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7 Must-have Features in Your Digital Hearing Aids

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 7:19:35 PM Asia/Calcutta

You are extremely mesmerised by the advancements hearing devices are making and you have planned to buy digital hearing aids. Because these are the hearing aids you need so badly! You feel that the technologies found in these digital hearing aids are just for you!

Of course, hearing aids are primarily meant for amplifying sounds, but the technological boom in the past few decades have also found their way into listening devices as well, which made many other features to be incorporated into them. Many hearing aid manufacturing companies offer multiple features which are designed to cater to your personal needs according to your lifestyle choices. But there are certain features which you must look for while buying digital hearing aids. While the previous analog devices amplified all the sounds without differentiating between what’s really necessary and what’s not, the digital hearing aids of this generation are built only to make your life easier and simpler - with a more comfortable hearing experience.

Do make it a point to discuss your lifestyle choices with your Audiologist while buying digital hearing aids and leave the rest upon him to decide which device would suit you the best - based on both your hearing abilities and personal requirements. Check out for these must-have features in the device you would plan to buy -

  • Multi-channel - Digital hearing aids have the option of multi-channels. Channels in hearing aids enhance the listening experience of an individual by modifying each of the discrete sections in the sound frequency ranges. The more the channels in a hearing aid, the more capable will the device be to work with more and more discrete sections by dividing the frequency range into smaller parts.

  • Binaural processing - Just as you won’t have a complete and balanced vision if you see with only one eye, similar is the case with our hearing mechanism. If both of our ears are not properly engaged in receiving, transferring and converting sound stimulus due to certain problems in either of them, we would experience an unbalanced and muffled hearing. That means if we use binaural digital hearing aids and if the two are not properly linked, then we would not have a very enjoyable listening experience.

  • Digital noise reduction - Using cheap hearing aids of very poor quality would make you feel annoyed and frustrated in noisy listening situations, such as on the roads or at a busy restaurant, particularly if you are having a conversation with someone. The modern digital hearing aids are quite advanced with noise-cancellation features which would reduce or cancel out the background noises, enabling you to stay focused on speech.

  • Digital feedback reduction - Often the analog hearing aids produced internal feedback sounds due to improper fitting of the device in the ear canal. Choose digital hearing aids which would reduce these annoying feedback sounds.

  • Directional microphones - The hearing aids of today are designed to provide you with more comfort, especially in noisy listening situations. One amazing feature to combat the problem of distinguishing speech in noise is that of adaptive directionality. Digital hearing aids, nowadays, are being updated with more advanced directionality features to help you stay focused on the conversation - no matter in which listening condition you are in.

    The directional microphones in hearing aids enable the user to concentrate on the sound sources they want to, by ignoring or minimising the others which are relatively unimportant. Digital hearing aids can have two or more directional microphones separated by a specific distance. Although the directionality feature allows the listener to focus on sounds coming from the front, one advantage of multiple microphones in hearing devices is that you can even listen to someone speaking from behind.

    To learn more about how directional systems work in ear machine, read our blog on ‘The Concept of Directionality Used in Digital Hearing Aids’.

  • Multiprogram - Digital hearing aids of today are advanced with multiprogram storing capabilities. In other words, it would save your volume and program preferences which you have set in different listening situations.
  • Direct streaming - With the introduction of wireless technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi, life has become so much easier and enjoyable. Wonders happened when these technologies found there way in listening devices as well. There are so many apps that allow you to connect and easily pair your digital hearing aids to your smartphones via the latest wireless technologies. Thus, the hearing devices of this generation can now directly stream your phone calls and music into your hearing aids from your smartphone. This allows your hearing aids to turn into a wonderful pair of stereo headphones! Isn’t that absolutely wonderful?

In a nutshell, digital hearing aids are incomplete without these smart features. Do make a smart choice and live a better quality of life.

