Why Are There Different Types of Hearing Loss?

They say that variety is the spice of life. While it’s nice to have options, in some cases the fewer your choices, the better. If there were only one type of hearing loss, for instance, treatment would be fairly standard, and everybody’s prognosis would be similar. But the ear is a complex organ consisting of three separate structures; damage to any of these sections will result in a different type of hearing loss.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

woman struggling to hear

If you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss by a Lake Charles audiologist, you are part of a not-so-exclusive club. About 48 million Americans suffer from impaired hearing, a group that includes people of all ages – not just the elderly, as is commonly assumed. The most common causes of hearing loss in Louisiana include:

  • Aging. Presbycusis (hearing loss resulting from natural aging) affects one-third of adults by the age of 65. By age 75, half of all adults will experience some degree of hearing loss. It develops gradually and is the culmination of a lifetime of noise exposure. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In addition to noise, other factors such as heredity, disease and ototoxic medications can cause hearing loss. Because presbycusis develops slowly, many people are unaware of their problem for months (or years).
  • Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Noise exposure is a common cause of hearing loss, especially in younger individuals. Unlike presbycusis, NIHL is preventable. It is the result of prolonged exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels; the louder the sound and the longer you are in contact with its source, the quicker NIHL can occur. About 15 percent of adults in Lake Charles aged 20 to 69 experience NIHL, and 12.5 percent of children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 suffer from it. Activities that increase your risk include concerts, sporting events, hunting, and riding motorcycles, boats or snowmobiles. Earplugs are the best way to prevent NIHL and preserve your hearing.

Other Hearing Loss Factors

There are three main types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive Hearing Loss. Conductive hearing loss is the result of damage to the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. It can be caused by structural deformities, fluid or wax accumulation in the middle ear, ear infection, allergies, eardrum perforations, foreign objects in the ear, otosclerosis and benign tumors. Conductive hearing loss may be reversed with surgery or medications.
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, also referred to as “nerve deafness,” occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. In addition to aging and noise exposure, it may be caused by trauma, viruses, autoimmune disorders, otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, malformations of the inner ear and tumors. Hearing aids are the usual prescribed treatment for sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss. This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and, as its name applies, affects both the inner ear and middle and/or outer ears. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and might include a combination of medications, surgery and hearing aids.

But wait…we’re not done quite yet. Hearing loss is further categorized as being either monaural or binaural. Unilateral hearing loss (sometimes referred to as single-sided deafness) affects one ear only, while bilateral hearing loss affects both ears.

And you thought hearing loss was straightforward!

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, your Lake Charles audiologist can help answer any questions you might have and provide you with additional information.

Are You at Risk for Hearing Loss – Here’s 3 Ideas That Will Help

One in every three people 65 years or older suffers from a degree of hearing loss, according to Hearing Loss Association of America. It could be that they took precautions early in life to save their hearing but was it enough?

Hearing deficients related to aging amount to the break down of many delicate hair cells in the cochlea, the inner ear, that move when sound hits them. Loud sounds play a big part in that process, however. It’s the little things you do now that can save those tiny hairs, reducing the danger of hearing loss as a person ages. There is no guarantee that you won’t be that one in three who experiences some hearing loss, but the odds are in your favor if you take steps to protect your ears now. Consider three simple things you can do to lower your risk of hearing loss.

1. Do a Home Noise Evaluation

Evaluating your home environment is a good place to start. Try to figure out what things there might expose your ears to uncomfortable noise levels. For example, what is the normal TV volume in your home? How about your tunes? Do you use headphones to listen to them?

Now is a good time to lose the headphones. Sound travels in waves. Headphones and ear buds introduce those waves directly into the ear canal. It’s a little like the difference shooting a gun from point blank range instead of from 100 feet away. By putting headphones on, you are exposing your ears to sound waves that are much stronger than they should be and damage the intricate components of your ears in the process.

Consider what other things you might do around the house that can introduce loud noise into your life. Perhaps you have a woodworking shop or some other craft that requires you to use loud equipment? Even things like mowing the lawn will take a toll. You don’t have to stop doing the things you love, just make sure you have the proper ear protection on hand when you do them like noise dampening ear muffs.

2. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body – including your ears. Regular fitness schedule lowers your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes or hypertension. These illnesses can affect your hearing as you get older. The truth is any kind of exercise will do, so go out and pick something you really enjoy like swimming or biking. Keep track of your activity, too, and ensure you meet the recommended standards offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For adults, that means about 150 minutes a week of moderate to intense aerobic activity along with strength training at least two days a week.

3. Get Regular Ear Checkups

Like most health problems, the earlier you detect hearing loss, the better. A regular ear check-up will spot problem areas and allow you to see an ear specialist if necessary. For most people, it will also mean the occasional professional hearing test. Get the first one as early in life as possible. This can serve as a baseline as you grow older. When you get additional tests every few years, you will start to see how your hearing is changing. If you notice a drop, medical intervention might be able to slow or even stop the hearing loss progression.

A trip to the doctor each year for an ear exam helps you manage your hearing and control loss. The doctor can eliminate earwax blockage safely, for example. A physician will also know what types of drugs put your hearing at risk, preventing medication-related damage.

There is no perfect way to make sure you don’t have hearing loss later in life, but a little forward-thinking will certainly improve your odds of enjoying your golden years with the best hearing possible.

The Hidden Signs of Hearing Loss

Triangular sign with an exclamation point in front of blue background

If you suffer from hearing loss, you would think it would be obvious, right?

Well, that’s precisely the problem; many people presume it would. However, although severe or sudden hearing loss is easy to identify, mild to moderate developing hearing loss can be too subtle to detect. That’s why, on average, people will wait five years or longer from the beginning of symptoms to seek help.

Think of hearing loss as a slow leak in a tire. It’s difficult to notice the daily changes, and it’s only when the tire becomes flat, and your car is no longer drivable, that you decide to take action.

Regrettably, whereas tires are replaceable, your hearing is not. It can be to some extent restored, but the sooner you deal with your hearing loss the more of your hearing you’ll restore.

So how can you recognize the signs and symptoms of early-stage hearing loss? Below are several of the hidden signs that suggest you should get a professional hearing assessment.

1. Difficulty hearing particular sounds

Commonly people think that hearing loss impacts all types of sounds. Therefore, if you can hear some sounds normally, you assume you can hear all sounds normally.

Don’t get trapped into this mode of reasoning. The truth is that hearing loss predominately affects higher-frequency sounds. You may discover that you have particular difficulty hearing the voices of women and children, for instance, due to the higher pitch of their voices.

This may lead you to think that the individuals you can’t hear are mumbling, when the reality is, you have high-frequency hearing loss.

2. Relying on context to comprehend speech

Someone is talking from behind you and you can’t understand what they’re saying unless you turn around and face them. You have to rely on body language, and potentially lip reading, for additional information used to fill in the blanks.

Speech is composed of an array of frequencies, from low to high, with consonants representing the high frequencies and vowels representing the lower frequencies. The issue for people with high-frequency hearing loss is that consonants transmit the most meaning yet are the most difficult to hear.

If you have hearing loss, speech comprehension is like reading a sentence with missing letters. Normally, you’ll get it right, but when you don’t, you may discover yourself responding inappropriately or asking people to repeat themselves frequently. You may also have difficulty hearing on the phone.

3. Difficulty hearing in noisy settings

With mild hearing loss, you can normally decipher what other people are saying, albeit with lots of effort. Once background noise is presented, on the other hand, the task often becomes overwhelming.

You might find that it’s difficult to hear in group settings or in loud environments like restaurants or social gatherings. The contending sounds and background noise are muffling your already affected hearing, making it highly difficult to concentrate on any one source of sound.

4. Listening Fatigue

Last, you may observe that you’re more tired than normal after work or after participation in group settings. For people with hearing loss, the continuous battle to hear, together with the effort to grasp incomplete sounds, can trigger severe exhaustion, which is a non-obvious sign of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is gradual and ends up being more complicated to treat the longer you delay. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, even if they’re only mild, we strongly recommend arranging a hearing test. By taking action sooner, you can preserve your hearing and stay connected to your family and friends.

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Changes in Personality

Elderly man sitting on bed alone

The effects of hearing loss appear obvious, such as the frustration of the continuous battle to hear and the impact this can have on relationships. But what if the consequences went deeper, and could actually influence your personality?

Research from the University of Gothenburg shows that this might be the case. The researchers examined 400 individuals aged 80-98 over a six-year time frame. The researchers measured several physical, mental, social, and personality measures throughout the study, including extroversion, or the inclination to be outgoing.

