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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!

The Link Between Hearing Loss, Hearing Aids & Cognitive Decline

Annual physicals are a part of all individual’s health routine however, audiological examinations should become part of this routine, particularly as we age. Hearing loss can have a gradual onset and as a result, may go unnoticed for many years. The average timeframe in which someone treats their diagnosed hearing loss is 7 years. The duration of untreated hearing loss is longer for many because it may take years for them to decide to get evaluated. Untreated hearing loss may begin to affect interpersonal relationships and those individuals may withdraw from social interactions and become depressed.

Some warning signs that may indicate an individual may need to have their hearing evaluated are:

* Ringing or buzzing in the ears
* Can hear but not understand others speaking
* Group conversations are difficult
* The TV or radio is louder than normal and others report it is too loud
* They ask others to repeat themselves
* Everyday sounds such as footsteps, humming of the refrigerator or the doorbell are no longer audible

A long term study, “Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Edlerly Adults: A 25-year Study,” compared the rate of cognitive decline among older adults who were using hearing aids to those who were not. The outcome found no difference in the rate of cognitive decline between those with no reported hearing loss (the control group) and those who had a hearing loss and were using amplification. However, it was found that those with untreated hearing loss had significantly lower baseline scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination, a well-established test of cognitive function, during the 25-year follow-up period, independent of age, gender and education.

By treating the diagnosed hearing loss with amplification, hearing aid users can experience improved communication with those around them. As a result their moods are improved, they expose themselves to more social interactions and cognitively stimulating activities. This is most likely the underlying reason for the decreased cognitive decline reported in the study.

Untreated hearing loss results in decreased ability to understand speech and increased rate of cognitive decline due to lack of neural stimulation. It is time for a new way of thinking about the importance of hearing care and hearing solutions. Annual audiological evaluations should be conducted to determine the status of individuals hearing and help prevent untreated hearing loss due to lack of diagnosis.

Hearing with Restaurant Noise

For people with hearing loss, restaurants can be a challenging listening environment when trying to converse with family and loved ones. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Joyce Cohen explains the frustrations often felt by many while eating out. Though it may seem like there is little you could do to improve your ability to hear in challenging listening environments, there are some changes you could make to help limit the effect of background noise.

1. Choose your restaurant carefully.  Modern restaurants often have high ceilings and hard cervices that often reflect noise instead of absorbing it. The more echo and reverberation present, the more difficult it is to understand speech. It is also important to choose a restaurant that has good lightening. Non-verbal cues such as lip reading, facial expressions and body language aid spoken language to help you understand others.

2. Booths are better than tables. The high backs of booths will block some of the environmental sounds that can drown out your conversation. In addition, booth seating is typically made of softer material that can absorb background noise.

3. Sit along the edges of the dining area. By sitting around the perimeter of the room you will avoid having outside noise bombard you from all directions and will allow you to focus on those you want to converse with most.

4. Sit Away from the Kitchen. Kitchens are often the noisiest places in the restaurant. Many open concept kitchens in modern restaurants give off noise pollution to the general sitting area. By choosing a place away from the kitchen, you are able to minimize it’s effect.

For more tips on how to deal with background noise and to learn more about your hearing loss contact Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute. Click on the link below to read Joyce Cohen’s article from the Washington Post.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

May was designated as the Better Hearing and Speech Month by the American Speech-Language-Hearing  Association (ASHA)  in 1927.  The goals of Better Hearing and Speech month is to bring awareness to hearing and speech deficits, educate the population on how these issues effect the community, and empower individuals to take action if they suspect they have a speech or hearing deficit.

Hearing loss is the third most common health issue in the United States, effecting one in every eight people over the age of 12.  Difficulty communicating with others can lead individuals to be withdrawn, negatively impacting them both socially and emotionally.  The primary goal of an audiologist, when working with these patients, is to provide the tools they need to maintain an active lifestyle and minimize the effect of their hearing loss.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) developed a short questionnaire* to see if you could benefit from having your hearing evaluated by an audiologist.

NIH QUESTIONNAIRE:

  1. Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty hearing them?
  2. Do you have difficulty hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?
  3. Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
  4. Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
  5. Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?
  6. Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
  7. Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
  8. Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
  9. Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?

If you answered “YES” to three or more of above questions, feel free to contact our clinic at (904) 339-0350 to schedule an appointment with a provider.  Together you will develop an individualized plan to improve your hearing healthcare.

*Adapted from: Newman, C.W., Weinstein, B.E., Jacobson, G.P., & Hug, G.A. (1990). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults [HHIA]: Psychometric adequacy and audiometric correlates. Ear Hear, 11, 430-433.

Upcoming Hearing Aid Informational Session

Do you watch television with the volume louder than you used to? Do you have trouble understanding conversation when in a restaurant? Do you complain that people are always mumbling? These are common signs that indicate you may have a hearing loss.
• The first step is to undergo a hearing evaluation by an audiologist. If the test shows that you have a hearing loss, a hearing aid is often recommended to help make communication easier and enjoyable again.

