Hearing Tips

What Details You’ll Want to Understand After That Hearing Test

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : July 20, 2017

What You Want To Know From Your Hearing Test | Doctor Giving a Hearing Test

You made the first step to managing your hearing issues by getting a hearing test from a qualified audiologist, but now what? What kind of data can you expect to acquire with this test and what does it mean for your hearing future? These are reasonable questions because hearing tests are meant to go beyond the traditional an ear exam. The purpose of a hearing test is to gauge how well sound reaches the brain.

Hearing tests are performed by a specialist to provide a thorough evaluation of your hearing, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. That’s important information for both you and your ear doctor to have but what exactly can you expect to learn from the hearing test?

How Hearing Tests Work

That’s the first question you should ask the audiologist when you sit down for the test to really appreciate the importance of this data. A sound is really a vibration in the air that travels in waves. Measures are taken of these vibrations determine the specific frequency (pitch) and height or amplitude (volume).

Hearing loss, especially when it is part of aging, rarely means you just stop hearing everything all at once. Instead, most people hear little bits and pieces of sound based on these two factors: frequency and amplitude. When hearing starts to fade, it’s common to hear some voices better than others. This is because that voice falls into a range of frequency and amplitude that your ears can still hear.

Hearing tests introduce sounds at different levels to see what you can and can’t hear. In most cases, you are asked to sit in a sound proof booth with headphones on and acknowledge when you hear a sound. The audiologist gets a record of what frequency and amplitude you hear in each ear to measure your specific level of hearing loss.

A comprehensive hearing test measures:

  • Pure tone audiometry – Tonal hearing
  • Hearing in Noise – Hearing in both quiet and noisy environments
  • Speech reception and word recognition

In some cases, the audiologist tests the actual structures of the ear, too. For instance, a tympanogram will measure how well the eardrum and middle ear works. An auditory brain stem response tests the brain’s reaction to sound. All this gives the specialist a well-rounded metric of your hearing ability and where it fails.

What You Should Understand After the Hearing Test

The basic hearing test allows the audiologist to make a map of your hearing, referred to as an audiogram, using frequency and aptitude to plot it. The purpose is to define each individual’s hearing loss and then figure out how best to accommodate it. The hearing specialist takes that audiogram and then uses a formula to create a single number from it that summarizes your hearing loss in a concise manner. Using this single measure, they determine your degree of hearing loss. For example:

  • Under 25dB – No hearing loss
  • Between 56 – 70 dB – Moderate to severe with difficulty understand some speech and with group conversations
  • Over 91 dB is considered profound hearing loss

With this data in hand, you are able to choices that will affect not only your hearing health but your quality of life, as well. A person with moderate to severe hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, for instance. The data obtained via a hearing test also helps a certified hearing aid retailer create a strategy when fitting you for hearing aids. The technician can get a feel for what feature might best suit your needs like direction microphones and noise filtering.

Most people can benefit from a hearing test even if they are not experiencing hearing loss. The test serves as a baseline to measure changes to your hearing over the years.





Five Things You Might Tell Yourself to Deny Hearing Loss

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : July 13, 2017

Man Holding his Ears | People Who Deny Hearing Loss

I can’t be my hearing because…if that’s something you find yourself saying a lot these days than you already get how easy it is to deny hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America explains that simply knowing that hearing loss exists is the biggest obstacle people face. It starts with admitting there’s a problem and then getting proactive about it. The first step is to see a doctor and get a professional hearing test. Consider some of the more common excuses people use to deny their hearing loss.

1. It Just Happens Too Slow

This is especially true hearing loss related to age. This form of hearing loss can early and get progressively worse over time. People don’t always notice it until little things start happening like a family member harping on them about the TV being too loud or they feel like they are always behind in the conversation. For some, the first real symptom that there is a hearing problem comes with the onset of tinnitus or ringing in the ears. By the time the ringing starts, though, the loss is already affecting your life.

2. They Pass the Hearing Loss Buck Most of the Time

It’s not you; it’s that outdated television set. Maybe it’s not you but the spouse who is always mumbling. Your first instinct may be to pass the buck because it just doesn’t occur to most people that they have a hearing problem. If your hearing has always been so good, why would you suddenly think it is failing? It probably seems much more likely that what you are trying to hear is at fault even though that is rarely the case.

3. A Doctor Didn’t Find Any Hearing Loss

During your last check-up, the doctor didn’t say anything to you about hearing loss, so it must not exist. The problem with that excuse is even the best doctor can miss a hearing problem unless he or she knows to look for it.

This form of age-related hearing loss generally affects the inner ear, so it’s not something that will pop up during your annual checkup. It may be the doctor notices you are struggling to hear, but people with this problem tend to compensate without even knowing it. It is easy for a doctor who sees you only occasionally or maybe for the first time ever to miss.

4. No One Complains About My Hearing

Well, maybe you just didn’t hear them. While most of the time the people in your life will recognize your hearing loss before you do, it is hardly a deciding factor. If they do notice something, they may think they’re being over critical or maybe they’re just mistaken.

In the end, this is still how most people figure out there is a problem, but it may take time for your family to notice enough to say something. In fact, if you are sharing your life with a spouse who is aging right along side you, then he or she has their own hearing struggle going on. It’s understandable if it didn’t come up in conversation. Adult children don’t see their parents as often as they used to, either, so it might be awhile before they recognize the signs in mom or dad.

5. I Notice It Sometimes But It Seems to Come and Go

It’s very common for hearing loss to affect high-frequency sounds only. What that means to you is that the hearing problem can seem to come and go, so it doesn’t seem real. That’s a common reason many people with hearing loss put the blame on the speaker. You seem to hear everything else just fine, after all. You blame the mumbling as opposed to noticing your hearing loss. At some point, friends and family might point out that you seem to be missing parts of the conversation, but you can continue to deny your hearing loss until that happens.

