Getting Used To A Hearing Aid

Getting Used to a Hearing Aid

Making the decision to improve your hearing is a big step towards improving your overall quality of life. It can take time to get used to hearing aids once you receive them. Every new hearing aid user experiences an adjustment period.  Getting used to a hearing aid takes time, practice, and patience.

The brain

Your brain is the main reason it takes time to get used to a hearing aid. Do you remember the first time you drove a car? It was hard work. In the first place, we had to learn the basics of how to run the car. After that, we learned how to operate the car in traffic. With time and practice, these motions are now automatic. This is because of muscle memory. The brain creates a memory for the movement, and they become automatic. Hearing is no different. The hearing part of our brain needs to practice and thus, build memories of sounds.

Flipping on the light

Getting a hearing aid is like flipping on bright lights after sitting in the dark for a while. At first, sound might seem too loud or bright. Give yourself time to get used to all of the new sounds. The amount of time it takes to get used to a hearing aid is different for everybody. On average, four to six weeks of consistent use will allow all the new sounds to become normal. For some people, time is all it takes.

Small doses or all at once

It is generally recommended that hearing aids are worn consistently, all day, every day. You take them out at night for sleeping, and can’t wear them in the shower. For some people, this is too much in the beginning. Generally, you should try to wear them as much as possible. If needed, you can start small, and work your way up to a full time wear schedule.

When you’ve been missing out, it can be hard to know what is normal. Ask others around you what they are hearing. It is a noisy world and your brain forgets about all the little sounds around you when you have hearing loss. It takes patience, but rest assured that your brain will get used to all that sound again.

Call your hearing aid professional if you are still having troubles getting used to your hearing aids. Hearing aids are adjustable. Levels that worked for one person may not be the right levels for you. Keeping a journal helps. Writing down your experiences can help guide the fine tuning process.

Best of luck as you go out there and start exploring our noisy world with your new hearing aids!

Hearing Aid Batteries- Tips and Tricks

How to get the most out of your hearing aid batteries

Photo by Hilary Halliwell from Pexels

 

One of the most important parts of your hearing aid is the battery! Did you know that some simple steps can help prolong the life of your hearing aid batteries?

Some background on hearing aid batteries:

Hearing aid batteries are zinc-air and come in 4 sizes (yellow10, brown312, orange13, or blue675). All zinc-air batteries will come with a sticker-like tab on the back. Therefore, you will need to remove the tab prior to using the battery. This tab prevents air from activating the zinc chemical until you need it. Hearing aid batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures and moisture. If hearing aid batteries touch other metal or other batteries, this can cause them to short out.

How to get the most of your hearing aid batteries:

-Let battery sit un-tabbed one to five minutes prior to using. This allows the power to ramp up before use.

-Store batteries at room temperature in their original packaging.

-Do not store batteries in humid or moist environments.

-Open the battery door of your hearing aid when it is not in use to extend the life of the battery.

Some other tips that can help:

-Keeping track of your battery usage can help you spot changes to the cycle.

-Dispose of dead batteries immediately to avoid mix-ups. You can throw batteries in the trash or take them to a local recycling center.

-Keep spare batteries on you. Your hearing aid batteries are most likely to go out when you are going about your normal day.

Don’t forget that batteries are not safe to be ingested. Keep them out of reach of small children, vulnerable adults, and pets. If batteries are swallowed, see a doctor immediately and call the National Button Battery Hotline at (202) 625-3333.

 

Additionally, if these tips and tricks did not help improve the performance of your devices, please call to visit with our professionals today at (651) 888-7800.

 

10 Reasons… not to put off seeing your hearing professional

10 Reasons… not to put off seeing your hearing professional

  1. Missed connections
  2. Raindrops on your roof
  3. Your spouse
  4. Squeaky brakes
  5. Your children/grandchildren
  6. Whispers
  7. Joke punchlines
  8. Music
  9. Brain health
  10. Your social life

Bottom Line:

Don’t let another day of “I hear what I want to hear” get in the way of truly living your life to the fullest. Give our team a call today to start your journey towards better hearing.

