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In the News: Phoenix Police Officers Train to Communicate with Hard of Hearing People

For the very first time, the Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Commission for Deaf and the Hard of Hearing have teamed up to improve relations between police officers and the deaf and hearing impaired community. The training opportunity gave officers the chance to get specialized training on how to handle tactile situations with a person who has a hearing impairment.On top of education for officers, volunteers from the deaf and hard of hearing community were also given the opportunity to learn. Volunteers were able to participate in role-play of common situations from the perspective of the officers. Emmett Hassen, a hearing impaired participant stated, "there's been some anxiety because I didn't really understand what they did on a daily basis, but after the training that we had today, it really does help understand that more so it relieves some of that” (http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/special-police-training-on-how-to-communicate-with-people-who-are-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing).Throughout the day, the general consensus seemed to be positive for both the deaf volunteers as well as the police officers. For example, Sargent David Montoya felt the training made him more aware of things he could do as an officer to improve communication with someone who has a hearing impairment. "It helps us understand if they're having these challenges” he says, “if they're struggling to communicate, we're part of that communication. Communication is a two-way street. There are things we can do on our end like … a deaf person may have that card in their visor that has information, being aware of alternative ways of communication as opposed to just talking.”Ultimately, the training was positive for all involved and improved relationships were forged between the deaf and hard of hearing community and the Phoenix police department.

Is This Really Necessary?

For most of us, getting pulled over is unnerving and stressful. For people living with a hearing impairment, these feelings are amplified. While most interactions between police officers and members of the hearing-impaired community end peacefully, there have been situations where a little miscommunication has had deadly results.In 2016, a 29-year-old man was shot and killed by a police officer in North Carolina. Daniel Harris was unarmed, and only feet from his front door at the time of the shooting. According to the officer involved, Daniel had been speeding and when the officer attempted to pull him over, Daniel continued driving instead. It is unclear whether Harris knew he was being pulled over, as he would have been unable to hear the sirens. Upon arriving home, Harris exited his vehicle and an exchange occurred between him and the officer, which ended in Harris being shot and killed on the scene. Witnesses to the tragic event say it appeared that Harris was attempting to communicate via sign language. According to most reports, Daniel Harris was unarmed and had just landed an exciting new job. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/daniel-harris-shooting-mourners-remember-deaf-man-killed-police-questions-n636776).Tragically, Daniel Harris’ story is not unique. Just a few months ago another deaf man was fatally shot by police, this time in Oklahoma. In September 2017, officers in Oklahoma City were responding to a hit-and-run incident that led them to an address where they encountered 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez. Sanchez was holding a two-foot metal pipe with a leather strap around his wrist. Officers report ordering Sanchez to drop the weapon, but he did not comply. Neighbors who were witness to the shooting report yelling to the police officers that Sanchez was deaf and unable to hear them. Unfortunately, their cries went unheard and two officers fired fatal shots at the same time. It was also reported that Sanchez also had developmental disabilities and was unable to talk. Medical personnel pronounced Sanchez dead on the scene. Sanchez’s father owned the car involved in the hit and run and Magdiel was not in the vehicle at the time of the incident (https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/21/552527929/oklahoma-city-police-fatally-shoot-deaf-man-despite-yells-of-he-cant-hear-you).These terrible stories are difficult to comprehend and shed a fair amount of light on the need for more training for police officers when they come into contact with a person who has a hearing impairment. More police departments should follow Phoenix’s lead and implement training procedures to help prevent tragic accidents like the two stories mentioned above.

Visit Us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids

Treating hearing loss is an important part of staying safe in your surroundings. If you believe you are experiencing changes in your hearing, contact us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids to schedule a consultation.

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Dealing with Noise Pollution in Your Neighborhood

Our world is getting louder, without a doubt, and amidst all that noise, our hearing is at risk. Unfortunately, we often become acclimated to noise pollution without recognizing the hazard it poses to our ongoing hearing health.Noise pollution affects our hearing in the long and short term. Immediately we may notice a decreased ability to focus and concentrate around noise. Noise levels can also impact our ability to sleep and get the proper amount of rest. In the short run, excess noise exposure in our environment can cause permanent hearing damage if left unchecked. Over time, permanent hearing damage accrues into significant hearing loss meaning that noise pollution today shapes our hearing in the future.

Know Your Hazardous Noise

Listen to your surroundings. Do you hear loud traffic or construction? Maybe your neighbor is using their lawn mower or there is an appliance running in your home. All of these things operate around the threshold of hazardous noise.OSHA has set standards for dangerous noise levels on jobsites, but they are important levels for everyone who wants to protect their hearing to know and understand. At a workplace, noise levels cannot exceed 85 decibels without the provision of hearing protection. In the mid-1970s the EPA released a rough guideline for noise pollution, warning people to protect their ears if they were regularly surrounded by 75 dB of noise or greater. The 75-dB threshold is capable of causing hearing damage with continual 24-hour exposure.At 85 dB, sound permanently damages your hearing after 8 hours of exposure. As decibel levels increase, the safe sound exposure time drops dramatically. Noise at 95 decibels limits your safe exposure to 4 hours, while at 105 dB sound does permanent damage in an hour or less. Sounds that register at 120dB and above are not safe at any exposure and may cause physical pain to the ear.

Testing Sound Levels

How do you know if the environment around you is too loud? Your first indication is your own ears. If it is hard to hold a conversation at normal voice levels and difficult to concentrate on tasks, there may be a noise problem involved. Often sound that is 75 dB or greater will seem irritating to our ear and make us take notice. However, more and more people are accepting these overly loud conditions as part of everyday life, unaware that it may be causing lasting damage.Smart technology puts quick and accurate decibel reading quite literally in the palm of your hand. Multiple free smart phone apps have the ability to measure incoming noise and let you know if your sound exposure is at a hazardous level. If you think your surroundings may be too loud, spend some time measuring sound in your area with a decibel reader. Constant noise above 75 dB is a cause for concern, as is ongoing daytime noise, like construction sounds, that register at over 85 dB.

