Occupational Hearing Hazards

It’s essential to realize when a loud sound is too loud and learn how to protect yourself from irreversible hearing loss. This is particularly important when it comes to working. 

Unfortunately, occupational hearing loss is widespread, despite OSHA’s safety standards for hearing protection for workers. Loud working environments practically guarantee that you will be exposed to sound levels daily, leaving a permanent mark if you are not vigilant.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to noise and your working environment.

Noise-induced hearing loss

The ear is still not equipped to tolerate the noises of modern industrialization, such as combustion engines, pneumatic pumps, and repetitive loud machine noise.

While age-related hearing loss is often due to a lifetime of wear and tear on your auditory system, noise-induced hearing loss (also known as NIHL) is almost entirely preventable.

The effects of noise are often underestimated as the damage progressively occurs. As a result, people traditionally haven’t recognized the impact on their daily lives until they are frustrated with a persistent communication issue or experience ringing in their ears.

Our ears have their limits.

Deafening sounds can damage the inner ear, reducing hearing ability in specific ranges. Sounds louder than 80 decibels ( dB) may cause hearing loss. When sounds above that level persist for even a short period, you can suffer damage.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has mandated that a worker only have an average exposure of 90 dB during an 8-hour workday. Additionally, a 5 dB increase over 90 dB must last for a shorter amount of time. For example, 95 dB of sound can be maintained for only 4 hours, and 100 dB can be tolerated for only 2 hours. These employers are also required to provide regular hearing tests, sound surveillance, protection, and training to workers.

What are some of the loudest jobs?

Many jobs can be dangerous to the health of our hearing, and some may even surprise you. Below are a few of the occupations most damaging to your ears.

  • Teacher at nursery school-85 dB: Schools are noisy environments, and studies have measured noise levels to fall between 40 and 105 dB during an average school day. 
  • Manufacturing/construction – 90 dB: A bulldozer that is idling at 85 dB is loud enough to cause permanent damage after just one working day. The machinery in warehouses manufacturing averages at 90 dB; combined with the open floor plan and concrete floor and structure, long hours of work may result in hearing loss.
  • Bartender – 98dB: According to a new Irish study, nightclub bartenders’ average daily noise exposure was 92 decibels, which could increase to 98dB as the night progresses. Worryingly, none of the clubs interviewed gave hearing tests to their employees or educated their workers about noise exposure risks.
  • Agricultural worker – 107-112 dB: Farmers are regularly exposed to machine sounds, and studies have shown that 25 percent of male farmers experience hearing loss at age 30.

How to protect your ears

Prevention is the best course of action where NIHL is concerned. There are steps you can take to shield yourself from dangerous noises and to avoid permanent hearing damage:

Be aware of what noise can cause harm. Motorcycles, firearms, lawnmowers, chainsaws, powerboats, and personal listening devices can easily exceed the threshold of safe listening. As an easy rule to live by, if you have to yell to be heard by someone away from an arm’s length, the noise is likely within this range.

Take steps to reduce noise at the source. Ensuring that all equipment is maintained correctly, replacing a muffler, or placing a machine inside an enclosure can help shield your ears from harmful noise. 

Use ear protection. These may be useful tools for avoiding long-term hearing damage if used correctly. Be aware of your right to high-quality ear protection in the workplace, primarily if you work in the construction or manufacturing sector of noisy jobs.

Keep an eye on the volume of your listening devices, mainly when using headphones with earbuds.  Remember to take breaks from the noise and allow your ears the chance to rest. Noise-canceling headphones are an excellent option to moderate your listening level.

If you’re concerned that noise in your workplace is having a detrimental effect on your hearing, we are here to help. We can give you a detailed picture of your current hearing health, guide you to the best treatment when hearing loss is detected, and help you find the best hearing protection to keep your ears safe. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

In people who have experienced hearing loss, one of the most common types they encounter is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). According to the American Hearing Loss Foundation,NIHL is one of the most common types of hearing loss in the US, after age-related hearing loss.

NIHL is a kind of sensorineural hearing loss and occurs in 23 percent of people over the age of 65. Unlike all other forms of hearing loss, hearing loss caused by noise can be avoided altogether. Here, we look specifically at a hearing loss caused by noise, the causes, and what can be done to prevent it.

