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What is an Audiologist?

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You’ve finally decided that enough is enough.

Your kids are tired of hearing you complain about not being able to hear them when they call you. Your spouse wants you to enjoy spending time at social gatherings, but you never want to join because it’s hard to hear the conversation. You want to live the life you always thought you would be living, until hearing loss stood in the way.

But, what are you supposed to do about it? There’s a hearing aid dispenser close to your house. That seems like a straightforward approach. You know about your local audiologist, but what’s the difference? A hearing aid is a hearing aid, right?

An audiologist is your best place to start when it comes to your hearing loss, and we’re not just saying that because that’s who we are. If you want the best for your hearing, you should see a certified Doctor of Audiology.

Let’s answer your questions:

1. What is an audiologist?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an audiologist as someone who treats individuals with impaired hearing. What’s so important about your hearing and why do doctors specialize in this field?

Our hearing serves many different purposes. It allows us to communicate with other people, giving us opportunities to create friendships and relationships. It serves as a way to protect us; if we hear a fire alarm going off, we know that there’s a fire somewhere close. Our hearing helps us learn, grow, enjoy, and experience life.

Without our hearing, we struggle in more areas than one. We withdraw from people. We can’t enjoy comforting music or be alerted by an alarm. We struggle to learn and experience the life we have.

An audiologist specializes in treating your hearing loss. Not only can they fit you with hearing aids, they know all about the ear and the three small bones within it. (They’re the smallest in the human body!) Not only can they treat you, they can treat infants, kids, and the elderly.

2. What does an audiologist do?

Because an audiologist has received a license to practice clinical audiology, they can conduct evaluations and tests to treat hearing loss.

A hearing evaluation will test the health of your eardrum, the bones in the ear, how well your brain processes information, and speech discrimination. This type of evaluation can only be performed by an audiologist.

A hearing screening, on the other hand, simply tests how well you’re hearing without figuring out the cause of your hearing loss. It’s a great way to begin treatment, but it doesn’t give definitive answers or show the best course of treatment.

An audiologist can also fit you with individualized hearing aids, making sure you are able to hear comfortably and clearly.

3. Why does audiology matter?

These days, seeing someone with a set of hearing devices is normal. We’ve come a long way since the 1940s, when audiology finally became a professional field. Decades ago we were limited to hearing aids that were ridiculous in size and didn’t work very well. Now, we have hearing aids that can be virtually invisible.

Audiology has always been about how well you can hear and how it affects your communication with others. Now, audiology includes everything that has to do with the ears and even your brain. Recent studies have shown the links between hearing loss and brain health.

It’s amazing just how intricately the human body works.

Audiology matters. Practicing audiology matters. Your hearing health matters because it’s connected to every part of your well-being.

Our audiologists at Associates in Hearing don’t just want to get you a set of hearing aids and send you out the door. We care about you and how well you live your life.

Seeing an audiologist will dissolve your worries about your hearing loss. We can perform the tests needed to get to the bottom of your hearing loss and create a treatment plan that’s suited just for you. We can fit you with hearing aids that fit your needs, not to fit our quota.

See an audiologist today. Better yet? Give us a call. We’d love to serve you and show you just how much we care.

3 Ways to Enjoy Your Next Baseball Game

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Baseball. It’s always been America’s favorite past time. Can you imagine trying to enjoy a game when you can hardly hear it? It might be bearable, but certainly not the experience you’re looking for. The food, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, cheering on your favorite players, trying to catch a foul ball. It’s all about the experience, isn’t it? It’s much easier to experience baseball as a whole when you can hear it, too.

Baseball season is among us, and we want you to enjoy every bit of it. Here are three ways to make sure your next baseball game is all the fun you’re hoping for:

  1. Bring some earplugs.

You might be surprised with how loud a baseball game can get. With the loudspeakers and the crowd, the sound could be more damaging than you might expect.

Any sound louder than 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. That baseball game? It could easily exceed that! A normal conversation is around 60 decibels, so if you’re having a hard time hearing the person next to you, it’s probably too loud.

Earplugs are a great tool used to protect your hearing. They can even be specially molded to fit your ears so they can efficiently and effectively filter noise. Keep a pair in your car or purse, and you’ll always have the hearing protection you need.

  1. Bring someone with you.

Baseball is not just a game. It’s a whole experience. Sharing it with someone else is part of the fun!

But, hearing loss can make it harder to enjoy things. You might struggle to keep up with what’s going on around you. You could miss an important play or even feel like you can’t enjoy the entertainment because you can’t hear it.

