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Veterans and Hearing Loss

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Rechargeable batteries are here!

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Veterans and Hearing Loss

Returning home from duty, veterans face many challenges, especially those who have served in combat zones. Among them, is hearing loss – ranking among the most prevalent health issues for recently returning and former soldiers. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 933,000 veterans have received compensation for hearing loss and 1.3 million veterans are receiving disability benefits for tinnitus. Beyond hearing loss and tinnitus, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) affects a high number of veterans who were exposed to blasts. APD impacts the brain’s ability to understand speech despite the sufferer being able to register sounds normally. While injuries to the ear or brain may cause physical damage, a communication breakdown with loved ones may be the greatest casualty of hearing loss.

Special risks for soldiers’ hearing

No matter where they train or deploy, soldiers face environmental factors that can be harmful to hearing. BioMed Central’s Military Medical Researchers looked at which environments were the loudest and biggest threat to noise-induced hearing loss. They found that the impact of noise on hearing in the military varies among the branches of service.

Yet almost every soldier, sailor, airman or marine will be exposed to very high levels of noise from:

  • Weapons – shotguns, rifles, pistols, grenades and anti-tank weapons
  • Armored vehicles
  • Engine rooms and carrier decks of navy vessels
  • Helicopters, fighter planes, transport aircraft and various jets
  • Jet propulsion fuel

For some, a single explosion with sounds exceeding 140 dB can cause irreparable damage instantly. This sort of acoustic harm to the ears results in permanent hearing loss.

For others, longstanding exposure to dangerous levels of noise can contribute to ear damage over time. Chronic exposure to high sound levels may lead to changes that soldiers don’t notice immediately.

Why veterans should address hearing loss

Many people associate hearing loss with the elderly. However people of all ages can lose their hearing – especially if they have had extraordinary exposure to noise. This is one instance when silence isn’t golden. Hearing well means communicating well. Think about it, if you can’t listen:

  • How can you engage with your loved ones completely?
  • Can you understand your colleagues or customers or participate fully in the workplace?
  • How can you really enjoy your favorite music, movies or television? Sure, closed captioning or subtitles may help but it’s not the same as hearing the intonation in voices.

Unlike the loss of sight, hearing impairment is usually more gradual. You may miss bits and pieces of sentences, but you think that your brain can fill in the missing information. Yet sometimes, the brain guesses wrong. You may believe you comprehended the information when you actually misunderstood it! This can lead to needless conflict and unpleasant rounds of “he said – she said.”

Stylish options for veterans

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Preparing for holiday gatherings with hearing loss

Whether you are preparing to host an event this coming holiday season or are attending an impromptu gathering of friends, this is an important time to catch up with loved ones. But what if hearing loss poses a challenge for communicating?

When people gather it can be noisy. Especially if many people are speaking at the same time. Add in holiday music, restaurant chatter or a football game on in the background, and even people with excellent hearing may have trouble understanding a conversation with someone standing next to them.

If you follow these tips, it may be easier to catch up with loved ones and enjoy their company.

Pick a good place to hear at holiday events

Whether you are in a home or a restaurant, try to position yourself in a space with less background noise. Follow these tips:

  • Flooring and walls – Carpeting, tablecloths and drapery help to absorb noise.
  • Pick the right room – In a home, try to avoid the kitchen or areas near the TV. If you are in a restaurant, ask for a seat away from the kitchen or bar.
  • Avoid the amplifiers – Although you can’t always get away from blaring music, try to be as far from speakers as possible. Corners or booths can provide some relief.
  • Try for 1:1 conversations – If you really want to catch every word, there is nothing wrong with finding a quieter spot in the hallway, or even outside for one-on-one conversations.

Arrive early to choose the best seat in the house

When choosing your seat, try to be where you can see people’s faces – that way you can pick up on facial cues. Try to sit where there is good lighting. If one ear is stronger than the other, offer the person you wish to speak to the seat on your strong side. You can also ask a relative or friend to help you fill in the gaps if you miss part of the conversation.

Don’t be shy about your hearing loss this holiday season

In noisy situations there is no reason to hide your hearing loss. While it may be easier to pretend that you can hear, nodding along with the others, this is not fair to you (or to the person speaking). If you feel you missed out, there is nothing wrong with asking for a recap afterward.

You can also let people know you are missing some of the conversation with simple visual cues like placing your hand to your ear. This won’t disrupt the flow of conversations but will signal to the speaker to speak up or slow down.

Sometimes a simple reminder for relatives to speak slower works wonders.

Noticed changes in your hearing? There’s still time to get help

Although planning may be underway, the holiday season is still a few weeks away. If you are worried about hearing at Thanksgiving, holiday parties or other gatherings, there’s time to have a no-obligation hearing assessment* to see if hearing aids are an option for you. A hearing specialist can also give you tips on communicating with loved ones. If you are concerned about a loved one’s hearing, offer to bring them for an appointment. We encourage caregivers, friends and family to join our patients for the first appointment.

Let your hearing aids help you

Sometimes the most obvious strategy is the best solution. If you have hearing aids, wear them. Plus, if you forget them and have trouble following along, it may frustrate your family. The newest hearing aids have technical advancements designed for complex hearing environments, where noise is coming from multiple sources. Newer devices make it easier to hear what you want to hear, even in the situations with multiple people speaking.

