"Is Hearing Loss Normal For My Age"? 

  • By proadAccountId-358356
  • 10 Aug, 2016

By: Sara Nagel, Au.D.

As we reach our 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's or older, many of us start noticing that it is more difficult to communicate in noisy restaurants, our young children or grandchildren are impossible to understand, or we may find ourselves leaning in to hear or asking for repetition a few too many times a day.  

Unfortunately, too many people accept hearing loss as they get older, thinking that it is a "normal" condition for their age.  What I like to say, is that hearing loss is more common as we age, but it is never a "normal" condition.  Hearing loss causes mental fatigue, social withdrawal and isolation, frustration, anxiety, depression, and contributes to risk of dementia due to cognitive overload, or working the brain too hard simply to hear and process auditory information. How can we call such a condition "normal"? 

Presbycusis, or hearing loss associated with aging, affects 1 in 3 individuals at age 65, and 1 in 2 individuals at age 70.  However, other factors such as loud noise exposure, cardiovascular disease, infections, genetics or birth defects, ototoxic drugs, diabetes, and heavy tobacco use can exacerbate or cause earlier-onset hearing loss than aging alone.  In fact, a 2010 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found 1 in 5 U.S. teenagers already demonstrated some hearing loss, setting themselves up for greater hearing loss as they age.  This 30% increased prevalence of hearing loss in teenagers since the late 1980s is likely due to increased loud noise exposure, including use of personal music and sound devices. 

The high prevalence of hearing loss has spurred manufacturers to develop smart, discreet, high-tech solutions to meet the demands of the active and health-conscious adult of today.   More and more individuals are taking steps to protect their hearing when exposed to loud noise.  And although never a "normal" condition,  hearing loss can be successfully treated so that you can remain connected and engaged even as you age.  

Hear It Here! - The Center for Audiology Blog

By proadAccountId-358356 04 Jan, 2018

The Center for Audiology is pleased to present the new Levo® system for the treatment of tinnitus. Tinnitus is the perception of sound even when no sound is present. Someone suffering from tinnitus might hear ringing, chirping, roaring, whooshing, or even musical tones in their ears. Sometimes the sound is perceived so loudly that it can interfere with daily activities or the ability to fall asleep in the affected individual.

Levo® is specifically designed to be used during sleep when our brains are more prone to be responsive to sound therapies that strive to change brain activity patterns. The system enables patients to map their specific tinnitus sound in order to create a customized sound therapy. For more information, or to schedule an initial assessment process, please call 713-800-5050.

By proadAccountId-358356 04 Jan, 2018

Audibility improvement, or the ability to hear sounds and speech more clearly, is the goal of hearing aid fittings. So why do so many hearing aids that are dispensed end up in a drawer?

Whether or not real-ear measurements were included as part of the initial fitting is usually the reason hearing aids are worn or not. What are real-ear measurements? Real-ear measurements, sometimes called probe microphone measurements, is the gold standard used to determine whether or not a hearing aid user is receiving the precise level of amplification needed at every frequency in order to achieve the best hearing improvement possible. Depending on the level of hearing loss, 100% improvement is not always possible, but the goal is to maximize the benefit to get as close to 100% as possible.

During real-ear measurements, a thin probe microphone is inserted into the ear canal alongside the hearing aid. The audiologist obtains readings of the exact sound levels the user is receiving from the hearing aid while listening to various recorded speech samples. The audiologist can then precisely adjust the sound levels to match target amplification levels based on the hearing aid user’s hearing loss across the speech frequencies.   

Performing this verification during the initial fitting process helps ensure that the user is receiving a “just right” level of amplification- not too much where everything is too loud, and not too little where the user has significant trouble hearing speech even with the hearing aids on.

A recent survey performed by the Hearing Review indicated that only 34% of audiologists surveyed across the United States perform real-ear measurements. Hearing aid fittings using real-ear measurements resulted in superior outcomes and improved aided benefit both in quiet and in noise. We’re proud of the fact that at The Center for Audiology, we provide the best in evidenced-based care to bring you crystal-clear hearing results from hearing aids that work!


By proadAccountId-358356 02 Jan, 2018

The New Year is always a good time to take stock of where we are in life and what we'd like to change.  Setting goals and making resolutions are great, but taking concrete action to make sure we reach our goals is even greater! 

If hearing loss has been impacting your life or the life of your loved one, here are some concrete actions you can take to make living with hearing loss more manageable in 2018: 

1. Get your hearing tested.Are you still wondering if you have hearing loss? Schedule an appointment with an audiologist right now.  

