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The bad news? Hearing aids sometimes do create annoying feedback sounds. The good news? You can get rid of them very easily. No matter how stylish or upgraded your hearing aids are, you are sure to hear whistling sounds at some point while using them. While sometimes these sounds are normal, at other times it is an indication that something is wrong with your device. Even though the quality of sound you are experiencing with your hearing aid devices might be perfectly well, yet these whistling noises, known as feedback sounds might in a way affect your listening experience.

There are many updated digital hearing aids today which come with feedback reduction features. Feedback sounds occur when the sound finds its way back to the microphone from the receiver and hence it gets re-amplified, thus causing whistling sounds. It creates headache-inducing squealing or screeching sounds which are annoying like hell!

 

Causes of Feedback Sounds

  • Excessive buildup of earwax 

  • Poorly or improperly fitted hearing aid tube

  • Cracked or broken tubing

  • Dislodged microphones which distort the sounds

  • Too much higher volumes at certain frequencies

 

Types of Feedback Sounds

There are three types of feedback sounds that occur from hearing aid devices.

  • Acoustical feedback - It is caused when the amplified sound produced by the speaker of your hearing aid machine is picked up again by its microphone and in the process, it gets louder and screechier which is disturbing for the user.

  • Mechanical feedback - Even though it might be really very hard to deal with it, it is easily fixable. It is caused by vibrations that are created when the hearing aid speaker comes in contact with the device’s casing.

  • Electronic feedback - This occurs when there is some problem in the electrical circuits of the hearing aid machine.

 

How to Deal with Feedback Sounds?

  • Don’t tap the device hard, such as on the tabletop, thinking that it would stop the noises. No, it won’t. On the contrary, it might damage the internal parts of your ear machine.

  • Never try to fix it yourself just because you have mechanical knowledge unless you fix hearing aids for a living. You might not be able to diagnose and fix the problem. Take it to your Audiologist without a second thought!

  • Don't throw away your device out of frustration. Your hearing aid machine just needs a minor adjustment.

  • Switch to digital hearing aids. If you are from that old school who is unwilling to upgrade to the latest digital hearing aids, then it’s time that you must. Because you have so many reasons to do so. Not only will you have an enhanced listening experience, but the modern digital hearing aid devices also come with feedback suppression capabilities. However, if you are already a digital hearing aid user and you can still hear those disturbing sounds, then there might be some problem in your device.

  • Check the fit of your device. Try pushing your device deep inside your ear canal as far as possible to create a tighter seal. An improperly fitted hearing aid might allow the amplified sound waves to escape and find their way back to the microphone. This causes the sounds to be re-amplified for which they appear distorted. Ask your audiologist to fit your hearing aids properly, and also ensure that the ear tip of your machine is of the correct size and the right fit, and not just lie there in your ear canal loosely.

  • Check for earwax buildup. If sounds strike against a hard block of earwax, they might bounce back out of the ear, get re-amplified, thus producing annoying sounds.

It is always recommended to consult a professional audiologist to analyse the problem that is causing feedback sounds. If there is a problem with the device, he or she will make fine-tuning or adjustments. He or she might also recommend you to go for digital hearing aids having feedback suppression features.

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids Hearing Aid Devices By Phalguni Bannerjee

Ear Barotrauma and Eustachian Tube

Thursday, September 26, 2019 7:21:49 PM Asia/Calcutta

Did you often feel pressure in the ears or have the sensation that your ears are stuffed, especially at higher altitudes? In such a situation, did you often feel the need to ‘pop’ your ears by actions like swallowing, yawning or chewing gum? Did the condition sometimes grow so adverse as to result in bleeding from your ears? This phenomenon is known as ear barotrauma in which you might feel pressure changes in your ears.

What is Ear Barotrauma?

Ear barotrauma is a condition in which a person faces discomfort in the ears due to pressure changes. In each ear, there is a tube that connects the middle ear to the throat and the nose. It is known as the Eustachian tube which normally equalises the pressure of the middle ear to that of the outside air pressure, by maintaining equal pressure on both sides. When this tube is blocked, a person might face ear barotrauma.

Occasional ear barotrauma might occur in certain situations such as altitude changes. Although in most of the cases it is temporary in nature and is not very harmful to many people, however, if this happens frequently, it may give rise to various other complications. It’s very important to understand the differences between acute or occasional cases with that of chronic or recurring cases of ear barotrauma.

