Hearing aids are the most common form of hearing technology, but they have one major flaw. They tend to burn through batteries at an alarming rate. With close to 20 percent of the population in this country experiencing some form of hearing loss, you can bet the battery manufacturers are only ones happy right now.
The reality is, though, that good working batteries are a necessity if you want the hearing aid to work well but there are things you can do to make them last. For the savvy hearing aid customer, a little forward thinking about how long the batteries last will save you tons of cash on replacements and keep you hearing at the same time. Consider five covert ways that you can use to extend that hearing aid’s battery life.
1. Shop Well
Hearing aids are expensive and that cost factor doesn’t stop after they are paid for, either. How the hearing aid utilizes battery power is a primary consideration as you buy. There are many reasons for a serious battery drain such as:
- Type hearing aid
- Type battery
- How you use the hearing aids
- How many hours you wear the hearing aids
Figuring out what features will work well in your life is a critical and something you need to research before picking out your hearing aids. Look for the features that will enhance your quality of your life, but get educated about what you’re buying first. Those little add-ons like wireless connectivity, direct audio input and synchronization can sometimes use lots of energy, so you have to balance out what you need with how much they contribute to battery burn.
Talk to a certified hearing aid retailer about each feature and make sure to ask how it affects battery life, then get the ones that matter most. Make sure you understand how each feature changes the way the battery operates and how that will, in turn, change the cost of replacement batteries down the road.
2. Practice Good Hand Hygiene
When you do have to replace your hearing aid battery, hand washing should be your first step. Cleaning your hands well will remove any grease and dirt from your skin before you touch the battery. This debris can affect the performance of the battery and actually damage the hearing aid, too. Take the time to dry your hands thoroughly before handling either the battery or the hearing aid, because water does work well with either.
3. Practice Good Hearing Aid Hygiene Too
You’ll also want to clean the HEARING aids themselves. Dirt and ear wax build up can have a real effect on how each device works and, in turn, affecting the battery life. There are problems with poorly maintained hearing aids. First, ear wax, dust and other stuff will accumulate on these devices, keeping the speakers and ports from working well. This means you might be turning up the sound more often and draining that battery power in the process. The second concern involves changing the batteries out. If you put your fingers on a dirty hearing aid, you will transfer that debris to the battery.
Read the manufacturer’s recommendations to for keeping your hearing aids well maintained. This will likely include a good cleaning before switching out the battery and instructions to wash your hands right before making the change.
4. Follow the Storage Instructions for the Batteries
Often batteries come in a pack, so there are extra ones to store. Read the instructions on how you should properly keep them to ensure they are safe. Some common storage advice includes:
- Leaving the tabs on all unused batteries
- Storing them loose batteries at normal room temperature
- Keep the batteries away from metallic objects like coins or keys
- Let the battery sit for one minute after removing the tab and prior to inserting it into the hearing aid
These are basic steps designed to enhance the performance and lifespan of each batteries.
5. Turn off the Hearing Aids
When you are not wearing your hearing aids, make sure to turn them off. Place the device in a safe container, preferably the one that came with it and then pull open the battery door. This allows any moisture inside the hearing aid to escape while cutting back on the units battery drain. If you plan on leaving the hearing aids out for an extended period, remove the batteries completely.
Keep in mind, too, that the better quality the battery and the hearing aid, the less time and money you’ll spend in the long run. It’s tempting to save money by buying cheap, but, in the end, it just ends up costing you more. Hearing aids and batteries go hand in hand, so shop smart and take care of your investment to keep both of them working at their best.
Do you have someone in your life who you suspect has hearing problems? You are not alone. Statistically speaking, it’s possible that most people know at least one individual who is hearing impaired and probably doesn’t realize it. About 36 million people in the United States have hearing challenges, according to Dr. Bettie Borton, AuD, president of the American Academy of Audiology. If it’s not a friend, it might be a spouse, parent or a grandparent.
Often hearing loss is a progressive issue for most, so even though you can tell there is a problem, they may not see it. It’s common for a person’s friend or family member to be the one who recognizes the problem in the first place. Maybe, what you should be asking is what you can do about it? It’s your job to help your friend or loved one come to the see what you already know. It’s time for them to schedule a hearing test.
