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How to Get a Tax Deduction for Hearing Aids

Have you bought hearing aids for yourself or a dependent in your immediate family in the past year? Do you still have the receipts? You may be pleased to hear that hearing aids are tax deductible if you’re itemizing medical expenses on your 2018 federal income taxes. In fact, you can also claim for associated costs such as hearing aid batteries. Below we explain more about how to get a tax deduction for hearing aids this tax season.

How To Claim 

Before you begin itemizing your medical expenses for the past year, you must first determine if it makes sense to do so. If your total out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in 2018 exceeded 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), any medical expenditures above 7.5% can be itemized on your tax return. This threshold increases to 10% for the 2019 tax year, so take advantage of this opportunity if you are able to. To ensure you’re maximizing your potential deductions, we recommend speaking to a tax adviser to determine if itemizing your medical expenses makes sense for your 2018 tax returns.

Typical Hearing Related Items You Can Claim For:

  • Hearing aids, batteries and associated costs for maintenance & repairs.
  • Equipment to connect with your phone i.e. captioned phones, phones with special ringers, or teleprinters. Associated repairs costs may be covered also.
  • Televisions and sound amplifying accessories. Closed caption provision as any repair costs
  • A guide dog plus veterinary, grooming and food expenses.
  • Rewiring your home with special smoke detectors, burglar alarms, alert systems or doorbells.

You May Not Claim:

  • Any medical insurance coverage provided by your employer.
  • If you’ve purchased hearing aids for a member of your household, you may only claim these on your tax returns if that individual is your dependant.

These resources will clarify what to deduct Interactive Tax Assistant and IRS list.

Note: If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), we recommend speaking to a tax advisor as deduction rates differ. If this is your first claim or you have tax related questions, please consult a professional for advice.

Charitable Donations

Another way to receive a deduction is through a non-cash donation to a qualified organization such as Lion’s Club’s HARP Program. Bear in mind, the rate of deduction is relative to the market value of the donated device at the time of donation.   

Don’t let cost prevent you from the hearing care that you deserve. For more than 25 years, Sutton Hearing & Balance has provided comprehensive hearing care services to patients in Manhattan and across the five boroughs. To arrange an appointment with our experienced audiologist Dr. Aaron Krasnick, please call (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.

Posted by Admin

8 Tips To Help Get Used To New Hearing Aids

If you have a hearing loss and have become accustomed to living with it, introducing hearing aids and hearing sounds you’ve been missing can be overwhelming. Don’t let this be a reason that you delay seeking treatment. With a little bit of time and some tips to help you on your way, you’ll soon be used to your new hearing aids. And once you’ve heard what you’ve been missing, there’s no turning back! Here are 8 tips to help you get used to your new hearing aids.

  1. Begin in A Quiet Room. The first time you put your hearing aids on, we recommend that you sit in a quiet room in your house. This gives you time to adjust to the new sounds in an environment that you’re comfortable with. Don’t be surprised – some sounds may seem very loud! This is normal, and your brain will learn to adjust.
  2. Start Slowly. It will take your brain some time to identify and interpret the new sounds that you’re able to hear again. Start slowly by wearing your hearing aids for a couple of hours in the day. As you become more accustomed to the sounds, you can increase the time that you’re wearing them.
  3. Avoid Playing With Volume Settings. You should not need to manually adjust the volume on your hearing aids very often. Many hearing aids will automatically adjust the volume depending on the different listening situations you are in. If you find you do need to increase the volume on your device, don’t put it up too much.
  4. Read Aloud. With a hearing loss, we often don’t realise how loud our speaking volume has become. Your new hearing aids can help you to regulate the volume that you’re speaking at and help you stop shouting. Try reading aloud to determine what a ‘normal’ volume for your voice should be. Reading aloud has the added bonus of retraining your brain to recognize particular words and speech patterns again.
  5. Watch The TV With Closed-Captioning or Subtitles. Just as reading out loud has the added benefit of helping you discern words and speech patterns, so does watching (and listening) to the TV with closed-captioning or subtitles.
  6. Exercise Your Hearing. Sit in a room in your house, and close your eyes. Listen to the environment around you. Try to determine what direction a sound is coming from.
  7. Use Available Technology. Many hearing aid devices use Telecoil Technology or Telecoil Mode which allows them to wirelessly connect to other electronic devices. Hearing aids that include this feature can connect to smartphones, computers, microphones and other compatible devices. The sounds are then transmitted directly into your hearing aid.
  8. Remain Patient. Getting use to new hearing aids takes time, so remember to be patient!

Hearing aids can change your life, but they do take some getting used to. If you wish to discuss which hearing aid best fits your lifestyle, the hearing care professionals at Sutton Hearing & Balance are on hand to help. Give our team a call on (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.

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4 Reasons Your Ears May Feel Clogged

Although a clogged ear may not be painful, muffled sounds and difficulty hearing can be inconvenient. There may be times when you’ve intentionally clogged your ear, for example if you’re wearing earplugs. But what can cause that clogged feeling if it doesn’t appear that there is anything in your ear canal? Here are 4 reasons your ears may feel clogged.

  1. Impacted Earwax

Earwax is normally your body’s way of protecting your ears. By trapping dirt and pollutants, it works as a self-cleaning agent for your ear. Earwax can occasionally become impacted, which can impact your hearing.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery highlights that earwax may be causing a problem if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Your ear feels clogged
  • Partial hearing loss
  • Earache
  • Discharge, itching or an odor
  • Coughing
  • Tinnitus

We do not recommend trying to remove the earwax yourself. It is always best to have this assessed by a professional to avoid injuring your ear. If you suspect that you have impacted earwax, book in an appointment with the hearing healthcare professionals at Sutton Hearing & Balance.