To sum up, ear barotrauma is an injury caused to the ears due to pressure changes and pressure differences between the inside and the outside of the eardrum. The eardrum separates the ear canal of the outer ear from the middle ear. Barotrauma can cause pain and discomfort in the ears due to pressure imbalances or inequalities in the ears and the environment outside.

 

What is Eustachian Tube?

The Eustachian tube is a canal that connects the middle ear to the nasopharynx - which comprises the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity. The nasopharynx comprises the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity. The Eustachian tube, also known as the auditory tube or the pharyngotympanic tube, is approximately 35 mm long and 3 mm in diameter. It maintains and equalises the pressure in the middle ear and the air pressure outside.

Most of the time, the Eustachian tube remains closed except at the time of activities like yawning, swallowing, and chewing, so as to allow air through the passage between the middle ear and the nasopharynx. You might notice a sudden feeling of blockage or stuffing in your ears if there are pressure changes in your ears while at higher altitudes. This condition is known as ear barotrauma. In such a situation, try out these activities to equalise the pressure on both sides.

 

What are the Functions?

The Eustachian tube is responsible for the following -

  • Pressure Equalisation - As already mentioned, the Eustachian tube equalises the pressure of the body and the outside air pressure.

  • Mucus Drainage - The Eustachian tube also drains mucus from the middle ear to prevent middle ear infections.

Otitis media or inflammation of the middle ear might affect the Eustachian tube, and children are more vulnerable to this condition.

 

Symptoms of Ear Barotrauma

Check out for the following common symptoms of ear barotrauma which might occur in mild to moderate cases -

  • General ear discomfort

  • Dizziness

  • Stuffiness or fullness in the ears

  • Slight hearing difficulties or mild hearing loss

If this continues for long and goes without proper treatment, or if the case is severe, then the symptoms might be intensified, with the following additional ones -

  • Ear pain

  • Nose bleeding

  • Eardrum injury

  • Moderate to severe hearing loss

  • Feeling of great pressure in the ears, as if you were underwater

However, generally, the symptoms would go away if you treat the condition on time. Hearing loss caused due to ear barotrauma is almost always temporary and reversible in nature. But the earlier you indulge in a proper hearing loss treatment, the better and faster will be the recovery.

 

Causes of Ear Barotrauma

One of the main causes of ear barotrauma is the blockage of the Eustachian tube which helps to restore equilibrium during pressure changes, thereby balancing air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. Eustachian tube blockages might occur during activities or events such as -

  • Scuba diving

  • Hiking

  • Ascent and descent of an aeroplane - a condition known as airplane ear

  • Driving on the mountains

Diving is the most common cause of ear barotrauma because while you are underwater, you would be experiencing much more pressure in your ears than it that on land. Divers must take enough ear protection before diving because while you are in the range of the first 14 feet of the dive, you are greatly vulnerable to ear injuries. The pressure underwater changes drastically, and therefore divers are advised to descend slowly while diving towards the floor or the sea-bed. Middle ear barotrauma is the most common condition among divers.

However, apart from pressure changes, there are certain risk factors as well which can cause Eustachian tube blockages. For example, a person with allergies or colds or other active infections might have a greater risk of experiencing ear barotrauma. Also, infants and young children are at a greater risk because a child’s Eustachian tube is smaller in length and is positioned differently than that in an adult, which results in Eustachian tube blockages more easily.

 

How to Treat Ear Barotrauma?

Often clearing the other end (the nasopharynx part of the Eustachian tube) helps equalise the pressure on both the sides of the eardrum. Here are some common activities to do so -

  • Yawning

  • Chewing gum

  • Swallowing

  • Practising breathing exercises

  • Taking antihistamines

 

What are the Potential Complications?

In some cases, ear barotrauma might cause eardrum rupture when there is a huge difference in the pressure on either side. A ruptured eardrum might take up to two months to heal. It might cause a temporary hearing loss which can be treated easily.

