How To Properly Clean Your Ears

Q: What do your ears and your oven have in common?

A: They are both self-cleaning

It’s true! Your ears can clean themselves with the help of cerumen. Cerumen, the medical term for earwax, forms in the outer one-third of your ear canal, naturally migrating out of your ear with jaw movements, such as talking or chewing, to naturally clean your ears.

Earwax is also thought to have protective, antibacterial and lubricant properties. Wax protects the ear by keeping debris away from the eardrum. Inserting ear cleaning or wax-removal tools can potentially push the wax further down the canal, thereby causing harm to the wall of your ear canal or eardrum. Removing ear wax can also make your ear canal feel dry and itchy because of the natural lubrication it provides.

Is it ever okay to clean your ears?

Despite the wide array of removal tools sold over the counter, the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) believes that under ideal circumstances your ears will never need to be cleaned: “Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that earwax should be routinely removed for personal hygiene. This is not so. In fact, attempting to remove ear wax with cotton-tipped swabs, bobby pins, or other probing devices can result in damage to the ear including trauma, impaction of the earwax, and changes in hearing. These objects only push wax in deeper, and can block the ear canal entirely.”

How to help avoid earwax build up:

If your ears tend to produce a great deal of earwax, you can help prevent build up and impaction by using a softening agent once a week. Drops like Debrox and Murine are sold over the counter and can soften wax by allowing it to come out on its own more easily. If you feel most comfortable leaving removal to the professionals, you can schedule wax removal every 6 to 12 months with your doctor or hearing professional.

NOTE: If you have tubes in your ears, a hole in your ear, diabetes, or a weakened immune system you should contact your physician before attempting to remove wax on your own.

Signs of an impaction (earwax buildup):

An excess build-up of earwax can lead to impaction and other unpleasant symptoms including pain, infection, decrease in hearing, itching and more.

  • If you notice pain, fullness, or a plugged sensation in your ear you should see a professional to rule out wax impaction.
  • If wax blocks your ear canal you may notice a decrease in hearing, ringing, itching, odor, or an increase in coughing.

A professional trained in earwax extraction can use suction, a curette, microscope or irrigation for removal. Manual removal may be used if the ear canal is narrow, the eardrum has a hole in it, or there is a tube in the ear drum. Individuals with diabetes or weakened immune systems should be especially careful about wax removal.

Hearing aids and earwax

Earwax can wreak havoc on hearing aids. Some hearing aid wearers report an increase in earwax production when they begin wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids can stimulate the glands in the ear canal to produce more wax and block the normal migration of wax from the ear canal. More importantly, earwax can clog a hearing aid’s microphones and receivers, impairing quality and performance. This is why cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids is so important. Your hearing care professional will demonstrate how to properly clean and maintain your hearing aids.

 

Sources:

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com by Dr. Beth McCormick.

 

14 Great Reasons to Wear Hearing Aids

Got hearing loss but don’t want to wear hearing aids? Today’s hearing aids have a lot more upside than just looking significantly more stylish than their predecessors.

You can hear again

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss.

Your spouse will be relieved

They’ll be grateful they won’t need to be your interpreter anymore.

Your grandkids will stop looking at you quizzically

OK, no guarantees on that. But at least they’ll stop wondering why you say “what?” all the time, never answer their questions, or answer off topic.

You can enjoy music again

Starkey Muse hearing aids are the first hearing aids specifically engineered to enhance the enjoyment of music.

You can watch TV without blasting the volume

Starkey’s wireless hearing aids can stream sound directly from your TV to your hearing aids. You control the volume. No one else has to hear it if you don’t want them to.

You’ll be a positive role model to friends and family

You proactively did something about your hearing loss. Who doesn’t admire a take-charge person?

You’ll boost your confidence

When you can hear clearly, you’ll be more self-assured in restaurants, on the job, and in social and public settings.

You could positively impact your earning power

Studies show people who treat their hearing loss earn higher incomes than peers who don’t.

You’ll get tired less quickly

The harder it is to hear, the more energy your brain uses to listen, the quicker you get mentally exhausted. Hearing aids help negate that.

You’ll enjoy going out to noisy places like restaurants again

Loud environments are the most challenging for hearing loss sufferers. Today’s best hearing aids help, thanks to technology that detects and isolates speech and reduces background noise.

Your brain will thank you

Your brain is a like muscle, and processing sounds is one of its favorite exercises. Sound deprivation can accelerate atrophy.

You’ll minimize potentially embarrassing moments

Hearing information incorrectly or answering questions inappropriately (or not at all) could lead to an unnecessary and regretful faux pas.

You could improve your safety and those under your charge

There’s less chance you’ll miss warning sounds, important instructions, or calls for help.

Did we already say your spouse will be relieved?

Not just them, but friends and family, too. They won’t have to repeat things, or shout things, or tolerate the TV being so loud. Or worry about you as much.

If you’re one of the millions of adults who haven’t sought help for your hearing loss, you’re missing out on plenty. Contact us today to discover even more great reasons to wear hearing aids.

Source(s):

This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com.

