The Five Stages of Hearing Loss

Stages of Hearing Loss

Helping you hear better is our goal, and because that is our focus every single day you can be sure we’re familiar with the process people go through as hearing becomes a challenge.

You can also be sure that we’re here to help no matter what stage you’re in.

From a quick hearing test that can show you what level of hearing loss you might have to testing out our new hearing aids, we can help you find the next step in your journey with ease!

This blog and cartoon originally appeared on www.starkey.com.

Our Favorite Places to Hear the Sounds of Summer

We’re over halfway thru the summer and our great state of Colorado has so many things to offer during the warm weather months. Whether it’s an outdoor adventure, live concert, or nature walk, we hope you’ve heard some new sounds this summer.

Here are our top six, favorite places to listen to the sounds of a Colorado summer:

Coors Field

There’s nothing like hearing the crack of a baseball hitting against the wooden bat. Our Colorado Rockies are currently 3rd in the National League West and have several games left in the season! Get some Rockpile tickets, grab a loaded up Rocky hotdog, and make your way South to Coors Field to experience a classic, American tradition.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

The nationally recognized music venue will send the musical vibes right through your skin and into your bones. Listening to some of your favorite music artists at Red Rocks creates memories that are sure to last a lifetime. Tickets sell out quick, but there are still spots left for some of their fantastic summer lineup artists!

Horsetooth Reservoir

Waves, sunshine, laughs, and the crunches of picnic snacks. What better way to spend your afternoon than with friends and family at Fort Collins’ outdoor favorite, Horsetooth Reservoir. Rent some kayaks, pack your lunches, and see what you can hear up at the reservoir.

Estes Park

With the rushing river running right through downtown, you want to make sure you can still the amazing sounds that nature provide. Being just a quick one-hour drive from Fort Collins, Estes Park is the perfect stay-cation location for getting out of your usual environment and listening to something new!

Old Town Fort Collins

Their Downtown Sessions Concert Series are now thru October 6th! Their next event is happening on August 4th and is sure to be a good time. Located in the heart of Old Town Square, the free event is from 6-9 pm and features live music, beverages, and family fun. Old Town also always promises an afternoon of fun. From the shops, to the food, there really is something for everyone to listen to.

Make sure you can hear the important things in life and give us a call at 970-266-8380 to make sure that you’re listening to the sounds of summer.

Who Says You Can’t Enjoy Music Because of Hearing Loss?

Music is loved and appreciated worldwide for its ability to bring people together and soothe the soul. People who suffer from hearing loss often mourn the loss of the ability to hear and appreciate music the way they did when their hearing was better. Until recently, the best that hearing aids could offer in the way of music enjoyment was a second setting that was based on (but a little different than) the wearer’s current hearing aid settings. This method was certainly better than nothing for the enjoyment of music, but still wasn’t up to par with what the wearer wished they could experience.

Now, for the first time ever, a hearing aid manufacturer has created a special circuit designed solely for the enjoyment of music. Starkey Hearing Technologies is proud to introduce this latest generation of technology — our Muse line of hearing instruments. Six years in development, Muse offers many new and exciting features for hearing impaired people. But its ability to recognize, process and duplicate music is what everyone is talking about.

Muse hearing aids let you enjoy music in two different ways

1. Through an automatic music feature that recognizes and classifies a melody.
2. Through a dedicated music memory that lets the wearer have total control over the way that music sounds to meet his/her own tastes.

Let’s take a look at both options in detail:

Automatic music feature
The automatic music feature is exactly what the name implies — it is the way that the hearing instrument automatically recognizes and categorizes sound based on the features of that sound. Specifically, the hearing instrument is searching for a melody to be present for at least four seconds and is looking for characteristics in the high pitches that are unique mostly to speech and to music. The wearer doesn’t have to change the settings of the hearing instrument in any way. Once the incoming sound is deemed to be “music,” the hearing aids adjust the response to give the wearer a fuller, richer enjoyment of music.

