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Can Hearing Aids Help Tinnitus?

Friday, November 2, 2018 6:44:59 PM Asia/Calcutta

Are you worried about Tinnitus, and tired of living with it for a long time now? Are you wondering whether you will ever get cured of it? The good news is, some Tinnitus problems can be managed with the help of hearing aids. However, it cannot be fully cured with the help of these devices - no matter how technologically advanced digital hearing aids you are using. Also, you must realise that you should consult a certified Audiologist at the earliest - because delaying or avoiding Tinnitus won’t be a solution!

 

Incidence and Prevalence

According to the CDC estimates, in the US, the prevalence of Tinnitus is about 15% of the total population (that is, about 45 million Americans) - and a majority of them are senior citizens belonging to the age group of 65-85. Apart from ringing in the ears, Tinnitus is also associated with other sounds, such as buzzing, humming, hissing, or even roaring, and in some cases cricket-like - even when there is no presence of external sounds! Tinnitus can occur either in one ear or both the ears, or even in the head - and the ringing sounds can be either constant or intermittent. It has become a common problem nowadays, and about 2 million Americans are suffering from quiet an alarming or chronic stages of Tinnitus. The result being - effect on daily functioning, a decline in the productivity at workplace, difficulties concentrating in academics, misunderstandings in relationships and among family members, sleep disturbances, and worse still - it might affect emotional or psychological conditions.

 

How Can Hearing Aids Provide Tinnitus Relief?

There are many varieties of advanced and smart digital hearing aids which help manage and reduce tinnitus problems. However, apart from hearing devices, there are many other tinnitus instruments which can be clubbed together with the use of these digital hearing aids to improve outcomes and enhance tinnitus relief. Also, there are various maskers and home masking devices which are used to cover up or conceal the tinnitus sounds.

There is a specialised therapy known as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) - which uses cognitive behavioral therapy along with a masking device which makes the person suffering from Tinnitus learn to ignore the background noises of Tinnitus.

All of these methods have the sole aim of comforting or lessening the problem, thus making tinnitus less audible - because tinnitus cannot be cured completely; it can only be treated and in the true sense, be ‘masked’.

 

Now What is Meant by Masking of Tinnitus?

Just like hearing loss, tinnitus is a problem which cannot be cured, it can only be treated. In other words, if your tinnitus problem is caused due to hearing loss, then hearing aids can help manage and comfort your ringing sounds. It is because when you were living with an untreated hearing loss, your brain was not able to receive all the sounds due to lack of stimulation in the specific sound frequencies in which you are having the loss. For example, you may not be able to hear the sound of birds chirping if you have a high frequency hearing loss.

After you have opted for advanced digital hearing aids, you will again be able to hear those sounds in these frequencies. Studies have shown that after this amplification with the help of hearing machine, people who have hearing loss along with tinnitus, have reported a significant decline in the severity of tinnitus problems as well.

The reason behind this is after the adaptation of digital hearing aids, one is once more able to listen to natural sounds of the surrounding environment, such as the rustling of the leaves, the rainfall, the splash in the pool, the singing of the cuckoo, and so much more - which they were missing for all these days! This ability to hear these natural sounds acts as a ‘masking’ effect for tinnitus - due to which a person who is suffering from both hearing loss and tinnitus will at least be relieved from the annoying ringing sounds which were hampering his/her life activities for so long!

Also, in addition to improving the hearing and communication abilities of the concerned person, hearing aids also amplify the background sounds. This helps reduce the loudness or the prominence of Tinnitus, and help the person concentrate more on the sounds of nature. Simply taking one’s concentration off the disturbing Tinnitus sounds serves as a relief for many people. Besides, on using digital hearing aids, a person is no more required to strain while trying hard to hear something properly. This itself reduces stress, as hearing devices are meant to improve communication, and thus, the concerned person is relieved from Tinnitus problems.

However, you will be surprised to know that there are many advanced digital hearing aids today that are aimed at directly managing Tinnitus problems. So why should you delay in opting one? Just go ahead and stay away from the icy pangs of tinnitus!

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

5 Tips to Get the Best Out of Your Digital Hearing Aids

Monday, September 3, 2018 11:39:56 AM Asia/Calcutta

The modern day smart and advanced digital hearing aids are designed to provide you the best hearing experience. People worldwide have given quite positive feedbacks after using digital hearing aids for sometime - and are living quite happily. But there is a trick! To get the best out of your hearing aids, you need to follow certain rules and tips, so as to get connected with the hearing world better!

Digital Hearing Aids

Tips to Hear Better with Digital Hearing Aids

  • Wear them for most of the day! Never go without your hearing aids at any time of the day, even while at home. If you keep them aside, your brain might start forgetting certain natural sounds which it did not hear for a long time. Give your brain enough food for it to stay in good working condition.

