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10 tips to get more out of your hearing aid batteries

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Hearing aids are getting more and more advanced. With all the extra processing power and new features in today’s hearing aids, you can typically get 3-10 days off a single battery. Why is the life of a hearing aid battery so unpredictable, where one battery may last a week, and another just two or three days? Much depends on your amount of hearing aid use, streaming, and how you care for your hearing aids.

Still, there are steps you can take to maximize the life of your batteries and optimize the performance of your hearing aids.

Here are 10 tips to get the most out of your hearing aid battery:

1. Let the battery “breathe” for 3-5 minutes. After removing the tab from the battery, let the battery sit for 3-5 minutes before installing it in your hearing aid. This “activation” time allows air to reach the materials inside the battery and activate them.

2. Wash your hands throughly before changing batteries. Grease and dirt on the batteries may damage the hearing aid. Also, grease and dirt can clog up the air pores in the battery.

3. Open the battery door at night. When you’re not wearing your hearing aid, turn it off or open the battery door to minimize battery drain. Leave the battery compartment of  your hearing device open at night so moisture can escape. Doing so will keep the battery from corroding and damaging the hearing aid.

4. Use a hearing aid dehumidifier. A hearing aid dehumidifier will help absorb moisture out of your hearing aid and battery. This will allow the battery power to be used more efficiently. The dehumidifier is also a great place to store your hearing aids.

5. Remove the batteries entirely if you won’t be using the device for an extended period of time. This also helps to avoid corrosion and damage from trapped moisture.

6. Check the expiration date on the batteries. The further out the batteries are, the fresher they are. Over time, batteries will drain slightly while sitting on the shelf. Ideally, you should buy batteries that have an expiration date a year or further from your purchase date.

7. Use the oldest pack of batteries first. The newest packs will have the furthest expiration date than your older packs of batteries. You want to ensure that you use the oldest batteries first, so that you are getting the most life out of them.

8. Keep the stickers on the battery. The sticker tab on the battery keeps the battery “fresh.” As soon as the sticker is removed, the battery is activated and starts draining. You want to make sure you don’t peel the sticker tab off until you need to use that battery.

9. Keep the batteries in a cool dry place. Storing new, unused batteries in extreme temperatures can cause the battery to drain/have a shorter life.

10. Invest in a rechargeable battery hearing device. Rechargeable hearing aids and batteries  —  like our Muse iQ rechargeable hearing aids  —  are starting to come out into the market. Rechargeable batteries allow you to charge the battery at night and get a full day’s worth of use. Rechargeable batteries need to be replaced on a yearly basis. If you’re interested in the new technology, talk to your hearing healthcare professional.

For more tips on making your hearing aid batteries last longer, call South Suburban Hearing Health Center today!


The difference between how men and women listen

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As a hearing instrument specialist who has spent countless hours counseling couples before and after hearing aid fittings, I’ve lost track of the number of times wives have complained that their husbands don’t listen, even after the identified hearing loss was corrected with hearing aids.

So is there any truth to the assumption that women listen better than men? The question has been debated between spouses for generations, and scientific research could provide an answer.

Gray and white

Research findings suggest that men do in fact listen differently than women. But are the identified differences straightforward, clear cut or even black and white? Actually they might be – gray and white that is. Our brains are composed of both gray matter and white matter. Gray matter is thought to represent information processing centers while white matter is tasked with networking those processing centers.

A combined research project between the University of California, Irvine and the University of New Mexico identified a gender difference between the amount of gray matter and white matter found in our brains. The amount of gray matter was six times greater in the brains of the male research participants, while the women participating in the study had 10 times the amount of white matter the men did.

These disparities were identified in genders with comparable intelligence. A heavier reliance on gray matter may assist men with localized tasks, while increased white matter may help women excel at integrating and assimilating, a skill thought to aid language skills.

Despite activating different activity centers within the brain, genders perform equally on measures of cognitive function. This means that although we listen and assimilate information differently, the difference does not appear to affect cognition or our ability to listen. Differences in the way we listen do not seem to impact listening performance.

