3 Principle Hearing Exercises Anyone Might Do Alone or With a Friend

artwork of a man fighting against noise of music from headphones

#1 Learn to Filter Noise at Home

When you workout your ears, are you working out your mind too? Sound filtering is the phrase we use when talking about how focusing on something essential and filtering out the sound distractions in the room. Exercising this skill keeps it sharp and that means you are able to understand a conversation even in a noisy space.

You can start your practice with music from a couple of different devices – maybe use the TV and your laptop. Now, ask a friend to sit with you and talk. Take time to focus on the conversation while ignoring the music playing around you from the various devices. Work this exercise in a room where you can change the environmental distractions easily like adjusting the volume.

How to do the Exercise

It’s a challenge for someone with hearing loss to listen to the conversation when there is a lot of distracting noise. That’s a problem most people have but one that is significant with serious hearing loss. Consider how a noise as simple as the heater or AC unit coming on could make hard to understand words unless you learn to keep your mind focused and your ears sharp with hearing exercises.

Begin your practice in a comfortable space. You’ll want to avoid fidgeting so you can focus. When possible, find a quiet room for this exercise. It will be less frustrating if you have control over the distracting sounds.

Start a conversation and turn one device on low. Are you both still using your normal speaking voices? Can you hear the other person? If you answered yes to both questions, then keep moving on, if not, turn the volume down on the device until you can comfortably hear and speak with the other person.

After you’ve gotten used to filtering out one music source, try adding in the second one. To make it more of a challenge, try adjusting the volume or adding on even more devices. The nice part of this exercise is both you and your friend are doing something good for your ears and minds!

#2 Identify and Locate Sounds

Did you hear that? It’s the kind of question everyone asks regardless of hearing loss. The good news is by practicing how to locate a sound and identifying what’s making it is a proven way to strengthen your hearing.

Similar to the previous exercise, you won’t need a lot of fancy tools or equipment. It’s also a great excuse to get outdoors regardless of if you’re in the country or a major city. The idea is to surround yourself with varied sounds. The more diverse the environment the better!

How to do the Exercise

This simple exercise is great for your mental health because it’s actually working to strengthen the connections and pathways your brain uses to interpret information from your ears. In other words, it’s going to fine tune your mind so you can do more with less effort!

Look for a space that is bustling but comfortable. Maybe use the local shopping mall or food court. Now, close your eyes and focus on one single sound around you. Let your mind help you determine where that sound is coming from and what’s making it. Is it someone’s shoes clicking? Maybe it’s a child clapping her hands? If you can’t quite identify it try to figure out how big the object is that’s making the sound and how it makes you feel, or even what type of material might be used to create it. All of these small puzzle pieces together will help you determine what the noise is and strengthen your hearing at the same time.

#3 Play Brain Games

Not every exercise has to be a major hearing challenge. You can work all of your senses, including your hearing, by strengthening your mind. The brain serves as your translator, so you can improve sound recognition by focusing on its overall functioning. A doctor or hearing professional can provide you with specific games to improve your mental agility, but there are some you can do on your own.

How to do the Exercise

There are quite a few games that work for one or more players. For example, any kind of logic or strategy game will help and you can play it on your tablet, on your table, or in the newspaper.

Speaking of print publications, crossword puzzles and number games like Sudoku are powerful mind puzzles for someone who wants to flex their mental muscles on their own. Even tasks like crocheting will work your mind and keep it strong. Memory games are especially effective. They can be as basic as a card game or as exciting as a shell game. If those don’t appeal to you, keep looking because there are much more out there. For example, remember the Rubik’s cube? It can provide hours of pattern recognition and problem-solving practice.

Of course, don’t forget the social brain games such as playing chess, checkers, or scrabble with friends and family. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you’re using your noggin!

What Kinds of Support Might You Not Be Hearing

Picture of an extended hand

Is your hearing loss leaving you feeling just a little less than? Less than intelligent, perhaps, because you must fight to stay involved in every conversation. How about a little alone? It probably seems like your friends and family are avoiding you. Maybe hearing loss has left you devoid of energy. Just the effort to hear and comprehend every sound is exhausting.

