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What should I do with my old hearing aids after I purchase new ones?

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Any make and model can be donated. The donated hearing aids are repaired, reconditioned and then used to help give the gift of hearing to someone in need. Starkey Hearing Foundation has already fit over 1.8 million hearing aids to people around the world. By donating older hearing aids, you’re helping to share the gift of hearing!

As Starkey Hearing Foundation founder and Starkey Hearing Technologies’ CEO Bill Austin says, “Alone we can’t do much. Together we can change the world.”

You can find additional information on how to donate your hearing aids, as well as well as stay up to date on Starkey Hearing Foundations, by visiting http://www.southsuburbanhearing.com/hearing-foundatio/. Or you can contact us to learn more too!


Hearing Aids Can Help Improve Cognition

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Lin estimated that as much as 36 percent of dementia risk can be attributed to hearing loss, and his 2013 study suggests that hearing loss is linked to 30-40 percent greater risk of cognitive decline in people with hearing loss versus those without.

Furthermore, in 2011, another study on dementia found that “the worse the initial hearing loss was, the more likely the person was to develop dementia. Compared with people of normal hearing, those with moderate hearing loss had triple the risk.”

The good news? Hearing aids can help!

A recent study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found a direct correlation between improved cognitive function and hearing aid use in older adults with hearing loss. “Our study suggests that using a hearing aid may offer a simple, yet important, way to prevent or slow the development of dementia by keeping adults with hearing loss engaged in conversation and communication,” said Dr. Anil K. Lalwani, M.D., professor at CUMC.

Think you might have a hearing loss? Call us today to set up a hearing test and learn about what we can do for YOU!


Gary’s Starkey Success Story

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New York native Gary Moore began to lose his hearing about 15 years ago. He attributes his moderate, high-frequency hearing loss to time spent around jet engines while in the military and said it affected his ability to hear well sometimes while serving as a judge. “I have tried many others and did not ever think that I would like hearing aids until I got yours. The saying, you get what you pay for certainly does apply,” he said in a Facebook message. We caught up with Gary after reading his Facebook message to hear about his hearing experience!

SHT: What difficulties did your hearing loss cause and why?

GM: Many times I would pretend that I heard what was said because it was quite embarrassing to keep saying “What?” Many times, I would have to ask someone to repeat what they said.

SHT: When did you get fit with your Starkey hearing aids?

GM: I was fit with my In-The-Ear Starkey hearing aids around five years ago by the VA, but these weren’t my first pair. I have tried many different hearing aids. I always thought I would never wear [the Starkey aids] because of my experience with cheaper models, but I could not believe the difference.

SHT: How do you like your hearing aids?

GM: I am very happy with my hearing aids. I wear them from morning when I get up to when I retire for the night. When I first started wearing the [hearing aids], I heard sounds that seemed very loud — it was a little strange to me. It took a couple weeks for my brain to get used to that, to adjust to the new sounds.

But I have to say, these hearing aids made life much more enjoyable, especially now that I can hear what my grandchildren are saying to me. I love the remote, good for all occasions. I love the mute button when things get too loud for me, and I am also able to control each ear, which is definitely a plus. For example, when I want to open the driver window, I mute the left one.

SHT: What is the most memorable moment with your new hearing aids?

GM: I think the most memorable moment was when I realized I could hear the birds outside again.

Nothing makes us happier than stories like this! Contact us to schedule your hearing consultation that could change your whole life’s perspective today!


Pro Tip: You Can Actually Wear Your Hearing Aids at the Gym

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Picture this:

“What are those?” he asks pointing to the small device I have in my hand.
I decide I’ll have a little fun with him.
“Oh, those? They’re my headphones,” I say nonchalantly as I place them back on my ears and whip out my phone.
“Headphones,” he asks. “Wireless? Wow!”
“Yep,” I say. “I can even stream music, Hulu, Netflix, whatever I want, and I don’t have to do anything but select it from my phone. Heck, I can talk on the phone if I want while I knock out cardio.”
He stares at me silently, and I can’t tell if he’s shocked or jealous.
“Wow. Those are cool, where can I get them?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, I don’t know if you really can, I mean you don’t have hearing loss do you?”
“Wait what?”
“Oh, yeah did I forget that part? These are my hearing aids first, gym headphones second. Duh! Silly me!”
I chuckle as I see his befuddled expression and go pick up a pair of 15lb dumbbells.
“Wait,” he calls. “Are those really hearing aids?”
“Yeah they are actually.”
“Huh. Those are actually pretty cool.”

