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How Often Should You Purchase Hearing Aids?

This is a question that we address everyday with our patients and their loved ones! The short answer is that a hearing device should typically be replaced about every five to seven years or so. In reality, however, the answer is a bit more involved. Several factors may determine whether or not it’s time to update your hearing instruments. They include:

  • Level and sophistication of the hearing technology
  • Potential changes in your hearing sensitivity, lifestyle, or overall health
  • Condition and performance of your existing hearing devices

Here are a few potential signs you may need fresh hearing technology:

Device Malfunctioning

You do all the recommended maintenance, but things still aren’t right: Replaced batteries drain quickly; sound is still muffled after you change wax guards. The occasional repair is normal, but regular malfunctions may mean it’s time to replace your devices.

Hearing Level Has Changed

Your hearing changes over time because of age, loud sounds, or other health issues. Often we can adjust your programming to meet your new needs, but sometimes your hearing changes so much that you require a different level of technology or a different type of device all together. 

Repairs Seem Costly

With older devices, the parts are often scarce or the model is discontinued. Sometimes repairing your devices costs enough that it makes more sense to replace them with new hearing aids.

Technology Evolving

Devices have advanced significantly over the years with better filtering of background noise, rechargeability without the hassle of disposable batteries, tinnitus management, and wireless streaming from smartphones.

Hearing your best is more critical than ever in our changing world — with in-person and virtual communication both playing important roles in today’s new normal. If you think it might be time to update your hearing devices, please don’t wait to contact us to get your questions answered or to schedule a hearing aid consultation.

Hearing Aid Industry Update: Signia Insio Charge&Go AX

The world of hearing aids has improved yet again! Rechargeable devices have been available to patients with hearing loss for a number of years in the behind-the-ear style with great success. Now, patients have the option of a custom fit hearing aid that is also rechargeable!

One of the hearing aid industry’s leading manufacturers, Signia, has released their newest product, the Insio Charge&Go AX. They allow hearing aid users to have the most discreet custom and rechargeable hearing aid on the market with great sound quality, better hearing in background noise and modern technology features such as Bluetooth connection. They devices are capable of direct Bluetooth connection to cell phones and tablets for any audio signal such as phone calls, streaming of music, video, and audiobooks. In addition, they can be paired to the Signia App on smart devices, which allows the user to have more control of their listening ability in difficult listening environments such as group environments and restaurants.

Contact our Hearing Center to see if the Signia Insio Charge&Go AX is right for you!

Click HERE to visit Signia’s website for more information.

The Value of an Audiologist

An audiologist is a health care professional who provides patient-centered care in order to identify, diagnose and treat hearing loss and balance disorders using evidence-based practice. An audiologist aims to provide personalized services to minimize the negative impact of hearing loss and ultimately lead to improved quality of life. 

Audiologists are required to hold a doctorate degree in audiology (Au.D.). They must also pass board examinations to receive licensing and accreditation. In addition, audiologists are required to earn annual continuing education credits in order to remain knowledgeable of the most current research-based practice and rehabilitation methods.

A hearing aid is often used to manage hearing loss by analyzing and amplifying sound within an environment. If hearing aids are recommended based on a comprehensive hearing evaluation the audiologist uses the test results combined with information about the patient’s lifestyle and communication needs to determine the most appropriate style and power level of hearing aid. Additionally, the audiologist provides personalized counseling to help educate the patient and establish realistic expectations regarding their potential benefit from hearing aids. Information is also provided regarding communication and self-advocacy strategies in order to give the patient control over their hearing experience and help maximize hearing aid benefit. 

One of the most important components of the hearing aid process is the follow up care. Best practice methods include programming hearing aid settings based on verification measures (objective data) and patient feedback regarding their experience (subjective data). A hearing aid is an investment in your health and wellness and when thinking about purchasing hearing aid it is important to find out the types of services and the level of care that you will receive with your purchase. Many audiologists include programming adjustments, verification tests and counseling in the cost of the hearing aids. This helps to ensure the patient receives high quality of care tailored to their specific needs.

Improving Phone Communication

One of the top areas of communication many of our patients are wanting to improve is better communication on the phone. Phone calls are one of the most difficult listening situations for individuals with hearing loss — there’s no opportunity to read lips, the signal is not always clear/consistent, and there are fewer contextual cues compared to face-to-face communication. Even with properly fit hearing aids, many patients continue to experience difficulty on the phone. Here are a few helpful tips for improving speech understanding over the phone while wearing hearing aids:

  1. Place the speaker of the phone directly on the hearing aid microphones. This allows the audio from the phone call to be processed through the hearing aids and amplified. If the phone is held to the ear in a typical fashion, the hearing aid may be acting as an earplug, making phone calls even more difficult. 

