Tagged: hearing loss

Unitron Joins the Wireless Race

May 23, 2016

With a new digital chip called Era that out-performs all of its previous generations of hearing aids, Unitron joins three other leading manufacturers that offer true wireless technology to those with hearing loss. Wireless technology allows the hearing aid on one ear to communicate with the hearing aid on the other ear, improving sound quality and noise reduction capabilities. Wireless technology also allows the hearing aids to connect to personal listening systems such as MP3 players, stereo systems, cell phones or to a television. The new Era chip is a more advanced system that allows for better manipulation of sound to improve the listening experience as well as allowing for faster processing of sound coming into Unitron’s new families of hearing aids, Quantum and Moxi.

The Quantum and Moxi families of hearing aids incorporate the new Era chip and were developed to offer better understanding of speech, especially in background noise. They also promise a more natural sound quality. Both Moxi and Quantum are offered in three different levels of technology, allowing those with limited budgets to have access to the latest advancements in sound processing, noise reduction, feedback management and wireless connectivity. Quantum is available in the behind-the-ear (BTE) style as well as custom pieces that fit in the ear. Moxi is a canal-receiver technology (CRT) which places the speaker of the hearing aid in the ear canal while the body of the hearing aid, which holds the working parts of the hearing aid and the Era sound processing chip, is housed in a discreet case that sits directly behind the ear.

Quantum and Moxi both have four signature features that set them apart from other hearing aids available:

• SmartFocus is an automatic feature which provides optimal speech intelligibility when necessary and at other times, offers a comfortable listening environment when sounds might otherwise become too loud or distorted.

Pinna Effect provides natural sound quality. Historically, behind-the-ear hearing aids have had a difficult time correcting for the wearer’s poor ability to find where sounds are coming from, called localization. When the microphones of a hearing aid sit outside of the ear, the natural localizing effect that the shape of the outer ear allows, called the pinna effect, is lost. The Pinna Effect setting in Quantum BTEs and Moxi CRTs corrects for the fact that the hearing aid sits outside of the outer ear (the pinna).

Natural Sound Balance is focused on making sure that natural sound coming into the ear canal from the environment blends with the amplified sound coming from the hearing aid. The result is a clear and balanced signal.

Wireless connectivity provides ease of use to the wearer. The broadband wireless technology in the Quantum and Moxi family of hearing aids allows for communication between hearing aids and gives the wearer more freedom with the hands-free use of personal listening devices such as an MP3 player or cell phone. With an accessory called the uTV, wearers can also connect wirelessly to television.

With Quantum and Moxi, Unitron is able to offer the features that those with hearing loss are looking for. The new hearing aid families both promise to be industry-leaders and are a significant step forward in Unitron’s technology offerings.

The New Miniature BTE

May 9, 2016

Just a few short years ago, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids were not the style of choice for those who require hearing aids for improving their hearing. In fact, less than 20% 1 of people who wore hearing aids prior to 2000 chose the behind-the-ear style. Who could blame them? The old-style BTE’s were large, bulky and not very aesthetically pleasing to the eye. These issues enhanced the stigma that hearing loss is an old-person’s ailment and a handicap. Technology advancements have improved the number of BTE wearers to more than 60% 2 and with better, smaller choices, surveys indicate that more people with milder hearing losses are now benefiting from hearing aids1.

Along with having a smaller case size, today’s behind-the-ear hearing aids are more stylish and functionally versatile. The first miniature BTE wasn’t much to look at with very few case color choices. Although it was smaller than its ancestors were, it was very limited in terms of its offerings for user controls. In other words, it had very few bells and whistles. It was smaller for sure, which made it more aesthetically appealing, but the functionality limited how the wearer could manipulate sound in the environment. As the number of manufacturers who offer miniature BTE’s increases and the types of technology and sound processing available in the hearing aids expands, satisfaction with the BTE has improved. In fact, overall satisfaction ratings are significantly higher (85% vs 76%) than the traditional custom styles, even though there are no significant differences in perceived benefit or value1.

