Categories
Hearing Loss

Why don’t people get their hearing checked?

It’s more than a hearing test

I was thinking the other day about 33 years ago when I was just starting my audiology practice. One day I had very lovely 83 year young lady who requested a hearing test. As with all my other patients I was interviewing/talking to her in my sound booth when after the very first question she started crying. Okay, I’m a guy in my 20’s thinking “it’s just a hearing test”, but I soon found out that there was so much more to her story. The patient proceeded to tell me she had just been diagnosed with dementia by her M.D. and her family agreed. This was a tough realization for her and she was beginning to think she was “losing it” because she kept hearing and responding incorrectly when people spoke to her. This hearing test was the last check for her, she was afraid the results would reveal what she feared the most. It was then that I realized how much I needed to exercise empathy with my patients, as they all have stories as to why they are getting their hearing checked.

In the case of this patient, we found she was barely hearing conversational speech, a common symptom of hearing loss. The good news was that it was fixable and within 2 weeks the patient was fit with hearing aids. Once fit everyone realized pretty quickly she had no dementia, she simple wasn’t hearing enough to understand what was being said to her. This is what I love about my job, helping people get connected back to their lives.

The big pictures lesson I learned was I wasn’t just doing a hearing test, for a lot of patients I’m a life line in order to keep a normal life. I’ve never forgotten that. In fact I’ve made it my mission to educate others on the topic as much as possible.

So why don’t people recognize that they have a hearing loss?

There are 3 primary reasons:

1) Hearing loss can naturally happen over time and isn’t always noticeable. In today’s world there are so many sounds around us it makes it hard to focus. Hearing loss is not like turning down the sound on TV. Most of us will lose hearing in the high frequencies first while maintaining good hearing in their bass. This is why you will hear many with a hearing loss complain that they hear as loud as they use to but no longer can understand what is being said to them.

2) It is easy to dismiss a potential problem if you’re not ready to face the possibility of it. On average, it can take up to 7 years before someone will do something about their hearing upon initial diagnosis. Imagine all the sounds that are lost within a 7 year period! Don’t miss out on your life out of fear! In the case of my lovely patient above, she was afraid of the outcome because it was possibly going to change her entire world. We were able to help her connect back with her world.

3) Hearing loss is more noticeable to friends and family first. I’ve seen this over and over again. The person with hearing loss doesn’t realize they are even missing anything. They can’t hear people calling out to them so when they finally do hear, it’s the first time. To them, they don’t understand why everyone is so impatient. It is here where those relationships can start to feel strain. The hearing impaired person gets tired of the attitude and “nagging” the friends and family get tired of repeating themselves. If a solution isn’t diagnosed soon, those relationships will eventually give up on each other and isolation will occur. This is what we want to stop on a daily basis, people don’t have to live like that.

If you or a loved one can identify with anything outlined above, please don’t hesitate to call your AudigyCertified provider.  Many times the solution is simply removing wax build up. You don’t have to go through this alone and you don’t have to watch a family member go through this on their own. Give us a call today.

Our patient-centered approach allows us to focus on satisfying your hearing care need, whatever they may be. Our practices will work with you to diagnose and find solutions for your hearing, tinnitus, and balance needs using state-of-the-art equipment and the most advanced technology. Because our focus is entirely on your unique needs, coming to one of our practices means that you’ll experience patient care that is specific to you, with exceptional follow-up care that ensures your hearing and balance needs are being met.

A strong patient-provider relationship based on honesty, integrity, and values is what we strive for, and we feel that this is the best approach to making sure you don’t miss any of the precious moments in your life.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Hear Better for the Holidays

Hear the holidays

Holiday season brings friends and family members together to celebrate and connect with each other. If you or someone you love is experiencing hearing difficulty, you might find these family gatherings frustrating instead of treasuring this time together. Hearing loss doesn’t just affect the ears; it brings on so many emotions, including embarrassment and frustration when you are unable to participate in conversation with your loved ones. Family members express the same concerns when trying to communicate with their loved one who is having the difficulty. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States and can affect anyone at any age. Untreated hearing loss has been associated with depression, isolation, and cognitive decline. Sadly, most people wait at least seven years to treat it. Now is the time to do something about it!

