THIS YEAR MAKE A RESOLUTION THAT IS EASY TO KEEP

What is your New Year’s Resolution? If you’re like most people, it probably has something to do with  generally being healthier: eating better, exercising more, or losing weight. Did you know that overall health also plays a vital role in hearing health?

Since many resolutions don’t survive the month of January, we think it’s important to take steps to ensure our health, and our hearing health, early in the year. So why not make a quick call to California Hearing Center to schedule your yearly hearing exam? This one little move will ensure you have a hearing-healthy 2018 by heading off any potential hearing issues that may be developing.

People overwhelmingly think of health as something they could improve. Following closely to health is finances, relationships, hobbies, and career. Luckily preventing and treating hearing loss can impact all of these areas of your life. People who treat hearing loss by wearing hearing devices often make more money and report higher quality of life than those with untreated hearing loss.

A Resolution with Staying Power

When asked, people generally have little confidence that they will keep the New Years Resolutions they make. So why not start off 2018 on the right foot by making and keeping a resolution with staying power: preventing and treating hearing loss.

Because changes in hearing can sometimes portend other serious issues, such as heart disease and diabetes, and because hearing loss also increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease, social isolation, anxiety and depression, it is definitely worth being pro-active about your hearing health, even if you think everything is fine.

Happy New Year!

In 2018, starting with New Year’s Eve, make sure to protect your hearing when in noisy environments, like fireworks shows, concerts, or loud parties. Cheap earplugs from the drug store can protect your hearing now and in the future–carry a pair whenever you go out to ensure you are always protected.

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

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS WITH YOUR HEARING AIDS

The holidays are a time of friends, family, laughter and warmth for many people, but all of this festivity takes preparation and planning. This is no less true when it comes to enjoying the season with hearing aids. Holiday parties can be noisy endeavors with a lot of entertainment and background noise. Now is a great time to learn how to take advantage of all of the benefits hearing aids have to offer!

If you can, visit your audiologist before the holiday parties and get a tune-up for your hearing aids. While you are there, ask your audiology a few questions.

Maintaining hearing aids: make sure the microphones are clean and the software for the noise-reduction components are working correctly. If you’ll be traveling or away from your home for an extended period, it’s also a good idea to have some spare tubing and batteries.

Be aware of your listening environment. Family functions can become loud with background noise, music and conversation. Find out what noise-canceling features your hearing aids have and learn how to use them for optimal function before you go to these events. If you plan to do any skiing or being outside during the winter, ensure you have the proper accessories to protect your hearing aids against moisture and wind, and hold them in place during activities.

When you go to holiday parties, know your hearing aid’s capabilities to block background noise and assist you in conversation. Let your hosts know your limitations with hearing loss so they can help make sure you are seated away from the noisier parts of the house, such as the television or kitchen, to make sure you have the best chance possible to enjoy the conversation without difficulty. When eating at a restaurant, try to avoid peak times by going earlier or dining on a weeknight so the background noise will be at a minimum.

If you go to a holiday performance, check to see if they offer listening devices that can help you isolate the performance sounds and minimize background noise and echoes. Sitting at the front can also help you to hear more clearly. Carrying an extra set of batteries for your hearing aid wherever you go can definitely help as well, just in case.

We hope you have a warm, festive holiday season!

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

PROTECTING YOUR DEVICES AND YOUR HEARING ALL YEAR LONG

If you live in a cold, wet or snowy climate, the winter weather can do a number on all of your devices. This includes hearing devices, so special care should be taken during the colder season to adequately protect your hearing aids and your hearing. Here are a few things to keep in mind as winter approaches.

Earmuffs Are Your Friends

Earmuffs have a bigger use than just keeping your ears warm: there are earmuffs that can also protect your ears from excessive noise that can damage your hearing. The best way to combat hearing damage is prevention, even if you already suffer from hearing loss.

Luckily, prevention is often fairly easy with just a little foresight and planning.

