HEARING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2019

With a new year comes a time to reflect on our old patterns and how to update our habits and improve ourselves. Do you typically make New Year’s Resolutions, and what is your track record at sticking to them?

Personally, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I educate myself throughout the year and when I see changes that need to be made, I don’t wait for a new year to make them. Even so, I have been reflective on my habits and patterns this new year, thinking about things that I might like to change.

We all value our hearing. From conversing with friends and family to watching TV or listening to music, we use hearing almost continuously. Hearing health is something we take for granted, but when we begin to experience hearing loss we realize what a gift our hearing health has always been.

Fortunately, there are ways we can protect our hearing. Here are a few easy things you can do right now to ensure your hearing health lasts as long as possible.

1.    Yearly hearing screenings are key. One of the easiest things you can do to protect your hearing is to get annual hearing evaluations at your audiologist. Since hearing damage is irreversible, it’s important to catch it early: even before you notice it. Hearing screenings are quick, easy, and often covered by insurance.

2.    Wear protective gear. Since the most common type of hearing damage is noise-induced hearing loss, it is important to protect your ears whenever you are in a noisy environment. Whether you are at work in a factory, at a firework show, or at a concert, be sure to protect your ears from loud noises. It’s a good idea to always carry earplugs. You never know when you will be in a noisy environment, so it’s good to be prepared.

3.    Keep the volume low. When we listen to music or watch TV on mobile devices using ear buds, it’s easy to have the volume at a level above 80 decibels, which is the threshold for hearing damage. It’s best to keep the volume at less than 60% of the maximum, and if you can use over-the-ear earphones with noise-canceling technology, that can prevent you from needing to turn the volume up as loud to hear your device.  

4.    Get custom-made. If you listen to a lot of music or if music is your business, it’s a good idea to get custom-made earplugs or earphone molds. They are relatively inexpensive and a great way to protect your hearing from noise-induced hearing loss. They are customized to fit your ear canal exactly. Not only do they deliver superior sound, they allow for better quality listening, so you can listen at a lower volume and prevent hearing damage.

The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.

HOLIDAY PARTIES FOR THE HEARING IMPAIRED

During the holidays, family gatherings and parties abound. For those with hearing loss these festivities may be a source of stress and insecurity. The constant concentration required to focus on conversation with a lot of background noise can be exhausting and overwhelming. Because of this, many people with hearing loss may avoid parties and holiday gatherings altogether.

If you have a loved one who suffers from hearing loss, making a few simple changes can help them to be more comfortable at your party and make them happy to attend your gathering.

Turn down the music; turn up the lights.

Parties can be dark and noisy with loud music. If your interior is bright and the music is not too loud, it can keep the noise levels down and help people to see and understand their conversation partners better.

Break it up.

Set aside areas for different activities and space them out: a space for mingling, a space for eating, another for dancing, and another to watch sporting events. This can break up background noise and make the party easier to navigate.

Watch out for wallflowers.

When people are exhausted from the efforts of communication and want to escape, they may retreat to a quiet room or corner. If you see someone doing this, engage them in a one-on-one conversation in a quiet area so they don’t feel left out. And don’t push them to return to the festivities until they are ready.

Be mindful of the needs of guests.

We often think to ask in advance about dietary restrictions, but we can also ask about other issues guests may have, and if they have a seating preference at the dinner table as a result. If you can seat someone with hearing issues in the middle of the table instead of the end, it could help them to hear what is going on better and feel more involved in the evening.

Breaks can be good.

If you see a loved one “taking a break” from the party, allow some time for them to regroup. They may just need five or ten minutes of peace and then be ready to get back to the party.

If you plan your party with your hearing-impaired loved ones in mind, it’s much more likely that they will be comfortable enough to attend and have a great time at your gathering.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

DISCREET HEARING AID TECHNOLOGY COULD GIVE YOU YOUR LIFE BACK!

