Just as there are numerous reasons for hearing loss, there are several forms of hearing loss; understanding the way that we hear is the first step in understanding the different types. We collect sounds via the outer ear, which is not just the portion of the ear on the outside of our heads, but also the eardrum and the ear canal. In the middle ear 3 miniature bones called ossicles transfer sounds to the inner ear by converting them into vibrations.The inner ear has three key parts – the cochlea, the 2 semi-circular canals (essential for balance) and the acoustic nerves which transmit the impulses to the brain. All areas of the ear are complex and delicate. Problems in any of the 3 sections – outer, middle or inner ear – can cause hearing impairment. Hearing loss is usually broken down into four main classifications.
The first class is conductive hearing loss, which is due to a blockage or interference that prevents the sounds from being properly transmitted through the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing loss is frequently curable using medication or with a surgical procedure, and if neither succeeds, it is managed with hearing aids.
Sensorineural hearing loss generally refers to damage to the hair cells of the inner ear, to the cochlea, or sometimes to the acoustic nerves. This damage can in most cases not be effectively remedied by medication or surgery, but can be minimized through the use of hearing aids.
Suffering from both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss is called mixed hearing loss and is generally treated with a combination of medication, surgery, and hearing aids.
Damage to the inner ear or auditory nerves preventing a message from being understood by our brain that entered the ear normally, is called central hearing loss.
Spanning each of these four main classifications are sub-categories of degree, meaning that the hearing loss may be mid-level, moderate, severe, or profound. Hearing loss can also be classified as either unilateral or bilateral (occurring in only one ear or both ears), as pre-lingual or post-lingual (occurring either before or after learning to speak), and symmetrical or asymmetrical (occurring to the same or different degree in both ears). Additional sub-categories of hearing loss includes whether it is progressive vs. sudden, whether the hearing loss is fluctuating vs. stable, and whether the hearing loss was present at birth (congenital) or developed later in life (acquired). The most important thing to bear in mind, however, is that whatever type of hearing loss you may have incurred, our specialists can help you to diagnose and treat it properly.
Even though it seems to be a straightforward question to ask how long hearing aid batteries will last, it’s actually not. How long hearing aid batteries last depends on many factors. One consideration is the company manufacturing the hearing aid. Battery performance varies by manufacturer and also across models from the same manufacturer. The actual life span of a hearing aid battery also depends on the length of time each day that the hearing aid is turned on. As you would expect, the more you use your hearing aid, the faster the batteries will be used up.
There are even varying battery lives in the same size of hearing aid battery depending on the manufacturer, and depending on whether you’re buying that manufacturer’s “premium” line or their “normal” line of batteries. Some hearing aid batteries will not begin to drain their power resources until they’re inserted into a hearing aid that is powered on, but some (such as zinc-air batteries) will begin to burn power the instant you remove the adhesive covering on the bottom of the battery, and will continue to decline in power even if the hearing aid is not on.
If considering new hearing aids, it’s a good idea to do some research on the different models and the types of batteries they use to help you determine the best choice for your lifestyle. If you have an existing hearing aid and are searching for the longest lasting batteries for it, the Internet can be a fabulous source of comparative ratings and reports.
To make things somewhat easier for you, hearing aid batteries are available in 4 common sizes, each of which is marked with a specific color code, which is always the same no matter who the manufacturer is. The times listed below for each size are estimates, but can give you a basic idea of how long hearing aid batteries of each size should last given normal use:
- Yellow – Size 10 about 80 hours
- Orange – Size 13 about 240 hours
- Brown – Size 312 about 175 hours
- Blue – Size 675 about 300 hours
To ensure the longest life for your hearing aid batteries when they are in the hearing aid, turn the device off when you’re not using it. Store your unused batteries at room temperature, indoors, and in their original, unopened packaging to ensure their longest possible life.