Protect Yourself When It Is Too Loud

What do you do when you know your life is too loud? Noise pollution can be frustrating, so it is important to find solutions that are personal and more community-driven. For your own health, you’ll need to find ways to protect your hearing around noise. Use quality ear protection like ear muffs or ear plugs to dampen the sound level you are exposed to. At home, you can use sound dampening curtains and flooring to weaken noise coming in from outside your home.In your community, be active about raising noise pollution awareness. If your neighborhood doesn’t have enacted quiet hours, petition your local government to better regulate excessive noise. Education is part of the equation as well. Talk to your friends and neighbors about the hazards of environmental noise to build coalitions. Discussing the issue with local school districts can help bring noise awareness into the classroom and teach children how to take care of their hearing.

Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids

People always have questions about their hearing and at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids, we’ve got answers. When it comes to connecting you with great hearing options, complete hearing exams, balance solutions and hearing aid technology our fantastic team helps you stay on top of your hearing wellness.

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Difficulties with Communication Could Signal Hearing Loss

At Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids, our team is committed to improving your life and how you enjoy it. Communication is essential to all relationships, from personal to professional and communication issues could be signaling hearing loss.

Day-to-day issues

Are you struggling to hear conversations? Can you hear your phone ring – in your pocket or purse? How about in the next room? Can you hear someone talking to you from the next room? Do you have to keep changing the tones and chimes on your phone because you are missing notifications? Are you turning up the TV and the radio in your car?If you answered “yes” – then it does seem communication issues are affecting your life.

“I’ll just deal with it”

Sure, you can keep turning up the TV and the radio, but what about the arguments when family members turn them down because they are too loud? Gradual hearing loss creeps into your every-day life and starts impacting a full range of things before you even realize it.First you may just miss parts of a word because different vocal tones change the pitch of a word – think about speech patterns and how vowels and consonants put different emphasis or a tonal quality on certain words. So, you start trying to guess what a word is when you miss part of it. That can certainly lead to issues both on a personal and professional level.

It gets a little worse

You start losing whole chunks of a sentence. You can’t hear the birds outside anymore or the wind through the trees. Could you hear the buzzer on the washer or the dryer when it turns off? How about the oven timer or the carbon monoxide alarm upstairs if you are downstairs?You find you can’t follow a conversation at a restaurant, around the water cooler at the office or during a conference you are attending. You have issues with accented or stuttered speech. While you may not personally know or work with anyone that fits that criteria – what about cashiers at stores, servers at restaurants, new people you meet through personal or professional relationships?

The strain is exhausting

Trying to fill in the gaps of a conversation you may be having because you can’t hear all of it is exhausting. You are straining to hear, straining to process, straining to answer appropriately. There’s tension headaches, grinding teeth – missed opportunities – it’s taking its toll physically before you know it.At home a pleasant conversation may be becoming a thing of the past. There’s yelling on both sides, you have to keep stopping a conversation and asking to have something repeated, you are interrupting over and over again, you can’t get the punchline of a joke. Family members would rather go to another room than sit with the television turned up – the volume is up on your phone and your electronic devices and you still are straining to understand because words at a certain pitch or tone escape you. You may get a little paranoid and start thinking people are deliberately leaving you out of things because you can’t hear them.If communication at work is essential and you are having communication issues the anxiety about your job is likely seriously stressing you out. Because you aren’t hearing everything, your boss may start thinking your inattention to what is going on around you means you don’t care about your job as much as you used to.

Communication is essential

Speaking, listening, enjoying – living – it all takes communication and hearing loss just messes with all those things! The average adult waits between five and seven years to get hearing loss addressed. Think of what you may miss in that time and what sort of impact that will have on your personal and professional life. There are hearing devices and hearing assistance instruments that can improve your hearing right now. Hearing aids are miracles of amplification and that are so much subtler than they used to be.Why wait? The caring team at Arizona Balance and Hearing can address your concerns, provide you with a comprehensive hearing test, and put you on the road to effective communication right now!

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The Link Between Hearing Loss & Happiness

Did you know that hearing loss can come between you and happiness? Leaving your hearing loss untreated can have some serious unintended consequences. It can negatively affecting your mental health and impede your quality of life. It can all be traced back to how large a role communication plays in our lives. Not being able to communicate adequately can lead to a wide range of problems, not the least of which are depression, anxiety and social isolation.

Hearing Loss and Anxiety

Untreated hearing loss can limit us and shape our behavior. When it comes to hearing loss and anxiety, the connection between the two is strong. Hearing loss often manifests in a way that you can detect sound, but have trouble comprehending meaning from it. This is especially true in complicated sound environments like a noisy train station or a busy restaurant. People with hearing loss often find it hard to separate relevant speech and sound from background noise in such environments. Consequently, it detracts from the ability to relax in a situation.Having untreated hearing loss can sever people from their favorite activities. Instead of savoring enjoyable situations like dinner with friends or seeing a live concert, hearing loss can turn make the experience confusing and frustrating. In stressful situations, comprehension problems caused by hearing loss can provoke stress and anxiety. Hearing loss restricts our understanding of our surroundings and anxiety can take advantage of our instincts and discomfort. The negative reinforcement of anxiety can sap the pleasure and ease from everyday activities, turning pastimes we once enjoyed into uncomfortable ordeals.

Hearing Loss and Isolation

Social isolation is a serious problem that can be brought on or exacerbated by untreated hearing loss. Just as hearing issues can provoke anxiety by changing how we relate to the world, it can also easily shut us out of our social connections. While hearing loss is making our social experiences in the world more stressful, it simultaneously drives us away from the people and connections we know and depend on.Often hearing loss strains the ability to partake in a conversation. Talking and connecting with others becomes more difficult and less enjoyable when you have to compensate for untreated hearing impairment. This can make a person less willing to engage with their friends, coworkers, family and other social networks, withdrawing from situations where hearing loss makes them uncomfortable. At first, this may seem like a once-in-a-while occurrence, skipping a get together with friends or avoiding phone calls because your hearing makes conversation less pleasurable. This can form a pattern that sets the stage for isolation, gradually weakening your social connections.

