Blog

Family-Centered Hearing Healthcare at HearMD

Hearing loss is often thought of as a “personal” problem that only affects the person with the hearing loss.  In recent years though, it has been recognized that the hearing loss also affects the patient’s entire family.   Family-centered hearing healthcare reflects the definition of family-centered care from the Institute of Medicine which states:  “Family-centered care provides care to patients and family members that is respectful of and responsive to individual, patient and family preferences, needs, and values, and ensures that patient and family values guide all clinical decisions.”  Family-centered hearing healthcare has long been the standard for the audiological care of infants and children but not for adults and their families.  This is now changing rapidly and at HearMD, we feel that this is the best approach. 

We recognize that communicating with ease among family members with normal hearing and those with hearing loss can be hard.  It can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, anxiety, withdrawal, depression/sadness and even resentment. Communication that was once easy and effortless becomes difficult.  This can significantly decrease the joy of family life and can have negative effects on all members of the family, not only the patient. By involving both the patient and their family in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the treatment (which is often hearing aids and other assistive listening devices), the outcomes are potentially more successful in meeting the personalized needs of each patient.  Every patient’s listening needs and communication difficulties are different and they need to be specifically addressed by the clinician. So how do we carry out this approach at HearMD? Here are a few of the ways:

  1. We highly encourage our patients to invite a family member/friend to any or all of their HearMD appointments.  
  2. We ask both the patient and the family member/friend how the hearing loss is affecting them, their emotions and their ability to communicate with each other on a daily basis.  The more specific the better. 
  3. We set hearing and communication goals for both the patient and the family member/friend.  (i.e. having TV at a lower volume, having to repeat less, easier conversations, using the phone more successfully).
  4. We consider the patient and family member/friend to be the experts in how the hearing loss is affecting them.  We treat every person as an individual and try our very best to tailor our approach to their particular needs both physically, socially and emotionally.

The benefits of this approach to hearing healthcare are numerous and can include higher levels of overall well-being, more confidence in social situations,  greater awareness of the effects of the hearing loss on their life, and better relationship quality with their family or friends through ease of communication.  

We sincerely hope that you will take action to improve your hearing ability and we are here to help. If you have questions about hearing loss and our approach to treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us at HearMD for more information or to make an appointment.  Call 856-602-4200. We look forward to meeting you.

 

South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group Meeting

South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group Meetings to Begin

 

The South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group provides a space to learn about tinnitus, hearing loss, and general wellness. The group invites individuals living with tinnitus to meet each other and share their experiences while exploring topics in tinnitus and the hearing health world. The support group owes its success to its original coordinators, Linda Beach and Mary-Ann Halladay.  Audiologists Beth Savitch and Erin Lustik are the new coordinators of the group. They look forward to continuing the discussions about living with tinnitus while also incorporating current events/topics in audiology, living well with hearing loss, and resources available to those living with tinnitus.

The South Jersey Tinnitus Support Group’s first meeting of the season will be Thursday, September 5th from 7:00pm – 8:30 pm. In addition to the general meeting, Dr. Todd Rowan from Advanced ENT will join the group for a discussion about Healthy Sleep.  The meetings are held at:

AdvancedENT/ HearMD Headquarters

1020 N. Kings Hwy

Suite 201

Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

If you have any questions, are interested in other information about the group, have questions for Beth or Erin, or would like to join the email list to be notified of future meetings, please feel free to email them at TSG@advancedent.com. We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Why Choose HearMD?

In today’s world of hearing healthcare, there are many providers to choose from. Our mission at HearMD is to address the individualized needs of each patient with compassionate, professional and progressive hearing health care. Our goal is to improve the quality of our patients lives and relationships through better hearing.

To accomplish this, we work closely with the physician team of Advanced ENT to determine the cause of your hearing loss and to determine if medical intervention is a viable treatment option. The medical assessment is an important part of a complete and comprehensive hearing evaluation. Obtaining medical clearance from one of our Ear, Nose and Throat physicians will ensure that your hearing loss cannot be remedied with medicine or surgery. In addition, because we work so closely with the physician team, any medical issues such as ear infections, itchy ears, cerumen (ear wax) management, dizziness or sudden changes in hearing sensitivity can be addressed in a timely manner.

