Hearing Specialist Advice on How to Keep Your Ears Clean

Hearing Specialist Advice: Keeping Your Ears Clean

  Hearing specialist - cotton swabs.

Hearing Specialist Advice: Keeping Your Ears Clean

SoundLife Hearing Technologies is dedicated to your hearing health. Whether you’re looking to see a hearing specialist for hearing aid fittings, repair, or a check-up, we’re here to help. However, your hearing health is more than visits to a hearing specialist to help with hearing impairments. It’s also about looking after your ears and keeping them healthy, especially if you’ve yet to experience any hearing issues.

While it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll avoid developing hearing issues, properly cleaning and caring for your ears can help. But any hearing specialist will tell you there are a few things you should avoid when keeping your ears clean. In this blog, we offer some advice for how — and how often — you should clean your ears.

How Often Should I Clean Out My Ears?

This might surprise you, but you actually rarely, if ever, need to clean out your ears. While your mom might have demanded it of you when you were a little kid, even forcibly irrigating them with a cotton swab, it’s pretty unnecessary. Your ears can take care of themselves. In fact, the wax that you’re usually trying to clean out serves an important purpose.

Ear wax acts as an antibacterial protective layer. Trying to clear it out can leave you open to infection, or compact it and cause it to block your ear canal. Some people do have excessive ear wax that can cause hearing issues, but only then is there really any need to clean them out. Even then, once a week is usually more than enough.

What Should I Use?

If you have experienced a build up of wax that’s causing discomfort or hearing issues, you can clean them out a few ways. A small amount of hydrogen peroxide mixed with warm (not hot!) water poured into your ear is a typically reliable home remedy.

Just keep your head tilted to one side for a few minutes, and have a towel or handful of paper towels ready for when you tilt it the other way. There are various different home remedies that work in much the same way, but you’re usually better off consulting a hearing specialist.

Can’t I Just Use Cotton Swabs?

No. While plenty of people still do use cotton swabs to try and dig out the inside of their ear canal, it’s a bad idea. Not only are you impacting the wax that’s already there, you’re also risking damaging your ear canal, or even your eardrum.

What About Ear Candles?

Absolutely not. People might recommend ear candles as an effective treatment for ear wax, but it’s always a bad idea. Not only are they ineffective (the “residue” often claimed to be ear wax inside the candle is just burnt material), they’re also dangerous. You run the very real risk of having burning hot debris falling directly into your ear canal. For your own health, stay away from ear candles.

Talk to a Hearing Specialist

If you’re experiencing hearing impairments and are looking for help, talk to a hearing specialist at SoundLife Hearing Technologies today. We can also help with maintenance and adjustments for your hearing aids, as well as consultations and fittings for new ones. Talk to a professional at SoundLife Hearing Technologies about hearing solutions today.

The History of Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids Through History

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Hearing aids are little technological marvels. They’re small enough to fit discreetly in your ears and drastically improve your hearing. But they weren’t always this way. Hearing aids have evolved quite a bit over the years. Today in the Soundlife Hearing Technologies blog, we take a brief look at the history of hearing technology.

The 1600s

In the 1600s, hearing aids were about as primitive as they would get. Around this time, people would use hearing trumpets. These were a simple tool for amplifying and directing sound toward your ear. All you did was hold it in the direction you wanted to hear, and that’s how it worked. They were actually surprisingly effective, enough so that the technology wouldn't really be updated until the 1900s. The only adjustments made were to make them more aesthetically pleasing, almost making them fashion accessories in some cases.

The 1900s

During the 1900s, hearing aids would go through several changes. The first iteration came about thanks to Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the telephone. The new technology was largely based on how telephones work. They used electricity and carbon. Eventually, these would be replaced with vacuum tube technology.

Eventually, around 1950 transistor hearing aids would be invented. They were very small and portable and didn’t require giant batteries to be lugged around to operate. These hearing aids used analog technology, as opposed to the digital technology we use today.

The 1980s-Today

Digital hearing aids didn’t come around until much later and even the digital hearing devices of the early to mid-2000s can't hold a candle to what we can fit today. With digital programming, hearing aids were capable of filtering out much more unwanted noise and taking in the sounds you want to hear. Feedback was also greatly reduced, and the technology continues to evolve further, implementing Bluetooth and more. They’re smaller, they last longer, and have much more capabilities than ever before. In the future, we anticipate being able to have hearing aids with more smart functions and exciting technologies. Just look at how much they’ve changed in the past 50 years!