Hearing Loss and Depression

Living with untreated hearing loss greatly increases your risk of depression. When your ability to hear is compromised, your ability to communicate suffers. Oftentimes people with hearing loss report feeling like they are not understood by others, in addition to difficulties understanding what others are saying to them. The added effects of anxiety and isolation can also compound into deep unhappiness and depression.Depression saps our drive and energy, it holds us back from our goals, crushes self-esteem and can be life-threatening. Depression can destroy hard-earned success and happiness and makes the body vulnerable to other health issues. By increasing our risk of disconnection from others, leaving hearing loss untreated makes us more vulnerable to depression.

Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids

The news is not all bad however. Although untreated hearing loss makes you more susceptible to anxiety, depression and social isolation, there is hope. While much hearing loss is permanent, most hearing loss can be treated effectively with hearing aids and assistive devices. Treating hearing loss can keep us connected to the world, helping minimize the negative effects of hearing loss. Taking care of your auditory wellbeing is an important step towards taking care of your happiness and mental health.Be sure to maintain your hearing health with an annual check-up with our hearing specialists at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids. Support your hearing throughout the year – if you notice issues or problems hearing sound or understanding speech, come see us for hearing help. Additionally, if you are already using hearing aids, Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids is hear to help you maintain your hearing, connect with your happiness and get the most out of life!

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Get the HearingFitness App for Your Oticon Hearing Aids

Oticon has officially become the first hearing aid brand to earn an CES Innovation Award for their revolutionary new HearingFitness App. The new app has been released this year and was designed to work in conjunction with Oticon’s Opn hearing aids. The app aims to give users encouragement and advice on hearing better, hearing protection and healthier living. The HearingFitness app tracks hearing aid use and listening environments. The app also collates and interprets data collected from other wearable devices such as heart rate, sleep habits, exercise and other health markers. The HearingFitness app is the first application created by a hearing aid manufacturer that is focused on healthy hearing and living.

Why Track Hearing Aid Use?

Shockingly, there are some people who own hearing aids and do not wear them as often as they should. It can be especially tempting for first time hearing aid wearers to opt out of wearing their devices, as they can feel awkward in the beginning. It is important to remember that there is always an adjustment period to getting used to hearing aids, and the only way to overcome the adjustment period is to practice wearing your aids! The HearingFitness App keeps track of when and how often a user is wearing their aids, and gives gentle reminders along the way. The app also tracks listening environments, to help you understand when and where you are having the most difficulty hearing and understanding.

The Connection Between Your Hearing and Your Health

Did you know that researchers have found a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss and dementia? In fact, a recent study published in The Lancet concluded that hearing loss is amongst the highest risk factors for developing dementia from mid-life. The exact reason for the correlation typically falls into two different categories of thought. The first is that struggling to hear and understand causes your brain so much stress and energy that other areas of your brain begin to atrophy. The other school of thought revolves around the social isolation typically associated with hearing loss. (http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/11/oticon-hearingfitness-app-wins-2018-ces-innovation-award/).For those with untreated hearing loss, social situations can begin to feel like more of a chore than a leisure activity. Many people with untreated hearing loss decide to opt out of family gatherings or work happy hours simply because the frustration of keeping up with conversations is so taxing. Because of this, many people with hearing loss experience social isolation. Social isolation is a key and important risk factor of dementia.

Oticon’s BrainHearing Technology

For a few decades, Oticon has focused on creating it’s trademarked BrainHearing technology. This technology uses a “Brain First” approach that is designed to make hearing easier on the brain and assist the brain in processing and understanding sounds. This BrainHearing technology allows hearing aid users to have the mental energy to engage at work, at home, and in their social lives. BrainHearing technology is also the workhorse behind the HearingFitness app. Combining actual user data and relevant feedback, the app will help people to optimize the use of their hearing aids. For more information on BrainHearing technology, visit the website here: https://www.oticon.com/solutions/brainhearing-technology

CES Innovation Awards

The CES Convention is considered the “Global Stage for Innovation”. Every year, the Consumer Technology Association, CES holds a convention where thousands of companies come together to unveil their exciting new advances in technology. While some advances, such as the HearingFitness app will be available for consumers immediately, others are showcasing technology that we may be able to get years down the road. Along with the HearingFitness app, this year’s CES Convention showcased tiny home robot companions from Honda 3E, augmented reality glasses, and crazy concept cars including facial recognition technologies and self-driving capabilities. (http://time.com/5100244/best-ces-2018-consumer-electronics-show/).

AZ Balance and Hearing Aids

If you think you may be noticing some of the early signs of hearing loss, it is important to schedule a hearing assessment with a specialist as soon as possible. Whether you’re in need of a hearing assessment or are simply curious about Oticon Opn hearing aids or the new HearingFitness app, feel free to reach out to our friendly team today.

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Arizona Makes Legislative Meetings Accessible to People with Hearing Loss

What an awesome win for Arizona! Besides it being the state’s birthday this month, we have quite a bit to celebrate. We are proud to announce that our legislature has officially become the first in the nation to offer closed captioning services for all of it’s committee and floor meetings in either chamber. This is great news for the 1.1 million Arizonians currently living with a hearing loss, as governmental processes in our state just got a whole lot more inclusive.

Prior Supports for People with Hearing Loss

The Arizona Legislature has a pretty good reputation when it comes to accommodating those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. Last year, the legislature installed hearing loop technology throughout the Capitol. At the time, Arizona was only the second state legislature in the nation to make this upgrade to their buildings. Hearing loop technology allows hearing aid and cochlear implant users to receive sounds directly into their hearing aids, rather than trying to hear through the echo of a large room. Representative Lela Alston has a hearing loss and reportedly almost cried when the hearing loop technology was unveiled last year. She says of time before the loops, “I was hesitate to speak out often because I could not hear what my colleagues were saying… Having this looping system has allowed me, as a member of the Legislature, to fully participate." Because of the hearing loops, an elective representative was able to better serve her constituents. How great is that?While beneficial, hearing loops don’t solve the problem for all people with hearing loss, for example, those who do not wear hearing aids, or are deaf.

