Pete Townshend. Eric Clapton. Ozzy Osbourne. Alex Van Halen.
For many Baby Boomers, these artists epitomize rock music played at stunningly loud volumes in front of adoring crowds worldwide.
But as they’ve aged, they also represent another phenomenon: all these best-selling musicians now suffer from hearing loss linked to long hours in front of booming amps.
Some artists have been so stricken by hearing complications that they have had to curtail recent performances, such as AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, who stepped away from touring this year after doctors warned him that his partial hearing loss could progress to complete deafness while on tour.
And hearing loss is not just a risk for the bands who take the stage. Increasingly, Baby Boomers who grew up attending concerts pressed up against Fender amps and then switched to Walkmans, portable CD players, and iPods later in life are beginning to feel the effects of years of noise exposure.
In fact, virtually every Boomer suffers from some degree of hearing loss with the severity increasing as they age. It’s estimated that 1 out of every 3 people above age 65 suffers from hearing loss issues, while a survey from the EAR Foundation found that more than 50 percent of the Baby Boomers suffering from hearing loss blame it on noise exposure, including loud music.
So why are loud concerts so hard on our hearing?
Doctors have found that continued exposure to louder-than-normal sounds actually causes a so-called “temporary shift” in hearing, meaning the typical audience member’s hearing ability drops after exposure to loud music.
For most concertgoers, the effect is temporary and their hearing recovers. But after continual exposure to loud sound, the shift can become permanent.
Earlier this year, a group of researchers in the Netherlands studied two groups of attendees to an outdoor concert, one group who wore earplugs during the concert and another who listened without any protection.
The results were clear: only 8 percent of people in the group wearing earplugs experienced temporary hearing loss, while 42 percent of the unprotected group did.
That’s because rock concert sound levels can rise above 120 decibels, louder than the roar of a subway car or the engine of a motorcycle or a chainsaw. Doctors consider any sound louder than 85 decibels to be harmful to hearing and caution that the louder the sound, the more damage can be caused by even short periods of exposure.
But there’s still good news for anyone who struggles with hearing loss: advancements in hearing aid technology have made it easier than ever for Baby Boomers to restore their listening experience.
Increasingly, hearing aids are designed to provide the best possible listening experience for music aficionados. At Embrace, our hearing aids feature:
Up to 20 processing channels: All of our hearing aids are equipped with multiple channels to process sound, meaning you have a richer and more nuanced listening experience than using older models. A higher number of channels also allows for greater customization of your individual listening profile. Our audiology team starts with your hearing test and then further fine-tune the way you hear the world for the best possible experience.
Bluetooth: With Bluetooth compatibility, Embrace Hearing aids can connect directly to your smartphone, music player, or TV so you can hear music beamed directly to your ears the way it was intended.
Discreet size: Because all Embrace models are designed to be ultra-small, you’ll feel comfortable wearing your hearing aids everywhere, even to busy concerts and performances.
And by shopping online, you access the highest-quality technology at the lowest prices in the industry while sacrificing none of the customer service you deserve.
Don’t leave your rock n’ roll days behind just yet—consider how hearing aids can help you recapture the sound you love.
When it comes time to buy hearing aids, you’ll find many retail options, from local audiologists to big box retailers to online stores. So how do you know which is the right fit for you?
For many customers, convenience and selection factor into their decision, but price is typically the deciding factor. And with the average hearing aid price more than $4,500—even reaching $6,000 to $8,000—it’s not hard to understand why.
Because of this, we’re big believers in the online retail model for high performance hearing aids. With the better online retailers like Embrace Hearing, customers benefit from the same level of customer service and personalized attention as in-person retailers at a fraction of the cost—and they never have to leave their living room.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, brick and mortar retailers cover high overhead costs associated to their retail location by passing them onto customers when they buy their hearing aids. Online retailers aren’t burdened by those heavy fixed costs so they can sell at just above wholesale prices.
Buying online isn’t the right fit for every customer, but here’s why we believe it’s a good alternative for many:
Buying hearing aids online guarantees lower prices. Retailers like Embrace Hearing can afford to sell hearing aids at a lower price than brick and mortar retailers because they don’t have to pay high costs for overhead expenses like rent, retail staff salaries, or equipment. In fact, AARP has found that these expenses can account for more than $2,000 of the sticker price on hearing aids at typical brick and mortar retailers.
Buying hearing aids online is convenient and easy. While your local audiologist or big box retailer is often only a drive away, ordering online is even easier. Simply submit the results of your most recent hearing test and our audiology staff can assist you in choosing, and then custom programming, the right hearing aid for your hearing loss needs.