Unexpectedly, the researchers couldn’t connect the decrease in extraversion to physical variables, cognitive decline, or social challenges. The single factor that could be associated with the decrease in extraversion was hearing loss.

Although people generally speaking become less outgoing as they age, this study demonstrates that the change is amplified in those with hearing loss.

The effects of social isolation

Reduced extraversion, which can lead to social isolation in the elderly, is a significant health risk. In fact, a meta-analysis of 148 studies examining the relationship between social isolation and mortality found that a shortage of supporting social relationships was correlated with increased mortality rates.

Additionally, social isolation is a major risk factor for mental illness, including the onset of major depression. Going out less can also result in decreased physical activity, contributing to physical problems and weight issues, and the lack of stimulation to the brain—ordinarily received from group interaction and dialogue—can lead to cognitive decline.

How hearing loss can result in social isolation

The health effects of social isolation are well developed, and hearing loss seems to be connected to decreased social activity. The question is, exactly what is it about hearing loss that makes people less disposed to be socially active?

The most evident answer is the difficulty hearing loss can present in groups. For people with hearing loss, it is often exceedingly challenging to follow conversations when several people are speaking all at once and where there is a large amount of background noise.

The constant battle to hear can be fatiguing, and it’s sometimes easier to go without the activity than to struggle through it. Hearing loss can also be embarrassing, and can produce a sensation of alienation even if the person is physically part of a group.

For these reasons, among others, it’s no surprise that many people with hearing loss decide to escape the difficulties of group interaction and social activity.

What can be done?

Hearing loss brings about social isolation primarily because of the difficulty people have speaking and participating in group settings. To render the process easier for those with hearing loss, consider these guidelines:

  • If you suffer from hearing loss, consider trying hearing aids. Today’s technology can treat practically all cases of hearing loss, rendering the amplification necessary to more easily interact in group settings.
  • If you have hearing loss, speak with the group beforehand, informing them about your hearing loss and advocating ways to make communication easier.
  • For those that know someone with hearing loss, attempt to make communication easier. Limit background noise, find quiet areas for communication, and speak directly and clearly to the person with hearing loss.

With a bit of awareness, preparation, and the right technology, we can all make communication much easier for those with hearing loss.

Tips For Strengthening Communication in the Presence of Hearing Loss

Two women having a conversation outside

Communicating in the presence of hearing loss can be difficult—for each party. For individuals with hearing loss, partial hearing can be upsetting and draining, and for their conversation companions, the constant repeating can be equally taxing.

However, the difficulty can be lessened provided that both parties take responsibility for successful conversation. Since communication is a two-way process, each parties should collaborate to beat the obstacles of hearing loss.

Below are a few useful tips for effective communication.

Tips for those with hearing loss

If you have hearing loss:

  • Go for full disclosure; don’t simply say that you have trouble hearing. Detail the cause of your hearing loss and provide recommendations for the other person to best converse with you.
  • Suggest to your conversation partner things like:
    • Maintain short distances in between us
    • Face-to-face interaction is best
    • Get my attention prior to talking with me
    • Speak slowly and clearly without screaming
  • Search for quiet places for conversations. Limit background noise by shutting off music, locating a quiet table at a restaurant, or finding a quiet room at home.
  • Keep a sense of humor. Our patients often have fond memories of absurd misunderstandings that they can now have a good laugh about.

Bear in mind that people are ordinarily empathetic, but only if you take some time to explain your circumstances. If your communication partner is mindful of your challenges and preferences, they’re considerably less likely to become irritated when communication is disrupted.

Tips for those without hearing loss

If your communication partner has hearing loss:

  • Get the person’s attention prior to speaking. Don’t yell from across the room and face the person when talking.
  • Make sure the person can see your lips and enunciate your words carefully. Hold a consistent volume in your speech.
  • Reduce background noise by finding quiet areas for conversations. Turn off the TV or radio.
  • In group settings, make sure only one person is speaking at any given time.
  • Remember that for those with hearing loss, it is a hearing problem, not an understanding problem. Be ready to repeat yourself from time to time, and remember that this is not because of a lack of intelligence on their part.
  • Never use the phrase “never mind.” This phrase is dismissive and suggests that the person is not worth having to repeat what was significant enough to say in the first place.

