When Should I Get My Hearing Tested?

More often than not, people are unaware that they have hearing loss. It occurs so slowly that it’s frequently undetectable, and moreover, most family physicians do not routinely test for hearing loss at the yearly physical examination.

Bearing in mind these two realities, it’s no wonder that most people first realize they have hearing loss by being informed about it from friends or relatives. But by the time people confront you about your hearing loss, it’s likely already relatively advanced. Given that hearing loss worsens over time—and cannot be completely restored once lost—it’s critical to treat hearing loss as quickly as possible rather of waiting for it to get bad enough for people to notice.

So when and how often should you get your hearing tested? Here are our suggestions:

Establish a Baseline Early

It’s never too soon to consider your first hearing test. The earlier you test your hearing, the sooner you can create a baseline to compare later tests. The only way to determine if your hearing is getting worse is by comparing the results with previous testing.

Although it’s true that as you become older you’re more likely to have hearing loss, keep in mind that 26 million people between the age of 20 and 69 have hearing loss. Hearing loss is widespread among all age groups, and exposure to loud noise puts everyone at risk irrespective of age.

Annual Tests After Age 55

At the age of 65, one out of every three people will have some amount of hearing loss. As hearing loss is so prevalent near this age, we advise annual hearing tests to ensure that your hearing is not deteriorating. Remember, hearing loss is permanent, cumulative, and essentially undetectable. However, with annual hearing exams, hearing loss can be diagnosed early, and intervention is always more effective when implemented earlier.

Review Personal Risk Factors

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.”

If you have been exposed to noisy work environments or activities such as music concerts or sporting events, it’s a good idea to have your hearing tested. It’s also a good idea to get a yearly hearing test if you continue to expose your hearing to these environments.

Watch for Signs of Hearing Loss

As we noted previously, the signs and symptoms of hearing loss are often first discovered by others. You should set up a hearing test if someone has suggested it to you or if you encounter any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Muffled hearing
  • Difficulty understanding what people are saying, especially in loud settings or in groups
  • People commenting on how loud you have the TV or radio
  • Avoiding social situations and conversations
  • Ringing, roaring, hissing, or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Ear pain, irritation, or discharge
  • Vertigo, dizziness, or balance problems

Don’t Wait Until the Harm is Done

The bottom line is that hearing loss is prevalent among all age groups and that we all live in the presence of several occupational and everyday risk factors. Seeing that hearing loss is hard to detect, gets worse over time, and is best treated early, we highly recommend that you get your hearing tested regularly. You might end up saving your hearing with early intervention, and the worst that can happen is that you find out you have normal hearing.

Understanding Your Treatment Options for Tinnitus

Approximately 45 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, which is the perception of sound where no outside sound source exists. This phantom sound is generally perceived as a ringing sound, but can also manifest as a buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, or clicking.

First it is important to recognize about tinnitus is that it’s a symptom, not a disease. As a result, tinnitus may indicate an underlying health condition that, when cured, cures the tinnitus. Earwax buildup or other obstructions, blood vessel conditions, specific medications, and other underlying disorders can all trigger tinnitus, so the starting point is ruling out any conditions that would demand medical or surgical treatment.

In most instances of tinnitus, however, no specific cause is revealed. In these instances, tinnitus is assumed to be caused by destruction of the nerve cells of hearing in the inner ear. Noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, and one-time exposure to very loud sounds can all cause tinnitus.

Whenever tinnitus is induced by nerve cell damage, or is linked with hearing loss, tinnitus oftentimes cannot be cured—but that doesn’t mean people have to suffer without help. While there is no conclusive cure for the majority of instances of chronic tinnitus, several tinnitus therapy options are available that help patients live better, more comfortable, and more productive lives, even if the perception of tinnitus continues.

Below are some of the treatment options for tinnitus:

Hearing Aids

The majority of cases of tinnitus are associated with some kind of hearing loss. In patients with hearing loss, a reduced amount of sound stimulation reaches the brain, and in response, experts believe that the brain changes physically and chemically to accommodate the insufficiency of stimulation. It is this maladaptive response to sound deprivation that results in tinnitus.

Tinnitus is worsened with hearing loss because when surrounding sound is muffled, the sounds associated with tinnitus become more notable. But when hearing aids are worn, the amplified sound signals cause the sounds of tinnitus to blend into the richer background sounds. Hearing aids for tinnitus patients can then offer multiple benefits, among them improved hearing, enhanced auditory stimulation, and a “masking effect” for tinnitus.

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy is a broad phrase used to describe a number of methods to using external sound to “mask” the tinnitus. Over time, the brain can learn to recognize the sounds of tinnitus as unimportant in comparison to the contending sound, thereby minimizing the intensity level of tinnitus.

Sound therapy can be delivered through masking devices but can also be provided through selected hearing aid models that can stream sound wirelessly using Bluetooth technology. Some hearing aid models even connect with compatible Apple products, including iPhones, so that any masking sounds downloaded on the Apple devices can be sent wirelessly to the hearing aids.

The kinds of masking sounds used may differ, including white noise, pink noise, nature sounds, and music. Sounds can also be specifically designed to correspond to the sound frequency of the patient’s tinnitus, delivering individualized masking relief. Given that each patient will respond differently to different masking sounds, it’s vital that you work with a knowledgeable hearing professional.

Behavioral Therapies

Numerous behavioral therapies exist to help the patient deal with the psychological and emotional components of tinnitus. One example is mindfulness-based stress reduction, in which the patient learns to accept the affliction while developing beneficial coping techniques.