Anyone with substantial hearing loss knows that it can lead to a considerable decrease in quality of life, especially while in the presence of others. Hearing is a critical part of participating in public activities. Luckily, hearing aids can help people to live a normal life even with hearing loss.

Technology You Don’t Notice

The hearing aid technology of today offers the most seamless hearing experience ever. Even if your hearing loss is severe, hearing aids can help you to communicate and understand the world around you normally. The newest wireless technology allows users to control all of the settings via smart phone or other device, acting as a kind of remote control. Hearing devices are now smaller than ever–so discreet that people you encounter may not know you are wearing them!

The functional technology of modern hearing aids like feedback cancellation, background noise reduction and speech recognition can make the use of hearing devices easier than ever. Hearing aids are now “smart” and can learn your needs and automatically adjust to your preferences.

In addition to their basic functions of restoring your hearing, today’s hearing aids can also allow you to stream sound from telephones, TVs and other devices—like having earbuds available whenever you wear them.  Without any additional devices you can listen to TV, movies or music wirelessly.

New Capability for New Technology

In the past, hearing aids were merely amplifiers of sound, doing nothing to assist the brain in processing sound. We now realize that hearing loss is much more than not hearing sounds—it can involve the inability of the brain to interpret the sound coming in. it therefore becomes necessary to find a way to assist that communication between the brain and the ears.

Hearing aids today are truly smart devices, complete with computer chips that can predict your hearing needs and provide a solution. They have learning capabilities, for example, that can help you control background noise and volume—almost as well as your natural ears!

The Tech is Available. Why Not Use it?

With the technology available and the wide variety of devices for every need, there is no reason not to use hearing aids. Check with your audiologist for a recommendation of hearing aids that can best fit your style and comfort preferences, as well as your budget.  Schedule an appointment today and find out the options that are available to you. Don’t let hearing loss steal your quality of life!

If you think you could have hearing loss, no matter what the cause, be sure to visit your audiologist immediately to take action. You may find a resolution that can inhibit or stop the development of hearing damage.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

THE STIGMA OF HEARING LOSS

As we age, we may begin to feel left behind and even devalued, especially after retirement. We may get the idea that we are no longer contributing to society. Negative stigma may be perceived from other sources as well: our health may begin to fail, and we may feel that we are on a downward path. Hearing is one ability that commonly begins to fail as we age.

There is a stigma against hearing loss, which is both internal and external. With hearing loss comes more difficulty communicating with people around us, and it may be tempting to try to deny there is a problem. This can result in a person with hearing loss in the early stages not seeking treatment.

There is a Problem

Hearing aids are expensive and are usually not covered by insurance. On top of this significant cost, the negative stigma towards the need for hearing devices can be a deterrent. People generally don’t want to admit that they are getting older and that their bodies are failing. The first step to fixing the situation and possibly even halting the progression of healing loss is to admit that it is present.

Even well-meaning friends and family can create a negative stigma against hearing loss, because they may not understand the issue. Seeing advertising of hearing aids boasting of their invisibility can sometimes exacerbate this further, creating the notion that hearing aids should be hidden because they are something to be ashamed of.

The negative stigmas surrounding hearing loss can result in people postponing a visit to the audiologist to deal with the issue. And the longer the issue is delayed, the more hearing can deteriorate. Education about how hearing loss works is crucial to helping people overcome this stigma and seek help while the hearing loss is still in its early stages. This may help them to stop the progression of hearing loss, which is irreversible.

Getting Rid of the Stigma

If hearing and communicating effectively has become a problem for you, your first step is to visit an audiologist to assess the situation and evaluate your options. Technology is available to help us with this, so why not use it? Hearing aid technology allows us to seamlessly and discreetly hear and understand our environment. Which is more embarrassing: the need for help, or constantly having to deal with miscommunication?

Start Now

Regular hearing screenings are an easy and effective way to ensure that hearing loss is spotted and treated early on, which could prevent further decline. Since hearing loss is gradual, we may not notice it until the damage is already done, so hearing evaluations can detect it before any noticeable hearing damage occurs.

