Hearing Loss

Protecting Your Ears From the Sounds of Summer

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Some of the best summer sounds, can also be the most harmful: sports games, fireworks, outdoor concerts. However, rather than avoiding these sounds, you can still have fun while protecting your ears! Keep reading to find out how and when you should protect your ears this summer.

HOW LOUD IS TOO LOUD?

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any noise louder than 85 dB, or by a one-time, intense exposure to a noise like an explosion. Health experts recommend protecting your hearing when exposed to:

  • Noises louder than 100 dB for more than 15 minutes

  • Brief, one-time noises of 120 dB (for children) and 140 dB for adults

To help you understand when it's appropriate to protect your ears, we've created the infographic below. 

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If you hear ringing, buzzing or experience temporary hearing loss when operating machinery, leaving work, or following a concert, hearing protection is crucial. Parents - if you can hear sounds from your child's headphones or earbuds while standing next to them, the volume is too loud.

If you're constantly exposed to noises over 85dB at work or home, please contact us. We provide many types of hearing protection and can work with you to find the best solution. If you think you're experiencing noise-induced hearing loss, you can set up a complimentary screening here.

We wish you all a happy, healthy summer. And, please remember to protect your ears!

Sign Language Stores: The Wave of the Future?

📷 Credit: Starbucks

📷 Credit: Starbucks

Starbucks opened a new signing store in Washington D.C. last Fall. The store is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is located near Gallaudet University, an institution for Deaf and hard of hearing students.

The store features a beautiful sign language mural that was created by a Deaf artist and adjunct professor of Gallaudet University. Deaf “partners” (employees) at the store wear aprons (pictured above) with the word “Starbucks” signed on them. All partners - even those who hear - are fluent in American Sign Language. The hearing partners wear traditional Starbucks aprons with an “I Sign” pin on them. The store features a “sign of the week” above the register to give hearing customers the opportunity to learn words in sign language. There are many more details incorporated into this well-thought-out space. Read more on the Starbucks website.

With 20% of the U.S. population (~48 million Americans) experiencing some form of hearing loss, we hope the Starbucks Signing Store inspires more brands to create similar experiences for this community.

Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Disease

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February is American Heart Month and a good time to discuss the link between hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. (Hint: It’s all about the blood flow.)

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, refers to a number of conditions that cause narrowed or blocked blood vessels and contribute to heart attacks, chest pain, or stroke. Our auditory system depends on an oxygen-rich blood flow. The tiny hair cells in the inner ear responsible for conducting sound to the brain can be damaged if sufficient oxygen through the blood is unavailable due to the narrowed or blocked blood vessels. This cell damage is what causes permanent hearing loss.

Maintaining a healthy heart can reduce your risk or help prevent further hearing loss. Many of the things you can do to take care of your heart will also help protect your hearing:

  • Avoid smoking: Smoking is known to be harmful to your heart and your inner ears. Read more about the relationship between smoking and hearing health.

  • Exercise: Exercise helps increase blood flow (among many other benefits)! Exercising for 20-30 minutes per day, four or five days a week, can contribute to a healthy heart and healthy hearing.

  • Nutrition: A heart-healthy diet can help improve your hearing and prevent further hearing loss. Click here to read more about foods to consume and avoid.

Research from Harvard University found that hearing loss occurs 54 percent more often in people with heart disease, compared to the general population. Researchers also hypothesize that low frequency hearing loss - especially in people who are middle-aged or younger - could be an indicator of the presence or potential development of cardiovascular disease. 

If you already have hearing loss, it’s important to speak to your healthcare professional about whether it might indicate heart disease, as well. If you suspect you have hearing loss, its connection to your heart health should be reason enough to get your hearing tested.

If you or someone you know are concerned about your hearing, feel free to contact us or take our hearing questionnaire

Helping Loved Ones Feel Included During the Holidays

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Holidays are a time for family gatherings and celebrations. While most of us relish this time of year and the festivities that ensue, keep in mind that large social gatherings are one of the most difficult environments for someone with hearing loss. Even if surrounded by loved ones, not being able to hear or engage in conversations often makes them feel isolated.

