Dr. Rachel Burnett, Au.D.

Dr. Rachel Burnett, Au.D.

Dr. Rachel Burnett is the audiologist currently seeing patients at Mission Audiology, located at 26302 La Paz Road, Suite 107 in Mission Viejo.
Phone: (949) 855-7898 or visit www.soundwavehearingcenter.com

As part of Better Hearing Month, Mission Audiology is encouraging consumers to be more aware of their hearing health. Hearing loss currently affects more than 36 million Americans today.

Although hearing loss is commonly associated with the normal aging process, more than half of all hearing-impaired individuals are younger than 65 years of age. However, with the increased use of personal music players (MP3s) and earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing. On average, most Americans consider hearing loss a condition that is simply associated with aging, and don’t know how to recognize the condition or who is qualified to diagnose and treat the condition. In an effort to raise public awareness for the growing number of Americans experiencing hearing loss, the American Academy of Audiology in conjunction with Mission Audiology is celebrating Better Hearing Month this May.

Three Monkey Poster Raise Awareness“Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises; ear infections, trauma, or ear disease; harm to the inner ear and ear drum; illness or certain medications; and deterioration due to normal aging process,” explains Rachel Burnett, Au.D. “By monitoring hearing regularly and treating hearing loss, people remain connected to their loved ones and social activities.”

The first step in the treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist. An audiologist is a highly educated and clinically experienced health-care professional who specializes in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating individuals with hearing loss and balance disorders. Hearing loss can affect patients of all ages—newborns, infants, babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and the elderly.

There may be sounds outside of your hearing range if you are having trouble hearing conversations in a noisy environment such as a restaurant, are unable to hear people talk to you without looking at them, or have a constant ringing or pain in your ears.

Although most hearing loss is permanent, an audiologist can determine the best treatment, which may include hearing aids, assistive listening devices, hearing rehabilitation or other referrals.

To celebrate Better Hearing Month, Mission Audiology is providing complimentary consultations and hearing screenings. To learn more visit missionaudiology.com or call 949-855-7898.

As the colder and wetter weather approaches us, it is time to think about taking extra care of your hearing aids during these months.

While Southern California may not experience a significant change in weather, many people travel during the holiday season to other areas of the country with colder temperatures and even snow. Below are some tips to ensure optimal hearing no matter where you are during the holiday season.

1. The colder weather may have you donning extra layers of clothes: hats, scarves and heavier jackets. Remember to be extra careful when putting on or removing these articles of clothing as they may snag on your hearing aids. When using these extra layers, be sure to check that your hearing aids are secure on your ears. If you desire greater security, your audiologist can recommend retention products to help hold your hearing aids in place.

2. Because moisture is in the air due to snow and rain during the winter months, it is important to protect your devices by covering them up. Utilizing umbrellas, earmuffs, or hats help protect your hearing aids from excessive moisture. But remember, these same items may cause perspiration which can result in the accumulation of moisture in the hearing aids.

Some signs your hearing aids might be affected by moisture include:

a. Static

b. Distortion

c. Intermittent sound

If you experience any of these signs, open the battery door of your hearing aids and let them rest for a while to allow the moisture to evaporate. If you know you are going to be in environments with more moisture, ask your audiologist for a hearing aid dehumidifier that will help absorb moisture from your hearing aids.

3. Just like all electronics, extreme temperatures can affect hearing aids as well as their batteries. To protect your hearing aids and batteries from colder weather, store them in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing hearing aids in areas like the glove compartment of your car where they can be subjected to extreme temperatures. Because batteries can also be affected, carry extra batteries with you and remember to keep them dry.

We want your hearing aids to continue working at their best during this time of year when many people are gathering for holiday festivities. Be prepared and protect them to ensure that communication is not unexpectedly lost. Talk to your audiologist or come visit us at Mission Audiology to learn more about ways to protect your hearing aids.

Imagine you are in a crowded restaurant: music is playing, sports fans are cheering, and there is a large party next to you. You are with a couple of friends or loved ones enjoying your meal and conversing.

With all the noise, you might find yourself leaning in and straining to hear. Pretty difficult, right?

Now imagine that level of hearing difficulty in any given environment. This is what individuals with hearing loss experience in their daily lives. People with hearing loss have to put more effort and concentration into listening than someone with normal hearing, even in quiet situations. When someone lacks ease of listening, it affects a person’s quality of life. Hearing loss can negatively impact interpersonal relationships as well as physical, psychological, & cognitive well-being.

When there is an increased effort to hear, a person with hearing loss may experience physical consequences. For example, if someone is leaning in to hear, they might experience tense muscles in their shoulders and back. Increased concentration can also lead to headaches or stress. And, after a whole day of concentrating to hear, one might be overcome with fatigue because so much effort has gone into trying to hear a simple conversation.