So, bring someone with you! If you miss something, don’t be afraid to ask what’s going on. If you aren’t sure if you heard something right, ask whoever you’re with to repeat it. Another set of ears could be just what you need to make it worthwhile.

  1. Plan ahead.

Let’s say you get to the game late. Your tickets are general admission, so you’re trying to find a good spot that will allow you to see and hear the game the way you want to. But all that’s left are seats next to the giant speakers, or seats too far from all the important action.

Before the day of the big game, plan ahead! Purchase tickets for the seats you want or get there early if you can’t reserve the spot you would like. Pay attention to your surroundings. You know what will keep you from hearing the game, so plan to steer clear of overpowering loudspeakers or seats that are too far away to hear any of the action.

Planning ahead could save you the frustration of being unable to hear the game and have fun.

Next time you’re planning your trip to a baseball game, use these helpful tips to make sure you can experience baseball how it was meant to! You deserve to enjoy the game even if you have hearing loss.

Associates in Hearing is giving away a pair of tickets to the Phillies vs. Braves game on April 29. We want you to win! Here are three ways you can enter:

  1. Enter at associatesinhearing.com/MLB.
  2. Call us at (215) 855-4217 and mention the contest.
  3. Visit our office and fill out a card.

We’re accepting entries until April 20. Don’t miss out sign up today! Enter for your chance to win today. Winner will be announced April 23.

12 Questions with Dr. Aubrey Marley

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Meet Dr. Aubrey Marley

As audiologists, we don’t just care about your hearing. We care about how well you live your life! The people we love, our passions, and the things that bring us joy are what matter most, and a life with treated hearing loss makes all the difference.

Meet Dr. Aubrey Marley. As a Doctor of Audiology, she has been a valuable asset to our team since May of 2016. She brings a passion for seeing hearing loss treated, something we value most at Associates in Hearing.

Next time you’re in the office for an appointment, introduce yourself to Dr. Marley! We asked her 12 questions so you can get to know her:

  1. What is one of your favorite memories from your childhood?

Any of our big family Christmas parties are great memories for me. Every year, we have tons of food and sing 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. If you could have dinner with any person, alive or dead, who would it be?

My maternal grandparents, who passed away before I was born. During the Great Depression, they immigrated to America from Ireland. I would love to hear their stories firsthand and learn what it was like to settle into an unfamiliar country.

  1. What is your favorite food or meal to eat?

Cadbury Mini Eggs

  1. Describe yourself in three words.

Honest, patient, and determined.

  1. Have you ever done something that not many people have done? If so, what?

I was an Irish Dancer from elementary school up until high school. I tried to pick it back up by joining an Irish dancing club in college, but I realized my efforts were better spent focusing on my speech language and hearing degree.

  1. Where did you go to college?

Temple University

  1. What made you decide to become a doctor of audiology?

My older brother has hearing loss, and when I was young, I would tag along with him to his audiology appointments at Associates in Hearing. I always knew I wanted to help people, and after attending some of his appointments, I thought audiology would be the perfect fit. I never expected to end up at the very place that introduced me to audiology, but here I am!

  1. What is your favorite part about working at Associates in Hearing?

I’m working in the same community that I grew up in, so I often feel I have a lot in common with my patients and can really relate to them.

  1.  What do you enjoy most about being an audiologist?

I love helping patients communicate better with their friends and families and watching them become more social because they can hear again. I also love seeing my patients light up when they realize they are hearing things they haven’t heard in years.

  1.  Why is hearing important?

I believe staying engaged and communicating with our friends and family is so important when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining relationships. Without hearing, it can be difficult to participate in conversation and can often lead to social isolation.

  1. Outside of audiology, what are you passionate about?

Reading. I always have a book with me to read during my lunch breaks.

  1.  When you’re 75 and able to look back on your life, what do you hope to have accomplished?

When I graduated high school I told myself I just wanted to make sure I helped others in some way. I hope to stay true to that goal and somehow make a positive difference in the lives around me.

If you’d like to start your journey to better hearing, give us a call today and set up an appointment with Dr. Marley. She would love you help you achieve the hearing you’ve always wanted.

3 Ways to Hear Better This Spring

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3 Ways to Hear Better This Spring


It is always such a relief when spring arrives, isn’t it? You can finally get back outside, enjoy the fresh air, and start planning for that vacation this summer. 

Or, maybe it isn’t such a relief. Maybe you have hearing loss, and all you can think about is how difficult it is to enjoy the things you used to.

Hearing loss is a common affliction; around 466 million people worldwide experience it in some form. It can be isolating, frustrating, and sometimes even debilitating. Thankfully, your hearing loss doesn’t have to dictate the way you live your life. You can hear better and live better, too.

