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Myths and Facts About Hearing Aids

Saturday, May 19, 2018 1:18:01 PM Asia/Calcutta

Did you know that whatever you are hearing about hearing aids might be nothing more than just a rumour? It's our duty to show you the truth and lead you towards the right path! Why live a life full of false beliefs? Why not strive towards living a better quality of life?!

Hearing Aids are not your enemies, they are your friends who are ready to go hand in hand with you for a lifetime! So why not keep all the myths at bay and invite the facts about these valuable friends! Come let's do it...

Myths and Facts About Hearing Aids

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

How to Beat Tinnitus?

Friday, May 18, 2018 1:14:57 PM Asia/Calcutta

What is it?

Tinnitus is the phenomenon in which a person hears to sounds when there is no external sound is present. This condition is generally associated with a ringing sound that occurs quite often in the ears of the affected person. However, apart from ringing, other sounds like a hiss, a buzz, a hum, a ticking, a whistle, a clicking or even as dangerous as a roar, are also often associated with Tinnitus. These sounds are quite annoying, and rather very disturbing on the part of the hearer who are constantly being deprived of enjoying a good hearing experience. So it is very important to ACT NOW, and to get a good treatment of hearing loss, if you are suffering from such a problem.

Symptoms of Tinnitus


What are its Causes?

Since tinnitus is not a disease, but just a symptom of some medical conditions, it can There can be many causes of tinnitus, including -

  • Noise-induced hearing loss

  • Inner ear cell damage (mostly due to over-exposure to high decibels of noise)

  • Ear infections

  • Excessive accumulation of earwax

  • Malformations in the ear

  • Otosclerosis - stiffening of bones in the middle ear

  • Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ)

  • Chronic neck muscle strain

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Disease of the heart or blood vessels

  • Meniere’s disease

  • Emotional stress

  • Brain tumor

  • A (generally benign) tumor that creates a strain on the arteries in the neck and head

  • Acoustic neuroma. It is a noncancerous (benign) tumor which develops on the main nerve - that is, the cranial nerve - running from your brain to your inner ear, which is responsible for controlling our balance and hearing. This condition is also known as vestibular schwannoma, which generally causes tinnitus in only one ear, and even hearing loss accompanied by unsteadiness, due to the constant pressure arising out of the presence of the tumour. In such a case, it is high time for you to opt for a good treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus problems.

  • Chronic health conditions

  • Exposure to certain ototoxic medications and drugs

  • Head injury or trauma

  • Other injuries or conditions that affect the auditory nerve or the hearing center in your brain

  • Age related hearing loss or Prescubysis.

However, studies show that the problem of tinnitus is more common in people who suffer from depression.

Tinnitus can occur either in one or both the ears. In a more serious case, it can even occur in the head when there is a lack of Auditory stimulation - the condition which is termed as Auditory Deprivation. Tinnitus can be either intermittent or continuous. Studies show that most of the people who are facing tinnitus problems, are suffering from hearing loss. So an immediate intervention into the treatment of hearing loss as well as tinnitus problems becomes extremely necessary to avoid situations to grow more serious.

 

What are the Risk Factors?

Anyone can experience tinnitus due to various complications, but the following factors may increase the risk of tinnitus problems:

  • 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 the workers working in factory and construction settings, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly exposed to a high risk of acquiring tinnitus problems.

  • Age. As you start ageing, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems, which is often associated with tinnitus.

  • Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus than women.

  • Smoking. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing tinnitus. So it’s high time to throw off that dangerous roll of nicotine.

  • Cardiovascular problems. There are certain conditions that affect your blood flow, such as developing a high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of developing tinnitus problems.

 

What are the Types?

There are four kinds of tinnitus, mainly -

  • Subjective tinnitus: This is the most common form of tinnitus. The symptoms of subjective tinnitus can only be heard by the affected individual and are usually caused by exposure to excessive noise. It can be caused by ear problems in your outer, middle or inner ear. Subjective tinnitus can also be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or the part of your brain (the auditory pathways), which is responsible for interpreting the nerve signals as sounds. This type of tinnitus can appear and disappear suddenly, and may last 3–12 months at a time. However, in some severe cases, it may never stop, and therefore, calls for immediate treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus.

  • Neurological tinnitus: It is usually caused by a neurological disorder, such as Meniere’s disease, that primarily disrupts the smooth functioning of the auditory centre of the brain, which is responsible for sound perception.

