Archives

How to Know Which Hearing Aids Are Best For You





There are many different hearing aids available in regards to style and level of technology. Which one is best for you? That answer depends on various factors such as the severity of your hearing loss and what kind of lifestyle you have. It is important to speak with an Audiologist, a licensed hearing healthcare professional, to discuss your particular needs. Four things to consider prior to your appointment with your audiologist are:

1. How technology savvy are you?
Hearing devices today are created with digital technology that allows the audiologist to make specific adjustments for your needs. This technology is also compatible with smartphones & allows hearing aid users to change the volume on their own as well as stream music and phone calls through their hearing devices for better sound quality. Hearing aid users who are not very tech-savvy do not need to worry! The devices can be programmed to function automatically so all you have to do is enjoy hearing better!

2. What kind of environments are you in where you struggle to hear?
Whether you work in a loud environment, have family gatherings with many people or you struggle to hear at the dinner table, your world has some degree of noise. Most hearing aids have noise-reduction technology in them to help alleviate the noise and make those noisy situations more comfortable and let you hear the conversation again. It’s important to speak with your audiologist to determine which degree of noise reduction technology is most suited for your needs.

3. Vanity
The stigma of wearing hearing aids is fading away every day. Just as wearing glasses is normal, so is wearing hearing aids! Yet for those individuals who choose to be more discreet with their hearing needs, they are now made virtually invisible! They are very slim and sit right inside the ear canal & come in a variety of colors to match hair, skin and glasses. They also are available in custom style that sit completely in the ear canal and can’t be seen. It’s important to speak with your audiologist about what you feel comfortable wearing and what is best for your physical needs and hearing loss.

4. Dexterity
Because hearing aids are now smaller than ever, they can be difficult to manipulate if you have certain health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, or other conditions that can cause numbness in the hands. One style may be better for your specific needs than others. Changing the small batteries can be a difficult task if you have dexterity or vision issues. Hearing aids are now rechargeable and do not require fine motor skills to get the hearing aid fully charged again.

The best hearing aids are the ones that work for you! Every persons hearing needs are different, so it is important to see and audiologist to help determine what will work for you.

Adjusting to Hearing Aids

Hearing aids require an adjustment period. This is why most hearing aids come with a trial period. This time allows you to grow accustomed to the hearing aids, as well as make programming adjustments to ease you into the process and maximize the benefit of the devices. There are a few factors that will play a role in the adaptation period including the degree of hearing loss, how long you’ve had the hearing loss, and the effort put into wearing them on a regular basis.

Most hearing loss is a gradual process. In fact, the average person goes about 5 to 7 years before pursuing hearing aids. There are many environmental sounds that haven’t been heard in a long time. For example: birds chirping, traffic and wind noise, paper rustling.

When you are first fit with hearing aids, all of these environmental sounds will be restored to the brain. It can seem overwhelming at first because the brain has forgotten how to handle these sounds. As the brain “re-learns” these sounds, it can better determine what sounds are important and what sounds can be “tuned out”. Your own voice may sound different, too. The longer the devices are worn, the quicker the brain adapts to the new sounds. The most important part of this process is patience.

Exciting Connectivity Options for Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a hearing device that is implanted in the inner ear to help restore volume and clarity of speech. They lead to better communication with friends and family when hearing aids no longer help. Recent advances in technology have even made it possible to listen on a cell phone through a cochlear implant with ease.

Cochlear
The N7 cochlear implant allows users to

  • Connect to iPhone and Android phones to wirelessly stream phone calls and music or videos.
  • Use an app to adjust volume and manipulate settings for better hearing in noisy environments.
  • Connect to the Apple Watch for seamless volume and program adjustments!


Advanced Bionics
The ‘Connect’ is a small receiver coupled to the battery of a Naida Q90 cochlear implant.

  • Connects to any Bluetooth enabled device (iPhone, Android, tablet etc) for easy, hands-free calling.
  • A button on the receiver allows the user to answer and hang up phone calls as well as start and stop music and videos.


Med El
The ‘AudioLink’ connects to the Sonnet and Rondo 2 cochlear implants.

  • Streams phone calls and music or videos from any Bluetooth enabled item.
  • Allows the user to make changes to their volume and programs for enhanced listening in various environments.


Cochlear implants can lead to better speech understanding for people who don’t benefit from hearing aids. Evolving technology allows cochlear implant users to further communicate with friends and family.

For more information regarding whether you are a cochlear implant candidate call JHBI at 904-399-0350.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Custom Hearing Protection

Exposure to loud noises is a common cause of hearing loss among the population. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is characterized by a “gradual, progressive loss of high frequency hearing sensitivity that usually presents as a “notch” that occurs at or around 4000 Hz.” For more information on noise induced hearing loss, visit http://american-hearing.org/disorders/noise-induced-hearing-loss/ .

How can you protect your hearing? There are many ways to prevent NIHL, such as:

  • Avoid or limit exposure to dangerously loud sounds
  • Decrease the volume of music systems
  • Move away from loud sound sources when possible
  • If you must be around loud sounds, use appropriate hearing protection
  • What kind of hearing protection devices are available?


