Categories
Hearing Aids

Mission Trip to Nicaragua

Back in June, two representatives of Chesapeake Hearing Centers, Inc., traveled to Managua, Nicaragua, with the Starkey Hearing Foundation (SHF) to fit hearing aids on the local population. For Dr. Caroline H. Aland, director of clinical services, and her husband, Timothy P. Aland, president, it was an adventure that they may never forget. Over a three-day period, the couple fit 171 hearing aids.

“Having the chance to work with such a fantastic population was exhilarating. The people of Nicaragua were constantly smiling and excited, in many cases, to experience hearing aids for the first time,” stated Dr. Aland. “We worked with all age groups and just wish we could have done more!”

For her husband, it was a chance to get out from behind the desk. “I’ve been working with Chesapeake Hearing Centers for over 23 years. Most days are spent dealing with day-to-day operations. This mission really allowed me to step out and work one-on-one with the patients. Even with the language barrier, we knew we were connecting,” he said. “The folks with the Starkey Hearing Foundation were fantastic, and I cannot say enough about Bill Austin and his crew.”

Chesapeake Hearing Centers donates a portion of the proceeds from every Starkey-manufactured hearing aid they sell to SHF. These funds are later used to pay for mission work in locations all across the globe. The overall goal is to fit 1 million aids through SHF, both here and abroad. SHF accepts donations of used aids, and they can be dropped off at any of Chesapeake’s six locations.

For more information on SHF, visit www.starkeyhearingfoundation.com.

Categories
Hearing Aids

Troubleshooting Hearing Aids in Summer

Summer

Summer is a wonderful time to travel and be with friends and family. We all want to hear what is going on, enjoying those wonderful sounds of the season. But when you wear hearing aids, this can also be a very frustrating time. Moisture issues are prevalent as well as ear problems like swimmer’s ear and wax accumulation.

What to do?

Even more frustrating, hearing aids can break down when you are traveling or on weekends when those big special events are scheduled. It is difficult to get in to your hearing care provider for a clean and check, so what do you do?

Simple troubleshooting tips

Most issues we see in the office are fairly simple to solve. Our staff is well trained to look for these common problems and can usually “cure” the issue in a matter of minutes. There are some fairly simple troubleshooting tips that may help you bring your hearing aid back to normal function when you can’t get into our office.

Is it the battery?

If your hearing aid is dead — no sound coming out — first try to change the battery. Make sure the tab from the battery has been removed. If a new battery does not work, try a battery from a different pack. Sometimes packs of batteries are old or have been exposed to elements that cause them not to work properly. If you have one hearing aid working, take the battery from the good aid and try it in the bad aid. That is a quick, easy way to rule out a battery issue without wasting any more batteries. Do not try more than two batteries. If the aid is still not working, try something else.

Dead or weak hearing aids can be caused by a blockage in the system. Depending on your style of hearing aid, you may check the tubing for moisture or wax buildup, or check the wax basket/filter. If the hearing aid has traditional tubing, the earmold can be removed and blown out with canned air or even your mouth in a pinch. Thin-tube hearing aids come with a small reamer that will clear the tubing. If the hearing aid is an in-the-ear style or receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) style, there is likely a wax guard or basket that can be changed.

Lastly, moisture is a huge problem in the summer months. If you have a drying jar, this is the time to use it. If you do not, ask your provider. The price can vary from $10–$200 for electric drying machines. In a pinch, a baggie with a few of the silicone packs you find in a new shoebox may work.

If the hearing aid continues to have issues, call your AudigyCertified™ provider. Often the hearing aids can be fixed by your provider in the office. Of course, the best remedy is prevention. Patients are encouraged to visit their provider several times throughout the year for routine cleanings and maintenance. If you are planning a trip or are attending an event and have not been in for a while, please call your provider for a clean and check to help head off any problems you might experience on the road.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Noise Can Hurt

Noise takes a toll

Noise can hurt, and it is one of the biggest culprits in declining hearing. Although hearing loss can have many causes, noise — especially repetitive, loud sounds — can certainly take its toll over time. The increased sound pressure waves push through the ear system, wiping out the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. Although occasionally this damage can occur with a one-time exposure to an intense sound, more commonly it is the result of repeat exposure over long periods of time. Noisy jobs in industries such as construction and emergency services or noisy hobbies, such as hunting and motorcycles, can all play a part.

