Spring into Better Hearing

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Spring brings many beautiful sounds with it..birds chirping, thunderstorms, kids playing outside. 

With May being Better Hearing Month its the perfect time to "Share the Love" of better hearing by referring 1) a friend to get their ears checked or 2) donating that old set of hearing aids that are collecting dust to someone who could use them!  When you share the love we do too!  Read more about our Share the Love initiative below. 

The "hearing bone's" connected to the what?

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Hearing loss isn't a "stand alone" condition. Not only does it affect virtually every aspect of a person's life when left unaddressed, but hearing loss has been linked to other health conditions.

Once upon a time, before people knew any better, they thought that hearing loss was simply a part of growing older—something not worth doing much about.

They were wrong.

Turns out, hearing loss isn’t fussy about age. More than half of us with hearing loss are still in the workforce. And hearing loss is a much bigger deal than we ever imagined. We need to take it seriously.

As one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States today, hearing loss affects baby boomers, Gen Xers and every other age group. And, when left unaddressed, hearing loss affects just about every aspect of a person’s life.

The big surprise is that hearing loss has been linked to other health conditions.

Hearing loss can have unwelcome companions—like heart disease; diabetes; chronic kidney disease; depression; cognitive decline, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; increased risk of falling; increased hospitalizations.

In fact, as studies on the link between hearing loss and other health conditions mount, we’ve begun to see how our ears—and specifically how our hearing—connect to our whole body and health.

Here’s what we know:

The very best thing to do for hearing loss is to find out if you have it as soon as possible. Then take it seriously. If deemed appropriate by a qualified hearing health care professional, treat it. Hearing aids can benefit the vast majority of people with hearing loss.

Cardiovascular and hearing health are connected. Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system positively affects hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss. Some experts even believe that because the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow, it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body—making the ear a kind of “window to the heart.”

People with diabetes are about twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without it.

Recent studies show a link between hearing loss and dementia, leading many experts to stress the importance of addressing hearing loss. One study found that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. Another found that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults, and that those with hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering than older adults whose hearing is normal.

People who don’t address hearing loss are more prone to depression. Fortunately, studies show that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids often have fewer depressive symptoms, greater social engagement, and improved quality of life.

Hearing loss is tied to a three-fold risk of falling. One study found that even people with mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling.

A study of older adults showed that those with moderate chronic kidney disease had a higher prevalence of hearing loss than those of the same age without the disease.

Hospitalization is more likely for older adults with hearing loss than for their peers with normal hearing, according to a study by experts at Johns Hopkins.

A 2013-published study found that older men with hearing loss had a greater risk of dying, particularly from cardiovascular causes. But men and women who used hearing aids—even though they were older and had more severe hearing loss—had a significantly lower mortality risk than those with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids.

Most doctors don’t include hearing health as a routine part of annual exams. So ask to have your hearing tested. Once you reach middle-age, it makes sense to include hearing tests as part of your routine annual care.

It seems that the “hearing bone” may be connected to more than we originally thought.

So the next time you think you might be having trouble hearing something, listen to your ears. They may be telling you something.

Happy New Ears!

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Welcome to 2018, and our new website! Did you know that health is the number one area of improvement for new year's resolutions? As hearing health is connected to so many other aspects our our health and well being, we have so many exciting plans for this new year. Whether you set a resolution this year or not, we look forward to championing your success as you work to achieve your own goals this year. You can read more in our Winter Newsletter below!

Our Fall 2017 Newsletter is Here!

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Our newsletter has recently been mailed out, but we wanted to provide a digital copy to offer a paperless archive of tips and tricks to come back to at any time. As you will read, showing our gratitude for our patients is always forefront in our minds, and we are excited to take the opportunity to give thanks to you once again. Heading in to the holiday season we hope this information proves useful to you or a loved one. Please check back as we update our news section frequently, or visit us on Facebook for more!

Over-the-counter hearing aids?

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At Affinity Hearing, we have had several patients comment on the new law which Congress recently passed, allowing for the sale of OTC hearing aids. We thought it might be a good idea to clarify the law, so our patients can draw their own conclusions.

On August 3, 2017, the US Senate and House passed H.R.2430, which creates on new over-the-counter class of hearing aids.  Here is the actual language of the bill that pertains to hearing aids:

(Sec. 709) The FDA must categorize certain hearing aids as over-the-counter hearing aids and issue regulations regarding those hearing aids. The regulations for over-the-counter hearing aids must: (1) provide reasonable assurances of safety and efficacy; (2) establish output limits and labeling requirements; and (3) describe requirements for the sale of hearing aids in-person, by mail, or online, without a prescription. The FDA must determine whether premarket notification is required for over-the-counter hearing aids to provide reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.

