Northeast Wisconsin
Thomas Parry, Au.D, FAAA

Thomas Parry, Au.D, FAAA

Thomas Parry Au.D., FAAA is an audiologist serving all of northeastern Wisconsin with Appleton Audiology Associates and Hearing Services of Wisconsin. Thomas obtained his degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Western Michigan University. He has extensive experience in both hospital and private practice settings. He currently offices in Appleton, New London, Waupaca, Clintonville, Shawano, Antigo and Merrill. Please contact him at 920-560-6748 with any questions regarding identification or treatment of any hearing or ear related issues.

For more information about your hearing and cognitive health, visit our website hearingserviceswi.com and locations:

1520 N. Meade St., Appleton • 920-560-6748

723 Superior St., Antigo • 715-627-4199

2801 E. Main St. #5, Merrill • 715-536-0010

205 N. Shawano St., New London • 920-982-3313

1056 E. Green Bay St., Shawano • 715-524-4242

213 N. Main St., Waupaca • 715-258-0088

Friday, 01 December 2017 02:02

What your health reveals about your hearing

Hearing loss usually develops gradually, making it difficult to notice in many cases. People often suffer from impaired hearing for years before receiving the treatment they need. The average patient, in fact, waits seven years before seeking help. Untreated hearing loss leads to a number of potentially serious mental and physical health problems, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety and deteriorating physical health.

It’s important to understand the links between your health and your hearing. By staying aware of your overall physical and mental health, you are better equipped to detect a hearing loss early. This allows an audiologist to treat your hearing loss more efficiently and effectively.

Following the Signs

In order to recognize a hearing loss in you or a loved one, you need to know the signs and symptoms. Some typical behaviors amongst people with hearing loss include asking others to repeat themselves, zoning out during group conversations, struggling to hear women and children and turning up the volume on the TV and radio. There are also a few health problems that may indicate a hearing problem:

  • A ringing in the ears. This symptom, called tinnitus, affects approximately 50 million Americans. It can indicate a number of health problems and is often a sign of hearing loss.
  • Depression. As hearing loss develops, it becomes harder and harder for the person affected to connect with the world around them. As hearing and communication abilities decline, it can cause withdrawal, sadness, stress, anxiety and self-doubt.

Knowing Your Risk

Many health issues and treatments can cause hearing loss, and it’s important to understand if you are at risk so you can get your hearing tested regularly. There are more than 200 ototoxic medications known today, and they have all been directly linked to auditory system damage. Some of the most common ototoxic over-the-counter and prescription drugs include certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, loop diuretics, anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain relievers and salicylate pain relievers like aspirin.

Several health and medical problems are also directly linked to hearing loss. These include Meniere’s disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, certain autoimmune disorders and infections including herpes, influenza, measles, mumps, syphilis and meningitis. 

 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 15:13

Hear for the holidays

The holiday season is finally here. That means you are about to attend an abundance of family dinners and holiday parties. Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans; chances are, someone in your family is one of those individuals. Take the opportunity this holiday season to finally have the conversation you have been putting off, and talk to your family member about getting their hearing checked.

It is important to note how much treating hearing loss can do beyond simply improving the ability to hear. It has been linked to improvements in general health, professional success and emotional well-being. While untreated hearing loss may lead to difficulty concentrating, problems storing new information, increased cognitive decline and an increase of physical injuries, those who treat their hearing loss can see an improvement in their overall quality of life. In addition, many experience a decrease in feelings of depression, anger and anxiety; an improvement in their balance; renewed confidence; an increase in social interactions; and healthier and longer lasting relationships.

Hearing loss affects everyone, not just the individual with the impairment. I recommend following the below steps to make yourself part of the solution.

Have an honest conversation. Tell your loved one why you want them to get their hearing checked. You can remind them of the things they are missing or how they must feel when they have to rely on others to communicate.

Share success stories. You can either share personal stories or testimonials from www.hearingserviceswi.com. These will show your loved one that they are not alone and that others were able to find treatments that worked for them.

Offer support. Going to the doctor and facing the fact that you have hearing loss is scary. Offer to help them make an appointment and attend the visit with them.

Remind them that they have nothing to lose. Scheduling a hearing screening is a quick, painless visit. They are not committing to anything. Your loved one will be able to learn about hearing loss and the available treatment options.

Most importantly, remind them that you love them. This is for them. You do not want them living in isolation and missing out on the things they used to enjoy.

For more information on how to talk to a loved one about seeking the hearing loss help they need, visit www.hearingserviceswi.com. Your family member’s hearing screening can be completed at one of our three convenient locations in Shawano, Waupaca and New London. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 02:22

October is Audiology Awareness Month

More than 36 million Americans of all ages suffer from hearing loss. Regular hearing screenings are invaluable in identifying problems early. We encourage you to schedule an appointment for a hearing screening during the month of October, recognized as Audiology Awareness Month.