When it comes to purchasing hearing devices, most patients consider it a “retail purchase,” and that they can just be bought off the shelf. But a hearing aid cannot offer the full benefits without a trained professional to program that aid, teach you how to use it, and manipulate it specifically for you and the listening environments that are most important to you. Hearing loss is a health problem, requiring a health care professional to treat it. Hearing devices are not “one size fits all.” The ability to integrate your devices with your lifestyle is essential to achieving better hearing, and a doctor of audiology is the most qualified professional to do this. Your investment in better hearing should be measured by the results you experience every day.

Just because hearing loss is common doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated as soon as possible. Why wait? Improve your quality of life, be engaged in group and family conversations, and love the way you hear this year! Call your local AudigyCertified™ practice today!

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Hearing Loss

Middle Ear Problems, Tubes and Hearing Loss

Middle ear problems

Colds are an inevitable problem during the fall and winter seasons. In most cases, middle ear fluid, or “ear congestion,” lasts a few days during a cold virus and then dissipates. However, when the middle ear fluid causes pain or hearing loss lasting longer than a month, it is time to follow up with your physician.

Get a professional diagnosis

Many conditions can mimic middle ear congestion. TMJ (temporal mandibular joint pain) is one cause that can be mistaken for middle ear fluid. Both produce a feeling of ear fullness. Tympanometry and a hearing test can provide your physician clues as to the cause and severity of your symptoms.

Are tubes the solution?

In some cases where there is chronic middle ear fluid, tubes are recommended. This treatment is obtained from an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Tubes help ventilate the middle ear where the fluid is located. After placement of tubes, the patient can tell when there is infection present so that treatment can be started.

If you have questions — whether you have ear congestion or if your hearing might be affected by other causes — contact your physician to find out what your next step should be and whether a hearing test would be helpful.

Hearing tests are simple, painless, and will answer questions you might have about your symptoms.

On a Personal Note…

As the holiday season approaches, gatherings with family and friends help us focus on our daily blessings. Shopping, preparing, and sharing our time with others reminds us of the importance of our connections to friends and family.

Perhaps you know a friend or family member who is struggling with untreated hearing loss. Would you be willing to encourage them to get hearing help?

It takes time to learn to hear again. Your hearing journey begins with a hearing test and a plan. Start hearing better BEFORE the holiday season by helping someone you know hear more clearly. Your AudigyCertified provider offers a staff of audiologists ready to answer your questions about hearing loss, and we believe in communicating findings with your physician. Call us for an appointment.

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Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Basics

According to the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss is now the third most common health problem in the country today, behind only arthritis and heart disease with more than 50 million Americans suffering from its effects. There are some common questions I get from patients in regards to their hearing, hearing loss and hearing aids so I would like to answer a few of the most common:

1. How does hearing work?

Sounds start as moving waves and enter the ear canal, and then the sound will vibrate your eardrum and send the signal through your middle ear bones, to your permanent hearing organs or your cochleas. The cochleas then transmit the sound to the brain to be processed into speech and other sound information. The brain takes the sound coming from both ears to be able to tell where sound is coming from.

2. What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors. There are a few major factors that can affect hearing:

Genetics – hearing loss can have a familial link.

Natural Aging Process – the slow deterioration of hearing over time can get more progressive the higher up in age we go.

Toxicity/Trauma – head trauma or a fall can sometimes affect the physical parts of the ear which transmit sound. Some medications are toxic to the ears (ototoxic). See this pdf for more information on ototoxic medications: www.chchearing.org/sites/default/files/Ototoxic_Brochure.pdf

Noise Exposure – two types of sound exposure can cause noise-induced hearing loss: prolonged noise exposure or a sudden, loud, single burst of sound like a bang from a firecracker. Always wear hearing protection if you are in a high noise environment to prevent any hearing loss.

3. Will my hearing get worse?

There are no predictions when it comes to hearing loss changes. I recommend baseline hearing evaluations if you feel you are having difficulty. Then as years go on, if you feel your hearing has changed or after exposure to dangerously loud noises, your hearing can be re-tested and compared to previous results.

