Whittier Audiologist Joins Starkey to Share Gift of Hearing Overseas

Community invited to follow China mission on social media

Doctor of Audiology Kim Ortega, director of rehabilitative audiology at Whittier Hearing Center, will join global nonprofit Starkey Hearing Foundation for a 10-day, two-city mission in China to help nearly 4,000 men, women, and children hear their best.

“This is a dream come true,” said Ortega, a co-owner at the practice and an expert in hearing care technology advancements including Bluetooth connectivity. “I’m passionate about improving people’s lives through better hearing, so what an exciting opportunity to share that passion on a global scale.”

An estimated 360 million youth and adults – more than 5 percent of people worldwide – have disabling hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization, with prevalence greatest in low- and middle-income countries.

Through its “So the World May Hear” mission, Starkey Hearing Foundation provides free hearing aids to those in need around the globe, partnering with celebrities, philanthropists, hearing-care professionals and businesses to change lives. The foundation has pledged to provide 1 million hearing aids this decade and currently gives more than 200,000 devices annually.

Ortega’s July 30-Aug. 8, 2016 China hearing mission will comprise fitting approximately 1,992 people in Xuzhou and about 1,989 people in Suqian – both cities of Jiangsu Province – with hearing aid technology and counseling.

Follow Ortega’s overseas experience on our blog or check in on social media including our Facebook page.

The Best Headphones for People with Hearing Aids

The Best Headphones for People with Hearing Aids

Can you wear headphones if you have hearing aids? You bet you can! But there’s something you need to know before you go out and buy a pair.

We’ve got sound advice when it comes to:

  • Which headphones are best for your hearing aids
  • Tips for wearing headphones with hearing aids
  • Alternative headphone options

What are the Best Headphones for Your Hearing Aids?
1. Bone-Conduction Headphones:

These headphones allow you to hear sound through the vibration of the jawbones and cheekbones. This way the sound waves are directly stimulating the inner ear (your hearing organ).

Best hearing aid styles for these headphones:

  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • Completely-in-canal (CIC)
  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC)

2. On-Ear Headphones:

The opening in the center of the headphones sits over the ITE hearing aids of all sizes (ITC, CIC), so your hearing aid picks up the music through the microphone.

Best hearing aid styles for these headphones:

  • Completely-in-canal (CIC)
  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC)

On-ear headphones can also be used for the following styles; however, feedback is more likely to occur with these types of hearing aids.

  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE)
  • Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

3. Over-Ear Headphones:

These sit over the ears, which helps with noise cancellation. Noise-canceling headphones are awesome for protecting your hearing and helping prevent future hearing loss.

Best hearing aid styles for these headphones:

  • In-the-ear (ITE)
  • In-the-canal (ITC)
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE)
  • Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

These headphones can also be used for completely-in-canal and invisible-in-the-canal devices.

What About Earbuds?

It may be obvious, but we have to say it: Earbuds don’t work when using hearing aids.

Tips for Wearing Headphones with Hearing Aids

  • If wearing your hearing aids with headphones, be conscious of how loud you’re playing your music as the tunes will be amplified. Use a simple volume-meter app that tells you exactly how loud your music really is.
  • The decibel level (the sound pressure) and the length of listening time affect how much damage is done. Sound becomes damaging at 85 decibels (the sound level of a bulldozer idling). Try the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for only 60 minutes at a time.
  • Feedback happens if the headphones push on the hearing aid or sit too closely to it. To help with this, try repositioning your headphones. If that doesn’t help, it’s probably time to get a new pair that work with your hearing aids.
  • Try to buy noise-canceling headphones. The reason headphones have the ability to damage your hearing is that people turn up the volume to block out annoying background noise. Noise-isolating and noise-cancelling headphones help to remove the background noise so you don’t turn the volume to dangerous levels.

Alternatives to Headphones

Turn your hearing aids into built-in headphones.

If you were fit with two individual AGX® Hearing aids, they were created to interact as a single unit to deliver a more cohesive technology. Your units speak to one another, so when you make an adjustment for one, the other adjusts automatically. And with wireless Bluetooth® technology, you can stream audio from your television, calls from your cell phone or landline, or music from your computer with minimal effort.

Made for iPhone® Hearing Aids

Many hearing aids offer a wireless streaming function that pushes phone calls, music, video, and other audio to your devices, but the Made for iPhone Hearing Aids —perfectly compatible with your Apple devices — allow for use with FaceTime® audio, Siri®, and other Apple-specific media.

Don’t miss a beat — contact us today to see how we can make your listening experience even better.

iPhone, FaceTime, and Siri are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

A Solution-Based Approach to Getting Hearing Aids

A Solution-Based Approach to Getting Hearing Aids

The biggest mistake people make is buying a hearing aid instead of buying better hearing.

