Why Hearing Aids Make You Happier Than Winning the Lottery


Assuming that you have hearing loss, what’s more likely to make you happy?

A) Winning the lottery, or

B) Purchasing a new set of hearing aids

It may sound obvious to you that the answer is A, but research on happiness tells a quite different story.

First, many people do tend to THINK that outside situations are most likely to make them happy. They frequently cite things like more money, better jobs, a new car, or winning the lottery.

What numerous studies have found, on the other hand, is surprisingly the opposite. The things that people actually REPORT making them happier are not external or materialistic—they are mostly innate.

The things that make most people happiest are high self-worth, strong social skills, robust relationships, free time, volunteering, and humor, as shown in the Stanford University video We Don’t Know What Makes Us Happy (But We Think We Do).

Winning the Lottery and the Hedonic Treadmill

If you answered that winning the lottery would make you happier, you might be correct, but research is not necessarily on your side.

In one routinely referenced study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers surveyed several Illinois state lottery winners and contrasted them with both non-winners and with accident victims that were left paraplegic or quadriplegic.

The interview questions aimed at estimating happiness levels, and the findings revealed that lottery winners were roughly just as happy as both non-winners and the accident victims.

The study concluded that individuals are likely to have a preset happiness level. Significant events like winning the lottery or enduring a disabling injury cause a transient spike or decrease in happiness—but the individual’s happiness level in both instances will revert to the fixed point.

This is compatible with the “hedonic treadmill” theory, which claims that most people maintain more or less the same levels of happiness throughout life, similar to when you adapt to and increase the speed on the treadmill.

For example, if you land a job with a higher income, you probably will be temporarily happier. But once your happiness level returns to normal, you’ll just want a job with even greater income, ad infinitum.

Buying Happiness with Hearing Aids

If you answered that using hearing aids would make you happier, your answer is most consistent with the research.

As reported by social psychologist Dr. Dan Gilbert, two decades of research on happiness has found that the single most vital determinant of happiness is our relationships. He explains that our brains have evolved so that we can be social, and that “friendless people are not happy.”

Which is great news for hearing aid users.

Because the cornerstone of any healthy relationship is communication, and communication is reliant upon healthy hearing, hearing aids enhance relationships and a sense of confidence in those who use them.

And research tends to give credibility to this view. Several studies have confirmed that hearing aid users are pleased with their hearing aid performance, feel a positive change in their overall mood, and develop enhanced relationships and social skills.

Consequently, wearing hearing aids produces all of the things that have been found to make us happier, while winning the lottery provides more money, which at best will only make us temporarily happier. So the next time you head out to buy lottery tickets, you may want to drop by the local hearing specialist instead.

The Alarming Hearing Loss Statistics You Need to Know About

Far too often, we hear people assert that hearing loss only applies to “old people,” that it’s just part of getting old, or that it’s generally an uncommon condition.

These statements couldn’t be further from the facts.

Here are statistics you need to know about:

Prevalence of hearing loss in the US

Hearing loss, to some extent, affects 20 percent of all Americans, or 48 million people, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. If everyone with hearing loss in the US resided in the same state, its population would be larger than the entire state of California by 10 million individuals.

1 out of every 5 people in the US has some type of hearing loss, even if that hearing loss is unknown and untreated. As a result, the probability that you know someone with hearing loss or have hearing loss yourself is, unfortunately, very high.

Additionally, from 2000 to 2015, the number of Americans with hearing loss has doubled, and globally the number is up by 44 percent. This makes hearing loss the second most common health issue in the world. In fact, those living with hearing loss outnumber those living with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes combined.

Hearing loss by age group

Even if 1 out of 5 individuals in the US has some level of hearing loss, we’re still only speaking about older people, correct?

This is a prevalent myth, but the response is an definitive no.

