Discover some easy steps you can take to protect your hearing.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20 percent of Americans have some form of hearing loss (that’s about 48 million people!). By the time someone reaches the ages of 65, one in three have hearing loss. While hearing loss does often happen as we age, there are many other factors that can affect our hearing. Here are some helpful ways to protect your hearing for years to come courtesy of your audiologists at Hearing & Balance Center of Austin.
Listen to Music Safely
If you wear headphones to listen to music it’s a good idea to listen to the music at 60 percent of its maximum volume for no more than one hour a day. Listening to music at high volumes, while fun, can certainly damage your ears. If you find that you can’t hear sounds around you while listening to music then the music is much too loud. Same rule applies if others can hear your music blasting from your headphones.
As you can probably already imagine, being exposed to loud noises for long periods of time can damage your hearing (think concerts, festivals and racecar events). Make sure to bring earplugs with you and take 10-minute breaks away from the sound whenever you can.
Prevent Occupational Hazards
While those working on construction sites and factories used to experience a lot of trouble with their hearing, safety regulations have been put in place to protect workers’ hearing. However, you should make sure you are still using the proper equipment and hearing protection at all times. If you are concerned about your hearing while at work talk to your boss about ways to keep everyone safer.
Be Aware of Your Hearing
It’s important to always be on the lookout for any changes to your hearing. Do you notice that it’s becoming more and more difficult to hear those around you? Do you find that you have to keep turning the volume up on the TV or radio just to hear it? Do you ask people to repeat themselves often? If you are noticing changes then it’s time to see your Hearing & Balance Center of Austin audiologists for a hearing evaluation.
If you have questions about hearing loss or are having difficulty understanding those around you then it’s time you called your audiologist in Austin, TX today to find out the extent of your hearing loss and what can be done to treat it. Start being part of the conversation again.
An Honest Review of the Signia Nx Hearing Aid: Is it Worth the Hype?
Please welcome to the direct streaming stage:
Signia released their newest chip in October 2017 in a variety of styles including three receiver-in-the-ear sizes (Pure 10, Pure 312, and Pure 13), a rechargeable option (Pure Charge&Go), and a behind-the-ear option (Motion 13). A step up from the Primax platform, these options on the new Nx platform allow for direct streaming from any Apple smartphone for phone calls and music (and the sound signal goes to both ears simultaneously, don’t worry *cough*) in a variety of options other than the size 13 battery. Patient reports indicate the quality of streaming audio is clear and natural-sounding. I would anticipate this as they are late to the game in terms of direct streaming, but it’s important to hear that confirmed from wearers. Now that all six major manufacturers are in the direct streaming game in some way, we need to see why else the Nx stands out.
The direct streaming capability of the Nx is by far one of the least interesting new features from Signia. With this new platform comes the introduction of “Own Voice Processing” or OVP. According to the feature overview provided by Signia, OVP utilizes “real-time recognition of the wearer’s voice to deliver a natural own voice impression.” This allows proper amplification of the voices you want to hear without over-amplification of the wearer’s own voice. Having seen OVP in action with patient reports of noticeable differences between settings, I am highly impressed with this feature solely dedicated to addressing one of the most common patient concerns.
One feature Signia has continued with in the Nx is the ability to remotely program hearing aids without the need for a patient to be physically seen in clinic. Starting as TeleCare 2.0 in the Pure 13 BT on the Primax platform, TeleCare 3.0 can be enabled on any Nx device to allow your hearing healthcare specialist to provide complete live remote adjustments for quick, efficient troubleshooting. This also allows audiologists across the country the opportunity to reach hearing aid users living in remote areas-a win for hearing healthcare all around.
Signia can also brag about their rechargeable option on the Nx platform: the Pure Charge&Go. Unlike several other manufacturers that require the purchase of alternate battery doors and rechargeable batteries to retrofit their current MFi hearing aids, Signia can brag about their integrated wireless inductive charging system. This means exact placement of the aids on the charger is not required and there are no electronic contacts to maintain. Even the charger for the aids is sleek and non-obtrusive. Charge&Go hearing aids should reportedly have a daily runtime of 19 hours without streaming, and 17 hours with 5 hours of direct Bluetooth streaming. While a full charge doesn’t last a full 24 hours, it certainly covers the daily wear time of an average hearing aid user (16 hours).
They didn’t stop at an integrated rechargeable option. The very first CROS device to provide direct streaming is the Signia CROS Pure 312 Nx. The CROS is compatible with any Nx device except the Pure 10 (yes, this includes the Charge&Go). There is literally an option on this line for almost anyone.
Now that I’ve hyped up the Signia Nx, I have to keep it real. There is a significant drawback to the receiver-in-the-ear styles: no T-coil. There is an option to change the standard battery door on the behind-the-ear Motion to one with an integrated T-coil, but this does not come standard. It is not an option for any other Nx style.
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed so far by Signia and their new Nx line. I can’t give it a perfect score due to the absent T-coil in the R-I-C models, but the Charge&Go model, a direct streaming CROS, and OVP and TeleCare in every style make this a new go-to MFiPhone option. 4.5 out of 5 ears!
Sabrina Marciante, AuD
How can Vestibular Physical Therapy Help with Parkinson's Disease?
Get moving EARLY and take control! Parkinson’s does not affect everyone the same way and it is important to find the right plan that works for your individual needs. A physical therapist, trained in the treatment of people with movement disorders, can help listen to you and teach you the skills required to overcome and even prevent physical and cognitive barriers. Even if you are not experiencing many symptoms, you will benefit from an exercise program that will help minimize loss of function and mobility in the future. You will also develop long term exercise habits to help with change in the future.
What should you expect from an evaluation with a physical therapist?