See our blog post on why hearing is important for more information!

Tinnitus: What is it? Why do I have it? And What to do about it?

People who experience tinnitus know that it can be very bothersome. Tinnitus (pronounced ten / ih / tus) is the perception or sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. These sounds are typically described as ringing, buzzing, roaring, chirping, or hissing.

The noises may vary in pitch from a low roaring sound to a high-pitched squeal. You can experience tinnitus in one ear, or both ears.

Tinnitus can significantly affect quality of life. Although it affects people differently, if you have tinnitus, you also may experience:

  • -Fatigue
  • -Stress
  • -Sleep problems
  • -Trouble concentrating
  • -Memory problems
  • -Depression, anxiety, and/or irritability

What causes tinnitus? Are there risk factors?

A number of health conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus. In many cases, an exact cause is never found.

A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.

Anyone can experience tinnitus, but these factors may increase your risk:

  • -Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly at risk.
  • -Age. As you age, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems often associated with tinnitus.
  • -Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus.
  • -Smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus.
  • -Cardiovascular problems. Conditions that affect your blood flow, such as high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of tinnitus.

 How is tinnitus diagnosed?

Because tinnitus is a perception, there is no way to truly test for tinnitus. Your doctor will diagnose tinnitus based on your symptoms, your medical history, and exam findings. A hearing test will likely be ordered to rule out any underlying conditions and to assess if any hearing loss is present. Your doctor may also may want you to have an x-ray, a CT scan, or MRI of your head.

How is tinnitus treated?

To treat your tinnitus, your doctor will first try to identify any underlying, treatable condition that may be associated with your symptoms. If tinnitus is due to a health condition, your doctor may be able to take steps that could reduce or eliminate the noise. Examples include:

  • -Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax can decrease tinnitus symptoms.
  • -Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery or another treatment to address the problem.
  • -Changing your medication. If a medication you’re taking appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the drug, or switching to a different medication.

In some cases white noise may help suppress the sound so that it’s less bothersome. Your doctor may suggest using an electronic device to suppress the noise. Devices include:

  • -White noise machines. These devices, which produce simulated environmental sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves, are often an effective treatment for tinnitus. You may want to try a white noise machine with pillow speakers to help you sleep. Fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners in the bedroom also may help cover the internal noise at night.
  • -Hearing aids. These can be especially helpful if you have hearing problems as well as tinnitus.
  • -Tinnitus retraining. A wearable device delivers individually programmed tonal music to mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus you experience. Over time, this technique may accustom you to the tinnitus, thereby helping you not to focus on it. Counseling is often a component of tinnitus retraining.

There’s little evidence that alternative medicine treatments work for tinnitus. However, some alternative therapies that have been tried for tinnitus include acupuncture, hypnosis, ginkgo biloba, zinc supplements, and B vitamins.

Bottom Line:

If your tinnitus gets worse with stress, make sure to do things that decrease the stress in your life and help you to relax. Try to get enough sleep. Cut down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink, and stop smoking if you smoke. These things can make your tinnitus worse. Avoid listening to loud noises. If you cannot avoid loud noises, use silicone earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears.

Helpful Resources:

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/home/ovc-20180349

American Tinnitus Association: https://www.ata.org

Check out our blag regarding Noise Induced Hearing Loss if you suspect you have hearing loss as well.

What is noise induced hearing loss and how to prevent it?

Over the next few weeks, here at Andros Audiology and Andros ENT & Sleep Center, we are focusing our conversation on noise induced hearing loss. Our patient often ask:

What is noise induced hearing loss?