 2. Enable Bluetooth streaming for phone calls (if available). By streaming phone calls through the hearing aids, our brain is able to process the incoming speech information with two ears, thus allowing more opportunity for accurate speech understanding. 

3. Ask your communication partner to slow down and speak naturally. Slowing down rate of speech while continuing to speak in a natural manner is more beneficial than over-enunciating and raising the volume. 

Phone calls can take practice and patience. Reach out to your hearing care provider if you need further strategies or technology to improve phone communication.

CROS and Bi-CROS Solutions

What is a CROS System?

A Contralateral Routing of Sound (CROS) hearing aid is a type of hearing device that is used to treat unilateral hearing loss (single sided hearing loss). It takes sound from the ear with poor hearing sensitivity and transmits the sounds to the better hearing ear. As a result, the CROS transmitter device is not a full hearing aid. It has microphones and a computer processing chip, but no speaker. It will therefore be transmitting the sound wirelessly to a receiving hearing aid on the better ear. This type of set-up allows a patient to have access to sound from both sides of their head which aids in volume, clarity, and sound localization.  

What is a Bi-CROS System?

A Bi-CROS system is very similar to the CROS system. A patient would still be wearing two devices, however, the CROS transmitter is paired with an active hearing aid providing amplification. A Bi-CROS system is used when someone has an asymmetrical hearing loss, that is a hearing loss in both ears but with one ear better than the other.

Again, the CROS device works as a transmitter which captures the sound from the bad side and transmits it to the hearing aid on the better side. The hearing aid on the better side delivers the sound from the worst ear and amplifies the sound from the better hearing ear as well.

Who is a Candidate for a CROS or Bi-CROS System?

Individuals with either asymmetric hearing loss or single-sided deafness may be a candidate for a CROS or Bi-CROS system. To inquire whether or not this non-surgical option would work for you, give us a call at 904-399-0350 to make an appointment!

What to Expect When You are New to Hearing Aids

1. During an appointment with your audiologist, expect a thorough assessment to determine the severity of your hearing loss and a detailed discussion about your lifestyle, hearing priorities, and budget to help determine what hearing aids are best for you.

2. Expect an adjustment period when you first begin to wear hearing aids. Hearing loss typically occurs over time, and it can take time for your brain to become accustomed to all the sounds you are now hearing again. The world is a very noisy place and you may notice sounds you didn’t realize you were missing such as your footsteps when walking, running water from the faucet & the quiet hum of the refrigerator. After wearing the hearing aids for a week or two, all of those ambient sounds will become less prominent to you. The more you wear hearing aids, the quicker you will adjust!

3. Expect them to “whistle” as you put them in your ears. Once they are in your ears, the whistling should stop.

4. Expect to take care of your hearing aids! The better care that is taken of them, the longer they will last. It is as simple as routine nightly cleaning. Wiping them down with a tissue every night will go a long way!

5. Expect a new technology to be developed every couple of years. You can speak with your audiologist to determine if new technology would be beneficial for you. Just as any other electronic device, they do not last forever and will eventually wear out.

Purchasing hearing aids is a big adjustment to your life but with these few pointers to get you started, you are on your way to better hearing!

Hearing with Two Ears

Our bodies are designed with two ears for many important reasons. Listening with two ears:

  • Leads to better understanding in background noise
  • Allows for improved ability to detect where sound is coming from and
  • Gives speech a “boost” in volume

In addition, listening with two ears lessens the amount of work it takes the brain to understand speech and can lead to an improved quality of life. 

For people whose hearing loss is severe, two hearing aids may not be very helpful. However, research, anecdotal evidence and experience tells us that using a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other ear can improve clarity of speech, even more so than using just one cochlear implant. 

This has been demonstrated over and over to the point where two cochlear implant companies have partnered with hearing aid companies to create compatibility between the cochlear implant and hearing aid. This not only leads to the great benefits discussed above but also allows streaming of phone calls and other media to both ears at the same and easier access to program or volume changes.

To learn more about your hearing aid and/or cochlear implant options, give our office a call at 904-399-0350 for a hearing evaluation.

Hearing Aids Make an Appearance on Team USA

Although COVID took a larger than expected spotlight during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, pushing the games back a full year into 2021, for audiologists, there was a special player on Team USA that caught our attention.