How Closed Captioning Services Assist those with Hearing Loss

Unlike hearing loops that transmit sounds to hearing devices, closed captioning allows listeners to read the conversations, in real time, as they are happening. It’s easy to see how this support would benefit everyone with a hearing loss, but especially those who cannot hear at all and rely on sign language or lip reading, or those who have very minimal hearing. Implementing the closed captioning services had almost unanimous and bipartisan support from members of both the House and the Senate.The new service is also getting support from local advocates of hearing impaired rights. Sherri Collins, the director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing said of the new systems, “We are the state of the art on accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing." She also noted that people with hearing loss can now be a more active part of the democratic processes happening in our state.As mentioned earlier, the live captioning assistance will be available for all committee and floor meeting in both the state House and the state Senate. If you or someone you love would be interested in using this service, you must simply request it on the legislative website here: https://www.azleg.gov/emailazcdhh/. Please note, the legislature does currently require at least 24 hours advance notice in order to provide the service.No matter your political views, it’s easy to agree that our state legislature is doing pretty well when it comes to the rights of those in the deaf and hearing-impaired community. In just one year, we have been the second in the nation to provide hearing loops and the first in the nation to provide live text streaming! Nice work, Arizona!

How AZ Balance and Hearing Aids Can Help

Although things are getting better and practices throughout the country are becoming more inclusive, it is still important to check your hearing at least once a year. Even if you haven’t noticed any changes in your hearing, annual checks are advised after the age of 55. This way, you and your audiologist can track your baseline, and will be able to quickly see if there has been any loss in your hearing from year to year. This will be extremely handy, since most people who don’t get regular checks wait an average of seven years from the time they notice changes in their hearing to the time they seek treatment. Reach out to our friendly team today. We look forward to working with you.

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Great Things to Do in Phoenix This Valentine’s Day

For most of the country, Valentine’s Day means cold nights in front of hot fires. For us Phoenicians, February brings warm days and pleasant nights - perfect for celebrating the month of love with our special someone or our friends and family. There are plenty of events to delight all of your senses this Valentine’s Day in Phoenix, however, we have decided to focus on the events that are the most pleasant to listen to. Makes sense, as we are in the industry of helping you hear better. Valentine’s Day 2018 is a great way to celebrate all those you love. Read below for our favorite activities to hear this February with your family or your special someone.

1. Go see Cinderella at the Phoenix Symphony Hall

Bring the whole family to Phoenix Symphony Hall to be transported into the pages of the classic and romantic fairytale, Cinderella. Audience members of all ages will be delighted with the beautiful costumes, elegant and powerful dancers, and gorgeous music coming from the accompanying and world-renowned Phoenix Symphony. The performance of Cinderella is presented by Ballet Arizona and only available for a select period of time, specifically to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The show has 1-2 performances daily, and runs from February 15th-18th. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: http://balletaz.org/performance/cinderella-2018/

2. Paint at the Farm at South Mountain

Spend some quality time with your favorite “little person” at this special Valentine’s event. This event is perfect for daddy/daughter Valentine’s dates, or for good times with Grandparents while mom and dad enjoy a romantic afternoon. During this “Big Little Paint Date” you and your little one will be walked step-by-step through a simple painting on a single canvas you share. While painting, you can also enjoy tasty treats and listen to sweet tunes and the wonderful sounds of nature abound at the Farm at South Mountain. The event will be held on Sunday, February 11th from 1pm - 3pm. For more information or to register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/big-little-paint-date-valentines-event-tickets-42284203190?aff=es2

3. See Hamilton at ASU Gammage

Every few years or so, a Broadway production becomes an international sensation. Such is the case of Hamilton, a modern day telling of the life of Alexander Hamilton - founding father and Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. The show combines jazz, blues, hip-hop, R&B, rap and broadway music to tell the fascinating story of this historic American figure. The show runs daily from February 6th to February 25th. Act fast, the show will sell out quickly, as it has sold out in cities and concert halls throughout the world. For tickets and information, visit the ASU Gammage website here: https://www.asugammage.com/

4. Listen to some blues at the Rhythm Room

Cozy up with your loved one while rocking out to some of the best live blues and jazz the valley has to offer. The Rhythm Room is an intimate space dedicated to Jazz and Blues tunes, with live music each and every evening. On February 10th, you can spread the love even further, since all the proceeds from this event go directly to the HART fund. The HART fund assists families of people in the blues community who have suffered hardships such as severe illnesses or funeral costs. The doors open at 7pm. To get more information and see the lineup for the evening, visit: https://www.rhythmroom.com/event/1614661-valentines-day-blues-phoenix/

5. Get your hearing tested at AZ Balance and Hearing Aids

Bear with us on this one. No one thinks of hearing assessments or hearing loss as a very romantic topic, however, many studies have connected treating hearing loss with hearing aids and improved romantic and familial relationships. Imagine the twinkle of romance in your loved one’s ear when they realize you can hear them when they whisper in your ear on the dance floor, or how much more fun communication will be when you don’t have to ask her to repeat herself so often? While not the typical Valentine’s sizzle, getting your hearing assessed could be the most romantic thing you do for your love this year.

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New Insights into Progressive Hearing Loss

Many cases of hearing loss – either due to natural aging or noise induced – are also progressive. The simple definition of progressive hearing loss is hearing loss that gradually becomes worse over time. Most people who have hearing loss have a progressive form. Progressive hearing loss happens when more and more sound-detecting sensory hair cells within the inner ear gradually become damaged and unusable.

Exciting new research from the United Kingdom recently made some interesting discoveries about a biological marker which may be a cause of progressive hearing loss. This new discovery could lead to new treatments to better assist those with hearing loss.

All About the Study

The research study was funded by UK based charity Action on Hearing Loss and conducted by researchers at King’s College London, the Welcome Trust Sangar Institute and the University College London. The researchers were using lab mice to investigate why the mice with a specific gene mutation suffered from progressive hearing loss. The mutation always occurred on the S1pr2 gene in the mice who suffered hearing loss.

During the study, researchers concluded that a degeneration of the stria vascularis as well as low endocochlear potential were correlated with the hearing-impaired mice. This study is significant to hearing loss in humans because this gene is also associated with a human’s ability to hear (https://www.news-medical.net/news/20160817/Researchers-discover-new-biological-mechanism-involved-in-progressive-hearing-loss.aspx).