According to the Better Hearing Institute, of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, only approximately 35 percent are 65 years of age or older. Well over 30 million Americans under the age of 65 suffer from hearing loss. Of those:

  • 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59) have some type of hearing loss.
  • 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40) already have hearing loss.
  • 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing problems.
  • 2-3 out of 1,000 infants are born with a noticeable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

Although hearing loss is common throughout all age groups, the extent of hearing loss does tend to increase with age. While only about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss, the rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, around 25 percent for adults aged 65 to 74, and about 50 percent for adults aged 75 and older.

The causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss is highly prevalent (both in the US and across the globe), impacts all age groups, and has grown to be more widespread with time. What’s the cause behind this trend?

There are many causes, but the two primary causes of hearing loss are direct exposure to loud sound and the aging process.

Regarding sound exposure, the NIDCD estimates that around 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 suffer from hearing loss as a consequence of exposure to loud sounds at the workplace or during leisure activities.

The World Health Organization has also reported that 1.1 billion teens and young adults across the world are at an increased risk of developing hearing loss from the use of personal audio devices played at higher volumes.

When it comes to aging, the population of individuals aged 65 years and older is expanding, and hearing loss is more prevalent among this group.

Can hearing aids help?

The prime defense against hearing loss is protecting your ears. Staying away from loud noise, increasing your distance between the sources of loud noise, and using personalized ear protection are three techniques that can conserve your hearing.

But what happens if you already suffer from hearing loss?

Fortunately, because of the advances in technology and hearing health care, essentially all cases of hearing loss can be treated. And unlike the hearing aids of 10-15 years ago, today’s hearing aids have proven to be effective.

A current study by the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that hearing aids (three popular models tested) are in fact generally effective, concluding that “each [hearing aid] circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.”

Patients have also acknowledged the benefits: The National Center for Biotechnology Information, after looking at many years of research, concluded that “studies have shown that users are quite satisfied with their hearing aids.”

Similarly, a recent MarkeTrak consumer satisfaction survey found that, for people with hearing aids four years of age or less, 78.6% were satisfied with their hearing aid performance.

The numbers speak for themselves, and your chances of acquiring hearing loss are regretfully quite high. But the numbers also demonstrate that, even if you currently have hearing loss, the chances that you’ll benefit from using hearing aids is very high

Whether you are looking for tailor made ear protection to prevent hearing loss or a new pair of hearing aids to amplify the hearing you’ve already lost, we can help. We have experience with all types of hearing loss and can help find the right solution for you.

5 Good Reasons to Get a Hearing Test

Hearing Test

In the United States, about 37.5 million adults have some degree of hearing loss. Yet according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), only 20 percent of those who could reap the benefits of hearing aids actually use them. That means that millions of Americans who could improve their life with better hearing decide not to do so.

And that’s not all.

After being shown that they will need hearing aids, people wait an average of 5-7 years before even purchasing them—which is too bad, because for those that do decide to wear hearing aids, the outcomes are overwhelmingly favorable.

Several studies have shown that wearing hearing aids enhances relationships, enhances general physical and mental health, and even increases household income, as reported by the Better Hearing Institute.

Regrettably, 80 percent of those who could use hearing aids will never witness these benefits. And of those who do, it’s a shame that they have to wait so long.

The question is: if people are holding out 5-7 years before acquiring a hearing aid, what is finally swaying them to do so? And if we understood the reasons, would it motivate us to deal with our own hearing loss sooner?

With that in mind, we’ve gathered the most common “triggers” that have prompted our patients to finally arrange a hearing test.

Here are the top five:

1. Not being able to hear the grandkids

Here’s one we’ve heard more than a couple of times.

The thing about high-frequency hearing loss is that the sounds most difficult to hear are typically higher-pitched. That makes the female voice and the voices of children especially difficult to understand.

As a result, many people with hearing loss miss out on what their grandchildren are saying, or otherwise have to make them repeat themselves. Before too long, the grandkids start avoiding the grandparents, and this provides a strong motivator to arrange a hearing test.

2. Strained relationships

Communication is the basis of any healthy relationship, which is the reason hearing loss is so frustrating for both individuals.

If you suffer from hearing loss, you may think everybody else mumbles, but your partner probably feels you communicate too loud or “selectively listen.” This produces stress, and before long, you discover yourself in more arguments than normal.