It’s a complex topic for most because hearing loss and aging tend to go hand-in-hand. Consider some practical and less offensive ways you that you can get your close friend to agree to get a professional hearing test.
Start With a Discussion About Why Hearing Loss is a Concern
Make it about you, though, and not your friend, if that helps. For example, medical science has found a link between some kinds of hearing loss and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, a 2014 report issued by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows there is a certain amount of brain shrinkage in patients that ignore their hearing loss as opposed to managing it with hearing aids and other devices.
Talk to your friend about the fear you have that undetected hearing loss can hurt you down the road and why you think it’s time for to think about a hearing test.
Get One Yourself
The truth is that most people benefit from getting the occasional hearing test, so why not schedule one for yourself and challenge your friend to join you. Instead of talking about potential hearing loss, make the test part of a comprehensive wellness strategy, something you can work on together You get your nails done together, maybe, you go to the gym together, you might even head to the dentist together, so why not a hearing test?
Maybe, tell your friend you need some help because you’re not sure what to expect from a hearing test. You might even claim to that you’re not sure if you have hearing problems of your own. It can’t hurt you to get tested, especially if it helps out a friend.
Recognize the Signs
Maybe just being honest is the better approach for this particular friend, but before you bring it up, make sure to have all your facts right. Maybe what you’ve noticed isn’t hearing loss at all, but a symptom of something else. Now is a good time to get familiar with some of the signs of hearing loss just to be sure. Some common symptoms include:
- Your friend starts avoiding social situations
- Your friend complains of being tired often
- Your friend seems to have headaches a lot
- Your friend mentions a ringing in his or her ears
- Your friend gets the details wrong often like times or key words
- Your friend says “What” during every conversation
- Your friend is always turning the volume up
- These are little things that a person might not notice about themselves, but friends pick up on easily.
Now, Point Out the Things You’ve Noticed
Start a conversation about what you’ve noticed like:
- You’ve been repeating yourself a lot
- Your friend is getting some details wrong during your conversations
- You’ve noticed this friend seems to struggle to hear you talk
Point out some of the tell-tell signs of hearing loss, such as turning the head to one side to hear or the seemingly automatic “What” all through your discussions. It might be your friend always has a look of extreme concentration or even confusion during a conversation.
Take the time to write some specific examples, too. The more details you offer, the more your friend will recognize the symptoms. Even it if it doesn’t sink in the first time around, you planted a seed and now this person will start to notice things on their own. Don’t be confrontational, just caring and concerned.
Once, you’ve had the talk, offer to make the appointment for your friend. It will usually start with a trip to the ear doctor. Afterward, you can go along for the test as support.
Hearing loss is not an easy thing to accept, but an important challenge to face because there are consequences if you don’t. Be that friend that understands the need and help that someone in your life find their way back to healthy hearing.
Your hearing is one of your most beneficial assets, but what can you do to keep it safe? You probably already know that most people experience some hearing loss with age. What you might not know is that it has very little to do with getting older. This type of hearing loss occurs because of the damage people do to their ears over time. Looking for practical ways to protect your hearing right now will make all the difference later to prevent hearing decline.
The fact is there might still a slight decline in your hearing when you get older, but taking steps now can reduce the extent of the damage and reduce your risk of significant hearing loss. Consider six things you can do right now to avoid requiring hearing aids in 10 years.
1. Get Educated About Hearing Loss
There are two primary reasons you might lose your hearing:
Hearing is a very mechanical process. It starts when sound moves into the outer ears as a wave of vibrations. The ear drum amplifies that wave as it moves down the canal where it hits three small bones causing them to vibrate. Those bones, in turn, transmit the vibrations to the inner ear, or cochlea. Inside the cochlea are tiny hairs that move as the vibrations hit them.
It’s the hair cells that are typically the root of most age-related hearing problems. Extreme noise can damage the cells even though they naturally lose some viability over the years. It’s the combination of normal aging and chronic loud sound that hurts you, though.