We believe that a thorough hearing assessment is an important part of a complete health evaluation for all ages. Our professional and caring hearing healthcare staff at HearMD are experienced in diagnosing and treating all types and degrees of hearing loss. After a complete hearing evaluation, our staff will take the time to explain the test results and will discuss how the hearing loss might be affecting your daily life and relationships.  We pride ourselves on providing accurate and up-to-date information about hearing and hearing loss so that our patients can make educated hearing healthcare decisions. We do this because in our practice, we place high value on patient education. By working together in this way, we will create realistic goals to improve your hearing.

One of the ways that we strive to help you hear better is by providing complete hearing aid dispensing services in all of our offices. Unlike many other hearing healthcare practices, our licensed hearing health professionals dispense hearing aids from many different reputable and well-known manufacturers. Therefore, we have the freedom to choose which product and/or manufacturer we feel is best for each individual patient’s hearing loss and lifestyle needs. In addition, our HearMD staff is always quick to evaluate and to dispense new hearing aid technology as it becomes available. We accomplish this by attending several continuing education programs every year. During these programs, we learn about the latest developments in hearing health care and hearing aid/assistive listening device technology so that we may then offer it to our patients.

It is important to remember that today’s hearing aids are complex medical devices, not just simple sound amplifiers as they were in the past. It takes knowledge and skill to fit them properly. That is why choosing an experienced, well-informed hearing care professional like those at HearMD is just as important as choosing the hearing aid(s) themselves. A state of the art hearing aid(s) or assistive listening device will not benefit you as greatly or live up to your expectations if it is not fit and programmed properly for your hearing loss and listening needs by an experienced professional.

After you purchase hearing aids at HearMD, we continue to provide top-quality hearing healthcare by including our Premium Care Plan as part of every hearing aid fitting. As part of our ongoing commitment to your hearing health, we include our Premium Care Plan at no charge in order to provide you with exceptional worry-free hearing aid care for 5 years from the date of purchase. The Premium Care Plan includes: free in-office Clean & Check maintenance visits every twelve months for 5 years and free batteries dispensed in twelve-month supply quantities at the end of your trial period (and when you return for your annual Clean & Check maintenance visits) for 5 years. The Premium Care Plan also includes (if applicable) tone hooks and tubing changes for Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids, in-office ear mold and shell modifications, hearing aid reprogramming following manufacturer’s repair and wax filters.  

So if you or someone you know is suffering from hearing loss, let the physicians of Advanced ENT and the audiologists and hearing aid dispensers of HearMD help you begin your journey to better hearing for better living.

Navigating Hearing Loss at Work

Do you struggle with your hearing loss at work? There are approximately 48 million people who struggle with some degree of hearing loss. Over half of those people are working or pursuing their education. Along with wearing your hearing aids if you have them, here are some tips to help you maximize your hearing ability at work.

  1. Be organized and prepared. Hearing loss and work can cause additional stress for fear of missing important information. Being prepared ahead of time for work and meetings is helpful. Sometimes you can even request a written agenda for meetings ahead of time so that you may follow along easier. Also, when sitting down for a meeting, learn to place yourself as close to and in front of the person you want to hear the best at the meeting.
  2. Request a quiet work space or office. An ideal work space would be away from noisy areas such as reception areas, break rooms and copier rooms. A quieter work space will allow you to work with less distractions. It will also allow hearing better when having face-to-face or telephone conversations.
  3. Educate your co-workers. Educate your co-workers and supervisor how they can help you. For instance, ask if meeting spaces can be set up so that the attendees sit in a circle, not rows so that you can see people as they speak. After the meeting, ask that meeting notes be shared with you.
  4. Advocate for yourself. Be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act that requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for you so that you can perform your job to the best of your ability. There are tools and devices that can make your job easier. Examples of these devices include amplified phones, captioned phones and assistive listening devices that can be used in conjunction with some hearing aids. Ask a HearMD hearing professional for information about these devices.

We hope these tips will help you in the workplace. You can always find out more information about hearing loss here on our HearMD Blog, on our HearMD Facebook page and at www.healthyhearing.org. If you are experiencing hearing loss and would like to have a complete hearing evaluation, please do not hesitate to contact HearMD at (856) 602-4200 for an appointment. We would be happy to assist you on your journey towards better hearing for better living.