4. Why do I need two hearing aids?

Hearing happens at the level of the brain. If you are diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears, it will always be medically recommended to correct the loss in both ears because the brain needs sound coming through both of your ears equally and evenly to process the best signal possible. Using just one hearing aid when a hearing test result indicates that you need two, reduces your brain’s hearing and understanding by 50%.

5. What hearing aids are right for me?

You don’t just purchase hearing aids, you see a certified and qualified audiologist to listen to your individual hearing concerns and make the best recommendation for your specific listening needs. There are hundreds if not thousands of different hearing aids on the market today, and choosing a trusted Audiologist is the first step to finding the hearing aids that are best for you. Then, you and your audiologist create a plan together to meet all of your expectations for better hearing. As an Audigy Certified professional, I believe in providing the highest level of patient care.

Categories
How Hearing Works

Misophonia and Headphones:

A situation that just gets worse

When specific sounds fill up all of your hearing, and when they hurt (and it happens all the time for those with misophonia), you just want the sounds to stop.

What is misophonia

Trigger sounds are distracting, obnoxious, and painful to those with misophonia. Whether it’s someone eating popcorn, breathing heavily, or chewing gum, listening to the sound is sheer torture. The person with misophonia can become extremely angry and/or anxious at the sound. The solution, it would seem, would be to wear earplugs or headphones to protect against the trigger sounds.

It would be nice if that were the case. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way. Blocking out sound actually makes the misophonia worse. The trigger sounds become much more intrusive — perhaps even more trigger sounds develop — and earplugs are worn more frequently.

Research

Recent research has shown that we have central auditory gain. This means that the brain centers that deal with hearing increase the intensity of sound (the loudness) within the brain to make up for perceived hearing loss. So, if the brain can’t hear the sound well (because of hearing loss or earplugs), it will try to intensify the sound in the brain. And it does this at several levels in the brain, starting at the brainstem (low-level areas) up to the cortex (the higher-thinking brain.). This may lead to increased sensitivity to trigger sounds. The misophonia becomes worse and even more unbearable.

On the bright side, exposure to sound — even relatively soft sound — can decrease central auditory gain and increase tolerance levels. This is true for those who have hearing loss and those with decreased tolerance to loud sounds. We also use this principle in treating misophonia.

We can help

Our treatment for misophonia begins with the introduction of low-level noise to the ear — like white noise or ocean sounds — to reduce central auditory gain. This noise does not interfere with conversation or hearing desired sounds such as a teacher or music. It’s not that loud, but it supplies a continuous low-level sound that also allows for normal daily communication. It doesn’t cover up or mask the trigger sounds; it cushions the trigger sounds by raising the floor of the sound environment.

It is also important to realize that listening to this sound must happen with unblocked ear canals. Wearing earbuds, headphones, or anything that blocks sound from entering the ear canal works like an earplug, and central auditory gain ensues. The sensitivity to trigger sounds becomes worse. In treating misophonia, we use special devices that transmit various specific sounds while leaving the ear canal open. The devices are usually paired to smartphones, which provide an unlimited variety of sounds to use. An added benefit: they are the coolest Bluetooth® devices out there!

Sound generation provides numerous benefits in the treatment of misophonia. The reduction of central gain is a particularly important benefit for getting misophonia under control.

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How Hearing Works

Amygdala Connection

Is this you?

Why do people with misophonia become so upset and angry with sounds when they don’t bother most people?

Part of our brain that controls emotions is the limbic system. It is part of the ‘mid brain’, located in about the center of your head and has several different parts. One part is the amygdala. The amygdala looks kind of like an olive and its job is to prioritize everything that comes into your brain – the smells, the sights, the tastes, the sounds, the feelings. There are so many things in our world that we can’t handle being aware of all of them. Some need to be weeded out. Some need to have high priority. It is the job of the amygdala to sort this all out.

Priorities

Now if the amygdala decides that whatever one is experiencing is unimportant, a low priority will be assigned and you may even forget about the stimulus. Did you put on shoes this morning? Did you forget about them? The amygdala doesn’t think they’re very important any more. Your brain has “habituated” to the feel of the shoes. However, if your shoes are too tight and may cause harm or injury to your feet, you may feel pain, and your amygdala tries to get you to pay attention to this pain and fix the situation. It may be hard to ‘habituate’ to this pain – it’s something that warrants your attention and needs you to take action.

