Hearing Health Blog

Hearing Aids Reinvigorate Birding, among other things!

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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.


Did you know that your hearing is as unique as you?

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Did you know that your hearing is as unique as you are? No two people have the same ability to hear and understand speech. Your hearing is as unique as your DNA. Noise exposure in the workplace, inherited medical conditions, loud hobbies and entertainment, and childhood and adult illnesses can all produce different types of hearing loss in different people. Every single thing that plays a role in your life, plays a role in your hearing as well!

Below are a few different types of hearing loss;

Conductive:

Conductive hearing loss refers to hearing loss caused by conditions of the outer and middle ear. For example, the outer ear canal may be blocked with earwax permitting only loud sounds through. The middle ear involves the region from the eardrum to the inner ear, which includes the three small bones that move in synchrony and are vital to hearing. The restricted movement of these bones, caused by infection or disease, may diminish hearing. Many conductive losses are treatable by medication or surgery.

Sensorineural (Nerve):

Sensorineural hearing loss includes both hearing loss related to the cochlea (sensory) and to the auditory nerve (neural). Hearing aids and assistive listening devices are the most common form of treatment for sensory hearing loss. Some common causes of sensory hearing loss are: noise exposure, aging, heredity, head trauma, viruses, ototoxic medications, illness or disease.

Mixed:

Mixed hearing loss is when there is some degree of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

We would LOVE to help you along your road to better hearing today! It’s what we do here at Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers! Contact us to set up an ear cleaning and test.


Technology Can Be Wonderful!

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We all know how hearing aids can help you hear things you otherwise might miss: a grandchild’s first words, the wind chime in your garden, a joke at the dinner table, or fill in your own favorite sound here. Today’s Made for iPhone® hearing aids can help you hear the sounds you’ve been missing— and so much more. We’ll just leave it at that.

Watch this inspiring transformation video to see what this new technology is all about!

Contact Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers today to learn more about what the Made for iPhone® can do for you!

 

 


More and more teens are suffering from hearing loss

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In 2016, we live in a world full of headphones and plug ins! We are constantly plugged in; listening to music at all times, falling asleep to audiobooks and turning the TV loud to get the full effect of the amazing surround sound we just bought.

Knowing the common habit of the teenagers today, Starkey Hearing Technologies has started “Listen Carefully” which is a new campaign that is geared toward teenagers and young people in this growing epidemic! Starkey research finds teen hearing loss has increased 30 percent in the past decade, an irreversible but preventable affliction.

You can learn more about safe listening from Dr. Fabry and how to be more aware of the damage we are causing to our ears in this article about how more and more teens are suffering from hearing loss. There are ways around hearing loss if we just pay a attention to the safety of it all.

Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers is powered by Starkey Hearing Technologies, which is based in Eden Prairie has provided 175,000 hearing aids to people in 40 different countries around the world, focusing on helping people who cannot afford hearing aids or cannot access the technology. Here at Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers we are committed to helping you prevent future hearing loss and educate you on the effects the outside world has on your ears! Contact us today for an appointment with one of our hearing specialists.

 


Alanna’s Story

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Renowned New York yoga instructor (one of Yoga Journal’s top 21 teachers under 40), founder of The Kaivalya Yoga Method, published author and Ph.D. student Alanna Kaivalya has lived with hearing loss since childhood, but that clearly hasn’t held her back! She learned to excel in school and even explored music, despite moderate-to-severe mixed hearing loss in both ears and not being fit with hearing aids until age 21. Recently, Alanna was fitted with Starkey Made for iPhone hearing aids, and she not only noticed improvement in her hearing, but she was able to use the functions of the Made for iPhone and the TruLink app to adapt her hearing needs to her lifestyle.

Here is her remarkable story in her own words:

Youve struggled with hearing loss since childhood; how did you learn to cope with this?

