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The hEARt of Hearing

February 3rd, 2018 by

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Your heart and hearing are connected!  A healthy heart can have a positive effect on hearing.

The inner ear is sensitive to blood flow.  It needs a rich blood supply for proper function.  One tiny artery provides the blood to the inner ear.  Consistent blood flow is critical to keep hearing healthy.  Any blockage or blood flow issues can cause permanent damage to the ear.  It reduces oxygen and nutrients to the inner ear.

Good cardiovascular health is important for hearing ability.  High blood pressure can accelerate hearing loss.  As blood pressure increases, hearing decreases from the damaged artery walls.  High cholesterol also affects your hearing.  As your diet increases in cholesterol, so does your chance of having hearing loss.  Smoking restricts blood vessels and can also impact hearing.

February is American Heart Month! Your heart, your health and your hearing are all connected. Keep your hearing and your overall health in top shape with diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.  Get a baseline hearing check to be sure it is in good condition and stays that way! hearing heart

Dr. Anita Carroll is a licensed Audiologist who will review your health history and explain how it relates to your hearing health!  If you’re looking to maintain current hearing, contact her for nutrition that supports hearing health.

 

Ear-Responsible Workouts

January 14th, 2018 by

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Be ear-responsible with your workouts and goals for 2018.  Everyone hits the gym or trail to reach their new goals for a healthy body.  But this can be costly to our ears . . .

Are we ignoring our ears for a “healthy” body?   Whether in a fitness class or working out alone – we are saturated with loud music.  Be mindful about the risks we take with our ears in our attempt to be healthy.

Keeping Workouts Ear Healthy:

Ear responsible workouts

1.  Monitor your music during workouts:  Rule of thumb is to set volume at 60% for no more than 60 minutes/day.  Invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling earphones so you aren’t tempted to raise the volume because of surrounding distractions.
2.  Fitness classes: Distance yourself from the speaker(s) during workouts.  Attach a pair of earplugs to your gym bag and use them in class.  Ask the instructor to turn the music down.
3.  Don’t strain too hard or hold your breath during intense workouts to prevent tiny membrane tears or restricted blood flow. Breath properly during exercise and weight lifting. Don’t use excessive weights during workouts.
4.  Check any changes:  If you notice ANY changes in your hearing after your workout, such as ringing in your ears or decreased ability to hear – get it checked!  It may cost you your future hearing!

If you’re looking to maintain current hearing contact our Audiologist for any questions or strategies to keep workouts healthy for your ears!

Why We Love Loud Music

January 7th, 2018 by

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Most of us LOVE loud music. Loud music can mean high energy, fun and excitement.  Cranking up the volume stimulates the brain in the pleasure center.   It raises the intensity of the experience – whether it is on the dance floor, working out or at a concert.  Here’s why:

loud music

Loud music

Loud music is a stimulant.  Loud music increases the heart rate and body temperature just like caffeine, exercise and alcohol.  Studies show that loud music improves exercise performance by increasing endurance, power and strength.   Look at everyone in the gym with earbuds!

Loud music relieves stress.  Listening to music is a form of “de-stressor”.   A small organ in the inner ear links directly to the pleasure centers in the brain.  Loud music stimulates the release of endorphins from this connection.  This tiny ear organ (called the sacculus) is responsible for our enjoyment of music!

Emotions

Emotions

  Music evokes emotions.  There are strong connections in the brain between our emotions and the interpretation of sound.  Our brains release dopamine at peak moments in songs.  When we listen to a song we already know, the anticipation of favorite passages also releases dopamine.  This is why we get emotional with the songs you love!

Loud music “drowns out” the world.  Blocking out the world can feel necessary sometimes.  Loud music masks other sounds in the immediate surroundings. Loud music overwhelms the other senses similar to alcohol or drugs and changes our state of mind.  Our focus changes.  We focus less on other things when listening to loud music.  This allows us to enjoy “the moment” and the emotions of the music!

We like loud music because it changes our mood and behavior.  Excess produces hearing damage.  Moderation is best to prevent hearing disability.

For thoughts on social consequences of hearing disability, contact our Audiologist , Dr. Anita Carroll.

EARS NEED REST

December 3rd, 2017 by

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Ears need rest and quiet time this holiday season!

Make the most of your time together this season by hearing your absolute best!  Noisy malls, busy restaurants and even the holiday music can be too much to handle in the coming weeks. Even our ears need to rest!   Take a quiet break to prevent ear fatigue.  Limit phone time, TV time and music time.

Rest is important to be able to focus and understand others.  As you prepare for the holidays,  get plenty of sleep and allow for “quiet time”.  It takes extra energy and concentration to follow conversations in holiday settings.  This can make us extremely tired.

Rest your ears

Rest your ears

When our brain is fatigued – we are unable to focus and make good conversation.   This causes brain overload and ear fatigue. We are thinking, ‘I’m exhausted and I just want to get out of here.’  That will not result in good conversation. You’re better off taking a break and resting your ears.