When communication fails, it’s easy to blame the other person, but that’s the wrong approach.

As an example, consider John and Mary. John has hearing loss and Mary has average hearing, and they are having significant communication problems. John thinks Mary is insensitive to his hearing loss and Mary thinks John is using his hearing loss as a reason to be inattentive.

Instead, what if John searched for techniques to develop his listening skills, and provided tips for Mary to communicate better? At the same time, what if Mary did the same and attempted to find ways that she could communicate more clearly.

Now, both John and Mary are accepting responsibility for their own communication and are not blaming the other person for the difficulties. This is the only way to better communication.

Do you have any communication guidelines you’d like to include? Tell us in a comment.

How to Handle Listening Fatigue From Hearing Loss

Woman holding her hands up to her forehead exhausted

Have you ever experienced intense mental exhaustion? Perhaps you felt this way after completing the SAT examination, or after concluding any test or task that called for rigorous concentration. It’s like running a marathon in your head—and when you’re done, you just want to collapse.

A similar experience develops in those with hearing loss, and it’s known as listening or hearing fatigue. Those with hearing loss take in only partial or incomplete sounds, which they then have to decode. With respect to comprehending speech, it’s like playing a persistent game of crosswords.

Those with hearing loss are presented with context and a few sounds and letters, but in many cases they then have to fill in the blanks to decipher what’s being said. Language comprehension, which is supposed to be natural, ends up being a problem-solving exercise demanding deep concentration.

For example: C n ou r ad t is s nt e ce?

You probably figured out that the arbitrary assortment of letters above spells “Can you read this sentence?” But you also probably had to stop and think it over, filling in the blanks. Just imagine having to read this entire article this way and you’ll have an appreciation for the listening demands placed on those with hearing loss.

The Personal Impact of Listening Fatigue

If speech comprehension becomes a laborious task, and socializing becomes strenuous, what’s the likely outcome? People will start to stay away from communication situations entirely.

That’s the reason why we observe many individuals with hearing loss come to be a lot less active than they had previously been. This can result in social isolation, lack of sound stimulation to the brain, and to the higher rates of cognitive decline that hearing loss is increasingly being connected to.

The Societal Effects

Hearing loss is not only exhausting and frustrating for the individual: hearing loss has economic consequences as well.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports that the societal cost of severe to profound hearing loss in the US is approximately $300,000 per person over the course of each person’s life. Collectively, this amounts to billions of dollars, and according to the NCBI, the majority of the cost is attributable to lowered work efficiency.

Supporting this assertion, the Better Hearing Institute found that hearing loss adversely affected household income by an average of $12,000 per year. Additionally, the more severe the hearing loss, the greater the effect it had on income.

Tips for Minimizing Listening Fatigue

Listening fatigue, then, has both high personal and societal costs. So what can be done to alleviate its effects? Here are some tips:

  • Wear Hearing aids – hearing aids help to “fill in the blanks,” thus avoiding listening fatigue. While hearing aids are not perfect, they also don’t have to be—crossword puzzles are much easier if all the letters are filled in with the exception of one or two.
  • Take periodic breaks from sound – If we try to run 10 miles all at once without a break, most of us will fail and give up. If we pace ourselves, taking periodic breaks, we can cover 10 miles in a day fairly easily. When you have the chance, take a break from sound, find a peaceful area, or meditate.
  • Minimize background noise – introducing background noise is like erasing the letters in a partially completed crossword puzzle. It drowns out speech, making it difficult to comprehend. Attempt to control background music, find quiet areas to talk, and opt for the less noisy sections of a restaurant.
  • Read as a substitute to watching TV – this isn’t terrible advice by itself, but for those with hearing loss, it’s even more pertinent. After spending a day bombarded by sound, give your ears a break and read a book.

Hearing Loss: Overcoming the Barriers to Treatment

Father and son sitting on couch

The interesting thing regarding hearing loss is that, statistically, if you have it, you most likely won’t acknowledge it or seek treatment for at minimum five to seven years—possibly longer.

The statistics:

  • 20 percent of the US population, or 48 million people, have some degree of hearing loss.
  • Of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek out treatment.
  • Of those who do seek treatment, they’ll wait 5 to 7 years prior to getting a hearing test.
  • Of those that get a hearing test, they’ll delay, on average, 10 years after the official diagnosis prior to ordering hearing aids.