What can you do to stop denying the problem? The answer is simple. Ask your doctor next time you have a physical if you might have hearing loss or go ahead and make an appointment to double check. A simple in-office test using a tuning fork can shine some light on the problem.

If the answer turns out to be “maybe”, then you at least have factual information to consider. The next step will be a professional hearing test with an audiologist to see the extent of your loss and to find solutions to fix the problem. There is no way to reverse age-related ear damage, but something as simple as hearing aids is a real life-changer for people who have been denying their hearing loss for way too long.





Hearing Loss: Why It Might Be Making You So Grumpy

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : July 7, 2017

Is Hearing Loss Turning You Into A Grump? | Picture of Grumpy Man

Maybe you know you’re feeling more cranky these days but don’t know why? Hearing loss is a problem nearly 50 million people in this country face, according to the Hearing health Foundation, but, for many, it sneaks up on them with age. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end at your ears, either. Studies show that even minor hearing loss will increase the risk of memory problems and dementia. What you might decide is just a sign of age may actually be a treatable medical problem. It’s time to find out and end that cranky state then you can look for ways to manage age-related hearing loss.

How About Some Facts About Hearing Loss

Finding out a little more about what you’re dealing with is a practical place to start. For many individuals, hearing loss is a natural side effect of getting older. One out of every 3 people over the age of 65 has some variation of hearing loss. It’s not fully understood why this happens, but it may be due to years of the noise. Everything from the music you listened to when you were 16 to driving with the window down in traffic. The world is full of potentially ear-damaging noise that can erode the delicate mechanisms that help you hear.

Chronic illnesses that become more common with age are a possible factor, as well. High blood pressure, for example, or diabetes can both interfere with blood flow, which causes damage to the nerves of the inner ear.

How to Recognize the Signs

People tend to take their hearing for granted, so when it starts to fail, they don’t recognize the signs. For instance:

  • It’s a struggle to understand words when there is background noise like a fan or the AC
  • Always asking people to repeat themselves or even worse, saying "what" a lot
  • Always feeling like you are being left out of the conversation

No wonder you’re cranky. It’s the small things that are the most frustrating. For example, it becomes more difficult to understand words with "S" or "F" in them. You might not appreciate that’s what is happening, though, because you don’t hear the words well enough to make the connection.

What’s the Plan to Manage Your Hearing Loss

First find out if you actually have hearing loss. Start by asking a family member if they notice you struggling to keep up with conversations or if you say "What?" a little too often. If there is any doubt, then a hearing exam will clarify everything for you. The physician will look inside your ears for obvious problems like a build up of wax or visible trauma.

The next step is to get a hearing test from a professional. This not only helps to confirm your hearing loss but it also gauges the extent of it. The audiologist will recommend the next course of action for you based on the results of the test. In most cases, that will involve getting hearing aids. If you are experiencing this kind of age-related hearing loss, you will benefit greatly from these medical devices.

Buy Some Effective and Quality Aids

Find a certified hearing aid store and take some to time find the right brand and model for your needs. Modern devices do more than just amplify sound. They block out the background noises, connect to phones and computers and even pinpoint the direction of a sound. Different styles and types of hearing aids come with different features, so research them all to find out what you need to improve your life.

Consider the style you want for your hearing aids, too. They come in fashionable colors or with no color at all, so they are practically invisible.

There is no downside to dealing with your hearing loss, but, plenty if you don’t beyond just making that grumpy attitude.





What are the Biggest Blunders Somebody With Hearing Loss can Make

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 29, 2017

The Biggest Mistake People with Hearing Loss Make | Elderly Man Holding His Head

If you have hearing loss then it might be time to do something about it, but for most people, there’s a learning curve. The stuff you need to manage the problem doesn’t always come cheap such as a good hearing aid, for example, or a hearing test, so your might be tempted to look around and see what else is available.

If you do, you’d be making the biggest mistake of your life when it comes to your hearing loss. Like any sector, there are good and bad products out there for hearing loss, so you need to take your time and make smart choices. Consider some of the more common mistakes people make when it comes to hearing loss.

Buying Candles for Your Ears

It’s the right idea, but the wrong approach. Hearing loss might be due to wax build-up but ear-cleaning candles are not the answer. In theory, ear candles should break up and pull out the wax plug, giving you back your hearing, but there is no proof that it works that way. The truth is the candles may do more harm than good. It’s possible you may damage an otherwise healthy ear by using them.

The best option in this scenario is to get an ear exam. Let a doctor tell you there is wax build up and fix the problem for you, instead. A physical exam provides you with a proper diagnosis, so you can develop more realistic treatment solutions – ones that improve your quality of life, instead of just cost you money.

Think Function Not Style

Not all hearing aids are the same. You want to find a high-quality device that comes with functions that benefit you –that rarely comes in a tiny, cute package, though. Some of the newer digital hearing aids are very smart looking but they may not have the power necessary to help you hear.

When shopping for hearing aids, use a certified retailer. Sit down and discuss what you need to get from your new device. Look at the various functions and decide what each one can do for you personally. Once you have a working idea of what you need from your hearing aids, start looking at the various designs to see what fits and what doesn’t. If you make the style your primary concern, you may end up with a hearing aid that does less, costs more and needs batteries daily.

Ask the Professionals Questions

Going from diagnosis to wearing hearing aids takes time and patience. Make sure you ask plenty of questions along the way, instead of rushing into a purchase. Start by creating a list of questions for your ear doctor before your ear exam. Once you confirm that the problem isn’t simple ear wax build-up, you’ll need to see an audiologist for a hearing test. Make a list of e questions you want to ask before the test, too. When you get to the point where you are buying hearing aids, bring with you a whole new set of questions for the retailer. Informed consumers make better buys.

