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Our Loud World

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While there are many causes of hearing loss, that which is caused or worsened by noise exposure is one of the most preventable. 

A decibel (dB) is a measure of sound. Sound is measured based on a scale. The lowest possible sound a human being can hear is measured at 0 dB, and the upper threshold for the human ear is 140 dB.

The sound of a falling leaf is about 10 dB.  40 dB is the sound of your living room when it's quiet. 75 dB is the sound of a busy restaurant during lunch time. Rock concerts typically register at 110 dB.

Anytime we are exposed to sounds over 85 dB, we are causing damage to the delicate structures of our inner ear. The louder the sound, the less time it takes for us to do serious damage. Eight hours of sounds over 90 dB can cause permanent damage. 

But how loud is our world on an every day basis? There are several apps for your smartphone out there that measure the decibel levels in various surroundings. One app you can try is the Decibel 10 app. We decided it take it around during our everyday lives to see exactly how loud things can be.

Decibel levels in an office building in downtown Lincoln typically hover around 60 dB. We then decided to listen to some music on the computer which brought the sound level up to 65 dB. Later in the afternoon, a stroll outside found the traffic in downtown Lincoln to vary from 80-90 dB. (Can you imagine working outdoors for 8 hours a day or in road construction?) The Mill, a coffee shop in the Haymarket, recorded decibel levels between 65-70 dB with only 20 people in side. Let's not forget Memorial Stadium. Decibel levels can run well over 111 dB during an average game.

According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, noises at a level of 100 dB without protection can damage your hearing after just 15 minutes.  

It is vital to protect your hearing when exposed to excessive noise. Ask one of our doctors if the noise levels in your life could be damaging your hearing and what type of hearing protection is best suited for your needs.

Hearing and Your Marriage

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Hearing directly affects your relationships, and there's one relationship that can be affected more than any other, your marriage.

One of the biggest reasons for discord in marriage is miscommunication. We need quality communication in order to build intimacy in relationships and to solve problems or conflicts.

The person with hearing difficulties typically has a certain amount of stress from the beginning. Often, they are already feeling on edge and not their best, because they're missing out on activities or not catching all of the details in conversation. They feel increased anxiety, confusion, irritability, and could be experiencing depression. 

The spouse also can feel strain because they feel they are not being listened to. It can be frustrating to have to repeat yourself over and over or yell in order to be heard. When someone becomes defensive about their hearing difficulties or refuses to acknowledge the problem, it can build a lot of resentment. Spouses can also feel depression, frustration, and loneliness.

The ability to handle conflict or resolve tension is important in any relationship, but when one person struggles with the ability to communicate, that can put even more stress on the relationship.

Addressing and acknowledging the hearing loss will help pave the way for more effective communication. A big step will be to get tested and fitted for hearing devices, if needed. This will eliminate a lot of the stress that comes from miscommunication. It's also important to make sure that you're communicating in a well lit, low noise environment, especially for important conversations. Making sure that your lips can be read and your face seen will maximize your communication efforts.

Finally, talk to your audiologist. While they are not official marriage counselors, the doctors at Complete Hearing will give you additional communication tips to make sure that your conversations are as productive as possible. No one enjoys being misunderstood or not appreciated. Taking steps to work on your communication will help lay the groundwork for a happy and healthy relationship.

Hunting and Hearing Protection

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As a hunter, your hearing is essential in helping you enjoy the sport that you love. Hunting takes all of your senses to perform at high levels in order for you to be successful in the harvest. 

But while many people wear hearing protection at the range, they don't think about it for out in the field.

On average, a gun shot is 140 decibels, and that, in itself, can cause permanent damage to your hearing. One shot. And noise damage is cumulative. The more often you shoot, the more damage you are doing. 

But many hunters are resistant because of the sensation of traditional foam ear plugs. While offering noise suppression, traditional ear plugs make it difficult to truly be in tune with the world around you. That stopped-up feeling can make it be difficult to hear the wind or the whisper of movement.

The good news is that we've moved on quite a bit from the old foam ear plugs. 