 

How the hearing system works

Our auditory system serves one of our body’s most complex and fascinating functions. To better understand the noise-induced hearing loss, a basic understanding of how good hearing works is essential.

  1. Sound waves pass through the ear canal to enter the ear.
  2. These sound waves travel to the eardrum through the ear canal. Eardrum vibrations move three tiny bones in our middle ear; these bones are called the malleus, incus, and staples, and are the smallest bones in the body.
  3. The vibrations of these tiny bones cause fluid to ripple and wave in our cochlea. The cochlea is in the inner ear and is a fluid-filled snail-like organ.
  4. Our inner ear fluid movement causes small, delicate hair-like cells to bend and sway above the liquid.
  5. These hair-like cells bend, which transmits the sound waves into electrical signals.
  6. Finally, these signals are sent to our minds for processing via our auditory nerve. 
  7. Our brain then interprets and understands these signals as sounds.

 

How loud is too loud?

Any sound that is below 85 dB (from listening position) is considered safe. The permanent hearing loss sets in at 85 dB after about 8 hours of treatment. The amount of time it takes for hearing loss to happen cuts in half for every three dB increase in volume. This means a 91 dB sound will take just 4 hours to cause damage to your hearing and only 2 hours at 97 dB.

To give you some perspective, here are some familiar sounds and their dB equivalent:

  • 70 dB: Washing machine
  • 80 dB: Alarm clock
  • 90 dB: Subway train cart
  • 100 dB: Factory machinery
  • 110 dB: Car horn
  • 120 dB: Live music concert

 

What happens when we get too much sound

Loud noise exposure can damage the inner ear, especially the cochlear hair cells. The louder the sound, the more vibration it causes the cells of the hair to move and bend. The sheer volume of the soundwaves can start to damage the hair cells physically. Such damage will cause the cells to lose sensitivity and function less effectively.

This is how most of us experience a loss of hearing over the short term. Muffling of your hearing is normal after leaving a concert or other noisy event. You might speak loudly; you may need others to speak loudly to hear them. This is mainly because the cochlea’s hair cells have been drained by all the excessive noise you received. Your hearing typically returns after a short period, because your ears have rested.

If someone is exposed to loud noise regularly, and the hair cells do not have time to rest, the effect can be severe. In contrast to other cell types, the hair cells do not regenerate. We are born with every hair cell we’ll ever have. When they are damaged, we can’t ever get that hearing back. 
 

How to prevent noise-related hearing loss

We can do several things to reduce the level of sound that reaches our ears. 

Increase your distance. The best is to step away from the origins of loud noises physically. Your exposure falls by six dBA for every doubling of the distance between you and the source of the sound. 

Reduce the length of exposure. Likewise, we can restrict our exposure. Although dangerously loud sounds should never be experienced without hearing protection, many other sounds cause NIHL only after prolonged exposure.

Use hearing protection. We should use hearing protection if we have to (or choose to) be exposed to noisy noises for longer than is necessary. It’s a good idea to carry general-purpose earplugs wherever you go if you find any sound that you want to block.

Monitor sound levels around you. Cell phone apps are now available for download, which can measure dB levels. When you’re unsure of the noise level of an environment, you can use the app to determine if it is time to get the earplugs out.
 

Treating hearing loss induced by noise

When you already suffer from NIHL, the damage is permanent. Nevertheless, hearing aids have been repeatedly proven to help treat this condition. Hearing aids amplify the sounds around you so you can hear more easily. They will not completely correct your hearing like glasses can do for your eyes, but they have helped millions worldwide improve their hearing. 

If you believe that you’re struggling with noise-induced hearing loss, please contact us today to set up a hearing test and get back to hearing again. 

Tips for Driving with Hearing Aids

Safety is a concern every time we get into our car and hit the road. Car accidents in the U.S. reach more than 6 million per year, and the average number of motor vehicle crash deaths is 10 per 100,000 persons per year. Careful driving requires sharp visual and auditory senses to make prompt and informed choices.

