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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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Why choose Audiology?

May is “Better Speech & Hearing Month”. Throughout the month of May, audiologists put in extra effort to highlight the importance of hearing health within our communities. Every year, thousands of professionals involved with the treatment of speech, language and hearing disorders come together to participate in a public awareness campaign that encourages early detection and prevention of communication disorders, and seeks to increase the public’s sensitivity to the challenges faced by individuals experiencing them.

Have questions about your hearing or speech? We’re happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about your hearing. Contact us today to arrange a consultation or your annual hearing test with our Doctor of Audiology! (519) 961-9285.

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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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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

 

 

 

 

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October is Audiology Awareness Month! What is an Audiologist?

October is right at the doorstep: the trees are starting to change, the weather has taken a turn and of course: We’re about to kick off Audiology Awareness Month!

What is an Audiologist?

Well according to Google, we are health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders in newborn, children, and adults. Audiology is a well-respected and highly recognized profession. However, we think we do much, much more!

We act as marriage counselors, miracle workers, a shoulder to cry on, community members, hearing aid mechanics, friends and trusted allies.

Why should you choose an Audiologist?

An Audiologist has extensive education, training and experience in your auditory system. We are not just here to sell and service hearing aids, our scope of practice is much larger. Audiologists are taught the foundations of how sound works, the underpinnings of hearing aid fitting algorithms, and the best ways to identify not only hearing loss, but also any underlying conditions that may need medical attention. Audiologists in Ontario are governed by CASLPO – College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario which sets the the gold standards of practice.

If you have questions about whether or not you should see an Audiologist, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time! We can be reached at (519) 961-9285, Monday through Friday.

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What do William Shatner, Beethoven, Will.I.am & Ronald Reagan have in common?

William Shatner, Beethoven, Will.I.am & Ronald Reagan seem likely to have nothing in common. An actor, a classical composer, a rapper and a former American President – they seemingly couldn’t be more different. But according to an article by stoptheringing.org they all (and many others) suffer from Tinnitus.

Tinnitus is commonly referred to as a ringing or buzzing in the ears, and it is the perception of sound when there is no external sound present.

The British Tinnitus Association recently released a Top Ten List about Tinnitus for Physicians.

 

Ten Top Tinnitus Tips 

1 At any point in time around 10% of the population experience tinnitus – both sexes are equally affected and although tinnitus is more common in the elderly it can occur at any age, including childhood. The perceived sound can have virtually any quality – ringing, whistling and buzzing are common – but more complex sounds can also be described.

2 Most tinnitus is mild in fact it is relatively rare for it to develop into a chronic problem of life-altering severity, but it does happen. The natural history of tinnitus in most patients is of an acute phase of distress when the problem begins, followed by improvement over time. But for a minority of patients the distress is ongoing and very significant, and they will require specialist support.

3 Tinnitus is more common in people with hearing loss tinnitus prevalence is greater among people with hearing impairment but the severity of the tinnitus correlates poorly with the degree of hearing loss. It is also quite possible to have tinnitus with a completely normal pure tone audiogram.

4 Tinnitus can be associated with a blocked sensation for reasons that are not clear tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss can give rise to a blocked feeling in the ears despite normal middle ear pressure and eardrum mobility. Otoscopy and, if available, tympanometry can exclude Eustachian tube dysfunction. Decongestants and antibiotics are rarely helpful.

5 Giving a negative prognosis is actively harmful it is all too common to hear that patients have been told nothing can be done about tinnitus. Such negative statements are not only unhelpful but also tend to focus the patient’s attention on their tinnitus and exacerbate the distress. A positive attitude is generally helpful and there are many constructive statements that can be made about tinnitus, such as: most tinnitus lessens or disappears with time; most tinnitus is mild; tinnitus is not a precursor of hearing loss.

6 Enriching the sound environment is helpful useful sources of sound to reduce the starkness of tinnitus include quiet uneventful music, a fan or a water feature. There are inexpensive devices that produce environmental sounds, and these are particularly useful at bedtime.

7 Hearing aids are helpful straining to listen causes increased central auditory gain and this increased sensitivity can allow tinnitus to emerge or, if already present, to worsen. Correcting any associated hearing loss reduces this central auditory gain and thereby reduces the level of the tinnitus. Hearing aids are useful even if the hearing loss is relatively mild and an aid would not normally be considered. Recent Department of Health guidelines have emphasised the value of audiometry in a tinnitus consultation, and this is the definitive basis for decisions about hearing aid candidacy. If in doubt, refer for an audiological opinion. In our view, all people who describe tinnitus deserve an audiological assessment. Decisions on when to start using a hearing aid and what sort to use are up to the individual patient and audiologist.

8 Underlying pathology is rare, but be vigilant in many cases tinnitus is due to heightened awareness of spontaneous electrical activity in the auditory system that is normally not perceived. It can however be a symptom of treatable and significant otological pathology, such as a vestibular schwannoma or otosclerosis. One should be especially vigilant if the tinnitus is unilateral, or if it has a pulsatile quality.

9 There is no direct role for drugs although they can be used to treat associated symptoms such as vertigo, insomnia, anxiety or depression. There is also no conventional or complementary medication that has been shown to have specific tinnitus ameliorating qualities and there is anecdotal suggestion that repeatedly trying unsuccessful therapies worsens tinnitus.

10 Self-help is often effective – Audiologists provide excellent information on tinnitus and common sense advice on managing symptoms. Written by: Dr David Baguley PhD, Head of Audiology

Of course, as Doctors of Audiology, our Audiologists have extensive education and experience with tinnitus. If you or a loved one experience tinnitus, please feel free to call our office for more information about how we can help.

Can tinnitus be alleviated by Hearing Aids?