Categories
Hearing Loss

Seven Signs You Should Invest in a Hearing Evaluation

Listen up!

OK, turn down the TV for a minute if you have to, and listen up. Hearing loss isn’t just for older folks. It’s something that can happen to anyone. In fact, recent studies from 2010 have shown that roughly 25% of teenagers out there have a hearing loss as well. Now, with that said, this article is going to lay out the top seven signs to look for. Let’s begin.

#1: Clear background noise is disappearing

Envision you’re at a restaurant with a friend. You lean in to hear them and you can pick up what they’re saying, but without noticing it, you really can’t hear anything else going on around you. A waiter drops some dishes in the kitchen and, while most people’s heads turn, you haven’t a clue what happened. Or worse yet, you can pick up sound in background, but everything is completely distorted into one uncomfortable mass of sound. You can’t pick up anything specific even if you try.

#2: You use the words “Huh?” and “What?” too often

Has it become a really annoying habit? Are people close to you so used to it that they don’t even get annoyed anymore but expect it? If almost every single time someone says something to you (outside of direct conversation) the word “Huh?” comes out of your mouth, this is a clear sign that something is amiss.

#3: You’ve reverted to lip reading

Hearing loss is typically very gradual, like sight, and most folks haven’t a clue what’s going on until things have progressed rather far. Do you find yourself reading lips, body language, hand signals, and intonation rather than trying to hear what people are actually saying? Now, how about when you’re on the phone when those things aren’t possible?

#4: Your TV shakes the floorboards

This is incredibly common. Do people complain that when you’re given the remote control, the first thing you do is turn up the volume to a point where they think it’s overbearing but you think it’s just right? How about the radio, same thing? Another clear signal that you’re experiencing hearing loss.

#5: Constant misinterpretation

Instead of having to ask people to repeat themselves over and over again, your mind is trying to fill in the gaps. You hear one thing, but they actually said something completely different. Not only is this embarrassing more often than not, but also another sign that your ears need help!

#6: Women and children are impossible

Here’s the thing about hearing loss: It’s going to impact higher frequencies of speech first. That means younger children with high-pitched voices will be really hard to hear or understand, along with women as well. Oftentimes people with hearing loss will prefer to talk to the guys, especially the guys with deep voices.

#7: There’s this ringing sound in your ears

Are your ears ringing all the time? It’s annoying. Known as tinnitus, the most common reason for experiencing this condition is hearing loss.

Categories
Hearing Aids

Today’s Hearing Instruments Offer New Ways of Hearing Better

You might be surprised

If it’s been a few years since you’ve evaluated new hearing instruments, today’s technology options might surprise you. Tiny, feather-light options are now available that sit deep in the ear canal, provide powerful hearing assistance, and are nearly impossible to see, even in profile.

New wireless technology

But the gains are much more than cosmetic. You might be familiar with Bluetooth® from your mobile phone — the wireless connection that makes it possible to attach a hands-free headset to your mobile device. This same type of wireless technology is now available in hearing instruments, so you can receive an amplified signal directly in your ear from your mobile phone. Simple transmitters are also available to direct wireless signals to your hearing instruments from your TV or other media devices, so that you can enjoy clear, amplified sound through your hearing instruments without disturbing those around you.

A tremendous impact on hearing instruments

Perhaps more surprising is the way that wireless technology can help your hearing instruments perform better on their own. With two hearing devices that communicate wirelessly with one another, your hearing instruments can, for example, lower the volume in whichever ear is picking up more noise, or turn up the volume in the ear that is listening to speech. This type of “binaural hearing” assistance is having a tremendous impact on how well people are able to hear in crowded rooms and how well they are able to intuitively perceive the direction that sound is coming from — an important ability when trying to differentiate between multiple voices in a crowded setting.

We can help

The key to making all of this technology benefit you is to make sure you find an experienced professional who can properly measure your hearing loss and who will precisely program your hearing instruments to work in the settings where you need them most. AudigyCertified™ providers are among North America’s most respected independent hearing care professionals. They have been recognized for their commitment to hearing health and for creating effective better-hearing solutions for all lifestyles and budgets.

