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Shopping for Hearing Aids

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By: Michelle L. Saltarrelli, AuD,CCC-A/SLP

Under Medicare Age? This what to look for or to stay clear from:

  1. Check insurance benefits. Most decent insurance plans will provide some assistance towards the purchase of hearing aids. Will they cover 100% maybe or maybe not, but something is better than nothing! Discount hearing aid plans are not insurance coverage.  
  2. Locked Hearing Aids- Make sure the hearing aids are not locked. Meaning you are also locked to that audiologist or very few audiologists across the nation.
  3. See an audiologist who offers multiple manufactures, not one, two, or three brands. Ideally the “Big Six” Phonak, Starkey, Signia, Widex, Oticon, and Resound. There is no best hearing aid, there is a best for you.
  4. Ask how easily exchanges can be made. You should be able to find the right fit/manufacturer for you.
  5. Know the time frame for returns and exchanges of hearing aids
  6. Warranties- All manufactures provide warranties 1-5 years depending on technology and age of patient.
  7. Ask about the follow-up care after the hearing aid fitting. Follow-up care is necessary.
  8. Know that your hearing loss or configuration of your audiogram determines the style of hearing aid which is appropriate for you. For example, if you have normal low frequency hearing a custom-in-the-ear product would not be appropriate for you.


Michelle L. Saltarrelli, AuD,CCC-A/SLP, Advanced Vestibular Clinician, Clinical Educator, Medical Reviewer for Speech-Pathology and Audiology Health Insurance Claims, Forensic Speech-Pathologist and Audiologist

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Autism; Inconsistent Expressive Skills

Autism expressive skills (Facebook Post)-9da1f276

Why is my child with Autism inconsistent with their expressive skills?

We see so many children in our clinic who have received a diagnosis of Autism, but for each child that means something different. For one child, this means they can’t quite ‘read the room’ whereas another child is nonverbal. What is consistent for all, is that the brain learns best when in challenge mode. This means, when a child is doing something new and challenging, the brain is in challenge mode and it’s making new connections! This can be used for good or evil. Here’s an example:

Your child starts speech therapy with a new speech therapist. They don’t like new people or environments and you aren’t sure how it’s going to go. They get into the therapy room, and the therapist prompts them to request using sign language, “more”, or “mmm”. Immediately, your child’s mind is in challenge mode. There is a new toy they are soooooo excited to try out but an unfamiliar adult is asking them to imitate an action or sound. They know how to sign for ‘more’ but are less likely to request it when a stranger prompts them. Their instinct tells them to tantrum or use ninja hands. (Maybe they get mad and tantrum to get what they want, or they try to grab it as quickly as possible.) In that instant, their brain starts to look for a solution in challenge mode. How we respond will shape how they perform in speech therapy moving forward and how they approach other challenges. If we give in to tantrums or grabbing, it makes that instinct stronger. If we consistently ignore negative behaviors and wait for intentional requests (verbalizations or sign language), we reinforce new instincts that support verbal communication! Yay!

What does this mean for you as a parent? Unfortunately, it means that your child is playing chicken with you anytime they encounter a challenging situation. The more consistent you are with your expectations and models, the faster they will create new instincts. This is best explained by ordering food at chipotle. When you order food, they present multiple yes/no questions as they go down the line of ingredients. When they ask, “Do you want protein?”, you don’t respond by grabbing at the chicken in the pan, or by whining. We give them a verbal reply immediately because it is an innate instinct. All types of communication have a foundation of a back-and-forth-flow based on cause and effect. If you ask me if I want beans, I say no. If you say guacamole is extra, I say no thanks. For a child with autism, any interaction can put them in challenge mode. As parents, supporters, and teachers, we have to be consistent in our expectations and models to promote positive and successful communication instincts. In the game of chicken, we can’t swerve!

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What to Do If an Object Is Stuck in Your Ear

Have you ever had something stuck in your ear? Part of a cotton swab is probably the most common thing to get stuck in an ear. However, people have had bugs, beads, batteries, and other foreign objects stuck in their ears. In most cases, you will feel pain, discomfort, pressure, or itchiness in your ear if something is stuck. You might also notice that your hearing is muffled, or you might feel nauseated or like you need to cough.
This is what you should do if you get a foreign object stuck in your ear.
If a bug is in your ear:
While it might give you the creepy-crawlies just to think about it, it’s not that uncommon for bugs to get stuck in ears. There have been cases of cockroaches, moths, spiders, flies, ticks, and other small bugs crawling into ears. If you feel like something is crawling around in your ear, or if you hear a sound that you think might be a bug, chances are good that a bug has indeed crawled into your ear and now can’t find the way out.
To remove a bug from your ear, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your side with the affected ear facing up.
  2. Pour warm mineral oil or vegetable oil into the ear until it is full.
  3. Wait for 5-10 minutes. This ensures that the bug (and any larvae) are dead.
  4. Turn your head and allow the oil to seep out. You can gently pull on your ear to help move things around. Hopefully, the bug will fall out.
  5. If the bug does not fall out, flush your ear with a 1:1 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water or rubbing alcohol and water.
  6. If the bug is still in your ear, you should seek professional help. An urgent care doctor may be able to help, or you can see a hearing specialist or ENT. They will have the tools necessary to remove the insect.

