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We’d Like to Welcome Kathryn Otto to the Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers Team!

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We’d like to welcome Kathryn A. Otto, MA, CCC-A to Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers!
 
Kathy graduated from Glenbard West High School and went on to complete her undergraduate work at The University of Iowa, where she received her BA in Speech and Hearing Sciences. She then attended Northwestern University and earned her MA in Audiology and Hearing Impairment. Chicago afforded many clinical opportunities while in grad school, including working at Hines VA Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hospital, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She completed her certification working at the Dizziness and Balance Center in Glenview.
 
After relocating to Iowa, she worked with an ENT group and started her own hearing aid practice. After moving back to the Chicago area, Kathy returned to her alma mater, Northwestern, to lecture and supervise graduate students. She has also worked with Dr. Richard Wiet at the Chicago Otology Group (now the Ear Institute of Chicago) and Drs. Richard Bulger and James Rejowski (formerly York ENT, S.C.). Kathy joined Auditory Services, Inc. in 2009 where she worked until October, 2016.
 

When she’s not working with patients, she’s either singing with The Elizabethans (where they perform for various assisted living facilities and local groups) or at the barn, pursing her passion for the sport of eventing with her horses.

 

We are too excited to have Kathy as our newest member of the Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers team!

Why Are The Human Ears Shaped That Way?

assistive listening device, assistive listening devices, digital hearing aids, ear doctor, ear specialist, get fitted for a hearing aid, get fitted for hearing aid, hearing aid, hearing aid batteries, hearing aid battery, hearing aid fitting ,hearing aid fittings, hearing aid products, hearing aid repair, hearing aid repairs, hearing aid test, hearing aid testing, hearing aid tests, hearing devices, hearing doctor, hearing protection, hearing specialist, programmable hearing aids, starkey hearing aid, starkey hearing aids, starky hearing aid, starky hearing aidsBurning Question: Why are our ears shaped the way they are?

It’s easy to poke fun at someone with big ears, but human bodies have an interesting way of evolving to optimize their effectiveness. One expert, Todd Ricketts, director of graduate studies in the department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, sounds off on how the shape of our ears muffles noises from behind and why large flaps may actually make someone a better listener.

Size Matters

The shape of the ear has a big effect on how one hears, and since we’re only born with one pair, we get used to the sounds they deliver to the eardrum and eventually to the brain, says Dr. Ricketts, who does research into hearing aids. While some animals have rotating ears, many scientists have speculated that humans, at the top of the food chain, don’t need ear functions with up-down precision hearing, “since we’re not likely to be attacked from above or carried off by a bird,” Dr. Ricketts notes.

The ear’s outer flap, called the pinna, acts as a sound-gatherer, “a bit like a horn,” Dr. Ricketts says. That horn is pointed slightly to the front, allowing the ear to gather more sound from what it is facing rather than from what is behind. “The sounds from the back are sort of like shadows, and they don’t travel so well around the ear flaps,” Dr. Ricketts says.

Alfred E. Neuman-size ear flaps should help drown out ambient noise behind a person, thus allowing him to hear the person he is facing better. People with flatter ears, on the other hand, can conceivably pick up sound from behind better, “which you could argue is a good monitoring ability,” the professor says. No matter your ear shape, to hear more clearly when speaking with someone face to face, simply cup the pinnas with your hands to concentrate the oncoming sound.

Extra Benefits

The distance between our two ears helps people locate where a sound is coming from. The little ridges and folds that most people have on their pinnas alter the frequencies of sounds and also help us better locate the initiation of the sound. Whether the top of your ear is fully curled or has bumps or dents, “everyone has a unique sound signature,” says the professor.

Earlobe shapes—whether attached or low-hanging—tend to be genetic and haven’t been shown to affect acoustic ability, notes the professor. They are, however, loaded with nerves, “which is why many people feel a lot of sensation around their ears,” he says. Scientists accept that earlobes have no real biologic function, Dr. Ricketts admits.