Regrettably, many people wait until their spouse is at a breaking point of frustration before arranging a hearing test. We’ve seen first hand that loads of problems could have been averted if hearing loss were dealt with faster.

3. Feeling left out

How confident and involved can you really be if you can’t understand what others are saying?

Many people with hearing loss lose their confidence and sociability when it’s easier to avoid the scenario than it is to struggle to hear and understand what’s being said. This leads many down a road of seclusion.

It’s this feeling of alienation—and missing out on social activities—that prompt people to pick up the phone and book a hearing exam. And there are not many activities that hearing loss doesn’t influence in a undesirable way.

4. Being unproductive at work

We’ve heard a great number of stories of people that reach their breaking point at the workplace. Oftentimes they’re at an important meeting and can’t hear their colleagues sitting across the table. They either have to disrupt the meeting to get people to speak louder or repeat themselves, or otherwise have to stay silent because they can’t follow along.

There’s a reason why using hearing aids is associated with higher household income in those with hearing loss. If you have better hearing, you’re simply more self-confident and efficient at work.

5. Concern about general health and well-being

And finally, people are becoming gradually more conscious of the health risks associated with hearing loss. While there are many ailments tied to diminished hearing, the most worrying relationship is that between hearing loss and dementia. According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who sustain their hearing.

What’s your reason?

The bottom line is that most people wait far too long to address their hearing loss, despite the fact that the majority of hearing aid users report that their lives have been enhanced with better hearing.

If you wear hearing aids, let us know the reason you decided to arrange your first hearing test. Your response may result in helping someone in a similar situation to attain the rewards of better hearing sooner rather than later.

4 Important Sounds You’re Missing With Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have a hard time only with particular sounds.

In particular, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common type of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can likely hear lower-pitched sounds normally, causing the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be heard at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with healthy hearing?

To start with, sound can be characterized both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (calculated in Hertz).

With normal hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds within the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most important sounds are within the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Within that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of around 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at relatively low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without raising the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, specifically, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech involves a mix of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are generally easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems appear with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are more difficult to hear. Since consonants convey most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following conversations or TV show plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a viable excuse.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less magnitude, or loudness. As a result, those with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.

Several of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the principal motivator for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The songs of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds completely.

In fact, we’ve had patients specifically note their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds once again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of producing high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its potency in those with hearing loss, as specific instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

Combined with the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of running water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the distinct frequencies you have difficulties hearing. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a competent professional.

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or even worse amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the outcome you want.

If you believe you may have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will thoroughly test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have difficulty with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?

The Health Benefits of Better Hearing

Family at the beach

It’s commonly said that we don’t fully appreciate the things we have until they’re gone, and this seems to be specifically true of our ability to hear. Hearing loss is not only tough to detect; it’s also tough to appreciate just how much hearing enhances our lives.

As one of our main senses, along with vision, hearing effects our mental, social, and physical health, so when we compromise our hearing, we put our overall welfare in jeopardy. But restoring our hearing can have many health benefits that we never really give much thought to.

Here are three ways enhancing your hearing can enrich your social, mental, and physical health.

Hearing and Relationships

The foundation of any good relationship is communication, and with hearing loss, that foundation is destabilized. Miscommunication, hard-feelings, and avoidance can all occur from hearing loss and the barrier to communication it creates.

Hearing loss can be especially disruptive to a marriage, as Julie and Charlie Kraft had to find out the hard way.

For the majority of Charlie’s adult life, he has had a common form of hearing loss known as high-frequency hearing loss, in which he has difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. And since the female voice is higher-pitched than the male voice, Charlie had a particularly hard time hearing his wife.

But seeing that Charlie wasn’t aware of his hearing loss, he thought his wife Julie simply spoke too softly, which was aggravating for him. At the same time, Julie believed Charlie talked too loudly—not to mention that she constantly had to repeat herself—which was aggravating for her.

In this way, hearing loss yields a frustrating barrier to communication where both people harbor bad feelings towards one another.