The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

IS TWO ALWAYS BETTER THAN ONE?

When you were diagnosed with hearing loss, was one ear affected more than the other? This can often be the case, and because hearing aids can be expensive, it can be tempting to use just one hearing aid instead of two. But is that a good idea?

The Ears Work Together

Because they are all we can see, we may think that our hearing is done mainly by our two ears, but that isn’t true. Our brains are even more important to hearing and understanding the world around us, and our brains are connected to our ears through auditory nerves. Our brains are the heavyweights, translating noises we hear into sound that means something. Who knew our hearing was so complex? Or that a problem with any one component in the auditory system can cause hearing as a whole to break down.

Even if they are not equally damaged, hearing loss in one ear is quite often accompanied by damage in the other ear as well. Wearing a hearing device on only one side can backfire, because it will support one ear and not the other. The ear that is being helped will probably not decline any further, but the unassisted one might.

Hearing Exercises

Our bodies need regular exercise—without it, our muscles will atrophy and wither away. Regular exercise is important—and this is also true for our brains and our ears. With the progression of hearing loss, sounds can sometimes be heard but not understood. This can be very frustrating and may be the result of a “bad connection” along the auditory nerve between the ears and the brain. Doing “hearing exercises” can slow this progression and help your brain to “re-learn” how to interpret sounds meaningfully.

Your audiologist can give you exercises and other options that could help.

Hearing Well

One way to support good listening comprehension is to make sure your ears are hearing equally. Auditory stimulation is increased, and your brain can work less to understand the noises your ears bring in. Therefore, for any hearing damage and you want the most seamless, effortless listening experience possible, you should wear two hearing aids instead of just one.

Wearing two hearing aids can also save on battery life over wearing just one, on top of being more effective overall. It may also give you the opportunity to wear more discreet (smaller) hearing devices because of the lower power requirements of each hearing aid.

Triangulation

Our ears are fine-tuned to help us not only hear and understand the world around us, but to determine from which direction sound is coming. This can come in handy when we are in danger: we don’t want to run towards something that will hurt us, so we need to know where it is coming from! When both ears hear equally, you can better pinpoint the source of the noise around you. This ability, called “localization” is practical in everyday life, and also necessary for protection. Lopsided hearing makes localization much more difficult.

Wearing hearing aids instead of one are generally happier and more content with their hearing experience, because two hearing aids can reestablish hearing much more efficiently than one. Hearing, listening and understanding depend on more than just our ears, so the more help they have the better.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

LOOP SYSTEMS: AVAILABILITY AND BENEFITS

Almost any place you go, whether it’s a ballpark, an airport or a busy restaurant, may cause problems for you if you have hearing aids. Surrounding noise can restrict hearing and trying to communicate can become exasperating in public surroundings.

There is a Solution Coming to You!

Have you heard of loop systems? This technology is popping up in more and more public spaces, and it is helping wearers of hearing aids with these issues. First installation of an insulated copper wire loop around a space generates a magnetic field. Sound is then transmitted wirelessly to hearing aids or cochlear implants. This eliminates a need for earpieces or headphones.

Who can take advantage of this technology? Anyone who wears hearing aids with T-coils or cochlear implants. The location’s audio system can be wirelessly connected by the user with the push of a button.  

For those of us who use hearing aids in public spaces, this is truly life-changing technology. Hearing aids can now be seamlessly integrated into a venue’s speaker system, which will make listening much more convenient.

Advantages of Loop Systems:

  • Location freedom: users can move freely within the loop space
  • No more need for ear pieces or large headsets
  • Interference from surrounding noise is reduced and signal sound is enhanced
  • Convenience: users interact with their own hearing devices instead of an unfamiliar system
  • Ability to adjust the settings to the user’s unique needs
  • Pure, direct sound is possible with no need for other devices
  • Tablets, smartphones, radio signals, PA systems, and TVs can be accessed wirelessly
  • Users can interact in group settings discreetly and without embarassment
  • Free to users (and just the cost of set-up for the venues)

In Europe, loop technology was made available over 70 years ago, and no disadvantages have been found besides the initial cost of set-up. The reason most venues had not taken the initiative to install loop systems until this point was because hearing aid technology in the U.S. had not yet caught up to the technology of loop systems.