Although all drivers should note these traffic safety figures, they should be taken especially seriously for those with hearing loss. Among those with hearing loss, the ability to hear critical safety signals such as honking horns, blaring sirens, and vehicle acceleration are diminished, meaning the risk of an accident increases significantly. 

Among those with hearing loss, driving with a hearing aid comes highly recommended, as it dramatically improves your hearing ability. Those with untreated loss should seek out professional treatment for hearing health before continuing to drive. 

Once you have your hearing aids, here are some other things you can do to ensure a safe experience while on the road. 

 

1. Test your eyes as well as your ears

If you drive with hearing aids, it is essential to ensure that your other senses are up to speed. Vision has a crucial role in keeping you safer, as it can help you stay abreast of traffic alerts, read traffic signs and notice flashing emergency lights even if you haven’t yet heard them. 

Annually test your vision to make sure that your prescription is up to date, whether wearing glasses or contact lenses. If you noticed any sudden changes in your vision, visit your optometrist as soon as you can.
 

2. Stay vigilant of your surroundings

It is essential to keep your eyes on the road while driving. Visual indicators are critical when driving. Be more mindful of traffic signals, and use your side and rearview mirrors regularly. 

Hearing loss affects the ability to identify the relative distance of moving vehicles, so it is essential to be aware of your environment to protect yourself and other drivers.
 

3. Lower the number of distractions

Not being distracted means you can focus entirely on the drive. But driving with hearing aids means maintaining a relatively quiet vehicle is especially important. Set the radio or music level to low enough not to disturb your drive. 

If you travel with noisy passengers, you might want to ask them to keep down their voices. You will be able to carry on a conversation while driving, with hearing aids in place. But when you need to listen for other sounds, do not hesitate to postpone the discussion. 

You can also ask other passengers to keep their voices down while the vehicle is in motion, as driving with hearing aids puts even greater importance on a quiet car. 

Sometimes opening the windows at high speeds can be too much for your hearing aids, and you might want to drive on the highway with the air conditioning instead of being exposed to the noisy wind.
 

4. Keep a card visor in your car

In case you need to deal with a traffic officer or highway patrol, you may want to consider carrying a visor card clipped inside your windshield viewfinder. The card is a clear way to tell the officer you might have trouble hearing their directions.

You should put your visor down and swing it towards your window if you’re pulled over and then hold your hands onto the wheel. Having instructions in writing can help keep communication clear at a traffic stop. You can order or download visor cards online.
 

5. Perform regular maintenance

If you are driving with hearing loss, regular maintenance of your vehicle is especially important. There’s a chance you might miss the warning beep from the dashboard, or you may not hear the rattling under the hood. If you miss the small noises, if it turns into a larger sound, you’ll have a much bigger problem. Make sure you regularly service your car.
 

Treating Hearing Loss

Better hearing – which begins with treating your hearing loss – will help keep you active both mentally and physically, whether on the road or off it. Call us and schedule your annual hearing test today.

Adjusting to New Hearing Aids

When you first acquire hearing aids, it’s a big step in the right direction when it comes to your hearing health, but they are not a panacea. It’s essential to manage your expectations in two areas: 

The amount of hearing that is eventually restored.  Your hearing will be much better than before, but unlike eyeglasses that correct your vision, they will not permanently restore your hearing to 100 percent accuracy. 

The length of time it will take to get used to your hearing aids. Again, unlike eyeglasses, your hearing is not restored immediately upon inserting the device. It takes time for your brain to acclimatize to the new sound information you are receiving, and it can be a little overwhelming at first. 

 

New sounds for the brain

When you experience a hearing loss, you focus on the sounds that you can’t hear that you want to hear, such as the conversation happening in front of you. What you don’t realize is that there are many other sounds you are missing out on. 

These sounds come to the forefront when you use hearing aids for the first time. From the wind, the whirr of the microwave, to the sound of pulling a shirt over your ears, a whole world of sounds are restored. It will take a while for your brain to process these sounds, and relegate them to the background again. 

To speed up this process, here are some useful tips.

 

1. Wear your hearing aids regularly

To readjust most successfully, you will need to wear the hearing aids every day. Wearing them helps your brain adapt to a new way of hearing and will gradually make your hearing experience a richer one.