State and local governments may not establish or continue in effect requirements specifically applicable to hearing products that are not identical to FDA requirements and that restrict or interfere with the servicing or sale of over-the-counter hearing aids.

The FDA must update and finalize its draft guidance on hearing products. The guidance must clarify which products are medical devices.

So, what impact will this new law have on hearing aid sales in the US?  

Nobody really knows at this time.  The FDA has up to 3 years to re-write the hearing aid regulation to add this new class of hearing aids.  What we do know is that these hearing aids will be available to the general public without the need of going through a licensed hearing health care professional.  

What will OTC hearing aids cost?

It is expected that the cost will be less than hearing aids purchased through the traditional health care system, but like everything else, cost will be driven by demand, available features, and effectiveness.

Will more people seek hearing help because it is now not mandated that they seek medical advice first?

That is the hope, but when people self-diagnose medical problems it raises the possibility that they will miss a potentially dangerous medical condition.

Will people hear as well with OTC hearing aids as those prescribed and fitted by an audiologist?

Undoubtedly some people will and others will not.  Because a hearing evaluation will not be required to purchase these instruments, there will not be the opportunity for “tuning” the hearing aids to the individual’s hearing loss.  We do not know what types of features they will have, which help people hear better in noisy and difficult environments.   It is expected that only people with very mild hearing loss will be able to wear OTC instruments.

How will people get service on their OTC hearing aids?

This is a huge issue.  Patients who receive hearing aids through a hearing health care professional know that when they have a dead hearing aid, or when they need an adjustment or tuning based on changes in their hearing loss, the audiologist is there to fix the problem.  OTC hearing aids will more than likely have a shorter warranty and getting service will be much more difficult and probably more expensive than the present.  Up-front cost savings may dwindle over time and lack of regular service will lead to shorter longevity.

Where will OTC hearing aids be able to be purchased?

Could be anywhere from Walgreens, to Best Buy to a guy on the street.  But most audiologists will also carry them, at a price competitive with everyone else.  Hearing health care professionals will be able to provide better service and care than an untrained retail clerk.  In addition, they will be able to provide health care advice that you will not receive from a sales person.

I’m having trouble hearing now.  Should I wait to purchase new aids until the OTC aids are available?

We don’t recommend this.  Hearing loss can be a major problem for many people, causing communication problems which affect their lives and that of their loved ones.  In addition, untreated hearing loss is linked to dementia.  It is important that people seek help as soon as possible when hearing loss is impacting their lives.  

Affinity Hearing is here to help you with all your hearing needs.  We provide complete hearing health care; from diagnosis of hearing loss, to prescribing and fitting of the customized hearing devices suited for any degree of hearing loss.   We carry all major brands of hearing aids and will recommend products that fit your lifestyle and budget.  Please call us at 763-744-1190 to schedule a hearing evaluation and consultation.

May is Better Hearing Month

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Spring is here (finally)!  Along with the nice  weather comes a lot of normal activities that can wreak havoc on our hearing.  Lawnmowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, motorcycles are just a few that come to mind.  All these activities can be very hard on your hearing.  Everyone should wear hearing protection when participating in these things, as it is the only thing that we can do to keep our hearing from getting worse.

A good pair of custom made earplugs are comfortable, effective, and re-usable, and they don’t cost much.  Please give us a call if we can help!

New Products Now Available

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Affinity Hearing is very excited about new products that we are now offering to our patients:

1) Lyric.  Lyric is the world’s first and only 100% invisible, 24/7 wearable, shower-proof, for-months-at-a-time hearing aid.  There are no batteries to replace and everyone receives a 45 Day free trial.  Affinity Hearing is the ONLY office in Plymouth, MN to offer this product and is one of only a few certified audiology clinics in the Twin Cities to offer Lyric.  Click here to find out more about Lyric.

2) ReSound LiNX™. Say hello to , the world’s smartest hearing aid. Now you can connect to what you love through your iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch® and enjoy high quality sound through hearing aids that are also wireless stereo headphones. All without a neck-worn device.  Click here to find out more about Linx.

Call us at 763-744-1190 to schedule a hearing test or consultation to see if Linx or Lyric are right for you.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

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Studies have shown that people with diabetes have higher incidence of hearing loss than non-diabetics.  This correlation appears to be stronger in people under the age of 60 than those older than 60.  Affinity Hearing encourages everyone who suspects hearing loss to have their hearing checked.

Some symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Others complain that the TV is turned up too loud
  • Hearing but not understanding words
  • Feeling that people mumble often
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy situations

If you or a loved one is showing symptoms of hearing loss or have diabetes, please call us for a hearing screening.  We have offices in Plymouth and St. Michael, Minnesota.

Please call us at 763-744-1190 to set up your appointment.