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General Hearing FAQs

How does sweat affect my hearing aids?
Sweat can damage your hearing instruments and/or shorten their life. Recently Sonic Innovations published a technical paper comparing their two high performance hearing instruments with other products in the industry for moisture resistance. What I found most interesting was that sweat damages the battery which in turn releases chemicals that damage the electronics in your instruments. The article isn’t very long, only four pages, and is available here to download.

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Can golfing damage my hearing?
You’re probably thinking: “What, golfing can’t damage my hearing!” Well, newer thin faced titanium driving clubs all produced greater sound levels than conventional stainless steel clubs. In a study published in the December 2008 Sport issue of the British Medical Journal, BMJ 2008;337:a2835, Dr. Malcolm Buchanan found that his patient experienced hearing loss after using the King Cobra LD driver. The King Cobra also wasn’t the loudest driver. Their results showed that thin faced titanium drivers produce sufficiently loud sound to induce temporary, or even permanent hearing damage in susceptible individuals. Caution should be used by golfers who play regularly with thin faced titanium drivers to avoid damage to their hearing.

Interested in the full article? I’ve posted a link to the report here If the link stops working, I posted a pdf of the issue here.

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I accidentally swallowed a hearing aid battery. Should I be worried?
YES, YES, and YES! This is a question that often comes up during new fittings and follow ups. On the back of every package of hearing aid batteries there is a warning about the danger of battery consumption and a phone number you can call — you can even call it collect — 202-625-3333. Batteries can cause serious damage to your esophagus if they get hung up on the way to your stomach.

Here are the steps you should follow:

  • Immediately call you physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, go the the emergency room.
  • DO NOT TRY to induce vomiting. Stay away from the ipecac syrup.
  • If you have time and are our patient, call the office and let us know what happened so that we can also contact your physician or the emergency room.
    • Also take along the battery package. It’s not a requirement, but it will be helpful.
  • You need an x-ray of the throat, chest, and stomach. If the battery is still in the throat/esophagus area, it will need to be removed immediately using a special type of fiber optic tool, endoscope. Damage to the esophagus can occur in as little as one hour.
  • If the battery moved to your stomach, then you will need to monitor your elimination to ensure that it passes in the stool. If you don’t notice it after a week you will need another X-ray.

If have placed a link here to the National Capital Poison Center. This is the contact for the phone number listed above. In addition, I placed a link here to a pdf document that you can download to your computer.

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Frequently asked questions related to loud sounds.
Recently I was visiting the EAR site, www.e-a-r.com, to review specifications of disposable ear plugs. They have an excellent FAQ section with responses prepared by an expert in hearing protection devices, Elliott Berger, MS, audiologist. He frequently answers consumer and audiologist questions on noise inducted hearing loss and hearing conservation. He has responded to a number of questions that frequently come up in our office. I have listed these questions below with links to his original response as well as a copy of the response on our web site in pdf format.

  • Can automotive air bags that deploy during an accident cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and sensitivity to loud sound? The short answer is Yes. You can visit the EAR FAQ site here for more detailed information. I also placed a link here to a pdf document with his response.
  • Can listening to loud music during an aerobics class damage my hearing? You probably won’t permanently damage your hearing after just one session, but repeated noise exposure definitely can cause permanent hearing loss. If your ears are ringing and/or feel plugged after the session, you probably have a temporary hearing loss. You can visit the EAR FAQ site here for more detailed information. I also placed a link here to a pdf document with his response.
  • I am out with a friend shooting or cutting firewood and I forgot my ear protection. I had some cigarette butts that I pushed in my ears to protect my hearing. I should be OK? No, Cigarette butts are just about useless for protecting you hearing. What makes a good cigarette filter and what makes a good ear plug are almost opposites. The filters on cigarettes allow you to draw in air, and this also allows for sound to pass through without much decrease in loudness. The best thing that you can do if you are stuck next to someone cutting firewood or shooting is to back up and plug your ears with your fingers. You can visit the Audiology Online site here for more detailed information. I also placed a link here to a pdf document with his response.
  • Isn’t there a pill that prevents hearing loss and can reverse nerve damage? Maybe for the first part of the question and definitely no for the second part if the hearing loss was long standing. There have been trials with animals and subsequent published data that looks encouraging using an antioxidant over-the-counter supplement. However, there is no information on human trials and I still urge all of my patient’s to protect their hearing whenever exposed to loud sound. You can visit the EAR FAQ site here for more detailed information. Dr Dobie provides the actual response. I also placed a link here to a pdf document with his response.

