Be Kind to Your Ears–It’s National Better Hearing and Speech Month

The human ear is a marvelous piece of anatomy.  With healthy hearing, our relationships come alive, our jobs are productive, and life is rich with meaning. 

Without good ear health, we would not be able to listen to our favorite music, hear our baby’s first cry or enjoy all the sounds that make up a meaningful, interesting life.

However, at no other time in human evolution is the ear more under siege.  We over expose our ears to long sessions of music delivered directly to the ear canal by ear pods connecting to loud music players.  Occupational hearing hazards are common, and we frequently expose our ears to loud noises from lawn mowers, airplanes and loud music concerts.

The ear is an engineering marvel, but it can only take so much.  So, during National Hearing Health Month, do yourself a favor: take good care of your ears. 

Reduce your risk of hearing loss from ear buds and music players

However, according a recent report from the World Health Organization, half of people between the ages of 12 and 35 are exposed to unsafe sound levels from their personal music players like this Ipod.

 Ipods and other personal music players are all the rage today—you can’t walk down the street or board a bus or train without seeing several people who wear them.

What’s more, as these people age and continue to use their ear buds, their risk for hearing loss will continue, creating a potential epidemic of hearing loss among today’s younger generations.

Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of hearing loss from the use of hearing devices:

  1. You can use an over-the-ear headphone with soft padding. 
  2. When you do listen, use your Ipod or music player at 60 percent volume for only 60 minutes per day.

Everyone loves music but if you don’t care for your hearing, you’ll be singing the blues!

If you think you need a hearing exam, call us at 630.752.9505 to make an appointment.

Are your patients taking ototoxic medications?

So many of my patients who use hearing aids also take a number of medications.  That’s why we do a thorough medical history with our patients to learn what medications they are taking because certain drugs and medications have been linked to hearing loss and tinnitus, too. Use of these “ototoxic” medications, if not managed properly, can result in permanent or temporary damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve:

•             Aspirin and other painkillers

•             Certain antibiotics

•             Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

•             Some cancer treatment medications

•             Diuretics

I encourage patients who take — or may soon take — ototoxic medications to come in for frequent hearing screenings. By charting numbers on a regular basis, I’m able to detect changes more quickly and provide treatment and counseling more effectively.

If you have any questions about whether medications you are taking affect hearing loss, give us a call at 630.752.9505.

Cooking tips for those with hearing loss

You may not realize it, but there are a lot of sounds that go with the smells of a kitchen. Those sounds can tell you a lot about food, such as when it’s time to turn down the heat on the stove or add a new ingredient to the dish. For someone with hearing loss, cooking can be a challenge. Here are four tips for cooking in the kitchen with hearing loss:

1. Plan extra time to cook

If you have hearing loss and you’re cooking with other people, you may want to plan for extra time in the kitchen so you don’t feel rushed.  There are lots of apps which can help you prepare your food, or even simpler – you can use a notebook! Writing down step by step guides can help you follow what you’ll need to do.  

2. Keep an extra watch on the food

I never realized until recently that sounds can tell you so much about food. For example, water about to boil over the pan, or onions sizzling too much indicating the heat needs turning down. When you hear these sounds, you don’t necessarily need to watch all the dishes.   But if you can’t hearing, you need to monitor your cooking closely with visual clues about how the food is cooking.

3. Use tools

People with hearing loss can’t hear a traditional oven timer, but they can use a timer on their phone. A smart watch with an alarm that flashes or vibrates, is also a great tool to ensure you don’t overcook your food. Most technology companies have smart watches which come with timer apps, so why not research to see what’s best for you? If not, a simple flashing alarm clock can do… just set it to the time when the food is ready and it will either flash or vibrate depending on which you prefer.

If you need to schedule a hearing exam, contact the Hearing Doctors at 630.752.9505.

Hearing loss and the holidays

Too often, people with hearing loss withdraw socially and experience sadness—even symptoms of depression—during the holidays.