Your goal is to come up with ways to keep the hair cells healthy and that starts with reducing their exposure to loud sounds. It’s a combination of environmental damage and natural aging is what leads to hearing aids for many people. Since you can’t do anything about aging, focus on what you can control – environmental damage.
2. Lose the Headphones
One practical approach is to protect the delicate inner ear is by losing the headphones so many people love to wear when listening to music or watching TV. Headphones isolated the sound, so it enters the ear in a stronger wave. The mechanisms of the ear don’t change just because the sound is loud. When a strong wave hits the ear canal, the eardrum still amplifies it and the tiny bones still vibrate. The sound is now a violent wave as it hits the hair cells causing damage along the way. That happens every single time you put on those headphones no matter what the volume.
3. Calculate the Noise Factor
Even once you lose the headphones, your ears will still experience different dangerous sound levels. Everything from the local band to your lawn mower will impact your hearing in the future. Learn to filter out the sounds are causing hearing damage.
NHS lists the sound level of normal conversation at about 60 dB, so use that as a guide. Compare it, for example, to the sound of your lawnmower, which is closer to 85 dB, and you’ll start to get the idea. Going to see your favorite band exposes you to about 120 dB.
- Typically, noise that you experience weekly over 105 dB causes damage.
- Lower daily noise levels at 80 to 90db also cause damage
If you play your music on the loud setting each day, the level is about 112 dB, so think about turning it down.
4. Limit Your Noise Exposure
Find ways to avoid loud noises. For instance, on you get used to listening to music at lower volume levels, it will seem completely normal to you. You’ll be surprised on easily the ears can adjust, especially in a tight space like the car. Ask others to respect your need for lower noise levels, too.
5. Wear Hearing Protection
Being hearing smart doesn’t mean you have to miss your favorite concert or change jobs to avoid the sound of a jackhammer. Just wear ear protection if exposed to loud noise. Get ear plugs for the concert and when mowing the lawn, you can wear headphones. If your job puts you at risk, make sure your employer requires all employees to wear ear protection.
6. Get Ear Checkups
Start with a baseline hearing test and then get an ear checkup at least once a year. Talk to your doctor about scheduling follow up hearing tests as you grow older, so you know if you have hearing problems.
Healthcare reform focuses on wellness care. You should extend that concept to your ears and protect your hearing now, so you can enjoy it later.
What happens if you are the only one to realize you have hearing loss? It’s a common scenario among elderly people. They fight to stay involved in conversations but the people around them assume there are other reasons they seem distracted. Older folks can suffer from a number of issues that make them seem distant. It’s possible hearing loss is not the first conclusion they draw.
Hearing loss is an invisible disability, too. In other words, there is nothing to point that hurts. You can’t show someone the problem. It’s hard to understand how hearing loss affects your life unless you experience it for yourself. So, what should a person who thinks they have hearing loss do to make themselves heard?
Get Others Involved
Put your friends and family to working solving your hearing mystery, explains the National Institute on Deafness and Other Hearing Disorders. Even if you think you have hearing loss, it might be difficult to be sure that’s what’s happening without some feedback from the people in your life. Ask them straight out if they think it’s a problem. Pose questions like:
- Have they noticed you asking them to repeat themselves often?
- Are you turning the TV up too loud?
- Are you misunderstanding what they tell you sometimes?
- It might be the idea of hearing loss just hasn’t occurred to them. Once you bring it up in conversation, they might start picking up on the clues.
Ask the Doctor for a Hearing Test
A physician that sees you one a year of a wellness check may not pick up on your hearing problems. Many conditions that lead to hearing loss don’t present with physical symptoms that a physician will see when examining your ears, either.
If you suspect hearing is causing you a problem, then it’s time to speak up. The doctor can ask questions to clarify your concern and even do same baseline tests in the office prior to sending you for a more comprehensive hearing test with an audiologist. None of that will happen, though, if you fail to make the doctor aware of your hearing loss.