** Some ideas in this article from www.captel.com

Preventing Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is becoming more prevalent in today’s noisy world. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by the year 2050, approximately 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss. This is a 94% increase from today’s incidence of hearing loss around the world. The common factors that are fueling this increase are an increase in world’s population, aging of the population and exposure to dangerous levels of noise. Exposure to noise and its damaging affects are usually preventable. The most common sources of harmful noise exposure are lawn/construction equipment, personal headphones/audio devices, loud work environments, rock concerts, medication side-effects and the persistence of illnesses that can cause hearing loss such as measles, mumps, rubella, diabetes, kidney disease and heart-disease.

So how can you protect your hearing? Here are some hearing protection tips:

  • Wear hearing protection at work and home. There are many types of hearing protection so please consult a hearing health professional if you have questions which one is right for you. Not sure how loud is too loud? See this link from the Dangerous Decibels website.
  • Use personal headphones for music at a safe listening level. It is recommended not to turn up your personal audio device to more than 50-60% of the total volume and to give your ears a break after 60 minutes of continuous listening. Also, if you cannot hear someone talking to you at 3 feet away with your headphones on or if they can hear the music from your headphones, they are turned up too loud and could be causing permanent damage to your hearing.
  • Don’t smoke. Smokers can be up to 70% more likely to develop hearing loss according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Studies also show that nicotine interferes with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which are responsible for telling the brain which sound you are hearing. Nicotine can also cause tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo. Smoking irritates the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear. Finally, smoking may also make you more sensitive to loud noises and therefore more susceptible to developing noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Stay healthy. If you have been diagnosed with diseases like heart-disease, kidney disease and/or diabetes, you are at increased risk for hearing loss so pay close attention to changes in your hearing and get your hearing tested regularly.
  • Ask your doctor if hearing loss is a side-effect of any medications you are taking.
  • If you work in noise, have your hearing tested on a regular basis to monitor for any changes.
  • Limit your exposure to loud music at concerts by wearing hearing protection earplugs. In addition, if you are a musician, consider getting specialized musician hearing protection earplugs to preserve your hearing while playing music.

If you notice a change in your hearing, even a slight one, do not delay in getting a complete hearing evaluation from a hearing healthcare professional like the caring staff at HearMD. We are always available to answer any questions about your hearing health so please do not hesitate to contact us at (856) 602-4200 for an appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

Living With Hearing Loss Educational Seminar – May 24

Join HearMD and Advanced ENT for a complimentary informational event! Linda Goldstein, Au.D and Advanced ENT physician Dr. P Todd Rowan will speak about the living with hearing loss and the impact it can have on your quality of life.

RSVP by calling (856) 602-4200 or completing the form below.

May 24, 2018
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Cherry Hill Public Library
1/2 Conference Center
1100 Kings Hwy N
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

Click here for a map.

Hosted by Hear MD and Advanced ENT.

This event is informational and complimentary. There is no requirement to make an in-office appointment or a purchase.


RSVP To The Living With Hearing Loss Educational Seminar On May 24, 2018

Tinnitus: What Is That Noise In My Ears?


This common affliction, known as tinnitus, affects roughly 15% of the American population. Tinnitus is defined as the perception of sound when none is actually occurring. For some it is a minor nuisance but for others, a major impediment to their quality of life.

Tinnitus is not a disease, but usually the symptom of something else. It can occur as the result of a number of health and environmental conditions. These may include hearing loss, noise exposure, head or neck trauma, high blood pressure, vascular disorders, heart conditions, ototoxic medications, benign tumors (known as acoustic neuromas) and impacted earwax. In some cases of tinnitus, the cause is never determined.  Individuals most at risk to develop tinnitus are male, persons over the age of 60, active military/veterans, persons who work in noisy environments, musicians and persons with prior behavioral issues (such as depression and anxiety).

Tinnitus is most often described as a ringing in the ears, but may also take sound like buzzing, whooshing, roaring, clicking, hissing or whistling. Some tinnitus sufferers experience severe mental and emotional distress due to the tinnitus. Side effects from the tinnitus can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, and memory/concentration problems.