Hearing Aids from Soundlife Hearing Technologies

At Soundlife Hearing Technologies, we have a variety of hearing aids for you to choose from. We can give you a hearing evaluation and determine what is the best fit for you. We also offer programming, repairs, and more. For more information about our services and to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

How to Clean and Care for Your Hearing Aids

At-Home Care for Hearing Aids

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If you let your hearing aids get dirty, or if you don’t take proper care of them, you’ll probably have some trouble getting them to function at peak efficiency. You can easily prevent frequent trips to your hearing specialist to repair them by following some simple at-home care tips. Of course, after we give you your hearing aids, we’ll send you home with some maintenance information, but you can always refer to this blog if you forget or lose those materials.

Test Them Regularly

Every day, you should make sure your hearing aids are in good, working condition. Make sure everything is clear, and that the sound is at the proper volume. If you’re hearing unnusual feedback or they sound weak, they may need repairs. It’s also good to check your batteries with a battery tester. If the batteries are starting to get weak, you should replace them soon.

Cleaning

Cleaning your hearing aids is fairly easy, but you do have to be gentle with them to avoid causing any damage. Using a soft, dry cloth is the best option. If there is any dirt or contaminants, gently clean them off with your cloth and with a mild cleaning solution, recommended by your hearing specialist. In most cases cleaning them with a toothbrush is the best approach to cleaning them. One important thing is to make sure you don’t allow them to take on moisture whenever possible. This means you shouldn’t shower or wash your face when you have them in. If you keep your hearing aids in a container while not in use, this should reduce the amount of moisture exposure. Sometimes patients will need to purchase a little dryer to store their hearing aids in overnight. These usually run around $10.00.

Leave Repairs to the Professionals

If your hearing aids do eventually need repairs, it’s best not to attempt and perform them yourself. Instead, bring it to a hearing specialist who can make sure the repair is done right. This way there’s no risk of you damaging them any further. Worst case scenario, you could damage them beyond repair and have to get a new pair.

Get Your Hearing Aids from Soundlife Hearing Technologies

Whether you need new hearing aids, or you need your current ones programmed or repaired, Soundlife Hearing Technologies can help. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff will make sure to give you the best, quickest service possible while answering any questions you may have. We also offer hearing evaluations to determine if you need hearing aids if you don’t have any yet. Contact us today for more information about our services or to schedule an appointment with us. We look forward to seeing you here!

What to Expect in a Hearing Evaluation

What Happens in a Hearing Evaluation?

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It’s not often that you get a hearing evaluation, so it’s understandable to wonder how the appointment is going to go. There’s nothing to be afraid of, as a hearing evaluation is a painless and relatively simple appointment. Today in the Soundlife Hearing Technologies blog, we’ll give you an idea of what you can expect.

Upon Your Arrival

As with any medical appointment, when you arrive you’ll have to fill out some paperwork. We know it’s a pain, but it’s also important to get your medical history in order to give you the best results in your hearing evaluation possible. Also, if you’ve had tests done in the past, it’s good to bring those results along with you. It helps to see how your hearing has changed since then.

The Hearing Evaluation

Typically, your hearing evaluation will consist of three different tests. These test will include:

  • Air Conduction Test - This is probably the test most people are familiar with. In this test, you’ll wear headphones and raise your hand to indicate which ear the tone is playing in. The different tones give us an idea of the types of sounds you can hear.

  • Bone Conduction Test - Did you know you can hear through the vibrations in your mastoid bone? In fact, there are some headphones that utilize this technology. The same principle applies to this test. This allows us to pinpoint what part of the ear the hearing loss can be attributed to.

  • Speech Test - This test uses spoken words to determine your ability to hear words at different volumes.

You can expect your exam to take about 30-45 minutes, on average. After these tests, the testing portion of your hearing evaluation is complete.

What’s Next?

What happens next depends on the results of your hearing evaluation. If there isn’t anything wrong with your hearing, you can go home with a clean bill of health and peace of mind. If we find instances of hearing loss, there’s no need to worry. We can begin the process of fitting you for a hearing aid. We’ll make sure to get you the perfect hearing aid that meets your individual needs.