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Ipods & other types of personal listening devices; Just how much volume is too much?
Apple computer experienced world wide record sales of the ipod last year. It’s hard to walk anywhere today and not see someone listening to music. So, how volume is too much and are these devices dangerous to your hearing? Well, the answer is that these devices CAN produce volume levels capable of damaging your hearing.
There have been a series of articles published in the last few months. I am posting links below so that you can learn more:

  • Rolling Stones magazine article feature a report with Pete Townshend here
  • EarBud.org is a web site sponsored by the House Ear Institute. There are hosting the MTV commercial on the risk of listening to music at loud levels. Also very informative site with some general guidelines on MP3 player use. Click here to visit their site.

There is direct relationship between the loudness level and and how long you should use the devices. Volume levels which are at 60% of the available level, really should be use for more than 1/2 hour per/day. If you listen at lower levels, you can significantly increase your usage per day.

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A History of Hearing Aids

Recently the Washington School of Medicine published a web history of hearing aids from the 19th and 20th centuries. You will find an excellent photo gallery and a time line to name just a couple of items. I found the information very interesting. If you would like to learn more about the history of hearing of hearing aids, click here to visit the web site

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Is It OK To Lick My Hearing Aid Shell And Then Place It In The Ear?

NO, no, and NO. Some people wouldn’t dream of doing this, but I am surprised every time I see it happen! Usually they do this to lubricate the shell. Recently Dr. Bankaitis covered this question in detail. The article was written specifically for audiologists, but I think that anyone who uses a hearing aid and wants to know why they “shouldn’t lick ’em and stick’em” should read the information. Don’t download this article if you have a weak stomach! I’ve placed a link to this small pdf file here This article is from the American Academy of Audiology web site, audiology.org and was published in Audiology Today, Vol 17:6, 2005.

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Ear Candles—Can They Help Me To Hear Better?

NO, no, and NO. This is a question that frequently is asked. I am always amazed to learn that someone wants to start a fire next to their head with the hope that this will remove ear wax. Recently in the July issue of the Academy of Dispensing Audiologist Feedback magazine, Dr. Lisa Dryer responded to this question. Click here to visit a site which also contains her response. I’ve also posted a pdf here to download.

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Meniere’s Disease: A review of current information

This is a group of articles that was published in the March/April 2004 ENT Journal.This issue featured Meniere’s disease. I posted this last spring and then accidentally deleted the link shortly after–sorry! I scanned these articles and included them in a single pdf. The titles include:

  • Diagnosis and Management of Meniere’s Disease
  • A Review of the Pathophysiology of Meniere’s Disease
  • Living with Meniere’s Disease–What Helps?

I’ve placed a link to the pdf file here.

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New Consumer Website and Education Brochure
Better Hearing Institute, BHI, expanded their web site to include consumer information. In the past, they were devoted exclusively to professionals dealing with hearing loss. If you have never visited their site, I recommend you stop in and check out their content. Click here to visit there home page. Recently BHI published: Your Guide To Better Hearing. It is a comprehensive consumer guide to hearing loss. I highly recommend you read it! For your convenience, I’ve placed a link to the pdf file here. (It’s a 32 page document that is about 3 mb’s to download). In addition to offering the Guide above, BHI features a new 15-question hearing check that is completed and scored online for adults. It is a quick screening assessment to determine if you possibly have a hearing loss that should be evaluated further. Click here to visit the test page. I’ve also placed a link here for you to download the screener in pdf format. By downloading, you will be able to print out the test and review it without being connected to the internet.

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Can I reuse my Dad’s hearing aids?
This is a question that I often receive. Sometimes a son asks about his dad’s hearing aid, but other times it a friend asking about using hearing aids that were given to them The answer to this question is usually no, but sometime yes! I have a good explanation for you to read below. Click here to download a pdf with this short answer.

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This is a great article to read if you want to learn how medications can effect your hearing. Click here to download a pdf of this article.

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Tinnitus and Hearing loss
This is a very good article to read if you are trouble by tinnitus. Click here to download a pdf file with this article.

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But What’s Wrong With Q-Tips
The title of this article says it all! This article was written by Max Chartrand, PhD. Click here to read the pdf file.

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NCOA publishes an article on hearing loss and aging.
This article was published on May 26, 1999 and discusses the link between hearing loss and depression. Click here to download a pdf version of the report.

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What Our Clients Say…

Sharlene Burnett hearing betterThank you for my ears! It has been over a year and WOW, what a huge difference. I can understand what people are saying and not mixing up words. I should have done this 10 years ago! I’ll never forget the kindness everyone in your office showed me. You have a special place in my heart!  Forever grateful. Sharlene Burnett