Hearing Health: Don’t Settle for One Good Ear


Hearing loss is often gradual and we may begin to favor one ear over the other. Many patients will call this their “good ear.” It is important to note that hearing loss typically happens at the same rate in both ears. Having “one good ear” is a sign that a hearing evaluation is needed. True unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in one ear) is typically something we are born with, caused by viral infections, or the result of serious head or ear trauma. It can also be a sign that the cause is beyond the ear itself.

When one ear is favored over the other, we begin to rely on that ear to do most of our hearing work, leading to the false impression that this preferred ear is offering our best possible hearing. Unfortunately, relying on one ear to carry our hearing causes fatigue and confusion, especially in challenging listening situations like crowds and noisy rooms. 

A recent study found that adults reliant on a single ear are at a disadvantage in all aspects of everyday listening and communication. Asymmetric hearing leads to challenges in our ability to recognize the direction of sounds, hear group conversation, and filtering out background noise. 

There is no need to struggle with a less than better hearing ear. The Audiologists at Complete Hearing can identify the cause of your perceived "better ear" and you get back to the conversation. 

Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Hearing Research Foundation 


Technology and Hearing Aids


Hearing aid technology has changed dramatically in the past few years. Digital and wireless technology have brought hearing aid users better sound quality, feedback (whistle) control, highest rating moisture protection, Bluetooth technology and more power in smaller devices. In addition, today’s hearing aids are small, smart, and simple to use.

The Docotors of Audiology at Complete Hearing are proud to be Lincoln’s only certified provider of the Phonak Lyric™, the world's only 100% invisible hearing aid.  It delivers clear, natural sound. It is designed to be a discrete, comfortable solution that is worn deep inside your ear canal and provides you 24/7 hearing.  No batteries to change and no disputations to your lifestyle.  Imagine how invisible, hassle-free hearing could change your life!

If you are looking for a wide range of hearing products that help your brain orientate to the sounds around you, distinguish speech in a noisy environment and focuses on the important sounds, Complete Hearing has a solution for you. Contact us today for an assessment and a one on one consultation with one of our doctors.  We look forward to seeing you.

Tips for Healthy Ears in the New Year


Resolve to have your best hearing this year! Hearing loss is too preventable to be as prevalent as it has become. Early diagnosis is key to finding solutions to slow hearing loss and prevent new hearing loss from occurring. These three tips can help you promote healthy ears in the new year!

Having your hearing checked regularly.
Make an appointment to come see us in 2018. A hearing screening should be part of your annual wellness routine. Hearing loss develops gradually and seeing us once a year can help you recognize the signs and take action to prevent further hearing loss. Remember, hearing loss is associated to other medical health concerns like depression and heart disease, and can also detract for your quality of life and relationships.

Use hearing protection around loud noises.
Approximately 18% of Americans have noise-induced hearing loss* because of loud work environments, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD.)  Noise that is loud enough that you have to shout so a nearby person can hear you can also create dangerous levels of noise for your ears. Ask one of our Doctors about custom fitted earplugs or other hearing safety devices that can allow you to hear while reducing harmful sound levels. 

Keep your ears dry.
Excessive moisture left in your ear can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to enter your ear canal, causing swimmer’s ear or other types of ear infections that can endanger your hearing. Towel off your ears after swimming or even bathing and showering. If there is water in your ear after that, tilt your head to the side and pull gently on your ear lobe to help the water find its way our of your ear canal.

Sources: National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

How To Clean Earwax


Can earwax be a good thing?  Yes!  It helps your body eliminate dead skin cells and dirt. It also keeps the acidity of your ear canal balanced.  

Earwax is produced in the ear canal. Normally, wax dries up and falls away like dead skin cells. It is often easily removed with standard hygiene like showering and bathing. However, some people produce more wax than is necessary, which can lead to wax buildup. The longer the wax remains in the ear, the more difficult it is to remove. The likelihood of developing impacted earwax or hardened earwax can increase if you wear hearing aids.

If your ear does not migrate the wax out of your ear naturally, an over the counter ear drop will help soften and break up the wax. Be cautious about cleaning out earwax yourself. You should never stick anything in your ear with the intention of removing earwax— not even a cotton swab. Using a cotton swab can actually push the wax deeper inside where it can get stuck and cause more significant issues. Anything smaller than your elbow has the potential to damage the ear and its delicate structures.