The key benefit with modern custom hearing protection for hunting is that these devices still allow air flow while reducing the excess noise of a shotgun or rifle blast. These devices can take that 140 dbs (instant damage) and bring it down to a less damaging 95 dbs. (You'd have to listen to something at this volume for four hours to have anything damage your ears.)

Some custom hearing protection can actually even enhance your hearing out in the field. So not only can you reduce the extra loud sounds and protect your ears, but some devices can even pick up and amplify the sounds of the birds, the wind, or the brushing of a big buck up against a tree.

At Complete Hearing, we can mold your hunting hearing protection devices specifically for your particular set of ears, so you don't have to worry about them falling out and getting lost somewhere in the field. We can also monitor your hearing to make sure that you aren't causing damage and can enjoy many seasons for years to come.

Hunting is your passion. We want to make sure that you can enjoy it for as long as possible.
 

Hearing Loss and Dementia

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Studies show that by the time Americans reach their 70s, two thirds have some form of hearing loss. Unfortunately, their hearing loss often goes undetected and untreated. By the time they reach 85, one-third of Americans are affected by Alzheimer's disease. 

Statistics indicate that there is a possible relationship between aging, hearing loss, and dementia. 

Many studies have been conducted to explore the links, and while conclusive evidence has not yet been found that hearing loss is directly tied to dementia, it is highly correlated. This evidence indicates that this relationship should not be ignored.

In one study of cognitive decline over the period of several years, the rate of of decline was much steeper for those with hearing loss - severe enough to interfere with communication. In another study, people with moderate hearing loss were at triple the risk of developing dementia. And in an even further study, patients who were treated with hearing aids showed reduced signs of decline. All of these studies seem to indicate that being able to hear well has a direct impact on the cognitive skills of the patients.

Buy why?

Scientists believe that perhaps the resources used for cognitive functioning, rather than being used for concentration, memory or planning skills, are instead used to help the brain work harder to process sounds. With those resources being used to concentrate on hearing, it allows less opportunity for the brain to work on other processes.

A common phenomenon for both hearing loss and dementia is social isolation. This is often the case when people have difficulty following conversation or participating in a group. Scientists believe that participating in a social environment helps the brain stay engaged and active. By treating hearing loss with hearing devices, this will allow the patient to feel more comfortable in social settings and potentially reduce the risk of dementia. 

While there is no definitive link that one causes the other, what is known is how much life can be improved with the aid of hearing devices. The sooner one starts, the better. Keeping on top of cognitive functioning is important. It's wise to be able to hold onto what we have, and have it for as long as we can.

Oticon and iOS 11

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If you are an iPhone user and have recently upgraded to the latest operating system, iOS 11, you may need to make some adjustments in order for your phone to work the best with your Oticon hearing device.

First you will need to unpair your hearing aids from your phone.

Directions: 
1. SETTINGS
2. GENERAL - Make sure Bluetooth is on.
3. ACCESSIBILITY
4. HEARING DEVICES
5. Click on the screen where it says their NAME & DEVICE NAME
6. FORGET THIS DEVICE

To Re-pair your devices:

7. Press the back arrow to HEARING DEVICES. Turn HDs on/off. Wait until they turn back on and once again click on HEARING DEVICES. 
8. When a pop-up that asks if you want to pair the hearing device, click PAIR. It should happen twice if you are pairing two devices. 

A checkmark should appear next to your hearing aids if you are connected.

Click here for additional information. 

If you have questions or would like assistance, please contact our office or stop by during our walk-in hours over the lunch hour.

How to Encourage Someone to Have Their Hearing Tested

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If you have someone in your life who has shown signs of experiencing hearing loss, it's a good idea to get their hearing tested. Symptoms of hearing loss can be signs of additional undiagnosed medical conditions. The challenges are that people do not often realize that they are experiencing hearing issues. The first people to notice hearing challenges are their family members and close friends. The question then, of course, becomes how to encourage someone to get their hearing tested. Here are a few things to say to someone to encourage them to take that first step.