Take a test drive

Find out what’s missing from your hearing experience with a free, state-of-the-art hearing consultation, and test drive of the newest, most advanced hearing technology available. Whether you are new to hearing technology or a long-time user, there’s no better time to experience the latest developments in hearing technology.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Background Noise — Why There Is No Hiding From It

Background noise is a challenge for everyone

For most people, hearing in background noise is very difficult. For people with normal hearing, it is difficult, and for people with hearing loss, it is nearly impossible. Almost no one knows what goes on at a wedding reception because there are so many toasts, side conversations, and environmental sounds (like a band) to distract from the conversation that you want to hear.

Don’t despair

Hearing aid brochures are always claiming that their product has the newest technology and can get rid of background noise. Advertisements like that are overly optimistic and can fill a hearing-impaired person with false hope and ultimate disappointment. But don’t despair. There are solutions for hearing in background noise, but first you must understand the problem.

Compensating

When someone with normal hearing finds themselves in a difficult listening environment, they will subconsciously lean forward and pay close attention to the speaker. The normal hearer may miss 20% or 30% of what the speaker is saying because of the background or ambient noise, but they get 70%–80%, so their brains will help fill in the blanks.

Even a quiet environment can be a challenge

When you have a hearing loss, depending on the amount of loss, you might miss 50% or 60% of a conversation in a quiet environment. With hearing aids properly fit, you can improve that significantly, then missing only 20%–30% of the conversation. Again, this is fairly easy to fill in. But remember, this is in a quiet environment. Now we are going to put you in that noisy environment with your normal-hearing friend. Remember, you were missing some conversation before the background noise started. Now you are going to miss an additional 20%–30% just like your friend, but when you add that to the 20%–30% you were missing in the quiet environment, the gaps can become too big to fill in.

Technology alone isn’t enough

The problem with the misleading advertising is not that the technology is not good. In fact, hearing aid technologies are indeed better than they have ever been. There are superior noise reduction circuits and speech recognition circuits, but what is misleading is that you still have impaired hearing. Technology is not enough. If your provider doesn’t carefully review your hearing loss with you, then you may find yourself with expectations that cannot be met. Critical to the success of any hearing aid fitting is a thorough understanding of your hearing loss and expectations. Hearing aids might only be part of the solution. Changes in your communication strategies, such as sitting in the corner of the restaurant or in a booth, may also be helpful.

New devices available

There are some wonderful assistive devices that can enhance the use of your hearing aids by connecting you directly to your TV, telephone, or to your significant other via microphone. Recently there was a wonderful story on Public Radio addressing hearing aid technologies and some of these assistive devices. To read the article, click here!

We can help

If you would like to discuss these wonderful advances in technology or just review your hearing status, please call and make an appointment with your AudigyCertified™ provider. We are happy to review what options might be best for you.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Hearing Matters

Millions affected by hearing loss

According to estimates, hearing loss affects about 48 million people in the U.S. Knowing where to go or who to turn can be difficult, and is undoubtedly an important life decision. Unfortunately, many people choose to attempt to take care of their hearing loss on their own — or ignore it entirely. Occasionally, some folks can find some degree of relief from their hearing loss at the consumer level, but this is hardly the case for the vast majority of those who suffer from hearing loss.

Self diagnosis can lead to risk

Consider the increasing popularity of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) as a cheap substitute for precision hearing aids with advanced technology. There are a number of reasons why a person who suspects they have hearing loss would begin their search for a solution online — after all, that’s the typical course of action for consumers today. For medical product needs, consumers who self-diagnose may be doing themselves more harm than good. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs due to prolonged exposure to high volumes of sound. Rather than amplify only the correct tones that correspond to a specific hearing loss, PSAPs and one-size-fits-all hearing aids amplify all noises — both wanted and unwanted — leading to greater risk of damage to the delicate inner ear cells.

Proper fit is a key component to success

When a patient visits a doctor of audiology, they are tested with professional diagnostic equipment, and they learn about their specific hearing loss. Some online hearing aid retailers offer a generic hearing test that automatically programs a hearing aid to a general setting, and once the buyer receives their hearing aid, that’s it — no follow-up care, no cleanings, and minimal instruction for use and maintenance. The buyer is left with a unit that neither fits their ear nor offers a real solution to their unique hearing loss. Leading consumer advocacy groups have suggested that most hearing aid users choose not to wear them because they fit uncomfortably — incorrectly — or do not provide a clear hearing benefit. Over time, money saved by purchasing a cheaper hearing aid typically proves to be money wasted.

