The Living Sounds Blog

GO OILERS GO!!!

Edmonton’s hockey team is on a wild ride and everyone is excited to go along with it. Our ears, however, are not so excited. Along with amazing hockey comes cheering fans with loud voices, as well as noisemakers, horns, clapping hands and stomping feet. Add in loud speakers and we’ve got more noise than our ears can handle.

An online site called People Hearing Better stated that ‘decibel levels at a sporting event can go from a penetrating 105 to a damaging 130. That’s loud enough for a fan to feel physical pain.’ When we find ourselves in this kind of noise without hearing protection, we increase the natural risk of hearing loss as well as open ourselves up to tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing in the ears that can be temporary or permanent, intermittent or constant. For some it is just a mild annoyance, but for others it can be debilitating.

Let’s keep our hearing intact by lowering our risk for hearing loss and avoiding the annoyance of tinnitus so we can watch and enjoy games at the arena, the party, or the pub. Let’s remember proper hearing protection so we can continue to hear the sounds of hockey — the skates on the ice, the crack of the stick, the sound of the buzzer, and best of all the sound of the horn when the OILERS SCORE!

Contact the Living Sounds Hearing Centre to find out how you can protect your hearing.

Alissa Horneland BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences


alissa@livingsounds.ca
Location: Heritage Square and Devonshire

A Day in the Life of a Hearing Aid Battery

Hearing aid batteries are a common topic of discussion at Living Sounds. Many clients report that some brands last longer than others, but I am primarily knowledgeable about Rayovac batteries, as they’re the batteries we trust and use in our clinics.

Here are some of the factors that will determine how long a hearing aid battery lasts:

1. As the severity of hearing loss increases, more amplification is required which draws more current from the battery, draining it quicker.

2. The smaller the battery, the shorter life span it has. For example, a size 10 battery lasts 3-5 days, a size 312 lasts 5-7 days, a size 13 lasts 7-10 days, and a size 675 lasts 10-14 days (approximately).

3. The number of days per week and the number of hours a day a hearing aid is used can determine how long a battery lasts. The more it’s used, the quicker it drains.

4. Different features in today’s digital hearing aids can increase battery currents such as: noise cancellation, multi-channel processing, FM looping, tinnitus sound generators, and wireless or Bluetooth streaming features. How fast a battery drains depends on how often these features are used and for how long. Having said that, these features are very necessary —especially if the hearing aids are being worn in busy environments to improve hearing speech over background noise.

5. Environmental factors: Low humidity in cold winter months can cause batteries to dry out if they’re primarily indoors for many months. High humidity may cause batteries to take on moisture, interfering with the natural function resulting in swelling or leakage. Another factor is temperature — batteries can drain faster when they spend too long in cold outdoor or refrigerated environments. And finally, higher altitudes mean less oxygen in the air, which can lower battery voltage, causing it to die sooner.

Important Tips: To get more life from your zinc air hearing aid batteries, remove the sticker tab from the top of the battery and allow the battery to sit for one to five minutes (when possible) to ‘air up’. The battery voltage will rise to about 1.3 volts, which can power a hearing aid. The battery can take up to 24 hours to reach the full voltage of 1.45 volts, but this level is not required to power a hearing aid. Once you have removed the sticker tab from a battery it cannot be stuck back on the battery. An un-tabbed battery is active and will drain slowly even if never used in a hearing aid.

I hope these tips will help you with your hearing aid batteries in the future.

Happy hearing!

Kim Ryll, BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences

Simple Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips and Tricks

It is recommended that you visit your hearing health care professional about once every six months to have your hearing aids professionally cleaned. But what can you do in between your visits to the clinic to keep your hearing aids working optimally?

Here are some of the ways you can prevent the most common causes of hearing aid issues at home with a few quick tips and reminders:

Ear Wax Build-up

The most common culprit of hearing aid repairs is due to cerumen or ear wax. The ear canal contains not only the solid or soft components of ear wax, but also vapour that can migrate deep into the hearing aid where it can become solid and settle on critical mechanical components. It is recommended to use a soft cloth or cleaning brush (you can get one from your clinician) to use on your hearing aid to keep the microphones and receiver clean from debris. It is not recommended to use tissue, as tissue can contain aloe or lotions.