2. Wear your hearing aids consistently.  If you already have hearing aids but do not wear them on a regular basis, resolve to keep them in, even when it gets challenging.   Your brain will adapt to amplified sound the more regularly you wear your hearing aids. 

3.  Explore new technologies.  Your hearing aids may be ready for an upgrade.  Newer technology and/or assistive listening devices perform better and/or may address new hearing needs that arise as your hearing loss changes.  Schedule a risk-free demonstration and trial of new technology today to evaluate the improvement for yourself.   

4. Advocate for yourself.   Don't be embarrassed to let people know that you have hearing loss.  Let others know how they can help you by using communication strategies  to augment the benefit you get from hearing aids.  

5. Volunteer to help others with hearing loss.  If you are farther along in your hearing journey, help others who are newly diagnosed and struggling with the same challenges you are.  Look for hearing loss advocacy efforts in your community.   Spread the word at your house of worship or community theater about looping or captioning options.  Can you help at a local non-profit?  Start a support group for those living with hearing loss?  Giving helps the giver as much as the recipient.  

6. Meet other people with hearing loss. Find a local HLAA chapter  and go to the meetings or peruse their website.   Participate in Houston's annual Walk for Hearing to help raise awareness of hearing loss in our community.  Put the date on your calendar now.  

8. Read about hearing loss.   Several good books about hearing loss are available, as well as many online blogs.  Hearing loss can be isolating, and reading about others' experiences will let you know that you are not alone.  Start by reading a review of one good book here

9. Sign up for an aural rehabilitation program. Sometimes hearing aids are not enough, and auditory exercises are needed to maximize your success with hearing aids.  A new online program called clEARWorks can be done at your own pace and can improve your hearing skills, and it is even fun!  Click here for more information about the clEARWorks online auditory rehabilitation program. 

What  will you do to help your hearing loss in 2018?  

By proadAccountId-358356 01 Nov, 2017
Taking charge of your hearing loss by wearing hearing aids has been shown to: 

  • Reduce social isolation
  • Improve relationships with your loved ones
  • Reduce negative emotional consequences of hearing loss such as depression, anxiety, frustration, and loneliness
  • Increase earning power by maintaining higher productivity at work
  • Decrease embarrassing  faux pas  that occur when hearing is not good
  • Improve safety through better hearing of sirens, warning signals, car horns, etc. 
  • Provide a increased sense of control and independence
  • Improve your ability to communicate even in challenging listening environments such as background noise. 
Today's active individual wants to stay more active, more engaged, more youthful, and more connected.  Hearing loss leads to constant communication barriers, increases dependency by relying on family members to interpret conversations, and increases the likelihood that you will miss out on important moments of your life.  Today's hearing aids are marvels of technology!  If you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss, take the first step to re-connecting with life by exploring what a difference hearing aids can make in the quality of YOUR life!   
By proadAccountId-358356 23 Oct, 2017

Most of the patients with hearing loss that present to our clinic are helped quite successfully with hearing aids.  Sometimes, however, a patient may present with such severe or profound hearing loss that even the most powerful hearing aids on the market today may not provide sufficient benefit.  

Although hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs) both provide better hearing, there is a significant difference between them.  HAs are programmed to provide amplification of sound at different frequencies based on the hearing loss at each frequency.  Sound is still delivered to the damaged hair cells of the inner ear and/or the damaged auditory nerve.  In the case of severe or profound hearing loss, the damage to the inner ear is so significant that even with powerful amplification, sound is distorted and of limited benefit.  Consequently, the person with severe-to-profound hearing loss may not hear very much even with hearing aids, and becomes tired easily due to the great effort required to make sense of sound. 

A cochlear implant bypasses the damaged hair cells of the inner ear by delivering electrical current directly to the cochlear, or auditory, nerve. A cochlear implant presents a wide range of frequencies, regardless of the pre-implantation hearing loss.  For individuals with better low-frequency hearing but profound mid-or high-frequency hearing loss, a hybrid CI combining acoustic amplification for the low-frequencies with electric stimulation for the high-frequencies may provide the best result. 

Adults must meet the following criteria to be considered for CI surgery: 

  • Age 18 or older
  • Moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
  • Limited benefit from amplification defined by preoperative test scores of ≤ 50% sentence recognition in the ear to be implanted and ≤60% in the opposite ear or binaurally

Baylor College of Medicine, located in the Texas Medical Center, will be hosting an informational seminar for CI recipients and candidates on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 pm.  Location: McNair Campus, Bobby R. Alford Educational Center, 1st Floor, 7200 Cambridge St., Houston, TX 77030.  Interested parties should RSVP to ears@bcm.edu
By proadAccountId-358356 08 Sep, 2017
It is heartbreaking to see the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey as it swept through Houston during the last week of August, 2017.  Many of our patients were unfortunately affected personally and lost homes, possessions, and precious memories.  Many hearing aids were lost during the flooding, leaving evacuees with hearing loss more stressed during an already stressful time. 