We take a team approach toward evaluating and treating hearing loss. We want to reconnect you with your world and improve your quality of life!

Answer the following to find out if you are eligible for a hearing test:

  1. Do you turn up the TV or radio louder than others need it?
  2. Do you often feel that other people are mumbling?
  3. Do you often ask people to repeat themselves?
  4. Has someone close to you mentioned you may have hearing loss?
  5. Do you experience ringing in your ears?
  6. Do you experience vertigo or problems with your balance?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should have your hearing checked by an audiologist. Call 877-502-9384 to schedule an appointment today. 

 

Many scientific studies in the past have confirmed the negative impacts associated with hearing loss: depression, anxiety and social isolation. There are positive impacts associated with hearing solutions, as well. A study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing devices can make.

The study surveyed more than 2,000 hearing loss patients who use devices to enhance the sense of sound. Of the sample group, 82 percent of patients indicated they would recommend hearing devices to their friends, and 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate. The data also shows more than four out of five people who use a device to hear better are satisfied with their solution.

“This survey clearly reveals how dramatically people’s lives can improve with the use of hearing devices,” BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, PhD said. “In this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing device users we looked at 14 specific quality-of-life issues and found today’s hearing devices are a tremendous asset to people with even mild hearing loss who want to remain active and socially engaged throughout their lives.”

The study also concluded up to a third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. Further, roughly 40 percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence and work relationships. 

Additional studies yield similar results. Overall, two thirds of hearing device users report their quality of life is either “better” or “a lot better.” While effectiveness of communication ranks as the biggest benefit to wearing hearing devices, a significant portion of respondents cite improvements unrelated to hearing, such as enhanced mental/cognitive skills and the ability to join groups. 

These results are the most significant of their kind because they show a clear potential solution to many of the draining feelings patients with hearing loss suffer. Many of the positive responses are attributed to changing technology that has led to smaller and less visible hearing devices, resulting in a decrease in the societal stigma associated with wearing devices in day-to-day life. Those who are hesitant to wear them for fear of looking older should keep in mind hearing loss can occur at any age, and half of all American adults with hearing loss are between 45 and 74 years old. 

New devices are more intelligent and offer many improvements over older generation models. Many offer wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, and several manufacturers have introduced iPhone-compatible devices. BHI’s Kochkin believes the first step to preserving your future enjoyment in life is to make an appointment with a hearing health professional and get your hearing checked. 

 

Monday, 31 July 2017 18:25

Eat well for healthy hearing

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” While that may not be entirely true, the foods you consume can have a positive effect on your hearing. Studies indicate foods rich in certain nutrients can help boost your hearing. In some cases, they may even help prevent or delay hearing loss. Each of the foods listed below can help improve your hearing and overall health.

Omega-3 fatty acids, typically found in fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, contain anti-inflammatory properties that help strengthen the blood vessels in the inner ear, helping protect against hearing loss. Research shows that individuals who eat two or more servings of fish a week are 42 percent less likely to develop presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) compared with those who do not eat fish regularly.

Antioxidants are another excellent source of protection from hearing loss, particularly folic acid. They help reduce the number of damage-causing free radicals in your body, and ultimately help prevent hearing loss. Good sources of folic acid include leafy greens such as spinach and romaine lettuce, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans and nuts. Persons over the age of 50 with a folate deficiency have a 35 percent higher risk of hearing loss.

Vitamin B12 works similarly; like folic acid, it creates new red blood cells and improves the flow of blood to the ears. Foods high in B12 include lean meats, dairy and eggs. Clams, liver and fish are especially high in this nutrient. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and is plentiful in citrus fruits and vegetables. Excellent choices include oranges, grapefruit and bell peppers. Vitamin E helps improve circulation and can be found in almonds, peanut butter and sunflower oil. Vitamin D keeps the bones and tissue in the inner ear healthy, preventing bone loss and otosclerosis — good sources are fish and milk.

Zinc is another nutrient that can help protect against age-related hearing loss. It can be found in dark chocolate and oysters, among other foods. Magnesium may prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Look for it in bananas, potatoes, artichokes and broccoli.

While there’s no guarantee that consuming these foods will keep you from developing hearing loss, including them as part of your diet will help improve your overall health regardless. However, like with all good things, too much can cause problems. Check with your primary care physician before making any major changes to your diet.

At Hearing Services of Wisconsin, you can talk to an expert audiologist to determine other ways to help preserve your hearing. 

For more information about improving your hearing health or the services we offer, visit our website at www.hearingserviceswi.com.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:04

Protect your hearing this summer

When the weather is warm, our natural inclination is to go outside. Many popular summer activities can be hazardous to our ears due to high decibel levels. Prolonged exposure to the sounds of lawn mowers, power tools, motorized vehicles, sporting events, concerts and fireworks can all lead to irreversible hearing damage.

