How seriously do you take your career? Seriously enough to let it permanently damage your hearing? You may be surprised to find out a number of common careers have noise levels that regularly exceed the safe range and that could eventually lead to hearing loss. These include (but are not limited to):
- Construction worker
- Flight crew
- Factory worker
- Public transport driver or employee
- PE teacher
- Sports coach (including school)
- Ambulance driver
- Garbage man
Some particularly loud workplaces such as construction sites or factories may have employee policies on hearing protection, but most of the others do not and it’s up to the employee to bring his or her own hearing protection to work.
85dB is the level of loudness that OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has established as having the potential to cause permanent hearing loss. You may surprised to find out that this isn’t actually very loud at all. Some common occurrences that approach that level of noise are:
- Running the garbage disposal or blender
- Using a snowblower or lawn mower
- A train or semi truck passing 50 feet away
As you can see, we’re not talking about drastic levels on noise here. Doing these activities is ok, for the short period of time that you usually do them for, but if this level of sound is going on constantly at your workplace, you may be at serious risk of permanent hearing loss.
When it comes to selecting the right kind of hearing protection, you’ll want to choose something that was designed to work in the environment you work in. While the standard foam earplugs can work in a pinch, custom hearing protection tends to be more comfortable, and when you’re talking about wearing a piece of gear day-in and day-out for work, the small additional investment for customized protection is usually worth it.
Custom-molded earplugs stay in your ear better and require less adjustment throughout the day. Custom hearing protection can also come with filters, which can make it easier to hear colleagues and other safety noises, addressing one common complaint of standard hearing protection.
Chicago Hearing Services strives to provide pertinent education to professionals who are regularly exposed to noise in their working environment, as well as providing them with exceptional custom hearing protection products. Dr. Marie Vetter has extensive training and can help direct you to the best hearing protection for your particular work environment.
Have a question about workplace hearing safety, or want to invest in some custom hearing protection? Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Vetter.
Hearing loss is always assumed to be either something that’s been there since birth, or an effect of old age. And yet, nearly 15% of school-age children aged 6-19 have some degree of hearing loss. If that number seems high to you, you’re probably asking yourself, “why is that the case?”. Some of that hearing loss is due to medical conditions or injury, but by and large, the reason is lifestyle factors.
The number one reason? According to an article in the Journal of Pediatrics, 12.5% of kids between the ages of 6 and 19 have hearing loss as a result of listening to loud music, particularly through earbuds at unsafe volumes.
For parents, it can be hard to bring up the possibility of hearing loss to their children and give advice on how to avoid it. Here are some tips for talking with your child and dealing with the issue:
- Explain what hearing loss is (including the statistics above) and let them know that hearing loss can affect their academic, professional, and private lives.
- Offer to buy them a pair of over-the-ear headphones, which transmit sound much more efficiently than earbuds and therefore don’t have to be turned up as loud to get the same effect.
- Advise them to try to never exceed 75% volume on any of their devices as a safeguard against going too loud and potentially damaging their hearing
- When you’re around them, pay attention to whether you can hear the music coming out of their headphones. If so, the music is too loud.
- If they plan to attend a concert or sporting event, provide them with earplugs that can help protect their hearing. Let them know that at concerts, standing in the middle of the room tends to have the most balanced sound levels because you aren’t right in front of the speakers.
If you suspect that your child may already have hearing loss, it’s important to address the issue right away before it has a chance to interfere with their academics and social life.
Have a question about your child and hearing loss? Reach out to us today to set up an appointment!
Once your loved one has been to an audiologist, has had a hearing test done, and has been fitted with a hearing aid, you may think that everything is taken care of. And you’d be right, at least for a while.
But hearing aids are sensitive pieces of equipment and occasional adjustments are required to keep them functioning properly. Usually, this kind of check and adjustment is done during the patient’s annual visit to an audiologist. But if the person has missed their regularly scheduled appointment, his or her hearing aid may not be working to its maximum potential.
Here are five signs your hearing aid may not be working as it should be:
- The hearing aid doesn’t seem to work. Hold it in your hand—if it squeals, you know it is turning on. If this does not occur, replace the battery and wax trap. If it is still not turning on, contact your audiologist to set up a repair appointment.
- The volume isn’t loud enough. If your loved one has told you they’ve having issues with the volume, or if you notice they’re hard of hearing even with the hearing aid, there could be two potential issues: the hearing aid is malfunctioning, or their hearing has changed and the hearing aid is no longer sufficient to address it. One of the most common issues related to volume is a blockage in the receiver; once cleaned, the hearing aid should be back to normal. But if you aren’t sure how to handle that, you can simply contact your audiologist.