If you’re hosting a holiday party or Thanksgiving this year, consider these 4 tips to help ensure that your friends and family stay involved in the festivities:

  1. Be attentive: Stay vigilant if you see that a family member or friend is quiet at a holiday dinner or party. Maybe they’re having trouble hearing and need your help in bringing them back into the conversation.
  2. Turn down the volume: Loud background music or the roar of the TV can make it especially hard to hear at the dinner table.
  3. Speak clearly: Do your best to speak slowly and at a comfortable volume without mumbling or slurring your words.  Project your voice, but don’t shout. It’s best not to chew gum, smoke, or put your hands to your face while speaking. Also avoid Interrupting, which makes it harder to follow a conversation.
  4. Face the person: Facing the person you are speaking with makes it easier for them to hear the words but also to see your mouth and facial expressions. It’s also a good idea to get their attention before speaking by saying their name or gently touching their hand, arm, or shoulder.

To make an appointment with the Hearing Doctors, call us at 630.752.9505.

Navigating your next doctor’s appointment

For most people, making a doctor’s appointment is a simple procedure.  But if you have hearing loss or hearing impairment, it can be a real challenge.  If you follow these four steps, you’ll ensure your next doctor’s appointment goes smoothly:

1. Get to know your doctor’s hospital or office

When registering with a new primary care physician, take time to get to know where they work. Most hospital and doctor’s offices have an online presence and many offer online appointment booking, cancelation, and medication repeat prescription ordering. Look around the practice and see how patients are called for their appointments. Even if you are familiar with where you are going, do take the extra time to really make yourself aware of the way everything is done.

2. Be visible

One mistake many people with hearing loss make is to attempt to fit in and not draw attention to themselves. Unless the staff is aware of your hearing problems, standard procedure is to assume that you have perfect hearing.  Make certain that you inform the staff at reception that you are hard of hearing.

3. Be ready to explain

Unless your health care professional is an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat physician, they may not be knowledgeable about hearing loss. Most medical professionals assume that hearing aids completely compensate for what deaf and hard of hearing people can’t hear.  Make sure your doctor’s office, including the receptionist and nurses, know you have hearing loss.

4. Know your rights

As a person with hearing loss you have the same rights as any other person. This means that doctors, nurses, and their staff have an obligation to ensure that you are able to attend any and all appointments with the same level of care and personal needs awareness as any other patient, regardless of their individual condition or challenges. It is not asking for preferential treatment, it is having accessibility to what is needed.

To make an appointment with the Hearing Doctors, call us at 630.752.9505.

People with diabetes are at risk for hearing loss–know your risks!

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and during this time, it’s important to focus on the link between diabetes and hearing loss.

To learn more, watch my video Diabetes and hearing loss

A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease. Also, of the 84 million adults in the U.S. who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose.

Right now we don’t know how diabetes is related to hearing loss. It’s possible that the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, in much the same way in which diabetes can damage the eyes and the kidneys. But more research needs to be done to discover why people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one has diabetes, be on the lookout for telltale signs of hearing loss such as:
• Frequently asking others to repeat themselves.
• Trouble following conversations that involve more than two people.
• Thinking that others are mumbling.
• Problems hearing in noisy places such as busy restaurants.
• Trouble hearing the voices of women and small children.
• Turning up the TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby.

If you notice any of these signs, seek out an audiologist immediately for a hearing exam. Or, call us at 630.752.9505.

You might be surprised to learn about these common causes of hearing loss…

Surprising Causes of Hearing Loss
There are many known risks for hearing loss and exposure to noise, of many kinds, is one of the leading causes. But you might be surprised to learn just how many common, everyday noise exposures you encounter in and around your own house! Knowing what these are and learning to take prevent measures, may very well spare your hearing in the future.

Watch this video to learn more: Surprising Causes of Hearing Loss

Blow dryers–hairdrying
A hairdryer near your head could be putting out 85 or more decibels of noise—the point that the National Institutes of Health says could put you at risk for hearing loss. You’d probably have to dry your hair for eight hours straight before it did any damage, but that loud part of your beauty regime could add up over time. The more you use blow dryers and the longer you use them, the more likely you are to have damage. Avoid the noise by learning the best ways to air-dry hair.