What is a Stria Vascularis?

Believe it or not, the stira vascularis is a body part you use every day, but have probably never even heard of. Stria vascularis is one of the many components of our complicated auditory system. The stria vascularis is the upper portion of the spiral ligament, which forms the outer lining of the cochlear duct. It contains many capillary loops and blood vessels, and it produces one of the fluids necessary for the maintenance of healthy hair cells. The hair cells are extremely important to our hearing, as they are responsible for turning sounds into electric signals that are sent to the brain for processing.

Analysis and Outcome of Study

The potential impact of this study on the lives of those living with progressive hearing loss or who are at risk for the condition is great. Karen Steel, a professor at King’s College and the lead researcher on the study says of the findings, “Our finding suggests that designing treatments to boost the function of the stria vascularis could be important in treating some forms of progressive hearing loss. What is needed now are accurate ways of diagnosing what part of the ear is affected so that in the future the most appropriate treatment can be administered” (https://www.news-medical.net/news/20160817/Researchers-discover-new-biological-mechanism-involved-in-progressive-hearing-loss.aspx). Of course, more research is necessary in order to move forward on creating these treatments, but these findings do mean good things may be on the horizon.

All About Action Hearing Loss

Action Hearing Loss is the non-profit organization that funded this research. Action Hearing Loss is the world’s largest donor-supported hearing research program, and is dedicating to funding research that will help healthcare professionals in finding better cures and treatments for concerns such as hearing http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/how-we-help/businesses-and-employers/loss and tinnitus.

Action Hearing loss also does much more than fund research. They offer a plethora of useful information on their website, assist with communication and hearing aids, and help those suffering from hearing loss connect to supports they may need. The charity also offers training for businesses in hiring and supporting employees with hearing loss, installing hearing loops at places of employment and offers sign language training. This all-encompassing non-profit also works in schools and colleges in order to help education facilities and organizations better support their students who are deaf or have a hearing loss. To learn more about the great work being done by Action Hearing Loss, visit their website here: http://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/

How AZ Balance & Hearing Aids Can Help

No matter the cause for your hearing loss, it is best to reach out to your local hearing aid specialists if you have noticed changes in your hearing. Reach out to our friendly team today to schedule your comprehensive hearing exam if you have noticed any of the early signs of hearing loss. We look forward to hearing from you and walking with you on your journey to improved hearing and a better quality of life!

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In The News: The Controversy of Potentially Fraudulent Service Animals in Phoenix

A Brief History of Service Dogs

Animals generally and dogs specifically have been used by humans to complete specific tasks for tens of thousands of years. Throughout ancient human history dogs have helped hunters track down and catch prey, to tracking down wounded soldiers during wartimes. There are some ancient mentions of dogs acting as helpers for those with disabilities, such as ruins found in an Ancient Roman city which depict a dog assisting a blind man.In more recent history, seeing-eye dogs became increasingly popular service animals in the late 1920s in the United States. It wasn’t until the 1960s when people began to use the help of service animals for disabilities other than blindness, such as hearing loss (https://assistancedogs.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/the-history-of-the-service-dog-part-ii-celebrating-international-assistance-dog-week/).Today, service dogs help thousands of people with disabilities such as hearing loss, post-traumatic stress disorder and autism to live a happy, healthy and independent life.

State Senator Believes There is Service Dog Fraud in Arizona

An Arizona politician out of Fountain Hills believes there is a growing issue in Phoenix regarding service animals. John Kavanagh is a Republican member of the Arizona Senate, who represents district 23. Kavanagh supposes that dog owners in Arizona are abusing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) service animal laws, by bringing their typical pet dogs into businesses and public places acting as service animals. Kavanagh says of the issue, “people complain all the time… I see it everywhere… everyone sees it, and its getting out of control”.To combat the problem, Kavanagh has set forth a proposal that would allow a judge to impose a fine of up to $250 for anyone who fraudulently represents an animal as a service animal in a public place.In Kavanagh’s proposal, a business that is under the impression someone is fraudulently representing an animal as a service animal can file a complaint and have the issue heard by the court. In the courtroom, the individual would be expected to provide written proof that the animal had been trained to complete a specific task that is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If not, the person could be subject to the fine (http://azdailysun.com/news/local/senator-seeks-law-to-deal-with-fraudulent-service-animals/article_e84a161a-c6bf-59a0-b1e0-ddee92cd3f98.html).Under the proposal, business owners would not be allowed to refuse service or entrance on the premises if an owner is not able to produce this written proof “on the spot.”

Arizona Center for Disability Law Attorneys Disagree

Sarah Kadar, an attorney with the Arizona Center for Disability Law does not agree with Senator Kavanagh’s assertions. She says of the issue, "I think Kavanagh and others who are putting these (laws) forward are making a big deal like there's thousands of people out there with these fraudulent service animals” (http://azdailysun.com/news/local/senator-seeks-law-to-deal-with-fraudulent-service-animals/article_e84a161a-c6bf-59a0-b1e0-ddee92cd3f98.html). Kadar believes that there is no (or a very minimal) issue with Arizonians misrepresenting their animals as service animals in public spaces. She believes that this proposal, if passed, will disproportionately punish people with disabilities for the actions of a very few.Kadar also finds major flaw with the proposal itself. For example, in Kavanagh’s plan, individuals will be required to show specific written proof that their animal has been trained for a specific job outlined by ADA. Kadar points out that there is absolutely no mandate under ADA for service dogs to be formally trained. Because of this, people who have self-trained their service animals for ADA approved tasks will be subject to fines under the proposal. The proposal also heeds the question, what will happen to those who are unable to provide proof of training for their animals?Kadar also reminds readers that all business owners have the right to ask two permitted questions that can weed out any potentially fraudulent animals. "Most people aren't going to lie and make up a disability and make up what their animal is trained to do in response”, Kadar says (http://azdailysun.com/news/local/senator-seeks-law-to-deal-with-fraudulent-service-animals/article_e84a161a-c6bf-59a0-b1e0-ddee92cd3f98.html).