Down the Canal

The swirly shape of the ear leads sound down into the auditory canal, which acts as an amplifier. “Humans have a natural amplification in the 2,000- to 4,000-Hz range, which is where the difference between consonant and vowel sounds comes into play,” says Dr. Ricketts.

At the end of the canal, the soft tympanic membrane, also called the eardrum, is both protected and hypersensitive to sound. If it should tear, “it has the unusual ability to heal on its own,” Dr. Ricketts says.

Under Pressure

In a healthy ear, after sound travels through the canal, pressure changes push and pull on the eardrum, causing it to vibrate and register vibrations as music, voices or noise. Past the tympanic membrane is the tympanic cavity, where small bones sit in an air pocket along with the Eustachian tubes, which help equalize pressure. Then there is the inner ear, a space filled with fluid that transmits sound waves to the sensory ear organ and ultimately the brain.

Intelligent Design

The ear is a self-cleaning, self-oiling machine, “which is why doctors will tell you not to shove a Q-tip in there,” says Dr. Ricketts, though he admits to sometimes succumbing to this guilty pleasure. Placing objects inside the ear can impact ear wax, which is meant to capture and expel dirt. “Cleaning your ear can actually dampen your hearing,” cautions the professor. Despite their rather odd shape, “ears do a pretty good job for what they are meant to do,” says Dr. Ricketts.

Do you have even more questions about the shape of your ear? Or even hearing loss and how you can handle it? Contact us at Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers as soon as possible!


5 Halloween Safety Tips For Children With Hearing Loss

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Halloween marks the most exciting night of the year for many children. Decked out in

their new princess or superhero costumes, kids fill the streets in a hurried effort to

amass buckets full of treats. Unfortunately, Halloween can also be a dangerous holiday

for children. This is especially true to children who have hearing loss.

The following 5 tips will help children with hearing loss enjoy a fun and safe Halloween

night.

1. Check Hearing Aids

Check hearing aids before you leave to ensure they are functioning properly. Take extra

batteries in case you need to change them during your time out.

2. Make Sure Costumes Fit Properly

Avoid costumes that include masks, hats, scarves or other accessories that could

dislodge hearing aids, cover the hearing aid microphones or obstruct your child’s vision.

Costumes and accessories should fit well to maintain optimal hearing and avoid blocked

vision, trips and falls.

3. Stay Close

Children under the age of 13 should be accompanied by an adult. Keep an eye out for

potential dangers that may be overlooked with the added excitement of trick or treating.

Children with hearing loss may not be able to hear if a car is idling, and may

unknowingly walk in front of cars assuming they are parked with the engine off. Always

use sidewalks and crosswalks and encourage children to walk rather than run between

houses.

4. Walk in a Group

Children that can safely trick or treat without adult supervision should stay with a group

of at least three other children. Establish a plan and outline the route the children will

take before they leave. Make sure each child in the group is familiar with the route.

Agree on an arranged meeting place to check in with them and make sure you know

when to expect to have them home.

5. Wear Reflective Clothing and Bright Colors

Give the children flashlights and apply reflective tape to costumes and treat bags to help

pedestrians and drivers see your children. Wearing brightly colored costumes will make

keep children visible.

Following these simple tips will help kids and parents enjoy a memorable and most

importantly, a safe Halloween night!


Hearing On and Off the Field: Tyson Gillies

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It’s the bottom of the sixth inning, and the crowd’s deafening cheers fill my head. The pitcher throws a curve ball, and my teammate misses, striking out before the ball even hits the catcher’s glove. Do I steal? Do I stay? Will he get the next hit? Will it be a line drive? Well, if it’s a homerun, I should run. What if it’s not?