With technology advancements, behind-the-ear hearing aids are an exceptional choice for nearly anyone, no matter the degree of hearing loss or configuration. If you are experiencing hearing loss, whether you’ve worn hearing aids in the past or not, talk to your hearing healthcare provider about the new BTE to see if it is a good option for you.

1 Kochkin S: MarkeTrak VIII Mini-BTEs tap new market, usersmore satisfied. Hear J 2011:64(11):17-24
2 Kirkwood D: Resilient hearing aid industry records rising sales despite a troubled economy. Hear J 2009;62(12):11-16.

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

April 18, 2016

When you’ve discovered that you have permanent hearing loss and the only solution is amplification, the next step is finding the best solution that will provide you with the greatest benefit. But getting the best benefit from hearing aids isn’t just about the sound quality or the “bells and whistles” the technology provides. The greatest benefit truly is in the changes you’ll see in what really matters: connecting to life and connecting to people.

Enhance Your Quality of Life
Untreated hearing loss can cause you to pull away from the things you love the most. You may not want to be involved in group situations anymore because it’s too difficult to hear and understand. Or, you might not do some of the things you love to do because you know you’ll have trouble hearing. Removing yourself from the daily activities you enjoy can cause depression, anxiety, isolation, and a host of other unpleasant emotions. The truth of the matter is, hearing aids improve the lives of those with hearing loss. Once you’ve decided to move forward with trying hearing aids, you can look forward to increased confidence, a greater sense of independence and easier communication.

Improved Hearing
Although hearing aids do not “fix” hearing loss, they can significantly improve your ability to hear and understand voices and other sounds in both quiet and noisy situations. This is helpful in personal, professional and social settings where the ability to hear clearly is important. How well you hear in different situations will depend on the type and severity of your hearing loss. We know that you hear with your ears, but you understand with your brain. Working with an experienced audiologist will make sure that you find the right choice for the type of hearing loss you have.

Greater Independence
I can’t tell you how many times a patient has said, “if my wife isn’t with me to interpret, I miss the punch line every time!” There’s nothing worse than sitting with friends, enjoying a great glass of wine and you have to “fake” a hardy laugh at a joke you didn’t hear. While everyone laughs and enjoys themselves around you, you have to smile and nod, like you haven’t missed a thing. How frustrating! But, hearing aids will lessen your dependence on others. They will also give you a better sense of control over the events in your life.

Better Relationships
Hearing loss can be a barrier to communicating effectively. Hearing aids can improve the relationships you share with family and friends. Your spouse can attest to the frustration it causes when you don’t hear clearly. You can decrease the effect your hearing loss has on others simply by wearing hearing aids.

Increased Self-Confidence
You’ll feel more confident in professional and social situations when you can detect sounds at normal volume levels. When you don’t have to strain to hear and when you know you are hearing what others do, you can relax and enjoy yourself. Hearing aids can decrease the amount of energy it takes to listen and understand effectively.
Let’s face it: no one wants to wear hearing aids. But when you have taken the time to find the best solution for your hearing loss, social situations and listening environments, you’ll find that not only does the investment improve your hearing, it improves your quality of life. And that’s the best benefit of all.

A T-coil Can Improve Hearing In Noise

April 4, 2016

Hearing aids can seem complicated. Do you understand or even know about all of the features your hearing aids include? Do they have directional microphones? What about a volume control or wireless connectivity? If you are unsure, you’re not alone. I’m amazed at how many times patients aren’t even sure if their hearing aids have multiple programs. If they do, they’re often unsure of what those programs are or what they do. Many times, easily accessed features that are meant to improve hearing for the listener go unused. One of the more under-utilized features in most hearing aids is the telecoil or “t-coil.”

