• Healthy Hearing Resolutions for the New Year

    Hearing Resolutions
    The New Year is approaching fast, which means many of us are starting to make our resolutions for the upcoming year. Often time’s people vow to manage their money better, lose weight, exercise more, and so forth. However, rarely hearing resolutions, the idea of preserving one’s hearing, is on the list. The unfortunate truth is everyone, young and old, is at risk for hearing loss. Every day billions of people are at risk due to exposure to loud noise levels, but luckily, noise-induced hearing loss is preventable if you take the correct steps.

    Get on the right track in 2019 and make some healthy hearing resolutions for the New Year. If you are wondering how to get started, check out some of the basic adjustments you can make to help keep your ears healthy for years to come.

    1. Every day we are exposed to high levels of noise that could potentially harm our hearing. It is crucial that you wear ear protection to help protect yourself from hearing damage that could result from exposure to loud noise. Luckily, foam earplugs are easily obtainable and are relatively inexpensive.

    2. If you often find yourself listening to audio on a handheld device, make sure you watch the volume. Many devices have a setting that will allow you to adjust the maximum allowed volume, which can help protect your ears from noise-induced hearing loss. If your device doesn’t have this setting, turn down the volume.

    3. Whenever you are listening to audio through a pair of headphones, be sure to apply the 60/60 rule. This means that you only listen to the audio no higher than 60 percent of the max volume, for no more than 60 minutes at a time. You can also purchase a pair of noise-canceling headphones to help limit the volume level on your device.

    4. Anytime you are exposed to high levels of noise, make sure you limit your time of exposure. Even if you have earplugs, you can either avoid the noise (if possible), and if you can’t, make sure you limit your exposure time by taking frequent rest breaks. Even if you are wearing protection, get into the habit of taking a break periodically to rest your ears.

    5. In order to properly protect your ears, knowing how loud is too loud is valuable information that can help safeguard your hearing. Sounds that are over 85 decibels (dB) can harm your hearing if exposure is continuous. Check out this list of sounds and their decibel level so you can realize and understand how loud is too loud for your ears.

    • Conversation (normal speaking level): 60 dB
    • Traffic (city): 85 dB
    • Motorcycle: 100 dB
    • Media player (at max volume): 100+ dB
    • Music concert: 115 dB
    • Blast from a 12-gauge shotgun: 165 dB

  • Healthy Hearing 101: Earwax Blockage Symptoms and Tips

    Earwax Blockage
    Produced by glands in the ear canal, earwax (aka cerumen) helps protect your ears from water, microorganisms, dust, and other foreign particles. Earwax is beneficial to your ears and under normal circumstances does not require removal because your ears are self-cleaning. Old earwax moves through the ear canal naturally when we move our jaw, and as the skin of the ear canal grows, falling out when it reaches the outside of the ear. While everyone makes earwax, the amount can vary from person to person as oddly shaped or small ear canals can make it more difficult for the earwax to naturally exit the ear canal.

    For certain people, their ears overproduce earwax, which eventually builds up and creates a blockage. Earwax blockage can affect your hearing and can even result in an ear infection if left untreated. While under normal circumstances a person’s ear is self-cleaning, sometimes the ear can become plugged or blocked with too much earwax. When an earwax blockage occurs, it requires the help of a physician to remove.

    Earwax impaction will not go unnoticed. Here are some of the common earwax blockage symptoms to look out for:

    • Itchy ears
    • Ear pain
    • Coughing
    • Ear drainage
    • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
    • Dizziness
    • Muffled hearing
    • Hearing loss
    • Ear feel full/congested
    • Odor coming from the ear

    Under normal circumstances, your ears can be kept clean by using a clean wash rag over your finger, but if you have excess earwax, a physician is warranted for removal. However, if you often experience blocked ears caused by earwax blockage, check out these helpful earwax blockage tips.

    1. Any time you exit the water, whether from swimming, taking a bath, or shower, ensure that you dry your ears thoroughly using a clean, soft towel.

    2. You can soften earwax and help keep your ears clean by placing a few drops of olive oil, or OTC ear drops into the ear and then allowing it to exit naturally by laying your ear down on a cotton swab or cloth.