Hearing loss left untreated reshapes how the brain processes sound. To compensate for the missing information, the pathways your mind uses to understand incoming signals are rewritten. That means hearing loss is continually transforming our auditory system away from the standard processing of sound. 

When you introduce hearing aids to your new way of hearing sound, the effect may seem alien and jarring. Luckily, our brains are incredibly adaptive, and most people will adjust to their hearing aids in just a few weeks with regular usage.

 

2. Connect speech to words

A great way to connect speech to meaning is by reading yourself loudly or listening to an audiobook while reading in print along with the text. Reading while listening helps reconnect sound to meaning, and can increase your rate of understanding. Reading to yourself aloud has the bonus of getting familiar with the tone of your voice through hearing aids.

There are other ways to connect speech and sound too. Watch movies and television with subtitles on, and read and listen to the dialogue. Reading while listening creates links in your auditory system, helping your brain reconnect the dots it lost throughout your years of untreated hearing loss. 

 

3. Start small with conversations

While practicing speech recognition alone helps, while using your hearing aids, you will also want to branch out and start talking to your loved ones. 

Start small by having one-on-one discussions in private environments as you first respond to your hearing aids. If you feel comfortable, keep the environment quiet but add more people to your conversation. 

Pay attention to where speech comes from and how your ears locate sound in space as you communicate with multiple people. Silent communication builds understanding and prepares you to navigate sound in louder and more complex environments.

 

4. Set goals and take notes

Set achievable goals to help chart your progress, such as keeping TV at a certain level, or understanding multiple conversations at the dinner table at once. Setting a target, and then achieving it will show that you are making positive progress.

When meeting with your hearing specialist or audiologist, take notes during the adjustment period, and discuss what you see as issues. Is there a certain level of sound that you have trouble adjusting to, or are there some other fitting issues that should be addressed? 

 

Fitting is a process

When you get your hearing aids with us, we’re pretty sure your first fitting appointment won’t be your last. And that’s the way it should be! 

It takes time to get the fit entirely right, but we’re willing to take that time with you. Our fitting process is carried out with precision and accuracy, based on your hearing test results. To get started, contact us today to set up a hearing test. 

Preparing for a Hearing Aid Fitting

Hearing loss is currently impacting nearly 40 million Americans nationally. They are struggling to obey conversations, sustain close relationships, and are facing lower living standards as a result. The good news is that in the last couple of years, hearing technology has improved dramatically, and if you have hearing loss, your hearing aid options are excellent, and you can find hearing aids that will help you hear in any listening environment.

If you’ve taken a hearing test recently, you might be considering hearing aids. This is an excellent idea; hearing aids could lead to better hearing and improved quality of life. But before you can begin to enjoy the benefits of hearing treatment, you need to start the fitting process

Successful fitting of hearing aids is more than merely choosing the right device for your hearing needs. The hearing aids need to be correctly fitted into your ears to provide the right amount of amplification to maximize their benefit.

To that end, it takes a little planning to make the most out of your fitting appointment. Here’s what we recommend.

 

Allow an entire morning.

Set aside lots of time when scheduling your trip to a get fitted for a hearing aid. You want to make sure you have time to ask a lot of questions and take notes as your hearing professional is likely to give you an abundance of information.  

Be ready to tell them about your lifestyle, any hobbies that you may have, and other specific needs that you hope a hearing aid will satisfy. This knowledge will help the hearing professional recommend the right device for you. The last thing you want to do is schedule your fitting alongside a day of other errands. You’re going to want to be careful and take your time because hearing aids are a significant investment.

 

Prepare yourself with questions.

Take time to gather your thoughts before coming to your appointment and compile a list of questions for your hearing professional to answer.  

There’ll be plenty of new information to take in, and it’s not a bad idea to take notes with a pen and paper or a digital device once your questions are answered. While the audiologist will probably send you away with handouts, do not hesitate to write down anything you find essential to remember. 

 

Be clear about what you want.

Allow some time to think about your hearing priorities before your meeting. Think of the moments you struggle with your hearing loss, and take notes of the kinds of circumstances you could do with some extra support. 

Do you struggle to hear in background noise, or during work meetings? Are you afraid of driving because you can’t be sure you’ll be able to hear all the sounds around you? Understanding your goals will allow your hearing professional to support you, and they will configure your hearing aids to work in these conditions in an optimum way.

