Providing hearing aid solutions in Nashville,TN

Listen up, Music City; your hearing is about to take center stage!

Let’s start with the basics. You’re hearing is what drives your life, enlivens your relationships, keeps you in the loop and at the top of your game.

The quality and clarity of your hearing is essential to living your life to the fullest. If your hearing is suffering even just a little bit, if you’ve felt frustrated, isolated or left out because you can’t make out the conversation, Audiology Associates and Hearing Aids Today can change all that with a lifestyle solution just for you.

We’re here to help you understand your hearing loss, and help you take back the life you’ve been missing. You don’t have to miss another sound, the solution to your hearing problems is right around the corner.

Hear more – anywhere, anytime!


Want to be a part of the conversation again?

Dr. Jina Scherer has built a practice that is 100% focused on you – your family, your work and your life. The conversations that start in our office are about building relationships of trust, and finding solutions that inspire.

We know how hard it can be to struggle with hearing loss and feel like there’s nowhere to turn. Audiology Associates & Hearing Aids Today is dedicated to helping people hear better everyday. Our clients, friends and family in Nashville have come to trust us for exceptional care and service, and we take that trust very seriously.

Nearly 36 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss, and every one of them has a family, a job and a lifestyle that can also be significantly affected. That adds up to a lot of people suffering, losing hope and missing out on things when they don’t have to.

The comeback your hearing deserves, is here today!

  • Hear Better, Live BetterClick here to see how our Audiology Services can help you hear and live better.
  • Acoustic or Electric – Turn It Up! – Check out our full line of musician’s earplugs, tips to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss. Click here to find out more.
  • A Tip of the Hat to TechnologyClick here to see just how far hearing aid and hearing assistance devices have come – We guarantee you’ll be surprised!
  • Testing, Testing – One, Two… – Already have a hearing aid? We can test any hearing aid you have and see that it’s delivering the best sound possible. Click here to set up an appointment today.

Your Ears…Only Better!

“I was a pretty good imitator of Roy Acuff, but then I found out they already had a Roy Acuff, so I started singin’ like myself.” – Hank Williams

Rediscovering your hearing is like finding your own voice, it will change your life overnight!

People come to Nashville to become a star; they stay because of the family they find here. Audiology Associates and Hearing Aids Today is part of that family, and the relationships we’re building everyday are far better than a single night on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

When you struggle with hearing loss, your relationships suffer, your business suffers and your life is a little less than it could be. When the chips are down, the relationships in your life are more important than anything else; isn’t that what all those songs are really about?

Before we help people to hear better…We Listen! Our amazing staff of audiology and support professionals know what they’re listening for, so when you step into our office, you’ll know you’ve come to the right place.

It’s time you did something about your hearing loss, and we’re here to help!

  • Meet the TeamClick here to meet the best audiology professionals and support staff anywhere in Music City.
  • Contact Us – Nothing beats getting your questions answered face-to-face. Click here to get in touch and schedule an appointment today.
Natural, effortless listening pleasure…
Call today!
615-457-8600

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss

We all procrastinate, routinely talking ourselves out of stressful or uncomfortable activities in favor of something more enjoyable or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will at some point get around to whatever we’re presently working to avoid.

Sometimes, procrastination is relatively harmless. We might plan to clear out the basement, for instance, by tossing or donating the things we rarely use. A clean basement sounds good, but the process of actually lugging items to the donation center is not so pleasurable. In the consideration of short-term pleasure, it’s easy to find innumerable alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.

In other cases, procrastination is not so harmless, and when it comes to hearing loss, it could be downright hazardous. While no one’s idea of a good time is having a hearing exam, current research shows that untreated hearing loss has major physical, mental, and social consequences.

To understand why, you need to start with the effects of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a well-known analogy: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you understand what will happen after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle volume and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t repeatedly utilize your muscles, they get weaker.

The same thing happens with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sounds, your ability to process auditory information becomes weaker. Researchers even have a label for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”

Back to the broken leg example. Let’s say you removed the cast from your leg but continued to not make use of the muscles, depending on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get progressively weaker. The same happens with your brain; the longer you go with hearing loss, the a smaller amount of sound stimulation your brain gets, and the worse your hearing gets.

That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which produces a variety of other consequences recent research is continuing to identify. For instance, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University found that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% drop in cognitive function compared to those with regular hearing, in combination with an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

General cognitive decline also can cause significant mental and social consequences. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) established that those with untreated hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to take part in social activities, in comparison to those who wear hearing aids.

