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Hearing Loss

Hunting & Hearing Loss: What You Need To Know

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Can You Get a Tax Break if You Bought Hearing Aids Last Year?

The April 15th tax deadline is getting closer, and you may be finalizing your tax returns. When you’re looking at potential deductions, did you know that hearing aids could be tax deductible?

If you itemize medical deductions on your federal income taxes, you could deduct your hearing aids. It can be a great way to save money on life-changing investment you’ve made. Here’s how to save money on taxes with hearing aids.

Itemize Medical Expenses

Do you plan to itemize your medical expenses for the 2018 tax year? This is the first step you must take before you can deduct the cost of your hearing aids. If your total out-of-pocket healthcare expenses exceeded 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2018, you can itemize any expenditures above 7.5% on your tax return. Perhaps you had a few large healthcare expenses in 2018; by itemizing them you’ll increase your tax deduction. Some expenses you could itemize include:

  • Visit to the optician (and new glasses if you had to buy a new pair)
  • Visit to the dentist / dental surgery
  • Surgery
  • Medical equipment (for example a new wheelchair)
  • Hearing aids and some accessories

NOTE: The threshold for healthcare expenses relative to AGI increases to 10% for the 2019 tax year. To see if itemizing your medical expenses makes sense of the 2018 tax year, we recommend speaking to a financial or tax advisor.

Hearing Aid Tax Deductions

Once you’ve started itemizing your medical expenses, you can deduce a variety of hearing-related expenses. As long as you still have the receipts, this can include?

  • Hearing aids, batteries, maintenance costs and / or repairs.
  • A guide dog, including veterinary, food and grooming expenses.
  • Hearing assessments or exams.
  • Home adaptations such as custom doorbells, specially-adapted burglar alarms or smoke detectors.
  • Equipment for your phone, such as captioned phones, teleprinters.
  • Televisions or accessories that amplify sound, provide closed captions.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Do not include medical insurance coverage that has been provided by your employer.
  • Deduction rates may differ if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • You can only deduct the costs of hearing aids (or other related expenses) for another person in the household if you claim them as a dependent.

Donate Your Hearing Aids

If you’ve decided that you’re going to upgrade your hearing devices in 2019, why not consider donating your old hearing aids? These donations could be eligible for a deduction on your 2019 taxes if you donate through charities like the Lion’s Club’s HARP Program. Your deduction would be dependant on the value of your hearing aids at the time of donation.

Further Resources

Looking for more information on what you can count as a medical expense? See Can I Deduct My Medical and Dental Expenses? and further details on Medical and Dental Expenses.

Hopefully this has shown you how to save money on your taxes with hearing aids. To maximize your savings, we recommend speaking to a tax advisor. If you’re already thinking ahead to your 2019 tax returns, start keeping all of your receipts from now. And when you’re ready to book in your annual hearing assessment, come in and visit the team at Clear Wave Hearing. Call us on (507) 208-7002 or click here to request an appointment today.

Posted by Admin

How To Protect Your Hearing Aids In Cold Weather

You may already know that the cold weather can impact your hearing. But did you that it can also impact your hearing aids? Hearing aids are useful devices, but to function at their best they require care and attention. The sensitive electronics inside your hearing device should be protected from freezing temperatures and moisture. Because moisture is often present in colder weather, winter can be challenging. Here are a few ways you can protect your hearing aids in cold weather.

When You’re Outdoors

If you’re planning on braving the cold outside, there are a few things you can do to protect your hearing aids:

  • Keep your hearing aids covered when outdoors. Use hats, scarves, earmuffs, sweatbands or headbands to keep the devices from becoming too cold or wet. Look for fabrics that breathe, to prevent perspiration. Earmuffs that reduce high levels of noise are also available.
  • The cold itself can slow or drain your device’s batteries. Keep spare batteries with you in case you need to change them out.
  • Check the IP level of your device, consider purchasing a more water resistant one.
  • Remove your hearing aids if you’re planning on any winter sports, such as snowboarding or skiing.

When You’re Indoors

You’ve taken the necessary precautions when outdoors, but there are also things you can to do protect your devices when you’re indoors:

  • Remove batteries overnight, store in a cool, not cold, area to safely dry.
  • To keep your hearing aids working longer, you may also consider using a hearing aid dehumidifier or dry aid kit overnight.
  • Do a quick sound check when you put your devices in. Rub your hands together near each ear. Can you hear this on both sides?
  • Avoid wearing your device in humid environments or whilst near water i.e swimming, showering and when playing sports.
  • Whilst indoors, wipe away moisture from your hearing aids by drying the outer shell and the battery compartment. A cotton swab should do the trick.

General Guidance

  • Be aware of excessive noise and adjust your settings accordingly or wear ear plugs.
  • If your hearing aid is quiet or creating crackling noises during the winter, you may be experiencing issues related to moisture exposure. Try to carefully dry it. You may also want to arrange for us to take a look for you.

The above tips will help to protect your hearing aids in the cold weather. If you’d like further tips on keeping your hearing aids clean, check out our Hearing Aid Maintenance guide. If you’re concerned that the cold weather has affected your hearing, call us on (507) 208-7002 or click here to request an appointment today.

Posted by Admin

Hunting & Hearing Loss: What You Need To Know

Shooting and hunting are a popular pastime in the U.S.A, with over 13 million people engaging in the activity each year. For hunters, a keen sense of hearing is an important asset. Although silence is the name of the game in hunting, periodic and dangerous noise from gunshots can post a threat to your hearing. Let’s look at some of the key facts about hunting and hearing loss.