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

Hair Cells: Types and Functions

Friday, May 17, 2019 11:08:44 AM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing is a very complex procedure and involves a series of steps in between the origination of the sound source and our brain’s interpretation of it as a particular type of sound. Although this whole process is as quick as a fraction of a second, the journey of sound is quite complicated, just like any other mechanism in the human body.

You will be surprised to know that the human ear is quite well-developed at birth and even at the pre-natal stage. This explains why babies respond to sounds while in their mother’s womb. Every baby with normal and healthy hearing has the ability to hear and respond to soft and loud sounds right away. However, if your baby fails to do so, then it might be a sign that you need to be high on alert. Do consider getting your child’s hearing test done right away. If your baby is diagnosed with a hearing impairment then do consider opting for a good line of hearing loss treatment by consulting a licensed and professional Audiologist at every major or minor step that you take. Nowadays, however, every hospital performs a hearing screening of newborn babies right after birth and before you take him or her home.

One very important part of hearing are the sensory cells present inside the cochlea of the inner ear - known as the hair cells. But before we get deep into that, let’s take a brief look at the hearing mechanism once more to simplify our understanding of the hair cells. Because just like the structure and arrangement of these tiny cells, their functioning too is quite complex and requires a deeper understanding of the entire scenario.

 

The Hearing Mechanism

As already mentioned, the human hearing mechanism is a complex one. It involves a good number of phases, it also associates a number of elements and sections of the ear. So let’s see how do we actually hear.

 

The Sections of the Ear

There are three main parts of the human ear -

  • The Outer Ear - It includes the pinna, the long passage called the ear canal and the tympanic membrane, better known as the eardrum.

  • The Middle Ear - It comprises the three small ear bones - incus, malleus and stapes - together known as the ear ossicles.

  • The Inner Ear - The inner ear, which is the main component of the human hearing system, is also known as the labyrinth of the ear. Now that we know that it is solely responsible for our hearing system and the equilibrium of the body, we will head over to discuss the hair cells present inside the cochlea.

It comprises the most vital and sensitive organ - the spiral-shaped cochlea. The inner ear also includes two other important components, namely the vestibule and the semicircular canals - which together are responsible for maintaining the body balance and the body posture, thus preventing us from falling.

 

How Does the Hearing Mechanism work?

Let's break down the hearing process into simpler steps for better understanding.

  1. Sound waves enter the ear canal and strike the eardrum and make it vibrate.

  2. This vibration is then carried forward to the small ear bones or the ear ossicles.

  3. The middle ear bones amplify these sounds and send them to the cochlea of the inner ear. These vibrating waves move through the fluid present in the cochlea, thus making it move.

  4. This movement of the fluid further triggers the hair cells which are present inside the cochlea and causes them to move. These hair cells detect this movement and convert these signals into electrical signals for the auditory nerve.

  5. The auditory nerve then sends these converted electrical impulses to the brain which then interprets them as sounds. It is at this time that we actually ‘hear’.

But how well would these sounds travel from the outer ear to the inner ear and how well would these sounds be perceived by the brain depends a lot on how well your ears work. In case of any malfunctioning or disorders in your ears, you may face difficulties in hearing. In such a case, do consider getting a proper hearing loss treatment.

 

What are Hair Cells?

In all vertebrates, hair cells are sensory receptors which are not only present in the cochlea of the inner ear but are also present in the vestibular system. In this blog, however, we are concerned about the cochlear hair cells.

In mammals, the hair cells are located in the spiral organ of Corti on the basilar membrane of the cochlea. The cochlea has thousands of such tiny hair cells (we will get into the figures in the next section).

 

The Structure of the Hair Cells

Each hair cell has two parts - the body and the stereocilia present at the head of every hair cell. Stereocilia is a microscopic hair-like structure sticking out on top of every hair cell. These stereocilia are triggered by every sound vibration due to which they rock back and forth.