Buying hearing aids online doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or service. Buying hearing aids from a quality online retailer like Embrace Hearing means you’re buying the latest in European hearing aid technology at close to wholesale prices. It also means your hearing aids will be custom programmed by our experienced audiology team, who ensure that your devices meet the exact needs laid out in your hearing test results.
Buying hearing aids online is risk-free. Once it comes time to buy, you have 45 days to try out the hearing aids risk-free. If you are not completely satisfied, you can return them for a full refund.
Though many of us buy products from the Internet frequently, when it comes time to buy hearing aids, you might wonder if buying online is the best option.
After all, don’t hearing aids require precise configuration by an audiologist, as well as a chance to test the aids to make sure they are a good fit for your needs?
Yes, both those steps are essential—and you don’t lose out on either by ordering hearing aids online.
With a local retailer, you benefit from a hands-on interaction with the hearing aids, plus a convenient brick and mortar location. But you also pay for that convenience, as prices are routinely two to three times higher than buying directly from the manufacturer.
While buying online isn’t quite as convenient as buying from a local retailer, you can purchase a hearing aid directly from home using the same process as buying in-store. For example:
When you buy hearing aids online, your aids will always be programmed based on your latest hearing test. We ask all of our customers to submit the results of their most recent hearing test, so we can ensure that our audiology team is programming your hearing aids to meet your exact specifications. This ensures you’re buying the most appropriate technology for your specific hearing loss challenges.
When you buy hearing aids online, you still benefit from a trained audiologist. Online retailers like Embrace Hearing feature trained, fully certified audiologists on staff to ensure that your hearing aids are precisely programmed based on the specifications from your hearing test. This is standard procedure for any hearing aid purchase from a reputable retailer. If you are considering buying from a retailer who does not work with an audiologist, find an alternate option.
When you buy hearing aids online, you have a chance to try the aids to make sure they meet your needs. When buying from Embrace Hearing, you always have a 45-day window to try out your new hearing aids and ensure they are the right fit for your needs. If your new hearing aids don't meet your needs, we will re-program and adjust the aids as required. If you are still not satisfied, you can return them within 45 days for a full refund.
When you buy hearing aids online, you can always speak with a real person. With Embrace Hearing, you can always speak to a real person who can offer advice and insight into your upcoming purchase. We provide a fully-staffed phone hotline in addition to a free consultation—simply send us your audiogram and we’ll offer our recommendations for the right hearing aid to buy for your needs.
Most people don’t start shopping for hearing aids until they need them—in fact, research shows that the average hearing loss sufferer waits a decade before finally buying a pair.
So most people have very little knowledge of how much a hearing aid actually costs, and the number may shock them when they find out: as of 2014, the average price for a pair of hearing aids is roughly $4,500, with prices often reaching $6,000 to even $8,000.
Why do hearing aids cost so much, and are there other, more affordable options available?
Part of the cost of a hearing aid comes from the complex technology that powers many modern electronic devices, including processors, microchips, and receivers, developed in labs around the world.
But much of the sticker price of a hearing aid—and the reason costs can be so high—comes from the way hearing aids are sold.
Hearing aid retail shops must cover costs that come from running a “brick-and-mortar” storefront, including rent, equipment, and staff salaries. In addition, they typically serve only a select local customer base so these exceptionally high fixed costs must be spread over very few customer orders.
With online retailers like Embrace Hearing, buyers get access to the same quality audiologist programmed hearing aid technology they could find at a brick-and-mortar retailer, but at a cost of thousands of dollars less. Why? Embrace Hearing keeps costs down by:
- Buying directly from the German manufacturer
- Selling exclusively online, thus enabling high volume through an international customer base
- Eliminating the costs of retail storefronts and retail staff while maintaining a highly experienced audiology and customer service team
In fact, Embrace Hearing delivers hearing aids directly to your home for about 1/3 of the cost charged by the typical local retailer. That’s a savings of $2,500 - $4,000.For many, shopping online cuts down on the cost of hearing aids in terms of both time and money, while ensuring the same level of quality and experienced 24/7 service and professional reliability you would find at your local hearing aid retailer.
We all know we should be getting more exercise, regardless of our age; but more often than not, we find myriad reasons not to put our health first. Don’t let your hearing aid become yet another excuse not to stay in shape. With proper care and maintenance, your hearing aids should remain in tiptop shape whether you like to jog around town, bike through the park, or spend a day on the golf course.
Keeping your hearing aids dry during exercise
The biggest challenge facing hearing aids during exercise is the buildup of moisture that can harm delicate internal circuitry. While you clearly can’t take your hearing aids for a dip in the pool, with some basic steps they can accompany you on a run or onto the court.
The biggest source of moisture while exercising isn’t surprising: it’s sweat—and it can harm your hearing aids if you don’t take some simple precautions.