- There is visible damage to the tubing of a Behind-the-Ear hearing aid. If the tubing is in bad enough shape to be noticeably worn or hard and unbendable, it will likely cause technical problems soon anyway, and should be replaced by a qualified professional.
- If you are noticing your loved one is turning up the television louder than normal or if you are having to repeat things you’ve said more than usual, that is a sign that the hearing aid isn’t working as expected and should be evaluated by a professional.
- They’re not wearing it. If your loved one usually wears their hearing aid, but all of a sudden you see them without it, this could mean that they’re having some sort of issue with the device. Ask him or her about it, and suggest they go in for an exam to either have the hearing aid tuned up, or to get a new one that works better for him or her.
We hope these signs will tip you off to any potential trouble with your loved one’s hearing aids. When in doubt, just book an appointment with their audiologist, who can check the devices and make sure they’re working.
Have a question for us? Contact us today to book an appointment with Dr. Vetter.
CES (Consumer Electronic Show) never has a shortage of amazing technology to wow the masses, and CES 2018 didn’t disappoint, with over 4,000 exhibiting companies and more than 170,000 attendees from some 150 countries. In the past few years, hearing health has been one of the spheres where exciting products are being rolled out. Here are some of the exciting new developments in hearing tech we saw at the show this year.
- Rechargeable batteries are now the standard, rather than a feature.
As consumers have become used to mobile devices, portable speakers and all other sorts of everyday tools, rechargeable batteries have become the standard and this is trickling down to manufacturers of hearing devices. In the next couple of years, we will likely see the phase-out of conventional batteries in hearing aids, except in certain special cases.
- AI is making every product more customizable, including hearing devices.
It’s becoming increasingly common for hearing devices to collect data from their environment and adapt to the hearing landscape continuously rather than falling in the “set it and forget it” category. One example of this is the Oticon HearingFitness App, which won a 2018 CES Innovation Award. Available later in 2018, the app can be used the company’s with Opn hearing aids to track things like hearing aid use patterns, common listening environments, and others. The data is also merged with the user’s heart rate and sleep patterns to give patients and their audiologists a complete view of a patient’s health and lifestyle.
- Hearables are getting serious about features and vying for FDA/FCC approval.
Hearables have often suffered from being viewed as consumer-grade devices that aren’t fit for patients with real hearing loss. This year, with the deregulation of the hearing aid market, manufacturers are making an attempt to create hearables that are more fully-featured and have approval from official entities, like the FDA. One headphone manufacturer, Bragi, has teamed up with Mimi Hearing Technologies on Project Ears, a set of earbuds backed by hearing technology that will offer some unique benefits over conventional hearables.
- Hearing technology is being increasingly embraced by the masses. It’s estimated that only 20% of the roughly 48 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss are using a hearing aid for treatment. This shortage is likely an effect of lack of awareness and also the stigma that can sometimes come with wearing a hearing device. But manufacturers are trying their best to get around this problem. According to The Verge,
“Now, we’re seeing sleek, stylish hearing aids from Eargo and smart hearing aids — which can communicate with smoke alarms and doorbells — from the likes of Oticon and ReSound. The key here is that smart hearing aids and stylish ones make the tech cool, and that’s one big thing that might encourage people who need them to use them.”
Wondering what all these advances in technology mean for your own hearing health? Chicago Hearing Services is proud to offer these products. Get in touch with us so we can assess your needs and recommend a product that will best address them! Contact Chicago Hearing Services today to schedule an appointment!
Image source: www.techradar.com
Much has been said about the medical and practical downsides of hearing loss. However, one aspect of hearing loss that doesn’t get discussed that much is the isolation that happen as a result of the condition.
Those with hearing loss almost always have trouble with communication. When such a problem develops, it’s typical for those with hearing loss to slowly begin to avoid the types of interactions that showcase the problem. Sometimes, when hearing loss develops over time, the person may get used to it and begin to think “this is just how things are”, instead of realizing that their quality of life has changed for the worse.
The inevitable end of hearing loss is a person who becomes increasingly isolated but frequently doesn’t have the self-awareness to understand that the isolation is stemming from the hearing loss. They might think that isolation is a natural effect of older age, or even worse, may assume that something about their personality makes other people not want to be around them.
A series of recent studies have reaffirmed the importance of a strong social network in the overall health of the individual. So, becoming increasingly withdrawn could eventually be detrimental to a person’s physical health.
If you notice the common signs of hearing loss in a loved one, you should encourage them to get a hearing exam. Even if you don’t see any signs of hearing loss but notice that your friend or loved one is becoming increasingly withdrawn or aloof, you should ask them about the possibility of having hearing loss.
