Hearing problems are one of those things other people usually notice before you do. In part, because a person’s family and friends know them better than they know themselves. They are the ones that see the changes and connect the dots about hearing loss the person with the problem notices the gradual decline that comes with age-related hearing loss.
It’s a difficult subject to approach with a person that you love because it is personal. They might not notice this decline or realize that they are asking you to repeat things often or missing information when you talk. It probably feels like an attack instead of your attempt to help. So, when is it the proper time to talk about it? There is no clear-cut answer to this question, but there are some obvious signs that you need to have a conversation about hearing loss.
The What Did You Say? Syndrome
It might be the first thing you will notice when this person’s hearing starts to decline. What did you say? It’s a natural response when you don’t hear something very clearly. The problem with age-related hearing loss is they still hear the sound of your voice, just not each word. When that happens, the brain makes them think you are mumbling. The fact is you’re speaking the same way you always did, it is their hearing that is different.
A person that has to say what all the time does not even know they do it, which makes it a hard thing to talk about. You can try counting the number of times you have to repeat something in a conversation. If you see a regular pattern over a week, then it’s time to say something.
When Safety Is a Problem
There is more to hearing than just comprehending speech. Individuals with gradual hearing loss lose the ability to understand specific sound frequencies, too. A traditional smoke and carbon dioxide detector uses a high pitched tone to tell you here is a problem. It’s a sound that someone with hearing loss might not hear. Those who do have this issue can compensate for it by putting in alarms that use a different frequency and that are able to flash the lights and shake the bed, as well.
Safety is a concern for the hearing challenged person that wants to drive a car, too. You need to be able to hear warning sounds like horns, for example, and the car engine running. A person trying to cross the street needs to hear warning sounds there, too. Safety is a definite issue with untreated hearing loss and one that indicates you need to take action.
When the Complaints Start Rolling In
The guy next door complains the TV is too loud, for instance, TV dialogue is as hard to understand as a face-to-face conversation, but there is no one there to answer when they say, “What?” Instead, the volume goes way up. That doesn’t make the words any clearer, though, so it goes up more. When the people around your loved one start talking about high volumes, hearing loss has become something worth talking about.
When Tongues Start Wagging
When other people start asking about this your loved one’s hearing and wondering if something is wrong. Maybe your dad’s neighbor stops to ask if he is having hearing problems or your brother brings the subject up. These people might notice something that you do not yet. This is a big indicator, especially for the parent who lives alone. Friends and neighbors are their social network. They spend time together and are in a position to see pick up on something you do not, so when they take the time to mention it, you need to listen.
When Frustration Becomes the Norm
Struggling to hear is frustrating, especially when you don’t realize that’s the problem. That frustration can translate into cranky conversations and other shows of emotion. They may always seem on the edge of crying or yelling but not know why. It’s up to you to help them understand what is going on.
Tips for When the Time Comes
You know you need to say something but how? An age-related hearing loss is a tricky subject because the implication is you are growing old, and that’s something no one wants to hear. How you approach the topic will make all the difference, such as:
- Make the conversation about you – Point out the things you’ve noticed and how they make you feel. If you make it about them, they will just shut down. By making it about how it impacts you, they are more likely to want to help and be less defensive.
- Make the conversation positive – The anger factor is really just fear. It’s up to you to address those fears and provide assurance that there is a quick and painless solution like getting a professional hearing test and, maybe, hearing aids. Talk about other people who have hearing aids and how they changed their lives.
- Make the conversation helpful – Focus on the benefits that will come with getting hearing help. They will be able to hear their favorite shows better and listen to the bird’s song. They may not even realize what they have been missing, so point out the positives.
You can make a difference in someone you love’s life by helping them come to terms with age-related hearing loss, so go ahead and reach out.
Is your earwax trying to tell you something about your health? Earwax is more than just the icky stuff that comes out of your ears. Cerumen, the medical name for it, has a purpose in your body. It protects the skin inside the ear canal from damage that can lead to infection. It is also a source of lubrication and helps waterproof the inside of your ear.
That’s all good stuff, but earwax also provides information about you. How it looks, the texture and smell all supply key details about what is going on inside your body. What is your earwax saying to you?