I can actually say this has happened to me more than 10 times now. My hearing aids are small, but when people do notice them, I get questions. I never hesitate, I mean, if you really think about it, my hearing aids are the “hearable” equivalent of a Fitbit.

The gym may be the last place you’d think about wearing your hearing aids, but in the last year, I’ve found out this isn’t so. With the Halo hearing aids, I can refute the major reasons not to wear my hearing aids at the gym.

  1. But I will get sweaty? So? My hearing aids are equipped with Nanoshield technology that repels water, wax, sweat and oils.
  2. But I want to listen to music? Great, I can do that without the pesky wires most headphones have and listen to music, take phone calls, and even catch up on my favorite TV shows while I bust out 20 minutes on the Stairmaster — all without disturbing anyone near me because only I can hear it.
  3. But they could get in the way? I can’t count the number of times I’ve dropped a weight the wrong way and had my headphones painfully ripped from my ears. My hearing aids are so small, their slender casing nestles just behind my ears. Unless I dropped a weight on the side of my head, those hearing aids aren’t going to budge or get in the way.
  4. But people will stare at me? Hah! Have you seen Beats? I laugh every time I see them because it’s like watching someone workout in flight gear. I’m going to take my tiny, inconspicuous hearing aids every time, thank you very much.
  5. But the gym is too loud! Yes, the gym can be loud, especially when there are a lot of people or you have powerlifters slamming 300 lbs. worth of weights all over the place. But then again, I can mute my hearing aids, lower the volume, or adjust the microphone focus so it’s only hearing sound in front of me instead of all around me. If I want to be really precise, I can open up my SoundSpace feature and change the sound to what I want.

The only reason I would ever not wear my hearing aids at the gym is if I’m going swimming, because well, I’m not keen to test the depths to which my Halo hearing aids can survive.

Hearing aids have incredible benefits, and if people ask about them at the gym, don’t be afraid to pause your workout and tell them all about what you hearing aids can do. I can tell you right now that not only will you feel more confident, but you will earn a lot of respect as well.

If you have any questions about what hearing aids can do for you please contact either our Burr Ridge or Homer Glen locations! We can get you all set up with your very own Halo hearing aids!


What to Look for When Buying New Hearing Aids

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The world of hearing aids can be a little confusing, from assorted manufacturers and product names to numerous styles and dozens of features.

So what are some key things you should look for and consider when buying hearing aids? Here are five things you’ll definitely want to ask about, along with the questions you’ll want to ask your hearing professional.

(1) Directionality

Your hearing aids should have some system of directional microphones. Directionality is the ability for your hearing aids to digitally focus in on a specific sound source around you (usually a conversation partner) and it is the only proven way hearing aids improve speech understanding in noise. Simply put, a good directional microphone system will help you hear more crisply and clearly.

There are many types of directionality systems: adaptive, fixed and dynamic. Adaptive directionality systems identify people talking all around you and focus wherever the speech is coming from. Fixed directional systems focus on a specific area (usually right in front of you) and stay focused there. Dynamic directional systems automatically change between listening all around you to a fixed direction. During your trial, be sure to listen to how your hearing aids detect voices and ask your provider how they are set up to maximize benefits.

Some questions to ask:

  • Do I need to manually change my hearing aid settings or will they automatically change for me?
  • Do I need to face the person that is talking or will my hearing aids listen to talkers in other directions as well?

 

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(2) Noise reduction

Most modern hearing aids have some type of noise reduction algorithm built in. The best algorithms are able to distinguish speech from noise, which enable the hearing aids to reduce incoming noise volume and bump up incoming speech — in real time. The degree to which they help and how they help differs from hearing aid to hearing aid.