As I watch the pitcher wind up for the second pitch, options run through my head in fast forward. My feet dance in rhythm with my thoughts, toes scuffing up dust as I bounce off and on first base.  And as my feet shift heel to toe, my mind races, analyzing all the plays, all the ways that next pitch could turn out, all the different things that could happen should the bat and ball meet. I can’t be sure. I should steal now. It’s never safe to steal, but here we go.  The ball flies out the pitcher’s hand as my feet push off the base and race towards second. I’m sprinting fast, second base getting closer and closer, and yet when I get there, all I hear is “OUT!” from the umpire. And then I hear the cruelty of the crowd.

This is the scene I imagine as San Antonio Mission’s outfielder Tyson Gillies, 26, explains what can happen on the field when he makes a mistake.

“It’s like they can’t see past it,” Gillies said. “People didn’t want to take a chance on me when I started out because I came with certain risks. They couldn’t see past my hearing loss. So now, when I make a mistake on the field, it’s not just a bad call by a player, it’s all about whether or not I heard the play at all. When I make a mistake, it’s all they see.”

The Early Days

Tyson Gillies was born with hearing loss, but he was almost 5-years-old by the time he was finally tested.  “My lip reading was so good, I had everyone fooled,” he said.

In school, his teachers thought he wasn’t listening and often chastised him for not paying attention. “They didn’t know what to do with me,” he said. “In kindergarten, for example, I wouldn’t hear everything so I’d memorize all the activities for each day. I knew when it was Monday or Friday based on what we were doing. I knew when snack time was, when naptime was and what came next. I was always one step ahead, so no one could see that I was different from the other kids. But, when activities got changed, I didn’t know what to do and would get so frustrated that I’d just lose it.”

But what Gillies’ teachers thought to be bad behavior was actually a severe cookie-bite hearing loss in both ears. Testing showed that hearing aids were a necessity.

Growing up in a small community about four hours outside of Vancouver, Canada, Gillies said he faced a lot of teasing and bullying because of his hearing aids. “It was hard just being different…being the outcast,” he said.  “I was the only one. No one had hearing aids or knew what they were. Kids are always judgmental with anything different, but even adults would ask what the things on my ears were.”

Until about tenth grade, Gillies said he was a homebody, avoiding social outings and doing anything he could to hide his hearing aids. He kept his hair long and wore beanies to hide the devices. “I went through a lot of hearing aids when I was younger,” he said. “ Kids threw one pair on top of a roof in third grade, but I threw some out of our apartment’s windows or flushed them down the toilet. I didn’t want to wear them.”

After a while though, Gillies said the insecurities and isolation faded as he accepted how much he needed the hearing aids. “They just became part of who I am,” he said.

Now, he’s open about his hearing loss and is the first to tell others about his hearing aids or event to make a joke about them. “When you laugh about it or bring it up before anyone else can,” Gillies said, “people are just more comfortable around you. If you say it first, it’s like it’s no longer an issue.”

Hearing Baseball: Hardships and Home Runs

Today, Gillies is a professional baseball player, a centerfielder for the San Antonio Missions in Texas. The Seattle Mariners originally signed him in 2007 before being traded in a major deal to the Phillies in 2009.

Gillies never saw himself playing pro ball until later in life, and if you ask him, he’s the first to admit the real reason he got started in the game: “I was waiting for hockey season.” Originally, Gillies was trained to be the quarterback in high school, but he was turned away when his hearing aids wouldn’t fit inside the helmet. “They never even took a chance on me…that was the last time I ever let anyone put ‘can’t’ in my head,” Gillies said of the experience. Despite his initial interest in baseball, Gillies quickly proved himself a powerhouse of athleticism and talent throughout high school and during his first year of junior college at Iowa Western Community College.  He was drafted after only a year at Iowa and has been playing professionally ever since.

Despite his talent on the field, Gillies’ hearing loss has affected the way others see and treat him as a player. “People always go for the ears when I tell them I can’t hear, and that’s the worst,” he said. “ I can’t hear them and don’t respond, so they end up thinking I’m being a jerk. It’s something I wish I could explain to everyone, especially the fans that are yelling behind me. They end up thinking I’m rude, but in reality I just haven’t heard them so I don’t respond.”