 

Adjust your expectations.

The fact is that if you have experienced hearing loss for many years, it will take the brain some time to get used to processing sound that it hasn’t heard for a while.

That means an adjustment period will be needed. Hearing aids help you process and amplify the right sounds. This doesn’t happen immediately but requires a retraining of the brain’s hearing process. Retraining your hearing with hearing aids includes exposing yourself to sounds that you haven’t heard in a while. This new audio stimuli takes some getting used to. 

Because of this transition, it is also unlikely that you’ll be happy with your hearing aid programming after just one fitting. You’ll probably have to visit your hearing professional several times for readjustments.

Although this is a process, we urge you not to give up on your new hearing aids. It will take some time and maybe several visits to your hearing specialist before they start to work for you at their highest level, but do not give up! 

Eventually, you will begin to feel the full effects of your new hearing aid. The benefits are likely to be realized in an improved quality of your social connections, work performance, and overall quality of life.

If you have any questions about the hearing aid fitting process, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

Communication At Work | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) is a community of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, students, and faculty members aimed at improving awareness of speech and hearing issues by removing common barriers to excellent communication.

Each May, ASHA hosts “Better Hearing and Speech Month” (BHSM) to jump-start their efforts. This year’s theme is “Communication at Work.”

 

How to improve communication during video conference meetings

It might seem strange to talk about hearing loss in the context of the recent stay-at-home orders and the coming economic recession. However, it is still pertinent, especially if you happen to be working at home using communication tools such as Zoom. 

The right meeting environment can improve communication for all and ensure the person with hearing loss has access to all the information they need to do the best job. 

Here are some tips for smoother video conference meetings.

 

What the meeting organizer can do

Make time for an icebreaker. Just like a regular meeting, make time for a preamble. This will help build a welcoming environment and promote interaction.

Insist on video for all participants. Whenever possible, use a virtual meeting platform to use webcams and insist that all participants use them. Visuals help people with and without hearing loss understand conversations much better.

Share your screen if necessary. If the meeting focuses on a specific document or resource that you are showing others, consider sharing your screen so that all participants can access the document or resource in real-time. Use your computer mouse to help highlight key areas or details you are discussing, or as a digital pointer to highlight the section you are talking about.

Record the meeting. Consider recording the session (after getting the consent of all participants). Let attendees know the meeting is being documented and where they can go to view it after the meeting. Because some attendees can encounter network connection problems or have their calls dropped, it is helpful for those who missed a section of the discussion or presentation.

 

What coworkers can do

Use good lighting. Participate in video calls in a well-lit space. When using a webcam, it’s better to have lighting in front of you rather than behind you. If all the light (electronic or natural) of a room is projected from behind a person and onto a camera, the facial features are difficult to see, restricting the facial expressions and lip-reading, which communicate vital clues to the sentiment of what the person is saying.

Don’t cover your mouth. Try to keep your hands, hair, and clothes away from your mouth when talking. This also helps you speak more clearly, which gives listeners the best opportunity to hear and understand you.

Use the mute button. If you’re not speaking, keep your microphone silenced. As multiple people attend an online meeting, background noise from each participant’s home as well as texting, eating, and so on can be highly disruptive.

Take turns speaking. Don’t interrupt others. It is harder to transfer from listening to one person to another in a virtual meeting. When it’s your turn, be as concise as possible, then let the conversation pass to the next person. Waiting your turn ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to share their thoughts.

 

What those with hearing loss can do

Use noise-canceling Headphones. Many headphones are now noise-canceling devices, which can make it easier to hear during the meeting without increasing the volume and raising the background noise. You may want to play with various headphone types to determine which style offers the best listening experience. 

Use Bluetooth Hearing Aids. If you’re wearing hearing aids, ask your audiologist if there’s an alternative that enables your hearing aids to connect directly to the device you’re using for virtual meetings. Most hearing aids are now ‘made for iPhone’ or ‘made for any phone,’ which helps them to synchronize to your favorite device.