The Research

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin aimed to look at the relationship between recreational firearm use and high-frequency hearing loss in older adults. Surveying 3,753 participants, the study showed that men aged 48 to 92 who hunted regularly were more likely to experience high-frequency hearing loss. The risk of hearing loss increased by 7% for every 5 years a man had been hunting.

Perhaps the most alarming result, is that of the study participants, “38 percent of the target shooters and 95 percent of the hunters reported never wearing hearing protection while shooting in the past year.”

Hunting & Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is one of the most common forms of hearing loss. It is also preventable. NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, such as a gunshot or explosion. It may also be caused by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) notes that “long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.” A single shot from a gun can range between 140-190 decibels, loud enough to cause immediate damage to your hearing. The shot doesn’t have to be fired right next to you, either. Gunshots that are up to 100 feet away can have an impact on your hearing, especially if exposure happens repeatedly and over a prolonged period.

Hunter’s with NIHL may notice that their hearing loss is asymmetrical, that is, worse in one ear than the other. This is the result of a phenomenon known as “acoustic shadow.” Right-handed shooters shoulder their gun on the right. The right ear is tucked into the shoulder, while the left ear is closer to the barrel of the gun. In this instance, the hearing loss would be more severe in the left ear, as the right falls within the head’s acoustic shadow.

Protecting Your Hearing While Hunting

Using appropriate ear protection when hunting is a must. But there are also other steps you can take to help reduce the risks to your hearing when hunting:

  1. Suppress The Noise – In Minnesota, firearms suppressors, also known as silencers, were legalized in 2015. A silencer will help to reduce the volume of a gunshot, and thereby the risk to your hearing. It’s worth noting that gun suppressors are not legal in every state, so do ensure you check your local state laws. Even with the use of a gun suppressor, we still recommend ear protection.
  2. Practice Quiet Time – Even if you are using hearing protection, prolonged exposure to firearms can damage your hearing. You can help to further reduce the risk of hearing loss by taking a timeout between rounds. If you can do so in a quiet area, even better. Give yourself 5 – 10 minutes to let your ears rest.
  3. Wear Protection – Even if you’re not shooting, if you’re out with a group or at the shooting range your ears can be exposed to dangerous volumes. Keep your hearing protection in at all times.

Can You Hunt If You Wear Hearing Aids?

Being a hearing aid wearer doesn’t immediately exclude you from hunting. It does, however, pose some challenges. Rapid, loud noises such as a gunshot can overload the microphone on your hearing aid, making them ineffective. And if your hearing aid includes a noise-cancelling feature, don’t immediately assume that it will protect your ears against gunfire. If you’re a hearing aid wearer but want to continue hunting, we recommend booking in an appointment with the team at Clear Wave Hearing Center. We’ll be happy to discuss the options that are available to you.

Hunting doesn’t have to result in a hearing loss. Protect your hearing with the tips above, and you’ll be able to enjoy many years of hunting. If you’d like to discuss any of the above information in further detail, why not schedule an appointment? Call today on (507) 208-7002, or click here to request an appointment.

Posted by Admin

Can Cold Weather Affect Hearing Loss Or Tinnitus?

In Minnesota, we’re all familiar with long, cold winters. We’re pros at bundling up; warm sweaters, cosy scarves and hats are closest must-haves. But did you know that cold weather can affect your hearing? Cold temperatures can cause physical changes in your ear which can result in pain, tinnitus, dizziness, and sometimes hearing loss.

Cold Weather & Your Hearing

Exostosis of the ear canal is a condition involving abnormal bone growth in the ear canal. Also known as surfer’s ear, it is one of the more severe, yet preventable conditions that can be caused by repeatedly exposing the ears to extreme cold weather.

Surfer’s ear is the result of your body trying to protect your ears from cold water and wind. It often involves bone growing on top of an existing bone. It causes the bone surrounding your ear canal to thicken, which can impact your hearing. It increases risk of infection, and a common symptom of exostosis are frequent ear infections.

As the name would suggest, it’s a condition most common in surfer’s. It can, however, also develop if you do not appropriately protect your ears in the cold weather. Surfer’s ear is known to cause tinnitus, and can in some cases cause hearing loss. Preventative measures include keeping your ears warm with a long hat or ear warmers. If you plan on swimming, wear a cap or surf plugs.

Cold Weather & Tinnitus

In 2015, the European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology published a research study that looked at links between seasons and Google searches for the phrase ‘Tinnitus.’ According to the study, “Our findings indicate that there are significant seasonal trends for Internet search queries for tinnitus, with a zenith in winter months.” Although more research into this needed, the results correlate to some of the more common things associated with winter that link to tinnitus:

  • Cold and flu – Congestion and sinus pressure, common symptoms of a cold or flu, can worsen the perception of tinnitus.
  • Reduced physical activity – Lower levels of physical activity can lead to higher blood pressure. High blood pressure and hypertension are both known to make tinnitus more noticeable. [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156]
  • Depression and stress – The holiday season can be a stressful time for many of us. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects people most commonly in the winter, and can result in depression. Both stress and depression are known to have links to tinnitus

Cold Weather & Hearing Aids

Cold, damp weather can cause condensation inside hearing aids, which can lead to water damage. Hearing aid batteries can also be affected by the cold, so make sure to keep extra spare batteries during the colder months.

Here are some tips to protect your device from moisture:

  • Check the IP level of your device, consider purchasing a more water resistant one.
  • Remove the batteries overnight.
  • Wear a hearing aid sweatband whilst wrapped up.
  • Use a dry aid kit overnight.

We’ve still got a few cold months ahead of us. But don’t let that get you down! Follow the tips above to protect your hearing and your hearing aids during the winter. If you’d like to discuss any of the above information in further detail, why not schedule an appointment? Call today on (507) 208-7002, or click here to request an appointment.

Posted by Admin

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