Do Your Hearing Aid Research

Consider your hearing aids an investment, so do your research. There is a big difference between a personal amplification device you might buy off the Internet, for instances, and a digital hearing aid you get from a certified distributor. It’s up to you to understand where these difference lie so you can make an informed decision before the purchase.

Hearing loss is a difficult problem, but there are solutions for most people. You can make the choice to face your condition with as much information as possible or to try to make shortcuts that will ultimately cost you.





Here’s 5 Untruths About Hearing Aids Worth Considering

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 22, 2017

Picture of scale weighing myths and facts - The 5 Myths About Hearing Aids That Are Plain WRONG

Hearing aids make life better – is that a true statement? Like most medical devices, there are larger than life myths surrounding hearing aids. Which ones are right and which ones are wrong, though? It’s difficult to know because there is such a wide range of hearing aids on the market and hearing loss is a complicated topic. What do you think? Do hearings aids make life better? They do for most people, however; they don’t work for every kind of hearing loss. Consider five more myths about hearing aids that are plain wrong.

1. Hearing Aids Make You Feel Old

Some forms of hearing aids are perhaps a little dated looking, but the technology has come very far in the last few decades. Modern hearing aids come in brilliant colors that should make you feel anything but old. They are also available in stealth designs, so no one even has to know you are wearing one.

2. You have to be Almost Deaf to Need a Hearing Aid

Hearing aids are a practical choice for most levels of loss, not just those almost profoundly deaf. Studies show the even mild hearing loss has a considerable impact on thinking and brain health. Hearing aids provide filtering and amplification, too, so, if even the hearing loss isn’t severe, having them helps make things better.

3. Get Just One Hearing Aid and Save Money

This is a common misconception. The problem is that you don’t just hear in one ear, so even if your loss is more pronounced on one side, get two hearing aids to localize the sound. It’s just confusing if the hearing on one side sounds different.

4. Hearing Aids Only Turn Up the Volume

That is the primary function of a hearing aid, but not the only one. Today’s modern hearing aids do many amazing things. They measure the amount of amplification you need based on the volume and quality of the sound, for example. A soft voice is just as clear as the TV show you are watching.

Hearing aids are able to filter out background noises, too. Environmental sounds are a problem for those with a hearing impairment. Something as basic as a fan may block out all other sounds. Hearing aids can filter out that fan noise, so you hear people talking to you. Many hearing devices come with directional microphones, as well, so those days of trying to figure out where a sound is coming from are over.

5. Don’t Plan to Use Your Phone with a Hearing Aid

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many hearing assistance devices are Bluetooth ready, meaning they connect to your phone, tablet or computer directly. They also have microphones built into them, so you can talk on the phone hands-free.

The right provider will consider many things before making a hearing aid recommendation to you. They look at your hearing test, for example, to determine your level of hearing loss. They consider what you do for a living and what features like Bluetooth might work well for you. Your job is to ask questions so you can make an informed decision when buying hearing aids and not be fooled by the myths.





What to Do When Your Husband Could Need A Hearing Aid

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 15, 2017

Happy couple together because of hearing aids.

It’s difficult to watch someone you love struggle, especially with something as basic as hearing. The Hearing Loss Association of America estimates one in every three people over the age of 65 will develop age-related hearing loss – many of them will be husbands with loving wives by their side letting them avoid testing. That leaves the wives with a struggle of their own. How do you get that silly man to a hearing test and maybe to get hearing aids?

The core skill of talking to one another is the foundation of a good marriage, but what can you do with the man that doesn’t want to hear about hearing loss? Consider some tips that will get you talking once again.

Consider Some Key Facts

Knowledge is power, so here’s what you need to know about age-related hearing loss. This condition called presbycusis and most people get it eventually. Presbycusis is the wear and tear breakdown of the nerve cells that translate sound into electrical impulses that the brain can interpret. The sound goes into the ear in a wave that moves small hair cells designed to create electrical impulses. Over time, the hair cells stop working well so the brain doesn’t get a clear signal.

Not all age-related ear conditions affect the nerves of the inner ear, though. For some, conduction or the movement of sound waves to the inner ear is the problem. Maybe the eardrum or bones in the middle ear wear down. This is why getting an ear exam and a hearing test is a critical step for the proper treatment of hearing loss. Not all forms respond to hearing aids, so an accurate diagnosis is a key to getting him the help he needs.

Understand the Signs

The next step is to figure out whether he really can’t hear or is just not listening. There are a lot of changes in the body as you go into those golden years, many of them could make him seem distant or like he’s not paying attention including cognitive problems such as dementia. Only a medical professional can make a diagnosis but wives can look for the signs of hearing loss to get some insight.

  • Does he asks you to repeat yourself often?
  • Does he covers his ears when the TV is on or a fan is blowing in the room?
  • Does it seem like he has problems understanding conversion in public when there are background noises like other people talking or cars going by on the street?
  • Does he seem like he is trying to avoid talking to people or joining discussions?
  • Does he act depressed for no clear reason?
  • Anyone one of these signs may indicate the onset of hearing loss.

Plan to Have the Talk

Get creative with your initial approach. For example, you might begin leaving some hearing aid literature around the house and forgetting about them. If he asks, say you were just looking into options for yourself. It’s a good time to mention that you would like to schedule a hearing test, as well, but you think you should get them together. It’s a discreet way to introduce the subject without making it all about his hearing loss.

If he claims there is nothing wrong with his hearing, provide recent examples of when you both struggled with a conversation. Make it clear that there is a problem but you are not sure if it’s you, him or both.

Get Right to the Point

If the soft approach doesn’t work on your man, then be more direct. Sit down with him and talk about how you feel. Avoid talking specifically about his hearing problems but, instead, talk about how hard it is for you to watch him struggle or how much you miss conversations with him. Tell him, gently, that having to repeat yourself or keep checking to make sure he heard you is upsetting to you.

Concentrate on his fear of the diagnosis, too. Most people, probably even you, experience hearing loss at this time in life. It’s a natural process and not a sign of a more serious medical condition.