Here’s are three ways you can hear better this spring:

1. Stay connected.

When the cold weather months are upon us, it’s easy to stay inside and keep to ourselves. Snowstorms keep us from traveling, the cold isn’t exactly welcoming, and frankly, the spot on your couch is probably much more comfortable.

If you have hearing loss, keeping yourself socially isolated can be harmful. Studies show that people with hearing loss are at a higher risk of cognitive decline, meaning your brain will deteriorate quicker than normal. But, if you stay socially connected, that risk decreases.

As it warms up, get out of the house! Visit your neighbors, meet a friend for coffee, or attend a social event. Don’t let your hearing loss (or the excuse of weather) keep you from connecting with people.

2. Get outside.

When was the last time you went outside for a walk?

Light exercise, like walking, increases your circulation, meaning more blood is flowing through your body. Not only is this great for your heart, but this is great for your ears, too.

Studies have shown that cardiovascular disease and hearing loss are often connected. When you stay active, you keep your body healthy and strong.

As the weather warms up, get outside and get moving!

 

3. Have your hearing aids serviced.

If you haven’t thought about it in a while, it might be a good time to make sure your hearing aids are working like they should.

You don’t want to miss the great things about spring: the birds chirping, the sound of the windchimes in the breeze, or your grandson’s baseball game. Taking care of your hearing aids and making sure they’re working properly will ensure you don’t miss a thing.

Bring your hearing aids into Associates in Hearing, and we’ll make sure your hearing aids are working like they should. We’ll replace the batteries, clean your devices, and make sure they’re working properly.

Now is the perfect time to hear like you want to. Use these three ideas to help care for your hearing loss, and you’ll be able to enjoy the springtime.

If you’re looking for more help and direction for your hearing loss, give us a call. We would love to get you on the path to better hearing.

Come Visit Us

100 West Main Street,
Suite 105 Lansdale, PA 19446

Phone: 215-855-4217
Fax: 215-855-2240

Schedule Appointment

Five Bad Habits That Can Hurt Your Hearing

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Bad habits are hard to break but when it concerns your health, it pays to listen.  Here are five bad habits that can hurt your hearing health:

  1. SmokingYou’ve known now for many years that smoking is bad for your health. It even warns you directly on the box of cigarettes. One of the often-overlooked side effects of smoking is hearing loss. The chemicals produced by smoking a cigarette inhibit your inner ear’s ability to transmit vibrations. The more you smoke the more irreversible damage will be done. Second-hand smoke has the same effect on your family and friends.
  2. DrinkingA study in 2010 found that moderate to high alcohol intake results in brain damage that keeps the brain from being able to interpret and process sounds. The trouble is even worse for folks with alcoholism; the central auditory cortex will become damaged, which may lead to brain shrinkage (that’s never good). Damage to the inner ear known as ototoxicity, is also possible for excessive drinkers. High levels of alcohol in the bloodstream create a toxic environment, which damages the hair cells in the cochlea.  Those hair cells transmit each sound you hear to your brain within milliseconds.
  3. ObesityBeing overweight puts you at risk for a barrage of problems ranging from diabetes to circulatory trouble, to straining your heart, all of which have been linked to hearing loss. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study in 2013 that found women with a higher body mass index had a 17 % higher risk of hearing loss. The study also found that simple physical activity, such as walking for 2 or more hours a week lowered that risk of hearing loss.  So you can see the large impact your diet has on your overall health.
  4. Skipping the DentistYou may not immediately think your teeth and hearing health are connected, but they certainly are. Poor dental health allows harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, narrowing and blocking arteries that lead to the brain. This can interrupt the way the brain receives signals from the auditory nerve. Bad oral hygiene can also lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes, which have been linked to hearing loss.
  5. Skipping the DoctorAn annual physical can detect hearing loss, but more importantly the doctor will be able to tell you if your hearing loss is caused by something other than age. An obstruction, such as earwax buildup, inflammation or tumor can be addressed and possibly get you hearing again or stop further damage.  Doctors are able to refer you to an Audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor, who specialize in dealing with hearing loss.

Hearing Loss and Dementia

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“Seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing… Our findings emphasize just how important it is for physicians to discuss hearing with their patients and to be proactive in addressing any hearing declines over time.”[1]

The link between untreated hearing loss and the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease:

Multiple studies indicate hearing loss can be linked to the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Leaving hearing loss untreated could pose a serious risk that has not been widely shared with the hearing-impaired population. Providing this information will encourage patients and their loved ones to make more informed and timely decisions about their hearing care.

