Hearing Aids

12 Feb 2016
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Dealing With a Loved One’s Hearing Loss

By: Dr. Frank Shepel, Au.D.
Board Certified Doctor of Audiology
SoundPoint Audiology and Hearing Center of Casa Grande, AZ

Individuals over age 50 can expect to begin slowly losing some hearing. They suffer from a phenomenon known as presbycusis or age related hearing loss from normal wear and tear. People who have worked around noise and/or those with noisy hobbies such as shooting, riding motorcycles or listening to loud music will also have additional hearing loss. However many people do not like to talk about or admit to having a problem hearing.

In most cases a hearing loss occurs very slowly over many years.  People who have a hearing problem are not fooling anyone.  Family, friends and acquaintances realize that there is a problem because the person with the loss needs conversations repeated, they say “what” or “huh” a lot.  They misunderstand, they avoid situations where hearing is difficult, they talk too loud, and increase the volume on the TV and radio.  Because of these factors, the hearing loss is much more noticeable than a tiny hearing aid would ever be. However, they will not admit that they have a problem.Starkey-Soundlens-IIC

Many people do not like to admit they have a hearing loss because of the stigmas that come along with hearing aids.  Hearing aids have the stigma of old age attached to them and no one wants to admit that they are getting old. Another stigma is cost. Everyone thinks that hearing aids are out of reach because of their cost, but there are many levels of technology that exist, and with payment plans the cost can be as low as $50-60 per month. Size is also a concern for some individuals. Today some hearing aids are so small they are virtually invisible in the ear and others are difficult to detect when worn. Because of these factors, the hearing loss is much more noticeable than a tiny hearing aid would ever be.  Bottom line is no one likes to talk about the elephant in the room!


Usually it takes a loved one or close friend to initiate the discussion which will prompt an individual to consider moving forward to getting a hearing test if for no other reason than to prove that they do not have a hearing problem. Denial of a hearing problem is very common.  Denial is a part of the process of coming to terms with a hearing loss and accepting that you do have a problem and need to do something about it.

Common Excuses

Maybe you’ve shared your concerns with your loved one about his or her hearing loss or have brought the topic up a few times in certain situations, but your loved one has brushed you off with the wave of a hand. If so, then you have probably heard one of the following excuses before, and if not, here are some popular excuses people use to deny hearing loss or deflect concerns about them:

“I didn’t hear because you were/everyone was mumbling.”

For people who have hearing loss, another person’s speech often does sound like mumbling because they are missing some of the sounds due to their hearing loss.  The speech may sound soft because of the hearing loss and may sound muffled and unclear.  It is not realistic for them to tell others to speak up as we all have our own normal speech volume, and it is unnatural for a speaker to speak at a level louder than their normal level for more than a sentence or two. However, blaming others for mumbling is also an example of projection and is something that people who are in denial or grieving about their hearing loss might say.

“People/kids talk too fast.  If they slowed down I could hear them.”Child-talking

Sometimes people do talk fast but again it is not realistic to get someone to talk slower as it is an unnatural act especially for a child.  The problem arises from the fact that as we age our processing ability for sounds slows down within the brain.  This is compounded when a hearing loss causes some sounds to be missed or misinterpreted.  In this case more pieces of the conversation are missed, their ability to process the rest is slowed and they are unable to get enough information to be able to understand what was said.  It is a complicated situation!

“Of course I can’t hear – it’s very loud in here!”

It is fact that people with hearing loss have difficulty hearing even with the slightest of background noise.  Even people with normal hearing loss have more difficulty hearing in noisy situations!!!! As noted above, in noisy situations more speech sounds are missed so less information is left to process by the brain to attempt to make sense of (and understand) the conversation.

You can help out by moving to a quieter space for conversation and making sure to face the person you are conversing with.  Be sure to keep your mouth visible to them for lip reading.

“I can hear everything I want to, so that’s good enough.”

Here the person is “putting up their dukes” in defense of their hearing loss.  Again, this is part of the denial process which they need to work through with the help of family, friends and loved ones.  Support them by pointing out in a kind and gently manner some of the wonderful sounds they are missing.  Discuss how frustrating it may be to no longer hear the birds singing, the creek running, or how the grandkids tend to avoid talking to them by going to someone else who can understand them.

Nudge them gently towards accepting not that they have a problem but that they should see a hearing professional for a hearing checkup just in case they may have a hearing problem. Click here to schedule you free hearing consultation.

