Hearing Health Blog

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!


Deaf musician James Holt from Smithills hits right notes with help of pioneering new hearing aids

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What a great moment for James Holt! According to the Bolton News, James Holt is a DEAF musician who has become one of the first people in the UK to receive pioneering new hearing aids! He has suffered from hearing loss since birth, but is now benefiting from hearing aids produced by Starkey Hearing Technologies, which is what powers Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers. Starkey’s new range of hearing aids, named A4, aims to make them easier to fit in with people’s lives and gives an improved sound quality. It has improved James’ ability to hear music. How truly amazing!

He said: “People thought I wouldn’t be able to play or write music but technology such as this has helped me a lot.”

Neil Pottinger, from Starkey Hearing Technologies, said: “A4 brings a completely new technology to the marketplace. We’re very much looking forward to providing hearing aid solutions to those who have previously rejected them on how they look, sound and feel — sadly with an often detrimental impact on social interaction, relationships and general health and well being.”

Learn more about James Holt’s story in the article on the Bolton News website. Also, you can learn more about products and hearing evaluations by calling us today!


The Importance of Teaching Kids About Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss isn’t something kids learn about in school, so when they come face-to-face with a child wearing hearing aids, the first thought may be “different” or “weird.” A lack of understanding can contribute to bullying and teasing; could taking the time to teach a child about hearing loss help?

When I was in third grade, I remember a boy in my class who was treated differently. He would walk up to the teacher each morning and hand her a microphone to wear around her neck. She would flip a little switch, then say something and his face would light up. Almost every day, he would give her two thumbs up before returning to his seat in the front row. But one day, as we headed out to the playground for our morning snack break, a group of my classmates stood huddled in a circle, pointing and laughing at the boy. I remember feeling confused because I didn’t understand why they were laughing at him. When I got home, I asked my mom why they were laughing at him, and she explained that the boy had hearing aids.

She told me…

  • How hearing works:

Even though the Internet wasn’t as resourceful as it is today, the first thing my mom did was a simple search on hearing diagrams. She pointed out the ear canal, the eardrum, the auditory nerve and the parts of the brain that hearing impacted. Looking at the diagram, she explained to me how sound travels through the canal to the auditory nerve. “The nerve leads to the brain, where it ‘thinks’ about what was heard by the ears,” she said. “Then your brain decides what the sound is and you know if you heard a bird singing or a rock falling.”

  • How hearing aids helped the boy hear:

My mom explained that hearing aids work like a funnel, focusing on sounds and directing them straight to the boy’s ears. When he was listening to the teacher speak, the microphone she wore streamed the sound directly to his hearing aids. Then, the hearing aids shaped the sounds so his auditory nerve would be able to understand them. When a classmate spoke to him, the microphones on his hearing aids picked up the speech so he could understand too.

  • How the hearing aids helped the boy in school

Each morning when we came in from our morning break, the first thing we did was create a circle with our chairs. Then, with our books in hand, we took turns reading out loud from a story we were assigned. My mom explained how hard this would be for the boy in our class if he didn’t have his hearing aids. Some of us were too far away for him to read our lips; others didn’t have loud enough speaking voices. But with the hearing aids, she said, our voices were amplified so that he could listen along and participate.

  • That the hearing aids didn’t make him any different

One of the most important things my mom taught me was that hearing aids didn’t change his personality or make him different.  Just because the boy was born with hearing loss didn’t mean that he didn’t love chocolate chip cookies or playing games as much as the rest of us. Instead of pointing and laughing, she said we should include him in our game of Go Fish! or when we played on the playground. “He isn’t any different from any of the rest of you, his ears just need a little help,” she said.

When I went back to school the next day, I felt like I understood what was really happening. I realized that the other students who were laughing and teasing the boy simply didn’t understand. They only saw how he was “different” and didn’t know that in truth he really wasn’t. I felt like I could be a better friend to the boy in my class after my mom explained his hearing aids to me. I felt like I knew what questions to ask without being rude, and I was excited by the opportunity to learn something new. I also felt I should help the other students to understand. Instead of pointing, I was an educated third grader helping someone else learn.

Now that I’m older, I realize how beneficial it was for me to learn about hearing loss at an early age. Even though no one in my family has hearing loss, my mom was equipped to explain it to me. By taking the time to explain hearing loss and hearing aids to me, she enabled me to make another friend and help others in my class to understand that hearing loss and hearing aids aren’t bad or weird but actually kind of cool.

Have you taught your child about hearing loss or hearing aids? Maybe you should.

Here at Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers, powered by Starkey Hearing Technologies we love all questions and would love to help you learn more!


Starkey Research Team Examines Cognitive Effort and Listening

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Members of the research team are trained in an array of educational backgrounds including engineering, psychology, audiology, neurophysiology and psychoacoustics. This interdisciplinary collaboration has resulted in exciting advancements in hearing aid technology.