Discuss about how simple hearing tests are and how much that technology has improved over the last few years. There are hearing aids available the no one can see, ones that work with phones even hearing products that look like Bluetooth devices. No one would have to know he was wearing a hearing aid or he can use it to impress his friends and family his mad tech skills.

The most important thing is to let him know he is not alone in this struggle. Offer to get a hearing test of your own and to accompany him to all his appointments. Just having you there by his side may be all it takes to get him on the right track.





Tinnitus is More Than Just Racket In Your Head

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 8, 2017

Woman holding her ear in pain from tinnitus

Do you hear that ringing in your ears and wonder where it comes from? You’re not alone. It is estimated by the Hearing Health Foundation that 20 percent of Americans hear that same ringing sound, or ones similar to it, each day. Only around 16 percent of those with tinnitus will discuss the problem with a physician even though it disrupts their lives. Of that 20 percent, 90 percent of them also live with hearing loss even if they realize it. It is a growing concern throughout the country, but what does all the noise mean?

About Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the medical name for the phantom sound in your ears. There is no one source for this noise – it’s actually a symptom of another problem, one usually associated with loss of hearing.

Tinnitus is more of a sensation than an actual sound, too. This is why no one else hears the noise that’s keeping you awake at night. There are no sound waves causes this phenomenon, instead, it relates directly to tiny hairs inside the inner ear that produce an electrical signal telling the brain there is a sound. These cells are misfiring, sending random electrical impulses not based on any true noise.

There is More to Tinnitus Than Just Ringing

Tinnitus is usually described as a high-pitched ringing, but not everyone hears the same thing. Some report:

  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

Others say it sounds like you are pressing your ear up against a seashell to hear the waves. The diversity of sounds is one thing that makes this condition confusing, especially for some who fails to get medical treatment or a hearing test.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is simply a mechanical breakdown of a critical part of the human ear but what is behind this breakdown? For most people, the answer is presbycusis, a form of hearing loss related to aging. Presbycusis is degenerative, so it tends to get worse as the person gets older. Other potential illnesses that present with tinnitus include:

  • Loud sounds – It might be a one-time bang or something that is a day to day problem like machinery, earphones or exposure to loud music
  • A build up of earwax – Earwax in the ear canal block sound waves interfering with your hearing
  • Ear bone growth – This is a genetic problem that changes the bones in the ear

There are other possibilities, although they are rare, such as Ménière’s disease, which refers to increased pressure inside the ear. Jaw problems may be a source of the ringing, as well. For some, the noise is a consequence of a head injury that damaged the nerves in the ear. It might also be a sign of high blood pressure, a rare tumor in the ear or a side effect of a medication.

What Can You Do About Tinnitus?

First, make an appointment for a hearing test and ear examination to figure out the cause of the ringing. Once you treat the underlying hearing loss with something like a hearing aid, the ringing may resolve over time. Tinnitus is usually a sign of hearing loss that may be affecting your life in other ways, too, like isolating you during conversations or leaving you feeling like you are missing things. Once you identify your hearing loss, then getting hearing aids increases real sounds so the phantom ones are less of an issue.

There are other things you can do at home, too, to help deal with what can be an annoying and distracting problem. White noise machines produce environmental sounds that sooth your mind, especially if tinnitus is keeping you awake. You can fall asleep listening to the rain, for example, instead of that buzzing in your head.

You can create your own background noise, too, to deflect some of the tinnitus chaos. A fan blowing in the room might help or a humidifier – anything that produces a soft, but persistent sound to keep the hair cells in the ear busy so they don’t misfire.

It’s important to remember, though, that the ringing is trying to tell you something. Most likely the message is about hearing loss, so it’s worth a trip to the doctor to get a hearing test and find out more about your ear health.





How Hearing Loss Might Possibly Destroy Your Social Life

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 1, 2017

Black and white picture of sad woman looking out the window because of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a life-changer in many ways. Left untreated, it has an impact on wellness, job performance and, yes, even your social life. It is easy to take your hearing for granted, right up until little things start changing like conversations become unclear or television is hard to understand. It might take a minute to connect the dots and realize that a change in hearing is to blame.

Of course, there are ways around these minor hearing challenges like saying “what” all the time or turning up the volume but the downslide continues. Consider some ways that your social life might suffer if you don’t take the steps necessary to improve your hearing.

You’re Left Out of the Conversation

Communication is a big part of being social, but that’s hard to manage when hearing loss sets in. Hearing loss is a gradual process that often starts with key sounds disappearing during a conversation. For instances, someone with mild hearing loss might notice words with “S” or “F” sound mumbled. Certain voices might sound faint or mumbled, as well – usually high or low pitches.

Over time, sounds in the background seem to take over. It becomes difficult to hear anything but the air conditioner or fan running in the background. Something as innocent as the wind blowing around you as you try to have a discussion outdoors on the patio leads to frustration.

You may begin to feel left out as the people around you talk but you struggle to hear and understand everything they say. That feeling of isolation in a room full of conversation has an impact.

You Experience Real Isolation

The inability to clearly hear what a loved one, friend or family member says leads to mistakes and maybe even conflicts. The people in your life can start to treat you differently, trying to avoid conversations because you don’t understand them. They can’t talk to you, so it makes them uncomfortable to be around you. The phone stops ringing because you never answer anyway. When you do hear it ring, it’s a struggle to interpret what is being said.

Your friends don’t ask you to hang out anymore, either. You never understand the movies or TV show, so what’s the point. When your hearing loss started, you may have felt isolated even though you weren’t, but as it progresses, you really do spend more time alone or socializing on social media pages instead of face-to-face.

Intimacy Diminishes

They say good relationships require effective communication, but that suffers when you start to lose your hearing. What once was a partnership built around your ability to talk to one another is now a series of miscommunications. Maybe, you didn’t stop and pick up milk because you have no idea she asked you to do it or you miss a date because you got the time wrong.