    3. If you wear hearing aids, schedule a checkup with your physician every 3 to 6 months to look for and remove any built-up earwax. Earwax impaction is common among hearing aid users.

    4. Never put anything into your ear, only clean the outside of your ears with a clean rag. Q-Tips and other objects should never be used to remove earwax, save that for the professionals.

  • Your Ears and Throat: Natural Home Remedies for a Sore Throat

    Home Remedies for a Sore Throat
    It’s the season for the flu, colds, as well as for other infections, and for all of these conditions having a sore throat is a common symptom. A common condition, sore throats can be highly irritating and painful, affecting many aspects of your daily life. Having a sore throat can make it difficult to talk, swallow, cough, and fall asleep. Having a sore throat can even affect your ears since the nerves from the throat, and the ears are close to each other, why is why sometimes a sore throat can cause ear pain. However, a sore throat can also be the result of another infection, such as an ear infection. While a sore throat on its own may not be serious enough to warrant a visit to your doctor, the pain and irritation can still temporarily affect your daily life. Fortunately, there are home remedies for a sore throat available that you can use to get some relief.

    If you are suffering from a sore throat, there are strategies available for you to use to help ease your symptoms. If you are looking for some relief, check out these natural home remedies for a sore throat.

    Honey– Honey not only tastes great, but it’s excellent at soothing sore throats. Honey will coat your irritated throat, can help with coughs, and can also help speed up the healing process by reducing inflammation with its antibacterial properties.

    Lozenges– A quick and easy method, lozenges can help soothe your irritated throat by stimulating saliva production. There is a variety of different types available to suit your tastes, and many drops contain honey and Echinacea, both which are very effective at soothing a sore throat.

    Warm Water and Salt– A common remedy that doesn’t taste the greatest, but it does a good job soothing your inflamed and irritated throat. Gargling with salt and warm water when you have a sore throat can help reduce swelling as well as fend off bacteria by keeping your throat clean.

    Peppermint– If you can find a throat spray that contains peppermint oil, give it a try, it may help relieve the pain of your sore throat and encourage healing with its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. The menthol in the peppermint can help soothe sore throats, reduce coughing, and thin out mucus.

    Garlic– Garlic contains allicin, a compound that is known for its ability to fight off infections, so it comes as no surprise that garlic contains natural antibacterial properties which can help soothe your sore throat. While you can take garlic supplements for prevention purposes, eating fresh garlic is the way to go if you are looking to get relief from your sore throat.

  • Love Dark Chocolate? Try Out this Delicious Healthy Holiday Hearing Recipe!

    Black Bean Brownie Recipe
    With the holiday season in full swing, it’s common for many of us to attend parties and gatherings where there’s food, lots of food. Unfortunately, many of us put on a few extra pounds during this time of year, and while it may be satisfying at first, the long-term repercussions are not. For most, it’s the temptation of sweets that gets us the most, but luckily there is a way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy manner, especially if you happen to love dark chocolate. Real dark chocolate that has not been processed, or is at least 70% cacao content is rich in zinc, antioxidants, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, and selenium.

    A favorite holiday chocolate dish for many is brownies, and they often find their way onto the table. So, if you love dark chocolate and brownies, and have been searching for a way to enjoy this delicious dish and not feel so guilty about it, try your hand at this healthy black bean brownie recipe!

    Black Bean Brownie Recipe

    Ingredients:

    • 1 ¾ cups cooked black beans or a 15 oz. can/bag (rinsed and drained)
    • ½ – ¾ cup of cacao powder (100% dark chocolate)
    • 2 eggs
    • 3 Tbsp. of coconut oil
    • 1.5 tsp of vanilla extract
    • ½ cup of honey (or your choice of sweetener)
    • ½ tsp of baking powder
    • ½ cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
    • ½ of dark chocolate chips (optional)
    • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. If needed, spray your baking dish (8×8 inch, or one of your choice) with nonstick cooking spray.
    3. Place all of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using), into a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until the batter is smooth.
    4. If using, stir in the walnuts and/or chocolate chips.
    5. Pour the mixture into your baking dish.
    6. If desired, sprinkle pieces of the walnuts and/or chocolate chips across the top.
    7. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you sprinkled the top of the brownies with walnuts, cover the brownies about halfway through baking with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
    8. Let the brownies cool before cutting.