That player is David Smith, the 36 year old middle blocker of Team USA Men’s Volleyball. Including Tokyo, David has seen three Olympic games. With his 6-foot-7 stature, you may not be able to see, but David Smith wears hearing aids.  David was born with a severe to profound hearing loss and worn hearing aids since the age of 3. He currently wears a set of Oticon Dynamo hearing aids.  David’s hearing aids are powerful enough that he can hear many things, including the softer voices of his children, but he also relies heavily on lip reading, especially on the noisy volleyball court.

In a recent interview, David thanks his parents for keeping him involved in sports. He states that his hearing loss was less of a barrier in areas where he could watch and learn from others. He says “it was definitely a confidence booster”. Even as he plays overseas, he has become a role model for children with hearing loss, referencing a few children who wore his jersey at every game they attended. David hopes others with hearing loss see that they can achieve anything they want, even making it to the world’s biggest sporting event.

David Smith (Source: https://www.teamusa.org/usa-volleyball/athletes/David-Smith.org)

More information about David can be found at the links below:

Disposable vs. Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries

All hearing aids require a power source, but many modern hearing aids have the option of either a disposable or rechargeable battery. Which option is the best for you?

Benefits of Rechargeable Batteries:
1. Convenient – Instead of having to frequently repurchase batteries over the lifespan of the hearing aid, you simply charge the hearing aid at night while you sleep. The hearing aid then has battery power for up to 30 hours on a single charge. The internal battery can be charged thousands of times before needing replacement. 
2. Easy to Use – Disposable hearing aid batteries are very small and can be difficult to change for some people. Rechargeable hearing aids easily pop into a charger, so there is no fumbling with small pieces.
3. Environmentally Friendly – Given that most disposable hearing aid batteries last about 5-7 days, you will ultimately throw away hundreds of batteries over the lifespan of hearing aids if you use that option. Although hearing aid batteries can be recycled, disposable batteries create much more waste over the lifespan of a hearing aid compared to 2 rechargeable batteries. 

Benefits of Disposable Batteries:
1. More portable – Disposable batteries are much easier to take on the go, since you don’t have to pack the charger with a power cord. A pack of disposable batteries is small enough to easily fit in a pocket or wallet.  
2. Little downtime – When disposable batteries die, it’s as simple as changing to a new battery in a matter of seconds to power your hearing aids again. When the charge dies on rechargeable hearing aids, it typically takes a couple of hours for the hearing aids to fully recharge, which is especially inconvenient if you don’t have your charger with you. 
3. Different hearing aid style options – Certain styles of hearing aids, such as tiny invisible in the ear hearing aids, are only able to be powered by disposable batteries. Other types of hearing aids, such as behind the ear styles, typically have the option of either rechargeable or disposable batteries. 

The best hearing aid battery option for you is a matter of lifestyle and personal preference. An audiologist can help you decide what the best choice is to fit your needs. 

Troubleshooting Bluetooth-Enabled Hearing Aids

Many newer hearing aids on the market are Bluetooth compatible and are able to wirelessly connect to both iPhone and Android devices. Patients with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids enjoy the convenience of streaming phone calls and listening to music/tinnitus maskers from their phones directly to their hearing aids, all the while being able to use their phone as a remote control. But with great convenience comes the occasional annoyance when connections drop out.

If this happens, there are a few things you can do to fix the connection. Here are a few ways you can troubleshoot:

  • Have you downloaded and installed the latest version of software for your cell phone?
    • It is important to regularly download and install software updates provided by the cell phone manufacturer. These updates protect your device from viruses and hacking, as well as improve the device’s operation.
    • Note that a software update may require you to completely switch off the phone for a minute before switching it back on.
  • Have you downloaded and installed the latest version of software for the app?
    • If your phone has had a software update, check to see whether your apps also require updating. Occasionally, an update to the device will require an update to the app as well.
  • Did your hearing aids lose its Bluetooth pairing?
    • It is possible that you can fix Bluetooth streaming issues by re-pairing your devices in either the Bluetooth or Accessibility screen in your phone’s General Settings.
    • Remember to turn the hearing aids off and on and place them within a few inches of the phone before re-pairing.

If you are still having Bluetooth issues, we encourage you to come to our Walk-In Clinic (Tuesdays 10:00am – 11:30am and Thursdays 1:00pm – 2:30pm) at the Hearing Center for help troubleshooting your connection.