Some questions to ask:

  • How do my hearing aids handle noise?
  • Does my hearing aid just turn down the overall volume in noise or is it smart enough to only cut noise and amplify when someone is talking?
  • How fast do my hearing aids adapt to noisy environments?
  • Do my hearing aids handle different kinds of noise, e.g., wind, car, background noise?

 

(3) Styles

Hearing aids come in many shapes and styles. Some go behind the ear and have a speaker in the ear canal (RIC), some go behind the ear and transmit the sound to the ear with a little tube (BTE), and some are custom built to fit in your ear (IIC/CIC/ITE). The type of hearing aid that’s right for you depends on many factors, including comfort, degree of hearing loss, dexterity, or simply personal taste.

Some questions to ask:

  • What difference does the style you’re recommending have on my ability to hear?
  • Can I get something smaller?
  • What is the battery life on this hearing aid vs. another style?
  • Is hearing aid maintenance different depending on style?

 

(4) Connectivity

We live in a connected world! Televisions, computers and mobile phones are becoming more and more advanced and intertwined. Some hearing aids today have the ability to connect directly to these everyday devices using Bluetooth™ or other streaming technology. You can even adjust some hearing aids using your smartphone (change volume and settings, etc.) – so you don’t need to touch your hearing aids.

Some questions to ask:

  • I have an iPhone/Android phone and use it often, what is the best hearing aid for me?
  • Do you have hearing aids that directly connect to my phone?
  • Do I have to wear anything around my neck to connect or do they connect to my phone directly?
  • Can I use my hearing aids to listen to the TV? How do these hearing aids sound when listening to music?

 

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(5) Feedback

Historically, even people with mild hearing losses have had difficulty with a phenomenon called feedback. What is feedback? Think about what happens when you hold a microphone too close to a speaker and you get a loud squeal. That’s feedback! All modern hearing aids have feedback control — but some are much better than others. Look for hearing aids that have great feedback control, as it will make your hearing aids more comfortable to wear and less noticeable to those around you.

Some questions to ask:

  • What manufacturer has the best feedback control?
  • Are you confident I won’t experience feedback?
  • If my hearing gets any worse, will these hearing aids still work well and not produce feedback?
  • Is feedback controlled by these hearing aids by just turning down the volume (bad) or does it have a feedback cancellation circuit (good)?

These types of features and questions are why it’s always recommended that you visit a licensed hearing professional when buying hearing aids. They have the knowledge and expertise you need to answer all your questions and ensure you get fit with hearing aids that are just right for you.

South Suburban Hearing Health Center can help answer any other question that you may have! Please contact us today.


What Benefits do New Hearing Aids have Versus my Last Set?

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Q: What are the benefits of new hearing aids?

A: If your hearing aids are three to five years old, you may benefit from new technology advances that can offer improved hearing in noise, greater wireless connectivity and more personalization capabilities.

New circuitry enables faster processing of sounds and helps prevent whistling, allowing you to hear comfortably in virtually every listening environment. New directional microphone technology and adaptive noise management systems offer the best opportunity to hear speech clearly and distinctly, even in noisy places. Finally, wireless connectivity offers you incredible flexibly by allowing you to stream audio from your smartphone and your television directly into your hearing aids, or remotely change settings and programs using your smartphone.

If you’re contemplating upgrading your hearing aids, contact us today to discuss your personalized option with South Suburban Hearing Health Centers today!


You Probably Know Someone with Tinnitus!

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Do you know or are you one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from ringing in the ears? Chances are, the answer is “yes.” Tinnitus is the leading service-related disability among U.S. veterans, and is a “growing concern” for teens and young people that, experts say, is “going to get worse” thanks to “risky listening habits” like blaring music through headphones. In fact, a recent study found that one quarter of teenagers already experience tinnitus.

If you are one of the 50 million and want to know more about this pervasive condition — more specifically, how to get relief from tinnitus — download our free tinnitus guide here. You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment to schedule a hearing test and discuss your options.

And don’t forget to check out our free tinnitus app, Starkey Relax! Starkey Relax works with both iOS and Android™ devices to give you customized relief sounds coupled with soothing images to accommodate for the changing behavior of your tinnitus.