Depression is a natural side effect of hearing loss, especially when it is associated with aging, because the decline is gradual and easy to miss. In between the various moods you experience are periods of enhanced stress because you don’t really understand what’s happening to you. If all this sounds a bit like your life, then you could probably use a pick-me-up. How about a compliment?

A 2012 study published by the National Institutes of Natural Science discovered that people improve when someone offers them a compliment. The ability to give and receive compliments provides a number of health benefits like a stronger immune system and better productivity, too. Of course, if you have hearing loss, you are not enjoying those compliments like you used to or the health perks that come with them. What kinds of compliments do you think you might be missing?

The Ones That Offer Support

When is the last time a person you cared about said they believe in you? With hearing impairment, they might be doing just that and you wouldn’t know. That feeling of accomplishment that comes with this compliment is difficult to muster regularly without the support from your friends and family. Maybe you feel a sense of power when you finish a project or get in a workout, but it’s fleeting sensation without reinforcement. As a society, we rely heavily on what the people in our lives think of the things we do.

If you have presbycusis, the technical name for hearing loss that occurs with age, you may not hear your grandchild say she believes and loves you or that special person in your life’s message of support. This type of hearing problem makes high tones like the female voice hard to comprehend.

You might, on the other hand, easily pick out the sound of a male voice, but it often comes off as mumbled. The deep tones sound more like gruff and less like supportive, because you miss a word here and there allowing your brain to fill in the voids.

Although presbycusis is associated with aging, it really is a consequence of things people do throughout their lives like wearing headphones or going to concerts each week. Even playing the radio loud as you drive has a long-term effect. These actions take a cumulative toll, which is why hearing experts warn you to start protecting your ears early in life.

Nature’s Own Complements

The things that make you feel the best are not necessarily man-made. Mother Nature has her own way of soothing the soul with sound. How about the birds singing in the morning or the wind blowing through the trees? Maybe you enjoy listening to the rainfall? Since age-related hearing loss tends to be gradual, so you might not even know you are missing these things, well, until you put on your first set of hearing aids and all those sounds come back.

The Benefit of Feeling Safe Compliments Your Life

Losing your hearing is about more than just how you feel, though. There is a safety concern to consider when you lived your whole life relying on your ears as a warning system. They tell you when there is a car coming, for example. If you miss the sound of the car itself, there is the backup of another person yelling the warning at you. Those are all potentially gone when you live with untreated hearing loss.

The Environmental Compliments

You’re missing out on the little things around the house, too. How about the signal the dryer rings out when the cycle is complete? All those wrinkled clothes are enough to make anyone depressed.

There are more serious concerns at home, too, like the smoke alarm. Traditional ones emit a high-pitch sound that a person with age-related hearing might not comprehend. They make special types of smoke and carbon monoxide warning systems with low-frequency tones just for that reason along with other types of alarms like ones that flash the lights or shake the bed. You won’t have these systems in place, though, unless you recognize your hearing impairment.

Getting Back on the Compliment Track

Now that you know what you are missing, what can you do about it? There is more at stake here than just the occasional compliment to make you feel good. Hearing loss has a significant impact on your quality of life and safety. If you are noticing fewer compliments coming your way, maybe it’s time to make an appointment for a hearing exam and professional hearing test.

Want Good Hearing Health: Here are 7 Tongue Twisters You Really Need to Learn

Picture of a woman with letters coming out her mouth

Do tongue twisters help improve your ear health? One could make the argument that tongue twisters are effective for brain health and there is a clear overlap between the brain and ears. Tongue twisters bring with them a unique linguistic anomaly – the double onset. In one study, a team from MIT, working with a number of universities, looked closer at this phenomenon. They brought together some volunteers and had them record different tongue-twisting word groupings to see if they could create problem scenarios like word reversals – a good example of the double onset

What they discovered was a pattern of mistakes relates to each tongue twister. What does all that have to do with your ear health? The tongue twisters we face in adult life are not as clever as “Rubber baby buggy bumpers” but they can be just as tricky. Medical terminology is a fine example of this in action and the hearing health industry is full of many of these types of tongue twisters. Even if you can’t say them fast, you still need to understand them and know what they mean for you and your ears. Consider seven tongue-twisting words that you should know.