That special person in your life may get frustrated because every conversation consists of you saying “What?”. As difficult as it is to experience hearing loss, it’s just as hard to see a change in someone you love without understanding why it’s happening. You lose that connection you once had with a close friend or partner because you refuse to accept that you need to see a hearing professional for help.

It’s depressing to think of how many ways losing your can hearing cost you, but for most people, there is hope. It’s estimated that 14 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 65 suffer mild to moderate hearing loss. For these individuals, getting a professional hearing test and investing in hearing aids is all it takes to return them to the social life they once enjoyed.





Ear Cleaning is Dangerous: 5 Reasons to Stop Swabbing Now

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : May 25, 2017

Picture of woman using a swab to clean her ears.

Put down those swabs already! Even the box itself provides a warning that says you should never stick them into your ear canals. And there is plenty of science to back it up. Everyone from your hearing care professional and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) to your grandma agree that you shouldn’t be so hard on your ears. Here’s 5 ways that ear wax is actually one of the best things your ears have going:

1. Ear Wax Cleans

Ear wax is actually called “cerumen” by scientists and doctors, and it’s not actually even wax in the traditional sense. It’s an ear-cleaning solution that’s made specifically by your ears to keep your ears clean. So just let it do its job, for crying out loud. It traps stray dust and dirt, preventing it from getting deeper into your ear canal. Then, as you go through your day talking, chewing and yawning, those actions actually move the soiled ear wax down and out of the ear canal where you can easily wipe it out with a washcloth during your shower.

Furthermore, if you try to dig out the ear wax with a fingernail, swab, fork, pencil, key, chopstick or other pointy foreign object, you’re actually reversing your ears’ self-cleaning mechanisms by pushing soiled cerumen further into your ear canal with all the dust and dirt it’s collected. If you keep doing this, that old ear wax can get clogged against your ear drum. So stop it.

2. Ear Wax Defends

While nobody would ever want to encounter an ear wax flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor jellybean, cerumen actually has many special properties that help keep your ears healthy, so you really should let it work for you. Several glands lining the inside of your ear canal produce a special recipe of cerumen just for your own ears. This recipe contains a mixture of long-chain fatty acids, alcohols, enzymes, cholesterol, sebum, sloughed off skin cells and other chemicals that perform a wide range of ear-protecting functions like:

  • Repelling insects. That’s right. Insects find the smell of ear wax annoying, so they avoid flying into your ears.
  • Protects ears against viruses, bacteria and fungal infections.
  • Moisturizes and lubricates the ear canal, keeping it soft and healthy

For most people, cerumen is slightly acidic—a helpful property that hinders bacterial and fungal infections from taking hold inside your ears. Thanks again, ear wax!

3. Ear Wax Removal Sabotages Your Hearing

You may already have sustained some level of hearing loss, just from the process of swab-based ear wax removal habits. This type of ear wax removal actually shoves soiled, old ear wax further down into the ear canal where it can become impacted and cause hearing loss. If you’ve been doing this for years, schedule an appointment with your hearing care professional to have them check whether you have impacted ear wax that might be causing some amount of hearing loss.

Now, you may be one of those people who actually do have a problem with ear wax (beyond just wanting it gone). Some people make too much, while others don’t make enough. Occasionally, it may be too wet, too dry or not have the right balance of ingredients to get the job done right. Nevertheless, you still shouldn’t try to remedy or clean it out yourself with a swab or anything else (smaller than your elbow). If you’re worried about the health of your ear wax, please get in touch with your hearing care professional for an evaluation.

Wearing hearing aids can also be a bit problematic for ear wax, but if you follow your hearing care professional’s instructions on proper hearing aid cleaning and gently washing out your ears (no swabs or pointy things), you should be able to prevent excess ear wax from blunting the operation of your hearing aids, or from having ear wax impaction problems.

4. Halt Ear Cleaning Accidents Today

But sadly, they happen all too often. About 12,500 kids all across America end up in the doctor’s office each year with ear cleaning injuries like torn tympanic membrane (ear drum) or cuts and lacerations inside the ear canal. Unfortunately, these accidents can cause hearing loss, particularly during a developmentally important time in life. Aggressive ear cleaning with pointy objects is something the whole family could do without.

And if you were just about to ask about “ear candling”, we have some advice about that too: don’t do it. Nobody really knows where the idea came from, but it’s been around for a long time, perpetuated by natural health enthusiasts as a “natural way to remove ear wax”. But now that you know that your ears need that ear wax, why would you want to stick a flaming hollow tube up your ear canal? Sounds like a bad idea because it is. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’s been proven ineffective for ear cleaning and can actually make ear wax impaction worse.
  • It causes burn injuries to the face, ears, hair, etc. – even burns that go all the way to the ear drum and middle ear.
  • It’s also been known to puncture the ear drum.

So please… just don’t do it.

5. Here’s The Right Ear Cleaning Method for You:

It’s so simple, you probably already do it: just gently wash around the outside of your ears with a washcloth while you’re showering. Then gently towel off the water and that’s about it. No follow-up with a swab needed, and definitely not recommended.

If you have any concerns about your ear wax, your hearing, ear wax removal, ear cleaning habits or anything else associated with your ears, schedule an appointment with your hearing care professional today—and be grateful for your wonderful ear wax!





3 Hearing Aid Cheats Worth You’ll Need to Avoid When You Buy

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : May 18, 2017

Picture of magnifying glass over the word scam

With an estimated 48 million people here in the U.S. suffering from some degree of hearing loss. It makes sense that there are scams associated with hearing aids, especially given the fact that many of the individuals in need of these devices are elderly and not a knowledgeable about technology. Current studies show that one in every three elderly people has hearing loss that would benefit from some kind of hearing device. The problem is not all hearing aids work like you might expect them to or they use a marketing tactic that is less than honest. Consider three hearing aid scams you need to avoid.