We have covered a separate blog on Ruptured Eardrum, do check it out: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/Perforated-Eardrum-Symptoms-Causes-and-Consequences/

Apart from an eardrum rup[ture, the other complications that might occur due to ear barotrauma include -

  • Ear infections

  • Hearing loss

  • Recurring pain

  • Vertigo or dizziness

  • Bleeding from nose or ears

Consult an audiologist immediately if symptoms persist. If you notice any hearing changes, don’t delay a hearing loss treatment.

 

How to Prevent it?

  • Descend slowly while diving

  • Yawning, chewing gum or swallowing while you feel that you might get ear barotrauma might help prevent it or at least relieve the symptoms

  • Avoid wearing earplugs while diving or in a flight

  • Exhale through your nose while going up at higher altitudes

A little care can make a huge difference.

Progressive Hearing Loss in Children and Adults

Sunday, September 22, 2019 10:59:13 PM Asia/Calcutta

Do you know? Hearing loss is the third most common and leading health issues that affect people worldwide, and it can affect your relationships and deteriorate your quality of life. Although the most affected group is the old age, unfortunately, it might affect individuals belonging to any age group. And in most cases, progressive hearing loss is permanent and irreversible in nature. That means once you lose your hearing, it’s gone forever and you won’t be able to regain back your natural hearing. Hearing devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants can only help you to hear by amplifying the sounds for you and by making the most out of your residual hearing abilities. But they can do nothing more! So before you turn the volume higher, keep this in mind. Protect your valuable ears while you can, before you pay for it. Don’t take your ears for granted!

 

What is Progressive Hearing Loss?

Progressive hearing loss is when a mild or moderate hearing loss has been diagnosed and it worsens over time. Initially, it might start with a mild hearing loss that can worsen to a moderate or severe or even profound hearing loss over time. The change in hearing can occur over the years, months or even a few weeks. Sometimes a child might be born with normal hearing, but might begin to lose his or her hearing within 2-3 years. This is known as delayed onset hearing loss, which happens when a child is born with a virus that is not detected at birth until it shows up through various symptoms and conditions later. There might also be other problems at birth which can cause delayed onset hearing loss in children.

 

Progressive Hearing Loss in Children

The term ‘progressive hearing loss’ might crop up a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Since this cannot be identified by the children themselves, or even if identified, children won’t be able to express it properly, it is the duty of their parents to take notice of it and be informed about any changes in hearing. A single change might affect speech and language development in children, thus affecting developmental skills. Talk to your audiologist and routinely do your child’s hearing test and monitor any changes to take action as advised by your audiologist on an urgent basis.

 

What are the Causes?

One or more of the following causes might lead to progressive hearing loss in children -

  • Genetic factors

  • Certain illnesses like Meningitis causes hearing loss in children and which usually worsens over time

  • Middle ear infections like Otitis media

  • Certain ototoxic medicines might worsen the hearing abilities of a child, and it might continue worsening even after the child has stopped taking them

 

What are the Symptoms?

In children, progressive hearing loss might come along with the following symptoms -

  • The child is unable to hear what he or she was able to before

  • He or she often says ‘what?’ a lot more in the recent days than before

  • The child’s speech and language skills change (generally towards deterioration)

  • The child’s audiogram report changes from time to time and gradually becomes worse

  • Your child wants to hear the TV or the radio or to his or her favourite music louder than before

  • If your child is a user of hearing aids, he or she suddenly doesn’t want to wear them but before he or she didn’t mind wearing them

  • Your child is often complaining about getting dizzy or losing his or her balance

  • Your child has recently started facing problems at school due to her hearing loss.

If you notice some or all of the above symptoms, talk to your audiologist immediately. Perform a routine hearing check-up and go for some effective treatment of hearing loss or make improvements in it if your child is already a part of one. Do as suggested by your audiologist. He or she is the best judge in this case. Nobody else can understand your child’s hearing needs better.

 

What is the Solution?

Children with progressive hearing loss are generally treated with either of the two traditional and effective methods of hearing loss treatment - hearing aids or cochlear implants. For very young children who are yet to learn and develop speech and language skills are generally implanted with cochlear devices, which are very effective and helps the child to compete with his or her peers with normal hearing in developing communication skills well.

