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Can I be frank about something?

I’ve recently had the worst summer cold ever, which started as a sore throat (for which my doctor gave me antibiotics), which worsened and then proceeded to make me bed ridden the entire long weekend +1. In this midst of all the this fun and excitement (ugh I felt like a bag of sand) both of my eardrums perforated. Ruptured. Tore.

I’ve now been without a significant portion of my hearing for 3 days. This is what’s called a conductive hearing loss.

con·duc·tive
kənˈdəktiv/
adjective
adjective: conductive
  1. having the property of conducting something (especially heat or electricity or sound).
    “to induce currents in conductive coils”
    • of or relating to conduction.

My hearing will gradually find its way back to me with the help of my Doctor’s magic drops and time, as my eardrums heal I should get my hearing back. It can take 8+ weeks to heal on its own. If it doesn’t, I need a referral to see an Otolaryngologist if my ear drums don’t heal on their own and I still have a significant hearing loss.

Here are the things that I have noticed since I’ve been for all tense and purposes placed in a sound proof bubble:

  1. Everything makes noise. My pen on the desk, my dogs’ nails on the floor. The neighbor’s car door, my car, my phone. I never really noticed how noisy the world was before – now that its gone the silence is deafening. Poof. Gone. The most bizarre sensation in the world is standing in the shower (with my ears protected from water) and not hearing the water fall. Bizarre. Like, I laughed out loud about it. I can’t hear the keys right now as I type, but I know they are making noise. So if a tree falls in a forest, it does make a sound.
  2. People suck at communication skills. I like to think that because of where I work, I may be an exception… But in general, when you tell people that you can’t hear them, they continue talking at the same volume and pitch they were speaking before, they make no greater effort for you to hear them out. i.e. my Doctor yesterday kept turning away from me when she was talking. And I would have to ask her repeat herself. Over. And Over. And Over. Look at me, because the pieces of the puzzle that I can’t hear can be filled in by my looking at your beautiful face!
  3. There’s a lot of noise in my head. Every inhale, every exhale. Every bite I chew. Every hair I comb, every time I move my head or jaw. Clearing my throat is loud. My stomach growling woke me out of a cold and sinus drug addled sleep. This is all a symptom of conductive hearing loss, and it is obnoxious that I can’t hear much that goes on on the outside of my own head. Everything on the inside… LOUD. Part of it of course is because I don’t hear anything else, its not drowning out the sound of my swallowing.
  4. I’m exhausted. Now that the general malaise is gone from my illness and it took some hearing with it, everything I do is a struggle and I’m exhausted trying to read people, struggle on the phone with all the fantastic people who call me (that’s you!) and it makes me tired. My brain is working too hard to compensate.
  5. Tinnitus is real. My particular tinnitus is pulsatile tinnitus, I can hear my heartbeat. Its not a sound that anyone else can hear, every heartbeat I hear loud and clear in my head. Every last one. Over. And Over. And Over. I wake up and its there. I try to sleep and its there. I can’t mask this with another sound, because I can’t hear that either. This will go away when my hearing comes back and I hear other things than what is happening in my head. I hope.

So that’s that. The first thing I said to Bernice and Paige when my hearing hopped a train was ‘I can’t understand why hearing aids don’t sell themselves’. So if I might be frank, this not hearing all the sounds is no joke. My hearing loss happened suddenly and traumatically so of course, I noticed all the sounds gone at once, not gradually like everyone else. None the less, this has been a real eye opener. I can’t imagine why anyone would not want to hear the sounds of life.

I’m frantic to get a piece of those sounds back. 8+ weeks seems so far away.

~melissa

 

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Protect your ears this summer

The summer season is fast upon us, and so are all the fun summer activities! We’d like to take a minute to remind you of how important it is to remember that some of the fun things you do could have an irreversible effect of your hearing.

