Dr. Kristina Jackson – WNY Living – April 14, 2018

HES’ Dr. Jill Bernstein was a featured guest on WNY Living to discuss Tinnitus, the debilitating condition of “ringing in the ears” or the perception of sound heard in the ears or head that is not actually present in the environment (buzzing, hissing, etc.).  Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo is the only audiology practice in WNY that has four Certified Tinnitus Specialists that are here to help patients manage their symptoms, and improve their quality of life.

Cold Season and Your Hearing

Grab the tissues, cuddle up in a blanket, and perhaps ask your family to speak a little louder.  Cold and flu season is in full swing, but many people forget that along with the runny nose, and body aches – your hearing health can take a hit as well.

Just like the nose and throat, when you get the cold or flu, your ears can build up with fluid as well.  Sometimes if the fluid does not properly drain, it can lead to an infection, but most of the time, patients will experience aches, hearing loss or muffled noise, and sometimes pressure in the ear.  You may also experience dizziness, due to the fluids affecting your inner ear.

If you are experiencing hearing health issues during your cold or flu, over the counter tablets or nasal spray can help with the fluid build ups.  You will also want to avoid temperature extremes – so keep your ears covered if you need to go outside.  Keep your head up so fluid can continually drain, and most importantly – be gentle when blowing your nose.  The increased pressure on your ear drums can cause damage if you push the pressure over the edge.

Drink plenty of fluids, and because of your balance potentially being off, we suggest you don’t stand up too quickly, and risk a fall.

If your hearing loss does not improve after a week, you can give us a call to asses for other issues beyond your flu symptoms.

Before we know it, Spring will be here, and we can shit our worries to…allergies!  But for now, enjoy the winter wonderland, and hopefully you’ll get through the season without any issues or tissues!

Spinning: The Industry Causing Hearing Loss in Young People

As the cold weather takes hold in Western New York, our workouts are driven indoors to gyms, heated swimming pools, and spinning studios.  Dr. Witter offers an opinion article on what is sure to be a contributor to hearing loss in young people with the rising popularity of exercise classes offering high calorie workouts paired with music at dangerously loud levels.

“The one good thing about music – when it hits you, you feel no pain.”  Truer words have never been spoken by American jam band O.A.R.’s lead singer, Marc Roberge.  Music takes us to another place.  It’s an escape from where we are in the moment, which comes in handy when we’re pushing our quads to 110 RPM’s on the spin bike.  A lover all athletic endeavors myself; I am the guiltiest of the guilty when it comes to abusing my ears with that oh-so-feel-good music to carry me through my long workouts.  That is, before I knew better (read: before I became an audiologist)…

If you’re in those spin classes telling yourself it’s not that loud, think again.  Unless you’re sitting there with a noise level dosimeter taking sound pressure level measurements (you’re not), don’t use your subjective barometer for what’s too loud.  We naturally habituate to loudness so it’s no wonder we don’t think twice – once we get a few minutes into the class, our ears have habituated to the volume and we don’t feel as bothered as when it first starts.

I’ve also noticed that almost all spinning studios offer hearing protection which is so great to see.  However, what percentage of people are actually taking and using those earplugs during class?  Not many.  The reason?  Hearing loss isn’t a problem… until it’s a problem.  You know what’s fun?  Being fit and feeling good about how we look.  You know what’s not fun?  Hearing aids in your 30’s.

We all know someone who suffers from hearing loss – it could be a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle.  We stand by and watch this debilitating thing happen to the people we love and do nothing to mitigate it or make behavioral changes to prevent it from happening to us.  We all know that anything in excess is never good.  The problem with loud music is that it generally doesn’t cause you to feel any physical pain when it’s too loud.  Most of us bumble along through our young lives, unknowingly abusing our ears, until one day we’re at a noisy social event and we can’t understand anyone.  Then from that moment (let’s call this moment “awareness”) we do nothing… for years. I’m not kidding.  According to the Center for Hearing and Communication people with hearing loss wait an average of seven years before they decide to proactively address a hearing problem.

Here are a couple of opinions on why people don’t care until it’s too late:

  1. The antiquated stereotypes surrounding hearing loss (i.e. The “It’s not that big of a deal” mentality)
  2. The reluctance of our society to accept hearing healthcare as a major priority
  3. Baseline hearing tests are not always routinely recommended by healthcare providers

Hearing loss happens slowly, and believe me it will sneak up on you.  The decisions you’re making right now about how much you’re exposing your ears to will directly shape what your life looks like later.  That means how sharp we remain mentally, and for how long, as well as maintaining our social relationships as we age.  No one wants to think about these things, but it will happen to you.  Make the change now.  Just reach for the earplugs.  Your future self will thank you.

There is an app you can download called Decibel X, to get an idea of the sound level in your studio, as well as an exposure chart which lets you know how much noise is safe, and for how long, before permanent hearing damage occurs:

 

Hearing healthcare is at the heart of what I do as an audiologist.  If you would like a consultation on how you can improve the acoustics of your studio (or restaurant, or classroom, or Church, etc.) for a better and safer experience for your clients, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

What is an Insurance Deductible?

Your deductible is the amount you pay for covered healthcare services before your insurance plan starts to pay. For example, with a $2,000 deductible, you pay the first $2,000 of covered services out of pocket, then your insurance begins to pay.

After you meet your deductible, you usually only pay a co-payment or co-insurance for covered services. Your insurance company pays the rest. Hearing aids typically count towards your deductible.