Signs and Symptoms of a Hearing Loss

Below is a list of signs that a person is having difficulty hearing and that they should be seen for a hearing test.  Use this as a checklist.  Find a quiet time to sit down and go over the list with them and check the ones that pertain to them.

Does your loved one:tv-dex-illustration_1600x1067

  • Turn the TV volume up to a uncomfortable level for others or complains that he or she can’t hear the TV when set to others comfort level?
  • Seem to have the most trouble hearing women’s or children’s voices?
  • Complain that his or her ears are ringing?
  • Sometimes answer inappropriately to questions, as if he or she is answering a completely different question?
  • Frequently asks you or others to repeat what was said?
  • Complains that people are mumbling or their voices sound muffled?
  • Have an especially difficult time following a conversation when there is more than one communication partner?
  • Misses the doorbell or phone ringing?
  • Has a difficult time conversing with others on the phone?
  • Completely misses what you say or not even realize you are talking when one of your backs is turned toward the other?
  • Becomes annoyed because he or she can’t understand what other people are saying?
  • Feels more drained or stressed out than normal after attending social situations?
  • Asks you what was said at church, meeting or social event when you get home?
  • Withdraws from social situations because he or she is having trouble hearing?
  • Feel nervous about meeting other people, when before this wasn’t an issue?
  • Remains quiet in social situations – presumably out of fear of misunderstanding what others are saying and responding inappropriately – when this is not his or her normal disposition?
  • Have difficulty hearing in public spaces like restaurants?

Your loved one might also have some medical explanations that could make him or her more likely to have hearing loss. These include:

  • Having a family history of hearing loss.
  • Taking medications that are known to be ototoxic – that is, damaging to his or her hearing. These include everything from aspirin to chemotherapy.
  • Being exposed to very loud sounds or loud noise over a prolonged period, including in a work situation, which may indicate noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Having diabetes or heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, is obese, is a smoker, has thyroid or circulation problems.

Having a hearing examination with a qualified hearing expert will allow you and your significant other to ask questions about the situation regarding any hearing loss that is present. Are hearing aids appropriate? Is something medically wrong and needs to be referred to a physician who specializes in ear diseases?  For the peace of mind of you and your loved one discuss the issue calmly and then schedule an appointment for that hearing exam.

They will thank you for improving their quality of life.

26 Jan 2016
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Starkey Hearing Technologies Joins Forces with Bragi, Transforming Hearable and Wearable Technology to New Heights

It was recently announced at the 2016 Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Hearing Innovation Expo that theBragi company has recently joined forces with Bragi, to revolutionize the hearing aid industry by transforming hearable and wearable technology.

Starkey’s partnership with Bragi will transform the way that customers will be able to manage their health, enjoy music and entertainment, and allow people to communicate and enhance their abilities with one another. Click here to watch a video of Bragi’s new product, The Dash.

Starkey also recently announced that Satjiv S. Chahil, a Silicon Valley based Marketing Pioneer, is set to work with the company to develop market strategies in order to expand Starkey’s position as the global leader in both hearable and wearable technology.

Starkey and Bragi plan to take hearables and wearables to new heights. “As hearing pioneers and tech design innovators, Starkey is thrilled to be working with Bragi to revolutionize the hearing aid industry and bring new technology and consumers to our hearing professionals” said Chris McCormick, Starkey’s Chief Marketing Officer.

While Bragi has the power of innovative yet discrete technology, Starkey has the knowledge of audio processing and sound perception. Together both companies will transform the world of hearable and wearable technology in 2016 and beyond.



20 Jan 2016
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Quarterly check-up with Dr. Shannon Gibbons

Just like your car, hearing aids need maintenance in order to function properly. This should be done by your hearing professional every 3-4 months.

Several things will happen during your visit:

  1. Your provider will assess the overall sound quality of your hearing devices. That includes checking andcleaning your microphones, receivers and batterycontacts. They do this under magnification and can find things that you are unable to see at home.
  2. Your provider will check your ears for wax build up. Even a small amount of wax prevents the hearing aids from functioning and affects your ability to hearproperly. Wax in hearing aids is the #1 reason whyhearing aids need to be sent to the manufacturer for repair.
  3. Your provider will talk to you about how you are hearing. If necessary, they may make adjustments on the computer to ensure optimal speech understanding. Although no hearing aid can restore hearing to normal, there may be adjustments that can be made to help improve speech clarity.