With coaches, Gillies said he’s had some great ones and some who weren’t quite sure how to work with him or who understood how his hearing loss impacted him as a player.

He recalled how one coach interacted with him after signing with the Mariners. “One of my coaches would always go up to me, talk really slow, use hand signals and say, ‘You. Are. Going. To Right Field,” Gillies said. “He did it everyday, so finally I was like I need to do something. One day when he got done telling me where to go, I said, ‘Ok. Oh, how’s your family? Your friends? How was your weekend?’ and he just stared at me in shock. It was like he finally understood that I was actually capable at that point, that my hearing loss didn’t make disabled or different.”

Gillies said the automatic assumption that he’s incapable because he has hearing loss is one of the biggest obstacles he’s faced as a ball player. “I’ve always worked like crazy to be a powerhouse on the field so that no one can say anything about my hearing loss, and after a while, people start to forget I’m hearing impaired and start talking about how I play instead,” he said. “When something happens that puts focus back on my hearing loss, it’ s like oh great, here we go again. I just try to tell myself it’s going to get better and that I can’t let it hold me back.”

“If you don’t’ act like you have a disability, no one else will,” said Gillies’ girlfriend Caitlin Connolly. “He just puts it out there before anyone else can and makes it obvious before there is even an issue. In all the sports he’s played, he’s never really seemed different because it’s so much unspoken communication. He’s always one step ahead of everyone else, playing out scenarios before they happen so that when they do, he’s ready.”

But, what Connolly is amazed at isn’t Gillies openness about his hearing loss; it’s how he handles difficult and negative situations. “He has such a strong wall, and he is incredible at keeping it inside, but just some of the things I’ve heard at games…it’s disgusting,” she said. “Some of the players used to call him Radio when he first started, but the fans are honestly the worst. They’ll use his hearing loss and are ready to blame him for missing a ball, shouting, “Did you not hear the ball? Didn’t you hear the play?’ It’s the only thing they look to when something goes wrong.”

Commentators, Gillies said, will do the same thing, citing his hearing loss as an excuse for the way a play went or the loss of a run. While the teasing incites flashbacks from growing up, Gillies said he does his best to brush it off. “Because of my hearing loss there are insecurities and frustrations that come with it, but I just try to remember that it’s all part of the game,” Gillies said.

“Everybody has to deal with teasing and taunts. I just try to remember how far I’ve come and what I’ve done to overcome it. I always tell myself to stop feeling sorry for myself, that it could be so much worse and that I should be thankful for what I have.”

Helpful Hearing Aids

Gillies’ has worn numerous hearing aids throughout his life, and said that as he got older he tried to always ensure his hearing aids were the latest technology. “He just has a better quality of life overall,” Connolly said of what hearing aids do for Gillies. “Whether it’s sports or communicating with friends, they make him so much more confident and open. Without them it’s like he’s a different person.”

In May, Gillies’ broke his hearing aids; a 2012 set of Starkey completely-in-the-canal devices, Connolly said it was like his world just fell apart.

“I watched it happen and could see what a setback it was for him,” she said. “He is such a positive person, but watching him struggle with the older technology was really hard. The older hearing aids were holding him back. When he reached out to Starkey and they invited him to come to Minnesota, it was a miracle. He was so excited, and I was just sitting there crying when I found out because I was so happy for him.”

Two Whole New Worlds

Neither cried at the end of the Starkey hearing appointment, but both were all smiles when they found out that Starkey Hearing Technologies CEO Bill Austin had worked with his team to create not one, but two hearing aids for Gillies to walk away with.

“I was shocked when I heard them say he was getting two pairs, “ Connolly said. “We just weren’t expecting that. We were already so grateful, but when that happened…we were just speechless.”