For instance…
Pretend the wearer is walking through a shopping mall with his spouse. Music is playing throughout the mall. When the hearing instruments recognize the criteria for music (remember that the hearing aids are always analyzing sound for the wearer’s best hearing), they will automatically change the setting of the hearing aid to give the best hearing for music. Now let’s imagine that the spouse suddenly says “Honey, I’d like to go into this store.” When the hearing aids recognize her speech, they will automatically shift out of “music” mode and into “speech” mode to ensure the wearer doesn’t miss anything important. It’s as simple as that!

Dedicated music memory
The new, dedicated music memory is exclusive to Starkey Hearing Technologies! The dedicated music memory has its own processor for music that is separate from the processor that is responsible for amplifying the other sounds of life. This is the first time a hearing aid has used two unique processors. To understand how this works, let’s take a look at the following schematic:

Listening to Music with Hearing Loss

1. Sound waves come into the hearing aid
2. A microphone detects sound and sends it to…
3. A computer chip (analog-to-digital converter) that turns mechanical sound waves into electrical energy
4. Normally it would go to Processor 1, which processes all sounds, including music
5. But now, if you’re specifically listening to music, it can go to Processor 2, our new music-only processor
 Note – you need to manually “switch” between processors via the hearing aids themselves or a remote
6. The processor analyzes and manipulates sound before sending it to…
7. A digital-to-analog converter that turns the electrical energy back into mechanical sound waves that the ear can detect. This converter sends that information to…
8. The receiver (speaker) which sends the sound into the…
9. Ear canal and into the brain

Muse is the first hearing aid to use two processors.
It is important to realize that, prior to the release of Muse, hearing aids only used the one processor. Its purpose was to give the wearer the best hearing for ALL sounds of life. There was no way to truly separate music from other sounds.

With the addition of the music processor, it is now possible for your hearing professional to “shape” the sound of music to your liking by giving them the ability to adjust the low pitches (bass), mid-pitches and high pitches (treble) of music. Because the music processor has only one job — the enhancement of music — it can focus its energy on that important task. The result is a cleaner, crisp, precise sound for the enjoyment of music.

Are you a music lover? With Muse, you still can be.
With the introduction of Muse and its automatic music feature, wearers can experience music like never before! Whether the wearer is a lover of classical music or simply enjoys being able to hear music in social settings, Starkey Hearing Technologies has music covered.

To try new Muse hearing aids for yourself, contact us today!

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com.

The Top Five Things to Consider when Purchasing Hearing Aids

Evolving technology within the hearing industry has allowed us to make remarkable changes and improvements to hearing solutions over the years. From traditional, analog instruments to more advanced devices, today’s hearing aids can offer benefits for your unique hearing loss needs. Aside from price, here are our top five recommendations for things to consider when purchasing hearing aids.

Fitting

Comfort should be one of your number one priorities when purchasing a hearing aid. If something does not fit the way it is supposed to, the less likely you are to use it and it is not going to serve its intended purpose. The Hearing Place will guarantee you a product that fits well, while improving your hearing.

Durability & Reliability

Hearing aids are not only an investment financially, but also an investment in your quality of life. Your active lifestyle should not be hindered because of your hearing devices. You need a product that is adaptable and reliable for when you are going about your usual habits. Whether you are skiing the Rocky Mountains in the winter, or out in the Colorado sun during the summer, you want your hearing aid to handle all kinds of situations. Financially, you want to make sure that the device is within your budget and will be durable for years to come.

Warranty & Repair

Devices often come with part warranties for both cosmetic and functional components of the hearing aid. Checking into if your specific device has either a repair or warranty program in case anything were to happen will help protect your hearing and your wallet.

Technology

Hearing aid manufacturers have heavily invested in developing new technology and features for their devices. Now, hearing aids can offer things from directional microphones, and remote controls to Bluetooth capabilities. We will help evaluate your lifestyle to see what type of hearing aid best suits your needs.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance policies can play a large part when deciding on hearing aids. The quality of your hearing ultimately impacts the quality of your life. We can work with you to see what exactly will be covered under your insurance plan and how we can help you find the right solution within your budget.

