Tagged: hearing loss

How long should hearing aids last?

December 14, 2015

When you are considering a hearing aid purchase, there are bound to be questions you need to have answered prior to your final decision. One of the more common questions I hear is “How long should a hearing aid last?” When making a large investment, it’s important to consider the longevity of that investment in order to make the best decision for your budget, lifestyle and needs. Many people are surprised that there is a difference in typical life expectancy between styles of hearing aids.

Team of 5 business people working on some calculationsThe typical life span of most hearing aids is five to seven years. The life expectancy for a completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid is slightly shorter compared to the other styles because it resides in a hostile environment every day. The outer ear canal is a warm, moist cavern that has a slow accumulation of wax and oils. Over time, the CIC can have wax accumulation on the receiver, which generates the sound that is heard by the ear. Alternatively, it may develop corrosion on the internal components, decreasing its functionality and/or sound quality. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids generally have a longer life expectancy because the working parts are inside a sealed case. The part of the hearing aid that delivers the sound to the ear has no working parts, so it can be removed from the hearing aid and washed under warm water with mild soap on an as-needed basis. The newer Canal Receiver Technology (CRT) also called Receiver in the Canal (RIC) technology is sort of its own breed. This instrument has most of the working parts encased in a piece that sits behind the ear, but the receiver is in the canal, as its name implies. The nice thing about the CRT/RIC technology is that the receivers can be replaced for a nominal cost at your hearing healthcare provider’s office if wax or other debris degrades the sound quality, saving you the cost of a repair by the manufacturer. The life expectancy of the CRT/RIC is similar to the BTE.

No matter which style you choose, hearing aids need to be checked periodically to ensure they are working properly. We recommend having your hearing aids checked every six months. If you have neglected these important checks, your instruments may not be in the best working order and you may be experiencing less than optimal performance and sound quality. Regular check-ups will ensure a long lasting hearing aid that improves your everyday listening to the best of its ability. In addition, these semi-annual checks allow your provider to make sure the hearing aids function as expected. If your hearing or listening environments have changed, the hearing aids can be modified to better suit your needs at your semi-annual check-up. If it has been a while since you’ve had your hearing aids checked, call today and get your check-up scheduled. And, if you are new to hearing aids, make your investment last longer by determining to make your check-ups a priority. You’ll be glad you did.

Hearing Tests for Children

December 7, 2015

Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects in newborns. One of every one-thousand infants is born deaf, and five of every thousand have enough hearing loss to affect their success in school. The good news is that most babies have a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. Many of those who don’t pass the initial screening undergo further diagnostic testing by an audiologist to determine if the problem is temporary, or if a permanent loss is present. Many years of research has determined the earlier a child is diagnosed with hearing loss and a treatment plan begun, the more successful the child will be in communicating, using spoken and written language.

Hearing tests for children can take as little as five minutes with a test called OAE’s, (Otoacoustic Emissions). The test is performed by inserting a small soft ear tip into the child’s ear canal. A computer program emits a clicking sound into the ear canal. A microphone in the ear tip measures very quiet sounds produced by the ear in response to the click. Other testing techniques involve game playing where the audiologist will teach the child to respond to a sound by using small toys that light up. The child learns that by looking in the direction of the sound, they will be rewarded by seeing the toy. Still other testing can measure the brain waves generated in response to sound.

Once identified with a permanent hearing loss, a child can be treated in a variety of ways in order to improve communication opportunities. Surgical or medical treatment may be a solution but in many instances infants are fit with hearing aids or cochlear implants to provide sound stimulation to the brain. If you suspect your child has a hearing loss, a visit to the audiologist is the next best step.

Hear Clearly with Widex Clear

November 30, 2015

Widex is one of the most well-known hearing aid manufacturers in the US. In fact, they were the first company to offer digital hearing aids. Since then, there has been very little to set them apart from other manufacturers. Until now. Widex is one of only several manufacturers to offer wireless hearing aid technology. After a long wait, the Clear is now available to consumers and promises to be an industry leader.

The Clear features wireless communication between a pair of hearing aids being worn simultaneously, providing a richer, more realistic sound quality for its wearers. Most hearing aids take information in through the on-board microphone and then the sound is changed in the processor and returned to the ear canal. Each hearing aid acts alone. The changes one hearing aid makes to the sound may differ from the changes made by the hearing aid on the other ear, effectively giving the brain two different representations of the sounds in the environment. With the technology in the Widex Clear, the information coming in to the individual hearing aids is compared one to the other. Then the patented sound processing, noise reduction and feedback management systems work in tandem to improve the clarity of speech, resulting in an overall improvement in sound quality and a more realistic listening experience.

Along with communication between hearing aids, the new technology from Widex offers ear-level Bluetooth compatibility through its on-board wireless technology. With accessories that allow for direct communication with TV, audio equipment and cell phones, those wearing the Clear will experience high fidelity, echo-free stereo sound that is amplified specifically to meet the individual hearing needs of the wearer. Whether listening to conversation in a quiet environment or in a background of noise, on the TV or via cellphone, with new technology from Widex, everything becomes more Clear.

Finding the Best Hearing Aid for You

November 16, 2015

Happy coupleWhen you are trying to find the best hearing aid, there are many things to consider. It’s not uncommon to feel unsure about which manufacturer or which features will be best for your hearing loss and your everyday listening situations. The many choices that manufacturers now offer in their hearing aids can make it even more confusing. If you are questioning what to purchase, you aren’t alone. Take the time to look at hearing aid reviews, ask someone you trust what their experience has been and most importantly, find a provider you trust.

