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.

VERTIGO, BALANCE DISORDERS AND DIZZINESS

There is exciting new research into balance issues such as vertigo and chronic dizziness. If you suffer from any kind of balance disorder, you probably already know that these issues can stem from fluid levels in your inner ear. This new research is exploring the possibility that balance disorders could be spotted and maybe even alleviated with MRI magnets!

At Johns Hopkins in 2011, researchers discovered something: inner ear fluid is influenced by the magnetic field of an MRI. Since we have already known for a while that vertigo and other balance disorders can be caused by buildup of fluid in the inner ear, they looked at MRI magnets as a way to potentially treat those conditions.  

MRI magnets can exert a pulling force on the inner ear fluid, and researchers hope that they may be able to manipulate inner ear fluids to relieve the problems caused by inner ear issues.

As it stands, uncomfortable and invasive testing protocols are necessary to diagnose and treat imbalance and dizziness conditions such as vertigo. This makes the painless MRI procedure a welcome development for future diagnosis and care.

The Inner Ear and Balance

Approximately 40% of adults experience episodes of imbalance and dizziness at least once during a lifetime. Sufferers may complain of feelings of vertigo and spinning or dizziness. These episodes may also cause people to feel faint or lightheaded and they may become disoriented, confused, or have blurred vision.

  • If you become dizzy feel unbalanced on repeated occasions, first check with your doctor, who may then refer you to a specialist or audiologist for testing.
  • These symptoms can have different causes. Aside from inner ear fluid disturbance, some medications or even an injury to the head can result in feelings of vertigo or dizziness as well.

When you see an audiologist or specialist, testing may include:

  • An MRI or CT scan
  • Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP): a test of balance function and motor control in changing conditions.
  • Electronystagmography (ENT): this test monitors spontaneous eye movements, and includes eye evaluations.
  • Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP) is a test that observes the inner ear’s sensory cells and vestibular nerve to evaluate if they are functioning correctly.

A hearing test may also be part of the visit to your audiologist, to make sure there is no hearing impairment that accompanies the dizziness.

If you have had several dizzy spells or have felt unbalanced, see your general practitioner or audiologist pinpoint the cause.

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

TWO LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU BETTER

San Mateo

88 N. San Mateo Drive
San Mateo, California, 94401

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

San Carlos

1008 Laurel Street
San Carlos, California, 94070

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

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.

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.

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

HOW DO MEDICATIONS AFFECT HEARING HEALTH?

Have you heard of ototoxicity?
Ototoxicity is a term used by health professionals for medications that can cause hearing loss. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be ototoxic.

Though these drugs may be effective for treating specific conditions and illnesses, they can also cause damage to delicate inner-ear hair cells and may affect balance and hearing.

Ototoxicity can affect people temporarily or permanently–so it is important to know how it is caused and how to prevent it or stop it.

Because drugs can accumulate in the body, the effects can be cumulative over time and get worse as the chemicals build up in the cells.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has found that there are currently more than two hundred medications and chemicals that can cause both balance disorders and hearing loss. If you are taking any of these types of drugs, speak with your physician about the implications for your hearing.

Pain Relievers

NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as acetaminophen, aspirin and other over-the-counter medicines can be effective to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Studies have shown, however, that regular use of these drugs can cause hearing loss. Even a daily aspirin recommended by your doctor may have hearing loss effects.

Diuretics

Diuretics are prescribed to alleviate many conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, edema and other issues. These medicines can also cause temporary tinnitus and hearing loss, however, though we don’t fully understand why.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can be used as life-saving medicines, and are important for serious bacterial infections. One classification of antibiotics, aminogycosides, have hearing loss as a side effect. This type of antibiotic is often treated as a last-resort medication when other antibiotics do not work for serious infections.

Chemotherapy Drugs

A platinum-based chemotherapy called Cisplatin is frequently used to treat metastatic testicular, ovarian and bladder cancers. Side effects reported for this drug range from vertigo to tinnitus as well as permanent or temporary hearing loss. A strong correlation has been found between platinum-based chemotherapy treatments and hearing loss, and researchers are looking for ways to alleviate this side effect.

What Can You Do?

You may need to take one of these medications for a serious issue, so the risks and benefits must be weighed. It is important to understand the risks and side effects of medications (even over-the-counter medications) however, so you can recognize these risks if they appear.

Medications affect different people differently, so stay attuned to your hearing and if the medications you are taking are affecting you, and approach your physician with any concerns.

Often if a medication begins to cause issues with hearing or balance, stopping those symptoms can be as simple as not taking that medication. If pro-active steps are taken, permanent damage can often be avoided.

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

WELCOME SPRING – PREPARE YOUR EARS!

Spring is in the air! The weather is changing and we are already starting to enjoy blooming flowers and warmer! With the changing of seasons, we also get rainy weather, seasonal allergies, and erratic temperatures. Along with hearing aids, these changes can affect us, but we can downplay those effects.

The Weather is Changing

With changing weather, some people have a feeling of fullness in their ears. Barometric pressure changes with changes in the weather and causes this sensation of fullness, and makes the fluid in the inner ear sensitive to the weather. Seasonal allergy sufferers can experience this even more intensely.

Meniere’s disease can make the irritating symptoms even worse in the Springtime. The chambers of the inner ear can bulge and the fluid may back up. Difficulty hearing and discomfort as well as vertigo or tinnitus may sometimes result from this build-up.

Seasonal Allergies

Sinus pressure and sneezing can also result from seasonal allergies and add pressure to the inner ear. Seasonal allergies affect 40 percent of children and between 10 and 30 percent of adults. Up to 60 million Americans experience sneezing, ear pressure, sinus pressure, and itchy, watery eyes. Each of these symptoms can affect hearing temporarily.

Ear pressure can be temporarily relieved with non-prescription medications such as antihistamines and decongestants. Moderate exercise and a sensible diet of whole foods often improve these symptoms. Vegetables and fruits, like bell peppers, grapes, asparagus, watermelon, and celery serve as diuretics and promote fluid drainage.

Spring-time and Hearing Aids

Warmer, wetter weather may also affect the functionality of your hearing aids. Your hearing aids’ maintenance and care of during this time of year may also require more attention. The microphone ports can sometimes get obstructed by matter such as bee pollen. Proper cleaning of your hearing aids is important, and be sure to replace the mic port covers when needed.

Moisture from the heat, rain and humidity of spring and summer can also be introduced to your hearing aids, building up in the tubing and causing static in the receiver or microphone. Ensuring your hearing aids stay dry when going out in wet or humid weather can prevent 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.