So what starts out as an inconvenience—not having the ability to hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that disturbs all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about auditory deprivation, which leads to general cognitive decline, which creates psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, damaged relationships, and an enhanced risk of developing serious medical issues.

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

So that was the bad news. The good news is just as encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg illustration one more time. Immediately after the cast comes off, you start exercising and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recover your muscle mass and strength.

The same process once again applies to hearing. If you enhance the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can regain your brain’s ability to process and understand sound. This leads to better communication, better psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, as reported by The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in almost every area of their lives.

Are you ready to accomplish the same improvement?

How Insects are Revolutionizing Hearing Aids

Contemporary hearing aids have come a long way; current models are highly effective and include powerful digital features, such as wifi connectivity, that strongly enhance a person’s ability to hear along with their all-around quality of life.

But there is still room for improvement.

Specifically, in certain instances hearing aids have some challenges with two things:

  1. Locating the source of sound
  2. Eliminating background noise

But that may soon change, as the latest research in hearing aid design is being guided from a unusual source: the world of insects.

Why insects hold the key to improved hearing aids

Both mammals and insects have the equivalent problem relating to hearing: the transformation and amplification of sound waves into information the brain can use. What scientists are finding is that the approach insects use to solve this problem is in ways more effective than our own.

The organs of hearing in an insect are more compact and more sensitive to a larger range of frequencies, enabling the insect to detect sounds humans are unable to hear. Insects also can detect the directionality and distance of sound in ways more exact than the human ear.

Hearing aid design has generally been directed by the way humans hear, and hearing aids have had a tendency to supply straightforward amplification of inbound sound and transmission to the middle ear. But researchers are now asking a different question.

Borrowing inspiration from the natural world, they’re inquiring how nature—and its hundreds of millions of years of evolution—has attempted to solve the problem of sensing and perceiving sound. By examining the hearing mechanism of several insects, such as flies, grasshoppers, and butterflies, researchers can borrow the best from each to establish a completely new mechanism that can be put to use in the design of new and improved miniature microphones.

Insect-inspired miniature directional microphones

Experts from University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and the MRC/CSO Institute for Hearing Research (IHR) at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, will be testing hearing aids outfitted with a unique type of miniature microphone inspired by insects.

The hope is that the new hearing aids will accomplish three things:

  1. More energy-efficient microphones and electronics that will eventually result in smaller hearing aids, lower power usage, and longer battery life.
  2. The capacity to more accurately locate the source and distance of sound.
  3. The ability to focus on specific sounds while wiping out background noise.

Researchers will also be experimenting with 3D printing methods to improve the design and ergonomics of the new hearing aids.

The future of hearing aids

For virtually all of their history, hearing aids have been designed with the human hearing mechanism in mind, in an effort to replicate the normal human hearing experience. Now, by asking a different set of questions, researchers are building a new set of goals. Rather than attempting to RESTORE normal human hearing, perhaps they can AUGMENT it.

6 Ways Your Brain Transforms Sound Into Emotion

It has long been understood that there are powerful connections among sound, music, emotion, and memory, and that our personal experiences and preferences determine the type and intensity of emotional response we have to diverse sounds.

As an example, research has revealed these prevalent associations between specific sounds and emotions:

  • The sound of a thunderstorm evokes a feeling of either relaxation or anxiety, depending on the person
  • Wind chimes commonly provoke a restless feeling
  • Rain evokes a feeling of relaxation
  • Fireworks evoke a feeling of nostalgia and pleasant memories
  • The vibrations of a cell phone are often identified as annoying

Other sounds have a more universal identity. UCLA researchers have observed that the sound of laughter is globally identified as a positive sound signifying enjoyment, while other sounds are globally linked with fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise.

So why are we predisposed to certain emotional reactions in the presence of specific sounds? And why does the reaction tend to differ between individuals?

While the answer is still in essence a mystery, current research by Sweden’s Lund University delivers some interesting insights into how sound and sound environments can have an affect on humans on personal, emotional, and psychological levels.

Here are six psychological mechanisms through which sound may provoke emotions:

1. Brain-Stem Reflex

You’re sitting quietly in your office when all of a sudden you hear a loud, abrupt crash. What’s your reaction? If you’re like most people, you become emotionally aroused and motivated to investigate. This type of response is subconscious and hard-wired into your brain to alert you to potentially significant or life-threatening sounds.