  1. Yard Work: A well groomed yard shouldn’t lead to hearing loss as you age. Protect your hearing from lawn mowers, weed whippers, chain saws and leaf blowers!
  2. Fireworks: The beautiful displays of fireworks can damage your hearing. Ringing in at up to 125dB, that’s enough to permanently cause a threshold shift. Remember your children’s ears as well at fireworks time.
  3. Sporting Events & Concerts: The loud cheers at your favorite ballpark (Go Tigers!) and summer concerts can last up to 3 hours. On average, the sound levels can reach 95dB+. That duration and intensity of sound may result in tinnitus the next day – that’s your ears’ way of telling you they were overexposed to sound.
  4. Boats and Motorcycles: Its not just the engine noise that can harm your hearing – wind noise can be the culprit! Consult our audiologists for custom hearing protection that will still allow you to hear the important sounds around you while riding and boating safely.

Make sure you get outside and enjoy all of the super activities that are part of summer traditions, but please – PROTECT THOSE EARS! If you are experiencing ringing, buzzing or fullness in your ears this summer, consult our Doctors of Audiology, Audiologists!

 

BPPV Testing and Management

Startling Statistics About BPPV

At The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic, we understand how debilitating BPPV or  Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo can be.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the most common form of positional vertigo and is probably the most common disorder involving vertigo. It’s an affliction of the inner ear. In the most common clinical scenario, when the patient changes the position of the head, he or she feels that the room is spinning. The person may experience significant nausea as well.┘

According to The University of California, BPPV will affect nearly 40 percent of people over 40 at least once in their lifetime.

The good news about BPPV is that in most cases, it is entirely treatable.

The bad news about BPPV is that studies show, it can take an absurdly very long time from presentation of symptoms to treatment.

 

Two recent studies explored the time period from initial presentation of symptoms of BPPV to correct diagnosis. Fife and Fitzgerald report that in the United Kingdom, the mean wait time from initial presentation to correct diagnosis was 92 weeks. A more recent study out of China found the delay to be longer than 70 months.

We have witnessed this very same phenomenon in our practice, when people have seen multiple specialties and undergone several tests over the course of months and even years. Patients have altered their lives to accommodate their BPPV, changed their habits, disturbed their activities, family lives and working responsibilities. BPPV is easily diagnosed and easily treated.

In both studies mentioned above, the subjects were treated with Canalith repositioning (CRP) once the diagnosis of BPPV was made. In the Chinese study over 80% were successfully treated with one CRP, while the Fife and Fitzgerald study reports 85% were successfully treated.

Perhaps this is the most disturbing reality of these studies. 8/10 people who had suffered for years from Vertigo were cured of their BPPV in one treatment. Just one. 

At least 85% of cases had classical symptoms of BPPV and could have been easily identified by Primary Care Physicians at first referral, had they been trained to recognize and diagnose the condition.┌

It’s amazing to me that once someone is affected by BPPV and they tell their family and friends about it, they are shocked to realize how many people they know have experienced the very same thing! Further, they are shocked at just how easy it is to treat.

We are happy to test and manage your BPPV for you and your loved ones right in the heart of Essex County. If you have questions or concerns in regards to who we are and how we can help, please never hesitate to contact us. We are here to help!

Don’t be a statistic! 

Read more

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Thank you Essex for your Support!

It’s Food Bank day at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic!

THANK YOU Essex County for your support of our non-perishable food donations to The Essex Area Food Bank.

We had set a goal of 500lbs to collect for those in our community who are in need of our help, doing hearing tests in exchange for non-perishable food items. We are happy to report that we have SMASHED that goal with at least twice what we had hoped! You brought everything from noodles to beans, rice to corn meal and cereal and baby food.

Please call if you are in need of your annual hearing screening. For a limited time, our Doctors of Audiology will provide complimentary adult hearing screenings for a canned food donation. Call today to arrange your appointment at (519) 961-9285

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The Holidays & Hearing Loss

For many people with hearing loss, the holidays can be especially challenging. While large family gatherings offer a great chance to catch up with friends and family, holiday parties can lead to challenging listening situations for people with hearing loss.