Limiting your exposure to loud noises is key to preventing the majority of hearing damage. Purchasing a pair of noise-reducing earmuffs is a wise investment: they can reduce noise exposure by as much as 30 dB (anything over 80 dB can damage hearing and cause hearing loss). They aren’t only for winter, either: you can use them year round, from noisy football games to mowing the lawn or 4th of July fireworks shows. Noise-reduction earmuffs are affordable; they start at about $10.

Sweat Bands Can Protect Your Devices

If you engage in activities in which you sweat, including sports activities year-round, an inexpensive sweat band can help protect your hearing aids from damaging moisture. Hearing aid sweat bands are specifically designed to protect hearing aids worn outside the ear, and they start at about $20. They are available in many colors and sizes, and are easily washable and easy to wear. They can also serve as a wind screen to prevent wind feedback in your microphone when you are outside.

Your Memory Settings Can Protect Your Hearing

Many hearing aids have memory settings that adjust the volume on your hearing aids if you come in contact with very loud noises. In the winter, snow blowers and snow mobiles can expose you to high levels of noise: louder than 100 dB! Check with your audiologist to see if your hearing aids have memory settings and find out how you can use them to protect your ears against excessive noise year-round by programming them for aggressive noise reduction.

Dry Batteries Last Longer

Humidity, moisture, and changes in temperature can affect the life of your hearing aid batteries. When you turn your hearing aid off at night, take a look at the battery compartment, ensuring it is free of moisture, and wipe it with a soft, dry cloth before storing.

Dehumidify for Longer Life

Like the batteries, the other components of hearing aids are sensitive to temperature changes and moisture. These factors can affect the performance and the lifespan of your hearing aids. A hearing aid dehumidifier is inexpensive and can prolong the life of your hearing devices by removing moisture at night while you are sleeping; some even sanitize them as well! Hearing aid dehumidifiers range from $5 to $100 and can be purchased through your audiologist, online or even in some drug stores.

With just a little bit of planning, your hearing devices and your hearing can be protected from damage in the winter and throughout the year.

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

HOW TO EXPLAIN HEARING LOSS TO THE GRANDCHILDREN

If you have young grandchildren, you know they have questions about everything. Everywhere you go, an inquisitive mind is watching, and they learn by asking questions and listening to what we tell them. If you have hearing loss it is natural for your grandchildren to ask questions and be curious about your hearing devices, and that they may not fully understand what hearing loss entails.

So what do you say to them when they ask about your hearing aids, and how do you let them know that you may sometimes have difficulty hearing that others don’t?

Our mothers all told us not to put anything in our ears, so a child will naturally be curious about what you are doing when you wear hearing aids. As they watch you, you can acknowledge what you are doing and explain the process to them. Telling them you don’t hear as well as you did when you were younger will teach them about getting older, too. Explain that the small pieces in your ears help you to hear sounds better, like when they ask a good question or say, “I love you!”

To give them a better understanding of your experience, ask them to cover their ears and then say their names softly. Ask if they can hear you. Then do the same thing with their ears uncovered. Let them know that using your hearing aids is like having your ears uncovered.

Safety and Precautions for Children

After you explain how much your hearing aids help you, your grandchildren may become curious and wonder what they feel like, or they sound like, or they taste like! Curiosity is not a bad thing, but it is important to keep your grandchildren (and your hearing devices!) safe and sound.

  • Explaining that your hearing aids are only for you and that they won’t work in anyone else’s ears may prevent small hands from trying them out, and make sure they know they are not toys for playing.
  • When storing your hearing aids, make sure they stay out of reach, in a case or dehumidifier. As you know, your hearing devices are very expensive, and may also put your little one in danger if they get ahold of them.
  • Also be very careful with your batteries. They look harmless enough, but batteries are very dangerous if swallowed, as the battery acid can do serious injury to internal organs. The National Capital Poison Center states that more than 2,000 children under the age of six swallowed a battery in 2016.

If a child does swallow a battery, call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline immediately! They operate 24 hours: 202-625-3333

What about traveling?

If you are traveling with grandchildren, there are a few more things to keep in mind:

Keep your hearing aids dry. If you play in the pool with grandkids, you will definitely get wet! Stay on the safe side by removing your hearing aids, which will be damaged by water unless they are waterproof.