In Charlie and Julie’s example, they had the good sense to identify the hearing loss and to take action to deal with it. After Charlie started wearing hearing aids, he no longer had to talk so loud, and he began hearing new sounds, like the sounds of birds on the golf course. But the one perk he reported he cherished the most was the improved communication he had with his wife.

Julie agreed, and both conveyed how much healthier their relationship is without the burden of hearing loss.

Hearing and Physical Health

Does using hearing aids tend to make you more active?

The answer is yes, according to a survey carried out by Hear The World Foundation, which revealed that 21 percent of those surveyed reported that they exercised more after purchasing hearing aids. In addition, 34 percent said they actively take part in sports at least once per week, and 69 percent feel that their hearing aids have a favorable effect on their general health.

Hearing loss can make communication difficult to the point where people are inclined to avoid the social gatherings and activities that they used to enjoy. With hearing aids, you can pursue these activities more confidently, leading to more exercise and enhanced physical health.

Hearing and Mental Health

In a recent study, researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) discovered a strong connection between hearing loss and depression among US adults of all ages.

Other studies by Johns Hopkins University have linked hearing loss to general cognitive decline, including memory issues as well as an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Evidently, the lack of sound stimulation to the brain with hearing loss causes several negative effects, resulting in an increased risk of depression, social isolation, and mental decline. But the good news is, studies have also shown that using hearing aids can reverse or prevent many of these problems.

How Has Better Hearing Improved YOUR Life?

Statistics are one thing; stories of actual people reaping the benefits of improved hearing are quite another.

If you wear hearing aids, let us know in a comment below how your life, relationships, and/or physical or mental health has improved! You may end up inspiring someone else to take the first steps toward better hearing.

6 Encouraging Things Wearing Hearing Aids Says About You

Family at the beach

It remains a puzzle as to why wearing a pair of glasses—which improve vision impairment—is perceived as a sign of intelligence, while wearing hearing aids—which treat hearing impairment—has been perceived as an indication of old age.

Perhaps it’s about time the stigma of hearing loss is corrected, and we redefine what it means for our bodies to collaborate with technology.

The question is, when you see someone wearing a pair of hearing aids, what do you think?

Here are 6 of the favorable things we think wearing hearing aids says about you.

1. You prefer living an active life

Most social events and activities require healthy hearing, while hanging out by yourself at home does not. Wearing hearing aids is therefore an indicator that you like to be active and social, and that you’re not going to let hearing loss hold you back from pursuing your favorite activities.

2. You’re an open-minded, proactive problem solver

When you’re faced with difficult problems or obstacles, you find ways to conquer them. You don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself or defend a stubborn denial of the issue—you’re open-minded enough to admit to your hearing loss and proactive enough to treat it.

3. You’re tech-savvy

Today’s digital hearing aids are like miniature computers, furnished with exceptional features like wireless connectivity, bluetooth streaming, directional microphones, and background noise reduction.

By wearing a pair of modern hearing aids, it illustrates that you are on the cutting-edge of technology, set to enjoy the rewards that new technology has to offer.

4. You’re health conscious

Several new studies, especially from Jonhs Hopkins University, have attributed hearing loss to serious medical conditions including depression, general cognitive decline, memory problems, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Wearing hearing aids illustrates that you appreciate living an all-around healthy lifestyle, proactively taking the steps required for a long, healthy life—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. You treasure your relationships

You understand that the groundwork for any healthy relationship is strong communication, and you’re not going to let hearing loss erect a barrier between you and those you love.

Your relationships are simply too significant to permit hearing loss to create occasions of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and the hassle of others always needing to repeat themselves.

6. You’re self-confident

You’re not attempting to keep hidden the fact that you wear hearing aids—you’re proud of it. You like to live an active, social life and you’re proud that you’ve taken the actions to ensure your own quality of life.

In fact, many hearing aid users have reported improved performance at work, and research by the Better Hearing Institute reveals that hearing aid users reported higher household income than those with untreated hearing loss.

What do hearing aids say about you?

What did we forget? What would you add to the list?