We are working hard at The Center for Audiology to help all our patients who lost or damaged hearing aids due to the flooding.  Hearing aid manufacturers including Oticon, Widex, Phonak, Unitron, and Resound are working with us to help anyone who has lost their hearing aids due to the flood.  For hearing aids still under warranty, manufacturers are waiving loss/damage deductibles.  For hearing aids out-of-warranty, the manufacturers are providing refurbished/like new, or new hearing aids at no charge to those patients.  

Please know that our entire staff is ready to help in whatever way we can to expedite these hearing aid replacements for you, and hopefully make your lives somewhat easier as you go through the re-building process.   Please call The Center for Audiology at 713-255-0035 to report lost hearing aids, and we will take care of the rest for you and get you new hearing aids as quickly as we can!   
By proadAccountId-358356 21 Aug, 2017
The Fall semester is around the corner, and whether you are a new or returning college student with hearing loss, here are six tips to help you navigate the college territory more easily: 

1. College students who are Texas residents and who meet certain hearing loss criteria, can apply to have their tuition waived at state-supported post-secondary schools.  This is through a Texas state program called the Certification of Deafness Tuition Waiver (CODTW) program.  For more information, see  https://hhs.texas.gov/services/disability/deaf-hard-hearing/tuition-waiver .   I am thrilled to have helped 2 of our patients at The Center for Audiology qualify for this program this year!  

2. Understand How Your Hearing Loss Affects You

Discuss the impact of your hearing loss with your audiologist.  Different hearing loss profiles require different plans of care.  Hearing aids alone may not always be sufficient if you struggle with background noise or distances.  Use of remote microphones or FM systems, communication strategies, or alternative presentation of material may be required to enhance aided benefit.  

3. Learn About and Use Your University's Resources

Register with the Disability Support Services at your university.  You will be assigned an advisor who will ensure that you receive the accommodations you need in order to have equal access in the classroom. 

Available accommodations may include priority registration, note taking services, the use of an FM system, CART (which stands for Communication Access Real-Time Translation), closed captioning on all videos that are shown during class and priority seating in the classroom. 

4. Get to Know Your Professors

You may want to schedule an appointment with each professor during their office hours, or e-mail each professor in writing to let them know about your hearing loss and what accommodations you will be using.   If you will be using an FM system, take the time to teach the professor about how to use the microphone transmitter that he/she will be using Individual professors may be more or less educated about hearing loss, and you can help make them more familiar with how to maximize your ability to hear them in the classroom. 

5. Choose Your Seat Wisely

Plan to arrive early to class in order to choose a seat that will optimize your ability to hear.  Most individuals with hearing loss rely on speechreading to help fill in the gaps of what they can't hear, and a seat toward the front will allow you to do that more easily.  Avoid seats near the classroom door, windows, or near noisy fans or heating/cooling vents, as background noise can be distracting and/or can drown out the professor's voice.  

6. Help Your Classmates Help You

Many people have no experience communicating with someone who has a hearing loss, and they may feel nervous about how to interact with you.  Taking the time to explain to your close classmates a little bit about your hearing loss, and communication strategies that they can use to help you, will put them at ease, and open the door to good communication.  For example, you can say, "I understand what you say much better if you face me when you speak, and when you don't cover your mouth when you speak," or, "It helps me a lot if you articulate your words and don't drop your voice at the end of a sentence."  

Advocating for yourself throughout your college years will help you gain the most you can out of these formative years, and will help you set yourself up for greater success in your future career.   We are also here to help advocate for you anytime you need us throughout your college years and beyond.   The entire Center for Audiology staff wishes you the best of luck in your studies!

By proadAccountId-358356 07 Aug, 2017
The best hearing aids only work if powered by batteries.  For some hearing aid users, however, handling those small, round batteries can be quite challenging.  Poor manual dexterity, neuropathy in fingers, hand tremors, or poor vision can turn a simple task like changing a battery into a frustrating and sometimes, time-consuming process.  And trying to find a runaway battery that has rolled onto the floor is not an easy task!

For users who sweat heavily, or who are exposed to humid or high-moisture environments, the traditional battery door allows for moisture to seep into the hearing aid, leading to intermittent function and frequent repair issues.  For patients who rely on their hearing aids, frequent repairs are frustrating and inconvenient.  

