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Tips for Protecting Your Child's Hearing

Sunday, July 21, 2019 10:53:42 PM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing loss in children can occur in children due to various reasons. About 34 million children are suffering from a disabling hearing loss. 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to causes that can be easily prevented.

 

What Causes Hearing Loss in Children?

While some children are born with a hearing loss - the condition of which is known as Congenital hearing loss - due to reasons like -

  • Infections like Rubella or Herpes simplex

  • Birth defects or injuries

  • Premature birth

  • Genetics

  • Low birth weight

  • Maternal diabetes

  • Drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy

  • High blood pressure while pregnant

  • Jaundice or Rh factor problems

Others acquire it after birth due to various reasons - the condition known as Acquired hearing loss. Some common factors affecting hearing abilities in children as they grow up include -

  • Exposure to loud noises

  • Ear infections like Otitis media

  • Intake of ototoxic drugs

  • Head or neck injury

  • Chicken pox

  • Mumps

  • Measles

  • Influenza

  • Mumps

  • Meningitis

 

What are the Common Symptoms?

If your child shows these signs, then it’s high time you must consult a professional Audiologist.

  • Distracted behaviour and attention problems

  • Not responding properly in noisy situations

  • Increased fatigue after school or after being in a noisy area

  • Reports of ear pain or other annoyance with the ears or the head

  • Muffled hearing

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing strange noises in the ears when there are no external sounds present

How to Protect Your Child's Ears from Exposure to Loud Noises?

  • Follow the 60-60 rule. Reduce the time and volume of your child's exposure to loud sounds. The volume exposed to should not exceed 60% and the time of exposure shouldn't be more than 60 minutes at a stretch.
  • Give them ear defenders or ear protectors like earplugs or earmuffs to wear while in abnormally noisy situations.
  • Control and monitor the volume of your TV or radio.
  • Keep your home environment as noise-free as possible. Excessive noises can distract children, thus losing attention to what you are saying. Too much noise would also irritate your child.
  • Of course, test your child's hearing from time to time. Monitor your child's response rates and speech and language development skills. Check whether he or she is developing the communication skills as per the developmental milestones.
  • Consult with a professional Audiologist and a Speech-Language Pathologist to confirm whether your child is having proper access to the hearing world and that he or she is learning speech and language correctly at par with his or her peers.

Nowadays, most hospitals do offer hearing test after delivery. Make it a point to go through a newborn hearing screening before you take your child home. Early intervention is necessary so that you can start a proper hearing loss treatment procedure on time - be it hearing aids or cochlear implants. A child must need to have proper access to the hearing world so as to develop good speech and language skills.

Understanding Your Hearing Aid Machine

Thursday, July 11, 2019 5:22:50 PM Asia/Calcutta

You are having difficulties in hearing and therefore, you thought that now you should buy hearing aids and made it a habit of wearing them regularly. Bravo, you have been doing great till now! But do you often think that you can get back your natural hearing? Yes, hearing aids have the ability to enable you to hear better.

No doubt hearing aids are the most widely used and are quite effective as a hearing loss treatment solution. But hearing aids do no more than simply amplifying the sounds as they receive. If you think that by wearing a hearing aid machine your hearing will be restored, then you would be wrong. An ear hearing device uses your residual hearing, that is your remaining hearing ability to amplify the sounds and to enable you to hear.

 

Why is it So?

Let’s get into the basics of the human ear structure. Well, you know that the human ear is divided into three parts, namely the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. 

If we take a closer look into the inner ear, we find the spiral-shaped cochlea situated in the rigid bony labyrinth situated in the outer wall of the inner ear. Inside the cochlea, we have thousands of tiny hair-like structures called hair cells - 3,500 inner hair cells and 12,000 outer hair cells. These tiny hair cells are very sensitive and once damaged, they could never be recovered.

 

How Do We Hear?

Let’s quickly summarise the whole complex procedure of hearing and the functioning of the human ear into some basic steps. The sound waves are received by the outer ear which after travelling down the long passage of the ear canal strike against the eardrum or the tympanic membrane and cause it to vibrate. These vibrations are then transferred to the ear ossicles or the small ear bones which further passes them over to the inner ear. The hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear convert these sound stimuli into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain understands and recognises these signals as sounds, and only then can we actually ‘hear’. Although this whole process occurs within a fraction of seconds, yet it is quite a complex one and involves many other by-processes and chemical reactions.

