DIFFERENT WAYS TO TEST FOR HEARING LOSS

If you suspect you may have hearing loss, it is recommended that you be tested to confirm if you have hearing loss, and how advanced it is.

If you have never had a hearing evaluation done before, you may be wondering what is involved. There are several ways to test for hearing loss, so we will go through a brief overview of them here. Not to worry: all methods are quick, easy and painless!

Simple Audible Tests

A test that is quick and easy is the whisper test: your doctor may ask you to cover one ear and whisper near the other ear to determine if you have hearing in that ear. Though it is not incredibly accurate, it can give the doctor a good idea of where to begin with other tests.

Get a Physical Exam

Your general physician may offer a hearing screening as part of your health check-up. This evaluation may include a physical examination: looking in your ear for inflammation, excessive ear wax or even structural problems that can lead to hearing loss.

Tuning Forks

Tuning forks are metal forks that produce a tune when they are hit together. Doctors can use tuning forks to do a quick test of hearing loss overall and where the damage has occurred.

Audiometer

An audiologist may also use an audiometer, which is a more accurate and thorough way to test hearing ability. During this test, you will be asked to wear headphones, with sounds isolated to one ear or the other. The sound will be repeated at different volume levels to test which you can hear.

Treatment for temporary hearing loss will depend on the source of the hearing loss. If you have a physical blockage, for example, like ear wax or a structural issue with your ear, the doctor may be able to remove or remedy it. For more severe structural issues surgery may help to correct the problem and restore normal hearing.

Cochlear implants may be another option if parts of the inner ear are not working correctly. Your doctor can explain this option, as well as its risks and benefits, if it is necessary for you.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

TRAINING YOUR HEARING: A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

If you have hearing loss, it’s a good idea to take positive steps to avoid further hearing damage. Here are five “workouts” to help strengthen your hearing skills.

Regular Exercise

Staying active all day long will help to keep blood circulating, which provides benefits to all areas of your body, including your ears.

Even light exercise is great, just as long as you do some of it every day. You can jog, cycle, or walk. Even stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates can qualify. And if you do a lot of gardening or housework—you know that can get your heart pumping as well!

Just remember, if you exercise to the tune of music, try to keep the volume low, especially when using ear buds. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type, and music is a repeat offender.

Stretching

Did you know that deep breathing and stretching exercises like in yoga can also help improve hearing?

We hear all the time that yoga has a lot of health benefits, and it can strengthen hearing by increasing blood flow to your ears, among other areas. Deep breathing and stretching are a light exertion and count as exercise!  

Where there is increased blood flow your body can also detoxify effectively, which can improve nerve function. All of these factors are positive and can help maintain healthy hearing.

Puzzles and Games

If I asked you which organ plays the biggest role in your hearing, you might say your ears, but you would be wrong! Your brain is the powerhouse when it comes to hearing and listening comprehension. Your ears are like sound funnels: they carry the sound in, but your brain translates and makes those sounds understandable to you. Therefore whatever you do to exercise your brain will positively impact your hearing skills too.

The brain needs exercise just as much as the rest of your body does! Games, riddles and puzzles like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and word searches are not only fun, they also serve as brain exercises which combats atrophy. Atrophy is known as demntia when it begins to not only affect your hearing but your mental capacity and reasoning abilities.

Pretty much any game counts here: social games like poker, bingo and hearts are a workout for your brain while being a fun activity with friends.

Practice Focus

You can find hearing exercises online or from your audiologist as well. These exercises are meant to improve your hearing capabilities and give you good practice at distinguishing sounds.

Here’s an exercise to try that can help you focus and train your hearing in an environment with a lot of distracting background noise:

Turn your TV or radio on so you can hear it clearly. Next turn on music or another competing noise. Have someone else walk around the room you are in, reading sentences from newspaper or a book. With your eyes closed, repeat the sentences back, and picture where they are in the room. This exercise in concentration can help you a lot with focus in an environment with a lot of background noise.  

Concentrate

Here’s one more exercise that you can do when you are alone almost anywhere. If you are at a park or a restaurant or anywhere else, close your eyes and open your ears. Pick out the noises around you. Recognize the sound and pinpoint its location. This exercise will help you to interpret sounds and focus in environments where there is a lot of background noise.  

Your physician or audiologist will be happy to do annual hearing evaluations with you to detect changes in hearing ability much more quickly than you could notice it yourself. The earlier hearing loss is detected the better. Devices and exercises can work to stop the progression of hearing damage so it doesn’t worsen.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

WHAT’S YOUR HEARING AID LIFE?

If you struggle with hearing loss and have taken the next step with hearing aids, you may feel as if you got your life back. Using hearing aids can require a period of adjustment, however. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Don’t be disheartened if it takes a little while to become accustomed to your hearing aids, and remember: your audiologist is there to help! If you are confused as to how to care for your hearing devices or need to talk through any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

I got new hearing aids. Now what?
The first thing you may notice is better hearing! You will probably notice you no longer have to struggle to communicate, which is the goal. Though there can be an adjustment period, the reason you got hearing devices is to correct your hearing and improve your quality of life.

When deciding on which hearing aids are right for you, consider the professional guidance of your audiologist or doctors, and learn the differences of all the models available.