  • Start by using your digital hearing aids in a quiet room. One-to-one conversations at home might help, as no background noise would distract you.

  • If you are a new hearing aid user, or are using it after a long time, then follow conversations at TV and radio. If you are watching a movie, then try following the subtitles. It will make you understand speech more easily. Remember! Escaping from difficult situations won’t help! You have to face them to wipe away your fears!

  • Try using them in noisier environments. Go out at a busy crowd, a local supermarket or a restaurant. It will help improve your speech perception even in noise, and will also help your digital hearing aids store your preferred programs so that these can be referred to whenever needed.

  • Use the phone well. Place the phone close to the hearing aid’s microphone. It will enhance your speech perception, and will also reduce whistling and other feedback sounds from the device.

So what are you doing to get the most out of your valuable digital hearing aids?

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

The Concept of Directionality Used in Digital Hearing Aids

Monday, August 6, 2018 5:30:55 PM Asia/Calcutta

The progress and development of hearing aids is an amazing procedure worth studying! Right from its beginning of its evolution starting with horns, down to the modern day digital hearing aids, hearing devices have been continuously been incorporated with innovations and technological advancements. While the past few decades saw the use of analog hearing aids, the past few years have being seeing a wonderful evolution of the technologically advanced digital hearing aids that have proved themselves to be absolutely indispensable in the present generation.

 

What is Directionality?

First let us understand what are directional systems. We, as the listeners, are surrounded by various kinds of sounds throughout the day - even during sleep! It is just that while we are asleep, our brain simply ignores any incoming sounds, and hence let’s us have a ‘sound’ sleep! We get to hear sounds coming from every direction, and our brain is clever enough to understand and identify which sound is coming from which direction! Thus, we can understand whether a speeding car is approaching from the left backside or the right while we are on the roads!

But among these hundreds and thousands of sounds that we get to hear every single day, some are soothing to us, some are important to us, while some are absolutely unwanted to us. Our brain again does the job of filtering each of these sounds - it helps us stay focussed on the important and soothing sounds that we actually want to hear, by preventing all the unwanted and disturbing sounds (termed as noises) from diverting us.

This same mechanism is adapted by the digital hearing aids of our generation. The term ‘directionality’, therefore, refers to a hearing aid’s sensitivity to the different kinds of sounds coming from various directions. This feature of directionality is now incorporated in the digital hearing aids of today, which help us to stay focussed on some particular sounds which are important for us - by leaving out the unwanted noises; such as the ones coming from front of us like speech sounds, while the background noises are diminished or are cancelled out altogether.

 

What are the types of Directionality?

  • Omni-directionality

Omni-directionality refers to the phenomenon in which the hearing aid amplifies each and every sound coming from all the directions. If we imagine ourselves standing at the centre of a circle, the sounds which are coming from the centre as well as from the further distance on or near the circumference, are all amplified equally.

Omni- Directional Systems in Hearing Aids

  • Fixed Directionality

This feature is found today in most of the digital hearing aids, which enables them to amplify those sounds which are coming from your front, such as the speech sounds coming from the speaker you are conversing with and who is sitting in front of you. Suppose you are sitting at a dinner table and you want to listen to a particular person speaking with you, and hence do not want to listen to what the other persons sitting at the sides or at the back of you are saying. The Fixed Directionality feature present in digital hearing aids is capable of distinguishing between speech and noise, and hence reduces or cancels out the background sounds, and amplifies and makes you stay focussed only on the important sounds in front.

Fixed Directional Systems in Hearing Aids

  • Adaptive Directionality

But what if the source of the sound keeps changing? It means that the direction of sound is also changing, thus constantly shifting your point of attention. What if you want to listen to people speaking from various directions around you - such as from the front, back and the sides? In such a case, the Adaptive Directionality feature found in almost all the advanced and updated digital hearing aids, comes at your rescue! This system has a remarkable speed of analyzing the loudest sounds which enables you listen to all the important sounds coming from all the directions around you. The feature is also advanced enough to take into account different sound frequency ranges and analyzes and adjusts the amplification in each of them. Accordingly it enables us to hear only specific ones, which we want to hear - by cancelling out the unwanted ones.

Adaptive Directional Systems in Hearing Aids

  • Hybrid Adaptive Directionality

This feature performs exactly like a healthy, open ear canal. It is much more advanced due to its capability to help the person wearing digital hearing aids actually listen clearly to important sounds even in challenging situations - such as the wind, or at environments which have a echo - such as at a wide hilly region. The Hybrid Adaptive Directionality feature combines two patterns - the Adaptive and the Omni Directionality ones. It maintains the important sounds by “fixing” or adjusting the amplification on the low frequency ranges and constantly adapts to the higher ones so as to help reduce the unwanted noises.

