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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.


Who Experiences Hearing Loss? Who Can Help?

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Hearing loss isn’t something that just affects the elderly. In fact, the number of children in second grade with hearing loss increased by almost three times when compared to the last decade. Four times as many children have hearing loss by eighth grade. But despite the prevalence of hearing loss, many wait a long time before seeking help.

So if hearing loss isn’t simply a result of aging, what causes it?

There are many causes of hearing loss, but the one that has contributed the most to the increase of hearing damage in children and young adults in recent years is exposure to unsafe listening and noise levels. Termed noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), many young adults are at risk for permanent hearing loss due to personal listening device volumes and headphones that funnel sound directly to the eardrum. NIHL is a primary concern for today’s younger generations.

Unsafe noise exposure is also a contributing cause to hearing loss in baby boomers, Generation Xers and older adults. Some other causes that have, and still, contribute to hearing loss with these generations include exposure to damaging noise levels at work or during recreational activities, genetics, medical conditions and medications, and physical damage to the inner ear structures.

Learn more about the causes of hearing loss here.

If it’s so common, why do people wait go get help?

There are a number of reasons people wait years to seek hearing help, but a big part of waiting is due to the type of hearing loss a person experiences. For many, hearing loss comes on gradually. When this happens, our bodies adjust overtime, which can lead us to not recognize the hearing loss until it has become profound.

Another reason people wait is that they aren’t sure where to go. When you have an issue with your teeth, you see a dentist, and when you break a bone, you see an orthopedic specialist, but who can you see for your hearing? Many people are unsure or unaware of whom to see when it comes to their hearing. Some may call their primary physician or run searches on Google. When it comes to hearing, it’s important to see an authorized hearing professional or audiologist, or if the situation calls for it, a licensed ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT).

Don’t wait to get help til it’s too late! Here at South Suburban Hearing Health Centers, we pride ourself on helping you with better hearing health. Call us today to set up a hearing evaluation, so we can then talk about your options to better ear health.


When Should My Hearing Aids Need Repairs?

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A: It is not uncommon for hearing aids to require some degree of service each year, which is why they are sold with warranties and repair coverage.

But just how often each person’s hearing aids will need repair is difficult to predict.

That’s because variables like usage, care, and even your lifestyle come into play. Are you active? Do you work in an office, or at a job that’s outside or is physically demanding? Do you live in a warm, wet or humid climate? Do you store your hearing aids in their case every night? Use a drying case? Throw them in the bottom of your purse when you aren’t wearing them? Diligently remove them before every shower or when you go out in the pouring rain? You get the idea. Every situation is different!

And because hearing aids sit inside or behind your ear, they are exposed to elements that are not exactly ideal. Humidity, earwax, moisture and debris can each affect hearing aid performance and longevity. By far, the majority of repairs that clinics and manufacturers see are simply to remove wax and debris.

Hearing aids are built to be worn every day and can handle a lot. But they are small, sophisticated electronic devices, and need to be treated as such. So while it’s impossible to know how often your hearing aids will need to be repaired, I can tell you that regular cleaning, routine maintenance and diligent care will go a long way to keeping them on your ears and out of the repair shop.

Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center today at 708-966-4724 to learn more about hearing aid repairs!


Can you say that again?

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As South Suburban Chicago’s Premier Hearing Healthcare Facility, we promise that our expertise coupled with our personal approach will guide our patients to an unprecedented journey to better hearing for themselves and their loved ones!

We love questions! And would love to guide you to the start of your hearing health journey. Please contact us today to set up a consultation!


Hearing Health Should Be a Workplace Priority!

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The American workforce is changing. The rate of young people entering the job market has slowed, and employees with experience are working longer. An increasing number of manufacturing positions are being replaced by service and tech occupations that prioritize excellent communication skills.

The Hearing Loss Association of America believes as many as 60 percent of Americans with hearing loss are either in the workforce or in educational settings. That means that the 60 percent of the nearly 40 million Americans with hearing loss are still working.

