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Use ear protection when shooting

Don’t Let Guns Backfire on You: Use Ear Protection and Hang Onto Your Hearing

Shawn Dulohery, a national- and world champion skeet shooter and 2004 Olympic team member in the skeet event, would never discharge a firearm without them. Similarly, Dave Henderson, a nationally distinguished outdoor sports writer and hunting expert, wouldn’t dream of venturing into the woods without having his. These two incredibly skilled shooters ardently support the wearing of ear protection such as earmuffs or earplugs when firing a shotgun, rifle, or other firearm used in hunting or sports shooting.

target shoot

Dulohery knows this from experience. The 40-year-old former Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit, Fort Benning, GA, has been shooting since he was 12 years of age. He has already lost some of his hearing, and he is determined to safeguard the hearing he still possesses.

“A loud noise, such as the 140-decibel blast of a rifle, can irreparably harm the complex cells of the inner ear– called hair cells– that gives us our ability to hear,” said James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of NIDCD. “Therefore it is critically important for us to protect our ears when we are repeatedly bombarded with loud noise.”

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggests that hunters and shooters don earplugs and earmuffs together when shooting guns, to enhance the amount of hearing protection provided.

According to a 2000 research study supported by the NIH, a lot of male hunters and target shooters are not using ear protection at all. Of the approximately 1,500 Wisconsin men who participated in the study, and 95% of those who hunt and 38% of those who target shoot had never worn ear protection during the year preceding the survey. (There were no females included in the study since few females from the study community had recently taken part in either activity.)

Most significantly, the study shows a direct link between hunting or target shooting and high-frequency hearing loss in men. High-frequency hearing loss is the decline of the ear’s capacity to hear high-frequency sounds, the sounds which are required for understanding speech.

Henderson, who is an avid outdoor sportsman who has published four books on hunting, in addition to thousands of newspaper and magazine articles on hunting and shooting, found his hearing loss at the young age of 19 during a physical he took for the military.

” I never used hearing protection as a kid. Typical pattern,’” saying that Henderson’s hearing loss was primarily in the high-frequency range, with a slight loss in the middle range.

At 56, Henderson, who fires 15,000 rounds of shotgun and rifle ammunition annually, has been using hearing protection without fail for the past two decades. He regularly gives presentations to new hunters and shooters, particularly children and teens, pointing out that, as hearing protection becomes more advanced, there’s no justification not to wear it. For instance, some hearing protection appliances make it possible to block out loud sounds while amplifying quieter sounds that hunters or target shooters need to hear, such as snapping twigs or the issuing of range commands.

” Ear protection nonetheless is very much neglected, especially in hunting,” Henderson cautions. “But, particularly in hunting, our sense of hearing is extremely important– almost as vital as our sense of vision. We have to protect it as much as we can.”.

Care for your hearing aids

Troubleshooting Your Hearing Aids

Maybe you have taken the powerful step of getting a hearing aid. If it is your first time using an aid, you may encounter a few common problems. These are typically easy to cure as we outline below.

Problem: Sore or Itchy Ears

Hearing aids are designed to be comfortable, but when you first wear a new aid, you may feel some sensation inside your ears. The first step if your ears feel sore inside is to check with your audiologist. Depending on the style of your hearing aid, you might place a small amount of hearing aid gel or lubricant at the entrance of the ear after you remove your hearing aids each night. These products relieve dry skin and itching. For behind-the-ear hearing aid, you might try a strip of moleskin on the underside of the device to protect the top of your ear. No matter the style of the hearing aid, if the discomfort does subside, your audiologist may suggest a different style of hearing aid.

Problem: Feedback or Whistling Sound

While many hearing aids have automatic feedback cancellation, you can avoid uncomfortable whistling by first ensuring that your aid is properly fitting in your ear and that the volume control is not turned up unnecessarily high. Additionally, avoid clothes or behavior that covers your ear. Covering your ear with a scarf (or leaning into a pillow) can trap sound and cause it to re-enter the microphone. Finally, if you continue to have trouble, check with your audiologist.

Problem: Power Problems

If your hearing aid does not power on you need to check the battery. Always check to make the battery is not expired and that it is installed correctly. If the battery is good, check the tip of the hearing aid for wax or other debris. Debris may prevent the device from working correctly. Always consult your hearing aid manual for the most appropriate cleaning techniques for your device.