1. Annual hearing tests are for everyone. 

Hearing exams are no different than eye exams. Knowing your baseline is a great way to measure whether or not you experience changes. Hearing loss can often times happen gradually, and you may not notice changes. That is something an audiologist can monitor and stay on top of.

Maybe even schedule an appointment for yourself. Going with a friend always takes some of the pressure off and can make the person feel less anxious.

2. If you don't do it now, it will only get worse.

While hearing loss can't be reversed, in some instances it can be stopped or slowed with proper diagnosis and treatment. The longer someone goes without treatment, the degree of the hearing loss can worsen and cause further issues like isolation and depression.

3. Let them know how the hearing issues have been affecting you.

Many times people don't realize what an impact their untreated hearing loss has on the other people in their lives. If they realize that sometimes it's frustrating to have to repeat yourself over and over, or that not being understood is having an impact on your relationship, they may be more apt to get tested. 

4. Sometimes hearing aids aren't always the answer.

Some people who have been experience the signs of hearing loss or who struggle in certain situations actually have excess wax or other issues that do not require a hearing aid. Only your audiologist can determine what exactly is causing the hearing issues and can recommend the right treatment.

5. But if hearing loss is present, today's hearing aids are worlds apart from what they used to be.

Today's hearing devices come in many different sizes and styles depending on the patient's needs. Some are rechargeable devices that do not use traditional batteries. Some can connect with your smartphone and TV. Others are virtually invisible and aren't detectable at all. Hearing aids also come in many price ranges. With many financing plans available, there are options for everyone.

The key is getting people to get tested in the first place. We hope that the stigma of hearing loss and hearing aids can be eliminated as we start realizing how much hearing is a part of our overall health. We get our vision checked when we can't see. It's important that we treat our sense of hearing the same.

Coffee and Conversation

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At Complete Hearing, we want to make sure that you are as informed as possible about your hearing and your overall hearing health. Introducing, Coffee and Conversation, a monthly opportunity for you to find out more about educational topics concerning your hearing, hearing devices and how your hearing can affect your health and wellbeing.

Sessions will be held at Complete Hearing on the first Thursday of every month at 9:30 a.m. Because space is limited, we do ask that you make a reservation by calling us at 402.489.4418 or emailing hello@complete-hearing.com

We look forward to sharing with you and welcoming you to the conversation!
 

11/2: 10 Things to Know Before Buying a Hearing Aid

12/7: Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: Is This a Good Solution?

1/4: Louder Isn't Always Better

2/1: That Sound Inside My Head: Ringing, Buzzing, and Tinnitus

3/1: Hearing Protection

4/5: Caring for Those With Hearing Loss

5/3: Managing Wax Build Up Without Q-Tips

6/7: Summer Care For Your Hearing Aids

7/5: Healthy Habits to Fight Hearing Loss

8/2: Are Hearing Aids Right For Me?

Autumn Decibel Levels

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Rustling leaves, the cracking of  bonfires ... the sounds of autumn are what make the season so enchanting. Fall is also a time for very loud sounds and noises that can impact your hearing. 

Noise induced hearing loss occurs when listening to loud sounds over 85 decibels over an extended period of time. The louder the decibel level the less time you can listen safely. Listening to anything over 85 decibels will begin to damage your hearing after listening for eight hours. 100 decibels will cause damage after 15 minutes. Anything over 115 decibels will cause immediate damage.

Here are some of the sounds of fall and their decibel levels to be aware of.

Football game: 80-90 decibels (We bet it gets a bit louder in Memorial Stadium.)
Leaf Blower: 102 decibels
Chainsaws/woodchippers: 100-110 decibels
Rifle hunting: 150 decibels - can cause immediate damage to your hearing.

Noise induced hearing loss is cumulative. A little bit here. A little bit there. Over time, it can make a difference. Once hearing loss is present, permanent damage has likely occurred. 

The good news is that there is hearing protection that can be worn to prevent some of this damage from happening. Inexpensive foam ear plugs will reduce some of the damage. Custom ear protection, however, will do a more efficient job and allow you to hear conversation and other sounds that you want to hear. 