  • Somatic tinnitus: Sometimes damage to structures or organs outside the ear or the brain is a troubling source of tinnitus. So is the case of somatic tinnitus. This kind of tinnitus is related to the sensory system, where certain changes in the sensory input might give rise to tinnitus. It is a condition where the sensory system in the body can become worse and might influence tinnitus. Somatic signals are the sensory signals which are generated from the muscle position sensors present in the head, face, tongue, neck, trunk, arms, and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It would be a foolish act to delay a proper treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus in such cases.

  • Objective tinnitus: This is a rare form of tinnitus that may be caused by involuntary muscle contractions or vascular deformities. When the cause is treated, the tinnitus usually stops entirely. Objective tinnitus is the only type of tinnitus which can be heard from the outside, and it is the only type that has the potential for a permanent solution.

 

How to Fight Against It?

The only possible way to fight tinnitus is to prevent it! To make things easier for you, we have listed below some preventive measures of tinnitus -

  • Avoid loud noises - Keep yourself at a safe hand distance from loud noises, such as at concerts, theatres, etc. As already mentioned, noise-induced hearing loss is the major cause of tinnitus.

  • Ginkgo biloba - it is a Chinese herb that has excellent benefits when it comes to the prevention or treatment of hearing loss and of tinnitus problems. Combining it with zinc (about 500 gm) as studies show that this combination is a very effective treatment for most of the tinnitus problems. Ginkgo biloba, as already mentioned, can be a very effective treatment of hearing loss as it can help stabilize hearing loss problems by increasing the capillary blood circulation of both your body as well as your ears.

  • Melatonin  - Melatonin is a hormone that is made in the brain as a response to darkness and it is responsible for maintaining a balanced sleeping and waking pattern. Melatonin supplements are usually recommended to combat insomnia, as tinnitus usually disrupts sleeping person of the affected person.

  • Garlic - As already mentioned before, tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but is rather a symptom of some other complications. You might not always be able to identify the exact cause of tinnitus. But researchers have studies that whatever the cause may be, garlic might prove to be quite effective in curing or at least reducing tinnitus problems. The active ingredient in garlic - allicin - has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. If your tinnitus is a result of some infection, then garlic is powerful enough to kick away any infection, and is a very effective treatment of hearing loss.

  • Ginger - Like garlic, ginger too has many health benefits that improves the general health of a person. Ginger is known for improving blood circulation, eliminating tinnitus and reducing pain that occurs due to tinnitus.

  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and coffee - Coffee, nicotine and alcohol are the silent killers for your hearing health! Although the actual reason is not quite known, these chemicals trigger tinnitus problems. So have a balanced and healthy diet by eliminating caffeinated coffee, nicotine and alcohol from your diet chart.

  • Horse chestnut - Researches proved that this herb is a very effective and powerful treatment of hearing loss. Since, in a majority of the cases, tinnitus is caused as a result of hearing loss, this herb can also treat this problem.

  • Coconut Oil and other Essential Oils - Coconut oil, along with other essential oils, is considered a very good treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus in many cultures. Apart from that, these oils also have excellent medicinal properties which treat insomnia and help a person to relax better, improve one’s state of mind, stimulate blood circulation and promote cellular repair and regeneration.

 

How to Manage Tinnitus?

Before starting a treatment of your tinnitus problems, your Audiologist will first analyse and find out the underlying cause of tinnitus. The various steps taken by the Audiologists for the treatment of hearing loss, accompanied by tinnitus problems include -

  • Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax that has been accumulated excessively, thus creating a blockage in the ear canal - can decrease tinnitus symptoms.

  • Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery or some other remedy to address the problems of tinnitus and the treatment of hearing loss.

  • Changing your medication. If a medication that you have been taking for a while appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the dosage, or switching to a different medication as its substitute that will not be harmful for your ears.

  • Noise Suppression. In some cases, your Audiologist may even suggest you some white noise machines or other masking devices, and even hearing aids that might help to suppress the annoying ringing sounds typical to the problem of tinnitus.

  • Medication. Although drugs cannot completely cure tinnitus, some medications however, have proven to be quite effective in at least reducing the severity or complications of the problem to some extent. These include Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, - which is generally used in cases of severe tinnitus, and Alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax). However, these are the last options that any Audiologist would opt for, as these medications and drugs often have tremendous side-effects.

 

Prognosis

Since there is no such proper cure of tinnitus, and people generally learn to accept it and get used to it over time, the problem of tinnitus remains quite a significant one - at least for a minority group.