Frank R. Lin, MD, Ph.D conducted a study commonly cited by medical professionals on the topic of hearing loss and cognitive decline. The study observed 1,984 adults with a mean age of 77.4 years over the course of six years, tracking the progression of their hearing loss in relation to their cognitive function. Dr. Lin concluded that while further research was needed to identify the mechanics of how and why hearing loss and cognitive decline are related, there is little doubt the hearing loss is a factor in loss of mental acuity in older adults. The study also indicated that the more severe the hearing loss, the greater the likelihood of developing a cognitive disorder, and the steeper the decline in mental function. However, even subjects with mild hearing loss were found more likely to experience cognitive failures.

“Declines in hearing abilities may accelerate gray matter atrophy and increase the listening effort necessary to comprehend speech… Hearing aids may not only improve hearing but preserve the brain.”[2]

In January 2014, Dr. Lin and his team released new results regarding changes in the brains of adults with normal hearing to those of adults with hearing loss. After undergoing MRI exams every year for ten years, 51 of the 126 participants examined who had at least a 25-decibel hearing loss from the start, displayed accelerated rates of gray matter shrinkage when compared to the 75 participants with normal hearing. Those with hearing impairments lost more than additional cubic centimeter of brain matter annually and experienced greater shrinkage of tissue in the structures responsible for processing sound and gyri, which play key roles in memory and sensory integration. Similar damage to these regions can be seen patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Untreated hearing loss is linked to reduced earning, increased workplace absenteeism, and lower workplace productivity, as well as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.”

Early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss slows the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

As evidence continues to mount that hearing loss is a contributing factor in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it is imperative to inform patients of the profound consequences of ignoring their hearing loss. People with hearing loss on average wait 7 years from when they were diagnosed to seek treatment, even though the sooner hearing loss is detected and treatment begins, the more hearing ability can be preserved. Considering early diagnosis and medical intervention also slows the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it is more important than ever for physicians to encourage patients to get their hearing loss treated sooner rather than later.

Treatments with hearing aids not only help improve a patient’s hearing – they may be the key to preventing brain atrophy and cognitive dysfunction.

“The cost of health care, long-term care and hospice (for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in the US) combined to equal $183 billion per year, and are expected to increase to 1.1 trillion per year by 2050.”[3]

 

 

[1] Johns Hopkins Medicine. Hearing Loss Accelerates Brain Function Decline in Older Adults. 2013 (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_accelerates_brain_function_decline_in_older_adults)
[2] University of Pennsylvania – Perelman School of Medicine, Johnathan Peele, PhD. 2011 (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110231115946.htm)
[3] Alzheimer’s Association. 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures (http://www.alz.org/downloads/Facts_Figures_2011.pdf.)

Tips for Drivers with Hearing Loss

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The open road can be a dangerous place. Anyone getting into a car and turning on the ignition has a tremendous responsibility.  The life of the driver, passengers, pedestrians and other motorists are in many senses in a heightened state of vulnerability. Careful driving requires the engagement of visual and auditory senses to make informed decisions.  Hearing loss can greatly impair an individual’s ability to hear important safety cues such as a horn honking, a siren, or another vehicle accelerating nearby.   During the winter months, our awareness on the road needs to be at an all-time high.  Get to your gatherings safe and sound to make your holiday stress-free.

Here are some tips for drivers with hearing loss:

– Using a cell phone while driving is definitely not recommended and is illegal in most states. According to the National Transpiration Safety Board, the use of any cell phone, including hands-free devices, causes a significant distraction. About 10% of all motor vehicle accidents are attributed to distracted drivers.

– Keep the radio volume to a minimum so you can hear traffic sounds.

– If having a conversation while driving distracts you, ask your passengers to talk to you unless necessary. You can’t read lips while driving!

– Make frequent use of all mirrors when changing lanes and passing because audible cues are not as easy for hearing impaired to pick up on.

– Check your turn signal indicator occasionally to make sure it’s not blinking needlessly. Turn signals are not designed for people with hearing loss and can be difficult to hear over the sound of traffic, engine noise, and the radio

 

If you feel as if you’re not hearing the sounds of the road, schedule a visit with an audiologist.  Whether you are a hearing aid wearer or not, there is plenty you can do to keep yourself safe while getting from point A to point B.

21st Century Technology Leads to Better Hearing

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In the good old days, hearing aids weren’t very smart.  Hearing aids amplified sound the same, whether the sound was soft or loud, low-pitched or high-pitched, in front of you or behind you.  Technology was very inferior and it provided audiologists very little room for adjustments.

Fortunately, today’s hearing aids are much smarter.  The 21st-century digital hearing aid monitors the sounds around you and processes them automatically based on a program custom designed for your hearing pattern.