Language processing

The anatomical composition of the male and female ear is identical, yet additional research at the Indiana University School of Medicine also suggests that men listen differently than women. Specifically, women appear to use both sides of the brain while men rely more heavily on one when listening.

“Our research suggests language processing is different between men and women, but it doesn’t necessarily mean performance is going to be different,” explains Joseph T. Lurito, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

In the study, both genders listened to the same passage read aloud. Researchers noted that the majority of women participating in the study showed activity in the temporal lobe on both sides of the brain. Male participants displayed neural activity in the temporal lobe as well, but the activity was primarily confined to the left side of the brain. Scientists believe the left side of the temporal lobe is responsible for listening and speech. Interestingly, the right temporal lobe is thought to process non-auditory functions.

Can the research be applied to the way men and women communicate?

More research is needed to link processing differences to communication styles. However, most would agree that men and women have different listening and communication styles. While listening, men tend to focus primarily on the information required to successfully complete a task or solve a problem. Conversely, women connect more to the emotional tone of the conversation. Whether or not preferred communication styles relate directly to physical differences between genders remains unclear.

If a link is established, imagine how nice it would be to blame gray or white matter or temporal lobes instead of your significant other. If you find yourself becoming annoyed that your husband minimizes the emotional details of your story in favor of focusing on solving the problem you presented him with, you could theoretically blame it on his increased gray matter or his left temporal lobe. And husbands, if you find yourself losing your patience as your wife talks incessantly about seemingly insignificant details, you could blame her white matter or both sides of her temporal lobe, rather than blaming her directly.

Cut your partner a little slack this upcoming Valentine’s Day. They really are listening to you, but it’s probably different than the way you are listening to them.

If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, call South Suburban Hearing Health Centers today! We will get you set up with an appointment, right away.


Too many people let their hearing loss go untreated!

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It’s well known that hearing loss is pervasive and that your odds of having hearing loss increase exponentially as you get older.

What’s less well known is how few people actually do anything about it. Though, when you think about it, you don’t see nearly as many people wearing hearing aids as you do glasses — so that’s a pretty big clue.

Why don’t we do anything about it – that’s the question, especially when the negative effects of hearing loss on quality of life are also well known — and the benefits of treating hearing loss are so many?

If you’ve got hearing loss, you don’t need to let it constrain your life. Treat it, and live life to the fullest. You deserve it.

Start by calling South Suburban Hearing Health Centers to see what your options are! We are here to help!


The Benefits of Binaural Hearing

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The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, once said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” While it is a great lesson, it is not the real reason why we have two ears. We have two ears for the same reason we have two eyes.

Why two? 

Let’s start with eyes. Together, our two eyes allow us to have depth perception. This also allows us to see in 3D. Our two eyes allow us to see, with peripheral vision, about 170 degrees around us. Have you ever tried to walk with one of your eyes closed? Do you feel a little off balance? Our two eyes let us know, visually, where we are in space.

Our two ears provide a similar benefit. Two ears allow us to hear in “stereo.” When we listen with two ears, we actually hear better! More importantly, they work together to tell us where a sound is coming from, and help us focus on the voice we want to hear. Our two ears tell us, sound-wise, where we are in space. This spatial awareness is sometimes referred to as “presence.”

How hearing aids handle two ears

Until recently, when we wore two hearing aids, they worked independently. This meant that each ear was treated like it was the only ear we had. There was no communication or joint effort. So, while our ears were trying to work together, the hearing aids (or the signal provided to the ear) were not.

The best hearing aids today — like our line of iQ hearing aids— now have a feature called ear-to-ear functionality or binaural imaging. This allows the two hearing aids to work together, like our two ears do naturally. Why is this important? There are several reasons.

Improved comfort

Envision yourself at a restaurant. There are people all around you talking, the wait staff is asking what you want and your friends at the table are all talking.

With ear-to-ear functionality, the two hearing aids actually share information about what is going on around you. This allows the hearing aids to make an intelligent decision of what to do to keep you comfortable and help you follow the conversation! 