If the situation is urgent enough, the amygdala starts other processes in motion for your reaction. It is the ‘fight or flight’ place. Is this a dangerous situation, do you need to take action immediately? Sometimes your life may depend upon your immediate action. The amygdala will spur you on. What’s that unfamiliar and unexpected footstep? Who is in the room that shouldn’t be there? Where is that child going that is dangerous? The amygdala alerts your autonomic system and you react without thinking. It keeps you – and perhaps family – alive. There are more pathways going from the limbic system to the thinking brain than from the thinking brain to the limbic system. It’s by design. Our emotions – fear, anger, alert – will get us moving faster than our thinking brain will.

In the case of misophonia, it is thought that the amygdala has identified some specific sounds (and sometimes specific sounds by specific people) to be dangerous, unwanted, or maybe just plain unacceptable. The sounds really need to stop. So the amygdala will focus on these sounds. Locate them so that they can be stopped. And another part of the brain actually makes these sounds louder in the brain (better able to hear them, identify them) even if you don’t want them louder. YOUR BRAIN THINKS THIS IS KEEPING YOU ALIVE.

So a person with misophonia has a brain that keeps focusing on obnoxious and gross sounds. The amygdala keeps them on alert. They become anxious (when’s it going to stop? How can that person be so rude?), fearful (it’s going to start again. I have to sit at the dinner table again tonight and it will be TERRIBLE!) and angry (these people MUST STOP making this noise! It’s driving me crazy and they don’t care!) The emotions are taking over, and the person is out of control. Parents, teachers and friends don’t have a clue.

Treatment is available

Treatment strengthens those connections from the thinking part of the brain to the emotional, alerting part, the amygdala, to retrain the amygdala not to put the priority on these sounds that it once did. We are retraining the thought process. Remember that our brains are ‘plastic,’ we can learn and change some pathways and therefore some habits. We want to start enhancing those connections from the thinking part of the brain to the emotional part; to retrain the amygdala not to put the priority on these sounds that it once did. Because misophonia trigger sounds are so intrusive, it is necessary to cushion these sounds in the brain so the brain can deal with them. If we eliminate the triggers altogether, the brain in unable to deal with them at all and the misophonia actually becomes worse. It’s a balancing act that requires the help of a professional.

Researchers have not determined why some people have such severe sound sensitivities. It is apparent, however, that they are real and in some instances are debilitating. But there is help.

So if this is what’s happening, what can we do about it? Does a person with misophonia have to live with it? Can it be cured? Like someone who is truly tone deaf, they may not be able to sing at Carnegie Hall, but they might be able to learn to play a musical instrument with instruction and practice. Our brains are made to learn. They are ‘plastic.’ But sometimes they also need special help. I am convinced that, if the person with misophonia could ‘habituate’ to trigger sounds on their own, they would. But since they can’t, professional help may be in order and has brought relief and even, in some circumstances, a “cure.” We want to start enhancing those connections from the thinking part of the brain to the emotional part, the amygdala, to retrain the amygdala not to put the priority on these sounds that it once did. And because the trigger sounds are so intrusive, it is necessary to cushion these sounds in the brain so the brain can deal with them. If we eliminate the triggers altogether, the brain in unable to deal with them at all and the misophonia actually becomes worse. It’s a balancing act that requires the help of a professional.

But why do the brains of some people do this but not others? Don’t know. Brains are different. Why do some people have perfect pitch but others can’t carry a tune in a bucket? Why is one child a mathematician and their sibling a writer? We’re just different. But like someone who is truly tone deaf, they may not be able to sing at Carnegie Hall, but they might be able to learn to play a musical instrument with instruction and practice. Our brains are made to learn. They are plastic. And when we need to change some of those processes, a professional is needed.

Categories
Hearing Aids

Why Do I Need Two Hearing Aids?

“Why can’t I just get one hearing aid?”

This a common question in any audiology practice. Years and years ago, even with hearing loss in both ears, it was common practice that one hearing aid would be “good enough.” Yes, there are folks today who use just one hearing aid, and there are different reasons why this might be the case, but generally when someone has hearing loss in both ears, the best practice is to amplify both ears.