Make hearing protection part of every wellness program

“In today’s service and knowledge based economy, good communication is critical to business success for both the employer and employee,” writes the non-profit Better Hearing Institute (BHI). And with many jobs involving damaging noise levels, hearing loss should be a workplace wellness priority. For example, hearing tests and hearing healthcare should be included in workplace wellness programs, and hearing protection protocols should be implemented in appropriate industries where noise exposure is dangerous (i.e. construction or factory work).

Additionally, treating hearing loss and making workplace accommodations for employees with hearing loss can help ensure optimal on-the-job performance. “Treating hearing loss early is no longer an option. It is a career imperative,” says Sergei Kochkin, previous executive director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). “Great workplace communication is critical to both job performance and to getting a job. Great communication starts with great listening. And great listening starts with the ability to hear.”

Here are six more reasons hearing loss should be a workplace priority:

  1. Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. By instituting hearing protection protocols, occupational noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.
  2. Exposure to dangerous noise levels can cause permanent hearing loss and other health problems.Other health problems include headaches, elevated blood pressure, fatigue, irritability, digestive disorders, and an increased susceptibility to colds and infections.
  3. Untreated hearing loss increases the risk of falling and hospitalization. According to a Johns Hopkins study, middle aged people between the ages of 40-69 with a mild hearing loss were three times more likely than those with normal hearing to report a history of falls. The presence of hearing loss in older populations, age 70 and older, was linked to an increase in hospitalizations and poorer mental and physical health.
  4. Untreated hearing loss can impact job performance. Ninety-five percent of employees who suspect they have a hearing problem but have not sought treatment admit that their untreated hearing loss impacts their job performance according to EPIC’s “Listen Hear” survey.
  5. Untreated hearing loss can adversely affect productivity and earnings. A national study by the Better Hearing Institute found that people with untreated hearing loss make nearly $30,000 less annually. The same study found that treating hearing loss with hearing aids significantly reduces the risk of income loss.
  6. It’s about your overall health, not just hearing health. Studies have linked the top three wellness concerns for American employers, obesity, diabetes and smoking to an increased risk for hearing loss.

Federal and state workplace regulations reduce the health risks associated with noise exposure by protecting employees from unsafe listening levels via the limits set by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA limits the amount of time employees are exposed to noise exceeding 90 decibels and requires hearing protection when noise levels exceed 90 decibels.

If you think you may have a hearing loss, make an appointment with South Suburban Hearing Health Centers today to get a hearing test and talk about your possible options!

Hearing health is important, so be sure to discuss hearing related workplace accommodations with your employer. Hearing your best can help your health, job performance, and potentially your career.


15 Potential Consequences of Letting Your Hearing Loss Go Untreated

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For people who say a mild hearing loss is “no big deal,” research shows that it has the potential to turn into a very big deal over time.

The good news? Research also tells us that treating hearing loss early can mitigate many of the consequences those with untreated hearing loss often face. Early action also offers other benefits as well.

Do you ever feel any of the above feelings? Do you ever feel like you just can’t explain why you can’t hear certain things? Please contact us today to get a hearing evaluation today. Here at South Suburban Hearing Health Center, we care about better hearing and a better quality of life!


How Can Mobile Apps Provide Healthy Hearing Benefits?

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Starkey Hearing Technologies, South Suburban Hearing Aid Centers, Hearing Loss, Hearing Test, Burr Ridge, Homer Glen
Hearing aids today don’t just help provide better hearing. With the incredible advances in today’s mobile technology, hearing aids are able to work with our mobile phones, smartwatches and tablets. Apart from our hearing aids, we have mobile apps that can help us manage our tinnitus, tell us when to wear hearing protection and more!

We caught up with Chris Howes, Senior Strategic Software Product Manager, and Penny Tyson, Product Manager, to talk about some of Starkey’s most popular mobile apps and how they can provide healthy hearing benefits. Below are summaries of the apps and some questions we asked Chris and Penny.