The following tips are recommended by the Better Hearing Institute to protect your ears:

  • Use earplugs. When you are going to be exposed to loud sounds, wear earplugs to prevent damage to your hearing. Custom ear protection crafted from earmolds will perfectly fit the unique contours of your ears, guaranteeing a snug, proper fit and dependable protection.
  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Fireworks are synonymous with the 4th of July, but they represent an extreme noise hazard and should be restricted to professionals. Earplugs will provide an extra level of hearing protection without detracting from the festivities.
  • Take measures to protect against swimmer’s ear. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool swim on a hot day, but when water enters the ear canals it can lead to a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear. To protect against this, invest in a pair of swimmer’s plugs.
  • Limit your time in noisy environments. Take steps to limit the length of time you spend in noisy environments. When participating in noisy activities, make sure to give yourself periodic quiet breaks. 
Thursday, 01 June 2017 00:29

Wireless technology

Hearing aids have become very sophisticated over the years, with features undreamt of just a generation ago. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the advent of wireless connectivity. Thanks to the proliferation of Bluetooth® technology, today’s hearing devices are more versatile than ever, and featuring unparalleled sound quality and convenience.

Bluetooth® is a wireless communications system that allows a variety of electronic devices, including computers, smartphones and personal audio players, to exchange data — in essence, communicating with one another. When paired with hearing aids, Bluetooth® allows the user to stream signals from those devices directly to the hearing aids.

Bluetooth® enabled hearing aids come with a controller for transmitting and receiving wireless signals to and from other Bluetooth® devices. By sending data through the wireless spectrum instead of over the airwaves, there is no need for the internal microphone to pick up and amplify sound. The result is clearer, more natural sound. The hearing aid can connect with many different devices including television sets, cell phones, GPS systems and even other medical devices.

Wireless connectivity does come with a price: increased power demand. Most hearing aid batteries are tiny and unable to supply enough power for a steady Bluetooth® connection. To get around this, assistive listening devices called streamers have been developed. Usually worn around the neck, streamers provide a communication link between devices, picking up Bluetooth® signals and transmitting them to and from hearing aids via an FM signal or electromagnetic field. In essence, the streamer works as a personal remote control for your hearing aids, enabling you to change the hearing program, raise or lower the volume and mute the streaming sound — all with the push of a button.

Certain situations require a little extra boost. In public places where large groups congregate — e.g., meetings, lectures, churches, movie theaters, conference rooms and museums — background noise can make it difficult to pick up speech. One solution is to use a wireless FM system. This portable device comes with a microphone that is placed near the speaker for transmitting sounds over radio frequencies and a receiver that attaches directly to the hearing aids. Because the microphone focuses on the source of the sound, background noise is reduced and you are better able to understand speech in noisy environments.

Another wireless option for optimizing your hearing aids in public places is a telecoil, or T-coil. This small copper coil was originally created to boost the magnetic signal from telephone handsets, amplifying speech and making it easier to hear. Nowadays, many public places are equipped with hearing loops: wires that encircle a room and transmit sounds electromagnetically. These signals are picked up by the telecoil. The user merely needs to turn the T-switch on; no additional equipment is needed. Hearing loops are commonly found in classrooms, theaters, churches and other public places. Infrared systems work in a similar fashion, but use invisible beams of light to transmit sounds, picked up by the T-coil, to a receiver. 

With the cost of hearing devices ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 a pair, patients often ask us, “What’s wrong with the less expensive ones?”

The answer is nothing. In fact, budget hearing devices might be the perfect choice for you. The only way to find out which is best for your hearing lifestyle is to partner with an audiologist who understands the art and science behind selecting and fitting hearing devices.

The advanced technology of today’s hearing devices means you have more features to choose from. These added features, while providing additional benefits, also make a hearing device more expensive. However, depending upon your unique requirements, more is not necessarily better.

Think of it this way: if you were a serious athlete planning on running a marathon and you decided to purchase a treadmill to do some off-season training, you might choose a $4,500 model on which you could run full speed at varying degrees of inclines, all while the machine kept track of your heart rate and tracked your progress. You would probably also want to have a personal trainer experienced in achieving the highest possible performance to assist you in getting the most out of your investment and workouts. However, if you just wanted to take an occasional walk and perhaps lose a few pounds, a $500 treadmill might just do the trick.

The same considerations are true when it comes to selecting appropriate hearing devices. If you are very active, live in a variety of noisy environments and don’t want to be bothered adjusting volume, then you will probably be happier with hearing devices that include advanced features such as directional microphones, feedback cancellation or automatic adjustments. In conjunction with this, you will be most satisfied with your results with the involvement of an experienced audiologist to tailor the features of the device to your personal needs and achieve maximum benefit. If you live a quiet life and don’t mind making manual adjustments, then a more economical hearing device might be perfect for you. In short, it is the art of selection and fitting combined with the science of technology that will have the most direct impact on your level of satisfaction.