Some reasons why someone might have one hearing aid:

Some people have hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other. If the ear with hearing loss is useable, which is measured by the degree of word recognition at a loud enough volume to compensate for the decreased hearing, then amplifying the hearing-impaired ear can make a lot of sense. It can equal out the information provided to the brain from the other ear, provide localization, and help with hearing in difficult listening situations.

If hearing loss in one ear is not useable, which is determined by measuring a poor degree of word recognition in the hearing-impaired ear, then a hearing aid may not be recommended. People with non-useable hearing loss may choose to do nothing and try to compensate with one ear only. This is a case where someone has a hearing loss — which may not be noticeable to anyone else — but they struggle tremendously in a noisy environment because of poor localizing ability.

Hearing loss can also be significantly different between each ear. Someone may have useable mild to moderate hearing loss on one side and non-usable hearing on the other. This could be due to a number of factors, from injury to infections. This person has hearing loss in both ears, but may only use a hearing aid on one side because the brain only processes sound successfully on one side. Although a hearing aid is necessary for this person to be involved in any conversation — and they will seem to hear well in quiet — they will still struggle greatly in a noisy place due to the use of only one ear.

Some benefits of wearing two hearing aids:

Even with non-usable hearing on one side, many individuals benefit from a CROS or contralateral-routing-of-signal type of hearing aid. This kind of hearing aid is actually two small devices — one worn on each ear. A transmitter on the unusable ear sends sound from that side to a receiver on the good ear. This allows the user to hear voices from their “bad” side, and this is an example of someone who has hearing loss on only one side but will appear to be wearing two hearing aids. This type of hearing aid may help balance out sound. They may not be able to figure out where you are when you are calling them from behind, but they will hear a voice from their “bad side” and have help when trying to understand conversation in a noisy place.

Research has proven time and again that hearing is a complex process. The complexities of hearing loss also illustrate the importance of a comprehensive hearing evaluation done by a licensed and trusted audiologist. And, yes, there are situations where one hearing aid may be indicated. But generally, when hearing loss is identified in both ears, two hearing aids is currently recognized as best practice.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Reflections on Waking Up with Hearing Loss

August 5 is a day I won’t soon forget. It’s the day I woke up with hearing loss.

First, if you’ll permit me, a little background: I’ve been an audiologist for going on 20 years. I am the owner of Amdahl Hearing in Minnesota. I’d been around long enough to think I knew a few things about hearing loss. But nothing prepared me for this.

I woke up on Monday morning feeling a little off — kind of heavy in my left ear. The week before, I had been installing a video otoscope, a device that allows an audiologist to display the image of a patient’s ear canal and eardrum on a computer screen, in one of our offices. It’s a great tool for helping patients understand how their ears work. While installing the otoscope, I had looked in my own ear to make sure all was working as it should. What I found was that I had a pretty significant buildup of cerumen (earwax) in my left ear. It’s not that uncommon, so I just made a mental note to get it removed. With that in mind, I assumed that the feeling in my left ear was simply the wax finally occluding (plugging) my ear canal. So I hopped in the shower with a wax-removal syringe and did what I’ve told my patients to do a thousand times: I irrigated my left ear with water. After putting about a gallon of water through the syringe and my ear canal, a sizeable piece of wax dropped out. Success!

Except I still couldn’t hear very well

I assumed there was a bit more wax in there than I had anticipated, so I ran another gallon or so of water through my canal…and nothing. At this point I was getting mildly concerned. I got ready as usual and started the coffeepot. As I was getting ready, I heard a beeping sound coming from the living room. Wondering what it was, I looked around only to find nothing. As I returned to the kitchen, I realized that the noise had come from the coffeepot, which was in the opposite direction from where I had thought I heard it. Getting a bit more concerned, I got into the car and got on my weekly phone call meeting with my management staff (hands-free; my phone emits sound through my car speakers). I could hardly understand a word. I maxed out the volume and faked my way through the meeting.

Not good

Once at the office, I used the otoscope to look into my left ear and found no wax. The audiologist in my head said, “Not good.” I proceeded from my office to the test booth. First I tested the right ear, which was normal, then the left. The readings were normal in the low-pitch range (like low notes on the piano), but they dropped off to a moderately severe hearing loss in my left ear.

