There’s an App for That!


Using Your Smartphone to Measure Noise Levels

People of all ages and all walks of life are sometimes at risk for exposure to harmful noises that damage the sensitive structure of the inner ear and can cause temporary or permanent noise-induced hearing loss(NIHL).

Excessive noise from activities like live concerts, working with shop tools, operating lawn mowers, and even things you might not expect like attending parades and watching fireworks can damage these delicate hair cells. Noise exposure can result in annoying tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing loss

But, how do you know when loud is too loud?

With the help of modern technology we can now easily measure the intensity or decibel level of sounds around us. Below are some Smartphone decibel meter apps – they warn users when entering into situations that reach noise levels high enough to contribute to potential hearing loss. 

Decibel X

iOS and Android

iTunes rating: 4.5 stars

Google Play rating: 3.8 stars


This highly-rated, free app turns your smartphone into a pre-calibrated, accurate and easily portable sound level meter. It has a standard measurement range from 30 to 130 dB. It boasts many features for measuring the intensity of sound around you built into a nicely-designed, intuitive user interface. 


Sound Meter


Google Play rating: 4.7 stars


The Sound Meter app can calibrate itself for your specific device. The interface features a gauge for displaying sound intensity levels as well as green, yellow and red indicators for safety. A potential limitation is that because maximum decibel levels are limited by some devices, you may not be able to measure sounds over 90 dB. This app is a good auxiliary option for most uses, but is not recommended if you need to measure very high noise levels. 

Too Noisy Pro

iOS and Android

iTunes rating: 4 stars

Google Play rating: 3.6 stars


This easy-to-use app is built specifically for measuring noise levels in environments where there are groups of children. Teachers can use the Too Noisy app to keep watch on the sound levels in the classrooms and control the noise level. The interface is simple and designed so children will respond to it. Teachers and other childcare workers can adjust the sensitivity of the app, too. 

NIOSH Sound Level Meter


iTunes rating: 4.5 stars


Developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), this app is exclusive to iPhone and is a useful tool for anyone working in noisy environments. It can raise employees' awareness about the noise levels in their workplace, help them make informed decisions about their hearing health and determine when hearing protection is necessary.


The mobile nature of the smartphone makes it easy to take control of your health and hearing wherever you are and avoid activities or locations that may be detrimental to healthy hearing. 

If you think you may already have been exposed to too much noise and are experiencing tinnitus or hearing loss, schedule an appointment with one of our Doctors of Audiology for a hearing assessment.  We want to ensure you maintain optimum hearing for a lifetime.

Brande Plotnick, MS, MBA, Healthy Hearing
Sandra Miller, Au.D, Complete Hearing


Medications & Hearing Loss – Is there a link?


Ototoxicity is the term health professionals use for medications and supplements that cause hearing loss. Although physician-prescribed medications may be effective at treating specific illnesses, some of them damage the delicate hair cells in the inner ear responsible for hearing and balance in the process.

Hearing loss from ototoxicity can be temporary or permanent. The risk for ototoxicity increases as the drug accumulates in your body. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are currently more than 200 chemicals and medications that cause hearing loss and balance disorders.


While these medications effectively fight infections, a specific classification of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides are considered to have hearing loss as a side effect. These are mostly prescribed to treat serious infections such as meningitis when other antibiotics haven’t worked. Research scientists from the Oregon Hearing Research Center at Oregon Health and Science University believe that’s because these drugs are transported into the inner ear by a nutrient pathway that usually blocks potentially harmful elements in the blood from damaging its delicate hair cells. 

Chemotherapy drugs

Cisplatin, a platinum-based chemotherapy, is often used to treat bladder, ovarian, and testicular cancers that have spread, as well as some other forms of cancer. Hearing loss side effects for this medication range from tinnitus and vertigo to temporary and permanent hearing loss. Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, who discovered a strong correlation between platinum-based chemotherapy and hearing loss, are currently developing ways to deliver chemotherapy to tumors without damaging hearing health.

Pain relievers

Although aspirin, acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are effective at reducing the inflammation that causes aches and pains, a study published in the March 2010 issue of The American Journal of Medicine suggests that regular use of these medications can cause hearing loss. The study, conducted by scientists at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary found an increased risk of hearing loss in men younger than 60 who regularly used NSAIDs. If you’re taking daily aspirin recommended by your physician, ask about the hearing loss side effects of the medication.


Physicians prescribe diuretics to treat a variety of health conditions, including edema, glaucoma and high blood pressure. Sometimes these drugs cause temporary hearing loss and tinnitus, although the reasons why are not well-understood.

Be Proactive

Just because you need to take one of these medications doesn't always mean you will lose your sense of hearing. Everyone reacts to medications differently, and side effects can range from temporary ringing in the ear or hearing loss, to permanent hearing damage. It's best to be prepared with questions for your physician about hearing concerns. If they are prescribing these medications, it's because you have a health condition that requires it and your hearing health is a secondary concern.

Schedule a baseline hearing test with one of our Doctors of Audiology before taking ototoxic medications.  We will work with your physician to ensure the toxicity, if any, is identified and limited.

Contributions by Brande Plotnick, MS, MBA, Healthy Hearing & Dr. Sandra Miller, AuD

Sounds of Spring


When we think about spring time, a multitude of sounds come to mind. The soft chirping of birds are a sign that the long winter has come to an end. Spring showers cause tapping noises against windows and roofs. We are eager to mow our lawns and start home improvement projects using power tools. The soft springtime sounds can be missed by those with hearing loss, and there are sounds we also need to be aware of that may impact our hearing ability.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 1 in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech.  Although age-related hearing loss is the most common, exposure to excessive noise can damage hearing as well. It is important to recognize the noises around you and take necessary precautions to protect your ears.

How loud is too loud?

To avoid dangerous levels of sound, you first need to know what these levels are. Decibels (dB) is a measurement of sound intensity. The scale goes from 0 dB, softer than a whisper, to more than 180 dB, the noise of a rocket launch. It is recommended that you wear hearing protection at a noise level of 85 decibels.  The louder the sound, the shorter time you can be exposed to it before noise induced hearing loss may occur. 

Below are some decibel levels to keep in mind.

  • Whisper - 30 dB
  • Rain – 50 dB
  • Normal conversation, computer typing, sewing machine - 60 dB
  • Expressway traffic – 70 dB
  • Lawnmower, shop tools, truck traffic - 85 to 90 dB
  • Chainsaw, pneumatic drill, power saw – 100-110 dB
  • Sandblasting, loud rock concert, auto horn - 115 dB
  • Race car – 130 dB
  • Fireworks, jet engine takeoff – 150 dB
  • Shotgun – 170 dB

Tips for protecting your ears this season

Custom earplugs will provide the best protection as they are  made specifically for you.  The attenuation or reduction of harmful sound is achieved by sealing the ear but still providing sound you may require for communication.  Their benefits also include comfort and improved sound quality with less volume when using an iPod or your smartphone, as well as keeping water out of your ears when swimming.  You can purchase over-the-counter, disposable foam or silicone ear plugs at your local pharmacy, but be certain to find the right style and size to fit your ear.  

Hearing protection is applicable to all ages and needed for many occupations as well as activities people are involved in.  Visit one of the Hearing Doctors at Complete Hearing for your baseline hearing assessment, a determination of your hearing needs, and discuss your options for custom hearing protection.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Better Hearing Institute, Hearing Review, June 30, 2015

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 Doctors 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. With no batteries to change and no disruptions 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 focus 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