Clinically, tinnitus is categorized as being either pulsatile or non-pulsatile. Those experiencing pulsatile tinnitus—the result of abnormal blood flow in the arteries—are able to hear the sound of their own pulse or heartbeat. This type is rare. Non-pulsatile tinnitus, (ringing in the ears that is not accompanied by any sort of rhythm) is far more common.  Most cases of tinnitus are subjective in nature; that is, only the patient can hear the sounds. In rare cases another person—usually a doctor—is able to detect the ringing or other noise (objective tinnitus).

Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus itself. Unless the underlying condition responsible for symptoms is identified and can be treated, your only real course of action is learning to live with the phantom sounds. However, there are various strategies for dealing with tinnitus.  One of the most popular is white noise therapy. This principle uses random sound frequencies distributed throughout the hearing spectrum to disguise the persistent background noises. The patient learns to mask out these sounds. Electronic devices made solely for this purpose exist, though the same effect can be achieved through use of an inexpensive sound machine, an air conditioner or fan.  Since tinnitus often is a symptom of hearing loss, patients with hearing loss and tinnitus sometimes find relief by wearing hearing aids. There are also hearing aids that combine the hearing aid function with a built-in masking feature for additional relief.

Along with the above suggestions for relief, some tinnitus sufferers find relief through relaxation exercises (such as guided meditation, yoga, etc.). A healthy lifestyle with good diet and regular exercise may also offer alleviation of the tinnitus.   So if you or someone you love has tinnitus, please encourage them to call us for a complete evaluation of their ears and hearing. Call HearMD at (856) 602-4200.  Better hearing is better living – call today.

*Article adapted from Fuel Inc. tinnitus information

Why Should I Wear Two Hearing Aids?

If you suspect you have hearing loss or a hearing healthcare professional has evaluated your hearing and has determined that you are candidate for two hearing aids, are you wondering if you can “get by” with just one hearing aid?  For many years, research in the field of hearing science has found that wearing two hearing aids is definitely better than one (with very few exceptions).  After all, if you have vision loss in both eyes, you wouldn’t wear a monocle (one eyeglass lens) would you?

One of the best ways to keep your auditory system in good working order is to use it.  Wearing hearing aids in both ears ensures that both ears are being stimulated.  It allows for the optimal amount of information to be sent to the brain for better processing – especially for understanding speech.  People fit with binaural (two) hearing aids score better on word recognition and speech understanding tests.  This is not only true in quiet listening situations, but is even more evident in group and noisy situations.  Groups and noise are the most common places that people with hearing loss report the most difficulty hearing in.  Also, studies have shown that the word recognition abilities of people fitted with one hearing aid decline more rapidly than people fitted with two hearing aids.  Clinically, this is called the auditory deprivation effect.

In his article “The Binaural Advantage” on BetterHearing.org, well-known audiology researcher Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D lists numerous other advantages to wearing binaural hearing aids.  Here are a few:

  • Better ability to tell the direction of sound (called sound localization)
  • Wider hearing range (people can hear at further distance with two ears than one ear)
  • Better sound identification (many words sound alike and with two hearing aids, sounds are more distinguishable)
  • Listening is more pleasant and it is less tiring to hear (a result of less strain to hear)
  • Feeling that hearing is more “balanced” (also known as the stereo effect)
  • Better sound quality (by increasing your hearing range from 180 degrees to 360 degrees)
  • Higher rate of hearing aid satisfaction with two hearing aids than one hearing aid

So, just as you need two eyes to see your best, you need two ears to hear clearly.  If you suspect that you or a loved one has hearing loss or needs hearing aids, please do not hesitate to contact us at HearMD at 856-602-4200 for a complete hearing evaluation and consultation.  Let our experienced hearing healthcare professionals and ENT physicians guide you on your journey to better hearing for better living.  

Hearing Loss Linked to Increased Risk of Falling

There are many health and personal safety issues related to hearing loss which include cognition, social issues and medical issues but now there has been another risk identified – falls.

A study done in recently at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging found that untreated hearing loss can significantly increase the risk of falls for older people. Falls are a huge public health problem and results in billions of dollars each year in health care costs.  This finding may help researchers address the issue of falls more effectively and develop new ways to prevent falls.

