Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Digital Hearing Aids

Digital Technology:

Hearing aids which are fully digital process sound mathematically bit by bit. In place of electronic components, digital hearing aids contain millions of tiny electrical parts micro-manufactured into a single silicon chip. The computer programmed silicon chip within the aid applies continuous digital processing to incoming sound. Here's how these digital hearing aids work:
  1. The hearing aid microphone turns sound into an analog electrical signal.
  2. A filter removes inaudible frequencies.
  3. This filtered analog signal goes to the analog-to-digital converter which changes it to a numerical digital signal (0s and 1s) so it can be manipulated by the hearing aid's internal computer (DSP chip).
  4. This chip is programmed to perform many numerical operations (filtering, noise reduction, loudness compensation, and feedback cancellation) depending on the algorithm used.
  5. The digital signal is converted back into an audible sound for the patient to hear. These functions are performed instantly and continually.
The five most important questions regarding digital hearing instruments:
  1. How many channels does it have? How many do I need?
  2. What type of Automatic Signal Processing compression does it use? What type would best fit my lifestyle?
  3. How many memories does it have? How many various listening situations do I encounter?
  4. Does it come with a remote control? Do I need a remote control?
  5. Does it offer multiple or directional microphones for hearing in noise?
User Benefits:
  • The preciseness of digital computer technology.
  • Availability of Automatic Signal Processing circuits which are not available with nonprogrammable instruments.
  • Remote control (available on some models).
  • Multiple memories for various listening situations.
  • Multiple circuit options within a single instrument which achieve different sound qualities.
  • Automatically achieves more volume for the soft, high frequency sounds and less volume for the more intense, low frequency sounds.
  • Capable of retaining the patient's complete audiometric file and preferred listening program for various environments.
  • Ability to readjust your prescription should your hearing loss change.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Advantages Beyond Cosmetics Of Deep Canal Hearing Aids

1. Acoustic advantages: The deep canal aid fits deep within the ear canal which allows your ear's natural acoustic features to work their greatest efficiency. This improves the performance achieved by the instrument.

2. Elimination of the volume control: The special features of a deep canal aid eliminate the need for a volume control wheel common to most hearing aids.

3. Wind noise: A hearing aid contained completely within your ear canal reduces the problem of wind noise.

4. Sleeptime wear: The fit, comfort and reduced feedback of a deep canal aid makes it possible to wear during sleep. This allows you to continue to hear important sounds such as speech or alarm signals.

5. Less distortion: A deep canal aid produces greater real-ear output which means that less sound amplification is needed. This reduces the likelihood of sound distortion.

6. A fit for active people: The sureness of a deep canal aid's fit makes it ideal for use during exercise and vigorous work.

7. Less feedback: This aid's position close to the eardrum, secure fit, and minimal venting work together to minimize acoustic feedback.

8. Comfort: A shell precisely made from a mold of your ear usually results in a deep canal aid that is very comfortable to wear.

9. Telephones: With a deep canal aid, you will experience less acoustic feedback. You will also find that this instrument's deep fit helps eliminate the discomfort of placing a telephone to your ear.

10. Easy removal: The permanently attached cord and small size of this aid make it easier to remove from your ear than most in-the-ear instruments.

11. Appearance: This may be the most popular feature. A deep canal aid is virtually invisible when worn.

12. Circuitry: Because of the reduction in the size of electronics, today's deep canal hearing aids are available in 100% digital signal processing.

Seven Reasons You Hear Better With Two Ears

It is called binaural listening: bi for two; and aural for ears. The human hearing mechanism is the most advanced stereophonic wonder known to man. With all of its amazing accuracy and versatility, it provides the listener with space perception, depth perception and balance.

Hearing does not happen in your ears, it happens in your brain. Your brain requires reliable information from your ears in order to decipher sound. Using just one hearing aid when hearing test results indicate that two are needed reduces your brain's chances of hearing and understanding by 50 percent, as well as removes your ability to perceive depth and space. Here are seven reasons to wear two hearing aids if indicated by your hearing test:

1. Less power needed when two hearing aids are worn. When your ears work together, lower volume settings are required for comfortable hearing. You will experience greater efficiency and clarity with two hearing aids as compared to monaural listening. The reduced need for power saves your hearing from damage caused by excessive amplification. The benefits are that loud sounds are more comfortable and listening is less stressful.

2. Stereo listening gives depth perception. Anyone who has enjoyed music in stereo, compared to mono, knows the difference. Mono makes all sounds seem shallow, flat, and unnatural. Your brain has the ability to hear in stereo but to do so requires that sounds be delivered by both ears. Not only are sounds more natural, they can also be understood more clearly.