Enter the rechargeable hearing aid option!  Phonak released their recharegable hearing aids last spring, and Oticon released a rechargeable option this year for their Opn model hearing aids.  On an overnight charge, both manufacturer options provide reliable, full-day performance.  At the Center for Audiology, we are finding the following patients benefit greatly from rechargeable hearing aids: 

  • Patients with manual  dexterity issues (such as numbness in the fingers from diabetes, or hand tremors from Parkinson's disease) 
  • Patients with vision loss that makes it hard to place batteries properly .
  • Patients who are environmentally conscious and want to reduce the number of disposable batteries that end up in landfills.
  • Patients who find it inconvenient to repeatedly purchase batteries online, at drugstores or at their hearing care professional's office.
  • Patients who require reliable, full-day hearing aid performance (no hearing aid battery going dead in middle of an important business meeting!)
  • Patients who sweat heavily or who are exposed to high-humidity environments.  The sealed rechargeable hearing aid case provides a better barrier against moisture seeping into the hearing aid.  
When our audiologists at The Center for Audiology recommend a customized hearing care plan for each of our patients, factors such as manual dexterity, vision. convenience, and moisture resistance needs are taken into account.  We want hearing aids to be a pleasant, easy-to-use, and low-hassle experience!  If any of the above issues might impact your ability to use hearing aids successfully, make sure to discuss it with your audiologist.  Wonderful rechargeable hearing aid options exist to make your hearing journey a successful one!  

By proadAccountId-358356 25 Jul, 2017

As more hearing aids are developed with direct-to-iPhone or iPad Bluetooth connectivity, more hearing aid users are realizing the wonderful benefits of hearing aids that also serve as wireless headsets for music and audio-book streaming, as well as Bluetooth headsets for phone conversations.  Amy and Liz are two patients seen in our Houston office this week.  Both could finally carry on a phone conversation with no difficulty for the first time in years, via Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.  It was amazing to see the joy on both their faces as a new world opened up to them. 

 In addition, the iPhone can serve as the remote control for the hearing aid, and users can adjust various features from overall volume to frequency response to background noise suppression, all through handy apps on the iPhone. 

This is all wonderful when everything works!  Occasionally, the iPhone will drop the hearing aid connection, or something gets "hung" or "stuck" in the iPhone that prevents a good connection.  Should that happen to you, follow the instructions below that walk you through re-pairing the hearing aids to your iPhone. 

How to Pair your Hearing Aids with your iPhone: 

1.       Re-boot your iPhone

2.       Take your hearing aids out of your ears and open the battery doors

3.      Go to Settings on your iPhone

4.      Go to General

5.      Go to Accessibility

6.      Go to Hearing Aids

7.      Close your battery doors (your phone will start searching for the devices)

8.      Your name and the hearing aids will pop up under devices

9.      If you wear 2 hearing aids you will see L + R

10.      If you only wear 1 you will see either L or R depending on which side you wear your aid

11.      Click on the box with your aids labeled

12.      You will then get a pop up box to PAIR your aids with your phone click PAIR

13.      If you wear 2 aids this box will pop up 2 times and you have to hit PAIR  a second time. 

14.       Your aids are now paired with your iPhone.  Enjoy!

Hearing aids available with direct-to-iPhone Bluetooth capability include Oticon Opn, Resound Linx, Starkey Halo, and Widex Beyond.  Coming soon-- Phonak Direct which will have direct to iPhone and Android phone Bluetooth connectivity.  All these and more available at The Center for Audiology-Houston, and The Center for Audiology-Pearland.  Call today at 713-255-0035 to schedule a free demo and 2 week trial of made-for-iPhone hearing aids!

By proadAccountId-358356 30 Jun, 2017

Fireworks, firecrackers  and concerts  may be Fourth of July traditions and are beautiful to watch, but they also make the holiday one of the noisiest and most likely to cause hearing loss. With sound levels from exploding fireworks reaching as high as 155 decibels, here are steps recommended by ASHA that you can take to minimize damage to your hearing:

  • Keep a safe distance.  The closer you are to the source of the noise, the greater the risk for immediate, sudden and permanent hearing loss. Stay at least 500 feet from fireworks, firecrackers, speaker systems and other sources of loud noise.
  • Wear earplugs.  Ear plugs are an inexpensive and easy way to protect your hearing during loud events. Make sure your ear plugs fit snugly. For children below 8 years old, use ear muffs.
  • Know your limits.  A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are "too loud" and "too close" or that last "too long." If you notice ringing or buzzing in your ears, move farther away from the noise source.
  • Seek professional help.  If you feel that your hearing may have been affected, seek the help of a certified audiologist.
Wishing you all a Happy and Safe Independence Day 2017!
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