Noise induced hearing loss is hearing loss that is permanent in nature. Long-term exposure to loud sounds over a prolonged period of time can cause noise induced hearing loss.  Sounds louder than 85 decibels can be damaging to your hearing.  The louder the sound, the less amount of time it takes before damage occurs. For more information regarding how loud is too loud, check out this article by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.

So, in the very noisy world we live and work in, what can we do about dangerously loud noises? The good news is that noise induced hearing loss is preventable.  Wearing hearing protection helps to decrease the intensity of noise and ultimately protect your hearing.

Types of hearing protection

There are two different types of hearing protection available.  Earplugs protect hearing by creating an airtight seal in the ear canal.  This type of protection can be purchased very inexpensively at drug stores or sporting goods stores. You can purchase them in bulk through amazon. Custom-fit earplugs can also be a good option. You will need to see an audiologist for custom hearing protection.

The second type of hearing protection is the over-the-ear style.  This style fits over the entire ear and must create a tight seal with adjustable headbands in order to provide sufficient protection.  This type of hearing protection can also be purchased fairly inexpensively at sporting goods stores or through amazon. Some earmuffs even allow normal sounds, like conversation, though but block out loud, dangerous sounds. These can be very useful and can be purchased at sporting good stores like Cabela’s. 

Take home!

The important part of both types of hearing protection is how much, when appropriately fit, the earplug or muff reduces noise.  The better the noise reduction, the more protected you are from harmful noises.

For more information, schedule a hearing evaluation at Andros Audiology at 651-888-7888.

Easy tips and tricks for hearing aid maintenance

One question Audiologists always get asked about hearing aids is: How long do they last? The short answer is: it depends. The biggest factor in how long a hearing aid lasts is how well they are maintained. That hearing aid maintenance starts at home with some easy steps to clean hearing aids. You should clean hearing aids every day if you want them to last for the long run.

How to clean a hearing aid:

  1. Remove any wax from the surface of the hearing aids

    • Start by inspecting the tip that goes into your ear. Brush or wipe away any wax that you can visually see. Do not use chemicals or water on your hearing aid. If you have a hard shell, wipe the hearing aid with a dry cloth. If you have a soft, rubber tip, brush wax away.
  2.  Inspect the microphone area for anything that might be plugging it

    • If you don’t know where your microphones are, ask your hearing professional at your next visit. On a behind-the-ear hearing aid, the microphones are located on the part that sits above your ear. There are usually 2 ports on the very top of the instrument. In an in-the-ear hearing aid, the microphone is often near the battery door. You can run your brush across the microphones to remove any debris.
  3. Inspect your sound port or wax guard

    • Some hearing aids have a small wax guard or wax trap covering the sound port where the sound comes out of the hearing aid. If these become plugged with wax, this can cause the hearing aid to malfunction. Replace your wax trap when necessary. Some instruments will not have this, and instead have a tubing extending from the instrument. If this is the case, you can use your cleaning tools to pick out the wax. Always remember that if you are unsure which you have, you can ask your hearing professional at the next visit.
  4. If you have a vent in your instrument, run a vent cleaning tool through it.

    • If you have a custom hearing aid or earmold, there is a good chance it has a vent, or air passage. You can run a thin filament through this space to push any wax out.

Take home!

You should be cleaning your hearing aids regularly. You should also do your best to protect your instruments from moisture. There are dri-aid kits or jars that you can store your hearing aids in to help absorb moisture that might have gotten into the devices. Your audiologist can help you to purchase one of these, or you can look into purchasing one off amazon. These can aid in keeping the hearing aids maintained well. If you have any further questions about hearing aid maintenance, contact us at (651) 888-7888.

For more information regarding when you see your audiologist, check out one of our older posts. 

What’s the difference between different hearing aid brands?

When beginning the journey to find better hearing there is a lot to consider. You may not know who to go to, what style is best for you, which brand to choose, or even which price point in most appropriate. When it comes to finding the right brand for you, there is little information out there to help you choose. So what’s the deal? Which hearing aid brand is best?