3 Tips to Remember:

  •  Minimize the total sound you are exposed   to before a visit or activity.  (Remove earphones, limit tool use and loud exercise classes).
  •  Plan for daily quiet breaks such as a walk, reading or nap.
  •  Limit yourself to one “activity” per day. Try not to go to several occasions on the same day.   Allow your ears to be rested and sharp!

Communicating is exhausting – so take time out for your ears to do their job!

If you’re looking to maintain current hearing or improve communication with better hearing contact our Audiologist for more thoughts on preventing ear fatigue.

Smoke Alarms and Hearing: Will You Wake Up?

November 19th, 2017 by

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Smoke alarms can usually be heard while we are awake.  But will it wake you up when you are sleeping?

Sleeping family

Sleeping family

When we are sleeping, sounds need to be louder to startle us awake and respond.  In fact – it needs to be as much as 40 dB louder for a person to wake up! Eventually, it may awaken you – but will it be in time to respond and exit safely in an emergency?

As we age, the ability to hear high-pitched sounds decreases.  While this may not impair your daily communication, it slows down your arousal and response for you to safely exit.   Smoke alarm signals are in this high-pitched range of hearing that decreases with age.

While  you may hear the smoke alarm – you will not be STARTLED to awaken from a sound sleep.   Combined with the TWO minute timeline for a fire to overtake a home, this illustrates the danger for those with hearing loss, sound sleepers and sleep apnea machines.  By the time you awaken from a “far away” sound, the fire may have progressed too far for a safe exit.

Here are the facts:

  • It’s about fast AWAKENING and having enough time to escape!
  • Majority of residential fire fatalities occur between 11 pm and 7 am when mosts people are sleeping.
  • 50% of adults with even Mild hearing loss DO NOT wake up to a smoke alarm.
  • Children, handicapped individuals, and heavy sleepers are slower to awaken and also impacted.
  • A lower frequency 520 Hz smoke alarm signal is the most effective signal for waking adults with hearing loss, heavy sleepers and handicapped individuals – waking 92%.  

This is about SAFETY and important for everyone to consider!  Contact our Audiologist for recommendations on smoke alarm options for those with apnea, decreased hearing, and sound sleepers.

Sudden Hearing Loss

November 5th, 2017 by

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4 Causes of Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden hearing loss can occur suddenly with no obvious reason or cause.  Here are four common causes:

Head Trauma:  Hearing loss can occur from a head injury.

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden Hearing Loss

Dizziness and ringing in the ears may occur along with the sudden hearing loss.

Athletic injuries, car accidents, physical abuse and other forceful contact may cause sudden hearing loss.

Chronic disease and Infections:  Chronic diseases may trigger sudden hearing loss where the trigger is difficult to determine.

Viral infections may cause partial or total sudden hearing loss, especially if left untreated.  

Medications:  Some prescription medications may cause sudden hearing loss. They are called “ototoxic” and can include specific types of antibiotics and chemotherapy.  They are used to treat chronic conditions as well as heart disease and cancer.

Warning signs of an ototoxic drug are ringing / buzzing and decreased ability to understand speech.

Poor Circulation:  Poor blood flow can cause the arteries to function improperly which can affect blood supply to the cochlea (inner ear).   This may lead to both sudden or gradual hearing loss.

Monitor your hearing if you know you have poor circulation.

Sudden Hearing Loss

Sudden Hearing Loss

    Sudden hearing loss is a medical emergency!  It is important to have your hearing evaluated and see a medical doctor immediately.  The longer you wait, the less chance for reversal of symptoms.   

Hearing Solutions can monitor your hearing under any circumstance.  “Ototoxic” monitoring is particularly important if you are on chemotherapy or high-dose antibiotics.  

We have the specialized equipment required for monitoring at our clinic and communicate with your physician.

 

Custom-Made Wireless Earphones

September 29th, 2017 by

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“No more tangled wires. Experience listening freedom with true wireless earphones.”

Dash Pro Wireless Earphones

Wireless Earphones

Experience wireless earphones as a “hearable“.  Similar to the “wearable” you wear (such as a smart watch).  It offers both an enhanced hand-free listening experience and biometric data for heart-rate monitoring, fitness tracking, etc.

The Tailored Dash Pro features a custom shell for better retention and comfort along with enhanced sound.  Only available at select hearing centers – including Hearing Solutions in the Triangle! 

What does the Tailored Dash Pro offer?    

Dash Pro wireless earphones

Custom-made Wireless Earphones

  • Completely wireless and customized to your ear canal:  The Tailored Dash Pro connects to any Bluetooth device for crystal clear stereo and hands-free communication.  No more wires!
  • Automatic fitness tracking:  Running, swimming, cycling or walking, the Tailored Dash Pro can automatically identify your activity and track different aspects of your workout similar to other wearables (i.e.smart watch).
  • Smart phone optional:  Hands-free calling capabilities make communicating easy with a single tap to answer calls.
  • 4 GB of storage:  Store up to 1,000 songs and use as a stand-alone music player whenever you feel like leaving your smartphone at home.
  • Signature Sound:  Optimized by world-renowned acoustic engineers for elevated bass and EQ optimization.
  • Communicate in over 40 languages with the use of iTranslate app.
  • Waterproof up to 1 meter:  Rain is nothing for these earphones.  Feel free to dive into the water up to 1 meter worry free!