The Starkey Hearing Technologies research team took a closer look at how hearing loss and hearing aids affect cognition. The findings were published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research. For this project, our researchers collaborated with a team from the University of California at Berkley to develop an effective way to measure listening effort. That method was used to better understand how technology in hearing aids can impact listening effort and cognitive function.

It is well understood that individuals with untreated hearing loss (who do not wear hearing aids) experience difficulty understanding speech in the presence of background noise. If the auditory input is distorted due to hearing loss, the brain must work harder to understand it, leaving the listener more fatigued after extended exposure to challenging listening environments.

Recent research suggests that the presence of hearing loss can adversely affect the processing resources available for comprehension and memory. A relationship between uncorrected binaural hearing loss and cognition was identified. The results also demonstrate how human cognition relies heavily on the complexities of the auditory system to effectively integrate incoming auditory information from the world around us.

To follow up on these findings, the Starkey Hearing Technologies and UC Berkeley research teams began to explore effective ways for individuals with hearing loss to combat increased listening effort and reduced cognitive function in challenging listening environments. Researchers found that restoring binaural perception through the use of prescriptively fit hearing aids measurably improved cognitive function and reduced listening effort. Optimizing binaural hearing seems to play an important part in increasing comprehension and reducing listening effort.

This is important news for those wearing or considering hearing aids! The findings indicate that wearing hearing aids can have an immediate and positive impact on cognitive function and reduce listening effort.

These breakthroughs led to the development of Voice iQ™, a feature that is available in Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Center’s invisabel model. Voice iQ is a two-part adaptive algorithm that helps listeners hear more comfortably in noisy environments by applying variable noise reduction to effectively preserve speech while increasing ease of listening.

We will continue to highlight advancements in research and technology as part of our Technology Corner. Stay up to date on our research projects by following our blog.


It’s time for a lot of us to get hearing aids!

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Did you know that The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that one in eight people in the United States (13% – 30 million people) aged 12 years and older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations? Or that 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing? And that men are more likely than women to report hearing loss? Or that 2% of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss and that the rate increases to 8.5% for adults aged 55 to 64? And did you now that nearly 25% of those aged 65 to 74 and 50% of those 75 and older have disabling hearing loss? Hearing loss is way more common than one may think!

Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers can help you with all of the common symptoms that are associated with hearing loss, including frequently asking people to repeat what they’d just said, turning up the TV and car radio volume, not understanding what’s being said in movies, theaters and public gatherings, straining to understand conversations in a group, not hearing easily what’s being said from a different room, not understanding others when I couldn’t see their faces, straining to hear some conversations altogether, not hearing ‘low-talkers’ (i.e. people who speak softly), thinking that many people mumble, and avoiding noisy environments whenever possible.

Hear Rabbi John Rosove’s story about his personal experience with hearing loss on his blog!

Contact Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers to set up a hearing evaluation today.


Listen. Carefully.

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Did you know that currently one in six American teens has noise-induced hearing loss from loud sounds? This is a public health threat, but very few people know about it…

As part of the Starkey Hearing Foundation – Chicagoland Audibel Hearing Aid Centers supports the giving the gift of hearing to people in need around the world. But we also care about people at home who were born with perfectly healthy ears. That’s why we started Listen Carefully.

Listen Carefully is a campaign to raise awareness about noise-induced hearing loss and prevent a hearing loss epidemic.

It’s irreversible, but preventable. And we’re shouting it from the rooftops (with earplugs in, of course).

Check out the listen carefully website to learn more about the foundation today!

 


How to Clean and Take Care of your Ears

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When it comes to taking care of our bodies we know how important it is to exercise regularly, see the dentist twice a year, get eight hours of sleep a night and eat a well-balanced diet. But what about taking care of our ears? In order to better understand the ear and how to properly care for it, here are some helpful tips and information to help guide you to better ear care!

Earwax: the truth

First, I want to debunk a myth. Many people think earwax, the yellow waxy substance that is produced in the ear canal, is a bad thing or gross. This is FALSE! Earwax actually plays a number of very important roles: it protects the ear canal skin, assists in cleaning and lubrication and provides protection from bacteria, fungi, insects and water. 

How to clean your ears

The ear is actually self-cleaning and for most people ear canals do not need to be cleaned. The best thing you can do for your ears is to not put anything in them that is smaller than your elbow. Wax is not formed in the deep part of the ear canal, but rather the outer part of the canal near the external opening. If left alone, old earwax naturally migrates out of the ear as a result of jaw movement. Inserting Q-tips, sharp or pointed objects into the ear will only push wax further into the canal and may even cause trauma to the canal wall or the eardrum. So let nature run its course and simply use a washcloth or tissue to wipe the outer ear after you bathe or shower.