That means, on average, out of 100 people, 20 will have some amount of hearing loss. Out of those 20, only 4 will seek treatment. And those 4 people will wait 5 to 7 years before obtaining a test, after which they’ll wait an extra 10 years before buying hearing aids.

That means, in this sample of 100 people, 16 people will forfeit healthier hearing indefinitely, while the 4 that seek treatment will have forfeited 15 years of better hearing and a greater quality of life.

Resistance to Finding Help

If you work in the hearing care industry, these numbers are demoralizing. You’ve likely got into the profession to help people—and with contemporary technology you know you can—yet the vast majority of people won’t even attempt to improve their hearing, or for that matter, even concede that there’s a problem.

The question is, why do millions of individuals deny their hearing loss or abstain from seeking help?

We’ve found the top explanations to be:

1. Hearing loss is gradual

Hearing loss commonly builds up in small increments over several years and isn’t obvious at any one specific moment in time. For instance, you’d notice an instant 20-decibel hearing loss, but you wouldn’t necessarily perceive a yearly loss of 1-2 decibels over 10 years.

2. Hearing loss is partial

High-frequency hearing loss (the most frequent kind) principally affects higher frequency sounds. That means you might be able to hear low-frequency sounds normally, producing the perception that your hearing is normal. The issue is, speech is high-frequency, so you may feel that the speaker is mumbling when, the truth is, hearing loss is to blame.

3. Hearing loss is pain-free and invisible

Hearing loss is very subjective: it can’t be detected by visual evaluation and it’s not usually accompanied by any pain or uncomfortableness. The only way to appropriately measure hearing loss is with a professional hearing test (audiometry).

4. Hearing loss is not considered by most family physicians

Only a low percentage of family doctors regularly screen for hearing loss. Your hearing loss will probably not be noticeable in a quiet office setting, so your physician may have no reason to even suspect hearing loss—not to mention they may not be trained in its proper evaluation.

5. Hearing loss is easily compensated for

If you have hearing loss, there are other ways to boost sounds: you can crank-up the volume of the television or compel people to yell or repeat themselves. But not only does this approach work poorly, it also passes the burden of your hearing loss onto other people.

If people can overcome these obstacles, they still face the stigma of hearing loss (although it’s fading), the price of hearing aids (although it’s falling), and the perception that hearing aids just don’t work (entirely erroneous).

With so many barriers, it’s no surprise why so many people wait to deal with their hearing loss, if they treat it at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Overcoming the Roadblocks to Better Hearing

Here’s how you can conquer the barriers to better hearing and help others do the same:

  1. Understand the odds – hearing loss is among the most common health issues in the United States. 20 percent of the population has hearing loss, so it’s not improbable that you may, too.
  2. Accept your hearing loss – hearing loss is common, as are hearing aids. Millions of people in the US wear hearing aids and most are satisfied.
  3. Obtain a hearing test – hearing loss is difficult to recognize and easy to deny. The only way to know for certain is by obtaining a professional hearing test.
  4. Learn about hearing aids – the latest hearing aids have been demonstrated to be effective, and with so many models and styles, there’s a pair that’s right for you and your budget.

Regarding hearing aids, the Journal of the American Medical Association in a recent study researched three prominent hearing aid models and determined that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”

The research shows that hearing aids are highly effective, but what do hearing aid users have to say? As reported by the MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.

Help Reverse the Statistics

To summarize, of those with hearing loss, only 20 percent will seek treatment, in spite of the fact that hearing aids are effective and most people are satisfied with their hearing aids’ all-around performance.

But what if the statistics were flipped, and 80 percent of those with hearing loss sought treatment? That would mean an extra 28 million people in the US could experience all of the physical, mental, and social advantages of better hearing.

Share this post and help reverse the trend.

How to Tell Others About Your Hearing Loss

Family smiling

Hearing loss is identified as the invisible disability for a reason. No one can view or experience your hearing loss, and no one can experience your difficulty and stress. The only thing someone can sense is their OWN aggravation when they have to repeat themselves.

Regrettably, those with hearing loss seldom get the benefit of the doubt. That’s why communicating your hearing loss to others is vital—both for gaining empathy and for engaging in effective conversation.

Here are a few tips you can use to let others know about your hearing loss.