Now almost 70% of hearing aids and cochlear implants are compatible with loop system technology, the availability in public settings is becoming more common.

Installation of more loop systems in public places in American can also be the result of advocacy. The installation of loop systems is making a difference in both private and public locations. Movie theaters, churches, sporting arenas, and concert halls across the country are being outfitted with loop system technology, with New York and Michigan leading the way.

Keep an eye out for loop systems in the venues you visit and research how this technology operates so you can utilize it when it is available. Suggest the implementation of loop systems in the public venues you frequent to speed up the process. Older hearing devices might not be well-suited to the technology, so you may need to upgrade to hearing aids that let you use this remarkable service.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

YOUR HEARING: WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

We often take our hearing, and the sounds in our everyday world, for granted.

Stop for a moment and just listen. Hear the wind chimes from the neighbor or the humming of an air conditioner. The traffic a mile away or a dog barking.

From the time we are born, our hearing is mostly an automatic function. Our ears bring in the sound and our brains interpret it, as easily as breathing. In reality, even basic hearing is a complex and fascinating process. Here are a few things you may not know about how we hear.

Your Brain is in Control

Our ears bring sound in, but what happens after that? Just like our brains are vital to processing images that our eyes see, our brains are necessary for making sense of what sounds our ears hear. The outer ear funnels sound into the inner ear, which then translates the sound into electrical impulses along the auditory nerve. The brain receives these electrical impulses and interprets them to give them meaning to us.

One Ear is More Emotional than the Other One

If you have hearing loss, you may have noticed that one ear is worse than the other. In our bodies there is often a slight imbalance: one eye sees better than the other, one foot is slightly larger than the other. Did you know that your two ears also prefer different sounds?

Research has uncovered that the right and left ears don’t process sound in the same way. The left ear is typically more attuned to hearing music and emotion, while the right ear is more responsive to logic and speech. It is believed that this is the case because the right hemisphere of the brain processes music and other creative functions, while the left hemisphere of the brain processes speech.

This could also be the key to why people with hearing loss that is worse in the left ear sometimes have trouble understanding emotional issues expressed by their loved ones, and people who lose hearing more in their right ear begin to have difficulty with organization.

Your Listening Comprehension Depends on…Hair?

Did you know that your inner ear contains tiny hair cells that are vital to proper hearing and understanding the world around you?

The hair cells in the inner ear, known as stereocilia, accept sound vibrations that your ears collect and they transform those vibrations into electrical impulses that can be interpreted by the brain. You have about 16,000 of these tiny hair cells rolled up like a rug inside of your inner ear, and without them you can’t hear or understand the world around you. These hair cells don’t grow back once they die, and they can be damaged by loud noises and decreased blood flow when you are in poor health. So protect your hearing and your tiny ear hair cells by turning the music down and staying healthy!

Have You Noticed Hearing Loss Makes You Tired? You Are Not Alone

Since hearing has been an involuntary process for most of our lives, when our hearing becomes more difficult it also becomes more physically and emotionally draining. You are forced to concentrate harder to understand the world around you, so by the end of the day you may be exhausted.

The good news is that this can be remedied with today’s hearing aids. They assist your ears and your brain by helping you hear and understand your environment more clearly, so you don’t have to get so tired trying to hear things around you.

If you think that hearing loss may be influencing you and making you feel fatigued, come in for a hearing screening today and see how hearing devices may alleviate this burden.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

PROTECT YOUR HEARING AND STILL ENJOY CONCERTS!

With summertime comes fun in the sun and outdoors at concerts and picnics.  It’s the time for beach visits and laying out by the pool, park outings, and outdoor concerts when the day cools into evening. Festivals and concerts are a great change meet new friends, hear great music and hang out outside.