1. Getting a Mail Order Hearing Aid

Years ago, hearing aids were a one size fits all prospect. The initial hearing assistance devices were trumpet-shaped you would put up to the ear to collect sound waves and make them louder. These days, hearing aids are both better designed and more convenient. If you choose to buy mail order, you might as well get ahead and settle for that trumpet. A top of the line hearing aid is customized to the wearer’s ear – something you can’t get through the mail. They also offer add-ons that fit each person’s needs, too. Instead of hunting for something online, do your shopping at a certified hearing aid dealer and get fitted properly. The price may be more, but so is the value and most dealers have financing plans available for you to consider. A hearing aid is an investment, so make sure it is worth the price you pay by shopping in person. Buying in person also allows you to make comparisons of different brands and models to see what each one has to offer. You can only learn so much from a picture on a screen or in print. Buy a quality hearing aid from the right dealer to ensure you have a good fit, all the right features and an honest warranty.

2. Settling for a Short Trial Period

A short trial period only serves one purpose – to push users into purchasing a less than perfect device. Smart shoppers need more than just a 10-minute demo or three-day trial to really get comfortable with new hearing aids. It could be that a business that shortens or completely eliminates the trail period is getting rid of an old display model, something that was returned or a product that they have had complaints about in the past. Even if you know the brand and model you are considering, there is no guarantee that particular unit will fit right or work well. It’s too risky no matter how you look at it. A savvy hearing aid consumer understands the value of a good long trial period. Shop only with dealers selling devices they can back up with a 30 to a 90-day trial, along with an in-store demo. You’ll need that much time to try the aids in a variety of real-life situations. An experienced dealer will even extend the trial period if you need more time.

3. Marketing Madness to Push the Sale

It’s an old expression but “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is appropriate in the hearing aid industry. There are companies that use online and print marketing to create a sense of urgency around their products.

  • Buy one get one free
  • Buy one get a free gift card
  • Today only discounts

Marketing gimmicks like this push buyers into making a purchase quickly. The hearing aids they rushed to buy may be a poor physical and lifestyle fit. There is more to picking out hearing aids than just price. For example, you’ll want a professional hearing test before you buy to provide essential information to ensure a hearing aid will work for you. It allows you to select a style that best fits your level of hearing, too. You also need time to consider adding features. Things like directional microphones or Bluetooth access sound interesting but do you really know what they are for or how they affect you personally. Take you time and do some homework. Don’t buy until you can answer these questions:

  • What is your level of hearing loss – requires a professional hearing test and medical exam
  • What different styles work best for your life – is behind the ear okay or do you want something more compact and stealth
  • What does each feature do and how does it improve your hearing life
  • What are the warranty and trial period
  • Are there any hidden fees
  • What is the average battery life

These are all critical questions that you don’t have time to answer when pushed into the sale. You are making a choice when buying hearing aids that are going to change your life. Do it right and avoid hearing aid scams.





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What Details You’ll Want to Understand After That Hearing Test

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : July 20, 2017

What You Want To Know From Your Hearing Test | Doctor Giving a Hearing Test

You made the first step to managing your hearing issues by getting a hearing test from a qualified audiologist, but now what? What kind of data can you expect to acquire with this test and what does it mean for your hearing future? These are reasonable questions because hearing tests are meant to go beyond the traditional an ear exam. The purpose of a hearing test is to gauge how well sound reaches the brain.

Hearing tests are performed by a specialist to provide a thorough evaluation of your hearing, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. That’s important information for both you and your ear doctor to have but what exactly can you expect to learn from the hearing test?

How Hearing Tests Work

That’s the first question you should ask the audiologist when you sit down for the test to really appreciate the importance of this data. A sound is really a vibration in the air that travels in waves. Measures are taken of these vibrations determine the specific frequency (pitch) and height or amplitude (volume).

Hearing loss, especially when it is part of aging, rarely means you just stop hearing everything all at once. Instead, most people hear little bits and pieces of sound based on these two factors: frequency and amplitude. When hearing starts to fade, it’s common to hear some voices better than others. This is because that voice falls into a range of frequency and amplitude that your ears can still hear.

Hearing tests introduce sounds at different levels to see what you can and can’t hear. In most cases, you are asked to sit in a sound proof booth with headphones on and acknowledge when you hear a sound. The audiologist gets a record of what frequency and amplitude you hear in each ear to measure your specific level of hearing loss.

A comprehensive hearing test measures:

  • Pure tone audiometry – Tonal hearing
  • Hearing in Noise – Hearing in both quiet and noisy environments
  • Speech reception and word recognition

In some cases, the audiologist tests the actual structures of the ear, too. For instance, a tympanogram will measure how well the eardrum and middle ear works. An auditory brain stem response tests the brain’s reaction to sound. All this gives the specialist a well-rounded metric of your hearing ability and where it fails.

What You Should Understand After the Hearing Test

The basic hearing test allows the audiologist to make a map of your hearing, referred to as an audiogram, using frequency and aptitude to plot it. The purpose is to define each individual’s hearing loss and then figure out how best to accommodate it. The hearing specialist takes that audiogram and then uses a formula to create a single number from it that summarizes your hearing loss in a concise manner. Using this single measure, they determine your degree of hearing loss. For example:

  • Under 25dB – No hearing loss
  • Between 56 – 70 dB – Moderate to severe with difficulty understand some speech and with group conversations
  • Over 91 dB is considered profound hearing loss

With this data in hand, you are able to choices that will affect not only your hearing health but your quality of life, as well. A person with moderate to severe hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, for instance. The data obtained via a hearing test also helps a certified hearing aid retailer create a strategy when fitting you for hearing aids. The technician can get a feel for what feature might best suit your needs like direction microphones and noise filtering.