A t-coil consists of a tiny coil of wire wrapped around a metal core. The core will generate an electric current in the coil when it is in the presence of a magnetic field. It can act as an alternate or supplemental source for sound coming into a hearing aid. Normally, a hearing aid gathers sound through its microphone or microphones. It then amplifies that sound and sends it into the ear canal of the listener. When a telecoil is used as the input source instead, the hearing aid bypasses the microphone and picks up the electro-magnetic signal produced by a telephone or an assistive listening device, such as an FM system. Then, the hearing aid will amplify that signal and convert it to an audio signal. The result is a clear signal with less interference from background noise.

The t-coil was originally designed only for use with a regular land-line telephone, which has a speaker that is driven by magnets. When someone wearing a hearing aid that has a t-coil switches the t-coil on, the sound heard through the phone is often much stronger. Now, there are many other systems that can be accessed with a t-coil in order to improve sound quality.

Telecoils are especially helpful when there is a lot of background noise. If you happen to have access to an assistive listening device, such as an FM system, you may find that you can hear much better through your t-coil with the FM system than with just the hearing aid microphones. This is because the hearing aid microphones are often turned off when the t-coil is in use. The sound that is being amplified comes directly from a microphone in the assistive listening device, which is often much closer to the sound source. This decreases the amount of background noise that is amplified. Many public places such as movie theaters, auditoriums and sports stadiums provide assistive listening devices to their patrons at no charge. Many of these systems are hearing aid compatible. So, if your hearing aid has a t-coil, you can easily improve your hearing in the situations that are often most difficult.

A telecoil can provide the extra help you need to hear in situations that otherwise might seem impossible. Ask your hearing healthcare provider about telecoils and whether your hearing aid has one. The more you know, the better you’ll hear.

Starkey Xino: Offering Options to the Discreet Hearing Aid Wearer

March 21, 2016

Starkey is an American hearing aid company with a world-wide vision to change the face of hearing aids as we know it. The company has been working diligently to offer smaller and better technology to those with hearing loss. For the past several years, Starkey has done a great job in this endeavor, offering better sound quality, improved noise reduction, less feedback and better connectivity to those with hearing loss. The latest hearing aid from Starkey, called Xino, was released in August 2011 and promises “something small that will deliver big benefits.” Xino is a receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aid and is Starkey’s smallest RIC yet. It is the only RIC hearing aid using a 10A battery that offers a push-button control, which acts as either a volume control or memory selection. It also has a tcoil, which makes telephone conversations easier and connection to personal listening systems more attainable.

What Is a Reciever-In-the-Canal Hearing Aid?
Receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids are worn behind the ear. A small tube carrying speaker wiring runs down the side of the ear to the receiver (speaker) in the ear canal, which then delivers sound to the ear. This design sets it apart from other types of hearing aids because it is discreet and allows for more power, allowing people with severe hearing loss to wear a small hearing aid for the first time without the worry of feedback. Starkey’s Xino offers what people with hearing loss are looking for: options in a small package.

Xino includes Starkey’s new Spectral iQ feature, a smart solution for people who have steeply sloping, high-frequency hearing loss, which is commonly seen with noise exposure damage and exposure to ototoxic (ear damaging) medications. Spectral iQ is Starkey’s frequency lowering technology.

What is Frequency Lowering Technology?
Imagine playing a piano with keys missing for the high-pitched notes. Trying to play a piece of music around those missing keys will distort the music. But, if you played the same piece of music in a lower key, it may sound a little different but you will hear all the nuances of the music that the composer intended. Frequency lowering technology works in the same way. It is designed to improve the clarity of speech by identifying high-frequency speech cues and replicating them in lower frequencies. This makes the sound a little different but research says that many listeners don’t recognize the change and if they do, they become accustomed to the difference relatively quickly.

Xino also includes all of Starkey’s incredible performance features such as Voice iQ2, PureWave Feedback Eliminator and HydraShield®2, Starkey’s proprietary moisture protection technology designed to repel wax, oils and moisture. With its discreet style and many options, the Starkey Xino promises to be highly sought after and Starkey proves again that they are a leader in hearing aid technology advancement.