Purchasing a hearing aid can often seem like a daunting task. Give us a call at 970-266-8380 or visit our website to schedule your next visit to The Hearing Place for guidance on hearing devices.

Listening Fatigue

Hearing loss is more than difficulty understanding speech and hearing sound. It also makes you extremely tired; listening takes a lot of effort and energy. People with normal hearing don’t really think about the fact that listening can be fatiguing and frustrating. The Better Hearing Institute estimates that societal costs of untreated hearing loss result in $56 billion wasted per year in the United States and 92 billion euros in Europe. This high cost was said to mainly be due to lost productivity at work, much of which is due to fatigue caused by coping with hearing loss.

A survey by the Danish Institute for Social Research found that as many as one in five people suffering from hearing loss give up on the job market, and for those who do work, almost 15 percent are so fatigued by the end of the day they have no energy left for leisurely pursuits.

Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research at the National Deaf Children’s Society in the United Kingdom, paints an accurate picture of what listening fatigue is like in his blog: concentration fatigue.

It’s about the energy involved in lip-reading and being attentive all day long. Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context. And then thinking of something intelligent to say in response to an invariably random question. It’s like doing jigsaws,  Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time.”

Click here for some tips to combat listening fatigue!

8 Things Untreated Hearing Loss Can Impact

Hearing loss is as unique to each person as a fingerprint. No one person has the same type of loss in each ear, nor do people get hearing loss the same way. But, what everyone with hearing has in common are the 8 possible things that hearing loss can indirectly or directly affect.

 

  1. VocabularyWith untreated hearing loss, various sounds and letters lose frequencies. Each letter and verbal sound corresponds to a unique frequency range, and when one loses the ability to hear that range, two things happen. First, all the sounds, letters and words that involve those frequencies are more difficult to hear and exceptionally harder to understand or identify. Secondly, when hearing loss is left untreated as time goes on, the sounds associated with those frequencies begin to lose their crispness. Some may notice they skip over S’s, leaving out “ing” endings or even stumbling over an entire word itself. The ears and brain communicate together to help produce words clearly, and if certain sounds are no longer heard, the brain’s ability to produce the words clearly and accurately is impaired.

     

  2. VoiceFor some people with untreated hearing loss, their auditory loss may actually influence and change the way their voice sounds all together — to themselves and to others. For example, when I meet new people, the first thing they say is, “You have an accent. Where are you from?” This has been going on for nearly six years. I have a running tally of countries that people guess, and so far England and Australia are the top contenders, although I get some outliers such as Poland, Finland and most recently South Africa.

     

    The other way untreated hearing loss can influence someone’s voice is the perceived volume at which they talk. With untreated hearing loss, even someone’s own voice sounds soft, and as they speak louder and louder to compensate for it, the “inside voice” becomes the “outside voice.” In short, shouting is now speaking. This is something many may not realize they are doing, and for many it takes hearing aids to realize just how loud they’ve been talking.

     

  3. Enjoying Music and MoviesWith untreated hearing loss, closed captions become a necessity for many as hearing loss begins to take away the ability to understand speech and sounds in movies, especially those where the actors aren’t facing the audience, the dialogue is spoken in romantic soft whispers, the environment is dark, the actors have facial hair or wear masks, there are loud explosions, rushing waters or roaring fires and crashing cars. Essentially, if  watching a drama, action, romance or comedy, ones ears might be making enjoyment impossible.

     

    So much time is being spent trying to understand what is said that eventually people lose track of what’s going on, and might decide to give up and stare at the screen blankly. I do that about 20 minutes in, and if it’s a comedy, I mask my being lost by laughing when the audience does. It’s not so great when I start anticipating laughter, laugh myself and then it’s dead silent as everyone stares at me.

     

  4. Parties, Bars and RestaurantsTwo words: Too Loud! Step into any loud, noisy environment and try to hold a conversation with someone, or, even worse, a group of people. Even for people without hearing loss, this can be hard. For those with untreated hearing loss, the clanging dishes, thumping music, hundreds of conversations going on at once, and the hardwood floors often found in such environments, these situations make listening impossible. When loud ambient noises overwhelm the ears, they cannot focus on speech, even if it’s nearby.