No one wants to hear that they don’t have any friends, so when broaching the discussion with a loved one, it’s important to tread carefully. Mention the idea of a hearing exam but don’t necessarily link it to the person’s social life. If they agree to the test, this can help with both their hearing loss and their social withdrawal.
The results? Again and again, we’ve seen patients who were suffering from hearing loss and were withdrawn from their community flourish once they had the appropriate hearing device and were able to communicate effectively again.
Think your loved one may be experiencing social withdrawal due to undiagnosed hearing loss, but not sure how to deal with the issue? Contact us today to set up an appointment!
About 20 percent of Americans, 48 million people, report some degree of hearing loss. By age 65, the proportion of people with hearing loss is closer to one-third. That’s why it’s so important for everyone, young or old, to have a hearing wellness plan. Hearing loss tends to happen gradually, so it can be difficult to know when it’s happening to you. To stay on top of your hearing health this year, here are 5 things to think about:
- Look for signs of hearing loss in your life.
The signs might be subtle, such as having some trouble comprehending conversations in a noisy environment, finding yourself turning up the TV louder than you used to before, or having occasional ringing in your ears.
You should be particularly vigilant about the state of your hearing if you’re above 50. The American Medical Association recommends a hearing evaluation as a part of your general annual physical exam starting at age 50. Just like your eyes, your hearing changes over time, so you should consider getting an annual hearing test.
- Properly maintain your hearing aids.
If you already have hearing aids, you likely have periodic appointments with a doctor to check in about your hearing. If you haven’t kept up with these for some reason, we encourage you to book an appointment soon, not only to have your hearing tested again, but also so an audiologist can examine your current hearing aids. Your hearing aids may have to be adjusted or reprogrammed, and you may be surprised by the difference that makes in your overall hearing.
- Evaluate your occupation.
There are many jobs that regularly feature levels of noise loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. Examples include musician, construction worker, flight attendant, bus driver, dentist, bartender, and others. If you work in one of these environments, you owe it to yourself to consult with an audiologist sooner rather than later about getting some hearing protection or implementing other strategies to shield your ears from noise. Permanent hearing loss, by definition, can’t be reversed, so it’s important to do something about the risk before you start to experience problems.
- Watch out for recreational activities.
If you ride a motorcycle, go to concerts, listen to loud music at home, or shoot guns, among other hobbies, you could be doing permanent hearing damage to your hearing. If you have any hobbies that might have loud sound levels, do some research on how to practice that hobby more safely and save your hearing. Need tips? Get in touch with us!
- Watch for signs of hearing loss in your loved ones.
Hearing health is a community effort, and it’s important to pay if forward. Not everyone is great at perceiving the signs of hearing loss, so if you know more about it than your loved ones (which you should, because you’re reading this blog!), watch out for some of the commonplace signs, and if your loved one exhibits these, encourage him or her to go in for a hearing exam.
Ready to hear better this year? If you’ve noticed any signs of hearing loss in yourself or a loved one, contact us today to set up an appointment and get a hearing evaluation!
Are you a music fan? Many of us are. Going out to a great concert can be the highlight of one’s week or month. However, concerts also frequently feature high music volumes that can damage one’s hearing after repeated exposure.
One study found that 26 million Americans suffer from hearing loss that could have been prevented with appropriate hearing protection.
Concerts are (Surprisingly!) Loud
Concerts can frequently reach 120db of loudness, nearly twice that of normal daily conversation. Even just 2 minutes at 110dB can cause hearing damage—imagine what a 2 hour concert at that volume can do to your hearing.
Now imagine you’re going to one or two concerts a month at those levels. It would be no surprise if you began to develop noticeable hearing loss or tinnitus after a couple of years of these habits.
Getting with the Times
We’re happy to see that music fans these days seem to have more awareness about hearing loss, and that hearing protection is becoming increasingly “acceptable” to see at concerts (since a big part of being at concerts is about looking cool, after all).
But music fans don’t have to settle for the standard foam earplugs that make everything sound muffled. Indeed, experience with these common ear plugs may account for the skepticism some music fans have toward hearing protection.
Hearing Protection That Provides a Better Hearing Experience
New hearing protection designed specifically for music lovers features discreet earplugs with tuned filters. This results in dramatic volume reduction but enables the sound to stay true to the original, giving balanced highs, mids, and lows and allowing the fullest enjoyment for music fans.
For touring musicians, custom in-ear monitors that are made with silicone provide the best isolation and comfort. Using superb sound quality, this hearing protection gives musicians the opportunity to have a comfortable and safe environment without hindering their performance. This occurs with the help of an experienced audiologist.
If you’re a music fan or a musician looking for hearing protection, get in touch with us! We’ll help you find the hearing protection that fits you best and doesn’t inhibit the music listening experience you love.