Loud music concerts
The ringing in your ears after a loud concert is a sure sign the music was too loud, but live shows aren’t the only culprit. Even the tunes coming through your headphones could damage your ears. Earbuds are typically more damaging than over-the-ear headphones because they rest deeper in your ear canal. And if you crank up the volume to drown out the noise around you, things get even riskier. You typically have to compete with the environmental noise to hear the music. Sticking with volume at or below 60 percent will keep the sound at a safe level, he says. If you can’t hear at that volume, buy sound-blocking headphones to cut out the outside noise.

High fever
As if a high fever weren’t bad enough, that elevated temperature could also damage the nerves in your inner ear, either because of inflammation or lack of oxygen. If you don’t get that oxygen to the nerves, they break down and they don’t work like they should. If you or your loved one has an elevated fever, call your doctor to determine the cause of the fever and the best remedy for it.

Your commute
Public transportation can be noisy, and sitting on a subway for half an hour to and from work could add up over time and hurt your ears. Plus, the siren of an emergency vehicle passing you on the street could be loud enough to do some damage. Don’t feel embarrassed to cover your ears when the firetruck passes by!

Exercise classes
The music blasting at your group workout class might power you through your sweat session, but it might be working your ears in a bad way. If you walk out of spin classes and your ears are buzzing, that’s an indication that you may have done damage to your ears. Download an app to your smartphone to measure the sound level around you throughout your day, especially in loud spots like the gym, he recommends. No one is telling you to stop working out, but consider using hearing protection if your fitness center is particularly noisy. Or find a gym that doesn’t rely on loud music during workouts.

Cooking appliances
Noisy appliances like blenders and coffee grinders could do damage to your ears over time. The more often you get those noisy blades going, the more trauma your ears go through. Hard-core chefs should consider ear protection, though the occasional smoothie isn’t anything to worry about. If you’re in the kitchen and cooking and using a blender all day, that’s a problem. For normal weekend chefs, not to worry. If you use it for ten seconds once a week, it probably won’t be a problem for you.

Power tools
The racket from lawn mowers, jackhammers, drills, and other power tools isn’t just a headache—it’s also a risk for hearing damage. You’ll need to protect your ears, but earplugs might not be the best choice. Putting fingers grimy from the tools so close to your ear canal could put you at risk for infection. Instead, pick up a pair of earmuffs from the hardware store. They go right over the ear, and they’re easy to take on and off.

Are your patients taking ototoxic medications?

So many of my patients who use hearing aids also take a number of medications. That’s why we do a thorough medical history with our patients to learn what medications they are taking because certain drugs and medications have been linked to hearing loss and tinnitus, too. Use of these “ototoxic” medications, if not managed properly, can result in permanent or temporary damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve:
• Aspirin and other painkillers
• Certain antibiotics
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
• Some cancer treatment medications
• Diuretics
I encourage patients who take — or may soon take — ototoxic medications to come in for frequent hearing screenings. By charting numbers on a regular basis, I’m able to detect changes more quickly and provide treatment and counseling more effectively.
If you have any questions about whether medications you are taking affect hearing loss, give us a call at 630.752.9505 or visit us at www.thehearingdoctors.com

Do you need a hearing exam? Call the Hearing Doctors at 630.752.9505

May is National Better Hearing Month and it’s a good time to look at the impact hearing loss has on Americans. Today, approximately 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss–more than half of them are under age 65.

We know that untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech and can negatively impact your social and emotional well-being. Hearing impairment can decrease your quality of life and have a negative impact on your personal relationships, your ability to be effective at work and your long-term overall health.

To learn more, watch the video: May is National Better Hearing Month

Signs you may have a hearing loss:

• Difficulty hearing people talk in noisy environments such as a restaurant, shopping mall, in a car, or at the movie theater.

• People seem to “mumble” all the time.

• Family, friends, or colleagues often have to repeat themselves when speaking with you.

• You have trouble hearing people when they are not facing you or are in another room.

• You have trouble following conversations.

• You have ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds in your ears.

There ARE ways to protect yourself from source of noise exposure

• You can wear hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs and custom hearing protection devices.

• Turn down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones.
• Walk away from the noise.

• And, other than hearing protection, do not put any-
thing in your ear!

If you have any symptoms, or you are over 50 years, I recommend you have a hearing exam to determine if you need help to improve your hearing.