     

    For situations like this, our hearing aids have a Voice iQ feature that allows for noise control. Another feature, Speech ID, helps ensure that speech is protected and enhanced while background noise is lowered. With Halo hearing aids, people can also create auto-adjustable programs for various locations so that they never have to worry about an environment being too distracting or that it’ll take 15 minutes to re-set their hearing aids the way they want them.

     

  5. Work PerformanceA study by Sergei Kochkin in 2010 found a $14,000 income difference between adults with mild and severe untreated hearing loss. The study also found that people with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 annually. As the age of retirement extends past 65, so too does the number of employees with hearing loss. Hearing loss can hurt work performance in a variety of ways including difficulty hearing at important meetings or on calls, trouble interacting with employees at work through conversation and missing important auditory announcements. Untreated hearing loss can also lead to listening fatigue at work, affect ability to focus and retain information, and impact attitude as stress and lack of energy become overwhelming, all of which can be detrimental to overall production.

     

  6. Love and FriendshipsRelationships with untreated hearing loss can be challenging as conversations and social outings are not conductive to understanding speech. Restaurants, bars and other loud, group environments make it difficult not only to hear but also to understand what is being said and who is speaking. Untreated hearing loss can thus become a stressful issue for not only the one with untreated hearing loss but for that person’s friends and loved ones. Over time, this may even lead to the person with untreated hearing loss to become isolated and avoid social events.

     

  7. Cognitive HealthUntreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s and overall declines in cognitive capabilities. A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins released in 2013 found that those with a hearing impairment experience a 30-to-40-percent greater decline in cognitive abilities when compared to their counterparts without hearing loss. That same study also found adults with hearing loss develop significant impairments to their cognitive abilities 3.2 years earlier than adults with normal hearing. Another study from 2011 found that adults with untreated hearing loss were two, three or five times more likely to develop dementia depending on the severity of their hearing loss.

     

  8. Safety

Most alarms and safety-related products have both auditory and visual elements, just not always together. For those with untreated hearing loss, not being able to hear a fire alarm or tornado siren at the right time can be dangerous. The same can be said of carbon monoxide indicators and other emergency signals. Untreated hearing loss can significantly impair one’s ability to respond and process through an emergent situation. Read more about hearing loss and emergencies here.

How to Properly Clean and Care for Your Hearing Aids

Just like cars, hearing aids require a certain degree of routine maintenance to keep them functioning at optimal capacity. And while some  maintenance items should be used only by the manufacturer or by us, there are many other preventative measures that you can complete regularly to ensure that your hearing aid is at full-functioning capacity!

Below we examine three main causes or hearing aid problems and offer cleaning and care tips to help!

Battling Ear Wax
Ear wax is often described as the hearing aid’s worst enemy, and rightfully so as the most common cause for hearing aid repairs across the industry. While ear wax is a healthy, normal occurrence in the ear canal, it can create a number of problems for a hearing aid. The ear canal contains not only the solid or soft components of ear wax but also vapor that can migrate deep into the hearing aid where it can become solid and settle on critical mechanical components.

What you can do:

  • Clean your hearing aids every morning: In order to prevent wax from clogging critical components of your hearing aids, such as the microphones or receivers, it is important to wipe off the hearing aid each morning. Tissues should not be used if they contain aloe or lotions, and cleaning cloths should be cleaned regularly to avoid re-depositing of wax or other debris. It is best to wipe hearing aids in the morning when the wax has had the opportunity to dry and will be easier to remove.
  • Don’t wipe onto the microphone ports: Be careful to not wipe debris onto the microphone ports from another part of the aid.
  • Take care of your hearing aid tubing: When hearing aids are fit with either a thin tube or standard-sized earmold tubing, often times you will receive a tool used to clean the tubing when it is removed from the hearing aid itself. This cleaning should be performed regularly in order to prevent wax buildup within the tubing.