1. Otolaryngologist

That’s a tricky word. It’s pronounced like this: [oh-toh-lar-ing-goluh-jist]. An otolaryngologist is an ear doctor with a focus in otorhinolaryngology – a medical-surgical subspecialty for the study and treatment of conditions that affect the ear, nose and throat. Doctors who study this specialty may also be called ENT surgeons. Their job is to do surgeries of the ear, nose, throat and base of the skull. This is the specialist you would see for many different procedures including cochlear implants.

An otolaryngologist is a physician who must complete an additional five years of surgical residency training. Once done, he or she undergoes fellowship training that lasts one or two more years.

2. Sensorineural

That’s is a real tongue-twister. Sensorineural pronounced: [sen-suh-ree-noo r-uh l] and it indicates a very specific kind of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss, known also as sensory hearing loss, means you have a problem with the inner ear problem that is affecting your hearing — typically involving the hair cells in the cochlea. That is not the same thing as conductive hearing loss, which refers specifically to the movement of sound waves toward the inner ear. It is estimated that about 90 percent of hearing loss falls under the category of sensorineural.

3. Audiological

Yeah, that one is tough, too. The pronunciation is: [ô′dē-ŏl′ə-jē-kel] and it refers to something that is related to audiology, which is the study of hearing. Another word that falls into that line of thinking is an audiologist, which is a person that performs and interprets professional hearing tests such as the pure tone audiometry or the otoacoustic emission measurement.

Those tests might sound like just more of the same tongue twisters but, ultimately, all these words describe the exam process used to assess your hearing deficits and strengths. The goal is to determine the level of hearing loss you might have and make recommendations for devices that can help like hearing aids.

4. Presbycusis

Hard to pronounce, [prez-by-coo-sis], but it is a word you do need to know. This is the condition that most people call age-related hearing loss. Presbycusis isn’t about age, though. It is the cumulation of various stressors that eventually affect hearing ability. Every time you put on those headphones, you are damaging the delicate mechanisms of the ear, leading you one step closer to that age-related hearing loss.

5. Tympanometry

It sounds a little like something you’d play in band class, but tympanometry is actually a type of hearing examination. Pronounced [tim-panohm-i-tree], this test involves the introduction of air pressure into the ear canal to see how the mechanical components of the ear function. Specifically, this test is a measurement of the mobility of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and it tells a specialist if there is fluid in the middle ear, how well the middle ear system moves and the ear canal volume.

6. Ototoxicity

This word has critical meaning when it comes to hearing health. Pronounced [o-tuh-tok-sis-i-tee], it refers to something that is toxic to the ear and usually applies to medication. Certain types of antibiotics, for example, can cause hearing loss. This is also true for certain over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen. If you worried, you should ask your doctor before taking a drug to find out if it is ototoxic.

7. Audiogram

That one’s not quite so hard to say but it is a good one to know. Pronounced [aw-dee-uh-gram], this is a chart produced by a professional hearing test. It maps out the tones at different frequencies and how well you can hear them.

Whether they twist your tongue or not, these are words worth understanding. Your hearing health relies on the little things you do to protect it like seeing an ear doctor regularly and getting a hearing test done. Now is a good time to educate yourself by learning the terminology that affects your ear health.

How Do Doctors With Hearing Loss Manage to Find Success

Picture of an audiologist

Is hearing loss something you should let choose your career path for you? For that matter, is there any career that you couldn’t do with a hearing problem? More than 20 percent of the population in the United States has some form of hearing loss and many of them have jobs that you might think are impossible without a perficient hearing. You might even be surprised to learn that individuals with hearing loss are lawyers, actors, musicians, dentists, judges and, yes, even doctors.