  • Are You a First Time Hearing Aid User? Helpful Tips for Getting Used to Hearing Aids

    First Time Hearing Aid User Tips
    For new hearing aid users, the whole experience at first can seem daunting and confusing. Especially if your hearing loss happened gradually over a span of several years. Using hearing aids for the first time can seem a bit disorientating, especially since many people are finally able to hear sounds that they haven’t heard in some time, and the brain needs time to readjust to interpreting these sounds.

    If you are new to hearing aids, we know that there is a lot to know and be aware of. To help get you adjusted to your new pair of hearing aids, check out these helpful first time hearing aid user tips.

    Be Patient, and Give Yourself Time

    Don’t expect your new pair of hearing aids to be like your experience wearing eyeglasses for the first time. While you immediately see results with a new pair of glasses, for hearing aid users, time is needed to get accustomed. In many cases, the brain doesn’t remember how to hear, interpret, and identify every sound at first. You need time in order for your brain to become reacquainted with hearing particular sounds.

    Start Small

    When you wear hearing aids for the first time, they may not feel right in your ears. This is a normal experience that happens to many first time users. So start off small, and be patient with yourself as both you and your brain needs the time to readjust. You don’t want to overwhelm or exhaust yourself, so when you first get your hearing aids only wear them for a few hours at a time, and then gradually increase your time wearing them as you become more comfortable.

    Read to Yourself

    While this may seem odd, read aloud to yourself to help retrain your brain to be able to recognize words and speech again. Plus, reading to yourself while wearing your hearing aids will help you determine the proper volume level for speech. You may have gotten into the habit of shouting before you received your hearing aids. Also, if possible, pair reading aloud to a matching audiobook or read aloud the closed captioning while watching television. This will also help your brain become reacquainted with sounds, words, and speech.

    Allow Friends and Family to Help

    During the hearing aid adjustment process, enlist the help of your family and friends. They can help you practice holding a conversation with a person, and can help you practice speaking in a group. However, try to practice with people that you know very well. Familiar voices are much easier on the brain to identify and interpret. Your brain is going to need help relearning the associations between words, sounds, and non-verbal body language.

  • Helpful Steps to Take to Have a Healthy Hearing Holiday Season

    Healthy Hearing Holiday Season
    With the seasons changing, the temperatures dropping, and the holidays coming, this time of year can be difficult for those with a hearing impairment. The holidays can be loud, as well as some of the outdoor activities we participate in during the winter months. The ice and snow add a layer of complexity to a person’s hearing aid, as hearing aids need extra care during the winter months.

    Protecting your ears throughout the winter season is vital if you want to preserve your ability to hear. Check out some of the steps you can take to have a healthy hearing holiday season.

    Your hearing aid is an expensive investment, so it is essential that you take extra care, especially during the winter months. The change in temperature that occurs from going to and from the outdoors to inside a warm house can cause moisture buildup. Moisture buildup can shorten the life of your hearing aid, as well as shorten your battery life. To help prevent this from occurring, cover your ears with a hat, earmuffs, or scarf every time you leave the house. Also, at night, make sure you remove the batteries and let your device air out. A hearing aid dehumidifier is highly recommended to help assist in removing excess moisture.

    If you own a snowmobile or a snow blower, limit your time exposed to these machines and make sure you use earplugs or another form of ear protection. While most modern snowmobiles don’t put out more than 74 decimals of noise, this can still damage your hearing if you are exposed for a prolonged period of time. However, the noise from a snow blower can range from 90 to 106 decibels, so wearing ear protection is a must when you are operating one, and you will want to limit the amount of time exposed.

    The holidays can be loud, as well as overwhelming for a person with a hearing impairment. While wearing ear protection around friends and relatives is not necessary, you will still want to watch your placement during holiday get-togethers. Make sure you sit away from speakers and other sources of sound (such as the kitchen) to help limit the amount of noise you are exposed too. Also, make sure you wear your hearing aid if you own one, this way you are not struggling to hear others. However, holiday gatherings can be overwhelming to the senses, so make sure you give your ears frequent breaks away from the hustle and bustle.