Beating Water
Any exposure to water, humidity, condensation or perspiration can cause serious damage to a hearing aid. Our hearing aids use Surface™ Nanoshield moisture and wax repellant to help repel water, oils and debris. But as with any technology, nothing is 100 percent safe. If your hearing aids are accidentally exposed to large amounts of moisture, contact your hearing professional right away.

While accidental immersion in a bath or swimming pool can happen, preventative measures can help guard from moisture buildup within the device during normal usage.

  • Avoid accidental exposure to water: Remove hearing aids when planning to swim or when planning to interact with large bodies of water. Store hearing aids in their storage case and keep somewhere cool and shady to avoid condensation and overheating.
  • Keep a routine: Try to adhere to a routine when it comes to your hearing aids to help avoid accidents. For example, if you typically shower first thing in the morning, always leave your hearing aids in their storage case in the same place every time (not in the bathroom) in order to avoid forgetting to take them out before bathing or accidentally knocking them into the sink or toilet.
  • Remove condensation in tubing: Moisture can collect on the inside of earmold tubing through condensation as warm moist air from the ear canal migrates out to the cooler tubing walls exposed to the environment. If moisture is noted in the tubing of a standard BTE hearing aid, a tube blower may be used to force the moisture out of the tubing after removing the tubing from the earhook.
  • Open battery doors at night: At night, hearing aid battery doors should be left open to allow air to flow through the device; this has the added benefit of preserving battery life. Ideally, hearing aids should be stored in a dehumidifying container. These serve not only as a safe nighttime storage container but also act as a moisture absorbing environment to help draw moisture from the devices into moisture absorbing crystals or packs. NOTE: follow proper use and maintenance instructions of dehumidifying devices as some may require reactivation or replacement parts after a certain amount of usage.

Avoiding Physical Damage
To prevent damage, hearing aids should be stored in a consistent, safe manner whenever they’re not in use. They should be placed out of the reach of small children and pets, as animals tend to be drawn to the devices due to the lingering human scent.

When damage occurs, gather all components of the hearing device and schedule an appointment with your professional as soon as possible.

If there is damage to the casing, the devices should not be worn as sharp edges may cause irritation or abrasion to the ear and surrounding areas.

Damage to the tubing, either tears or pinches, should be addressed as soon as possible as such damages can have severe effects on the sound quality of the hearing device

 

Make sure to utilize these tips to get the most out of your hearing aids and to keep them in optimal working condition. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us by phone or email today!

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com

Sensorineural Hearing Loss & the Common Causes

Hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathway from the inner ear to the brain is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. Over 90% of all hearing loss can be attributed to this with over 200,000 cases in the United States per year. It is considered a chronic hearing issue and can last for years or even be a lifelong condition. Here are some common causes, and ways to help prevent sensorineural hearing loss.
Aging

Your body changes as you age. Hearing loss is sometimes inevitable for older individuals, but making sure you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help slow the process.

Noise Exposure

If it hurts your ears, it is probably hurting your hearing. Protect your ears against firearms, heavy machinery, music, and other loud noises to help prevent sensorineural hearing loss. Simple ear plugs can provide great protection.

Head Trauma

Anytime your body experiences a significant fall, concussion, or sports related injury, your hearing system can suffer as a result. When partaking in aggressive or fast-paced activities, make sure to wear the proper equipment to protect your body.

Virus or Disease

High fevers, measles, meningitis, and mumps have been shown to reduce hearing abilities.

Genetics

If hearing loss runs in your family, we recommend having your hearing regularly checked.

Ototoxicity

Certain medications like aspirin, antibiotics, and anti-cancerous drugs can have hearing loss repercussions. Converse with your doctor about the risks involved with taking medications. Read more on the effects of certain medications and prescriptions.