Many hearing aids today have ‘wax filters’ that generally need to be changed on a monthly basis, and every manufacturer has a special tool to help you do this. There are many different styles of hearing aids, and since the cleaning from one style to the other can change, it is best to schedule an appointment with your hearing health care provider to help clean them. It is recommended and important to clean your aids regularly.

Exposure to Moisture

Any exposure to water, humidity, condensation or perspiration can cause serious damage to a hearing aid. Today, many hearing aids are designed to be highly water (hydrophobic) and oil (oleophobic) resistant. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the design of today’s hearing aids, it is difficult to protect hearing aids from all oil and moisture hazards. However, there are certain measures you can take to help safeguard against the build-up of moisture that can lead to your hearing aids getting damaged. For example, you can prevent accidental exposure to moisture by leaving your hearing aids in a case as well as a different room before you shower. You would be surprised how many people have accidently worn their hearing aids in the shower! Also, the bathroom can have a more humid environment, so it is best to not store them there.

When you go to sleep at night, be sure to open the battery door fully. This not only preserves your battery life but also allows air circulation through the hearing aid. Ideally, it is also recommended that you store your hearing aids in a dehumidifier. They are relatively inexpensive and help to draw out moisture from your hearing aid at night while you are sleeping. For those who perspire more and lead an active lifestyle, there are more aggressive dehumidifiers available that your hearing health provider can recommend. If you ever drop your hearing aid in water, immediately open the battery door and make an appointment to see your clinician to check it for damage.

Physical Damage

To avoid physical damage to the hearing aid, store your hearing aids in a safe place, out of reach of small children and pets. Animals tend to be drawn to our scent, and we have often seen chewed up hearing aids in our clinic from a client’s cat or dog. If your hearing aid has been chewed or is in pieces, collect all the pieces you see, put them in your container, and see your clinician right away.

Danielle De Roose, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

Better Hearing is a Process!

At Living Sounds Hearing Centre, we often talk about hearing aids and how they work, how to manage new hearing devices when they are purchased, or hearing loss and how to protect hearing in the first place. We talk about the emotions involved and the significant impact hearing loss has on a person or the person’s family and friends. We even talk about medical implications and certain diseases that are correlated with hearing loss. However, I fear we don’t talk enough about hearing rehabilitation and what this process actually looks like for most first-time hearing aid users!

First, I’d like to start by saying, “Congratulations!” if you are reading this right now. You’ve started down the path towards better hearing and communication by showing interest in improving a problem that may be affecting you or someone you love. This is one of the earliest stages in the process of hearing rehabilitation. Even if you haven’t purchased hearing aids or even identified a hearing loss yet, you are thinking about the prospect that action is needed. You’re on your way.

The next few steps in the process are straightforward. First, a hearing test is needed to identify hearing levels. If hearing loss is diagnosed, we will often talk about the options for treating this hearing deficit. When your Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Practitioner makes a recommendation, they are often considering numerous factors that may affect which device is the most suitable for you. They will talk to you about size and styles, technology levels, aesthetics and manageability. These are significant factors to consider; the smallest hearing aid is not always the best hearing aid for your specific hearing loss!

Initially your new hearing device may seem unusual. Suddenly you’ll be hearing sounds you haven’t heard in a while and in some cases, may have forgotten were there in the first place! Your clinician will spend time fitting the hearing aid, a process that includes validating and verifying the hearing aid’s volume or “gain” and noise control features to ensure your hearing needs are being met. In many cases patients’ will need some fine-tuning to help make the sound more enjoyable or more functional in their daily lives. Overtime, your brain will become reacquainted with the environmental sounds around you.

There are auditory training techniques that help the brain adjust to new sounds. These include listening games and exercises available for download on your phone, computers or tablets that are designed to help challenge your auditory system and help improve the process of acclimatizing to the hearing aid’s sound. These types of games are often designed using visual and auditory cues to help improve your overall comprehension of speech sounds by having you listen to and identify speech sounds as phonemes, words or brief sentences, often with competing noise. Starkey Laboratories developed one such game called “Hear Coach” and it is available for download through iTunes or Google Play for Android.

