visit to your primary care physician or even an an expert in hearing care, it might help you to think about:

  • How long have you experienced tinnitus? Have you noticed problems hearing, too?
  • What does it sound like? High- or low-pitched? Is it loud or soft?
  • Does the sound change throughout the day? Does it get worse at certain times of day or locations?
  • Does it worsen after drinking coffee or alcohol, or being in a noisy environment?
  • Is it in both ears?

How does this happen?

The most common cause of tinnitus is damage to the sensory cells in the cochlea. This is the snail shell-like organ in the inner ear where sounds are converted into electrical signals. Damage to the hair cells here causes tinnitus and hearing loss.

However, middle ear infection, earwax build-up, inflamed blood vessels around the ear, medications and other drugs, and anxiety and stress can all cause symptoms.

Recent research suggests that there may also be a genetic basis, especially in men who have it in both ears.

Can I prevent it?

As with hearing loss, protecting your ears from noise damage is the best way to prevent tinnitus. If you are exposed to excessive noise, try to limit the length of time or move away from the source.

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Avoid summer’s challenges related to hearing

Protect your ears this summer.

Hearing aids are an important investment in your well-being. If you wear them, keep these important tips in mind during the summer months or year-round if you live in a warm climate. When you apply sunscreen, watch out for your hearing aids. Their outer shell is plastic, so the chemicals in the cream or spray can affect them.

Mind your ears at festivals and music concerts

Are you heading to summer music festival or concert? Perhaps your loved one is? If it will be loud, be aware of the dangers of hearing damage. In outdoor settings where the atmosphere is more open than an indoor environment, people are often unaware of the dangers to their ears. This is important for everyone – not just those with hearing loss!

Rule of thumb: If you have to shout to make yourself heard, your ears are under strain. Consider wearing hearing protection such as earplugs, and take regular breaks from the loud environment.

Keep hearing equipment cool, and beware the dangers of heat

Excessive heat is harmful for hearing aids and their accessories, so it’s important to keep them cool. Avoid leaving them in your car for any length of time in warmer weather, and always keep them out of direct sunlight.

Flying on vacation

Sometimes when flying (or going under water), you may experience a sense of pressure in the ears and nose. When the air can flow relatively easily, the higher pressure air will quickly flow to the lower pressure air, and the pressure difference will disappear. However, sometimes a blockage prevents air from flowing freely in our ears. This can be painful – or very annoying. A number of things can cause a blockage, including earwax, inflammation or a cold.

Note than when flying with hearing aids, you may wear your devices, including through security and on the plane. So keep them switched on as you travel – they’ll help you hear any important announcements.

At the beach and by the pool

Few hearing aids can tolerate being submersed in water –even if they are water-resistant. So make sure to take them off before getting caught in the middle of a water fight. While you’re enjoying the water, store them in a safe place or in something waterproof.

Finally – remember to dry your hair before putting your hearing aids back on.

Proper cleaning techniques for hearing aids

Everyone perspires a little more in the heat. Unfortunately the combination of heat and moisture creates a perfect environment for fungal microbes to develop in your hearing aids.

To avoid mold, keep cleaning wipes handy to clean your devices, and keep them dry. If you live in a humid environment, you may need to change filters and domes often. If you find significant moisture building up, a hearing aid dryer could prove a smart investment.

To ensure good air circulation through your hearing aids, open the battery drawer at night to allow fresh air inside and to release moisture.

Remember extra accessories on vacation

You will enjoy summertime more if you can hear well, so bring everything you need for your hearing aids, including extra batteries, tubes and filters (depending on your type of hearing aid).

Worried about your current hearing aids – we’re here to help!

The professionals at Gil Poliquin Hearing are always happy to clean your hearing devices. If you are concerned about flying with hearing aids or have other questions, our professionals have answers to your questions. Please call (207) 430-3664 or contact us online if you are away.

Posted by Admin

Be proactive with your hearing safety

Louder isn’t better!

It seems obvious – but it’s worth a reminder: the louder the noise and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of damage to your ears. Even some sounds that don’t seem loud or give you noticeable discomfort can damage your hearing. Loud sounds, of course, can cause damage much more quickly. Always remember that safety counts.

Measuring noise and understanding decibels (dB)

The decibel scale is matched to human hearing, so 0 dB is the very quietest sound that a human can hear without hearing loss. A “typical” spoken conversation is generally estimated to be 60 dB. Although this is not enough to hurt you, many every-day sounds are in the near-harmful range and can impact your hearing long term – so think safety first. A lawnmower, for example, averages in the 90 dB level, so it can cause damage. That’s why it is important to wear protection whether you are mowing the lawn or around loud engines. Even a car travelling at 65 miles per hour or a vacuum cleaner can irritate your ears.

Workplace challenges

Most experts – including the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health – agree that continued exposure to sounds over 85 dB risks damage to hearing. Therefore, workplace safety regulations usually require employers to provide protection for employees exposed to noisy environments. In the US, the Department of Labor regulates occupational noise exposure and has set a “permissible exposure limit” (PEL) of 90 dB for an 8 hour long day.

The biggest sources of dangerous noise

More dangerous – with immediate impact – are sounds in the 140 dB range. These include jet engines and gun shots. Even louder, is 180 dB of a rocket launch. These sounds can lead to permanent hearing damage. According to Purdue University, your eardrum can rupture if you are 25 meters or less from a jet as it is taking off.

Knowing the danger signs and preventing damage to your hearing

Unfortunately, it is rarely immediately obvious when we damage our hearing – normally we notice it afterwards. However, with awareness, we can help protect our hearing. If you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, you may be in the danger zone where prolonged exposure could lead to damage.

Heed your ears’ warning

If you notice ringing in your ears or experience pain, these are signs that your noise exposure is too high. This often appears after a noisy event such as a music concert. If you find it difficult to hear for several hours after exposure to loud sounds, or hear ringing in your ears or other unusual effects, then you probably have been around harmful levels.

Safety first: tips for protecting your hearing

  • Avoid loud noises. If you are attending a loud event, avoid sitting near the amplifiers or take breaks outside the main venue.
  • Invest in earplugs. Whether you want to spring for higher-end ear plugs that are moulded to your ears or use noise-cancelling headphones
  • Take sound breaks. If you are near loud noise, escape for a break every hour.
  • Lower the volume. Turn the sound down on your earphones or earbuds.

Earphones and hearing loss

Many people regularly use earphones or earbuds – on the way to school or work, while out running, or just while relaxing at home without considering the excess levels of noise exposure.
Earphones generally produce up to 100 dB, while some can produce even more. At this level, you risk damage to your hearing after a mere 15 minutes. Some smartphones have a feature that warns uses when the volume is at a dangerous level. Heed this warning and limit music at excessive volumes piped directly into your ears.

City life’s impact on your ears

According to a recent study, just living in an urban area can increase your risk of hearing damage – by 64%. Traffic, construction, loud music, sirens and other environmental sounds of the city provide continuous exposure to noise can cause hearing damage.
At Gil Poliquin Hearing we strive to educate and advise. If you want to learn if exposure to music, explosions or other noise has damaged your hearing, contact Gil Poliquin Hearing for a complimentary hearing assessment*.

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