I was born with a cleft palate, which left me in pretty bad shape growing up with moderate-to-severe mixed hearing loss in both ears. Interestingly, I wasn’t really aware that I had hearing loss or that I was different from the other kids when I was young because my parents were very careful about reinforcing my ability to do everything that other children could do. Though doctors told my mom I would never be “musical,” as soon as I could sit up straight, she strapped an accordion to my chest and taught me how to play. She also put me in choir, taught me how to sing and made sure that teachers always seated me in the front of my classroom so that I would hear everything. And, if I didn’t, she always encouraged me to raise my hand, ask questions and be heard. I was a student who excelled, and I believe it was because of this firm encouragement from my mom to integrate with the rest of the world.

That said, I did develop some great coping techniques and music really helped me, like feeling the vibrations of the music and listening for sound with my body instead of just my ears. I became an expert at reading lips, but also at reading the “tone” of a conversation in order to stay in it. But it wasn’t until I was a teenager when I recognized the way that I heard was different from other people, and I was a little surprised that others didn’t have the ability to “feel” sound the way that I did. In fact, as a musician and yoga practitioner, I’ve always strived to encourage people to connect with sound in the way that I do, to give them even better access to all the great ways they can hear and experience the world.

You werent fitted with hearing aids until adulthood. What made you decide to get hearing aids?

I think I would have gotten hearing aids a lot younger had they been covered by insurance. It’s astonishing to me that insurance often doesn’t cover hearing aids! But when I was 21, I finally found an insurance company that covered a portion of my hearing aids and then my grandmother was generous enough to cover the rest. She went with me to get fitted and the first time I heard her say my name while standing behind me, I cried. We then went on a walk (something we often did together), and it was the first time I heard the sound of wind through leaves and the sound of my pants swishing as I walked. It was amazing, and once I had hearing aids, I couldn’t believe how much of the world’s sounds I’d missed up to that point.

Describe your Made for iPhone journey: How did you feel before and after the fitting?

This is like asking someone who has never eaten cake before how they felt before they tasted it! How do they know? Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how powerful or awesome the Made for iPhone devices would be. There’s no way someone could have told me about the quality of sound or the ease with which they pair — not just with the iPhone, but with my life. Now I feel like the bionic woman! Everything is crisper and sharper. I had dinner with my friends last night and coolly slid the setting over to “Restaurant” and I could even hear the person who was sitting on my “bad side” with ease. The other day, I was on a plane and I listened to several hours of an audiobook for my graduate studies and could hear it over the engine noise. Today, I spent two hours on the phone for interviews about my new book, and was able to move around my house while talking, whereas before I had to be paralyzingly still in order to hear on the phone. I feeling like I’m living a bionic, blessed life with my new hearing aids!

You are a published author, renowned yogi and musician. What has empowered you to accomplish so much?

When I was a young girl, my mother often told me that I could do anything. Every time I met or exceeded a challenge, it felt good to me and I couldn’t wait for the next one. When I realized how much I’d overcome in terms of my hearing loss, it really bolstered my confidence and showed me that even people with differences can do everything they set their hearts to. My heart is set on showing people the power of connection — to others, to self and to spirit. This has led me in some exciting pursuits and so far, I’ve published two books: Myths of the Asanas: Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition (Mandala Press, 2010) and my most recent, Sacred Sound: Discovering the Myth and Meaning of Mantra and Kirtan (New World Library, 2014). The Sacred Sound book was a fantastic opportunity to share with people the valuable lessons I’ve learned from my deep connection with sound and vibration because of my hearing loss. As for the future, I’m currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and I am working with them to develop a program that helps to bridge the practices of yoga with Depth Psychology and counseling. It is my passion to help others connect, and I think I’m never going to stop until I’ve done all I can in this regard.

What advice would you give people who struggle with hearing loss?

I would encourage them to see the loss as a gift, and start looking for all the ways in which they can hear differently, particularly through feeling. The world reveals itself not just in conversation, but also in tone, vibration and subtle sound. My belief is that those with hearing loss have access to sound on a deeper level than those with perfect hearing. We may have to work harder to sense it at first, but then it becomes second nature, and we are able to connect to our world and each other in a different way.

Other than that, obviously I would advise them to experience the amazing Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers, powered by Starkey sound quality and go bionic with a pair of Made for iPhones. Even my hearing friends are jealous of me now!

Here at Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers we are committed to creating an amazing hearing experience for you and your loved ones! If you feel like you could be experiencing hearing loss, please contact us today for a hearing test!