Your clinician is a great asset during this process. He or she will be able to guide you by making suggestions that are more specific to you and your needs, such as fine-tuning your hearing aid settings to improve your listening experience. At Living Sounds Hearing Centre, our trained professional are always willing to act as a sounding board to discuss the nuances of hearing with hearing aids. We always encourage our patients to contact us regularly during the hearing rehab process to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

Tania Gora, MSc, R.Aud, Aud (C)
Registered Audiologist

How to Hear the 5 Types of Troublesome Talkers

Are you used to turning your hearing aids up to full blast but still find yourself unable to follow what a person is saying? It can be very hard to communicate, particularly with people who have developed undesirable speaking habits. Fear not! The only thing those troublesome talkers need is a friendly reminder that they could be communicating a lot better. Let us look at the different type of talkers we meet and how we can help communicate with them easier:

  • The Road Runner – This person speaks very quickly and is hard to understand. They are very entertaining to speak with — as long as we can follow!
  • What you can do: You don’t need to be a Wiley Coyote to communicate with them! Just politely ask them to slow down and speak clearly.
  • The Secret Agent – This person speaks very quietly…almost in a whisper. You might think they are telling a secret, but don’t be fooled – they’re just soft spoken.
  • What you can do: Don’t go incognito, simply ask them to speak up and project their voice.
  • The Wallflower – This person will talk to you from entirely different room and may even get frustrated if you do not respond. You love them like a flower but walls are a great divider.
  • What you can do: Ask them to get your attention and make sure that they are within your line of sight before communicating. Don’t pick on them – just remind them with care.
  • The Ninja – This person always has their mouth covered or uses limited mouth movement so you can’t read their lips.
  • What you can do: Hold onto your dragon star! Ask them to make their face visible so you can see (and hear) what they are saying.
  • The Expressionist – This person uses gestures and body movement to express their point. In my opinion the Expressionist is most creative of them all and the easiest to follow because of their movement and animation when speaking.
  • What you can do: Listen and enjoy the artistic expression at play in their communication style and ask them to slow down and speak clearly if needed.

Communication is more than just hearing. You may need to ask someone to slow down and speak clearly more than once – maybe even more than 100 times! However, by reminding them with love and grace you will be giving them strategies for better communication that will go beyond your conversation.

Valerie Stroeder, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

February is Heart Month!

February is known for Valentine’s Day, and as such, it has also become a month for awareness of heart health. Did you know that studies have shown cardiovascular damage is linked to hearing loss? Researchers indicate that a lack of blood flow throughout the body can have a detrimental impact on our ears, as the small size of the inner ear system is affected by any change in blood flow. When the inner ear has a reduction in blood, the nerves cells have a greater chance of dying off, in turn, causing hearing loss.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States indicate a number of factors that affect your cardiovascular health including:

  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes and
  • Lack of activity

Take some time during Heart Month to assess your well-being. Talk to your doctor about your heart health and talk to Living Sounds about your hearing health by calling 780-488-8100.

Carlee Johnson, BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences

Sweet Dreams: Custom Sleeper Molds for Improved Sleep

The importance of sleep can’t be debated. Sleep is imperative for so many reasons; to restore and rejuvenate the body, to grow muscle and to repair tissue, and even to synthesize hormones. In addition to the many physiological benefits, there are many cognitive areas where a good night’s sleep can help you improve. Research has shown that quality sleep improves learning and problem solving. Sleep can also help you to pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.

For those who are light sleepers, shift workers, or sleep with a snoring partner, sleep can be elusive. Over the counter earplugs are readily available to reduce unwanted sound but they can be uncomfortable or fall out. They are ineffective if not inserted correctly or deeply enough.

Custom sleeper molds can solve all of these problems. They are ideal for sleeping, reading and travelling.

An impression is taken of your ears to get a perfect casting of the ear canal and outer ear, which are made into custom sleeper molds to ensure a perfect fit.

The material used is an incredibly soft medical grade silicone to ensure comfort and long life. They are made with a low profile for additional comfort in the ear when you lay on them. They can be made in any colour, with even a glitter feature available. Bright colours are fun, but also makes the molds easily found if taken out. Even though they are easy to tell apart by fit and shape, having each piece be a different colour allows for easy identification, especially in a dark room.

Once the molds are made, we recommend coming back to the clinic to be fit by our professionals to ensure that they feel just right. They will also help you make sure you have no problem identifying right from left and that you can insert them easily and correctly.

Custom molds can last for many years with proper care, and can be cleaned simply with a mild soap and water.

All of our Living Sounds Hearing Centres offer this service and can help you to a better nights sleep.