Problem: Poor Sound Quality

First-time hearing aid users can report declining quality of sounds after wearing their aids for a few weeks. Your audiologist may program the aid below your prescription strength to give you time to adjust. If you notice a decline or change in the quality of the sounds you hear, please visit your audiologist to make the necessary adjustments to your settings. Other reasons for poor sound quality include weak batteries or dirty wax filters. Regular maintenance of your hearing aid will ensure more consistent sound quality.

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Problem: Sharp Sounds

Most hearing aid devices boost high-pitched sounds to ensure to capture the full range of human speech. However, this adjustment can cause other sounds to be annoying. Most users adapt naturally to these new sounds, but if the sharpness of sounds becomes a distraction or a deterrent to using your aid, please check with your audiologist for a professional adjustment.

Your hearing aid is a tool to improve the quality of your life. Like all tools, your aid requires care and maintenance to ensure proper performance. While most users adjust to their aids easily, it is good to be aware of some tips to help you navigate life with your new aid. The steps above, combined with the skilled consultation of your audiologist, will help you ignore the aid and enjoy the world of sound and improved communication.

Hearing aids for kids

Hearing Aids for Children

About 3 out of 1000 children in North America are born deaf or with some degree of hearing loss. Other children develop hearing loss later in life through ear infections or exposure to loud noise. If your child has been diagnosed with hearing loss, you will be presented a number of options for treatment, including speech and language therapy, hearing aids, and cochlear implants.

Hearing the world is critical to the development of a child’s brain. Children learn language and cognitive functions through the words and noises they hear as well as the sound of their own voice. Hearing abilities greatly influence social skills and academic performance. Consistent hearing also helps infants and toddlers bond with their parents and build a foundation for familial and environmental trust.

Hearing Aid Devices

Most children with hearing loss benefit from hearing aids, but some need cochlear implants. A hearing test performed by an audiologist or hearing care professional will help determine what type of hearing device your child will need. The type of hearing device strongly depends on the severity of the hearing loss and the structure of the outer ear.

However, the majority of children are fitted with “behind-the-ear” hearing aids. These BTE’s are securely fitted, one of the most comfortable designs, and can be easily replaced as the child quickly grows in size. To be fitted, an impression of the outer ear is taken by a hearing care professional. The impression takes a few minutes to set, so a parent usually holds the child for some time. The molds of the hearing aids can be a variety of colors but are usually clear or translucent. There are small BTE sizes made specifically for children to ensure that the device will have a secure fit.

After the hearing aids are ready, a preliminary fitting and adjustment are made by an audiologist. After a few days or weeks of wearing the hearing aids and adjusting to them, follow-up visits are made to make changes and ensure the satisfaction of the child.

Hearing loss stress

There’s No Reason to Wait for Healthy Hearing

Healthy hearing helps us connect to both other people and the world around us. We talk to family, whisper to friends, listen to music, and take in the sound of nature every day. As our hearing is impaired so is our ability to communicate as well as enjoy the world. Since hearing loss is often gradual, it is also often not treated at its earliest stages.

Untreated hearing loss often leads to social isolation, reduced awareness, frustration with communication, and general depression. Some studies originating from Johns Hopkins University and the work of Dr. Frank Lin suggest a link between hearing loss and cognitive problems ranging from mild impairment through dementia. In fact, it’s posited that untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia from two times to five times.

The reasons for this increased risk are complicated but some experts believe the cognitive decline is caused by the extra effort or stress created when a person with hearing loss tries to complete unheard conversational snippets. Another factor for cognitive decline in hearing impaired persons may relate to their social isolation. As persons retreat from communicating, other structures of the brain may suffer from a lack of stimulation.

The study of hearing loss and cognitive decline also suggests that the treatment of hearing loss may help keep the brain activity and reduce social isolation. In turn, this can improve cognition and/or prevent rapid decline of brain function. The earlier the treatment, the better the results. If you or someone you know needs to always turn up the television or constantly asks you to repeat the conversation, then they may be suffering from early onset of hearing loss. At that point, you should contact an audiologist and receive a baseline hearing test.