Stereocilia are the main components of hair cells. These are responsible for converting the sound waves into chemical signals. Whenever the hair cells move due to the cochlear fluid movement, the stereocilia bend. This bending causes the pore-like channels present at the tip of the stereocilia, to open up. This further facilitates the chemicals to rush into these hair cells, thus building up an electrical signal. These electrical impulses are then sent to the brain for further interpretation and perception of the sound. Then we recognise the sound and understand it, and immediately know how to respond to it.

Not all hair cells, however, move at the same time. Different hair cells move for different types of sounds. Hair cells located near the wide end of the cochlea detect higher-pitched sounds, such as an infant crying. Those closer to the centre of the cochlea detect lower-pitched sounds, such as the barking of a large dog. The high-frequency hair cells get damaged most easily, and hence people with hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds often have problems hearing the high pitched sounds like crickets or birds chirping.

 

What Happens If These Hair Cells Get Damaged?

If the sounds are excessively loud, these stereocilia would bent or even break off, thus causing the death of the hair cell. A dead hair cell can never convert nor send signals to the brain, thus reducing your ability to hear well. The hair cells once broken can never grow back or be restored, and you would lose your hearing permanently in such a case. The more the number of damaged hair cells, the greater will be the intensity and degree of your hearing loss. This type of hearing impairment is known as a sensorineural hearing loss, and in such a case the best line of hearing loss treatment would be hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices or other ear implants. Damaged hair cells might also cause tinnitus or ringing in the ears. If you are the one suffering from such a condition, do consult a skilled and professional Audiologist.

 

Types of Hair Cells

Now that we know that the primary function of the hair cells is to convert the analogue sound waves into electrical impulses so that these signals can be easily interpreted by our brain, let’s go deeper and discuss about the different types of hair cells.

In mammals. the hair cells of the cochlea can be anatomically and functionally classified into two distinct types - the inner hair cells (IHC) and the outer hair cells (OHC). In the human cochlea, there are 3,500 inner hair cells and 12,000 outer hair cells at birth.

The outer hair cells amplify the low-level sounds that enter the cochlea. The inner hair cells convert the sound vibrations travelling in the cochlear fluid into electrical signals. These vibrations are then relayed to the auditory nerve.

Damage to any of these hair cells leads to deteriorating hearing sensitivity.

 

The Difference Between the Inner and the Outer Hair Cells of the Human Cochlea

 

Inner Hair Cells

                          Outer Hair Cells

These are the main receptive cells which convert sound waves into nerve signals.

These hair cells pre-amplify the sound waves having a low amplitude.

These are 3,500 in number.

These are 12,000 in number.

These are arranged in a single row.

These are arranged in 3 rows.

These are located at the terminals of the inner hair cells.

These are located at the terminals of the outer hair cell nerves.

These are innervated by more afferent nerves than efferent nerves.

These are innervated by more efferent nerves than afferent nerves.

These have a cylindrical shape.

These are flask-shaped.

 

In a nutshell, take care of your hair cells by taking care of your ears. Protect your ears from any exposure to extremely loud sounds. Use earplugs when you are attending some loud events such as a rock show. Prevention is better than getting your ears damaged permanently and having no other option left than to go for a hearing loss treatment.

Also, make it a habit to get your hearing tested from time to time so that if you are suffering from any hearing problems (which you may not realise normally) can be diagnosed on time, and hence go for a proper hearing loss treatment on time. Hearing is a precious asset and a good hearing health paves way for a better quality of life.

Are you aware of any other facts about hair cells and their functions?

Do tell us in the comments below.

Does Hearing Loss Affect Balance?

Saturday, May 11, 2019 12:36:40 PM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing loss is a serious problem that affects a person not only at the physiological level but at the psychological level as well. Do you know that your hearing loss can cause balance problems? Yes, you heard it right! The ear is a very complex organ. We know that the human ear is responsible for processing the sound signals and sending them to the brain, thus enabling us to ‘hear’, but the less known fact is that it is also responsible for maintaining the balance of the human body.

Hearing loss is often linked to balance disorders. Studies show that treating hearing problems - either with the help of hearing aids or other devices or medications - can reduce the risks of falling to a great extent, especially in older people.