    Many people don’t think of this, but there is a relationship between hearing loss and impaired balance. A recent study that was published by John Hopkins addressed the balance issues that occur when a person has impaired hearing. The research revealed that there is an increase in balance issues with patients who suffer from hearing loss. Impaired balance and dizziness are common, which can make walking outside during the winter months much more dangerous. Snow and ice can already make a person unstable, and if you are suffering from additional balance issues due to a hearing impairment, you will need to take extra care when walking outdoors during the winter season.

  • What Kind of Hearing Aid Accessories are Available?

    Hearing Aid Accessories
    Many people rely on their hearing aids to assist them, but sometimes a hearing aid needs help in order function at its best. Accessories can be your hearing aid’s best friend but, choosing the right accessories can be complicated and confusing. In order to help, we have compiled a list of the most useful hearing aid accessories available.

    Batteries and a Battery Charger

    While it might go without saying hearing aids don’t work very well, or not at all when they are having issues with their batteries. Batteries available for hearing aids can be disposable or rechargeable. Keeping extra batteries on hand is a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on anything important.

    Bluetooth Enabled Hearing Aids

    In today’s high-tech world of smartphones and public Bluetooth, it’s a good idea to stay current with the tech trends as they become available. Bluetooth enabled hearing aids can allow you to connect to your smartphone without having to worry about feedback, and many popular museums and public venues now broadcast Bluetooth for their own hearing assistance headsets, which you can pick up with a Bluetooth enabled hearing aid.

    Cleaning Kit

    Whether your hearing aid is brand new or a bonafide classic model, it always a good idea to keep your hearing as clean as possible, to prevent wax buildup and potential ear infections. Make sure to clean your hearing aid every time you take it out of your ear. Choosing the right kit should be easy, just make sure any kit you buy has; a wax pick, cleaning brush, a protective case, and a multi-tool.

    Wax Guards and Extra Parts

    One thing we all have is earwax, which helps protect the ear canal from damage. However earwax buildup can inhibit a hearing aids functionality, wax guard help protect the hearing aid from damage. Even with proper maintenance, things break, so it’s a good idea to have a few spare parts on hand just in case of any mishaps.

  • What’s Right for You? How to Choose an Audiologist

    How to Choose an Audiologist
    When you have an issue with your hearing, or when it comes time for a hearing assessment, you go to an audiologist or hearing care professional. However, if this is your first time doing so, the process can feel daunting. Many people have fears or questions that they need to lay to rest, and may be too scared or embarrassed to ask and bring up. Plus, the whole idea of choosing an audiologist may overwhelm some people. Depending on where you live, the number to choose from can be overwhelming, so it’s no surprise that many people get stuck at this step.

    Your path to a hearing care professional doesn’t have to be scary or confusing with these helpful tips on how to choose an audiologist.

    Consider Your Location

    Location matters, so when you are conducting your search make sure you are looking at an area that is convenient for you to get to. Look for hearing professionals near your home or work, or even near relatives. Having a location in mind before you look around will limit the number of audiologists you need to look through and research.

    Use Your Resources

    With the internet at your fingertips, use it to your advantage and do your research. Researching a person or business online is an excellent way to know what to expect, through other people’s experiences, before you visit in person. Being able to read reviews and testimonials will make your task of choosing an audiologist much easier.

    Remember to Look at Credentials

    Even after you nailed down your location and done your research online, don’t forget to look at an audiologist’s or audiology clinic’s credentials. Look for an audiologist or clinic that has been around for many years that has solid reviews. Going for doctors and clinics that have stood the test of time will help ensure that you receive quality care.

    Ask for Referrals

    If you rather ask someone you know and trust, ask any friends or family who sees an audiologist for their advice. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you receive the utmost care, and it can even help relieve some of your anxiety about getting your hearing checked. If you don’t know anyone personally, ask your regular physician for a referral, they may know who is good in your area.

  • Hearing Loss Tips for Halloween

    Hearing Loss Tips for Halloween
    Millions of people look forward every year to Halloween, and why wouldn’t they? There’s costumes, candy, and trick or treating. However, since most of the festivities take place at dusk and at night, it can be challenging for those who are hearing impaired. The good news is that there is no reason to fear, here are a few hearing loss tips for Halloween to help you make the most of the holiday, even with a hearing impairment.

    • Before anything begins, make sure hearing aids should have batteries checked and changed if needed, to prevent missing out on any festivities.