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Regular maintenance on your hearing aids can prolong their life and ensure you are hearing the best that you can. If you haven’t been in to your local hearing center within the past 3 months, call today to schedule an appointment.

Happy Hearing!


20 Jan 2016
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Telehear with Dr. Kent Collins

The future is available now in your local hearing clinic. Your local office is now offering TeleHear, the world’s largest TeleAudiology program where you can consult with some of the leading experts in the field of hearing.

What are some reasons patients choose to consult on TeleHear?

  • If you know you have a hearing loss, but have some questions on treatment.
  • If you can hear, but still have issue with clarity and understanding.
  • If you have older hearing aids, and need to trade-in your devices for new technology.
  • If you struggle to understand in groups or social situation.
  • If you have issues with TV clarity.
  • If you have tinnitus or other medical conditions associated to your ears.

What benefits can you receive from Telehear?

Similar to how the Mayo Clinic uses teams of physicians to diagnose and treat patients, TeleHearing allows our Doctors of Audiology and hearing experts to consult with local providers to best manage patient care. Patients and their family members who have the opportunity to participate in this delivery model get the benefit of years of combined experience between our providers who specialize in hearing loss and tinnitus treatment. They also receive consultations on the most up-to-date cutting edge technology and benefit from live demonstrations of state-of-the-art hearing aids. If you have ever wanted a second opinion or just want to experience TeleHear, call your local office to set up an appointment.

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How does it work?

Very simple. You show up to your nearest hearing clinic that participates in TeleHear. If you are new to the office, or are in need of an updated hearing test, your local provider will complete a case history and hearing examination. They will send the results to our TeleHear providers who analyze the report and connect with you to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options.

To see what TeleHear can do for you, please contact your local participating provider and schedule a consult.

20 Jan 2016
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Thank you from Paul Riding

Dear Valued Patients:

As we begin 2016, I want to wish all of you a happy and productive year. Our Starkey HearCare Network’s most important goal is your complete satisfaction. You are the single most important person in our business. Let’s face it — without you, we would not be here. For that reason, we have carefully designed a plan to help you along your journey to better hearing.

One aspect of this journey is our “team approach” where our staff functions together as a cohesive group of hearing professionals. We coordinate the individual expertise of all staff members to provide the best possible care for you. You may even find yourself on a Skype call or video conference with Doctors of Audiology from the factory. We work together to help you achieve the best hearing possible.

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A close friend of mine was recently fitted with her first set of hearing aids. Her hearing had gotten to a point where it affected her quality of life and was noticed by all of us. How delighted she and her family were to have her back to her “normal” self. She even said she felt better. Her increased social interaction without the fatigue, frustration, and worry of not hearing everything had been draining her, even though her health actually remained unchanged.

“Life is Worth Hearing,” May we enjoy it to the fullest!


20 Jan 2016
Written by in Hearing Aids | 3740 Views | Comments Closed

Tinnitus 101

Tinnitus: Causes, Effects, and Relief

According to the Mayo Clinic, Tinnitus (Tin-ih-tus) is a noise or ringing in the ears that affects over 50 million Americans, roughly 1 out of 5 people.

 Common symptoms of Tinnitus include:

  • Ringing.
  • Roaring.
  • Buzzing.
  • Humming.
  • Clicking.
  • Hissing.

Tinnitus is typically caused by: 

  • Loud noise exposure: loud music, construction sites, explosions, hunting weapons such as rifles and pistols, etc.
  • Smoking.
  • Gender: Men are more likely to experience Tinnitus than women, although all ages can be affected.
  • Cardiovascular problems.
  • Everyday household appliances: Hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc.
  • Ear wax blockage: When too much ear wax accumulates, it becomes hard for your ear to wash it away naturally, causing irritation to the ear drum and possibly even hearing loss-both which can lead to Tinnitus.
  • Age-related hearing loss: Hearing loss is a common cause of Tinnitus and age-related hearing loss typically begins around the age of 60.
  • Changes to your ear bone structure.

There are also several more complex causes of Tinnitus which include but are not limited to: head and neck injuries or tumors, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, turbulent blood flow, malformation of capillaries, acoustic neuroma, TMJ disorders, Meniere’s disease, and several medications.

