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Do NOT Let Winter Wipe Out Your Hearing

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 10:36 PM Comments comments (117)
Do NOT Let Winter Wipe Out Your Hearing
 
With the impending storms arriving, Stone’s Hearing Aid Service wishes to reiterate the importance of ear protection and noise induced hearing loss. Because Your Hearing is Our Concern

Matt Dailey HIS of Stone's hearing Aid Service protecting his hearing while snow blowing

Winter is a time to pay attention to protecting our hearing during activities that are most common during the season. Whether your hearing is normal or you wear hearing aids to hear effectively, it is important to take precautionary measures while you're outside enjoying the season.
 


Though you can barely hear snow falling to the ground, the sound of snow blowers and snowmobiles can be dangerously loud. This winter, whether you are blowing snow off your sidewalks or sledding through it in the wilderness, please make sure your family’s hearing is protected. 

While fun to use, the noise levels of these machines can measure over 106 DB! Although you cannot lower the volume of a snow blower or snowmobile, you can move away from the noise or wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
 
Here are some instances where you could suffer noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), as well as some tips on how to protect against it:

•           Using a snow blower can cause hearing loss because they can emit sounds as loud as 106 decibels, which are only safe for exposure up to three and 3/4 minutes at a time. If you must use a snow blower rather than a shovel to clear your sidewalk and driveway, make sure to only use it in short bursts of time and to wear proper, high-quality hearing protection to prevent against NIHL.



•           Another snow-geared machine - a snowmobile - can also be the cause of NIHL. While snowmobiling is a fun winter sport, it is also very loud. Snowmobiles today can be as loud as 78 decibels  at a distance of 50 feet.

Please make sure to purchase the best hearing protection you can afford before trying snowmobiling.
 
Please make sure to step away a few times to take a "hearing break" and let your ears rest a bit while using ANY loud noise inducing device. 
 
Signs of hearing damage
How do you know if your ears have had enough? Here are some signs that the noises you are listening to are just too loud:
•           Ear pain
•           Buzzing feeling in the ears
•           Tinnitus, which can involve ringing, whooshing 
or other noises
•           Hypersensitivity to noise
•           Difficulty hearing in noise
•           Loss of sensitivity to loud noises
 

Types of hearing protection
•           Custom ear molds, which are made to personally fit your ear canals can be fitted and purchased directly at Stone's Hearing Aid Service.
•           Expanding foam ear plugs
•           Capsule ear protection, including headphones and earmuffs that go over the ears, rather than inside them
 
If you experience a hearing loss or notice any continuous buzzing or ringing in your ears, a check-up with with us at Stone's Hearing Aid Service for us to help ensure you are not suffering from NIHL or tinnitus.
 
Hearing health professionals believe one of the major causes of hearing loss among Americans is noise induced. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Diseases (NIDCD) says as many as 26 million Americans have noise induced hearing loss.
 
What is a safe noise level? The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) sets acceptable decibel levels in the work place at 85 Db or less. Employers (example: landscapers and the Department of Transportation, Borough/City/Township municipalities) are required to issue hearing protection in environments that register noise levels louder than that.
 
There are several ways you can protect your hearing while you are enjoying the great outdoors. Drug store earplugs are inexpensive and can reduce the level of noise by as much as 30 Db. They protect your ears against NIHL as well as from the ringing and aching often caused by loud and consistent noise. Noise reducing ear muffs and headphones may be more comfortable to wear, although they are typically more expensive.
 
If you wear hearing aids, consider wearing noise reducing headphones or ear muffs when you know you will be in a noisy environment. Your hearing aid amplifies sound, it is important to protect your ears from further damage. Be careful, though. While headphones can keep your ears warm during the cold winter months, they may cause you to perspire when wearing them before the weather turns cool – and moisture is damaging to the delicate electronics in your hearing aid.
 
Another way to protect your hearing during the winter months is to wear a warm hat that covers your ears. Although scientists no longer believe we lose more heat through our head than we do any other unprotected part of our body, they do believe keeping your ears warm can prevent earaches. Wearing a warm winter hat is also advisable for hearing aid users. According to Energizer, exposure to heat, cold or moisture can shorten battery life.
 