For on the field, Gillies was fit with invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) SoundLens2 hearing aids to help block out wind interference and be virtually unnoticeable while playing or practicing baseball. While his former hearing aids were unable to hear sounds well from behind and to the sides, Gillies said he’s amazed at how clear and easy he can hear and understand sound from every direction. The goal with the SoundLens2 devices was to enable Gillies to have optimal hearing without any interference while playing, especially while wearing hats or helmets.

For off the field, Gillies has receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) Made for iPhone hearing aids that will offer him power, personalization capabilities, the latest in hearing aid technology and the ability to create geo-tagged memories, which is key with upcoming travel plans to North Carolina, Canada and possibly Asia

“I’m on the road a lot for baseball, so this is going to be amazing when talking on the phone while traveling,” Gillies said. “I called my mom last night and she was in tears because she was so happy for me,” he said after a night wearing the Halos. “It was incredible how clear her voice was, and even last night when we went out in Minneapolis to loud restaurants with live music, I could hear and understand so much.”

“He gives people hope,” Connolly said of Gillies. “Here he is, this successful and talented athlete with hearing loss. People look at him and see how far he’s come with hearing loss and they see that in the end it doesn’t mean anything, that it doesn’t stop him from going after what he wants.”

Hearing loss comes in all shapes, sizes and activities! Here at Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers we want you to hear better for more fulfilling life! Contact us to set up a hearing consultation to see what we can do for YOU!


Hearing Aids Reinvigorate Birding, among other things!

assistive listening device, assistive listening devices, digital hearing aids, ear doctor, ear specialist, get fitted for a hearing aid, get fitted for hearing aid, hearing aid, hearing aid batteries, hearing aid battery, hearing aid fitting ,hearing aid fittings, hearing aid products, hearing aid repair, hearing aid repairs, hearing aid test, hearing aid testing, hearing aid tests, hearing devices, hearing doctor, hearing protection, hearing specialist, programmable hearing aids, starkey hearing aid, starkey hearing aids, starky hearing aid, starky hearing aidsLittle by little, Ol’ Clark is joining his 2002 Toyota Camry with 408,000 miles in being replaced by a continuing array of parts.

The Toyota just got new tires, and its driver now has, at age 84, his first hearing aids.

I didn’t think I needed them, but my wife, tired of repeating herself, thought differently. I hate to admit it, but she was correct — as usual.

The new hearing aids join reading glasses, 10 total joint replacements, three steel bands to hold my right femur together, a pacemaker and a vaporized prostate. I continue to grow younger with each new part and system upgrade.

My Toyota has had new motor mounts, fans, a radiator, an air conditioning compressor, a fuel pump, a muffler, a couple of belts, struts, brakes and probably seven sets of tires replaced in its 15 years on birding trips down 90 percent of the gravel roads in our state.

The Camry’s engine still purrs along but does need the occasional quart of oil, and the transmission hiccups on occasion, as does its driver when he eats too fast — so we both are forced to slow up a bit from time to time.

The hearing aids were much slower in coming than reading glasses. By the time I was 47, my arms had grown far too short to hold the newspaper at a readable distance. I could still see like an eagle at 2 miles, but I could not be sure it was an eagle at 3 feet.

So I have reading glasses stashed in places such as the car, my desk, my living room chair, my bedside, the “throne room,” where I can read the paper in peace, and in my left pants pocket.

Now come the new devices, even ones Made for iPhone. Though I refused to consider them for years, I knew for more years than I care to admit that I needed to swallow my ego and rejoin the world I was missing because I couldn’t hear enough to understand normal conversation.

I hadn’t heard a bird song other than nearby crows, nuthatches, blue jays and the occasional rooster for the past decade.

Even worse, in recent years, I heard less and less of funny lines in the theater, often laughing with the audience at jokes I failed to hear. I laughed because others laughed. The jokes must have been funny.

