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'hearing aids' posts

Why do some people continue to have difficulty hearing even with a hearing aid?

Why do some people play their music so loud?

Have you heard someone ask this question?  Have you asked it yourself?  It is a question I hear frequently from persons in my office.  The answer is not simple nor is it the same for everyone.  There is one important factor, though, that remains poorly understood.

A short anatomy lesson

Our inner ear, or cochlea, has thousands of cellular components called hair cells.  These cells act as biological amplifiers when the sound arriving at our ear is soft.  That is, they pump up and down at the same frequency as the sound entering our ear making it more intense.  This allows us to hear very soft sounds.

These same cochlear cells which amplify soft sounds can also contract and dampen the loud sounds which enter our ear.  This prevents the ear from being over driven and this, in turn, prevents distortion.

So what happens if these cells are gradually damaged so that they no longer work properly?  The simple answer is ...

Hearing loss and holiday gatherings

Holidays are known for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season and the passing of another year.  For those with hearing loss, these gatherings can be more stressful than enjoyable. Small groups of people around the room all talking at once about how best to serve the cranberries or the beautiful lights that are decorating homes in the neighborhood can be difficult to hear even with a mild hearing loss.  Working to understand what is being said takes a lot of energy and focus and can result in the feeling of isolation, tiredness and depression.

There are things you can do to help improve your communication during these otherwise festive times.  No matter your hearing abilities, good communication strategies are always helpful when you are talking to others while cooking in a busy kitchen, gathered around the warm fireplace or sitting across the dinner table.  The Better Hearing Institute has some great suggestions to share with your loved ones.

Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you may benefit from the use of hearing aids or even a cochlear implant.  Many people think that hearing aids are only for the elderly and cochlear implants are only for young children.  This is not the case.  Your hearing loss and speech understanding abilities determines what technology is right for you with no regard to your age.  [Finally!  Something doesn’t care how old I am!!] There are ...

How to manage tinnitus (when your ears are ringing)

Almost all individuals experience ”transient ear noises” which is the intermittent sensation of ringing (lasting less than 5 minutes), typically in one ear. At times this sensation is accompanied by a sensation of fullness or a momentary change in hearing. When this change is brief, it is a normal phenomenon.  If it lasts longer than 5 minutes twice week, you should be evaluated for tinnitus.

What should I do when my ear(s) start ringing? 

The first step is a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist.  Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of auditory disorders and a complete audiology evaluation will confirm and/or rule out many of these conditions.  Pending the hearing test results, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist (sometimes referred to as an ENT or an Ear, Nose and Throat physician) or other health care providers.  The otolaryngologist will further investigate your tinnitus for possible medical causes. 

It is normal for tinnitus to occasionally change in the pitch and intensity; however, significant and prolonged changes in tinnitus (increased loudness or tinnitus that is one-sided) should be (re)evaluated.   Tinnitus that is present in one ear (unilateral) or pulsatile will always require an otolaryngology evaluation after the hearing evaluation.  Tinnitus that is accompanied by a sudden hearing loss is considered an emergent condition and individuals should be evaluated by an audiologist and otolaryngologist as soon as possible.

How can I manage my tinnitus?

Tinnitus can evoke ...

Why do hearing aids cost so much?

Some may be reluctant to pursue amplification based on comments from friends and relatives reporting that hearing aids are “expensive”.  These statements can be misleading.  The costs associated with amplification upon the initial fitting can sound intimidating, but it is important to consider that the average life expectancy of a pair of hearing aids is 5 to 7 years.  Breaking down the cost of amplification over this period is often comparable to a monthly cell phone or cable television bill. 

The costs associated with a hearing aid fitting include not only the device itself but also the professional skills and time associated with appropriately fitting the device through verification and follow-up. Verification refers to measurements made to determine that the hearing aids meet a set of standards which includes volume, output, cosmetic appeal, and physical comfort. Using evidence-based practices, real-ear measurements are obtained using a small microphone placed in the ear with the hearing aid to ensure that appropriate volume is provided for different signals (such as speech). If earmolds or custom hearing aids are ordered, it is necessary to ensure that their characteristics (type of tubing, venting, style and material) are appropriate for the degree of hearing loss and physical characteristics of the ear.

Hearing aids are available in a wide range of makes and models, and a hearing aid solution that works for one person may not work for another.  Additional costs include ...

Advocating for Your Child with Hearing Loss in the Classroom

By now, the new school year is in full swing.  And while it might have started with newly made memories of a great summer, it may also bring new challenges—a new classroom, a new teacher, a new setting.  All parents want the same thing for their children—to be safe, healthy, happy and successful.  But the latter can be more challenging in the educational setting for children with hearing loss of any level.  So, as a parent, how do you ensure that your child with hearing loss succeeds in the classroom?

  1. Understand the impact of hearing loss on learning, and how to manipulate the classroom on your child’s behalf.  Hearing loss, even a minimal degree, can have a significant impact on learning.  Request preferential seating for your child.  Sitting closer to the teacher will help improve the signal-to-noise ratio (or how loud the teacher’s voice is relative to background noises).  This will help make listening and learning easier.  Work with your child’s teacher(s) to minimize background noises.  Your child should be positioned away from noise sources, such as HVAC systems, heaters, windows if there tends to be a lot of external noises like traffic or the playground.  Being informed on acoustics and noise management is also helpful.  
     
  2. Work closely with your child’s team in the development and updating of his/her IEP (Individual Educational Plan).  Any child with special needs (ie: ADHD, autism, hearing loss) is a great candidate for an IEP, which is uniquely developed for each child with goals for progress during the school year.  It is important to know that the IEP should be updated every 6 months. 
     
  3. Keep the school, teachers, and educational audiologist informed of the hearing loss. Provide ...

12th Man Fans: Protect your voice and hearing!

The infectious energy of Seahawks fans is part of what makes the team one of the most exciting to watch in the NFL.  This team spirit has caught the attention of Guinness world record officials who are verifying that the “12th Man” fans are the loudest in the NFL.  You can show your support and enjoy being a part of the “12th Man” while taking a few precautions to protect your hearing and your voice during and after the game. 

Swedish Otolaryngology cheers on the Seahawks.

Here are a few tips:

  • Wear hearing protection during the game. 

High levels of noise can result in tinnitus in the hours and days following the game.  This ringing in the ears can be a sign of permanent damage from excessive noise exposure.  Anything from large headphones to simple foam plugs are adequate for hearing protection.  The roar of the crowd will still be audible, but the dampening will protect your ears and ....

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