Let others know if you can’t hear them. Speak to your boss and advocate for yourself if you can’t hear or understand others. If you’re struggling to understand, others might be struggling too. Although this might sometimes slow the meeting down, it would be worse to miss essential tasks, facts, or notifications during and after the meeting.

Whether you’re meeting your team remotely or plan to attend them when things reopen again, professionally-fitted hearing aids can help you perform your best at work. The first step towards the right hearing aid is a comprehensive hearing test. Contact us today to set up an appointment.  

Tips for Selecting Hearing Aids

As it depends on many factors, including your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget, choosing the right hearing aid can be a tricky process. 

There are so many options and considerations to consider. It is helpful to think about the following questions and discuss your answers with a hearing specialist to decide precisely what you need from a hearing aid.

 

What sort of hearing loss are you dealing with?

Everyone hears differently, so it’s essential to look for a hearing aid that will address your unique needs. When you work with a hearing professional, they will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your hearing and recommend a hearing aid that suits you perfectly. 

It is also essential to keep in mind your particular hearing loss, especially when considering the number of available channels in a hearing aid. Hearing aids have recently completed a shift from analog to digital. This has made signal processing more sophisticated. A provider may change the hearing aids to boost the lower frequency sounds, or vice versa, depending on the patient’s particular hearing loss profile. 

This is terrific news, especially for those with issues in particular frequencies, as problem areas can now be amplified more further than others. So wireless hearing aids have settings which allow for tweaks of several channels, like tuning an equalizer on a stereo. Current hearing aids have from about four channels up to 24 or more channels available. 

This doesn’t mean that everybody would benefit from more channels, however. A person with a hearing loss that is the same across all frequencies will do better with a standard hearing aid with fewer channels because they need equal amplification across the entire hearing spectrum. On the flip side, someone with hearing loss that is normal in lower pitches and much worse in higher ranges needs a hearing aid with more channels to more accurately boost where amplification is required.

 

What is the sound environment like at work?

Your work-life also plays a significant part in assessing the needs of the hearing aid. Musicians need to hear high notes and harmonies, for example, whereas people working in a noisy setting will benefit from a hearing aid that decreases background noise.

 

What kind of activities are you involved in?

Lifestyle is one of the most significant single factors to consider when buying a hearing aid. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you watch TV a lot? 
  • Are you a competitive swimmer and hiker? 
  • Do you chat over the phone regularly? 
  • Do you visit restaurants or bars often?

Consider the activities you most often engage to help you and your hearing specialist recognize what you need to hear, where you need to listen to it, and how much wear and tear your hearing aid will have to handle.

 

How to choose the right hearing aid

Deciding on a hearing aid type is the first step to selecting a hearing aid. Such choices will vary according to the extent of your hearing loss and what form of hearing loss you have. 

Once a preferred type has been chosen, you can move on to features. There may be a wide range of features on offer fingertips, but if you don’t need them, there’s no point wasting money on them. Additional spending on a hearing aid with Bluetooth integration, for example, might be unnecessary for an elderly wearer who only needs a basic hearing aid.

 

Find the right hearing aid provider

During the entire process, having a reliable hearing care provider is especially important during the whole process because it will provide advice and expertise to guide your decisions.

However, a hearing care specialist does give more than just advice. They will explain the features of hearing aids, show you how other models work, and even define your hearing goals. They will also assist with fitting the hearing aid, a crucial step in the hearing aid process. 

If you are looking for a right provider in San Mateo or San Carlos, look no further. We can help you get on the road to better hearing. Contact us today for a consultation. 

What to Ask During A Hearing Consultation

If you have booked a hearing appointment for yourself, then good for you! The first step toward better hearing is learning about your hearing and having it checked. With this awareness, you can be in a better position to choose the best treatment for your needs. 

You’ll want to know everything you can before you make such a significant investment. Upon going to your hearing test and appointment, you may expect your hearing professional to ask you some questions. But you should be armed with your questions too. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed during a hearing consultation, particularly with such an important decision before you. For this purpose, carrying with you the following list of questions will be helpful. By doing so, you’ll leave the appointment wholly prepared for your journey towards better hearing.

Which sort of loss of hearing do I have?

Understanding the nature of your condition can help you decide on the most appropriate treatment. It’ll also help you learn how to protect your existing hearing. There are three different types of hearing loss.