But why not try to prevent it at least, and in more adverse cases - why not start an early treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus? Now that you are aware of these simple home remedial tips for preventing tinnitus, it would be foolish on your part to accept it and live your whole life with it! Why not try to make your life a better one? You deserve to live better, don’t you?

Comments | Posted in Treatment Of Hearing Loss By Phalguni Bannerjee

Can Hearing Aids Make You Deafer?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 2:20:42 PM Asia/Calcutta

This is a question that has been raised so many times by hearing aid users across the world. The simple answer to it is - hearing aids obviously do not make people ‘deafer’. They do nothing other than amplifying the sounds and delivering them into your ears.

Why does this Question Even Arise in the First Place?

There is a trick of perception involved here, which is the fact that after wearing hearing aids for a few weeks, some people have complained that they cannot hear as well as they used to do before wearing them. This made them have the wrong notion that hearing aids can make a person deafer. This misconception occurs because the brain plays the main trick here.

 

A Trick?! Oh No!

Studies show that on an average, people experiencing hearing loss wait for five to seven years before realising the fact that treatment is necessary because things have grown worse. This makes the brain more and more accustomed to hearing loss, as it has started to forget certain sounds as it did not hear them for a prolonged period of time. This condition is called Auditory Deprivation, where the brain starts forgetting sounds it did not hear for a long time, and hence is unable to recognise them anymore. As a result, the brain has started to accept this condition as normal. Therefore, it will take some time for the brain to accept this new situation after wearing hearing aids, as all the sounds are now new to the brain.

When you wear hearing aids for the first time, the brain needs time to get accustomed to these new world of sounds, and to adjust to the new ‘normal’ levels of your hearing abilities. This is the reason why sounds might appear to be jarring and excessively loud, especially if you are opting for hearing aids after a long period of living with untreated hearing loss. Just as your eyes need to adjust to the ‘new’ vision after wearing spectacles, similar is the case with your new hearing aids. Once you brain gets adapts itself to this new world, things will be normal again. However, you must always keep in mind that once you have had a hearing loss, it cannot be cured; it can only be treated. The hearing aids can do nothing more but to help you listen to the sounds which you otherwise were unable to. So it is always advised to get a timely treatment from a highly qualified Audiologist for any kind of hearing problems.

 

The Trick is to Fit Your Hearing Aids Properly

Before blaming and cursing your hearing aids, make sure that they are properly fitted inside your ear canal. If a trained healthcare professional fits your device, they will do so after adjusting and modifying its settings as per your hearing requirements. It means that no matter how loud the sounds might be, they would not appear so loud as your device’s volume levels have been fine-tuned and customised according to your personal needs. The modern day digital hearing aids are designed in such a way that it reduces the intensity of excessively loud decibels of sounds.

However, improperly fitted hearing devices tend to create feedback sounds that are quite annoying for the user. These sounds not only deteriorate the overall listening experience of the user, but might also affect the hearing health of the person due to exposure to such annoying and disturbing noises he/she is hearing all the time. Again this could make the brain accustomed to these distorted sounds, and will start forgetting the natural sounds of everything.

 

Children Are More Vulnerable to Health Deterioration

In case of children, especially, if their hearing aids produce such disturbing feedback noises and are not given the access to hear properly and clearly, they might not develop speech and language skills properly. It is because at the age of 1-2 years, due to the presence of the maximum amount of synaptic density (interconnections of the neurons in the brain), they are the most capable of learning at this age. So it is very important to provide your child full and proper access to the world of sound, as it is the key element that would guide him/her into developing speech, language and other developmental skills. Therefore, you as a responsible parent of a hearing impaired child, must make sure that the hearing aids are properly working and your child is not prone to any annoying feedback sounds. Growing up with disturbing sounds occurring every time in the ears, would also distort every other developmental skills that they are trying to learn. You don’t want that to happen right?

 

Cheap Hearing Aids Online are a Complete NO NO!

One important tip is to never buy cheap hearing aids online, without consulting a qualified Audiologist. If you do, then you will be more vulnerable to these whistling feedback sounds that is harmful for your ears, especially when you are hearing them almost all the time throughout the day. This will not only make you have negative thoughts about hearing aids instead of experiencing so many advantages and benefits of using them, and might propel you into giving up wearing them altogether. This is even more harmful for your ears, and in that case hearing aids can backfire on you instead of showing positive outcomes. Also, it might lead to Auditory Deprivation, which in turn gradually degrades your mental health.

So it is your responsibility to make sure that your device is properly fitted in your ear canal by an experienced Audiologist.

 

So What did You Decide?