For example, someone might have good hearing for low-pitched sounds but have a significant hearing loss for high-pitched sounds.  For this person, the instruments are programmed to provide no amplification where the hearing is good and significant amplification for the high-pitched sounds.

Many people with hearing loss can hear loud sounds just fine.  It’s the softer sounds that are a problem.  Hearing aids can be programmed to amplify soft sounds a lot, but not amplify loud sounds at all.  The amount of loudness control can be varied for each individual.

We usually want to pay most attention to the person in front of us.  Directional microphones provide more amplification for sounds coming from the front (and less amplification for sounds from the back). Digital technology allows the hearing aids to control that directionality automatically and more precisely.

As microchips have gotten smaller and much, much faster, engineers, programmers have used the advanced processing capabilities to improve on older techniques.  For example, wireless connectivity uses technology similar to Bluetooth to connect to a telephone or television.  With this technology, the caller’s voice or TV sound is sent directly to both hearing aids.  Thanks to this connectivity, many people with hearing loss hear better on a cell phone than someone with normal hearing.

Telecoils have always been important for some people with hearing loss. Today’s telephone detection capability allows the hearing aid to know when a telephone is brought up to the ear and automatically switch to the telephone mode, allowing the hearing aid to amplify sound from the telephone (and not amplify any other sounds in the environment.)

Other smart functions we take for granted include feedback reduction programs to virtually eliminate that annoying squeal, speech recognition algorithms and noise reduction technology.  All these functions require a smart hearing aid with lightning fast microprocessors.

Millions of people around the world have benefited from these advances.  Of course, hearing aids still can’t restore “normal hearing.” Ironically, the most common complaints that remain involve other man-made technologies, such as movies, television, and the telephone.  Still, we’ve come a long way from the days when hearing aids weren’t very smart.  And who knows what advances we’ll see in the future?

 

Check out some of the most modern technology provided by our hearing aid manufacturers:

Oticon

ReSound

Phonak

The Successful Hearing Aid User

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Audiology researchers studied 160 hearing aid users to determine which factors contribute to successful hearing aid use.  Of the five factors identified, only one was related to hearing loss itself.  The other four factors were related to personality or attitude.

The most important factors contributing to successful hearing aid use were:

Family support: The most important factor for success was the positive support of family and friends.  There was high agreement with statements such as “The people around me think it was wise to get hearing aids,” and “The people around me think I hear better with my hearing aids.”  Having your friends or family involved and bringing them with you to your appointments can help them understand your hearing loss.  They are also the individuals who are most familiar with your hearing loss so they will serve as an unbiased onlooker who can tell you if the aids are serving their purpose or not.

Personal Attitude: Individuals who had a positive attitude about hearing aids and were comfortable handling them were successful users.  Keeping a positive attitude both before and after obtaining hearing aids can also contribute to success.

Hearing difficulty: Those who reported more hearing difficulties were more likely to be successful hearing aid users. Due to the fact that they’ve faced more hurdles and missed out on more dialogue, people with more hearing difficulty are more likely to notice even the most subtle of changes.  Whether is the squeaking of your shoes or the subtle taps of a symbol on a drum, it amazes individuals on what details they were missing out on.

Implications: The results from this and other research suggest that:

– Family members should be involved in the hearing rehabilitation process.

– The process should include a “thorough exploration of the effects of the hearing loss.”

– Instruction and demonstration of the handling of the hearing aids contribute to successful use

Does Your Doctor Look for Hearing Loss?

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We get our eyes checked, we get our teeth checked but we don’t always give our ears the same level of care.  The invisible handicap of hearing loss is one that most people tend to put on the back burner.  One way can change this is by encouraging our primary care physicians to make this a routine part of their care.

Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions and has important implications for patients’ quality of life.  However, hearing loss is substantially undetected and untreated.”  That was the conclusion in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The authors recommended that physicians screen for hearing loss during routine physical examinations of their patients over the age of 55.  Despite these recommendations, only about 10% of the primary care physicians screen their adult patients for hearing loss.

You can help by encouraging your own doctor to screen for hearing loss.  Your doctor may appreciate hearing about the difference good hearing health care has made in your life.  Taking away the negative connotations that surround hearing loss is the first step in getting doctors to detect early signs of loss.  Studies have shown that on average people wait 7+ years to address their hearing problems.  Whether that is their own stubbornness or that they were never made aware by their doctor, this is 7+ years with a loss in quality of life.

2017 has just begun but we should all make a whole hearted effort to put our health at the top of our resolution list.  Hearing health can be correlated to a multitude of health problems so getting your hearing checked would be a great start towards improving your well-being.