Service Animal Services for Hearing Loss in Arizona

A quick Google search will unveil a vast array of companies and non-profits specializing in training service dogs for individuals who are deaf or have a hearing loss. If you or someone you love would benefit from the assistance of a service animal for their hearing loss, here are some helpful resources to get you started: http://savvycanines.org/hearing-dog/If you believe you have a hearing loss, contact us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids today. We provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.

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New Year, New Hearing Aids: 4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Devices

It’s a new year – a great time to start afresh. Many Americans make resolutions in the new year, with a high concentration of them revolving around improving one’s health. At Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids, we think it’s important to include hearing health in that list of resolutions. For those of us who use hearing aids to treat hearing loss, the new year is a good time to check in with our devices to see if they’re still functioning optimally. Most hearing aids have a shelf life of five to seven years, so if your devices fit in that timeframe, it’s also a good time to consider an upgrade!

Exciting New Hearing Aid Technology

Both last year in 2017 and this year in 2018, there are exciting new developments in hearing aid technology. Most major hearing aid manufacturers released updated versions of their Made for iPhone hearing aids, which provide wireless connectivity to your smartphones (Androids too!).Oticon introduced the OPN hearing aid, which provides wearers with an “open sound solution.” Rather than focusing on a narrow cone of sound, wearers experience a wider picture of sound, encouraging the brain to choose where to focus. For folks who have fitness goals for 2018, the OPN comes with a fitness tracking app that also functions as a way to monitor your hearing health.Rechargeable hearing aids are another important development in the industry, answering a call from consumers for a more sustainable hearing aid option. Rechargeable hearing aids from Phonak (the Audeo B-R), Widex (Beyond) and Signia (the Cellion primax) are simple and easy to use – and they do not require a battery replacement for the life of the hearing aid. This eliminates the need to constantly purchase and change out your batteries, saving both the environment and your money! Pop these hearing aids into their recharging stations overnight and wake up to fully charged aids for a day of listening.

Lifestyle Changes: New Work, Activities, Sports, and Hobbies

Have you decided to pick up white-water rafting in 2018? Are you more physically active than before? Have you gotten a new job that requires new elements in your listening experience? Hearing aid construction and technology has advanced in an incredible way, with moisture and dust resistance thanks to nanocoated materials. To protect your hearing aids from sweat, dirt, and the elements, consider upgrading to a pair of hearing aids with a high IP rating.There is such a diverse selection of hearing aid models and styles out there that if you have one in mind that might better meet your lifestyle needs, we’ll work with you to find a pair that’s just right.

Your Hearing Aids No Longer Function Properly

Hearing aids are remarkable devices: for their tiny size, they are powerful and work all day. Once you’ve incorporated them into your life, they almost become unnoticeable because they work so seamlessly and naturally. When they do malfunction, it will be obvious in your listening experience. If you’ve noticed lots of whistling or feedback, or if the functions no longer work as well as they once did, bring your hearing aids in for repairs at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids. Our team will take a look and make the repairs necessary. If your hearing aids have reached the end of their shelf life, then it’s time to consider a new pair.

Changes in Your Hearing Abilities

Our hearing abilities are always changing, which is why it’s important to take annual hearing tests – even if you do use hearing aids to treat your hearing loss. Most hearing aids are designed to accommodate a wide range of degrees of hearing loss. If your hearing abilities have changed beyond the accommodations of your current hearing aids, then an upgrade is necessary to treat your current hearing abilities. It’s important to have the proper prescription with your hearing aids, to ensure your best hearing health.

Visit Us at Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids

If you are interested in upgrading to a new pair of hearing aids, contact us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids. Our team will walk you through the many options we have.If you believe your hearing abilities have changed, it’s important to schedule a hearing test. An annual hearing test gives you the information you need about your hearing abilities to ensure that you’re hearing at your best. At Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids, we provide comprehensive hearing exams and hearing aid fittings. To schedule an appointment, contact us today.

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Awesome Hearing Aids from 2017: Oticon OPN, ReSound LiNX 3D, Widex Beyond Z, Signia Pure 13 BT

Every year new advancements take the hearing aid world by storm, and 2017 has been no exception. Whether it’s improvements in battery performance, connectivity features, or powerful programs that revolutionize the way you hear, we’re excited about each and every change. Here are a few of the awesome hearing aids from 2017 that you should know about.

Oticon OPN

One of our favorite hearing aids from 2017 isn’t new from this year, but has made some awesome changes worth talking about. This year, OPN released two new models, the fully rechargeable miniRITE, and the BTE13PP, a powerful hearing aid that combines power and sophistication in this device that’s fast becoming a favorite for those with severe hearing loss. Their best features, like their Open Sound Navigator and Speech Guard programs, have been combined with newly released features such as the Speech Rescue LX and the Tinnitus SoundSupport, so you’ll have clear hearing like never before.And don’t just take our word for it. The 2017 Edison Awards thought OPN was pretty awesome too, and gave Oticon a gold award in the Health & Wellness category, recognizing their innovative designs that combine creativity with the best in functionality.

ReSound LiNX 3D

If you want the best in connectivity, look no further than the awesome new hearing aid from ReSound. The LiNX 3D is a Made For iPhone device that gives you the best in clear hearing, spatial awareness, and speech understanding in any listening environment. What makes the LiNX 3D so special is the connectivity technology that allows you to stream phone calls, music, and audio from your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Apple Watch directly to your hearing aids. For any other smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled device, your hearing aids will function like wireless headphones, so you’ll never have trouble connecting with your other devices. New in 2017, ReSound has also released a rechargeable model of their popular LiNX 3D device.

Widex Beyond Z

Widex doesn’t always get a lot of press, but they’re a manufacturer that makes some awesome hearing aids. Their devices offer full streaming capabilities without compromising battery life. This means you can stream longer with less power, and enjoy the sophisticated design that gives you natural hearing in any situation. For ultimate control, the Beyond app allows you to adjust settings and save templates for certain environments, so with just one touch your hearing aids will match your specific hearing needs in that situation.The latest advancement in Widex technology is the addition of a rechargeable battery to one of their best-selling models, Beyond. This Made For iPhone hearing aid will soon be available with a Z Power system, meaning you’ll be getting a fully rechargeable hearing aid that provides a lot of power. Not only that, but if you ever find yourself out of charge, you can simply swap the rechargeable batteries with zinc-air batteries for the day.