Are you still planning to buy cheap hearing aids without consulting an Audiologist? If so, then do not expect any positive outcomes with them. Now it is upto you whether you will proceed towards entering the beautiful world of sound that you have been missing for so long, or take steps towards deteriorating your hearing health, and your quality of life as a result.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hearing Aids Types

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 6:29:48 PM Asia/Calcutta

Life cannot be imagined without our hearing abilities; similarly, it also cannot be imagined without technology these days. The past few decades have witnessed so many evolution of innovative inventions that this generation and the next generations that are yet to come, cannot be imagined without technology.

Listening devices today have become so advanced, that now people can actually dream of rising to great heights, which he did not even imagine to do earlier with those huge hearing machines. Hearing aids are considered as the best treatments for irreversible hearing loss, as they show very good results in a majority of the cases. Also, these devices are absolutely user-friendly, with no side effects at all.

There is a wide variety of hearing aids types to choose from - some having aesthetic values, while some serving your specific purposes and your lifestyle choices. Hearing aids can be primarily categorised into two groups - Analog and Digital. While the previous analog hearing aids are microchip programmed and amplified each and every sound all the same, and did not have the capability to distinguish between different sounds; digital hearing aids on the other hand are so advanced that they can convert the sounds into digital signals and can easily identify between speech and noise, and amplifies the sound accordingly, making the hearing impaired person listen to the important sounds (in this case, speech), by reducing or cancelling out the background noises. These hearing aids types, thus, have the ability to amplify sounds in a very natural way. Natural human ear too, do not catch the unimportant sounds - your brain makes you focus only the sounds you actually want to hear.

Hearing aids can be classified based on the design of the product, the technology used in them, the features they provide and the lifestyle of the hearing impaired person. Based on the design of the device, it is divided into many types, namely - Behind-the-ear (BTE), Mini-BTE, In-the-ear (ITE), In-the-canal (ITC), Completely-in-the-canal (CIC), Receiver-in-canal (RIC) and Invisible-in-canal (IIC).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Type

Hearing Aids Types

Advantages

Disadvantages

Behind-the-ear (BTE)

  • Suitable for people of all age groups, with capability to serve individuals with hearing loss ranging from mild to profound hearing loss

  • Have fewer feedback problems

  • Rarely needs repairment

  • Worn behind the ears

  • Easily visible

  • Ear molds need to be remade every few years to make them fit properly

Mini-BTE

  • Smaller than the BTE hearing aids types

  • Suitable for people of all age groups, with mild to moderate hearing loss

  • Discreet design

  • No “plugged up” feeling

  • Worn behind the ears

  • Even being mini they are still visible

  • Harder to use with the phone

In-the-ear (ITE)

  • Fills the outer ears completely

  • Usually ideal for patients with mild to moderately severe hearing loss

  • Come with dual microphones, thus enhancing speech clarity

  • Not recommended for children as their ears are still growing

  • Open to problems with moisture and ear wax, thus requires regular cleaning

  • More prone to repairs

  • Prone to feedback problems

In-the-canal (ITC)

  • Worn in lower side of the outer ear

  • Can be easily inserted and removed

  • Good aesthetic design

  • Come with dual microphones, thus enhancing speech clarity

  • Longer battery life

  • Open to problems with moisture and ear wax, thus requires regular cleaning

  • More prone to repairs

  • Prone to feedback sounds

  • Older people find it difficult to handle such small hearing aids types

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)

  • Sit inside the ear canal

  • Small and discreet

  • Amplify the sounds naturally

  • Perfect for people having moderate hearing loss

  • Older people find it difficult to handle such a small hearing aid

  • Again are prone to feedback sounds

  • Need repairment

  • Occlusion effect - or the feeling of talking in a bucket - is common with CIC

Receiver-in-canal (RIC)

  • Ideal for most people having any degree of hearing loss

  • Less feedback problems

  • Exceptionally discrete even for severe to profound hearing losses

  • Ear molds need to be remade

  • Harder to use with phone

Invisible-in-canal (IIC)

  • Sit deep inside the ear canal, thus making them completely invisible

  • Deliver a natural sound

  • Equipped with many powerful features, like directionality detection

  • Very comfortable to wear

  • Reduced wind noise

  • Allows natural telephone and helmet use

  • Very difficult to handle, especially for the older people

  • Occlusion issues again

  • Decreased battery life

  • Can only be controlled remotely and not via switches

  • These hearing aids types require proper maintenance and care

  • Requires good dexterity in using the device, like removing and inserting wires

  • Not suitable for people with non-standard ear canals or for children with very small ear canals