Duration
The duration (how long you are exposed to a noise) can affect the extent of noise induced hearing loss. The longer you are exposed to a loud noise, the more damaging it may be. Every loud sound produces a noise that could damage the ears of anyone in close hearing range. Excessive noise is present in many situations. Some of the more common ones include occupational noise (machinery, etc.), loud music, and non-occupational noise (lawn mowers, snow blowers, etc.).
 
Finally, make sure you eat right and exercise regularly this season. Hearing health professionals believe that, much like the rest of our bodies, hearing health is dependent upon good blood flow and proper nutrition. Even though we’re more likely to develop hearing loss as we age, we can slow the process down by taking care of ourselves.

How is Noise Induced Hearing Loss Diagnosed?
Hearing loss usually develops over a period of several years. Since it is painless and gradual, you might not notice it. What you might notice is a ringing or other sound in your ear (tinnitus), which could be the result of long-term exposure to noise that has damaged hearing. Or, you may have trouble understanding what people say; they may seem to be mumbling, especially when you are in a noisy place such as in a crowd or at a party. This could be the beginning of high-frequency hearing loss; a hearing test will detect it. If you have any of these symptoms, you may have nothing more serious than impacted wax or an ear infection, which might be simply corrected. However, it might be hearing loss from noise. In any case, take no chances with noise – the hearing loss it causes is permanent.
 
If you suspect a hearing loss, please call or visit Stone’s Hearing Aid Service for a FREE hearing evaluation, assessing your hearing concern and recommending the best way to manage it.
 
How Might Noise Induced Hearing Loss Affect My Life?
Hearing loss can impact one’s life in many ways. You may be less able to understand conversation or appreciate music. A ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, commonly occurs after noise exposure, and it often becomes permanent. Some people react to loud noise with anxiety and irritability, an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, or an increase in stomach acid. Very loud noise can reduce efficiency in performing difficult tasks by diverting attention from the job.
 
How can I tell if I am listening to dangerous noise levels?

         You must raise your voice to be heard.
         You can't hear someone 3 feet away from you.
         Speech around you sounds muffled or dull after you leave the noisy area.
         You have pain or ringing in your ears (this is called “tinnitus”) after exposure to noise.

How can loud noise damage hearing?
Understanding how we hear will help you to understand how loud noise can hurt your hearing.
One of the most common bad effects of loud noise on hearing is a permanent hearing loss. This happens in the following way:

         The loud sound is collected by the ear as sound waves. The sound waves travel down the ear canal toward the eardrum with enough force to disrupt the delicate hearing system. If the sound is loud enough, it can dislodge the tiny bones of the middle ear.
         The loud sound passes through the middle ear and travels to the inner ear, also known as the cochlea. The tiny hair cells lining this fluid-filled chamber can be damaged as the loud sound reaches the inner ear.
         Only healthy hair cells can send electrical impulses to the brain. It is in the brain that the sound is understood and interpreted. Hair cells damaged by loud sound cannot send the impulse to the brain for interpretation.
         Intense brief noises, like a firecracker or an explosion, can damage hair cells, as can continuous and/or repeated exposure to high levels of noise.
         Once the hair cells are damaged, there is no current treatment to repair them.
 
 How else can loud noise be harmful?
·         Loud noise can increase fatigue and cause irritability.
·         Noise can reduce the ability to pay attention to tasks. This is a concern at the workplace when it comes to workers' safety: The ability to detect faulty equipment operation or warning signals can be reduced. Noise can also reduce productivity.
·         Noisy classrooms can make it harder for children to learn.
·         Noisy backgrounds can make understanding conversation harder. The noise can mask or cover up some of the sounds of speech, making a word like “time” sound like “dime.” More concentration and energy are needed not only to listen and hear over the noise but also to speak louder. As a result, voices can be strained, and laryngitis can develop.
·         Another common effect of loud sound on hearing is tinnitus. Tinnitus is ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ear.
 