If you feel as though ear wax may have built up and become impacted, call one of our audiologists. We can help remove hardened earwax with special tools, suction, or gentle irrigation procedures. Keeping your ears healthy is important to your overall health.

Smartphones and Hearing Aid Wearers


Most people these days have a smartphone. Perhaps you’re even reading this on one. Far more than a simple phone, these digital devices are making a big impact in our daily lives. One example of this is the use of smartphones to support those with hearing loss.

From service apps to devices that connect your phone with your hearing aids, smartphones are providing communication resources that enhance not only your hearing but the functionality of your hearing aids as well. For example, the app Tap Tap is popular in the deaf community since it was designed to help hearing impaired people respond to their environment by alerting the user with vibrations and flashes when a loud noise has been made near them. Another example is The Ear Machineapp allows you to use your phone as a microphone for enhanced listening.

Here at Complete Hearing, we’ve seen hearing aid wearers especially benefit from a new hearing technology called Oticon Opn. It is designed to connect to your smartphone and stream sound directly to your ears. Talking on the phone, listening to music, watching TV, even just living your life is so much better with the Oticon Opn. You can control the volume and switch programs on your TV with your iPhone using just a tap of your finger.

The Oticon Opn also helps provide relief from tinnitus with Tinnitus SoundSupport. You can adjust the support you need from the app on your smart phone, which can help you take control of your tinnitus by playing a wide range of relief sounds like white noise and soothing ocean-like sounds. You can adjust the sounds until they give the relief wherever and whenever you need it. You can wirelessly stream alternative tinnitus relief options, such as your favorite music, audio books, podcasts, or even relaxation guides.

If you’re interested in how devices can work with your smartphone to improve your hearing and quality of life, schedule an appointment to demo a device out of the office at no cost or obligation.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Traveling with Hearing Loss




Whether by plane, train, or automobile, traveling with hearing loss can present unique challenges during the busiest travel time of the year. Don’t let hearing loss stop you from enjoying the experiences and adventures of travel. Here are a few helpful tips that can simplify traveling with hearing loss.

Before You Go

When you make reservations, many systems allow you to sign up for text or email alerts so you can get important announcements about delays on your phone the day you travel.

For accommodations, ask ahead about the availability of rooms that are equipped with technology like visual or vibrating alarms and notification devices.

What to Bring

If you are a hearing aid wearer, pack spare batteries, an extra charger, cleaning tools and any necessary replacement parts in your carry-on luggage. For international travel, make sure you have the correct power adapter or voltage converter. You may also consider packing your own vibrating alarm clock if you are staying with family/friends, or your if accommodations do not provide a wake up service.

Noisy Terminals and Stations

Communicating in hectic or loud situations that require the exchange of precise information can get very frustrating, even more so if it causes you to miss a connection and delays your travel. If asking people to repeat themselves is impractical, pack a pen and paper or plan to use a notepad app on your tablet or smartphone for a surefire way to exchange information quickly.

Hearing Aids and Security

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggests notifying a security officer if you plan to wear your hearing equipment when passing through metal detectors or body scanners. They have created discrete notification cards that you can show the agent before screening begins. You can print your own notification card and learn more about special procedures when traveling with hearing conditions at TSA.gov.

Travel by Plane

When traveling alone, inform the airline and gate staff that you suffer from hearing loss and your preferred communication method at your first opportunity. You may have signed up for email or text alerts to stay informed on flight changes while making your reservations. If not, some airlines offer apps that you can download to keep informed on your flight’s status.

Once on board, request that the flight attendant or a fellow passenger inform you of any inflight announcements. Even though most flights ask you to turn off all electronic devices, you can keep your hearing equipment turned on without fear that they may interfere in the same manner as other devices.

Travel by Train

Train stops may not be visible from your seat.  Ask your seat partner to let you know when your destination is coming up. Notify train staff of your communication preferences so that they will inform you of any announcements.

Travel by Bus

Some bus lines have travel assistance departments that you can consult while planning your trip. At the terminal, communicate your hearing loss to ticket agents and request priority seating whenever possible so that you are able to see your stop. Aboard the bus, notify the driver or any other staff of your communication preferences so that they will inform you of any announcements during the trip.