Statistics show that 50% of us will have someone with hearing loss at our holiday table. Thirty percent of holiday gatherings will include someone with hearing aids. 

We've compiled a short list of tips to make sure everyone feels included in the upcoming festivities.

For Friends/Family of Someone with Hearing Loss:

1.     Reduce or eliminate background noises in the main gathering space, such as music or the TV.

2.     Remove or minimize obstacles that interfere with a person’s ability to lip read, such as dim lighting and large centerpieces.

3.     Ask your friend/family member where they’d like to sit. Seat them beside someone who will help them navigate conversations.

4.     If asked to repeat yourself, consider rephrasing what you just said. Oftentimes, those with hearing loss have difficulty hearing a particular word or or deciphering a sound of speech. 

5.     When speaking to someone with hearing loss, stay close. It's often a good idea to touch their arm or shoulder before you speak to get their attention. Face them in case they need to read your lips.

Tips for Those with Hearing Loss

1.     Choose a place at the table that is best for you. If seating has been pre-determined, ask the host if you can re-arrange yours.

2.     Sit beside someone who is your advocate; someone who will repeat things for you if necessary and be patient with you.

3.     Too much background noise? Move the conversation to a quieter room, if possible.

4.     If the music or TV is too loud, ask the host to turn it down. Be polite, but assertive. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. 

5.     If you have hearing aids, wear them! You can always make adjustments to volume or settings if needed. 

Most importantly, we hope everyone enjoys this holiday season surrounded by those you care about most. Sending all of you our best holiday wishes. Cheers!

Complimentary Hearing Screening at Waynesboro Library

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Join Us!

Monday, September 24

2 PM - 5:30 PM

Waynesboro Public Library
600 South Wayne Ave
Waynesboro, VA 22980

Dr. Tammy Garber will be offering complimentary hearing screenings this month at the Waynesboro Public Library. No appointment is necessary; stop by anytime to have your hearing checked, or to discuss questions or concerns with her.

Hearing Loss May…

  • Make it difficult to converse on the telephone

  • Make you feel tired or taxed after a gathering or meeting

  • Limit or hamper your personal or social life

  • Cause you to ask people to repeat themselves

  • Result in stress or anxiety

  • Make you feel isolated from friends, family or co-workers

  • Cause you to have difficulty understanding women's and children's voices

  • Cause others to complain that you turn up the TV too loud

Hearing loss has been linked with many health issues, including depression, social isolation, dementia, tinnitus, and balance disorders. Please don’t delay if you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of hearing loss. Once it occurs, the majority of hearing loss is irreversible.

If you can’t make it to this event but are interested in getting your hearing checked, call us at 434-326-4535 to schedule an in-office complimentary screening.

The (Loud) Sounds of Summer: How and When to Protect Your Ears

Crozet, VA, Fireworks. Photo credit: M.C. Andrews Photography

Crickets chirping, waves crashing, and campfires crackling are sounds typically associated with fond Summer memories. But, some of the most harmful sounds to your ears are also associated with this season: fireworks, lawnmowers, power tools, and outdoor concerts are among the loudest. 

More than 26 million Americans ages 20-69 have noise-induced hearing loss. This is caused by damage to the hair cells that are found in our inner ear. Hair cells are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear (sound energy) into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss. 

HOW LOUD IS TOO LOUD?

The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any noise louder than 85 dB, or by a one-time, intense exposure to a noise like an explosion. ƒHealth experts recommend protecting your hearing when exposed to:

  • Noises louder than 100 dB for more than 15 minutes

  • Brief, one-time noises of 120 dB (for children) and 140 dB for adults

To help you understand when it's appropriate to protect your ears, we've created the infographic below. 

If you hear ringing, buzzing or experience temporary hearing loss when operating machinery, leaving work, or following a concert, hearing protection is crucial. Parents - if you can hear sounds from your child's headphones or earbuds while standing next to them, the volume is too loud.

If you're constantly exposed to noises over 85dB at work or home, please contact us. We provide many types of hearing protection and can work with you to find the best solution. If you think you're experiencing noise-induced hearing loss, call us for an appointment. We provide hearing evaluations and carry the latest in hearing technologies.