Treatments can help, but the condition cannot be cured and requires medical diagnosis. Contact us today at 970-266-8380 or http://thehearingplaceco.com/contact/ for more information.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Hearing Care Follow-up Appointment

Like your car, teeth, and even your financial portfolio, your hearing aids and hearing health can benefit from routine care and maintenance. After a hearing aid fitting, your hearing healthcare professional will likely recommend follow-up appointments. These routine visits offer great opportunities to ask your hearing professional questions, have maintenance performed on your hearing aids, and keep you hearing your best.

Here are a few suggestions to make the most of these visits and maximize your time spent with your hearing professional:

Keep a journal

Adjusting to a new pair of hearing aids can be challenging. You will likely experience sounds that you have not heard in a long time, and find yourself paying closer attention to your surroundings. Before each follow-up visit, set aside some time to reflect upon—and take notes regarding—your experiences. Ask yourself if there are any new sounds that you have heard since you began wearing your devices, or if you have visited a new place that you were hesitant to go to without hearing aids. Ask your friends and family members how the hearing aids have affected their communication with you. And make note of environments or situations where your hearing aids work great and where you wished they performed better. Finally, write down any concerns or questions that have arisen. The more details you can share with your provider, the better – as they’ll be able to adjust settings and offer advice to improve listening quality and satisfaction!

Bring a third party

It can be very helpful to bring a friend or family member along to your appointments. Your loved ones likely have additional insight and unique perspectives to offer your hearing professional about your adjustment to hearing aids.

Research has shown that we immediately forget 50 percent of what we hear at our healthcare appointments. Maximize your time at the appointment by asking a third party to take notes or help you remember any important information.

Build a relationship

Your hearing professional can be one of your biggest advocates in your journey to better hearing. You will continue to have a relationship with your provider long after the hearing aids have been purchased. They will help you clean and maintain your hearing aids, answer any questions you have, and provide counseling during this time of adjustment. They can also give you suggestions for aural rehabilitation, and keep you updated on changing technology. It is important to find a professional you can trust. Continue to visit them for routine follow-up appointments.

In between visits, it’s important to take preventative measures to ensure that your hearing aids are well-maintained. Be sure to check here for tips to keep your devices in optimal condition!

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com

Tips for Exercising with Hearing Aids

Everyday routines like exercising can cause a bit of anxiety when you first start wearing hearing aids. Don’t let it become an excuse to skip the gym or not join a local rec team sport. Here’s how to keep your hearing aids in shape while you keep yourself in shape.

Keep Your Hearing Aids Dry

Keeping your hearing aids dry is the biggest challenge of all during exercise. Moisture is enemy number one to hearing aids and sweat is the most common source. Behind the ear hearing aids are vulnerable to sweat dripping onto the top of them and seeping inside.

While many hearing aids are moisture resistant these days, this feature is not 100 percent effective over their lifespan. Hearing aid sweat bands can capture sweat before it reaches the hearing aid. They’re worth the investment of protecting your hearing aids and are easy to wash like other exercise clothing.

If you’re still feeling uneasy about moister getting to your hearing aids, a hearing aid dehumidifier will clear out any remaining moisture. Alternatively, storing your hearing aids in a bag of raw rice that won’t get stuck in your hearing aids is another way to clear out moisture.

Protect Your Hearing Aids During Exercise

Even the best-fitted hearing aids can come loose doing some intense exercises, risking damage. A hearing aid sleeve made of nylon or spandex will cover the hearing aid and has a cord and clip to keep your hearing aids in place. If one falls out during exercise, it’s easy to find and place it back.

A hearing aid clip is similar but only attaches to your hearing aids and clips onto your clothes (no moisture protection). Wearing exercise clothing without hoods creates less of a chance of your hearing aids being disturbed during exercise. If your exercise or sport requires a helmet, size it out to fit well with your hearing aids.

Cleaning Your Hearing Aids

It sounds like common sense, but staying on top of cleaning moisture and dirt off your hearing aids will make them last longer. A compressed air canister will clear off leftover moisture and a simple cleaning kit will remove debris.

The benefits of being able to hear properly during these activities is a huge and will help your performance. Exercising with hearing aids can add a few extra steps to staying fit or playing your favorite sport, but the results for yourself and your hearing aids are worth it.