There are countless reasons to wear hearing aids with pride: Tell us in a comment some of the reasons you wear hearing aids so we can keep the list going.

4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids

When should I upgrade my hearing aids?

This is a frequent question we hear from our patients, and the answer requires some thought. Although hearing aids typically have a life-span of 3-7 years, there are several cases in which you may want to upgrade earlier.

Here are 4 reasons you may want to consider a hearing aid upgrade.

1. Your hearing aids are no longer functioning well

If your hearing aids are not functioning as well as they once did, the first thing to consider is cleaning or repair.

Hearing aids are exposed to earwax, humidity, and other debris, so your hearing aids may merely require a cleaning. Other times, the electronics within the hearing aids require repair, but otherwise the hearing aids remain effective.

If your hearing aids are compromised beyond repair, on the other hand, or if they are past their normal life-span, you may want to upgrade to a new set.

2. Your hearing requirements are not being met

Let’s say you obtain a new job that will require a lot of talking on the phone, which has consistently been a problem for you with your present hearing aids. You learn about a new brand of hearing aid that can stream phone calls wirelessly from your iPhone straight to your hearing aids, giving you clear sound that you can quickly adjust. In this scenario, you may want to upgrade your hearing aids to provide for your new hearing requirements.

It’s a great idea to create a list of all the instances in which your current hearing aids are not performing to your preference. Then, by consulting with a hearing specialist, you can find the hearing aids that can better satisfy your needs.

3. Your hearing has changed

Hearing can and does change throughout the years, and it’s a possibility that your present hearing aids, while initially sufficient, are now incapable of handling your hearing loss. If this is the situation, you will need a new hearing examination and a new set of hearing aids programmed to accommodate your hearing loss.

4. You want to make the most of new technology

Hearing aid technology is evolving quickly; just ten years ago it would have seemed like science fiction to believe that you could stream music wirelessly from your iPod to your hearing aids. Each year, extraordinary new functionality is added to new hearing aid models, and you may find that you’d like to reap the benefits of the new technology.

For example, perhaps you just purchased a new Apple Watch and you learned that a couple of the new hearing aid models are compatible. If you wish to control your hearing aids with the watch, you would need to upgrade to a compatible model.

The decision to upgrade your hearing aids in the end boils down to answering two questions:

  1. Are my current hearing aids meeting all of my listening requirements?
  2. Is there new technology or functionality that I would like to take advantage of?

Hearing aid technology is advancing rapidly, and most of our patients are surprised to discover what the new hearing aid models are capable of. And the fact is, you can’t really answer the second question without knowing what’s available to you.

If you would like to learn about what some of your options are, give us a call today and we’ll explain to you all the available technology and how it could make your life better and easier. You may be surprised at what you find.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss

We all put things off, regularly talking ourselves out of strenuous or uncomfortable tasks in favor of something more pleasurable or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will some day get around to whatever we’re currently working to avoid.

Often times, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might plan to clear out the basement, for instance, by tossing or donating the items we never use. A clean basement sounds great, but the process of actually hauling items to the donation center is not so pleasant. In the interest of short-term pleasure, it’s very easy to find myriad alternatives that would be more enjoyable—so you put it off.

In other cases, procrastination is not so innocuous, and when it pertains to hearing loss, it could be downright harmful. While no one’s idea of a good time is getting a hearing test, recent research suggests that untreated hearing loss has serious physical, mental, and social consequences.

To understand why, you have to start with the effects of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a popular analogy: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you know what happens after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle size and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t repeatedly utilize your muscles, they get weaker.

The same thing takes place with your brain. If you under-utilize the part of your brain that processes sound, your capability to process auditory information grows weaker. Scientists even have a label for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”

Returning to the broken leg example. Let’s say you took the cast off your leg but continued to not use the muscles, relying on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get steadily weaker. The same occurs with your brain; the longer you ignore your hearing loss, the a smaller amount of sound stimulation your brain gets, and the more impaired your hearing gets.