2. Evaluative Conditioning

People commonly associate sounds with particular emotions based on the circumstance in which the sound was heard. For example, listening to a song previously played on your wedding day may give you feelings of joy, while the same song first heard by someone during a bad breakup may yield the opposing feelings of sadness.

3. Emotional Contagion

When someone smiles or laughs, it’s difficult to not smile and laugh yourself. Research conducted in the 1990s discovered that the brain may contain what are labeled as “mirror neurons” that are activated both when you are carrying out a task AND when you are watching someone else perform the task. When we hear someone communicating while crying, for example, it can be hard to not also experience the corresponding feelings of sadness.

4. Visual Imagery

Let’s say you love listening to CDs that contain only the sounds of nature. Why do you like it? Presumably because it evokes a positive emotional experience, and, taking that even further, it most likely evokes some powerful visual images of the natural surroundings in which the sounds are heard. For example, try listening to the sounds of waves crashing and NOT visualizing yourself relaxing at the beach.

5. Episodic Memory

Sounds can activate emotionally potent memories, both good and bad. The sounds of rain can provoke memories of a peaceful day spent at home, while the sound of thunder may result in memories affiliated with combat experience, as seen in post-traumatic stress disorder.

6. Music Expectancy

Music has been described as the universal language, which makes sense the more you consider it. Music is, after all, simply a random assortment of sounds, and is enjoyable only because the brain imposes order to the sounds and interprets the order in a specified way. It is, in fact, your expectations about the rhythm and melody of the music that trigger an emotional response.

Sound, Emotion, and Hearing Loss

Irrespective of your particular reactions to different sounds, what is certain is that your emotions are directly involved. With hearing loss, you not only lose the ability to hear particular sounds, you also lose the emotional impact associated with the sounds you can either no longer hear or can no longer hear comfortably.

With hearing loss, for instance, nature walks become less pleasant when you can no longer hear the faint sounds of running water; music loses its emotional impact when you can’t distinguish specific instruments; and you place yourself at greater risk when you can’t hear fire alarms or other alerts to danger.

The bottom line is that hearing is more important to our lives—and to our emotional lives—than we probably realize. It also means that treating your hearing loss will probably have a greater impact than you realize, too.


What are some of your favorite sounds? What emotions do they evoke?

Are there any particular sounds or songs that make you feel happy, angry, annoyed, sad, or excited? Let us know in a comment.

6 Ways to Lose Your Hearing

The strange part of hearing loss is that we don’t seem to begin appreciating our favorite sounds until after we’ve lost the capacity to clearly hear them. We don’t stop to contemplate, for instance, how much we value a good conversation with a close friend until we have to recurrently ask them to repeat themselves.

Whether it’s your favorite Mozart record or the sounds of a Bluejay first thing in the morning, your quality of life is closely tied to your capability to hear—regardless of whether you realize it or not. And if you wait until after you’ve lost your hearing to come to this recognition, you’re going to spend quite a bit of time and effort trying to get it back.

So how can you retain your ability to hear?

Here are 6 ways you could lose your hearing and what you can do about it.

1. Genetics and aging

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, is the loss of hearing that progressively takes place as we get older. Combined with presbycusis, there is also some evidence indicating that genetics plays a role, and that some of us are more vulnerable to hearing loss than others.

While there’s not much you can do to prevent the process of getting older or modify your genetics, you can protect against noise-induced hearing loss from the other sources outlined below. And keep in mind that age-related hearing loss is considerably more challenging to treat if aggravated by avoidable damage.

2. Traveling

Persistent exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss, which is not-so-good news if you happen to drive a convertible. New research shows that driving a convertible with the top down at excessive speeds generates an average sound volume level of 90 decibels. Motorcyclists face even louder sounds and those who take the subway are at risk as well.

So does everyone either have to give up travel or live with permanent earplugs? Not quite, but you should look for ways to limit your collective noise exposure during travel. If you own a convertible, roll up your car windows and drive a little slower; if you own a motorcycle, wear a helmet and consider earplugs; and if you use the subway, think about buying noise-canceling headphones.

3. Going to work

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 22 million workers in the US are subjected to potentially harmful noise volumes at work. The highest risk occupations are in manufacturing, farming, construction, the military, and the music industry.

The last thing you want is to spend your total working life accumulating hearing loss that will prevent you from making the most of your retirement. Speak with your manager about its hearing protection plan, and if they don’t have one, check with your local hearing specialist for customized solutions.