Signia Pure 13 BT

New from Signia this year is their Pure 13 BT device, featuring Made For iPhone technology. It offers the best in sound quality, connectivity, battery life, and even hearing care. As a Made For iPhone device, the Pure 13 BT places a lot of importance on amazing audio, and will stream high quality sound right to your ears. The entire device can be easily controlled using the myControl App, which allows you to make custom changes to the program settings, volume, and balance. What’s so awesome about this app is that it will also create a personalized sound profile of your noise exposure, so you’ll know when and where your hearing is at risk.One exciting innovation found only in the Pure 13 BT is a motion detection program for better hearing. The device uses the iPhone motion sensors to tell your hearing aids you’re in motion, and to provide information about your movement. Your hearing aids will dynamically adjust the programs and settings as the listening environment shifts, so you can easily carry on a conversation with the person walking with you while still maintaining awareness of other sounds around you, such as sirens, warning sounds, approaching vehicles, or other pedestrians.Ready to check out some of the awesome hearing aids of 2017? Visit us at Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids for a hearing assessment, and to learn more about these and other top selling hearing devices that will have you hearing in no time.

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Got the Holiday Blues? Maybe Treating Hearing Loss Will Help

We’re deep into holiday season, and it’s a busy time. It’s also important to take a moment to think about your health and well-being. Sure, for many people the holidays are an exciting time to catch up with loved ones. But, we must also remember that for some, the holidays can be a tough time.We don’t mean to bring you down, but the holiday blues are a thing to consider. Mental health professionals point to the fact that there is an increase in depression during the holiday season, especially for people who are lonely, have negative associations from the past with the holidays, or have financial difficulties. While it’s not necessarily an issue for us here in Arizona, many parts of the country get darker earlier during the winter, so that adds another layer to the holiday blues – a seasonal depression.When it comes to hearing health, our specialty here at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids, we want to make sure that you understand the wide-reaching benefits of treating hearing loss. One major benefit is your emotional well-being – both during the holidays and year-round.

Treating Hearing Loss Helps You with Mobility

A series of studies from Finland have indicated that people who treat hearing loss experience a more expansive “life space.” This means they have the confidence to move freely further from home base, giving them more opportunities to participate in activities they enjoy and to socialize with friends and members of the community. Meanwhile, people with untreated hearing loss have a much smaller life space. Due to difficulties with communication, people tend to stick closer to home or do not leave as often.Another element of hearing loss has to do with your safety and security. By treating hearing loss, you are more aware of the sounds in your environment and the alerts and alarms that keep you out of harm’s way. Driving is also safer if you treat your hearing loss, allowing you to move more freely. If you commute by public transportation, hearing aids also help you get around with ease.

Treating Hearing Loss Keeps Your Connected to Your Loved Ones

Communication is the bedrock of strong relationships, and that’s especially apparent during the holiday season. With hearing loss, people experience difficulties with communication due to speech recognition issues. Many people with hearing loss make the same complaint: they can hear, but they can’t understand. Hearing loss interferes with our ability to anticipate speech patterns and to differentiate between words or sounds that are similar, which could lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.By treating hearing loss, we’re making a concerted investment in maintaining healthy channels of communication with our loved ones. Hearing aids, commonly used to treat hearing loss, are equipped with features that help you focus on speakers’ voices, reduce background noise that might interfere with conversations, and help you experience speech sounds with clarity.Studies have found that people with untreated hearing loss tend to isolate themselves socially, because it is difficult to keep up with conversation. According to Dr. Sergei Kochkin of the Better Hearing Institute, “The holiday season is meant to be a time of thanks, celebration and joy. But for many people, it is a time of year when unaddressed hearing loss can cause them to feel particularly isolated and depressed. Even when surrounded by loved ones, a family member’s impaired ability to hear and actively participate in conversation cuts them off. Oftentimes, they are left with a sense of sadness, inadequacy, and emotional isolation. This is especially true when the hearing loss is either unrecognized or is being ‘hidden’ by the family member with hearing loss.”

This Holiday Season, Beat the Blues by Treating Hearing Loss

If you personally experience a hearing loss and have yet to treat it, now’s the time. There’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss. A hearing test is simple and painless, and our team at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids will support you through the process of finding the right treatment to meet your needs.If you believe a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, use this holiday season to gently encourage them to seek treatment with us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids. Offer your support and love, and remind them that by treating hearing loss, they’ll be able to reconnect with the loved ones in their life.From our team at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids, we wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season.

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Great Things to Hear This Holiday Season in Phoenix

Who needs a white Christmas when you’ve got blue skies and beautiful weather for the holidays? Here in Phoenix, Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids helps people reconnect to the sounds of their lives. To celebrate this holiday season, we’ve put together some picks of great things to hear in Phoenix this month.

Las Noches de Las Luminarias, Desert Botanical Garden, through December 30

The desert at dusk is a sight to behold, and this December, the Desert Botanical Garden will feature more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags and monumental sculptures by artist Jun Kaneko. The Christmas tradition of luminaria bags came from Spanish colonialists who were inspired by Chinese paper lanterns. Luminarias are made of simple brown paper bags, weighted down with sand, and illuminated from within with a candle.The Desert Botanical Garden’s magical ambiance includes 10 entertainment ensembles, including Simply Three. This family-friendly event includes dining options. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate as the sun begins to set! Learn more here.

Holiday Ice Rink, Downtown Phoenix, through January 7

Ice-skating in the desert? Don’t miss it! At CityScape Phoenix (1 E. Washington Street), from December 1 to January 7, skate on real ice in the heart of downtown Phoenix! Decorated with classic, cozy Christmas items next to a 36-foot holiday tree, skaters can work on their twists and flips, while onlookers can sip a cup of hot cocoa. This family-friendly activity includes photos with Santa (Saturdays and Sundays, 4pm to 8pm), as well as pop-up art events with on-site performances by Saskia Jorda and an installation by Joe Pagac, as well as live music. Entry to the ice rink is $15/person. For more information, go here.