  • Very expensive

 

In a nutshell, there are a vast range of hearing aids types to choose from. You just need to consider each of their advantages and disadvantages, and above all, you need to consult an experienced Audiologist. The benefits of hearing aids have improved a lot over the last couple of years. Researchers are continuously trying to introduce more and more innovations in hearing aids types and are gradually developing them with improved hearing abilities, increased longevity, advancement of designs and many more. Hence, hearing loss is no more a problem, and it is absolutely possible for you to fight against it. However, not all people would be benefited from hearing aids, and there are other solutions for them, which will be best understood by a highly qualified Audiologist. So kindly discuss such a serious matter as your hearing health with him/her before arriving at a final conclusion, as he/she will help you in making a smart decision. It is always better to be late than taking a wrong decision for which you will have to regret forever.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

“Communication works for those who work at it.”

~ John Powel

Life with a hearing loss is quite a challenging issue, that is sensitive enough to be handled with proper care. Not only should they be spoken to carefully, but the home and office atmosphere should also be motivating and comfortable enough. A successful communication with a person having hearing problems requires the joint effort of him/her together with all the near and dear ones around him/her.

 

Effects of Hearing Loss

There a whole lot of changes that occur in a person who is struggling with his or her hearing problems. Even after using much advanced digital hearing aids, the problem does not end by itself. The problems faced by people with untreated hearing loss are -

  • The person with hearing loss feels shy and socially isolated

  • He/she feels that he is ignored or is not taken heed of

  • The person avoids eye contact or face to face interactions for fear that he would not be able to participate efficiently, or would not be understood.

  • The person asks the person to repeat themselves or speak loudly

  • Worklife and productivity at work decreases, as a result of which business efficiency might suffer.

  • Health issues like headaches, muscle tension, and an increase in stress and blood pressure

  • The person with hearing loss abstains from listening to music, as he/she fears that the listening experience would not be as pleasant as it used to be before.

  • Untreated hearing loss is also associated with anxiety, depression, fatigue, frustration and even impaired memory and other psychological issues.

  • Auditory Deprivation might develop gradually as a result of untreated hearing loss, in which the brain stops recognising sounds it has not heard for a long time.

An early treatment procedure should, therefore, be started so as to avoid these problems, and to prevent situations from turning worse.

It is, however, very important to note that merely providing the hearing impaired person with the latest and advanced modern digital hearing aids would not in any way help. The main thing that is required in such a sensitive issue as a hearing loss is to acquire effective communication strategies. Following are some important tips that would be effective and helpful enough for you as a family member of a person with hearing loss to deal with him/her in your day-to-day lives -

  • Face the hearing impaired person directly - this will impart confidence in him/her.

  • Avoid talking from another room.

  • Speak slowly and clearly, distinctly, but naturally, and not exaggerating your mouth movements.

  • Speak in a volume level that is audible enough, but not too loud. Shouting distorts the speech sounds, hence making it all the more difficult for the hearing impaired person to read it.

  • Call the person by his/her name, before beginning a conversation.

  • Make use of visual communication, like hand gestures. It will make the conversation easier for the listener.

  • Do not speak while chewing a gum or while having food. It will distort the speech sounds.

  • Avoid blocking your face with your hands while speaking to the person with hearing loss.

  • Start with simple sentences. Avoid the complex ones. It will puzzle the struggling hearer.

  • Be extra careful while speaking with the person while he/she is ill or tired.

  • Try keeping the environment noise free while speaking to the person suffering from hearing loss.

  • Try to say the same thing in a different way, if not understood in the first place.

  • Make sure that the listener is well aware of the topic of discussion before proceeding towards more complicated discussions. Also avoid switching topics.

  • If you are giving some specific information like place, time, date, numbers, etc. then  make the hearing impaired person say it back to you to make sure that he/she has heard right. In matters of grave importance, like assignments, schedules and directions, write it down for the person.

  • Pay attention to the person with hearing loss when he is speaking, so that he/she has the feeling that he/she is given proper attention to.

  • Finally, and the most important tip is that you should always allow the other person to take turns in participating in the conversation, to keep it going and engaging. Avoid long monologues. It will make the person, especially when he/she is hearing impaired, boring and lose interest in the discourse.

In a nutshell, it can be said that no matter how advanced your digital hearing aids might be, the support and motivation of the people around you in your day to day life - mainly the family members becomes extremely crucial.

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee
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