Full disclosure of your hearing loss

Informing other people about your hearing loss may be awkward or distressing, but in doing so you’ll avoid several other awkward situations. Missing out on jokes and causing others to repeat themselves, for instance, can produce situations that are much more uncomfortable.

When revealing your hearing loss, strive for complete disclosure. Don’t just say something like, “I can’t hear you, please speak up.” Instead, summarize your hearing loss and recommend ways the other person can best communicate with you. As an example, you might say something like, “I’m partially deaf in my left ear because of an infection I had years ago. If you could sit on my right side that would help out a lot.”

Suggest how others can best communicate with you

Once you disclose your hearing loss, others will be less likely to become aggravated and more apt to take the time to communicate clearly. To help in this respect, offer your communication companions some suggestions for better communication, such as:

  • Keep the distance between us short, and please don’t yell across the room or from another room.
  • Face to face communication is important; visual signs and lip-reading help me with speech comprehension.
  • Get my attention before communicating with me.
  • Speak slowly and clearly, but there is no need to yell.

Your friends, family members, and work colleagues will respect the honesty and tips, and you’ll avoid having to cope with communication obstacles after the fact.

Manage your hearing environment

After fully disclosing your hearing loss and supplying communication guidelines, the final consideration is the control of your surroundings. You want to give yourself the best opportunity to listen and communicate clearly, and you can attain this by cutting out distractions and background noise.

Here are a few tips:

  • When eating out, find a calm, serene restaurant and select a table away from the center of the restaurant.
  • At social gatherings, it’s best if there is no background music or sound coming from a TV or radio.
  • Locate quiet areas for conversations.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak to the host ahead of time about special preparations.

Planning ahead is your best option. Approaching the host prior to the event will give you your best chance at effective communication. And the same advice applies to work; reserve some time with your supervisor to review the preparations that give you the best chance to realize success. Your supervisor will likely appreciate the initiative.

Find professional help

Once hearing loss starts to make social events more of a burden than a pleasure, it’s time to search for professional help. Modern hearing aids have come a long way in terms of their ability to filter background noise and enhance speech, and they may be just what you need to take pleasure in a lively social life once again.

7 “Life Hacks” For Healthy Hearing

Woman cupping had around ear

Life hack is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: “A strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.” Life hacks can help save you both time and money, and some are so simple you’ll ask yourself why you hadn’t previously thought of them.

Clever but simple life-hacks include shifting your toaster sideways to make a grilled cheese sandwich, using the sticky portion of sticky notes to clean in between the keys of a keyboard, and using duct tape to open jars.

Life-hacks can also apply to the human body: examples include scratching your ear to eliminate an itch in your throat, lying on your left side to relieve acid reflux, and pushing your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth to alleviate brain freeze from ice cream.

But what about our hearing? Are there any life-hacks we can employ to allow us to hear better or with less effort? As it happens, there are quite a few—here are our picks for the best 7.

1. Test your hearing online

You can quickly check for hearing loss using one of the many apps accessible online, or by taking the online hearing test on our website. If the results reveal hearing loss, you can then schedule a professional hearing test with your community hearing care provider.

2. Employ white noise for a better night’s sleep

Research suggests that employing white noise can help you sleep better as it helps to develop a bedtime routine, keeps the room calm, and helps “turn off” your active brain.

3. Use specialty earplugs to prevent hearing loss

Prolonged and repeated exposure to any sound higher than 85 decibels can stimulate irreversible hearing loss (rock concerts can get to over 100 decibels). Using custom earplugs is a simple way to avoid hearing injury, and the most current earplugs can conserve sound quality while reducing volume. Contact your local hearing care professional for more information.

4. Protect your hearing with the inverse square law

This law of physics could end up saving your hearing. The inverse square law states that as you double the distance from the origin of sound the intensity of the sound declines by 75 percent. So, in lieu of standing front row at a rock concert, increase your distance from the loudspeakers as much as you can (while retaining a good view).

5. Use the 60/60 rule when listening to music

If you listen to a portable music player with headphones, maintain the volume at 60 percent of the maximum volume for not more than 60 minutes per day to prevent hearing loss.

6. Favor your right ear for speech

A study executed over the course of six years by scientists at UCLA and the University of Arizona discovered that the right ear is better designed for speech and the left ear for music. So the next time you’re having issues hearing a conversation, turn your right ear toward the speaker.