Earwax and Your Heritage
It is hard to believe but, all earwax falls into one of two categories. It is either dry, or wet and kind of sticky. How your earwax feel is a genetic trait you can use to trace your roots. According to a study in the journal Nature Genetics, it is a gene mutation that determines whether your earwax is wet or dry. Researchers investigated 33 different populations around the world and found:
- Ninety-five percent of East Asians have the dry kind.
- Ninety-seven percent of people from Europe or Africa have the wet, sticky kind.
The difference between these two groups boils down to one gene called ABCC11. It is the gene that manages the flow of earwax-altering molecules. At some point centuries ago, the gene changed in people in Europe and Africa as they adapted to a new surrounding. The researchers from this study hypothesized that insects lead to the mutation. The thick, wet earwax can trap insects and protect the deeper areas inside the ear canal and possibly even the brain. It is an example of the body’s natural ability to change based environmental stressors. It is a change designed to improve a species odds of survival.
Green, Wet Earwax
Green, wet earwax means one of two things:
- You’ve been sweating.
- You have an ear infection.
When you sweat, the water will mix with your earwax, changing the color and texture. When you have an ear infection, the earwax changes due to the body’s inflammatory response to invading organisms. Pus created by the response can mix with the earwax, and that may lead to the difference in color.
Earwax That Smells Bad
Earwax with a bad smell means you need to pay attention. The change in odor typically indicates a rather serious infection. Anaerobic bacteria, in other words, bacteria that do not require oxygen to survive, tend to emit a foul odor that will make earwax stink.
That bad smell can also mean there is an infection causing middle ear damage. You might feel like your balance is off and hear a ringing or other phantom noise in the affected ear. You need to make an appointment with your doctor.
In 2009, a group of Japanese scientists also linked stinky earwax to a gene that might cause breast cancer. It will take more studies to prove this theory but, it’s worth talking to your doctor about if breast cancer runs in the family.
When It Feels Like Your Ear is Wet All the Time
To be honest, this isn’t really earwax, but it is understandable that you might think it is cerumen. Wet ears typically mean disease, most likely infection. Ear infections create pus, so that might be why your ear feels wet. That is not the only possible cause, though.
Some people develop a type of skin growth inside the ear canal called a cholesteatoma. It’s similar to a cyst, but it grows inside the ear and allows stuff like earwax and other debris to build up there. When the canal fills up, the gunk can start to overflow and come out the ear. Any drainage from your ear warrants a visit to the doctor to find out what’s happening.
Your Earwax is Really Flaky
No worries, flaky earwax isn’t a sign of trouble. It is, however, a side effect of natural aging. As people get older, their body’s get a little dryer — that includes the glands that produce earwax. As a result, your ears might feel itchy. A few drops of mineral oil can ease that discomfort and soften the earwax at the same time.
What if your ears have no earwax at all? It’s rare, but it does happen. It is a condition called keratosis obturans, and it means there is a hard plug where the earwax comes out. It’s unclear why this happens, but researchers do know that the plug is made of keratin, a protein that exists in skin cells. You might feel pain in that ear and have trouble hearing. The treatment is simple, let a doctor pull the plug out. In some, the condition is chronic, and the patient requires regular medical care.
Earwax, who knew it was so complex. Take a look at yours and see if you learn anything.
Are you taken aback to learn that hearing loss is more than just your ears? Ears are the tools of hearing, so the damage done to them because of aging, trauma or disease is why someone can not hear, but did you know there’s more to it than the loss of a person’s hearing bleeds into a number of other aspects of their life. It’s a dramatic change for someone who has always had the ability to hear. Take some ways that hearing loss has a extensive impact on more than just the ears.
A 2006 report released by the Australian firm Access Economics states there is a link between earning potential and hearing. They discovered that an individual with hearing loss will potentially make about 25 percent less than those that do hear, but why?
There are many things that could impact earnings. Somebody who works with no hearing assistance device like a hearing aid may miss out on crucial material. They might appear for a business meeting at 4 when it was really at 2 pm, for example. Managers tend to appreciate those with keen attention to detail, which is a challenge when you can not hear the specifics.
Working environments can be loud and crazy, too. A person with hearing loss can become confused with that noise around them. They’ll struggle to talk on the phone, to listen to customers and to understand what coworkers are saying because in a loud environment the desktop sounds like clicking keyboards or an air conditioner motor become conspicuous.