Who you go to might determine this for you. Some audiologists (or hearing aid dispensers) are free to choose and order from any of the hearing aid manufacturers. Others might have to sell only a specific brand. This may be due to a business agreement, or because a hearing aid manufacturer owns the office. It may be hard to determine this outright. The best way to determine this about a company is to ask!

What features are important for you?

Another consideration between brands is asking if the brand in questions has the set of features that you are looking for. Some examples of what might guide you to one brand over another for features may be down to rechargeable technology, or iPhone connectivity. Not every brand offers these unique features. This may help guide your decision of which brand is best for you.

Is there a brand that performs better?

Not necessarily. All of the major hearing aid brands are investing millions (often close to 100 million) in development for new products. All of the major hearing aid brands have all produced products that are reliable, and well tested. The important thing to remember is that a hearing aid is only as good as the provider that is fitting it. This means that you may choose a top brand, but if the provider doesn’t understand the full workings of the device, you may not get a top result. Be careful of marketing that claims the technology is “brand new” or solves issues like hearing in background noise. All hearing aid brands are creating products that are best in class when it comes to having the latest developments.

So what now?

Clearly, there is not a good answer to the question of which hearing aid brand is best. The most important thing is finding a provider you trust, and working through what they feel is going to be the best fit for you. Our audiologists are independent of brands and would love to sit down with you to find the right fit! Call our office at (651) 888-7888 to request an appointment today!

Communication Strategies for Family Members

So someone in your family has a hearing loss? Here are some tips to help with the communication breakdowns that are bound to happen.

Last week’s blog post was dedicated to the topic of issues people with hearing loss have in effectively communication. Because communication is a two-way street, it is important for those that are communicating with people with hearing loss know some important strategies to help alleviate those pesky communication breakdowns.

 Here are some helpful tips to help you have better communication with your family member!

  1. Do they already have a hearing aid? IF so…Please don’t shout at them!  Talking much louder will not help them understand you better when they have a hearing aid on. In fact you may sound too loud and distorted, just speak clearly and at a comfortable level.
  2. When talking with your family member, do your best to slow down your rate of speech.
    • – For example: “Doyawannagoouttoeat?” versus “Do you want to go out to eat?”
  3. Remember that they will have an easier time understanding what you say if you look at them and they can clearly see your face.
    • – Face them, make sure the room lighting is good.
  4. Visual speech cues are important for people with hearing loss, so do not block the view of your mouth.
    • – Sometimes resting a hand near your mouth, chewing gum or even facial hair can make speech reading more difficult.
  5. If you are asked to repeat yourself (and you probably will be asked), don’t get frustrated and say it louder—instead try to rephrase or say it differently.
    • – Often rephrasing instead of simply repeated gets the message across
  6. Try to minimize the distance between you and your family member; don’t try to have a conversation from another room or across the room.
  7. Remember that hearing aids should help your family member with their hearing loss, but will NOT restore it back to normal; they may still have some difficulty understanding you
  8. Do your best to minimize distractions when you are trying to have a conversation with your family member
    • – Some examples: turn down the TV, turn off the sink, roll up the windows in the car, sit by a wall or in a booth at a restaurant
  9. Try not to change the topic of conversation suddenly; it will be easier for your family member to follow along if the topic is clear and consistent.
  10. Have patience, it is going to take time for both you and your family member to adjust to hearing loss and/or hearing aids.

Communication Strategies for Combating Noisy Situations

Difficulty hearing in noisy situations is one of the most common complaints of people with hearing loss. In some cases, people with hearing loss will get a hearing aid and this difficulty is alleviated to some degree. Other times however, the hearing loss is not enough to a need for hearing aids or the difficulty hearing is background noise persists even with hearing aids. In these cases, it is very helpful to use some communication strategies to help hear better when in noisy situations.

Here are some listening strategies to help in situations where we are not hearing our best:

 How can you REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE in your environment?