  1. Blocked Eustachian Tube

The Eustachian tubes, also known as the auditory tubes or pharyngotympanic tubes, are small tubes that run between your nasopharynx in your upper throat and your middle ear space. The tubes equalize the pressure in your ear, and drain fluid from the middle ear. Mucus and fluid flow to the back of the throat through these tubes, where it’s swallowed. The Eustachian tubes generally remain closed except for when you’re swallowing, chewing or yawning.

This fluid can occasionally get trapped in the middle ear, clogging your ear. This is generally the result of an infection, the type commonly caused by a cold, the flu or sinusitis. Along with a feeling of a clogged ear, other symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat

Trapped fluid in your Eustachian tube can cause an ear infection. If you’re concerned about the severity of your symptoms, or if they’ve lasted for longer than 2 weeks, we recommend speaking to your doctor.

  1. Fluid In Your Ear

Fluid in your ears can be a painful condition that can develop for a number of reasons:

  • Swimming
  • Bathing
  • Moist environments
  • Ear infection

If you have been swimming or bathing and feel like you have fluid in your ear, you can try to drain it yourself. Tilt your head slightly to the side. Gently tug on your earlobe to release the fluid. In the case of an ear infection, the fluid will build-up behind the eardrum. If the pain in your ear is severe, or if your symptoms persist, speak to your doctor.

  1. Noise Induced Hearing Loss

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) affects as many as 40 million Americans. NIHL can be caused by exposure to loud noise over a prolonged period of time, or sudden exposure to an extremely loud noise, like a gunshot or explosion.

If you feel like your ears are clogged after a loud night at a music festival or sports event, you may have been exposed to excessive noise. The symptoms will generally clear within 48 hours, but we recommend you take preventative measures to reduce your risk of NIHL.

If you feel like your ears are clogged and would like to discuss further, our hearing care professionals are on hand to help. Call us today on (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment.

Posted by Admin

Can the Food You Eat Worsen Symptoms of Tinnitus?

You’ve likely heard the expression “You are what you eat.” Both the quality and the quantity of the food that we eat on a daily basis can impact our overall health. This includes the health of your ears. But can the food you eat worsen or improve symptoms of tinnitus?

In 2013, the International Journal of Audiology showed that people who consumed better quality calories had better hearing. Why is this significant? There is increasing evidence that shows people with tinnitus likely also have a hearing loss [https://www.hear-it.org/people-tinnitus-also-often-experience-hearing-loss].

Although the American Tinnitus Association states, “There is scant evidence directly connecting specific foods (or the exclusion of specific foods) to improved tinnitus symptoms” they also highlight: “A health-conscious diet can reduce hypertension and weight, increase blood flow, heighten energy levels and improve emotional well-being — all of which can benefit your tinnitus.” [source: https://www.ata.org/managing-your-tinnitus/treatment-options/general-wellness]

Simply put, good nutrition can benefit your body and mind, which in turn could reduce your tinnitus symptoms. Let’s explore the foods you should consider reducing or increasing.

Foods To Consider Reducing 

  • Salt can restrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure and restrict blood flow to the ears and brain. (Note: canned and processed foods often have high salt content.)
  • Caffeine studies have mixed results. Some people find it improves their symptoms, others report experiencing negative effects.
  • Alcohol could worsen or make you more aware of symptoms. Monitor your intake and adjust your levels of consumption accordingly.
  • Excess sugar in the blood supply could damage nerves and blood vessels. A subsequent impact could be reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to the ears and brain.
  • Trans fat or Saturated fat could reduce blood flow. Reducing your intake has several health benefits.
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer found in a lot of pre-packaged and processed food. It is an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it excites brain neurons and increases the levels of electrical activity in the brain. This includes the auditory cortex, the area of the brain where tinnitus is perceived.

Foods To Consider Increasing 

  • Zinc can help improve symptoms of tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2786676], zinc deficiency is one causation of age-related hearing loss. By recognizing and correcting it, a progressive hearing loss can be arrested. Try: dark chocolate, cashews, beef, dried cranberries.
  • Magnesium by its neuroprotective and vasodilatory effects, has the potency to prevent or limit hearing loss. Its effects are shown to be particularly evident after noise exposure or sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Potassium helps to regulate fluids in your body (such as in your ears). Try: bananas, potatoes, pineapple, artichokes or broccoli.
  • Omega 3 and Vitamin D help brain function, studies [source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264778/] show eating fish twice per week can have a 42% lower chance of age-related hearing loss and reduce the risk of persistent tinnitus. Try: salmon, sardines, flaxseed oil.
  • Antioxidants and folic acid can reduce the number of free radicals in your body (which could damage the delicate tissues in your ears). Try: spinach, beans, broccoli, asparagus, nuts, and liver.
  • Vitamins C and E are good for your overall health and reduce your risks of infection. Try: broccoli, citrus fruits, avocado and meats. 

Tinnitus is a heterogeneous condition, that is, symptoms differ from one individual to the next. We recommend keeping a food journal to note how much of a food or drink you have consumed and if your tinnitus symptoms were any different the following day. You may then try cutting out an item for one week, then reintroducing and monitoring symptoms again. This way you can tailor your diet to your symptoms and not unnecessarily limit your diet. If you would like to discuss your tinnitus symptoms further, or if you are due for a hearing assessment, please contact us on (212) 786-5741.

Posted by Admin

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