Travel by Ship

When looking into travel through a cruise ship, inform the staff of your hearing loss and preferred communication method so they will inform you of any announcements. You might ask if the theaters have assisted-listening devices (ALDs), closed-captioning, or scripts. They may also provide sign language interpretation services on request or rooms with adaptive communication technology available.

Wherever your travels may take you, plan for success by planning ahead.  

Sources: AARP, TSA.gov


What to do about Itchy Ears


Itching in the ear is a symptom of anything from dried wax to a serious infection. If gently using the pad of your finger does not satisfy the urge to itch, there might be more going on.

Itchy ears  caused by infections, psoriasis, dermatitis, allergies, and even a nervous habit are very common, but can lead to trauma to the ear canal if not properly addressed. Unfortunately, people with itchy ears use many "tools" to scratch the itch that should never be put into the ear (bobby pins, car keys, paper clips, toothpicks). Although it may produce temporary relief, it may cause abrasions to the ear canal.  

Don’t insert anything in your ear.
Never stick anything in your ear with the intention of scratching an itch — not even a cotton swab.  Anything smaller than your elbow has the potential to damage the ear and its structures.

Wax is good . . . most of the time.
Earwax helps your body eliminate dead skin cells and dirt, but a buildup of wax can make your ears itch. An over the counter ear drop designed to break up the wax might help. If not, your doctor can use special tools to safely remove the built-up wax. Again, never use a cotton swab in your ear canal. It can actually push the wax deeper inside where it can get stuck and cause more significant issues. 

Treat the symptom.
If it a simple itch from dried skin in the ear canal, ask your audiologist about over the counter drops that will help sooth the itch.  If the ear canal is infected with pain or you have drainage from the ear,  seek a medical doctor for a prescription if necessary.
Above all else, keep your ears healthy.  Nothing smaller than your elbow goes in your ears.

Hearing Loss in Public Places



According to a study by John Hopkins University School of Medicine,  48 million, or 20.3% of all Americans, have hearing loss in at least one ear. With hearing loss being so common, many people are not even aware that their hearing is gradually declining. If you’re like them, you may be in a public space the first time you notice difficulty with your hearing. 

Hearing in public spaces can be challenging due to background noise; including traffic, music, or the mingling of several competing conversations and voices. Background noise makes it difficult to understand someone because the noise is louder than the voices you want to hear, or it distracts your attention from what people are saying. Filtering out the background noise in public spaces is difficult because it requires precise hearing from both ears.

As we age, tiny hair cells in our inner ears that translate sound vibration to our brain begin to gradually lose effectiveness or die altogether. It then becomes more difficult to hear speech or recognize sounds as clearly. While we can’t repair these cells, we can limit exposure to loud noises to limit further hearing loss.  If hearing loss is already impacting your life, talk with your doctor about a hearing aid that can manage the background noise and enhance speech or amplify sounds from the directions you need to hear. If your hearing loss becomes severe enough that a traditional hearing aid won't work, a cochlear implant may be recommended.  This device bypasses these damaged cells and stimulate the auditory nerve directly.  

Choose Strategies for Success

Communication strategies can be effective when used in conjunction with hearing aids, particularly in difficult listening environments. Choices can empower us to be more successful, despite the listening challenge with which we are presented:  

Choose a Plan for Success: Pick a quieter location at a less busy time.  Make reservations ahead of time to request quieter accommodations like a private room or corner table away from a kitchen or busy entrance. Look at the menu ahead of time online or call to ask about specials.

Choose a Successful Seat: Sit where there is a bright light source, so that the speakers’ faces are illuminated. Put those you want to her against a solid surface like a high back booth or wall.  It is best to have the noise sources behind you.

Choose a Successful Ambiance: The decor of an establishment can greatly influence the acoustics and sound transmission in an environment. For example, locations with carpet, plants, and sound absorbent materials on the walls can provide a better place to hear. Avoid dimly list places, or being seated in the middle of a restaurant where the sound is most likely to echo or be reverberate.  

Choose to Advocate for Yourself: Tell the people accompanying you and the staff  serving you that you are hard of hearing.  Ask that they speak slower, a bit louder, and face you directly when they talk. Ask staff to turn down loud music, or close blinds if the sun is in your eyes. Don’t feel like you have to pretend to hear better to have a good time - any conversation with you is worth having!