I ran a quick couple of checks to see if, by chance, I had a bit of an ear infection. Negative. Since I had a hearing aid on hand to use for demonstration purposes, I quickly programmed it to my loss. It was like someone turned the light back on. I couldn’t believe how much better it was, as the loss I was experiencing was something many people have told me “isn’t that bad.”

Off to a specialist

At this point, I was very concerned and did what I had instructed my patients to do just one week earlier on a weekly radio show: In the case of a sudden hearing loss, get to a specialist as soon as possible. I was able to make an appointment, and I stopped to talk to some of my staff to update them on my situation and go over some things we needed to do that day. I had to have each of them repeat themselves. I had to really concentrate and look at each person in order to hear them. If two people were talking at once, I couldn’t follow. At the doctor’s office, when the nurse called my name, she sounded far off to my right, even though I was looking directly at her.

The otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) prescribed medication that is often given to people with sudden hearing loss, and I am happy to report that as I write this on August 7, my hearing has returned to normal

I consider myself very lucky

This experience has taught me a lot about how precious our senses truly are. As I reflect on my own experience, I am reminded how important it is to get in to see a specialist as soon as possible anytime sudden hearing loss occurs. Time is truly of the essence in these situations.

The other part of my experience, to me, is even more important. Keep in mind, I had a moderate hearing loss in my left ear only; my right ear was perfectly normal. Over the course of that day, I had issues hearing and understanding on the phone, I had difficulty understanding the radio, I misunderstood my staff, I struggled hearing in a small group, and I was unable to localize where sounds were coming from. I found myself feeling frustrated, worried that I had missed something important, and irritated that people were not speaking appropriately. I did not participate fully in a meeting because I wasn’t sure what we were talking about. I didn’t want to ask anyone to repeat for fear of looking foolish. And I was frightened to think my condition was permanent.

Even temporary hearing loss is a big deal

I had to deal with hearing loss in one ear for about a day. While I’ve always thought I could understand how it feels to be hearing impaired, I was wrong. I can tell you that any amount of hearing loss, even in one ear, is a big deal. I was amazed at the impact it had on my ability to communicate with people and to connect with my staff. I felt so isolated.

Help is available

If you are reading this, I hope you never have the experience that I did. If you believe you may have a hearing loss, or if you have been tested and told you have some hearing loss, I strongly urge you to get help. If you have a family member or friend who you suspect has a loss, talk to them. There is help available. And believe me, it’s worth it!

Kevin Amdahl

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Uncategorized

Misophonia

What is misophonia?

Everyone dislikes some sounds. Whether it is nails on a chalkboard, a burp, hearing someone slurp their drink loudly, or hearing someone chew with their mouth open, there are sounds most of us classify as rude and inconsiderate. The sounds don’t necessarily have to be loud or “hurt” your ears; they may just be impolite or gross. But for some people, the sounds are more than irritating. They are disgusting and should be stopped. A person may find himself focusing on the sounds, becoming angry, unreasonable, and uncontrolled. Someone with misophonia, even though they realize their actions and thoughts are irrational, still wonders why no one else is disturbed by the sounds. Why can’t other people be as considerate as I am? What is it about chewing gum? Is the whole world crazy?

The difference between most people and those with misophonia is that some normal, everyday sounds are not just mildly irritating and not worthy of attention — they are intensified, right-in-your-face obnoxious, and over time they may become painful because they never stop, because many times there is no escape, and because there’s no control over either the sound or one’s reaction to it. So irritation becomes disgust, disgust becomes anger, and anger may become fear.

Identification and treatment groundwork

A handful of professionals in various disciplines (among them psychiatry, psychology, and audiology) have been laying groundwork on the identification and treatment of misophonia. Current research suggests that misophonia is caused by “enhanced connections between the autonomic and limbic systems and the central auditory processing network,” which identifies and intensifies specific sounds, creating negative associations with those sounds, which then cause anxiety and anger. It’s a survival mechanism in the brain that is somewhat misdirected.

Imagine yourself at home at about 6:30 in the evening, expecting someone (spouse, parent, or friend) to walk in at any moment. Imagine that this happens almost every day at about the same time. When that person arrives, you hear a key in the door, the door opens, and you hear footsteps at the door. No alarm bells go off, and maybe on some days you don’t even hear it happening because you’re so used to it.