  • Many plans pay for certain services, like a well visit or disease management program, before you’ve met your deductible. Check your plan for details.
  • All “marketplace” health plans pay the full cost of certain preventive benefits, even before you meet your deductible.
  • Some plans have separate deductibles for certain services, such as prescription drugs.
  • Family plans often have both an individual deductible, which applies to each person, and a family deductible, which applies to all family members.

Generally, plans with lower monthly premiums have higher deductibles.  Plans with higher monthly premiums usually have lower deductibles.

This information, plus much more, including a full explanation of your hearing programs and benefits can be answered by our in-house Insurance Specialist.  You can contact her directly by clicking here.

Help a Neighbor Hear Better

The staff at HES is committed to improving lives through personal and honest hearing healthcare. We believe that everyone has the right to hear well so they can fully engage in, and enjoy their life.

Unfortunately, there are many individuals in our community with hearing loss who do not pursue hearing aids because they cannot afford them. As a non-profit organization, HES has developed a fund to help these individuals with hearing loss in financial need achieve their goal of better hearing. If you know anyone who may benefit from this fund, please let them know that we are here to help.

The process is simple. They can either simply call our office and request an application OR go on our website at HESofBuffalo.org and download the application for the Dr. Ann Stadelmaier Hearing Aid Fund. With your help we are hoping to reach out to and help more individuals in our community.

Thank you for spreading the word about this fund that has helped over 250 people hear better right here in WNY.

Alas, Earwax!

What is earwax?

Earwax, also called cerumen, is a waxy substance produced by glands in your ear canal. It looks different in different people, typically ranging in color from light orange to dark brown. Some people secrete large amounts of earwax, some hardly produce earwax at all. Although it may seem counterintuitive, earwax plays a very important role in keeping your ears clean.

Why does the body produce earwax?

The ear produces earwax as a method of self-cleaning; it protects the ear from dust, dirt, and other debris. Debris that travels into the ear is enveloped in earwax and is gradually carried out of the ear through chewing, talking, and other jaw motion.

Why do I build up more earwax now that I wear hearing aids?

Although a hearing aid helps you hear better, the ear considers your hearing aid to be a “foreign object”. The ear attempts to move the hearing aid out of the ear by building up earwax, just as it does with dirt and debris. Hearing aid users often have more issues with wax buildup, or cerumen impaction, because the natural motion of the earwax is disrupted because it is blocked by the hearing aid.

How do I know if I have a cerumen impaction?

Common symptoms of cerumen impaction are:

• Fullness in the ear, earache, or a sensation that the ear is plugged

• Increased difficulty hearing

• Odor, discharge, or itching

• Ringing, buzzing, or crackling sounds in the ear

• Coughing

• Feedback (whistling sound) from hearing aids

Q-tips are a no-no!

Nothing smaller than your elbow should go in your ears! Cotton swabs (or Q-tips) were invented as a tool to clean hard-to-reach places, like the ear canal. However, we do not recommend using cotton swabs in your ear canal as they can push wax deeper into your ear canal and cause a cerumen impaction or perforation of your eardrum!

Can my hearing aid be affected by earwax?

Absolutely! In fact, this is one of the most common reasons why a hearing aid may sound weak, whistle (or give feedback), or sound like it is not working at all. Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, but all hearing aids have one thing in common – the amplified sound is projected into your ear canal. If the spot where the sound comes out of the hearing aid is blocked with wax, the hearing aid may sound weak or dead. Routine cleaning and maintenance of the hearing aid is the key for preventing this problem. If you are having difficulty cleaning your hearing aids or suspect your hearing aids may be plugged with wax, please call our office to schedule a clean and check appointment.

If you have any questions about how to manage earwax, would like tips on how to clean your hearing aids, or would like to schedule an appointment for cerumen removal, call our office

Understanding your Hearing Aid Benefit

Recently, many of our patients have told us that their health insurance company has called or sent letters describing a new hearing aid benefit they offer. This is great news, however this change in hearing healthcare can be confusing.

The good news is that you can still come to us. Please call and we can explain exactly what your new benefit entitles you to. We have a variety of options to meet or exceed nearly every health insurance plan’s benefit.

Not quite ready for new hearing aids yet? That’s OK. We will be having a number of Insurance Benefit Seminars before and during the health insurance open enrollment period to help you better understand your options and make the right insurance selection for your hearing needs.

If you are interested in attending one of our popular Insurance Benefit Seminars or speaking with our Insurance Specialist about your specific plan, please give us a call at 544-6210.

Remember, it starts with a question. No matter what program you have, we can help you understand the full extent of your program, and the options. As a non-profit organization, this is one of the proud services we can offer to help you get the best result for your health and your dollar.

HES is now on WGRZ!

After almost a year of hard work, including planning, organizing, writing and filming, Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo, Inc. proudly debuted in the month of October our first television campaign, airing locally on WGRZ Channel 2. The campaign was created to show the real life effects of hearing loss, and our approach to care.

This campaign features real HES patients, and their stories of how hearing loss has affected their every day lives. Their story is followed through with HES care, and the happy outcome we strive for all of our patients to achieve.

We would like to thank the patients, John, Nanette and Missy for participating in this campaign, and for their time on the set! We would also like to thank HES’ Dr. Kristina Jackson, Dr. Alyssa Beaton, and Dr. Rebecca Witter for their time and participation as well.

The commercial can also be seen on our Facebook page and YouTube page.

Additionally, we also launched a new campaign in partnership with EarQ called “The Jim Kelly Experience.” Advertisements for this campaign can be found on Facebook, and other various on-line ads. More information on the Jim Kelly Experience can be found by going to jimkelly.earq.com.

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