Doctor Fitting Senior Female Patient With Hearing Aid

A proper evaluation by an audiologist provides the baseline from which a treatment plan can be developed. This plan will be personalized based on your test results, your specific needs, and your lifestyle. For example, if your treatment requires hearing aids, there are a wide range of styles available for a variety of budgets. While hearing aids have traditionally carried some social stigma, technological and design improvements have created aids that are less intrusive and easier to control. While using a hearing aid is a process that may take time to adjust to, an overwhelming percentage of persons who use them report great improvements in their personal relationships, self-esteem, job performance, and overall quality of life. Taking the steps now to improve your hearing will reap benefits for you and your loved ones for the rest of your years.

Hearing Loss: A Serious Health Issue For Adults

As hearing loss emerges as a serious health issue for aging persons, it is increasingly important to stress the dangers of letting even minor hearing loss go untreated. Some experts posit that sufferers of hearing loss take an average of ten years before visiting an audiologist for help.

Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, and even dementia. Difficulties with communicating leads to persons withdrawing from friends and social activities. This withdrawal, in turn, leads to greater depression, stress, and fatigue. All of these raise the risk of dementia and/or other mental health issues.

The onset of hearing loss is often slow and gradual. As a natural part of the aging process, older adults may not filter speech from background noise as well as when they were younger. This can be the reason some folks may ask others to speak more loudly or to slow down their pronunciation. When someone with non-diagnosed hearing loss has difficulty with conversations in public or need more seemingly unnecessary volume on the television or radio, then it is likely a good time to schedule a meeting with an audiologist.

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A comprehensive hearing assessment will enable the audiologist to pinpoint reasons for hearing loss and, more importantly, to outline steps for treatment. Treatment might be as easy as the removal of excessive earwax. For more degenerative afflictions, hearing aids and other assisted listening devices may be recommended. While hearing aids have carried a traditional stigma that lessens their adoption, modern digital technology has evolved to craft aids that are both less visible as well as more easily controlled by devices such as a smartphone.

In addition to technological solutions, there are behavioral strategies that can be employed to improve communication among those with hearing loss. For example, reducing background noise, choosing better public meeting places, or focusing on visual clues can all boost a person’s hearing ability. In fact, organizations such as the Canadian Hearing Society as well as other audiology clinics, often offer classes and workshops on implementing such behavioral strategies.

Preventative measures are also important, even as one ages. Wear proper hearing protection when working or exposed to loud, heavy machinery. Such protection is also recommended for folks who travel regularly as plane, buses, and railways all create noise that can damage hearing through repeated exposure. Additionally, personal music listening devices that use earbuds or headphones should not be turned up excessively. In all cases, turning down the volume of listening devices is recommended. Finally, some experts suggest learning how to play a musical instrument or how to sing in a choir. Some studies indicate that playing a musical instrument through adulthood helps to maintain listening skills throughout life.

Adult hearing loss is a real problem for thousands of persons. If you or someone you love suffers from apparent hearing loss, it is important to take steps to get help. Schedule time with an audiologist and create an action plan for treatment and care. The sooner the treatment, the better the quality of life for all persons involved.

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Does Snoring Lead To Hearing Loss?

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may also find yourself at risk for hearing loss. Sleep apnea affects millions of adults, resulting in a bad sleep and general health problems. Apnea can cause generalized inflammation, cardiovascular and endocrine problems; these issues contribute to hearing loss.
A recent study of close to 14,000 subjects Latinos in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos found that sleep apnea was associated with a 31 percent increase in high-frequency hearing impairment and a 90 percent growth in low-frequency hearing impairment. These results, while preliminary and in need of further inquiry, highlight the dangers of sleep apnea. But when you take into consideration combined hearing loss – the participants with sleep apnea had a whopping 38 percent increased risk of combined hearing loss.
One of the study’s researchers, Neomi Shah, summarizes these new findings, stating, “Sleep apnea is more of a systemic and chronic disease than just something that happens when you’re sleeping.” Another researcher said, “I was surprised that people with sleep apnea had an increased risk for hearing loss at all levels.”
Since these findings demonstrate only a correlation between sleep apnea and hearing loss, other researchers urge caution when interpreting the findings.
Neuroscientist Rebecca Spencer states, “You wouldn’t know if one comes before the other: sleep apnea appears before hearing loss, or hearing loss appears before sleep apnea, and maybe they don’t come together at all.”
According to sleepfoundation.org Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. Another form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common than central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or simply sleep apnea, can cause fragmented sleep and low blood oxygen levels. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease, and other maladies.