 

The Balance Mechanism of the Human Body

Before discussing how the ears are responsible for maintaining the body balance, let us see how the whole balance mechanism works.

The sense of balance, technically known as equilibrioception, is one of the physiological senses related to balance. In short, it is a mechanism which prevents human beings and animals from falling while standing or moving. But behind this apparently-simple phenomenon, there is a complex process of several systems working together.

The balance mechanism of the human body works in strong coordination of several organs and systems. It works in a constant process of position detection, feedback and adjustment, with the use of communication and coordination between the inner ear, eyes, muscles, joints and the brain.

First and foremost, let us discuss the mechanism of the human ear. The ear comprises three main parts -

  • The outer ear

  • The middle ear

  • The inner ear

The inner ear serves two main functions - a) one part of it enables us to hear, and b) the second part, known as the vestibular system, is responsible for maintaining the body balance. The latter part, about which we are concerned right now, is designed to send information about the position of the head in a given point of time, to the centre of the brain which controls movement - that is the cerebellum.

 

What is the Function of the Cerebellum?

The cerebellum is a small part of the brain situated at the back of the head, where it meets the spine. The cerebellum is primarily responsible for coordinating voluntary movements such as body posture, balance, body coordination and speech, thus maintaining in a smooth and balanced muscular activity.

The cerebellum receives information in the form of signals about the body’s position from the inner ear, the eyes, muscles and joints. The cerebellum after understanding the meanings of these signals further sends messages to the muscles to make any positional adjustments necessary to maintain the body balance, thus ensuring that the individual does not fall while making any movements. The cerebellum is also responsible for coordinating the timing as well as the force of the muscle and joint movements which are initiated by other parts of the brain.

 

What is the Significance of the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system, seen in most of the mammals, is a sensory system, is responsible for maintaining the body’s balance, movement and equilibrium. It contributes to the sense of balance and spatial orientation, thus enabling smooth coordination of movement with balance.

A vestibule, which is oval-shaped, is referred to the central part of the bony counterpart in the inner ear. It is situated medial to the eardrum or the tympanic membrane, behind the cochlea and in front of the three semicircular canals (the horizontal, the superior and the posterior).

There is a structure in the inner ear, called the labyrinth, which is responsible for the body’s sense of balance. As the name suggests, it is a maze-like complex structure which is a combination of tissues and bones and is very delicate. The labyrinth comprises the semicircular canals and the otolithic organs.

Any movement is composed of two phases - rotations and translations. The vestibular system is therefore designed to control these two aspects, and thus comprises two components - the semicircular canals, which indicate the rotational movements, and the otoliths, which indicate the linear accelerations. The vestibular system after receiving these signals about the type of movement made by an individual, transfers them to the neural structures which control the eye movements, as well as to the muscles which control the individual’s posture, thus helping him/her to stay upright.

The brain then receives these useful information about the person's position and movements from the vestibular system, and enables an individual to understand his/her position and acceleration (that is the dynamics and the kinematics of his or her body) each and every moment, especially when there is a change in the body position and movement.

 

Semicircular Canals

The semicircular canals are the main tools which detect the rotational movements. Since the world is three-dimensional, the vestibular system contains three semicircular canals in each of the labyrinth, placed at right angles to each other. The bony labyrinth, which is located in the temporal bone (that which is situated at the sides and the base of the skull), is referred to the rigid and bony outer wall of the inner ear, which consists of three parts - the vestibule, the semicircular canals and the cochlea.

The three sections of the semicircular canals are known as the lateral, the anterior or the superior and the posterior or the inferior semicircular canal. The lateral is considered the horizontal semicircular canal, and the anterior and the posterior are collectively known as the vertical semicircular canals.