Tinnitus is unfortunately a common condition, affecting an estimated 50 million Americans over 50. Tinnitus sufferers hear constant sounds in their heads that others can’t hear such as buzzing, clicking, ringing, humming or whistling. Tinnitus is often known by its slang name – ringing-in-the-ears. Sometimes, the tinnitus is a minor nuisance, while in severe cases it is terribly debilitating. Persistent tinnitus often leads to other problems such as sleeping disorders, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Some forms of tinnitus respond well to treatment with hearing aids which are programmed to filter and suppress the ringing or buzzing sounds. In this article, we want to introduce you to an alternative tinnitus treatment known as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). TRT can enable people suffering from tinnitus to use a combination of mechanisms to “retrain” their brains to reduce their perception of these sounds, eliminate their negative reactions to them, and eventually end their perception of them.
Discovered in the 1980s by neuroscientist Pawel Jastreboff, TRT challenges the assumptions of many audiologists that tinnitus is a physical disorder due to ear damage that cannot be fixed. While damage to the ears – for example, exposure to loud noises for long periods of time – is often a cause of tinnitus, Jastreboff drew upon his training in neuroscience to propose an alternative behavioral neuro-physical model that explained the condition. Firmly believing that the condition could be fixed, he focused his efforts on developing behavior modification techniques.
The basic assumption of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is that the tinnitus is not a disease per se, but a reflection of hyperacusis – a person’s innate ability to hear normal sounds generated by the auditory system that others cannot hear. In other words, it’s not the sounds themselves that are a problem, just the distress and over reaction to hearing them. Only people who have been trained in how to administer the TRT training can lead the counseling sessions, which use precise and individually-tuned techniques of training and sound therapy to teach people to eliminate their over reactions to the sounds they don’t want to hear, and instead focus on sounds they do want to hear.
Counselors trained in TRT have had remarkable successes helping patient eliminate their negative reactions to the sounds they hear, thereby relieving distress.
If you are finding it harder to hear ladies voices or children’s voices than to hear male voices, it could be an indication that you’ve suffered some degree of high-frequency hearing loss. Men’s voices generally fit in the frequency range of 85 to 180 Hertz, while women’s and children’s voices have a frequency range of 165 to 255 Hz. Another thing that may make women’s and children’s voices more difficult to hear is that they are generally softer than men’s voices. By making an appointment with one of our hearing specialists you can find out for sure what the nature of the problem is, and how to best treat it.
If it turns out to be high-frequency hearing loss, you’re not alone; this is the most common form of hearing loss. High-frequency hearing loss can have many causes: genetics, aging, noise-induced hearing loss (exposure to loud sounds), certain diseases, and certain drugs. But whatever the cause, the important thing is that as a result of technological advances, hearing loss can be treated.
Digital hearing aids are an effective treatment option because their sophisticated electronics allow the aids to be adjusted or programmed to “favor” one set of frequencies over another. For example, a hearing aid properly adjusted for a person suffering from high-frequency hearing loss would separate those higher-pitched sounds and boost their volume, causing them to appear louder than lower-pitched sounds. Another treatment option is the use of open-fit hearing aids, which leave your ear canal open or partially open, so that low-frequency and mid-frequency sounds enter the ear normally, and only the high-frequency sounds are amplified. A third possibility for severe cases of high-frequency hearing loss is the placement of a cochlear implant. Because they require minor surgery, cochlear implants are a more serious and more expensive option, but they can provide a solution in extreme cases involving industrial deafness or nerve deafness.
No matter which option you ultimately choose, the first step is always the same. Get a comprehensive exam from a qualified hearing care professional. Your hearing exam could reveal that your high-frequency hearing loss is caused by a treatable blockage such as a build up of ear wax and can be easily corrected.So rather than worry about why you are having trouble hearing women’s and children’s voices, do something about it by scheduling an appointment with a trained hearing specialist.
