Why Choose a Local Hearing Care Provider?

The hearing healthcare marketplace has two barriers that prevent people from acquiring healthier hearing:

  1. The inability to recognize hearing loss in the first place (because of its gradual onset), and
  2. The temptation to find a quick, easy, and inexpensive remedy.

Regrettably, numerous people who have overcome the first barrier have been lured into the apparently “cheaper and easier” methods of addressing their hearing loss, whether it be through the purchase of hearing aids on the web, the purchase of personal sound amplifiers, or by visiting the big box stores that are much more concerned with profits than with patient care.

In spite of the appeal of these simple fixes, the truth is that local hearing care providers are your best option for better hearing, and here are the reasons why.

Local hearing care providers use a customer-centric business model

National chain stores are successful for one primary reason: they sell a high volume of discounted goods and services at low prices in the name of larger profit. National chains are all about efficiency, which is a nice way of saying “get as many people in and out the door as quickly as possible.”

Granted, this profit-centric model works great with most purchases, because you most likely don’t need professional, individualized care to help choose your undershirts and bath soap. Consumer support simply doesn’t factor in.

However, problems emerge when this business model is extended to services that do demand expert, personalized care—such as the correction of hearing loss. National chains are not focused on patient outcomes because they can’t be; it’s too time consuming and flies in the face of the high volume “see as many patients as possible” business model.

Local hearing care providers are completely different. They’re not preoccupied with short-term profits because they don’t have a board of directors to answer to. The level of success of a local practice is reliant on patient outcomes and quality of care, which leads to satisfied patients who continue to be loyal to the practice and disperse the positive word-of-mouth advertising that creates more referrals.

Local practices, therefore, flourish on delivering quality care, which rewards both the patient and the practice. In contrast, what will happen if a national chain can’t deliver quality care and satisfied patients? Simple, they use national advertising to get a endless flow of new patients, vowing the same “quick and cheap fix” that enticed in the original customers.

Local hearing care providers have more experience

Hearing is complex, and like our fingerprints, is unique to everybody, so the frequencies I may have trouble hearing are different from the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. In other words, you can’t just take ambient sound, make it all louder, and push it into your ears and count on good results. But this is in essence what personal sound amplifiers, along with the cheaper hearing aid models, accomplish.

The reality is, the sounds your hearing aids amplify—AND the sounds they don’t—HAVE to match the way you, and only you, hear. That’s only going to come about by:

  • Having your hearing professionally examined so you know the EXACT characteristics of your hearing loss, and…
  • Having your hearing aids professionally programmed to enhance the sounds you have difficulty hearing while distinguishing and repressing the sounds you don’t want to hear (such as low-frequency background noise).

For the hearing care provider, this is no easy task. It takes a great deal of training and patient care experience to be able to carry out a hearing test, help patients pick the right hearing aid, skillfully program the hearing aids, and give the patient coaching and aftercare necessary for optimal hearing. There are no shortcuts to providing comprehensive hearing care—but the results are well worth the time and energy.

Make your choice

So, who do you want to trust with your hearing? To someone who views you as a transaction, as a consumer, and as a means to attaining sales goals? Or to an experienced local professional that cares about the same thing you do—helping you obtain the best hearing possible, which, by the way, is the lifeblood of the local practice.

As a basic rule, we advise that you avoid buying your hearing aids anywhere you see a sign that reads “10 items or less.” As local, experienced hearing professionals, we provide thorough hearing healthcare and the best hearing technology to suit your specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Still have questions? Give us a call today.

The Right Way to Clean Your Ears


Anatomy of the ear
Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014″.

That there is a right way to clean your ears suggests that there is a wrong way, and without a doubt, there is a very wrong way. The wrong way is widespread, and it violates the very first rule of cleaning your ears: don’t insert foreign objects into your ear canal. That includes cotton swabs and any other object that will most likely only drive the earwax up against the eardrum, potentially causing irritation, temporary hearing loss, or eardrum damage.

So what should you be doing to clean your ears under normal circumstances? In a word: nothing (I hope you weren’t looking for something more profound). Your ears are built to be self-cleansing, and the normal motions of your jaw force earwax from the canal to the outer ear. If you try to remove it, your ear just generates more wax.

And earwax is necessary, as it contains protective, lubricating, and antibacterial qualities. In fact, over-cleaning the ears will cause dry, itchy, irritated skin within the ear canal. So, for the majority of people the majority of of the time, nothing is required other than normal showering to wash the outer ear.

But notice that we said MOST of the time, because there are circumstances in which people do generate an excessive amount of earwax or excess earwax impacts the eardrum. In instances like these, you will need to clean your ears. Here’s how:

Cleaning your ears at home

We will say it again: don’t insert any foreign objects into your ear canal. You can irritate the delicate skin of the canal and can end up perforating your eardrum. This means no cotton swabs and certainly no ear candles. (Speaking of ear candles, in 2010, the FDA released a warning against using them, reporting that no scientific evidence supports their effectiveness and that their use can trigger severe injuries.)