That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which produces a host of other consequences present research is continuing to expose. For instance, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% drop in cognitive function compared to those with normal hearing, in combination with an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Overall cognitive decline also leads to dangerous mental and social consequences. A major study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) revealed that those with neglected hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to get involved in social activities, in comparison to those who wear hearing aids.

So what starts out as an inconvenience—not having the capability hear people clearly—leads to a downward spiral that disturbs all aspects of your health. The chain of events is clear: Hearing loss leads to auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which creates psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, damaged relationships, and an elevated risk of developing major medical issues.

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

So that was the bad news. The good news is equally encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg illustration one more time. As soon as the cast comes off, you start exercising and stimulating the muscles, and after some time, you recoup your muscle mass and strength.

The same process once again applies to hearing. If you boost the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can repair your brain’s ability to process and comprehend sound. This leads to better communication, improved psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, as reported by The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in virtually every area of their lives.

Are you ready to achieve the same improvement?

6 Ways to Lose Your Hearing

The strange part of hearing loss is that we don’t have a tendency to begin appreciating our favorite sounds until after we’ve lost the capacity to clearly hear them. We don’t pause to contemplate, for example, how much we value a good conversation with a close friend until we have to persistently ask them to repeat themselves.

Whether it’s your favorite Mozart album or the sounds of a Bluejay first thing in the morning, your quality of life is closely connected to your ability to hear—whether you realize it or not. And if you wait until after you’ve lost your hearing to come to this realization, you’re going to commit a whole lot of time and effort trying to get it back.

So how can you conserve your ability to hear?

Here are 6 ways you could lose your hearing and what you can do about it.

1. Genetics and aging

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that gradually develops as we grow older. Together with presbycusis, there is also some evidence indicating that genetics plays a role, and that some of us are more susceptible to hearing loss than others.

While there’s not much you can do to avoid the process of getting older or tweak your genes, you can avoid noise-induced hearing loss from the other causes mentioned below. And keep in mind that age-related hearing loss is much more complicated to treat if aggravated by preventable damage.

2. Traveling

Frequent direct exposure to sound volumes above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss, which is bad news if you happen to own a convertible. New research indicates that driving a convertible with the top down at excessive speeds yields an average sound volume level of 90 decibels. Motorcyclists encounter even louder sounds and those who take the subway are at risk as well.

So does everybody either have to give up travel or live with permanent earplugs? Not quite, but you should find ways to reduce your cumulative noise exposure during travel. If you drive a convertible, roll up your car windows and drive a little slower; if you ride a motorcycle, wear a helmet and consider earplugs; and if you take the subway, consider buying noise-canceling headphones.

3. Going to work

As stated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 22 million workers in the US are subjected to potentially damaging noise levels at work. The highest risk occupations are in manufacturing, farming, construction, the military, and the music industry.

The last thing you need is to spend your entire working life amassing hearing loss that will prevent you from enjoying your retirement. Discuss with your employer about its hearing protection plan, and if they don’t have one, talk to your local hearing specialist for personalized solutions.

4. Taking drugs and smoking

Smoking impedes blood flow, on top of other things, which may increase your risk of developing hearing loss—if you really required another reason to stop smoking. Antibiotics, strong pain medications, and a large number of other drugs are “ototoxic,” or damaging to the cells of hearing. In fact, there are more than 200 known ototoxic medications.

The bottom line: avoid using ototoxic drugs or medications unless absolutely necessary. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions.

5. Listening to music

85 is turning out to be quite an inconvenient number. Many of our favorite hobbies yield decibel levels just above this limit, and anything over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. If the limit were just slightly higher, say 100 decibels, we wouldn’t have to worry about it so much.

But 85 it is. And portable music players at max volume reach more than 100 decibels while rock shows reach more than 110. The solution is straight forward: turn down your iPod, wear earplugs at live shows, and minimize your length of exposure to the music.

6. Getting sick or injured

Certain ailments, such as diabetes, together with any traumatic head injuries, places you at greater risk of developing hearing loss. If you have diabetes, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular monitoring of glucose levels is critical. And if you drive a motorcycle, using a helmet will help protect against traumatic head injuries.