Hearing loss also affects a person psychologically. Imagine that while in this noisy restaurant your friend tells a joke—everyone laughs. You, however, couldn’t hear the punch line so you “nod and smile.” Often, people with hearing loss will report feeling embarrassed or frustrated because they are not able to hear their friends, loved ones, or colleagues. They might miss part of a story, answer a question incorrectly or laugh at inappropriate times. As these feelings of embarrassment continue, they can develop into anxiety or personal insecurities. This can cause them to avoid difficult listening situations altogether.

Hearing difficulties can adversely affect interpersonal relationships. These may be relationships at home, at work and in social situations. In this same restaurant a neighbor spots you and attempts to say hello, but when you do not respond, they think you are ignoring them. A person may appear inattentive because they cannot hear that someone is speaking to them. Hearing difficulties don’t just affect the person with hearing loss; communication is a two way street. If two people are trying to have a conversation and one has to ask what was said multiple times, the struggle to communicate can be very frustrating for both people.

What if hearing was so difficult that you just stopped going to restaurants altogether? As people continue to have difficulty hearing, they may begin to withdraw from their once regular activities, resulting in isolation from social interactions. Such isolation can severely impact a person’s cognitive functioning. There is a strong correlation between hearing loss and the decline in cognitive function including a decrease in memory capacity and speech understanding. This occurs for two reasons:

  1. When hearing loss goes untreated, the hearing nerve that leads to the brain can weaken. As this occurs, the hearing nerve and brain have more difficulty processing information, thus affecting memory and speech understanding.
  2. As mentioned before, hearing loss can result in a person isolating oneself. Isolation is a risk factor for dementia due to the brain no longer being stimulated by social interactions or activities.

žAs you can see, hearing loss affects more than just the ears. Hearing loss is a multi-faceted problem that has significant negative effects on an individual’s overall well-being. From the time that someone has begun to notice a difficulty in their hearing, they wait an average of 7 years before seeking treatment. Too often, treatment is sought only after a person has withdrawn from activities they used to enjoy. At Mission Audiology, our goal is to provide treatment for an individual’s hearing loss so they can maintain their quality of life. The sooner hearing loss is treated, the less detrimental effects it will have on a person’s life.

Many times when patients come to Mission Audiology for a consultation they have done some research on hearing aids prior to their appointment.  Often, that research involves getting the opinions of friends or family that have hearing aids.

Patients then give me the mixed reviews: their friends love their hearing aids, they hate their hearing aids, the hearing aids whistle, their friends like a specific brand, and the list goes on and on. My next question is always “do you know what their hearing loss looks like?” The answer is always a resounding “no”. If we don’t know what someone else’s hearing loss looks like compared to your own, we don’t know if what they have will be the best solution for you.

An individual’s hearing loss is just one of the five aspects that is considered in a successful hearing aid fitting. With personalization of all areas of the hearing treatment, negative complaints can be avoided and optimal hearing can be achieved.

Lifestyle Assessment

A lifestyle assessment helps to identify the types of listening environments a patient is in and where they experience difficulty hearing. These listening environments may include TV, restaurants, family gatherings and other social events. This lifestyle analysis allows us to find a solution that is the best fit for the patient’s lifestyle needs. Fulfilling these needs may include the technology level, Bluetooth capabilities, iPhone hearing aids or extended wear hearing aids.

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can present itself if many different ways. There are different degrees and configurations of hearing loss, from mild to profound, which dictates what sounds the patient is missing in their daily life. Based on the patient’s individual hearing loss, we select the appropriate hearing aid that will benefit the patient now and in the future.

Hearing Aid Style

Hearing aid style is very important for all patients and there are many options to choose from. When selecting a hearing aid style we must consider cosmetics, dexterity, vision and hearing loss. Our goal is to find a hearing aid that the patient will be comfortable wearing and operating so it does not end up in a drawer.

The Physical Fit

Contrary to popular belief, a hearing aid should be comfortable. It should fit in the ear so it will not fall out, hurt, or whistle. If any of these are happening, then either the hearing aids are not appropriately fit or they are not the correct hearing aids for the patient. We work together with our patients to ensure that the hearing aids are not bothersome and are as comfortable as wearing a watch or glasses.

Sound Quality

At Mission Audiology, we use verification measures called Live Speech Mapping to achieve optimal sound quality. Live Speech Mapping is the only true way to verify that a hearing aid is performing in the ear correctly. If two people have the same hearing loss but have different ear canal sizes, the sound will act differently within that space. Therefore, Live Speech Mapping allows us to customize the sound, taking the individual’s hearing loss and ear canal size into account, to make sure sounds are audible and comfortable in volume.

All of these aspects must work together for a patient to achieve a successful hearing aid fitting. As you can see, due to these variables, what your friend needs to achieve optimal hearing may be vastly different than what you need. With different hearing losses, ear sizes, and lifestyle needs the only right solution for you is a personalized solution. We are in an age where technology allows for ease of listening in various environments. Complaints from the past should no longer be an issue with today’s technology and standards of care. At Mission Audiology we strive for personalized hearing using the best standards of care for optimal hearing.

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