Each of the semicircular canals consists of a fluid called perilymph. While the movement of the fluid present inside the horizontal semicircular canal corresponds to that of the rotation of the head around the neck - which acts as a vertical axis, the movement of the fluid inside the vertical semicircular canals corresponds to the movement of the head along the sagittal plane, which is felt during nodding, and in the frontal plane, which occurs during cartwheeling.

 

Otolithic Organs

The second part of the vestibular system, that is the otolithic organs are responsible for sensing the linear accelerations. The otoliths enhance the sense of gravity and motion in an individual, by adding to the weight and inertia of the otolithic membrane.

 

All of these mechanisms contribute to the experience of equilibrioception in an individual, that is having a sense of balance and spatial orientation. It is due to the vestibular system that we experience the sense of self-motion. For example, if you are sitting in a chair in a dark room and if your chair is turned to the left, you will be able to realise that you have been moved to the left side - even if you are not able to see it. Similar is the case if you are in an elevator - such as you will be able to realise that you are descending if the elevator descends.

The vestibular system and the visual system work together to maintain the body position and posture of an individual with respect to the gravity of the earth. The muscles and the joints on receiving instructions from the brain via special sensory receptors, help in keeping the body in an upright position.

What Happens if the Vestibular System Breaks Down?

Any disease caused to the vestibular system can lead to vertigo and instability or the loss of balance, sometimes even accompanied by nausea or vomiting tendency. If the vestibular system and the visual system fail to work in coordination with each other, such as in a case in which the vestibular fails to report any movement while the visual system does, it leads to motion sickness. Any problems in the vestibular system cause balance problems, along with other conditions like vertigo, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea fluctuating heart rate, blood pressure changes, anxiety or depression.

 

Symptoms of Balance Problems

Let’s brief up the common symptoms of balance disorders -

  • Having a sensation of motion or spinning like dizziness or vertigo

  • Increased risks of falling or having the feeling as if you are going to fall

  • Staggering while walking or moving unsteadily

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Having a sensation of lightheadedness, faintness, or floating

  • Vision changes such as blurriness

Look up for more valuable information in this link: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/balance-disorders

Does Hearing Loss Affect Balance?

Hearing loss by itself does not cause balance problems, but if there are any problems in the inner ear, the vestibular system might get affected. This means that hearing loss might occur together with the symptoms of balance problems since the inner ear is responsible for both hearing and maintaining body balance. Certain common inner ear or other health conditions are also associated with balance issues, vertigo which includes -

  • Meniere’s disease

  • Otosclerosis of the middle ear

  • Ear infections, like labyrinthitis

In these cases, balance problems can be accompanied by hearing loss.

 

Can Hearing Aids Help Manage Balance Disorders?

People with hearing loss often find that wearing hearing aids can equalize hearing in both the ears and make you have a feeling of a natural and balanced hearing. This lessens the symptoms of balance problems such as vertigo or dizziness, risks of falling and disorientation. Additionally, hearing aids can also help reduce the impact of hearing loss to a great extent. Although this area of how far are hearing aids responsible in helping to manage with balance problems still needs proper research, yet the initial results are quite impressive and promising.

An interesting and proven fact is if the older people start wearing hearing aids instead of leaving their hearing loss untreated, their risks of falling reduces with a significant improvement in body balance and equilibrium. In short, an enhanced hearing makes way for maintaining proper body balance and posture.

According to the senior author Timothy E. Hullar, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine, hearing aids allowed people to use the sound information coming from all the directions which acted as auditory reference points or landmarks which help to maintain balance.

Prof. Hullar compares it to our eyes when we use it to tell us where we are in space. If the lights are turned off, we tend to lose our balance a bit. Similar is the case with hearing and balance. Hearing properly can help you stay up without losing balance.

 

What are the Causes of Balance Disorders?