Please visit our tinnitus page to learn more about what tinnitus is.


Tips for Heading Back to School with Hearing Loss

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A talented lacrosse player and dedicated student, Landon provided some great tips to help kids with hearing loss succeed in school!

What if I can’t hear my teacher?

“I try to sit next to somebody I know and try to sit as close to the front as possible.”

What if I am studying a foreign language?

“Some are hard, and some are easy. I took German, Mandarin and Spanish last year. German was the easiest because it had less accents to worry about, but Mandarin was the hardest for me. Some things that helped were having the professor slow down while talking, space out her words and repeat words multiple times. I also practiced a lot.”

Bonus tip: Another tip was shared with Landon during his fitting by another hearing aid wearer and Starkey employee, Trevor. Trevor, who is fluent in German and proficient in Armenian and Korean, said watching TV shows and music videos in the language you are learning—with both audio and captions on—really helps to associate the specific sounds and words you are learning.

What if it gets too loud—like at lunch or in homeroom?

“It can get really loud at lunchtime, so I just turn the volume down on my hearing aids. I also sit with a close group of friends who know I have my hearing loss and can help when necessary.”

What if I miss things when taking notes?

“Take as many notes as you can and then check in with a friend to see if you missed anything.”

*NOTE: some schools offer assistance programs through the school’s administrative or disability office and can work with you to provide a note taker for class.

What if I miss an assignment?

“I’ve missed assignments before and not realized it until the day it was due. I just didn’t hear it announced at the end of the class. Now, some teachers are better and write it down on the board or it’s on a computer system.”

Bonus tip: If you think you’re missing out on important announcements in class, like assignments or upcoming test dates, try asking your teacher if they can try to write assignments and important announcements on the board for everyone to see. Also, checking in with your teacher at the end of class is an easy way to make sure you didn’t miss anything important.

What if I play sports?

“More hand signals for players would be helpful versus yelling, especially during a game. You can also look to other players for direction during practice.”

Bonus tips: During team huddles and meetings, try to be as close to the coach as possible so you don’t miss anything and ask a friend to help you hear for anything important—those team huddles can get rowdy and loud! Also, if it’s windy outside, ask your coach if end of practice or pre-game strategy meetings can be held inside. This way you don’t miss anything and nobody else does either! Finally, your coach can best help you if he or she understands your needs. While you might not be comfortable yet talking to the coach about your hearing loss or hearing aids, doing so can really go a long way in helping them help you enjoy and succeed with your sport.

If you have any back to school tips, we would love to hear them in the comments below!

On a final note, here’s what we heard from Landon’s mom after just a few weeks wearing his Halo 2 hearing aids!

Landon is doing great. He enjoys the clarity that he receives from the Starkey hearing aids. He recently played in a tournament that required him to participate in what’s called a face off position. It requires him to react to the referee’s whistle. Prior to receiving his hearing aids, he struggled to hear the whistle blow. This last tournament he could hear perfectly and performed, as well as won the face off. Very exciting.”

South Suburban Hearing Health Centers would love to help you on your journey to better hearing! Contact us today to set up a free consultation!


Hearing Aids Can Overcome Loneliness

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When new hearing loss studies, science or information breaks, our Sound Bites column cuts through all the technical speak to explain what it means — and what it could mean for you.

“The High Price of Loneliness,” a 2012 New York Times article, opens with this: “Loneliness stings at any age. But in older people, it can have serious health consequences, raising the risks of an earlier-than-expected death and the loss of physical functioning.”

The article went on to discuss a six-year University of California, San Francisco study measuring the impact of loneliness on people 60 and older. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study concluded that loneliness was a predictor of functional decline (challenges with bathing, dressing, eating, getting up, etc.) and death. In the study, participants who said they were lonely were 45 percent more likely to die than seniors who said they weren’t lonely over the course of the six-year study.