If a piece of your hearing aid is stuck in your ear:
Although it is unlikely, a part of your hearing aid, such as the dome, may come off of your hearing aid and get stuck in your ear. If you remove your hearing aids and notice any pieces missing, contact your hearing specialist as soon as possible. They will be able to remove the part from your ear or refer you to someone who can.
If a button battery is stuck in your ear:
Since button batteries are so small, they can get stuck in your ear. If this happens, contact a hearing specialist immediately because the battery can leak harmful chemicals into your ear. Do not put any liquids in your ear.
If an earring part is stuck in your ear:
Because metal parts of earrings can perforate the eardrum, it is best to contact a hearing specialist if you have part of an earring stuck in your ear.
If a piece of food is stuck in your ear:
You can try flushing out the piece of food by using the same steps listed above for insect removal, but use water or saline instead of oil. If this does not work, seek help from a hearing specialist immediately. Pieces of food can decay and lead to infection.
If you have any of these objects—or anything else—stuck in your ear, it is important to seek professional care to ensure that your ears are not damaged. To learn more about what to do if a foreign object is stuck in your ear, please contact our hearing specialist today.

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6 Ways to Prevent Your Hearing Loss from Getting Worse

Do you have hearing loss but haven’t sought treatment? Are you hoping it’s temporary and may resolve on its own? While hearing loss is often permanent, there are some ways you can help prevent your hearing loss from getting worse. Here are six simple tips for protecting your hearing, whether or not you already have hearing loss:

  1. Wear hearing protection.
    Loud noises can contribute to hearing loss. If you know you are going to be around loud noises, such as machinery, lawn equipment, jet engines, or a noisy crowd at a concert or event, it is best to protect your hearing by wearing protection. Earplugs or headphones can help to block out the bulk of the noise and protect you from noise-induced hearing loss.
    Of course, depending on your lifestyle, you may need to use hearing protection more or less frequently. If you are around excessive noise only a couple of times a year at concerts or games, you will only need to wear hearing protection on those occasions. By contrast, if you work in a noisy environment such as at a construction site, a landscaping business, or an airport, you may need to use hearing protection on a daily basis.
  2. Avoid noisy environments when possible.
    The other solution to handling noisy environments is to avoid them altogether when possible. Harmful noise levels—especially if they reach 85 decibels or higher—can cause temporary or permanent damage to your hearing. Avoiding these noisy environments altogether can help to protect your hearing.
  3. Beware of ototoxic drugs.
    Certain medications are ototoxic, which means they can cause damage to the inner ear. This damage can lead to hearing loss or can worsen existing hearing loss. If you are prescribed a medication that is ototoxic, do not stop taking it without speaking with your doctor first. Ask your doctor if there are any alternative medications and possible ways to mitigate the risk of hearing damage.
  4. Keep earwax buildup under control.
    Earwax (also called cerumen) can build up in your ears and cause hearing difficulties. Your ears usually push out excess earwax, but sometimes buildup can occur that leads to a blockage. Talk to your hearing specialist if you believe earwax buildup might be causing problems with your hearing.
    You can also remove excess earwax at home (as long as you do not have an eardrum perforation) by gently softening the earwax with drops of warm olive oil, almond oil water, or a commercial earwax removal solution.
  5. Don’t forget to consider total wellness.
    With your body, everything is connected. Hearing loss often does not only affect your ears. It may be linked to other conditions like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, and more. Although the exact connection between these conditions is still being researched and may not be clear in your situation, keep total wellness as your goal. Talk to your hearing specialist about how your hearing health can affect your overall health and you can promote overall wellness.
  6. Take advantage of technology.
    You don’t have to live with untreated hearing loss. Thanks to technology, you can manage hearing loss through the use of hearing aids. Wearing hearing aids can help you hear sounds you wouldn’t be able to on your own—helping you enjoy social situations, hear conversations, and listen to the sounds of nature. In addition, using hearing aids can help you preserve the hearing you have.
    If you would like to learn more about how to protect your hearing, even if you already have hearing loss, we welcome you to contact our hearing specialist today. We are eager to assist you.