Although there can be numerous other causes of balance disorders apart from hearing loss, yet the ears play an active part in this system. The common factors that cause balance problems include -

  • Ear infections

  • Head or neck injuries

  • Tumours

  • Blood circulation problems in the inner ear

  • Low blood pressure

  • Certain medications

  • Arthritis

  • Eye muscle imbalance

  • Meniere's disease

To determine the exact cause of balance disorders, consult an Audiologist, who would perform the necessary tests to determine whether there is a problem in the inner ear. He or she might also refer you to an ENT specialist to perform the necessary steps to analyse the cause of the problem and to determine whether there are any other conditions responsible for the balance problems.

So if you are facing any balance problems, do consider visiting a skilled and trained Audiologist and get your ears tested.

Do check out this link to learn more about balance disorders and their causes: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/balance-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20350474

We will add another blog about the tests done to diagnose balance problems.

Till then do let us know whether we missed out any fact.

Or are you aware of any other links between hearing loss and balance disorders?

We would like to know from you! Do share your valuable opinions in the comments below.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

Sleep disturbances have affected almost most of us at some stage in our lives. Although insomnia prevalently affects mostly the older adults, it is seen in children as well. While some might have faced it for some mild or moderate reasons or health conditions, some suffer from insomnia due to serious reasons. The worst part is when it has become a regular aspect! According to a study, 54% of the people who have tinnitus problems, also have significant sleep disturbances.

But what if your sleeping disturbances are due to hearing problems like an impaired hearing or tinnitus? People with tinnitus might have greater difficulty in getting a proper night’s sleep. Obviously, there are a host of exercises that would help you out in getting better sleep, but the first and foremost step would be to get your ears checked for any hearing problems, and if any, start its treatment at the earliest - be it a treatment for your tinnitus problems or a hearing loss treatment, or even both.

But how would you know whether your sleeping disturbance is serious enough?

 

Insomnia vs. Mild Sleeping Disturbances

Insomnia is a condition in which a person has difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Do not get confused with mild sleeping disturbances, because insomnia is something much more serious. To be classified as insomnia, a lot of aspects needs to be taken into consideration such as the delay in going to sleep or going back to sleep. If your sleeping disturbances occur at least three to four times in a week and persist for six months or more, then you are most probably suffering from insomnia.

 

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception of abnormal sounds in the ears when there is no external sound present. While ringing is the most common tinnitus sound, other sounds include buzzing, hissing, clicking, humming and roaring.

In our previous blogs, ‘I Can Hear Ringing Sounds - Do I Have Tinnitus?’ and ‘How to Beat Tinnitus?’ you have seen what tinnitus is and what are the types of sounds one gets to hear in such a condition.

 

What are the Causes of Tinnitus?

There can be many causes of tinnitus, such as -

  • Exposure to loud noises

  • Ear infections

  • Injuries in the ear, neck or head

  • Hearing loss (though not every case of tinnitus is due to hearing issues)

  • Earwax buildup

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Cardiovascular diseases

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Certain medications and drugs including antibiotics, antidepressants, cancer medicines and very high doses of aspirin

Tinnitus can affect different people in different ways. While some experience constant buzzing while others might hear only sporadic buzzing, hissing or whistling sounds.

 

How Does Tinnitus Affect Sleep?

It’s quite obvious that if you hear disturbing and often frustrating sounds almost all the time, you are bound to experience some kind of sleep disturbances. While in the daytime, you remain busy in some activities, thus being able to forget about your tinnitus sounds at least for some moment. But when you are back at home and are sitting in some quiet room with very minimal or no background sounds, or while you are in your bed, trying to sleep, the tinnitus sounds becomes all the more noticeable and frustrating. This contrasting situation between a quiet room and a continuous series of buzzing sounds in the ears are bound to make the condition more disturbing than usual.

Due to tinnitus you also feel very tired and fatigued even during the day. The worst part is, all these situations might gradually lead to stress and anxiety, thus making it difficult for you to fall asleep. So if this situation sounds like you, then the first thing you must aim at is to try and get a sound sleep each night - because proper rest is what you need at the end of the day - no matter what your health conditions are.