Some of the same problems at work become an issue at home. Hearing loss has the potential to cause conflict, particularly when the person with the problem continues to deny it. Little things like saying “what” a lot during conversations and turning the TV up too loud irritate friends, family members, and spouses.
They may attempt to intervene and encourage this person to recognize their hearing loss, and that leads to friction, as well. It is extremely common for someone with hearing loss to sequester themselves and refuse to go out and spend some time with other people. They struggle to keep up with conversations, so they so what the can to avoid them.
Mental Health Concerns
The problems at work and home take a toll on mental health over time. A 2014 study performed by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders found a cause and effect relationship between hearing loss and melancholy. Their study indicates an increased risk of depression, especially among girls and people under the age of 70. Their risk of depression goes from 5 percent to approximately 11 percent with hearing loss.
A second study by the Senior Research Group suggests that the chance of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and paranoia goes up when a person with hearing loss doesn’t use hearing aids. The study participants who did not wear hearing aids reported everything from feelings of sadness to sudden fits of anger more often than those that did wear them.
Safety is always an issue for the hearing impaired. Most security systems, whether it is a smoke or carbon monoxide detector or a perimeter alarm, work based on noise. They emit a high-frequency noise if there is a danger. Even people with slight hearing loss can have trouble hearing high pitched tones.
Personal security becomes a problem when a person with hearing loss crosses the road or drives a car, too. Sound serves to signal problems like a car coming down the road or a horn honking.
Medical science has made a link between cognitive decline and hearing loss. It isn’t clear why people with hearing loss have a higher risk of dementia. The current theory is that the mind struggles to listen and to compensate, it robs other vital functions like short-term memory.
A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that even a person with minor hearing loss is twice as likely to develop dementia. Moderate hearing loss increases the risk by three times and an individual with severe hearing impairment is five times more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Hearing health is just one factor in memory loss conditions, but it is an important one.
When a person has hearing loss, it is true there is probably something wrong with their ears, but that’s just where it starts. The good news is that getting help in the kind of hearing aids and other treatment options reduces the chance of mental health problems, dementia and the different issues associated with hearing decline.
When a person goes out to purchase hearing aids, they are looking for a product to buy. With that in mind, it is typical for them to only think only about the cost of what they are getting. It’s true that a quality hearing device is costly, but you need to shift your thinking. If you consider the service you get from a hearing aid and put aside the cost factor, it starts to make more sense. You spend your life buying stuff because it provides a valuable service like a new car or a house. Both of these things will set you back, too, but you buy them anyway because otherwise, you have no transportation or roof over your head.
Buying a hearing aid introduces you to another critical service because without it, you can’t hear and that affects your ability to do important things like talk to your boss or listen to a customer. Losing that sense means you won’t hear the traffic as you drive to work or when you walk across the street. It also gets in the way of you from creating, strengthening, and maintaining the essential aspect of life, relationships.
Hearing aids are not a luxury when your hearing changes. It’s a device that provides a critical service to you. Consider some facts about hearing aids you might not know and why they are more service than a product.
What Does a Hearing Aid Do?
Let’s start with the basics. What is a hearing aid and why do you need it? A hearing aid is a device that provides amplification, but it does more than just that one thing. Modern digital hearing aids:
- Filter out background noise
- They increase and decrease the volume automatically through gain processing
- They analyze the sound environment
- They pick up conversation even in a noisy room
- They help you determine where a sound came from
They are also self-learning, in other words, they begin to know how you hear and learn what sounds matter to you. They can use that information to improve their service. There is no more annoying feedback, either, like you used to hear coming from your grandpa’s hearing aid. Modern hearing aids include digital feedback reduction. Today’s hearing aids offer Bluetooth-compatibility, as well, so they work with computers, tablets, and smartphones. No need to take the hearing aid out to answer the phone.
Why do Hearing Aids Cost So Much?
That’s a reasonable question because if you are going to think of your hearing aid a service, you have a right to know why it costs so much. Some critical elements that go into creating your hearing aid include:
- Advanced technology
- Durability and long battery life
- Personal design and fitting
- Free trials
You can buy less expensive hearing aids online, but they don’t have the same technology as a quality product or offer the perks of a personal fitting, a grace period, or in-person assistance. If you go that route, you might as well just hold a glass up to your ear and see what happen.
