Image of Northern Lights Homeless Shelter sign, Hearing Associates Summer Nonprofit beneficiary. Hearing Associates is donating a portion of all hearing aid sales and $20 for every free screening completed in July and August to Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless.

Northern Lights serves the needs of the homeless population in Mason City and eight surrounding counties, assisting approximately 500 clients per year. Operating with the promise to offer a hand up, not a handout, its mission is to provide safe, respectful, temporary shelter for people that have fallen into a homeless situation. The agency believes in the value, dignity and uniqueness of the whole person and strives to reflect that belief as it responds to the needs of those it serves.

Image of various pills that could be ototoxic and lead to hearing loss.Although medication can be a great thing in relieving our aches and pains, it can also lead to hearing loss.

More than 200 drugs – both prescription and over-the-counter – are known to be ototoxic, meaning they can cause hearing damage. Signs of ototoxicity include a feeling of fullness in the ears, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo or the inability to hear consonants such as T, S, F and Z.

Here are some commonly used medications that have been linked to ototoxicity:

Image of families watching fireworks.Summer brings with it a lot of fun events, including concerts, sporting events and Fourth of July parties.

While a blast, these events can also pose a risk to our hearing – the prolonged exposure to loud noises can damage the inner ear and potentially lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL can occur after just a brief exposure to loud sounds. The louder the sound, the quicker NIHL can set in.

Exposure to loud sounds can also result in tinnitus, a ringing or other noise in the ears. Tinnitus stemming from exposure to noise often occurs gradually, so you may not realize your ears are being damaged for quite some time.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can protect your hearing so that you can enjoy the fun of summer without doing irreparable damage.

Image of KIMT winner Aricka and Stu Trembath of Hearing Associates with her Oticon Hearing Aids.A high school valedictorian was the winner of a pair of hearing aids given in a contest conducted by Hearing Associates and KIMT to commemorate Better Hearing Month.

Aricka Oppman, 18, recently graduated at the top of her class. Her father, Travis, was among the 34 people who nominated her for the new hearing aids.

“I know there are many people out there that would benefit from a new pair of hearing aids,” Travis stated in his nomination. “I believe a new pair would benefit my daughter Aricka Oppman tremendously. She is 18 years old and about to graduate high school as the valedictorian of her class.”

Everyone who completed a survey to enter the giveaway earned a complimentary hearing evaluation.

Image of couple reading book, reducing risk of cognitive decline and brain atrophy. Brain atrophy is a normal part of the aging process.

Accelerated brain atrophy due to hearing loss is not normal. Fortunately, it can likely be minimized by addressing your hearing loss as you age.

Accelerated Loss of Brain Tissue

A study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging discovered that the loss of brain tissue appears to be accelerated in people with hearing loss. This finding is in addition to previous research showing a link between hearing loss and increased risks of dementia, falls, hospital visits and decreased physical and mental health.