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Employee Spotlight – Joyce

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Jill

About Joyce:

Congratulations to Joyce for 25 years of service at Midwest ENT Centre!

She has shared her expertise with various departments over the years, and is currently the Supervisor of the Billing Department.

Joyce’s education includes being a Certified Professional Coder.

She is married with 2 children and 3 step-children.

Her hobbies and interests include reading, ice skating and traveling.

Employee Spotlight – Jill

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Joyce

About Jill:

Jill has been an employee at Midwest ENT Centre for 2 1/2 years.

She is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant and currently works with Dr. Matthew Conoyer’s team.

Jill loves spending time with her husband and 3 children.  She enjoys watching her kids play sports and all their various other activities.

Her favorite place to visit is the beach!

Missouri Humidity and Hearing Aids – Part 2

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Missouri Humidity and Hearing Aids (Part 2)  By Heather Meyer

Unless you want to move, what can a hearing aid wearer do to maintain hearing aids in the humid climate of Missouri? 

1.  Protect the aids from situations where moisture is likely to be present:

If possible, avoid wearing the hearing aid in wet, humid or steamy conditions or during strenuous exercise. When not in use, the hearing aid should always be kept in a dry place, not in the bathroom or similarly moist location.

  • Never wear the aid while taking a bath or shower, swimming, or in a sauna unless you have purchased a specialized “water proof” model.
  • Ensure that your hair and ears are dry before you put in your hearing aid.
  • Remove the hearing aid when at the hairdresser

      2.  Protect your aids from high temperatures:

You should never expose your hearing aid to heat. Protect it from direct sunlight (at home or in a parked car) and do not place it near heaters. If a hearing aid gets wet, remove it promptly, but do not attempt to dry it with a hairdryer, oven, clothes dryer, microwave, or other source of heat. Excessive temperatures may melt the plastic components and microwaves cause almost immediate destruction of all the electronic elements.

      3.  Protect the aids from fluctuations in temperature:

Never leave a hearing aid on an air conditioner or a radiator, near a stove, in a sunny window, in the glove compartment of a car, or in any other extremely hot or cold place. Be particularly careful when wearing the hearing aid outdoors in extreme cold or wet and rainy weather. Use an umbrella or hat when it is raining.

      4.  Keep the aids as dry as possible after exposure to moisture:

If you live in an area subject to high humidity or regularly engage in perspiration-inducing activities, consider trying some of these ideas to help in keeping moisture from damaging your hearing aids.

BTE tubing – BTE aid users may also face condensation of moisture in the tubing between the earmold/dome and their aid.  Sometimes, we use thicker tubing which is less likely to attract moisture due to temperature changes. For additional hearing aid care, the earmold air blower cleans foreign materials and moisture from the tubing. Some people have used compressed air cans (the ones for office equipment NOT the ones for car tires!) Blowing through the tubing yourself can create further build-up of moisture from your breath, so this is not recommended. It has also been suggested that unwaxed dental floss or sewing thread strung through the tubing can be effective, as the material will absorb moisture.

Ear Gear – A water resistant double wall spandex nylon sleeve that is acoustically transparent, so there is no effect of sound coming into the hearing instrument. Ear Gear covers protect hearing instruments from dirt, sweat, and moisture. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and can be washed and reused over and over.

Dry & Store dehumidifier – An electrical appliance that uses heat and moving air, as well as a desiccating substance, to remove moisture from a hearing aid. The lamp within also helps to kill off bacteria, molds or fungi that may be growing on the outside of hearing aids and earmolds.  These devices are a little more costly, but certainly do a good job.

Dry-Aid kits – A passive system of removing moisture, these inexpensive kits consist of silica (desiccating) crystals/beads in a jar. The hearing aid is placed inside after removing the battery or opening the battery door, to allow moisture in the hearing aid to be absorbed by the crystals. When the desiccant becomes too moist and needs to be recharged, it will change colors, and can be heated in an oven or microwave.

WARNING: the desiccants used here at Midwest ENT can be "recharged", but others may not. I would advise you to consult with your audiologist to find out the type of desiccant you have and follow the directions included with your kit.

 

Sources: www.HealthyHearing.com; and Ear Gear Advantage
Dr. Mark Ross Self Help for Hard of Hearing People journal article 1999

Communication Disorders in Older Adults

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Communication Disorders Common in Older Americans

During May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month, Midwest ENT Centre is spotlighting the importance of early detection and treatment for communication disorders in older Americans. Roughly 40 million Americans experience these disorders. Speech/language or swallowing disorders may result from medical conditions, such as oral cancer, stroke, Parkinson’s, or traumatic brain injury. Adults may also experience voice disorders or speech/language disorders that have persisted since childhood, such as stuttering. Hearing loss is among the most common conditions affecting older Americans. In fact, according to an AARP-ASHA poll that was taken in 2011, a significant percentage of baby boomers have untreated hearing loss. Hearing and balance issues are also risk factors for falls—a serious concern for the older population—that may result in significant injury or death.