At The Hearing Center, we offer a variety of hearing protection devices. Common devices include:

1. Swim plugs are designed to prevent moisture from entering the ear canal during swimming, showering and water sports
2. Shooter’s protection is designed to protect hunters/shooters from impulse noises up to 160 dB peak SPL. These devices can be made with special acoustic filters that allow for awareness of conversation and the ability to track animals. Industrial noise protection- Some work places require workers to wear custom hearing protection due to exposure to dangerous sound levels. Employees who work in industrial factories, construction sites and around aircraft equipment are likely to be required to wear hearing protection. Specialized devices can be made that can connect to radios for those who work in jobs that require radio use.
3. Musician earpieces provide hearing protection for musicians who practice and perform in a variety of settings. Depending on the source and location of the sound, different levels of attenuators can be used in the earpieces to allow for optimal hearing protection.
4. Custom sleep plugs can be used to promote interrupted sleep.
5. Custom fit ear tips for mp3 players or other headphones are designed to have standard earphones fit into a custom fit ear tip. These earplugs help block excessive environmental noise and allow the listener to turn down the music volume.

If you believe you have a noise induced hearing loss, or are at risk of one, make an appointment with your JHBI audiologist to discuss a custom hearing protection option that is suitable for your needs!

Phonak’s Newest Hearing Aid: the Audéo Marvel

Recently, Phonak unveiled of their new hearing aid called the Audéo Marvel — a device with advanced sound quality and universal Bluetooth® connectivity to both iPhone and Android devices. Available in late November, the Phonak Audéo Marvel focuses on what patients expect from a hearing aid: a clear, rich sound experience combined with modern technology. Here are some of the new features associated with this new device.

• Clear, rich sound in multiple environments, thanks to a newly developed computer chip with Artificial Intelligence.
• Connectivity to any Bluetooth® device for streaming audio content to both ears. This includes TV, music, eBooks and more.
• Hands-free calls to both ears from iPhone, Android or any other Bluetooth®-enabled devices.
• Lithium-Ion Rechargeable option available for a full day of hearing including streaming, now with the option to turn on automatically out of the charger.
• eSolutions with Smart apps enable live phone call transcriptions.

 

If you are interested in meeting with an Audiologist to learn more about this new device, and to discuss if it would be a viable option for you and your lifestyle, contact our Hearing Center at 904-900-0350 to make a consult appointment.

 

Non-Surgical Hearing Solution

One type of hearing of hearing loss is known as a conductive hearing loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when there is damage or blockage in the outer or middle ear which prevents sounds from being sent to the inner ear. Causes of conductive hearing loss can include:

– Complete wax build up
– Absence of the ear canal or a extremely narrow ear canal
– Hole in the eardrum
– Fluid behind the eardrum
– Displacement of the three tiny bones (ossicles) behind the eardrum

A bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a treatment option to improve the hearing of people with conductive hearing loss . The BAHA is a surgically implanted post that works together with an external processor to bypass the outer and middle ear and deliver sound directly to the inner ear.

Recently a new processor was introduced by Med El that does not require surgery and is available at a much lower cost than the traditional BAHA. The ADHEAR processor uses an adhesive piece that sits behind the ear to send sound to the organ of hearing.


To learn if you are a candidate for the ADHEAR please contact Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute at 904-399-0350.

How to Get the Most out of Your Disposable Hearing Aid Battery

Hearing aids are getting more and more advanced. With all the extra processing power and new features in today’s hearing aids, you can typically get 3-10 days off a single battery. Why is the life of a hearing aid battery so unpredictable, where one battery may last a week, and another just two or three days? Much depends on your amount of hearing aid use, streaming, and how you care for your hearing aids.

Still, there are steps you can take to maximize the life of your batteries and optimize the performance of your hearing aids.

1. Let the battery “breathe” for 3-5 minutes. After removing the tab from the battery, let the battery sit for 3-5 minutes before installing it in your hearing aid. This “activation” time allows air to reach the materials inside the battery and activate them.

2. Wash your hands thoroughly before changing batteries. Grease and dirt on the batteries may damage the hearing aid. Also, grease and dirt can clog up the air pores in the battery.

3. Open the battery door at night. When you’re not wearing your hearing aid, turn it off or open the battery door to minimize battery drain. Leave the battery compartment of your hearing device open at night so moisture can escape. Doing so will keep the battery from corroding and damaging the hearing aid.

4. Use a hearing aid dehumidifier. A hearing aid dehumidifier will help absorb moisture out of your hearing aid and battery. This will allow the battery power to be used more efficiently. The dehumidifier is also a great place to store your hearing aids.

5. Remove the batteries entirely if you won’t be using the device for an extended period of time. This also helps avoid corrosion and damage from trapped moisture.

6. Check the expiration date on the batteries. The further out the batteries are, the fresher they are. Over time, batteries will drain slightly while sitting on the shelf. Ideally, you should buy batteries that have an expiration date a year or further from your purchase date.

7. Use the oldest pack of batteries first. The newest packs will have the furthest expiration date than your older packs of batteries. You want to ensure that you use the oldest batteries first, so that you are getting the most life out of them.