One thing that all concerts are is loud, however: often the noise levels are in more than 100 decibels! We know that hearing loss can happen at noise levels that are higher than 80 dB, it’s vital that we take precautions to guard our hearing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy summer festivities!

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Youth

An estimated 1.1 billion youth world-wide have been affected by noise-induced hearing damage. Energetic and adventurous, young people often gather in loud environments such as night clubs, sporting events and concerts, which often have very loud music or noise from crowds.

Even a short period of exposure to loud music can cause hearing damage, so it is important to find ways to protect your ears before going to these venues.

In one Amsterdam study in 2015, the effects on hearing of wearing earplugs or not wearing them was measured for outdoor concert-goers. 25 people wore earplugs to the concert and 26 people went without them. Of those, In the 4.5-hours concert, temporary hearing loss was measured in 22 of the 26 unprotected participants.

In contrast, only 4 people of the 25 wearing earplugs showed any hearing damage at all. Since repeated occurrences of temporary hearing loss can lead to permanent hearing loss, preventing even temporary hearing damage is crucial to long-term hearing health.

What Should I Do?

When worn during exposure to loud noises, earplugs can help to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. So next time you attend a sporting event, concert, or night club consider grabbing a pair of earplugs first.

Though this type of hearing loss is often temporary, remember that repeated exposure can have long-term effects and eventually become permanent damage. Sounds being muffled or difficulty hearing quiet sounds are some symptoms of hearing loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your audiologist for a hearing screening to check on the level of damage and if anything can be done to prevent further hearing loss.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

COULD THE SEVERITY OF TINNITUS ORIGINATE IN THE BRAIN?

Ringing in the ears, also called tinnitus, can be a debilitating problem for the millions of people who suffer in the U.S. Some who are affected by tinnitus, however, do not suffer any major symptoms. Recent studies show that a person’s experience with tinnitus originates with the brain, not the ears.

One study from the University of Illinois found that sounds are processed differently in the brains of those with tinnitus than those without it. Even among people who have tinnitus, however, there are differences between how sound is processed in the brain.

Tinnitus is more a symptom than a disease in and of itself. Another trauma or condition may be the source of the symptom, which could stem from ototoxic medications or exposure to loud noise. It is important to understand more about the causes of tinnitus, because across America it is estimated that 25 million people are affected by it. Since there is no cure but only treatments that manage symptoms, understanding how to avoid or lessen its effects will prove useful for sufferers of tinnitus.

How Emotional Sounds Affect Tinnitus

Researchers have pinpointed changes in blood oxygen levels in the brain when exposed to different types of sounds. First they looked at the differences in sound processing between people with tinnitus compared to those without it. Sounds were introduced that were considered “pleasant” (children giggling), “unpleasant” (a baby crying) or “neutral” (a bottle being opened).

Areas of the Brain and Emotions

The study found brain engagement in different areas of the brain for emotion-triggering sounds for people with tinnitus than those without. They then took the study a step further and found that people who experience worse symptoms of tinnitus processed emotional sounds in different parts of the brain than those that described their symptoms as less severe.

This helps explain why some sufferers of tinnitus describe their symptoms as very severe and others say it doesn’t bother them at all. It shows that the severity of tinnitus can vary greatly from one person to the next because the level of distress caused by the symptoms varies.

Some people say tinnitus doesn’t affect their lives, and others report consequences such as irritability, mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. The study showed that people who report less severe symptoms processed emotions primarily through the frontal lobe of the brain, while others processed emotions primarily in the amygdala portion of the brain.

Creating Treatment Options for Tinnitus

This research can help us to better understand why tinnitus causes more distress in some people than in others, and may lead to more effective treatment and therapy that can target the source of the distress.

Since hearing loss and tinnitus are often connected, visiting your audiologist when you begin to experience tinnitus symptoms may also help you to delay or prevent hearing damage. Sufferers of both tinnitus and hearing loss often find that hearing aids can also alleviate both issues. 