3. Detecting sound direction saves embarrassment and saves lives. A one-eared listener is always wondering "where is that sound coming from?" when someone speaks. He can also never tell from which direction the screeching automobile is coming, unless he sees it. Hearing with two ears gives you the ability to know sound direction. Binaural listening gives the listener a sens of location and the ability to locate sounds not only horizontally but also but also vertically, 360 degrees in all directions.

4. Good manners takes two ears. One-eared listeners may be considered rude because they tend to ignore the speaker on their unaided side. In business and social situations binaural hearing aids can be your best ally for being the best listener possible.

5. Give your brain what it needs for auditory intelligence. The two halves of your brain work in harmony to give you an auditory image. Just as your brain converts the two images your two eyes see into a single picture, the same special perception happens with your two ears. It is the different signal each ear sends to your brain that makes this perception possible. The ears' sound signals travel up the brain stem via complicated pathways. Some cross over and eventually stimulate the opposite side of the brain. Other stimulate the same side. These complex patterns of stimulation make up auditory intelligence. If the two halves aren't sharing their signals, auditory intelligence is reduced. Binaural hearing aids help the ears get the messages to both sides of the brain, thus increasing your auditory intelligence.

6. Two ears hear better in noise. Whenever several people are talking at the same time, such as in a restaurant, it becomes more difficult to understand the one person at the table with you. The one-eared listener hears all of the voices blending together. Voice discrimination in noise is difficult with two ears and becomes impossible with only one. Binaural hearing aids give the best advantage to hearing in noise.

7. Quality of sound is better quality of life. The majority of hearing aid users who have worn both binaural and monaural hearing aids report a significant difference in sound quality. The vast majority of people who now use binaural hearing aids will tell you that listening with two aided ears is the only way to fully enjoy the 3D world we live in. The advantages of superior sound over the burden of persistently poor sound should not be underestimated. Seize the opportunity to enhance your listening quality, should your test results indicate two hearing aids are needed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Having trouble hearing? Listen to the truth behind hearing loss myths

Sure, you sometimes have to ask people to repeat themselves, and the volume knob on the car stereo is set much farther to the right than it used to be. But you can't be experiencing hearing loss - you're not a senior citizen. Hearing loss only affects the old, right?

Not necessarily. Only 40 percent of people with hearing loss are older than 64. The largest age group with hearing loss is people between 18 and 64 - about 19 million people compared to 14 million at retirement age. More than 1 million school-age children have hearing problems, as well.

The idea that hearing loss only happens to the aged - and is an unavoidable circumstance of aging - is just one of many commonly believed myths about the issue. The truth is that hearing loss affects all age groups. If you want to avoid hearing loss, it pays to know the truth behind the myths and the basics of hearing loss prevention .

Here are some common myths about hearing loss, and the truth behind the myths:

Myth: If I had hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me.

Truth: Only 15 percent of doctors routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical exam. Even when a doctor does screen for hearing problems, the results may be suspect since most people with hearing problems hear pretty well in quiet environments - like a doctor's office. Without special training on hearing loss, it may be difficult for your family doctor to even realize you have a hearing problem.

Myth: Nothing can be done about my hearing loss.

Truth: People with hearing loss in one ear, with a high-frequency hearing loss, or with nerve damage may have been told by their family doctor that nothing can be done to help. Modern technology has changed that. Now, nearly 95 percent of people with hearing loss can be helped, most with hearing aids.

Myth: Only people with serious hearing loss need hearing aids.

Truth: Your lifestyle, your need for refined hearing and the degree of your hearing loss will determine whether you need a hearing aid. If you're in a profession that relies on your ability to discern the nuances of human conversation - such as a lawyer, teacher or group psychotherapist - even mild hearing loss can interfere with your life.

Myth: Hearing aids are big and ugly. Wearing one will make me look old or disabled.

Untreated hearing loss is far more noticeable than today's hearing aids. If you miss the punch line of a joke, or respond inappropriately to a comment or question, people may wonder about your mental capacity. Hearing aid makers realize people are concerned about how they will look wearing a hearing aid. Today, you can find miniature hearing aids that fit totally within the ear canal or behind your ear, making them virtually invisible.

Myth: Hearing loss is an inevitable part of growing older and there's nothing I can do to prevent it from happening to me.

Truth: You can take steps to prevent hearing loss. Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss; 10 million Americans have already suffered irreversible damage to their hearing from noise. Yet a third of all hearing loss could be prevented with proper ear protection.