The fact is determined people who are hearing challenged find few limitations in their lives, especially given today’s advancements in hearing technology. Physicians that face this problem just look for workarounds that help them accomplish their goals. It is, after all, one small obstacle in a road full of challenges. How do physicians who have hearing loss manage their jobs?

They Understand Their Condition

Who would know better than a doctor that hearing loss and intelligence having nothing to do with one another. Hearing impairment is simply a mechanical failure of some portion of the auditory system. It doesn’t have anything to do with cognitive thinking or problem-solving skills.

Once a person with hearing loss accepts that they can stop being held back by this one sense, or lack of it. Doctors look for solutions that help them overcome any hurdles related to their ear health.

They Get a Professional Diagnosis

A physician experiencing gradual hearing loss will know to do what everyone else should too — see an ear specialist and get a proper diagnosis. Hearing loss can occur for many reasons and some of them are reversible. The problem may be excess ear wax, for example.

Chances are a medical doctor will also know to get regular hearing tests to gauge their decline. This allows you to be proactive about your hearing health.

They Get Hearing Assistance

There is no rule that says you must learn to live with hearing loss. Doctors understand the importance of hearing assistance tools like good quality digital hearing aids. After the hearing test, a physician would know to work with a certified retailer to find a brand and model hearing aid that best suits his or her needs.

It’s possible a physician might do well with hearing aids that are Bluetooth compatible, for instance, and have directional microphones. Bluetooth allows the physician to connect the hearing aids to a smartphone or tablet and directional microphones enhance conversation in noisy environments. Noise reduction probably comes in handy, as well, to filter out background noise.

They Get a Strong Support System

For a physician that might include joining professional organizations to network with colleagues facing the same challenges. The Association of Medical Professionals With Hearing Losses is a practical choice for an industrious doctor. They will connect clinicians with other professionals online and via conferences, but they offer some must-have resources, too including ones that help the hearing challenged physician to find the right stethoscope.

They Use Their Disability to Grow

There is little doubt that hearing loss, new or a lifelong, opens up some career concerns, but, just maybe, it leads to new opportunities, as well. Consider Dr. Philip Zazove, for example. Dr. Zazove has been deaf most of his life and saw the challenges first hand. He states in an article for CNN Health that he applied to 12 separate medical schools and didn’t even get interviews despite doing well on the MCATs. After settling for graduate school, he was finally given a chance to go to medical school.

Nowadays, he uses his hearing loss to help his patients facing similar problems. In his family practice, he works with many who are hard of hearing or severely deaf. His life experiences have given him a distinctive opportunity to help others find their own way through life despite the challenges they face.

What do physicians with hearing loss do? The same thing anyone else does, they march on against the things that work to hold them back beginning with a proper diagnosis and hearing test.

You Know You Need to Hearing Aids But Is It One or Two: How Can You Know

Picture of a person making a decision

When it’s time to make a decision about hearing aids, you might wonder, “Do I really need two hearing aids or will one do?”

Is there really a point to spending the money on two hearing aids when your hearing loss only affects one ear? Let’s look at why you might consider getting two hearing aids and when one really is enough.

Temporary Versus Permanent Hearing Loss

This is a critical distinction. Is your hearing loss temporary or permanent? The best person to ask is a qualified medical specialist after getting a full ear exam and maybe a professional hearing test. If you find your hearing loss is due to any of the following situations, chances are it is temporary:

  • A wax blockage that can be remedied in a clinical setting
  • A side effect of prescription medications
  • The common cold, an ear infection or other acute medical condition
  • Exposure to a loud noise

Assuming your hearing loss is temporary, your doctor can find a solution that returns it to you. If you’re hearing loss is permanent, though, then your next decision will be regarding hearing aids — but is that one hearing aid or two?