A quick search on the internet can lead to many results regarding which hearing aid is the best. It is easy to become overwhelmed and confused by all the marketing, sales and misinformation regarding hearing aids.


Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute is hosting a ‘Lunch & Learn’ event to help guide you through the hearing aid selection process and to provide you with the tools you need to succeed with hearing aids.


Come join Dr. Green and Dr. Aquilina on Wednesday March 20th for an informational session regarding hearing loss and how to get the most out of your hearing aids. Register now to reserve your spot!

7 Tips for Better Communication

Hearing loss can be a problem for the whole family, not just the individual. Below are a few strategies that can help with effective communication at home:

  1. Maintain eye contact : Face the speaker and maintain eye contact. Facial expressions and body language add vital information to communication
  2. Gain attention: Gain the listener’s attention before you begin talking. If the person with hearing loss hears better from one ear, move to that side of the person.
  3. Keep hands away from face: When talking, try to keep your hands a way from your face. You will produce clearer speech and allow the listener to make use of those visual cues.
  4. Speak naturally: Speak distinctly, but without exaggeration. You do not need to shout. Shouting may actually distort the words. Try not to mumble. Speak at a normal rate, not too fast or too slow. Use pauses rather than slow speech to give the person time to process what you are saying.
  5. Rephrase rather than repeat: If the listener has difficulty understanding something you said, find a different way of saying it. If he or she did not understand the words the first time, it’s likely he or she will not understand the words the second time.
  6. Converse away from background noise: Try to reduce background noise if possible. Turn off radio or television. Move to a quiet space away from the noise source. When going to a restaurant, ask for a table away from the kitchen, server stations, or large parties.
  7. Move to an area with good lighting: Sit where there is good lighting so that your face can be more easily seen. Avoid strong lighting coming from behind you, such as through a window.

Better Hearing and Speech Month

May was designated as the Better Hearing and Speech Month by the American Speech-Language-Hearing  Association (ASHA)  in 1927.  The goals of Better Hearing and Speech month is to bring awareness to hearing and speech deficits, educate the population on how these issues effect the community, and empower individuals to take action if they suspect they have a speech or hearing deficit.

Hearing loss is the third most common health issue in the United States, effecting one in every eight people over the age of 12.  Difficulty communicating with others can lead individuals to be withdrawn, negatively impacting them both socially and emotionally.  The primary goal of an audiologist, when working with these patients, is to provide the tools they need to maintain an active lifestyle and minimize the effect of their hearing loss.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) developed a short questionnaire* to see if you could benefit from having your hearing evaluated by an audiologist.

 

NIH QUESTIONNAIRE:

  1. Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty hearing them?
  2. Do you have difficulty hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?
  3. Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?
  4. Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
  5. Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?
  6. Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?
  7. Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?
  8. Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal or social life?
  9. Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?

 

If you answered “YES” to three or more of above questions, feel free to contact our clinic at (904) 339-0350 to schedule an appointment with a provider.  Together you will develop an individualized plan to improve your hearing healthcare.

*Adapted from: Newman, C.W., Weinstein, B.E., Jacobson, G.P., & Hug, G.A. (1990). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults [HHIA]: Psychometric adequacy and audiometric correlates. Ear Hear, 11, 430-433.

I Can Hear My Family, But I Can’t Understand

Hear for the Holidays

As the holidays draw near you may find yourself concerned with your ability to hear family and friends at holiday parties and gatherings. Many people often report that they can hear the conversation around them but can’t understand what people are saying or they state that people often mumble. This may be especially true in a crowded restaurant or room.

If this situation sounds familiar you may have a hearing loss in one or both ears. A type of hearing loss often seen in older adults is known as ‘presbycusis’. Presbycusis describes a pattern of hearing loss that manifests in the high pitch range. This means low pitched sounds (men’s voices etc) are easy to hear but high pitched sounds (women and childrens’ voices, birds, etc) are much more difficult to hear.

Speech is comprised of many different sounds and they all need to be heard well in order to understand conversation clearly. Low pitched speech sounds, such as vowels, bring the volume or the “power” to speech. High pitched sounds, such as consonants, provide the clarity to speech. In the case of presbycusis, an individual can hear the low pitched vowels but are unable to distinguish the high pitch consonants which results in being able to hear that someone is talking but not being able to understand what they are saying. In addition, listening in a noisy environment such as a party or crowded restaurant can be difficult, stressful and exhausting. The volume of the background noise often “washes over” the soft high pitched consonants making them even more difficult to hear. Also, when a hearing loss is present the brain has a harder time teasing out a speech signal from the unwanted background noise.

If you find yourself struggling to hear loves ones this holiday season call 904-399-0350 to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive hearing evaluation with an audiologist. You will be able to learn more about your hearing and the steps you can take to communicate more easily with friends and family.