Choose Successful Expectations: Hearing in public space will not be as easy as hearing at home. People with good hearing have difficulty hearing in noisy places as well. Do all you can to have a successful listening experience.

Hearing Loss and the Holidays


Untreated hearing loss has been linked to loneliness, isolation, depression, and a general dissatisfaction with communication in personal relationships. The holidays have also been shown to increase depressive symptoms for many people, especially those experiencing declining health. The intersection of these two factors can often lead those experiencing a recent change to their hearing to be hit hard with holiday melancholy. 

Even when surrounded by the support of family and friends, people experiencing hearing loss may have an impaired ability to actively participate in conversations that lead to deeper connections. They may feel cut off and isolated when surrounded by the people that love them most. They might feel a sense of sadness or even embarrassment about their condition.

If you are experiencing hearing loss or suspect that a loved one may be experiencing difficulty hearing, there is hope for improving hearing in the demanding hearing scenarios presented by the holidays so that you can truly enjoy yourself. 

Wear The Right Hearing Aids
It may be tempting to not wear hearing aids or turn hearing aids off at noisy gatherings if you’ve experienced a hearing aid that simply makes all sounds louder. The right hearing aid can filter unwanted noise so you can focus on the conversation. Try a modern digital device that filters background noise, enhances speech, and amplifies sounds in a more natural way.

Appoint a Wingman
Recruit a person close to you to help you be more involved with conversations in environments or with people where you may struggle to hear. This person can repeat things you do not hear or understand, and fill you in on any of the details you may have missed.

Create a Conversation Corner
A cozy, quiet nook in the corner of a noisy room, away from the clamor of kitchens or other work spaces, can help eliminate distracting sounds. This refuge will allow you to focus on having meaningful conversations rather than filtering through a variety of noises. 

Get Centered
When it comes to seating yourself for dinner, choose a spot near the center of the table to maximize your chances of hearing the table’s conversation from a preferred angle. Put the noise behind you. The person you are talking with should have their back against a solid surface like a high back booth or a wall. Engage in conversation with the people sitting closest to you as people at the ends of a larger table may be inaudible. 

Have the Difficult Conversation
If you suspect a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, it can be a difficult conversation to have even outside of a challenging listening scenario. Approaching the topic before the holidays can help your concerns be heard and understood in a less threatening way. You can also help create a better listening environment during the party by engaging your loved one in quiet conversation, turning down any background music, and encouraging everyone to hold off on noisy activities like doing the dishes while trying to have meaningful conversation.

Hearing Loss During Cold & Flu Season


Can the cold and flu season affect your hearing?

Head colds and congestion can cause fluid to build up in your sinuses and ears making hearing more difficult during the illness.

The most common type of hearing loss during a cold or the flu is a conductive hearing loss. The fluid in the middle ear makes it hard for the eardrum to vibrate and for sound waves to travel through the ear. Fluid buildup can decrease your ability to hear by 24 decibels making sound muffled or indistinct. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary, and your hearing will return in a time frame of a few days to a few weeks.  It is possible, however, in some cases for it to take months for your hearing to completely return to pre-illness levels.

Sometimes the congestion can lead to infection. This will require antibiotics to address the bacteria and help eliminate the fluid buildup. 

Tinnitus can also begin or increase when you have a head cold or the flu. Tinnitus can sound like thumping, pounding, or a high pitched squeal. 

Although it is rare, longstanding infectious fluid can lead to permanent, sensorineural hearing loss. Viral infections can also play a role in sudden sensorineural hearing loss where inflammation causes the blood supply to the ear to be disrupted. It is important to see a physician within the first 48 hours of experiencing a sudden hearing loss so steroid treatment can be initiated.
What to do:
1. Avoid getting sick. Wash hands often. Decrease time spent with people who might be sick.
2. Rest.
3. Consider a decongestant to alleviate some of the fluid buildup.
4. Drink lots of fluids.
5. Stay on top of changes. If things don't improve in 14  - 21 days or you're experiencing pain, make an appointment with your physician to see if there's anything more serious happening.

Your audiologist plays a vital role when changes in hearing occur.  Be sure to communicate your symptoms to them so that the appropriate management can be initiated.