There are two main types of Tinnitus:

  • Subjective Tinnitus: This is the most common type of Tinnitus where only you can hear the noises occurring. It is typically caused by exposure to excessive loud noise, which damages the hair cell nerves. The severity of this form ranges from patient to patient.
  • Objective Tinnitus: This form is more rare than Subjective Tinnitus. Your hearing professional is typically able to hear these noises by using a stethoscope or listening very closely next to your ear canal. This form is usually caused by a blood vessel problem, muscular contraction, or an inner ear bone condition.

Why should I get tested?

Because Tinnitus can affect your quality of life, and can lead to many internal issues such as,

  • Stress.
  • Anxiety.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Depression.
  • Memory problems.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Employment challenges.

How do I get tested?

  • Schedule a free appointment with one of our licensed hearing professionals by clicking, here!
  • Be prepared to tell your licensed hearing professional about:
    • Your signs and symptoms.
    • Your medical history and the medications that you are currently taking.
    • Anything else that you believe may be linked to this disease-from there your specialist will likely ask you a series of questions to get a better understanding of your symptoms. They will then proceed to conduct tests that they believe are necessary in diagnosing the degree of your Tinnitus.

What are the next steps if I am diagnosed?

  • Sound Therapy: This counter balances Tinnitus with comforting sound stimulus, available in Starkey HearCare locations.
  • Hearing aids: Hearing aids are a very common relief for those suffering from Tinnitus. They compensate for hearing loss which enables you to focus more on external noises instead of the internal ringing.
  • Earwax removal: This can decrease symptoms and allow less irritation to the ear drum while opening up the ear canal.
  • Counseling and Medication: If the medication you are taking may be causing symptoms of Tinnitus, your professional may suggest you switch medications or provide you with alternative options.
  • White noise machines: These devices can often be an effective treatment for more mild forms of Tinnitus. They cover up the ringing noises in your ears, especially when you are trying to sleep by distracting your mind.

How do I prevent getting diagnosed with Tinnitus or having it worsen? 

  • Use hearing protection: Especially if you have exposure to constant loud noise.
  • Take care of your heart and overall well-being: Cardiovascular health affects the entire body-Regular exercise and eating right is recommended!
  • Confirm that your medication is not causing damage to your ear-consult with you local hearing provider about this.

If you have tried other Tinnitus relief options without success, or are finally ready to stop letting the ringing in your ears take over your life, you owe it to yourself to give us a call today!

30 Dec 2015
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New Year, New You!

With 2016 approaching in a few days, one in three Americans are planning to make lifestyle change in the New Year. Starkey HearCare encourages you to protect your hearing in 2016.

Here are some resolutions we recommend you make: NY

  • Turn down the volume: Be sure you are listening to your electronics at an appropriate sound level. Loud noise is the most common cause of hearing loss and it is something that can typically be avoided.
  • Use protection: Many venues such as sporting events to group fitness classes offer free hearing protection-take advantage of these opportunities to protect your ears.
  • Take care of your body. Your overall health effects your hearing. How?:
    • Obesity: Higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are associated with increased risk of hearing loss in women.
    • Hypertension: There is a significant association between high blood pressure and untreated hearing loss. Hypertension can be an accelerating factor of hearing loss in older adults.
    • Osteoporosis: A study linked osteoporosis and hearing loss, theorizing that demineralization of the three middle ear bones may contribute to conductive hearing impairment.
    • Eye health: Vision helps you identify where a sound is coming from. Make sure you schedule regular appointments to get your hearing and vision examined.
    • Smoking: Current smokers have a 70% higher risk of having hearing loss than non-smokers.
    • Tinnitus: 90% of people with Tinnitus also have hearing loss. Tinnitus affects 1 in 5 people. It can be caused by hearing loss, an ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder.
    • Heart Health: The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system-a person’s heart, arteries, and veins- has a positive effect on hearing. Inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.

If you are experiencing hearing loss, schedule a hearing examination with a hearing health professional. Learn about your level of loss and the life changing hearing solutions that Starkey HearCare offers. To book a complimentary hearing consultation with one of our licensed professionals, click here.

17 Dec 2015
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Holiday Hearing Tips

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for the hearing impaired. From travel to dinner conversations, those with hearing loss can have a difficult time interacting with their family and friends.

Take family around table for holidaystraveling for example. Between communicating with flight attendants to taxi cab drivers, the communication and overall experience can become exhausting for those who cannot clearly process what is being said. With hearing loss being the third most common health problem in the United States, those suffering from this disease may choose to stay at home and not travel to certain destinations, losing valuable times with family and friends.