When Should I Consider Getting Two Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are an investment, so It’s tempting to purchase just one and save the expense of a second device. You might want to reconsider, though. There are benefits to getting a hearing aid for each ear, especially if you have some hearing loss in both such as:

  • Better clarity and alertness that having two functional ears gives you
  • Research suggests that hearing well in both ears lets your brain distinguish between important auditory input and useless background noise
  • Two hearing aids help you locate where sound comes from so you can fully tune into the message
  • Offers a sense of clarity through balancing incoming stimuli
  • Lowers the risk of developing tinnitus
  • Decreases the chance of auditory deprivation, in other words, there is a tendency for the function of an unaided ear to decline

What Is Single-Sided Hearing Loss?

Single-sided, or unilateral, hearing loss occurs when you can hear well in one ear and have difficulty in the other.

When Should I Consider Getting One Hearing Aid?

The three primary reasons to purchase just one hearing aid is that you have single-sided hearing loss, you’re completely and irreversibly deaf in one ear or you have age-induced cognitive delays.

Assuming you do have some hearing loss in just one ear, you won’t need a hearing aid in your other one. This is also true if you are permanently deaf in the one ear, there is no point in purchasing a second hearing aid. These two situations will not improve with the addition of a second hearing aid.

If you are a person over the age of 85 and have cognitive delays, choosing to wear two hearing aids might create excess auditory stimuli, enough that it becomes overwhelming and confusing. You might find you struggle to separate speech patterns from other speech or background noise, as well.

The final reason to choose only one hearing aid is it’s just too big of a financial burden if you do try to buy two. Make sure you exhaust all of your options first, though, before settling for just the one hearing-assistance device. Look to social services and your insurance company for help.

Choosing The Right Hearing Aid For You

Of course, you want what’s best for your ears, so you can continue to participate in all the activities you love. For more information on hearing health, check us out today!

Common Hearing Issues and How Can You Overcome Them?

When your hearing starts to decline, it’s the little things that stand out in your mind — small issues that change in your life and grab your attention. Chances are it’s the change that will eventually get you to the ear doctor, but, until then, how can you overcome these very familiar hearing-related problems? If you’re one of the millions of people in the United States that is experiencing some kind of hearing loss, consider five things you might notice and what you can do about them.

1. Tinnitus

That sound you imagine you are hearing is really just an annoying side effect your hearing change — one that can grate on your nerves. Tinnitus is a flag that usually indicates a hearing decline, especially as a person gets older. Not everyone hears ringing, though, for some people it’s a:

  • Buzzing
  • Roaring
  • Clicking
  • Hissing

Regardless of what sound you think you hear, it will take it’s toll eventually.

Begin by learning to recognize things that can sometimes trigger tinnitus such as drinking coffee or soda. Keep a log and record what you do right before the noise starts such as using your headphone to listen to some tunes or putting extra salt on your food. Over time, you will identify your personal tinnitus triggers and be able to eliminate them.

You may also need to find ways to cover this noise up, especially at night when you are trying to fall asleep. Something as simple as a fan running in the room can mask the sound of tinnitus and give you some relief.

2. Problems Following Conversation

Gradual hearing loss can mean you start noticing people mumble more or certain words are never clear. Hearing aids will go along way towards eliminating all these issues. If you are not quite ready to go down that road, there are a few tricks you might try.

Put yourself in the best position to hear. Face the person you are talking to and look at them as they speak. The combination of what you hear and what you see might be enough to clarify things.

Go out of your way to have conversations in quiet areas, too. Background noise will make it harder to understand speech. Step away from fans and turn off the TV, for instance.

Ask for clarification when you can. If you are having problems hearing, it’s probably not a secret, so just put it out there. Telling someone you are talking to that you have a hearing challenge is enough to get them to speak clearly and turn up the volume a bit.

3. Irritability

Fighting to hear every word is exhausting and that fatigue catches up with you. Looking for ways to eliminate that extra stress such as wearing hearing aids can reduce your frustration, but so will learning different relaxation techniques. Find a hobby that refocuses your mind, something like learning to paint or crochet. Practice extreme breathing exercises, too. They will teach you the art of calming yourself when you feel overcome with stress.