Simple control of hearing aids

Another perk of ear-to-ear functionality is your ability to adjust both hearing aids by touching one. If you need to change the memory or setting, you only have to touch one hearing aid. When that hearing aid changes settings, it will tell the other hearing aid to change so that your hearing aids are always in the right setting and working together!

Improved phone conversations

Imagine holding the phone to one ear and hearing the call in both ears. Ear-to-ear functionality allows this as well. We know phone conversations can be difficult when you have hearing loss, particularly in a busy environment. With ear-to-ear functionality, the phone call is sent to both ears, potentially increasing your ability to follow the conversation and decrease the interference of background noise!

Our two ears are designed to work together. With ear-to-ear functionality, our hearing aids can too!

To learn more about how you can benefit from ear-to-ear functionality — and try a pair of our new iQ hearing aids for yourself — talk with South Suburban Hearing Health Center today about your options! Contact us here.


Falling and Hearing Loss are Linked!

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Falls are some of the most frequent and scary injuries suffered by older adults, and generate billions in annual health care costs.

There are a lot of reasons why older adults are more prone to falls — from weakness or medication side effects to vision problems, slower reflexes and more.

In 2012, a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine determined that untreated hearing loss can also increase the risk of falling. Using data from several national health surveys, researchers found that people with mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling.

While more studies need to be done, one possible explanation they had for the increased risk of falls is a that a person with untreated hearing loss has less awareness of their overall environment, so are more susceptible to tripping and falling.

Help combat that risk factor by ensuring you can hear your best. South Suburban Hearing Health Center can  help. Consult with us by clicking here today.


Only one hearing loss coping strategy is worth it

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I’ve been there before, lip reading, cupping my ears, ensuring I sit as close to the front row (or in it) as possible. Nodding my head and smiling. Laughing because others are laughing.

Coping strategies and pretending to hear often go together, and like me, you’ve probably employed them when you weren’t sure what hearing aids can do for you. Well, I’ve spent the last three years of my life thriving with hearing aids, and I can now look back at these coping strategies and define all but one as “ineffectual.”

Let’s start with the one coping strategy that can be helpful first.

Lip reading – good when paired with hearing aids

Lip reading is a coping strategy for those with hearing loss that can become an extremely powerful and helpful tool when paired with properly fitted hearing aids. When you lip read without hearing aids, your brain is functioning in overtime trying to make sense of jumbled sounds and each persons’ unique way of talking. It’s exhausting! And, when you’re relying on lip reading as your primary tool, you can often make critical mistakes.

But, I like lip reading with hearing aids! It can often help to properly identify words and sounds faster, and for those like me with an extremely severe hearing loss, lip reading is especially helpful in environments where the noise overpowers even my innovative Starkey Bluetooth hearing aids.

Cupping your ears – not worth it

I didn’t use this method much, but I’ve seen my father and uncle resort to this coping strategy. The idea behind this is to better funnel sound into the ear. Cupping a hand around your ear may help in extremely noisy situations or when trying to listen to whispered secrets, but even then, with hearing loss, you’re still losing important spatial and speech cues necessary for accurate understanding.

Nodding your head and fake smiling – you’re only hurting yourself

Sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. In this case, I learned that it’s better to speak up and ask people to repeat themselves 50 times versus nodding along like you’re hearing everything. Why? Well, by nodding and smiling, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. If you’re out with friends, you’re missing the real joy of interacting and engaging in the group’s conversation. If you’re at work in a meeting, you could miss important points and even what tasks you’re assigned. Why risk getting fired because you decided to fake hear?

Finally, as time goes on and you continue to do this, it’s exhausting. It’s not fun to fake your life.  And, as you continue to act like you’re hearing, you’re only depriving yourself of the fullness of friendship, family, love, success and other personal enjoyments.