  • – At Home: Turn the TV off, down, or mute it when having a conversation
  • – In the Kitchen: Turn off  running water, the microwave, and fans that cause a lot of background noise
  • – In the Car: Roll up the windows and turn down the radio to better understand the speaker
  • – At the Office: Close the door to the room you are trying to have a conversation, this will help block out the extra office noise
  • – In the Restaurant: Request a booth up against the wall or in a corner, avoid tables in the middle of the dining area, try to avoid
  • busy dinner rush hours because there is more commotion and noise, ask to be seated away from the kitchen

Can you SEE the Speaker?

  • – Face the person talking: Facial expressions, gestures and speech reading are all helpful cues in understanding and
  • hearing the message
  • – Wear your glasses: This will help you see the speakers face and mouth
  • – Sit close to the speaker: The closer you are the easier it is to hear and see them, stay within 6 feet of each other; Avoid
  • having conversation from different rooms
  • – Good lighting is important to see the speaker clearly

What did you HEAR?

  • – Repeat what you heard: This helps the speaker know you are listening
  • – Avoid using the phrases “huh?” and “what?”: Instead repeat the parts you heard and the speaker can fill in any blanks
  • – Don’t pretend you heard everything! Do not just nod in agreement; you never know what you might be agreeing to

Communication strategies can be used for people with hearing loss, but they are also effective and useful for people without hearing loss as well. It is important to remember that even those with great hearing still struggle to hear in some situations.

Next week we will go over good communication strategies for partners of those who have hearing loss. Sometimes we as communication partners can get frustrated or upset at our significant other who has difficulty hearing. We have some tips and strategies to help improve the flow of communication! Stay tuned!

If you are experiencing any difficulty hearing in background noise, please contact our office at 651-888-7800 to make an appointment with one of our audiologists.

Help! I have high frequency hearing loss.

Two very common types of hearing loss include noise induced hearing loss and presbycusis, or age related hearing loss. Both of these are permanent in the fact that once our inner ear hair cells are damaged, we have no way in restoring their function to normal. Both conditions frequently result in something call high frequency hearing loss.

What is high frequency hearing loss?

Our ears hear a wide range of tones or frequencies. These range from low or bass tones, to high or treble tones. Often times, only part of the hearing range is damaged. For people who have high frequency hearing loss, it is not uncommon to have normal hearing for the bass or low pitch tones, but to have lost the ability to hear the high pitches. If you picture a radio that has all of the treble tuned out of it, this is what it can be like with high frequency hearing loss. You will still hear, but often times people complain of a lack of clarity.

How can high frequency hearing loss affect me?

Clarity in our hearing comes from the ability to hear high frequency sounds. We have many valuable speech sounds in the high frequency region that are important for distinguishing words. These include the “s” “f” “t” “th” sounds to name a few. Somebody who has high frequency hearing loss may hear the word “wife” and “white” the same, and this often leads to a misunderstanding. We will hear patients with high frequency hearing loss say, “I can hear the voice, I just don’t understand what they’re saying.”

Missing out on these valuable speech cues and having misunderstanding can be very frustrating. This frustration can lead to the listener giving up, or possibly isolating themselves because they don’t want to put in the extra effort to communicate.

Hearing aids can help with high frequency hearing loss

Hearing aid technology allows for the important speech information to be amplified to a point that the individual ear can use the information again. It is important that individuals don’t go too long without hearing the high frequencies because the longer the brain goes w/out hearing certain tones, the harder it is to introduce them back at a later time. Remember, the brain is a muscle, and you have to keep it exercised to keep it strong.

Take home

The first step in identifying whether or not hearing loss exists, is to visit an audiologist for a hearing test. If you think you may have hearing loss come meet with one of our Doctors of Audiology. Together we work with our medical doctors to come up with the best treatment options for your needs. Call us at 651-888-7800 to schedule an appointment.

In the meantime, here is some information about why our hearing is so important.