There may be several sleeping problems associated with tinnitus, including -

  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Not getting enough sleep

  • Waking up frequently in sleep

  • Experiencing poor quality sleep

  • Not feeling refreshed in the morning

  • Feeling fatigued and tired throughout the day as a result

 

How to Sleep Better With Tinnitus?

There are some proven techniques that would help you have a better sleep if you are suffering from tinnitus. Here are some of them -

  • Avoid a too quiet bedroom - It would make you more conscious about your tinnitus problems and thus make you unable to sleep.

  • Use white noise to mask your tinnitus sounds - Tune in to a low volume and soothing background music that would help you to relax and sleep better. This noise suppression technique is quite effective and is recommended by Audiologists worldwide.

Certain devices which are helpful in masking tinnitus sounds include -

    • White noise machines - These devices produce stimulated environmental sounds such as the rushing waterfalls, the rustling of the leaves, pitter-patter of the rain, the ocean waves and other such nature-like sounds. These act as a calming effect on your mind by masking the tinnitus sounds.
    • Hearing aids - Certain hearing aids come with noise masking or noise suppressing features which can be quite helpful if you have both hearing loss as well as tinnitus.
    • Masking devices - These are worn in the ear and are similar to hearing aids. These devices produce a continuous, low-level noise which helps to suppress the symptoms of tinnitus.
    • Tinnitus retraining - Tinnitus retraining is a habituation therapy designed to provide relief to people suffering from tinnitus. Using tinnitus masking devices over time can help you get accustomed to these sounds so that you can shift your focus to something else. This technique is a type of counselling which is an essential component of tinnitus retraining.
  • Improve blood flow to your head - This means you need to exercise. For example, jogging, swimming, cycling, running, or yoga would be quite beneficial to you.

  • Practice mindfulness meditation - It involves sitting quietly and paying attention to your natural breathing. The idea is to distract yourself from those irritating tinnitus sounds as this meditation helps you to stop worrying about how you would sleep, work or stay focussed and the like. Start with a 5-minute session and as you would start growing comfortable with it, you may increase the timing. The best part is, you can practice mindfulness meditation anytime and anywhere!

  • Use other relaxation techniques - like deep breathing, aromatherapy, etc. aromatherapy is a process by which natural elements like plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds, are used to improve the psychological or the physical well-being of a person.

  • Seek out cognitive-behavioural therapy - It is effective for reframing and eradicating negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It helps manage with stress, anxiety disorders and depression. Cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT is also highly effective in treating insomnia and other sleep disorders.

  • Limit the use of earplugs - it will soften down external sounds, thus making tinnitus more noticeable. Also, using earplugs for longer periods of time can cause earwax buildup - which can further cause tinnitus problems.

  • Don’t ignore ear pain - Pain or discomfort in your ears can be the signs of tinnitus. Consult your Audiologist immediately whenever you face an ear pain.

  • Treat your hearing problems on time - Seeking hearing loss treatment at the earliest will help reduce tinnitus problems. Also, as already mentioned, there are some advanced digital hearing aids which are designed to provide relief to these annoying tinnitus sounds.

  • Treating an underlying health condition can help! Often, there are certain health conditions which are associated with tinnitus. Consult an Audiologist and get to know the reason behind your tinnitus and accordingly do consider treating that before anything else. For example, removing your hardened earwax or treating a blood vessel condition, or even changing your medication can help with tinnitus relief.

You will find great information about the possible treatments of tinnitus in the following link. Do check it out: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350162

Tinnitus is the cry of dying ears! Seek immediate help, and if hearing loss is the underlying cause, go for a proper hearing loss treatment.

What do you think?

Are there any other techniques to help reduce tinnitus?

Are you aware of any technological devices which are very good for tinnitus relief?

According to the new researches, are there any chances to get permanent relief from tinnitus?

We would love to know! Do share your valuable opinions and feedback in the comment section down below.