We wish you all a happy, healthy Summer. And, please remember to protect your ears!

Chemotherapy and Hearing Loss

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Among the many negative side effects of chemotherapy, there is one that does not receive as much attention: hearing loss. Many cancer treatments are ototoxic, which means they have a toxic effect on the ears. Damage can be in the form of destroying the tiny hairs in the cochlea, attacking the cochlea and other structures of the ear, and damaging the auditory nerve. Chemotherapy treatments can also cause Tinnitus ("ringing in the ears"), dizziness and/or balance disorders, all of which are related to the inner ear. 

Chemotherapy treatments from the "platinum" group, such as Cisplatin and Carboplatin, are known to be particularly harmful. These are commonly used to treat breast, ovarian, testicular, cervical, and lung cancers. The effects of these chemotherapies are irreversible and are seen in approximately 20% of patients (1 in 5) who take them.

During treatment, patients are typically focused on the more prominent and visible side effects (such as hair loss and nausea). Hearing loss and Tinnitus are generally slow to progress and build over time. It is important for patients undergoing cancer treatment to be aware of the side effects affecting hearing since they may not be noticed right away.

It is our recommendation (and the recommendation of most doctors and health experts) to see an audiologist for a baseline hearing test before treatment begins. This way, your hearing can be monitored throughout treatment. If hearing loss, Tinnitus, dizziness or balance disorders are present, adjustments in dosages or other medications designed to decrease the symptoms may be considered. 

Restaurants Helping Those with Hearing Loss

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Restaurant Week is in full swing! Many look forward to this week to get out in the community, support local businesses, and sample their way through town. But for those with hearing challenges, the noisy restaurant setting can present difficulties. 

Restaurants in Baltimore are working to change this. Several participated in the Hearing Hospitality Initiative in preparation for Baltimore Restaurant Week. This initiative involved training and providing resources and tips to servers and other restaurant staff to help patrons who suffer from hearing loss. Areas covered in the training included body language, seating, and tips for taking orders and reservations. HASA is the organization leading this program. According to its website, "because 33% of adults over the age of 65 and half of adults over the age of 75 are hard of hearing, there are a large number of guests in a restaurant at any given time who could benefit from an enhanced environment."

Kudos to HASA and those restaurants participating in this initiative. What a great example; we hope many others follow.

Read more about this initiative from the CBS affiliate in Baltimore. We also encourage you to share this information with some of your favorite local restaurants!

Hear the Ring of the New Year

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Most of us see the start of the New Year as a fresh beginning. Many of us take time at this point in the year to set resolutions to improve our health and wellbeing - breaking bad habits, eating healthier, exercising more, and focusing on things that bring us joy. As several of our blog posts have focused on in the past, hearing is closely linked to physical and mental health, including cardiovascular health, high blood pressure, balance, dementia, and feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety and social isolation. As you prepare to ring in 2018, consider making hearing health a priority this year:

1. Schedule an appointment.

If you've experienced any of the signs of hearing loss or feel that hearing is negatively impacting your life in any way, make an appointment with an audiologist or your practitioner. Regular hearing exams can detect even the smallest changes in your hearing. The earlier these changes are detected, the better the outcome. If hearing loss is determined, you and your audiologist can find a solution that will almost immediately help improve your life. 

2. Get a tune-up.

If you are a hearing aid wearer, regularly scheduled tune-ups and professional cleanings are just as important as the initial hearing exam. Even the slightest bit of wax buildup or moisture or can impair your hearing aid's performance. Your audiologist can check to ensure your hearing aids are performing at their optimal level.

3. Inquire about the latest assistive listening devices and technologies.

Do you struggle to hear during certain times of the day, such as when you’re watching TV or in a group atmosphere? How well do you hear on the phone? If you have difficulties with certain electronics or in certain environments, a wide range of assistive listening devices and new technologies are available to help fill in the gaps where your ears fail. These range from TV adapters to bluetooth smartphone devices to hearing aids that pair with iPhones. Ask your audiologist for these types of solutions to help improve your hearing health.

We hope this list has given you some ideas on how to maintain and improve your hearing health in the New Year. We wish you all happiness and good health in 2018.