Hearing Loss & the White House

Hearing Loss & the White House

There’s quite a bit of talk in politics, but what about listening? Both sides of communication are incredibly important when getting your message across, whether you call the White House home or not. Here’s a history of hearing loss in our nation’s capitol.

Claudia Gordon:

Claudia Gordon currently works at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She is also the first deaf African-American female attorney in the United States. Inspired to become a lawyer because of the discrimination she experienced back home in Jamaica, Gordon had this to say to BBC News: “It did cause me to recognize injustice that exists in society toward people who happen to be different — deaf, blind, physically disabled or have a mental disability. I realized then that society does not treat people right, including myself. So from that experience, I realized I wanted to be able to make change, make things better for people like myself.”

Leah Katz-Hernandez:

Leah Katz-Hernandez —known as ROTUS, the receptionist of the United States — feels the same way, telling the news site, “I want to see the deaf community become more involved with the government, because it has a vital impact on the lives of deaf people. It’s important that they are included. I hope to see many more people like me in the future.”

First Lady Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge:

This First Lady and wife of Calvin Coolidge was voted one of our nation’s 12 greatest living women in 1931 for her “fine personal influence exerted as First Lady of the Land.” Her connection with hearing loss? She taught at a school for deaf children in Massachusetts, the Clarke Institute for the Deaf. According to the National First Ladies’ Library, “The mere presence of the former teacher of deaf children in the White House focused national attention on a specific constituency among the larger one of those considered handicapped or challenged by a physical disability of one type or another.”

President Theodore Roosevelt:

While his hearing was considered healthy while in office, Roosevelt lost his hearing in his left ear after he suffered from a ruptured eardrum.

President Ronald Reagan:

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most common kinds of hearing loss. It can happen instantly or over time with continuous exposure to loud noise. Reagan experienced NIHL in one ear when a .38-caliber blank was fired too close to him on a movie set. The president was fit with a Starkey INTRA hearing aid in September 1983.

According to AudiologyOnline.com, the icon helped to reduce stigmas around hearing devices. He became an advocate for those with hearing loss, igniting a movement focused on hearing aid innovation and increased accessibility. President Reagan’s historic fitting also helped him pave the way for today’s world leaders by bringing hearing aids into the public eye.

President Bill Clinton:

This former president wears two Starkey in-the-canal hearing aids since being diagnosed with a moderate loss of high-frequency hearing. It’s believed his hearing loss is the result of gunfire while hunting, political rallies, and listening to loud music. Like many with hearing loss, he ignored his hearing difficulties for years until doctors diagnosed him with high-frequency hearing deficiency, the most common form of hearing loss. Clinton’s hearing loss was caught during a routine physical, highlighting the importance of annual hearing checks, especially after the age of 40. Consult your local hearing care provider on the frequency of your hearing checks.

According to Starkey, in 2013 President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea joined Starkey Hearing Foundation (a foundation that conducts hearing missions in the United States and around the globe to bring better hearing to those in need) on a trip to Africa to donate customized hearing devices to people in Zambia and Rwanda. The foundation has pledged to fit and give more than 100,000 hearing aids annually to people in need as part of President Clinton’s Global Initiative Commitment to Action.

Think you may have a hearing impairment? Make sure you’re able to hear all the news this election season by visiting us!



The Four Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Getting Hearing Aids

The Four Biggest Mistakes You Can Make When Getting Hearing Aids

I have been helping patients find the best solutions for their hearing problems for more than 30 years. During this time, I have met with thousands of patients, some who love their hearing aids and get great results, and some who hate their hearing aids and feel like they have wasted their money. Here are the four biggest mistakes I have seen people make.

#1: Choosing a hearing aid based on what it looks like instead of what you need it to do.
The truth is no one wants a hearing aid. What you want is for your communication problems to go away or be significantly reduced. Smart consumers start with a list of three to five big issues they want resolved, and they ask the hearing aid provider which hearing aid will give them the best results.

#2: Focusing on price instead of results.
It’s not what the hearing aid looks like on the outside that dictates how much it will help you; it’s what’s inside that counts. With digital technology, some hearing aids are amazingly smart: They have multiple programs built into the hearing aids to keep you hearing well no matter where you go or what you do, and they will automatically switch from program to program, adjusting the volume for you. A different hearing aid that looks exactly the same on the outside can be amazingly stupid — a simple amplifier that makes everything louder.

In addition to the cost of the device itself, there are professional fees and expertise included in the price. This is the knowledge and expertise of the person fitting the hearing aid. As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. The better the technology and the more knowledgeable and capable the fitter, the more it is going to cost — but the better your results should be. Not everyone needs the fanciest technology, but, to be honest, everyone can benefit by having a knowledgeable and experienced person doing the fitting.