Everything You Need to Know About Hearing Aid Batteries

Batteries are one of the most important things when it comes to hearing aids. Hearing aids need a steady source of power from a quality hearing aid battery in order to run effectively and properly. A low battery or defective battery can significantly impair the performance of a hearing aid.

Here are four things you should know about hearing aid batteries:

How Long Batteries Last: Standard hearing aid batteries last anywhere from 3 to 22 days, depending on the type of hearing aid, the battery type and capacity and how often the hearing aid is used.

Changing Batteries: Depending on how often you use your hearing aids, you may need to change batteries once a week or twice a month. You should change your batteries if any of the below occur:

  • Sound becomes distorted or you have to turn up the volume on your hearing aid more than normal.
  • The “low-battery” beep or voice sound comes on, indicating that the battery is getting low and should be changed. Switch to a new set of batteries as soon as you can when you hear this sound.

NOTE: Dead batteries should be removed immediately so they don’t swell and become difficult to remove later.

Protective Seals: You might have noticed a small, sticky tab in orange or another color on each battery in a package. These protective seals keep the battery from discharging power, so never remove the seal unless you’re about to use the battery. Additionally, never buy unopened battery packages as the batteries are most likely compromised.

Wait Five Seconds: Last year a Rochester, Minnesota student discovered how to help extend battery life of hearing aid batteries by waiting after removing the protective seal! See how here!

Minimize Battery Drain: Once you remove the protective seal from a battery it begins to discharge power; however, there are three things you can do to help minimize battery drainage.

  • When not wearing your hearing aid, turn it off or open the battery door. Note, you should always open the battery door at night to allow moisture to escape and to help keep the battery from corroding.
  • If you won’t be using the hearing aid for an extended period of time, take the battery out completely. You can store it in the protective case for your hearing aids.
  • Avoid storing batteries and hearing aids in extreme temperatures, hot and cold, as they can quickly drain battery power and shorten a battery’s lifespan.

TIP 1: Batteries can suddenly lose power, so be sure to carry an extra set with you at all times. Keep an extra package in your purse, car, briefcase or desk at work.

TIP 2: Keep backup batteries away from coins, keys and other metal objects so as to avoid accidentally discharging the batteries before use.

TIP 3: Store batteries at normal room temperatures and do NOT refrigerate or expose to extreme hot or cold temperatures.

TIP 4: Wash your hands before changing batteries. Grease and dirt residue on batteries could damage the hearing aid.

Need more hearing aid care and maintenance tips? Contact us today for product information, care tips and more!

Is Noise Tolerance a Problem?

We have all experienced discomfort in noise. Sometimes it’s too loud, like a motorcycle or large speaker system; sometimes it’s annoying, like fingernails on a chalkboard. Either way, noise takes many forms and impacts each of us differently.

For instance, take the rumbling of a motorcycle engine. While some find it a nuisance, the motorcycle owner may have purchased that exact brand for the sound that it makes while cruising down the highway.  

Most patients will respond to noise differently. Some are tolerant of noise, while others exhibit high sensitivity to noise. These patients who appear sensitive to noise are the ones that cringe at sharp impulsive sounds or feel the need to remove their hearing aids when driving in the car. It’s this particular, noise-sensitive, patient that has motivated some recent research efforts.

There is a research-based agreement that people who are more accepting of background noise (or “noise-tolerant”) tend to be more successful with their hearing aids while those who are “noise-sensitive” are less likely to find success1. This thought has led clinical audiologist to develop research projects that are focused on understanding if the benefit that one person receives from their hearing aids is linked to their individual noise tolerance.

Many have started to answer this question, in part by asking research participants about their willingness to tolerate background noise with a variety of noise-reducing technologies. Early findings suggest that noise-tolerant patients report mild benefits from the reduction of noise while noise-sensitive patients report the greatest benefits. Recall that these noise-sensitive patients are the ones that may be challenged to succeed with hearing aids.

Today, the best guidance for supporting the noise-sensitive patient would be through the selection of advance noise-reducing technologies (e.g., digital noise reduction or directional microphones) and the inclusion of a volume control either on the hearing aid or through a remote control.

Guided by ongoing research, tomorrow’s options may be different. If one could diagnose patients as noise-tolerant or noise-sensitive, it would be possible to identify patients that benefit most from aggressive strategies for improving noise acceptance. Once identified, a research-derived prescription would be selected, presenting a unique combination of hearing aid settings that assist the noise-sensitive patient toward a successful experience with hearing aids.

There’s no doubt that listening in noise is an immense challenge. For anyone with sensitivity to noise, this challenge may become an impasse to their acceptance of hearing aids. This opportunity to significantly improve a patient’s noise tolerance means their path to success could be one that’s short and easily navigated.

Reference

Nabelek, A.K., Freyaldenhoven, M.C., Tampas, J.W., Burchfield, S.B., & Muenchen, R.A. (2006). Acceptable noise level as a predictor of hearing aid use. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 17, 626-639.