Let them be little helpers. When at airports or other locations, ask them to help you hear announcements and other communication. You can explain that you need some help since you wear hearing aids, or you can make a game out of it to keep them occupied.

While you are driving, communicate to grandchildren that it is very important to have a quiet environment in the car, and that’s the only way you can make sure you get everyone to the toy store safely! Having activities or toys in the car to help occupy children can help with this.

With a little foresight and prevention, keeping both your grandkids and your hearing aids safe during a visit is a piece of cake.

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

DRIVE SAFELY EVEN WITH HEARING LOSS

You may be surprised how much you rely on your sense of hearing while driving. From hearing the horn of another driver to hearing emergency sirens, the ability to hear everything around you is very important.

Treatments Available

The most common treatment for hearing loss is a hearing aid to help you hear again. There is currently no cure that will reverse your natural hearing. If you suspect your hearing is impaired, however, there may be something a doctor can do, like if there is an obstruction that can be removed from your ear or if there is an infection present.

Distractions are Dangerous

A great way to prevent issues while driving is to eliminate distractions. Modern hearing aids have great technology to cancel background noise and assist your brain in distinguishing useful sounds from noise, but the fewer distractions the better!

  • Hearing aids can sometimes have feedback, which is distracting. Ensuring your hearing aids are routinely maintained is important in eliminating feedback and minimizing distraction. Often maintenance only requires a light cleaning or slight adjustment to keep them working optimally.
  • The car radio can be distracting while driving. Lowering the volume is a good way to stay in tune with all of the sounds around you on the road, and you will be less likely to have to distract yourself with the controls while driving.
  • When driving with passengers, a quiet car is a safe car. It is fun to participate in discussion, but it can distract from your driving when on the road.
  • Open car windows can introduce a lot of road noise, so keeping them closed can help you to concentrate and focus on driving.
  • Focus is key: put all other activities, such as eating, texting, talking or applying make-up, on hold until you reach your destination. This habit is well worth your safety.

Driving is Mostly Visual

  • When one of our senses is impaired, it is important to rely on our other senses. Driving is highly visual anyway, so always make sure your vision is in tip-top shape, keeping glasses prescriptions current and wearing your corrective eyewear at all times.
  • Extra car accessories, such as a larger rear-view mirror, are inexpensive and can make a big difference in accident avoidance when the time comes. Consider upgrading for more visual coverage.
  • Always keep an eye out for emergency vehicles and flashing lights while driving.

Driving is a big responsibility, whether or not you suffer from hearing loss. Be sure to have regular hearing screenings so you have one less thing to worry about on the road! Happy travels!

HOW MINERALS CAN PROTECT YOUR HEARING

You’ve heard it before: be sure to get all your vitamins and minerals! Some people swear by a multi-vitamin supplement and some like to get all the needed nutrients from food. Either way, most people understand that getting enough vitamins and minerals is important for optimal health. It’s common knowledge that Vitamin C and zinc can boost immunity and calcium can benefit bones and teeth. But did you know that there are minerals that are important to maintain healthy hearing as well?

Why do we need minerals?

Minerals are inorganic elements that are found in rock and soil; they are essential, meaning the body needs them and does not manufacture them on its own. We get minerals by eating vegetables that absorb them from the soil in which they are grown, as well as from the meat of animals that have grazed on vegetation.

A few important minerals for hearing health are potassium, folate, magnesium and zinc.

Potassium helps to regulate the fluids in our blood and tissues. Our inner ears contain fluid that is crucial to helping our bodies translate noise into understandable sounds. Thus our brains are dependent on this fluid, and a rich supply of potassium, to hear and understand the world around us.

Fortunately, potassium is easily found in common foods such as tomatoes, bananas, yogurt, spinach, potatoes, raisins, lima beans, melons, milk and oranges. Getting a healthy variety of fresh, whole foods in your diet and “eating the rainbow” can assure you get plenty of potassium.