Get a Hearing Evaluation at Soundlife Hearing Technologies

At Soundlife Hearing Technologies, we offer hearing evaluations, fitting for hearing aids, hearing programming, hearing aid repair, and more. Getting your hearing evaluated on a fairly regular basis is vital for keeping track of the health of your ears. Contact us today for more information and to schedule an evaluation with us.

A Hearing Specialist’s Guide to Safely Using Headphones

A Hearing Specialist Explains How to Safely Use Headphones

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How much time do you spend wearing headphones? These days, with smartphones being a part of everyday life, it’s not uncommon for someone to spend the majority of their day either wearing buds in their ears or headphones over them. Unfortunately, great as it might be to have all that entertainment at your fingertips, any hearing specialist will tell you that the potential for hearing damage is much higher as a result.

That’s not to say you should avoid using them. In fact, it’s perfectly safe to use headphones as much as many of us now do—as long as you do it properly. In this blog, a hearing specialist from SoundLife Hearing Technologies goes over some of the basics of safe, regular use of different headphones types.

In-Ear, Over-Ear, On-Ear?

While earbuds are still the most common sight when it comes to smartphones, there is now a huge variety of different options when it comes to headphones.

Earbuds

Earbuds typically come packaged with a device like a smartphone and will sit comfortably in your ear. The issue with earbuds, especially cheaper models, is that they offer little isolation from outside noise. This means users will often turn their volume up to excessive levels to drown out sound.

In-ear headphones and monitors

In recent years, in-ear headphones that are inserted deeper into the ear-canal have become more popular. These are often used by professional musicians and are available as universal models or custom models, but many companies have entered the market to make them affordable for consumer use.

While these provide better isolation, meaning lower volumes, they can be risky as they are inserted directly into your ear. If you’re using in-ear headphones, make sure you follow given instructions on how to insert them. You can also find guides for the best way to insert or use them online. Be sure to keep the tips you use clean to avoid infecting your inner-ear.

On and over-ear

The more traditional on-ear and over-ear headphones are as popular as ever, often marketed for improved portability. While over or on-ear headphones present less risk for immediate damage to the ear canal, they still carry the risk of damage through excessive volume.

Cheaper or poor-quality over-ear headphones won’t block much noise, and users often turn the volume up high to block out surrounding noise. If you’re looking for headphones for portable use, it might be better to look for something in-ear, or that offers active noise canceling.

Active and Passive Noise Canceling

You might have seen the term “active noise canceling” when shopping for headphones, but what does it mean? Active and passive noise canceling are two different things, but they make a big difference in how effective headphones can be. Passive noise canceling refers to how much noise is blocked out by the physical presence of something on or in your ears.

Active noise canceling refers to a type of signal put out by headphones that subtly drowns out background sounds, without taking away from the quality of the audio. While this might sound insidious, any hearing specialist will tell you it doesn’t do any damage to your hearing. Whether you choose active or passive noise cancellation is purely down to preference.

Excessive Volume

The most important factor, whatever kind of headphones you use, is volume. If you’re regularly using headphones, you need to make sure you’re not listening at excessive volume.

In most cases, spending a little extra on good quality headphones means you can listen at safer volumes, preserving your hearing. If you’re listening for extended periods, you should also take regular breaks. Hearing issues don’t just come from volume, but also over-exposure to amplified sound over an extended period.

Whatever headphones you use should always feel physically comfortable, and you should be able to listen without having to continually adjust the volume or their position. If you’re finding yourself having to turn up the volume even in quiet environments, it might be time to talk to a hearing specialist.

Contact a Hearing Specialist

With this advice from a hearing specialist, you can do a lot to prevent hearing loss or damage from excessive volume or improper use of headphones. If you’re already experiencing hearing impairments, we can help! At SoundLife Hearing Technologies, we’re dedicated to finding the best hearing aids for you. Get in touch with our team about your hearing evaluation, and start your journey to the life you want to live.

Possible Ways To Prevent Dementia

This report reveals some simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing dementia. The least expensive approach is also the simplest: if you smoke, stop.

You can read the article below or you can see where it was originally posted at this link:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-third-of-dementia-cases-could-be-prevented-alzheimers-report/

One-third of cases of dementia worldwide could potentially be prevented through better management of lifestyle factors such as smoking, hypertension, depression, and hearing loss over the course of a lifetime, according to a new report.