Talk to your child and tell him or her not to fear or worry about anything and that everything will be alright. Give your child the support he or she needs and never let him or her feel depressed. Make sure that you go for strong hearing aids to support his hearing abilities so that his or her speech and language skills are not hampered. Don’t compromise with anything here. And if your child is suffering from severe to profound hearing loss, then your audiologist might want to go for cochlear implantation. Do as required and as suggested because you can’t afford to ruin your child's future in any way. Keep a good track of your child’s activities at school and his or her progress in academics. In the meanwhile, you too have to be mentally strong. Talking to other parents, teachers, counsellors and of course, your audiologist might help.

 

Progressive Hearing Loss in Adults

High-frequency progressive hearing loss in adults happens gradually over time as the person begins to age, the condition which is termed as presbycusis. It happens due to damage caused to the tiny and sensitive hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. These little hair cells are responsible for hearing as they receive the sound vibrations as received from the outer ear after travelling via the middle ear where these sound signals are being amplified, and convert them into electrical impulses. These electrical signals are then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve where they are perceived as sounds.

If the hair cells are damaged, they won’t be able to convert these sound signals properly, thus would fail to transfer proper electrical signals to the brain. This would lead to hearing problems, and if this continues (that is if you leave your hearing loss untreated) it worsens the condition of your brain, thus gradually making it inactive. An inactive or dormant brain would fail to perceive sounds properly even if it receives sounds after a long time. This condition is known as Auditory Deprivation, in which the brain fails to recognise any sounds even if a person wears hearing aids. It needs time to adjust to this ‘new’ world of sounds from which it was deprived of for so long. This is why people often say that they can’t understand even if they can hear, especially while trying to comprehend speech.

Hair cells in the cochlea might be damaged or even lost due to overexposure to extremely loud decibels of noises. This happens over time and the process is so gradual that it often goes unnoticed until the damage is already done and that’s when the person already starts various problems related to hearing in his or her day-to-day life.

 

Symptoms of Prescubysis

  • Difficulty hearing high-frequency or high-pitched sounds, such as a whistle, a squeal, a scream, a child or woman’s voice, and consonant sounds like S, F, Th, Sh, V, K, and P.

  • Difficulty following conversations over the phone

  • Having the feeling that people are mumbling

  • Difficulty following conversations while in noisy listening situations, as your ears are unable to distinguish words in speech

  • Having the need to turn up the TV or radio volume more than usual and which is too loud for the other members of your family

  • Tinnitus or hearing ringing or hissing sounds even in the absence of any external sound

We have covered a detailed blog over the early signs of hearing loss. Do check it out once in the link that follows: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/Do-I-Have-Hearing-Loss-5-Early-Signs-and-Symptoms

Hearing loss treatment options like hearing aids might help a person with presbycusis or age-related hearing loss. However, he or she might also require auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) or speech therapy to help him or her to understand the semantic meaning of what he or she is listening, especially in speech.

We have a separate blog on age-related hearing loss, do consider going through it once to learn about the causes and how to deal with it: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/Ageing_and_Hearing_Loss

The best part about presbycusis is it is preventable. It is true that people are going to experience some kind of hearing problems as they start ageing. But you can take care to prevent it for as long as possible. In short, you can delay it and even lessen the impacts of hearing loss in old age. So take care of your precious pair of organs while you can and stay healthy.

My Hearing Aids Got Wet! What to Do?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 7:02:56 PM Asia/Calcutta

Did you just drop your hearing aid devices in water accidentally or forgot to take them out while having a cool shower? We know that you have been very careful with your devices since the first day, but accidents do occur! What to do in such a situation? We will talk about that in this blog.

Electronics and water don’t mix, but that doesn’t mean that everything is lost. And the good news is that some modern digital hearing aids of today come with moisture-proof features that can protect your device during the sweaty summer seasons. So if you accidentally drop your hearing aids in water or forget putting it off before going to bath, don’t panic! Here are some simple steps you can do to get them in full working position again.

  1. Remove the hearing aid machine as quickly as possible from water. The lesser the watery area it has fallen into, the better are the chances of recovery.

  2. Turn it right away and remove the battery immediately. Throw the battery and never use it again.

  3. Close the battery door and remove the tube (if any) and gently dry it with a soft towel. Also, gently shake the tube of your hearing aid devices to get as much water out as possible.

  4. Use a hearing aid dryer or other drying tools provided in the hearing aid kit to remove any trapped moisture. Never use a hair dryer or a microwave oven to do so. Extreme heat is harmful for hearing aid devices.