Researchers, including Ronald Schow at the University of Idaho, have found that Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are vulnerable when “beads of perspiration form in the hair along the top of the hearing aid” and gradually seep inside.
Therefore, keeping sweat from reaching the circuitry of the BTE hearing aid is the most important step in keeping your devices working problem-free even as you exercise.
Luckily, there are some cost-effective solutions to prevent sweat from penetrating the aid. Among the most popular are special sweat-resistant pouches made just for your hearing aids. One such option is Ear Gear, which slips over your hearing aid and prevents moisture from entering into the electronics.
An even easier solution is to wear a headband or sweatband while exercising, which can help keep sweat from reaching your hearing aids in the first place.
Protecting your hearing aids during exercise
Though moisture is the biggest threat to hearing aids, it’s worth remembering that even the best-fitted aids can come loose during a rough-and-tumble session on the basketball court or the football field and can risk being damaged.
To help avoid accidentally knocking your hearing aids loose, you can use a product such as the Oto Clip, which attaches to your hearing aids and then clips onto your clothes.
Clothes, too, make a difference in the protection of your hearing aids. Sara Batinovich, who wrote a book on managing hearing loss, recommends investing in zip-front sweatshirts rather than hooded varieties, which can disturb your hearing aid placement. She also reminds that bike helmets and even baseball hats need to be carefully sized to avoid interfering with a comfortable hearing aid fit.
Caring for your hearing aids after exercise
Once your workout is complete, it’s a good idea to take a few rudimentary steps to ensure that your hearing aid is properly clean and dry and ready for your next adventure.
One piece of equipment is especially useful in helping maintain your hearing aids after they’ve been exposed to moisture: the By storing your hearing aids in one of these self-contained drying units overnight, you’re ensuring that any remaining moisture in the aid is safely removed. Many units also sanitize the aids as well, ensuring that no bacteria grows inside the aid or the tubing while it is damp.
In addition to the dry box, a simple cleaning is always good practice after wearing your hearing aids during exercise. You can help remove moisture from the tubing by using a compressed air canister and can brush dirt and debris free of the hearing aid with a small cleaning kit.
As with any piece of technology, if you invest time in maintaining your hearing aids after you use them, you’ll extend their lifetime and help identify potential issues much faster.
While exercise with your hearing aids requires some planning, hearing aids can be safely worn during your favorite (non-aquatic) sport. In fact, being able to properly hear can be a huge asset for your own safety—and it might even improve your performance on the golf course, too.
Hearing loss can come in many forms and levels of severity: a slight ringing in your ears or difficulty hearing high-pitched voices all the way up to challenges hearing the majority of sounds. But no matter the severity, it’s important to understand how hearing loss actually works and the steps you can take to cope with it, whether it’s key questions to ask your physician or ways to manage your important relationships.
To truly understand hearing loss, it helps to understand how we hear in the first place. Remember, when dealing with your health, equipping yourself with the proper information can be enormously empowering. If you understand the issue, it’s much easier to figure out how to cope with it.
How Hearing Works
When we hear a sound, we are actually interpreting sound waves that enter our ears and reach our brain via nerves. Sound waves travel into the ear via the ear canal and through the eardrum, which passes vibrations through a series of small bones into the inner ear. Once sound reaches the inner ear, thousands of hair cells pass the waves to the auditory nerve, which carries it to the brain.
How Hearing Loss Works
Over time, the component parts of the ear can begin to fail. One of the most common age-related issues is the gradual loss of hair cells in the inner ear, making it more difficult for sound waves to travel through the inner ear and into the brain. This process can be exacerbated by years of exposure to loud noises (such as live music and gas powered motors or machinery), which can cause a buildup of damage in the ear.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 50% of adults over age 75 have some form of age-related hearing loss.
There are other complications that can lead to hearing loss, too, although age-related loss is most common. Infections, trauma to the head, tumors, and severe allergies can all play a role in a loss of hearing ability.
It’s important, if you think you’re suffering from hearing loss, to consult your physician, who will likely recommend a hearing test to better understand the type and severity of your loss.
How to Cope: Ask Questions
Once you find out that you’re suffering from hearing loss—and have an understanding of why it’s happening—it’s time to figure out what to do next.
One of the most important steps in the process is to consult with your physician and the audiologist who carried out your hearing test. They can examine your audiogram (the graphical results of your hearing test) to determine the most appropriate next steps.
For many hearing loss sufferers, perhaps the best first step they can take is to simply ask questions. Here are a few common questions you may want to consider asking your doctor or audiologist:
- How severe is my hearing loss? Though you may think you understand how severe your hearing loss is, your physician or audiologist has access to diagnostic tools that can provide you answers with much greater detail. For example, an audiogram can reveal the severity of hearing loss through multiple measurements—so make sure to ask your physician or audiologist to explain the severity of your hearing loss to you and provide you with your test results.