Myth: I cannot afford hearing aids

Truth: There is a wide price range in hearing aids on the market just like there is for other consumer products. In addition the BHI has identified close to a 100 sources for financial help in their eGuide "Your Guide to Financial Assistance with Hearing Aids"

If you work in a high-risk profession, make sure your hearing is protected according to OSHA regulations, and wear hearing protection such as foam or silicone plugs or earmuffs. At home, lower the volume on the TV, radio, stereo and any device that uses earbuds or headphones. Wear ear protection while mowing the lawn or blowing leaves or snow. Buy quieter products (compare decibel ratings) and reduce the number of noisy appliances running at the same time in your home. Before taking a new medicine, be sure to ask the doctor about any possible side effects on your hearing.

Republished from Better Hearing Blog by

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tips for Communicating With Persons With Hearing Impairment

  1. If necessary, speak louder, but don't shout.
  2. Speak clearly and slowly.
  3. Speak at a distance of between 3 and 6 feet.
  4. Stand in clear light facing the person with whom you are speaking for greater visibility of lip movements, facial expressions, and gestures.
  5. Do not speak to a person with hearing impairment unless you are visible to him or her (e.g. not from another room or while he or she is reading or watching TV).
  6. Move away from background noise.
  7. If a person with hearing impairment does not appear to understand what is said, rephrase the statement rather than repeat only the misunderstood words.
  8. Do not over-articulate. Exaggerating your pronunciation not only distorts the sound of speech, but also the speaker's face making the use of visual cues more difficult.
  9. Do not cover your mouth with a cigarette or hands and do not chew food while speaking.
  10. Arrange the room (living room or meeting room) where communication will take place so that no speaker or listener is more than six feet apart and all are completely visible; communication for all parties involved will be enhanced.
  11. Include the hearing-impaired person in all discussion about him or her. Individuals with hearing impairment sometimes feel quite vulnerable and left out; this approach will aid in alleviating some of those feelings.
  12. Ask what might make conversation easier.
  13. In meetings or any group activity where a speaker is presenting information (church meetings, civic organizations, etc.) make mandatory that the speaker use the public address system.
Republished from: Better Communication and Hearing Aids, D.S. Wayner, PhD and J.E. Abrahamson, MA

Types of Hearing Loss

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Effects of Hearing Loss

Assisting Employees with Hearing Loss

By Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D.

Question: What can organizations do to plan for and address the impact of employee hearing loss?

Answer: Employers can take a number of simple steps to educate employees about hearing loss and to facilitate the use of hearing aids, where needed.

In a 2009 survey of 46,000 U.S. households, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) determined that over the past generation hearing loss grew at 160 percent of the U.S. population growth— primarily attributable to the aging of the American population. Yet the study found that 60 percent of people with hearing loss are below retirement age, meaning that 16.3 million people with hearing loss were in the U.S. workforce in 2010.

Previous research at BHI has shown that 50 percent of people with untreated hearing loss have never had their hearing checked by a professional and lack sufficient information to know whether they need to take action to correct it. Human resource professionals can help employees understand if they need treatment by:

Educating employees on the impact of untreated hearing loss on quality of life.

Encouraging employees to take valid online hearing tests such as the five-minute hearing evaluation offered by BHI.

Encouraging local hearing health professionals to conduct on-site hearing screenings.

In many cases hearing aids can help protect employees from being at a competitive disadvantage with peers. Organizations can encourage the use of hearing aids, when needed, by ensuring that health insurance covers such devices and by recommending that employees purchase hearing aids using pretax medical flexible spending account funds.

In addition, employers can:
  • Create a corporate climate where hearing loss is recognized so those with hidden hearing loss feel more comfortable.
  • Avoid noisy restaurants as meeting locations. 
  • Summarize meeting minutes in writing to be sure that those with hearing issues are clear on the outcome of the meeting.
  • Provide easy accommodations, such as moving an employee's desk away from noisy hallways, machines, or air conditioning and heating vents, or installing a phone that amplifies high frequencies.
  • Build work environments that facilitate better hearing by choosing cubicles with noise-absorbent materials and equipping meeting rooms with an inductive loop that creates a wireless zone for hearing aids with telecoils, headsets or microphones.
By encouraging employees to treat hidden hearing loss rather than hide it, an employer creates a win-win situation by ensuring that the loss of hearing does not interfere with job performance, productivity, safety, or the employee’s career or quality of life on or off the job.

Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., is executive director of the Better Hearing Institute, a not-for-profit that educates the public about hearing loss, prevention and treatment.

Reprinted from: The Society for Human Resource Management (www.shrm.org)