Things to Think About When Buying a Hearing Aid
When you purchase a car or house, you do your homework first, right? Take that same approach when buying a hearing aid while keeping in mind that it is a service. Start by planning a way to pay for this service. Is it something your health insurance covers? Many don’t, but you should check to be sure. You can do this by directly calling your insurance provider or audiologist.
Maybe there is a special funding plan available to you. Are you a veteran, for example? The VA might help to pay for the hearing aid. You should also check to see if you qualify for federal or state assistance, and you can look into civil organizations, too.
Next, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and hearing test. If you don’t already know why you suffer hearing loss, find out before you spend money on a hearing aid. It might be a side effect of a medical problem like diabetes. If you treat the condition, you might not need a hearing aid.
It is also important to get a professional hearing test, so you buy the right hearing aid. A practice like ours can use your hearing test to customize the settings on any device you choose, so it best serves your needs.
Finally, meet with a specialist in person. The Internet doesn’t know what kind of hearing aid you need – that requires a personal touch. Sit down with an expert and write out what you hope to get from your hearing aid beyond just amplification. Do you want one that connects to your mobile device? Do you want the volume to adjust automatically? You are paying for this service, so get what you want from it.
Once you pick out the right hearing aid, look at the various service options. Does it come with a warranty? How about a free trial, so you know it’s the right one for you?
By seeing your hearing aid as a service – a necessary one – you’ll be able to look past the price tag towards what it can do for your life.
One in every 10 Americans lose their ability to hear due to noise pollution. Often, the damage done by noise is gradual. It is not just explosions that are the problem, but more the stuff you experience on a day-to-day basis in your home or at work. With each new day, you hear noises that you don’t realize is a problem such as the headphones you wear to listen to music or sounds at work like equipment running. Safeguarding your hearing from noise-related loss is one of the best health decisions you can make, but how do you know what products offer this protection?
Assess Your Noise Exposure Needs
It is tricky to consider different options offered for hearing protection and find the type that works for you. There are a few of things to consider such as:
- Why you want hearing protection? Is it for your job or perhaps you need them for a sport like hunting?
- How much does it cost? The pricing goes from really cheap to very expensive, so budget is worth thinking about.
- How comfortable is it? If you are buying something that you will wear most of the day, then comfort is an issue.
There are also some safety concerns to keep in mind. Avoid hearing protection that gets in the way of movement or introduces blind spots. If you are looking to save your ears from work-related sounds, then have a conversation with your employer before paying for anything out of pocket. Many companies offer hearing protection as part of your benefits or at least can guide you on what right type to buy and the Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) you need.
What is the NRR?
The NRR rating listed on hearing protection devices offers a critical piece of information to you. The Noise Reduction Rating determines how well the device blocks out a sound. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires manufacturers to do tests and provide rating information based on their findings. The NRR measurement is in decibels and states the maximum amount of sound that device is able to block. A hearing protection product with an NRR of 26 will block a maximum of 26 decibels.
For most job-related hearing protection products, you should look for a device that blocks twice the amount of sounds you experience daily at work. You might purchase something with an NRR of 200 if your regular noise exposure is around 100 decibels, for example. Just so you know, 100 dB is about the level of a tractor and similar equipment.
What Types of Hearing Protection Devices are Available?
When it comes to protecting your ears, the most common products are:
- Canal caps
There may be different styles within each category and even some hybrid products out there.
Earplugs offer moldable foam products that you throw away or a pre-molded one-size-fits-all reusable style. There are pros and cons for both kinds of earplugs, so it really comes It comes down which one you like best. The disposable foam plugs usually have a higher NRR rating and will fit tightly in your ears, but they can be costly. They are like disposable contact lenses; you have to keep buying fresh ones.
The pre-molded style is more economical but can lead to infections if not cleaned right. They also do not fit as well as the moldable ones, so they are hard to keep in place.
Canal caps are like earplugs with a flexible band. They also come with moldable tips or pre-molded ends. The benefits of this hearing protection device are that you can take them out quickly and let the band hang around your neck. They work better than earplugs if you anticipate wearing them on and off throughout the day.