Across the globe, about 47 million people were living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia in 2015. That number is projected to triple by the year 2050 as the population ages. Health care costs associated with dementia are enormous, with an estimated $818 billion price tag in 2015.

The new study, published in The Lancet and conducted by the first Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care, brought together 24 international experts to review existing dementia research and provide recommendations for treating and preventing the devastating condition.

"Dementia is the greatest global challenge for health and social care in the 21st century," lead study author Professor Gill Livingston, of University College London, told CBS News. "The purpose of the commission was therefore to address it by consolidating the huge strides and emerging knowledge as to what we should do to prevent dementia and intervene and care for people with dementia."

There is currently no drug treatment to prevent or cure dementia. But the report highlights the impact of non-drug interventions and identifies nine modifiable risk factors through various stages of life — beginning in childhood — that affect the likelihood of developing dementia.

Worried about Alzheimer's? Ways to reduce your risk

To reduce the risk, factors that make a difference include getting an education (staying in school until over the age of 15); reducing high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes; avoiding or treating hearing loss in mid-life; not smoking; getting physical exercise; and reducing depression and social isolation later in life. About 35 percent of dementia cases are attributable to these factors, the analysis found. Removing them could then theoretically prevent 1 in 3 cases.

In contrast, finding a way to target the major genetic risk factor, a gene called the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 allele, would prevent less than 1 in 10 cases – or about 7 percent.

"There's been a great deal of focus on developing medicines to prevent dementia, including Alzheimer's disease," commission member Lon Schneider, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said in a statement. "But we can't lose sight of the real major advances we've already made in treating dementia, including preventive approaches." Schneider presented the findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017.

Of the nine risk factors, the researchers identified the three most common ones that could be targeted for dementia prevention.

The first is increasing education in early life, which the report estimated could reduce the total number of dementia cases by 8 percent if all people worldwide continued their education until over the age of 15.

The researchers note that not completing secondary education could raise dementia risk by reducing what's referred to as "cognitive reserve." It's believed that education and other mentally stimulating tasks help the brain strengthen its networks so it can continue to function at a higher level even if it starts to decline later in life.

For the first time, the researchers also identified hearing loss as a major modifiable risk factor for dementia. They estimated that reducing hearing loss in mid-life could also reduce the number of dementia cases by 9 percent if all people were treated.

What's behind Americans' hearing loss?

Livingston notes that research surrounding hearing loss and dementia is still in early stages and the link likely has something to do with the social isolation that can come with losing the ability to hear.

"They may work in similar ways as they reduce the chance of interactions and conversations, which are like exercise for the brain and enrich it and predispose to depression," she said.

It's not clear from medical research yet whether using hearing aids can counteract this risk.

Additionally, the researchers found the number of dementia cases worldwide could be reduced by 5 percent if all people stopped smoking. It's particularly important to stop smoking later in life, they say, to reduce neurotoxins and improve heart health, which in turn improves brain health.

Other interventions likely to reduce dementia rates include increased physical activity and treating high blood pressure and diabetes.

The study authors say the report can offer guidance on ways to reduce the risk of dementia throughout life and improve the care for those living with the disease.

"This includes providing safe and effective social and health care interventions in order to integrate people with dementia within their communities," Schneider said. "Hopefully this will also ensure that people with dementia, their families and caregivers, encounter a society that accepts and supports them."

It's important to note that lifestyle interventions will not delay or prevent all dementia cases. But the researchers say they are hopeful that the report will help shift more focus to concrete steps that can be taken to help avoid the disease.

"We hope that this report will feed into individual nations' dementia policies and public health strategies, be used by individual clinicians to inform and improve their practice, and through media publicity inform the general public of what they can do to help avoid dementia, which is the most feared illness in old age."

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Health Costs of Hearing Loss

Recent studies have found a link between hearing loss and dementia. People with a mild loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as their peers with normal hearing and people with a severe hearing loss are FIVE times more likely to develop dementia. You can read a short summary article about this study here:

http://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-02-2011/hearing_loss_linked_to_dementia.html

More recent studies seem to reveal that wearing hearing aids help prevent this from happening but it's early in the research and nothing is definitive yet.