Dr. Frank Lin found in his study “Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States” that even when they accounted for other factors related to fall risk (age, sex, race, cardiovascular disease and vestibular function), the risk of falling tripled in people with only a mild 25 decibel hearing loss.  They also found that for each 10-decibel decrease in hearing, the risk for falling increased by 140 percent.

So why does this risk of falling increase so dramatically with hearing loss?  Researchers speculate a few reasons.  One is that people who cannot hear well do not have an overall accurate awareness of their environment and where they are relation to other people and things around them.  Another theory is that gait and balance are very cognitively demanding.  If the brain is overwhelmed by the cognitive load of not hearing well, it only has a limited amount of resources to relegate to balance.

So what can be done to decrease the risk of falling in relation to hearing? Another small study at Washington University of St. Louis then looked at whether wearing hearing aids could help improve balance or lack of hearing aids could make it worse.  They determined that hearing aids did make a positive difference.  Participants were able to maintain their balance longer with hearing aids turned on than when they were turned off.  It was a small study, but the results indicated that sound information alone, independent of the vestibular (balance) system, may play more important role in maintaining balance than was previously thought.

Keeping older adults from falling and the importance of good balance in older people is often underestimated.  Falling is the lead cause of accidental deaths in adults over age 65 in the United States (CDC findings).  Also, in 2009 alone, there were 2.2 million non-fatal injuries reported in emergency departments across the United States, costing approximately $30 billion dollars a year.

So if you or someone you know has hearing loss and/or balance issues, please do not hesitate to call us at HearMD.  We will perform a complete audiological evaluation to determine your hearing status and offer a treatment plan if needed.  Call today to schedule your appointment at 856-602-4200.  Remember – better hearing is better living.

Noise-Canceling Headphones: Are They Safe?

The use of headphones or earbuds to listen to music from portable listening devices has skyrocketed in the last decade. When used correctly at safe listening levels, they will not do harm to your hearing. Unfortunately, many people are using them incorrectly and permanently damaging their hearing with these devices. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50% of young people (ages 15-35) are listening to music from personal listening devices at levels that are unsafe (100 decibels or more). The structures of the ear are very sensitive and can start to show damage after as little as 14 minutes at noise levels of 100 decibels or more. Due to headphone use and other exposure to dangerously loud noise, approximately 12% of children ages 6-19 have noise-induced hearing loss and about 26 million adults (ages 20-69) have some degree of noise-induced hearing loss (in the U.S.).

Safe listening practices are important for people of all ages, but are especially important for children and young people. Noise-cancelling headphones can help. Some young people not only listen to headphones for the music, but as a way to “block out” noise in their surrounding environment. But most headphones are not designed to “block out” noise and therefore the volume is cranked up to unsafe levels. This is especially true for earbud-style speakers in particular. Earbud-style speakers are also notoriously poor at transmitting the bass of the music efficiently, which may cause users to also turn it up to hear better.

There are a few styles of headphones that may help these issues. They may better “protect” your hearing along with allowing you to hear your music at safe listening levels. One option is noise-isolating headphones, which creates a seal around the ear to make a physical barrier between the ear and outside sounds in the environment. Another option which is growing in popularity is noise-cancelling headphones. They work by using inverse sound waves to cancel out the incoming sounds from the environment. They work best at canceling out low-frequency sounds like the rumble of traffic or engines but are not as efficient at blocking higher-frequency sounds like conversations.

If you don’t choose to invest in one of the above types of headphones, there are some “rules” to follow to ensure safe listening to any kind of headphone (including noise-canceling). Most experts recommend not listening at more than 85 dB for no more than 8 hours a day. Practically, that translates into never listening to music at more than 60 percent of the device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes continuously (known as the “60/60 rule”). On most personal listening devices, you can also go under the “Settings” and set a maximum volume. This is especially helpful for parents to ensure that their children are not listening too loudly.

It is possible to enjoy music through headphones. Just keep the volume down at a safe level and be aware of any change in your hearing. For more advice on which noise-canceling headphones might be a worthwhile investment, please see this link: https://www.reviews.com/noise-canceling-headphones/.

If you have any further questions or if you suspect a hearing loss, please don’t hesitate to call HearMD at (856) 602-4200 to make an appointment or to speak to one of our hearing healthcare professionals. We are committed to better hearing through better living by providing individualized comprehensive hearing healthcare services in South Jersey.