There are a lot of features that are important, but any top-quality hearing aid should include:

• 100% digital sound processing for excellent sound quality
• Feedback suppression to decrease the annoying whistling sound hearing aids sometimes make when too close to another object.
• Adjustable channels – the more channels, the more adjustable
• Dual microphones plus active noise reduction – the best improvement in hearing in noise occurs when the hearing aid offers both of these features.
• Connectivity – Bluetooth compatibility and wireless connectivity are becoming more common and allow for connecting to external listening devices such as TV and MP3 players.
• Moisture protection – the number one cause of hearing aid repair is wax and moisture on the microphone or receiver (speaker). Moisture protection systems ensure longevity of the hearing aid.

Manufacturer Websites – a good source of information
When you are considering hearing aids, reviews can help you decide which is right for you. However, be cautious and find reputable reviews that will give you objective information. Look for hearing aid reviews that provide comprehensive information from a reliable source. Manufacturer websites are generally consumer-friendly and can be a good source for information gathering. You’ll also find blogs and consumer reviews online. Be careful with this information as it can often be colored by a hearing aid wearer’s bad experience with the hearing healthcare provider, not with the hearing aid itself.

Ask Those You Trust
What do you do when you want to find a good mechanic, dentist or financial advisor? You begin by asking those you trust who they prefer. Ask for a referral from friends you know who have been successful with hearing aids. Do they like their hearing aids? What do they like about them? What features do the hearing aids have? A more important question might be, did they respect and trust the person they worked with?

Find the Provider That Is Best For You
When you compare hearing aids, the first question really shouldn’t be about features. You also don’t need to begin by focusing on what brand or style of hearing aid you are going to buy. Hearing aids are essentially all the same. So, the key is in finding a highly trained, experienced hearing professional that holds the same high standards you do and is someone you can trust to be well informed about hearing loss and its solutions. Ask your friends and family who they trust and then begin by checking the credentials of the person you are considering. Are they an audiologist? They should be.

Second, it’s important that it is someone you feel very comfortable around and someone you can effectively communicate with. You will need to trust this professional to be able to openly discuss the difficulties you have been experiencing with your hearing loss and the communication difficulties it has created for you. The audiologist you select should have the educational background and the practical experience you need. But, he or she also needs to be a good communicator and a great listener, capable of translating your experiences into a technical solution to resolve important communication issues. Once you’ve had your consultation with a provider, ask yourself these questions: Was the exam thorough? Did the provider answer your questions? Did he or she listen? Do you feel you can trust him or her? Would you feel comfortable referring your friends to this person? If you can answer yes to these questions, you are on the right track!

Finding the right hearing aid for your listening needs can seem daunting. Take the time to do your homework – check blogs, reviews and manufacturer websites, talk to those you trust and chose a provider you can communicate with effectively. If you invest a little bit of time to investigate your choices before you purchase hearing aids, you’ll find that you feel your hearing aid purchase was money well spent.

Talk About Discreet, This Hearing Aid Is Invisible

November 10, 2015

A breakthrough hearing aid technology is now available for those with mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss who are looking for a discreet solution. This instrument, approved by the FDA in March of 2010, is the first totally implantable hearing aid for those with less than profound hearing loss.

Envoy Medical’s new hearing aid implant, called Esteem, is truly revolutionary in its approach to improved hearing. This is because the hearing aid doesn’t require anything to be worn on the outer ear. In fact, none of the hearing aid is visible from the outside. What’s even more revolutionary is the fact that the hearing aid doesn’t have a microphone or speaker.

So, how does it work?
The Esteem is implanted in the middle ear during a relatively simple medical procedure. The implant doesn’t need a microphone or speaker because it uses a sensor in the middle ear that captures sound waves coming into the ear canal naturally through the ear canal and eardrum. A sound processor is implanted in the bone behind the ear. This processor amplifies and improves the sound quality, then returns it to a “driver” attached to the third bone of the middle ear, called the stapes. The sound then continues through the rest of the system as it would naturally. Visit the company’s website to see a video animation on how Esteem works.

The fact that the Esteem processes sound naturally through the outer ear means there is no artificial amplification of the sound prior to reaching the eardrum. Envoy Medical reports that patients find this sound quality much more clear and much more natural sounding. The most appealing aspect for most of its wearers, though, is its invisibility and relatively simple care and maintenance. Although the system can be modified by the wearer for changing environments with the use of a remote control, the Esteem is meant to be hands-free. And, because there are no batteries to change or ear pieces to clean, it is a popular choice for people with hearing loss who really don’t care to think about or take care of a hearing aid.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Esteem hearing aid is its cost. This hearing instrument is not for the faint of heart. At a cost of $30,000, this instrument is easily the most expensive of the hearing aids available today, next to the cochlear implant. And, because it is an electrical piece that runs on a battery, the system will require additional surgery for replacement of the battery once it dies. Envoy medical estimates replacements will be necessary every 4.5 to 9 years, depending on how it is used (24 hour a day use vs. 8 hour a day use). Battery replacement, according to Envoy, is a relatively simple in-office procedure with a cost of roughly $2000.

Although it’s an expensive choice, the Esteem implanted hearing aid is a promising option for the person who really wants to be as discreet as possible with hearing aids. And, if you’re looking for something that’s easy to use, high-end technology and offers hearing twenty-four hours a day, this unique hearing aid might be worth investigating. Talk to your Audiologist today to see if Esteem is right for you.