Folate is an important nutrient for new cell growth in the body. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is also available in supplement form, though it is best to try to get folate from food such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and organ meats.

Magnesium is another important mineral that has been shown in studies to protect against hearing loss. Magnesium can help to combat free radicals that are produced when exposed to very loud noises, protecting the hair cells of the inner ear. Magnesium also contributes to healthy blood vessels, which deliver valuable oxygen to the ear, crucial to hearing health.

Magnesium can be found in a variety of delicious foods, including artichokes, bananas, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli.

Zinc is an immune-booster for the body, as you may know from some supplements on the market that contain zinc and claim to ward off cold and flu viruses. Zinc also assists with cell growth and wound healing. Some studies have found zinc effective in treating tinnitus and ear infections as well, though it can sometimes interact with pharmaceutical antibiotics and diuretics.

Zinc is found in foods such as pork, dark-meat chicken and pork, cashews, almonds, lentils, split peas, beans, peanuts, oysters and dark chocolate. Good news for nutty dark chocolate lovers!

The great news is that as long as you’re getting a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods, you are probably getting a good balance of these minerals and other nutrients that contribute to hearing health.

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

WHAT IS HIGH FREQUENCY HEARING LOSS AND WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Have you ever had a misunderstanding when communicating with someone else? Everyone has; misunderstandings in communication are a common occurrence. You may misunderstand what someone else is saying for a variety of reasons, from background noise to just not paying attention.

People with high-frequency hearing loss, however, have greater difficulty hearing or understanding anything within the 2,000 to 8,000 Hertz range. Female voices often fall in this range, so sometimes it becomes more difficult for people with high-frequency hearing loss to understand female communication. They may also have trouble hearing high-pitched noises like beeping machinery or birds singing.

High-frequency hearing loss is the result of damage of the sensory hearing cells in the inner ear or cochlea. Tiny hair cells in the cochlea serve to render sound from the outside world into electrical impulses that our brains can then recognize as understandable sounds. When a person suffers from hearing loss, they typically have trouble with higher frequencies before lower frequencies.

What Causes High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

Many things can cause high-frequency hearing loss, and people of all ages can be affected. When children suffer from high-frequency hearing loss, it can disturb learning by hindering communication and speech development, and hamper learning in school.

  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is when a person is exposed to dangerous levels of noise every day. It can also be the result of exposure to a very loud noise, such as a gunshot or explosion, one time. Noise levels over 85 decibels on an ongoing basis can also result in NIHL. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans have suffered irreversible hearing damage due to NIHL.
  • As we age, hearing loss called presbycusis can occur. This damage occurs slowly and affects both ears equally, so it can be hard to notice until it has progressed to a serious level. Signs of presbycusis begin with an inability to understand communication in loud environments.
  • Certain diseases, such as Meniere’s disease can affect the inner ear and may result in fluctuating hearing loss or vertigo. Chronic ear infections in children, if left untreated, can also result in permanent hearing damage.
  • High frequency hearing loss can also be passed down through genes, so if you have family members who have suffered, it is possible you are genetically predisposed to this problem.
  • Some over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are ototoxic, which means they can damage hearing. Drugs used in chemotherapies and aminoglycoside antibiotics can also be harmful.

Is high-frequency hearing loss curable?

High-frequency hearing loss is permanent, but it is often preventable. It is critical to protect your ears when there is exposure to dangerous levels of noise—especially if it is louder than 85 decibels. Live concerts, working around machinery, riding loud motorcycles or snowmobiles, or going to the shooting range can expose you to noise louder than 85 decibels.. Even listening to music too loud can eventually result in high frequency hearing loss! Noise-cancelling headphones as well as ear plugs can be helpful in mitigating this noise and damage to your hearing.

What are my treatment options?

Though high-frequency hearing loss is not reversible, it can be corrected in many cases with hearing aids. If you think you may have some level of hearing loss, schedule a hearing screening with an audiologist right away to prevent further 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

HEARING DAMAGE AND CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT: EARLY DETECTION IS KEY

As children grow, hearing ability is vital to developing speech and language skills. Traditionally it has been difficult to discern a hearing difficulty with children under two years of age, until it became apparent that speech abilities were delayed.