  5. Leave the hearing aid machine to dry out completely.

  6. Put in a fresh battery and try using it.

  7. It it still doesn’t work, then send the device immediately to your service centre for repair.

So before you give up, there might still be a chance. However, make sure to be more careful with your hearing aid devices from now onwards.

This blog on care and maintenance tips for hearing aids might help: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/How_to_Increase_the_Longevity_of_Your_Hearing_Aids

Consult your audiologist from time to time in case you notice hearing changes. He or she will adjust your digital hearing aids according to your hearing needs. For guidance with decision-making while you plan to buy hearing aids or to follow some other hearing loss treatment, get expert advice from our professional audiologists at your nearest hearing aid clinic.

Perforated Eardrum: Symptoms, Causes and Consequences

Sunday, September 15, 2019 11:59:51 PM Asia/Calcutta

While some are born with a perforated eardrum, in some people it happens in the course of their lifetime, due to various reasons like injuries or trauma or some infections or diseases. Whatever be the cause, the consequences of a ruptured eardrum are greater. The most serious effect of the condition is hearing loss. It might also make the internal and delicate parts of your ears vulnerable to various infections or injuries.

 

What is an Eardrum?

In human beings and other tetrapods (four-limbed animals), an eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin, cone-shaped membrane that separates the ear canal of the outer ear from the middle ear. The sound waves received by the outer ear strike against the eardrum and cause it to vibrate.

The function of the eardrum is to transmit the sound waves from the external ear to the ear ossicles in the middle ear. The middle ear then passes them over to the fluid-filled cochlea in the inner ear, which sends them to the brain after converting them into electrical impulses.

We have already covered a separate blog on the hearing mechanism of human beings, consider going through it: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/How-Do-We-Hear-An-Insight-into-Our-Hearing-Mechanism/

 

What is an Eardrum Rupture?

A ruptured or perforated eardrum is a hole or a tear in the tympanic membrane. Since the vibrations that are generated when sound waves enter our ears, and which are carried over to the ear ossicles of the middle ear, any tear or hole in the eardrum would not cause it to vibrate. This can hamper the transmission of the sound waves from the ear canal of the outer ear to the middle and inner ears respectively. As these vibrations are necessary for hearing, any damage caused to the tympanic membrane might cause hearing problems.

Although it is normally healed within a few days, in rare cases, however, a perforated eardrum can cause permanent hearing loss. In such a case, one must not delay in getting a proper hearing loss treatment such as hearing aids.

 

The Common Symptoms

  • Pain, which in some cases might be severe

  • Bleeding, especially if the rupture is caused by middle ear infections

  • Watery, bloody or pus-like fluid drainage from the affected ear

  • Temporary hearing loss

  • Tinnitus or hearing a constant ringing, buzzing or other such sounds in the affected ear even if there is no external sound present

  • Dizziness or spinning sensation (vertigo)

  • Nausea or vomiting that might result from vertigo

Consult a professional audiologist immediately without delay if you notice these symptoms. Also, develop the habit of getting your ears tested from time-to-time.

 

What are the Causes?

Here are some common causes of eardrum rupture -

  • Ear infections, especially in children or people with colds or flu

  • Middle ear infections like Otitis Media

  • Exposure to extremely loud noises or blasts

  • Severe head trauma or injury

  • Barotrauma - a condition when your ears fail to balance the atmospheric pressure with that of your ears. Results due to pressure changes, such as at higher altitudes or while scuba diving

  • If a foreign object gets inside your ear

  • Injury or trauma to the ear or any side of the head

 

What are the Consequences?

A ruptured eardrum might lead to -

  • Hearing loss

  • Ear infections like Otitis Media

  • Middle ear cyst

  • Ear injuries

 

What is the Solution?

A ruptured eardrum usually gets healed by itself within a few weeks. In certain cases, however, it needs to be repaired surgically.

Seek help immediately because you never know what might be the extent of the damage. If the condition is severe it might lead to hearing loss. And no hearing loss treatment can bring back your natural hearing ability if it is a permanent hearing loss.

A prolonged untreated hearing loss would come along with other consequences like depression and other emotional disbalances. Hearing aids might help in such cases to treat any loss of hearing, but you mustn’t wait that long!

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