Make Changes on Your Own
Once you have a real diagnosis and a professional hearing test, you have everything you need to improve your hearing health. For most people, hearing loss is a treatable condition. With the right tools at your disposal, your hearing loss will have less of an impact, so you struggle less. The audiologist and your doctor can look at your test results and help you make smart decisions designed to improve your life like getting hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.
Go slow picking out hearing aids to give yourself a chance to explore all the different features available and come up with the right mix for your needs. A certified hearing aid retailer will sit with you and go over the benefits of each brand and model. You will learn how different features work, too. Look for a dealer that offers a trial period, as well. This gives you the chance to test drive each feature, so you know if you need it or not.
Don’t Go It Alone
What they don’t know can hurt you, so talk to the people in your life. Make them understand your concerns about your hearing loss and make them part of the solution. Take a friend or family member with you to the doctor and when you go for your hearing test. Let them help as you listen to the diagnosis and the interpretation of the range of your hearing loss. Make them part of the decision-making process as you pick out the different hearing aids you want to try.
Just because you have hearing loss, doesn’t mean you have to live with it alone. When you incorporate your family into the process, you make them apart of that world, too. You are no longer the only one who understands what hearing loss is like and how it affects your life. By including them, you help them see what they can’t see otherwise.
Hearing loss is a life changer but so much harder when you struggle with it alone, so don’t. You are taking a courageous step by dealing with your loss, now; help your friends and family understand it with you.
You made the first step to managing your hearing issues by getting a hearing test from a qualified audiologist, but now what? What kind of data can you expect to acquire with this test and what does it mean for your hearing future? These are reasonable questions because hearing tests are meant to go beyond the traditional an ear exam. The purpose of a hearing test is to gauge how well sound reaches the brain. Hearing tests are performed by a specialist to provide a thorough evaluation of your hearing, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. That’s important information for both you and your ear doctor to have but what exactly can you expect to learn from the hearing test?
How Hearing Tests Work
That’s the first question you should ask the audiologist when you sit down for the test to really appreciate the importance of this data. A sound is really a vibration in the air that travels in waves. Measures are taken of these vibrations determine the specific frequency (pitch) and height or amplitude (volume). Hearing loss, especially when it is part of aging, rarely means you just stop hearing everything all at once. Instead, most people hear little bits and pieces of sound based on these two factors: frequency and amplitude. When hearing starts to fade, it’s common to hear some voices better than others. This is because that voice falls into a range of frequency and amplitude that your ears can still hear. Hearing tests introduce sounds at different levels to see what you can and can’t hear. In most cases, you are asked to sit in a sound proof booth with headphones on and acknowledge when you hear a sound. The audiologist gets a record of what frequency and amplitude you hear in each ear to measure your specific level of hearing loss. A comprehensive hearing test measures:
- Pure tone audiometry – Tonal hearing
- Hearing in Noise – Hearing in both quiet and noisy environments
- Speech reception and word recognition
In some cases, the audiologist tests the actual structures of the ear, too. For instance, a tympanogram will measure how well the eardrum and middle ear works. An auditory brain stem response tests the brain’s reaction to sound. All this gives the specialist a well-rounded metric of your hearing ability and where it fails.
What You’ll Should Understand After the Hearing Test
The basic hearing test allows the audiologist to make a map of your hearing, referred to as an audiogram, using frequency and aptitude to plot it. The purpose is to define each individual’s hearing loss and then figure out how best to accommodate it. The hearing specialist takes that audiogram and then uses a formula to create a single number from it that summarizes your hearing loss in a concise manner. Using this single measure, they determine your degree of hearing loss. For example:
- Under 25dB – No hearing loss
- Between 56 – 70 dB – Moderate to severe with difficulty understand some speech and with group conversations
- Over 91 dB is considered profound hearing loss
With this data in hand, you are able to choices that will affect not only your hearing health but your quality of life, as well. A person with moderate to severe hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, for instance. The data obtained via a hearing test also helps a certified hearing aid retailer create a strategy when fitting you for hearing aids. The technician can get a feel for what feature might best suit your needs like direction microphones and noise filtering. Most people can benefit from a hearing test even if they are not experiencing hearing loss. The test serves as a baseline to measure changes to your hearing over the years.
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