4. Taking drugs and smoking

Smoking interferes with blood flow, among other things, which could enhance your risk of developing hearing loss—if you really needed another reason to stop smoking. Antibiotics, potent pain medications, and a significant number of other drugs are “ototoxic,” or toxic to the cells of hearing. In fact, there are more than 200 known ototoxic medications.

The bottom line: avoid taking ototoxic drugs or medications unless completely necessary. Speak to your doctor if you have any questions.

5. Listening to music

85 is turning out to be quite an inconvenient number. Many of our favorite hobbies yield decibel levels just above this threshold, and anything over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. If the limit were just slightly higher, say 100 decibels, we wouldn’t have to worry about it so much.

But 85 it is. And portable music players at maximum volume get to more than 100 decibels while rock concerts reach more than 110. The solution is straight forward: turn down your iPod, wear earplugs at live shows, and limit your time of exposure to the music.

6. Getting sick or injured

Specific ailments, such as diabetes, along with any traumatic head injuries, places you at greater risk of developing hearing loss. If you have diabetes, frequent exercise, a balanced diet, and frequent tracking of glucose levels is crucial. And if you drive a motorcycle, using a helmet will help protect against traumatic head injuries.

Talk to Your Hearing Specialist

While there are several ways to lose your hearing, a few easy lifestyle alterations can help you conserve your hearing for life. Remember: the mild hassle of wearing custom earplugs, driving with the windows up, or turning down your iPod are slight in comparison to the substantial inconvenience of hearing loss later in life.

Ready to take your hearing health seriously? Give us a call today.

Why Choose a Local Hearing Care Provider?

The hearing healthcare industry has two barriers that prevent individuals from obtaining healthier hearing:

  1. The inability to recognize hearing loss in the first place (owing to its slow onset), and
  2. The temptation to find a quick, easy, and inexpensive fix.

Regretfully, numerous people who have overcome the first barrier have been lured into the apparently “cheaper and easier” practices of correcting their hearing loss, whether it be through the purchase of hearing aids online, the purchase of personal sound amplifiers, or by heading to the big box stores that are much more concerned with profits than with patient care.

Regardless of the allure of these quick remedies, the truth is that local hearing care providers are your best choice for better hearing, and here are the reasons why.

Local hearing care providers choose to use a customer-centric business model

National chain stores are profitable for one reason: they sell a high volume of low-priced goods and services at low prices in the name of higher revenues. National chains are focused on efficiency, which is a courteous way of saying “get as many people in and out the door as quickly as possible.”

Admittedly, this profit-centric model works great with most purchases, because you probably don’t require professional, personalized care to help pick out your undershirts and bath soap. Customer service simply doesn’t factor in.

However, problems result when this business model is extended to services that do require expert, individualized care—such as the correction of hearing loss. National chains are not focused on patient outcomes because they can’t be; it’s too time-consuming and flies in the face of the high volume “see as many patients as possible” business model.

Local hearing care providers are different. They’re not preoccupied with short-term profits because they don’t have a board of directors to answer to. The level of success of a local practice is based upon on patient outcomes and quality of care, which produces satisfied patients who continue to be faithful to the practice and disperse the positive word-of-mouth advertising that creates more referrals.

Local practices, for that reason, flourish on providing quality care, which benefits both the patient and the practice. By comparison, what occurs if a national chain can’t deliver quality care and happy patients? Simple, they use national advertising to get a steady flow of new patients, vowing the same “quick and cheap fix” that lured in the original customers.

Local hearing care providers have more experience

Hearing is complex, and like our fingerprints, is unique to everyone, so the frequencies I may have difficulty hearing are distinct from the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. In other words, you can’t just take surrounding sound, make it all louder, and pump it into your ears and count on good results. But this is essentially what personal sound amplifiers, along with the cheaper hearing aid models, accomplish.

The truth is, the sounds your hearing aids amplify—AND the sounds they don’t—HAVE to match the way you, and only you, hear. That’s only going to take place by:

  • Having your hearing professionally tested so you know the EXACT features of your hearing loss, and…
  • Having your hearing aids professionally programmed to intensify the sounds you have difficulty hearing while differentiating and repressing the sounds you don’t want to hear (such as low-frequency background noise).

For the hearing care provider, this is no easy task. It takes a lot of training and patient care experience to have the ability to perform a hearing test, help patients select the right hearing aid, professionally program the hearing aids, and provide the patient coaching and aftercare necessary for optimal hearing. There are no shortcuts to dispensing comprehensive hearing care—but the results are well worth the time and energy.