Proper diagnosis cannot be done at a retail site

Prior to considering hearing aids, it is critical that a doctor of audiology rule out any serious health conditions or disorders related to the ear or hearing. This cannot be done online or at a retail site. Consumers should also look for a practice that focuses on building relationships with patients. A visit to a doctor of audiology will allow the doctor to get to know the patients’ lifestyles and interests, helping the patient communicate their best in the situations that are most important to them: church, restaurants, or conversations with their grandchildren. Often, these practices will also offer valuable warranties, proper follow-up care to ensure correct fitting, and will adjust and reprogram hearing aids as the patient’s ear changes responsiveness to the proper tones.

It’s about more than just price

Complete and professional hearing care is the most important consideration when seeking treatment for hearing health. The cost of missing out on powerful life moments due to hearing loss is immeasurable. Choosing a hearing aid based on price, rather than specific hearing needs, is a mistake. The most important moments in life can’t be measured monetarily. The reward of fully experiencing those moments is well worth seeking out a doctor of audiology for complete care of your hearing health.

Categories
Hearing Loss

Should I Bring a Companion for My Hearing Visit ?

We welcome companions

At AudigyCertified™ practices, we enthusiastically welcome companions to accompany patients throughout the hearing evaluation and treatment process. While hearing loss is a physical impairment, the social result is a communication disability. We jokingly sometimes say, “Hermits don’t need hearing aids.”  99.9% of our patients get hearing aids because they want to hear people better, especially their closest companions.

The people we live with are our most important communication partners. We rely on them for information, entertainment, and basic human contact. These are the people we spend most of our time with and, consequently, are the most important to us. We share our hopes, frustrations, fears, excitement, and day-to-day lives with them.  Hearing well is crucial for this most important human connection to flourish.

Companions are an important part of the evaluation

Hearing loss is gradual, and it is rarely painful.  It is so gradual that often the individual doesn’t even realize it is happening. The companion usually recognizes the initial symptoms when the individual misunderstands or struggles in certain situations. As the loss progresses, the companions often feel frustrated by having to repeat themselves, listen to the TV too loud, or help fill in the blanks in social situations.

Companion’s point of view is helpful

On the other hand, the person with hearing loss probably doesn’t recognize the depth of his or her loss. It just appears that others aren’t speaking loudly or clearly. People with hearing loss might not realize how much they miss, and that can become a point of contention in their relationships with those closest to them. Companions can be very helpful in describing these issues during the appointment. The audiologist can then help sort out how hearing loss may or may not contribute to the communication problems.

There might be other issues — such as poor speech understanding, processing (neurological) disorders, or medical issues — that complicate the prognosis. Again, that special companion needs to be present to understand what can and cannot be done to best serve the patient.

Realistic expectations are important

Hearing aids are not a cure; they do not bring dead nerve cells back to life. If hearing aids are prescribed, both patient and companion need to understand what they can and cannot do. Understanding the patient’s hearing loss, accepting realistic expectations, and learning other communication strategies are often just as important to success as being fit with hearing aids.

Shared knowledge is key

Amplification is expensive.  Both the patient and companion must decide what investment is right for them.  The companion helps us decide what the patient’s lifestyle is like so that we know what level of technology is best. All our patients receive trial periods with their instruments, and the companion is critical in determining our success in meeting the communication goals.

By having the same knowledge base, families are able to go through the trial period in a much more effective way.  Sharing insights and experiences with the professional during follow-up visits is extremely helpful in making adjustments and discussing alternative strategies.

Companions enhance the process

Evaluating hearing loss, recommending an individualized solution, going through the fitting of instruments, making follow-up adjustments, understanding benefits as well as limitations, and adopting other strategies for improved communications constitute a process that far exceeds the purchase of a simple product. The results are well worth the effort, and those results are immensely enhanced when the patient and companion work together as a team with their provider.