Newsletter - January 2011

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Teenagers and Hearing Loss

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed evidence that one in five American teenagers suffer from some type of hearing loss. The effects of the hearing losses impact the teenagers in both social and academic settings by causing them to struggle to understand conversations and oral instruction. Signs of hearing loss in teenagers may be subtle and hard to identify due to the distancing that takes place between parent and children with this age group. The most noted sign is an unex- plained drop in grades.

One study from Australia linked the iPod to a 70% increased risk of hearing loss. Other noise sources include lawn mowers, hunting rifles, NASCAR races and loud con- certs. Most researchers are strongly advising parents to have their children use noise protection when appropriate and restrict the use of MP3 and iPod players to the recommended exposure level of no more than 80% of the maximum volume for no more than 90 minutes a day.

Another alternative to this advice is to have children use head phones that are designed to limit the level of volume heard by the ear. Kid’s Safe head phones are one brand of this type of head phone. They are comparable in cost to the conventional head phones used with MP3 and iPod devices and come in several different colors. The younger children learn to protect their hearing, the better chance there is to avoiding noise-induced hearing loss in the teenage years. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns in reference to this issue.

Internet and Hearing Aids

In this age of high technology and internet access, you can find almost any piece of information or product available with the click of a button. But not all information obtained is accurate and not all products actually do what they claim and no website will ever replace the personal dialogue that can only be obtained by talking to a live person. This holds true whether you are sick and need to see a doctor, have a toothache and need to see a dentist, or have a hearing loss and need to see an audiologist.

As purchasing items on the internet has become easier, more people are using the internet to research and, ultimately, buy a wide range of prod- ucts. When one considers that a mid- level digital hearing aid can cost about $2000, buying a $1500 hearing aid online may seem like a pretty good deal. And it would be if a hearing aid was the kind of item that had a univer- sal fit and magically restored your hear- ing. But that is just not the case. Many hearing aids are custom fit and most will probably need to be adjusted at least once and will need to be routinely checked by an audiologist on a regular basis to ensure it stays in working or- der. These services can not be provided efficiently or cost effectively when you are dealing with a website.

What an inexperienced hearing aid user may fail to realize is that it may take more than just one adjustment to get a hearing aid to sound optimal for any given person. Even if the hearing aids are mailed back to the website company for an adjustment, there is no guarantee that they will sound like they should when they are sent back. This could result in one of three things. 1. The patient is spending more time with- out the hearing aids than with them; 2. They get frustrated and assume it is the hearing aids, not the fitting proc- ess, that is the problem and return the hearing aids; 3. Keep the hearing aids but never wear them because they “just never worked right”. In all three of these cases, the patient who was motivated to get help, ends up feeling disgusted and may give up on improv- ing their hearing altogether. Therefore, it is important that you find a knowledgeable audiologist that you are comfortable with and that you trust because this is most likely going to be the person that guides you through the process of better hearing and, ultimately, a better quality of life. This person is the one you will depend on to monitor your hearing and ex-plain the results, that narrows down the vast array of hearing aid technol- ogy available and explains what would help you, He or she will be the one you call when your hearing aid stops working and teaches you how to care for them. In other words, your audi- ologist is your lifeline to the world of the hearing.

The care an audiologist provides to their patients cannot be duplicated by a hearing aid website. You see, when you buy a hearing aid off of the inter- net, you are buying a product, but when you purchase a hearing aid through an audiology office, you are investing in, not only the product, but the knowledge, service and support of a trained and licensed profes- sional. The internet is a great starting point but, when it comes to your health, should not be your only stop. The next time you are tempted to save a few bucks on something as impor- tant as hearing aids, remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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