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

PROTECT YOUR HEART AND PRESERVE HEARING

Many things come to mind when you think of your heart: emotions, desires and dreams, the soul.You may also think of the physical organ that pumps blood through your body and sustains your life.

Heart health is an important part of overall health. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) reported that 600,000 people die from heart disease yearly in the U.S. The leading cause of death for both men and women, heart disease is a major health concern, and coronary heart disease is the most common type.

The media tells us these facts regularly, but did you know that hearing health is related to heart health? It then follows that protecting heart health also serves to protect hearing health!

Heart and Hearing Health

 Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for health. The chemicals in cigarette smoke damage blood cells and every organ in the body. One in five deaths results from in some way from smoking in the US. Smoking also causes plaque to develop in arteries. The arteries then harden and the blood pathways become narrow, causing stress to the heart.

Hearing is also affected by the chemicals present in cigarettes. The auditory nerve’s neurotransmitters can become blocked, which confuses your brain when it hears sound. As a result vertigo, tinnitus and dizziness may occur.

Hypertension

High blood pressure of 140/90 or higher can stretch your arteries, resulting in vascular weakness and scarring. Plaque and blood clots that clogs arteries may follow.

Constant blood flow is vital to the inner ear hair cells that help our brains to translate sounds into meaning. Blood pressure medications may also cause hearing damage. Some people develop ringing in the ears (tinnitus) from these medications.

Diabetes

Millions of Americans are affected by high blood sugar, and adult onset (type 2) diabetes is the most common. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can burden the heart and other organs by affecting blood flow.

Diabetes can also restrict the blood flow to the inner ear as a result of this decreased blood flow. The delicate hair cells of the inner ear can then die, and they can’t grow back. This makes hearing damage irreversible. Studies have shown that people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing damage as those without it.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Modern Americans live sedentary lifestyles: many people sit in front of a computer at work during the day and then go home and sit in front of the TV before bedtime.

Exercise and eating real, unprocessed foods is the ideal method for heart disease prevention, as well as to prevent obesity.

If changing your diet and routine seems overwhelming, consider that even small tweaks can bring results. Swapping out your morning pastry for a protein-rich option like eggs, and your afternoon chicps for an apple, peanuts or a piece of cheese can cut down on carbs and keep your blood sugar levels in check. Take a walk around the block on your lunch break. Not only will you get some movement into your day, you’ll benefit from a change of scenery and fresh air.

Obesity

A majority of Americans are overweight. Obesity can stress your heart and increas the risk of heart disease, which in turn will increases the likelihood of heart failure in the future. Obesity are also often correlated with diabetes and high blood pressure, which bring more risk.

Alcoholism

If you drink one serving of alcohol with dinner, studies have shown that to be beneficial, alcohol consumption in excess can increase the risk of high blood pressure and can weaken your heart.

Drinking heavily produces free radicals that also affect the inner ear. Balance issues like vertigo, tinnitus and noise-induced hearing damage may result.

Remember these tips to protect your heart and your hearing:

  • Cut out processed foods and buy only fresh meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Get some exercise every day
  • Don’t smoke (or quit smoking)
  • Keep your weight at healthy levels
  • Drink no more than one serving of alcohol daily
  • Always get regular hearing screenings

Love your heart AND your hearing all year long!

Heart Healthy is Hearing Healthy!

Heart health and hearing health are connected, so we have to be aware of our overall health. Exercise at least a little every day (just a walk around the block will do!) and eat whole, unprocessed foods–these steps can make a big difference in overall health and also protect your hearing.

FREE Hearing Screening Celebrating Better Hearing Month

California Hearing Center invites you to come in for your Free Hearing Screening. When it comes to your hearing health, prevention is still the best medicine! No-obligation. Every Friday during the month for May 4, 11, 18 & 25 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pmAll ages welcome – No appointment necessary

Drop by at 88 N. San Mateo Dr. San Mateo, CA 94401  (650) 342-9449 www.calhearing.com