5 Tips to be a Great Advocate

Being an advocate is hard, and when you’re an advocate for someone with hearing loss, it can be even more challenging. Hearing loss is connected to the misleading belief that only the elderly has it and that hearing aids aren’t for the “young.” In reality, hearing loss affects children and adults of all ages, and according to the World Health Organization, over a billion teens and young adults are at risk for hearing loss as of 2015. That being said, it is very difficult to encourage someone with hearing loss to get the help they need without alienating them or actually causing them to wait even longer.

Being an advocate for someone with hearing loss is hard because you aren’t trying to get someone else to help them but are trying to get them to help themselves. Here are five tips to be a great advocate for a friend or loved one with hearing loss.

  1. Let them come to you: Instead of constantly pushing them to get help or overwhelming them with hearing aid pamphlets and articles on hearing loss, let them come to you when they are ready. Everyone eventually reaches a point at which help is the only option left, so give them time to come to terms with their hearing loss and be ready to help when they ask for it.
  2. “With” not “at”: Don’t talk at them about hearing loss. Talk with them. Let them know you are there to listen and encourage them to be open about difficulties they may be facing.
  3. Sometimes, not all the time: When you notice them blaming their hearing issues on other things (people mumble, it’s windy, it’s loud, etc.), politely suggest that they should have their hearing checked just in case. If they get defensive and say no, let it go and try again at a later time. Be patient and pick your moments wisely. It’s better to mention their loss every now and then instead of all the time.
  4. Two minds think alike: If you have other friends who have hearing loss or wear hearing aids, consider introducing them to each other. Sometimes it takes someone else with hearing loss to help a person see how much he or she is really struggling and how much getting help could improve their life.
  5. Be patient: Try not to get frustrated or impatient when communicating difficulties arise and you have to repeat yourself multiple times. Getting angry or annoyed will only make you less trustworthy as an advocate and may make the person with hearing loss feel like you don’t support them anymore and consequently avoid interacting with you.

5 Halloween Safety Tips for Children with Hearing Loss

Halloween marks the most exciting night of the year for many children. Decked out in their new princess or superhero costumes, kids fill the streets in a hurried effort to amass buckets full of treats. Unfortunately, Halloween can also be a dangerous holiday for children. This is especially true to children who have hearing loss.

The following 5 tips will help children with hearing loss enjoy a fun and safe Halloween night.

  1. Check Hearing Aids

Check hearing aids before you leave to ensure they are functioning properly. Take extra batteries in case you need to change them during your time out.

  1. Make Sure Costumes Fit Properly

Avoid costumes that include masks, hats, scarves or other accessories that could dislodge hearing aids, cover the hearing aid microphones or obstruct your child’s vision. Costumes and accessories should fit well to maintain optimal hearing and avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.

  1. Stay Close

Children under the age of 13 should be accompanied by an adult. Keep an eye out for potential dangers that may be overlooked with the added excitement of trick or treating. Children with hearing loss may not be able to hear if a car is idling, and may unknowingly walk in front of cars assuming they are parked with the engine off. Always use sidewalks and crosswalks and encourage children to walk rather than run between houses.

  1. Walk in a Group

Children that can safely trick or treat without adult supervision should stay with a group of at least three other children. Establish a plan and outline the route the children will take before they leave. Make sure each child in the group is familiar with the route. Agree on an arranged meeting place to check in with them and make sure you know when to expect to have them home.

  1. Wear Reflective Clothing and Bright Colors

Give the children flashlights and apply reflective tape to costumes and treat bags to help pedestrians and drivers see your children. Wearing brightly colored costumes will make keep children visible.

Following these simple tips will help kids and parents enjoy a memorable and most importantly, a safe Halloween night!

 

3 Back-to-School Hearing Loss Tips

Hearing loss can make learning hard. Teachers constantly move around classrooms, may use microphones during lectures or outside noises may distract or interfere with the professor’s voice. Big classrooms and auditoriums can distort sound, and the presence of other students can make focusing hard as their own voices take over that of the professor’s.

Here are some tips to help make school easier with hearing loss:

  • Tell Your Teacher: Be up front with all of your teachers that you have a hearing loss. Explain to them privately what sounds are hard to hear, what words are hard to understand and what environments or situations are difficult for you. Sit down and discuss some ways in which your teacher can help make things easier such as ensuring he or she always faces you when he or she talks, providing visual or printed lessons in addition to verbal and weekly check-ins to make sure you’re not missing anything important.
  • Nominate a Note-taker: If you have trouble understanding teachers because their voices are lost in an auditorium, they are always moving around the classroom, or some teachers may have softer, higher-frequency voices. You may also have trouble understanding your fellow students’ questions or answers either because they were behind you or on the far end of a 300-seat lecture hall.  In order to combat this, you can get a note-taker through the school’s disability services. If you’re not comfortable doing this or have missed the deadline for a note-taker through school, consider asking a friend in class to help you take notes when you are having trouble.
  • Front Row: Sitting in the front row may mean you get asked more questions than most, but it also means you have put yourself in the best place possible to hear and understand your teacher. It also allows you to pivot left, right or backwards when another student is speaking and have a better chance at getting what they are saying.