Earmuffs look like headphones, and some even have mics in them so you can talk to other people through a wireless connection. They are easy to wear and use, too, but tend to be heavy and can make your ears sweat. Although you may pay more for quality earmuffs initially, they last longer and will probably save you money over time.
Choosing the Right Ear Protection
Once you determine what NRR rating you need for your ear protection device, the next thing to consider is your comfort and ease of use. If you want something that is less confining, then earplugs or canal caps are probably the best choices. You might even want to get different types of ear protection for the seasons. For example, canal caps will be less cumbersome in warm weather, but earmuff will keep you more comfortable in the cold.
The key is to try the various types of ear protection and see what works best for your situation. A person who needs something for work has different criteria then a person who wants to protect their ears while they hunt or on the shooting range.
Sound is what tethers you safely to the world even though you may not realize it. For instance, it is the sound of an alarm that tells you there is smoke in the house and a potential fire. This type of security is critical for those who do have hearing loss, especially when there is a gradual decline. How do people who can’t hear well anymore know the alarm is going off in time to get out of the house?
With about 20 percent of the people in the U.S. diagnosed with some form off hearing loss, clearly, this question has come up before. Consider some of the security issues those with hearing loss face daily and how they are handled.
About Those Smoke Alarms
So, what do they do about smoke alarms? The key is to make use of the other senses. The common high-frequency smoke alarm won’t work effectively for someone with hearing loss, especially during the night when their hearing aids are put away somewhere.
A 2009 study published in Ear and Hearing states that alarms to detect smoke and heat in a home that comes with low-frequency tones work better for those who are struggling to hear like the elderly, even more so than flashing lights which were effective only about 27 percent of the time. Bed or pillow shakers were a practical choice, as well. The study found between 80 to 84 percent of participants awoke when shaken during the night.
Access to 911
The 911 system is a lifeline to communicate with the police and EMS but how does that work if you can’t hear? There are a couple of ways to solve this problem. First, make sure your mobile phone has a GPS system. This allows an EMS operator to locate you from anywhere if you do call for help even if you can’t hear them. They can send someone to you based on your phone coordinates. You can also look into hearing aids that connect to your phone through Bluetooth technology. The right hearing aid eliminates the communication problem.
Installing landlines at home makes sense, too, and make sure to put one next to the bed for emergencies in the night. With a landline, you can dial 911 and the operator will send out a patrol to check on you whether speak or not. Contact your service provider before installing a landline, though, so you know they are 911 compliant. Some VoIP systems will not automatically transmit your address to the 911 operator.
You can take advantage of the high-tech hearing assistive devices such as a video relay system or a captioned phone. If you do opt to carry just a smartphone, buddy up with friends and family to get help if you need it. Establishing an emergency contact group means you can send a text out to them and they can call 911 for you. The more people on your buddy list, in fact, the better.
Protecting Your Home
Home alarm systems bring with them some of the same challenges as smoke alarms. They tend to emit a high-frequency sound that is tough for someone with a hearing challenged to hear. It is important to have this kind of safety equipment because you are also not going to hear someone breaking into your home, either.
Look for alarms systems designed just for the hearing impaired. Many come with bed shakers and strobe lights that warn you of a break-in. Pick a security system with a remote panic button that you can keep close to your bed for added safety, too. Make a point to tell the alarm company that you are hearing impaired when you sign up for the service. They will work with you to figure out the best way to communicate.
Take Advantage of Hearing Technology
For many, the best option is hearing aids. Talk to your doctor to determine if hearing aids are a workable choice for you. If so, go to a certified retailer so you know you purchase quality products designed to keep you safe and improve your life.
Bluetooth compatibility is just one common feature in modern hearing aids. Directional microphones cut back on interference, so you can concentrate on what is going on around you.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your friends, neighbors, and family are some of the most powerful safety assets you have, so just be honest and tell them about hearing challenges. If you are worried about your security, sit down with them and discuss ways to keep you safe, so you feel better about your security options.
You hear plenty of talk nowadays about the challenge of living with chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but what about tinnitus? It is a chronic illness that has a strong emotional component because it affects so many aspects of someone’s life. Tinnitus presents as phantom noises in one or both ears. Most folks describe the noise as clicking, buzzing, hissing, or ringing that no one else can hear.