Wax impaction

Earwax becomes a concern when an impaction or a complete blockage of the ear canal occurs. The symptoms of an impaction may include any of the following:

  • A plugged-up sensation or feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Earache
  • Changings in hearing sensitivity or hearing impairment
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Itching, odor or discharge
  • Coughing

If you experience any of these symptoms, first see your doctor; do not assume earwax is the culprit. If earwax is the cause, your doctor or a trained hearing healthcare provider can remove it.

Preventing wax impaction

If you know your ears produce a lot of earwax, and you have some wax build-up, the following ways may safely prevent a complete impaction from occurring:

  • Use wax softening agents: once a week place a few drops of mineral oil, baby oil or commercial ear drops (ex. Debrox, Murine) into the ear canal. This will help soften the earwax and allow it to come out more easily
  • Irrigate the ear: the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery cites irrigation or syringing of the ear as a means to safely clean the ears and help with earwax blockages and build-ups. At-home irrigation kits can be purchased at the drug store but it is very important to follow the directions when using these. For more of a preventative maintenance, a simple and convenient way to irrigate the ear is when you are in the shower. Tilt your head toward warm water, allowing the ear to fill up. Once filled, tip your head over and let the water and earwax drain out. Please note, using a wax-softening agent prior to irrigation may yield the best results. Caution: avoid irrigation if you have a perforated eardrum or a tube in the eardrum.

Another excellent preventative measure is to schedule an appointment for wax removal every 6-12 months with Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers, today!

Things you should NEVER do

There are a number of things you should never do to your ears.

  1. Don’t stick anything in your ear smaller than your elbow.
  2. No ear candling. Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal. Research shows that this procedure has no proven benefit in the removal of earwax and that it can actually cause serious injury. Just steer clear of it! To learn more check out this article from the American Academy of Audiology.

Earwax and hearing aids

Hearing aids and earwax do not play well together. If you wear hearing aids, you know exactly what I am talking about. Earwax can clog the microphones or receivers of the hearing aid, which can impact performance and sound quality. It can reduce the effectiveness of the hearing aid by blocking sound and can even cause enough damage to warrant repair. Some users notice an increase in wax production when they begin wearing hearing aids. This is not uncommon.

Hearing aids not only block the normal migration of earwax out of the ear but can also stimulate glands in the ear canal to produce more wax. It is extremely important to properly clean and care for your hearing aids as instructed by your hearing healthcare professional. For some at-home tips,click here. If you actively engage in preventative earwax practices, like using wax-softening agents or performing irrigation, do them at night before bed after you have taken out your hearing aids. In the morning, make sure to wipe the outer ear with a towel or tissue to remove any wax that may have migrated out before putting in your hearing aids

Swimmer’s Ear

Have you ever had water trapped in your ears after swimming? Most of us have! The natural reaction to dislodge the water is to tilt the head to the side and shake it rigorously or to tug downward on the earlobe while opening and closing the jaw. Though the head shaking and opening/closing of the jaw may go on for some time, it is often successful as evidenced by hearing a pop and feeling the water drain from the ear. However, sometimes the water cannot be freed, and due to the bacterial and fungal organisms in the water, an outer ear infection known as Swimmer’s Ear can occur. The most common signs and symptoms of an infection include itching inside the ear, pain that gets worse when you tug on the earlobe and a plugged-up sensation or feeling of fullness. If you experience any of these symptoms you should see your doctor immediately to obtain proper treatment.

A great way to prevent water from getting trapped in the ear is to make your own eardrops at home using a mixture of half rubbing alcohol and half vinegar. The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery supports the use of this preventative approach and states that this mixture will help evaporate excess water and keep the ears dry. When using the eardrops please follow these instructions:

  1. Tilt your head and place five to six drops of the mixture into the ear.
  2. Pull downward on your earlobe and open and close your jaw; this will help the drops to move further the ear canal.
  3. Hold your head in the tilted position for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Turn your head over and allow the drops to pour out of the ear. Make sure to have a towel or tissue on hand.
  5. Check to see if the ear is still plugged. If so, repeat these steps.

CAUTION: Do not use ear drops if you have a perforated eardrum or a tube in the eardrum.

If you try these steps several times and the water will not come out, see your doctor or hearing professional. Do not allow days to go by without removing water from your ears or you could get an infection.

If water gets trapped in your ear often or you are prone to getting ear infections, consider investing in some custom floatable swim plugs. These protective plugs are specifically fit to your ear to create a watertight seal in the ear canal to keep out water and moisture. Plus, they are available in many fun colors allowing you to not only protect your ears but look good doing it! Swim plugs can be obtained from any hearing healthcare professional.

Unlike the rest of our bodies, the ear is actually pretty easy to maintain and keep in a healthy state. Just keep these tips in mind and you will be in good (ear) shape!