#3: Thinking that the hearing aid will solve all your problems the minute you put it on.
Your hearing loss did not happen overnight. Most likely, it has gradually been making your world quieter and quieter for 10+ years. Plus, your ears need to work with your brain to let you hear and understand what is being said.

Think of the hearing aids like a prosthetic hand. You need to practice with that artificial hand to learn how to use it. The more you practice, the better you get. At first you may just be able to open and close the hand. With practice you learn how to pick things up and really use it to improve your life. The same is true with the hearing aids. At first it seems like you are just hearing everything and it seems really loud. Over time you learn to listen discriminatingly and easily. Those who use their hearing aids on a regular basis become successful users; those who put them on only occasionally never really get the help they need.

#4: Being fit with hearing aids and never having a postfitting evaluation done.
A fitter asking you how you are hearing is meaningless. You do not know what you should be hearing and, therefore, you don’t know if the hearing aids are working correctly for you or not.

After you have had a few weeks to adjust to your hearing aids, you should have a postfitting evaluation. This could be a test in which you repeat words at a normal conversational level in a controlled environment (like a hearing test booth) or a test where a microphone is put in your ear and a computer checks to see if the prescription is correct. No matter how experienced your provider is, they cannot see how well you are hearing or truly know what is happening inside your ear without doing one of these postfitting tests.

What Hearing Loss Sounds Like

What Hearing Loss Sounds Like

What It’s Like To Have Hearing Loss

When you have a hearing loss, it can be hard to explain how your life has changed along with your hearing. What’s more, many people don’t realize how hearing loss has affected their lives, as it’s such a gradual process. We’re here to help you help others understand, in turn creating a support system for you in your better-hearing journey.

Research tells us that concealing your hearing loss can create tension in your social or professional life that could negatively affect your mental health. Talking about it eases the stress of hiding the condition.

How to Talk About Your Hearing Loss

The way your hearing loss sounds to you can be different than another person’s loss. How your hearing loss sounds depends on the type (sensorineural or conductive, or even a mix) and degree of the hearing loss. As Starkey Hearing Technologies points out on their hearing loss simulator page, “a person with normal hearing can hear quiet, medium, and loud sounds that vary from low pitch to high pitch with amazing clarity and definition. When you have hearing loss, you often lose higher-pitch sounds, like the sound of women’s and children’s voices or consonants like t, s, and f. Even though you may be able to hear strong vowel sounds such as a, e, and i, speech becomes harder to comprehend.”

  • Pick someone you trust to listen to what you have to say.
  • Be honest and open; while vulnerability is hard, it creates strong connections and support.
  • Give them examples of instances where you cannot hear very well and what that is like for you
  • Show them what your hearing loss is like with Starkey’s hearing loss simulator

What Tinnitus Sounds Like

Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss but sounds very different than hearing loss. Anyone afflicted with the annoying ringing and hissing of tinnitus is well aware of the stress, anxiety, and irritability that accompany these phantom howls — but how do you explain that to others?

  • Pick someone you trust to listen to what you have to say.
  • Be honest and open; while vulnerability is hard, it creates strong connections and support.
  • Give them examples of instances where you are distracted or debilitated by your tinnitus and what that is like for you. If you can, think of instances for which the person was present, so they can better understand your reactions to it.
  • Try to convey the consistency of your tinnitus (how often it occurs during the day, at what times, and anything that seems to set it off).

Do not use the hearing loss simulator to test your own hearing. A hearing test simulator is for informational purposes and is not intended as a diagnostic evaluation. For a complete test and evaluation of your hearing, you should visit a qualified and licensed hearing care professional. While testing your hearing on the internet can give you some insight, we strongly recommend you be tested by hearing professionals, like us. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to begin getting relief from your hearing loss.

To get the most out of your consultation with us, we recommend bringing a companion with you so you feel supported, and so we can ask them about their experience with your hearing.

8 Questions to Ask Your Doctor During Your Physical

Sometimes it can take a little nudge to get to the doctor when something is really bothering you. When you’re finally at your annual physical exam, make sure you use the most of your time with your health professional by coming prepared with these eight questions.

1. In addition to the flu shot, what other vaccines am I due for?
Vaccinations don’t stop when you’re 18. Ask your doctor what you need and when based on your health. If you ask them, their front desk should help you schedule and send reminders for other vaccinations you’re due for.

2. Am I at a healthy weight?
According to the Huffington Post, “Among more than 7,700 people, just 45.2 percent of those considered overweight (a BMI of 25 or more) and 66.4 percent of those considered obese (a BMI of 30 or more) were told by a physician that they were overweight, found a study in Archives of Internal Medicine.” Extra weight is a risk factor for a number of ailments, like heart disease and some cancers.