Talk to your audiologist about ways to protect your hearing and what products are right for you and your lifestyle. Protect yourself, protect your hearing, and protect the sounds of fall.

Hearing Loss in the Workplace

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Good communication skills are imperative to everyday life. This is especially true in the workplace. When you can't communicate properly, balls get dropped, messages get missed, details can be overlooked, and people can misinterpret motives or attitudes.

For people with untreated hearing loss, this can make life very difficult and affect job performance and earning potential.

Here are a few ways that hearing loss can affect you at work:

1. Reduced confidence and feelings of incompetence.
Miscommunication can result in projects not getting completed accurately or on time. When expectations are not met, frustration can take place. Not feeling like you're "on top of your game" can have an affect on your confidence level in the work place. If you don't feel that you are doing your best work, it can affect the morale of the entire team. Confidence is one of the key indicators for promotion, salary increases, and overall job success. Studies have shown that individuals with untreated, severe hearing loss make an average of $14,000 less than those who have normal hearing.*

2. Strained working relationships. 
When you don't get the entire message, it's easy to just make something up and misinterpret the original message. This type of miscommunication can lead to friction even in people with normal hearing, but for a person with untreated hearing loss, it can happen more frequently. We spend a large part of our day with the people we work with; it's important to communicate as effectively as possible.  

3. Overall mental fatigue
Did you know that you hear with your brain, not your ears? When you have hearing difficulty, your brain has to work overtime in order to make sense of the speech and environmental sounds around you. Having to repeat project details or fix mistakes from miscommunication can take a toll on your energy level. This strain can result in added fatigue by the end of the day.  

The good news is that hearing difficulties can be treated. With proper diagnosis and treatment, your audiologist can suggest techniques for maximizing communication in the workplace and overcoming hearing obstacles. 

If you find yourself struggling in the office or noticing feelings of inadequacy, please call our office at 402.489.4418. We can do a simple hearing test and help you find a solution.

*Source

 

Recognizing the Signs of Hearing Loss in Others

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Most types of hearing loss happen gradually over time. Many times the person experiencing the hearing loss may not even know they are experiencing difficulty. Because hearing loss has such an impact on our personal relationships, it is most often noticed by the people closest to us. 

If you suspect someone in your life maybe experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, here are a few things to look for.

1. Increased volume of the TV
Many times this can be an indicator that a person is having hearing difficulty. It's easy to turn the TV up just a little bit more to try to catch converations or dialogue on a program. But if the volume level becomes too loud for everyone else in the room, or is louder than normal conversation, it could be a sign that there is a problem.

2. Requests for repetition in conversation
If someone in your life is consistently asking you to repeat yourself or accuses you of mumbling, this could be a sign of hearing loss. While there are different types of hearing loss, some make it difficult for the brain to differentiate sounds. As an example, the differences between the "s" sound and the "th" sound. The ears can hear what is being said, but the brain has a difficult time distinguishing between the sounds. The listener may ask for repetition to really understand what is being said.

3. Strange responses to questions
When conversation becomes difficult, sometimes people will pretend to hear things when they haven't actually understood what was said. They become tired of asking people to repeat themselves or they interpret what was said in a completely different way. This is a common phenomenon of hearing loss and can lead to frustration and miscommunication.  

4. Isolation
We are social creatures, and isolation is one of the biggest problems associated with hearing loss. If you notice someone avoiding social get togethers, dinners or meetings in noisier places, they may be experiencing hearing loss. Time with other people boosts the chemicals in our brain that make us feel better, but when we have difficulty understanding others, hearing loss can make us want to withdraw and spend time alone. 

If someone in your life seems to be experiencing these symptoms, consider bringing them into our office to have their hearing tested. If they seem hesitant, you can call our office for tips on how to talk with them about your concerns. Scheduling an exam for yourself along with theirs might be a way to eliminate some of the fear and show them that taking charge of your hearing is an important part of taking care of your overall health.