Starkey Hearing Technologies, South Suburban Hearing Aid Centers, Hearing Loss, Hearing Test, Burr Ridge, Homer Glen

Starkey Relax – Tinnitus Relief

An estimated 50 million Americans are affected by tinnitus, an annoying sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. These phantom sounds, which may take the form of “ringing,” “buzzing,” “roaring,” “clicking” or “hissing,” can vary in pitch and be heard in one or both ears. For some people, the noise can be so loud that it interferes with their ability to concentrate or hear actual sound.

While many patients with tinnitus have found relief from the Multiflex Tinnitus technology found in Starkey’s Muse, Halo 2, Z Series and SoundLens Synergy hearing aids, others may also desire an option with multiple relief sounds for the changing state of their tinnitus.

The Relax app is a free mobile app designed to help provide personalized tinnitus relief and comprehensive tinnitus education. The app features 12 unique relief sounds coupled with soothing images, which can be adjusted, customized, and streamed: 1) to Bluetooth audio devices (headphones/speakers), 2) directly from an iOS device to the Halo or Halo 2 Made for iPhone hearing aids, or 3) to any 900sync hearing aids via the SurfLink Mobile device.

The app also provides a variety of tinnitus education materials about symptoms, causes, and solutions.

For what purpose was this app developed? The app provides the tinnitus sufferers with a comprehensive tinnitus education and self-management tool.

What are the benefits of using the app?  The Relax app enables the users to create and customize highly-personalized relief sounds when standard sounds don’t meet the specific needs of their tinnitus. The app is also an informational resource. Users have many unanswered questions about the ringing, buzzing, hissing, roaring, or whooshing noise they are experiencing.  Many answers are provided in the nine informational sections within the “Learn” screen, including symptoms, causes and dietary considerations.

What’s the coolest part of the app?  The Create feature is really cool, because it enables a user, via a smartphone, to fine-tune the selected relief sound in order to best suit the user’s unique tinnitus at the current moment. For example, the user can create a new, customized relief sound to specifically meet his needs in the evening, when tinnitus tends to roar. A soothing image may then be selected from the Starkey Relax stock-image gallery or from the user’s personal camera roll for full customization of the personalized relief sound.

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Hearing Aids Help with Cognition in Older Adults

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Starkey Hearing Technologies, South Suburban Hearing Aid Centers, Hearing Loss, Hearing Test, Burr Ridge, Homer GlenHearing loss has been linked to a number of other health concerns in recent years, especially to cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Adults with hearing loss are two to five times more likely to develop dementia when compared to adults with normal hearing.

A recent study by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has found a direct correlation between hearing aid use and cognitive performance in older adults (aged 80 to 99) with hearing loss. The study also indicates that older adults with hearing loss who used hearing aids performed significantly better on cognitive tests than those who did not use a hearing aid.

The goal of the study was to determine if hearing aids could slow the effects of aging on cognitive function. Dr. Anil K. Lawlwani, professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at CUMC and otolaryngologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, said the following of their findings: “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.”

CUMC’s study further supports the notion that hearing loss impacts neurological elements as we age. In 2014, researchers at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging used information from the ongoing Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging to look at the differences in brain changes between adults with normal hearing and adults with hearing loss. Analysis of the participants’ MRIs over the years showed that participants with hearing loss had accelerated rates of brain atrophy compared to those with normal hearing. More specifically, “Overall, the scientists report, those with impaired hearing lost more than an additional cubic centimeter of brain tissue each year compared with those with normal hearing. Those with impaired hearing also had significantly more shrinkage in particular regions, including the superior, middle and inferior temporal gyri, brain structures responsible for processing sound and speech.”

Hearing loss is not uncommon today, and in older adults, hearing health is key.

Visit our Hearing Loss page for more information on hearing loss and hearing health facts, and be sure to watch the video below to help identify some signs of hearing loss.