Our audiologists are skilled in matching your needs to the most appropriate technology and fitting the devices to provide maximum benefit. We have been trained to make recommendations for the type and style of hearing devices based on five important criteria:

  • Your personal lifestyle
  • Your level of hearing loss
  • The physical characteristics of your ear canal
  • Your cosmetic preferences
  • Your budget constraints

Our audiologists ask many questions because we want to get to know you. We believe that by investing time into understanding what your life is like and what is important to you, we will be able to ensure your optimal hearing while providing you with the best value. 

 

Thursday, 30 March 2017 21:02

The effects of hearing loss on the spouse

If you are suffering from hearing loss, you’re not alone. While an estimated 36 million American adults experience some degree of hearing loss, those closest to you ­— your immediate family — are affected even if they don’t share your hearing impairment. Your spouse, in particular, may have a difficult time dealing with your hearing loss.

Many spouses complain of a lack of communication. They resent having to repeat themselves and adopt strategies such as positioning themselves in front of their husband or wife when speaking, encouraging lip reading and relying on handwritten notes. The biggest effect is on everyday activities, mainly television and telephone use. Spouses must deal with increased volume when the TV is on, making it uncomfortable for them to watch television in the same room. They also tend to be the ones to answer and make all telephone calls. There is also a reduction in social activities, with the hearing impaired partner more likely to want to stay at home rather than venture out and be put in a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Naturally, these factors can lead to resentment and put a strain on the marriage. Increased tension often leads to a lack of intimacy, causing serious damage to the relationship. However, a study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing devices can make for the hearing impaired, especially where relationships are concerned.

Of 2,000 hearing loss patients surveyed by the BHI, 70 percent reported improved communication abilities when they started wearing hearing devices. The study also concluded up to one-third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. These results demonstrate a clear potential solution to many of the communication barriers that patients with hearing loss suffer from.

If you are hearing impaired and married, there are steps you can take to improve your relationship with your spouse and ease his or her burden. If you own hearing devices, use them — and if you don’t, speak with your audiologist to see if they will help. There is a direct correlation between hearing device use and relationship satisfaction. Of equal importance: accept your condition rather than wallow in self-pity or despair. Nobody wants to have difficulty hearing, but dealing with it in a positive manner can go a long way toward maintaining a solid marriage. When you accept your impairment, your spouse is more willing to help and it’s easier for both of you to adapt to the situation.

More than 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, which makes it one of the most common health conditions in the nation. However, adults typically wait an average of seven years before seeking help for their hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss may lead to other conditions such as depression.

According to a study of more than two thousand participants by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), adults older than 50 were more likely to report they have experienced depression and related symptoms including anxiety, anger, frustration, paranoia and emotional instability. This correlation between hearing loss and depression was further corroborated by a study published in the journal Acta Otorhinolaryngologica Italica completed in Italy that focused on younger patients. Participants were 35 to 54 years old with hearing loss in one or both ears and also reported higher levels of psychological stress including low levels of social functioning.

Since it can be difficult to communicate with untreated hearing loss, people often withdraw from social situations. In fact, those who suffer from hearing loss are less likely to participate in social activities, which leads to isolation and symptoms of depression. Depression can lead to more serious symptoms, and because it affects an estimated one in 12 Americans, it’s important to understand the health risks faced by those with hearing loss and respond effectively.

The answer may be as simple as wearing and using hearing devices. Researchers at the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics found that every single patient who wore hearing devices showed solid improvements in psychosocial and cognitive conditions in just three months. Furthermore, a 25-year study published in 2015 in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society found the brain health of people 65 and older who did not wear hearing devices to correct their hearing loss tested at much lower rates than their counterparts who used devices.

Though patients should discuss any hearing difficulties with their primary care physician during checkups, the signs of hearing loss are often noticed first by friends and family. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has established guidelines for determining when an individual should seek a hearing evaluation. Signs to look for include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially when background noise is present.
  • The individual isolates themselves from social gatherings and public situations.
  • They watch television or listen to music at a much louder volume than normal.
  • They often ask people to repeat themselves.

Like any condition, the cause should be the primary focus of treatment. For many, using a hearing device will greatly improve their depression symptoms. Because mental health affects so many other facets of an otherwise healthy lifestyle, it’s important to encourage loved ones suffering from depression to seek treatment. Even mild forms of hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of negative emotional experiences. The sooner these are discovered, the better the odds of successful treatment. When you notice them, discuss any signs of hearing loss with a physician and ask for a referral to an audiologist who can complete and in-depth hearing evaluation. 

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