One of the best ways to handle this type of chaos, though, is to exercise daily. Working out forces your body to release hormones that help calm you and make everything seem less stressful.

4. Social Withdrawal

Loss of hearing will leave you feeling left out of the loop and maybe different than everyone else in some way — like you can’t understand even the simplest of things anymore. That’s will make anyone want to turn down a chance to get out with friends. As a result, you may end up spending more time alone and socially isolated.

The way to get back your life is to accept what is happening to you. Once you take that step, you can find ways to fight the desire to avoid time with family and friends. When you do head out for the night, tell the people you are with about your struggle. You might find that instead of being alone, you end up with a support system that can help.

5. Denial

Age-related hearing loss is usually slow, so it’s easy to deny. Individuals often blame other things like the old TV or that one friend who never did speak very clear. Watch for patterns in your thinking and listen to what your friends and family are telling you. It’s not uncommon for the family to be the first to notice someone they love has hearing loss.

Don’t forget, too, you can eliminate most of these problems in one swoop just by getting an ear exam, a proper diagnosis and, maybe, hearing aids. If even one of these scenarios sounds familiar, then it’s time to for a professional hearing test.

Do You Have Hearing Loss: How Could That Change Your Driving?

Hearing loss is a common ailment that older individuals must deal with, but should it be why they stop driving? There is no real answer since few people drive exactly the same way.

A loss of hearing is definitely something you want to consider when getting behind the wheel of your car, but a safe driver isn’t going to change just because they notice mild hearing loss. People who were bad drivers before their hearing challenge began will still be bad drivers after.

What should you do if you are experiencing hearing loss and still want to drive to work each day or take a road trip during the summer? Is it still safe even though you don’t hear as well?

Think Beyond the Wheel

If you do notice hearing loss, chances are it won’t really affect your driving…not right away, at least. That day may be coming, though, especially if you don’t do something to stop the decline.

Johns Hopkins Medicine reports there is a direct connection between ear health and brain health. Fighting to hear changes the way the brain to uses valuable resources. It’s a struggle to understand words, for instance. This is likely a contributing factor to brain atrophy, which means dementia. A person suffering with dementia certainly can’t drive.

What About Driving?

Driving requires keen observational skills and some of that is auditory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive with hearing loss. The Center for Hearing and Communication estimates about 48 million Americans have significant hearing loss and a good portion of them still drive.

At least one study found that people behind the wheel that do have hearing loss tend to be more visually observant and, generally, drive more cautiously. They drive slower in traffic and use their mirrors more to make up for what they may not hear.

Tips for Driving With Hearing Loss

 

Tip 1:

The first tip is to stop procrastinating. See a doctor, get a hearing test and consider how hearing aids can change things for you. Hearing aids can help eliminate the “should I be driving with hearing loss” question.

Tip 2:

When wearing your hearing aids, you need to be be a more observant driver, which leads you to tip number two – get your vision tested. After all, when it comes to driving, vision is the thing that matters most, so it’s time to ensure yours is good enough for driving. Ask your physician to double-check your night vision, too, just so you know whether driving after sundown is a viable option for you. If you don’t hear well, you need to be extra cautious about your eye health and vision.

Tip 3:

Keep the chaos down inside the car, too. In other words, get the noise to a minimum, so you can focus on hearing the important stuff without distractions. Shut the radio off completely and ask anyone riding with you to keep quiet, as well.

Tip 4:

Get used to checking your dashboard regularly. It’s the little things that will add up when you drive with hearing loss. For example, you will no longer hear that clicking noise that tells you that your turn signal is on. You will have to rely on your eyes to pick up the slack, so get in the habit of checking to see what your car is trying to tell you.

Tip 5:

Make maintenance a priority. You’re not going to hear that rattling noise under the hood anymore or the warning bell telling you there is a problem with your engine or another critical component. That is a major safety hazard, so make a point of having your car serviced routinely. That’s a good idea for most people but a necessity if you are driving with hearing loss.