loud photo
Cochlear Damage: Sleep apnea can damage the vascular flow to the cochlea, which is part of the inner ear. This damage could lead to hearing loss. The volume of a snore is unbelievably high. A snore is defined as anything above 50 dB, but snores of people with sleep apnea have been recorded at 100 dB. This is well above the “safe” limit of 85 dB.
Correlation does not equate to causation. However, this recent research indicates a possible link between sleep apnea and hearing loss. Therefore, our future understanding improves through more focused studies. We now know that there is the potential that treating sleep apnea may improve hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a difficult condition. The earlier your diagnosis, the better the prospects for successful treatment. If you have sleep apnea, get screened for hearing loss. The treatment you receive may improve your sleep and your hearing.

Hearing impaired man talking using mobile phone at home

Help! My hearing is muffled!

A common sign of hearing loss is when people report their hearing is muffled. When a person indicates that they have some sudden or gradual hearing loss and that loss affects one or both ears, it is important to visit a specialist. Muffled hearing can be caused by a number of factors, but only a trained audiologist should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

What to expectA very common reason for muffled or reduced hearing is plugged ears. Ears can be plugged with wax or other debris. In these cases, it is important to have a specialist remove the plug; do not put anything in your ear, including common Q-tips, to attempt to clean out the blockage. A specialist can more effectively and safely remove the blockage and lead to improved hearing. Much like a build-up of ear wax, an ear infection can result in muffled hearing. A fungal or bacterial infection should be diagnosed and treated by a physician.

Persons with a poorly functioning Eustachian tube may suffer from muffled hearing. The Eustachian turn connects the middle ear space with the back of nose and throat, regulating pressure between these two spaces. If you have sinus issues, the Eustachian tube may not function properly. This condition, called Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD), may result in your ears feeling clogged. Often the clogging is temporary and requires no intervention. If the condition is persistent or frequent, an evaluation by an audiologist may provide clarity on the condition and an appropriate treatment plan.

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Other reasons for muffled hearing included asymmetric hearing loss and/or high-frequency hearing loss. Asymmetric hearing loss occurs when the loss is greater in one ear. The difference in hearing can lead to confusion in the brain and muffled hearing. On the other hand, high-frequency hearing loss means one has difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds. Since these sounds include the consonant sounds of speech more than the vowel sounds, people suffering high-frequency hearing loss can “hear”, but persons speaking often sound as if they are mumbling.

In all cases of perceived hearing loss, the first step is getting a proper diagnosis. Professional help can safely assess your current situation and apply expertise towards creating a treatment plan that best fits your specific needs. At NexGen Hearing, we specialize in helping all Canadians with their hearing care and have the staff, tools, and techniques to help you reduce or eliminate muffled hearing.

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Better TV Sound For Those With Hearing Loss

One of the biggest day-to-day problems that those with hearing loss experience is the difficulty to understand what’s being said, and not just in face-to-face conversation. Dialogue on your television may be especially hard to hear, with background noise in your home, poor-quality speakers, or just bad sound design within the show itself. Thankfully, modern TVs have a lot of options for you to try and improve your experience.

Some televisions have a preset option to enhance the dialogue, which may be exactly what you’re looking for. Go through your settings and try to find anywhere you can turn up the dialogue audio and turn down the background noise. If your TV doesn’t have this option pre-set, try doing it manually. Turn up the mid and upper range frequencies, and turn down the bass.

Either in addition to or instead of adjusting your audio, there are always closed captions to consider. Your TV should have the option of fairly good closed captions, and especially when it comes to streaming services, these captions have become very accurate and helpful in recent years.

bose sound bar

But if you still really want to hear the dialogue, look into some wireless headphones, or consider a more surround-sound speaker system. The Bose sound bar has a setting, just for dialog and gets great reviews, but Samsung, Vizio and others all have a setting for dialog or speech and all of them work remarkably well.  You don’t need a big elaborate system with separate subwoofers and satellite speakers, a simple soundbar like the one above, with one wire that plugs into the back of your set and can be placed on a shelf in front of your tv should be more than enough.

Bringing the audio output closer to you can help you hear and understand it. Just be sure that if you’re using headphones, you don’t turn up the volume too loud so that it can further damage your hearing.