The downside and long term effects of these health problems can be tremendous for those not willing to get help. One’s mental health can take a toll with side effects such as anxiety and depression which can arise from not being able to have accurate communication due to hearing impairment. So how can we help those in need? There are several short term and long term precautions one can take to be mindful to those with hearing loss during this holiday season:

  • If you already have hearing aids, bring them in for cleaning and maintenance to make sure they are performing optimally.
  • Before getting together with loved ones, make sure your hearing aid batteries are fresh.
  • Lower the volume on the holiday music. Although many enjoy these festive songs, it may hinder the ability for those with hearing loss to pick up on conversations. Same goes with the TV, keep the TV off or at a minimum volume in order to eliminate background noise.
  • Find a quieter location in the home to catch up with a loved one. If music is playing, step to a room where you can have an easier time engaging on a one-on-one conversation with eye contact.
  • Keep the room well lit. Provide good lighting so those with hearing loss are able to see the facial expressions of people and can read lips, picking up on visual cues.
  • Use plastic dishware opposed to China. China and silverware is typically louder when it touches the plate. Instead, plastic utensils may lighten the noise level.
  • Find the best seat at the dinner table. If you have a “better side” when it comes to hearing, put that ear facing the crowd or assist one who suffers from hearing loss in choosing a seat.
  • Help your loved one book an appointment to see a Hearing Instrument Specialist. Hearing examinations are free of charge and will determine the individuals level of loss and which hearing instruments would be best suited for their level of loss. Book an online appointment at the location nearest you by clicking here.

While the majority of these precautions are short term alternatives, it is important to get your hearing tested as soon as possible if you are experiencing hearing loss. Just like you get your eyes checked for blurred vision, hearing exams should be done on a regular basis as well to detect your level of hearing loss. Schedule a hearing examination today and hear for the holidays!

10 Nov 2015
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Hearing Health and Diabetes

This Saturday, November 14, is World Diabetes Day. So how does hearing loss and diabetes correlate?

Since the 1960’s there has been a connection between diabetes and hearing loss, but until recently there was no real answer on what that connection was.

The National Health Institute (NIH) conducted a study in 2008 with over 4,700 individuals that proved that hearing loss is two times as common in adults that have diabetes. According to the NIH, “the researchers discovered the higher rate of hearing loss in those with diabetes after analyzing the results of hearing tests given to a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States. The test measured participants’ ability to hear low, middle, and high frequency sounds in both ears. The link between diabetes and hearing loss was evident across all frequencies, with a stronger association in the high frequency range.” Roughly 54% of individuals with diabetes reported hearing loss for high frequency sounds while only 32% of individuals without diabetes reported hearing loss for high frequency sounds.

Why might this be? One possibility is poor circulation that individuals with diabetes suffer from. High levels of blood sugar can damage blood vessels reducing blood flow to certain areas which would in turn cause damage to the inner ear. According to the NIH, “autopsy studies of diabetes patients have shown evidence of such damage.”

The Diabetes Prevention Program states that “people can delay and possibly prevent the disease by losing a small amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of total body weight) through 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week and healthier eating.” It is also important for individuals with diabetes to get a routine hearing screening as part of their annual health examination.

20 Oct 2015
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October is National Protect Your Hearing Month!

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, roughly 20% of Americans, 48 million individuals, report some degree of hearing loss. Once hearing damage has occurred, it is permanent. Did you know that noises at 85 decibels and above can cause hearing damage? Here is a list of everyday noises to put this into perspective:

  • Clap of Thunder: 120 dB
  • Football Games: 110 dB
  • Motorcycle Ride: 100 dB
  • Emergency Siren: 115 dB
  • Firecracker: 145 dB
  • Squeeze Toy: 90 dB

Luckily, there are many steps individuals can take in order to protect their hearing. These include:

  • Turning down the volume: on your TV, car, and headphones. If you need to raise your voice to be heard above the sound, turn it down.
  • Using hearing protection: during activities such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn, attending a group fitness class with loud music, and while at sporting events.
  • If you like listening to music through headphones, use noise canceling headphones: these block out the background noise in order for you to listen to your music at lower levels.
  • Educate children about safe listening practices.

Overall, noise induced hearing loss is 100% preventable. Just like you go to the doctor for eye screening appointments and the dentist to get your teeth cleaned, remember to include a hearing test as part of any routine health screening.