Talk to Your Hearing Specialist

While there are many ways to lose your hearing, a few straightforward lifestyle modifications can help you maintain your hearing for life. Remember: the small hassle of wearing custom earplugs, driving with the windows up, or turning down your iPod are insignificant compared to the major inconvenience of hearing loss later in life.

Ready to take your hearing health seriously? Give us a call today.

Why Choose a Local Hearing Care Provider?

The hearing healthcare industry has two barriers that prevent individuals from acquiring healthier hearing:

  1. The inability to detect hearing loss in the first place (due to its gradual onset), and
  2. The temptation to find a quick, easy, and inexpensive remedy.

The hearing industry has barriers that prevent individuals from healthier hearing: The inability to detect hearing loss, and
The temptation to find a quick remedy.

Unfortunately, countless people who have overcome the first barrier have been lured into the supposedly “cheaper and easier” practices of correcting their hearing loss, whether it be through the purchase of hearing aids online, the purchase of personal sound amplifiers, or by visiting the big box stores that are much more concerned with profits than with patient care.

Regardless of the lure of these quick remedies, the truth is that local hearing care providers are your best option for better hearing, and here are the reasons why.

Local hearing care providers use a customer-centric business model

National chain stores are profitable for one primary reason: they sell a high volume of inexpensive goods and services at low prices in the name of larger profit. National chains are focused on efficiency, which is a pleasant way of saying “get as many people in and out the door as quickly as possible.”

Granted, this profit-centric model works great with most purchases, because you probably don’t need professional, individualized care to help choose your undershirts and bath soap. Consumer support simply doesn’t factor in.

However, problems surface when this business model is expanded to services that do demand professional, personalized care—such as the correction of hearing loss. National chains are not focused on patient outcomes because they can’t be; it’s too time-consuming and flies in the face of the high volume “see as many patients as possible” business model.

Local hearing care providers are very different. They’re not preoccupied with short-term profits because they don’t have a board of directors to answer to. The success of a local practice is dependent on patient outcomes and high quality of care, which results in satisfied patients who continue to be faithful to the practice and disperse the positive word-of-mouth advertising that leads to more referrals.

Local practices, for that reason, thrive on providing high quality care, which is beneficial both the patient and the practice. By comparison, what will happen if a national chain can’t deliver quality care and happy patients? Simple, they use national advertising to get a constant flow of new patients, promising the same “quick and cheap fix” that lured in the original customers.

Local hearing care providers have more experience

Hearing is complex, and like our fingerprints, is unique to everybody, so the frequencies I may have difficulty hearing are different from the frequencies you have trouble hearing. In other words, you can’t just take ambient sound, make it all louder, and push it into your ears and count on good results. But this is essentially what personal sound amplifiers, along with the cheaper hearing aid models, accomplish.

The reality is, the sounds your hearing aids amplify—AND the sounds they don’t—HAVE to complement the way you, and only you, hear. That’s only going to happen by:

  • Having your hearing professionally examined so you know the EXACT attributes of your hearing loss, and…
  • Having your hearing aids professionally programmed to amplify the sounds you have difficulty hearing while distinguishing and repressing the sounds you don’t want to hear (such as low-frequency background sound).

For the hearing care provider, this is no straight forward task. It takes a lot of training and patient care experience to be able to conduct a hearing test, help patients choose the right hearing aid, skillfully program the hearing aids, and give the patient training and aftercare necessary for optimal hearing. There are no cutting corners to dispensing comprehensive hearing care—but the results are well worth the time and effort.

Make your choice

So, who do you want to leave your hearing to? To someone who views you as a transaction, as a customer, and as a means to reaching sales targets? Or to an experienced local professional that cares about the same thing you do—helping you obtain the best hearing possible, which, by the way, is the lifeblood of the local practice.

As a general rule, we recommend that you avoid purchasing your hearing aids anywhere you see a sign that reads “10 items or less.” As local, experienced hearing professionals, we provide comprehensive hearing healthcare and the best hearing technology to suit your specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Still have questions? Give us a call today.