Hearing loss and loneliness are often linked. It’s not hard to understand how hearing loss can lead to feelings of loneliness. Humans are social creatures, and if communication becomes challenging, those with hearing loss may choose to minimize interactions, opt out of invitations, and socially isolate themselves. And while social isolation and loneliness aren’t the same*, the former is a well-known precursor to the latter.

New study finds hearing aid use can be a buffer against loneliness. In 2015, researchers from New York and Austria wanted to see if wearing hearing aids reduced the feelings of loneliness experienced by older adults with hearing loss. The results of their study were published in the March 2016 American Journal of Audiology.

In the study, the researchers noted “a significant decline in perceptions of loneliness following 4 to 6 weeks of hearing aid use,” and concluded that “hearing aid use appears to be a buffer against the experience of loneliness.”

The study bodes well for seniors whose hearing loss may be contributing to social isolation and feelings of loneliness, as it shows that treating hearing loss with hearing aids reduces feelings of loneliness, which in turn could have a positive effect on their mental and physical health.

Know a senior who could benefit physically and socially from hearing loss treatment? You can help by recommending they see someone. Or, better yet, offer to do it for them: “Let’s get our hearing checked together next week.” You can schedule an appointment with South Suburban Hearing today!

Unlike social isolation, which is objective (you either have and maintain social connections or you don’t), loneliness is subjective. Loneliness is a feeling. And it’s a feeling one can have even if they’re married or surrounded by others — just as it’s possible to live alone, yet not feel lonely.


What To Do When It’s Too Loud To Use Your Hearing Aids

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When you have hearing loss, noisy environments are difficult to hear and hold conversations in. Today’s hearing aids help solve this issue, but what about the noisy environments where it’s too loud for your hearing aids?

What do you do when you find yourself in a situation where you want to hear the conversation but if you wear your hearing aids it feels like someone’s playing a trombone directly into your ears? Tricky, no?

Here’s what you can do in environments that are too loud:


Step One: Identify the loudest and quietest spots in your environment.
For example, earlier this year I was on a party bus with 20 rowdy adults while 70s music blasted from the overhead speakers. The first thing I did was assess the environment so I could determine the best place to sit. The loudest areas were in the back near the large wall with four speakers, and in any seat with a circular speaker directly overhead. The quieter spots? Any seat towards the front of the bus (where one or no speakers were present).

Step Two: Position yourself to see the most people’s faces. When it’s too loud to use your hearing aids without damaging your ears (aka when the party bus decibel levels reach 105dB and above) place yourself in the spot that is quiet and where you can see the most people. From here, you can do your best to read lips and follow along in the conversation. If you’re lucky, your “quiet” spot might be just quiet enough to use your hearing aids. If you have Halo or Halo 2 hearing aids, I suggest using SoundSpace to help customize your listening experience. (I did this in my first quiet spot and now have a permanent memory entitled “Wine Bus Party, All Parties.” And trust me, it’s quite versatile in loud family party settings.)

Step Three: Protect your hearing above all else. We all want to be the life of the party, but when you have hearing loss, your hearing becomes your most precious commodity. Foam earplugs are easy to carry, disposable and easy to use. I keep a pair in my purse and in my car at all times so that if I find myself in a noisy environment, I can quickly whip them out and still have a great time without worrying whether or not I lost a few more decibels in the process.

NOTE: If you aren’t sure whether or not you should be wearing hearing protection, download the SoundCheck app on your smartphone. It quickly measures the decibel levels of any environment and tells you whether hearing protection is necessary or not.

Step Four: Tell your group you don’t have your hearing aids in. This is probably the most important step of all. Tell whomever you’re with that it’s too loud to use your hearing aids comfortably so they need to remember to speak clearly and directly facing you. By letting your group know you are without your hearing aids, they can figure out how to communicate better with you so nobody misses out on the fun!

NOTE: I often designate a friend or my boyfriend as my go-to-translator when I know a person’s voice will be hard to hear. This helps me be part of the conversation and not miss anything. Also, I can’t say enough for the positives texting can provide in loud, group environments. For example, texting is great to communicate directions or important statements. Shooting out a group text to everyone means nobody feels left out and nothing is missed or confused.

Hearing loss is more common than one may think! Contact us today to set up a hearing test.