LISTEN.  TRACK.  COMMUNICATE.

The Tailored Dash Pro is designed just for you.  It makes a great gift as well!  Contact us to schedule your appointment if you’re interested in wireless freedom!

 

Accents and Hearing

September 24th, 2017 by

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Why Can’t I Understand Accents?

Accents can affect hearing and understanding conversations.  Do you avoid conversations with someone who has an accent?  Do you struggle with understanding regional or foreign accents?  Many blame the accent but it may just be your hearing!!     

Accents and hearing

Accents and hearing

Miscommunication is easy within any region or language.  Especially with those who have a different manner of speaking.  Understanding accents is difficult for all but can be more problematic when you have even a mild hearing loss.  Your brain works harder to fill in the gaps because your ears are not sending complete information to the brain.

We all use our native, childhood language to help us “fill in the blank” for a missed word.  This includes intonation, cadence and grammar.  Typically, the conversation proceeds without a hitch!  But when you have even a slight hearing loss, accents send more gaps of unfamiliar information to your brain – and is unable to make sense of what you hear.

Someone who has an accent may be speaking your language but use different sentence structure.  The cadence and inflection may be different and unfamiliar.  As a result, your brain is unable to “decode” what is being said.  Add a slight hearing loss and this creates more gaps -making it more difficult to follow conversations.

Accents place additional stress on a weakened area of hearing.  You may have a reduced region of hearing that compounds the problem for your brain.

What to do?:

  1.  Verify and Clarify:  “Just to be clear, you said that I leave from gate #25?”
  2. Practice:  Listen to movies, podcasts, radio, TV that include accented speech.  This will help your brain acclimate to different intonation and grammar patterns.
  3. Don’t pretend to understand:  Say, “I am having trouble understanding you.  Please slow down a bit so I can get it correctly.”
  4. Don’t hurry the conversation so it will end quickly.  This is rude to the speaker.

Contact us for more suggestions or to schedule an appointment for your hearing check!

Hearing Loss + Emergencies – Be Prepared!

September 10th, 2017 by

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If you have hearing loss, it is important to prepare for emergencies and disasters!  Make sure you can communicate when the power goes out or you need to evacuate.  Take steps to ensure you are safe and can understand in case of emergency!

Emergency and hearing loss

Hearing loss and emergencies

  1.  Have a communication plan.  Your normal ways of communicating may not be available.  Think how you will communicate with family, rescuers, medical personnel.
    1.  Have paper and pen for writing down what you need (for those with severe hearing loss)
    2.  Post “Hearing Loss” sign on windows or doors to alert emergency rescue personnel
    3.  Use Facebook to communicate if cell phone and email are unavailable.  (Facebook Safety Check)
    4.  Install “In Case of Emergency” app on your smart phone.  This puts your emergency contacts, blood type, etc on your lock screen to be accessed without a password.
  2.  Special kit for hearing loss.
    1.  Waterproof container or bag
    2.  Extra hearing aid batteries and supplies
    3.  Cleaning tools (small toothbrush, tissue)
    4.  Flashlight and batteries – will help with lipreading in the dark
    5.  Old or spare hearing aids
    6.  Dry aid kit to absorb moisture
  3.  Establish an “emergency support network” (friends, family, caregivers).
    1. Be sure they know you have hearing loss and hearing aids
    2. Show them your hearing aids, batteries and how to operate
    3. Can they communicate with you in normal situations?
    4. Give them an extra kit for access in an emergency
  4.  Stay informed.
    1. Sign up for email or text alerts for weather emergencies and other incidents
    2. Written alerts are best for hard of hearing
    3. Keep a written list of emergency numbers for assistance
  5.  Know evacuation plans and routes as well as shelter locations.
    1. Find out how to reach by foot
    2. Bring hearing kit with you – to maintain communication

Being prepared will reduce the additional impact of hearing loss on an emergency.  Make your plan now before you need it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motorcycles and Wind Noise

August 27th, 2017 by

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Wind noise on motorcycles makes for an uncomfortable ride!  Wind noise increases rider fatigue, tension and impacts safety.  It is the dominating source of noise for the rider above 30 mph.

Custom earplugs are recommended for easier rides, better communication and less wind noise. Reducing wind noise prevents ringing in the ears that occurs after noisy rides.

“I love them.  I used them for a two day motorcycle training class where we rode all day long. I barely noticed them.”         Tyler S.

wind noise and motorcycles

Wind noise and motorcycles

Rider Options:

Foam earplugs:  Does not reduce sound evenly and are less effective in the low frequencies where wind noise occurs. Are not comfortable to use for long rides.

Custom earplugs:  Comfortable for extended wear and long rides.  Made of soft silicone material with an active filter reducing wind noise.  No muffling and distorting of sounds.

In-ear monitors:  Custom-fit, provide good isolation, maintains fidelity of sound. Comfortable for extended wear.

We can help reduce wind noise from recreational motorcycle rides. Contact our office at 919-968-7556 or schedule an appointment online today!

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