I turned up radio and the television too loud for my family, and I became the master of the phrase, “Say again, please.” I called it “selective hearing.” It was the term selected.

How does a guy wind up unable to hear any frequency higher than low thunder?

I have to blame outside forces. First, I spent three years in the Army around noise — for two years in the artillery at Fort Hood, Texas, and a third year in Korea around heavy equipment, driving a truck up and down mountains, and working on an airstrip.

Second, I refereed football, basketball and wrestling for almost 40 years, often more than 150 dates a year. That’s at least 5,000 contests where I blew the whistle at least 100 times a game — half a million times, maybe twice that many.

Every whistle blast hit the ears full bore. I haven’t tooted the whistle for 20-plus years, but I haven’t heard high-frequency bird songs for at least that long.

You learn to bird by movement, silhouette and field marks and try to bird with someone who can hear. Now — if I can retrain my brain to sort out what I can now hear, my bird list can only grow. We’ll see if you can retrain 84-year-old ears — and their owner.

In the meantime, I can hear every joke and every note almost too loud in the theater these days. In fact, I can hear people turning the page of their program 10 rows away. Now when I laugh, there is a reason.

’Tis good to be back in the real world.

Do you feel like you are missing out on life’s important moments? Contact Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers today to schedule a hearing assessment as soon as possible.


Why did Apple get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7?

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Welcome to your hearable future. At the launch of the iPhone 7 yesterday, Apple announced that it was ditching the white headphone wires that have been an icon of the brand since 2003. Instead, listeners will use AirPods, a pair of wireless earbuds that connect to the phone over Bluetooth.

Ditching the headphone jack allows the iPhone 7 to shrink even slimmer, and losing a hole makes the phone more water resistant. But this is also the latest case of Apple using its flagship product to bring a tech trend to the masses– get ready for “hearables” doing battle for the ownership of your ears.

I’ve been using similar technology since 2014, when Apple paired with Starkey Hearing Technologies to produce the world’s first set of smartphone-connected hearing aids, the Starkey Halo. The software means I can take calls and listen to music directly via my hearing aids. The codec that Apple developed for these devices, which allowed audio streaming over low-energy Bluetooth for the first time, now appears in the AirPods.

A handful of start-ups have released devices that aim to take hearables even further. New York firm Doppler Labs offers the Here One, a pair of outsized earplugs that auto-tune your environment to play you a more aesthetically pleasing version. And German company Bragi has the Dash, a wireless “smart earphone” that incorporates a music player, pedometer, pulse rate monitor, and much more.

Hand-in-hand with the hardware comes the voice-recognition software to control it: think Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, OK Google and most recently Alexa, the AI that lives in Amazon’s Echo device. Just as smartphone apps took over from the web as the way most of us use the internet, hearables promise to take over from screens, bringing relevant information directly to our ears. Want to know what the weather is like in Rome, the contents of your inbox, or how long it will be until your next train arrives? Just wonder aloud, and Siri will whisper the answer discreetly into your ear.

Unlike visual interfaces, which demand your attention, audio provides an ideal interface for pervasive, background connectivity. The end goal is a more immersive type of computing, where the interface itself becomes invisible. We’re only just beginning to explore the possibilities that lie in this space: last year, sound artist Daniel Jones and I used this hearable technology to create Phantom Terrains, an app that allowed me to sense Wi-Fi fields. It’s likely that we’ll soon see developers creating novel apps that exploit the platform offered by AirPods.

At the AirPod launch, Apple’s Phil Schiller said that removing the headphone jack was an act of “courage to move on,” and some commenters joked that Apple might ditch the iPhone’s screen next. With the rise of audio interfaces and computers that live in your ear, that’s not as crazy as it sounds. But if you’re not quite ready to move on from cables, the iPhone 7 comes with an adaptor that will allow you to plug your old, wired headphones in the phone’s remaining Lightning port.