  • Sensorineural hearing loss happens when the inner ear or nerve pathway to the brain is impaired.
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when the sound passes inappropriately to the eardrum through the outer ear canal;
  • Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both.

What hearing aids are best for me?

With your hearing specialist, you should be open about the kinds of situations you’re in where hearing is most difficult. For instance, your interests, your home environment, and the types of places you like to go out can include times where you are struggling to listen. By talking about the kinds of features that will support you in these settings, your hearing professional can hone in on the hearing aids that best fit your lifestyle.

Are both hearing aids needed?

You’ll probably need two hearing aids, one for each ear. You may assume you can hear very well from one of your ears, but both ears are likely suffering from hearing loss. 

Not only will you be able to hear from both ears while you wear two devices, but you’ll also get enhanced binaural hearing, and your brain will have an easier time understanding all the sounds around you.

How do I cope with my new hearing aids?

It may seem obvious that to protect your hearing aids, you will need to do some necessary cleaning, but there are other steps you need to take to make sure they last as long as possible. 

Beyond a simple wipe-down with a clean cloth to remove debris, specially crafted tools are available to clean the tiny crevices of hearing aids where earwax other buildups can accumulate. Learning how to do this yourself will help you to understand how best to keep your hearing aids working for years to come.

How do I operate my new hearing aids?

You’ll want to understand how to replace the batteries. How frequently will the batteries be charged or replaced? Do you need to handle manual controls, or are they a rechargeable option that only needs to be plugged in? How do you change the volume on the hearing aids, and how can you insert and remove the hearing aids without damaging them?

How long does it take me to adjust to my new hearing aids?

Hearing aids can make a difference when you can no longer hear well on your own, but unlike correcting your vision with prescription eyeglasses, it takes time to get used to wearing a hearing aid.

If you’re wearing a device for the first time, ask your hearing professional how you can speed up the adjustment time. Ask for a hearing schedule that you can use to ease yourself into wearing your new devices. You will need to be patient with hearing aids, but the payoff will be worth it.

At the California Hearing Center, we’re on hand to help you on your journey towards better hearing. We trust our understanding and help will help you get the best care to fit your needs. If you think you are affected by hearing loss, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What to Expect at a Hearing Test

The purpose of a hearing loss test is to decide whether you have hearing loss and how severe or mild it is. Hearing loss has far-reaching health implications, and having a baseline hearing check and a regular follow-up check will help you detect it early.

 

A hearing consultation

We start by asking a series of questions to learn more about your hearing experience.

Questions may cover many areas, and some may seem insignificant, but they are all critical. A standard question, for example, like “Which ear do you use when listening on the phone? “May seem insignificant. Knowing what ear you are using, however, might be a hint to the audiologist that one ear performs better than the other.

Also, a health history interview is likely to answer concerns about your medical history, current medications, family history of hearing loss and disease, noise sensitivity, work history, interests, and any hearing problems you or your family members note.

The responses to these questions help give us an overview of your current hearing condition, help us decide which tests are appropriate, and how you will respond to various treatment options.

 

A series of tests

A hearing test is not just one test, but a series of different tests. Such tests help determine the range of sounds you can hear. During a hearing test, you are never at risk of pain.

Below is a list of potential hearing tests, as well as a description of what happens during each test.

  • Ear exam:Most examinations begin with a visual evaluation using a small tool called an otoscope. It helps the audiologist to look into the ear to see if any noticeable problems, such as earwax blockages, exist.

 

  • A pure tone test:This is a crucial hearing check used to identify hearing thresholds, as well as the size, degree, and nature of the hearing loss. During the test, you’ll wear headphones linked to an audiometer playing a range of tones. Your doctor will monitor the volume and will lower it until you can no longer hear the sound. Then, when you listen to it again, the doctor will increase the volume. By pressing a button or raising your head, you’ll show that you can hear the sound.

 

  • Speech recognition test:We use this assessment to determine how well you hear and understand speech. At different volume rates, you’ll listen to a collection of common words and repeat the ones you hear.

There may be other tests performed, but these three tests form the core of any hearing test we’re likely to administer.
 