 

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

A hearing aid machine typically has three parts - a microphone which picks up the sounds, an amplifier which makes the sound louder and a receiver which sends the amplified sounds to the ear canal of the user. Yes, the modern digital hearing aids are advanced and takes the listening experience to a whole new level by transmitting the sound signals to a computer chip which adjusts the pitch and volume by working with discrete sections of the sound frequency according to the hearing requirements of the hearing aid machine user. But no matter how smart and intelligent your digital hearing aids are, your natural hearing ability won’t be recovered. It is because the hair cells once damaged won’t be regenerated again!

 

Analog or Digital?

Of course, digital hearing aids! While the old hearing aid machine users who are comfortable in using the analog devices of the previous few decades and would say that these devices are really well, we would suggest one and all to try out digital hearing aids. They are designed to enhance your hearing ability. And what’s more? The updated digital devices are packed with so many features that would cater to your individual needs and lifestyle preferences, thus making your life much easier. Also, they are much more user-friendly with easy programmable options and buttons. And not to forget the sleek designs and extremely small sizes which are absolutely lovable.

The maximum that can be done is that your Audiologist can fine-tune your hearing aid machine or filter out the wind or other background noises, and make some certain program upgradation. The digital hearing aids can thus match with your specific hearing loss pattern and customise your listening experience. You can also directly stream audio, take calls and even adjust your program settings using smartphone apps.

Here is a post on the different features one would get in the modern-day digital hearing aids: ‘Latest Technologies Used in Modern Day Digital Hearing Aids’. You can also go through another blog of ours on ‘7 Must-have Features in Your Digital Hearing Aids

 

Factors that Affect the Success of a Hearing Aid Machine

Whether or not your hearing aid would work for you depends upon a variety of factors. These include -

  • The type and severity of hearing loss

  • Your lifestyle choices

  • Whether you have ear infections

  • Your dexterity and ease of use

  • Whether you have been ignoring your hearing problems for a long time

  • Whether you have lost your hearing before learning a language or after it

  • Whether you are going to use it on a regular basis as and when suggested by your Audiologist

You can check out our blog on ‘Does Hearing Aid Machine Work for Everyone?’ for more information on this topic.

 

Which Would be the Right Hearing Aids Types for Me?

The main types of hearing aids include -

  • BTE or Behind-the-Ear

  • Power BTE

  • RIC or Receiver-in-the-Canal

  • ITE or In-the-Ear

  • ITC or In-the-Canal

  • CIC or Completely-in-the-Canal

  • IIC or Invisible-in-the-Canal

Each has its pros and cons. Do check out the advantages and disadvantages of each of the hearing aids types in our previously written blog: ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Hearing Aids Types

 

Now that you are aware of what each hearing aid device has in store for you, you can shortlist them by analysing which one would match your needs. Of course, consider discussing with your Audiologist throughout this important decision-making process at a recognised hearing aid clinic near you.

 

Some Buying Tips

With so many features in today’s digital hearing aids, one would get really confused as to which device to go for. Don’t worry! We are here to help you out. Here is a guide for the hearing aid buyer: ‘10 Tips for Buying Hearing Aids

 

Care and Maintenance Tips

Things wouldn’t just end once you buy hearing aids. Your devices need to be taken care of. The more you take care of them, the more they would take care of your hearing. We have a separate blog on ‘Are You Taking Care of Your Hearing Aids?’. Do check it out, it might be helpful.

 

What If You Meet Hearing Aid Disasters?

While you might try your best to take care of your new hearing aids, accidents are sure to happen. In such cases, we don’t want you to panic. Instead, we have for you a guide to how to cope up and deal with these situations: ‘5 Common Hearing Aid Disasters: How to Deal With Them?

 

For more help, check out the blog post from Consumer Reports. It has got some wonderful information and would be a complete guide for the hearing aid buyer: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/hearing-aids/buying-guide/index.htm

 

To sum up, you are definitely going to hear and do so quite well, but you won’t get back your normal hearing ability, that is, you can’t hear with using a hearing aid machine.

Hearing Health at Work: How to Protect Your Ears at Your Workplace?

Saturday, July 6, 2019 7:53:33 PM Asia/Calcutta

One’s workplace needs to be noise-free and a calmer atmosphere, to enable one to stay focused on one’s job. Loud noises are hazards for one’s workplace - not only for the overall prosperity of the company but for personal health as well. However, we know that noise is inevitable at places like a factory, construction site, or mining sites. The best defence mechanism against noise-induced hearing loss is to avoid and stay away from hazardous noise situations.