Tip 6:

Watch the other cars closely. Of course, you would do that anyway, but you want to look for signs you might be missing something. You may not hear emergency sirens, for instance, so if the cars pulling over to the side, you should too. Look to see how other drivers are responding to their surroundings to get clues on what you might not be hearing.

Can you drive with hearing loss? That’s up to you. It is possible to be a good driver even if your hearing is not what it used to be because odds are your other senses will help you make the adjustment. If the idea makes you nervous, though, then it’s time to see an ear specialist and find a solution to improve your situation like wearing hearing aids.

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.

5 Secret Ways to Stretch the Shelf Life of Your Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are the most typical types of hearing technology, but they have one serious downside. They tend to burn through batteries at an alarming rate. With close to 20 percent of the population in the U.S. experience at least minor of hearing loss, you can be sure the battery manufacturers are only ones happy right now.

The reality is, though, that good working batteries are a necessity if you want the hearing aid to work well but there are things you can do to make them last. For the savvy hearing aid customer, a little forward thinking about how long the batteries last will save you tons of cash on replacements and keep you hearing at the same time. Consider five covert ways that you can use to extend that hearing aid’s battery life.

1. Shop Well

Hearing aids are expensive and that cost factor doesn’t stop after they are paid for, either. How the hearing aid utilizes battery power is a primary consideration as you buy. There are many reasons for a serious battery drain such as:

  • Type hearing aid
  • Type battery
  • How you use the hearing aids
  • How many hours you wear the hearing aids
  • Features

Figuring out what features will work well in your life is a critical and something you need to research before picking out your hearing aids. Look for the features that will enhance your quality of your life, but get educated about what you’re buying first. Those little add-ons like wireless connectivity, direct audio input and synchronization can sometimes use lots of energy, so you have to balance out what you need with how much they contribute to battery burn.

Start by talking to a certified hearing aid seller, taking time to discuss each feature and don’t forget to ask how it affects battery life, then pick out the ones that matter most. Be sure you have a clear understanding of how each feature changes the way the battery operates and how that will, in turn, alter the cost of replacement batteries down the road.

2. Practice Good Hand Hygiene

When you do have to replace your hearing aid battery, hand washing should be your first step. Cleaning your hands well will remove any grease and dirt from your skin before you touch the battery. This debris can affect the performance of the battery and actually damage the hearing aid, too. Take the time to dry your hands thoroughly before handling either the battery or the hearing aid, because water does work well with either.

3. Practice Good Hearing Aid Hygiene Too

You’ll also want to clean the HEARING aids themselves. Dirt and ear wax build up can have a real effect on how each device works and, in turn, affecting the battery life. There are problems with poorly maintained hearing aids. First, ear wax, dust, and other stuff will accumulate on these devices, keeping the speakers and ports from working well. This means you might be turning up the sound more often and draining that battery power in the process. The second concern involves changing the batteries out. If you put your fingers on a dirty hearing aid, you will transfer that debris to the battery.

Read the manufacturer’s recommendations to for keeping your hearing aids well maintained. This will likely include a good cleaning before switching out the battery and instructions to wash your hands right before making the change.

4. Follow the Storage Instructions for the Batteries

Often batteries come in a pack, so there are extra ones to store. Read the instructions on how you should properly keep them to ensure they are safe. Some common storage advice includes:

  • Leaving the tabs on all unused batteries
  • Storing them loose batteries at normal room temperature
  • Keep the batteries away from metallic objects like coins or keys
  • Let the battery sit for one minute after removing the tab and prior to inserting it into the hearing aid

These are basic steps designed to enhance the performance and lifespan of each battery.

5. Turn off the Hearing Aids

When you are not wearing your hearing aids, make sure to turn them off. Place the device in a safe container, preferably the one that came with it and then pull open the battery door. This allows any moisture inside the hearing aid to escape while cutting back on the units battery drain. If you plan on leaving the hearing aids out for an extended period, remove the batteries completely.