Considering the cost of high quality hearing aids, lots of people naturally wonder whether they need two hearing aids, or if they can get by with only one. In the majority of cases, the many benefits of using two hearing aids exceed that added expense, but there are certain scenarios where this isn’t the case.
First, if you have hearing loss in one ear but your hearing in the other ear is normal, you clearly don’t need a second hearing aid. Similarly, if you are completely and irrecoverably deaf in one ear, wearing a hearing aid in that ear is not going to help. If you are prone to recurring ear infections, wearing hearing aids can potentially make the situation worse, so wearing a single aid might be an advantage. There are also hearing loss conditions in which the sounds of speech heard in one ear are completely garbled, and in that case wearing a hearing aid in that ear is merely going to amplify the garbled sounds, which makes it harder for your brain to understand speech heard through your other ear.
Outside of these four situations, the arguments for using two hearing aids are fairly strong and backed up by numerous consumer satisfaction surveys among hearing aid users. Two hearing aids greatly enhance your ability to perceive the source of the sounds you hear, and provides a more realistically balanced sound. Understanding speech has been proven to be much easier when wearing two hearing aids than when wearing one, especially when the listening environment is noisy.
Critically important in the decision of purchasing one or two hearing aids is the fact that hearing involves the ear and the brain. When you wear two hearing aids, you continue to stimulate and use both ears. Wearing only one can cause the limited hearing in the other ear to deteriorate further from lack of use. Two hearing aids are almost always better for people who have tinnitus, because hearing aids mask the ringing or buzzing sound, and wearing only one aid will allow it to continue in the other ear. Finally, many studies have shown that wearing two hearing aids is less tiring than wearing only one.
All told, the case for wearing two hearing aids is more persuasive than the case for wearing only one. For many people making this decision, they need to experience the difference between one and two hearing aids first hand. You can test out the difference by scheduling an appointment to come see us. Then decide for yourself which provides you with the better hearing experience. We think you’ll decide that two is better than one.
Hearing aids have not in the past always worked effectively with mobile phones, because of electronic interference between the 2 devices that caused static, whistling or squealing noises, or lost words. New government regulations, together with considerable advances in both phone and hearing aid technology, have made this incompatibility uncommon. The labeling requirements mandated by the new government regulations make it easy to find a mobile phone that is compatible with your hearing aid.
Understanding the rating system requires a bit of knowledge about the modes that hearing aids can operate in. There is an M mode (which stands for microphone) and a T mode (which stands for telecoil). In M mode, your hearing aid uses its built-in microphone to pick up audible sounds from the environment and amplify them so that you can hear them. In T mode, the hearing aid uses telecoil technology instead. The hearing aid is able to pick up the electromagnetic signals from inside the phone directly. Currently, approximately 60% of hearing aids sold in the US have a telecoil or T mode.
Under the new regulations, these two modes of operation have ratings that range from 1 (the lowest sensitivity) to 4 (the highest sensitivity). To be labeled as hearing aid compatible (HAC) a cell phone must carry a minimum rating of M3 or T3.
Hearing aids and cochlear implants have a similar M and T rating system to certify how sensitive they are in each mode, and how resistant they are to radio frequency interference. If you know the M and T ratings for your hearing aid, to determine its compatibility with any mobile phone, just add the two sets of ratings together. A sum of 6 or more makes a solid pairing. That hearing aid and mobile phone combination should work well for you. If the combined rating is 5, this combination is considered normal and suitable for most regular phone use. A combined rating of 4 is considered usable for brief calls, but may not be suitable for extended phone use.
This combined rating system makes it easy to shop for a mobile phone online, because it easily allows you to determine how compatible it will be with your hearing aid. A better approach, of course, would be to go to a store that allows you to “try before you buy,” and actually use the phone you want while wearing your hearing aid, in both M and T modes.