You may have also heard the term Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), which integrates cognitive-behavioral therapy with sound masking therapy. With Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, people learn to formulate healthy cognitive and emotional reactions to tinnitus while utilizing sound therapy to teach their brains to reclassify tinnitus as insignificant, so that it can be consciously ignored.

General Wellness

In addition to the more targeted sound and behavioral therapies, sufferers can participate in general wellness activities that frequently lessen the severity of tinnitus. These activities consist of healthy diets, frequent exercise, social activity, leisure activities, and any other activities that contribute to improved health and reduced stress.

Drug Therapies

There are currently no FDA-approved medications that have been found to cure or relieve tinnitus directly, but there are drugs that can treat stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which can render tinnitus worse or are caused by tinnitus itself. In fact, some antidepressant and antianxiety medicines have been shown to furnish some alleviation to patients with severe tinnitus.

Experimental Therapies

A flurry of encouraging research is being carried out in labs and universities in many countries, as researchers continue to seek out the underlying neurological cause of tinnitus and its ultimate cure. Even though many of these experimental therapies have shown some promise, keep in mind that they are not yet readily available, and that there’s no assurance that they ever will be. People suffering from tinnitus are encouraged to seek out existing treatments rather than waiting for any experimental treatment to hit the market.

Here are a couple of the experimental therapies presently being tested:

  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) delivers electromagnetic pulses into the affected brain tissue to reduce the hyperactivity that is believed to cause tinnitus.
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is another means of delivering electromagnetic pulses into the hyperactive brain tissue that is thought to cause tinnitus.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is similar to the above therapies in its use of electromagnetic energy, the difference being that DBS is an invasive procedure requiring surgery and the placement of electrodes in the brain tissue.

Other medical, surgical, and pharmacological therapies exist, but the results have been mixed and the dangers of invasive procedures oftentimes outweigh the benefits.

The Optimal Treatment For Your Tinnitus

The optimum tinnitus treatment for you is based on several factors, and is best determined by a certified hearing specialist. As your local hearing care experts, we’ll do everything we can to help you find relief from your tinnitus. Book your appointment today and we’ll find the personalized solution that works best for you.

Getting the Most Out of Your Hearing Aid Batteries


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 hearing aid batteries so that you can get the most out of your hearing aids.

How Hearing Aid Batteries Work

Hearing aids take a special kind of battery called zinc-air batteries. Each one has a sticker that covers small holes on the top of the battery. Once the sticker is removed, air enters the battery through the holes, creating a chemical reaction that activates the zinc and makes the battery active. Once the battery is active, it starts discharging power and reapplying the sticker will have no impact in preserving its lifespan.

Hearing Aid Battery Types

Zinc-air hearing aid batteries come in four standardized sizes, labeled with standardized number and color codes. The four sizes, from biggest to smallest, are:

  • 675-blue
  • 13-orange
  • 312-brown
  • 10-yellow

Each hearing aid uses only one of the sizes, and your hearing specialist will inform you which size you need. Keep in mind that the numbers and colors above are manufacturer independent, but that manufacturers often add additional letters or numbers to its packaging.

Hearing Aid Battery Life

Hearing aid battery life is dependent on several factors. Many patients get up to one week of life out of a battery if they use the hearing aid for 12 or more hours a day, but this will change depending on:

  • The size of the battery – larger batteries have a longer life.
  • The amount of hearing loss – More serious hearing loss calls for additional power.
  • Hearing aid features – wireless functionality, noise reduction programs, and multi-channel processing, for example, demand more power to work.
  • Temperature – hot and cold temperatures can lower battery life.

Your hearing specialist can go over all of this with you, and can help you uncover the proper balance between hearing aid functionality and battery life.

How to Prolong the Life of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

You can effortlessly lengthen the life of your hearing aid batteries with one basic trick. Just after you remove the sticker to activate the battery, wait 5-7 minutes before inserting the battery into your hearing aids. By removing the sticker and laying the battery flat side up for several minutes, air is able to fully activate the battery before you start using it, which extends its life.

A few other tips:

  • Keep the batteries away from coinage, keys, or other metal items that could short the battery.
  • When the hearing aid isn’t being used, turn it off and store it with the battery door open. If you don’t anticipate using your hearing aids for an extended period of time, remove the batteries completely.
  • Unopened batteries can last for many years; nonetheless, fresher batteries are preferred because each year that goes by decreases the life of the battery.
  • Store your batteries at room temperature. This advice is so important that the next section is devoted to the subject.

How to Store Your Hearing Aid Batteries

There’s a dangerous myth out there advocating that storing your batteries in the refrigerator extends their life. This is not only incorrect; it produces the opposite effect!

The thinking behind storing your batteries in the refrigerator is that the cold temperature will slow the discharge of power. While this may be technically true, the amount of power you will save will be minimal, and the adverse effects of moisture will produce far greater negative consequences.

Storing zinc-air batteries in a cold environment permits micro condensation to form in an on the battery, resulting in corrosion and a high risk of premature failure. Consequently, for optimal performance, simply keep your batteries away from extreme hot or cold temperatures and store at room temperature.

Maintaining Your Hearing Aid Battery Supply

Once you figure out how long your batteries last, on average, you’ll want to keep a month’s supply. If your batteries last 1 week, and you make use of 2 batteries (1 for each hearing aid), then you’ll end up using about 8 per month. Simply set 8 as your reorder point, and once you deplete your stock down to 8, order another pack. Alternatively, you may want to examine the price savings connected with bulk purchases and maintain a supply that lasts longer than one month. If you’re not certain, we are more than happy to help you put together a plan and will handle all of your hearing aid battery needs. Just give us a call!


Have any additional questions? Talk to one of our hearing specialists today!

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