When trying to understand what’s being said on your TV, turning it up to max volume doesn’t always help you. This may make it even harder to distinguish dialogue from background noise. Try several different technological adjustments, and also try to limit other noises around your home. This way you can focus on understanding the conversations, and not try to comprehend several different types of sound at once.

tv remote

If you have a hearing impairment, wearing hearing aids will help you to hear the television better. Newer hearing aid models even have specialized TV programs to help with the clarity even more.  Some will automatically connect to your tv via Bluetooth. 

With today’s advancements in technology, there is no reason to be not hearing your favorite television programs

What is swimmers ear?

6 Ways to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

6 ways to prevent swimmer's ear

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the outer part of the ear canal that can be caused by exposure to bacteria from swimming in polluted water, or by water becoming trapped in the ear, which causes the germs normally found there to multiply. People that swim in pools (rather than lakes or oceans) tend to get swimmer’s ear more often, since the chlorinated water can kill off a lot of the protective bacteria in the ear, allowing the infectious bacteria to grow.

What Is Swimmer’s Ear?

 

Otitis externa or swimmer’s ear is an inflammation of the ear canal. Its common name comes from the fact that it often occurs in people who swim frequently. However, any kind of dampness in the ear canal can lead to irritation and chafing, a condition similar to diaper rash. This inflammation of the ear canal can sometimes lead to an infection that can be very painful.

Just know you don’t have to be a swimmer to get swimmer’s ear. It can be caused by excess moisture in the ear from things like showering or washing your hair.

What Are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?

The symptoms of swimmer’s ear include:

  • Temporarily muffled hearing (caused by blockage of the ear canal)
  • Watery discharge from the ear
  • Severe pain and tenderness in the ear, especially when moving your head or when gently pulling on the earlobe
  • A foul-smelling, yellowish discharge from the ear
  • Itching inside the ear

Some tips to Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

  • Keep Your Ears Clean and Dry, Especially After Swimming – Tip your head to the side until all of the water runs out of your ear, repeat on the other side
  • Always Maintain Proper Ear Wax Hygiene
  • Never insert a Q-tip or any other objects in your ears, which may damage the skin.
  • Keep hairspray or other irritating chemicals out of the ears by using ear plugs or cotton balls.
  • Avoid scratching or cutting your ears.
  • You may use a drop or two of vegetable oil or olive oil in your ears each day to help lubricate the ear canal and nourish dry skin.
  • Avoid vigorous cleaning of the ear. If you have excessive ear wax, get your ears professionally cleaned by a doctor.

Call Your Doctor About Swimmer’s Ear if:

  • You are experiencing any of the symptoms of an ear infection.
  • You are experiencing dizziness or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • You have severe pain.

Although earplugs seem like a natural choice for prevention, many doctors don’t like them because they can trap bacteria in the ear canal and have the opposite effect. They suggest the steps above. A little ear care can keep Swimmer’s Ear something that you only heard about.

Couple talking

How to Talk to Someone With Hearing Loss

Because language is our primary source of communication, it becomes difficult to properly communicate with someone who has hearing loss if you aren’t familiar with it. Although sign language is very handy, it’s not always an option, and we need to be able to communicate properly without it.

Speaking clearly is a must, and even during times of heated discussion, it’s important to keep your voice calm and refrain from talking over each other. Without taking turns speaking, the person you are speaking with cannot keep up with the conversation and gets left out of the dialogue. When there are more than just you and another person talking, you need to be aware of the other people around you and how they are acting, not just your own actions.

meeting photo
Photo by Sole Treadmill

If you are in a meeting or something similar with a large group of people speaking, it is a good idea to have a microphone. This makes it easier to focus and see who is speaking. It also keeps people from talking out of turn or speaking over one another, because one person has the microphone and therefore everyone else must wait for their opportunity to talk.

Another habit that you should never use when speaking to someone with hearing loss is to dismiss them or say “never mind” when asked to repeat something. This is not only very disrespectful but also ruins the connection that could have formed if you had just repeated a word or phrase for the person’s convenience. If there is simply not enough time to repeat what you had said, then telling the person that would be much better than brushing them off. Letting the person know that you will pick up the story or repeat it later makes it more apparent that you are willing to accommodate for their benefit, and will make communicating with them much smoother and enjoyable for both sides of the conversation.

*Try our convenient online hearing test to see if a visit to one of our registered hearing instrument practitioners/audiologists would work out best for you. Check out our different locations.