It has been shown, however, that if early detection of a hearing issue can be diagnosed prior to six months of age, speech impairment and delays can be drastically reduced. For this reason, infant hearing screening is now common in US hospitals and children with hearing loss can be identified and treated in infancy.

Research studies have indicated that between 5 children in 1,000 may suffer from hearing loss, most diagnosed between the ages of three and 17 years old, and there may be as many as 1.4 in 1,000 newborns with hearing impairment at birth.

How Can Children Have Hearing Loss?

Childhood hearing loss has become much more prevalent in recent years due to environmental noise. A 2013 CDC study estimated that at least 12.5% of children and teens ages six to 19 have permanent hearing damage because of noise exposure.

Parents, guardians, teachers and doctors need to be aware of the signs of hearing loss in children, because early diagnosis and treatment is key to arresting hearing loss and preventing lifelong damage to hearing. Undiagnosed hearing loss in young children can cause developmental delays and substantial emotional issues for children that can be difficult to overcome even into adulthood.  

Congenital Hearing Impairment

Some hearing damage is already present at birth: this is called congenital hearing loss. There are many causes of congenital hearing loss, with both genetic and non-genetic factors.

Non-genetic factors may include:

  • Premature birth with a birth weight of less than 3 pounds or the necessity of respiratory drugs.
  • Maternal diabetes.
  • Maternal alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Birth complications, including the presence of diseases such as rubella, herpes or another infection.
  • Lack of oxygen at birth or need for a blood transfusion at birth.
  • A brain disorder or nervous system issue.
  • Use of ototoxic medication by the mother during pregnancy—such as antibiotics or over-the-counter medications like NSAIDS (ibuprofen or acetaminophen).

Non-genetic factors account for about 25% of congenital hearing loss, and genetic factors caused by heredity cause over 50% of hearing loss in children. Sometimes this hearing loss is evident at birth, and sometimes it is revealed later in life.

Genetic Hearing Loss Factors May Include:

  • Autosomal Dominant Hearing Loss, which accounts for approximately 15% of genetic hearing damage, is acquired because one parent carries a dominant gene for hearing loss and passes it to the child. The parent may or may not manifest hearing loss.
  • Genetic syndromes such as Waardenburg Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Usher Syndrome, Teacher Collins Syndrome Crouzon Syndrome or Alport Syndrome may cause hearing damage at birth.
  • Autosomal Recessive Hearing Loss is the most common genetic congenital hearing damage cause, accounting for about 70% of genetic hearing impairment. In this case, neither parent has hearing loss, but both parents carry a recessive gene for hearing loss that are passed to the child. Most parents are not aware they carry this recessive gene and are thus astonished when the child displays hearing damage for this reason.

In some cases, the reasons for infant hearing loss are unknown, making up the balance of the hearing loss cases at birth.

Acquired Hearing Impairment

Many children are not born with hearing damage but attain it during childhood. Reasons for acquired hearing loss can be:

  • Taking ototoxic medications
  • Serious head injury
  • A perforated eardrum
  • Infections such as measles, mumps, whooping cough or meningitis
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Untreated or frequent ear infections
  • Exposure to loud noises (which cause noise-induced hearing loss)
  • Otosclerosis or Meniere’s diseases (progressive)

Temporary Hearing Damage

Fluctuating or transient hearing impairment in childhood can also impair language development and speech. Temporary hearing loss can be caused by ear infections, and at least 75% of children have had this type of ear infection by the time they reach 3 years of age.

Transient hearing loss caused by an ear infection happens when fluid blocks the vibrations of the middle ear bones and muffle sound. Because it is usually temporary, this type of hearing loss often resolves itself with the healing of the ear infection, though if ear infections are frequent or untreated, permanent damage can occur.

If you are concerned a child in your life may have hearing damage, it is crucial to make an appointment for a hearing screening to determine the best course of action. Hearing damage is treatable, especially if caught early, but is not reversible.

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