If you wear hearing aids and continue to struggle to understand your friends and family you may be wondering where to turn. There may be a few reasons why you find yourself asking others to repeat despite the use of your hearing aids
Hearing aids may be in need of cleaning or reprogramming.
Wax build-up in a hearing aid can cause the hearing aid to sound muffled leading to difficulty hearing. It is also possible the hearing itself has decreased and the hearing aids are no longer set to the level needed to hear your best.
A common belief is that when someone wears hearing aids they will be able to hear normally. Hearing aids amplify sound which allows easier hearing, but they do not replace normal hearing. This means that you may still miss out on words especially when in a noisy room or when the talker is standing far away or behind you.
Severe hearing loss
Hearing aids amplify sound and then the sound travels to the organ of hearing (the cochlea) which stimulates the hearing nerve. If the cochlea has a lot of damage sound will likely be distorted and unclear even when amplified.
In this case you may receive more benefit from a cochlear implant than a hearing aid. A cochlear implant directly stimulates the hearing nerve and bypasses the portion of the cochlea that has been damaged. With time and therapy this leads to clearer sound.
If you wear hearing aids and feel that you are still not hearing your best give our office a call at 904-399-0350 to further evaluate your hearing and treatment options. Perhaps it is as simple as cleaning and updating the hearing aid settings or perhaps your hearing has declined to a level where a hearing aid can no longer provide benefit.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC recommends wearing face masks in public to prevent the spread of the virus. For individuals who wear behind-the-ear hearing aids, the use of a face mask with elastic worn around the ears can cause irritation on the ear, as well as an increased risk of losing the hearing aid. Adults or children may forget they are wearing hearing aids. Then, when a face mask is removed, it can cause the hearing aids to come off or be lost.
Here are five solutions that may help prevent problems when wearing hearing aids and face masks:
Pull back any long hair into a bun or with an elastic tie.
Rather than looping the elastic of the mask on the ears, utilize a mask extender. This can be home made (with ribbon and buttons) which can be made or bought offline.
Obtain a mask that has four strings and ties behind the head rather than worn with elastic on the ears.
Check that the hearing aid is still in place during and following removal of the mask.
Remove your mask at home in an open area. This is so that if the hearing aids fall to the ground, they can be found more easily.
If your hearing aid is compatible with a smart phone, you may be able to use a phone app to help detect a lost hearing aid. In general, the app indicates the last time the hearing aid and phone were connected. If you have lost or broken your hearing aid, contact the Hearing Center at 904-399-0350 to find out if you are eligible for a replacement device.
An exciting new cochlear implant processor has been introduced by Cochlear Americas. A cochlear implant processor is the external component to a cochlear implant system. A cochlear implant is an implantable hearing device for individuals with significant hearing loss and reduced speech clarity. A cochlear implant can greatly improve your ability to communicate with friends and family and can lead to improved quality of life.
The new processor from Cochlear Americas, called the Kanso 2, is an off-the-ear unit that is:
Able to directly connect to iPhone and Android smartphones for phone calls and music
This processor was recently FDA-approved and will be made available for newly implanted patients and current Cochlear patients eligible for upgrades starting this Fall. If you have hearing loss, poor speech clarity, and have been unsuccessful with hearing aids you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. Call Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute at 904-399-0350 for more information!
A very common complaint for people with hearing loss is hearing within background noise and distinguishing speech. Many patients rely on lip reading to help them understand the conversation and this has become a big obstacle to overcome due to the Covid-19 pandemic and masks being worn.
Virtual communications and tele-health appointments are the newest advancement in “face to face” encounters to help alleviate exposure. This is a great alternative for many to still be able to work and gain access to health care while keeping a safe distance.
People with hearing loss can experience some difficulty with this type of communication and below are some tips to help achieve a smooth appointment.
Make time for introductions at the beginning of the appointment. This allows you to make sure other users can hear you, and you can hear them.
Have good lighting. Sitting against a wall is preferred to achieve good lighting to highlight your face for cues. When you sit in front of a window, the back lighting hides your facial features.
Don’t cover your mouth. Keep your hair, hands, and clothes away from your mouth.
Wait your turn to speak and project when doing so.
Mute the microphone if you are not speaking. This helps avoid ambient background noise entering the virtual room.
If you have Bluetooth devices that are paired to your phone or tablet, make sure they are connected.
In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the audiologists at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute would like our patients to know that we are taking all necessary precautions and are following CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus and to keep patients and staff as safe as possible. This includes offering remote programming services for select hearing aids and cochlear implants. During a remote programming session, the audiologist can program the hearing aid or cochlear implant without having the patient come into the office, thereby keeping high-risk individuals safe at home while still having access to hearing healthcare. Programming is done in real time, which allows patients to provide immediate feedback to the audiologist during the session.
To find out if your hearing aid or cochlear implant is eligible for remote programming, or if you are interested in learning more about this technology, call the clinic at 904-399-0350 to find out more.
We can’t always know when a natural disaster or other
unexpected event will come our way but we can take steps to ensure that when
something does happen, we are prepared.
It is normal to experience anxiety or apprehension during a
natural disaster or crisis and this can be compounded by a hearing loss and the
concern you may not hear announcements or alerts coming from community leaders.
It is important to prepare ahead of time to ensure your
hearing aids and/or cochlear implants are in optimal condition. The following
are tips to help you prepare for when the unexpected happens.
Check your battery supply.
Disposable batteries: it is important to have
extra disposable batteries on hand in the event you cannot get to a store to
purchase more. Be sure to regularly check the expiration dates especially if
you purchase in bulk. Batteries have a shelf life of 2-3 years.
Rechargeable batteries: purchase a portable
battery pack (and be sure to charge it) to be able to charge your batteries on
the go or in the event the power goes out. Be sure you have more than one
battery so you can always have fully charged battery on hand.
Review your equipment
Check the status of your equipment and ensure
you have extra parts and pieces in the event your hearing aid or cochlear
implant stops working and you can’t immediately get to your audiologist.
Hearing aids users should take care to a supply of wax filters and domes at
home to easily replace if needed. Utilize a de-humidifier to lower the risk of
moisture damage. Cochlear implant users should ensure they have an extra coil
and cable to swap out if necessary.
Enhance your communication
Utilize a captioned telephone to assist with
understanding important information over the phone. Captioned applications are
also available for smartphones.
Sign up for text or e-mail alerts when possible
to ensure you receive and understand any announcements or alerts.
See your Audiologist
If you have enough notice, try to make an appointment with your audiologist for a clean and check of your equipment as well as re-programming to ensure you are able to hear your best.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Hearing Center At JHBI Proudly Serves Patients In Jacksonville (Jax), Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Mandarin, Ortega, Ponte Vedra Beach, Flagler Beach, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach, Orange Park, Macclenny, Middleburg, St. Johns, St. Marys, Waycross, Nocatee, Vilano Beach, Green Cove Springs, Middleburg, Jacksonville Beach.