Central Auditory Processing Disorder, or CAPD, is a hearing disorder in which the trouble lies not with the ears, but with the brain. The person with CAPD hears sounds correctly but something adversely affects the way their brain recognizes and interprets the sounds, especially the sounds associated with speech. The disorder is thus characterized by a lack of coordination between the ears and the brain.
As many as 2 to 5 percent of school-age children are affected by CAPD including roughly half of all children that have been diagnosed with a learning disability. Children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder often fail to recognize subtle differences between the sounds of different words, even though the words are clear and loud enough for them to hear. The problem is worsened with background noise and in some cases of Central Auditory Processing Disorder the child can hear well in quite environments and only has difficulty in noisy environments.
Diagnosing CAPD is difficult, because they can often hear and interpret speech well in quiet rooms. When the children’s hearing is tested, however, this is also done in quiet rooms where they have no problem hearing the pure tones generated by the test equipment. Consequently, their audiogram test results may appear normal when in real-life situations they are having difficulty locating the source of a sound, discriminating similar sounds or hearing more than one person speaking at the same time.
These symptoms may carry over into other areas of life, as the children struggle to cope with not being able to understand people speaking to them. For example, they may become easily distracted by sudden noises, have difficulty following directions, develop reading, spelling, and language difficulties, become disorganized and forgetful, or have trouble following conversations. These symptoms are often confused with symptoms of other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or depression, especially because when given standard hearing tests, the children often appear to be normal. The situation is complicated by the fact that CAPD is often present along with these other disorders.
Properly detecting and diagnosing CAPD as eary in a child’s life as possible is crucial to avoid developmental delays both social and academic. So if you have noticed in your children any of the possible signs of CAPD listed above, it is important to have their hearing tested by experienced professionals.
One subject that is seldom discussed with regards to hearing loss is how to keep people who have suffered it safe inside their own homes. Picture this situation: you’re in your house and a fire begins, and like most people today you have smoke alarms installed to warn you so that you and your loved ones can safely evacuate before the fire becomes life-threatening. But this time imagine further, and contemplate what would happen if your smoke detector goes off in the middle of the night after you’ve gone to bed, removing your hearing aid first as you usually do.
Most smoke alarms (or similar carbon monoxide detectors), including almost all units approved and mandated by city and state governments, produce a loud warning tone between the frequencies of 3,000 to 4,000 Hz. And while most people can hear these sounds without difficulty, these frequencies are among those most affected by age-related hearing loss and other kinds of auditory impairment. So if you are one of the more than 11 million Americans with hearing loss, there is a possibility that you simply would not hear your smoke alarm even if you were awake.
Luckily, there are home safety products which are expressly designed for the requirements of the hearing impaired. For those with mild to moderate hearing loss, there are smoke detectors that emit a 520 Hz square-wave warning tone that they can generally hear. For people who are completely deaf, or who cannot hear at all when they take out their hearing aids or turn off their cochlear implants (CIs) at night, there are alert systems that blend exceedingly loud noises, blinking lights, and vibrators that shake your bed to warn you. For comprehensive home safety, a number of these more modern devices have been developed to be easily incorporated into more thorough home protection systems to alert you in case of burglars, or if neighbors are pounding on your doors.
To hear other sounds that may indicate danger, many hearing-impaired people have installed induction loops in their homes to improve the efficiency of their hearing aids or CIs. These systems are basically long wires placed in a loop around your living room, kitchen, or bedrooms. These serve to activate the telecoils embedded in your hearing aid or cochlear implant that raise the volume of sound; this can be useful during emergency situations.
Not to mention the humble telephone, which all of us often ignore until we need one, but which may become crucial in any kind of emergency. Thankfully, a number of modern mobile and residential telephones are now telecoil-compatible, to permit their use by individuals wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants. Other models incorporate speakerphone systems with high volumes that can be used by the hearing impaired, and more notably, can be voice-activated. These devices allow you to voice-dial for help in an emergency situation, or if you needed assistance of any kind. There are additional accessories for mobile phones, such as vibrating wristbands that can alert you to an incoming telephone call even if you are asleep.