Make your choice

So, who do you want to leave your hearing to? To someone who views you as a transaction, as a customer, and as a means to achieving sales targets? Or to an experienced local professional that cares about the same thing you do—helping you obtain the best hearing possible, which, by the way, is the lifeblood of the local practice.

As a general rule, we advise that you avoid purchasing your hearing aids anywhere you see a sign that reads “10 items or less.” As local, experienced hearing professionals, we provide thorough hearing healthcare and the best hearing technology to suit your specific needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Still have questions? Give us a call today.

The Right Way to Clean Your Ears


Anatomy of the ear
Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”.

That there is a right way to clean your ears suggests that there is a wrong way, and in fact, there is a very wrong way. The wrong way is widespread, and it violates the first rule of cleaning your ears: don’t insert foreign objects into your ear canal. That includes cotton swabs and any other object that will likely only push the earwax up against the eardrum, potentially causing irritation, temporary hearing loss, or eardrum damage.

So what should you be doing to clean your ears under normal circumstances? In a word: nothing (I hope you weren’t looking for something more profound). Your ears are built to be self-cleansing, and the regular movements of your jaw move earwax from the canal to the outer ear. If you attempt to remove it, your ear just generates more wax.

And earwax is beneficial, as it contains protective, lubricating, and antibacterial characteristics. In fact, over-cleaning the ears creates dry, itchy, irritated skin within the ear canal. So, for the majority of people the majority of of the time, nothing is needed other than normal bathing to wash the outer ear.

But notice that we said MOST of the time, because there are situations in which people do generate an excessive amount of earwax or excess earwax impacts the eardrum. In situations like these, you will need to clean your ears. Here’s how:

Cleaning your ears at home

We’ll say it once again: don’t insert any foreign objects into your ear canal. You can irritate the fragile skin of the canal and can end up perforating your eardrum. This means no cotton swabs and definitely no ear candles. (Speaking of ear candles, in 2010, the FDA issued a warning against using them, declaring that no scientific evidence supports their effectiveness and that their use can result in significant injuries.)

To properly clean your ears at home, take the following actions:

  1. Purchase earwax softening solution at the drugstore or make some at home. Directions for preparing the solution can be found online, and the mixture often includes the use of hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, and glycerin.
  2. Pour the solution into your ears from the container or by using a plastic or bulb syringe. Tilt your head to the side and let the solution to work for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Drain the fluid out of your ear by tilting your head gradually over a bowl or the sink, or you can use a cotton ball pushed against the outside of the ear. (I know it’s tempting, but again, don’t push the cotton ball into your ear.)
  4. Flush out your ears with lukewarm water using a bulb syringe to displace any loose earwax.

When not to clean your ears at home

Cleaning your ears at home could be dangerous in the presence of an ear infection or a perforated eardrum. If you encounter any symptoms such as fever, lightheadedness, ear pain, or ear discharge, it’s best to speak with your doctor or hearing specialist. Additionally, repeated attempts at self cleaning that are unsuccessful may suggest a more significant blockage that requires professional cleaning.

Medical doctors and hearing specialists make use of a variety of medicines and devices to quickly, thoroughly, and safely remove excess earwax. The solutions tend to be more powerful than the homemade versions, and devices called curettes can be inserted into the ear to manually remove the wax.

When in doubt, leave it to the experts. You’ll get the peace of mind that you’re not damaging your ears, and symptoms can subside within minutes of a professional cleaning. In addition, underlying issues or hearing loss can be identified and corrected by a professional.

If you have any further questions or want to schedule an appointment, give us a call today! And keep in mind, if you’re a hearing aid user, you’ll want to get a regular professional checkup every 6 months.

The Surprising Statistics Behind Occupational Hearing Loss

It’s popular to think of hearing loss as an inescapable problem connected with aging, or, more recently, as a consequence of the younger generation’s constant use of iPods. But the numbers show that the larger problem may be exposure to loud noise at work.

In the US, 22 million workers are subjected to potentially hazardous noise, and an estimated 242 million dollars is paid on a yearly basis on worker’s compensation claims for hearing loss, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

What’s more is that higher rates of hearing loss are found in increasingly noisier occupations, indicating that being exposed to sounds above a certain level progressively enhances your risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss later in life.

How loud is too loud?

A study carried out by Audicus found that, of those who were not subjected to work-related noise levels over 90 decibels, only 9 percent experienced noise-induced hearing loss at age 50. In contrast, construction workers, who are repeatedly subjected to sound levels as high as 120 decibels, suffered with noise-induced hearing loss at the age of 50 at a rate of 60 percent!