3. How’s my hearing?
The most common type of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which is caused by continual exposure to noise levels greater than 85 decibels (think the sound of a bulldozer). We don’t tend to think about losing our hearing until it’s already impaired, but NIHL usually occurs slowly over time, and you might not know that you have a hearing loss until it’s been established for several years. These days, we’re more susceptible than ever to NIHL through headphones, loud events, and even at work. According to the National Council on Aging, untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased susceptibility to numerous other health complications, such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

4. What health issues am I at risk for?
The health issues that should be on your radar vary with age, lifestyle, and sex. Whether you’re sexually active with multiple partners or have been monogamous for years determines whether you should have an STI test. If you’ve recently picked up smoking, you should be more aware of the complications that follow. Or if you’ve gotten into an exercise routine, there are health benefits you may not think about that lessen your risk for certain ailments. Just be open and honest with your doctor to get the best health advice. Gender also affects your odds of hearing loss; the ailment is 5.5 times greater in men versus women.

5. Should I worry about hypertension before I’m 50?
Yes, if you had a hypertensive pregnancy or have a family history of high blood pressure. Reader’s Digest Best Health reports, “We know that within 10 years of that pregnancy, women have an increased risk of significant hypertension, and their cardiac risk goes up 10 years earlier than the general population,” says Dr. Jan Christilaw, senior medical advisor for provincial women’s health programs at the BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. What we do to our arteries in our 30s and 40s is critical: “Eat a reasonable diet low in cholesterol, maintain a normal weight, and exercise,” suggests Christilaw. According to the National Council on Aging, untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased susceptibility to numerous other health complications, such as hypertension.

6. Considering my family history, am I at risk for certain diseases?
It’s important to keep your doctor up to date on your family members’ current health statuses. It’s also smart to update this list with any new conditions each year and seek the proper information about early warning signs.

7. Check in with your emotional status.
If you’ve been feeling a lack of energy or drive or a change in appetite, you may be depressed. Sometimes people like to think it’s just a funk, but it’s good to talk about your symptoms to ensure you’re getting all the help you need to live your most fulfilling life. The same goes with stress levels. Stress affects both your mind and your body. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger, and irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or the common cold, and vaccines such as the flu shot are less effective for them.”

8. Whatever else is on your mind.
Have a weird tick? Maybe your elbow hurts or there’s a new spot on your skin you didn’t notice before. This is the time to ask those questions you’ve had since you last saw your doctor.

If you have questions about your hearing, or protecting your hearing, ask your doctor to refer you to a hearing professional or Contact us to make an appointment!

Contact Sports and Hearing Loss

What are football players at risk of losing when playing to win?

August usually means a handful of things: It’s the last leg of summer, school is quickly approaching, and football is finally back. The return of football means many of us won’t leave our couches on Sundays (or Saturdays, depending on if you’re an NFL or college fan, or — well, let’s be honest, both!), but it also means more debate over just how dangerous the sport is.

According to ear surgeon John Leonetti, a Loyola University Medical Center doctor, retired NFL players may be at risk for more than just the effects of concussions, broken bones, and torn ligaments. According to Leonetti, they may also be at risk for permanent hearing loss and tinnitus due to repeated brain trauma.

Leonetti says there are two possible mechanisms by which repeated blows to the head could cause hearing damage: A heavy blow to the head can cause the brain to jiggle, potentially damaging the nerves that connect the brain to the inner ear; and a blow to the head can also create a shock wave powerful enough to damage the cochlea, which is responsible for sending hearing signals to the brain.

According to a study done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine on the management of temporal bone trauma, “the temporal bones are paired structures located on the lateral aspects of the skull and contribute to the skull base. Trauma is usually the result of blunt head injury and can result in damage to the brain and meninges, the middle and internal ear, and the facial nerve. Complications can include intracranial hemorrhage, cerebral contusion, CSF leak and meningitis, hearing loss, vertigo, and facial paralysis.”

The study points out crucial actions to help prevent complications. It states, “Diagnosis followed by appropriate medical and surgical management is critical. Diagnosis relies primarily on physical signs and symptoms as well as radiographic imaging. Emergent intervention is required in situations involving herniation of the brain into the middle-ear cavity or hemorrhage of the intratemporal carotid artery. Patients with declining facial nerve function are candidates for early surgical intervention. Conductive hearing loss can be corrected surgically as an elective procedure, while sensorineural hearing loss carries a poor prognosis, regardless of management approach. Children generally recover from temporal bone trauma with fewer complications than adults and experience a markedly lower incidence of facial nerve paralysis.”

Though there has been no published study involving football players and hearing loss, Leonetti says the anecdotal evidence alone should be sufficient to convince someone to conduct a study to determine if rates of hearing damage are indeed higher. Regardless, it is important to remember that hearing loss is usually the result of repeated instances of trauma, so protecting the ears from damage means fewer health risks down the road. And the right kind of protection is the kind that fits you comfortably, creating a seal that only custom-fit hearing protection can provide.

Luckily, you don’t have to go far to find that kind of custom protection — we provide it! Contact us today to learn more.