Reviewing the results

The final results of your assessment will show several things: whether you have hearing problems, which ear listens better and how well you hear low and high pitched sounds.

The speech assessment helps provide useful details about your ability to understand speech clearly in noisy environments. To obtain the most accurate hearing profile for you, we may conduct additional tests to determine other aspects of your hearing ability.

If the tests show you might benefit from hearing aids, we’ll show you a few sample models to illustrate how they work. We’ll also explore appropriate options for your hearing loss and lifestyle.
 

How to prepare for a hearing test

Many people are very nervous about the idea of a hearing test. Unfortunately, anxiety can have a detrimental effect on the test. How quickly a sound is recognized depends on the sensitivity on the day of the test, but also your mood.

On the day of your test, allow yourself plenty of time, and try to get in a comfortable frame of mind for your hearing test. Tell someone to come with you to help you stay calm and to help you recall details we provide.

If you have hearing loss, it is vital to seek treatment from a specialist you can trust. Our audiologists will advise you, test your hearing, prescribe a hearing aid, and tailor it to your personal needs. Contact us today to set up an appointment. 

Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

Do you have a loved one who might benefit from hearing loss treatment? They ask you to repeat yourself over and over, or they don’t but then it’s clear they haven’t been listening while you spoke. Whenever you see them, the TV or the radio is on too loud. Maybe you notice them participating less in group conversations, or not wanting to get together in groups at all. Maybe they don’t admit they’re having trouble hearing, or maybe they know they have hearing loss but think they’re “doing just fine” without hearing aids.

To be sure, this is a frustrating situation. It’s clear to you that they’d be better off with hearing aids, but they have excuses like they don’t want to feel “old,” or they had a friend who didn’t like their hearing aids, or they remember the massive, whistling hearing aids of a parent or grandparent. With a little finesse, you may be able to help them see just how much better off they would be if they would suck it up and get a hearing test.

 

Do Some Research Beforehand

Luckily, these days the internet is full of information about studies regarding hearing loss and hearing aids. A few searches will give you a plethora of information that might help you demonstrate to your loved one just how much hearing aids can improve their life. Did you know over 90% of people who get hearing aids now are satisfied with them?

Those bulky old hearing aids from decades past are gone, with newer models that are smaller and smarter. Rather than just making everything louder, they can help distinguish speech from background noise, help alleviate tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and even integrate with modern technology via Bluetooth or other means at home, in the car, and even at museums and some restaurants.

Study after study indicates that hearing aids help with improving relationships, keep people feeling and acting younger, and even improve balance and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Bring a few of these statistics to your loved one’s attention gently and without judgment, and they might start to see their way clear to a hearing test.

 

Pick the Right Setting

Bring up the subject with a minimum of distractions, especially auditory distractions. If you’re at home, make sure the TV is off and you’re away from loud appliances. If you’re going out, pick a quiet place that’s well lit. Make sure you’re sitting facing each other. Raising your voice, even when it’s clear that it’s just so you can be heard better, still carries overtones of aggression, so you want to be able to stay and sound calm. If their hearing is in significant decline, they are likely at the point of using lip reading to assist their understanding of speech, so make sure they can see your face and you shouldn’t need to yell to be understood.

 

Mention Your Experiences

Point to specific experiences you’ve had with them when you know their hearing made things more difficult for them or for you, but don’t get emotional or accusatory. They can’t help that their hearing ability is declining, and they are likely scared about it. You don’t want them to dig in their heels, but to open up to the idea that hearing aids might be good for them. Let them know how their own experience would have been improved if they could hear better, and remind them that you want what is best for them.

 

Listen

Give them space to talk about their own experience of hearing loss. Encourage them to talk about their misgivings, their fears, and their frustrations. Don’t interrupt. Let them talk through their ideas; articulating things that we’ve only carried in our heads can be a transformative experience in itself, so give them space to change their own mind about things. If they feel the need to blame you for anything at this time, don’t get defensive but let them work through these thoughts and feelings on their own.

 

Remind Them of Your Support

Whether it’s a ride to the hearing test or just accompaniment for emotional support, let them know you’ll be there for them as they move forward. The process doesn’t have to be frustrating or frightening, especially when they know they’re not doing it alone.