A hearing aid is an incredibly personalized piece of medical equipment—it’s worn every day, on the head (one of the most sensitive parts of the body), it’s directly visible to others, and you rely on it for one of the five senses you have for making sense of the world.
When your audiologist first sets you up with a hearing aid, you’ll have a few days to wear it and decide if it’s indeed the right choice for you. Here are four things to watch for during that crucial trial period.
- Hearing improvement – the reason you wear your hearing aid is to help you hear better, and that’s clearly the most important aspect of the selection process. Do you find a dramatic improvement over not wearing the device (or, if you already wear one, your previous hearing aid)? Do you notice a reduction in listening difficulty? Is it easier to follow conversation? You should test the hearing aid in a variety of situations, from quiet conversation levels to louder environments (if you’re likely to encounter these in your day-to-day). Remember, the main reason for the trial period is so you can take the hearing device out of the office and into your day-to-day life, testing it in the types of situations you’re likely to encounter.
- Comfortable fit – you have to wear your hearing aid every day, so comfort is of the utmost importance. The human body can eventually get used to anything, but you’ll be much more comfortable if you start out with a well-fitting hearing device. Your audiologist should have already made some adjustments to ensure proper fit, but you’re the only one that can ultimately make the call whether the fit works or not.
- Technological integration – our modern lives include a variety of technologies we interact with on a daily basis. A key part of the usefulness of your hearing aid will be how easily it integrates with devices such as your mobile phone, your television, or any other pieces of technology you frequently use. The thing to look for is seamless integration that doesn’t require you to take too many extra steps to make the hearing aid-to-device connection and doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the activity.
- Style – you should already have gone through your hearing device options (in-the-ear, behind-the-ear) with your audiologist, and depending on your hearing needs, you may have to stick to a particular type of hearing aid. With that being said, as you wear it around for a few days, you’ll have to decide whether this style works. If it does not, you will work with the audiologist to get a style that will work for you.
As you go through the trial period, take notes on any aspects of your hearing device you notice, good or bad, so you can share these with your audiologist during your next consultation.
Have a question about what types of hearing aids would be available for your particular type of hearing loss? We’re here to help! Contact us for more information!
What’s in store for hearing devices over the next year? It seems like the pace of progress is only speeding up. Here are just some of the trends we’ve seen developing:
Lower Costs for Patients
The ongoing public conversation about over-the-counter hearing devices has had an effect on the entire hearing aid industry. Whereas manufacturers before knew they could charge higher amounts, increased competition means that the prices are coming down across the board. This, of course, is great news for patients.
Reductions in Size
One wonderful part of technological progress is the ability to fit more power into smaller packages. For some patients whose type of hearing loss necessitates the more visible receiver-in-canal hearing aids and outside-the-ear hearing aids, this can make a big difference. For example, this year, Unitron’s Moxi Now became the smallest RIC hearing aid on the market, giving patients who are self-conscious about the visibility of their hearing device a new option to consider.
New Hearing Algorithms
For a long time, hearing aids focused on amplifying the sound from the person the patient was conversing with, and cancelling all other noise in order to improve clarity. Now, new algorithms are able to create unique soundscapes that more closely match the how natural hearing works. For instance, the Oticon Opn still cancels extraneous background noise but can identify multiple speakers and amplify all of them simultaneously, which makes hanging out in a group setting much easier. For people with severe-to-profound hearing loss, the ReSound ENZO 3D offers improved spatial awareness and clearer speech amplification in noisy environments.
Instant Custom Fit
Many hearing aids that offer a custom fit involve the audiologist taking a mold of the patient’s ear canal and submitting it to the manufacturer where the hearing aid is custom made to that patient’s ear. Some new technologies now allow patients to get the same level of comfort without leaving the doctor’s office. The new Silk Primax uses a new kind of material that is reported to allows comfort even without being custom-molded. For patients, that means a shorter wait time to getting their new hearing aid.
Remote Fine Tuning
Many hearing devices require a visit at the audiologist office for changes to be made. With the announcement of @Resound Linx3D, patients are able to send a fine tuning request to the audiologist for adjustments. No need for being stuck in traffic now!
All of these advancements are a boon to patients in need of a hearing device. These devices are smaller, more comfortable, more stylish, cheaper, and better in every other way than devices from even 5 years ago.
When looking for your next hearing device, the number of options may be overwhelming. Contact us to speak to Dr. Vetter and get a recommendation for a hearing device based on your level of hearing loss and your lifestyle.
This month Dr. Marie Vetter had the pleasure of speaking with online local publication Voyage Chicago, who often interviews local business owners throughout Chicago.
Marie speaks on how she got started in audiology, becoming a business owner, the story of Chicago Hearing Services and more.