Laughing because others are laughing – things could get tricky

This plays up to the strategy above. Laughing along when others are laughing is the same as faking a smile and nodding as though you heard what another person is saying. You’re missing out, and that only hurts you. Furthermore, what others are laughing at may be something you shouldn’t laugh at – a cruel joke at someone else’s expense, for example. In the end, don’t watch for others to laugh before you do. Give yourself the opportunity to hear the joke, enjoy the joke and truly experience the freeing joy of authentic laughter.

Why cope when you don’t have to?

Every person with hearing loss has used one or more coping methods during their life. We’ve all been there, felt at times that we need to, but in the end, life is so much richer and fuller with hearing aids. I had to learn the hard way – it took me more than 10 years of suffering through coping methods before I tried treating my hearing loss. And now, after three years of hearing in meetings, laughing when I hear the joke, actually engaging in conversations and making positive memories instead of embarrassing moments, I can confidently say that no coping method is worth it.

Call South Suburban Hearing Health Center today! We want to help make life easier for you!


What are common hearing loss symptoms?

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Nearly 48 million Americans report some kind of hearing loss. Typically, the signs of hearing loss are subtle and emerge slowly. It may take someone years to realize they have hearing loss.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends adults over 50 have their hearing tested every three years. Unfortunately, most people test their hearing only after their hearing loss has begun to create challenges.

So, short of having it tested by a hearing professional, how might you know if you have hearing loss before it escalates?

  • You ask “What?” often Asking for repetition once in a while is okay, especially if you weren’t paying attention or the speaker is talking from a distance. But if you find yourself asking for repetition frequently, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Everyone around you seems to mumble A classic complaint with people who have hearing loss is that people don’t speak clearly. If you find yourself thinking people are mumbling and hard to understand, that may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • You have trouble hearing in noise If you have trouble hearing in restaurants, group situations or at cocktail parties, this may be a sign of hearing loss.
  • You have trouble hearing on the phone If you have trouble occasionally, that is OK. If you constantly feel like you cannot hear on the phone, whether you’re using a landline or mobile phone, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • People have said something to you If loved ones or friends are mentioning that you aren’t hearing well, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • You have diabetes, heart disease or thyroid problems Research has shown there is a correlation: people with diabetes, heart disease, and/or thyroid issues have a higher rate of hearing loss.
  • You have ringing in your ears Ringing in your ears is often thought to be a symptom of hearing loss or damage to the auditory system — and hearing loss and tinnitus very often go hand in hand.
  • People tell you your television is too loud If you need to turn your TV to a volume others find uncomfortable just to hear it, that can be a sign of hearing loss.
  • You fatigue easily after long conversations/periods of listening People with hearing loss have to exert extra energy to focus on and follow conversations, which can lead to mental fatigue. If you find yourself struggling to follow or avoiding long periods of listening (i.e. lectures, meetings) this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • You dread/avoid going into situations where there are going to be more than two people Social isolation is a real consequence of hearing loss, as many people who struggle to hear choose to avoid events and activities where hearing clearly is key.
  • You misunderstand what people say Hearing or responding to something incorrectly can sometimes be more embarrassing than not hearing it at all. For example, that could include mixing up words such as road for rose, white for wife, etc. Has that happened to you?
  • Family history of hearing loss If your family has a history of age-related hearing loss, chances are you’ll eventually have to deal with it too.

 

If you feel like you may have a hearing loss, you can contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center today to schedule a thorough evaluation and test!


Hearing loss can lead to some scary stuff!

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In a 2015 study that investigated the association between hearing loss and mortality, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that adults 70 years and older with moderate or severe hearing loss had a 54% increased risk of mortality compared to peers without hearing loss.

Researchers studied data from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys — the 2005 through 2006 one, and 2009 through 2010 — examining 1,666 adults 70+ who had undergone audiometric testing. Those with hearing loss tended to have shorter lifespans.

While the study’s leads were clear to note the results didn’t prove that hearing loss, alone, shortens lives, they did point out the many negative effects of hearing loss (read some here), suggesting a combination may contribute to the earlier deaths.

Treatment for hearing loss is readily available and is proven to help mitigate many of these negative effects, call us today to avoid these negative effects!