Naturally, some home safety suggestions for the hearing impaired are the exact same as for those who can hear well, such as trying to keep lists of your health care providers, emergency service providers, and hospitals close by. If we can be of assistance to you in helping to make your house safer for the hearing impaired, call us; we’ll be very happy to assist.
Hearing loss can take many forms, and can occur suddenly, due to injuries or trauma, or gradually, due to the aging process. The experience of hearing loss may range from mild instances of not being able to hear conversations properly to extreme periods of total deafness, and can be either temporary or permanent. A single ear can be affected by hearing loss, or both ears.
There are a number of signs and symptoms associated with hearing loss, one of the most common of which is a growing inability to hear or understand conversations. You might perceive other’s speaking voices as if they were speaking very softly or are too far away to be heard properly, or their voices may appear to be muffled and indistinct. You might be able to hear people talking, but not be able to discern specific words, especially if more than one person is speaking or the conversations are in settings with a lot of background noise.
Other indications that you may have suffered some hearing loss include turning up the volume on your TV or radio much higher than in the past, not being able to distinguish certain high-pitched sounds (such as ‘s’ or ‘th’) from one another, and having more difficulty hearing men’s voices than women’s voices. Other forms of hearing problems may be indicated if you experience a persistent ringing in the ears, if you feel pain, irritation or itching in the ears, and if you experience episodes of dizziness or vertigo.
One of the difficulties with hearing loss is that it may arise so gradually that people may not even realize it. This can occasionally lead to actions or behaviors intended to hide their hearing loss from others. For instance, people attempting to hide hearing loss may ask others to repeat themselves often, are likely to avoid conversations and social interaction, pretend to have heard things they really didn’t, and over time can develop feelings of depression and isolation.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it is time to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing specialists. They will give you a hearing test to figure out if you have experienced hearing loss, and if so, can help you to find a solution.
To understand the difference between analog and digital hearing aids, it is important to first appreciate the history of analog vs digital, and the alternative ways that they process and amplify sounds. Analog hearing aids came out first, and were the norm in most hearing aids for many years. Then with the introduction of digital signal processing (DSP) technology, digital hearing aids also began to appear. At the moment, most (90%) of the hearing aids purchased in the US are digital, although analog hearing aids are still offered because they are often lower priced, and also because some people prefer them.
The way that analog hearing aids work is that they take sound waves from the microphone in the form of electricity and then amplify the waves, delivering louder versions of the sound waves to the speakers in your ears “as is.” In contrast, digital hearing aids utilize the same sound waves from the microphone, however before amplifying them they turn the sound waves into the binary code of ones and zeros that all digital devices understand. After the sound has been digitized, the micro-chip inside the hearing aid can manipulate the data in complex ways before converting it back into analog sound and delivering it to your ears.
It is important to remember that both analog and digital hearing aids have the same function – they take sounds and boost them so you can hear them more easily. Both varieties of hearing aids can be programmed by the dispensers of the hearing aids to create the sound quality that each user desires, and to develop settings appropriate for different environments. For example, there can be different settings for low-noise rooms like libraries, for noisy restaurants, and for outdoor spaces like stadiums.
Digital hearing aids, due to their capacity to manipulate the sounds in digital form, often have more features and flexibility, and are often user-configurable. For example, digital hearing aids may offer multiple channels and memories, permitting them to store more location-specific profiles. Other features of digital hearing aids include the ability to automatically minimize background noise and eliminate feedback or whistling, or the ability to prefer the sound of human voices over other sounds.
As far as pricing is concerned, analog hearing aids are generally cheaper, although some digital hearing aids are nearing the cost of analog devices by removing the more state-of-the-art features. Some users notice a difference in the sound quality generated by analog versus digital hearing aids, although that is largely a matter of preference, not a matter of whether analog or digital is “better.”
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