Protect from further damage

Avoiding damaging levels of sound by wearing hearing protection devices, such as earplugs or earmuffs, can help reduce or negate the impact of loud sound. But once the damage is done, it is not curable; noise-induced hearing loss cannot be reversed. However, you can protect your hearing from further damage. It is important if you think you may have noise-induced hearing loss to have your hearing tested to establish a baseline. Then you can start using hearing protection devices to protect the hearing you have. Your audiologist can help you determine what devices may be best for you.

An assessment is key

Although noise-induced hearing loss is not curable, there are things you can do to overcome the hearing loss. Improving your communication skills or wearing small amplifying devices can help in many situations. The ear is a complicated mechanism, so when damage is done, a thorough assessment is really the only way to decide what course of action would be best.

Celebrate in June

June is a month of graduations, weddings, and family vacations — not to mention the beginning of summer and a time for us to spend time with family and friends. Communication is a top priority. We want to hear those valedictorian speeches, vows, and family jokes. Hearing loss, even when mild, can detract from this. It can cause us to misunderstand or miss conversations entirely. It can be frustrating and isolating. June is the time to make a change. Have your hearing checked and find out from the professionals what, if any, hearing loss you have and what solutions would be right for you.

Hearing aids are now smaller, more comfortable, and more advanced than ever. And although they cannot restore hearing loss to perfect levels, hearing devices can allow for significant improvements.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Vertigo

Dizziness and vertigo are fairly common medical complaints with 20%–30% of the general population reporting symptoms at some time during their life. Dizziness can affect patients of all ages and can have many different causes. Symptoms of dizziness become more prevalent as patients age and tend to affect women more than men. In fact 2%–3% of emergency room visits are the result of dizziness.

What is vertigo?

Vertigo is the feeling of movement while remaining stationary.  It is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, instability, or difficulty maintaining balance and falling. Vertiginous attacks can include blurred vision and difficulty speaking. Attacks may be episodic and acute or chronic. True vertigo is often associated with diseases of the ear.

Dizziness is a little vaguer, and can mean true vertigo, lightheadedness, or a balance disorder. Dizziness can also be caused by many things such as BPPVlabyrinthitis, anxiety, middle ear infections, and sinus and allergy problems.

Get a professional diagnosis

Diagnosing the cause of vertigo and dizziness begins with a visit to your primary physician. He or she is most qualified to start the process of ruling out the underlining causes such as diabetes, heart problems or inner ear disorder. The primary physician may refer you to several specialists to narrow down the possible cause. An otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) is likely to be involved as diseases of the ear are ruled out. The audiologist may be asked to perform a hearing test looking for subtle differences between your ears. They will also be the specialist asked to assess the function of the balance portion of the inner ear. The audiologist typically does this with a test called an ENG or VNG (electronystagmography study or videonystagmography study). This test is really a series of smaller tests that access the semicircular canals (the balance portion of the inner ear) and the central balance system. The results can help the physician decide how best to treat the dizziness.

Many treatments available

The good news is that once the underlying cause is identified, there are many treatments for dizziness and vertigo. The treatments may involve manipulations that allow tiny, free-floating crystals in your inner ear be reabsorbed or vestibular rehabilitation to help you adjust to changes in you balance system. Depending on the cause, there may also be surgical or medical treatments available. The key is proper diagnosis.

Our AudigyCertified™ audiologists are well trained providers of vestibular (balance) evaluation and treatment. If you or a loved one is experiencing dizziness, ask your physician if inner ear disorder should be ruled out. As with all of our appointments, you will be guided through our 4-step process. We will review our history, examine your ears, evaluate the inner ear system and review the results and possible treatment options with you. A comprehensive report will then be forwarded on to your physician.

If you are experiencing dizziness or vertigo, ask your physician if an audiological evaluation would be right for you. We look forward to being part of your professional team.