It appears that 85-90 decibels is the threshold for safe sound levels, but that’s not the complete story: the decibel scale is logarithmic, not linear. That signifies that as you raise the decibel level by 3 decibels, the sound level approximately doubles. So 160 decibels is not two times as loud as 80—it’s about 26 times louder!

Here’s how it breaks down: a decibel level of 0 is scarcely noticeable, normal conversation is about 60 decibels, the limit for safety is 85-90 decibels, and the death of hearing cells occurs at 180 decibels. It’s the region between 85 and 180 that leads to noise-induced hearing loss, and as would be expected, the vocations with increasingly louder decibel levels have steadily higher rates of hearing loss.

Hearing loss by occupation

As the following table displays, as the decibel levels associated with each profession increase, hearing loss rates increase as well:

Occupation Decibel level Incidence rates of hearing loss at age 50
No noise exposure Less than 90 decibels 9%
Manufacturing 105 decibels 30%
Farming 105 decibels 36%
Construction 120 decibels 60%

Any profession with decibel levels above 90 places its personnel at risk for hearing loss, and this includes rock musicians (110 dB), nightclub staff (110 dB), Formula One drivers (135 dB), airport ground staff (140 dB), and shooting range marshalls (140 dB). In every scenario, as the decibel level rises, the risk of noise-induced hearing loss rises with it.

Protecting your hearing

A recent US study on the prevalence of hearing loss in farming revealed that 92 percent of the US farmers surveyed were exposed to harmful noise levels, but that only 44 percent reported to use hearing protection devices on a regular basis. Factory workers, in comparison, tend to stick to to stricter hearing protection regulations, which may explain why the incidence rate of hearing loss is moderately lower in manufacturing than it is in farming, despite being exposed to similar decibel volumes.

All of the data point to one thing: the importance of protecting your hearing. If you work in a high-risk occupation, you need to take the right precautionary steps. If avoiding the noise is not an option, you need to find ways to minimize the noise levels (best attained with custom earplugs), in addition to assuring that you take frequent rest breaks for your ears. Reducing both the sound volume and exposure time will lower your chances of acquiring noise-induced hearing loss.

If you would like to investigate a hearing protection plan for your specific circumstances or job, give us a call. As hearing specialists, we can provide personalized solutions to best protect your hearing at work. We also offer custom earplugs that, in addition to defending your hearing, are comfortable to wear and can maintain the natural quality of sound (as opposed to the muffled sound you hear with foam earplugs).

Finding Financial Assistance for Your Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Financing

The maxim “you get what you pay for” is certainly true of hearing aids, and while the latest hearing aids are engineered to be more effective than ever, they’re not exactly cheap, either.

Fortunately, modern digital hearing aids, while not cheap, ARE becoming more affordable, in the same manner that the majority of consumer electronics are becoming more affordable (A 20-inch high-definition TV cost $1,200 in 1999; it costs just $84 today). And when you think about it, we tend to spend far more money on things that simply do not improve our quality of life to the extent that a pair of hearing aids can.

Let’s say, for example, that a pair of hearing aids costs $5,000. Assuming the hearing aids last 5 years, that equates to a monthly price of only $83.33 per month. Most people spend more money on their cable television bill, and that’s why the majority of our patients freely admit that while the upfront cost seems high, the monthly expense, relative to the benefit they receive from improved hearing, is more than worth it.

So you have to ask yourself, would you be willing to invest less than 100 dollars per month to have better conversations and relationships with your close friends and family? Most people would, and that’s why so many people decide to purchase hearing aids.

But once you elect to buy hearing aids, what are your methods for paying for them? Despite common beliefs, you have several potential options.

Financing options for hearing aids

The first mistake people make is assuming that no financial support is available. While receiving help can be frustrating at times, there are in fact an assortment of resources that you should inquire about before making a decision to hand over a full cash payment. Here are some of the steps we recommend taking:

  • Start by contacting your private insurance provider. While private insurance varies by company and by state, many people find that their private insurance includes some type of assistance with hearing aids.
  • Think about utilizing a medical flexible spending account. This is a special type of account you can use to put aside money (pre-tax) to pay for out-of-pocket medical costs.
  • Check your Medicare and Medicaid benefits. This is not the most usual way to help pay for hearing aids, but Medicare and Medicaid do offer benefits in certain limited circumstances.
  • Contact your local VA office if you’re a veteran. Veterans may obtain benefits that can help partly or totally pay for hearing aids. Check with your local VA office for more information.
  • Search for charitable organizations that supply hearing aids or financial aid. If you satisfy the financial requirements, there are numerous charitable organizations that supply hearing aids or financial assistance for hearing aids. We’ll provide some resources for you in the following section.
  • Check your state’s vocational rehabilitation program. If hearing aids are necessary for employment, your state may help you pay for them through its vocational rehabilitation program.
  • Consider financing your hearing aids. Several programs exist, including CareCredit, which works like a credit card but is exclusive to healthcare services.