Tinnitus technically isn’t an illness but a symptom of an another medical issue like hearing loss and something that over 50 million people from the U.S. deal with on a day to day basis. The phantom sound tends to begin at the most inconvenient times, too, like when you are watching a favorite TV series, trying to read a book or listening to a friend tell a terrific tale. Tinnitus can worsen even once you try to get some sleep.
Medical science has not quite pinpointed the reason so many people suffer with tinnitus or how it happens. The current theory is that the mind creates this noise to balance the silence that comes with hearing loss. Regardless of the cause, tinnitus is a life-altering problem. Consider five ways that tinnitus is such a challenge.
1. Tinnitus Impacts Emotional Processing
Recent research indicates that people who experience tinnitus have more activity in the limbic system of their mind. The limbic system is the portion of the brain responsible for emotions. Up until this discovery, most doctors believed that individuals with tinnitus were worried and that is why they were always so sensitive. This new theory indicates there is far more to it than just stress. There’s an organic component that makes those with tinnitus prickly and emotionally delicate.
2. Tinnitus is Not Easy to Explain
How do you explain to someone else that you hear weird noises that don’t exist and not feel crazy when you say it. The helplessness to go over tinnitus causes a disconnect. Even if you could tell somebody else, it’s not something they truly understand unless they suffer from it for themselves. Even then, they might not have exactly the very same symptoms of tinnitus as you. Support groups are usually available, but that means talking to a bunch of people you don’t know about something very personal, so it is not an appealing choice to most.
3. Tinnitus is Bothersome
Imagine trying to write a paper or study with noise in the background that you can not turn down or turn off. It is a distraction that many find disabling whether they are at home or just doing things around work. The noise shifts your attention making it hard to remain on track. The inability to concentrate that comes with tinnitus is a true motivation killer, too, making you feel lethargic and unworthy.
4. Tinnitus Inhibits Sleep
This could be one of the most crucial side effects of tinnitus. The sound will get worse when a sufferer is attempting to fall asleep. It’s not certain why it increases during the night, but the most plausible reason is that the silence around you makes it more active. During the day, other sounds ease the sound of tinnitus such as the TV, but you turn everything all off when it’s when you lay down for the night.
Many men and women use a sound machine or a fan at night to help alleviate their tinnitus. Just that little bit of background noise is enough to get your mind to reduce the volume on the tinnitus and allow you to get some sleep.
5. There is No Magic Cure For Tinnitus
Just the concept that tinnitus is something you have to live with is hard to come to terms with. Though no cure will stop that noise permanently, there are things can be done to assist you find relief. It starts at the doctor’s office. Tinnitus is a symptom, and it’s essential to get a proper diagnosis. For instance, if you hear clicking, perhaps the noise is not tinnitus but a sound related to a jaw problem like TMJ. For many, the cause is a chronic illness the requires treatment like high blood pressure.
Many people will find their tinnitus is the consequence of hearing loss and coping with that health problem relieves the noise they hear. Getting a hearing aid means an increase in the level of noise, so the brain can stop trying to create it to fill a void. Hearing loss may also be quick to treat, such as earwax build up. Once the physician treats the underlying issue, the tinnitus fades.
In extreme cases, your specialist may try to reduce the tinnitus medically. Antidepressants may help lower the ringing you hear, for instance. The doctor can suggest lifestyle changes which should alleviate the symptoms and make life with tinnitus more tolerable, such as using a sound machine and finding ways to handle anxiety.
Tinnitus presents many hurdles, but there’s hope. Science is learning more each year about how the brain functions and ways to make life better for those struggling with tinnitus.
Is your motto have hearing aid will travel? If so, you probably already have a game plan in mind each time you take a vacation. If this is your first time hitting the road with a hearing aid, though, try to remember that planning ahead is the best way to protect and maintain the device while you travel. Consider some travel tips that will ensure you and your hearing aid stay safe and have a great time on your next vacation.
Travel is Chaotic
No matter how well you organize your trip or even how you get from place to place, travel is chaotic. That is true whether you are on a road trip, take a plane with your family or are riding the rails. Chaos breeds stress, and, when you are stressed, it’s easy to miss important details like how to care for your hearing aid.