Keep in mind, too, that the better quality the battery and the hearing aid, the less time and money you’ll spend in the long run. It’s tempting to save money by buying cheap, but, in the end, it just ends up costing you more. Hearing aids and batteries go hand in hand, so shop smart and take care of your investment to keep both of them working at their best.

What to Do If Your Good Friend Really Needs To Get a Hearing Test

Do you have someone in your life who you suspect has hearing problems? You are not alone. Statistically speaking, it’s possible that most people know at least one individual who is hearing impaired and probably doesn’t realize it. About 36 million people in the United States have hearing challenges, according to Dr. Bettie Borton, AuD, president of the American Academy of Audiology. If it’s not a friend, it might be a spouse, parent or a grandparent.

Often hearing loss is a progressive issue for most, so even though you can tell there is a problem, they may not see it. It’s common for a person’s friend or family member to be the one who recognizes the problem in the first place. Maybe, what you should be asking is what you can do about it? It’s your job to help your friend or loved one come to the see what you already know. It’s time for them to schedule a hearing test.

It’s a complex topic for most because hearing loss and aging tend to go hand-in-hand. Consider some practical and less offensive ways you can get that your close friend to agree to get a professional hearing test.

Start With a Discussion About Why Hearing Loss is a Concern

Make it about you, though, and not your friend, if that helps. For example, medical science has found a link between some kinds of hearing loss and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, a 2014 report issued by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows there is a certain amount of brain shrinkage in patients that ignore their hearing loss as opposed to managing it with hearing aids and other devices.

Talk to your friend about the fear you have that undetected hearing loss can hurt you down the road and why you think it’s time for to think about a hearing test.

Get One Yourself

The truth is that most people benefit from getting the occasional hearing test, so why not schedule one for yourself and challenge your friend to join you. Instead of talking about potential hearing loss, make the test part of a comprehensive wellness strategy, something you can work on together You get your nails done together, maybe, you go to the gym together, you might even head to the dentist together, so why not a hearing test?

Maybe, tell your friend you need some help because you’re not sure what to expect from a hearing test. You might even claim to that you’re not sure if you have hearing problems of your own. It can’t hurt you to get tested, especially if it helps out a friend.

Recognize the Signs

Maybe just being honest is the better approach for this particular friend, but before you bring it up, make sure to have all your facts right. Maybe what you’ve noticed isn’t hearing loss at all, but a symptom of something else. Now is a good time to get familiar with some of the signs of hearing loss just to be sure. Some common symptoms include:

  • Your friend starts avoiding social situations
  • Your friend complains of being tired often
  • Your friend seems to have headaches a lot
  • Your friend mentions a ringing in his or her ears
  • Your friend gets the details wrong often like times or key words
  • Your friend says “What” during every conversation
  • Your friend is always turning the volume up
  • These are little things that a person might not notice about themselves, but friends pick up on easily.

Now, Point Out the Things You’ve Noticed

Start a conversation about what you’ve noticed like:

  • You’ve been repeating yourself a lot
  • Your friend is getting some details wrong during your conversations
  • You’ve noticed this friend seems to struggle to hear you talk

Point out some of the tell-tell signs of hearing loss, such as turning the head to one side to hear or the seemingly automatic “What” all through your discussions. It might be your friend always has a look of extreme concentration or even confusion during a conversation.

Take the time to write some specific examples, too. The more details you offer, the more your friend will recognize the symptoms. Even it if it doesn’t sink in the first time around, you planted a seed and now this person will start to notice things on their own. Don’t be confrontational, just caring and concerned.

Once, you’ve had the talk, offer to make the appointment for your friend. It will usually start with a trip to the ear doctor. Afterward, you can go along for the test as support.

Hearing loss is not an easy thing to accept, but an important challenge to face because there are consequences if you don’t. Be that friend that understands the need and help that someone in your life find their way back to healthy hearing.