Loud noise can also cause other physical problems, such as:
         High blood pressure
         Increased or abnormal heart rate
         Upset stomach
         Insomnia or difficulty sleeping (even after the noise stops)
         Disruption of the development of a baby before birth
         Wear hearing protection. Cotton in the ears will not work. Hearing protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, can be purchased at drugstores, hardware stores, or sports stores. Custom earmolds can be made to fit your ears by an audiologist. Learn how to correctly insert the earplugs and earmolds for the best noise reduction.
         Earplugs are placed into the ear canal so that they totally block the canal. They come in different shapes and sizes, or they can be custom-made by taking an impression of the ear. Earplugs can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels (dB) depending on how they are made and fit.
         Earmuffs fit completely over both ears. They must fit tightly so that sound is blocked from entering the ears. Like earplugs, muffs can reduce noise 15 to 30 dB depending on how they are made and fit.
         Earplugs and earmuffs can be used together to achieve even greater sound reduction. Use of earplugs and earmuffs is recommended when noise exposure is particularly high.
         Do not listen to loud sounds for too long. If you don’t have hearing protection, move away from the loud sound. Give your ears a break from the sound. Plug your ears with your fingers as emergency vehicles pass on the road.
         Lower the loudness of the sound. Keep personal listening devices set to no more than half volume. Don’t be afraid to ask others to turn down the sounds from speakers. Speak to the movie theater projectionist if the movie sound track is too loud.
         Be a good consumer. Look for noise ratings on appliances, sporting equipment, power tools, and hair dryers. Purchase quieter products. This is especially important when purchasing toys for children.
         Be a local advocate. Some movie theaters, health clubs, dance clubs, bars, and amusement centers are very noisy. Speak to managers and those in charge about the loud noise and the potential damages to hearing. Ask to have the noise source lowered.
         Can my ears get used to noise?
         Don't be fooled by thinking your ears are “tough” or that you have the ability to “tune it out”! Noise-induced hearing loss is usually gradual and painless but, unfortunately, permanent. Once destroyed, the hearing nerve and its sensory nerve cells do not repair.
         If you think you have “gotten used to” the noise you routinely encounter, you may already have some hearing damage.
 
How loud is too loud?
The noise chart below lists average decibel levels for everyday sounds around you.


Decibel Loudness Comparison Chart

Painful
•           150 dB = fireworks at 
3 feet
•           140 dB = firearms,
 jet engine
•           130 dB = jackhammer
•           120 dB = jet plane takeoff, siren
Extremely Loud
•           110 dB = maximum output of some MP3 players, 
model airplane, chain saw
•           106 dB = gas lawn mower, snow blower
•           100 dB = hand drill, pneumatic drill
•           90 dB = subway, 
passing motorcycle


Very Loud
•           80–90 dB = blow-dryer, kitchen blender, food processor
•           70 dB = busy traffic, vacuum cleaner, alarm clock
Moderate
•           60 dB = typical conversation, dishwasher, clothes dryer
•           50 dB = moderate rainfall
•           40 dB = quiet room
Faint
•           30 dB = whisper, quiet library
 
Facts About Noise-induced Hearing Loss
•           Approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from overexposure to loud noises at work or during leisure activities. More than 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of noise on a regular basis.
•           Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable.
•           Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss will increase gradually. Over time, the sounds a person hears may become distorted or muffled, and it may be difficult for the person to understand speech.
 