Phoenix Symphony December Events

This December, the Phoenix Symphony offers four incredible events throughout the month. Between December 1 and December 3, Holiday Pops brings Phoenix Symphony conductor Scott Terrell and the Phoenix Symphony Chorus together to showcase our favorite holiday favorites. Holiday Pops also includes a Holiday Sing-Along!Between December 6 and December 10, catch the annual holiday favorite, Handel’s Messiah, featuring conductor Tito Munoz, Shannon Mercer (soprano), Avery Amereau (mezzo soprano), Lawrence Wiliford (tenor), and William Berger (baritone), backed by the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Get in the holiday spirit with the classic, “Hallelujah.”Tired of the same old Nutcracker performances? Check out A Cirque Nutcracker, a collaborative performance between the world-renowned Cirque troupe and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. Taking place at the Mesa Arts Center, A Cirque Nutcracker defies all expectations, with soaring dancers, hula hoops, strong men, contortionists, jugglers, and more – all 40 feet above the stage! A Cirque Nutcracker runs from December 15 to December 24.On New Year’s Eve, join the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra for a New Year’s Gala, which also happens to commemorate the orchestra’s 70th season! Taking place at the McArthur Ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore, the gala includes a cocktail reception, dinner feast, dancing with the full Symphony Orchestra, and ringing in the new year with a champagne toast!To view the Phoenix Symphony’s full slate of December programming and to buy tickets, visit their website.

Herberger Theater Center December Events

The Herberger Theater Center is home to six resident theater companies (Arizona Theatre Company, Center Dance Ensemble, iTheatre Collaborative, Arizona Opera, Childsplay Theatre, and Arizona Broadway Theatre), and is proud of support and foster the growth of performing arts in Phoenix.This December, don’t miss the Center Dance Ensemble’s production of Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen, running through December 17. Set to music by Sergei Prokofiev, this classic Hans Christian Andersen story will melt your heart.From December 9 to December 28, Arizona Broadway Theatre presents A Christmas Carol: The Musical, the classic Charles Dickens tale set to music. Follow the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge as he travels through his past, present, and future while learning the true meaning of Christmas.For a more detailed schedule and ticket information for these events, visit the Herberger Theater Center’s website.

Visit Us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids

Have you experienced changes in your hearing abilities? There’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of hearing. Schedule a comprehensive hearing exam and consultation with us at Arizona Balance and Hearing Aids.

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Understanding Unilateral Hearing Loss

Unilateral hearing loss is a hearing loss that happens in only one ear. Most cases of hearing loss that occur due to normal aging or noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) are bilateral – or in both ears. Unilateral hearing loss is most often caused by abrupt head injuries, viral infections, Meniere's disease, or after surgery to remove a brain tumor. Single sided deafness or SSD is another term for unilateral hearing loss. SSD and unilateral hearing loss bring along their own concerns and can sometimes be even more troublesome than bilateral hearing loss. Read on to learn more about unilateral hearing loss, and how it is diagnosed and treated.

Symptoms of Unilateral Hearing Loss

Unilateral hearing loss symptoms are varied. Obviously the most apparent symptom of unilateral hearing loss includes having unequal hearing abilities in each of your ears. How the hearing loss effects one, however, is a bit different than for those with bilateral hearing loss. Difficulty determining where a sound is coming from is a very common issue. This can make everyday activities such as crossing the street and navigating traffic not only difficult, but also downright dangerous. Some people with unilateral hearing loss notice it most when they are communicating with a large group of people such as at a family gathering or business meeting, or when they are in a noisy environment such as a restaurant or an airport.

Diagnosing Unilateral Hearing Loss

Your audiologist or hearing aid specialist will diagnose unilateral hearing loss in a similar way they diagnose bilateral hearing loss. First, you will be asked to fill in a questionnaire that will ask you about your personal and family lifestyle and medical history. Then, your audiologist will look into your ears with an otoscope to see if there is any external damage to your ear canal or eardrum. Next, you will undergo some very quick and very painless assessments. You will listen to a variety of tones and will be asked to indicate when you hear them. The exact types of assessments will vary depending on your audiologist and hearing profile. Once the assessments are finished, you and your audiologist or hearing aid specialist will sit down and discuss the results and potential treatment options.

Solutions for Those with Unilateral Hearing Loss

There are a few treatment options and solutions for people with unilateral hearing loss. The first, are contralateral routing of signal (CROS) hearing aids. This type of hearing aid is worn in the client’s “good” ear. On the deaf or hearing-impaired ear, there is a small microphone that picks up sounds and voices from the deaf side and transmits them to the hearing aid in the hearing ear. The second and newer treatment option is called a bone anchored hearing aid, or BAHA. A BAHA systems involves a small titanium implant placed in the bone behind the hearing impaired ear. This implant is then connected to a sound processor. The sound processor then picks up and transfers sounds through the bone to the hearing ear. With a bone anchored hearing aid, the wearer is able to hear sounds from both sides.There are also some coping strategies for living with unilateral hearing loss. Joining a lip reading class can be a great way to not only improve conversational understanding, but good way to meet other people also dealing with hearing loss. It is also important to make sure your communication partner sits on your “good” side. Learning what positioning works best for you can be a great skill to have in your pocket. Play around with different positioning techniques until you find the one that is most successful for your hearing profile.

How AZ Balance & Hearing Aids Can Help

Do you feel like you are hearing conversations but not understanding them? Are you becoming frustrated in social situations? Does your spouse or family constantly ask you to turn down the volume? If so, you may be experiencing some of the early signs of hearing loss – be it unilateral or bilateral. If you have noticed changes in your hearing, reach out to our friendly team today to schedule your first consultation. We look forward to hearing from you and joining you on your journey to better hearing and an improved quality of life.

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Conveniently located near the intersection of 7th Street and Indian School Road.

Southwest Balance, Dizziness & Ear Institute (formerly Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids)

4004 N 7th St.Phoenix, AZ 85014