Depending on a person’s specific condition, a speech-language pathologist or audiologist can assist in potentially life-altering treatment. In the case of someone with oral cancer, for instance, a certified speech-language pathologist can deliver treatment that includes helping the person get used to the differences in the size, shape, and feel of the mouth. The speech-language pathologist will teach the person how to produce speech sounds more clearly and develop better control over weakened muscles in the throat or palate. If swallowing is an issue, treatment can vary from simple changes in food consistency to exercises for weak oral muscles to learning totally new ways to swallow. In many cases, improvement is evident within several months.

In the case of hearing loss, millions of Americans experience this in at least one ear. Hearing disorders are complex conditions with medical, psychological, physical, social, educational, and employment implications. They should be diagnosed and treated by an audiologist. Treatment options include hearing aids and other assistive technologies that meet a host of different medical needs and preferences, as well as aural/audiologic rehabilitation. Although many people may think of hearing aids as the singular answer to hearing issues, other interventions may be appropriate. This is why receiving a comprehensive evaluation by an audiologist is essential.

Many people have outdated perceptions of hearing aids (and hearing loss in general) that may lead them to delay treatment for years or forgo it altogether. Among adults ages 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30%) have ever used them. Even fewer adults ages 20 to 69 (approximately 16%) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Untreated hearing loss is associated with anxiety, depression, reduced quality of life, and even earlier onset of dementia—all of which support the critical importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

Family members and friends can assist a loved one with a communication disorder in numerous ways, including providing assistance with finding a provider and accompanying him or her to appointments. There are also everyday things a family member or friend can do to help make the communication process easier for an older person who may have speaking or hearing challenges.

  • Reduce background noises that may be distracting (e.g., turn off the radio or TV, close the door, or move to a quieter place).
  • Stick to a topic. Avoid quick shifts from topic to topic.
  • Allow extra time for responding. Don’t hurry the person.
  • Be an active listener. Look for hints from eye gaze and gestures. Take a guess (e.g., “Are you talking about the TV news? Yes? Tell me more. I didn't see it.”)

More tips for communicating better with older people are available at www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Communicating-Better-With-Older-People/.

For more information about communication disorders, visit http://IdentifytheSigns.org. To seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist or audiologist, contact (insert contact information).

Spring Allergies

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Spring is in the air, and so are billions of tiny pollens that trigger allergy symptoms in millions of people. This condition is called seasonal allergic rhinitis, commonly referred to as hay fever. Hay fever can affect your quality of life. It can lead to sinus infections, can disrupt your sleep and affect your ability to learn at school or be productive at work.

Symptoms include:

  • Itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Tearing eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
     

Depending on where you live, there are generally three pollen seasons. The start and end dates of these seasons, as well as the specific plants, vary based on the climate.

Trees generally pollinate in the spring. Birch, cedar, cottonwood and pine are big allergy triggers.

Grass releases its pollen in the summer. Timothy and Johnson, and Rye grasses are examples of allergens in this category.

Weeds cause hay fever in the fall. Ragweed is the biggest offender as it can grow in nearly every environment.Avoiding your allergy triggers is the best way to reduce symptoms:

  • Limit outdoor activities during days with high pollen counts.
  • Keep windows closed (at home or in the car) to keep pollens out.
  • Take a shower after coming indoors. Otherwise, pollen in your hair may bother you all night.
  • Hay fever symptoms will generally end as soon as exposure to the allergen ends.

 

Source: aaaai.org

Employee Spotlight – Jessica

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About Jessica:

Jessica has been an employee at Midwest ENT Centre for 1-1/2 years working at the front desk as a receptionist.

She holds an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science.

Her family is very important to her, and she loves spending time with her daughter and father.  

Jessica’s interests and hobbies include reading, dancing, and playing with her daughter.

What To Expect When Your Child Needs Hearing Aids

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For children, the device generally consists of two parts: the hearing aid and the ear mold. The hearing aid contains all of the electronic parts (i.e. the microphone, amplifier, receiver, battery compartment). It generally has an earhook attached, which sits over the top of the ear and the hearing aid sits behind the ear. The ear mold is a soft, silicone material that is custom made to fit the child’s ear. The ear mold has a hollow tube that connects to the earhook on the hearing aid and runs through the ear mold. This tube allows the amplified sound from the hearing aid to enter the child’s ear.

The hearing aid should be programmed by an audiologist. The goal is to ensure that speech sounds are audible while maintaining comfort for loud sounds. The gain or volume of the hearing aid is set based on pediatric prescriptive targets specifically for the child’s degree of hearing loss.

A child’s ear is smaller than an adult ear. Sound coming from a hearing aid will be louder in a child’s ear than in an adult ear because sound is naturally louder in small spaces than in large spaces. Therefore, it’s necessary to take measurements of the child’s ear in order to know how much sound is going to be present in the child’s ear. This is done by placing a small microphone in the child’s ear, which will measure the sound pressure level within the ear. These measurements are then entered into the hearing aid software to ensure that amplified sounds are audible, comfortable, and tolerable based on the child’s individual hearing loss.

