Sunday, January 26, 2014

Selecting the Right Hearing Aid for You

Finding the Perfect Fit: The Art of Hearing Aid Selection

With the cost of hearing aids ranging from $2000-$7000 a pair, patients often ask us “What’s wrong with the less expensive ones?”

The answer is nothing.  In fact, budget hearing aids could be the perfect choice for you. The only way to find out which is best for your hearing lifestyle is to partner with an Audiologist who understands both the art and science of selecting and fitting hearing aids.

The advanced technology of today’s hearing aids means you have more features from which to choose. These added features, while providing added benefits, also make a hearing aid more expensive. However, depending upon your unique requirements, more is not necessarily better. 

Think of it this way.  If you were a serious athlete planning on running a marathon and you decided to purchase a treadmill to do some off-season training, you might choose a $4500 model on which you could run full speed at varying degrees of inclines, all while the machine kept track of your heart rate and tracked your progress. You would probably also want to have a personal trainer, experienced in achieving the highest possible performance to assist you in getting the most out of your investment and workouts. However, if you just wanted to take an occasional walk and perhaps lose a few pounds, a $500 treadmill might just do the trick.

The same considerations are true when it comes to selecting appropriate hearing aids.  If you are very active, live in a variety of noisy environments and don’t want to be bothered adjusting volume, then you will probably be happier with hearing aids which include advanced features such as directional microphones, feedback cancellation or automatic adjustments. In conjunction with this, you will be most satisfied with your results with the involvement of an experienced Audiologist to tailor the features of the hearing aid to your personal needs and achieve maximum benefit. If you live a quiet life and don’t mind making manual adjustments, then a more economical hearing device might be perfect for you. In short, it is the art of selection and fitting combined with the science of technology that will have the most direct impact on your level of satisfaction.

Our Audiologists are skilled at matching your needs to the most appropriate technology and fitting the devices to provide maximum benefit.  We have been trained to make their recommendations for the type and style of hearing devices based upon five important criteria:
  • ·      Your personal lifestyle
  • ·      Your level of hearing loss
  • ·      The physical characteristics of your ear canal
  • ·      Your cosmetic preferences
  • ·      Your budget constraints

Our Audiologists ask many questions, because we want to get to know you.  We believe by investing time into understanding what your life is like and what is important to you, we will be able to ensure your optimal hearing while providing you the best value.  You may contact us for a trial of hearing aids in Indianapolis with Audiologist Michelle Koley, or hearing aids in Lafayette with Audiologist Sandy Bratton.  Go to or call us toll-free 888-888-DIZZY (3499).

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Exercises for Balance

Working on balance isn’t just for “old folks”

There is a lot of emphasis these days on cardiovascular fitness and strength training.  However, exercising to maintain orimprove balance is just as important.  Just as strength and endurance decline with age, balance can decline as well.

Balance involves not only the strength of our leg and trunk muscles and flexibility, but also three sensory systems. 

·      Vision helps us with balance by telling us where we are in relation to other objects.

·      Proprioception (position sense) in our feet and legs tells us if we’re leaning one way or the other, or on what kind of surface we are walking, such as thick carpet for a firm floor, or if our weight is more on one aspect of our foot than the other. 

·      Inner ear, known as the vestibular system, gives us information about how we are moving, whether we are turning, tilting or changing speed.

Our brain receives input from each system, integrates the information, and forms a response.  For example, when we walk in the dark, we aren’t using our vision as much to help us balance.  Our brains have to know to use the vestibular (inner ear) system and proprioception (position sense) in our feet and legs to stay balanced.  If we walk on uneven surfaces, we have to rely more on our vision and vestibular (inner ear) system.  A more complex task is walking on an uneven surface at night where input from both vision and proprioception (position sense) is impaired.  Our brain then has to rely mostly on information from the vestibular (inner ear) system.

If we are not challenging our balance as we age, it can decline, just like muscle strength and flexibility.  As we age, if we begin to feel off balance or fall, we lose confidence in doing the things we enjoy and we may limit or stop doing certain activities.  This leads to further imbalance and debilitation, and ultimately a decreased quality of life.

Similar to strengthening our muscles, there are exercises we can do to “strengthen” ourbalance.  Many fitness and social centers are now incorporating balance exercises into their classes and/or offering classes specifically to help with balance.  Tai Chi is a popular exercise that has been scientifically proven to improve balance.  Activities to improve balance include standing with your eyes closed, standing with one foot in front of the other or standing on one leg.

Physical Therapists who are trained in Vestibular Rehabilitation are excellent resources for improving balance.  If you or a loved one is beginning to feel off balance with their normal activities, or experiencing falls, please seek help from a physical therapist who has training and experience in this area.  An exercise program can be developed specifically for your needs based on the difficulties you are having with balance.  Often, only a few visits are needed to make significant progress, improving your balance to prevent falling.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hearing Loss Hurts!

Hearing Loss Hurts:  Side Effects of Hearing Loss May Shock You!

Hearing loss is often associated with aging, which all of us are trying to avoid.  But leaving your hearing loss at the bottom of the “to do” list could be hurting you more than you think.
By the time most individuals with hearing loss are ready to ask for help, they have already suffered social, psychological, cognitive, and other health effects related to their hearing loss.   Early hearing loss identification and treatment are essential in preventing such an undesired outcome.

Two-thirds of adults aged 70 and older have hearing loss.  But did you know 65 percent of people with hearing loss are below the age of 65?  Shockingly, nearly half of all people with hearing loss are below the age of 55.  A recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association stats that 1 in 5 teens/adolescents have hearing loss.  With increased noise exposure in the younger generations, we are seeing these numbers increase at an alarming rate.

Untreated hearing loss has consequences:

Relationships:  Untreated hearing loss can be harmful to relationships.  The inability to communicate effectively with others leads to isolation and alienation.  People with hearing loss start moving into their own world, rather than a shared one.

Fatigue and Depression:  The sheer effort it requires to communicate with an untreated hearing loss causes fatigue, irritability, anger, tension, stress and depression.   This increased mental exertion needed to communicate with others can lead individuals to avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, social rejection and loneliness.

Dementia:  Some studies have suggested an association between hearing loss and decline in cognitive function and dementia.
“The brain has a limited amount of capacity to work; if hearing loss causes the brain to spend additional resources to understand speech, then it has fewer resources to do such things as store information in memory, analyze what is being said, or think about what to say in a conversation.” Edwards, B. (2009). Cognitive and Psycho-social Consequences of Hearing Loss. ENT News. 1-3.

The aging brain can lead to problems such as poor memory and the inability to learn new tasks.  Research shows that the ability to think and multitask is diminished when the brain is working overtime to communicate.  We need to acknowledge that memory loss could in fact be a symptom of hearing loss.