Now, listen to the exact same sounds — a key in the door, the door opening, and footsteps at the door. The difference is that it is 3:30 am. Your reaction is TOTALLY different. You are fully awake, your heart is pounding, and you listen closely to determine what is happening and what you should do next. Your life may be in danger. This reaction is to keep you alive.

The problem with someone with misophonia is that they have that same reaction all the time to normal sounds. Sounds that could, in the extreme, be irritating, but it doesn’t have to be in the extreme for someone with misophonia to react in this way. And it happens daily — at home, at work, at school. There is no escaping these sounds. Sometimes isolation doesn’t even work.

Mis-diagnosis in children

Since misophonia usually starts surfacing between the ages of 8 and 14, a child with misophonia is thought to be difficult because of their age. They’re just being a kid. But while misophonia looks like an uncooperative child, it is a child in turmoil, a child with a condition that, without professional and knowledgeable help, will continue on this path and, in all likelihood, will become worse. They are not making it up. They are not imagining it. While it is known by only a few and understood by even less, misophonia is real, and there is help.

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Hearing Aids

Personalized Hearing

What’s Best For Your Friend May Not Be Best For You

Many times when patients come to an AudigyCertified provider for a consultation they have done some research on hearing aids prior to their appointment. Often, that research involves getting the opinions of friends or family that have hearing aids.

Patients then give me the mixed reviews: their friends love their hearing aids, they hate their hearing aids, the hearing aids whistle, their friends like a specific brand, and the list goes on and on. My next question is always “do you know what their hearing loss looks like?” The answer is always a resounding “no”. If we don’t know what someone else’s hearing loss looks like compared to our own, we don’t know if what they have will be the best solution for you.

An individual’s hearing loss is just one of the five aspects that to consider in a successful hearing aid fitting. With personalization of all areas of the hearing treatment, negative complaints can be avoided and optimal hearing can be achieved.

Lifestyle Assessment

A lifestyle assessment helps to identify the types of listening environments a patient is in and where they experience difficulty hearing. These listening environments may include TV, restaurants, family gatherings and other social events. This lifestyle analysis allows us to find a solution that is the best fit for the patient’s lifestyle needs. Fulfilling these needs may include the technology level, Bluetooth capabilities, iPhone hearing aids or extended wear hearing aids.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can present itself in many different ways. There are different degrees and configurations of hearing loss, from mild to profound, which dictates what sounds the patient is missing in their daily life. Based on the patient’s individual hearing loss, we select the appropriate hearing aid that will benefit the patient now and in the future.

Hearing Aid Style

Hearing aid style is very important for all patients and there are many options to choose from. When selecting a hearing aid style we must consider cosmetics, dexterity, vision, and hearing loss. Our goal is to find a hearing aid that the patient will be comfortable wearing and operating so it does not end up in a drawer.

The Physical Fit

Contrary to popular belief, a hearing aid should be comfortable. It should fit in the ear so it will not fall out, hurt, or whistle. If any of these are happening, then either the hearing aids are not appropriate fit or they are not the correct hearing aids for the patient. We work together with our patients to ensure that the hearing aids are not bothersome and are as comfortable as wearing a watch or glasses.

Sound Quality

At Mission Audiology, we use verification measures called Live Speech Mapping to achieve optimal sound quality. Live Speech Mapping is the only true way to verify that a hearing aid is performing in the ear correctly. If two people have the same hearing loss but have different ear canal sizes, the sound will act differently within that space. Therefore, Live Speech Mapping allows us to customize the sound, taking the individual’s hearing loss and ear canal size into account, to make sure sounds are audible and comfortable in volume.

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All of the aspects must work together for a patient to achieve a successful hearing aid fitting. So you can see, due to these variables, what your friend needs to achieve optimal hearing may be vastly different than what you need. With different hearing losses, ear sizes, and lifestyle needs the only right solution for you is a personalized solution. We are in an age where technology allows for ease of listening in various environments. Complaints from the past should no longer be an issue with today’s technology and standards of care. At Mission Audiology we are an AudigyCertified practice and strive for personalized hearing using the best standards of care for optimal hearing.