Here are some tips for people with hearing loss to better enjoy holiday gatherings from our friends at Widex.

Holidays and hearing loss: The tips

  1. Find a quiet corner – Stand away from loudspeakers and noisy kitchens and position yourself in the quietest area of the room. This way you can hear conversation rather than noise.
  2. Pick your seat – If you’re having a sit-down dinner, pick a seat at the center of the table nearest to a close friend or relative. This way you have a better chance of hearing conversation and enjoying your meal.
  3. Pick your drink – A glass of wine can make you more relaxed – or it can confuse you and make your level of understanding worse. Be aware of what you are drinking and your own level of tolerance.
  4. Buddy up – Find a friend or relative with whom you can hang out at the party. This person can help you to feel more included in conversation and can repeat things you may not understand.

Holidays and hearing aids

If you have hearing aids, it’s important that you wear them to holiday events. You may think that with so much noise at a party or family dinner, hearing aids would just make things louder, but modern digital hearing aids aren’t simple sound amplifiers. They are designed to filter out all the unwanted noise – like the clanging of dishes in the kitchen or the background music – and help you focus on speech.

Two hearing aid features in particular are put to work in crowds:

  • The Speech Enhancer – Widex hearing aids reduce noise by using a speech enhancer. This technology works to reduce background noise and helps you focus on what you need to hear.
  • Directional Microphones – Directional microphones work to reduce the amount of noise allowed to enter your hearing aids. In noisy environments, like at a holiday party, the system will work to pick up the least amount of noise.If the noise is located behind you, your directional microphones will adapt to pick up sound from in front of you and dampen noise from behind you. According to a 2004 study, directional microphones are proven to improve speech understanding in noise.

Have the “hearing loss” conversation

Holiday gatherings are a good time to have “the conversation” with friends and loved ones. We’re talking about the conversation about hearing loss and getting hearing aids. If you think your loved one is unable to hear correctly, take out your phone or tablet and encourage them to take an online hearing test. This is a great first step to help someone realize he has a hearing loss. And don’t forget, our complimentary hearing screening continues until January 15, 2016. 

Help guests with hearing loss

You might not have hearing loss – but one of your guests might. Here are some tips on helping your guests with hearing loss enjoy your party”

  • Background music – Everyone loves a good Christmas carol, but when those carols are in the background of the conversations of 20+ people, no one can hear them anyways. Consider turning down the background music – or turning it off completely when several guests are socializing at once. People tend to speak louder to be heard over the music, so your music may in fact make the party louder.
  • Dish Duty – Hold off on cleaning the dishes until after your guests have left. For people with hearing loss, the clatter of kitchen dishes can distract from dinnertime conversation. Take time to enjoy your guests rather than worrying about the clean-up!
  • Seating – If you know that one of your guests has a hearing loss, seat that person at the center of the table closest to those with the quietest voices. It may also help if you sit next to that person, so you can help him or her to better understand the conversation.

Please note that we are OPEN every day except Christmas Eve, Closed Christmas Day and on Monday December 28 for Boxing Day. Should you need our services this holiday, please do not hesitate to come on in or call us! 

We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. ~Paige, Bernice & Melissa

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Winter care for your hearing aids

Winter is on it’s way! We’ve been so lucky to enjoy the fantastic weather well into November, but I do believe we’re in for a harsh dose of winter reality – and soon!

Here are some tips on taking the best care of your hearing aids in the cold temperatures, the moisture that comes along with the season and a few other tips on protecting your investment before the snow flies!

If you are experience cold weather issues such as:

  • Your hearing aid cuts out during loud noises.
  • Your hearing aid stops working, then suddenly begins working again.
  • Sound seems to fade, or come and go.
  • Sound is accompanied by static.
  • Sounds are unclear or distorted.

Please call to arrange a hearing aid check up! We’d be glad to help you out!

 

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Shop Small: Small Business Saturday!