To correctly clean your ears at home, take the following methods:

  1. Buy earwax softening solution at the drugstore or make some at home. Instructions for preparing the mixture can be found on the web, and the mixture often includes the use of hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, and glycerin.
  2. Pour the solution into your ears from the container or by using a plastic or bulb syringe. Tilt your head to the side and allow the solution to work for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Drain the solution out of your ear by tilting your head gradually over a container or the sink, or you can use a cotton ball pressed against the outside of the ear. (I know it’s tempting, but again, don’t force the cotton ball into your ear.)
  4. Flush out your ears with lukewarm water using a bulb syringe to displace any loosened earwax.

When not to clean your ears at home

Cleaning your ears at home could be unsafe in the presence of an ear infection or a perforated eardrum. If you encounter any symptoms such as fever, dizziness, ear pain, or ear discharge, it’s best to seek the advice of your doctor or hearing specialist. Additionally, repeated attempts at self cleaning that are unsuccessful may suggest a more serious blockage that requires professional cleaning.

Medical doctors and hearing specialists utilize a variety of medicines and instruments to quickly, thoroughly, and safely remove excess earwax. The solutions tend to be stronger than the homemade versions, and devices called curettes can be inserted into the ear to manually remove the wax.

When in doubt, leave it to the professionals. You’ll get the peace of mind that you’re not causing damage to your ears, and symptoms can subside within minutes of a professional cleaning. In addition, underlying issues or hearing loss can be identified and corrected by a professional.

If you have any further questions or wish to set up an appointment, give us a call today! And remember, if you’re a hearing aid user, you’ll want to get a repeated professional checkup every 6 months.

The Surprising Statistics Behind Occupational Hearing Loss

It’s common to think of hearing loss as an unavoidable problem linked with aging, or, more recently, as a consequence of the younger generation’s frequent use of iPods. But the numbers show that the bigger problem may be direct exposure to loud noise at work.

In the United States, 22 million workers are exposed to potentially unsafe noise, and a projected 242 million dollars is devoted yearly on worker’s compensation claims for hearing loss, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

What’s more is that higher rates of hearing loss are found in increasingly noisier professions, suggesting that exposure to sounds over a certain level progressively heightens your risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss later in your life.

How loud is too loud?

A study conducted by Audicus revealed that, of those who were not exposed to occupational noise levels above 90 decibels, only 9 percent suffered from noise-induced hearing loss at age 50. In contrast, construction workers, who are routinely exposed to sound levels as high as 120 decibels, experienced noise-induced hearing loss at the age of 50 at a rate of 60 percent!

It seems that 85-90 decibels is the threshold for safe sound levels, but that’s not the entire story: the decibel scale is logarithmic, not linear. That signifies that as you increase the decibel level by 3 decibels, the sound level nearly doubles. So 160 decibels is not twice as loud as 80—it’s about 26 times louder!

Here’s how it breaks down: a decibel level of 0 is barely perceptible, regular conversation is about 60 decibels, the limit for safety is 85-90 decibels, and the death of hearing cells arises at 180 decibels. It’s the region between 85 and 180 that leads to noise-induced hearing loss, and as would be expected, the jobs with progressively louder decibel levels have increasingly higher rates of hearing loss.

Hearing loss by occupation

As the following table shows, as the decibel levels connected with each profession increase, hearing loss rates increase as well:

Occupation Decibel level Incidence rates of hearing loss at age 50
No noise exposure Less than 90 decibels 9%
Manufacturing 105 decibels 30%
Farming 105 decibels 36%
Construction 120 decibels 60%

Any profession with decibel levels above 90 places its workers at risk for hearing loss, and this includes rock musicians (110 dB), nightclub staff (110 dB), Formula One drivers (135 dB), airport ground staff (140 dB), and shooting range marshalls (140 dB). In each instance, as the decibel level rises, the risk of noise-induced hearing loss grows.

Protecting your hearing

A recent US study on the frequency of hearing loss in farming found that 92 percent of the US farmers surveyed were subjected to hazardous noise levels, but that only 44 percent claimed to use hearing protection accessories on a daily basis. Factory workers, in contrast, tend to stick to to stricter hearing protection regulations, which may explain why the frequency of hearing loss is moderately lower in manufacturing than it is in farming, despite subjection to near equivalent decibel volumes.

All of the data point to one thing: the significance of protecting your hearing. If you work in a high-risk occupation, you need to take the right precautionary steps. If staying away from the noise is not an option, you need to find ways to decrease the noise levels (best achieved with custom earplugs), in addition to ensuring that you take routine rest breaks for your ears. Controlling both the sound volume and exposure time will minimize your chances of developing noise-induced hearing loss.

If you would like to talk about a hearing protection plan for your particular situation or job, give us a call. As hearing specialists, we can provide individualized solutions to best safeguard your hearing at work. We also offer custom earplugs that, in addition to defending your hearing, are comfortable to wear and can maintain the natural quality of sound (in contrast to the muffled sound you hear with foam earplugs).

Finding Financial Assistance for Your Hearing Aids

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When Should I Get My Hearing Tested?

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Understanding Your Treatment Options for Tinnitus

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Getting the Most Out of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

Zinc-air-battery-types by Marc Andressen is licensed under Attribution CC 2.0 You could make a strong case that the most vital component of your hearing aid is the battery: without it, nothing else works, and if it fails, your hearing fails with it. In this quick guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about […]

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