What will they think of next? Contact us today to learn more about the Made for iPhone hearing aids at Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers.


The Starkey Hearing Foundation

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A first-of-its-kind hearing mission changed more than 75 lives yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky as University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Calipari and many other star athletes joined Starkey Hearing Foundation to share in the joy of patients receiving the gift of hearing.

“What a delight to be here and see people’s eyes light up as they receive their hearing devices,” Calipari said from the hearing mission. “It’s great to think about how life-changing this will be for these Kentucky residents.”

William F. Austin and Tani Austin, co-founders of Starkey Hearing Foundation, and the Foundation’s team of audiologists and staff provided patients from Kentucky with hearing devices as well as counseling and training to patients and family members on how to care and operate their hearing device.

“Giving a person the ability to hear has an immediate, inspiring impact on that person’s quality of life and a compounding positive effect on the world,” Mr. Austin said. “Thank you to our many incredible partners who helped make this happen.”

There is an estimated 7.2 million people in the U.S. with hearing loss who are living below the poverty level. For more than three decades, Starkey Hearing Foundation has been changing lives through hearing care, providing more than 1.9 million hearing aids to people in need, including more than 125,000 domestically.

“More than 700,000 Kentucky residents have hearing loss, with many unable to afford the care they need,” Lowell Scott, president and owner of the hearing mission sponsor, Hearing Solutions said. “To make this difference for these people’s lives, there’s just nothing like it.”

For others seeking hearing device assistance in the Chicagoland area, please contact us to make an appointment today.

What is the Starkey Hearing Foundation?

Starkey Hearing Foundation, a public charity founded by William F. Austin, gives the gift of hearing to people in need in the U.S. and around the world. Disabling hearing loss affects more than 360 million people, including 32 million children, yet many do not have access to the hearing devices that improve lives and promote understanding. The Foundation focuses on hearing health care missions, education, and recycling, as well as grants to mission-aligned organizations. The Foundation has cared for more than 1.1 million patients and provided 1.9 million hearing devices in more than 100 countries. Visit www.chicagolandhearing.com or www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org to learn more!


Hunting and Hearing Loss

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Hunting and shooting are one of the most popular past-times for men in America. But, shooting any type of firearm without the proper hearing protection can result in severe damage to your hearing, whether temporary or permanent.

A study by the University of Wisconsin found that men aged 48 to 92 who hunted regularly were more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss, a risk that increased seven percent for every five years a man had been hunting.

But what’s really alarming is that of the 3,753 study participants (83 percent of whom were eligible), “38 percent of the target shooters and 95 percent of the hunters reported never wearing hearing protection while shooting in the past year.”

One shot from a gun can range from 140 to 190 decibels, and can cause immediate damage to one’s hearing.

Avid hunter and writer for Outdoor News, Kristen Monroe, can attest to just how damaging a single shot can be; she’s ruptured her ear drum a couple of times. “I don’t think they all know that it really only takesone shot at the right angle to ruin your hearing and cause permanent ringing,” Monroe said of why hunters often overlook hearing protection. Monroe herself used to avoid using hearing protection because it got in the way while shooting, but said that since using SoundGear, she’s not only been able to protect her hearing but also not worry about the devices getting in the way while shooting.

So beyond the obvious use of hearing protection (a must if shooting any time of firearm), what are some tips to help protect your hearing while out hunting or shooting?

Silence That Shot!

Unless it’s illegal in your state, consider using a gun suppressor—or silencer—to help reduce the volume of a gunshot. Silencers offer some relief for your ears by helping to stabilize the loud propellant gases firearms produce when fired. It should be noted, however, that not all states allow silencers and that silencers don’t mean hearing protection can be avoided.