9 Tips to Handle Hearing Loss at the Workplace

Thursday, May 2, 2019 1:52:51 PM Asia/Calcutta

Have you been in those situations where you had an important meeting with your CEO and you couldn’t follow much of the discussion? Or in that situation where you had been struggling hard to listen to what others are saying but due to your inability to do so, you prefer to fake it, ending up in responding inappropriately with people getting irritated? You find your colleagues speaking to you or even reaching out to you for help, and end up making them feel strange about you. You often find yourself in such embarrassing situations and yet you prefer not to disclose your hearing loss to anyone because you consider it as a shameful secret.

We understand what you are going through. But do you know that ignoring your hearing loss is only aggravating your problems leading to critical situations? Won’t it be more stressful and strenuous for you to try so hard to listen to and get what your colleagues and/or clients are saying? This would make you feel tired almost for the whole day, resulting in low energy levels and lesser concentration and productivity at work.

It might also happen that you are might feel ashamed of your hearing aids and hence want to hide them or even avoid wearing them. But this won’t help! Ignoring your hearing loss would only add to your complications.

So here are certain tips to handle your hearing problems at your workplace.

  • Talk to your colleagues and team leaders. The best way to avoid these annoying situations is to talk! Discuss your problems and open up to the ones near you. Whenever you have difficulties hearing, do tell the person you are speaking with that you have hearing loss and that you need to be spoken to a bit louder. Trust me, sharing would only make your stressful situation a lot easier and people would really cooperate.

  • No, your reputation won’t be affected if you have a strong and good work record. Often you might feel that people might ignore you or stay away from you, or that your reputation may be affected. But the truth is if you have a good record of your performance then people will definitely cooperate, and even offer to help.

  • Talk with your HR manager for sitting arrangements or other requirements that would make you feel better. For example, you might need special accommodation or a good sound set-up such as a better conference room with a good speakerphone. Also, make sure that your workspace is well-lit so that you can at least understand many things depending upon lip-reading. Because you really don't want the trouble to frequently ask people to repeat themselves. Even if you are a new user of hearing aids, and having some difficulties understanding speech, do discuss that too. Your HR will make special arrangements for you.

  • Take the help of an interpreter if required. If you find it very difficult to hear well till you get your hearing problems treated, or because you are wearing hearing aids for the first time, do appeal for assigning a sign-language interpreter for you.

  • Speaking up the truth is rewarded. People will definitely cooperate with you if you share the difficulties you are facing due to your hearing problems. This might even make them share their own vulnerabilities when such an atmosphere is built. This will boost up the environment and you will feel at ease.

  • Sharing your problems will lessen out your stress. The truth is hearing loss does not remain hidden. People will soon get to understand that something is wrong with you. Although not everyone would realise that you are having hearing problems, the worse thing can be that people might think you are not intelligent enough or that you are a poor listener.

  • Learn about hearing loss. Do make sure to consult a professional Audiologist who will perform a series of hearing tests and determine the intensity of your loss. Accordingly, your Audiologist will suggest the best treatment. Your Audiologist will also guide you on how to understand speech when you opt your hearing aids for the first time.

  • Generations are changing. Nowadays, almost all the schools have special care section which helps to ease out those individuals who have some kind of special needs. Today, most children know how to take everything positively and confidently and they know how to learn each other’s differences. Also, hearing aids are becoming so cool looking these days with so many advanced features.

  • Use digital hearing aids. The latest digital hearing aids are quite advanced and updated which are designed to make your life a lot easier and pleasant. You will soon adapt yourself to your workplace environment or to any listening situation for that matter. The hearing aids of today have excellent directional systems to help you stay focused on speech so that you can participate in conversations better and listen to group discussions well. The digital hearing aids also come with so many other features which would make you feel good and not feel like an isolated being.

So without thinking much or getting puzzled too often, do consider getting your hearing loss treatment and don’t shy away from wearing hearing aids. If you think that wearing hearing aids would make others mock at you, then you are wrong. It’s your life, so you have to decide what’s best for you. Moreover, hearing loss is more visible than your hearing aids.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee
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