Additional resources

There are far too many options and resources to try to list, and many programs are specific to the state you live in or to the specific organizations you’re affiliated with. Therefore, instead of reading through a long list of resources, it’s best to search for programs specific to your state or situation. For example, conducting a Google search for “hearing aid funding in ” or “hearing aid assistance for veterans” will likely provide some valuable results.

You might also want to browse the list of financial resources from the
Better Hearing Institute
and the Hearing Loss Association of America, both of which list programs by state and incorporate lists of a variety of charitable organizations.

If you’re still not sure where to begin, or are having difficulty finding information, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We can point you in the right direction and can help you discover the financing option that works best for you. Your hearing is well worth it—give us a call today!

When Should I Get My Hearing Tested?

In most cases, people are unaware that they have hearing loss. It forms so gradually that it’s often undetectable, and on top of that, most family physicians do not consistently screen for hearing loss at the yearly physical examination.

Considering these two facts, it’s no surprise that most people first realize they have hearing loss by being informed about it from close friends or relatives. But once people confront you about your hearing loss, it’s more than likely already relatively advanced. Given that hearing loss worsens over time—and cannot be totally recovered once lost—it’s crucial to treat hearing loss in a timely manner instead of waiting for it to get bad enough for people to notice.

So when and how often should you get your hearing tested? Here are our recommendations:

Establish a Baseline Early

It’s never too early to consider your first hearing test. The earlier you test your hearing, the earlier you can establish a baseline to compare later tests. The only method to assess if your hearing is getting worse is by comparing the results with previous examinations.

Although it’s true that as you get older you’re more likely to have hearing loss, consider that 26 million people between the age of 20 and 69 have hearing loss. Hearing loss is common among all age groups, and exposure to loud noise puts everyone at risk regardless of age.

Annual Tests After Age 55

At the age of 65, one out of every three people will have some level of hearing loss. Seeing that hearing loss is so prevalent near this age, we advise once a year hearing tests to assure that your hearing is not deteriorating. Remember, hearing loss is permanent, cumulative, and virtually undetectable. However, with once-a-year hearing tests, hearing loss can be identified early, and intervention is always more effective when carried out earlier.

Consider Personal Risk Factors

As stated by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “approximately 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities.”

If you have been exposed to loud work environments or activities such as music concerts or sporting events, it’s a good idea to have your hearing tested. It’s also a good idea to get an annual hearing test if you continuously expose your hearing to these environments.

Watch for Signs of Hearing Loss

As we noted earlier, the signs and symptoms of hearing loss are often first observed by others. You should schedule a hearing test if someone has suggested it to you or if you experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Muffled hearing
  • Trouble understanding what people are saying, especially in noisy settings or in groups
  • People commenting on how loud you have the TV or radio
  • Avoiding social situations and conversations
  • Ringing, roaring, hissing, or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Ear pain, discomfort, or discharge
  • Vertigo, dizziness, or balance problems

Don’t Wait Until the Harm is Done

The bottom line is that hearing loss is prevalent among all age groups and that we all live in the presence of several work-related and everyday risk factors. Given that hearing loss is hard to detect, gets worse over time, and is best treated early, we recommend that you get your hearing tested regularly. You may end up saving your hearing with early treatment, and the worst that can happen is that you find out you have normal hearing.

Understanding Your Treatment Options for Tinnitus

Nearly 45 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, which is the perception of sound where no outside sound source exists. This phantom sound is often identified as a ringing sound, but can also materialize as a buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, or clicking.

The first thing to recognize about tinnitus is that it’s a symptom, not a disease. Consequently, tinnitus may indicate an underlying health condition that, once treated, cures the tinnitus. Earwax accumulation or other blockages, blood vessel conditions, certain medications, and other underlying conditions can all trigger tinnitus, so the first step is ruling out any ailments that would demand medical or surgical treatment.