Before you leave, develop a list of all the stuff you need to take with you and make sure extra batteries for your hearing aid is on the top of it. If your hearing aid comes with rechargeable batteries then bring along an extra charging station in case yours gets lost along the way. If you are traveling and are required to check your luggage carry batteries or that extra charger on you in case your bags get lost.
While you are making your list, think about what else you will need to maintain your hearing aids. How about:
- The cleaning kit
- A hairdryer to use in case they get wet
- Additional domes and wax guards
Pack a few of Bluetooth accessories in your luggage, too. They are a big help if you should lose or damage your hearing aid on the road. The mic on a Bluetooth device can help you talk to people in a pinch.
Boarding a Plane
If a plane is your chosen mode of transportation, plan to wear your hearing aids all the way to your destination. You should carry the case, batteries and cleaning supplies in your carry on, so they are easy to get to if you need them. When going through security, leave your hearing aids in your ears. When it comes time to go through the body scanner, tell them that you have a hearing aid in, so they don’t think you are hiding anything. If they ask you to take it out so they can examine it, you should comply but they may just let you go through with it in place.
While flying, you might find hearing is more difficult even while wearing with your hearing aid. The noise can overwhelm the device, so use other tricks to understand what is going on like visual cues. Try putting a Bluetooth device in one ear if you are struggling, too. The remote mic will pick up conversation better while you are in the air than your hearing aid.
Some Common Sense Advice
Your hearing aids are critical for vacation enjoyment, but you need to think ahead just in case they go missing or break during your trip. You need to find other ways to accommodate your hearing loss when are not wearing them, too, like at night. If you are staying at a hotel, ask about adaptive equipment designed for the hearing impaired. Some offer rooms that include lights that flash when the phone rings or in case the fire alarm goes off.
Keep detailed information with you at all times like your itinerary and emergency contacts. A written itinerary makes checking in to your hotel easier because you’ll probably be tired and understanding the clerk will be a struggle even with your hearing aid.
Do your homework before you leave to learn more about the areas you visit, and, especially if there is a certified hearing aid retailer nearby. This way if something does happen and you need to get your hearing aid repaired or even replaced, you already know where to go for help.
Have hearing aid will travel? Absolutely! Don’t let your hearing issues change the way you live on the road. There is no reason you can’t go out and enjoy your vacation just like anyone. Go ahead and plan that dream adventure just think ahead, so you hear every minute of the fun.
You workout regularly and watch your diet just to stay healthy but shouldn’t that apply to your hearing too? Many people see a loss of hearing as a something that happens naturally due to aging but fail to take it into account how bad habits affect it. The hearing sense is one the most important you have and what you do now does matter if you want to keep it. Everything from eating fast food to refusing to give up the cigarettes to hitting the couch for hours at a time contributes to changes in the hearing related to aging. It’s time to make some positive choices by considering preventative measures that benefit your heart and hearing at the same time.
Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your entire body including your ears. A 2009 study conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) determined there is a connection between heart health and the gradual hearing loss associated with aging. They found that heart disease was a factor in hearing loss very late in life and failure to exercise leads to cardiovascular disease.
A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Medicine looked at how body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and physical activity factored into the hearing equation. They were able to conclude that the better fit you are, the better your chance of keeping your hearing. Even the American Journal of Audiology identified a direct link between cardiovascular health and hearing function. With that much proof on hand, it’s clear that sitting on the couch day after day will cost you in many ways, so start a regular workout schedule or, at least, find time to take a walk most days of the week.
There is a reason mom said you are what you eat. There is a certain nutritional aspect to maintaining ear health. Omega 3 fatty acids, for instance, are deemed healthy foods good for the heart but studies show they also help protect you against age-related hearing loss. Look to get some omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish like salmon.
While you are at it, make sure to get your green on, too. Spinach, broccoli and asparagus are all rich in folic acid, an antioxidant known for reducing nerve damage including the kind that affects the one that connects the ears to the brain. Add some magnesium found in bananas and artichokes to your diet and you are eating your way to good ear health.
Eating to Prevent Chronic Disease
When it comes to diet, focusing on other parts of the body is just as beneficial. Preventing chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes also protects your hearing. You might be surprised what foods can help fight disease like:
- Wine – Red wine is good for the heart in moderation. Keep it to one glass a day.