It is important to seek out a physical therapist that has experience working with people who have Parkinson’s. Together you will review your medical history and medications. A physical therapist can also perform movement screens that may expose early signs or symptoms that you may or may not be aware of. Testing will include an assessment of range of motion, strength, balance, coordination, posture, walking, and endurance. Next you will work together to set up goals that fit your specific needs to improve or maintain function.
You want to learn more about how physical therapy can help you?
Call and speak with me! I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you have.
What do I need to do before getting evaluated by a physical therapist?
Speak with your neurologist, movement disorder specialist, or primary care physician about a referral for physical therapy. Or if you need help with the process, call a physical therapist and ask for advice on how to speak with your doctor.
Concussion Baseline Testing: What Is It and Why Should We Do It?
Baseline testing should be done during pre-season. Ideally, it should take place prior to practice. Testing will be performed by a trained health care professional, such as a physical therapist who specializes in concussion management, or a trained athletic trainer. The purpose is to assess the athlete’s brain and balance function prior to injury. The information and scores gathered from baseline testing can later be used as a comparison if there is a suspected concussion. It can also help guide safe return to school and return to sport during rehabilitation. The assessment includes tests for learning, memory, concentration, and balance. It is important for the health care professional to be made aware of and note any history of prior concussion.
The ImPACT™ test is the most widely used and research validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT™ testing is a baseline screening tool that can be used prior to the start of the season and if there is a suspected concussion. It is a computerized nuerocognitive tool that will assess for attention span, working memory, attention time, response variability, problem solving, and reaction time. It will generate a score that will assist a licensed healthcare provider in evaluating the athlete for a suspected concussion and managing treatment. It is important to remember ImPACT™ testing is one tool used to assist the healthcare team in properly identifying concussion and tracking recovery, but it does not diagnose concussion and does not act as a substitute for medical evaluation and treatment.
Consider these steps prior to the start of the season:
Step 1: Baseline testing (pre-season) and injury prevention/detection education
Step 2: Concussion is suspected- remove immediately and perform sideline assessment
Step 3: Post-injury testing and follow up evaluation
Step 4: Medical treatment team develops plan
Step 5: Prepare athlete for return to non-contact play
Step 6: Determine if athlete is safe for return to play
If you or your organization are interested in baseline testing contact Great Hills ENT and The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin to schedule or speak with us about concussion baseline screening and concussion treatment. If you are outside the Austin Metro Area you can locate an ImPACT™ trained professional by clicking here.
The Connection Between Diet and Tinnitus
Whether you’ve had ringing in your ears after leaving a show at ACL, or you hear a buzzing noise seemingly louder than everyone around you on a daily basis, you have experienced tinnitus. Tinnitus is the perception of any sound-whether it’s ringing, buzzing, whooshing, or whistling-that does not originate from an external sound source. It actually arises from the ear or brain! This ringing can be acute and short-lived (think the scenario above from ACL), or chronic and possibly debilitating. For those suffering from chronic tinnitus, there are several factors that can exacerbate it. The good thing about knowing these factors is they can be adjusted to affect the perception of tinnitus. One of these factors is DIET.
The new year has just started, and most people are more aware of their health and the connection between our bodies and our diet or exercise routines. We are aware that altering your diet to be more health-conscious may reduce body fat, combat disease (i.e. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis), improve sleep quality, improve skin and hair conditions, boost energy, improve overall mood, lift “brain-fog,” improve longevity… need I go on? Okay I will. Altering your diet as a chronic tinnitus sufferer may also reduce the perception of your tinnitus!
Diet-related exacerbating factors of tinnitus include a high caffeine consumption, excessive alcohol use, high sodium or sugar intake, and excessive consumption of pre-packaged or processed foods. Let’s take a further look at how these may impact your tinnitus:
- Caffeine: There have been mixed reviews on the effect of caffeine in relation to tinnitus in recent years, but there is no question caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and can affect proper blood flow to the inner ear. The safe bet is to limit caffeine intake.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol increases blood flow within the inner ear, causing the opportunity for tinnitus to be enhanced. Additionally, frequent episodes of alcohol-induced tinnitus or hearing loss may permanently alter inner ear funciton;
- Sodium: Exccess sodium in the body causes increased water retention to maintain the appropriate fluid and salt balance. This increases blood volume leading to increased blood pressure, restricting blood flow to important areas like the inner ear. This can cause a significant increase in the perception of your tinnitus and make it more noticeable.
- Pre-packaged or processed foods: We just talked about sodium... 1 cup of Chex Mix Bold Party Blend holds 400mg of sodium... and who stops at 1 cup?! The higher saturated and trans-fats in a majority of processed foods are also contributors to poor tinnitus health.
- Sugar or sugar substitutes: The blood supply to our ears and brain are quite literally feeding these structures with oxygen and glucose (sugar). Disrupting your blood sugar levels can lead to a host of issues such as increased insulin production, possibly leading to Type II Diabetes and increased tinnitus.
Now, it sounds like I just took all the best things in life away from you: coffee, margaritas, chips and salsa… This isn’t the case. It’s not about eliminating every ingredient that makes food taste delicious, but they should be monitored if your tinnitus is driving you crazy. For example, the FDA recommends no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day for an average individual, reducing that number to 1,500mg for “certain groups” such as those with hypertension (or who have tinnitus exacerbated by high salt intake). This means that rather than hitting Shake Shack for a Shackburger on your way home from work (which packs a whopping 1,610mg of sodium by the way), you head home to cook up your own burgers with whatever seasonings float your boat.
Preventative care is recommended over palliative care, but if everything I’ve said isn’t enough to convince you to change your diet to improve not only your tinnitus but your overall health, welp, you can always see your audiologist for tinnitus masking recommendations and counseling.
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