Adele Collingwood, BC-HIS
Hearing Instrument Specialist
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner

10 Years in the Hearing Health Industry

A few days ago I ran into my elementary teacher while out for dinner with my family and she asked me what I was up to and what I did for work. I told her I was a Hearing Aid Practitioner and she smiled. She said, “Because of your hearing difficulties, you decided to go into the field?” I was impressed she remembered and I voiced that to her. She replied, “Of course I remember, and I think it’s wonderful.”

This got me reflecting on where I’ve been and where I am today in my career. I have been with Living Sounds Hearing Centre for 10 years. I honestly can’t believe how fast the time has gone and how much I’ve grown and learned in these last 10 years. I came into the industry because of the challenges I faced with hearing loss and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

I want to say thank you to Tim and Greg, the owners of Living Sounds Hearing Centre, for giving me the opportunity to do what I love. To my coworkers, thank you for always lending a hand or an ear and being a great source of support. To my clients, thank you for trusting me with your hearing health needs. I learn something every day from our conversations and I feel blessed. Here’s to the next 10 years!

Natalie Huska BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences

Hearing Aid Insurance Just Makes Sense

You most likely have health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, and maybe even phone insurance, so it just makes sense to look into insurance for your hearing aids as well. These tiny devices are essential to your everyday health and well-being, so it’s important to keep them protected.

At Living Sounds Hearing Centre we work hard to ensure that your hearing aids are fitting well and secure but it’s so hard to prepare for some of life’s unexpected accidents. We hear of people losing their hearing aids or having them damaged beyond repair from time to time. One common occurrence is pets eating them. Another is misplacing them when traveling or losing them when you have a sudden emergency. In any case, making sure your hearing aids are protected from lost or damage is very important.

All hearing aids from Living Sounds Hearing Centre come with a minimum of one year of insurance from the manufacturer and better models can have up to three years of insurance. However, most hearing aid users are expecting their hearing aids to be used much longer than the standard loss and damage coverage from the manufacturer.

The first thing to do is check with your home insurance provider. Most Content Insurance policies cover the loss or damage of hearing aids already. Depending on your insurance company, they may have different guidelines concerning the coverage of hearing aids and may require a separate insurance rider to cover the hearing aids from loss or damage. At any rate, the cost of insurance and well-being of knowing they’re covered far exceeds the cost of having to replace the hearing aids yourself.

Home insurance for people renting condos or apartments can be as little as $7.00 per month and protect you and your loved ones from theft, damage, fire, water damage and personal liability. Also it’s important to check if your hearing aids are covered when you travel. Depending on your type of vacations, unexpected occurrences can happen when you’re away and it’s crucial to have coverage to protect yourself and your belongings.

Klinton Pilling BC-HIS
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences

‘Tis the Season of Noisy Toys!

Season’s Greetings! The Christmas Season is once again upon us. Whether you are a grandparent, parent, aunt, or uncle, when buying gifts for the youngsters in the family it is important to check out the noise level of the toys. Instead of thinking “I’m going to get the noisiest toy! It’ll drive his parents crazy,” stop and think what it may do to the child’s hearing. Health Canada bans toys that have a noise level that exceeds 100 decibels (dB), but it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to noise levels of 85 dB could possibly result in hearing loss.

Some of the more common toys that pose a noise danger include toys with horns and sirens, musical instruments, talking dolls, and cap guns, just to name a few.

Here are some tips when buying a toy that makes noise:

  • Make sure it has an on/off switch or a volume control.
  • Look for the noise level of the toy before purchasing it.
  • Hold the toy about 12 inches from your head. If you flinch the toy is too loud.
  • If you receive a toy that is too loud, take the batteries out of the toy.
  • Put tape over the speaker to muffle some of the sound. Only do this if your child is older and has passed the stage of putting everything in his/her mouth.
  • Limit the amount of time your child plays with the toy.

Click here to get a list of the top 10 noisiest toys of 2016.

If you feel that your child or a child in your family has been exposed to prolonged noise please call us at Living Sounds Hearing Centre at 1.877.447.4010 and we would be happy to set up a hearing evaluation.

Valerie Stroeder, BC-HIS
Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences
Registered Hearing Aid Practitioner


About

As a full service hearing health care provider, Living Sounds Hearing Centre Ltd. offers a variety of hearing aid products, assistive listening devices and hearing services from clinic locations in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Barrhead, Drayton Valley, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, St. Paul, Stony Plain, Vegreville, Westlock, and Westaskiwin.
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12310 - 105 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5N 0Y4

Ph: 780-488-8100
Toll Free: 1-800-232-7289

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