After the hearing aid fitting, your child should have routine follow-up appointments with the audiologist (about every 6 months, or more for infants). Routine follow-ups ensure that the hearing aids are functioning properly and the custom ear molds fit properly.

How Do I Clean My Ears?

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Help!  My ears feel full and I want to clean them myself, but ……

DO NOT PUT ANYTHING SMALLER THAN YOUR ELBOW IN YOUR EARS!  Many people want to use q-tips or bobby pins to clean their ears when they feel full.  Using a q-tip or anything like that can actually make the fullness worse, if the fullness is indeed due to ear wax impaction.  Ear wax is a good thing for our ears.  It is the body's natural way of protecting the ears and keeping them clean.  Some people produce more ear wax than others and need to have their ears cleaned by a medical professional on a regular basis.  Those patients who try to clean their ears on their own can actually cause the problem to get worse by pushing the ear wax deeper into the ear or even possibly by damaging the ear drum, both of which can and will affect hearing.  Patients have been known to get pieces of a q-tip or other foreign object stuck in their ear and have to see a physician to have that removed.

How do I clean my ears if I can't use a q-tip?  It's best to have a qualified medical professional clean your ears.  This is the safest way.  If you must do it yourself, just a simple wash rag will do the trick.  However, if you are a patient who produces excessive ear wax, it is still best to let the professionals do it.

Communication Strategies For Telephone Use

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COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES FOR TELEPHONE USE

Whether you are a hearing aid user or not, hearing on the telephone when you have a hearing loss can be very challenging.  This often leads to misunderstanding and frustration with the caller or the inability to have a conversation on the telephone at all.  Below are some strategies you can use that may help resolve difficulties when using the telephone. 

1.  Turn off background noise – When possible, turn off any competing noises in your environment (e.g., TV, dishwasher, etc.)

2.  Caller ID – Know who is calling, either by using caller ID or by asking the caller.

3.  Context – Know what the conversation is going to be about.  It is helpful to ask the caller what the subject matter of the conversation is regarding (e.g., doctor's appointment) that way you can use the context of the conversation to "fill in the blanks."

4.  Make caller aware of your hearing loss – Do not be afraid to let the caller know that you have difficulty hearing and express to him that you will need accommodations to make this conversation successful. 

5.  Ask to REPEAT and REPHRASE – Do not be afraid to ask the caller to repeat himself or to rephrase his/her message.  Refrain from saying "what" and let the caller know what part of the message you were able to understand (e.g., "I think you said something about my doctor?").

6.  Spell Information – Ask the caller to spell a word or a number if you are having difficulty understanding; this is especially helpful after the caller has already repeated himself.

7.  Count up for understanding numbers – Numbers have no context; therefore, it is very difficult to distinguish different numbers.  Ask the caller to count up to the number he/she is trying to tell you. 

8.  YES or NO Answers – Ask the caller to answer your questions with a Yes or a No; this is easier to understand rather than trying to determine the answer through a sentence if you are having trouble hearing or understanding the caller.

9.  Repeat what the caller said – Repeat the information that you received back to the caller in order to confirm that you understood him.  "My appointment is confirmed for Tuesday October 28th at 9:00 am correct?" 

 An amplified telephone designed for hearing impaired individuals is always useful.  If you are a Missouri Resident, have telephone service in your home, and have income of $60,000 or less, you qualify for a State provided phone.  Contact the Delta Center for Independent Living.  If you do not meet these qualifications, your audiologist can help you purchase an amplified telephone.   

 There are many Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) that can work with your hearing aids to improve your telephone use as well. Taking advantage of a T-Coil setting on your hearing aid is the easiest and least expensive option.  But you can also use devices such as Bluetooth Streamers and/or NeckLoops.   See our previous blogs regarding these devices or speak with your audiologist. 

 

 

Nesgaard Pedersen and Kirkwood.  "Speech Intelligibility Benefits of Assisted Telephone Listening Methods". The Hearing Review.  June 2014.

Can I Wear My Hearing Aids In The Rain?

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Can I wear my hearing aids in the rain?  This question is asked at almost every hearing aid fitting, especially as we start talking about how harmful moisture can be to hearing aids.  Hearing aids are electronic devices and can certainly be damaged when moisture gets inside the case where the electronics are housed.   Fortunately, many hearing aids today offer some sort of  “water resistance” which helps to repel moisture and protect the hearing aid from splashes.  One manufacturer even offers a “water proof” hearing aid which allows for continuous immersion in water. 

So, can hearing aids be worn in the rain?   If you’re standing outside in a downpour for some reason (maybe you are golfing), it would be better to take your hearing aids out.   But as long as it’s a light rain and you are going from point A to point B (maybe walking from your car in a parking lot into a place of business wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella), you should be able to wear your hearing aids. 

Talk to your audiologist to learn more about water-resistant and water-proof hearing aids.  For more information on the topic, please read Heather’s blog about Missouri humidity and hearing aids.

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