Most people can benefit from a hearing test even if they are not experiencing hearing loss. The test serves as a baseline to measure changes to your hearing over the years.





Five Things You Might Tell Yourself to Deny Hearing Loss

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : July 13, 2017

Man Holding his Ears | People Who Deny Hearing Loss

I can’t be my hearing because…if that’s something you find yourself saying a lot these days than you already get how easy it is to deny hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America explains that simply knowing that hearing loss exists is the biggest obstacle people face. It starts with admitting there’s a problem and then getting proactive about it. The first step is to see a doctor and get a professional hearing test. Consider some of the more common excuses people use to deny their hearing loss.

1. It Just Happens Too Slow

This is especially true hearing loss related to age. This form of hearing loss can early and get progressively worse over time. People don’t always notice it until little things start happening like a family member harping on them about the TV being too loud or they feel like they are always behind in the conversation. For some, the first real symptom that there is a hearing problem comes with the onset of tinnitus or ringing in the ears. By the time the ringing starts, though, the loss is already affecting your life.

2. They Pass the Hearing Loss Buck Most of the Time

It’s not you; it’s that outdated television set. Maybe it’s not you but the spouse who is always mumbling. Your first instinct may be to pass the buck because it just doesn’t occur to most people that they have a hearing problem. If your hearing has always been so good, why would you suddenly think it is failing? It probably seems much more likely that what you are trying to hear is at fault even though that is rarely the case.

3. A Doctor Didn’t Find Any Hearing Loss

During your last check-up, the doctor didn’t say anything to you about hearing loss, so it must not exist. The problem with that excuse is even the best doctor can miss a hearing problem unless he or she knows to look for it.

This form of age-related hearing loss generally affects the inner ear, so it’s not something that will pop up during your annual checkup. It may be the doctor notices you are struggling to hear, but people with this problem tend to compensate without even knowing it. It is easy for a doctor who sees you only occasionally or maybe for the first time ever to miss.

4. No One Complains About My Hearing

Well, maybe you just didn’t hear them. While most of the time the people in your life will recognize your hearing loss before you do, it is hardly a deciding factor. If they do notice something, they may think they’re being over critical or maybe they’re just mistaken.

In the end, this is still how most people figure out there is a problem, but it may take time for your family to notice enough to say something. In fact, if you are sharing your life with a spouse who is aging right along side you, then he or she has their own hearing struggle going on. It’s understandable if it didn’t come up in conversation. Adult children don’t see their parents as often as they used to, either, so it might be awhile before they recognize the signs in mom or dad.

5. I Notice It Sometimes But It Seems to Come and Go

It’s very common for hearing loss to affect high-frequency sounds only. What that means to you is that the hearing problem can seem to come and go, so it doesn’t seem real. That’s a common reason many people with hearing loss put the blame on the speaker. You seem to hear everything else just fine, after all. You blame the mumbling as opposed to noticing your hearing loss. At some point, friends and family might point out that you seem to be missing parts of the conversation, but you can continue to deny your hearing loss until that happens.

What can you do to stop denying the problem? The answer is simple. Ask your doctor next time you have a physical if you might have hearing loss or go ahead and make an appointment to double check. A simple in-office test using a tuning fork can shine some light on the problem.

If the answer turns out to be “maybe”, then you at least have factual information to consider. The next step will be a professional hearing test with an audiologist to see the extent of your loss and to find solutions to fix the problem. There is no way to reverse age-related ear damage, but something as simple as hearing aids is a real life-changer for people who have been denying their hearing loss for way too long.





Hearing Loss: Why It Might Be Making You So Grumpy

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : July 7, 2017

Is Hearing Loss Turning You Into A Grump? | Picture of Grumpy Man

Maybe you know you’re feeling more cranky these days but don’t know why? Hearing loss is a problem nearly 50 million people in this country face, according to the Hearing health Foundation, but, for many, it sneaks up on them with age. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end at your ears, either. Studies show that even minor hearing loss will increase the risk of memory problems and dementia. What you might decide is just a sign of age may actually be a treatable medical problem. It’s time to find out and end that cranky state then you can look for ways to manage age-related hearing loss.

How About Some Facts About Hearing Loss

Finding out a little more about what you’re dealing with is a practical place to start. For many individuals, hearing loss is a natural side effect of getting older. One out of every 3 people over the age of 65 has some variation of hearing loss. It’s not fully understood why this happens, but it may be due to years of the noise. Everything from the music you listened to when you were 16 to driving with the window down in traffic. The world is full of potentially ear-damaging noise that can erode the delicate mechanisms that help you hear.

Chronic illnesses that become more common with age are a possible factor, as well. High blood pressure, for example, or diabetes can both interfere with blood flow, which causes damage to the nerves of the inner ear.

How to Recognize the Signs

People tend to take their hearing for granted, so when it starts to fail, they don’t recognize the signs. For instance:

  • It’s a struggle to understand words when there is background noise like a fan or the AC
  • Always asking people to repeat themselves or even worse, saying "what" a lot
  • Always feeling like you are being left out of the conversation

No wonder you’re cranky. It’s the small things that are the most frustrating. For example, it becomes more difficult to understand words with "S" or "F" in them. You might not appreciate that’s what is happening, though, because you don’t hear the words well enough to make the connection.

What’s the Plan to Manage Your Hearing Loss

First find out if you actually have hearing loss. Start by asking a family member if they notice you struggling to keep up with conversations or if you say "What?" a little too often. If there is any doubt, then a hearing exam will clarify everything for you. The physician will look inside your ears for obvious problems like a build up of wax or visible trauma.

The next step is to get a hearing test from a professional. This not only helps to confirm your hearing loss but it also gauges the extent of it. The audiologist will recommend the next course of action for you based on the results of the test. In most cases, that will involve getting hearing aids. If you are experiencing this kind of age-related hearing loss, you will benefit greatly from these medical devices.