When preparing for a hearing aid purchase, there are several things you can do:

  • Look for a local audiologist you can trust: ask friends or family for recommendations or read reviews.
  • Do a preliminary hearing assessment with your audiologist.
  • Take a hearing test online.
  • Shop several models that might fit your needs.
  • Find out what your purchase includes. Are you buying just the devices, or does the retailer throw in a maintenance package or insurance coverage?
  • Once the purchase is complete, have the retailer or audiologist adjust them to fit your ears and your hearing needs.
  • Tell everybody! Your friends and family will celebrate with you and will know they can communicate with you normally!
  • Be sure to learn all the features of your hearing devices, from connections with phone apps to help with listening to music or television through your hearing aids. You are paying for those features, so you should use them!

Once You Have Hearing Aids

Give yourself grace: it will take a short while to adjust to your hearing aids. It may feel weird to have something in your ear, or you may experience sound a little differently than you are used to, but soon you will be hearing normally.

Within the first couple of weeks, you may start to notice sounds that were inaudible before becoming clear and you will begin to pick out specific sounds that you didn’t hear before. These everyday noises can sound unusually loud as your ears start to learn how the devices translate sound.

The physical sensation of having devices in your ears may also take a period of adjustment. Background noises may sound different or new and may be more difficult to filter out at first, but you will get used to that as well.

How Can I Make My Adjustment Easier?

Adjusting to hearing aids takes time, so be gentle with yourself as you gradually experience your new sensations of sound. If it seems like too much, limit your use of them at home and only for a few hours a day at first, then gradually familiarize yourself with the outside world and social interactions. If you are patient, you should soon experience improved hearing capabilities and your ideal sound experience.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

Smart Hearing Devices: Take Your Hearing Into the Future!

Our world is full of smart devices: from phones and cameras to TVs and even our electricity meters—our technology is smarter than ever! What does “smart” mean, exactly? It means our devices can communicate with each other, whether it be via apps on our phones or a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. These smart devices make our lives easier by simplifying things we do every day.

Not to be left behind, hearing devices are now also smart! Not only can modern hearing devices communicate with other devices around us like our televisions and smart phones, they can even learn our preferences and adjust accordingly to deliver better sound quality and performance.

They Adjust To Your Environment

Hearing devices can gather auditory information from your environment and determine your listening needs from the situation. Because the environment in an outdoor park is very different from that of a baseball game, your listening needs will vary based on that environment. As you move from one place to the next, the hearing device can automatically adjust to optimize performance in that environment.

Make Manual Adjustments With Your Phone

Another advantage of smart hearing devices is the ability of a smart-phone to make adjustments that used to be manual. Taking out a hearing aid to adjust it is inconvenient and makes wearing them less discreet. With smart devices, these adjustments can now be made with the touch of a button on your smartphone.

They Learn Your Preferences

Smart hearing devices can also learn from the adjustments you make, and automatically adjust for you in future similar situations. So you will have to make less manual adjustments over time, and your hearing device will keep everything sounding seamless and clear.

They Connect To Each Other

Smart hearing devices are also wirelessly connected to each other, so an adjustment made to one affects both devices equally, and will require less hassle. This helps both ears to hear equally and accurately, and work together to help the brain process sounds.

They’re Interactive

Smart hearing aids can also help you to do things people without hearing aids can’t do: like stream music, a phone call or a television show straight to your ears and adjust the volume to your personal preference. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology effectively transform your hearing devices into HD stereo ear sets. You can even answer a call without touching your phone and adjust the volume on your TV without a remote!

Smart-phone apps for you hearing device help you to control your hearing aids discreetly, from adjusting the volume or treble to changing the direction of microphones. This makes adjusting your hearing device much easier than having to remove it and adjust it manually.

They Reduce Background Noise

These smart hearing devices are better than ever at blocking out disruptive background noise and helping your brain to pinpoint the sound you are trying to hear, whether you’re at a busy restaurant, a sporting event, or even blocking the sound of wind on a blustery day!

Smart hearing devices can help make your life easier every day, from work to play and back home. Come in and check out some of the latest hearing technology we have to offer, and you’ll see how these devices can make wearing hearing aids more convenient and effortless than ever!

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

Could There be a Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

As we age, most of us expect to experience some hearing loss. It is considered a normal part of aging, and other than hindered communication and minor annoyance, is not seen as a major health issue. More and more studies, however, are linking hearing loss with mental decline and dementia, which is increasing concern over this “minor” consequence of aging.

One study that involved more than 2000 people found that people with hearing loss had a decline in cognitive abilities 30-40% faster than those who didn’t. Another study involving 600 people showed that people with hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than those without it. Further, people who had severe hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than those with only mild or moderate hearing loss.  Testing and further studies have also found increased and quicker rates of brain atrophy in people with impaired hearing in comparison with people without impairment. In participants over 60 years of age, the risk of dementia was increased by 36% when hearing loss was a factor.

Hearing loss is not only a risk factor for dementia, but also seems to worsen the symptoms, including diminished memory, failure to learn new tasks, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, reduced awareness and depression, in addition to diminished overall health. In light of these findings, studies are currently underway to determine the effectiveness of hearing aids and other devices to halt or slow this mental decline.

Because hearing loss can progress slowly, annual hearing screenings are crucial. We may not notice these gradual changes in hearing ability on our own until damage is done.

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