- Why should I treat my hearing loss? One of the most common questions facing many hearing loss sufferers is why they should treat their hearing loss at all, as many have figured out coping mechanisms to deal with their hearing issues. But most doctors and audiologists will tell you that hearing loss left untreated can result in everything from social isolation to trouble with balance and movement. For example, a 2012 study found that hearing loss even at low levels tripled the risk of falls, while another found it doubled the risk of developing dementia.
- Am I a good candidate for hearing aids? Many hearing loss sufferers believe that hearing aids will restore their hearing to the same level they enjoyed prior to loss. While hearing aids can be a major step forward in terms of quality of life and overall health, not every hearing loss sufferer is a good candidate for using them. Make sure to ask a hearing professional whether your type of hearing loss is the right fit for hearing aids. If your doctor does recommend hearing aids, don’t be daunted by the retail sticker price of $4000 to $7000. High-quality hearing aids can be purchased online, at retailers like Embrace Hearing, for about $1,500 to $2,000.
How To Cope: Take Care of Yourself
“Hearing loss can create a psychological solitary confinement,” wrote Dr. Claudia Dewane, who suffers hearing loss herself and counsels others through the process. Despite this, Dewane notes, “many older adults with hearing loss deny the disability or the impact it exerts on their quality of life.”
Dewane and other professionals urge hearing loss sufferers—whether they have struggled with hearing loss for a long time or are suddenly learning to cope with it—to make recognizing the issue the first, and most crucial, step.
While this may seem obvious, statistics say otherwise: an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from hearing loss but don’t seek out hearing aids for help.
If you’re able to recognize that your hearing loss is an issue, you can take positive steps to help yourself cope mentally, too, including:
- finding a support group or engaging with your peers who also suffer hearing loss;
- learning more about hearing loss and the technologies that exist to help, including hearing aids and hearing loops;
- visiting a therapist, counselor or other professional who can help teach coping strategies, including boosting your self-esteem.
For many people, hearing loss is a natural part of life—but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand it and learn how to cope with its effects. The more you know about your own hearing loss, the more proactive you can be in finding solutions that work for you.
When neuroscientists talk about the brain’s flexibility, they often use the term “plasticity.” What they mean is that your brain is able to adapt to changes it experiences over your lifetime, so that as your circumstances change, so does the way your brain works.
Researchers have studied how the brains of the blind have reconfigured themselves to cope without sight, and how other circumstances can lead the brain to favor one capability over another. They have even found that London’s famed cab drivers have brains better adapted to navigating the city’s streets.
So what does this mean if you are suffering hearing loss?
First, the good news: your brain will adapt to your loss of hearing. A research team found in 2015 that even in people suffering from mild hearing loss, the parts of the brain responsible for hearing are instead increasingly used for vision or touch, senses that are likely to become more acute to compensate for the loss of your ability to hear.
“Cross-modal recruitment of the hearing portion of the brain by the senses of vision and touch happens not only in deaf patients, but is also clearly apparent in adult patients with only a mild degree of hearing loss,” researcher Anu Sharma of the University of Colorado told the Acoustical Society of America when announcing her findings.
In other words, even small amounts of hearing loss can lead the brain to compensate for its new handicap.
But now, the bad news: even though the brain is trying to adapt to its new reality, it may actually inadvertently be doing damage. That same 2015 study indicates that when the portion of the brain devoted to hearing shrinks with hearing loss, the brain must devote additional resources to processing any sound at all. Though there isn’t a clear understanding of the impact of this “cognitive overload,” the research team believes that it might account for the high rates of dementia among patients who also experience hearing loss as they grow older.
Now the good news: the sooner you get hearing aids, the better it is for your brain.
The moral of the story is clear to Sharma and her colleagues: anyone experiencing even mild hearing loss should seek medical help to make sure they aren’t making harder to improve their hearing in the long term.
“Given that even small degrees of hearing loss can cause secondary changes in the brain, hearing screenings for adults and intervention in the form of hearing aids should be considered much earlier to protect against reorganization of the brain,” she advised.
And just like your brain adapted to life with hearing loss, it will also adapt to life with improved hearing courtesy of hearing aids. But the process can take some time. Most audiologists advise wearing your hearing aids consistently to give your brain ample time to re-adjust to hearing certain sounds.
The brain is highly adaptable and tries to adjust to limitations as best it can. But do your brain a favor and seek the help you need to understand and treat your hearing loss, if possible. You’ll be doing yourself—and your brain—a favor.
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