Month: April 2015 (page 1 of 2)

5 Rock Stars With Hearing Loss

April is International Guitar Month and when I think of guitars I think of rock and roll. My first thought never goes to classical guitar or flamenco guitar or jazz guitar. It really doesn’t even go to acoustic guitar….that would be my second thought about guitar. My first thought is the big, loud, rock and roll sound of an electric guitar. Any era of rock from 1950s sort of rockabilly sound to 1960s psychedelic sound to 1970s classic rock sound to 1980 hair band sound to 1990s grunge rock sound to 2000s alternative rock sound…you get the idea.

Did you know that hearing loss is the number one disability in the world? And that it is also the most preventable disability? Did you know that 60% of the musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame suffer from hearing loss that was preventable? Those are big statistics, folks.

In honor of International Guitar Month, here is a list of some famous guitar players who also suffer from hearing loss as well as some advice about noise-induced hearing loss.

Neil Young

Neil Young

  1. Neil Young is one of the all-time greatest musicians and songwriters contributing creating over 30 unique albums over a career spanning from the mid 1960’s til now. Neil has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame twice; once in 1995 for his solo work and again in 1997 with Buffalo Springfield. Neil stated that his 1992 album Harvest Moon, with it’s sound reminiscent of his early softer acoustic and folk rock sound, was made so that he “didn’t have to hear loud music”.

    Pete Townshend of The Who

    Pete Townshend of The Who

  2. Pete Townsend has experienced hearing loss as a result of his career with the iconic rock band, The Who. Pete says, “I have severe hearing damage. It’s manifested itself as tinnitus, ringing in the ears at frequencies that I play guitar. It hurts, it’s painful, and it’s frustrating”. He is also is completely deaf in one ear from an explosion when Keith Moon blew up his drum set live on stage in the early 1960’s.

    Eric Clapton

    Eric Clapton

  3. Eric Clapton has been said to be the most influential guitar player of all time. That may or may not be true but he is the only triple inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame first in 1992 with The Yardbirds, then in 1993 with Cream, and finally in 2000 for his solo work plus receiving 18 Grammy awards. For much of his career he played with two 100 watt Marshall stacks and maxed out volume. Thankfully, his hearing loss does not seem to be worsening but he says, “I started using Fender Deluxe Reverb amps and 50-watt Marshalls around ’97, after I started having some problems with tinnitus. It was my own doing — being irresponsible and thinking I was invincible…take care and wear (ear) plugs.”

    Ozzy Osbourne

    Ozzy Osbourne

  4. Ozzy Osbourn isn’t a guitar player but there is no denying his influence on loud, guitar-laden heavy metal music. Years of touring with Black Sabbath and during a solo career have left an indelible mark on Ozzy and his ability to hear. He says, “I suffer from permanent tinnitus…which means I’ve got this constant ringing in my ears, which has also made me somewhat deaf (or ‘conveniently deaf,’ as Sharon calls it). It’s like this ‘Whee!’ noise in my head all the time. Should have worn earplugs, I guess”. Should have worn earplugs is an understatement but it certainly would have helped!

    Jeff Beck

    Jeff Beck

  5. Jeff Beck is an accomplished guitar player with two hit solo albums as well as considerable contributions to other acts such as Mick Jagger, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Jon BonJovi, ZZ Top and more. He is ranked 5th in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time being described as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock”. About his tinnitus, Beck says, “It’s in my left ear. It’s excruciating. I mean, it’s the worst thing…”.

Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by sudden loud sounds or it can develop over time by repeated exposure to loud noise. And it’s not just rock musicians and rock concerts. Even orchestra musicians and attendees can be exposed to prolonged loud sounds. Hearing loss starts with repeated exposure to sounds above 85 decibels and an orchestra peaks somewhere between 120 – 137 decibels while a rock concert tops out around 150 decibels.

These loud sounds damage the microscopic hairs inside your ears and, once damaged, there is no known remedy to repair the damage. Take care of your ears whether you are a musician or a music lover. Wear proper ear gear when playing or listening to music. The technology for protecting your ears has come a long way…take advantage of it and you may, quite possibly, still have your hearing for years to come.

Noise-induced hearing loss can affect anyone. It is preventable but if you feel you or a loved one may have already damaged hearing, take our quick hearing screening and contact us to see what’s next.

Since the last week in April is National Karaoke Week, when you are pretending to be a rock star in a crowded and noisy karaoke bar, do yourself a favor….wear earplugs!!

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Earth Day Tips and Hearing Loss

Wednesday is Earth Day 2015 (Earth Day is always on April 22nd) and there are little things that we can all do to honor the ideals of Earth Day. This includes hearing aid wearers, too. Here are a few tips to help you be a little ‘greener’ this Earth Day (and every day).

Earth Day 2015

Earth Day 2015

1. Buy hearing aid batteries in bulk

Hearing aid wearers can go through batteries like a kid can go through an Easter basket full of candy…there’s the potential for a lot of consumption there. With conventional packaging, you might have to take off the shrink wrap to get to the cardboard packaging before you break open the plastic so you can get to the plastic sheild.

Instead of buying a lot of little packages of batteries for your hearing aid, see if you can buy in bulk like these multi-paks. Better yet, see if you can find a seller willing to selling in bulk without all the packaging.

