How Huey Lewis and a Free Hearing Screening Can Give You Peace of Mind

I’ve seen Huey Lewis live in concert at least twice, and like many others, Huey Lewis and The News has always been one of my favorite bands.  

Last week, I joined disappointed music lovers and Huey Lewis admirers across the world when we heard the announcement that Lewis has cancelled all remaining performances for 2018, and his future as a performer is ‘on hold’ due to a hearing disorder known as Meniere’s Disease.

 Source:  Facebook.com

Source:  Facebook.com

Since numerous patients and friends have discussed this with me, and May is Better Hearing Month, I knew this would be a timely opportunity to share some observations on Meniere’s Disease, as well as some general thoughts on how we can all have better hearing.

Meniere’s Disease

Although I haven’t examined Mr. Lewis personally or spoken with his doctors, I can share that Meniere’s Disease is an inner ear disorder most commonly characterized with the following:

1.    Roaring tinnitus or ringing in the ear

2.    Vertigo-like symptoms

3.    Fluctuating hearing loss

4.    An uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the ears

“Although I can still hear a little one on one, and on the phone, I can’t hear music well enough to sing. The lower frequencies distort violently making it impossible to find pitch.”
— Huey Lewis

While Lewis will partner with his medical team to focus on his health, it’s been my experience that people with Meniere’s Disease typically don’t regain their hearing.  However, although most hearing loss is permanent, an audiologist can determine the best treatment, which may include hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and hearing rehabilitation – especially once fluctuations like ear pressure and vertigo are present.


Better Hearing Month

For the month of May, Manna Audiology joins the American Academy of Audiology to celebrate Better Hearing Month.  

Musicians like Huey Lewis aren’t the only ones that face hearing disorders.  Everyday hobbies like mowing the lawn, attending sporting events, or listening to music too loudly can impact each of us.  

Our goal for Better Hearing Month is to give the Charlotte community peace of mind by increasing their awareness of better hearing health.  If you have trouble hearing conversation in a noisy environment such as a restaurant, are unable to hear people speak without looking at them, or have a constant ringing or pain in your ears, the first step to better hearing is a screening by an audiologist.

Manna Audiology offers free hearing screenings, and since hearing loss will affect over 36 million Americans this year, the peace of mind obtained by a free screening will be worth the small investment of time. 

Although we can’t go “Back in Time” to take better care of our hearing, there’s still hope.  One of the best ways we can show “The Power of Love” to our families, and ourselves, is to be “Some Kind of Wonderful” by getting a free hearing screening with an audiologist.

About the Author:

Dr. Kurt D. Wright has been helping people hear better for over 20 years. He is the founding audiologist at Manna Audiology Hearing Center, a hearing clinic which services Charlotte, North Carolina and metro area. He earned his Doctor of Audiology Degree (Au.D.) from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Augiology from Kent State University. He has a bachelor’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois.  Dr. Wright is a member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) as well as a Fellow of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA). The Audiological Resource Association (ARA) honored him as the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Audiologist Award. 

Dr. Wright has a passion for helping each patient achieve the best hearing possible. 

Dr. Wright - Manna Staff Picture.jpg
 

Hearing Aid Batteries!!

If you wear hearing aids, you know how important it is to have good batteries. You could make a strong case that the most important part of your hearing aid is the battery: without it, nothing else works. In this short article, I’ll show you everything you need to know about hearing aid batteries so that you can get the most out of your hearing aids.

How Hearing Aid Batteries Work

Hearing aids take a particular kind of battery called zinc-air batteries. Each battery has a sticker that covers tiny holes on the top of the battery. When the sticker is removed, air enters the battery through the holes, creating a chemical reaction between the oxygen in the air and the zinc that activates the battery. After the battery is active it doesn’t help to reapply the sticker when you’re not using the hearing aid.  

Hearing Aid Battery Types

Zinc-air hearing aid batteries come in four standard sizes, labeled with a standard number and color codes. The four sizes, from smallest to largest, are:

  •  10 - Yellow
  •  312 – Brown
  •  13 – Orange
  •  675 - Blue

The numbers and colors above are used by all hearing aid battery manufacturers, but sometimes they add additional letters to their packaging. For example, if your hearing aid uses a size 312 battery, you can use a 312AZ, A312, or a P312. As long as the number on the package is correct, it will work in your hearing aid. 

How to Prolong the Life of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

You can effortlessly lengthen the life of your hearing aid batteries with one simple trick. As soon as you remove the sticker to activate the battery, wait 1-2 minutes before inserting the battery into your hearing aids and closing the door. By removing the sticker and waiting for a few minutes, air is able to completely activate the battery before you start drawing power from it.  This can extend the battery life. A few other tips:

  • Keep the batteries away from coins, keys, or other metal items that could drain the battery.
  • When the hearing aid isn’t being used, turn it off and store it with the battery door open. 
  • Store your batteries at room temperature. This advice is so crucial that the next section is devoted to the topic.
  • When you buy batteries, always look on the back of the battery package for the “good through” date. It should be at least 3 years beyond the date of purchase. Assuming you are reading this in 2015, If the batteries you just bought say they are good through 2016 - they are probably more than half discharged because they may have been sitting on the shelf more than 2 years. 

How to Store Your Hearing Aid Batteries

There’s an old misconception that storing your batteries in the refrigerator extends their life. This is not only mistaken; it produces the opposite result! The thinking behind storing your batteries in the refrigerator is that the cold temperature will reduce the discharge of power. The problem is that storing them in the refrigerator adds moisture resulting in corrosion and a high risk of premature failure. Therefore, for best performance, simply keep your batteries away from extreme hot or cold temperatures and store at room temperature.These are just a few tips to help you get the most out of your hearing aid batteries.

Dealing With Hearing Loss

As a young boy, I watched how my mother dealt with her hearing loss. It began as a mild inconvenience and gradually increased, creating a constant struggle to stay engaged and connected to everything she held dear. I was the third youngest of seven children. Growing up on a small farm in northeast Indiana, we didn’t have much by today’s standards, but we loved each other deeply and always had our needs met. My dad worked hard to provide for the family. He worked hard through the week, but he also knew how to play with his kids. He would say, “Weekends were made for family.”  He could make a game out of anything! 

It was evident he loved his family and he loved his wife. My Dad was a man who didn’t invest much in this world’s goods, but he invested greatly in his family. 

 My Mom and Dad were a great team together. Mom was loving, tender, always thinking of others and a great cook! Her focus in life was on her husband, her children, and church. 

When I was in my mid teens, we started noticing that Mom began to struggle with her hearing. We heard a lot of, “What?” “What was that?” “Say that again please.” As time went on, her hearing declined even more. There were times she would misunderstand what one of us had said and when she repeated what she thought was said, it was truly funny. Everyone, including Mom, would be rolling with laughter. But there were many times when the hearing loss created a misunderstanding that wasn’t funny – it was actually frustrating and sometimes hurtful. 

Mom was fit with hearing aids, which helped significantly. However, they were only part of the solution. My Dad helped us kids understand that “better hearing” (or better communication) isn’t just Mom’s responsibility, it’s up to all of us to help Mom hear better. 

I want to share four “helpful hints” that Dad would tell us. These helped to greatly reduce the frustration of her hearing loss. 

  1. “Get Mom’s attention before you begin talking”……..
  2. “You must look at her…face to face.”…………
  3. “Slow down your speech….slow is better than loud………..
  4. “Turn down the TV/Radio when you want to have a meaningful conversation.”………

They sound basic and simple but they had a big impact on our family. If someone you love is having trouble with their hearing, incorporate these strategies to help lessen the frustration of hearing loss.