Buy Some Effective and Quality Aids

Find a certified hearing aid store and take some to time find the right brand and model for your needs. Modern devices do more than just amplify sound. They block out the background noises, connect to phones and computers and even pinpoint the direction of a sound. Different styles and types of hearing aids come with different features, so research them all to find out what you need to improve your life.

Consider the style you want for your hearing aids, too. They come in fashionable colors or with no color at all, so they are practically invisible.

There is no downside to dealing with your hearing loss, but, plenty if you don’t beyond just making that grumpy attitude.





What are the Biggest Blunders Somebody With Hearing Loss can Make

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 29, 2017

The Biggest Mistake People with Hearing Loss Make | Elderly Man Holding His Head

If you have hearing loss then it might be time to do something about it, but for most people, there’s a learning curve. The stuff you need to manage the problem doesn’t always come cheap such as a good hearing aid, for example, or a hearing test, so your might be tempted to look around and see what else is available.

If you do, you’d be making the biggest mistake of your life when it comes to your hearing loss. Like any sector, there are good and bad products out there for hearing loss, so you need to take your time and make smart choices. Consider some of the more common mistakes people make when it comes to hearing loss.

Buying Candles for Your Ears

It’s the right idea, but the wrong approach. Hearing loss might be due to wax build-up but ear-cleaning candles are not the answer. In theory, ear candles should break up and pull out the wax plug, giving you back your hearing, but there is no proof that it works that way. The truth is the candles may do more harm than good. It’s possible you may damage an otherwise healthy ear by using them.

The best option in this scenario is to get an ear exam. Let a doctor tell you there is wax build up and fix the problem for you, instead. A physical exam provides you with a proper diagnosis, so you can develop more realistic treatment solutions – ones that improve your quality of life, instead of just cost you money.

Think Function Not Style

Not all hearing aids are the same. You want to find a high-quality device that comes with functions that benefit you –that rarely comes in a tiny, cute package, though. Some of the newer digital hearing aids are very smart looking but they may not have the power necessary to help you hear.

When shopping for hearing aids, use a certified retailer. Sit down and discuss what you need to get from your new device. Look at the various functions and decide what each one can do for you personally. Once you have a working idea of what you need from your hearing aids, start looking at the various designs to see what fits and what doesn’t. If you make the style your primary concern, you may end up with a hearing aid that does less, costs more and needs batteries daily.

Ask the Professionals Questions

Going from diagnosis to wearing hearing aids takes time and patience. Make sure you ask plenty of questions along the way, instead of rushing into a purchase. Start by creating a list of questions for your ear doctor before your ear exam. Once you confirm that the problem isn’t simple ear wax build-up, you’ll need to see an audiologist for a hearing test. Make a list of e questions you want to ask before the test, too. When you get to the point where you are buying hearing aids, bring with you a whole new set of questions for the retailer. Informed consumers make better buys.

Do Your Hearing Aid Research

Consider your hearing aids an investment, so do your research. There is a big difference between a personal amplification device you might buy off the Internet, for instances, and a digital hearing aid you get from a certified distributor. It’s up to you to understand where these difference lie so you can make an informed decision before the purchase.

Hearing loss is a difficult problem, but there are solutions for most people. You can make the choice to face your condition with as much information as possible or to try to make shortcuts that will ultimately cost you.





Here’s 5 Untruths About Hearing Aids Worth Considering

By: Audiology Associates of Westchester : June 22, 2017

Picture of scale weighing myths and facts - The 5 Myths About Hearing Aids That Are Plain WRONG

Hearing aids make life better – is that a true statement? Like most medical devices, there are larger than life myths surrounding hearing aids. Which ones are right and which ones are wrong, though? It’s difficult to know because there is such a wide range of hearing aids on the market and hearing loss is a complicated topic. What do you think? Do hearings aids make life better? They do for most people, however; they don’t work for every kind of hearing loss. Consider five more myths about hearing aids that are plain wrong.

1. Hearing Aids Make You Feel Old

Some forms of hearing aids are perhaps a little dated looking, but the technology has come very far in the last few decades. Modern hearing aids come in brilliant colors that should make you feel anything but old. They are also available in stealth designs, so no one even has to know you are wearing one.

2. You have to be Almost Deaf to Need a Hearing Aid

Hearing aids are a practical choice for most levels of loss, not just those almost profoundly deaf. Studies show the even mild hearing loss has a considerable impact on thinking and brain health. Hearing aids provide filtering and amplification, too, so, if even the hearing loss isn’t severe, having them helps make things better.

3. Get Just One Hearing Aid and Save Money

This is a common misconception. The problem is that you don’t just hear in one ear, so even if your loss is more pronounced on one side, get two hearing aids to localize the sound. It’s just confusing if the hearing on one side sounds different.

4. Hearing Aids Only Turn Up the Volume

That is the primary function of a hearing aid, but not the only one. Today’s modern hearing aids do many amazing things. They measure the amount of amplification you need based on the volume and quality of the sound, for example. A soft voice is just as clear as the TV show you are watching.

Hearing aids are able to filter out background noises, too. Environmental sounds are a problem for those with a hearing impairment. Something as basic as a fan may block out all other sounds. Hearing aids can filter out that fan noise, so you hear people talking to you. Many hearing devices come with directional microphones, as well, so those days of trying to figure out where a sound is coming from are over.

5. Don’t Plan to Use Your Phone with a Hearing Aid

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many hearing assistance devices are Bluetooth ready, meaning they connect to your phone, tablet or computer directly. They also have microphones built into them, so you can talk on the phone hands-free.

The right provider will consider many things before making a hearing aid recommendation to you. They look at your hearing test, for example, to determine your level of hearing loss. They consider what you do for a living and what features like Bluetooth might work well for you. Your job is to ask questions so you can make an informed decision when buying hearing aids and not be fooled by the myths.





 

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