The good news is that noise exposures at work are being reduced due to the advanced and improved technological devices. For example, the manufacturing companies are introducing more sound-free machines and singers and music composers are working with more and more improved, stronger and powerful sound systems. However, some newer companies are still exposed to noises. Whether or not you are a user of hearing aids, you need to protect your ears and take care of them, not only at home but also in your workplace.

 

How to Reduce Noise in the Workplace?

The first and foremost thing is to reduce the noise levels at your workplace more than anything else. It is quite natural for professionals to suggest wearing earmuffs or earplugs to lessen the intensity of your exposure to loud noises, but this might often lead to more problems. Because people are often unaware of how to use them properly. It is always better to stay as noise-free as possible. In this way, you can not only stay focused on your work but can also maintain your hearing and overall health.

The Noise Regulations 2005 obliges employers to prevent or reduce exposure to noise at work and provide safety to all employees. Being a responsible employer, it is your duty to maintain a healthy environment for your workers. Here are some tips to reduce noise levels at your organisation -

  • Assess the possible risks of noise exposure which might affect the wellbeing of your employees.

  • Create or build strong walls between the employees and the sources of any noise.

  • Keep all the machinery and devices well-lubricated to avoid any annoying and unexpected noises.

  • If you find a piece of machinery producing loud noises that is beyond your control, then repair or replace it immediately. Not only will it protect the hearing health of your employees, but will also increase productivity. After all, an old and faulty machine is bound to work inefficiently, thereby reducing productivity!

  • You can also consider replacing your old and noisy devices with low-noise ones.

  • The best solution would be to eliminate all possible sources of loud sounds or at least lessening their intensity.

  • Do try to create separate and quiet areas for your employees to be at ease and gain relief from excessive noise.

  • Limit the number of employees near the noise source and at the same time limiting the duration of the exposure.

  • The best way would be to isolate or enclose the sound source.

  • If possible control the noise from a distance.

  • Make sure that the legal limits of noise are not exceeded.

  • Carry out health surveillance and hearing checkups on a regular basis to ensure that your employees are working in safety.

The health and wellbeing of the employees is the most important thing that an organisation should take care of. It determines the prosperity of your company.

 

When Should I Be Concerned?

If you find the following situations at your workplace, then you are exposed to a possible risk of acquiring hearing loss.

  • Is the noise intrusive such as a busy street near your office, a vacuum cleaner running on near you or a crowded restaurant? Are you exposed to these noises for most of your working day?

  • Do you work in a noisy industry, such as a construction site, woodworking industry, engineering, plastics processing and textile manufacturing factory, pressing or stamping, paper or board making or in the canning or bottling plants?

  • Do you feel that you have to raise your voice in order for at least part of the day to carry out a normal conversation even while at an about 2 m distance from the person you are trying to converse with?

  • Do you have to use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?

  • Are you exposed to noises like hammering or other such noisy and explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools, guns or detonators?

If you face these conditions almost regularly then it’s high time that you should get your hearing tested and if you are diagnosed with any hearing loss, do consider going for a proper hearing loss treatment to avoid further damage - be it hearing aids or cochlear implantation. Because exposure to loud noises generally causes sensorineural hearing loss which is permanent. You need to take good care of your ears in such a case and wear your hearing aids regularly.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aid Devices Hearing Aids By Hearing Plus

Does Hearing Aid Machine Work for Everyone?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 7:01:55 PM Asia/Calcutta

Yes, there are so many success rates with hearing aids all over the world, but do you know that not everybody is benefitted from them? This is because each and every individual’s hearing needs are different and therefore, would naturally require a different kind of treatment for his or her hearing problems. While people with mild to moderate degree of hearing loss can well be benefitted with hearing aids, those with a severe to a profound degree of loss won’t find a hearing aid machine quite beneficial. However, there are other options for hearing loss treatment such as cochlear implants or middle ear implants.

Hearing aids are no doubt the most widely used hearing devices and have really been a great hearing loss treatment with effective solutions. But they don’t always prove to be fruitful for many users. This is because the basic role of any hearing aid machine is to simply amplify the sounds as they receive, by making use of the residual hearing. However, in case of severe damage caused to the hearing ability of an individual, not even the advanced digital hearing aids could properly amplify the sounds. On the contrary, the sounds might even appear distorted and ambiguous in such a case.