7. Control your listening environment

Using hearing aids is probably not considered a life-hack, but it is the only way to properly improve hearing in the presence of hearing loss—and the things you can do with modern hearing aids are truly extraordinary.

For instance, a number of hearing aids are wireless and can be operated with smartphones or digital watches. That means the user can inconspicuously adjust volume and settings for each situation—in essence, the user can literally control the sound environment. We can’t think of any other life-hack cooler or more valuable than that.

What did we miss? What are your preferred life-hacks (health-related or in general)?

6 Things a Hearing Care Professional Can Do For You

Doctor with patient

There tends to be more misunderstanding when it pertains to hearing care than with most other medical specializations. We don’t need to ask, for example, what a dentist or eye doctor can do for us. But when it comes to our hearing, we’re commonly uncertain as to what action we should take or which professional we should visit.

So what exactly can a local hearing care professional do for you? Several things, actually—things that could turn out making your life better and easier.

The following are 6 services you should be aware of.

1. Evaluation of hearing and balance

Hearing professionals are specifically trained in evaluating hearing and balance. If you think you have hearing loss, balance issues, or experience ringing or buzzing in the ears, the local hearing specialist is the go-to professional.

By performing professional audiological assessments, hearing specialists can adeptly diagnose the cause of your hearing loss or balance problems. And if your hearing loss is induced by an underlying medical condition, hearing specialists can prepare the suitable referrals.

In addition, If you have persistent ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus, many hearing specialists can provide targeted therapies.

2. Earwax removal

In some cases, what is assumed to be hearing loss is nothing more than excessive earwax buildup. While it’s not the most extravagant facet of the job, hearing specialists are skilled in professional ear cleaning. If this is the cause of your hearing loss, you could start hearing better within minutes.

And remember, it’s never safe to insert anything, most notably cotton swabs, into your ear canal at home. There are other appropriate ways you can clean your ears, such as with homemade solutions or ideally by arranging an appointment the hearing specialist.

3. Customized hearing protection

A number of individuals make the error of first visiting the hearing specialist after they acquire hearing loss. Don’t make the same error. If you’re working in a loud career (for example as a musician) or participate in loud activities (like hunting), you should pick up custom ear protection to avoid future hearing loss.

You could just purchase some foam earplugs at the convenience store, but they’re generally uncomfortable and produce an annoying muffled sound. Custom earplugs fit comfortably in your ear and preserve the sounds you desire to hear while protecting against the sounds that result in damage.

4. Expert hearing tests (audiometry)

Hearing loss is hidden, pain-free, and at times challenging to recognize or accept. The only method to get an accurate diagnosis is with the aid of a professional hearing assessment referred to as audiometry.

Making use of leading-edge equipment and practices, the hearing specialist can accurately diagnose hearing loss. After performing the test, the final results are printed on a graph called an audiogram. Just like a fingerprint, everyone’s hearing loss is a little different, which will be visually represented on the audiogram.

If you can benefit from hearing aids, the audiogram will function as the blueprint to programming and customizing the technology.

5. Hearing aid selection and fitting

Hearing aids come in many styles, from numerous manufacturers, equipped with countless capabilities. Considering that everyone’s hearing loss and preferences are a little different, this variety is necessary—but it does make things a little overwhelming when you need to make a decision.

That’s where hearing professionals can help you. They’ll assist you to find the hearing aid that suits your hearing loss while ensuring that you don’t waste money on features you simply don’t care about or need.

Once you find the ideal hearing aid, your hearing specialist will make use of your audiogram as the blueprint for personalization. That way, you’ll be sure that your hearing aid optimizes your hearing based on the sounds you specifically have difficulty hearing.

6. A lifetime of healthy hearing

The health of your hearing should always be maintained as vigorously as any other component of your health. We have family physicians, dentists, and optometrists that help safeguard several aspects of our health on a continuous basis.

In the same way, we ought to have a specific professional looking out for the health of our hearing. Your relationship with your hearing specialist shouldn’t end following your hearing test; it should be ongoing. Hearing specialists offer a variety of valuable life-long services, including hearing aid cleaning, upkeep, troubleshooting, and repair, together with advice and direction on the latest technology.

So while your hearing will inevitably change over time, your hearing specialist should not. If you agree to finding a local professional who cares about helping people over everything else, you’ll enjoy the benefits of healthy hearing for life.