Multi pak batteries save on packaging.

Multi pak batteries save on packaging.

Speaking of batteries…

2. Buy mercury-free batteries

Mercury is a heavy metal that is toxic to humans but is present in trace amounts in some batteries. Hearing aid batteries contain only a small amount of mercury but it’s still toxic and, when discarded with each battery change, over time the mercury in the batteries will work it’s way into the world, the water supply, into the food supply and so on.

Some manufacturers are now offering mercury-free batteries like these from Power One.

Mercury-free batteries

Mercury-free batteries

3. Buy a rechargeable battery system

We use rechargeable batteries for toys, flashlights, and radios. Why not for hearing aids? Now there is a

rechargeable option for hearing aid batteries like this one from Starkey.

Rechargeable hearing aid batteries

Rechargeable hearing aid batteries

5. Consider a rechargeable hearing aid

Depending on your usage, a rechargeable hearing aid may be just the thing for you. You won’t have to keep a stock of batteries on hand nor will you have to have nimble fingers trying to maneuver those slippery little batteries into those tiny little cases. A rechargeable hearing aid may cost a little more than a conventional one but, in the long run, it may be worth it. Ask your hearing care professional about rechargeable hearing aids when you are ready to get new ones.

Rechargeable-hearing-aid

6. Don’t buy cheap disposable hearing aids

Not only are cheap disposable hearing aids not worth the money, they may be even a hazard for your hearing. Cheap ‘hearing aids’ offer poor sound quality and little or no user satisfaction. This makes it easy to throw it out and get a new one with the idea that the new one might be better. Don’t be fooled by the low price tag. A true hearing aid isn’t cheap or disposable. Your hearing aid is meant to last for years while offering you a better quality of life and YOU are worth the investment. Choose a hearing aid that is custom fitted to your ear and programmed professionally for your hearing loss…keep those cheapie hearing aids out of the trash by honoring your ears with a true hearing aid approved by the FDA.

7. Donate your old hearing aids

You may have outgrown yours or are ready for an upgrade, but to someone else your hearing aids are valuable pieces of equipment you’re about to toss. Behind-the-ear style hearing aids can be cleaned and refurbished and then reprogrammed for someone else. Of course, the new wearer would need to make sure their hearing professional can reprogram the hearing aid for their particular hearing loss and they would also need to purchase new ear molds, but for someone on a fixed income or a tight budget, this donation can be the difference between a fuller life and isolation from the world around them.Many service clubs offer programs to collect and redistribute reusable medical devices like hearing aids and eye glasses. Click here for more information about donating your old hearing aids.

In the spirit of Earth Day, we can each do our part to make our world a better place for ourselves today and for our children tomorrow.

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Better Hearing is Crucial to Good Balance

Balancing

Balancing

A very small study conducted by the folks at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, found that older persons with hearing loss were able to balance better when their hearing was enhanced with the use of hearing aids.

The study, as published in The Laryngoscope journal, was the first of its kind to show that the ability to hear affects balance, as opposed to the balance only being affected by the workings of the inner ear.

The 14 participants, aged 65-91, completed standard balance tests both with and without their hearing aids. During the balance tests the researchers played white noise in the background. The tests measured the postural balance with and without the hearing aids.

According to senior author Timothy E. Hullar, professor of otolaryngology as Washington University School of Medicine, says that the study does not indicate that the balance improvement was related to (or just because) the hearing aids also helped the participants be more alert.

 

Foam pad

Foam pad

Some of the tests the participants were asked to to complete were standing on a foam pad with their feet together and with their eyes closed and standing on the floor with one foot in front of the other (heel-to-toe) also with their eyes closed. In these positions, the researchers timed how long the participants were able to maintain the postures (without needing to move their arms or feet to help with balance) with and without the hearings aids on.

It was considered normal to be able to stand steadily on the pad for 30 seconds or more, and some participants could to this with and with the hearing aids. Others, who had trouble maintaining balance on the pad without their hearing aids experienced significantly better results when their hearing aids were turned on.

Heel-to-toe

Heel-to-toe

In the foam pad test, the average time of steady balance was 17 seconds without hearing aids and nearly 26 seconds with the hearing aids on. That’s a gain of almost 9 second or an improvement of almost 50%. For the more difficult heel-to-toe test, the average time without hearing aids was five seconds and with hearing aids was 10 seconds. That’s a 5 second gain and a 100% improvement!!
Those differences are statistically significant regardless of the small size of the study. The authors also acknowledge that one limitation in study was that the participants could tell when their hearing aids were off an when they were on. It’s possible that this could have influenced the study but they did try to offset this by introducing an element of randomization. They varied whether the participants started with the hearing aids in the off position or in the on position…there was no fixed patter.
“This is a small study,” Prof. Hullar notes, “Obviously it needs to be repeated in a much larger study, and we’re seeking funding to do that.”
Of course, the average persons conclusion from this small study is that hearing aids could be helpful for elderly persons for more reasons that just hearing. Falls are the leading cause of brain trauma in the elderly. How big is the falling problem?

  • One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year1 but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
  • Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
  • In 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 734,000 of these patients were hospitalized.3
  • In 2013, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, were $34 billion.
    If you or someone you know may be needing a hearing test, just pop on over to our free hearing screening to see you you might need a more comprehensive exam by a caring audiologist.

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