Swedish News Blog

Hearing Aid Life Expectancy and Power

Merrill Hill

Our concept of age depends on the object of our attention. For example, the average ant lives to be about 45-60 days. The average fly lives about 15-30 days. The average albatross lives between 42-50 years.

Electronics must be viewed differently however. They cannot eat something and become more energetic. There is the total lifespan of the device coupled with the power required to maintain the function it was designed for. A television is expected to last about 10 years, but will not work if it is not plugged in. The average car battery will only be useful for 5-7 years. A watch battery can vary from 1 to 6 years.

With our daily electronics, we take advantage of all types of batteries. How long can you go before you need to recharge your cell phone? Now imagine you used the phone continuously. How about the electronic tablets? Technology is wonderful, but must be constantly powered. Batteries for these devices last only a matter of hours before we need to find an alternate power source. With the electronics we depend on, it is critical to know how long we can expect to use them. This is even more true when those electronics begin to age. Highly sensitive and detailed instruments are classic examples of those devices for which we need to know the total life of the device and its power consumption.

A hearing aid is an example of such a device.

Hearing aids can use both disposable and rechargeable batteries. The cost effectiveness and convenience will vary greatly. The predicted number of hours for each battery will be hearing aid, and person, specific.

Also: the ear is small. Therefore the hearing aid must be small. The battery must then be even smaller.

As with any battery driven electronic device, hearing aids last much longer than their power source. The average hearing aid lifespan will vary significantly due to the amount of care provided to it. Accidents can and do happen. When it comes to hearing aids, seven years may not appear to be a very long time, but the device is considered ANCIENT by that time. The average person is expected to replace a hearing aid every 3-5 years.

There are several reasons for this:

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? (Tips for better hearing at the holidays)

Kristiina Huckabay, AuD, FAAA

The holidays are a busy time! Some love the hustle and bustle of the holidays and others can be worn down with to-do lists, shopping, planning and parties. Individuals with hearing loss can be especially impacted by the holidays if they are attending parties and group gatherings. They may be listening to unfamiliar voices and meeting people for the first time. Here are a few tips to support your family member through this busy time of the year.

Friends and family members can support someone with hearing loss in the following ways:

  • When attending group settings or restaurants, try to find a quiet area.
  • If you notice someone is not tuning into the conversation, try to repeat, rephrase or state the topic.
  • At times your family member may just need a listening break. Excuse yourselves and find a quite space to visit alone for a few minutes. Or better yet, participate in “people watching” and really give those ears a break!
  • Help with introductions by saying “you remember Bob, we met him last year at the holiday party.”
  • A little understanding can go a long way. If you are curious what your family member might be experiencing, listen to the hearing loss simulator and choose “speech in a restaurant”. I can guarantee you will be shocked to experience the impact of hearing loss on speech understanding. Imagine working that hard to understand speech for a few hours at the end of the day in a loud setting.

For individuals with hearing loss:

Sudden Hearing Loss - What causes it, and what you should know

Claire Kilcoyne, Au.D.

Sudden hearing loss is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. As the name suggests, there is typically no warning, nor is there any way to predict who is at risk. Sudden hearing loss affects about 4000 new cases per year in the United States. It can affect one or both ears. Tinnitus and a feeling of fullness in the ear(s) often accompany the hearing loss.

In all cases, each patient needs to be seen by both an Audiologist and an ENT/Otologist. After taking a history and looking in the patient’s ears to assure that there is no wax causing the problem; a battery of audiometric tests is performed. The purpose of the testing is to determine the degree of the hearing loss and also to determine whether the sudden loss is due to malfunction of the hearing nerve or a problem in the middle ear. Hearing loss due to a problem in the hearing nerve or cochlea is called “sensorineural” and a loss that is caused by a problem in the middle ear is called “conductive.” You can also have a combination of the two, which is called a “mixed loss”. Different medical treatments are used for each of these types of hearing loss.

 

After the hearing testing is completed, and it is determined that the patient has sensorineural hearing loss, the patient is seen by the Physician for assessment and a treatment plan. Treatment often involves steroids, either taken orally or via an injection through the eardrum or both. This treatment is often repeated. During that time, it is important to have serial audiograms to follow any possible changes in hearing thresholds and/or speech discrimination ability.

What is the cause of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL)?

It can be caused ....

What you should know about your risk of falling if you have hearing loss

Merrill Hill

According to studies in Archives of Internal Medicine, the risk of falling is increased by 40% with every 10dB loss of hearing. Although this information has been researched and speculated for some time, it becomes crucial for us to consider this trend when we know people with hearing loss. This is especially important for our seniors.

How does hearing impact our balance?

It is speculated that our nervous system (specifically, the brain’s pathways) interact in such a way that one may experience “incident falls.” There are pathways which are believed to be responsible for encoding auditory and spatial information for our environmental awareness. Also, it is believed that there are pathways which incorporate auditory input into cognition and attention. To put it another way; hearing loss reduces our ability to take advantage of the auditory cues needed for knowing critical information about our surroundings. Therefore, we may fall and/or stumble more often.

As a result of a ...

What is an audiologist?

Kristiina Huckabay, AuD, FAAA

An audiologist is a master’s or doctoral level trained professional who evaluates, treats and manages hearing and balance disorders in children and adults. Audiologist work in a variety of settings such as medical centers, private practice clinics, universities, schools, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physician clinics, Veteran’s Administration and military settings.

At Swedish, you will find caring and talented audiologists with a wealth of clinical experiences. The audiologists at Swedish have experience with infant through geriatric diagnostic hearing evaluations, auditory evoked potentials, vestibular evaluations, tinnitus management and the selection and fitting of hearing aids. Additionally, audiologists work closely with surgeons to complete the fitting and programming of osseo-integrated devices, cochlear implants and brainstem implants following surgery.

Because most hearing issues are not medically treatable, most individuals with hearing loss work...

Swedish to Host Live Stream of Woman’s First Time Hearing in Five Years, Plus Live Text Chats

Swedish News

CochlearImplantMrsDay.jpgSEATTLE, Oct. 9, 2012 - On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Eleanor Day, 79, underwent a cochlear implant procedure at Swedish/Cherry Hill by Dr. Douglas Backous, medical director of the Center for Hearing and Skull Base Surgery. Her procedure was the world’s first live-instagrammed and live-tweeted cochlear implant (hearing restoration) surgery (click here to see a recap). This Wednesday, Oct. 10, Swedish will live stream Mrs. Day’s cochlear implant activation, in which she will potentially hear her husband’s voice without the help of hearing aids for the first time in five years. The Days have been married for 60 years.

Watch Mrs. Day's cochlear implant activation - live!

Dana Lewis

Dana Lewis
Digital Media & Internal Communications | Swedish Blog Administrator

Many people joined us last week to see Mrs. Day's cochlear implant surgery live-tweeted and Instagrammed. (You can click here to view a recap and see the pictures from Instagram.)

One of my favorite parts of the event was seeing the many thoughtful tweets & notes were sent in support of Mr. & Mrs. Day:

Some of the most frequently asked questions we received during the event were:

  1. Why are you doing this? (Answer - read this blog post, and watch this video to learn more about the inspiration behind the #SwedishHear web series.)

  2. Are you livestreaming Mrs. Day's cochlear implant activation?

We weren't originally planning to livestream the activation like we've done livestreams before - instead, we planned to host two, text-based live chats so people could type and read questions and engage directly with Dr. Backous, Stacey Watson (Mrs. Day's audiologist), and Karen Utter (President, Hearing Loss Association of Washington State).

Now we're doing both!

If you tune in....

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