For best results, try various settings in advance to see which works best for you in noisy environments. If this isn’t enough, you may also want to consider the extra help of a discreet clip-on microphone. If you would like help with your hearing aids’ settings or perhaps reprogramming them, stop in.

It’s your holiday too, so enjoy it!

If you have new hearing aids, go easy on yourself. Take short breaks to give your brain a rest and re-energize when you feel fatigue setting in. If conversation at the table is challenging, focus on the people nearest you. If a group is too noisy or fast-paced, try a smaller and quieter group to join. Social events are for your enjoyment – not a test of your stamina.

Don’t let hearing loss keep you from enjoying the people and things you love. Locate your closest hearing professional and make an appointment with Mass Audiology.

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Rechargeable batteries are here!

Hearing loss is a universal problem. It can affect anyone no matter their gender, age, race or any other socio-economic factors. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 15% of all Americans over the age of 18 have reported some trouble with hearing. And that is only the reported cases. Many view hearing problems as a bothersome nuisance not worthy of professional assessment. Even worse, some people who have severe hearing difficulties feel stigmatized by their deficit. So they refuse to acknowledge their weakness or learn to hide the symptoms from others.

Your hearing is a worthy investment

Luckily, you have invested time in learning about your hearing health and today’s treatment-based solutions. Hearing aids have served as an important investment for a long time. New technology has produced multiple designs and styles of hearing device. You have many choices in terms of models and technology that will suit your own individual needs. One of the biggest innovations – that is sure to delight both prospective and veteran hearing aid wearers alike – is the launch of Oticon’s rechargeable hearing aid.

The next step in convenience

The Oticon Opn rechargeable ZPower™ option is revolutionary in both design and convenience! Oticon’s current line of hearing devices sport a smaller but more powerful design. Yet one issue was never addressed… until now. Oticon Opn MINI RITE™ charges overnight so you can enjoy a day full of confidence knowing you can live your life without worrying about your hearing aid’s batteries!

More than “just” rechargeable batteries

As well as being rechargeable, the Oticon Opn has other customizations that you may wish to discuss with a hearing specialist. One of the most popular new options is Tinnitus SoundSupport™. Even though it is not an actual form of hearing loss, if you suffer from tinnitus, you are well versed in the frustration and fatigue it causes. With Tinnitus SoundSupport™, your device can help manage this condition with soothing sounds that are fully customizable to be unique to your own needs! Want to hear the calming comfort that only the ocean’s waves can provide you? With Tinnitus SoundSupport™, your Oticon hearing device will have you lying on your own personal mental beach!

Upgrade options for Opn users

Current Opn users: your hearing device is not being forgotten or left behind. You can bring your Oticon Opn miniRITE™ devices to your local hearing specialist to upgrade them to use rechargeable batteries. This new technology would save you 150 – 200 batteries a year.

The choice is yours

Disposable batteries can still serve a use to any Opn device. Carrying around a spare pair can serve as a backup if you forget to recharge. It is inevitable – even the most ardent charger of their hearing device will find themselves low on battery level at some point.

Take the next step

If you are interested in learning more about these new technological breakthroughs and the complete line of Oticon hearing aids, contact us at (855) 569-7486 or schedule an appointment. Learn about the multitude of choices that await you and your unique lifestyle with Oticon.

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Join the Community of Caring by Donating Used Devices

You can help the Oticon Hearing Foundation Combat Hearing Loss!

Hearing loss is a universal problem. Because hearing loss may strike anywhere, the Oticon Hearing Foundation was formed to empower those with hearing loss to communicate, interact and participate actively in life. The foundation’s goals are:

  • To empower a “Community of Caring” – complete with a group of credentialed hearing care professionals that provide access to community-based hearing care.
  • Increase public awareness on hearing loss and understanding of the toll it takes on the impoverished communities worldwide.
  • Through treatment, empower individuals to live with a full quality of life no matter their social status or monetary means.

Supporting people at home and abroad

The Oticon Hearing Foundation strives to support all local communities and their residents’ hearing health. The hearing care professionals that service your local community may be taking part in their latest humanitarian endeavor to collect and donate gently used hearing devices. The foundation supports reconditioning used devices. They are then given to one of the many missions launched to help the hearing health of impoverished communities across the world. Your local hearing care professional may have an Oticon Hearing Foundation donation box at their clinic. If not, you may still join the “Community of Caring” by following these easy steps:

How to donate

  1. Place your gently used Oticon device in a crush-proof box.
  2. Mail to:
    Oticon Hearing Foundation
    Attn: Hearing Aid Recycling
    580 Howard Avenue
    Somerset, NJ 08873
  3. Remember to include your name, address and email. All qualifying donations are tax-deductible. Oticon Hearing Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 organization. The foundation will send you a donation tax receipt.

Why help?

Your donation helps provide invaluable resources in fighting hearing loss worldwide. Hearing health is important here at home, too. At Mass Audiology we strive to create and promote hearing treatment solutions to fit every unique lifestyle and need. This is why we welcome you to not only become more informed about programs benefiting your local community. Most of all, this effort starts with becoming aware of your own hearing health. Because knowledge is power in the fight against hearing loss, call us at (855) 569-7486 for your free hearing assessment.

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