This weekend is Small Business Saturday (November 28, 2015). We are very proud to be a small, locally owned independent business.

Small businesses (like ours!) depend heavily on their local communities for support. As local customers ourselves, this weekend, we’re going to “pay it forward” and support small business in the way it matters most to them — through our wallet.

Studies show that for every $100 you spend locally, $48 stays local to support the community through other businesses and employment opportunities. Whereas for every $100 spent at a chain or big box store, only $13 stays local. 

Choose to support our community this year by shopping local, at the holidays and all year through! You can find local businesses by clicking here.

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Don’t forget that we are right now offering complimentary hearing screenings in exchange for a canned food donation for The Essex Area Food Bank, call today (519) 961-9285 to schedule your hearing screening and take advantage of our BOGO Hearing aid sale! Buy one, get the second for 1/2 Off!

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Testimonials – Why we don’t have any

You may have been searching through a number of hearing aid provider websites, and noticed one thing missing from our website. We don’t have any testimonials or reviewsclients’ stories of success, thanks and proclamation of our fantastic services are missing from our site.

Why don’t we use this method of advertising? 

The simple answer is that we have no testimonials or reviews because our Doctors of Audiology are regulated health professionals in the province of Ontario. Audiologists are regulated by the College of Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists of Ontario (CASLPO).   The Ministry of Health does not permit regulated health professionals to use testimonials.

So why can other hearing aid providers use testimonials to promote their products and services?

Again, the answer is rather simple. They are not or do not employ regulated health professionals. Read that again.

Why can’t Audiologists use testimonials?

Some of the reasons include:
• The ministry doesn’t allow their use. All regulated health colleges have to comply. For reasons that we don’t quite understand, this does not apply to hearing instrument specialists, nor to Audiologists who work at the big box chain stores.
• They are unreliable.
• Claims cannot be verified.
• Inadvertent coercion to write a testimonial may have taken place.
• Negative testimonials are often deleted or are not included, so it is not a balanced platform.

What does this mean for the consumer (You!)?

Understanding that only non-regulated health providers can use testimonials is also important. If they have testimonials, the services that they provide to you are not regulated by the Ministry of Health. We would hope that you choose to visit a regulated health care provider.

Understand that rule this means that even though you had a fabulous appointment with our regulated health providers Paige or Bernice, we have no forum to use your experiences except word of mouth. You can tell your friends, family, mechanic, banker, priest and grocer. (Of course, we cannot solicit you to do so, you must do so without any perceived benefit to yourself.)

Understand also that despite not being able to find any positive or negative stories of our services, good or bad on the internet (we would never delete the bad ones, as that is someone’s experience and opinion – and heck, though we aspire to be, we’re not perfect) rest assured that we do in fact have several very happy and satisfied customers who have appreciated having our experience and education help them with their hearing or vestibular health.

We are extremely grateful for each and every one of our clients and we would love to have the thank you cards and notes that you take the time and care to write to us available for others to see. Alas, we cannot post them or share them with others.

Now that you understand why we cannot have testimonials in our clinic or online, I hope that you can rest assured that you saw a regulated hearing healthcare provider! 

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The Top 5 Excuses for Avoiding the Audiologist

This blog comes the day after Thanksgiving, and that is not coincidental. I visited my elderly grandparents for the holiday and for the most part just really loved getting caught up with their life happenings.

Grandma & Grandpa Cecile know where I work and what  I do. I’ve done the same for the past 15 years, and darn-it they have been avoiding coming to visit me to see the Audiologists for equally as long.

This year was no different. Except that Meme was complaining of an incessant ringing in her ears that started two months ago. Ringing that is high pitched and distracting. So distracting that she visited her family physician twice. Twice she was told that nothing could be done, and to leave a radio on when she tries to sleep. She was telling me this while I nodded my head and waited for her to finish telling me how her ringing in her ears keeps her from painting and doing her word search puzzles.