    • Avoid any type of mask and costumes that impair sight or cover the ears, as these can create issues. Makeup, hats and un-obstructive disguises are an excellent way to go. Just because your head isn’t covered doesn’t mean you can’t have on a great costume.

    • It can be a good idea to inform family members and other people who you can count on, of your plans for the night. Make sure to ask for assistance if you need it.

    • Stick to known areas and neighborhoods, and avoid dark alleys and only visit homes that are brightly lit, hopefully, decorated to let you know they are receptive to trick or treaters.

    Following the standard safety rules for Halloween is also a good idea. Many of the hazards experienced by those with impaired hearing are also there for everyone else. Here are some great tips from The American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org) that everyone should follow.

    • Try for bright and reflective costumes or add reflective tape to treat bags and costumes.

    • Young children should always be accompanied by a parent/ guardian or trusted adult while going trick-or-treating through the neighborhood.

    • Everyone should have flashlights with fresh new batteries.

    • Always walk on the sidewalk and only walk on well-lit streets.

    • While traveling in a group, always cross the street together, using crosswalks when available.

  • What Can I Use to Protect My Hearing?

    Even though our ability to hear is something that many of us don’t want to lose, many abuse their ears on a constant basis. Unfortunately, it is natural that our ability to hear starts to decrease right after our teenage years, but it happens so gradually that many fail to notice. Also, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is widespread, as high noise levels possess one of the biggest threats to our hearing. One way to protect our hearing when we are in environments where the noise levels are hazardous is to use a hearing protection device. Hearing protection devices (HPDs) can help prevent hearing loss when used correctly, protecting your ears while at play or work in noisy environments.

    While using your fingers in a pinch can provide protection, it’s not a practical method for when you are in a loud environment for a prolonged period of time. Don’t expect to get protection from shoving balls of cotton in your ears or wearing headphones, as these methods just don’t cut it. If you want to protect your hearing for the long haul, you need to take the proper precautions, and they are pretty easy ones at that. You can give your ears adequate protection against damaging noise levels by wearing earmuffs or earplugs every time you are in a noisy environment.

    There are many options out there, options to fit any budget and lifestyle. If you are looking to purchase a pair of high-quality earplugs or earmuffs but don’t know where to begin, check out some of the best hearing protection products currently available on the internet.

    Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs

    $29.88 – $33.88

    Ideal for music festivals and band practice, these Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs protect your sensitive ears, but still allow you to hear your surroundings without it sounding muffled. Available in four colors, these handy earplugs comes with an ergonomic aluminum carrying case that can be hung from your keychain.

    Luiswell Reusable Ear Plugs Corded 12 Pairs Noise Cancelling Soft Silicone Hearing Safety Protection Earplugs

    $13.99

    If you are looking for a bundle deal, then the Luiswell Reusable Ear Plugs are right up your alley. Share these earplugs with friends and family, or keep them to yourself. They are sure to last quite some time since they are washable and will help keep your ears protected against harmful noises. How can you go wrong?

    Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff

    $34.16 – $47.99

    Designed for shooters, these Howard Leight earmuffs can block any noise above 82 dB, but still lets important low-level sounds (like a conversation) to go through. These earmuffs are designed for shooters in the field or at the range, and they don’t interfere with your ability to aim. Plus, it comes with an external audio jack so you can also use them as stereo headphones.

    Howard Leight by Honeywell Leightning L3H Hard Hat Earmuff

    $26.22

    These Howard Leight earmuffs are compatible with a wide range of hard hats, as it includes an adapter to use with MSA, North, AO Safety, Jackson, and Bullard hard hats. Don’t worry about your earmuffs getting in the way since they can swing back when they are not needed. These earmuffs are recommended for the construction, farming, aviation, military/law enforcement industries.

    TR Industrial Forestry Safety Helmet and Hearing Protection System

    $26.78

    If you are looking for complete protection when using trimmers, chainsaws, brush cutters, or any other type of forestry work, this 5 in 1 safety helmet is for you. Providing dynamic protection, this helmet comes with plastic visor, mesh visor, as well as adjustable/removable earmuffs. Best part? You can quickly and easily adjust the circumference to ensure that the helemet stays secured firmly on your head.

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