In most cases of tinnitus, however, no specific cause is revealed. In these cases, tinnitus is presumed to be caused by destruction of the nerve cells of hearing in the inner ear. Noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, and one-time exposure to very loud sounds can all cause tinnitus.

When tinnitus is caused by nerve cell damage, or is associated with hearing loss, tinnitus oftentimes cannot be cured—but that doesn’t imply that people have to suffer without assistance. While there is no definitive cure for the majority of instances of chronic tinnitus, several tinnitus therapy options are available that help patients live better, more comfortable, and more productive lives, even if the perception of tinnitus remains.

Below are some of the treatment options for tinnitus:

Hearing Aids

The majority of cases of tinnitus are associated with some form of hearing loss. In patients with hearing loss, a reduced amount of sound stimulation reaches the brain, and in response, investigators believe that the brain changes physically and chemically to accommodate the deficit of stimulation. It is this maladaptive response to sound deprivation that results in tinnitus.

Tinnitus is intensified with hearing loss because when surrounding sound is muffled, the sounds identified with tinnitus become more detectable. But when hearing aids are utilized, the amplified sound signals cause the sounds of tinnitus to blend into the richer background sounds. Hearing aids for tinnitus patients can then present multiple benefits, including improved hearing, enhanced auditory stimulation, and a “masking effect” for tinnitus.

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy is a broad term used to identify several techniques to using external sound to “mask” the tinnitus. With time, the brain can learn to recognize the sounds of tinnitus as trivial relative to the contending sound, thereby reducing the intensity level of tinnitus.

Sound therapy can be delivered through masking devices but can also be provided through selected hearing aid models that can stream sound wirelessly by means of Bluetooth technology. Some hearing aid models even link up with compatible Apple devices, including iPhones, so that any masking sounds downloaded on the Apple devices can be delivered wirelessly to the hearing aids.

The kinds of masking sounds used can vary, including white noise, pink noise, nature sounds, and music. Sounds can also be specifically programmed to match the sound frequency of the patient’s tinnitus, delivering individualized masking relief. Seeing as each patient will respond differently to different masking sounds, it’s important that you work with a knowledgeable hearing professional.

Behavioral Therapies

Numerous behavioral therapies exist to help the patient address the psychological and emotional components of tinnitus. One example is mindfulness-based stress reduction, during which the individual learns to accept the ailment while establishing effective coping methods.

You may have also heard the term Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), which mixes cognitive-behavioral therapy with sound masking therapy. With Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, patients learn to establish healthy cognitive and emotional reactions to tinnitus while applying sound therapy to teach their brains to reclassify tinnitus as unimportant, so that it can be consciously ignored.

General Wellness

In addition to the more targeted sound and behavioral therapies, sufferers can engage in general wellness activities that often lessen the severity of tinnitus. These activities consist of healthy diets, frequent exercise, social activity, recreational activities, and any other activities that promote improved health and lowered stress.

Drug Therapies

There are currently no FDA-approved medications that have been found to cure or alleviate tinnitus directly, but there are medications that can treat stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which can render tinnitus worse or are caused by tinnitus itself. In fact, some antidepressant and antianxiety medicines have been demonstrated to produce some relief to patients with severe tinnitus.

Experimental Therapies

A flurry of promising research is being conducted in labs and universities throughout the world, as researchers continue to seek out the underlying neurological cause of tinnitus and its ultimate cure. Even though several of these experimental therapies have shown some promise, remember that they are not yet readily available, and that there’s no assurance that they ever will be. Those suffering from tinnitus are encouraged to seek out current treatments rather than holding out for any experimental treatment to hit the market.

Here are a few of the experimental therapies presently being tested:

  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) delivers electromagnetic pulses into the affected brain tissue to lessen the hyperactivity that is believed to cause tinnitus.
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is another method of delivering electromagnetic pulses into the hyperactive brain tissue that is believed to cause tinnitus.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is comparable to the preceding therapies in its use of electromagnetic energy, the difference being that DBS is an invasive procedure requiring surgery and the placement of electrodes in the brain tissue.

Other medical, surgical, and pharmacological therapies exist, but the results have been mixed and the dangers of invasive procedures in many cases outweigh the benefits.

The Optimal Treatment For Your Tinnitus

The optimum tinnitus treatment for you is based on many factors, and is best evaluated by a qualified hearing specialist. As your local hearing care professionals, we’ll do everything we can to help you find relief from your tinnitus. Set up your appointment today and we’ll find the customized solution that works best for you.