There are many factors for which a hearing aid machine can fail to give you any benefits. Some of the common causes are -

  • If you have severe to profound degree of sensorineural hearing loss. Most hearing aids are suitable and most effective for people with mild to moderate degree of hearing loss.

  • If you haven’t used any hearing aid machine even after living with untreated hearing loss for many years. Hearing aids are not like glasses; your hearing won’t be restored the moment you put them on. Your brain needs time to adjust to this ‘new’ world of sounds.

  • If you buy cheap hearing aids. Cheap hearing aids won’t be of any good. You may save some money for the time being, but in the long run, you will actually end up spending more!

  • If you use a wrong hearing aid. Not every hearing aid machine would help you hear better. Just because your friend is satisfied with a particular device, there is no surety at all that that machine would suit you. Because your hearing needs are different!

  • If you have ear infections or malformations or defects in the outer or middle ear. Your hearing aids would work only when the outer and the middle ear are properly functioning.

So before you buy hearing aids do consider consulting with your Audiologist. He or she will suggest you the best hearing loss treatment option - be it the modern and advanced digital hearing aids or cochlear implants or others, depending upon the severity of the loss.

Bone Conduction Hearing Aids: Benefits and Limitations

Thursday, June 20, 2019 6:20:36 PM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing aids are so popular that the first thing that comes in mind while talking about the best hearing loss treatment is that of hearing aid devices. Hearing aids no doubt have the highest success rates all over the world, but they too have their limitations! Hearing aids can benefit you as long as the internal structure of your ears is all right. Because the traditional hearing aids - no matter how smart and updated they are - would use the user’s natural outer, middle and inner ear, including the auditory nerve.

What if you have a perforated eardrum or have other deformities in your outer or middle ear? What if you have a hearing loss only in one ear (single-sided deafness)? Even the most advanced digital hearing aids won’t work in these cases! Apart from the traditional way of hearing with the help of hearing aids, sounds can also reach the inner ear by conduction through the bones of the skull situated behind the ear. Bone conduction hearing aid is the best solution for individuals with conductive hearing loss, unilateral hearing loss, single-sided deafness and for those who are having a mixed hearing loss and have problems wearing In-the-ear (ITE) or Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids.

What are Bone Conduction Hearing Aids?

Bone conduction hearing aids, also known as an auditory osseointegrated device (AOD), are designed to make sounds audible to the individual with hearing loss by transferring them to the inner ear through bone conduction. Their system consists of a sound processor or the bone conduction device which picks up sounds using microphones and a coupling mechanism.

 

Benefits

  • Better sound quality with less distortion. BAHA would provide better sound quality as compared to the traditional bone-conduction hearing aids, because there is no damping of the sound signal when it is being transferred through the skin.

  • Provide a 360-degree sound perception.

  • Get relief from annoying feedback sounds.

  • The BAHA sound system is much more discreet and comfortable.

  • Today’s bone-anchored digital hearing aids use the same technology as seen in any premium hearing instrument.

  • It is much easier to predict preoperatively how well a BAHA user would do as preoperative testing is possible.

  • Problems of allergies or ear infections won’t affect the performance of your device.

  • As compared to the middle-ear implants, the BAHA surgery is very simple and straightforward, and it can be performed under local anaesthesia, which is not the case in the former.

  • The greatest advantage of a BAHA device is that the ear canal is not occluded by ear-moulds fitted inside it as in the case of traditional hearing aids.

 

Limitations

Although the bone conduction digital hearing aids of this generation are quite advanced, they too have their limitations -

  • Since it is a surgery, risks still remain, however small and fewer they might be.

  • Side effects include chronic infection and trauma to the bone.

  • Irritation of the skin around the implant surgically placed.

  • In some cases, persistent pain might occur.

  • There may be risks of skin overgrowth over the device.

  • Death of skin flap due to an interrupted blood supply - a condition known as skin flap necrosis.

It is, therefore, always advised to consult a good Audiologist and a trained surgical team. Choose your hearing loss treatment options wisely. Sometimes BAHA is better than even the most advanced digital hearing aids. What is the point of going for traditional hearing aids if they fail to work? Talk with your Audiologist and get better guidance.

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids By Hearing Plus
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