Someone with noise-induced hearing loss may not even be aware of the loss, 
but it can be detected with a hearing evaluation.
•           Noise-induced hearing loss is related both to the decibel level of a sound and to the amount of time you are exposed to it. Your distance from the sound also matters.
•           Noise-induced hearing loss is related to a person's genes. Some people are more likely than others to develop noise-induced hearing loss when they listen to certain sounds. Scientists are working to determine which people are more at risk for noise-induced hearing loss and which are less at risk.
•           Researchers who study hearing loss have found that a person who is exposed to noise levels at 85 decibels or higher for a prolonged period of time is at risk for hearing loss.
•           Many devices that children use today have noise levels much higher than 85 decibels. For example, an MP3 player at maximum level is roughly 105 decibels. That's 100 times more intense than 85 decibels!
•           Children frequently participate in activities involving potentially damaging noise levels: playing with noisy toys, band instruments, and video games; listening to personal music players and stereos at high volumes; attending concerts and movies; operating lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and power tools; and riding off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.
•           When we are exposed to harmful noise—sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time—sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss. These structures, called hair cells, are small sensory cells in the inner ear that convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain.
•           Scientists believe that, depending upon the type of noise, the pure force of vibrations from loud sounds can cause hearing loss. Recent studies also show that exposure to harmful noise levels triggers the formation of molecules inside the ear that contribute to hair cell damage and noise-induced hearing loss. These destructive molecules play an important role in hearing loss in children and adults who listen to loud noise for too long.
•           Noise-induced hearing loss is cumulative, invisible, and permanent. It is cumulative because the damage can start when we are young and get worse over time. It is invisible because it can happen without our even noticing it, until it is too late. And it is permanent because, unlike a broken arm that gets better over time, we can't "heal" our hearing. Once it's damaged, it's damaged for good.

Please call or visit Stone's Hearing Aid Service for your 
FREE hearing evaluation TODAY
Your Hearing is Our Concern
 
 
Sources
noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov; asha.org; american-hearing.org; healthyhearing.com

Difference between "Hearing Aids" and “Hearing Amplifiers”

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (327)
Difference between "Hearing Aids" and “Hearing Amplifiers”

TV Too LoudWe have all seen the commercials on TV for hearing “amplifiers”.  There are a variety of these out there.  What consumers do not realize is that this is NOT a hearing aid.

These are presented to the consumer as an alternative choice to costly hearing aids and promises to be comparable. However, they do not...

Small electronic sound amplifiers are advertised to allow users to enjoy nighttime TV without disturbing sleepers, or to hear wild life or their toddlers from many yards away.
 
While these personal sound amplifiers may help people hear things that are at low volume or at a distance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to ensure that consumers don't mistake them—or use them as substitutes—for approved hearing aids.
 
"Hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPS) can both improve our ability to hear sound," ~ Eric Mann, M.D., Ph.D, deputy director of FDA's Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological, And Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices. "They are both wearable, and some of their technology and function is similar."
 
Mann notes, however, that the products are different in that only hearing aids are intended to make up for impaired hearing.
 
Mann states consumers should buy a personal sound amplifier only after ruling out hearing loss as a reason for getting one. "If you suspect hearing loss, get your hearing evaluated by a health care professional," he adds.
 
Choosing a PSAP as a substitute for a hearing aid can lead to more damage to your hearing, says Mann. "It can cause a delay in diagnosis of a potentially treatable condition. And that delay can allow the condition to get worse and lead to other complications,".
 
Treatments for impaired hearing can sometimes be as simple as removal of a wax plug or may be an underlying more serious condition, This is why a trained professional should be consulted and why Stone’s Hearing Aid Service offers FREE hearing evaluations in office or in home/residence.
Personal Service















How Hearing Aids and Amplifiers Differ:
 
A hearing aid is a sound-amplifying device intended to compensate for impaired hearing.
 
PSAPs are not intended to make up for impaired hearing. Rather, PSAPs are intended for non-hearing-impaired consumers for amplifying sounds in an environment for various reasons, such as recreational activities.
 
For anyone considering spending the money on a PSAPs, it is nearly impossible to get a refund from the vendor and due to the disposable nature, they may become a very expensive solution in the long run.
Please take the time to get a professional hearing evaluation before choosing where you will invest you money.
 
Consumers who suspect they suffer from hearing loss should obtain a thorough hearing evaluation to identify any medically treatable causes of hearing loss. Persons exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss should see a hearing professional to have their hearing tested.
 
You may have hearing loss if:
 
• People say you are shouting when you speak to them
 
• You require the TV or radio turned up louder than other people do
 
• You often ask people to repeat themselves because you cannot hear or understand them, especially in groups or environments where there is background noise
 
• You can hear better out of one ear than the other
 
• You have to strain to hear
 
• You cannot hear a dripping faucet or a high note of a string instrument