- Cocoa – You know, the stuff chocolate is made from, a small amount daily will improve your brain health without blowing your diet.
- Almonds – They make a good high-protein snack with lots of crunch and help lower cholesterol levels for better heart and brain health. Limit yourself to just a few, though. They pack a lot of calories.
While meal planning, find ways to cut the salt. Excess salt leads to water retention and higher blood pressure.
Of course, there are things you need to do just for your ears when focusing on your health. Sound hygiene refers to protecting your ears from sounds that can cause damage. Avoid wearing headphones or earbuds to listen to music or talk on the phone. They introduce sound directly into the ear canal. By the time it reaches the delicate mechanisms of the inner ear, it is amplified enough to wreak havoc. If you are going out for the night to hear a band or dance, wear ear protection to prevent the loud noise from causing ear trauma.
Get Quality Sleep
If you need eight hours a night, then make you get them. See a doctor if you think you might sleep apnea, as well. Sleep apnea is often a sign of an underlying problem like will affect the ears like poor circulation or inflammation. Research suggests that those with untreated sleep apnea most likely have hearing problems, especially with low and high-frequency sounds.
Learn to live right and your ears will thank you. If you already think you have hearing problems, now is the time to see your doctor for a professional hearing exam and test.
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Each new year and every new season brings with it the stuffy nose and itchy eyes that means allergies, but does that also mean you’ll have hearing loss? It might surprise you to know there is a connection for many people. You don’t necessarily associate hearing with the immune system, after all. It is not that simple. Your hearing is a complex sense, one that can be affected by an allergic reaction. So, what should you do if your allergies affect your hearing?
An allergic reaction is part of body’s internal security plan managed by the immune system. It monitors different areas to detect intruders such as an infection. When bacteria gets in, the immune system works to fight it off. It also creates a special tag, known as an antibody, that marks this invader for future reference.
Let’s say a family member exposes you to the flu virus. If you have had the same strain before, an antibody allows the immune system to recognize it and respond. It will release histamine — the ground troops that fight off invaders — and that typically means inflammation of some kind. In the case of the flu, your sinus cavities and mucous membranes might swell in an attempt to trap the virus.
The problem is the immune system is far from perfect. Sometimes harmless substances like dust or pollen get an antibody in error. Once flagged, they will always seem like a threat. That’s an allergy. For allergy sufferers, this means everytime you come in contact with this allergen — that’s the dust or pollen — there is an immune system response. By definition, an allergy means you are hypersensitive to something that is harmless to most people.
Seasonal Allergies and Hearing Loss
Each year millions of people in this country suffer from seasonal allergies, and they might notice a change in their hearing. Hearing relies on the ability of sound to reach a nerve in the inner ear to be translated into something the brain can understand.
The allergic response almost automatically means swelling and congestion and that can interfere with that process. A change in fluid pressure prevents sound from traveling to the inner ear, for example. You might notice pressure or a sense of fullness in the ears when that happens. The body produces more earwax in response to an allergy, too, creating a buildup that blocks sound.
The Skin and Allergies
Sometimes the allergic response includes a skin reaction like swelling and an itchy rash. The ear has a considerable amount of skin that can be affected. Typically, skin reactions occur on the outer ear, known as the pinna. They can also cause problems inside the ear, though. The ear canal is covered with skin that can swell and itch enough to close the passage and prevent sound waves from moving forward.
Allergies and the Middle Ear
The middle ear is the area most often affected by allergies. This region contains tubes that allow fluid to drain and control the pressure inside the ear. An allergic reaction closes the tubes allowing fluid and pressure to build, and that makes it hard to hear.
How to Recognize Allergy-Related Hearing Loss
If you are prone to allergies, these symptoms will be familiar:
- Itching inside the ear canal
- Chronic ear infections
- Fullness inside the ear
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
When combined with the conductive hearing loss, these are signs of an allergy.
Any time your hearing changes suddenly, though, it is worth considering seeing a doctor, especially if you don’t usually have allergies. Your hearing loss might be the first sign of a chronic medical problem like high blood pressure or diabetes. If allergies are a way of life for you, however, then treating them is probably all it will take to get your hearing back.