When I softly commented that if there was a simple fix to the ringing in her ears, would she do it? Yes? Well, then perhaps she should make an appointment to see the Audiologist at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic. Then the excuses began.

I wish I had a tape recorder on me, because this list would be more than a “Top 5”.

1. I can hear a pin drop. This is for all of those who use this excuse (or it’s close relative the ‘I don’t have a problem with my hearing, I hear everything’.) While it’s true that you may in fact hear pins drop, that is but ONE frequency of sound. Without a hearing test for the last 40 years, how do you know that you are hearing everything?

2. My mother lived to be 95 and never needed a hearing aid. Needing vs. wanting a hearing aid are two very different things. (I knew Granny Sweetie at 95. She needed a hearing aid. She may not have wanted one, but she certainly needed one.) Regardless of need vs. want, this excuse is made moot by the fact that you and your mother did not have the same experiences in life that may have damaged hearing. While yes, genetics can play a factor in hearing loss, generally inherited hearing loss is present in newborns.

3. It’s just the two of us and I don’t need to hear him. Well there you have it. Argument finished. There couldn’t possibly be anything else to listen to in your life other than Grandpa. The kettle boiling, the doorbell, the garage door malfunctioning (as it did last year, which they didn’t realize until I visited), an intruder breaking in, mice in the walls in the kitchen, the muffler going on the minivan, the banker you yelled at last week for not telling you something that he obviously had etc. Yup. Nothing more to hear in life, just throw in the towel.

4. My Doctor told me there was nothing that could be done (or another personal favorite the “I have the kind of hearing loss that can’t be helped.”) This one irks me because no well rounded physician would tell a patient this. Liken it to going to the doctor and telling them that you can’t see. I’m fairly 100% sure that almost every physician in the universe would suggest seeing an Optometrist for starters, among other things. Don’t use your Doctor as your excuse. He or she wants you to be well and to have your hearing tested regularly. Trust me.

5. I just can’t be bothered with all that hassle. Oh yes. The hassle. The hassle of having a hearing test and learning to use a hearing aid. Changing it’s battery every 7-10 days. Wait, you have an appointment with the eye doctor for a vision test? An appointment at the foot clinic? What about that hassle? Life is nothing but hassles. It’s only a hassle if it has no perceived value to you. Which apparently improved communication and safety does not.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever used these 5 excuses, just know – like my Grandma – I’m on to you! Your excuses are your way of rationalizing your refusal to take a simple hearing test. It’s a defense mechanism used to justify and explain in a seemingly logical manner (to you) your avoidance of the truth: You just don’t want hearing aids. For whatever reason. They’re pricey. They’re ugly. People will know you’re old.  Despite the fact that they may be able to help you rid yourself of that annoying ringing in your ears that has changed your life…it’s just a hassle.

I may never win over my grandmother – until she’s good and ready to come in (she’s just as stubborn as I am!) but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying.

Give up the ghost. It’s just a hearing test. At least that way when you tell people that there’s nothing wrong with your hearing, you will at least know to cross your fingers!

~melissa

 

 

 

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The Hurdles to Getting Hearing Aids

A New York Times blog posted this morning struck a cord with us here at The Hearing & Dizziness Clinic. (Click here to read it.)

Jane Brody writes that

Hearing loss is usually gradual, and people often fail to recognize when it becomes severe enough to warrant hearing aids. Some deny that they have a problem, and instead accuse others of mumbling when they know people are talking but can’t understand what is being said. Still others regard hearing aids as unattractive devices that make them feel and look old in a society that prizes youthfulness.

We see this every day. Mostly those who could benefit from a hearing aid value their vanity over communication with family and friends.

What many people with hearing loss don’t realize is that the signs of the untreated hearing loss are more noticeable to others than hearing aids.

If you feel you are having trouble communicating or are isolating yourself socially because of your hearing trouble, give us a call. We would be happy to walk you over perceived hurdles. Our Doctors of Audiology are here to help. (519) 961-9285