Hearing Health Tips for Fall

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Along with the cooler weather and the leaves changing colors, fall comes with an assortment of exciting new sounds and activities: football games, outdoor concerts, apple picking at orchards, Halloween, Thanksgiving.

To help you make the most of this gorgeous fall season, here are some hearing help tips!

 

1. Football stadiums can get really, really loud

Fall means football is back, and if you’re heading out to a game, protecting your hearing is key. In fact in 2014, NPR’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Fans Risk Hearing Loss” found that the crowd noise at NFL games averaged between 80-90 decibels (dB). Without proper hearing protection, exposure to 85 dB for longer than eight hours can lead to permanent hearing loss, and the higher the noise the less time it takes to cause hearing damage. What’s scarier is that, while average noise levels may fall in the 80-90 range, shouts from fans push decibel levels into the hundreds. Case in point: A 2013 December Seattle Seahawks game where “fans broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd noise in history, clocking in at a whopping 137.6 decibels. (They even induced a mini-earthquake.)” Hearing protection is also key for other sports in the fall such as hockey and the final games of the MLB season.

2. Leaf blowers are not your friends

While the yellows, oranges, reds and browns of fall leaves are pretty to look at, using your leaf blower to remove them from your front lawn can damage your hearing. If you enjoy doing your own yard work, simply remember to use hearing protection such as foam earplugs or custom hearing protective devices like these from SoundGear.

3. Try a wireless accessory if you haven’t yet

If you have our wireless hearing aids – Muse, Muse iQ, SoundLens Synergy or SoundLens Synergy iQ – and don’t have a SurfLink wireless accessory, consider trying one this fall to help with group activities such as picking apples or selecting pumpkins for Halloween. The SurfLink Mobile 2 is great for group settings with its omnidirectional capabilities, and you can also use its directional microphone to enhance one-on-one conversations. This device is especially designed to work well in noisy environments.

4. Don’t forget to customize your sound experience

 If you have our Halo, Halo 2 or Halo iQ hearing aids, TruLink’s SoundSpace and Noise Manager features are great for fall! Whether you’re at a sporting game, out with friends at a local winery, hiking in the brisk fall air or just having a campfire with your family, use TruLink to create customized, geotagged memories that provide you with the most immersive and comfortable hearing experience possible.

Concerned about your hearing aids or would like to get tested? Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to make an appointment!


Frankie’s Hearing Story

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Today on our blog, we’re excited to share Frankie’s story. Ready to start first grade, he was recently fit with a new Starkey Behind-the-Ear hearing aid. His mom sat down with us to talk about his hearing journey.

Frankie’s Mom: We were told that our son did not pass his hearing screening at the hospital when he was just a few days old. The doctors assured us that it was normal not to pass, explaining he may still have fluid in his ears from the placenta. We went back for follow-up testing when he was 3 months old. The test confirmed that he did have hearing loss in his left ear. In fact, it was moderately severe.

I remember going to that follow-up appointment feeling optimistic, but I left a crying mess. Learning Frankie had moderately severe hearing loss felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I worried that he would be teased for wearing a hearing aid and that he would fall behind his peers academically. I worried about him feeling different than his twin brother. I remember thinking that I had done something to cause his hearing loss during my pregnancy. I started to blame myself. I was just really scared.

When Frankie was almost four months old, we took him to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for further diagnostic testing. After imaging, his doctors confirmed he had Large Aqua Duct Syndrome, which affected the hearing in his left ear. The doctor said this condition usually presents itself with hearing loss in both ears. We felt fortunate that in Frankie’s case, Large Aqua Duct Syndrome only effected the hearing in his left ear.

SHT: Tell us a little bit about his first hearing aid fitting.

Frankie’s Mom: You can see [below] that my husband chose MN Vikings colors for his little guy. In the picture, he is working with the occupational therapist through our school district. The therapist would bring different toys and tools to help Frankie progress in areas that would help his development continue. I really feel that getting him fit at a young age helped him accept his hearing loss and normalized wearing a hearing aid for him.