 

In a nutshell, it is always advised by certified Audiologists to go for the advanced and the more updated digital hearing aids, as they would not only make you hear better, but would also enable you to enjoy what you hear!

Comments | Posted in Digital Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

5 Tips to Hear Better in a Noisy Environment

Saturday, June 30, 2018 7:10:30 PM Asia/Calcutta

It is often advised by Audiologists to avoid communicating in a noisy environment, especially if you are suffering from hearing loss and is a new user of digital hearing aids. This trick really works in adjusting to the new world of hearing. But what if you have no choice but to attend or go through some noisy situation? Or if you are the one who have been indoors for quite a while now, and are planning to face this world with your new digital hearing aids on? In either of the case, the very foremost thing that you need to do is to stay calm and not to panic. We are here to help you out!

 

What are the Tips to Help Me Communicate Easily in a Chaotic Environment?

Although the modern day digital hearing aids are designed to make you feel comfortable even in some cacophonous situation, yet you need to know some tricks and tips about how to tackle these unwanted situations, especially if you are a new hearing aid user. If, however, you are feeling comfortable in using analog hearing aids and are reluctant to switch over to digital hearing aids, our advice is either to opt for the later (after consulting an experienced Audiologist) which are much more advanced, thus having the capability to handle noisy situations, or else it is a must for you to follow these important tips for communicating in such situations. So let’s go through 5 most important ones which you MUST follow!

1. Use two hearing aids rather than one. There are a number of advantages of using two hearing aids which include -

     a) The better ability to hear sounds from all directions coming from either side.

     b) Increased loudness and clarity, as the amplified sounds are equally distributed to both the ears.

     c) You will be able to understand and locate from which direction the sound source is originating.

     d) Using binaural devices, especially digital hearing aids, will increase your ability to hear speech sounds better and will enhance speech understanding even in noisy backgrounds.

     e) Using binaural digital hearing aids will prevent accidents from happening. If you are on the streets with only one hearing aid put on, you might have a wrong notion of the direction of a vehicle approaching from behind. For example, you are on a major crossing and a car is speeding from behind from the right side (suppose). In such a case you might assume that it is coming from the left side, because you are wearing your device in the left ear (suppose). It is a dangerous situation as your brain will prompt you to move to the right side from which the car is actually proceeding. It might lead to serious accidents.

Although you might do better with one hearing aid in normal situations, but in noisy situations you will realize that your devices are performing better.


2. Use digital hearing aids as they have digital signal processing (DSP). This technology allows the device to differentiate between speech and noise. In other words, the digital hearing aids - due to their DSP technology - enable you to listen to speech sounds clearly as the device reduces or cancels out background noise. Also, you must use the directional microphone setting of your digital devices so that you can switch the device from an omnidirectional setting to a directional setting. In case you do not know the difference between the two - if your digital hearing aids is in the omnidirectional mode, then you will hear sounds coming from all directions - namely front, back, right and left, top and bottom. But if you switch over to the directional setting, your hearing aid will pick up only the primary sounds which are coming from the front of the hearing aid user. So if you sit face-to-face with the speaker, you will clearly be able to listen to his/her speech - and not only listen, but also understand what the person is saying. In this case, you are able to focus only on a particular and an important sound source - which is speech. To attain the best result, make sure that the directional microphone is properly positioned.

3. Use the FM technology of your digital hearing aids. FM technology is the best solution for you if you have difficulty hearing in noise. It comprises two components -

     a) An FM transmitter which will pick up the speaker’s speech sounds and send it to the FM receiver.

     b) An FM receiver which will receive the speech sounds picked up by the transmitter and deliver them directly to the person’s ears (such as via loudspeakers).

FM technology is an advanced feature in the modern day digital hearing aids, as it helps the user clearly listen to the speech sounds which are which are closer to him/her. This technology amplifies the speech and makes it louder than the other background noises as much as 20 dB higher.

4. Take part in regular auditory training sessions. Recent researches have proved auditory training programs for adults with hearing impairment to be quite effective in improving their speech understanding capability in noise, while using advanced digital hearing aids.

5. Be at a comfortable position while conversing and face the speaker properly. Choose a place which is not dark, but well-lit. Make sure that the speaker’s face is visible clearly enough. This will enable you to read the person’s lips while trying to listen and understand his/her speech.

 

To conclude, the above tips will be quite effective in enabling you to listen much clearly even in noisy areas, especially if you are a new hearing aid user, and will also enhance your speech understanding capability. If you are still facing problems in understanding speech even while using good quality digital hearing aids, you must immediately consult an expert and certified Audiologist without delay.

Comments | Posted in Digital 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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