I have been helping people find solutions for their hearing problems and communication issues for more than 30 years, and I have seen hundreds of people who are unhappy with their hearing aids. The most common complaints I hear, day in and day out, are that they cannot change the batteries; they pick up too much background noise; they are not comfortable to wear; or they just don’t help. In 9 out of 10 cases, I find that the person simply bought a hearing aid — they never though about what they really wanted and needed it to do. They focused on the hearing aid, not on the communication problems they needed it to solve.

When you go shopping for a car, you think a lot about how you will use that car. If you haul stuff around a lot, you want to choose a truck, not a sports car. You choose the car based on what you need it to do. Once you figure that out, then you can worry about how big a truck you need or what color you want, but the first consideration is how you will use the automobile.

Doesn’t your hearing deserve at least as much consideration? Before you start looking at the size or brand of the hearing aids, you must first figure out what you need them to do. Do you just need them for watching TV at home, or do you go to live plays? Do you go to lots of meetings and lectures? Do you use a cell phone a lot and need to get rid of that annoying Bluetooth stuck in your ear? Do you have lots of doctor appointments and can’t hear what the doctor says to you? Is your family small or large? How big are your family gatherings and how often do they happen? How often do you go to restaurants to eat? Do you live in your own home or in an assisted living facility? How much trouble are you having in each of these situations? Are the communication problems starting to really impact your relationships with your spouse, family, and friends? Are you still part of the conversation, or are you sitting on the outside watching and smiling and laughing when everyone else laughs, even though you did not hear the joke?

As you can see, there are many different problems that hearing loss can present depending on the degree of loss and your lifestyle. What you really want is for those problems to go away or be significantly reduced. So the first step in getting help for your hearing should be making a list of the top three or four problems that your hearing loss/communication problems are causing and then discussing what is the best treatment for you to make resolve those problems. When you take this solution-focused approach to getting hearing aids, you will be much more likely to get something you can and will use and that will restore the quality of life you want.

Protect Your Family’s Hearing This Independence Day

Protect Your Family’s Hearing This Independence Day

3,2,1 — done! With our three best practices for hearing protection this holiday, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is snagging the best viewing spot.

There are so many things to think about during the 4th of July. Those burgers aren’t going to grill themselves, you remembered to set your chairs out early for this year’s parade, and the kids all have matching red, white, and blue outfits. To help you out, we’re going to make this easy yet essential to-do for you: Protect your family’s hearing this holiday.

What You Need to Know About Fireworks and Your Hearing

The amount of damage that fireworks cause to your hearing depends on:

  1. The distance you are from them
  2. The intensity of their explosion
  3. How old you are

The bangs and booms from fireworks can cause serious hearing damage, with sounds reaching 150 decibels (dB) at 3 feet.

For adults, the recommendation from the World Health Organization is not to be exposed to more than 140 decibels (dB) of peak sound pressure (like a firearm or a jet engine); children shouldn’t be exposed to more than 120 dB (like a jet plane takeoff or a siren). Because of their sensitivity to noise, children under 12 months should not be exposed to fireworks.

Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB (like a snow blower or a bulldozer) can cause hearing loss. The bigger the boom, the less time it takes for damage to happen. Exposure to loud sounds such as fireworks can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. These ailments can affect all ages.

Easy Ways to Protect Your Hearing This Holiday

1. Red, White, and Move:

The farther away you get from the fireworks explosions, the further you get from hurting your hearing. When dealing with fireworks of 170 dB, adults need to be 50 to 65 feet away (at least the length of a school bus). Kids need to be 165 to 200 feet away (about half of an NFL football field) from the same fireworks.

2. Soften the Sound:

While at the store to grab things to grill, pick up some foam earplugs. This inexpensive hearing protection is portable, easy to use, and will make you pretty popular at your 4th of July party if you bring extras!

Pro Tip: For best use, roll the earplug between your fingers before placing it in your ear. This allows it to expand in your ear canal, giving you more sound protection.

3. Make a Statement:

Declare your dedication to hearing health by sporting earmuffs — no, not the fuzzy ones. We’re talking about those heavy-duty ones that are great for not only fireworks, but also monster-truck shows, arenas, and working with power tools. Look for soft, padded ear cups with a slim headband so the earmuffs will stay in place comfortably. Those soft ear cups will help air circulation over the ear to keep your head cool. You can even find foldable, easy-to-carry earmuffs, as well as ones in fun colors for the kids.


If you want more information about hearing protection or customized solutions for you and your family, contact us today — we’re here to help. Enjoy sporting your stars, stripes, and hearing protection, and have a happy 4th of July!