 

Now, when Frankie needs a new hearing aid, he looks forward to the fitting because he loves to pick the color of his ear mold. I love watching him, and it’s not always the color I would choose, but I make him feel like it was the best choice in the world.

SHT: What advice would you give other parents pursuing hearing healthcare for their child?

Frankie’s Mom: It is such a shock to hear a diagnosis that your child has hearing loss. For one, it opens up the fear of the unknown. And two, you just want to fix everything for these little people that you love so unconditionally. For me, timing was everything: I really had to wrap my brain around the reality. Once I did, it was smooth sailing.

Find a professional that gels well with your child. And before they start school, call your school district to see if they have professionals set aside to help your child. Then, just take one day at a time. There are amazing books about hearing loss at your public library that can teach your child to be advocates for themselves. Also, there are support groups for parents who are in the same boat.

I think the sooner you treat the hearing loss, the sooner it becomes “their normal” and they learn to advocate for themselves. Also, we were told it is very important for the nerves in the ear to be stimulated, so the sooner your child is fit the better.

SHT: What do Frankie’s friends think about his hearing aid?

Frankie’s Mom: The deaf and hard-of-hearing teacher in his school district gave Frankie’s kindergarten teacher a book about hearing loss to read to the class. The teacher said it was the most attentive the kids had been all year! They were so eager to hear about this super cool device that is in Frankie’s ear, and learn all about it, what it is and what it does. Frankie felt pretty cool after that.

When his classmates want to touch his hearing aid, he knows to tell them, “You can look, but I am the only one who can touch it.” He understands that his hearing loss is something that he will have for the rest of his life, which is hard to comprehend at six years of age. When kids at school ask, “why do you have that in your ear?” Frankie says, “My ear needs extra help to hear.”

SHT: Do you talk about your son’s hearing loss openly or do most people not notice his hearing aid?

Frankie’s Mom: We are so open about talking about his hearing loss because I think the vulnerable areas of your life provide the most connections with others. Frankie’s support team is so good at teaching him to advocate for himself. For example, in school, Frankie gets to sit right next to the teacher in circle time, with his good ear facing the teacher. He feels SO special because of this, and knows that is his seat. His twin brother has had huge fits about wanting to wear a hearing aid because he thinks it’s so cool.

Frankie loves to build with his Magformers and Legos. From an early age, this has always been a passion for him and he makes the most amazing creations, usually all from his imagination. He loves to play soccer, t-ball, skate and swim. I always make sure I tell the coaches about his hearing loss so they are aware that they might need to speak louder or make direct eye contact with him.

In school, he has been great at wearing the hearing aid, but when he is done for the day or needs a break, I let him take it out. We make sure to tell him he always needs to hand it to us right away, so we can keep it in a special place when he is not using it.

SHT: Tell us about his recent fitting with Starkey hearing aids

Frankie’s Mom: His audiologist recommended that we try a new hearing aid, made by a different manufacturer. She tested Frankie’s hearing with a few different brands to see which one would work best for Frankie. It was important for us to find a hearing aid that helped him understand speech in his aided ear, because his word recognition in that ear is only eight percent.

He understood speech the best with the Starkey hearing aid. His audiologist allowed us to try it for a few months. After the trial period, she tested his understanding of words with the Starkey hearing aid and he improved to 56%! We couldn’t believe it.

I always knew that word recognition — or speech understanding — was hard when his good ear was covered and he had to rely solely on his ear with the hearing loss. That’s why we are so excited that his speech understanding in his aided ear improved so much after he was fit.

SHT: Anything else you’d like to share?

Frankie’s Mom: Learning how to handle his hearing loss has been such an amazing discovery for myself and for my son. I am grateful that his hearing aid has helped him do well in kindergarten and socialize with his friends. He has enjoyed his summer and I can’t wait to see what amazing things lie ahead for my son this year school as he enters first grade.

We love stories like this! Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to create your own touching story. We would LOVE to help you!


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