Take A Break

Even with the best hearing protection, long-term exposure to firearms can cause temporary or permanent damage. It may not be obvious at first, but any exposure to dangerous sounds can result in hearing damage. Over time, as the damage builds up, your hearing will decline. Consider taking breaks between rounds to help give  your ears a chance to decompress. SoundGear helps reduce sounds above 95dB while enhancing conversational and natural sounds, so even when you take a break from shooting, you don’t have to take your hearing protection out. This ensures that if someone else decides to keep shooting nearby your ears don’t get hurt in the process!

Keep Them On or In!

Just because you aren’t shooting, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wearing hearing protection. If you are out hunting with a group or standing to wait your turn at a shooting range, keep your hearing protection on or in your ears. You may not be shooting but your ears are still being exposed to harmful levels of sound.

But I’m Using a Bow…

If you’re out hunting with a bow hearing protection may still be necessary. Often times, you aren’t the only one out hunting, and if someone close by is using a firearm, your ears are still susceptible to damage. This is one of the reasons why SoundGear is so great. Unlike other hearing protection products that muffle all sound, SoundGear only reduces sound 95dB and over. And because it amplifies other natural sounds, not only are you protecting your ears from nearby shots, you’re also giving yourself a better chance at hearing approaching game.

To best protect your hearing while hunting or shooting, come check out SoundGear, digital hearing protection that enhances environmental sounds and decreases the dangerous high-decibel sounds.

Get your personalized ear protection at Chicagoland Hearing! Protect your hearing!


Did you Know That People Who Use Hearing Aids are More Optimistic?

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People that use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged with life.

Every several years, the non-profit Better Hearing Institute surveys and collects detailed information on thousands of people with hearing loss, both with and without hearing aids. The published results are always fascinating, and provide valuable insight into the who, what, how and why of treating hearing loss and wearing hearing aids.

Combined, the data also acts as de facto hearing aid reviews by measuring answers to questions about hearing aid features, attributes, effectiveness and satisfaction.

The survey highlights many benefits of buying hearing aids

Results from the survey prove that treating hearing loss results in numerous positive benefits for those with hearing difficulty. Many of these benefits were compiled in an article on the Institute’s website, titled“How can treating hearing loss help me stay youthful and active?” In it, they share that, “people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged in life.”

That doesn’t surprise Starkey, as the hearing professionals who fit our hearing aids report the same thing.

Find out for yourself by scheduling an appointment with Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers today!

Read the Better Hearing Institute’s article here.


3 Back to School Hearing Loss Tips

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Hearing loss can make learning hard. Teachers constantly move around classrooms,
may use microphones during lectures or outside noises may distract or interfere with the
professor’s voice. Big classrooms and auditoriums can distort sound, and the presence
of other students can make focusing hard as their own voices take over that of the
professor’s.

Here are some tips to help make school easier with hearing loss:

 Tell Your Teacher: Be up front with all of your teachers that you have a hearing loss.
Explain to them privately what sounds are hard to hear, what words are hard to
understand and what environments or situations are difficult for you. Sit down and
discuss some ways in which your teacher can help make things easier such as ensuring
he or she always faces you when he or she talks, providing visual or printed lessons in
addition to verbal and weekly check-ins to make sure you’re not missing anything important.

 Nominate a Note-taker: If you have trouble understanding teachers because their
voices are lost in an auditorium, they are always moving around the classroom, or some
teachers may have softer, higher-frequency voices. You may also have trouble
understanding your fellow students’ questions or answers either because they were
behind you or on the far end of a 300-seat lecture hall.  In order to combat this, you can
get a note-taker through the school’s disability services. If you’re not comfortable doing
this or have missed the deadline for a note-taker through school, consider asking a
friend in class to help you take notes when you are having trouble.

 Front Row: Sitting in the front row may mean you get asked more questions than most,
but it also means you have put yourself in the best place possible to hear and
understand your teacher. It also allows you to pivot left, right or backwards when
another student is speaking and have a better chance at getting what they are saying.

Schedule an appointment today for a free hearing test if you find it difficult to hear at school.