8. Keep the stickers on the battery. The sticker tab on the battery keeps the battery “fresh.” As soon as the sticker is removed, the battery is activated and starts draining. You want to make sure you don’t peel the sticker tab off until you need to use that battery.

9. Keep the batteries in a cool dry place. Storing new, unused batteries in extreme temperatures can cause the battery to drain/have a shorter life.

10. Invest in a rechargeable battery hearing device. Rechargeable hearing aids and batteries are starting to come out into the market. Rechargeable batteries allow you to charge the battery at night and get a full day’s worth of use the next day. If you’re interested in the new technology, make an appointment to discuss the various rechargeable options currently available on the market.

Bone Anchored Hearing Devices

While hearing aids and cochlear implants are better known options for assisting those with hearing impairments, there is another device that may be more appropriate for your hearing loss. A BAHD, also known as a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA), is made up of a surgically implanted portion and a removable external processor. These devices are unique in that they send signals to your inner ear via vibrations. These vibrations are interpreted by your inner ear the same as any other sound signal.

As you can see in the above below, the sound processor sits just behind the ear.

 

Who is a candidate for the bone-anchored hearing device?

Patients with middle ear issues (chronic ear infections, previous surgeries, etc.) are often successful users of a BAHD because it bypasses the middle ear and directly stimulates the inner ear. The device is also beneficial for those with single-sided deafness. The BAHD is placed on the side of the head with the severe-to-profound hearing loss and the signal is sent to the better hearing ear.

New options with the BAHD!

Previously, the BAHD could only be worn by attaching it to an abutment that projected out from under the skin or by wearing a headband. There is now an option for attaching the external processor to the internal implant via a magnet. The image on the left demonstrates the magnet attachment.

 

In addition to the new wearing options, BAHDs have Bluetooth capabilities!

 

If you and your family are interested in learning more about BAHDs and want to know if you are a possible candidate, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic at 904-399-0350.

Enjoying the Summer Weather with Your Cochlear Implant

If you or a loved one has a cochlear implant there is no need to miss out on the joys of enjoying time with friends or family in the pool or at the beach. Each cochlear implant company offers a solution to enjoy conversation around water.

 

• Cochlear:
o For their on-the-ear style processors (N6 and N7)Cochlear offers the Aqua Kit which includes a waterproof case and cable/coil. A clip is also available to attach the waterproof case to a ponytail, bathing suit or T-shirt for worry free swimming.
o The off-the-ear style offers the Kanso Activity Kit which includes a waterproof case that can be held in place with a sweat band or with goggles.

 

• Advanced Bionics:

o The Naida processor offers a waterproof case and cable/headpiece that can be clipped to a bathing suit, T-shirt or even your swim trunks thanks to a range of cable lengths.
o The Neptune processor is a fully waterproof processor that needs no extra case or cover. The Neptune can be clipped to a T-shirt, goggles or bathing suit.

 

• Med El:
o The on-the ear Sonnet processor kit includes a waterproof sleeve and adhesive system to allow the processor to become fully waterproof.
o The Rondo is an off-the-ear processor that is also available with a sleeve that can be held in place with a clip for added safety.

 

When using a waterproof solution be sure to use a rechargeable or alkaline battery rather than the 675 Zinc Air cochlear implant battery. It I also recommended that after you remove your processor from the waterproof case to place the equipment in the dry-kit. Waterproof devices can be included in your initial cochlear implant kit or are available for purchase out of pocket.
If you would like more information regarding whether a cochlear implant is an appropriate treatment option for your hearing loss contact Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute at 904-399-0350 to discuss your options.

Troubleshooting Hearing Aids

If you are a full-time hearing aid user, you may have experienced a time when your devices have suddenly stopped working. While it is typical for hearing aids to require repairs periodically, there are some things you can try at home to get yourself back up and running.

Below, you will find some common hearing aid problems, possible causes and steps to remedy the situation.

Problem Possible cause Solution
The volume is reduced Wax or debris in the microphone or receiver Clean microphone port with a brush
Change wax filter
Tube or ear mold is blocked Clean the ear mold and blow the tube out with an air blower
Hearing may have changed Contact your audiologist
Hearing aid is whistling Hearing aid/earmold is not properly inserted Take hearing aid out and reposition correctly
Earmold is defective Contact your audiologist
Wax in ear canal Contact your ENT-specialist
Hearing aid does not properly function Battery is dead Replace battery
Battery compartment is not closed properly Close battery compartment completely
Wax or debris in the microphone or receiver Clean microphone port with a brush
Change wax filter
Hearing aid causes pain or discomfort Hearing aid/earmold is not properly inserted Reposition correctly. If problem persists, contact your audiologist.

 

If you are unable to solve the problem, contact your audiologist at (904) 399-0350 ext 246 for more assistance or stop by Walk-In Clinic: Tuesday, 10:00 am – 11:30 am or Thursday, 1:00 pm- 2:30 pm.

We strive to provide prompt service to our patients; therefore we recommend that you call ahead to verify availability of walk-in clinic.